Friday, December 29, 2006

Python Plush!

OK, how much do I PINE to own this utterly worthless (but hi-LAR-ious) stuff...?!?!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Martha Stewart Meltdown

So Christmas is finally done... relatively speaking. From the day after Thanksgiving, I have been in an unconscious race to Achieve Holiday Social Perfection, and had almost accomplished it, until I collapsed on Christmas Eve.

I can't even begin to ennumerate all the stuff I did in the last month... but you know I'm gonna try!

  • writing, designing, printing, addressing, and mailing over 100 Christmas cards
  • celebrating my 38th birthday several times (I'm grateful, really!)
  • getting all the presents for family and friends
  • social events or rehearsals every night
  • MULTIPLE church choir & music performances
  • party food preparation
  • more church music
  • more social events
Not to forget, I also started a short-term project for my brother Cy's company, so I took on more work while maintaining my regular clients. I think I worked every Saturday in December!

So, Christmas Eve arrives; I get up at 6 am to sing at both services, and after my favorite Sunday lunch over Entertainment Weekly at the Logan's bar with my friend Pam the bartender, I head home for a nice nap, before baking cookies for the family buffet the next day, a potluck around 6 pm with my Sunday Supper Club at the Landers', and another performance with the Choir at the 10 pm service that night. I am congratulating myself on the drive home for having arrived at the big day without any emotional angst, and for having accomplished all my Holiday goals. I should mention, I am not aware of ever having made any conscious decision to do all this... it just sortof happened.

I sleep for an hour or so, awake exhausted, and promptly dissolve into a panic attack. After crying off and on for a half-hour, I feel somewhat better, but still overwhelmed by what I have left to accomplish. I call to excuse myself from the potluck with friends, which I hated doing but was absolutely necessary to regain sanity. I bake no cookies. I lie, squashed, on the sofa and watch The Return of the King, and pretend that I won't do the 10 pm service, despite the fact that I know I will have to go, since we are short on altos, and there's a special Canticorum piece to be done which I am really necessary for.

By the time I leave for a run-through at 9 pm, I'm able to function, but find myself petulant, whiny, and ill-inclined to have any reverence for the significance of the service whatsoever. It turns out that I am even more necessary than I thought, since 2 of the 4 Canticorum altos are absent and I must immediately learn the 1st alto part. I do not completely manage to do so, but the illusion is maintained.

I am also pressed into service to be one of the 3 miked singers for the service music, which I actually enjoy since it was with my friend Rebecca who is a marvelous soprano. Singing with her always feels like a reward for good behavior. Not that my behavior this evening will be good...

I get through the 3 hours of run-through and service, although at one point I seem to recollect that during the full choir & congregation Carol Singing, I sang the words "Thi-is is, the song, tha-at ne-ver will end..." during "The First Nowell" (It felt like there were a dozen verses! Honestly!) I am also a little punchy on the mikes, and I believe I threatened David before we sang the Lord's Prayer, saying that I OWNED the harmonies on this song, so he'd better not sing what I was singing.

We finish up at full blast, and I go home in punch-drunk euphoria, and sleep for 9 hours. On Christmas Day, I am able to resume all of my baking responsibilities and manage to make everything I had planned for the family Christmas that night. Orange Spice Shortbread with Orange Glaze and Almonds, Tuxedo Cheesecake Bars, and Raspberry Popcorn Balls for the kids.

So it's pretty much all done... and I am in emotional flux since I haven't taken 5 minutes to deal with the fact that it's the end of another year, which always shakes me up a bit (Am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing? Have I accomplished anything worthwhile this year? Am I supposed to go help refugees in the Sudan?) Plus my allergies are acting up, and I ate enough sweets and junk this month to send me into a diabetic coma.

Have I mentioned that I'm going to Chicago most of next week to work for the AEA during their yearly conference? No?

I need a vacation.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Something to cheer you up...

Just came across this again; it's a bit outdated, but the dull ones make the funny ones, funnier.

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on "THIS" side of the road before it goes after the problem on the "OTHER SIDE" of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his "CURRENT" problems before adding "NEW" problems.

OPRAH: Well I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

DONALD RUMSFELD: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

ANDERSON COOPER/CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am for it now, and will remain against it.

JUDGE JUDY: That chicken crossed the road because he's GUILTY! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer's Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level.

DR. SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain. Alone.

JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth in front of your face? The chicken was going to the "other side." That's why they call it the "other side". Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like "the other side." That chicken should not be free to cross the road. It's as plain and simple as that!

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its life long dream of crossing the road.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together - in peace.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2006, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your check book. Internet explorer is an integral part of eChicken. The platform is much more stable and will never cra..#?&&^ (C\..... reboot.)

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What is your definition of chicken?

AL GORE: I invented the chicken!

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Travesty of Justice

This upsets me so much I can barely breathe...

