Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Days of My Lives

I've plotted out how I'm going to finish this giant math book I'm editing (which is actually four math books) by my self-imposed deadline of my son's birthday.* I literally have a grid of every day between now and December 21 (yes, weekends too, shoot me now), with a Herculean task listed on each day. Well, we'll see. So far so good, and I have a lot of time this week to focus; my other clients are staying quiet and non-needy (knock on wood!), which is just how I love them this month.

My fondest dearest hope is that I get so far ahead this week that I can take the weekend "off" and do all my other life crap. And maybe go to the movies, I haven't seen a movie in a theater in years.

On my plate:
  • Proofread Ruth Doan MacDougall's two latest books!!!!
  • Finalize a bunch of church stuff — fall term is ending, winter term begins, lots of things to do
  • Get ready for Christmas!
  • Ride my bike and lift weights, in prep for my upcoming major surgery
All I really do is sit and read and edit, day in, day out, but here are some random newsy bits that I found entertaining:
  • I've been very dedicated about my Deep Water class, which is so much fun. The hardest part is getting my body into a swimsuit and out the front door (it's dark, it's cold, this is exactly LAST on my list of what sounds good at 6:50 p.m.), but once I'm on my way, I'm happy. Anyway! At the end of class, I take my hair out of my tight scrunchy bun and shake it out, and everyone around me oohs and aahs. It is quite gratifying. My hair is longish right now, and I curl it on pink foam rollers, because I would love to be a 1950s' housewife. Fortunately, Husband always thinks I'm cute ("You look great!" "You are no judge of this." "What do you mean?" "You think I look great when I floss." "Yeah! So?").
So that's fun, hearing all the ladies murmur over pretty pretty me, but last night I got a rather surprising compliment after a swim class:
Swim Lady: Do you sing professionally?
Me: Uh, no?
Swim Lady: You should.
Our teacher, Badass Beverly, plays a range of music, some of which I HATE, but last night she was totally singing my life with her words, and I sang along to every lyric from the Forrest Gump soundtrack. And apparently I've found my new career! Hee.

  • My cancer prevention doc is such a cutie — about my age, I think, but a teensy little thing; she wears short flippy skirts and long jazzy earrings and is just adorable. I said that I was thrilled to be more than halfway through my Tam experience, and she said, "So, do you want to quit?" I said, " . . . ?" 
I kinda don't feel like it should be up to me! (Though, hmm, I have many years of experience as a Candy Striper. And I read First You Cry, Betty Rollin's account of her breast cancer, probably 20 times, so maybe I am very well qualified to make this decision, how do I know.) She said, "Its benefits are cumulative. We think five years is good. We think 10 years is really good. It's up to you." I said, "Well, I've come this far, I might as well stick out the five years," but I'm thinking, Oh, shit, 10 years??? No no no.
  • Hmm, speaking of cancer prevention, I believe I failed to update you on my colonoscopy. Remember last time how I had a horrible migraine, they couldn't get the IV in and I cried, I threw up afterward,** and after all that my preparation got a grade of "Fair"? 
WELL. This time, I followed the bland low-fiber diet meticulously (gross), which is much easier to do when you're freaking told about it ahead of time. I drank lots of caffeinated tea and didn't have a headache, they had no trouble inserting the IV, I felt quite well on the whole, and it all went swimmingly. And my scrupulous preparation paid off with a grade of: "Fair."

Turns out (oh, this is so lovely — I can't wait to share it with you!), "obesity" is a risk factor for Fair preparation. My body fat is keeping my colon from emptying completely. Good. God.

Next time, in addition to the TWO "cleanse agents" I have to consume, I have to be on Miralax for a week ahead of time. SHOOT ME NOW.

