Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Look at 2006

A sure-fired way to get rid of the doldrums in January: an amaryllis or two...

March: A visit to the sculpture garden at the DeCordova Museum, Waltham, Mass. If you ask me, this winter tree is a beautiful enough sculpture:

March: My best friends from high school, Janet (below, left), and her daughter, Amanda, visited us during their whirlwind tour of the northeast looking at colleges. Where did Amanda end up? I don't know, but Fordham University was the lead school last I heard from my New Mexico pal.

April: Bob and I enjoyed a walk through Boston's public garden on a spectacular early spring day.

Late May saw us travel to Portland, Oregon, to visit my brother and his soon-to-be wife, Tara. Here are some of the highlights (or at least some of my favorite pictures):

My August birthday celebration featured a Red Sox T-shirt of one of my favorite new players, Jonathan Papelbon. Hey, how many days till spring training?

Our favorite Labor Day celebration is our visit to the Tanglewood Jazz Festival. Hard to see it here, but this is Elvis Costello playing with a jazz pianist Marian MacPartland. Nice, except the weather in the Berkshires was a bit chilly. This is Seiji Ozawa Hall, a beautiful place, both visually and acoustically.

Our Tanglewood trip is almost always followed by a visit to our favorite local museum in North Adams, Massachusetts: the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (or Mass MoCA). Below is a self-portrait of the two of us in their large fesitival installation:

And this rather interesting installation that is way too hard to describe but was more interesting than you can believe. It involved projectors and lighting and some willingness to play along...This is Bob and me where I touch his heart from 10 feet away.

Late September was bad at the office, but we salvaged a beautiful day at the Cape, visiting our friend, Joan (center). My best pal, Susan, is on the left and my great buddy, Ethel, is on the right:

Columbus Day: We took at day-trip to Newport, Rhode Island, flew some kites, did a little shopping and had a great dinner at a local restaurant. This is sunset in Newport Harbor - a favorite picture:

In October, my friend, Julie, suggested we take in the Topsfield Fair, one of the oldest of its kind in the country. We saw farm animals, kids' 4H displays, tacky, tacky souveniers and food that would give you a heart attack. Here, Julie seems to enjoy my skepticism at looking at the rather large cows. (We did miss the 29-inch high horse, supposedly you had to pay $1 to see it, even though one of us just walked up and saw it when its keeper wasn't looking. And NO, it wasn't moi or Julie.)

November brought us many happy events, not the least of which was the Democrat takeover of Congress (sorry, I can't resist a political comment), but it also included Bob's birthday:

Mary Lou's Birthday, November 22: The girls in our family, minus 1
Thanksgiving and Jennifer's wedding are documented on my flickr site (see the left column to see them in detail). But I especially liked this one:

Christmas 2006: Our tree was especially nice this year and has held up really well ...even tonight as I type.

Our friends, George and Sharon, bring their daughters every Christmas for a visit when they come to see their own family. We were lucky to have a concert this year by Amelia (almost 5) and Zhen (nearly 10):


Saturday, December 30, 2006

He Even Lies About His Bedtime

Well, ol' Saddam finally got what he deserved last night. But the Crawford Village Idiot supposedly didn't even take note of it.

Before the hanging was carried out in Baghdad, Mr. Bush went to sleep here at his ranch and was not roused when the news came.
This was 9 pm Central Time, folks. Do you really think he was tucked in for the night? Highly doubtful, but he's trying to portray a "what? me worry?" persona. I have a feeling that he was watching the whole thing, with his Father Complex all hanging out. "He tried to kill my Daddy. But, I killed him!"

Probably gave Laura the night of her life.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

He Was Jerry Ford; and You're Not

You've all heard by now that Gerald Ford died last night. I was in college when he succeeded Tricky Dick as President. At the time, nearly all young Americans were fixated with scorn and anger at Nixon and we had spent at least a year (probably more) awaiting his leave-taking from the White House. When it finally happened, the day before my 20th birthday, I accepted it as a personal gift as I left my teens behind.