There is a very unjust situation going on right now involving my friends Dane and Maggie Anthony – Eric, Maggie's son (Dane's stepson), is currently jailed in Nicaragua on murder charges - the victim was Eric's ex-girlfriend. 2 other suspects confessed to the crime, but were released, and Eric wasn't even in town when it happened, and had 10 witnesses vouch for his whereabouts when the crime occurred... but he is still being held. In addition, lynch mobs have been whipped up in the area, and several times Eric has been deliberately put in danger from the mobs. This is obviously a deliberate attempt to frame him... please pray HARD for his safety and that justice will be done!

You can find more information here:

It's baaaaaaack!

Can you believe it? Another skunk bomb went off early this morning! I woke up at 5:30 and went "Again...?!?!"

Fortunately, I had remembered a wonderful odor-removing candle someone had given me last Christmas. The thing really does work - within 2 hours, the smell was completely gone!

I really don't know what to do about this - I'm scared to investigate, since I might actually come across a skunk and scare them into spraying me.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Not To Be Found Anywhere!

OK, I have a challenge. Like the cookbook one.

I am trying to find a poster of a watercolor "preliminary sketch" from an Japanese anime movie, Tonari no Totoro, or, "My Neighbor Totoro," by Haayo Miyazaki. I actually own a copy of it - I bought it almost 18 years ago when I was in Japan. But I'd like to get a couple of copies of it for friends.

Unfortunately, it appears to be out of print. I have looked EVERYWHERE on the internet with no luck. There's a ton of stuff from the movie available, like stuffed animals, screen shot posters, etc. But this specific poster? Nowhere to be found!

It's a prized posession of mine, and really lovely - an early, sketchy watercolor of the smallest girl, Mei, with the 2 smaller Totoro critters in pale greens and golds. With the flood of items available from the movie, I'm amazed that this one has disappeared from circulation!


So it's been rawther warmish in Nashville for the last week or so; it'll be hitting 70 for a few days to come. Quite obscene for December, don't you think? So last night I switched back on the AC.

Anyway, around 4 am, I awoke to a putrid odor... apparently a skunk had let one off in the area. This is not unusual; I live on a heavily wooded hilltop, and it's fairly common to get out of your car at the mailboxes and almost pass out from the stink. You see (and smell) them as smears on the road all over Williamson County.

But this was the first time I had smelt one in my apartment. I don't know how it had gotten into the AC, but it was pretty strong. I lit a scented candle in my room and eventually went back to sleep. But when I woke up, it was still stinky - stupid candle was useless. Eventually I got used to the smell, and didn't even notice it anymore; perhaps your sense of smell shuts itself down as a protective measure.

When I left this morning, there was no smell in the area... apparently it was just my apartment! I dread going home... there's no good air circulation since the windows are crappy.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rules of Regifting

Look, we need to accept the fact that Re-Gifting is an accepted part of modern society. Whether anyone admits it or not, we almost all do it. And really, I think it's a good thing, and not at all hurtful or inconsiderate when done carefully... but there are some guidelines to follow.

First I want to justify WHY regifting is a good idea:

  1. It gets rid of STUFF. If you have a cabinet or closet full of items that have no useful place in your home, they can be made useful by giving them to someone who CAN use them. We live in a society that has more unnecessary junk than any time in history... Regifting is Recycling in its highest form.
  2. It saves money. If you need to buy a $10-20 gift for someone, don't have a good idea of what to give them, and there's a lovely tchotchke in your closet that you know they would like, where's the virtue in going and spending money on a (presumably) FRESH tchotchke to give them?
  3. For CLOSE friends and family who get upset when you spend money on a present for them, regifting becomes a sort of fun cadeau challenge - finding something truly appropriate for someone, yet letting them know it was inexpensive or a freebie so they won't get upset that you spent money. Regifting works well in this context.

Now that's I've cleverly persuaded you of the validity of regifting, here are some rules to follow, since there is risk involved:

  1. If you don't remember where a gift came from, then be VERY CAREFUL where you regift it. Nothing is ruder or more appalling than giving it to the original Giver, or someone who was around when you initially received it. This should be obvious!
  2. Personalized gifts are ineligible for regifting - books with notes written on the endpapers, notecards with your name embossed, monogrammed stuff.
  3. Rewrap the item, or re-giftbag it. Overly-crumpled tissue paper is a dead giveaway that this gift has been "around the block." I used to get regifted items all the time from a co-worker, and they were perfectly nice... but for some of them, it was pretty obvious that they'd been sitting in reserve for a while!
  4. Be particularly watchful for pricetags and aged price stickers - if the pricetag has been on the bottom of an item for so long that the glue has started to deteriorate, or it was poorly removed and the remaining glue has gotten grimy, it's a good giveaway that the item's been in rotation.
  5. If you suspect that a gift you have received has been regifted more than once, it needs to stop with you. Gifts that are continually passed on begin to acquire an Aura of Failure. It needs to be taken out of the rotation, lest it arrive back in the hands of the intial giver by mistake! Give it to Goodwill or AmVets. Stop the cycle.

