Friday, November 27, 2015

We Gather Together in Joyful Thanks-Giving

We gathered, we feasted, we celebrated, we gave thanks. And on the second day, we rested.

Then we raked the yard, and I'm about to sit down with Mimosa and tackle a chore I've been dreading and postponing with equal vigor: taking a crack at her financial aid application for college. But, like exercising, I know I'll feel so good once it's done.

We had a gorgeous Thanksgiving — just the four Chardonnays this year, which was perfectly lovely. And I talked to Mom and one brother and had a flurry of e-mail exchanges with various relatives.

I recently reached out to the girl cousins on my dad's side, whom I literally never talk to, and it has been great fun to reconnect with them. We are very different ladies, but we are the daughters of four extraordinary men and women and the great-granddaughters of Alice Brown Davis, the first and so far only female chieftain of the Seminole tribe. This is a strong bond, and I don't want to lose touch with them, particularly when Aunt Di, Daddy's baby sister, the last of the four, leaves this world for the next one, which I devoutly hope and pray will be decades from now.

On Thanksgiving morn, Mimosa and I watched the Macy's parade, as is our custom, while Husband made breakfast. The parade was a little less fun than usual because we had no act we were dying to see (last year it was Idina Menzel — we love us some Idina Menzel!). I was happy to see a snippet from The King and I and a little Matthew Morrison, but those happened in the first half hour, and then it was a symphony of "major" young country stars that I don't care a whit about.

But nonetheless we watched every minute, while I transformed a high-necked dowdy sweatshirt into something sexy and cute that I will wear with pride.

Everyone helped cook the feast, which was fun (prep seemed a lot easier this year!), and the kids adored their sugar-rimmed mocktails. We then made a Gratitude Turkey (in the window — long story):

And after dinner, we took a walk around the block, ran into some friends, visited the tall, enormous rock the children used to climb on (Husband and I both remember it as being shoulder-height, when it reality it's just above our waists — Martini could hurdle it), then played Pictionary and Consequences and watched the penultimate episode of Gravity Falls and an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as we've been having a Buffy marathon since June. (We're on Season 4. It's not what you would call a "sprightly" marathon. But we are dedicated!)

In other words: pretty much a perfect day!
(And, because I have so much on my plate right now, I also worked a little — but I managed to finish the big job with the closest due date, so I am in good shape. I have another job to do by Monday, but it's smaller, and it's also okay if I miss the deadline by a day or two, which is a nice feeling)

OK! On to the dinner report. Everything was basically fine, with one exception. It seemed like we had more "not great" dishes this year than usual, but that is the risk when you try something new. And I finally, finally learned my lesson and made only half or quarter portions of some recipes — we wasted much less food than usual.

Here is the report, from worst to first:

  • Strawberry-Basil-Rum Splashes: Muddled berries, basil, lime, and sugar, shaken with rum and ice and topped off with seltzer — I thought it sounded so refreshing! But instead it tasted like cold sparkly medicine, ughy-pew. I quickly subbed in Plimoth Plantation Punch, an old favorite also employing rum, except (spoiler!), I loved my other cocktail so much, I never even made one.
  • Glazed Maple-Chipotle Nuts: The best snacking nuts are the Rosemary Cashews that I usually make. Why can't I simply stick to a recipe that I know I love? Why must I strive for something new? These were okay . . . but the Rosemary Cashews are divine. A learning.
  • Asian Three-Bean Salad: Black beans, edamame, and green beans, tossed with a sweet-and-sour vinaigrette. The problem: too many black beans and too much sweet in the dressing for my taste, though Husband liked it more than I did. One funny moment occurred when I was shelling the edamame, dropped one, and said to Husband, "It's by your foot." He looked down and said, "No, it isn't — it's in the cat's mouth." Yep, Annabel gobbled up that soybean like we'd been starving her for weeks. And within seconds, Fenton and Duke appeared in the doorway, all, "How come Annabel gets a soybean?"
  • Toasted Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing: I have now tried to toast chickpeas twice and I haven't liked it either time. I love plain ol' chickpeas right out of the can; clearly I should leave well enough alone.
  • Mushroom-Thyme Spread: I've made this before and it was fabulous. I think I overcooked the mushrooms this year — not sure how. But fortunately, I didn't make a lot of it.
  • Winter White Salad: Thinly sliced cauliflower, parsnip, jicama, and fennel, with a mayo-based dressing. I really liked this, it was very coleslaw-like, but I think I would toss it with Ranch next time — it needed a little more flavor.
  • Gulf Shrimp with Remoulade Sauce: Perfectly tasty, but I prefer cocktail sauce.
  • Caesar-Salad Deviled Eggs: Again, perfectly tasty (and really cute, with their garnish of julienned Romaine leaves), but I prefer plain ol' deviled eggs with a garnish of black caviar. Swoon!
  • Warm Brownie Pudding: This was just a chocolate pudding cake, and I think there was an error in the recipe. It was fine, but there are better chocolate cake recipes in this world.
  • Salted Cracker Toffee: I fell in love with this last year and made it many times, so I know it's amazing, but this year I somehow overcooked the caramel, despite following the directions exactly. (I have a new stove; I'm still learning its kinks and quirks.) Also, I really prefer plain caramel toffee with almonds, but I make two-thirds of the pan chocolate-caramel to appease my chocolate loving family — and then I pick my way through the leftovers, hunting, hunting, for the plain caramel pieces. So sad.
  • Golden Champagne Cocktails: Champagne, Triple Sec, vodka, simple syrup, and grapefruit juice. Swoon!
  • Quilted Pigs: Pigs in blankets, which we gave a fancier name because we all like them so much.
  • Linguine and Prosciutto Frittatas: I made these in a mini muffin pan, just the right size, and they were very tasty. They are even better the second day!
  • Layered Peppermint Jell-O: Raspberry Jell-O with peppermint candies melted during the boiling-water stage. Pretty and toothsome! Next year, I think I'll sprinkle crushed candy over the top layer.
  • Ginger-Peach Mock-a-Ritas: These were heavenly!!!! I will keep ginger simple syrup in my fridge from here till eternity.
  • Candied Bacon Sticks: To die for.
  • Chicken Enchilada Dip: Ditto. We have this every year. It is the best dip ever.
  • Hot Artichoke Dip: . . . except possibly this one. We don't usually serve both . . . but why not????
  • White Chocolate Mousse: A new recipe this year, and what a find!!!!! So crazy yummy!!!
And there you have it. We have a fridge full of delightful leftovers, I don't have to cook one damn thing today, life is sweeeeeeet.

Tonight I'm attending a post-Thanksgiving leftover pie party hosted by a dear church friend, tomorrow I'm going to the movies with Brunie, and on Sunday I take Mimosa to see Roman Holiday on the big screen. And in there somewhere, I will get this next job done. All will be well!

Happy holidays to all!

love and xxx's,
Lady C

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Turning that Frown Upside Down

  I am cautiously optimistic.

The Unitarian Universalist Association, a longtime client, has hired me to edit two big documents, one a sexuality education curriculum for grades 4–6, and one a guide for parents as the sexuality educators of their children. This is right up my alley and also good steady work. Yay!!!

In my ongoing quest for the perfect second job, I just had a phone interview that went very well (I think. How do you ever really know what someone else thinks of you?) for a part-time assistant job at the UU church in Belmont.

It pays very little (though comparable to what I make subbing), but the work is easy and plays to my skills (organization! administration! doing things the way they should be done!!), and the hours are flexible. And the woman I would report to (my interviewer today) is a part-time animal massage therapist! How cool is that???

I would love to get this job. And then I would have a regular (tiny) paycheck to supplement my editing, and maybe I could exhale a little.

And then think about . . . getting back to losing weight??? Maybe.

I'm still seeking a new therapist for Mimosa; we have appointments set up with two, and I have phone appointments with two more. I believe and trust that we will find the right person, yet it all takes time, and I do worry about my pumpkin.

One potential therapist asked me what I was doing to take care of myself while I helped my daughter, and I said, "I drink coffee and watch Jeopardy."

Currently I am obsessed with Jeopardy, particularly my snarky deadpan Jeopardy husband Alex Jacobs:

He is not for all tastes, but I totally love him. Go, Alex! Take down Matt Jackson! I'm behind you all the way, baby.

I finally worked my way through a massive pile of library books (fun, yet oppressive, in its way); here's what I'm reading now:

I dream of having a whole day, 24 straight hours, to read read read. Alas, these children are not going to raise themselves. Jerks.

Back to UU sex ed and a nice fat paycheck.


— Lady C

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"My Life Has Been a Tapestry of Rich and Royal Hue"

Last night, Mimosa and I saw "Beautiful" at the Boston Opera House (this was her "big" present for her 18th birthday). What a glorious show! We love love LOVED it!!!!

