Thursday, December 31, 2009

"The Counting Song" (again!)

I have always heard about people who make Resolutions at the New Year to change, improve, modify, or cease a certain behavior.  From what I understand most folks aren't very successful at it after a few days.  Well, I know myself better than to do that.  I probably couldn't keep a resolution more than an afternoon!

Therefore, I don't do resolutions, but I do have "10 Hopes for the New Year."  I'll share my hopes....

10.  That world peace will actually be achieved and all the soldiers will come home safe and sound and never need to fight again!

9.5  That the Mayans were wrong!

9.   That Austin gets warmer weather the rest of the winter and cooler weather this summer than last summer!

8.  That my favorite authors write faster and more often!

7.  That I will reduce my "addiction" to computer games (or learn to live with it  -  lol)

6.  That I find a good friend here in Austin.

5.  That Maddie gets to remain at the school she loves (yay, Mills!)

4.  That Ratchlet can find a better balance for her use of time.

3.  That the Big Guy, T.A., Ratchlet, M-t-G, and I all remain extremely healthy and whole.

2.  That we all Laugh whenever possible!!

1.  That 2010 is a year of fresh starts, recovery from economic problems, good health, and renewed joy in living!

Happy New Year!  May all of our resolutions and hopes work out for the very best!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"What Are You Doing for New Year's?"

Okay, I seriously don't get it.  What happened to 2009?  If you're like me, the whole year disappeared in a blink of an eye!  Poof!  Gone!!  Tomorrow is the last day of 2009, Friday it will be 2010!  A full ten years into the Millenium, the Century, the Decade!  (And I am not inviting any discussions of whether its this year or next year.  When I start writing 2010, it seems like it should be ten years!)  No matter how you slice it, the whole thing changes over at midnight tomorrow night!

So "what are you doing for New Year's?" 

When we were still living in Chicago (and we were MUCH younger), we used to go to a New Year's dinner/dance sponsored by an organization we were involved in.  It was great!!  We got dressed up, had good food, got to dance a lot, had champagne and other "fun" liquids, and get New Year's kisses from a lot of friends!  An added bonus was that the event was held less than a mile from our we didn't have to worry too much about the drunken idiots on the road.  It was a lot of fun!  I miss doing that a lot.  The Big Guy doesn't enjoy dancing very much, while I absolutely adore it.  So when they stopped giving the dinner/dances, I was heartbroken....Mikey was not!

After that we spent several years with our 3 very closest friends, at their home (also very close to where we lived) and we talked, played games, and talked, and ate, had champagne, and talked, counted down to midnight and had kisses all around, talked, and stayed out waaaay too late!  That was terrific! Then, we moved to CA and lived there for 10 years.  No fun dances, but we did spend New Year's with some new friends, so it was okay! 

Then we moved to Austin.  We've been here 9 years and we have haven't done anything exciting on New Year's since.  We did spend a couple of New Year's with Ratchlet, T.A. and M-T-G, but it was all very low key. 

We probably wouldn't have made any plans for this year either, but I came up with a plan to have a PARTY!  A real, bona fide party with games, paper hats, food, and our very best friend!!  Maddie-the Great will be our sole guest, but that's okay!   We didn't invite anyone else!  We told her she could stay up to welcome in the New Year at midnight!  That will be a first for her and she is very excited.  Of course, Ratchlet and T.A. will enjoy having their own New Year's Eve celebration,  but Poppa and Grammy and M-t-G will have as good a time together every bit as much!!  If M-t-G actually manages to stay awake til midnight, we'll get kisses from our favorite girl!  Isn't it funny how our priorities change over time??

And I bet, if I ask her really, really nicely, Maddie might even dance with me!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"The Christmas Song"

Although we didn't have any chestnuts roasting, we did have the lovely glow of the fireplace and all the Christmas songs were the order of the day.  I am extremely proud to tell you, IT ALL GOT DONE!  Whoo Hoo!  My house (most of it anyway) was decorated to the rafters, the ornaments were on the tree (the lights come in the of the best inventions of the Millenium!), we had all our munchies and eggnog for Christmas Eve, we did our traditional tour of the neighborhood to see the pretty lights.  And boy, was there one happy little girl when we returned from our tour and she realized that Santa arrived right on schedule!  Even though she had been a bit skeptical about the jolly old guy's existence, she had to admit that no one stayed at home, we were all out on the tour, soooo, Santa must have really been there! 