Recommended regifting ideas:

  1. Candles. Always useful, neutral, safe
  2. Picture Frames. Ditto
  3. Certain books - duplicates of books already on your shelves in particular, or ones that are humorous or seasonal.
  4. Christmas ornaments.
  5. Scented soaps, fancy lotions, "gourmet" toiletries.
  6. Gourmet foods, such as biscotti, olive oil, fancy coffee, European jams & jellies.
  7. Blank books and journals.
  8. Anything from the HomeGoods section of TJ Maxx.

Gifts to avoid regifting:

  1. Mugs. These need to be taken out of the gift-giving business alltogether. They are acceptible in rare occasions when filled with, say, diamonds. Or Krugerrands.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Beautiful little bit of computer comedy!

Christmas 2006

I know, I know - not any real journal entries here of late. Bin busy. And if I have a quickie idea, I put it on my blog. But here's my 2006 Christmas Card, complete with adorable niece picture (Emma) and Way Too Much Information About Me. Enjoy. If possible.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

All I Want For Christmas...

... is for Bobby Kennedy not to have died in 1968, the (tragic) year of my birth. I want him to have beaten Nixon, and therefore Watergate and everything it stands for wouldn't even exist.

... is for government officials to start being bluntly honest about EVERYTHING. No prevaricating, no spinning, just the facts.

... is for a Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. to arise in the Middle East, and change the way they think about the world. Because nothing else will ever work.

... is to get a full-time job that has good benefits, enjoyable work, and variety.

... is to win just enough money in some lottery or windfall to pay my debts, student loans, family loans, and $5-10K for downpayment on an affordable, safe condo. And enough to pay off my car loan so I can chuck the damn thing for a Civic.

... is to find out what I'm supposed to be doing with my life.

Believe me, I'm going to be adding to this list.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Deliberate Tackiness

A friend of mine was talking at dinner Monday night about how she needed to find the tackiest, most awful Christmas sweatshirt or sweater for a Christmas party contest... granted, SHE was the hostess, and contest was her idea, but her competitive nature was such that she really wanted to win the prize she had bought as an award!

Well, I immediately got inspired. There's just SOOOO much you can do with the massive quantities of stuff available to decorate with in December... Jo-Ann's Etc. Craft Store is just lousy with junk! So I begged to be allowed to make her a new sweatshirt, and she said "I'll pay anything. Cost is no object," or words to that effect.

I started with a mustard-green, long-sleeve t-shirt... I was afraid with the quantities of stuff I was thinking of tacking onto it, that it would get really hot. I was almost paralyzed by the sheer volume of choices available to me, but finally decided on using those cheap red velvet bows you put on wreaths as the primary decoration. My "theme", if you will.

I started by hot-gluing small bows on each sleeve.

I had also purchased a bunch of the most appalling glittery Christmas picks - you know, the little cluster decorations you spike into centerpieces and wreaths. But upon closer examination, they were too bulky and difficult to attach to the t-shirt, so I eventually returned them. But in the meantime, I wanted to get some more work done on the shirt until I could get more junk, so I started stamping gold paint snowflakes on the front, and putting dots of puffy glitter-paint on the edges.

I discovered to my dismay that this was actually quite pretty. It's a lot harder than you might think to achieve deliberate ugliness; my natural instinct on a craft project like this would be "what would look pretty?" I had obviously had a little too much rum & diet Coke which had impaired my judgment, and had fallen back into Pretty mode.

I let the paint dry overnight, and went back to Jo-Ann's (which, BTW, is ALREADY selling Christmas decorations at 50% off. And is beginning to shift them back from the front of the store to sale racks. And there is a shelf or two of VALENTINE'S DAY stuff. Sheesh.) and bought some more junk.

I sewed a band of tinsel garland around the neck, which did a lot to dilute the effect of the pretty gold snowflakes.

I then sewed on three large, thick red felt snowflakes under that, and glued two big puffy red bows on top of each shoulder. I swirled some of the puffy glitter paint in red and gold around each wristband.

I had some jingle bells that I had intended to sew onto the sleeves between each bow, but ran out of time.

The crowning accessory to the ensemble was the addition of a HUGE red velvet bow. I had initially intended that it should be on the front of the shirt, but the thing was so enormous and heavy that the shirt would have sagged badly. So I took the ribbon along and told her to wear it around her waist attached to a belt, so the bow would sit like a bustle in the back.

I also took 2 garish silk poinsettias and sewed them to barrettes. You know, for her hair! And I took along 2 little white birds on clips, and told her to attach them on the big-ass bow.