But I also recall that I was just a little disappointed with Jerry Ford and his blandness. With his elevation to the presidency, there was a total transformation of the White House. It became a much more approachable and more modern place. There were normal teenagers in his family and this President actually cooked his own breakfast. It seemed as if one of our suburban neighbors had been named president.

And then, of course, came Saturday Night Live and Chevy Chase's hilarious imitations of Mr. Ford. I remember watching this brand new show in a pot-smoking haze and although it may be hard to believe, this show was revolutionary for depicting a president as a bumbling fool. And I have to say, even though I have always been a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, his wife Betty has always been a particular favorite of mine. She always seemed a lot more left-leaning and I suspected had a great influence on him. I heard tonight that we can thank JerryFord for putting Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court. Certainly wouldn't hear of that kind of moderation these days.

So, rest in peace, Mr. Ford. It is a successful person, never mind President, who in death is described as decent, honorable, a man of integrity, capable, humble, kind, sincere and wise. His wife and children can be very proud.

UPDATE: This morning, I woke up to news reports that President Ford told Bob Woodward that he would not have gone to war in Iraq, back in 2004! This on top of Nancy Reagan's mini-swipe at the Chimp for not supporting stem cell research (in her remarks noting the passing of Jerry Ford). The cheese really does stand alone these days, doesn't he? Damn.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas: The Prequel

It's a mellow night here on Russell Avenue. Bought a SHIT-load of great food, the house is decorated, the presents all bought (but not all wrapped as yet). The strange thing about December 23, 2006 in Massachusetts, is that it was 53 degrees today - it sure is strange to do Christmas shopping wearing a light jacket and with the smell of spring in the air. Will we pay in January? Who knows?

Had a great swim today, haven't been to the Y for a couple of weeks due to a nice head cold and the other pre-Christmas duties. It was a little crowded at the pool, but since I didn't have any other plans today, I just relaxed and went with the flow. I shared a swimlane with a woman somewhat older than me who swam in a bright red suit - perfect for the season, I told her. She complained the whole time about what a job it was to exercise and when I turned at the deep end I would see her with her head laying down on the side of the pool. It was strange because she wasn't a bad swimmer, but she sure was fighting it.

Me, I love to swim. I give myself a situation or a problem to solve and noodle on it the whole hour I swim back and forth. When times were tough at work in the fall, I solved a prickly problem during my laps. Today, I figured out the last coupla presents for Bobbers. In upcoming swims, I will probably plan our trip to Ireland this June for my Brother's wedding. For some reason, I don't have the same kinda luck with problem-solving when I'm on the treadmill - I find that dreadfully dull unless I can watch tv or focus on a visual.

Just enjoyed our dinner appetizer of fried calamari, among the many treats I bought at Trader Joe's yesterday. I'm watching "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" on tv...and remembering what a B-i-t-c-h that Nurse Ratched is. I think she's probably the meanest villain EVER. I don't think I'll watch it much longer because it will spoil my Christmas buzz. McMurphy just figured out that he's not getting out when his jail sentence expires. *click* I've turned the station. Ahhh, "Hitch," a much better choice for blogging and sipping wine.

Ahhhh well, I wish everyone a wonderful weekend - more to come, I hope.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Giving

Want to do something nice for a veteran? Here's your chance. Working Assets, along with other partners, is collecting donations to provide calling cards for wounded veterans:

Working Assets, Veterans for Peace, CODEPINK, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Gold Star Families for Peace have teamed up on a project to thank our veterans by sending them phone cards loaded with 125 minutes of domestic long-distance calling time. We'll purchase these cards and deliver them to VA Medical Facilities all over the country on December 18th. (If you want to join in delivering the cards to a VA hospital near you, just click on the link you'll see after making your gift.

