Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Hafsumorebeer! Er, excuse me. Allow me to try that again.

Happy New Year!

I’ve spent a lovely morning up in the loft here at Casa Sundry, reading the Sunday paper over coffee and looking out the window at the snow-covered roofs and the brilliant winter sky. Now that I’m informed and caffeinated, I am in a reflective state of mind. Here are some thoughts on 2006 and hopes (I do not do resolutions) for 2007.

Reflections on 2006

I think it’s safe to say that 2006 was a pivotal year in my life, and one I will remember.

I had a nasty spill early on in the year that I thought would destroy my life. Instead, I was honored by supportive friendship and the grace of people, and I learned how to forgive myself. I am a stronger person than I was in 2005 because of this, and while I wish it had never happened, I am still grateful that it did.

In the spring, I traveled to Italy and had the single best vacation I’ve ever had. Walking through the streets of Rome reminded me that life is still out there to be lived, and grinning like a fool, I felt lighter than I had in years. My visit to Florence with my sister showed me another dimension to her, and I loved learning from her. She and my brother-in-law were incredibly good to me.

I went to Memphis and reconnected with an old friend.

I developed an interest in the theater, going to several plays, including one on Broadway.

I got better at dating. I fell in love. Ex-Boyfriend hurt me terribly, but we had some wonderful times together. After we broke up, I was still strong enough and hopeful enough to go on.

The 2006 election restored my hope for my country. Americans woke up and saw the right for what it was—an affront to everything we hold dear. The wars continue to rage, and there is a lot of ground to make up, but I have hope again. It’s been a long time.

My parents gave me an amazing gift that has opened up new possibilities for my future.

And, I started this bloggy thing. For years I’d talked about writing, but I never did it. I might not be turning out polished prose all the time, but I am writing. It makes me happy. I’ve also met some extraordinary people here in cyberspace. You make me laugh; you make me think. It is a privilege to know you. Thank you.

Hopes for 2007

As I said, I don’t do resolutions, but here are some hopes I have for 2007.

I’d like to be more flexible. Lately I’ve been thinking about finding another dance class or possibly taking up Yoga again, but I would also like to be a more flexible person in other ways. If nothing else, 2006 taught me to roll with life and know that it will get better. I’d like to continue with that.

I want to continue writing. I want to get better at it.

Knitting makes me happy, and I don’t want to stop now that the holidays are over. I’d like to find another pottery studio to work at. I’d like to get better at taking pictures.

I’d like to find a rewarding career path that still allows me to support myself.

I’d like to move. This home has been good to me for three years, but I would like to try something new.

I want to continue dating.

I want to travel again.

I want to keep learning about the world around me. Perhaps also learn a new language? It would be fun to do more than exchange pleanstries and order food. I enjoy fancy cooking, and I’d like to get better at that (and, Carissa, I also want to stop being so lazy and make my own lunches—bagels be damned!).

I want to continue to be a good and supportive friend. I would like to make new friends.

And, I suppose it would be a good idea to kick my occasional smoking habit.

So, I’ve reflected, and I’ve hoped. Now I must dash in order to get ready for the big New Year’s bash I am attending this evening.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Snowy Day

Boat on the River in the Snow

Boat on the Essex River

We’re having a snow day here in my neck of the woods. Everything was so peaceful and pretty that I decided to go out and snap some pictures.

River in the Snow

Another View of the Essex River

Snowy Branches

Snowy Branches Outside My Window

Good Harbor Beach Snow

Snow on Good Harbor Beach

So... Saddam Hussein Is Dead

So, do you think Saddam Hussein's execution spared embarrassment for the current US administration?

Saddam Hussen was an evil dictator, but he never would have had as much power as he had were it not for the Republicans in power during the 1980s. So much for American memory.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Parting Shot: Gerald Ford Was Against the War

Pity Gerald Ford insisted that his July 2004 interview with Bob Woodward published in today’s Washington Post remain “embargoed” until after his death. It might have made a difference in the 2004 election. In the interview, Ford criticized the war, saying “…I just don’t think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security.”

On his former chief of staff Dick Cheney and his former Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld, Ford had some harsh words. “Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction…And now, I’ve never publicly said that they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do.”

Gerald Ford said these things in July 2004, just months before the 2004 presidential election. Anti-war sentiment was still being treated like treason by the far right. Like a good party man, I’d imagine that Ford didn’t want to cost the Republicans the election with his criticism. Still, I wish that this interview had been published then, when it might have done some good.

Speed Date with PhilosopherPants

Well PhilosopherPants and I went out on a date last night. I’m not sure what to think. As I had to work today, he was willing to drive out here (a huge plus, as many Bostonians don’t leave their precious hub for fear of dying out here in “the nature,” as a friend of mine puts it), and we met for dinner.

We had a good conversation; he’s easy to talk to, and he’s an interesting guy. He’s not my type, really, but since my type tends to be Class-A (for Asshole), I’m trying to branch out a bit. He paid for dinner, which however archaic that sounds it means that he thought of this as a date. We had a nice stroll through town, and I thought that maybe we’d stop and get a quick drink or coffee or something, but he kept walking toward our cars. When we got to the parking lot, he said he had a nice time and that he’d like to go out again, gave me a quick hug, and was off. Our date lasted one hour and fifteen minutes. No kissing. When I called my friend to tell her I was home, she said, “ALREADY?! Did you take him home with you or something?”