We follow the tradition of my mom's family of exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve.  The logistics of making that happen require a well-planned and coordinated effort with Santa's staff.  First my grandparents, then my mom, and now me, have been making it work for over 75+ years!  The practice comes from the German tradition, in fact it used to be that my mom and her siblings never even SAW the decorated tree until Christmas Eve!  That would be impossible to pull off these days I think.  I certainly wouldn't like to even try it!

As you can see, Maddie was thrilled when she found her haul from Santa!!  She had that smile on all evening, even when she was not-so-patiently waiting for her "turn" to open a gift!

Everyone received some lovely and/or fun gifts (as always).  There was lots of laughter, but no tears this year.  (We'll look for inspiration again next year!)  There were practical gifts (a towel warmer from Little Sis...can't wait to try it!), silly gifts (little puzzles in the stockings for everyone), fun gifts (several word games....we all LOVE word games!), and fashionable gifts (there are three females in our family, do you think there wouldn't be a lot of clothes??) and the guys got tools!!  (their favorite things), things to read for everyone, and a traditional kitchen calendar that has arrived every Christmas since Little Sis was old enough to shop! 

I loved all my gifts as I always do, but there  was one that became my instant favorite!  This lovely linen guest towel was picked out by Maddie, herself, and it shows how well she already knows her Grammy!!  In case you can't read it, it says "Its hard to be a Diamond in a Rhinestone world." It makes me laugh everytime I read it.  What a hoot!  The kid definitely has a sense of humor!  I'll keep it forever! 

Now the tree was, as I said, decorated and lit, but when it came  time to put on the garland and the stars we use instead of tinsel, everyone said they preferred it without further adornment so they could actually see the ornaments.  That may be somewhat true, but I know that the truth of the matter is that no one wants to help put the garland on because I like it draped just so and its not simple to do.  Also, it is not a job for just one person, it requires a "draper" (me) and a "carrier" (anybody I can talk into helping).  I was outvoted.  So, as you can see above, the tree is a little "underdressed".

Nevertheless, it does allow me to share with you the best story of this Christmas.  On our tree we have an enormous number of ornaments (you collect a lot over 44 years!!)  Most of them have a story connected to them.  For instance, every time I receive a momento of a show I have done, it goes on the tree!  (That's why I have a gold bagel on my tree....received from another cast memeber when I played Golda in "Fiddler on the Roof.")  Lots of memories and reminders of the people and places we love! 

One of my most treasured ornaments belonged to my mother and was always on her tree every year for as long as I can remember.  It is an extremely old ornament that she received when she was a little girl!!  Originally, she was an ice skater (the ornament, not mom!) but over the years she became more and more bedraggled and lost the skates somewhere.  Finally mom did her best to repair and replace the parts of the dress that were falling apart.  After mom died, this was the only thing of hers I really wanted for myself.  Every year when I place it on the tree, I think of mom and miss her all over again.  

The key thing to remember about the little skater is how very old she is.   Now we flash forward to this year when Ratchlet and I were out doing our Christmas shopping.  We always look at the ornaments and decorations (and usually end up buying some to add to our collections.)  When I saw a little doll ornament on display, it gave me chills. She too, had a little porcelain face and her body was made from the same material and same color as the skater's original body!! When Ratchlet saw it she said, "It looks just like Gram's ornament!"  When the Big Guy saw it said, "Oh my God!"

Of course, she had to come home with me.  Below is a photo of the little Ice Skater (left) and the new little doll (right).  Now as you can see the two dolls don't really look that much alike; but they are similar enough to want to keep them together, especially with the photo of mom hanging with them.  One is brand new and one is probably nearly 100 years old.  I have a feeling they will stay together on Ratchlet or Maddie's tree long into the future as well.  So the story will just keep getting better and better.  Amazing, don't you think?

