Archive for the ‘home’ Category

time well-spent

There is just far too much good TV on right now.  Too much content in general.  Striking a balance is a constant struggle, everything is vying for my attention and I always question myself and wonder if I’m making a mistake, choosing the wrong thing.

Not that it matters in the end, duh, but my life is a continuing process of judging myself and my choices.  HA!  And who has the time to watch everything?  So, considering how much I love lists, herewith are my current can’t miss TV shows.

  • Breaking Bad (Jesus H. Christmas this is one killer show. So dark, so complicated.  So unexpected.)
  • Drop Dead Diva  (Appeals to my happy cheesy side.  Quite the opposite of BB.)
  • Nurse Jackie  (One of the most complex and real characters ever on TV.)
  • Hoarders (not Hoarding, Buried Alive, Hoarders was first and it’s better)
  • Masterpiece Mystery (Rufus Sewell as Aurelio Zen in this short series of 90 minute mysteries.  You had me at Rufus.  LOVE.)
  • Louie (Louis C.K. is my favorite comedian right now and has been for the past 3 years followed closely by Eddie Izzard.  Everything he says is right on.  If Anita didn’t already have dibs and she and I weren’t both married (!!!) I’d find him and bring him home to momma.  We saw him live at the Orpheum Theater a couple years ago and it was magical.
  • Project Runway (Beside myself with excitement that the new season has finally begun.  I was a late bloomer with this one, but I’m full-on sold now.)
  • Modern Family (Very excited for the next season. One of the best-written comedies EVER.  And still manages to pull goosebumps up my arm with its heartfelt codas.)
  • The Ricky Gervais Show.  (His and Stephen Merchant’s obsession with Karl Pilkington and his seemingly feeble-minded and always over-thought observations make for stomach grabbing laughs.  Kills me.)

And here are a few not quite must-see/can’t-miss, but gee, I sure do enjoy them.  And maybe I dvr them.

  • American Pickers (What an amazing job to drive around the back roads of America and go through the stuff people have collected or let rot in their barns for years?  Helps to know what you’re looking at when you find it all rusted, but reparable and utterly engrossing.)
  • Real Housewives of New Jersey  (Dad would not be proud.  Ran across this by accident, I swear!, and thought it was fascinating.  To use a tired cliche it’s like driving by a car crash and you can’t look away.  These people are so far removed from anyone I’d ever run into in my daily life let alone get to know, it’s like watching aliens.  How great is it when the show is over I can turn off the TV and not be living their bizarre shallow gaudy lives.)
  • Man Vs. Food  (Dude canNOT continue in this vein without exploding in some way.)
  • Chelsea Lately  (She’s funny and she gets great comedians on her panel every night.  Usually stop before the interview portion unless it’s someone I reaaaally care about.  Saw her stand-up live a couple years ago and she was great.  Unexpected.)

That’s all I can think of at the moment.

memorial weekend

Over Mother’s Day weekend we held my dad’s memorial in Nashville.  Having been brought up Quaker, he wanted his ceremony to be organized like a simple Quaker meeting where everyone is in a room together - Vanderbilt’s Benton Chapel - and if/when someone feels moved to speak, they stand up and speak.  Beautiful.  Simple.

window at benton chapel

There were friends, colleagues, students, family and neighbors represented.  Once we’d all settled into the standing-room-only chapel, my brother, Michael, opened the “meeting” explaining how it would work and sat down.  It got quiet, but not uncomfortably so.  It was peaceful.  Dad didn’t have many shy friends so the first person stood up to speak before even two minutes had passed.

Every story told was simultaneously personal and universal.

Even my beau, Chris, who never got to meet my dad in person said something.  He wasn’t sure he ought to or not, but I told him he was moved to do so and should.  So he told the room about the phone call they had discussing his blues band’s CD.  Chris was used to dealing with girlfriend’s fathers who were… I don’t know, normal?  boring?  My dad had clearly listened to the disc more than twice and spoke knowledgeably about the influences he heard.  Chris just nodded dumbstruck at the speaker phone and pushed out a “yeah, yes, that’s all true.”  Then dad asked about another group, but Chris admitted he hadn’t heard of them.  Dad replied, “You don’t know anything about music.”