Well, it's many years from now, I will have two gorgeous knees by then, maybe I will have lost a lot of weight and not be so morbidly obese any more. A girl can dream. I'd like to be thinner so I can finally get an A on my colonoscopy! Hey, whatever motivates you.
  • I also had my yearly mammogram, my boobs are perfect, and Dr. Dixie shared a most interesting fact with me. My last period was in January, I'm still waiting to hit that one-bloodless-year menopause milestone, but she said, "The fact that you made it through spring and summer without a period is huge. Those are usually big triggers for women!" Which makes sense if you think about it biologically, as I try to do with all things, because I am just that scholarly.
Fingers crossed!
  • Writer Jenny convinced me that I needed to give The Women (which Brunie and I dissed during our annual movie marathon weekend) another chance, so I spent several hours with my wonderful friend in her gorgeously redone living room, watching a flawless print of this movie on a screen that's larger than my car, eating delicious appetizers. and drinking perfect Black Manhattans concocted by her magnificent husband, whose bartending skills are epic. The movie was delightful (though seriously, in those surroundings, how could it not be??), the Black Manhattans went down smoooooooth, I stayed for 17 hours, then came home and fell asleep in my own bathtub. I thought it was pretty funny, though Mrs. Cynicletary (when I told her the story) yelled at me for an hour and might have dropped the name "Whitney Houston" several times.
In any event: it was so much fun!!! Writer Jenny and I plan to do it again with many more classic movies (though, hmm, maybe at my house next time? Much less glammy than hers, for sure, but will I drink less if I have to make the drinks? Hard to say).
Freaking diva.
And I must put it in writing: Writer Jenny was RIGHT,  and I was WRONG. The Women is a perfect delight! I enjoyed it thoroughly, especially when my girls Paulette Goddard and Marjorie Main showed up. I "entertained" Jenny by telling her stories of what a diva Norma Shearer was and how mean she was to Carole Lombard, whom I adore, and Jenny patted my arm and said, "I think you need to let this go." Such a fun night! I can't wait to do it again. I've suggested Picnic, His Girl Friday, Idiot's Delight, and Rebecca — nothin' but good times ahead.
Probably I have more to say but I've been at this computer since 8 a.m. (it is now 6:30 p.m.), and it's time to look at something else.



*    Li'l Martini: I've decided what I want to do for my Sweet 16.
      Me: Uh — become a girl?

** Every time we drive past that Starbucks now, Husband notes that that's where I threw up after my colonoscopy. Every. Single. Time.

After this one, he said, "Want me to take you to that Starbucks where you like to throw up?"

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Sated, Satisfied, Seriously Happy

YUM. That is my take on our non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Nothing was terrible and most things were delectable. And the best part, of course, is being four at table again. So happy to have my girl home where she belongs!!!!

Sexy Em was supposed to join us but begged off at the last moment, which was fine — and we still miss Arty Jenny, our longtime Thanksgiving companion of many years, now in Portland, Oregon. And I'd mentioned to several friends that they should stop by for cocktails on their way to their (boring) dinners, but no one did.

It's really okay, though! I truly, truly love having just my three favorite people in the world around the table with me. Friends joining us is great, friends not joining us is great. I'm happy either way.

Here's the food report, from worst to first.