So I’ve had a date. I haven’t thought about him much, and I certainly don’t have a goofy grin on my face this morning. I suppose he could be a slow mover, and perhaps even a gentleman. If he calls, I’d probably go out with him again just to see what happens. If he doesn’t, it won’t bother me.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Death, Random Holiday Photo, and Blog Whoring: Typical Wednesday Thoughts

Good God! Go on a little holiday, and everyone dies. James Brown left this world on Christmas Day. That made me sad. Time was, all anyone needed for a party was to invite the Goddess Posse (my group of gal pals), clear some room, provide some drinks, and put on some James Brown. We’d do the rest. “Hot Pants!” and “Good God!” were common greetings among us. I know the man had his issues, but his music makes me happy.

Then I woke up this morning to hear that Gerald Ford died at the ripe old age of ninety-three. I’ll never understand why he pardoned Nixon (or forgive him for doing it), but I always look on him with pity. My mother used to say of him, “Oh, poor Gerald Ford. He fell a lot.” I thought of that this morning.

Here's a strange thing James Brown and Gerald Ford have in common: They were both lampooned on Saturday Night Live back when the show was worth watching. Not everyone can say that.

Random Holiday Photo
One of my closest friends was in town to see her family for Christmas, and I had a good time hanging out with her and her siblings. Her sister, it seems, is not much of a wine drinker. This was how the wine was opened at her house (the drill "bit" was a corkscrew. It got stuck in the plonky cork, and we had to wait for rescue).

Wine Opener

Blog Whoring
When I checked my e-mail this morning, I read this message. Apparently someone read my post that mentioned The Shining as a pretext to show off my terrible typing skills. Based on that post, this person would like me to blog about the DVD release of The Illusionist. Here's what he wrote:


I'm contacting you on behalf of Fox and M80 regarding the DVD release of The Illusionist starring Jessica Biel and Edward Norton. I found your The Shining blog entry and think you might be of some help to me. Since you blogged about The Shining, I was hoping you might find The Illusionist DVD release, contest or something related to it, blogworthy. I would be happy to send you The Illusionist DVD as a thank you for your help or for you to review.

If you’d like to help out, or would like more information, please let me know and I’ll be in touch soon!


I did in fact see The Illusionist with Ex-Boyfriend on his birthday. Edward Norton did some nifty illusions, but I can’t say as I think that the DVD release has me all hot and bothered. Besides, I’m not that kind of blogger.

Have any of you received these kinds of solicitations? What do you think? It strikes me as very unseemly.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006

May Your Days Be Merry and Bright

I like Christmas lights. Here are a few photos from my family’s tree.

Red Christmas Light

Green Christmas Light

Blue Christmas Light

Happy Holidays and Peace on Earth,
Sassy Sundry

Thursday, December 21, 2006

And the Real Reason for the Season Is…

Happy Winter Solstice, Northern Hemisphere! On this darkest day, we anticipate the return of the light. And that is a happy thought.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

In Memory of Santa

Every Christmas my dad tells the story of how we met Santa Claus. My family moved from upstate New York to the New Hampshire town where I grew up in the winter of 1976. That being a primary year, my parents went to City Hall to register to vote. They were a little late, but the city clerk, Mrs. Dearborn, allowed them to register anyway. And so my parents voted, and we settled into life in New Hampshire.

The following Christmas, we found out just how festive the town got for the holidays. A big parade, starring Santa Claus, wound its way through the still-thriving downtown, and the tall balsam tree in the square was lit. People crowded the streets, children on their parents’ shoulders, eager to see the fire trucks decked out with lights, the radio station van playing Christmas music, the high school band, and the floats overflowing with bundled-up children singing Christmas carols. And right in the center of town was a little hut where children could visit Santa Claus.

My father says that he and my mother got in line with three-year-old me and waited for my turn to chat with Santa about toys and life in the North Pole (I was an inquisitive child). We got to the front of the line, and my father says that Mrs. Claus looked at my parents and then leaned down and whispered something into Santa’s ear. I ran over to Santa, and he picked me up and placed me on his knee. “Hi, Santa!” I cried.

“Well, hello! Didn’t I see you in Glens Falls, New York, last year?”

“Yes!” I replied. “We moved here last winter. I like it here. There’s a beach and the park and we have a dog…” I went on and on, chatty little girl that I was. Of course Santa knew where I was last year. He knew everything.

My parents, however, weren’t so sure. While I was making small talk with Santa, my parents were exchanging worried glances. “What the…” my father started to say, but that’s when Mrs. Claus gave him a big wink. It was then that he saw that Mrs. Claus was really Mrs. Dearborn, and order was restored to the universe. "They really had me going," my dad always says.

So that’s how we met Santa Claus all those years ago, but it isn’t how we got to know him. That Christmas parade was nothing compared with the Christmas Village the town put on every year. Christmas Village transformed the Community Center into a Winter Wonderland. The basketball court was covered with brown paper and people spent hours stamping red paint bricks. Lights were set up to offset the yellow lighting of the gymnasium. Carpenters and artisans worked to construct Santa’s Workshop (“Elves” would turn wooden toys for children and make little personalized ornaments—I still have mine from 1977), the Gingerbread Man’s house, a Candy Cane hut, a Blacksmith’s shop, a huge Frosty the Snowman (made by my very own mother), an “Ice Rink” (the surface was white plastic and elves skated on it), and Santa’s house. Nearly the whole town would turn out for Christmas Village when it was complete. Starting in 1977 my parents were on the committee, and so for years I got to witness the creation of the magic (and was even an elf for a few years), but that never tarnished the wonder of Christmas Village.