Staying true to the spirit of the gathering I didn’t plan what I’d say, but I knew I’d say something.  I am my father’s daughter, after all.  (Boy did he love to talk.)

I’ve never lost anyone so close before.  Relatives, even friends, have passed away and it hurt to lose them, but this is different.  Dad and I talked a lot, at times more than once a week and, as with mom, we’ve always been incredibly open and honest.  I relied on getting his voice at the other end of the phone at even random moments.  Like the time in the middle of a dinner party I had a question about Charles Shaw brand wine I knew he could answer. ~ He and mom would definitely have been my “lifelines” on whatever game show I might be on. ~

Feeling the way I do now, I have empathy for people who believe in the persistence of spirits.  It’s hard to come to grips with the idea that I’ll never, ever see him again.  And it’s a comfort to think he’s still with me, with all of us, enjoying the experience of life without the hassle of a physical body that was so consistently in pain.  For those who die especially young I imagine it’s important to hope they’ve moved on to someplace better and we don’t like to think that their short life was all they got.

Just after he died I had a dream where we were chatting like usual and he was sympathizing with some rant I was on.  It was just like old times and felt so real.  I marveled at this saying to him, “I didn’t think we’d ever get to talk again after you died.”  He responded saying, “Yeah, that’s a common misconception.”  Awesome.  I still dream about him at least once a week, and think of him every single day.

But much as I love, love, love  horror films and ghost stories and I dig the camp of Ghost Whisperer and the visions on Medium, and much as I enjoy the pleasant comfort of thinking dad is in “heaven” or something now, I don’t actually believe in those things.  Again, I am my father’s daughter.  He called himself an agnostic and true to being an educator, he was a realist.  I am right there alongside him.    He lived an amazing life and now he’s gone.

notebook of dad’s

All that said, and whatever you may or may not believe, I think you’ll agree that we live on in the memories of those who loved us.   And he has a lot of those.

dad

It’s taking me a long time to deal with losing my dad.  In the midst of editing a post about the memorial service we had for dad last month I remembered an email I wrote to  John Ryan, one of dad’s ex-students and a close friend.  John and I always had a good rapport and I consider him a friend, too.  He was with dad at a sociology conference in Boston and came to see me and my band over that visit.

First, John’s email to me:

Dear Ruth,

I am so at a loss for words.  Where would I have ended up without Pete?  I am so sorry for your loss.

Best,

John

I wrote this reply sitting at dad’s computer in his office at home.

John,

It is so nice to hear from you.

More than likely we all would have ended up “in a van, down by the river!” without dad.  I, too, am beyond sad, but feeling incredibly grateful for the few days with him at the hospital in late January to say goodbye.

Frankly, it’s all still a little surreal right now.  Things, literally his things, are sort of frozen in time.  It feels as though he merely got up from his desk to feed Nino and maybe take a nap, but he’ll be back at the keyboard any minute to continue whatever he was working on.  The many things he was working on.  The many things that, I believe, kept him going.  There was always a project in the works and another on the horizon.  His work ethic, his unbelievable intellectual curiosity, and his concerns and worries about his family members’ futures pushed his heart to continue beating.

As you know, he felt a constant thrum of pain somewhere in his body at pretty much every minute of the day for the past, oh, at least 5 years.  He was quite the trouper and didn’t complain much outside the family, but I feel comforted knowing he no longer feels pain.

I love him dearly, am more like him than I sometimes care to admit, and I will miss him forever.

me at dad’s desk

no kill spider zone

I have no qualms about killing bugs. Flies, gnats, roaches, creepy-crawlies of most varieties. I was the passenger in my friend Melissa Greenwald’s car one day when a bug landed on her dash. Unconsciously and mid-sentence my hand flew down with a killer blow. She laughed about how Southern I was and put on an accent and mocked me. It was pretty funny.

