Thursday, February 19, 2015

If I Picked the Oscars


Sorry, I know I haven't blogged in ages. It may seem counter-intuitive that what's happening outdoors affects what's happening indoors (and in my brain), but it totally does. This weirdo white world I now live in makes everything so much harder, and I feel slow and stupit.

And then, and then. There's the fact that this is, ostensibly, my weight loss blog, and I have utterly nothing to say on that topic, other than to berate myself for being a failure. My knees hurt all the time, I am tired, tired, and my weight shoots up up up. I'm not exactly back where I started . . . but the number is too close for comfort.

Something's gotta give, but it won't be today — I just shoveled a ton of snow and broke up an ice bank with a hammer and I'm exhausted.

But in happier news . . . it's Oscar time!!!!!


(Note: In case you're crying into your tea because you weren't invited to my Oscar Party this year, no worries — I plan to have a Hollywood Game Night instead, after the snow has melted and there's room to park on my street again. In other words: Not any time soon. Stay tuned!)


I've seen almost every major nominee, and I'm still hoping to make it to Two Days, One Night before Sunday because I love Marion Cotillard so much — and it also sounds like an interesting movie — though my friend D in Dallas said, "I saw Two Days One Night Last Night {how's that for symmetry?}, and while I thought it was a very good film that gives you plenty to think and talk about, I can also say that it is very stressful to watch. I felt that I needed antacids and a Xanax (plot point) by the time it was over," and that does give me pause. I made it through American Sniper and Still Alice; just how stressed-out do I need to be?!

(D in D added, "My friend and I both thought the family in the movie spent way too much money on take-out food and bottled water for people who were broke, but that is off topic, and we are judgmental," which I find hilarious.)

Here we go!

Best Picture
American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything 
Whiplash

Wow, I saw all of these! And they are all very well made, well-acted movies, and I more or less enjoyed all of them. But the clear winner, to my mind, is Boyhood. It  . . . I almost don't have words. I think it is practically perfect. A small, sweet, near-perfect slice-of-life movie that has stayed with me for a long time.

Best Actor
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything 

I'm kicking myself because I missed Foxcatcher and I really wanted to see it. Love Steve Carrell, and of course Mark Ruffalo is my spiritual boyfriend. Alas. I saw the other four, and every actor did a magnificent job — I would truly be fine with any of them winning. But I give the edge to Eddie Redmayne, who created such a fully human character on that screen — so much heart, so much humor, so much more than a gigantic brain and a tragic disease. Bravo, Eddie Redmayne, you adorable boy!

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night 
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamond Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild 

There is no question that Julianne Moore deserves the award that it is almost 100 percent certain will be bestowed on her Sunday night. I really loved Still Alice, and she is magnificent.

Having said that, I'm a little sad for Reese, who delivered a confident, grown-up, excellent performance after a string of disappointing movies. But Reese has an Oscar and Julianne doesn't (yet), and all will be well.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Emma Stone was the second-best thing about Birdman and Laura Dern radiated warmth and maternal love, but Patricia — man, she knocked my socks off. Crazy-good performance. She's my pick.

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
My Spiritual Boyfriend Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash 

This is the category I'm least prepared for, having missed two of these movies — and it's another place where I feel bad for the non-winners. Edward Norton was my favorite thing about Birdman; I was so happy every moment that he was on the screen. And I usually dislike Ethan Hawke enormously, but he is so so SO GOOD in Boyhood, easily as good as Patricia. It's really sad that she's getting so much more buzz than he is. It is totally J.K.'s fault, but I can't be a hater, because J.K. is perfect in Whiplash.

Other Oscars
I don't have strong feelings about any of the other categories, though I'll be delighted if "Everything Is Awesome" wins Best Song! (which it probably won't) We saw all the nominated animated shorts, and the Chardonnays are all rooting for "Feast," though we greatly admire "The Dam Keeper" as well.


Mimosa and I will start watching around 5 p.m.** on Sunday, cocktail/mocktail glasses in hand, and a variety of exciting and elegant snacks spread before us. (Then again, "exciting" may be in the eye of the beholder; I'll never forget the year that Brunie joined us, asked to try a smoked oyster, then blanched and tried to hide half-chewed oyster in my drapes.)


Fun fun fun!! I love movies! I LOVE the OSCARS!!!!