The workmanship that went into Christmas Village was truly remarkable, especially for such a small community, but it wouldn’t have worked without our Santa. See, there was a reason why my parents were awestruck by Santa’s knowledge of my whereabouts Christmases past. Mr. Dearborn had white, flowing hair and a long, white beard. He had a soft and gentle voice, and an even softer and gentler demeanor. (He also wore very distinctive cologne. I’ve never figured out what it was, but if I smelled it today, I’d be transported back to being a three-year-old, chatting away with Santa. One summer day in his antique shop, my sister looked up at Mr. Dearborn quizzically and said, “Mr. Dearborn, you smell just like Santa Claus.”) I’ve seen many men who bear a striking resemblance to Santa Claus, but Mr. Dearborn is the only one who ever had me convinced.

I loved running around, helping to set up Christmas Village, but it always broke my heart to see it torn down. One year when I was five or six, it was just too much, and I ran to a corner and cried. As I was sitting on the floor despondent, I felt a little tap on my shoulder. There was Santa, back in his outfit. He said, “Come on, let’s go have a chat.”

“OK, Santa.”

We went out in the hallway and sat down on the steps. Santa asked me, “Why are you sad?”

“Because it’s over, and it was so wonderful, and I want it to stay the way it was always.”

He looked at me with that gentle gaze and said, “Well, would it be wonderful if it was always like that?”

“What do you mean?” I asked him.

“Christmas is a special time, sweetie. If it were like this always, then it would just be the way things are. You wouldn’t think it was magical. But you can keep it in your heart all year, if you want. When you are feeling sad, you can think about Christmas, and that will make you happy.”

I mulled this over and saw the wisdom in what he was saying. Wiping my nose, I said “OK. Thanks, Santa. I’ll remember.”

“Good,” he said. “Let’s go back and find your folks, shall we?”

We walked back into the Community Center, and he dropped me off with my parents with a wink and a tap to his nose.

As my sister and I grew older, my parents stopped working with Christmas Village, but we would still see Mr. Dearborn in his antique shop from time to time. When I registered to vote, Mrs. Dearborn signed me up. “Thanks, Mrs. Claus,” I said when I was finished. We chuckled and talked a bit about Christmas Village.

Some years back, Mr. Dearborn died. I was in graduate school at the time and couldn’t get back for the funeral, but the whole town turned out to mourn Santa Claus. A few years later, Mrs. Dearborn retired from her post as City Clerk. I’m not sure who the town Santa is anymore. I just like hearing my dad tell the story of how we met the real thing.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Trip Down Memory Lane

Now Dive is the Giver of Assignments. He’s asked us to post pictures from our misspent youths. Robyn has obliged (she's so cute!), and now I’m feeling guilty. As my parents are the keepers of the family photos, I don’t have many pictures of my childhood with me here. I did find this one, however, that seemed like a good fit for the assignment.

I remember this day pretty clearly. My family and I went to the Maine coast with my grandparents. My Pop-Pop had given me this new hat, and I thought it was cool. A note: I didn’t (and don’t) have buck teeth. I’m not really sure what kind of facial expression I was going for here. Pop-Pop was a bit of a shutterbug, and I know I sometimes got annoyed with the constant flash-popping.


Gluttony, Envy, and Lust: A Day in the Life of Sassy Sundry

Today is a Black Star of Nutritional Death Day for Sassy Sundry. In celebration of “Wind Down Week” (I call it Warehouse Liberation Week), the company provided us with doughnuts. In addition, today is also “Cake Day,” the day when the company celebrates the month’s birthdays with cake. The cake has lots of gooey-sweet frosting, and I fear that I will soon lapse into a coma. We also have toffee, popcorn, and various hard candies available for our tooth-endangering consumption. ‘Tis the season, I suppose. I see a diet looming in my future.

Ooomph. The frosting just hit. Just a minute; I need some water. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Ooooh, look! A bright light. Think I’ll take a little stroll toward it.

Hmph what? What was I saying, and what are all these wires doing attached to my body? Oh, yes. Bad nutrition. Best not think about it until after the holidays. Instead I’ll think about envy. Reading about Before Girl’s kitschy fireplace playing on her iPod has left me insanely envious. My little screen just looks so bleak. I love Uncle Tupelo, but I want fire.

So today I’m a glutton and a coveter. Oh, and I might be guilty of a little lust, too… PhilosopherPants (“pants” means “trousers” on this side of the pond, get yer mind out of the gutter) intrigues the hell out of me, and I’ll admit that my mind has wandered a bit. If I swap out gluttony for lust, would this improve things any?

What about you? Commit any deadly sins today?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday, Monday . . .

Not much going on in my world today. We had our last warehouse shift today. It was all I could do not to let out a triumphant whoop when the clock chimed; my silly grin could not be contained. I do feel a twinge of regret over missing out on the tackiness, but I’ll survive. It might be nice to have do my own job. It’s been a while.

I have therapy later on this evening. An hour of someone subjecting my crazy ideas about holidays and men to reality is always a nice way to cap off a Monday. The good news is that my parents just something amazing—they gave me a whole bunch of money to help me pay off some old bills. Unbidden. Yay, Parents! Talk about Christmas present. And, I don’t want to jinx anything, but things look good in the dating department, too (no, not with IcelandMan. I read his profile. He’s hilarious, but he’s also completely unhinged. Pity, I would have liked Iceland for a time, I think). The upshot of all this rambling is that I don’t think I’m going to spend an hour crying about my miserable life this evening, and that’s good.

After therapy I’m supposed to meet up with an old friend who’s around until tomorrow morning before she flies back to California. Here’s the thing, though. I don’t really feel like it. Sure, I’d like to see her and all, but I don’t feel like doing two hours of driving tonight to do it. What I really feel like doing is going home, curling up in my comfy chair, and knitting while watching a movie. I feel like a jerk for canceling, but I didn’t know she was going to be around until after she got here, so it’s not like these were longstanding plans. Oh well. Next time.