So we didn't have chestnuts, or snow, or expensive gifts.  What we did have, and will always keep, are more Christmas memories that will last a lifetime and beyond. 

"...And so I'm offering this little phrase
to kids from one to ninety-two,
although it's been said many times, many ways,
Merry Christmas to you."

Monday, December 28, 2009

Just a Christmas Teaser....

My favorite present!

The best story!

The best look!

Stay tuned, more to come....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Save the Last Dance for Me"

I hope everyone had perfectly wonderful Christmases, as we did!  I had every intention of making my next post be about our Christmas experiences.  While I still intend to write about our Christmas, there is something that has been on my mind for the last few days.  Like all my stories, it requires some background. 

Little Sis and I have recently reconnected (thru Facebook) with several cousins we haven't seen in years and years!  Because the family has spread out all over the country, there has never been an awful lot of closeness among the cousins. Every few years there would be a reunion or a wedding, or funeral where we'd all show up and catch up in that way.  Mostly though we got to know each other through our moms and dads and their letters to each other. 

There's a pretty wide age spread of our more than 30 first cousins; we now fall somewhere between our early 30's to mid 70s (wow).  All the aunts and uncles were so close growing up (as large families often are) and they would collectively, I think, be thrilled to know we're reconnecting those family ties.

My mom and my Aunt Annie were the closest of the sisters.  Annie had six kids, the oldest daughter, Sue, is 7 years younger than I....that's a pretty big spread when you're children.  My aunt's family still lives in the same area where both my mom and dad had spent part of their growing up years. I was already married and gone when Sue and her brother and/or friend would often come to Chicago on the train to go the Chicago Cubs games.  My dad, who liked baseball, and Little Sis would generally go with them.  This continued for a few years. 

When I got my Christmas greeting from Sue last week, she said how much she missed her mom who died about 20 years ago.  She also missed my mom, who was her "favorite" aunt.  And then she said something that absolutely knocked me flat! 

 She said, "....And your dad, what can you say about him!   What uncle would come all the way out here to take his niece to homecoming because she couldn't get a date?? He was the best!"

"WHAT?  My dad???  Uncle Jim???  Really???  It wasn't one of the other uncles?"  I asked. "Nope, it was Uncle Jim!" she replied.  "We were playing Grant H.S."  Well, that was where my Dad went to high school, so technically he was an alum of the rival.  Somehow tho, I never knew he did such a lovely thing for Sue.  My dad was a pretty good-looking guy.  I'm sure that added to his appeal as a partner!!  Besides he could certainly "cut a rug" ....  (oh, go look it up if you must!)  Nevertheless, she's right, what uncle would do such a great thing?? 

Because I had not known about this when it happened, I don't know how it came about exactly.  Did he offer himself?  Did my mom "volunteer" him?  Did Sue ask him??  It doesn't really matter, he did it.  And Sue, obviously, has never forgotten it!  No woman ever would! 

Its a strange feeling to learn something I never knew about a man I thought I knew well.  A good feeling, but still strange.  I guess we never really know anyone as well as we think we do.  My dad was quite a guy!  I'm proud of him!

p.s.  Still, it's ironic, isn't it, that I was never asked to go to a homecoming dance, or a prom, or the like, either, until I met Mikey in college.  There was no uncle for me.  I had quite a few dance nights sitting at home, telling myself it didn't matter!    Of course I survived, but maybe, somewhere, my dad is saving the last dance for me....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Home for the Holidays"

Well, I just can't help it, I've got to crow just a little bit.  It is now 7:35 p.m. on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 and (significantly thanks to the Big Guy) our Christmas lights are up outside; all of the gift shopping is done; all of the gifts are wrapped, bowed, and tagged; the Christmas newsletter is written and emailed to all our friends and family; the stocking stuffers are wrapped and sorted and ready to be stuffed; and most of the food shopping is done.  On the day BEFORE Christmas Eve!  Of course, there is the tiny little insignificant matter of the naked, but lit Christmas tree and the totally undecorated interior of the house, but hey, that's just quibbling!  I think we just might have everything complete and in place for Christmas Eve!  Its really going to look like "Home for the Holidays!"