— Lady C, a Hollywood girl


** Mimosa is reading over my shoulder and she yelped, "Five p.m.???!!!" I said, "I want to watch people arrive." She said, "Yeah, me too, but not for THAT LONG."

Philistine. I shake my head.

Here, by the way, are two Oscar dresses I adored from years past. The bottom half of Halle's is kinda weird, but I love the top half so much, I have no quibbles. And Catherine's got very little buzz that year; it was the year of Bjork's swan dress and Julia Roberts' Oscar win. Everyone talked about Julia's dress, which I hated; all I could see was white bias tape edging everything. To my mind, Catherine's is a perfect Oscar dress.





Monday, January 26, 2015

Mother Nature Is Not My Marriage Counselor



Husband and I don't agree on everything. Shocking, I know.

Sometimes our disagreements are based on the way we were raised; we disagree, for example, as to whether kids should learn and do household chores. One of of was cleaning the bathroom and dusting the furniture by third grade; one of us didn't learn how to clean a bathroom till grad school.

Sometimes we simply have different tastes. We disagree on meatloaf vs. a Reuben with pickles and sauerkraut, well-done vs. rare meat, brownies with nuts or without, Greek vs. Caesar salad, Star Trek vs. The Gilmore Girls, baseball playoffs vs. the Academy Awards.


We disagree over the best route to get home, if Christianity should even be mentioned in a class on evolution, and whether it's okay to stack books on the basement floor as a permanent method of storage.

(Wow, that list got long!)

For the most part, though, we can live with our differences, agree to disagree, and move forward in a way that works for both of us.

But when it snows . . . oh, when it snows . . . we are in fundamental disagreement on a number of topics, and it does not go well at all.

Husband has lived in snowy climes for much longer than I have, so his opinions are rooted in four decades of experience and what he remembers from life in Indiana and Michigan in the 1970s. I moved to Boston from snow-less San Jose and was a blank slate; my opinions are based on what the people around me told me, what I've observed, and what I've read. Each of us firmly believes that our own opinion is grounded in common sense.

Our experience and opinions have very little overlap.

So, he and I disagree. Vehemently. We roll our eyes, we sulk, we mutter under our breath, and we argue, sometimes with great bitterness. Snow is beautiful, but our behavior — oh, it is not pretty.

If you'd like to discover where you fall on the wide scale of our differing opinions, I offer the following quiz.


 Welcome to Our Frozen Family Feud!

 A. When a big snowfall is expected, is it better to shovel several times during the snowstorm or wait till the end and shovel all at once?
  1. Wait till the end — why do double or triple the work?
  2. Wait till the end, partly for the reason above and partly because if you wait long enough, a dear little fairy might come along and do it all for you.
  3. Do it several times — it's easier and better for your heart to shovel small amounts of light snow than large amounts of heavy, possibly frozen snow, so even though you're out there more often, you are actually doing less work.
(Need to research this question? Read Tip #13)


B. After a big snow, should you clean off your entire car so that the snow on the roof doesn't freeze, turn into a giant ice sheet, and slide off the next time you drive right into the nearest driver's windshield?
  1. No. Only a nancy cleans off the entire car.
  2. No. The snow will melt before you drive the car again, or it will fall off in little bits, or it will otherwise fix itself. This giant ice sheet is a myth perpetuated by people with too much time on their hands, also nancys.
  3. Yes.
(Need to research this question? Try this or this)


C. Should you remove ice manually when possible or solely depend on de-icing chemicals or salt?
  1. Chemicals. If God didn't want us to use de-icer, He wouldn't have given us the brains to invent it.
  2. Neither. If you wait long enough, the ice will melt on its own — or a dear little fairy might come along and do all the work for you.
  3. Manually. Chemicals and salt are not good for concrete or the environment. It is relatively easy to break ice into chunks and remove it manually; use chemicals sparingly as a last resort.
(Some background info can be found here and here)

Follow-up question:

C+: Is it enough to simply sprinkle de-icer, or do you need to come back later and remove the slush resulting from the melted ice (which will ultimately re-freeze if you don't tend to it)?
  1. Sprinkling is enough. Ice goes away. Magic! (See: dear little fairy)
  2. You have to remove the slush, which then deposits the salt and chemicals directly atop our lawn, plus, the nice pretty white snow is now covered with disgusting gray slush.
(If I've not yet whetted your curiosity about ice-melt products, you can read more here)


