Friday, November 30, 2007

Pass the keg, the ammo, or the ciggies

EG had the Today show on as I puttered around the house. Unpacking and sorting laundry, I overheard a feature story about how the FDA is considering the regulation of salt. In our great land, any yutz can get their hands on a gun. Beer is sold in kegs and tobacco owns half of Washington D.C., but the FDA is fussing over salt.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Live and in Color

I am a member of the TV dinner generation. Bonding time in my house consisted of Swanson and CBS. I considered Archie, Edith, Gloria and the Meathead among my family members. Florida and J.J. were like cousins to me. When Sherman Helmsley moved on up, I went with him, and I didn’t separate my own experiences from those lived through these characters on television. Perhaps growing up in a world where there was always a punch line and a happy ending has skewed my expectations for adulthood. In my adult reality I don’t have the luxury of being the zany, scheming housewife who is always forgiven by her handsome Cuban-American husband. I’m not the wise-cracking wife of a bus driver who always finds a way to love her stubborn, chubby husband in spite of his many faults. Real living is much more complex than the 30 minutes of family life I saw on the screen, but I still hold fast to my childhood TV family.

Carol O’Connor, Jack Lord, Jackie Gleason, Lucille Ball, Redd Foxx, Gene Rayburn, Tony Randall, Jack Soo, Fred 'Rerun' Berry, and Flip Wilson - so many of the faces of my childhood are no longer with us. I worry about some of the aging icons. Alan Alda, sexy, witty, sensitive and wise, Carol Burnett, the crazy aunt we all wish we had, Chevy Chase, the goofy uncle, touchy-feely Richard Dawson, and Bob Barker, the icon of calm in a sea of excitement: just to name a few. As time goes by I think about my pseudo-ancestors, and I wonder how they’re getting by in their twilight years out of the spotlight. Though they don’t know me, and I really don’t know them, they helped to shape the person became.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dorothy knew what she was saying.

Getting out to see the world and visiting places I'd never otherwise see, that's an incredible perk of my job. I don't begrudge the travel, but I miss my family terribly. I mourn the loss of each and every minute we didn't have together. Yet this morning, as Delta 1272 ascended over North Florida, I was thinking about some of the simpler things I'd be missing the next few days.

I'll miss our morning run. At home, with my running buddy, we can run the same route every day and it never becomes boring. In fact, the sameness of our route is comforting. Mile markers are noted with the passing of a sign or a tree, not a cold, impersonal LED display. The run outdoors is a rarity when I'm on the road. Either the climate or the traffic is unfriendly. Running on a treadmill is pure drudgery. Even with the distractions of television, iPod, and a magazine all I can do is count down the minutes remaining.

I'll miss my breakfast ritual. Lately I've been enjoying a tall post-run cranberry pomegranate spritzer. I fill our biggest cup 3/4 of the way with seltzer, 3/16 with cranberry juice and 1/16 with Pom Wonderful (give or take). It's bubbly, full of antioxidants, and the cranberries are supposed to keep the parts clear of bad fungi. The spritzer is the perfect cocktail to wash down the melty peanut butter coated English muffin. That customized meal is an impossibility on the road. I usually settle for a Styrofoam cup of instant oatmeal and a mini box of raisins, a meal I can prepare in my room using the immersion heater in my self-fashioned frequent traveler's survival kit.

I'll miss Big Pillow. My trusty body pillow, a friend I found more than a decade ago during pregnancy. Snuggling up with this 5 foot long squishy pillow has cured many an aching muscle. Because of its size, it cannot stow away on the plane with me. The best I can do is bring one of Big Pillow's cases with me and stuff it full of lumpy hotel pillows.

For so many big reasons, and many more little ones, there really is no place like home.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm gonna' live forever

Thinking about opera and my ancient history as an ingenue of the operatic stage has really brought me back. My roots and interests in the arts didn't grow out of a childhood packed with exposure to the finer things. I was brought up on Long Island, exposed to a steady diet of Laverne and Shirley, TV Dinners, and Land of the Lost and David and Goliath weekends. Others who studied opera in the New York area were weaned on Mozart and The Met.

I think I was attracted to the arts because they have a transforming quality. A performing artist lives twice as much: once as herself, and once through the character. I was also attracted to the promise of the immortality of fame. My naive teenage thought process had me convinced that with "Fame, I'm gonna' live forever.." and living forever sounded a lot better than dying. I guess I assumed that my rendering of Papagena or Marcellina would be a hot conversation topic for centuries to come.

