Monday, January 15, 2018

Quick 'n' Dirty Update


Brilliant Husband came up with the perfect name for my teensy ball o' fire trainer: Fit-Bit!! I told her this morning, and she doubled over laughing. She is a good egg.

And MAN did she work us!!! We biked, we rowed, we punched things, we stretched, we lifted, we shook heavy ropes, we squatted with a ball, we did sit-ups with a ball, we WORKED. I was dripping afterward!

And then Mimosa and I ran a bunch of errands, including the rather grim task of retrieving the ashes of my grouchy girl cat, who died two weeks ago. She's been with us since Li'l Martini was in kindergarten, and she was truly the John McCain of kitties — a mouthy maverick who overcame obstacle after obstacle.

(We heard about John McCain's cancer diagnosis the weekend that Annabel disappeared for two days and I was sure she had died — but like McCain, she bounced back, and I decided that day that she and he were soulmates. I dearly hope his outcome is better than hers.)

But then we saw The Shape of Water, a visually stunning and weirdly lovely film, and had a vegetable-laden dinner at Del Frisco's Grille. A very fun mommy-daughter day!

All I want to do now is collapse into bed, but (a) it's only 6 p.m., and (b) I really have to at least wash my hair before I head off to work at Coldwater Creek tomorrow. Ideally I will color my hair too, but I may be fully out of oomph.

Perhaps I'll put my feet up and drink a lot of ice water for a bit and see if that revives me.

Just a quick post, as I said, but I'm trying to get in the habit of posting more often. My Whole Life Challenge starts on Saturday, I think, and I plan to post every day. Look forward to that happy treat!

Lady C

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Starting Over, Part 1,000

Did I already tell you this? Mimosa and I joined a gym last month, and we've hired a personal trainer to work out with us twice a week. Our trainer is the size of my little finger, she is very cute and giggly, and we adore her — but oh man does she work us, I am exhausted afterward, which isn't great when I still have several hours of editing work to do. But we gotta do it.

What I love about our trainer's approach is that she almost always has us do something different at each visit, so it's never boring. (It is sometimes scary and daunting, but never boring.) Today we punched a punching bag (good for the core!), did a criss-cross exercise with weights and pulleys (good for the upper back!), and God knows what else, I am a shaky limp string of overcooked spaghetti now.

But I must perk up because my Broadway babes are coming over tonight! We have scheduled and rescheduled this evening so many times, but it's finally happening, even though Arlington is still blanketed with snow and street parking will be a challenge. I'm serving chocolate and cookies, of course, but also fresh fruit and shishito peppers and crispy chickpeas (fiber!) and other healthy things.

We plan to drink wine and sing show tunes till the cows come home. I really love these ladies — so happy we're doing this!

And tomorrow I'm having coffee with Good Neighbor Anne and one of the Sleek Suburban Moms, always a delight, and then going to the hospital to learn from Handsome D how to put Cold Caps on Mrs. Cynicletary during chemo. Fun! (In its way.) I'm all about the learning.

I'm also trying to schedule a dinner date with Nurse Kathy. In short — I'm seeing many beloved friends over the next few days, and that makes me very happy.

But something I just read gave me pause. The question was: Do you only get together with your friends over drinks or a meal? And I thought, well, duh. What's more fun than talking with friends over drinks or a meal? But the article said that this is a fabulous way to eat and drink more than you want or need, because you're so caught up in the joy of the moment.

I need to think about this. I LOVE catching up with my friends over a meal. I also love eating meals at restaurants, period, even by myself. Do I necessarily eat more if a friend is added to the picture?

And what else do I like to do with my friends that doesn't involve eating and drinking? Watching movies, sure (though this often includes both eating and drinking), playing party games (ditto) . . . and then I grow blank.

(When I was in junior high and high school, I actually invited friends over to read with me. I was very popular and in demand, as you might imagine!)

(Actually, I was; my best besties were all bookworms like me, and I had a lot of friends. But it does strike me as funny now.)

I have a friend whose social invitations involve physical activity 98% of the time, and it makes me both laugh and roll my eyes — like, sure, I will be happy to join you and your agenda, if you think there's room for both of us . . . I know she means well, though.

Anyway. I will give this some thought. I don't really love walking with people, but it's definitely a good way to get caught up, if that's really my goal.

I'm also logging my food on Fat Secret again and really trying to make better choices. Yesterday I went to Mr. Sushi for lunch but did NOT order a glass of wine, just water and tea, and it was delicious and satisfying and I felt very proud. And I've been reading at night right before bed, rather than watching Season 2 of The Good Wife, one of the BEST SHOWS EVER that I am loving all over again through the magic of Hulu, but reading puts me right to sleep at a reasonable time, unlike that siren TV who keeps me up all hours.