The Boston Opera House is simply stunning, though by the time we'd climbed up 400 flights of stairs to get to our seats (Mezzanine, row M), and after I'd already climbed up and down another 30 to find the Ladies', my knees were sobbing and I was ready to have a stroke — which is in fact what I said to the nice usherette when she asked me how I was doing. "About to have a stroke," I panted, hot-flashing like mad. "No, you're not," she said, rather flatly, handing me a program. Well, thank you, Usherette M.D.! What thorough training you must have!

Except: she was right.

Our seats were high up, for sure, but also dead center; we had a straight shot down to that piano, and when "Carole King" appeared, every goosebump I've ever possessed stood at attention.

The show is brisk and funny and moving, punctuated with, oh, every song you've ever heard of ever. I'm still giggling over this:
Gerry Goffin: These lyrics are pointless.
Carole King: It's fun! Kids will love it.
Gerry (to babysitter): Here, you know every singer. Take a look at these lyrics — who could sing this?
Babysitter (reads flatly): "Everybody's - doing - a - brand - new - dance - now - come - on - baby - do - the" — I have no idea.
Gerry: Oh, come on, Little Eva!

Yeah. Little Eva was Carole King's babysitter. Crazytown.

I saw three people I knew in the audience, including a current client and a former boss, and I choose to believe this was a good omen for future work.

We preceded our meal with dinner at Abby Lane, an adorable little bistro that serves fabulous food. I swooned over my Caesar salad with kale and roasted Brussels sprouts; Mimosa went wild for the hot homemade doughnuts, with dark chocolate sauce, chocolate pudding, and vanilla bean mousse for dipping.

All in all, a perfect evening.

I loved seeing how the "Tapestry" album is really a story — her story — of finding her own voice.

The "Tapestry" album means different things to different people, but for me it represents the one time in my entire life when I was one of the cool girls.

Sierra View Elementary School, my alma mater
I'd been friends with Robin M for years, as she lived two blocks away (and in elementary school, most friendships were based on proximity). In fifth grade, Jenni B came to our class, and I'd known her for years through a mutual friend; she was a new girl and kind of interesting, and we quickly became best friends. Robin was best friends with Terri O, a deeply religious girl who fascinated us with her piety. Robin had always been pretty and kinda glamorous (her parents were divorced! her mother worked at a fancy clothing store and smoked!), and in fifth grade she was suddenly the most popular girl, with me, Jenni, and Terri her popular-by-extension besties. And whenever we had indoor recess (it actually rains a lot in Northern California), our teacher would put "Tapestry" on the record player, we girls would get out the Twister mat, and we would dance, just the four of us, while the boys mostly ignored us and the other girls watched enviously.

Ah, the glory.

But just for that one year. The following year, Terri moved away, Jenni was in a different class, Robin became best friends with Cori M, and I was still part of the group but didn't have a bestie. At one point, to save space, the teacher asked us to pair up and share a desk, and I was the only girl with no partner.

Popularity is a fleeting thing.

Before signing off and getting back to work, I want to quickly note another recent theater-going experience: Mimosa and I saw our dearest friend Mrs. Cynicletary in a delightful romp titled "5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche."

Mrs. C is second from the right
I love watching Mrs. C become someone else onstage. I know her so well — and then there she is, a totally different person, right before my eyes. She never fails to surprise and amaze me with her awesome talent.

My only disappointment is that for a brief moment she planned to wear one of my dresses as her costume (which blasted me right back to college, when everyone came to my room to borrow clothes whenever they needed a costume for something. Doesn't everyone have a selection of formals, elbow-length gloves, and boas???). (Zanzibar, this is one of the vintage dresses you gave me back in the day — sleeveless with blue flowers, rhinestone buttons, and a cinched waist — remember it?) It was thrilling to think of my dress starring in a play, but alas: She found an even better one, a flattering black number not depicted here.

Anyway! I love nothing more than live theater, and live theater starring one of my besties is the greatest thing of all.

Must start my day now. Sending gratitude into the world for all veterans everywhere (including my dad, whom I faithfully called on Veterans Day every year), and lots of love and healing vibes to Lady Darcy, who's having a major ladyorgan removed today.

All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.

Semper fidelis!

— Lady C

Saturday, November 7, 2015

When the Plate of Daily Life Is Overfull . . .

I woke naturally at 8:30 this morning, no alarm clock, no yowling cats (a small miracle!), and it was a quiet joy to pad downstairs (painfully — my knees are killing me) with nothing more strenuous on my immediate docket than coffee, cat feeding, and e-mail. Today is Chore Day, of course, and I will take down some Halloween decorations — all good — and this afternoon I have an outing planned with dear Brunie. Nothin' but good times ahead.