And there was one morning at work when someone spotted a roach in the hallway. Everyone was scared (!!!). They called for my help so I rounded the corner and saw it down the hall. Jay was throwing paper plates at it with results that you can imagine were less than satisfactory. “Excuse me, Jay, let me take care of this,” I said taking off my sandal. One swift slam and we scooped up the ex-roach with one of the paper plates and tossed it in the garbage.

Spiders, however, command my respect and I won’t kill them. When I see them in my apartment I say “Hello there, Mr. Spider, what’s shakin? Where’s yer web? Thank you for eating my bugs.” We’ve had so many sightings recently of the same spider that I am considering naming him. Last week I opened the curtain after my shower and saw him hanging less than a foot away from my face. I blew on him a little hoping he’d move up or down, but he was stubborn. Since I needed to use the room I got a piece of tissue for him to climb on and placed him on the floor behind the toilet.

Next day Chris and I saw him on the wall in the living room. Last night he was spotted on the floor under the coffee table. I followed him around on my hands and knees for a bit trying to get him to climb on my hand. Chris told me to be careful because he might bite, but I don’t believe that.  We’re taking good care of him - why would he bite me?  But he wouldn’t crawl on my hand, either, so I directed him to crawl under the TV stand.  I certainly don’t want anyone to accidentally step on him.

so many bones

Since I’m still in so much pain, I decided to visit a specialist about my foot. On Monday I called the Orthopaedic surgeon my nurse recommended. Lucky me, he had a cancellation that very day. So I went in and he called up my x-ray on his computer. He saw almost immediately that there was a break. It was something he said a GP could easily miss, but to his “eagle eyes” was very apparent.

I effin’ broke my foot!!! My friend Susan at work, the same one who lent me her crutches, has a model of a foot in her office. The foot has so many bones, it’s just mind boggling!

He turned the computer monitor around, magnified the image and showed me with the tip of his pen where the break was. Third metatarsal and part of the fourth. Huhn. Well that would explain the pain then, wouldn’t it?

To be brief, I must continue to “baby” it, although he told me when I got off the examining table that I landed hard and need to watch that. The break will heal itself, but it could take up to 8 more weeks. !!! The good news is that he wants me to walk. Slowly, of course. He advised against walking fast for 20 minutes and suggested walking slowly for an hour or so instead.

He also told me to get a cane. Not only would it ease some of the pressure on the foot, but it will indicate to others that I am disabled. Terrific.

I only wish I had a better story for this trouble than I do. When Chris tells it, he is able to highlight the slapstick and whimsy of the events as he is quite the storyteller. But when I say what happened I merely sound pathetic. The only alternatives I’ve come up with involve skydiving and landing poorly or …. no, wait, that’s it. Little help?

mouse in the house

For the past few weeks I’ve noticed Lucy sitting in one of two spots in the kitchen and not moving.   I’ll leave the room with her like that and walk by half an hour later and she’s in the same position.  Like she’s waiting.  Chris said he saw her unmoving for most of the night one time.  What gives, stupid?

Obviously I’m the stupid one because it finally dawned on me that I must have a mouse.   Suddenly I remembered a conversation I had with one of my downstairs neighbors months ago.  She’d told me they had a bad mouse problem and I was so surprised because I’ve never seen one in my apartment and I’ve been here 5 1/2 years.  But I have a cat.  The last time I had a mouse was when I lived in the South End years and years ago and I didn’t have Lucy yet.

Three cheers for the cat - another thing to love about my furry, crazy-lovey little critter.  And I don’t mind the mouse because I’ve not seen it and it definitely keeps her occupied.  After all, she’s 14 years old and you know what they say about keeping the mind agile as you age.  I’m sure that applies to cats as well.

the quest for emptiness

That’s a quote from my bff K8 taken out of context, but it seems to fit this post well.

A short while back I was checking my pantry for some nibbles, as I am wont to do. On this particular occasion I noticed I had a superabundant stash of food. Prolly could have fed a large family for a week with it.

‘This is alarming,’ I said to myself.

Why do I constantly and consistently shop for groceries when I have so very much to munch on here? Was I preparing for some kind of national (or even local) emergency? It seems I was hoarding in a way. And I recently learned that hoarding is a form of selfishness. Harrumph.

