Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Welcome of the Door

The first day of January finds us standing on the threshold of a new year, and here we are, standing on our own threshold, in the first light of the first day of the new year.  As we welcome the first light across our threshold, an invitation awaits us: to create a space in our lives where we can begin to live in the moment.  In this sense, Downtown Dad and I are observing the thresholds of our lives, the doorways that mark our movement from one stage of life to the next.  

Many cultures regard the new year as a time that signifies a "threshold" in time and space, the middle ground between here and there, neither past nor present, nor future, a spot where energies meet. 

The Celtic people believe there is great spiritual power in these threshold places, they call it the "welcome of the door."  In this space there is a significance of chance meetings and random events with an openness to new experiences, opportunities and people, of great possibilities.  This is characterized by the expansive and generous nature of the phrase, "cead mile failte," a hundred thousand welcomes. 

This new year we invite you to join us in the threshold, on the edges and boundaries and doorways of our lives.  May we find the strength with each other and in each other, and in those who have gone before us to welcome possibility, change, uncertainty, even fear.  There we shall find the welcome of the door. 

Monday, December 26, 2011


Its kind of sad, as Downtown Dad and I clear the living room of the after-Christmas wreckage, saving the bows, tossing the paper, making sure everything is out of the boxes before breaking them down to better fit into the recycle bin; but A Christmas Story is on TV and it lifts our spirits.  I know, A Christmas Story is ALWAYS on TV... but before long, we've stopped our labors to laugh, yet again with Ralphie and Randy, their Mother and The Old Man, in the days leading up to their 1940s Christmas.  I love it because it makes me laugh every damn time I watch it!  I have to admit though, I didn't start out liking it. Then, once "you'll shoot your eye out" became almost as common a phrase at Christmas as Happy Holidays, and leg lamps became a regular part of the Hallmark Christmas Ornament line-up, I thought maybe I should pay attention, and see what the REAL message was within this cute, but quirky story.  Sure, on the surface, it's about getting the perfect present for Christmas. And, whether that is a Red Ryder Bee Bee Gun, or a Teach Yourself Gaelic DVD, if that's what you really really want, you have to make sure that the people who will be giving you gifts, know you want it.

For me, especially the day after the present-opening flurry of the day before, I feel a kind of let down, not that I'm disappointed, but its something I can't quite put my finger on. Winnie the Pooh says... "what I like best..." and then he had to stop and think.  Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you begin to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called."  Maybe that something is the message in A Christmas Story, that the anticipation you feel leading up to something might be just as good, if not better than actually having gotten that something. Think of the fabulous possibilities Darrin McGavin as The Old Man hints at, as the huge crate is delivered to his door, "Why, it could be anything!" he sputters, and might arguably be more excited before he opens the box, than after he finds out what is in there. Maybe the "Fra-geee-lay" stamped on the lid is a prophetic warning: that feeling of anticipation... that feeling just before IS Fragile.

The notion that the anticipation of something is somehow better than the realization, may be more common than we realize...  Internet marketing guru, Seth Godin, says in a recent blog post "A wrapped present is transformed when it is opened.  Anticipation turns into information, and frequently, one is worth far more than the other." Which one is worth more, he cleverly leaves up to the reader.

Our family had probably the best Christmas this year than we've had as a family for a very long time. Not because Downtown Dad and I finally both have full time salaried jobs, therefore more discretionary funds with which to buy presents, although that was part of it.  Not because we were at home together as a family, although that was a big part of it too. The fact is, I think, not only that each of us we were able to put some magically mysterious wrapped boxes under the tree, but that we were able to give each other that fragile just before feeling, and each one of us, not just the person who's name was on the tag, was able to imagine the possibilities, and think to themselves... Why, it could be anything!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Homes Tour 2011

Merry Christmas!   Happy Holidays!   Gud Jule!    Nollaig Shona Duit!  Bright Blessings!   Merry Christmahannukwanza!   Happy Festivus!

I'm honored to be a part of the Jen on the Edge Holiday Homes Extravaganza, though I have to admit, I almost forgot! We usually go overboard on decorations with every surface flocked, decked, or wreathed in some sort of tableau of the season.  This year, we've toned it down. So, Welcome to our house! C'mon in and have some nog, or cider and a couple of cookies.

Here's one of our favorite Santas. This was handpainted in the 60s by Downtown Dad's loving hands.  This little guy, all of 2 feet tall, weighs in at about 30 pounds!  Under Santa's watchful eye, a couple of elves climb a ladder.........

to fill the stockings, all hung by the chimney with care!

A few more elves are busy with some last minute gifts.

We have a few different styles to choose from for tree decoration.  The kids usually pick the style - so this year they chose the gold and maroon "elegant" look. Truth be told, I prefer the "messy" look, with no real color scheme, using all of the old ornaments.  To me, each one has a story, and it takes hours to do the tree because as we unwrap each fragile macaroni garland or pie tin Jesus, its like seeing an old friend.

And last but not least, wishing you and yours health and happiness in the coming year, are my favorite decorations.  A pair of shabby chic snowpeople that we've named Herb and Pearl.


