Monthly Archives: July 2013

Ahhhh, Hotels

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Look! Pretty flowers that have nothing to do with the topic!

i enjoy staying in hotels.  It’s a feeling that I can be anyone I want to be because nobody knows me here and nobody will ever see me again; or, if they do, they won’t remember me because let’s face it, how many hundreds of faces must pass by their desk every week?  I could be a mysterious woman of intrigue, a famous novelist, an employee of the hotel’s corporate office, or a suburban housewife from New Jersey.  totally unbelievable, I know. 

The hotel I’m in now has a pretty fancy desk (perfect for a famous novelist), one of those desk chairs that looks like it’s made from beach chair webbing but is remarkably sturdy and supportive, a bathroom that is bigger than my first kitchen, and a flat screen television that is bigger than my first kitchen. 

I always hold out hope for the continental breakfast because I really only want a cup of very hot tea and perhaps a muffin that has some semblance of healthy.  Alas, this hotel really doesn’t know the definition of hot water for tea, and there are no muffins.  There are wholesale club croissants and bagels that look like cheerios on steroids. There was a group of people eating this food as if their lives depended on it and even ventured up for seconds.   “Well, Earl, the first serving didn’t kill us so let’s try again!”

This, my friends, is usually why I show up places with my own cup of tea from Dunkin’ Donuts.  I get the giant size so I can nurse it throughout the morning or until I get someplace else that has decent tea.  It really makes life much happier for all concerned parties. 

And now, I’m going to sleep in the bed that’s bigger than my first kitchen and dream about roses.  Hey! I fit the picture in!  Go me.

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Walking

Today I returned to walking.

 

This is a big deal.  A very. big. deal.  I have mentioned my sloth-like existence previously, and I love Love LOVE not waking up to the usual 5:30 a.m. alarm during the school year.  Summer is a weird love-hate thing with me.  Sometimes I lust after it, and sometimes I just want it to go away and be October all the time.  Sometimes – oh, never mind, I’m fickle.

 

Hurry up, tea, finish brewing.  I’m dying here!

 

In any event, about five years ago I was walking every morning, and I grew to love that early morning summer air.  So amazingly different from the usual blast furnace/wet towel in the face/choking syndrome I usually experienced when I arose from my slumber, already hot and dreading the day ahead.  This was different.  There was a stillness and a sweetness that made my lungs go oh hey, now, we can deal with this!

 

So I started walking around my neighborhood.  I live on a fairly busy street, but walking one block over there are no traffic sounds.  I had my phone playing my tunes (and did you know that Frankie Valle and the Four Seasons’ December 1963 is the absolute perfect walking tempo?) and my new sneakers with their glaring, white, never-been-worn-before newness shouting to the world hey the newbie is walking!  It was just as I remembered it before: the same flat streets (yay for no hills!), the analysis of my neighbors’ landscaping efforts (and mentally rejecting or copying looks), the fervent hope I don’t run into someone I know who wants to walk with me and engage in conversation (not that I’m unfriendly but I need all the oxygen I can get),  and the realization that it doesn’t take much for me to sweat.

 

I walked for forty minutes.  I hear some of you laughing, saying forty minutes is nothing, walking needs to be done much more than that to make a difference.  And to you I say nanny-nanny-ding-dong, it’s forty more minutes of activity than yesterday.

 

Good heavens, can that tea brew any slower?

 

Tomorrow is Saturday.  The real test will be whether or not I get up on Saturday to walk.  Or maybe I’ll walk again after dinner tonight, see if those cool breezes come back.  Or maybe I’m a one-trick pony.

 

Tea is done!  I’m outta here.

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Thursday is Musing Day. Maybe A-Musing, too.

Today is the first day in forever (I’m so accurate and precise in my daily existence) that we have opened the windows and enjoyed fresh air instead of air conditioning.  It was a shock to my ears to ear ambient noises of tree leaves rustling, cars wooshing by, birds screaming at me to fill the feeder.  Totally turned around my bad mood.  Not that I don’t love air conditioning – I am not a pioneer or Amish or anything resembling toughness – but I love real honest-to-goodness cool air.

 

I was in a bad mood because of a particular situation I’m going through, and I decided (as one does) to address the mirror as if I was speaking to the parties involved.  This turned into quite a tirade as I indulged in the luxury of speaking my mind without interruption and getting all the facts (the facts, I tell you!) out and having the truth on the table.  I even went so far as to anticipate the other side’s answers and to illustrate with raised eyebrows and incredulous stares that they HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.  This is clearly a holdover from the days of my youth when I made up plays and cast myself in all the parts.  In my head.  With costumes.