Selfish? That sucks. I like to think of myself as a generous person; a helpful and willing-to-share person. For the past month, or so, I’ve been doing what I’m calling a “Pantry Purge.” The freezer and fridge aren’t exempt from this, so technically it’s a pantry-freezer-fridge purge. (Come to think of it, I’m trying to use up a lot of my stuff: bath products, makeup, … I’ve got a gloss addiction I’m attempting to curb. I’m making some progress.)

Don’t misunderstand me, I live alone in an apartment in the city. There’s no need for me to have such ample supplies. If I need something I can go out and get it. And in good time, too. This is not an exercise (exorcise?) for everyone to attempt. I would never judge anyone on the contents of their pantry. Frankly, I am very strange, particular, and possibly bazonkers, when it comes to household stuff, so this is just about me sharing my exploits. We clear?

My rules aren’t strict, I’ve been making them up as I go along. Mostly it’s about eating most, if not all, of the food I have in the house. Saving money wasn’t the goal, though it has been an unforeseen benefit. My goal is to have an empty (relatively) pantry, fridge and freezer so I can start fresh. Nothing like a clean slate, eh? Sigh.

I permitted myself to purchase certain things to mix with what I had. For the many cans of tuna languishing silently in the back, I purchased rice cakes and carrots. To go with my copious amounts of rice, I bought black beans and vegetables. Even got some pasta (that Barilla Plus stuff rules) to eat with the sauce and the jar of pesto that were occupying too much space on a shelf. Fruits and vegetables were ok to get a few at a time since I’d eat them quickly. Raisins for snacking and for adding to my plain oatmeal. I may purchase some eggs soon so I can make bread or cookies. mmmmm….. Oh, and I also bought yogurt because I always eat yogurt and I love to mix it with pumpkin or apple butter.

No bread allowed. This isn’t a low-carb thing, that’s a crock. This is an I-love-bread-too-much thing. See, if there’s bread in the house I’ll eschew all else in favor of toast or sandwiches. [TOAST! Oh, man, there’s an excellent silly song by Paul Young called Toast and it’s my favoritest ever. I only have it on vinyl. It was written long before he did “Wherever I Lay My Hat” or “Every Time You Go Away.” He was the singer in a group called Streetband.]

Tangent over.

It’s so rewarding to realize I’m not wasting food. I had such a strange sense of accomplishment when I finished the last packet of Boil-in-the-Bag Minute Rice. And when I scraped out that last container of peanut butter. And when I heated up that last frozen salmon fillet. And when I ate that jar of pickled artichokes.

I still have a ways to go. Just found a big bag of Basmati Rice from Trader Joes that I’d completely overlooked. It’ll be more work than Minute Rice, but I’ll shoulder that burden. Gonna have to make a batch or two of Mel’s famous pumpkin soup in order to use up the cans of chicken broth and pumpkin. Maybe I should make a pie…. New frontiers, my friends, new frontiers await!

Now go look in your pantry and tell me whatchoo got.

[I knew what I was doing wasn’t going to be entirely unique, so as I finished writing this entry I did some googling and found this cute blog. It’s called The Perfect Pantry.]

cats know various things

I’ve devoted far too much time in here writing about Zachary, the sweet, fat, blue-eyed beauty at little Lucy-Boo’s expense. Frankly, I’ve given her short shrift. Zack just isn’t the kind of boy to sit back and let others be adored; he demands attention with his every sigh and each click of his paw. Given that the Z-man and I no longer co-habitate and I haven’t even seen him in almost eight months (!!!), it’s time Lucy got her due.

When Lucy came into my life I was dating John Crye and living in Brighton on Commonwealth Avenue. Whoa. … Boo was one of three kittens in an abandoned litter found by my friend Celine. Celine and Tony, who had four cats already, nursed the three little babies with droppers and took care of them until they were old enough to go to new homes. They were so feisty and cute, all three of them. They were named Enno, Ella and Elsa. I got Elsa, the black one.