Friday, December 16, 2011

2011 Wrap up...

It feels to me like 2011 was a cocoon that I'm emerging from.  Not that it was a bad year, hell, not that it was a good year.  It just feels to me like some kind of used up skin that is sloughing off.  It was a year I started out, not with resolutions, but with intentions.  I intended a lot of things, quite a few of which I got - not overnight mind you, but through some planning, some flexibility, some give and some take.  Mostly I intended to do some deferred maintenance on my health and well being - body, mind and spirit, the rest happened, as they say, while I was making other plans.

Body - I had several gatherings to attend this year with people who hadn't seen me in a while, (or ever).  You'd think I would have gone on some kind of strict diet or exercise regime to lose weight for these events.  But I didn't.  I didn't want to disappoint myself, and frankly, was more interested in connecting with the people, than comparing waist size.  I did however embark on a journey of healthcare, having my hormone levels checked, the inside of my colon checked, and my skin and teeth checked.  I'm happy to say that for having grown up frying myself in baby oil on foil paper, and eating a diet of Doritos and Coke, I was pretty lucky to only have one cracked filling that needed a crown, one instance of a relatively slow growing skin cancer, and a benign colon polyp, both of which I had removed! I'm also happy to report that while I now take a handful of supplements and plant-based, bio-identical hormone pills, potions and lotions, I am thinking much more clearly, and I am hot-flash free for the first time in about 5 sweaty years!  I also made the decision to stop covering the grey in my hair.  I noticed one day that the strands were a particularly shiny and pretty color, so slowly but surely, I'm working with my hairdresser to cut off the old unnatural colors and grow in the healthy salt and pepper, with a sassy style!

Mind  - While I was happy as a little clam working at the Symphony with a covey of women my own age and temperament, and who loved to drink wine as much as me - it was only part time.  I managed to add a second sweet part time contract job at the local healthcare corporation where Downtown Dad also works, with the Marketing Department's Digital Care Team, proofreading, and editing the website.  This was a group of people quite different from my Symphony Babes.  Mostly 30 somethings with decidedly healthful habits, like working out.  I was able to hold down the two part time jobs for most of the year, but the hours, not to mention the wild mood and personality swings, were starting to take their toll. A few months ago I accepted an offer to become a full time member of the Digital Care Team, and quit the Symphony.  I'm not quite what I refer to as a "real boy" yet, I'm still on a contract basis, but its getting closer every day!  Benefits, retirement, and peer pressure to be healthy - YAY!  I've also signed up to participate in a 13 month, non-surgical, diet and exercise program that is largely funded by the company.

Spirit - Through a series of events I would have never expected, I have had the opportunity to have some deep and meaningful conversations with my family and friends and the chance to look at my life quite differently.  I learned that I like hoppy beer, and the mountains behind Goleta, almost as much as the beach. I learned a lot about classical music, and the people who play it, and that after all these years of dreading the winter, I find I miss the snow when it's not here.  I've learned to speak and write in HTML, and to "dance with the digital natives," as well as that the emptying nest is not as bad as it seemed.  I also learned that I am not a Baby Boomer, but a Generation Joneser; and that I should trust my gut, because I am a very intuitive person.

This probably won't be my last 2011 post - I just wanted to capture some of this in writing.  I'm looking forward to blogging in 2012, and my intent is to post more regularly, with something worth reading. My 13 month program and progress (or lack of) should prove interesting.  I will be making a few "organizational" changes to my blog as well.  I want to add my 'bucket list' items, mostly as goals, but also as fodder for things to write about.  It is also my intent (as always) to make time to read and comment on other people's blogs.

So, here's to putting the finishing touches on whatever you hoped to accomplish this year, and to whatever you hope the new year holds for you!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How I got my MoJo back

My grandfather, Robert "Doc" Hinkley, loved bowling. It was his life - so much so that in the 30s and 40s he was famous for having his own bowling supply company in LA.  He did what he loved and that was pretty cool.

He actually invented the original machine that measures and drills the holes in bowling balls - has the patent and everything.

Though he died before I was born, when I was growing up, my mom, his daughter, kept his legacy alive in her love of bowling.

She was a member of a bowling league as far back as I can remember, and subbed at least once a week, sometimes more. She lined her bedroom window with trophies for bowling 300s.  She did what she loved, it was nerdy, but cool in it's own right.

I tried my hand at it for a while in the 80s.  Even made up some nerdy matching bowling shirts for our team facetiously called The Guttersweeps.  We thought we were cool.

You might say that bowling is in my blood.

But based on a few less than great experiences, and one movie quote that puts bowling in a less than great light, for a good share of my adult life I have been denying my heritage. I prefer more literary pastimes, like Shakespeare, and blogging - although of late, I have lost my muse.  But blood, as they say, is thicker than water, and despite anything I had hoped to the contrary, my son Robert "Bobby" Duncan, who thinks everything nerdy is cool, loves bowling.

For his 30th birthday, friends and family gathered at a local bowling establishment to celebrate the day.  We all bowled a game or two with silly names on our scorecard, derived from Facebook, and Twitter handles, like Whatshernameagain, and BM (for Bobby's Mom) and Skirt. They were all very cool, and I felt pretty lucky to be a part of that group of nerdy-cool people.  Despite everyone's fears to the contrary, we all had a really great time - due in no small part to the adventurous spirit of those gathered there, who had no idea as to the royal ancestral bowling blood flowing through Bobby's and my veins.