$10 will cover the cost of phone cards for three veterans. $20 will buy six phone cards. $33 will buy ten cards. $100 will buy phone cards for 30 veterans to call home over the holidays. 100% of your gift will go directly to buying phone cards -- so please give as generously as you can.

It will make you feel great, I guarantee you.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Christmas Story

For some bizarre reason there isn't a survey I don't like. I'm one of those very strange people who don't mind expressing an opinions (hence, the blog). So, if you don't want an opinion, don't ask, ok?

In keeping with all my opinions, here's a Christmas meme (thanks to Susan!) :

1. Eggnog or hot chocolate?

I worship eggnog, but my arteries don't. (You'd think I'd like the Eggnog Latte at Starbucks, but it sucks. Big time.)

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?

Santa doesn't wrap presents! Everybody knows that!

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?

White outside. Colored lights inside on the large tree in the living room; white on the smaller tree in the dining room.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?


5. When do you put your decorations up?

Later than most people, but not on Christmas Eve I (at least not yet).

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

Don't have any specific favorites from days of yore. In recent years, I've made Jambalaya on Christmas Eve - it's starting to be our tradition.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?

It may be strange, but a favorite memory for me was the weeks leading up to Christmas. My dad was a jeweler, and worked non-stop from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Truth be told, I don't think we saw him much over those 4 weeks - he even worked Saturday AND Sunday all day. During that time, the house was totally run by my mom and us kids. The best part about it was having breakfast for dinner - pancakes, scrambled eggs. Part of this is because my mom was the World's Worst Cook, but also because my dad was a real "meat and potatoes" guy and I suspect she wanted time off from the regular routine as much as we did. In later years, we found out that all the overtime Dad put it in actually provided us Christmas itself. My mom would 'charge' all our toys and gifts early in the season and pay them off at Christmas with the extra pay. How did he do it? I'm not sure I could ever be so selfless. Thanks, Dad.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?

I really don't remember, although I think Patty vanden Eynden from down the street had something to do with it.

9. Do you open gifts Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

When we were little kids, we opened Christmas Day, when we were teenagers, it all moved to Christmas Eve. For all my married life, it's been Christmas morning.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?

I do it all...I'm thinking of adopting a teenager to take over soon.

11. Snow- Love it or dread it?

Now that I don't have to drive in it much anymore (telecommuting, what a concept!) and we bought a snow blower, I really like snow. I've really tried to make an effort to enjoy each season as it comes and not to complain too much about it. To me, one of the pleasures of winter is the beautiful sky - best enjoyed while shoveling snow in late afternoon.

12. Can you ice skate?

Nope, the one and only time I tried to ice skate, I fell and someone behind me skated over my hand. Kinda turned me off a skating career. Although I have to say it looks like great fun...especially at Rockefeller Center.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?

I don't have a particular stand-out gift as a child, but I have to say that two Christmases ago, I got a bunch of presents from Bobbers that were out of this world. Everything was well-thought out and bought with love. Especially important was the fact that all the gifts were purchased a mere two months or so following his major heart surgery - very impressive. (I still - to this day - marvel at how he slogged through the mall with all that heavy stuff when he wasn't supposed to be carrying anything really heavy at the time. Wouldn't that be just great to have your husband keel over buying Christmas presents for you?)

14. What's the most exciting thing about the holidays for you?

Catching up on sleep, watching movies, hanging out with friends, cooking some great meals.

15. What is your favorite holiday desert?

1) A desert I can make: Garbage candy -- one part white chocolate, one part peanuts, one part pretzels; 2) Grammy's fudge (although I don't get to have it often). As my cousin, Susan, said on her blog, "My uncle makes the most awesome, decadent, melt in your mouth fudge you will ever taste, using my Grandma's recipe. (Funny note: the recipe has this instruction on how long to stir it: Until your arm falls off. I miss Grandma)." Me too, Susan, me too! Except, isn't she called "Grammy?"