 

In any event, I got myself into quite a mood after my shower and it seemed like I had set my course for the day when I got my first indication of today’s weather.  That one sweet fragrance of summer air that has an underlying scent of morning grass coupled with a cool (if brief) whisper of cloud-like softness against the brow.  Heaven.  I might actually venture outside to sit on the deck and commune with the two rabbits and the groundhog that have adopted our yard…a groundhog that my daughter has insisted on naming Gary which is utterly ridiculous.  

 

He totally looks like a Gregory.

 

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A Compilation of Classification (not really)

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Aaaaaahhhhhh……..
  • Photos: I scroll through my collection of photos and realize it contains mostly scenery and very few people.  Am I projecting my reluctance to have my picture taken on others, and therefore don’t bother them with “Say cheese!” and instead go for the inanimate objects that can’t protest?
  • Friends: Such a loaded word.  The friend I keep up with on facebook is quite different from the friend I hang out with near home which is entirely different from the friend I have at work and then the friend who gets together only to ask me questions and satisfy her curiosity about my life.  Why do we assign them all the same “friend” word? Should there be different categories implied in their titles? Would it be hurtful? Would it clear things up a lot?
  • Labels: Why can’t food labels be as beautiful as wine bottle labels? Why are label-makers so much fun to use? Why do we rush to label people (my previous point notwithstanding) in order to understand them? I know I would love to mix it up a bit and call someone a bleeding-heart conservative.  
  • Thoughts: why do we fly through news programs? What ever happened to reflective and thoughtful topic exploration? Why do we have so much on-the-surface news reporting that doesn’t leave any time to understand what we’ve just swallowed? Is it because our attention span is rapidly shrinking due to instant, on-demand internet exposure? Is that why I did a bulleted list, so it was easy to comprehend?

These are the days of our lives, my friends.

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Twenty Five Plus One

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We haven’t changed a bit!

So I know that folks who collect stuff like this set themselves up to be mercilessly teased, and that’s okay because I know that there’s really no point to these things except being excellent dust collectors and sappy representations of real life.  But!  When your Hubby goes out of his way to find a 25th anniversary one and places it on the table next to your wedding cake topper, you can’t help but forget that these things are dust collectors.  Your heart just melts and you have a little bit of magic and trembling inside of you because you can’t believe someone can be so darn sweet.

 

Add to that my analytical, methodical, number-crunching, practical, checkbook-balancing Hubby wrote me a sentimental and heart-felt letter that had me sobbing, and you have a pretty darn special anniversary.  I just love being married to this guy.  

 

All the well-wishes we received said “And twenty-five more!” and part of me panicked and said “twenty-five is not enough!”  Not that I want to be greedy, but I don’t think we can get every bit out of life we still want to experience together in only twenty-five.

 

Now I have to burn something sacrificial so I don’t tempt the spirits into taking anything away because I dared ask for more.  And I almost typed “something artificial” instead of “sacrificial” which might have angered the spirits even more.

 

I think I’m a bit loopy today.  Could be last night’s Cupcake Prosecco which was mighty tasty.  Could be that I just finished reading seven YEARS of The Pioneer Woman and I’m all caught up but I keep looking out the window and wondering why I don’t see horses and basset hounds and instead I see my neighbor’s house and her garden is great and mine is weeds and it’s tough living next door to a Martha Stewart-type when you’re basically not committed to outdoor stuff.

 

My Hubby is a lucky man, no?  His wife is crazy!

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Twenty Five

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Look at those cute kids!

Twenty-five years ago today, we were married.

 

Parts of that day are still so vivid in my memory, as if it happened last week.  Parts of it Hubby will mention and I can’t believe we attended the same ceremony.  A couple of years ago we visited the church we were married in and posed on the front lawn; and bang! everything was back the way it had been that day.  Pouring rain for six straight days, humid and sticky, but when we emerged after the ceremony the sun was shining that beautiful golden color that happens in a summer evening and tinges everything with an ethereal glow.  We didn’t care about wet grass or not looking perfect; we just wanted that fabulous light and to capture that relaxed yet ecstatic feeling we were experiencing.

 

Twenty-five years later, there is still an ethereal glow and an ecstatic feeling.  Oh, not all the time, of course, because we are human and we are different.  I can go with a home that’s not spic-n-span clean but I want organization, and Hubby would rather scrub deep down to the original wood but leaves piles and messes everywhere.  (Maybe he’s afraid he’ll lose his way and this is his paper trail back home.  After all, I have been known to rearrange the furniture while he was in the bathroom.  Keep him on his toes!)  