My line of thinking was reflected in a memoir I just finished reading, Alan Alda's, Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself. In a chapter he titled "Celebrity and its Discontents" he reflected on his relationship with fame. At first it was a slice of his motivation to pursue a career in acting. He said of fame, "Of course I'd wanted it. It was a way to live forever. There was even a moment in my life when I'd worked out a strategy for eternal life." He certainly attained a fame that was widespread. He noted that a poll conducted in the 1970s found that more grade school-aged kids recognized his face than the image of Abraham Lincoln. He wrote that in his twenties, he'd determined a new method of acquiring immortality, writing. "...I wanted to write really well because otherwise my work wouldn't last very long. Writing lasted..." But his years and his experiences have taught him something else about living forever, that "It all evaporates."

So if someone with the wisdom and world view of Alan Alda has come to recognize that everything we do simply evaporates, where is the motivation for living well? For making art? For doing right? He answered that he finds wisdom in Bosco's Belly. Bosco, his grandchildren's dog, has attained life's true meaning. Watching Bosco lapse into dreamland while having his belly scratched reminds Alda that there is a point to life. "Of course there's a point. Life is the point," he wrote.

So, my friends and fellow blogistas, I urge you to take a moment today and make a point. Stop and smell the roses, or the freshly laundered, warm towels. Savor that sip of tea, or that crumbly melting biscuit. Pause to listen to birdsong, cat meowing, or baby cooing. Take the sun on your face, because fully living every moment may be the only way we can live forever and make a point with our lives.

And now, taking a cue from Cora Spondence, blogger extraordinaire, what was your moment of immortality today?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

All things Domestic

I really like doing the laundry. There's something gratifying about the process. Clean becomes dirty. What was soiled is fresh again. Folding it, warm and smelling good from the dryer, satisfies all my senses.

Puttering around the kitchen makes me happy. Last night, for no good reason, I made 2 kinds of soup and a loaf of bread. I conjured up a vat of Split Pea because I was chilly. Then I tried a new recipe from Women's Health magazine for a turkey, barley and greens soup. A great way to use some leftovers, low fat, high-fiber and scrumptious. Isn't it something about soup, how the whole is greater than the sum of the parts? Wonderful chemical reactions made for a delicious 7PM snack, alongside a 3 ingredient (dairy free) recipe I found for beer bread. Having also nabbed this one in Women's Health magazine, I had no regrets about our late, light supper.

As I think about our day, I'm looking forward to our simple plans. We'll try out the legs again, having rested according to published advice after Thursday's big run. 7-8 miles ought to do us. Then maybe some light yard work between the raindrops: a little hedge trimming and whacking back the crepe myrtle and bottle brush beasts. Doing nothing special on a cloudy Sunday, it's delicious.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I ain't what I used to be

I skipped a day of posting.

I know I didn't pinky swear to the 30 day challenge like some other blogistas, but I was feeling pretty good about the streak of blogs I was cranking out. Yesterday I didn't post because I reconvened with The Mouse.

We departed at 7AM, minivan full of cousins and coffee to journey to the land of happiness. Yes, the place is friggin' expensive. My sis bought 1-day tickets for herself and my nephew. $120 plus tax, no park-hopper options. EJG and I buckled and decided to renew our status as passholders. 4 single day visits equate the cost of a Florida resident seasonal pass. We'll surely be back 3 more times before November 2008, especially if we're invited to the LMJ inaugural Mouse run.

After running 13+ miles, cooking and cleaning on Thursday, the legs held up remarkably well. We were in the Big Kahuna of Family Fun, the Magic Kingdom. In an effort to maximize my sis's one-day ticket dollar, we just about closed the place at midnight. Images of roller coasters, parades, fireworks and more than a few snacks filled our heads as we climbed back into the minivan for the return trip. Feeling peppy (and recently caffeinated) I volunteered to drive, reserving the right to call EJG up from the farm team, should the starting line poop out.

Somewhere north of the intersection of I-4 and I-95 I was slapping myself, blowing pitches into my diet coke bottle, and making my own words up to the nonstop Christmas music on the radio (damn, that I forgot the XM hookup). I decided to do something totally out of character. I gave up.

Off the exit ramp, EJG and I switched places so quickly, I don't think the car ever went out of drive. He was rested, having snoozed from the park exit forward, so he was ready to step in and take over. We arrived safely, just after 2AM. To sleep in our own bed was worth the grueling late night trip. But I lay in bed for a while, reading yet another sign. There was a time I could fight the urge to doze. Clearly, I ain't what I used to be.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I Can Skip Santa This Year

Half of a marathon was a whole lot of running for us. The cool, wet weather was a help in managing the trek (which clocked out at 14.2 miles on my GPS). Near the race's end I cranked up the iPod to hear the tunes over the screaming of my knees. How smart I was to have downloaded a good chunk of an iTunes essentials list. Some dude must've graduated high school when I did. His HS Faves list propelled me through the last 5 miles. Thank you Thomas Dolby, Duran Duran, A-Ha, and Falco.