Yesterday I had lunch with Bobby to celebrate my birthday.  A couple of his friends who had attended the birthday bowling bash showed up and joined us, Skirt being one of them. She mentioned that she was disappointed that our bowling adventure hadn't shown up in my blog.  Once again, something too personal, or just too nerdy to write about.... wait!  What?  She not only had read, but was looking forward to reading my blog?!?!

It occurred to me at that moment that I was wallowing in my own self righteous pity.  Who was I to deprive people of knowing that Bobby and I were descended from bowling greatness?  What was I thinking, keeping the story of a gathering of this magnitude to myself? Where were my manners?  Whenever two or more of you are gathered in a bowling alley, there has got to be love!  Why, as the theme song to Arthur (the greatest movie to ever pay homage to the kind of people you meet in a bowling alley) says, 'when you get caught between the moon and New York City, the best that you can do is fall in love' or, barring that, write a blog post!

Monday, December 5, 2011


Hallelujah, I'm another year older.
Hallelujah, I was right.
Hallelujah, I was lucky enough to know him.
Hallelujah, it was me.
Hallelujah, it wasn't me.

2011 has, for me, been an awesome year. One that has carried with it the satisfying fruition of much planning and anticipation, as well as bringing along with it some harrowing experiences that may at best be called 'learning opportunities.' And I am thankful for every single minute. 

This year has had its minor falls, and major lifts, hellos, and goodbyes, amazing adventures, and stunning revelations.  Summed up in a well worn adage... be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. 

With all that went on, in the space of the past several months, it would seem that I would have plenty to blog about.  But somewhere along the line I seem to have lost my mojo.  If the experience was too negative, then I couldn't write it because I always feel like I have to put a positive spin on things.  If the experience was too personal, I fretted about writing anything at all.  If the experience was too painful, I simply found it impossible to find the funny, or at least an entertaining aspect that would make it an acceptable post. So I just didn't.

Looking back, I wish I would have found the words, taken the chances, thrown caution to the wind, so that I could stand now, where I am, and look back at all I've climbed over, hacked and slogged through and say Hallelujah! 

Someday, I may well be able to put all of my ragged, broken, golden, and holy thoughts together into something worth sharing.  For now, this starkly beautiful rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujia by KD Lang will have to suffice.


Friday, November 4, 2011

This morning...

As long as I'm documenting my life this month, let me introduce you to the women I spend 5 hours a day with - affectionately referred to as The Symphony Babes

The three on the left are Lindas (yep, three Lindas) then Sara, and Beth. This being a non-profit organization, we all need to have one or more additional gigs on the side to make ends meet.  One is a local actor, one an elected official, one an advertising executive, one an actual musician!  A more different group of women you'd never find, but we do connect on one level... wine. Oh and the fact that we somehow manage to put on about 20 symphony and symphony-related concerts a year.  Sure, the musicians do play a part - but we make it happen!

It's a great place to work because there is no shortage of drama, and stories, and opinions and we have bonded closely over this past year and a half ... it's a shame I just gave my two weeks notice. More on that another time. 

Right now, I'll focus on the leader of this bevy of broads, my friend and boss, in the center (of course) Linda. I think I'll miss her most of all. She has endured probably the messiest and most grueling divorce I have ever witnessed. We've helped her through two of her soon-to-be ex-husband's suicide attempts; gutting and refurbishing basically every room in her house so it could be sold, and any number of minor by comparison disasters that seem to crop up.  Through it all, she's kept everything running, continues to administer a local soup kitchen and their fund raisers, actively participate on the school board, and the Symphony continues to thrive, AND, she's even lost 40 pounds to boot, so she looks fabulous.  I hate her.

From time to time, when one of us has something that keeps us from coming into the office, we send a group email explaining the situation.  These emails usually have the subject "This Morning." The ones from Linda can contain anything from news about the suicide attempts, to the house renovation details, to printer disasters the night before a concert, and about once a week - something disastrous that has happened to her car. Here is an example of the one from today: 
TO:  Symphony Babes
FROM: Linda
RE:  This Morning
Good morning Ladies and Quitter! (oh, yes, you'll be getting more of this in the next 3 weeks...)
I swear I should patent my ass and put it out for hire - for $100, I'll sit in the driver's seat of your enemy's car for one hour.
Apparently the mechanic hasn't solved the mystery of my car overheating yet. My son Keith and I made it to Oak Creek (to pick up pheasants for the soup kitchen fundraiser) when steam started pouring out of the hood. Coolant had boiled dry, we sat for quite a while to let it cool down after I got the cap off, then made it to a gas station to buy a gallon to dump in. Smoking again by the time we got home, so clearly it's time for me to wreck another one of Dani's rental cars.
I planned to come in early, work on the program, go to the Holiday Pops meeting with Jane and Theatre B, come back to the office for a bit more, then leave around 11:00 before I have to leave for Bemidji for my consulting gig. I think I'm just going to have to give the office a miss today, except to pop in for a few minutes. With all my adventures last night, I didn't get the stuff done that I needed to in order to be ready for this afternoon.
I think I am in good shape with the program, though. Roster and music pages are done, John will have his notes to me Monday, and now that I can cut/paste the donor lists, it will be pretty quick work. Ad pages are virtually done, so I think we will be ready for an actual test run Monday afternoon when they come in to install that part.
Posters - how many are left to take around? I didn't see one at Hornbachers Express last night, maybe someone could take that batch if that gal is not going to show. Also, PLEASE make sure there is one at the Plains and Green Market, BernieBernieBernie mentioned that on my FB wall, argh.
See you latah,L
Gosh I'm gonna miss them!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I went to a dermatologist for the first time today for a full body scan. I have some moles and suspicious looking freckles on the thin skin of my chest and my doctor thought I should have them looked at.