D. "It's been snowing for a while, but the neighbors aren't shoveling yet." Is this a compelling reason to delay your own shoveling?
  1. Yes. I respect, nay, idolize my neighbors, and I want to do everything exactly the way they do it.
  2. Yes. The popular vote is always correct. If 0 out of 11 neighbors haven't started shoveling, that's all I need to hear.
  3. Yes. I care about my neighbors' opinion. If I shoveled before they did, I might hurt their feelings, or they might think I'm uppity.
  4. I think about my neighbors a lot.
  5. No.
(I tried to find some supporting research; there's some creepy stuff out there about being obsessed with your neighbors, and lots of dry/hysterical pieces on abolishing the electoral college. You're on your own for this one. Good luck!)

How did you do?


At this writing, Boston is preparing for more than two feet of snow to be dumped on us starting tonight. Other people may be stocking up on bottled water and batteries; I'm off to Trader Joe's, the liquor store, and the library. Priorities, people.



I really love snow.

Maybe Husband and I won't argue tomorrow. Maybe we'll wake up to our winter wonderland with hearts full of peace and accord.



Maybe.

Stay warm and safe, my friends!

— Lady C



Monday, January 5, 2015

Lady C's Best Books of 2014

I've kept a book journal since 2006; it's always interesting for me to look back over the year and reflect on what I've read. I only note the new books, which I guess is misleading because I do a ton of rereading. But I won't forget the rereads, whereas if I didn't keep track of the new stuff I read, it would be gone forever — I have the memory of a sieve. I rate each book from 1 to 4 stars. Of the 88 new books I read last year, here are the ones that I gave 3.5–4 stars:
  • Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies, and An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs mysteries; of Revenge I wrote, "After a slowish start, the story took on surprising depth, and I was moved to weep. My favorite Maisie yet, possibly." I must admit that I remember nothing about this one!! But apparently I loved it)
  • W Is for Wasted by Sue Grafton
  • Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando (LOVED! Read in one sitting)
  • Eight Keys by Suzanne LeFleur (middle grade – so sad and sweet)
  • The Minister's Daughter by Julie Hearn (kept thinking about this one for days)
  • Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters (YA)
  • Best Foot Forward by Joan Bauer (YA)
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (simply magnificent — I never wanted it to end)
  • The Thief of Always by Clive Barker (YA)
  • Dreamsleeves by Coleen Murtagh Paratore (charming YA recommended by my daughter)
  • In the Blood by Lisa Unger
  • Glitter  and Glue by Kelly Corrigan (for a book that's ostensibly a tribute it's a little light on Mom, but I enjoyed the story, though it wasn't as good as The Middle Place)
  • No Saints Around Here by Susan Allen Toth (recommended by Inspirational Kathy; I read it as my dad was dying, and it was the perfect book at that time)
  • Delancey by Molly Wizenberg (yes, she elected not to be my new best friend, but her book was delightful despite this clear lapse in judgment on her part) 
  • Inside Out Girl by Tish Cohen (another excellent YA recommended by my smarty daughter)
  • Night Film by Marisha Pessl
  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio (YA)
  • The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
  • Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth (YA)
  • Inexcusable by Chris Lynch (YA)
  • Down the Rabbit Hole, Behind the Curtain, and Into the Dark by Peter Abrahams (charming middle-grade mysteries)
  • All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry (YA)
  • Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (YA)
  • Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (YA)
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (YA)
  • Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s by Matthew Kennedy
  • I Don't Know What You Know Me From by Judy Greer
  • Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (YA)
  • Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey (LOVED. Could not put it down!!)
  • Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican (YA)
  • Don't Try to Find Me by Holly Brown (YA)
  • Help for the Haunted by John Searles (I was absurdly disappointed by the ending — I wanted to believe.  But oh! what a fun creepy story!)
  • Eyes On You by Kate White
  • Squashed by Joan Bauer (YA)
  • The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo
  • The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills
  • Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern (YA; I wrote, "OMG!! Loved! Loved! LOVED!!! So sad, though")
  • Small Blessings by Martha Woodruff
  • Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (YA)
  • Half-Baked: A Memoir by Alexa Stevenson
  • The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
  • Wildlife by Fiona Wood (YA)
  • Jennifer, Gwyneth, and Me by Rachel Bertsche
  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
  • All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner
  • Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang (YA)
  • Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  • A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George
  • Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
  • The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah
  • My Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshall
Two "qualified" books made the list; I gave parts of them three and a half stars and parts of them only two stars:
  • One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullally Hunt: I'm so torn! I loved this one and gobbled it up — and HATED how it ended!!!!"
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: I was completely engaged, and the BIG TWIST ending worked for me. But what was the significance of the "liars," and how come nobody is talking about this????
And my worst, one-star books of 2014:
  • So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman: So much words words words. So little to care about. And yet I hung on to the bitter end to find out who killed Wendy White . . . which, maybe? you do? sort of? Ugh. BAD book.
  • As Simple as Snow by Gregory Galloway: Acckkk!! It's skillfully written, so I kept reading — but that "ending"!!! UGH. Give me those hours back!!!!
  • Allegiant by Veronica Roth: UGH. Disliked the alternating voices, found the overall 'point" confusing and weak, HATED the resolution of Tris's story. Why the f--- did I just waste my time reading and investing??
And there you have it.