Anything interesting going on with you?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Denied! Sassy Sundry Comes in Second Place at Tacky Gift Party

Tacky was on full display at this year’s Tacky Gift extravaganza. Among the food and drink items: Twinkie sushi (made with the Hostess goodies; green fruit roll-ups, and little red candy sprinkles); Cajun coconut Spam fritters (never have I been so happy to be a vegetarian); a jello ring; a heart-shaped, ugly Santa cake; a platter of Twinkies, Sno-balls, Devil Dogs, and strange Christmas tree-things; wine coolers; boxed wine (apparently it tasted like cherry Kool-Aid gone bad); spray American cheese and Ritz crackers; and a few normal items and beverages so we could actually eat and drink. The décor was delightful; the centerpiece on the food table was this ceramic vase-like oddity featuring two horses and a pink-and-blue floral bouquet. No one really understood it until some wise attendee affixed the penis eraser floating around the party in the correct place for one of the horses.

jello and cajun coconut spam fritters

Cajun Coconut Spam Fritters and the sad remains of the Jello Ring

And the gifts were profoundly disturbing. I received a beautiful lovers statue regifted from a couple’s daughter’s Yankee swap party (“Someone really gave this to children,” shuddred my friend). I dubbed it the Sexy Oscar and shouted “You like me! You really, really like me!” as I held it aloft. Other notable gifts included a self-help guide from the freak show formerly known as Tammy Faye Baker (among the pearls of wisdom: change your jewelry with nail polish!), a warped child bride musical carousel, a disgusting wind-up gag sex toy, a plaque saying “If you hear hoof beats, don’t think of zebras!” (people were offering good money for that one—it was strangely fantastic), and an ear key chain that said “Lobes of fun!” on it. My hideous patriotic Thomas Kinkade bear, despite the fact that it also had a pronounced camel toe, came in second. The winner was a Santa toilet seat cover, with a beard that would overhang the lid. For sheer nastiness, that gift won. In my gift’s defense, I will say that I personally cannot imagine someone giving someone a Santa toilet seat cover for a holiday gift. But the people spoke, and Ol’ Yellow Beard won.

Tacky Tableau

Tacky Tableau

I am consoling myself with the thought that coming in second at Tacky Gift is in and of itself kind of tacky. It will have to do until next year. Sniff.

Shelf of tacky

The Sexy Oscar Joins the Shelf of Tacky

Friday, December 15, 2006

And the Winner for Best Opening Line Is . . .

Lucky me, I didn’t have to wait too long for more interesting online dating men to come along and e-mail me. One gent in particular sounds very promising (gasp! I think have interests and ideas in common!). This guy, however, takes the prize for best opener ever. The way to a woman’s heart—make her laugh really, really hard.

In my profile, I mention being open to new ideas. His e-mail:

I was hoping you would come with me to Reykjavik, Iceland to
live in a geodesic dome heated by volcanic steam where we could grow orchids to
sell on eBay?

Your profile says you are open to new ideas. ;)

I’ll forgive him the emoticon for his daring. My reply: “What would you do if I said yes?”

Iceland, ho!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The iPod Shuffle

Robyn has some lovely posts about Christmas music over on her blog. I haven’t been listening to much of it myself. While White Christmas, Ella Wishes You a Swingin’ Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas, and a mix including Judy Garland’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” have received airplay here and there, I've mostly been listening to other stuff. Some years I have the holiday spirit, and some years I don’t. This year I’m forcing the cheer a little bit, but I’m also giving myself permission to be a snarky humbug (see every post since forever) when necessary.

In the snarky humbug spirit, nary a holiday tune has landed in my iPod, making workdays carol-free. Here’s what I’ve been listening to today in lieu of holiday tidings:

“Shine a Light”—Wolf Parade
“Blue Vein”—Raconteurs, (live)
“I Put a Spell on You”—Nina Simone
“Lay, Lady, Lay”—Some kickass Dylan cover from a friend’s mix
“Mr. Tough”—Yo La Tengo
“Handshake Drugs”—Wilco (live)
“Boho Dance”—Joni Mitchell
“I Love My Jean”—Camera Obscura
“Hotel”—Broken Social Scene
“Authority Box”—Robyn Hitchcock

Something of a strange shuffle if you ask me, but I’m grooving. Now I’m off to a meeting. Wish me luck; I’m leading it, and with all the warehousing, I haven’t the faintest idea what’s going on. I’ll leave you with a question. What are you listening to?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas Horror, Or Today's Tackiest Item Is . . .

Just hear those sleigh bells jingleing, ring-ting-tin-gle-ing too,
Come on, that Yuletide Stalker is coming after you
Outside the snow is falling and you are screaming “Yooo hoo!”
Come on, that Yuletide Stalker is coming after you.

This book is billed as an INSPIRATIONAL ROMANCE. Seriously. Stalking as romantic? This is why I don’t buy holiday gifts.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tacky Gift Party

One of the highlights of my holiday season is the Tacky Gift Party. For years, my friends and I have scoured the world for the most useless, ugliest, most sick and wrong gifts we can find for less than $5. Then we wrap them up nicely and exchange.

In days of old, the Friendly Toast restaurant, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, home to some of the worst art ever created, served as the backdrop to Tacky Gift. Our wait person would judge the contest (we tipped well). Times change, however, and this year Tacky Gift will be held at a friend’s house. The host has instructed guests to bring the items like Twinkies, Tab, spray cheese, cocktail weenies, Boone’s Farm “wine,” Natty Ice, and Devil Dogs for the festivities. We won’t eat or drink, but merry we shall be.