My point is that even though twenty-five years has changed us in many many ways, and we have had our fair share of loss, misfortune, and anger, we are still ecstatic.  And that is a big deal.  

 

I love you honey!

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Clutter – What’s Up With That?

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Pockets!!!!

I absolutely LOVE organization.

You wouldn’t know it to look at my house, although I do have spots here and there where I tell myself I’m brilliant.  I can TETRIS an underwear drawer so it looks like a catalog.  I have my dishes and mugs and bowls practically doing a ballet in my cabinets.  My baking supplies are in sealed jars and labeled, and my laptop desktop is neatly sorted into folders.

Buuuuuuuuut….

(That’s a big but!)

(That’s what she said.)

I share a home with other people.  Other people who don’t share my love for neat displays of stuff.  One member of this home cannot stand to see an empty surface before it is filled up with magazines, computer bags, keys, phone, hats, recent purchases, receipts, junk mail, gum, etc.  Whenever we are in a hotel, said person empties pockets onto every single surface; and not even in a pile.  No, it has to be next to each other.  Gotta cancel out that lovely expanse of empty horizontal space, it’s damaging to the psyche!

One member of the home puts things down and walks away.  It’s not even amusing like “I pick things up and put them down” in a Swedish? Norwegian? Danish? Belgian? accent, it’s just putting stuff down and going somewhere else.  Why there?  Why now?  What is your purpose?  Are you coming back?  (“Soon,” is usually the vague reply.)  There are Christmas cards in that pile, for heaven’s sake.

One member alternates in a mood-swing sort of way with creating a mess, saying “I’ll get to it,” and then when everyone is driven to distraction by the tiny mounds of little scraps and heaps and glue and ribbon suddenly everything is gone.  Everything.  Including the bill that was left out to be paid ASAP, the receipt we needed to return something, the important phone number (on the bulletin board for heaven’s sake), and the newly purchased copy of How to Organize Your Home.  This would be great if said member would actually remember where those items now lived, but couldn’t be bothered to draw a map and leaves us to stumble around the formerly friendly home weeping for the time when things could be found and wondering why there was a sponge in the piano bench.

Of course, these are all wonderful and amazing human beings, two of whom I gave birth to and suffer from C-section scars (and I’m really sorry if there are any males reading this, and I will totally understand if you need to go visit a testosterone site right now) and I seriously don’t expect them to change just because I need order.

Speaking of order, my yarn stash is starting to need some organization.  There are currently five very large bags in one room containing either the raw materials or current projects, including all the tools needed.  There are lovely clear bins in another room all containing wool in a moth-free demilitarized zone, but it’s not really organized.  I think I need to visit ravelry and scroll through the organizing stash thread.  I should emerge sometime next week.

In the meantime, don’t touch my stuff.  I’ll get to it soon.

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Yikes

You would think, as a teacher, I would love summer, right?

Not so much.

I despise hot and steamy weather.  One of the most miserable times I ever spent was in New Orleans, Louisiana.  I have nothing against that beautiful city except her weather.  Good Lord, how do people survive?  I was there for four days and I should have brought enough clothing for twelve; that’s how many times I was saturated in moisture.  There’s nothing like visiting a gorgeous historic city and being blinded by the salt dripping into your eyeballs.

I lived in Dallas for a time where temperatures would regularly be in the 90s.  “But it’s a DRY heat,” locals say.  And it’s true.  When it’s that hot, it’s just hot, like you stood near an oven baking a pie.  (mmmm, pie.)  You don’t feel various parts of your body being consumed by a wet fog of humidity.  Air conditioning is simply to cool off a bit, to feel refreshed.

Humid places, like New Orleans, Houston, and the entire Northeast (where I live) can be wrapped in this dementor-like haze of soupy yuck, where going outside feels like being enveloped in a wet towel that someone has just used.  It’s beyond gross.

For a dainty flower like me (insert rolled eyes and gag reflex here) it’s uncomfortable.  It’s icky.  And it’s sometimes downright humiliating.

(Flash thought!  Humiliating and Humidity are very similar!  Coincidence?)

When I sweat, it all starts in my face, so that I’m clearly telegraphing my discomfort to anyone who looks my way.  It’s a tell-tale little prickle of discomfort on my upper lip that causes me to swipe at it with the side of my index finger just as if I had an itchy spot.  The true tell, however, comes within a minute when I have to swipe again.  Then the base of my skull through my thick hair begins its own little prickle dance.  My eyebrows, not to be outdone in the Moisture Wars, don’t bother with a little warning sign: they go into full attack mode.  Those get a full-fledged wipe with my second finger (because heaven forbid I use the same finger in two different spots) and a flick.  It’s quite the ballet.