It is a wonder I haven't had anything serious crop before now, having grown up in sunny southern California basically on a rotisserie basted in baby oil.  Sure, I gave all of that up years ago, but things do come back to haunt you now and then.  

I fully expected serious tsk-tsk-ing, but the doctor and his assistant really didn't pay much attention to any one area.  All of those moles and freckles were apparently just that - moles and freckles.


He looked at a little bump between my eye and my nose that I had never even given a second thought.  In fact he looked at it with such concern I started to get worried.  More worried than I'd been about the moles and freckles.  He decided then and there to remove it and send it in for a biopsy.

I left with this.... lovely.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I vowed for the month of November that I would document my daily life with pictures, and yet.... I sit at 10:42pm on a Tuesday... a day FULL to the brim of TRANSITIONS that I'm aching to share, yet, again, I am, eating pecans, drinking wine, watching TV and trying to post something on my blog...  trying to make a connection with the first of November and all of the transitions that are taking place, or going to take place this month

...but did I take pictures today?  No.

Then I realized that one of my most recent posts pointed out that Autumn IS transition.... and you can't have a transition TO unless you have a FROM or a BEFORE. here I am wallowing in Before-ness...


I have begun to realize that I'm starting to forget some details in my life.  Not the big chunks mind you - the stuff like where I live, my kids names, or my husbands birthday are still, for the most part, locked safely in my cerebrum.  Its just those pesky little things I'm starting to get fuzzy on.  Like what color my arch rival's prom dress was the night she stole the boy I was hoping would be my boyfriend.  Or what the weather was like the day one of the hunky football players split his pants in front of the whole school, trying to vault a chainlink fence at lunch.  Or just how embarrassingly long my bangs were, and short my pants were in 7th grade.  Sometimes, I just wish I had a taken a picture at certain points in my life, not necessarily so I could share it, but so I could refer back to it.

Alas, today, no one can ever hope to forget, even if they want to, the epic- or not so epic moments in their lives.  Digital cameras are everywhere, and digital sharing sites make it nearly impossible for you, or anyone else you know, or even people you don't know to be intimately aware of ephemera that would normally have become fuzzy details in a year or two, or twenty.  

I find that I need a theme for regular blogging, and now, I think I've found it.  Oversharing.  For the next 30 days, I'm going to document my details.  Starting tomorrow, I am going to take a picture per day of what someone wore, or the sky, of something beautiful, of something unfortunate, even something I'm thankful for - considering the month and all.  

All for your entertainment.  Will you join me?  

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Revisited

This is a repost from 2008.  It also happens to be my second most popular story.  Apparently people are very interested in the Snap Crackle and Pop outfits pictured further down!  So, I figured, what the heck?

Since my kids won't be dressing up, and since I somehow never found the time to make the Liquorville costumes I was hoping to... and since we really don't have a party to wear them to anyway... why not take a little stroll down Halloween-costume-memory-lane?

So now, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy this encore presentation of the very popular Fun Monday, Halloween!

The host for this week's Fun Monday is Sayre of Sayre Smiles. She made me smile when I found out that this weeks participants would be posting pictures of Halloween Costumes! Here's what she says:

"Tell us about your favorite Halloween as a kid (pictures, if you have them!), and show us your costume for this year. If you're not dressing up, show us a picture of a pumpkin carving that really tickled your fancy or how you decorated your house. "

I know, she said my favorite costume, but Halloween is my absolute FAVORITE HOLIDAY and these costumes ... all hand made ... they're like my children, I can't possibly pick a favorite! Growing up, my mother made all of our clothes, so when it came time for Halloween, why wouldn't she make our costumes too? I learned everything I know from her, and continued the tradition of homemade costumes.

So, without further ado, let's bring out our first model...

Here we have my baby sister Vicki modeling a lovely pink pioneer woman dress. This dress, made of cotton candy pink percale, features white ric rack and had a matching bonnet when I originally wore it.

Next up we enter what I like to call my mother's "ethnic years." Here we see me, sporting a lovely bathrobe, magically transformed into a kimono with the use of a scarf, some rubber thongs and a live hibiscus flower. Yes, live.
Moving on, we see Vicki again in another selection from the ethnic collection. This time the fabric is purest white bed sheet, embellished with the finest felt tip markers. Her adorable curly bob is set off with a headband and feather, fashioned from 100% Safeway grocery bag. And pulling this ensemble all together are the blue fuzzy slippers.