Even with the tunes for mental inspiration and the caffeinated power blocks for physical inspiration, it got a little rough at the end. Turning a corner and heading for mile marker 13 I was questioning the sanity of this running habit we've developed.

Then something occurred that is truly beyond my explanation. Maybe it's the same motivation that compels people to donate a kidney, or to fall on a grenade for a comrade. Truly, an act of nobility that was amazing in its selflessness. In the chilly morning rain on the Thanksgiving holiday, 3 of the most special people I know willingly left the warmth and comfort of home, drove for 2o minutes, and waited for an hour on a strange street corner just to be there for us.

Forget about Black Friday, 4 AM sales or the presents under the tree. One of the best presents I ever received can't be gift wrapped.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Good-bye Happy Dance

Mastery of anything feels good. Whether it's 15 more pounds on the incline leg press, nailing a new recipe, or finding the perfect rhyme for a couplet, it just feels good to do something right. There's a moment of personal victory when you go for it and it works.

That was one of the things I always liked about Math. Different from other subjects, there's a right answer in Math. Gray areas exist in other subjects, even when I didn't think they did. So I learned to consider the antagonist's point-of-view in English, to determine the motivation of the ruthless dictator in History, to engage the scientific method of thinking to question what seemed to be fact in Biology. But in Algebra, there was a satisfaction that came when the answer came out right. x=3.18. Plug it back into the equation, and Bam! Like the last piece of a puzzle, that satisfaction that comes with mastery.

Sadly many kids today are denied that satisfaction. With an emphasis on keeping to the curriculum map, the objective-a-day-even-if-they-don't-get-it pace of instruction doesn't allow for those moments of triumph. Helping IMG to prepare for a math test I tried to share my excitement when it works out just right. The happy dance when you know you nailed it. She didn't share my enthusiasm. Maybe it is because the week-long chapter on the test encompassed everything from "What is a variable?" to "Which of the following is a non-linear function of x?" . Maybe it's because kids today have figured out that what is valued isn't learning, it's performance on assessments. Or maybe it's because working hard at something until you get it just isn't that important.

This is a generation of kids who can spend all night "pimping a MySpace profile" or downloading just the right ring tone for a mobile phone. What a shame to skip the important life-lesson of the intrinsic motivation that comes with mastery.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Everything Flies

Maybe it's my Delta Platinum Preferred prejudice, but I definitely notice a difference when I fly Southwest Airlines. Never my first choice, perhaps because of the gang seating mentality. Lining up like cattle waiting for the slaughter never seemed like the most dignified manner to prepare for a flight. Or maybe it's their lack of a first class cabin. I don't like to think of myself as someone who needs to be separated from the common folk. Well, maybe I do.

In coach, and especially when I fly SWA, I notice a different clientele. The Greyhound of the skies, this is everyman's airline, and I'm always depressed when I meet everyman. Parents who can't control their kids should really have to drive from Jacksonville to Indianapolis. Maybe after 20 hours in the car they will figure out that it's time to get your kid to sit put. People in coach who have their inane conversations at dance club volume maybe don't realize that it is hard work NOT to listen. I don't want to know about your uncle's goiter surgery, or the prospects for this college team, or even your tips on how to make a good guacamole dip. I want to read my book, or to work on my laptop, or to do nothing at all. Instead I am assaulted by your voice and the kicking feet of your tantrum-throwing children.

Taking SWA today was a gamble. If all the stars in heaven align correctly, the plan is that I can arrive home tomorrow night before 10 PM, thereby optimizing the pre-race sleep. This was the only airline with a direct flight Indy to Jax, and I didn't want to risk a connection combined with the Turkey Day Tumult at the airport. Flying is a crap shoot either way, but I thought that slumming was the best of the options in this case. The payoff of that gamble remains to be seen.

Monday, November 19, 2007

71 Hours and Counting

Seventy-two hours from now, I won't be sitting in front of my computer, tapping the keys while casually sipping my cranberry spritzer. I won't be comfortably stationary, enjoying the rest after my morning run and coffee. Seventy-two hours from now I'll be hitting mile 5 or 6, the almost-half-way point of the longest race I ever anticipate trying to run, our first attempt at a half marathon.