And then I sat down at my computer with my coffee, and my Actual Usual Real Day began:
  • It's time to pay my car loan bill. I tried to log in to my online account; it is frozen for some reason, so I will have to call someone and deal with this on Monday.
  • Two other big bills are due on Monday, and I don't have enough cash to cover them. I continue to dance with my lousy partner, Debt and Credit, and the financial future looks bleak.
  • I need to find a new therapist for Mimosa, ideally one who takes our insurance. The good news is that you can search online for therapists in my geographical area who take Blue Cross Blue Shield (though I must further subdivide between BCBS HMO and BCBS PPO, only one of which will work for me, and that requires a phone call or e-mail), but the search produces a long list of names and faces, all of whom are strangers. I will have to send dozens of e-mails and set up many initial appointments to find one who's the right fit, yada yada yada. I told Mimosa that she has to sit with me while I do this, but finding time that we're both available (and I have mental energy) is surprisingly difficult! She is a busy little pumpkin — as am I.
  • No response yet to my latest job application. All I want is a regular part-time second job to supplement my editing (which has been light of late), and I am barely able to net a phone call in response to my efforts, let alone an interview.
  • The last agent who read my first novel gave me extremely discouraging feedback, which I suspect is balls-on accurate. I am sad and depressed. My sweet old-fashioned book is pretty much dead in the water unless I make some major changes, I fear.
  • I currently chair the Religious Education Committee at my church. Almost nothing has been done to/with our website in several years, as it has been the lowest priority of the people running the program. The sheer tonnage of the work ahead of me is wearying. I should take it bird by bird, I know, but right now all I can see is the entire aviary.
  • "Write D.C. travel diary" and "Begin college financial aid application process" have been on my to-do list and pile since the beginning of time. I am oppressed by their presence.
  • The bills grow ever larger, and my pool of paying work is suddenly very small. I keep reaching out and checking in and job-searching and applying, and I don't know what else to do! 
  • My knees hurt hurt hurt and I just get fatter and fatter. I am old and tired and discouraged.
  • Someone needs to go grocery shopping!!
  • I sent 14 e-mails this morning so far — accepted a subbing job, dealt with some committee stuff, paid a bill, rescheduled a fun breakfast date, followed up with two book agents— and yet the pile and list before me remain enormous. I feel like I removed a microscopic chip from a towering iceberg.
This is how I have felt every single day in October and November. Something has to give!!!!

Time for chores. At least that is something definite I can accomplish, even if the effects are fleeting.


— Lady C

p.s. In happier news, here's me as a Peanuts character:

All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well. This is my mantra. I just need to keep repeating it!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Blogging Is Far, Far Down on My To-Do List

I apologize to my regular readers, but I've had neither time nor oomph for blogging. It has been a busy couple of weeks, which have included a house guest, Brunie's 50th surprise birthday party, the death of Kind Tina's mother, which necessitated that I fill in for her in RE land at church, teacher conferences, mental health issues, night-time outings, hosting a Halloween party for the local Betsy-Tacy chapter, many mammograms (all good), an evening with Michael Dukakis, work work work, and the crowning event of last weekend: Mimosa's application to her dream college.

Busy times! And my year of YES (which got off to a rather humbling start, as I am not nearly as popular as I thought I was) has taken me to several events now, including one tomorrow night, involving a "clothing party" at one of the Sleek Suburban Mom's houses. I said to her, "I know for sure that I'm not going to buy anything, let alone try anything on; do you still want me to come and drink your wine?" and she said, "Yes! Come be an appreciative audience!" Now, that I can do.

And I did invite three friends to come with me — Nurse Kathy, Writer Jenny, and Mrs. Superdad:
Chicas, this is my year of YES, and I am saying yes to any social event for which I’m available, even if it sounds horrific like this one does. Trying on clothes, ugh. Trying on clothes and modeling them for other people, ugh.

But I love my friend who’s hosting, and I know the wine will be good, and she swears it’s fine for me to come and just be a supportive party guest.

I also promised that I’d invite a friend, so I’m inviting you three. Let me know if you want to come with me. Full disclosure: My clothes are staying ON. 
Alas, they can't come, but Mrs. Superdad totally cracked me up with her refusal:
Thank you for thinking of me as one of the three people (female) you would want to be around in a state of undress and partial intoxication. That means a lot. Really.
 I love love LOVE my friends.

All is basically well, and I'll be back to blogging when I can.

Happy fall!

— Lady C