Next, we fast forward in time to a David Bowie inspired creation. This stunning silver space suit was the result of finding silver pants at a thrift store for a dollar then spending twenty five more dollars on the silver material, thread, and makeup. A bargain compared to today's prices!

Here we see me sporting a traditional witch costume, lightened up for this festive occasion by the use of a red scarf jauntily looped around the hat, and some red earrings. The real star here is my BFF Kimisue who is channeling Sally Field in her Flying Nun costume. This white, on white on white habit is fashioned again from bedsheet. The hat, or wimple, as it is called, is made from cardboard box, and hours and hours of papier mache.

At yet another party, Kimisue and I are joined by our other BFF Tami! Kimisue, on the left, is respendent in her weathered chaps, with matching hat and ammo belt. Tami, in the middle, 8 months pregnant at the time, was the ball attached by a chain to her convict husband... a costume that proved to be only too prophetic. And here we see the silver pants from the space suit of a couple of years ago repurposed in this ringmaster outfit, complete with red satin waistcoat and tails!

Me again, modeling my whimsical wench wardrobe (at work). This fetching ensemble features a peasant blouse and skirt, dyed to match. Not visible are the white eyelet knee length bloomers which match the perky dust cap which (thankfully) covers my 80s shag haircut. Costume comes with black hose and shoes. Pewter drinking mug and cockney accent optional.

Next up, a splendid recreation of the cereal box heroes - Snap Crackle and Pop. Thats Cathy on the left as Pop! Mary in the middle as Crackle! and on the right, that's me as Snap!

And finally, closing out our Halloween fashion show, the lovely me, in my own rendition of the infamous "picnic dress" worn by Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind.

There's my Halloween repertoire, what's YOUR favorite costume?  And make sure you visit all of the other Fun Monday participants to check out their rogues gallery!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


As autumn closes in, I can already feel the impending chill of winter.  

It is as if we are suspended for a moment, while autumn exhales a long sigh of submission, at the same time winter is inhaling its first eager, icy breath. Skies turn grey, leaves turn brown, and people turn inward. In this instant, poised between light and dark, between abundance and death, transformation is all around us.
Last night, my husband and I attended a memorial service for a vivacious 17-year old girl, who died suddenly this week of a brain aneurysm. She was the daughter of dear friends, but also a theatre kid, so she might as well have been ours. As we took our seats among the 1,000 others gathered there, the shock and raw grief was palpable, as was the regret for lost chances and missed opportunities. It brought into stark clarity the need to live in the moment as much as possible. But as we listened to the stories told by friends, and teachers, and songs sung by cast-mates, we began to take what comfort we could in their common message, best summed up by her principal, who wished he would have said sooner, “Thank you. You made me a better person than I truly am.” In her short time among us, this bright and lively spirit, transformed us all.

Autumn is change; a closing, a shift. It is a kind of acceptance of the passage of time, of our own mortality, which does not necessarily herald the end, but merely a part of a never ending cycle. Life never really stands still, and we never know when that last warm day will be, or when that last hug is truly the last. So how do we cope with the whims of fate and the relentless advance of time? Live in the moment. Seize the day. Make the most of now. There are simple moments every day to enjoy while they last. In time, another transformation will take place, the sun will shine, the birds will return, the leaves will grow again, and the cycle of life will go on.

Charli pays tribute with a song from "Hairspray"

"There's a cry
In the distance
It's a voice
That comes from deep within
There's a cry
Asking why
I pray the answer's up ahead
'Cause I know where I've been"

The pink in this picture is inspired by Beverly at How Sweet The Sound's Pink Saturday

Saturday, October 22, 2011


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and everywhere there are benefits and fundraisers.  Here in the FM all month long, teams and individuals can be found raising money and awareness by collecting old BRAs and of course money for our local FUNdraiser
BRAs of every size shape and color are strung together to create a BRA Garland that is draped across the front and sides of the Hotel Donaldson during the week of October 23rd in support of breast cancer 
awareness month.
Last night, a group of BRAve and BRAssy broads gathered for a BRAnd new kind of party we called BRA-VADA.

Our BRAinchild was to use all of the spare b
eads, BRAcelets and BRAid we had lying around to make sure the BRAs we donated could be seen among the thousands in the BRA garland.
There was a lot of BRAgging, some BRAndishing of hot glue guns, but luckily no BRAwls broke out.
The end result was amazing! 

Some were demure and almost wearable.

Some were fabulous.

Some BRAzen,  

We weren't afraid to BRAnch out, and try new things. 

In fact we had so much fun we're going to make this an annual event!
BRAce yourself!


The pink in these pictures is inspired by Beverly at How Sweet The Sound's Pink Saturday
The shameless self promotion is inspired by Mrs. G at Derfwad Manor's Showboat Saturday

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Do We Really Need to Keep That?

I was raised by the generation that survived the depression.  Both of my parents had learned, and continued to live by the old adage: make-do or do-without. They rarely threw anything away, in fact our family was reducing, reusing, and repurposing way ahead of today's recycling game. 

When you'd paid good money for something that happened to break, or outlive it's usefulness, or (heaven forbid) wear out, my parents' generation knew there was a good chance you could fix it, or - better yet - make it into something else.