And because this is a rarity in the history of my household, I am totally impressed with me and Mikey!! So I'm patting him on the back and he is patting me! 

I hope that the all the hurry scurry, hustle bustle, screamin' meemies are finished at your house too!  So that all of us may actually participate in the joy and wonder of the Christmas Holiday!  Merry Christmas my new and dear friends!  I hope that you are all able to be Home for the Holidays, if only in your dreams....

December, 2003

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"

Every year, all year, I look forward to Christmas.  I think its "the most wonderful time of the year".  I love the decorations, I love the traditions, I love the music, I love having my family close, and I love the look on my daughter's (and granddaughter's) face when they open a particularly perfect present.  Ratchlet gets all teary and sniffly because a present is a sentimental connection to something important to her.  I've managed to hit the mark with one of her gifts nearly every year.  As she has done with me!  (We are an odd family, the gift that makes you cry is the best gift!)

Maddie-the-Great has loved Christmas since she was old enough to sort of know what it was.  The look of excitement when she sees that "Santa's been here!!"  (usually yelled at the top of her lungs), brings a lump to my throat each time.  She gets so happy as she opens each present.  She says, "Santa brought me just what I wanted!"  

The Big Guy is an even bigger fan of Christmas than I am.  He is the one who insists we bring out all the old Christmas things again and again, even tho they are becoming tattered and torn.  (And I pretty much agree with him.)  I've been trying for years to rein-in his gift- giving some, but he seems convinced that more is always better! 

Poor T.A. had the misfortune of marrying into a family of Christmas-addicts!  His reactions are more controlled and he is not as sentimental about the traditional things.  But each year he understands a little bit better than the year before.  Ratchlet and M-t-G's feelings about the holiday, must be rubbing off on him by now!

Every year I promise myself I will get things all done early so that they can be enjoyed throughout the season.  And every year the promise goes by the wayside.  Even if I get an early start, I am still playing catch-up at some point.   Maybe its because I buy too much, or decorate too much, or delay wrapping too much, or several other "too muches" or it might be because everything absolutely must be finished by 3:00 pm Christmas Eve, whatever the reason or combination of reasons, about a week before Christmas, I get to feeling like a Grinch!  It all becomes overwhelming and too much work and I start to snarl at my loved ones.  All I want to do is go back to bed and skip straight to Easter, a much less high-maintenance holiday. 

I thought this year, being retired and all, I could get things done in a leisurely rush, no fuss.  Take my time, do a little bit every day until its all done.  Doesn't seem to be working so far.  I'm behind, as usual.  I haven't completely given up hope for no rush, no fuss, but it most probably will become big rush/big fuss, just like always. 

Then at about 3:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, I'll take a deep breath, and all of a sudden, its "the most wonderful time of the year" again.  Its a tradition. 

Can you find Waldo..unh...Maddie-the Great??

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"59th Street Bridge Song"

Actually its not the title of this song, its the first line that is resonating with me today.  "Slow down, you move too fast."  This is a little piece of advice a lot more of us should pay attention too.

Austin is a growing city.  The population (although I don't remember exactly what it is) is definitely getting bigger and bigger.  The best way to see evidence of that is to go on any road in town during rush hour (which is really more like slow hours!)  I was reading a local history of the roadways in Austin, when I came across the concern that Austin is approaching gridlock!!  Wow, what does that mean??  Will someday everyone be in their car and every single road will be at a standstill??  Will we all live the remainder of our lives stuck in the same place forever???