According to the training schedule put out by the 1st Place Sports running club, the three days prior to the race should be pretty restful. Limit your run to an easy 3 miles, and cut back other physical activities so as to save all energy for the big day. Well, we already put in our usual 5 1/2 'Bucks and Back. It wouldn't be a Monday morning without it. And though it's probably a mistake, I have an appointment later this morning with Judi the Trainer. I doubt she'll have any sympathy on me, as she's generally unimpressed with our running habits. When we completed our last milestone, the 10 miler, her only response was to ask if we're getting any faster.

No. We're really not getting any faster. Not any faster by measurable standards. I don't really care to. Running our way feels good. I can sing to the iPod, chat with my partner, or I can enjoy the silence, observing the sights and sounds around me. Running fast means I can't speak for fear of hyperventilating, my heart pounds too loudly to hear anything, and my vision blurs with the strain and discomfort. So instead of faster I'm satisfied that we are running longer.

The only thing that upsets me about the idea of a half-marathon is that it seems anticlimactic in its name. It's half of an achievement. Half of something people are proud of doing. Half the job is done. Half way to being historic. The running store sells bumper stickers and gold pendants with "26.2" for the boastful full-marathoner. They do not carry the same merchandise with "13.1" emblazoned in gold. If I cross that finish line on my own two feet Thursday morning, I won't feel half proud. I'll feel bumper sticker gold necklace proud. And its a feeling I can't wait to feel.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Brother and Sister

You don't get to pick your family, they are already picked when you are born. I could grumble/giggle about the cast of characters that comprise my kin, but I'm more drawn to a pair of black-pajamaed feuding siblings that live in my house. Brother and sister who were fated to spend life next to each other, Hansel and Gretel have a reluctant acceptance relationship that is fun to observe.

They look so much alike that when they were little we confused the two. A pink collar for Gretel and blue for Hansel was the only way we could keep them straight. With their silky black fur and almost identical white spots on the tummy, they were so similar as kittens. As they have grown their bodies have changed. He's taken on the long, lean look of a Tom, and she has the shapely thing going on. Gretel is kind of Romanesque.

Were there others in the litter? Did we adopt the left-overs in the batch? They were the pair waiting for us at the adoption center, so they seemed fated to become a part of our lives. But I sometimes wonder how they feel about being stuck together.

Did Hansel have a brother he played with? He sometimes plays rough on his sister, and she doesn't stand for it. Sure, Hansel may think that sneaking up and biting the rear of your unsuspecting sibling is a great gag, but Gretel is none too amused. A chase and smack-down usually ensues, but no matter how many times she puts him back in his place he tries it again. She's not a good sport when it comes to play.

Does Gretel lie awake at night wondering, of all the cats in the litter, how did she end up with him? Did she have a sweet sister in the group, with whom she shared her giggles watching the antics of their goofy brother? I swear that sometimes I see Gretel rolling her eyes when Hansel's shenanigans get out of hand.

Certainly they have their moments. Sharing a windowsill, they wag and squeak in harmony when a bird is at the feeder, or when a lizard dashes across the hibiscus. Sometimes he'll approach her during her grooming, and she uses her little pink tongue to smooth the stray fur between his ears. Companions in the box on the trip to the vet and during the long days they are home alone, surely they appreciate one another's presence.

I suspect they care for one another more then they'll ever let on. I can imagine them as senior citizen kitties, twenty years from now, snuggling together on a soft blanket and reminiscing about the fights of their youth.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

By the seat of my pants

I just need a flippin' pair of pants. I want some pants that are casual and comfy but not a pair of jeans. I want them to fit at the top and to be long enough to touch my shoe tops on the bottom. I don't want them to look like a deflated balloon around the hips and legs. Some flare at the ankle is good. Liberty Bell wannabe look is bad. Gimme a zipper and one button, no annoying sliding things, and please, God, not a button fly.

My vision of what I want is clear. I can picture these pants, and by golly, if I could sew more than a button, I should just make them myself. Instead I hit the stores.

There I am faced with too many options. First of all, I fit into pants in every department of the store (okay, maybe not infants). Juniors, Ladies, Women's, all of these departments have pants I need to try. Interesting that a size 14 in Women's falls off, 14 in Ladies could belt around the bottom of the bra, and the one in Juniors would require a bikini wax before I'd attempt the zipper. Some pants come in lengths, which would be helpful. If I were a size 3 tall or a size 26 short I'd be all set. When I finally find one that fits on the top, the bottoms look like I'm preparing to enter a wading pool.

After all the fuss at the stores, it sure feels good to come home a put on a nice pair of elastic waist running shorts.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I had to put on the heat this morning.