Since we started working out with the trainer, I've lost five pounds. I'm sure all of the things — exercise, eating better, sleeping better, and that one less glass of wine (well, to be honest, it would've been two) — contributed, also the fact that my starting weight was somewhat inflated by Christmas excess. But a loss is still nice.

In theory, it's "fun" to do this with my daughter, but she is actually quite disgruntled about the whole thing. Whatever, it's good for her. I am a mean mean mom.

One day at a time.

Lady C

p.s. Mimosa and I are playing with names for our trainer. I suggested Cardio Cutiepatootie and Pilates Pixie (though we don't do pilates), but both were vetoed by my judgy girl. If you can think of a name that connotes both strength and fitness contained in a teeny-tiny package, let me know!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Lady C's Best Books of 2017


I read 94 new books this year. Below I've listed the books I gave at least 3 1/2 stars out of 4. I don't need great literary merit, I just want a cracking good read with interesting characters that keeps me turning the pages. And if the ending is lame, the book loses at least half a star, period.
  • Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner (nonfiction)
  • Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson
  • Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (though I'm probably exaggerating my stars because I like her so much — this was pretty slight) (nonfiction)
  • Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah
  • The Trespasser by Tana French
  • I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi (one of Writer Jenny's co-Debs!)
  • Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham (nonfiction)
  • The Widow by Fiona Barton (read this right after my knee surgery, in the hospital; I know I liked it, but I remember literally nothing)
  • Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger
  • Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella
  • Broken Harbor by Tana French
  • The Girl Before by JP Delaney
  • Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella (it is bizarre that I love these books so much when I hate shopping so much, but they are so adorable!)
  • Make Someone Happy by Elizabeth Berg (nonfiction)
  • Faithful Place by Tana French
  • The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
  • I Blame Dennis Hopper, and Other Stories from a Life Lived In and Out of Movies by Illeana Douglas (At first I was all, Precious, you're not as funny as you think you are—and then I fell in love. Great stories from a true film lover) (nonfiction)
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (YA)
  • My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
  • The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson (I wrote "Utterly compelling!" Good lord, I remember nothing about this book)
  • Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner
  • How Will I Know You? by Jessica Treadway
  • Come Next Spring by Alana White (middle-grade/YA)
  • On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman
  • Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel
  • The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer (Must admit, I'm not a fan, and much of this was too gross for me — but dang me, she is a good storyteller) (nonfiction)
  • Home Sweet Home by April Smith
  • Apartment 1986 by Lisa Papademetriou (middle-grade/YA)
  • The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison
  • Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen
  • Gone by Cathi Hannauer
  • Before I Go by Colleen Oakley (I cried so hard at the end, I startled my sister-in-law) 
  • The 9th Girl by Tami Hoag (not one of my usual writers, and this got off to a slow start — but then got REALLY GOOD)
  • Love You More by Lisa Gardner
  • The River at Night by Erica Ferencik
  • The Island of Worthy Boys by Cammie Hertzberg Mayo (LOVED — once I got into it, couldn't put it down) (nonfiction)
  • Mid-Life Ex-Wife by Stella Grey (fun and horrifying) (nonfiction)
  • Here and Gone by Hayden Beck
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • Into the Water by Patrician Hawkins
  • Once and For All by Sarah Dessen (YA)
  • Close to Home by Joan Bauer (YA)
  • Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan (I was stunned by the abrupt ending . . . and yet still gave this one 4 stars, I loved it so)
  • Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague (YA)
  • The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
  • The Party by Robyn Harding
  • Man of the Year by Lou Cave (nonfiction)
  • Off the Cliff by Becky Aikmen (nonfiction)
  • The Chillbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan
  • Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
  • One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus (YA)
  • I'll Have What She's Having by Erin Carlson (nonfiction)
  • Waking Up White by Debbie Irving (nonfiction)
  • How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
  • Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips 
  • Write This Down by Claudia Mills (middle-grade/YA)
  • Makeovers by Marcia by Claudia Mills (middle-grade/YA)
  • Lizzie at Last by Claudia Mills (Claudia is a Betsy-Tacy pal, and I went on a little CM binge; her books are delightful!) (middle-grade/YA)
  • The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
  • The Address by Fiona Davis
  • Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt
  • Laura Ingalls Is Ruining My Life! by Shelley Tougas (YA)
  • The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater (YA)
  • Y Is For Yesterday by Sue Grafton (weep! weep! the alphabet ends at Y, forever)
  • Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned from Eighties Movies by Hadley Freeman (nonfiction)
  • Mother-Daughter Book Camp by Heather Vogel Frederick (middle-grades/YA)
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  • The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg 
  • Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher (nonfiction)
And here are the unloved two-star books that I continued reading to the bitter end for God knows what reason:
  • History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund ("Strong beginning, then fell apart. But I read it . . .")
  • How to Make Love Like a Porn Star by Jenna Jameson ("I don't know what I was expecting, but it was just sad and gross") (shocker!)
  • All By Myself Alone by Mary Higgins Clark ("Oh, this just wasn't good at all. Cardboard characters — just so dumb. And she is such a bitch about overweight people!!")
(No one-star books this year; maybe I really am getting better about putting down bad books. Also, I had a few 2 1/2 star books, but do you really want to know about them? I thought not.)