Austin didn't start out to be a big town.  In fact, like Topsy, "it just grew".  I can understand the appeal of this town.  After all its a kind of funky town.  Its really a textbook case of multiple personality.  There is, of course, the main campus of the University of Texas (which has a student population of about 30,000+!).  After graduation, lots and lots of those grads just stay here!  Then there is the Texas State Capital (the largest of all the state capitals),  with all those legislators, lobbyists, lawyers, aides, assistants, ad infinitum.  Some of them actually go home when the Legislature is not in session, but a lot of them don't!  Then there is the music which means oodles of bands, events, clubs, musicians, promoters, fans and hangers-on.  Some of them, I fear, are too entrenched in the Austin scene to ever leave it.  Then, of course, there are the businesses, lots and lots of businesses.  All of which have lots and lots of employees!

Okay, that just the basic folks.  I haven't mentioned the climate, the terrain, the views, the cost of living, etc., etc. that draws newbies every day.  Seems like everybody is coming to Austin....and they all have cars.

That same history of the roadways, outlined how progressive Austin has been in planning highway systems since the 1960s!  It also outlined how effective Austin has been in CANCELLING highway systems since the 1960s!  The powers that be plan, find the funds, get ready to build and the City Council or someone is convinced by environmentalists, zero-growth fanatics, and/or other assorted  nut cases that adding more roadways would be a death knell for the trees, the wildlife, the anti-pollutionists, and the natural beauty of Austin.  And the roads don't get built or if they do, they are reduced in size, configuration, and usefulness.  So here we are nearly 50 years later (!!!!) and gridlock is just around the corner.

I believe it, too.  Now that Daylight Savings Time has gone away for a few months, its pretty much completely dark by about 5:30 pm.  Thus, it is possible to see from the headlights and tailights, that rush hour traffic is made up of thousands of cars practically bumper to bumper!  All heading in different directions (there is no direction that is counter to traffic) at about the same time.  Its unbelievable. 

Unfortunately, that which makes Austin beautiful, makes it almost impossible to "get there  from here".  We have a river, with too few bridges, running from east to west and right through downtown.  There are multiple limestone "hills" making straightaways few and far between on the existing roads.  In fact there is only one (1) major east-west street to use to go completely across town.  One! 

All right, now I'm getting to the reason I am writing about this.  Its not just frustration, after all I lived in Chicago, so I know all about traffic!  Its because that one major east-west roadway is the only way to get to my house from either the south or the east....where most of the town is!  As you might expect as an important main street, it carries an enormous amount of traffic almost all the time.  Unfortunately it is not just a nice straight level road, no not at all.  It twists and winds and curves all over the place.  It used to be surrounded by GreenSpace (can't figure out when that designation went away). There are lots of trees but very few buildings that can be seen.  If that weren't bad enough, it has a long stretch of the road that goes straight up one of Austin's highest hills.  That stretch doesn't have any shoulder to speak of, it goes into a curve both on the bottom and the top, it is not a lighted road, and the kicker is that its a 60 mph speed limit. 

The stretch that I'm most concerned about is about 7 miles long. 
In the time we have lived here, there have been about 9 traffic fatalities along that 7 mile stretch of road, possibly more that I don't know about.  Nine deaths! 

I guess, because it still feels and looks a bit like a country road, drivers aren't responding like they do in urban areas.  When I'm driving at the speed limit or little less, people pass me like I'm standing still.  The red lights along the way seem to be a challenge to Austin drives to see how many cars can get through without actually stopping.  People turning insist on trying to beat the other cars coming right at them.  Its insane!  My whole family uses that road periodically.  I'm scared to death that one of them will get entangled with one of those idiotic scofflaws and become part of that staggering statistic! 

It was extremely disheartening to read in that history, that an additional section of actual freeway was planned and then cancelled back in the 1970s.  The additional freeway would have been the perfect alternative to using the road up the hill.  So instead we get more fatalities, but all those cute little beetles or bunnies, or whatever are safe!

Its probably unrealistic to hope that people "slow down, you move too fast".   That's ok, I think it will all be taken care of before too long anyway.  Gridlock is coming, remember? 