Old magazines were craftily folded and spray painted to become Christmas choir boys;

newspapers not only lined shelves and bird cages, but became papier mache strips; bleach bottles became piggy banks.

I once talked my mom into buying me a rather spendy (at the time) clear plastic raincoat, just like the one my best friend had. Unfortunately, polymers in the 60s not being what they are today, my beautiful mod raincoat began to crack.  Frugal mom to the rescue!  She took black electricians tape, and covered not only the cracks, but artfully lined the seams, cuffs and pockets, giving my already cool outerwear it's own individuality, and style!

Whatever happened to all of those magical creations, I can't quite recall... probably eventually ended up in a landfill I suppose.  Which is too bad, not only for the environment, but because the coat pictured above is from a current designer's uber spendy collection, and I swear the one artfully altered by my own mother looked just like that!

I may have carried some of my parents' spendthrift tendencies into my own adult life... which prompts Downtown Dad to ask, in an oh-so respectful and I assume rhetorical manner, "do we really need to keep that?" I will confess that on the off chance I may need them someday, I do store a lot of things in our basement, and by things I mean items that were made or purchased, and now for one reason or another aren't currently being used. This does NOT mean that those items are useLESS!

For example, along with admitted trash, like the two fried computer cases, three monitors, and stray keyboards; and items such as boxes of important things like macrame books, unfinished needlework projects, and mugs from the 2005 Renaissance Faire; there hangs in the rafters a group of items with which I will not part...

every costume my kids wore in 6 years of theatre!  

I do understand that there is little to no chance I will ever find a use for a two-tailed, orange fur Cowardly Lion costume that still retains the smell of 10 August performances; or a preteen lady-in-waiting dress; or a High School Musical Wildcats track suit - even if it has been to Scotland. I have, however, used quite a few of the 200 large safety pins that festooned a punk crow costume.  And best of all, when a small cast in our local children's theatre production of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves afforded my son the chance for 2nd billing as not one but all 40 of the thieves, we became the proud owners of a 4' tall, hand-painted, round canvas, um ....cylinder.  That cylinder, with the proper top rigging, and just the right kind of bulb, is destined for another starring role, as a floor lamp in our family room!  

Boom! Why, yes, as a matter of fact we do need to keep that!

Be honest, what strange things are you not willing to part with?  And, for extra bonus points - what creative ways can you think of to use those things to give them a second life?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pink Inspiration

This week, I'm linking to Pink Saturday where Beverly invites us to Share Our Pink Inspiration.

Well, this week, my inspiration happens to be my blog, where a lot of   changing   swearing   reinvention is going on! Mainly because a lot of the aforementioned is also going on in my own life. So, excuse the "dust."

I firmly believe that just because a person is of a "certain age" doesn't mean she has to stop having fun, or being funny. There is a lot of potential for humor in the things I   complain  worry   dream  care about, and I'm willing to bet its the same for you. I'm aiming for this blog to be a place where it's less of a speech, and more of a community - or better, a conversation like you'd have with girlfriends over coffee... or wine... or martinis!

So, this week my girlfriends and I are planning for a party we will be hosting together at my house.  Its a fun FUNdraiser for an annual event that takes place here at a local downtown hotel called Bras On Broadway.  They literally drape the building with a bra-garland in order to draw attention to the fight against breast cancer.  And DRAW ATTENTION they do!

Last year they had over 3,000 bras in the garland, and raised over $62,000!  The focus of the event is on the artistic reinvention of the bra. Inside the building, at the actual event, local artists donate wearable and non wearable art bras which are modeled and then auctioned off.  All proceeds are donated to the American Cancer Society to support local women in our area who are fighting breast cancer.

Teams form in the weeks before the actual event to gather donations and old broken down bras for the garland.  The party we're hosting is a PRE-fundraiser we're calling Bra-vada.  We'll collect donations, and bras, then over coffee, or wine, or martinis and a few hors d'oeuvres, we'll decorate, bedazzle, adorn, embellish... in other words - prettify our cast off brassieres to add to the bra garland and wave in the wind with the others!  Be sure to check in next week - I'm sure I'll have at least one pink bedazzled bra to share!

Pretty cool huh?  What do you think?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Harvest Chili

When the seasons change, especially from late summer to fall, I start to crave the tastes, smells, sounds and colors that are associated with that season.

Over the weekend we changed our front porch decor, we lit the pumpkin and apple scented candles from last year, and we listened to the rustle and crunch of leaves (in the dining room, kitchen and living room, that the dogs had carried in on their fur) and later, the roar of leaf blowers and vacuum cleaners. The only sense I hadn't indulged yet was taste, so - In response to this month's The GOOD 30-Day Challenge (#30DaysofGOOD)  Day 9 - Make a Big Batch of Soup.   I decided to try a recipe I found in this month's Better Homes and Gardens magazine for Harvest Chili.

Now being born and raised in Southern California, I have to admit that to me, Chili ain't Chili unless it is a big beefy bowl of red  - WITH beans thank you very much.  So I must say that after looking at the list of ingredients which included squash, and apples, I entered into this with more than just a little trepidation.