Lucy is going to be 14 years old this August, but she looks and acts younger than her years, much like her mommy, haw haw. She’s amazingly spry, chatty as hell, and her coat is still incredibly soft. I think I’d started calling her Boo before Todd and I met, but now I can’t remember. Our reasoning for it is twofold. One, she is easily frightened away by loud noises and sudden movements. And two, often I’ll be sitting watching television or reading or whatever-it-is-I’m-doing and I look over and there’s this black cat sitting stock-still staring at me. She catches me completely unawares. It’s rather startling. Therefore, “Boo.”

She’s an amazing little girl and despite how I’ve treated her over the years (well….) and how much she’s been through with me, she love love loves me. We’ve been through a lot, too. This is her 6th apartment. She dealt with the fire at our apartment on Charlesbank Road in Newton back in 2000 (…long story). A few years ago she had surgery to remove what turned out to be an effing hairball she coughed up the morning of the surgery.

She also put up with over six years of Zack. They had a forced relationship. When Z-man arrived she was six already, too old to expect her to accommodate a kitten. Female cats are more particular and finicky than males, as well. Frinstanz, Zack pretty much wanted to eat and would try whatever I was eating. Even peaches!! He likes it all!! Which may account for some of his heft…

But Lucy? Oh no. The only human food she likes is spaghetti sauce licked off a finished plate, yogurt and pudding cups. She could be deep in dreamland, but the minute I open a yogurt she’s there.

lucy roo and zmanSo Z and Boo, those two never quite got along. They did put up with each other. There were many spats, but it wasn’t intolerable. There were times it was great.

It’s surprising to me not only that she still loves me, but how much she seems to love me.

Whenever I come home Lucy will be undoubtedly running down the hall toward me “mrow”ing with her little belly wagging side to side. If I hang out in the bedroom she wants to hang out there, too. When I get up and move to the living room or the study, she comes along. She prefers to be on my lap or leaning against me, but is able to restrain herself and curl up all civilized-like elsewhere in the room.

roolu2Lately she’s taken to climbing up on my back as I sit at the kitchen table with my laptop, as evidenced in these shots. Ah, the luck of the Irish - when she climbed up I saw my camera was on the table so I grabbed it and took some self-portraits, my specialty.

roolu6roolu9roolu4roolu1roolu3

So at this point I will let you in on a little secret. I’m allergic to cats.

Yerp. Did I ever mention that before? Thing is, I grew up with cats. Then I left for college. When I came home for Christmas in the middle of my sophomore year I broke out in hives after hanging out with my friend Brandi’s cat, Sprout. I realized almost instantly what the red itchy dots on my face and arms were.

I came to my own conclusion about this, which is I was always allergic, but had developed some immunity thanks to acclimation. After a year or so of not being exposed to cats I got allergic reactions. Never one to just give in, my plan of attack was to reacclimate myself, starting with letting my roommate at the time get a kitten.

It worked like a frickin’ charm! Can’t pet Lucy and then rub my eyes or wipe my mouth because I’ll get all swollen and puffy. When I go on a big cleaning bender I might get an itchy throat from all the fur flying around. When these things happen I take a chlortrymeton and move on.

It’s not a big sacrifice and, as you can see, it’s totally worth it. My kitty cat makes me happy. She is a very good listener, most of the time, and seems to appreciate, or at least put up with, all the whimsical impromptu songs I write and sing for her, my little LuLuBelle.

I am an idiot

My apartment is all hardwood floors and it stretches the length of the house. I love hardwood floors and take pride in keeping it clean. I’m kind of a neatnik as it is, but I really hate it when the wood is dirty or dusty or sticky. I also love, just as I did in my living room growing up, running down the length of my apartment and sliding. To some this might be considered one way to clean the floor.

Murphy’s Oil Soap in the spray bottle was my best friend for a very long time, but recently I found this amazing almond scented wood cleaning spray by Method, the brand sold by Target. It smells divine. When I’m done rubbing the floors down there’s a lovely fragrance throughout.

The label specifically warns “not for use on floors as they may become slippery.” Slippery, eh? More the better. Makes the hall slide that much more fun and exciting.