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Saturday in the Park"

As I told you, the Big Guy and I spent "Saturday in the Park".  So I wanted to let everyone know that we had a very successful CureSearch: Walk for a Cure.  There was an outstanding turnout with lots of teams. Although it was cold (in the high 20's, I think), it was bright and sunny with no wind. So everyone was pretty comfortable.  The Walk was extremely well-organized, in no small part because of the work my wonderful Ratchlet did to make it all happen! There was even some TV coverage!  Publicity is never a bad thing.

Before the Walk actually got underway, the activities included presenting individual medals to each child in attendance, who, like Maddie,  is fighting or has won against this killer.  Also in a very touching moment, white balloons were released by families in memory of the kids who lost that fight. Those balloons were beautiful as they floated away into the clear blue sky!   It was sad but so hopeful.

Because of the generousity of so many people, $25,000  was raised for CureSearch!  Not bad at all for a first effort!  They are already talking about "Next Year" when, it is hoped, everything will be even bigger and better.  After all the fight against Childhood Cancer is not over yet.  But it will be someday if CureSearch and all who were part of the Walk have their way.  That's a goal worth aiming for.

Just as an aside, Ratchlet and M-t-G did indeed go off to a Girl Scout Overnight Camp that evening.  Even though all they had were their sleeping bags to lay on the cold floor of the unheated cabin!  The girls reportedly had fun anyway.  The resilience of kids is amazing.  M-t-G is absolutely fine.  One the other hand, for grown-ups that resilience is much more limited.  When I spoke to Ratchlet on Sunday, she was congested with a sore throat, worn out, and just about done in.  She sounded horrible.  Today she didn't sound much better.  That's not much of a reward for her hard work over the last few months.  But she is undaunted and getting plans started for the next walk.  There's one thing about next year's "Saturday in the Park" that's already written in stone....the Walk will be in October not December!! 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

"On the Sunny Side of the Street"

It was only 28 F when we left the house for the CureSearch: Walk for the Cure yesterday morning.  As will surprise absolutely no one, I was bundled up like Nanook of the North.  My layers had layers!  I had a on Down coat with a big hood with fur trim....the heaviest socks I own (even though they didn't match anything else I was wearing!)....long-sleeved turtleneck....a camisole....all the regulation (ahem) undies....a heavy long-sleeved sweater with a high neck....heavy-weight jeans....a knit hat pulled down over my ears....a scarf around my neck....and wooly-lined suede gloves in which I could not bend my fingers.  Hey, I'm from Chicago, I know how to dress for cold.  I was READY!

When we arrived at the site and located T.A. (our team leader) and M-t-G (both dressed appropriately I might add), I had some time to look around a bit.  As far as I could tell there was only one other person dressed in a down coat with a hood (although the coat was not zipped and the hood was not up).  The other Nanook was none other than Ratchlet, also from Chicago, who was also READY for the cold, the wind, the wind-chill, the gray skies, and a day more like Chicago than Austin.

No one else seemed quite so prepared as we were.  There were jackets and some hats of course, but nothing that seemed like it could stand up to the cold.  I even saw a few teenage-types wearing only a sweatshirt over their regular clothes.  The mother in me really had to restrain herself from going to each one and insisting they go home for a real jacket!  Well, before I made a total fool of myself, I finally got in touch with reality.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky.  The sun was shining bright in the middle of a beautiful blue sky.  There was absolutely no wind, therefore there was no wind-chill.  It was still cold but NOTHING like a cold wintery day in Chicago!! 

There were speeches and announcements and things (more on this later) and then it was time to walk!  As we headed out onto the path laid out for the Walk, we were walking on a street that was sunny curb-to-curb! After about 5 minutes of walking, my hood came down, then the gloves went into my pocket, and I unwound the scarf.  It was practically balmy!  I have no idea what the actual temp was by this point, but it sure wasn't bitterly cold, like I expected.  What a great surprise.  What a great day for a Walk for a Great Cause!!

By the time the walk route was complete nearly everyone had opened their jackets, and headed straight for the cold water being distributed.  Mikey and M-t-G who, along with some others, had been carrying the banner and setting the pace, came up to the water station with sweaty heads and hats and gloves banished to pockets.