I've linked the recipe above, and if you try it, you should know that it came together amazingly well.  The finished product was a lovely golden color, and the combination of spicy cayenne, and chili powder with the sweetness of the squash and apples was the perfect way to top off a lovely autumn evening, with more than enough leftovers for lunch the next day!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

TMI - Colonoscopy**

**You were warned!

At least 20 years ago, my oldest son had an emergency appendectomy.  They used the latest technology which allowed them to hand me a video of the whole procedure, as they wheeled my poor baby into recovery.  It showed the entire 15 minute laproscopic surgery, which included a highly dramatic appendix explosion just seconds after it was contained in the bag attached to one of the camera's appendages.  I was strangely fascinated with watching my young son's innards swim past the lens.  That's just not something you see every day!  So when it came time for me to schedule my dreaded colonoscopy, I actually found myself hoping that there would be an opportunity to get a video of my innards too - how fun would that be?  The prep, however, took a lot of the fun out of the situation.

My instructions were clear, if not a little unnerving - "Two days before your colonoscopy, you must start on the prep regimen, and follow a low fiber diet. One day before, a no fiber/clear liquid diet..." 

Wait just a doggone minute!  I've always been under the impression that if you want to "clean yourself out" you need to eat things that are high in fiber.  

Well, that's true if you're trying to maintain an equilibrium in your colon.  To achieve the total clean out in the shortest amount of time, what they actually mean by low fiber is what leaves the least residue.  After having gone through this clean out, I'm sorry to tell you that high fiber foods lead to what I can only call sediment, what flushes out last, in the wake of the prescription drink that empties you prior to the procedure.  What you're aiming for is ease of, and lowest acidic content, for the evacuation.

**Seriously, I warned you. 

This prescription drink I speak of is ironically named Golytely.  When I first looked at the label I would have thought it was pronounced Go-lee-tell-ee.  I would have been wrong.  When the Endoscopy nurse called me to go over the instructions, she pronounced it Go-lightly. Which is perhaps the most misleading name ever.  The Go part is accurate, the lightly part?  Not so much.   

The instructions are really specific about the timing of the prep phase, based on the time of your scheduled procedure.  Mine was at 8am the next morning, so I was supposed to start drinking one half gallon of the Golytely at a rate of 8 oz every ten minutes, at 4pm, then the second half gallon at 2am.

I poured the whole manila envelope full of powder into an empty gallon jug, filled the jug with water, then proceeded to drink half of it, 8 ounces at a time.  I was almost pleasantly surprised at the taste which, initially, was similar to a combination of Gatorade and a very dirty martini.  About a quarter of the way through the drinking process I was able to imagine I was chugging three martinis.  However, very soon into the next 8 ounces, the glitter had started to rub off of that fantasy.  

The instructions were clear, you must drink the prescribed amount at the prescribed rate.  Why?  Because, as they ominously forewarned, after drinking the solution, a loose watery bowel movement should result in approximately one hour.  They are not kidding.  I won't go into great detail, since Dave Barry has already done so, much more hilariously than I ever could in his own colonoscopy story.

Suffice it to say that I got through the first half gallon, and it had the anticipated outcome.  Pun intended. I was supposed to drink the other half gallon of Golytely at 1am, so I set my alarm.  Turns out there was no need for an additional alarm, the urgent need to run to the bathroom every 5 minutes kept me from sleeping at all.  I seriously wondered what was left to evacuate once I finished my second round of guzzling dirty martinis.  Turns out there wasn't much, except the aforementioned sediment, 
and a few fingernails, oh and the bubble gum I swallowed in 7th grade.

8am arrived pretty quickly after that.  I still hadn't slept much, so I looked forward, perhaps a little too eagerly to the sedation drugs.  It wasn't that I was worried so much about any pain, it was the paralyzing fear of being well, you know, ...invaded!  I know I must have asked way too many times to make sure they got enough drugs in me.  Even more so when they flipped on the viewer, and I got a lovely close up view of the doctor's smock pocket, which then reminded me that I needed to ask for a copy of the video.  

This is where the sedation drugs took hold.  The next thing I remember was waking up, not feeling violated, and actually feeling pretty high, in a good way.  I don't recall actually getting dressed, but amazingly, the next thing I clearly remember is wearing my regular clothes, sitting in a room with Downtown Dad and someone who was telling me that they had found and removed one polyp, and that I would have some gas, but to be sure to fart.  I wanted to laugh at the word polyp and the fact that he said fart, and I wanted to remember to ask for the video.  I apparently did none of the above.  

I drifted in and out of the rest of that day, and I seriously have to agree with everyone who'd had one before, and told me it was a "piece of cake."  It was literally painless, with the added benefit of a rapid cleanse, and a whole day of relaxation. Some people pay good money at a spa for the same thing, and it's not covered by insurance.  Nor, do I expect that there would be any polyp removals at a spa.  I couldn't help wishing though, that I'd actually asked for a video.