A continual work in progress, there are no hard and fast rules to Tacky Gift. The following guidelines, however, are enforced:
  • The lower the cost, the higher the Tackiness Quotient. Tie will go to the cheapest gift. Hence, re-gifting always lends an advantage.
  • Kitsch is not the same thing as Tacky. Kitsch is too cool to be truly tacky.
  • In order to qualify, gifts must be something that people can conceivably imagine someone giving as a present.
  • The Uselessness Factor is always appreciated. A puzzled “What is it?” uttered upon opening is a sign of a truly tacky gift.
Memorable prize-winning gifts have included an orb of undetermined substance and origin; a clear Lucite rose ring holder, with hideous blue perfume in the flower—this thing also lit up and played a tinny, electronic Für Elise; a gigantic portrait of a copule's eldest son; and a two-videotape set of the Left Behind movies, starring ex-child actor Kirk Cameron of Growing Pains fame and badly based on the biblical book of Revelation.

The recipient of the tackiest gift pledges to display the gift in a semi-prominent place for a year (that plastic flower gizmo was an eyesore, but I really feel bad for my friend who had to display Left Behind for an entire year), and the giver of the tackiest gift gets to bring home the plastic drunken Santa wine goblet as a trophy. The trophy is currently in my possession. I’m fairly confident that I will get to keep it, because here is my gift.

    I discovered this patriotic Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light™, bear, clearance price $2.99, while taking one for the team. If you don’t know about him, Thomas Kinkade is a strange bird. He’s an “artist” of the cheesiest order known for some bizarre outbursts. Take this story from his Wikipedia entry.

    “In 2006 John Dandois, Media Arts Group executive, recounted a story that on one occasion ("about six years ago") Kinkade became drunk at a Siegfried and Roy magic show in Las Vegas and began shouting ‘Codpiece! Codpiece!’ at the performers. Eventually he was calmed by his mother.”

    Like I said, I’m going to win. If a patriotic bear designed by a drunken Siegfried and Roy fan obsessed with codpieces and his mother isn’t tacky, then I don’t know what is.

    Happy Birthday, Dionne Warwick, Queen of Muzak

    Friends are for telling you that some songs just suck

    Today’s creeping me out already. In addition to finding out that today will be yet another trying day in Virgoland, I also discovered that today is the birthday of Dionne Warwick, the Queen of Soft-and-Easy Muzak Favorites. Perhaps getting “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” stuck in my head is what my horoscope meant by a trying day?

    Come on, sing the chorus with me. Good and loud and with lots of emoting hand gestures. You know you know it. You go to the grocery store.

    I know
    I'll never
    love this way again
    So I keep holding on
    the good is gone
    I know
    I'll never
    love this way again
    Hold on,
    hold on, hold on
    Apologies. Today’s a trying day.

    Monday, December 11, 2006

    Random Monday Musings

    Holy crap, this story made me laugh. I can see it now. A family brings home their Christmas tree, and the fresh pine scent fills the house. Mugs of hot chocolate all around. Singing along with the Christmas music, the family begins to decorate. Everything is just holiday perfect until… Aieeeeee! The tree has beady little eyes! I can see a horror movie franchise here. Perhaps I should write a screenplay, The Christmas Trees Have Eyes. Whaaa haaa haaaa haa.

    So I didn’t go out with Flattering French Guy, as you may have guessed. I just couldn’t go through with it. I called him and wound up having to leave a message saying that I didn’t think it was a good idea for us to meet up. When I hung up I felt nothing but relief. There are other men out there, and I’m sure that Flattering Guy can flatter his way in to some other woman’s heart.

    Nothing much went on with me this weekend. I stayed close to home and made some major progress on the holiday knitting. Check out my posts on Punk Rock Knitters (here and here), if you’d like (exception: Ms. Smokestack cannot click on these links, or she will ruin her surprise).

    The only other thing of note that happened to me was that I fell in the driveway. Splatted was more like it. Hey, Grace! I turned my foot, and now I’m walking with a limp. I have huge bruises on my elbow and hip. Pretty. And now it’s off to the warehouse.

    Sunday, December 10, 2006

    Pinochet Escapes Justice, Dies at 91

    On September 11, 1973 (the day I came into this world), a CIA-sponsored coup ousted Chile’s elected leader, Salvador Allende, and installed Augusto Pinochet as dictator. Pinochet’s reign of terror lasted until 1990. Under his regime, some 3,000 people were murdered, many of the victims number among Latin America’s “disappeared”—their bodies never found. Pinochet never stood trial for his crimes, using his failing health as an excuse.

    Just as the wheels of justice were finally starting to turn, Pinochet’s health yet again took a turn for the worse. Today he’s dead, at age 91. The families of the victims will not see justice in this life. So ends another chapter in the disastrous history of US intervention in Latin America.

    Saturday, December 09, 2006

    Christmas Cheer

    Hot Chocolate and the Best Yard Sale Find Ever

    After I graduated from college I went home to live with my parents for a year before I started graduate school. Two of my high school friends also returned to our hometown, and the three of us divided our time between our lousy part-time jobs (I worked in a supermarket deli, one friend was a waitress, and the other ran a sandwich shop) and the bar. We partied. We had more boys after us than we’ve ever had since. We had no major responsibilities. We were miserable.

    When Christmas rolled around that year, we all had to work Christmas Eve until mid-afternoon. It had snowed the day before, but the Christmas Eve broke sunny and not-too-cold, and so we decided to go sledding. All activities in those days required alcohol, of course, and the occasion called for something particularly festive. We decided upon a little concoction we dubbed “Christmas Cheer.”