Here's to lots of reading time in 2015!

 — Lady C

Friday, January 2, 2015

365 Days to a New Me!



It's a new year, and sister, I am ready for a new 'tude.

The biggest change is this:

I've had my lovely holiday, but now I'm returning to the world of Western medicine. If the side effects are truly terrible, I'll reconsider. But for today, I will do my best to lower my increased cancer risk using the best tools we have.

We've been busy here at Chez Chardonnay! New Year's Eve was a BLAST. We enjoyed, I think, nine different Trader Joe's appetizers (just a handful of each) and four desserts (I ate only butter cookies . . . mmm . . . butter cookies . . .), washed down with apple cider (Mimosa), eggnog (Li'l Martini), Diet Tonic Water with lime (Husband), and alternating glasses of Planter's Punch (I had all these naked lemons from making homemade sugar scrub, which I gave as gifts this year) and chardonnay (you can probably guess who).

We played a variety of hilarious games for hours. I am so psyched ; my kids are old enough to play Cranium now, which used to be my favorite game! It's played in teams of two; Brunie and I were so in love with it, we would play the BrunChardos against the ChardoBruns.


(Which reminds me of the period of my life that I was obsessed with Taboo, also Peanut M&MS; Brunie and I were at a hotel in Maine and stayed up till 3 a.m. playing and eating, and gorging this way kind of got it out of my system. I later told this story to Mrs. Cynicletary, who replied, "There is only one thing I want to do at 3 a.m. and it involves neither Taboo nor Brunie." !!)

(Hey, expand your horizons, Mrs. C!)

(I Googled "playing games with the family" and got all these images of people clicking away at devices with their thumbs. Quelle horreur!!)

It's so hard to capture a group's hilarity some days later; suffice it to say, we screamed with laughter over the following:
  • The pronunciation of "complaisant" and "complacent" 
  • Charading the word "hormone"
  • Drawing "ransom"
  • "Why did you stop when I said stop?"
  • "Don't draw another f---ing car!!"
  • #HusbandHitHim!
  • Husband's charade of "wind," which made us ask, "So how would you charade 'snatching things out of the air'?"
Oh, it was riotous.

We concluded with Consequences, which is the perfect game for summing things up, and I may save these sheets forever, to remember New Year's Eve 2014 — a year that my children were still happy to be home spending time with their parents.

Well, that ended on a bit of a downer, didn't it?!


The next day, as is also our tradition, we turned all the mattresses, vacuumed up giant dust bunnies from under the beds, and dusted our bedrooms. It is a gross and disgusting job, and I always yell at my son the hoarder (his room is smallish, he doesn't have a lot of storage space, and he refuses to get rid of anything. Husband is similar, though he has a lot more storage space). But we got it done, the upstairs sparkles with cleanliness, and we celebrated with a blow-out meal at Margaritas and more games! And then we came home and watched Marx Brothers movies. All good.


When I think about 2014 as a whole (and especially when I reread what I wrote at the end of last year), I'm inclined to be depressed. I accomplished very few of the goals I set for myself (finish Novel 2, find a job, get back on track with weight loss), my daughter continued to struggle with sadness and depression, and I lost my dad.

Also, this experience with Mom at the end of the year made it wildly clear that she is one injury away from infirmity. My brother and I had to do everything for her — she was almost unable to help herself. I overheard her social worker offer to give her a list of rehab places to choose from (I was on the phone with him at the time), and she blithely replied, "Oh, just send those to my daughter," and my heart sank.