The alarm went off at 5 AM, as it usually does for our weekday 'Bucks and back run. By 5:15 the feet must hit the pavement in order for EJG to make it there, back, showered, shaved, and ready to report for duty at school by 7:30. One toe outside the blanket and all plans were aborted this morning. The temperature was way too low for me to convince myself to leave the warm family bed for the cold outdoors.

Unfortunately my body knows when it's wake-up time, so I lay there reviewing my to-do list. Damn, that I can't put checks in any little boxes while I snuggle beneath the blankets with EJG an IMG. Normally I would just get up and putter around the house, but again, the temperature was way too low for me to convince myself to leave the warm family bed for the cold kitchen where my laptop waited for me.

"Friday morning, it's Friday morning" was the song ringing in my head. After the never-ending yesterday we neglected to pull the trash cans out to the curb. We can't miss trash day, not this week. Then we'll have no place for turkey carcass, potato pie tins, and all the other festive trash we plan to generate next week. Plus we always need room for the cat box refuse. Yet the temperature was way too low for me to convince myself to leave the warm family bed to haul the trash to the end of the driveway.

In the bed, sleepless, with the imminent need to exercise, check off the list, and beat the trash collectors, my head swirled. There was only one solution. One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, four Mississippi, five Mississippi. Yep, that was all it would take. In five seconds I could dash across the house, hit the thermostat, and make it back to bed.

Ouch, the breezes created by my dash across the house. Disappointing the kitties, I failed to stop at the pantry where their treats are stored. I passed every light switch and felt my way through the house, hands out Frankenstein-style. Five seconds and I was back in bed, waiting for the house to warm up enough for me to emerge from the blankets and be my normal, productive self. I can do all of the to-do, bundle up for the trash can schlep, and have everything ready for a run in the Friday afternoon sun. Today will be just fine, I thought.

Shoot. All that cold air made me have to tinkle. And I don't even want to describe the sound I made when the flesh hit that cold seat.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


It's 9:47 PM and I'm just arriving home. I volunteer for various programs at EJG's school. I started my volunteer "workday" at 11 AM, after my visit to the MD. Today I helped to hang lights, solicit community businesses to make donations, wrote a script for a variety show's emcee, set up a sound system, ran sound and mixer for 56 acts in the variety show, and then co-chaperoned a performance of the choir I helped EJG prepare to sing with the Orange Park Chorale.

Ming Moon has cooked my supper, my pajamas are waiting, and Hansel is beside himself because nobody has played with him today. No sympathy solicited here. Simply stated, I'm toast.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I have an owie

Complaining about the minor ailment can be a slippery slope. As it is believed of alcoholism, kvetchism may be an inherited disease, and I don't want to tempt fate, especially since I come from a long line of boastful sufferers. I got through a bout of running-induced plantar fasciitis earlier this year without as much as a peep. But I find myself inspired to bitch. An ailment has hit me right in the core. I have a boo-boo in my belly button.

Stunt belly button double used to protect writer's anonymity.

A skin rash of some kind, I attempted ignoring this nuisance. When it persisted I began the application of an over-the-counter cocktail. All things anti were applied to the tummy stump. I used anti-itch, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and I think I may have tried Anti Em cream too.

She isn't really a relative of mine either.
This ailment hit its forte when I started bleeding from the navel during a run. Today, I had to cancel an appointment with the personal trainer because sweat makes my owie even hurt worser.
Tomorrow I will go to the doctor with some fear in my heart. Does flesh-eating disease begin in an innie? Oh, how I wish my parents had opted for the outie. Aren't belly buttons on grown-ups kind of the same things as nipples on men? Nice decoration, but pretty useless. When useless becomes a nuisance, maybe it's time to do something drastic. No, I'm not talking about impeachment proceedings. Perhaps a referral to a plastic surgeon is in order.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What is religious, anyway?

EJG and I have been working with a small group of students on an incredibly difficult piece of music. John Rutter's Mass of the Children is a modern composition that calls for an eight part choir, soprano and baritone soloists, plus a children's choir. It happens that IMG's voice teacher is the director of the Orange Park Chorale, and they had begun practicing this piece when their children's group backed out. Could EJG arrange for a group of kids to do this? Before he looked at the music, he said yes.

A five week sprint of rehearsals ensued, with Saturday being the only possible time because of prior commitments to Oliver, the musical, A Chorus Line, for musical theater class, and Nutcracker rehearsals (not to mention the 2 choirs that EJG already coordinates after school). Through the pounding of notes and a crash course in score-reading, those kiddos have pretty well learned this, even with the dissonant harmonies in this arrangement of the traditional liturgy.