  • Salami Chips with Mustard Dip: These were my biggest disappointment because I thought they sounded AMAZING — I guess I was imagining a salami-flavored potato chip. (AMAZING.) But they were just okay. The first batch tasted kinda burnt (though I followed the directions), and the second batch, which I cooked for two fewer minutes, weren't quite crispy enough, and neither batch was particularly exciting. Husband liked them a lot, though.
  • Zucchini Fritters with Tzatziki Dip: The fritters were bland and the dip was way too spicy (too much fresh garlic, I fear) — but I'm still calling it a win, because frying a fritter is not part of my kitchen skill set, and yet these were lovely, crisp and golden, AND I didn't know you could make a good tzatziki without cucumber! I love tzatziki as a dip, and now I will make it more often. (I don't mind the cucumber, but Husband loathes it and I am a Good Wife.)
  • Candy Cane Puffs: I will definitely try these again — I cooked them too long, and next time I will flatten them a little; right now they are rock-like in both shape and consistency. But the flavor is very good — a basic sugar cookie brushed with melted white chocolate and dipped in crushed candy canes. Pretty and toothsome!
  • Pilgrim Pineapple Sunrise: Pineapple juice, lime, tequila, powdered sugar. Yum! I tinkered with the ingredients a bit, because I like a slightly tarter taste; the first batch was a little sweet. But a delightful drink.
  • Pineapple-Ginger-Lime Mocktail: I shook this up for Husband, and he said it was delicious! The sip I had was mighty nice.
  • Shrimp Tomatillo Cocktail: The shrimp, which I boiled myself with lemons, peppercorns, and dill seeds, are fantastic! And the tomatillo sauce is fine, but it doesn't beat regular cocktail sauce, which I adore.
  • Someone's Aunt Annabelle’s Crab Dip: I took one bite of this and burst out laughing — it tastes exactly like something my grandma would have made. A very 1950s' recipe — and white white white. If I make it again, I will add some color. But it was (as the heading says) quite tasty.
  • Candied Bacon Sticks: These are usually the kids' favorite, and Li'l Martini thought they were as good as ever, but Mimosa and I  were less impressed this year. I bought thicker breadsticks than usual, and I think it makes a difference — thinner is better. (A life lesson.) But still: broiled breadstick, bacon, and brown sugar — what's not to like?
  • Asparagus, Pepper, and Prosciutto Roll-Ups: Nice flavors and textures, and especially yummy when dipped lightly in the mustard dip.
A note on the salads: We always serve at least one salad at Thanksgiving, and for a few years now I've been doing a selection of three small perfect salads (Tre Belle Insalate) — but I think I am going to stop doing that. They're a lot of work — all that dicing! — and none has every been SO fantastic that I'm tempted to make it again. One salad is plenty. That said, all three salads this year were very nice.
  • Edamame Succotash Salad: I liked the look of this recipe because it used edamame instead of limas and had fresh corn and lots of herbs. It was very nice — a bright and fresh-tasting salad.
  • Green Bean and Mushroom Salad: Very simple, very tasty.
  • Broccoli Salad: We've had this before, and it is divine! (Yes, Lady Darcy, I hear you retching.) Raw chopped broccoli, red onion, bacon, raisins, sliced almonds, and a creamy sweet-and-sour dressing. I think I didn't put quite enough dressing on it tonight, which is the only thing keeping it out of the best-of-the-best category. 
  • Glazed Orange Pound Cake: Perfectly tasty, but not as good as my regular orange cake. I never really love pound cake, I always find it a little dry — not sure why I can't seem to remember this!
  • Dark Chocolate Mousse: Again, perfectly tasty, but very dark, and I have another chocolate mousse recipe I like better.
  • Rosemary Cashews: So so so so good. A fantastic recipe.
  • Apple Julep: My surprise favorite of the cocktails I made! So simple — bourbon, cider, and a dash of cider vinegar, garnished with an apple slice — but deceptively delicious! They went down smoooooth.
  • Raspberry and Citrus Martini: A little workier, because it involves muddled raspberries, and then I had to strain it to avoid a drink full of berry bits — but a wonderful combo of flavors.
  • Chicken Enchilada Dip: Never disappoints!
  • Onion Jam and Goat Cheese Toasts: A new recipe this year, and the surprise winner! Everyone LOVED these. Toasted baguette spread with soft goat cheese and topped with sweet onions that were cooked down with lemon rind, lemon juice, sugar, and vinegar. Sophisticated and delicious!!!

As is our annual tradition, I forgot to make Toasted Marshmallow Milkshakes, a recipe I've trotted out for years and have yet to concoct even once. We're not hurting for food, believe me! Maybe tomorrow night, while we watch Crazy Ex Girlfriend.