A pretty sucky year, all told.

But it is in my nature to be positive. When life gives me lemons, I zest them, make a beauty product, and enjoy a tasty Planter's Punch!


Putting a positive spin on 2014, I can say that this was the year I . . .
  • started subbing in the elementary schools, which I totally love
  • deepened my relationship with many of my relatives and with my dad's best friend
  • wrote a few more chapters of Novel 2
  • hosted a Hollywood Game Night and had a blast
  • had the most perfect visit ever with my parents
  • had an unprecedented five visits with my beloved mother who is so far away
  • oversaw great work from my church committee
  • tried tai chi
  • got cortisone shots in my knees, which dramatically reduced my knee pain
  • colored my hair — woo-hoo! Love.
  • finally replaced my 1998 Honda Civic (with a 2010 Honda Civic. Hey! Progress!)
  • got porch railings, which I've wanted for 16 years
I could probably go on, but now I'm cheerful again. ☺︎


Today we are writing thank-you notes and I'm putting up the "winter" decorations that I didn't quite get to the other day. I'm also making a kick-ass dinner: roasted pork tenderloin (it's brining in my fridge right now), horseradish beets, sauteed greens, parsnip chips, red-hot apples, and butterscotch pudding. And possibly another Planter's Punch, I've still got three naked lemons! But only one, I'm back on the Tam now and can't exceed one drink per day.



I am a girl of steely resolution, after all.



Happiest of new years, my friends! My #1 resolution is to spend more time with all of you, somehow, some way, somewhere.

xoxo
Lady C

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Mom, Christmas's Expiration Date, and New Year's Eve, Part the First EDITED



Thank you for the waterfall of loving wishes that cascaded over me after my last post. Everything has worked out pretty much perfectly. After four-plus hours of nonstop phone calls and information-gathering, Mom added a new option to the mix: Merit Medi Trans, a non-emergency medical transport service operating in Northern California, which could get her from the airport to Chico. We talked through the merits of "stay in SoCal and heal before flying" vs. "Get home to Chico and heal there," and when it was laid out that baldly Mom picked option the second. So I went to MMT's website, saw that I'd have to call them . . . and promptly did this:

At that point, I realized that I could not make one more phone call and handed the reins to Little Brother. And God bless him, he connected the rest of the dots, getting Mom an airline ticket, arranging airport transport with the hospital, booking MMT, and making sure that Mom had a room at rehab.

She called me from the Merit Medi Trans van on her way to Twin Oaks Rehab yesterday. Success!!!!!!


I have also talked to Mom's besty, Tia Gabi, who promises to take Mom to the gym for weight-lifting. She has promised this before (she is Señorita Super Agreeable/Super Unreliable) but I think this was a come-to-Jesus moment for all of us, and maybe now she'll follow through.
Or she won't. I am very clear on how much control I have over this matter — and quite frankly, I don't make all the right health decisions for myself either, so who am I to judge someone else on this particular topic?

(On other topics, though — sister, get out of my way, I have some serious judging to do!!)

In other news, we "took down Christmas" yesterday. Husband expressed some surprise at the earlyness of this event, believing that "everyone I've ever known and currently know and have ever heard of waits till after the New Year" (I think that's an accurate quote. That's definitely the gist of it, anyway). And while I'm reasonably sure that I could cover Husband's eyes and he couldn't name more than 10 of our 10,000 decorations, so his sudden and deep interest in anything relating to the decorations struck me as curious, I was nonetheless intrigued and took a quick poll among some of my pallies. Brunie's response was the funniest:
The day after Christmas,  Mr. Brunie and I jumped over each other to tear that thing down. The boys came into the living room after waking up and said, "So Christmas is over then?" We were like, "Yes, please stop feeling joy now." It was lovely. And I now have my living room back.
The bottom line is that it doesn't matter when anyone else does it, we can do it whenever we want, yesterday we had a free day, we have other slightly un-fun events scheduled for the next few days (turning mattresses, writing thank-you notes), and I am always an advocate for "work first, play later" — so, voila! Time to take down Christmas.

Which we did, and it only took an hour. Bye-bye Christmas! See you next year.