Yesterday as we prepped the gang at school before we headed off to join the adults, we were particularly worried about a section in the Benedictus. It involves a play on time signatures, a hemiola, where the rhythm switches from 2 over 3 to 3 over 2 again and again. Previewing the section and giving the young performers some reminders, EJG casually asked if anyone in the group was religious, because we'll need all the help we can get with this section. Most raised their hands in a show of support for the lord, except for one. A boy in the choir, known to pretend "save" kids on the playground, and the son of a minister at the Baptist church, asked what is "religious." So we, the Jewish directors of the public school's secular choir explained "religious" to the son of a Baptist minister, and then proceeded to lead the group in a modern interpretation of an ancient Christian mass.

Joined with the OP Chorale, soloists, organ and percussion, this modern masterpiece transformed some notes on a page to nothing short of heaven on Earth. The innocent voices of children asking, "Little lamb, who made thee?" set alternately with the soaring adult voices singing "Agnus Dei, Qui Tollis Peccata Mundi" Lamb of god, who takes away the sins of the world, allows the listener to forget the sins of the world, if only for a moment. As they rehearsed the piece in a language I don't speak, at a church I don't attend, celebrating the mass of a faith I do not practice, the music provided me a religious experience. All was harmonious and any discords were resolved and celebrated. Maybe that's what religious means.

Monday, November 12, 2007


The only constant is change. The world around me changes. People enter my life and then disappear: loved ones, students, acquaintances. Sometimes a change can be a shock. Not unlike the devastation I felt upon learning of Steve Irwin's ironic meeting with fate, I find I am mourning the loss our friend, the so-called Spear of Death (SOD).

She dangled from a branch, some thirty feet high, and pointed her menacing fingernail downward. Attached by nothing we could see, we feared she would be knocked down by every windstorm or heavy rain. But she withstood the elements, even getting sharper as if she were secretly filing her sharp, pointy digit.

We counted on her, our spear. Sure as our own sweat, we would see this mystery of nature, defying the laws of gravity, and setting a mile marker for our run. As we chanted "Spear, spear, of, of, death, death, death..." our voices reverberated through the trees. The spooky setting of our pre-dawn runs was accented by the potential of an interception with our spear, so we carried our mini flashlights to illuminate her slim figure.
Then as easily as we had noticed her presence, we noticed her absence. Her broken limb, pushed to the side like so much trash. We knelt by the trail and recovered her pieces, carrying her home for a proper resting place.

Today, a day after learning of her demise, we paused at her spot on the path. A new chant to honor her passing is becoming a quick tradition, "We have nothing to fear, fear, fear, for there is no spear, spear, spear."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Yummy, yummy Sunday

The Jaguars just managed to put another one in the W column, and the chicken is ready for the grill as I am sitting at my kitchen table, blogging with the setting sun and birdsong streaming through my open windows. Today has been a day of ordinary delights.

The first treat was the morning long run. Thank you Mother Earth, for orbiting further from the sun this time of year. From October through April we can start our Sunday Long Run after sunrise without fear of heatstroke. Lounging around until the lazy hour of 7:30, we then took our time prepping and updating podcasts. I enjoyed every minute of today's 10.27 miles, barely noticing the time for Click and Clack, and then the new cd from Melissa Etheridge.

Lunch at the local Loop was well-earned. This was followed by shopping with the family in hopes of picking up some amazing sales at Kohl's. Sure it brought out the typical mom-teen-it's-not-appropriate-do-you-think-I-am-made-of-money drama, but we escaped with some good, solid winter tops and even her concert dress black and whites for choir. Even my short trip home from Publix was a delight. Groceries in the Mustang's trunk, convertible top down, cool breezes caressing my skin, I felt like a movie star (without the Betty Ford track record).

Now the temperature is dropping and the sun is sliding away. The open windows make the cats extra frisky, so I know they'll sleep soundly tonight. After a yummy, yummy autumn Sunday like today, so will I.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

She's a teen

Back home with my family, waking up together is delicious. So unlike the disoriented, lonely mornings I wake in some anonymous hotel room, alone. We three (yep, I said 3, at age 13 she's still there) wake with giggles and songs, whispering and silly beneath the warmth of the blankets.

Awake first this morning, I waited until the hubb reached that half-sleep, and then whispered my good mornings. "My family. I'm here with my family."

"That's us. Take us or leave us," came from beneath a pillow.

"But where should I take you?"

Then a little voice came from the southern end of the Temperpedic, "To the mall."

I don't know if she was awake or dreaming, but she's certainly a teen.

Friday, November 9, 2007

We're all suckers

Water in a bottle, oxygen for sale, what’s next, packaged poodle poop for your curb? Some things used to be free.