A few days later, a 5 page report came in the mail from the Endoscopy department.  They'd received the pathology back on the removed polyp, and they were glad to inform me it was benign.  Whew.  I flipped the page over and there was the procedure report... complete with pictures of my colon! Everything was pink and shiny, and healthy looking, even that dern little polyp. Now that's something you don't see every day!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Begin With The End in Mind - Part 1

I decided at my last doctor's appointment to agree to a barrage of tests.  Not only the normal ones that occur annually, but also the ones you dread   invasive  ones that are necessary  for old people  as one ages.  Sure, the ultimate reason for this is to assure I'm not carrying any life threatening, or communicable diseases.  But as the list grew longer, I started to see the potential humor in experiencing some of this first hand.

I had just started with a new doctor, who, I began to notice, had a healthy, if not unnervingly gleeful curiosity about  human medical experimentation  fixing what ailed me. And as I got to the end of my list (yes, I made a list) I realized there is plenty that ails me.  She made a few concerned doctor noises, scribbled some notes, looked some things up in a much-dogeared manual, scrutinized me over the top of her glasses, made some more concerned doctor noises, and scribbled some more notes.

Ultimately, she told me that 7 vials of blood needed to be drawn to test for everything from adrenal fatigue, to rickets.  4 vials of saliva needed to be collected in order to renew my hormone replacement therapy.  I'd need a full physical, a mammogram, oh, and a colonoscopy. All of which came with varying degrees of what I could and couldn't  shoot up  smoke  eat, or drink, and when.

Great.  We all know what happens when I modify my diet in any way... my whole office, concerned for my well being of course, demands to know the reason why.  So, I figured since I'd be sharing the intimate details about my bodily fluid collection, and the exploration of my inner recesses with them, I might as well share those details here with the whole world!

Now, despite a couple of large bruises that formed on my inner arms where the blood was drawn, I really had little to talk about for the first couple weeks in September. And really, you can complain about inconvenience, or pain all you want, but there's no one that actually wants to talk about spitting into a tube, or getting your boobs squished.  It's not sexy, and it's not funny.

But, (pun intended) then the time drew near for the dreaded colonoscopy.  You'd be surprised at what a bonding opportunity that turned out to be.  It's like childbirth, every one who's had one has a story. Even relative strangers, once they know you're going to become "one of the club," feel like they can share the details of their personal experience.

And, when you think about it, I mean if you're healthy, there's nothing that's NOT funny about a colonoscopy.  Seriously, first, there's the fourth grade butt and poop humor that just never stops coming... it just cracks me up... I started to write them all down, but I got a little behind... don't worry, I'm not offended if you don't laugh, I'll just turn the other cheek...


OK, enough jokes, that's the end.  OK, since I mentioned end, one more thing... the whole department that performs these tests - it's name... Endoscopy?! Sure, they put the emphasis on the the do, instead of end, but you've gotta admit, even though the word is derived from the Greek "endon" meaning "within"... I mean, c'mon... End?  


As I was writing this, knowing I would be talking about personal things, I got out my thesaurus to look up alternate options for the word intimate, since it seemed to be popping up frequently.  Even that list of words started to make me giggle... 

Main Entry:     intimate
Part of Speech:     adjective
Definition:     private, personal

Synonyms:     confidential, deep, deep-seated, detailed, elemental, essential, exhaustive, experienced, firsthand, guarded, gut, immediate, in-depth, inborn, inbred, indwelling, ingrained, inherent, inmost, innate, innermost, interior, internal, intrinsic, penetrating, privy, profound, secret, special, thorough, trusted, uptight, visceral, viscerous.


OK, enough.  So, a few days before my appointment, I got a packet in the mail from the Endoscopy Department.  I opened it, eagerly expecting some hilarious potty humor.  Inside were instructions, a packet of the powdered "prep" called Golytely, and a full color brochure titled "Understanding Colonoscopy." 

In the brochure were lots of pictures of happy people, caring, white-coated doctors, latex gloved hands, a fleshy veined tunnel with an arrow pointing to a polyp which resembles a turkey wattle, and a lovely cartoon-like diagram of a colon, which actually looks more like a curvy lineup of those orange candy circus peanuts.  Cheesy, but not funny. The written part explained the ordeal    adventure   procedure in a reassuring but decidedly non-humourous way.... like "examine the  lining of your large intestine for abnormalities by inserting a thin flexible tube as thick as your finger into your anus"  OK, as thick as who's finger?  "slowly advancing it into the rectum and colon."   Really?  With so many words that can have double meaning at your disposal and the subject matter just begging for humor, they went with serious.  Really?  Really.

I will discuss Golytely, it's ironic pronunciation and purpose as well as the actual procedure in detail later. For now lets just say that the end was in sight, but the instructions on how to get there did not leave me feeling reassured, nor amused.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Photographs and Memories

Call me sentimental, but one thing I love to do is look at old photos.  Old being the operative word here.  Old to me can be 50 or more years ago, or just a couple of weeks ago.  The point being I just enjoy that moment (however awkward or adorable) that was captured in time. 

One thing that had been nagging at me since I'd come home from California and the media storm that covered the opening of our elementary school's time capsule, was that I wanted to somehow gather and save all of the pictures and video that were taken that day.  

I finally created a Facebook page that did just that.  I'm hoping that this will serve as a digital representation of what the old scrap books of days gone by used to be. I hope that the others that were there, and some who couldn't be there can look at the pictures, and share their thoughts. 

Ah, the magic of the Internet!