Our New Year's Eve tradition is to buy appetizers and desserts at Trader Joe's, play games all night, watch the ball drop, and make a joyful noise (we open the front door and bang some pots and pans together). I think we're also going to see movies today; the boys want to see "The Interview" and Mimosa and I may see "Birdman." Fun!

This morning, I plan to clear some things off the counters (we broke some stuff yesterday while un-decorating, including the Spock nutcracker — oh, that poor guy — so I have some hot-gluing to do), write an angry letter to Kohl's, and put out lovely decorations for the New Year: silver candles in crystal candlesticks, bowls of pine cones and red berries, crocheted snowflakes hanging from my ficus, twinkle lights along the curtain rod in the living room. Things that are clean and sparkle and catch the light and make me feel happy about the coming winter. And then I'll go to the movies and eat popcorn and blue Slushee, and come home and eat and play with my family. A great day!

I also have some library books to read:




Plus some fun rereads:

  
Entertainment Weekly picked their favorite Agatha Christies, so I'm rereading all of their picks.

One book I will not be reading:


I tried one chapter . . . not for  me.

Time to start finishing 2014. Reflections and resolutions to come later — my day is already full.

Cheers!

— Lady C


EDIT

I'd originally written Husband's quote as "everyone I've ever known and currently know and have ever heard of waits till after Christmas" to take down their decorations.

Well, yes. One would hope they'd wait until Christmas before dismantling the tree. My bad!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Curse of "May You Live in Interesting Times"


On Christmas Day, my mother — visiting Dad's family in Southern California —  lost her balance, fell, and broke three ribs. She's being treated at Palomar Medical Center, a brand-new facility in Escondido, and for the first couple of days it's all been pretty straightforward: no real treatment beyond Percocet, she just needs to heal.
But now she's about to be discharged and things are getting . . . interesting. Escondido is about 600 miles from Chico, where she lives (alone). The million-dollar question: How shall we get her from here to there?

So here I am in Boston, making phone call after phone call (and being constantly second-guessed, in the most loving way, by my sister-in-law who works for a medical technology company), and learning more about long-term health care options than I ever wanted to know. The funniest wrinkle is that Mom is having me investigate private medical transport by air; I said, "Where did you hear about this?" and she said, "I read it in a Dick Francis novel." Gotta love it. I'm looking at airlines, train travel, private van + gurney + EMT, travel with a medical escort, and, yes, a private plane – and I'm also talking to her doctor at home, her social worker at the hospital, and two different rehab places, one in Escondido and one in Chico, since we don't think she can stay alone yet.

And in the course of all this, I've learned a valuable phrase: "medically necessary." These are the key words to get Medicare to cover the costs. "Will this meet Medicare criteria?" That is my go-to question.

Another fun wrinkle in all this is that major airports don't fly into Chico; the closest we could get her is Sacramento, which means a drive of a couple of hours, which means that she has to get into and out of a car, which was hard for her even without broken ribs. I've mentioned that my mom has the strength of a kitten, right? And now it's come to bite her in the patootie.

Youngest brother (with the "helpful" wife) is a big fan of "tough it out" and wants Mom to get on a Southwest flight and take the airport van home to Chico. Older brother hasn't offered an opinion beyond a cheerful e-mail saying, "Thanks for keeping us in the loop!" Youngest brother and I are done with him.

The family she was visiting has their own issues: Aunt D's husband was in the hospital and might have died, though it looks like he's going to be okay, and Aunt V, who's done the bulk of the driving and caring for Mom, even with her two children visiting from across the country, is down with the flu. Uncle S's mother-in-law just died, at his house, on Christmas Day; Aunt N has volunteered to come stay with Mom but has a bad back herself and can't really help Mom in and out of chairs.

Anyway.  Lots going on! And it will all work out, one way or another. And hopefully this is the wake-up call my mom needs in order to start taking her health and fitness more seriously — or she won't, and she'll end up in assisted living in her 70s. Que sera sera. She is a big grown-up girl in full possession of all of her marbles and this is her choice.