We concluded our evening by watching Lars and the Real Girl (love that movie!) and playing spirited rounds of Scattergories, Speed Scrabble, and Consequences.

A perfect holiday! I hope yours was as well.

lots of love,

Lady C

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Any Second Now . . .

. . . my beautiful daughter will walk through my front door!!!

I haven't seen her since we dropped her off at college in mid-August. A friend at church seemed startled by this, and I realized – the reason it's been so long is that she lives in New York City and I can't walk. If I were spry and healthy, I probably would've gone down in October, explored my girl's 'hood, taken in a show, treated her to yummy meals and hot drinks, been a Mom. But all I can do is sit and look at her, and while I would find that very satisfying, I imagine she'd get a little tired of it.

Anyway. I told her that I planned to come live with her in April, after my surgery, and she said, "Great! You'll be the best roommate I've had so far."

(Her roommates are . . . okay enough. But she did not exactly win the Roommate Lottery, I fear.)

I miss her so so so SO MUCH, and I am so excited to have her home for a few days!

In other news: I've been cooking up a storm all day and am very excited for tomorrow's most excellent meal. Report to come!

And my readers will be happy and relieved to know that all three cocktails I've chosen for this year are delightful.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Still Looking for My Extra Hour

I seem to be so busy all the time lately. I was hired for a huge editing job, two giant books that each have a giant stack of accompanying handouts, and when I'm done I will get a ridiculous amount of money. But I will be at this for a couple of months — and since I can't go two months without any money coming in I keep saying yes to my other clients, who have been needing me on a steady basis for a while now.

And church is busy-busy; in these times of declining church attendance, my weirdo church continues to grow like Topsy, which means more kids in Sunday school, which means more work for Kind Tina and for me, her committee chair and confidante. And also, the families of Arlington, Mass., are in extra need of comfort, community, and succor this week, right at the time of year when we have lots of Big Programming already planned. Last Sunday the place was packed, and I think people really wanted to sit in a huge virtual hug and have our minister reassure us, but it was Music Sunday, the musical groups had been practicing for weeks, we couldn't postpone it. And this Sunday is our annual all-generation Thanksgiving service; the kids are with us all morning, we do a cornbread communion (which I cannot stand), and there is a (usually lame) play.

(This year's play is no exception. I rewrote it heavily, so it's a little better than it was, but as I said to Husband, "If you're a flower planted in dung, no matter how beautiful your blooms are, you're still a dung flower." Feel free to quote me.)

(Husband and I will be playing the key roles of Washer Woman and Washer Man. I expect we'll bring down the house.)

The leaves fall and must be raked. Things come in the mail for Mimosa that must be forwarded. People have birthdays, people die, all of which must be acknowledged. My family continues to eat on a regular basis.

And am I doing what I vowed to do — getting stronger pre-surgery? Hardly. Though I am being very dedicated about going to my deep water class, partly because I think the universe punished me for blowing it off last Tuesday by electing Mr. Trump.

No. I sit at my computer and work and work and work until I can't stand it any more, and then I chip away at my endless pile of things to do. And somehow, I don't seem to see "ride bike" and "lift weights" as a to-do item.

Today, after working for three hours, I finalized our Thanksgiving menu and put the lawn mower back in the shed (after wiping it off because it had been left out in the rain) and attempted to fix the broken spoke in my pink umbrella with duct tape and put my laundry away and purchased snacks for tonight's subcommittee meeting and gave the cats lunch. Once I post this I'll go back to work, though what I really want to do is climb into bed and sleep for three years.
(I have found an amazing soporific: The Mortal Storm, starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan. I was asleep two seconds into the opening credits!)
This is really all I have to say. I would like to get back into the habit of blogging, I think it is good for me, but I suspect the next few weeks' worth of posts will sound a lot like this:
Hi, today I worked some more. And did some other stuff. Bye!
Mimosa comes home for Thanksgiving a week from today. I am beside myself with joy.