Tuesday night I was in the study doing something during a commercial break in “How I Met Your Mother” and I heard the show come back on. I started to run around the corner to get back to the living room and **SPANG** I was down. The pain was immediate. “OWW!! ow-ow-ow-ow….” and “ruth, you’re an idiot…” were the only things I could think to say.  (Please note, HIMYM is on Monday nights; I was watching a Tivo’d episode and had no need to run, but I had let the commercial go and was in autopilot.  Might I add it was a superior episode and at one point I almost fell off my chair I was laughing so hard.  So I somehow avoided getting two bruises…)

I swear, the whole house shook when I fell, it was that hard a drop. Don’t believe me? Here’s a couple of pictures. One is at night w/a soft flash and the other is daylight lit.

knee bruise 1knee bruise 2

My first worry was that I wouldn’t be able to go to spin in the morning, but the pain subsided quickly enough. It really only hurts (a lot, yes) when I put pressure on it.

In keeping with the theme of my blog (and my life) I choose to see the bright side. I am utterly fascinated by what’s going on on my leg. The bruise rose right away, but I could tell it would be the kind that evolves and changes, ripens, if you will, before it all disappears. Kinda cool.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve no plan to discontinue my use of Method “Wood For Good” cleaner on my floors, but I will be more careful rounding corners.

I know what I likes and what I like’s on tv…

Do you watch What Not To Wear? I do. I’m absolutely addicted to it. Makeover shows in general really suck me in. The reality shows I like are This Old House, WNTW, The Biggest Loser, Dirty Jobs, Beauty and the Geek, lots of the shows on TLC.

Dirty Jobs is cool because Mike Rowe is a great host and I love the behind-the-scenes aspect; I love learning about jobs I never even knew existed, like the guys who clean up the blackened gum from city sidewalks or the people who deal with rebuilding and maintaining the ancient brick sewer tunnels in San Francisco. Incredible stuff.

As far as the other shows I listed, I think transformations are fascinating. One show that’s a real exception is 10 Years Younger. I watched it a few times and cannot stomach it. First of all, it depresses the hell out of me. Secondly, something really bad is going on there. All the fake teeth and surgery and botox, all the comments no normal person would make when asked about someone standing in a plexiglass box in a city square, not to mention the wackadoo looking makeup artist and the hyper, gay cartoon-like host… It’s too bizarre even for me.

Back to WNTW. When I first started watching I found myself more in the Stacy London camp. Not that you need to choose one or the other, but she’s definitely a louder person/personality and for whatever reason I felt like Clinton Kelly was just sort of … there. He didn’t add much to the programme. Slowly, as with most of the men I’m attracted to, he grew on me. It’s true. The guys I like usually don’t appeal to me at first, in fact, I might not even notice them. I must need to get to know them. The fellas to whom I’m immediately attracted I lose interest in fairly quickly.

I feel I’ve gotten to know Clinton Kelly and not only has he grown on me, but I’m in absolute love. It’s a crying shame because, of course, he’s gay! Dur, a man on a fashion show is gay? Don’t that beat all? I love gay men, though, so this should come as no real surprise. But with Clinton I’m honestly attracted to him. He’s cute, he’s 6′4″ and he’s slim and muscular (I like tall and lean boys…). He’s also very witty, well-read, silly and clearly loves to laugh, maybe even as much as I do. C’est la vie. Pouvre moi.

I did a little online research and found out he was going to BC for some of the time I was at Emerson. Huhn …. Wonder if we ever met at any parties. As I’ve always said, small Boston.

Small world, too. A little bit of a tangent here, but a few years back I was visiting my friends K8 and Mel in NYC and on this particular day we ran into six or seven different people I knew. K8 and Mel acted all theatrically pissed saying they’d been living there for years and never ran into people they knew randomly on the street!! How the hell did I manage that!?!

Well, I’m naturally overly gregarious and tend to make friends wherever I go. Recently K8 reminded me how I used to arrive in NY to see her and I’d be talking all about the new friend I’d made on the train. Guess that’s just how I roll. So with my gregariousness intact, maybe one day I’ll at least be friends with Clinton Kelly. Unless he dumps his boyfriend and goes straight. HA.