Still and all, I am glad we dressed as warmly as we did.  It probably was the insurance we needed that the day would be perfect!   After all it was "the sunny side of the street" all around us!   

As things were finishing up, I happened to catch sight of the sweatshirt contingent.  I was just a tiny bit vindicated....they still looked COLD!  Silly Texans!  Haven't a clue on how to dress for the weather!  Turns out, though, in Austin, neither do I!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Deep in the Heart of Texas"

Here, "deep in the Heart of Texas", it snowed today!  Snowed!!  Ratchlet was very happy.  I didn't even mind it.  "Hmmm, that doesn't sound like you", you might be saying.  It is true!  It snowed here, in Austin.  It snowed with medium-sized fluffy flakes for about 15 minutes around Noon, with the sun shining brightly!  It didn't even stick to the grass, much less anything else.  Now THAT's snow I can live with!   I would be cheerfully satisfied if this is the only snow we get this year, but I'm not going to bet on it.

"Bits and Pieces"

Today I have a few "bits and pieces" to address about current (well, sort of current) events.  Such as....

*  Don't you wish that someone from "What Not to Wear" would take Michelle Obama in hand??  I mean, seriously, the woman needs a makeover, the sooner the better!  Meaning no disrespect, I just don't see her as a trendsetter, I see her as fashion-challenged!  When I look at photos of Mrs. O at some event or other, more often than not, I cringe!  What was she thinking??? By the time they reach her age, most women in public life have figured out what does and what doesn't work with their body type and size.  Mrs. Obama must have missed class that day!  Maybe if we could give her just a few points to consider like.... 1) skirts and blouses and cardigans should not be the outfit of choice for meeting the Queen of England or other Heads of State!  2)  A mis-matched belt worn over a sweater or a bulky coat should only be worn by the very thin.  Actually a mis-matched belt shouldn't be worn by anyone!  3)  There are fabrics that hold their shape, others that don't need to be pressed 15 minutes after putting them on, and still others that drape and hang nicely on every body type.  Mrs. Obama doesn't appear to have found any of them.  4) There are ways of minimizing the look of areas that are not one's best points.  Full skirts, pants that are too tight, and larger prints do not help.  5)  I wonder if Mrs. Obama could possibly be color blind or at least color-challenged.  Shoes, handbags, separates, sweaters, etc. all need to be in colors complimentary to the main color of the outfit.  Pretty close or sort of matching just won't do!  6)  Any belt that does not stay in place around its intended body position (i.e. the waist!), should be anchored with a handy little invention called belt loops.  Said belt should not, under any circumstances, be allowed to migrate north to sit just below the bustline, spoiling the line of the dress or sweater, and generally looking messy.  To be fair, I have seen the First Lady in some outfits that were flattering to her, having better lines, better fit, better colors, better design.  I wish whoever dressed her on those occasions had the job full-time!  As this country's First Lady, she is one of the most visible women in the world.  To some extent she represents all of us.  Her style just does not make a good impression on any level at all.  In fact, her mode of dress can at times come extremely close to disrespectful to her counter-parts from other areas of the world, (i.e. Queen Elizabeth, who is the longest reigning and most respected monarch alive in the world today.)  Surely someone could have told Mrs O. that a skirt and blouse really wasn't the way to go!!  I just read somewhere that one of the dresses she wore recently was purchased at Target!  Perhaps that's part of the problem.  She's going to the wrong stores!