Which is probably why, of the three kids, I end up dealing with all of this — because while I do argue with Mom, I also respect her decisions. Plus, frankly, I'm the only girl. Youngest brother questions everything and gets huffy and cold when you don't agree. Older brother smiles charmingly and does nothing. I told a friend recently that these are our titles:
  • The Bossy One Who Pulls Her Weight and More
  • The Lazy One Who Coasts and Gets Away with It
  • The Stuffy Sarcastic One Who Is Always Right, to Hear Him Tell It
Ha! This reminds me: As I was flipping through the community ed catalog the other day, I saw a class called "Coping with Difficult People" and read the course description aloud to Husband:
Coping means tactical intervention, not passive acceptance or hoping to change the personality of the difficult person. The seven types are the hostile-aggressive, the indecisive, the complainer, the negativist, the silent-unresponsive, the know-it-all, and the super-agreeable/super-unreliable.
He gave me a look. I said, "Don't you think I should take it?" He rolled his eyes and said, "If you think you need it." I said, "Thank you, Mr. Super-Agreeable/Super-Unreliable!" He said, "No problem, Mrs. Know-It-All."

We know each other so well.

I've talked to a million people so far today and now am waiting for folks to call me back. Did I mention that I woke up with a migraine and have barfed quite a bit? What can you do.

But I think I'm going to sit quietly now and just be still for a bit. Husband is bringing me a Big Mac (migraine treatment food) in a while, the house is quiet. Being still sounds very lovely. As Will Rogers once said:
Never miss a good chance to shut up.
— Lady C

p.s. Mr. Bacon and Monsieur Tofu have joined our nativity scene. Bacon looks like he's sneaking up on Mary, and Tofu is lecturing the Wise Men. Too funny.



Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Lists, and My Slavish Devotion to Them. Sorta



Brunie and I were talking about our favorite Christmas movies, and she convinced me to watch Last Holiday starring her ladywife Queen Latifah — and it is delightful! Check it out if you'd like to enjoy a light holiday romp, or (especially) if you're a lady who loves cool James. I'm just saying.

Hotttttt . . .

The kids and I saw Night at the Museum: I Think We're Done Now yesterday for Li'l Martini's birthday, and that was also a fun romp, though every single line uttered by Robin Williams seemed to have double meaning, which was bittersweet. But it was lovely to see all those old friends again, and we laughed a lot. Plus there's a surprising cameo that was especially delightful to me — I'll say no more, because half the fun is the surprise. Anyway, we liked it, even though Martini seems to have caught my cold (which I continue to hold at bay, but it's still lurking at the edges, waiting for a crack in my medical armor) and spent the two hours sinking lower in his seat and curling up against my shoulder — which was very sweet because even at 14, long and lanky as a colt and with an ever-deepening voice, he is still MY BABY!!!!

I'm officially On Vacation right now, though today I'm doing my very last Christmas shopping. I think. And then I'm invited to Good Neighbor Anne's for tea and cookies, which sounds lovely.

But even On Vacation, I still have projects I hope to get done before the New Year:
  • Tack down my living room rug (it had been in my bedroom for years; it took me a few months to decide I liked it in the living room)
  • Get the 242 freaking e-mails in my Inbox down to fewer than 50
  • Clean out the game cupboards; ideally get it down to one cupboard
  • Read and sign a bunch of financial forms
  • Finish my basement filing project
  • Write our Christmas letter
  • Deep-clean the dining room carpet
  • Clean the dining room chair cushions and tighten the chair screws
  • Do a bunch of things for my church committee
So fun, right? I don't know why I don't hop to these right away.

Here's a funner list:

Movie Scenes That Always Make Me Cry
  • The opening of Breakfast at Tiffany's (Oh Audrey)

  • Fred Astaire narrating the wedding of Kris Kringle and Jessica in Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (don't judge me)
  • The scary old guy next door hugging his redheaded granddaughter at the end of Home Alone
  • Meryl Streep painting her daughter's toenails before her wedding in Mamma Mia!
  • The "La Marseillaise" scene in Casablanca
  • Burt Lancaster stepping across that line in Field of Dreams
  • All the toys bravely joining hands and preparing to die in Toy Story 3
There are probably more (Husband will know) but I'm a little weepy now and need to blow my nose.

Why is my throat sore? It is time to be well, dammit!! I need some drugs. And a hot shower. And a hot toddy, maybe, but that will have to wait. Sister, I've got a list to tackle!

Off to it.

— Lady C, icon of determined wellness

p.s. Here are my latest holiday nails:


I was going for a jewel tone thang — ruby, emerald, etc. — topped with glitter. Alas, what's most evident in this picture is that my cuticles are still inflamed. Another thing to add to the list, I guess.