But now I must return to work. And do some other stuff.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trying to Make Sense of the Senseless

For me, Tuesday evening could not have been off to a better start. My pal Brunie came over to watch election returns with me. We had electoral maps and crayons, cold white wine, and yummy Chinese food. We also dropped by my neighbor's house to sample Nasty Woman cocktails — for science! (Verdict: not so great. But it was still fun to try them. And Brunie loved building a Lego White House.)

The polls were predicting a relatively easy win for my girl Hillary, whom I fell in love with in 1991 (I always say, "She had me at the headband") and have been voting for since 2008.
All the ingredients for a perfect night!

But then Brunie left and suddenly America started turning red, a giant hemorrhage oozing all over my electoral college coloring sheet.

And you know what happened next. I guess I've had my head in the sand, because I truly didn't believe it was possible.

As a dear friend wrote to me today, "We've had repellent nincompoops in the White House before, and we've had charming nincompoops in the White House before, and America has endured. But never a nincompoop of this caliber."

And yet, and yet. As incomprehensible as I find it, people I love and admire would be feeling just as bad as I feel right this moment if Hillary had been elected — shocked, appalled, frightened, angry, nauseated.
As we learn in preschool: "You get what you get, and you don't get upset."

(Though the cocktail-sharing neighbor says her daughter has always heard this as, "You get and you get, and you don't get upset"!!)

But here in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, we are upset indeed. The principal sent a note to the parents, acknowledging that a lot of the kids are suffering:
We have seen degrading language increase during this election. We need to reassert our community norms and reassure students that this is a supportive and safe environment.  

Many in our community voted for President-elect Trump. In Arlington, Massachusetts, they were in the minority. They have a right to their perspective and to be respected. We can learn from each other by listening and trying to understand different points of view.
Tonight, my church is offering a "post-election service of healing and recommitment":
People feel deep spiritual needs after such an acrimonious election season. We seek healing as well as a recommitment to the values and vision of beloved community. Today we remember the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."
Is it just Arlington that is feeling so bruised and battered? It's hard for me to believe that, say, my hometown Chico, California, is reeling in quite the same way.

I also wonder: How will we ever heal this divide? If, for example, you truly believe that abortion is murder and that gay marriage is a moral abomination (or that the federal government has no business sticking its nose in either matter), how can you possibly vote for someone who will fight to the death to keep both safe and legal? Maybe we really do need to become two Americas: East-West America and North-South America. It would divide just about that neatly, wouldn't it?

Mimosa is reeling from the aftermath of her first election:
I'm still trying to deal with all of this. A lot of kids cried in class today, and everybody is really scared.


Some things I wrote to her:
  • The United States is blessed with a number of democratic processes that make it impossible for one guy to do too much damage.
  • Not everyone who voted for Donald Trump did so because they believe the bigoted things that he has said this year. Many of them voted for him because they feel frustrated with the economy, they feel socially left behind, and they are exercising the one power they have.
  • I absolutely believe that Mimosa will have many more opportunities to vote for female presidents in her lifetime. We have several superstars right here in Massachusetts — Elizabeth, Katherine, Maura, and Michelle, among others. Who knows what the future holds?
  • Barack Obama is still our president, for weeks and weeks and weeks.
Husband wrote to her today, too, and he concluded his sweet note with these wise words:
The most important thing is not to give in to despair. So much political history has been made by one-time "losers" who found the seeds of eventual victory in their initial defeats.
It is not my nature to live in gloom, so I will keep my head up and look for rays of hope where I can find them. (Mr. Trump said some nice words about my girl Hillary in his victory speech, which I appreciated. That's all I've got for now, but stay tuned.)

Yes, I will keep my little flame burning bright, but first I'm going to finish this wine. I will never get to vote for Hillary Clinton again, and tonight I need to have a little wallow.