**  Have you heard that the world is supposed to end sometime in December 2010?  This is according to the Mayan calendar and their predictions according to the celestial observations they had made....somewhere between 1000 B.C and 1500 A.D.!  I'm not too seriously worried about this.  I have heard several dates throughout my lifetime that were predicted to be the end of the world according to some group or other.  To the best of my knowledge, none of those predictions came true.  Yet, the Mayans were pretty bright folks.  Their whole calendar thing has appeared to be spot-on over the years.  How did they figure this stuff out when the rest of the world at the time was still of the belief that the Earth was not only flat, it was the center of the Universe.  December 2010 is only a year away.  Some sort of cataclysmic something could happen I guess, but so far, there doesn't seem to be any evidence of what it could be.  So, except for that pesky prediction by those ancient know-it-alls, there doesn't seem to be anyone taking it too seriously.  That's kind of comforting.  Still, the Mayans had a pretty good track record of accurately predicting things like eclipses and such.  I sure hope they're wrong this time!  If they're not wrong, well, at least none of them will be standing around saying, "nyah, nyah, told ya!  There's nothing worse than a gloating dead civilization.

*** I'm awfully tired of bad news, aren't you?  You can't hear a news broadcast, pick up a newspaper, or read headlines on your web browser without being smacked in the face with something that you sure wish you hadn't heard.  More shootings, healthcare protests, more troops to be deployed, unemployment, financial mismanagement, bankruptcies, fraud, political correctness blown waaaay out of proportion, it just goes on and on.  I'm really sick of it.  It may be that the people have a right to know, but most times I really don't have the need to know.    The world seems to be getting crazier every day.  Of course, there are good things happening.  Its just so easy to get overwhelmed by the bad stuff!  And so far as I can tell, there's just no avoiding it completely.  So if you see me around, I may be humming....REALLY LOUD....trying to drown it all out.  It doesn't really work, but I'm enjoying the music anyway.

****  It is now 21 days until Christmas....aaaacccckkk!

*****Tomorrow and early Saturday will be the coldest days so far this winter.  Snow is predicted in Austin on Friday!  Temps below freezing Saturday.  Oh goody.  And wouldn't you know, Saturday morning (early) the Big Guy and I will be walking with Ratchlet, M-t-G, and TA in an outside Milestones:  CureSearch Walk for a Cure, to raise funds and awareness for more research for curing childhood cancer.  We'll all have to pull out our snuggies and our heaviest coats!  To make it worse, after the Walk, M-t-G and Ratchlet will be going to a Girl Scout Overnight stay in unheated cabins with sleeping bags!  Holy Ice Cube, Batman! 

Well, the sum of the whole of all these "bits and pieces" is equal to the amount of energy I had for writing tonight....and I have used that all up!  "Goodnight, Sweetheart(s)"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"A - You're Adorable"

Okay I admit it up front....I am stealing this idea from my friend, c.beth.   Thanks for the inspiration Beth!   (I didn't read her posting in time to participate in her Thanksgiving contest, so I'll modify the idea a bit and use it myself!)  I haven't figured out the contest thing so mine is not one!

The First (Annual???) Alphabetical List of Things I Am Grateful for this Thanksgiving Season:

B -  Where would we be without BOOKS?
C -  There are still things I want that are CHEAP!
D -  My DAUGHTER, the absolute best one on the planet!  No doubt!!
E -  EVERYONE that I love!
F -  Growing up in FLORIDA!
G -  All the GADGETS that make doing some things fun!
H -  All the HIGHWAYS so we can go just about anywhere by car!
I  -  The best gadget of them all -- the INTERNET
J -   JUNE and JULY, my favorite months
K -  All my best loved KEEPSAKES.
L -  Without LIBRARIES I'd go broke!
O -  My favorite OCEAN (that would be the Atlantic).
P -   Even though I don't often play (at) it, my PIANO.
Q -  QUOTATIONS that make you think, laugh, wonder....
R -   All my Wedding RINGS (now, there's a story!)
S -  Here's a surprise, SUMMER!!!
T -  My 25+ years of THEATER  experiences
U -  Aren't we glad that every person ever born is UNIQUE??!!
V -   The outstanding VIEWS all around this city!
W -  I am grateful that I still have a WAIST!!
X -   XEROX!!  Amazing technology made so many things easier
Y -  The right shades of YELLOW can make me happy, go figure!
Z -  Big city ZOOs.  I could (and have!) spent hours  and hours there.

Well, there you have it!  26 Things that I am grateful for.

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