Yes, I quench my thirst with the nifty square bottle of mineral water from the islands of Fiji. Of course I prefer the coffee brewed by a barista over the coffee dripping adjacent to the greasy McFries. En masse, we have allowed these exorbitant expenses to pile up. I do not take personal responsibility.

My only regret is that I wasn’t the clever devil who figured out that people would be willing to pay for what they already get for free. I wasn’t shocked to learn that many bottled waters are substandard. We’re not buying it in a bottle because it’s purer. We’re buying it in a bottle because we’re purer. Why should the wealthy be the only ones in those ultra-safe, airbag-lined boxy cars? Safety should be standard for every car. Water should be pure enough to drink and oxygen clean enough to breathe without cost. Free enterprise has put a price tag on good living, and we’re all willing to pay it. If you don’t believe me, then wait until next year when you have to buy a special adaptor to use your own television.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Mission Not Accomplished

It's 5 AM, I'm awake, the kicks are laced and I've strapped on the heart rate monitor. Down the elevator, through the hotel lobby and damn! The fitness center at this trap doesn't open until 7:30 AM. 7:30! My seminar presentation begins at 8:30 so there's no way I can get in my 5 mile, shower, and egg routine before I start. I'll be dragging it all day today. Besides, moving makes my muscles ache less. I'm still suffering afterburn from the devastating workout inflicted by the trainer Monday afternoon. Seriously, I can't straighten my arms for the biceps pain. Something we did when I was on the floor using a press and 180 pounds of weight has made it challenging for me to stand without assistance. Running yesterday made that all feel better. I'll just limp and ktetch through the day, hoping that tonight's new hotel has a functioning treadmill.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The well has run dry, and so have I.

What the heck was I thinking? 30 days is way past my attention span. Damn you, Cora! Presenting me with a challenge to write is a lot like giving Lindsey Lohan a bottle of 90 proof and the keys to the Benz. Kinda' hard to resist. What's worse is that I'm not as good at this stream of consciousness stuff like LJ and Cora. But I'll give it a try.

I'm sitting in a conference room in the Madison Radisson (fun to say, but not to stay) during the lunch break of a seminar on Writing Workshop. As usual, I started my day with the thought, "Holy crap, these people actually think they're going to learn something from me!" I'm amazed at the skill level I'm developing in sounding authoritative while at the same time admitting I still have so much to learn. Maybe I could write Hillary's stump speeches.

It's friggin' cold here (Wisconsin, duh). Indoor heating makes me nuts. The system rattled all night, and for every molecule of heat produced it consumed a molecule of moisture. I'm chapping in places that should never chap. My elbows could sand concrete and I'm having trouble navigating the chapstick over the potholes in my lips. On a happier note, there are snow showers expected tonight, so I might flail about and produce middle-aged snow angels in the parking lot of the next Radisson on the list.

I'm still not sure this stream of consciousness is flowing anywhere, but I'm going to dam it up here anyhow. Unsure if I will be visited by a muse tomorrow, I don't want to waste all my irrational triflings today.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I didn't forget to post

Posting way early this morning, as this is a travel day for me. I head to the great Midwest for a run of seminars this week. One would think that I could easily blog while in the Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International airport, where I lay over from 11:30 AM to 1:45 PM. I could, but I flatly refuse to pay for the wireless Internet service.

ATL has wireless Internet access in every corner of that city-sized airport. With all those laptop-carrying people, sitting around with nothing better to do, why should the Internet be free? Ten bucks to go online with your choice of carriers. Hopefully that charge is just enough to dissuade the frugal travelers from checking in with the office emails, so instead they can buy the $6.00 coffee.

I'm lost without Internet access, and it makes me worry about my entire generation. The terrible memory-loss ailments that afflict older folks devastate the brains of people who had to add and subtract without the aid of a calculator, to remember phone numbers without speed dial, to recall banking hours to access their cash without the backup of the after-hours ATM. Even with a lifetime of brain exercise, too many of our elders suffer from slipping memories. What will become of us who rely on Google for long-term memory?

That will have to be the end of this rambling post, as I need to tab over to the Delta website to recall the departure time for my flight this morning.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Under Pressure

So EJG has rejoined the blognation, after much encouragement (and a major guilt trip). I effectively convinced him that he has many topics, and he is full of blog posts, just waiting to happen. In fact, we discussed that fact over our morning coffee at the 'Bucks that marks the midpoint of our runs on weekday mornings.

What a great idea for a blog post we had! Funny, interesting, and detailed. And I promised he could have it.

Instead of being a blog-jumper, I defer to the post of EJG.

He's Blogging! He's Blogging!