    Christmas Cheer is disgusting. Here’s the recipe:

    You'll Need:
    2 heaping teaspoons instant hot chocolate per partaker
    1 cup hot water per partaker
    Peppermint schnapps, I’d say to taste, but it was really more to obliterate
    1 candy cane per partaker
    Instant whipped cream, if desired

    To Assemble:
    Boil the water
    Add instant hot chocolate to mug
    Add boiling water to about three-quarters full, and stir
    Add schnapps (or shnappies, as my friends would say), and stir

    To Garnish:
    Spray whipped cream on top, if desired
    Add candy cane---Festive!
    Repeat, as often as desired


    I don’t remember much of the sledding trip, but I do remember singing Christmas carols at the top of our lungs and feeling absolutely awful afterwards (but with minty fresh breath!). It was the best Christmas Eve ever. All anyone has to say is “Christmas Cheer, wink wink,” and we’ll sigh and get all misty-eyed with remembrance of our last carefree days.

    Last Christmas one of the friends flew in to see her family. I picked her up in Boston, and we hung out for the evening at my place before heading to New Hampshire for the festivities. On a lark I had procured a bottle of peppermint schnapps under the pretence of making Christmas Cheer. We drank red wine and reminisced about it instead. Feeling wise and hangover-free, we left for New Hampshire the next day.

    My neighbor, apparently short of booze for the holidays, broke into my apartment while I was away and stole my Christmas Cheer. My guess is that he spent Christmas Day avoiding all things merry and bright.

    Friday, December 08, 2006

    Fanta Pee, Global Warming, and a Dating Update

    Today’s entry from America: The Calendar, by the good folks at the Daily Show, is another classic. Who else can take a troubling issue, like water privatization, and make something so funny out of it? Do we really want to drink other people’s Fanta urine instead of water? Then perhaps we should think about the bottled water industry. Jon Stewart, bless him.

    Well, the weather outside is frightful, and the wind’s blowing the snow in a most delightful way. Everything’s coated with a little wintry dust, hiding all the messy imperfections of the world. The only thing is that yesterday I didn’t need a real coat, and today it’s freezing. If this keeps up, we’re all going to get incredibly sick. Even with this dusting, Seattle has still seen more snow than we have. I saw a picture of the aftermath of yesterday’s tornado in London in today’s paper. Since when is London Kansas? What the hell? Those wackos who still refuse to believe in global warming—where are they again? Strange days indeed.

    Since I know that you are all waiting with bated breath for my dating news (ha!), here’s an update. I’m supposed to go out for dinner with Flattering French Guy tomorrow night. I think I’m going to cancel. After hanging up the phone last night, I realized that I had nothing in common with this guy and that I was cringing instead of feeling all fluttery with excitement. There’s the new David Lynch film playing at the Brattle and the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) is finally opening to the public on Sunday, so I might do that instead.

    Thursday, December 07, 2006

    Someone Still Thinks He's Sexy: Rod the Bod Commanding High Ticket Prices in His Dotage

    Tonight's the Night!

    Today we got an e-mail from the company offering us a chance to buy club seats to Rod Stewart’s upcoming show in Boston. The price? $137.50.

    That’s right. Rod the Bod still commands that kind of scratch. My friend attributes Rod's sustained allure to his “Tom Jones” factor. Those of a certain age still remember thinking he was sexy and wanting his body, and so they feel nostalgic. He’s switched from bawdy to ballads, and so these people can still listen to his "music."

    I wonder if they’ll throw their granny pants at him when he sings “Hot Legs” for old times’ sake. That spectacle might be worth someone paying $137.50 for me to see the show.

    Taking One for the Team

    I believe I’ve mentioned before that the parent company of my employer requires us to pitch in and help out from time to time. We are required to work at two warehouse sales per year (if we travel for the company, otherwise, we are on for all three sales). In addition to this, we are required to assist in the warehouse or call center in December. Since I have not had previous call center training, I’m on warehouse duty.

    Until yesterday my warehouse duty consisted of checking packages before they were shipped out to customers. While it can be physically taxing (some of the boxes are full of heavy books), and I pretty much hurt my back every year, I’ve resigned myself to it. Yesterday, though, I was required to do “picking” (no, not noses or wedgies). This involved waiting for boxes to come off a conveyer belt, checking the slip, retrieving the item, plunking in the box, and shoving the box back onto the conveyer belt. Not terribly complicated, but not exactly what I went to university for either.

    The first three hours were pretty slow. I was just about to pat myself on the back when the onslaught began. All of the sudden, large boxes were flying at me. The last hour I think we had about 150 large boxes come off the conveyer belt. Unfortunately the conveyer belt does not handle the large boxes very well, and so the line kept jamming. Boxes crashed into each other, and one or two even fell off the line. People were telling me to reset the line constantly, which would have been fine, if I’d known how to do it. Then the guy who was opening up the boxes of stuff went on break without leaving me with enough stinky ugly doormats to put in the boxes. So for ten minutes or so, until some people who actually work in the warehouse realized that something was going wrong came to help me, boxes were just piling up, and the conveyer belt was jamming ,and I was saying the “eff” word a lot.

    Even though three people wound up helping me, and we were rushing around like proverbial headless chickens, we were still backed up when it was time for me to go. The bell dinged, I said, “Bye,” and then I went to leave. There was just one problem. I could barely walk. It took me forever to get back to my desk, and when I got there I couldn’t sit down. My back was one big zone of pain. I had two more hours to work, but there was no way I could sit for two hours to do it. Before I could drive home, I had to take four Advil to loosen my back up enough to make the trip (I would apologize for the reckless driving, but see post on Hummers below). Once home, I took a forty-five minute hot shower, used the shiatsu massager I got last year after warehouse duty, and then applied a hot water bottle. I fell asleep in my comfy chair at 7:30 and was in bed at 8:00 (not normal). When the alarm went off at 7:00 this morning, I was stunned. I slept for another hour before hauling my sorry ass out of bed.