Finally, the book I am most conflicted about and ultimately couldn't rate:
  • We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby — she is very funny, but also really gross and disturbing in her unhappiness and maladjustment
2018 is off to a great reading start with the six library books I already mentioned, all of which I'm still loving (have only finished two). And I just got a notice that the book I'm MOST looking forward to, The War I Finally Won, is waiting at the library!! Woo-hoo!!!!!

Happy reading, peeps!

Lady C

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Three Hours from a New Year

I love New Year's Eve, but honestly . . . tonight I'm exhausted. It's been an intense month! Yesterday we took down our Christmas decorations and then thoroughly cleaned the house, and today I covered for Kind Tina at church (she's spending time with her new grandbaby!) and then powered through and finished all my "Christmas" cards (this is astoundingly early for me! But I wanted to get it done ASAP, for many reasons). I have a great sense of accomplishment, but oh my tired body.

Usually on New Year's Eve we play games and eat appetizers and ring in the new year as a family, but Martini's at a friend's house, Mimosa is giggling over something on her computer, Husband is simultaneously engrossed in a documentary about Batman's co-creator and a new book on his smartphone, and I just want a hot shower and a warm bed.

Tomorrow, my one and only goal is to sit in my comfy chair and read my six excellent library books . . .

. . . though I should probably go to the gym. I'm working onsite at Coldwater Creek for the rest of the week; tomorrow is my only chance unless I work out at night after a long day hunched over a desk (Coldwater Creek is NOT set up for proofreaders! I may have mentioned this), which: ughy pew.

It would also be fun to go to Mahoney's Garden Center, where I reliably find an awesome Christmas ornament for the annual Betsy-Tacy Ornament Exchange for 50% off! And we really need a new Christmas tree stand; I am getting too old to lie on the floor with Li'l Martini, twisting twisting the four screws with pliers . . . and I've also got some things to return at Kohl's . . .

But sitting and reading will happen! Lots of it! The perfect way to "ring in" the new year, if you ask me.
No resolutions this year — I'm still in "one day at a time" mode. But I'm now working out with a personal trainer twice a week, and I start the Whole Life Challenge on January 20 with Writer Jenny, and that's all resolution-y, right?

Happy - yawn - 2018, my friends!

Lady C

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Quiet in Blog-Land

None of my favorite bloggers have been writing much recently (where is everybody???), and clearly I am no exception. Wonder what's going on?

For my part, we are dealing with a family issue that is taking up most of my available bandwidth, and I'm also editing like a crazygirl. My new client Coldwater Creek wants me onsite a lot lately, which is fun but also a little challenging; they are not well-set-up for a regular proofreader, and I am always achy after a day leaning over a flat desk, and they are also an hour away — I think of them as an occasional client rather than a regular gig (but haven't quite broken that news to them yet . . .). Also, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has hired me for three books, which means three big fat paychecks, so exciting!! and then I have all my usual clients — busy busy!

But I'm on "vacation" now, which is lovely. Today there was absolutely nowhere that I had to be, and I reveled in staying home. We're dining on Trader Joe's appetizers, which smell so good, and the four of us will watch Arthur Christmas, one of our favorite holiday movies, as soon as Li'l Martini gets back from his pet-sitting gig.

All is basically fine. I love Christmas, and the family issue is working itself out, slowly, slowly, one day at a time. All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.

Man, I'm hungry! Hurry home, kid! (though the streets are a tad icy. Be careful what you wish for, mama).

Lady C

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

My "Exciting" New Challenge [UPDATED with Progress!]

Writer Jenny has convinced me to join her team, "We're No (A-Town) Angels," for the Whole Life Challenge, a new eating-fitness-health plan that she is enamored of. I've seen things like this before; my friend KT is enamored of the Whole30 plan, for example, so I read about it, and it sounds Draconian and horrifying. But for whatever reason, this one — though Spartan, for sure — feels more do-able.

What I know for sure is that I can't keep on this way. I may believe that I have ramped up my efforts toward fitness and weight loss and better health, and certainly that teeny little crest at the start of my walk is now easier to scale, but I haven't lost a single freaking pound. And as much as I embrace the cry of "It's not about weight loss! It's about good health!" — friends, when you're closing in on 300 pounds, oh yes, it's about weight loss. I would like my new knees to last for a good long time, and making them carry all this extra weight is not a sustainable plan.

So — the Whole Life Challenge it is!