Then we go into technicolor mode, because on a pale-skinned human of Northern European ancestry everything is magnified, the stunning red and pink blotchiness takes off in a magnificent display across my face resulting in the triumphant cries of an adoring audience that says “My God your face is so red are you in trouble?”

Heat + Humidity = Ugly.

I have so much gratitude and respect for people who toil outdoors in this ridiculous heat so that I may be comfortable indoors.  The only thing that keeps me from feeling guilty about it is the fact that I spend ten months in a classroom getting various germs sprayed in my direction regularly and I cheerfully shrug it off.

Now, time for my cup of hot tea.

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Another sharp, clear, in-focus photo brought to you by my iPhone

Hey, some things just can’t be ignored.

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True Tea Tastes Terrific

One time I was lucky enough to be in England.  I was overwhelmed by it all, and I wanted so badly to not be that ugly American that makes people roll their eyes and smile smugly as if to say “what can you expect from a typical American tourist?”  I don’t know why it mattered to me so much, nor why I thought anyone would be paying any attention to me.

Attitude much?

Anyway, at the end of the stressful day of trying to fit in and look the correct way before crossing the busy streets of London, I met up with my hubby at our hotel, the Lord Mountbatten.  We decided to have tea in the drawing room? parlor? tea room?  I don’t remember.  It was full of decor that reflected India, which I thought was odd for England until my much smarter hubby reminded me of England’s history in India, and I remembered my favorite books from childhood, The Secret Garden and A Little Princess where such things had been discussed.

Man, my fingers really know how to ramble.

Anyway, the waiter seemed to be one of those many lovely Londoners that does not look down upon hapless Americans and was pleased to show us the proper way to have afternoon tea.  It was all about the pouring, apparently.

  • First, begin pouring the tea (which has been brewing in the most elegant and pleasing teapot) into the cup, and then pour in the milk while still pouring the tea and stop pouring the milk while still pouring the tea until you finish.
  • We had ordered Earl Grey tea, which we also received a lesson on.  Apparently, there really was an Earl Grey, and only one tea maker in England has the right to sell Earl Grey’s tea.  Not Earl Grey tea, Earl Grey’s tea.  And that’s Jackson’s of Piccadilly.
  • This was the most amazing and magical tea I had ever tasted.  I was completely and utterly sold on tea.

We bought a huge tin of that tea before we left for home, and it was a very sad day when we ran out of the tea.  (This was in the days before the internet, people! before Amazon!)  I still have the tin and it still smells so fragrant and wonderful.  But?

I can’t drink Earl Grey tea any longer.  It just doesn’t taste right to me.

And no cracks about my aging taste buds, thank you very much.

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I love this tin

I love this tin

 

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What is it about food?

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Two cucumbers that couldn’t stand to be apart from each other

 

We start the day with it, we plan for it, we read about it, discuss it, photograph it, count it, dissect it, sneak it, celebrate it, celebrate with it, loathe it, love it, sample it, consume it, cook it, bake it, fry it, saute it, chip it, puree it, roast it, freeze it, dry it, pressure it, preserve it, televise it and glorify it.  There are movies, television shows (heck, television networks), books, magazines, and songs about it.

Oh, I hear you.  “Food is a necessity,” you say.  “We can’t live without it.  Naturally it’s a big focus of our lives!”

Yeah, well, why isn’t there Water Magazine?  Or Sun Network?  Or a book called Water, Pray, Love?

You see my point, right?

No?

It’s all about the manipulation.  We can’t do anything to water to make it more than it is.  We need it, but we can’t really alter it.  Yes, you can heat it and freeze it, but it’s still water.  It doesn’t become more appetizing or enhance the taste.  It’s just water.  Can you see a glass of water as the featured cover photo of Food and Wine magazine?  “Ten Tasty Tips with Water!”

Or the Sun.  What do we do except worship it in full or escape to the shadow?  Would you expect a blockbuster movie about Sun!  No 3-D glasses required!  A New York Times Bestseller about that magnificent orb in the sky?  A  tv series optioned for 26 weeks?

Nope.  Food has cornered the glam market.  And now I’m about to put some manipulated morsels in my mouth, which is my convoluted way of saying “Good morning!  It’s breakfast time!”

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Peanut butter-banana-oatmeal muffin and some suspicious crumbs

 

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