EJG wrote a blog post!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Fickle Fan

Watching the weekly Jaguars struggle with EJG is not for the weak of heart. With every setback he curses his lousy second-rate team. He holds grudges, wishing the opposing quarterback an extended and painful death. Every network announcer is anti-Jag, and he takes it personally. Visibly raising his own blood pressure, he nears explosion every time we punt the ball back. During an interception today, I think he burst a blood vessel in his neck. Then he cheers madly for each little triumph, hooting and hollering in tones that would have done Beverly Sills proud.

This love-mistrust relationship he has with his team is not unlike his stand on Chinese food take-out. We have a long-established relationship with Ming Moon, the best damned little take-out restaurant south of Brooklyn. We have them on speed dial, on the home and on the cell. They know us by voice, and often throw in some of those yummy cheese wontons as a customer appreciation gift. EJG learned this week that a Wok-n-Roll is opening in a new shopping center here on the island. "Let's try it. Maybe it's good for take-out." Did he forget the late night deliveries? The times they came, in rain, sleet, or hail to deliver the wonton soup, the egg rolls, and the sweet and sour sauce?

All of this leaves me wondering. If he can turn so quickly on the team and on the wok-master, what about the spouse?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

I've got nothing

Woke at 5AM today for the pre-race dressing and coffee ritual. Lovely 10K route through the live oak-lined streets of Mandarin. The weather was so cool I barely broke a sweat, even with an hour of running. EJG and I kept a good tempo the whole time, our mile average coming in around 10:30.

Autumn weather, a lovely course, and some new tunes on my iPod made this a great race. Queen Latifah rocks my world with her new cd of standards, which contrasted well with the lesbo-rock of Melissa Etheridge and the Euro R& B of Joss Stone.

I had a scrumptious race, but no profound thoughts today.

Friday, November 2, 2007

What’s in a Matzo Ball?

The chicken soup is simmering on my stove, and my house fills with the fragrances of earthy dill, perky carrots, and mellow parsnips. Scented with memories, my house smells like the house of my mother, and of her mother, and of her mother's mother. We Jewish mothers understand that cooking is not about the recipe or the presentation. It's about the people. As the individual flavors meld to one wonderful medley, I think about those who will share this meal, the wonderful medley of friends. Food brings us together, so we toil and labor in the kitchen to prepare massive feasts. The food keeps friends and family around the table, talking, laughing.

What better meal than chicken soup with matzo balls? It's been called the soul food of the Hebrew brotha' and sistah', the Jewish penicillin. It is a fact that it can cure the common cold and ward off the onset of at least a dozen deadly diseases. Cooking today and thinking about the friends who will share this meal, I add some special ingredients: my hopes that this will help us to relax, my wishes for lasting good health and happiness.

Besides, if the food doesn't fix all that ails us, the company will.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

There's Oil in Them Thar Hills

She's been singing since she exited the womb. With all the objectivity a mother can muster, I have long professed that the kid's got pipes. Through the experiences of my own vocal training, I have acquired an ear for potential. I always believed she had it, but of course this opinion means nothing coming from her mother.

So IMG started voice lessons a few weeks ago. We found an appropriately accredited, nurturing, and eccentric voice teacher. This teacher impressed me from the start, in that she wanted an audition to be accepted to her studio. She only wants to work with those who are both serious and in possession of an instrument worth playing. Completing her audition, she noted that IMG's rating in potential is a 10.

Six weeks into her training and she has finally progressed to the point where she is making sounds. Several sessions were spent on the anatomy of the respiratory system and of the vocal cords. After breathing on the floor, on the wall, and while doing abdominal crunches, she was promoted and ready to make noise. Last week she started with lip trills and vowels produced with a pencil between the teeth.

Oh, the fond memories I have of these lessons from my youth. The foundations of vocal production may be the first things we learn as singers, but we think of them again every time we reach for that high A or for the D in the break of the voice.

While these lessons are allowing me the indulgence of reminiscing about my days of endless potential, I am more drawn to the phenomenon living in my own home. At age 13, IMG is producing vocal sounds that would have Juilliard grad students wielding the sticks of Tonya Harding's accomplices. Yesterday her voice teacher told her to practice well, that she'd be supporting her old Mom and Dad with her voice. During her practices my house fills with the sound of heavenly vocalizations, and I have to remind myself that these glorious tones are coming from my little girl.

I can say without conceit that she reminds me of my younger self. Although I can't blame my parents for the sporadic support they offered in my pursuit of a musical career, I have to think that my life could have been different if they'd provided what we're going to provide to my girl. We're cultivating a triple threat in a small teenage package, and we're committed to do everything we can to help her bring it to harvest.