It will indeed be a challenge; I'm looking over the food list and e-mailed Writer Jenny in horror:
No cereal, toast, or muffins? Or, as I call it, BREAKFAST?
She assures me that she eats fruit and Greek yogurt with nuts, or oatmeal, or omelets (sans cheese) and is surprisingly not hungry.

OK. I can do this.

But it doesn't start till January 20, so I need to get a little more serious in the meantime. Perhaps I will print some of the Challenge worksheets and do a mini version on my own.

(There are three levels, and the one I've chosen is Kick Start, the easiest — or, as I call it, the one that allows you to have a little cream in your coffee!!!!! For me, black coffee would be a deal-breaker. Anyway — maybe I'll kick-start my Kick Start . . . ?)

I skipped zumba last night, long story, and my deal with myself is that I have to make it up the next morning, so I'm heading out for a walk in a little bit, then a sweaty wrestle with my weights and other PT devices. In the bathtub last night, I noticed that my knees are much less swollen (the doc told me it might take a full year), and I can almost sit criss-cross-applesauce on my bed, my favorite way to sit (which I couldn't do after surgery because of the swelling, which kept my knees from fully bending), and this is exciting progress to celebrate.

And later today I'm having lunch with a visiting Betsy-Tacy pal from Nevada, also Brunie, and that will be a delight. I'm still waiting for my dippy clients to get back to me, and I will have a ton of work when they do — but for just this moment, I feel light and free!

Ha. We'll see how long that lasts.

Lady C, Optimistic Realist


Because I know you care deeply: I opened my front door to check the weather, and BRRR. Too cold for an outdoor walk. So I headed to the basement and pounded out six sweaty miles on my stationary bike (plus about half a mile more as I cooled down to the Glee Warblers singing "Teenage Dream"), then lifted weights and did wall-push ups and throw-downs, and then stretched, something I've been negligent about but will have to start doing as part of the Whole Life Challenge — I believe I'm required to do 10 minutes of exercise and 10 minutes of stretching every day.

And now I have all the oomph of an elderly leaky balloon, but boy do I feel smug. I exercised, dude! Where's my medal?

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Little Cure for the Crankies


I've been glued to my desk all day, working on this new project, but I knew that we were out of cat food and coffee, and that will not do. Around 4 p.m., I headed out to Unleashed and Trader Joe's . . .

. . . and took a deep breath.

It is a gorgeous day, here in Arlington, Mass.

Jagged gray clouds with just a hint of blue peeking through. A warm caressing breeze. Trees and bushes that look like they've been painted by Van Gogh. Small piles of golden leaves, gently rustling. Gorgeous.

So I came home with my four bags of groceries (yes, a trip for cat food and coffee results in four bags. Have you never shopped at Trader Joe's?), and believe me, I tried to talk myself out of it, the entire time I was cramming my fleshy masses into my sports bra and capris.

I took a long walk 'round my 'hood as the sun set around me, and it was glorious.

But it did start getting dark very fast. Just as I reached the Old Pervert's house, I was very relieved to hear "Woo-woo!" behind me. It was Husband, who claims he wasn't out looking for me, but his actual claim ("I was trying to find a place to have dinner!") doesn't make much sense, unless he was planning on dining with Good Neighbor Anne. Who, I'm sure, would be happy to host him.

Anyway, he drove me the last half block, and that was nice. It is dark as ebony right now, and plus I had to pee.

On my way out, I chatted with one of my favorite neighbors, the dad of Kimmy-Kimmy, my kids' old babysitter:
  • KK's Dad: Hey, have you seen my drone?
  • Me: WHAT.
  • KK's Dad: It's been in that tree for a few days, but it must have fallen down.
  • Me: I don't even know what a drone looks like!
  • KK's Dad: Small, four legs . . .
  • Me: Wait — who are you spying on???
  • KK's Dad: Everybody!
He is a character. Fortunately, we have no secrets here at Chez Chardonnay.

Husband is out getting dinner because we're all on our own tonight; Li'l Martini is in The Crucible, and tonight is Daddy's turn as devoted audience member.


I'm going tomorrow — by myself, apparently:
  • Good Neighbor Anne: Is Martini performing in this play? Big part? Will it be fun?? 😉
  • Me: He is in the play, a small part (it’s mostly small parts) — and, he says, not a good guy — and I don’t think one second of it will be fun. Want to go with me?
  • GNA: Hmmm. What an invitation!!
Somehow she is resisting the allure. But the weekend's young!

Anyway, I'm home now and I still need to do some more work and my dippy clients haven't addressed my follow-up e-mail ("Hi, I still have every question I originally asked you . . ."), but I am more cheerful, for sure. And there's cold Prosecco in the fridge and a hot bubble bath in my future!

Life is sweeeet.

I need new sneaks, though, my feet are crammed into these like their birth is imminent.

Lady C