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Watching "White Christmas" (favorite song: "Sisters") and "It's a Wonderful Life" (favorite scene: when George Bailey just barely prevents himself from heaving the newel post knob; second favorite scene: when he tells off Zouzou's teacher: "What kind of teacher are you, anyway?"; third favorite scene: "Hello, 5 and Dime! Hello, Savings and Loan! Hello....everything else....!")

17. What tops your tree?

A green and gold painted aluminum star from Pier 1.

18. Which do you prefer- giving or receiving?

Well, I must confess I really like....receiving!

19. What is your favorite Christmas song?

"I'll Be Home for Christmas" sung by just about anyone. So very bittersweet. Second favorite: "The Christmas Song" by Mel Torme.
20. Candy canes?
Nah, not so much.

Now what about the rest of you?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Iraq Study Group

In listening to the accounts of the today's release of the Iraq Study Group's report, it occurs to me that I believe we heard the same "blah, blah, blah" before. Remember the "9/11 Commission" report? What ever happened to that? Our government officials (right and left) seem to have ADD. They get all excited on the day of the report (prompted by TV cameras) and then drop it when there's actual work to be done.

Let's just say I'm not holding my breath expecting big change. But, by God, I hope change comes, and quick.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bush loses another ally as UN ambassador Captain Kangaroo resigns in face of Senate hostility

Have you heard the latest?

"The White House yesterday bowed to Senate opposition and gave up its attempt to keep its controversial UN Ambassador, Captain Kangaroo, in his job - the latest sign of President George Bush's diminishing authority. Mr Bush issued a statement denouncing the senators, including a Republican moderate, who had blocked Mr Bolton's confirmation process in the chamber's television affairs committee.

"They chose to obstruct his confirmation, even though he enjoys majority support in the Senate, and even though their tactics will disrupt our diplomatic work at a sensitive and important time," Mr Bush said. "This stubborn obstructionism ill serves our country and discourages men and women of talent from serving."
So how does the Senate feel about Mr. Green Jeans?

New World Record

Yesterday, Bobbers and I made a concerted effort to accomplish more than we usually do on our lazy Sundays. Part of the plan included various household chores, a swim at the Y, preparing for some snow (where are those damn shovels?), general housekeeping and buying our Christmas trees. We always buy our tree from the Westboro Civic Club ("Hey, don't call us the Rotary!") and we were able to walk up to the first row of trees, pick out our baby tree for the dining room, and a medium-tall tree for the living room within 10 minutes! But for the brief stop at the grocery, and having to follow a giant SUV slowly up a hill with it's own tree tied to its top ("It's not a nuclear weapon, for God's sake!" ) we would have accomplished all our chores by 3 pm. Phew!

Now Ill have to see whether we actually get the trees up and the house decorated anytime Sunday we may have to clear a path to the decorations down the basement. Stay tuned for my breathless updates on our Christmas plans! I know you're all a-twitter!

Call Me Magellan

You all need to be the first to know.

I'm forming an exploratory committee to decide whether I'm going to run for President. Hey, if Tom Vilsack, Barak Obama, John McCain, Mitt Romney (oh, please!), Evan Bayh, Mike Huckabee, Chris Dodd, Duncan Hunter, John Kerry, Sam Brownback (who?), Bill Richardson, John Edwards, Chuck Hagel, Joe Biden, Al Sharpton, Wes Clark, Tommy Thompson, Newt Gingrich (oh, barf!), Hilary Clinton and Rudy Guiliani (::rolling eyes::) can do it, why not me?

Anybody wanna go explorin' with me?

I Officially Hate Blogger Beta

This evening I wrote a great response to a great post by my favorite hubby without logging in first. The freakin' thing ate the whole post. Argghhhhh. I think this so-called beta version of Blogger is what has prevented me from posting in recent days. It feels overly complex and that's a damn shame. The best part of Blogger was its simplicity. I suppose there are improvements in Blogger Beta, but I haven't found them. AND I can't post Youtube video any more.

Bah. They can keep the freakin' thing.