    I feel like an old lady today. I’m sitting up ramrod straight, and it hurts to turn my head. I got myself put back on checking for next week, and if I feel so much as a twinge, I’m going home. The team does not get my back.

    Wednesday, December 06, 2006

    “A Spanking for the President”

    I’m listening to coverage from WBUR (local NPR station) about the report from the Iraq Study Group. Michael Duffy, a commentator on the station’s On Point program, just called the report “a spanking for the president.” W is way too proud and Cheney way too evil for me to believe that this will really change things. Still, this spanking from W’s daddy, by way of James Baker, might force change.

    Hummer Drivers Should Rot in Hell and Other Tuesday Morning Musings

    No matter how long I’ve lived here, Massachusetts drivers never cease to amaze and infuriate me. This morning was a classic example. Work crews were repairing the guard rails that had been smashed to bits by idiot drivers on Route 128, thereby necessitating the closure of the right lane for about a half mile. Appropriate signage instructing motorists to merge left was posted, and so I merged when told. Everyone else in the right lane continued speeding down the highway until the last possible second only to cut off those who had done what they were told.

    I had already let in three such miscreants when the driver of a monstrous Hummer decided that the three inches separating my car from the bumper of the car in front of me was sufficient for merging. He didn’t look; he didn’t signal. Instead, he nearly murdered me. My compact car’s horn is anything but compact, and that was the only thing that saved me from tomorrow’s obituary pages. Bad enough that he’s guzzling up the world’s resources and driving a car so expensive that it outranks several countries’ GDPs, but he has to nearly kill me to prove how big he is (well, isn’t, but that’s another story)? Ass.

    In other news, the online dating gods did indeed smile upon me and the guy called me Monday night. He’s from France and lived in Italy for several years before coming to this country, which means that he has a double-dose of that continental charm. Much of our conversation consisted of his flattering the ever-loving dickens out of me (“Your photo was unlike all the other girlz on zee site. You have mystery, and you know who you are. Men have to be up to meeting your challenge…”), which would have worked marvelously, had I not known that most of it was bullshit. My friends are telling me to go for it and go out with him (“At least you’ll get a fantastic dinner out of the deal. And wine!”), but I don’t know. Any advice?

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    Fluff Goes to Washington: Dispatch from DC Trip

    washington monument

    Little Sassy Schmoozer went to Washington, DC, for a business trip a few weeks ago. Fluff came along too. Monday morning, Fluff and I were able to sneak off to do a bit of sightseeing. Here are the highlights. Answers to the previous Fluff Quiz appear below.

    Capitol Building

    Capitol Building

    Fluff and Jefferson Memorial
    Jefferson Memorial

    Lincoln Memorial
    Lincoln Memorial

    from lincoln memorial

    View of Washington Monument
    from Lincoln Memorial

    Fluff and Abe and Some Tourists
    Fluff and Abe

    IRS Building

    Fluff and the White House
    White House

    GAO Office
    GAO Building


    National Public Radio Building

    Answers to Fluff Quiz the Fourth!
    Dive and Fat Sparrow did exceedingly well on this quiz, and they’ve tied. Hangar Queen did very well too. Kav’s one answer was correct. Robyn and Knudsen made me laugh. Well done, everyone!

    1. In one of the above photos, Fluff is pictured with an Ape (pronounced ah-pay). What does Ape mean, and why is the name clever?
    Ape means a bee. An Italian friend of my sister’s said with a chuckle that it was made by the same people who make the Vespa (meaning wasp) and wasn’t that a funny play on words.
    2. The David in the photograph is a replica. Where is the original?
    David resides in the Galleria Accademia in Florence. Pollution and a crazy foot fetishist are to blame.
    3. To what did the title of E.M. Forester’s A Room with a View refer?
    Specifically, it referred to a room with a view of the Arno in Florence. Dive and Fat Sparrow’s wonderfully literary answers put the question to shame.
    4. My sister and I stopped in a caffé in Florence in the afternoon. A man walked in (not American) and ordered a cappuccino. The bartender wouldn’t give it to him. Why?
    Believe it or not, the man was Italian. Seriously. He wasn’t an American, nor was he a Brit (sorry, Dive, I saw countless English people order up afternoon cappuccinos in Rome). No one in Italy drinks milky coffee in the afternoon. Somehow the whole incident made me feel a bit better.
    5. Italian boxed wine. Discuss.
    Well I for one was horrified. I know that boxed wine is supposedly moving up in the wine world, but I still find it incredibly tacky.

    Previous Fluff Posts
    London and the Opal Coast of France (for one day, to get some wine
    Dispatch from the What the Fluff? Festival in Union Square, Somerville
    New York City
    Fluffy in Memphis

    Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

    It’s Monday. I’m at work, and the business of the world goes on. Hugo Chavez won easy reelection in Venezuela. It looks as though Augusto Pinochet will escape justice for his crimes in Chile. John Bolton has resigned as the US Ambassador to the UN. And in an interview with the BBC Kofi Anan spoke candidly about the tumultuous times in which he served (you can watch the interview by clicking on the link).

    I have been thinking about all of these things, but I am also looking at the snow gently falling outside. In the spirit of optimism, I decorated my apartment in hopes that it would give me holiday cheer. Of course, it was sixty degrees and muggy when I did this, but now that there’s a little dusting of snow on the trees and the fields, I am feeling a bit more in the spirit of things. I am looking forward to the return of the light.

    Santa on Velvet

    Move over, Elvis.
    This is Santa on Velvet.
    I bought this to give at a tacky gift party,
    but I fell in love with it and kept it

    The lights in the window

    tree and shelf of tacky
    My little wire tree,
    all decorated

    What I really should be thinking about is getting back to work, but thinking about snow is much more fun.

    Sunday, December 03, 2006

    Goody Good Doughnuts, RIP

    The smell of doughnuts is in the air it seems. Yesterday’s Boston Globe not only had the complete report of the foiled doughnut shop robbery (the officer got plenty of teasing back at the station), but also a sad story about the closing of a locally owned doughnut shop in North Cambridge, Massachusetts. Gentrification and competition from the likes of Dunkin Donuts had siphoned off much of the business, forcing the shop to close its doors at the end of this month. The true locals in the area, many of them elderly, are devastated.

    This story reminded me of the doughnut shop of my youth. Mention Goody Good Doughnuts to anyone from my hometown, and you will see their eyes roll in the back of their head and hear them sigh, “Mmmm…. Those doughnuts were the best.” You should then look out for the pool of drool on the floor.

    Impossibly light and airy, sweet and gooey, and, if you went late at night, hot, Goody Good Doughnuts were made by the Jedi Master of doughnut making. His tiny shop (no tables) had hand-lettered signs in the window and a slight patina from decades of frying. Inside, the walls were covered with yellowing (and slightly greasy) notes from school children and businesses, thanking them for providing doughnuts for various functions. The coffee, sitting on a lonely burner for ages on end, was wretched. Behind the counter, you could see the bakers making the doughnuts.

    Dunkin Donuts did a fair amount of business with tourists and those who lived near the chain, but if true locals were charged with bringing the doughnuts, they knew where to get them. The brown baker’s box tied with red and white string was a welcome sight anywhere.

    My friends and I used to make the occasional late-night doughnut run to Goody Good’s. Inhaling the sweet smell as we walked in the shop, we'd drift to the counter as if under a spell. The bakers would be listening to classic rock (102.9 WBLM) and would serve us up freshly made confections from heaven. This one time we got greedy and ordered two each. Lucky for me I ate my first one slowly and noticed my poor friend’s face halfway through her second one and was spared the agony.

    Unlike the doughnut shop in the newspaper story, however, Goody Good’s did not close due to gentrification or a change in eating habits. Nope. The story of Goody Good's demise has more in common with the dumb criminal story in the post below. Turns out the guy who made the doughnuts also had a cottage industry dealing cocaine. Guess he figured that a doughnut shop was the last place where cops would look for coke-addled matchstick people and that the cops would never bust him anyway because he made the best doughnuts. Bad figuring.

    Now the Jedi Doughnut Master is in jail, and our hometown is bereft of the tastiest doughnuts in the history of the world. I bet those cops are sorry now, stuck with Dunkin Donuts and memories.

    RIP, Goody Good’s. You are missed.

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    All the Cops in the Doughnut Shops

    OK, this is really funny. Guy, robbing a doughnut shop is just asking for trouble.

    Gah! Online Dating Gods Conspire Against Me

    I mentioned a while back that I had rejoined the wonderful world of online dating. Living in this part of the world, cyberspace is pretty much the only way to find a desirable date. The men in the town I live in are either married, old enough to be my father, stupid, or some twisted combination of the three.

    So unless I want to spend the rest of my life getting drunk and picking up guys in bars (a talent, like schmoozing, which detracts from my self esteem), online dating it is. And since I suddenly found myself newly single nearly two months ago, with a sigh I signed back up.

    Normally I would not jump right back into the dating scene so soon, but this time I decided to listen to my friends (advice: best way to get over a guy is to go out with another one) and my therapist (advice: why not try something different instead of spending months sulking—and drinking). I kept hearing that cheesy Aerosmith song about a saddle, but I decided not to let my disdain for Aerosmith keep me from this experiment. Besides, the thought of getting all dressed up and going out with someone new who just might be fantastic put a mischievous little smile on my face.

    Still for the first month or so my heart really wasn’t it. I think I sent one half-hearted wink a guy's way by way of initiation. A few of the responses I got to my ad were from guys I had corresponded with the last time around and had either gone out with them and did not want to see them again or had just decided that they weren’t for me. Other responses came from new guys I did not want go out with, because they didn’t read, they voted Republican, and/or they couldn’t put together a sentence to save their miserable little lives (a note to online daters: your written profile is the only thing that your prospective date has to go on—use spell check at the very least!). Once in a while I would get a response from someone kind-of interesting, and I'd e-mail with them a couple of times before losing interest.

    Like I said, my heart wasn’t in it.

    But then, something happened. I got a message from a guy within my age range who put some thought into his profile. This guy seemed reasonably smart, funny, well-read, and nice (not to mention the good-looking part, of course). And he wanted to get to know me. Interesting…

    I clicked on reply button, typed a flirty little message back, and hit send. Everything looked fine until I noticed that my little “connections” page said that it was still “my turn.” I checked my sent messages, and nothing was there. So I tried again, with a parenthetical note saying that it looked like the first one hadn’t gone through and apologizing for potentially sending duplicate e-mails. Still nothing happened. The damn thing said that it was still my turn.

    I contacted the technical department, and they suggested that I e-mail myself to see if the system is working properly. This made me feel somewhat strange, but I tried it. Nope. No message. Gah! I can’t even fucking flirt with myself in cyberspace. I’ve contacted the technical department again, but they still haven’t resolved it.

    Perhaps this is a sign. Maybe the online dating gods are telling me something. Right now though I wish they’d just shut up and let me ruin my life like every other reasonable thirty-something woman.