"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Couch to 5K

My friend Kim told me about a program called Couch to 5K, and I'll admit, I was skeptical. I am determined to get into better shape, and have signed up for yoga and have been walking several times a week. I used to run, but it seems like ages since I have done that regularly. It is hard to get back into that once you are out of shape, and as the website states, the biggest mistake people make is trying to take on too much too fast.

I am impressed with this training program, which takes you in baby steps and promises to make even couch potatoes able to get into a running program, and ready to run a 5K. I love the podcasts on the site which include audio prompts (begin by walking here...start running now...stop running, back to walking, etc) and music to accompany your run.

I am committed to doing this, and getting back into shape and back into running. Take a look at the website, and tell me that it doesn't tempt you. Kim and I are going to encourage each other, even though we can't run together, as we live too far apart. If anyone else decides to sign on, let me know and we will start a support group!

Now that I have posted this, I can't chicken out!!


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Promises Kept

Lately I have taken to carrying some photos with me to remind myself to follow my dreams, to not give up. The pictures are the two above, the top one is of me at age four, and the second one is my third grade school picture. These two pictures both have significant time periods attached to them, and the first one especially is how I remember myself as a child, if that makes any sense.
Anyway, there are promises we make to ourselves, the dreams we dream as children. Some of them go by the wayside, the fleeting moments of wanting to be something fanciful or just outside of the realm of a lasting dream. But then there are the other hopes and dreams that are there, the tiny seeds that start when we are children, the one or two things that never go away, but that just grow and wait for a chance to see some sun.

Recently, I was going through some of my old keepsakes, and I noticed year after year from the time I could write, on anything that asked the question-what do you want to be when you grow up? The answer was always the same: a writer.

So, when I am getting writer's block working on my novel, or when I just start to think I don't have the time, or that it will never happen for me, I pull out these pictures and look at this younger me staring back at me, expecting everything from me, waiting for me to make her dreams come true. And it changes everything, I have to write, I have to keep going.

There are a few other dreams I am keeping for her, and I can't let her down. I can't let myself down.
She has waited a long time...too long.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving San Francisco, 1978

(photo: The late Harvey Milk)

As most of you know, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for four years, 1998-2002. I only left due to the massive layoffs after 9/11 and the dotcom bust. I have missed the area every day since--(see my previous post here). One of the things I love about San Francisco, especially compared to the south, is the lack of racial tension there (at least compared to here), and the overall attitude of letting everyone be themselves. There is such a freedom there, no matter what the stupid results of the Prop 8 vote were. (still pissed about that one).

I was thinking today about places I would rather be, Paris tops the list, and San Francisco is up there, too. The years I was there were some of the happiest of my life for me, both in my career and my personal life. So today, I was searching for something to post about San Francisco in relation to the holidays, and I think this article is very fitting. For those of you that don't know the history behind this, this piece gives a good overview, but you should know more. And a new movie is out entitled Milk, right now in limited release, starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk. I have seen the trailers for it, and Sean Penn has done an unbelievable transformation as Milk. It is not yet showing here, or I would have been one of the first in line, I can't wait to see it. So enjoy the following piece, and a little history on black Friday.

by Lincoln Mitchell

Thanksgiving of 1978 came and went like most of the other Thanksgivings of my childhood in the 1970s. My mother, brother and I had spent the holiday with a group of my mother's friends either at our house or somewhere in the Bay Area. Other than my mother's pies, the holiday had not been particularly memorable, but it was about the only thing that had occurred that month in the city where I grew up that might have been described as normal.
In November of 1978, I was a child, albeit a progressive child of 1970s San Francisco, so on Thanksgiving that year my mind was on baseball, my friends, school, my upcoming birthday and other preoccupations of childhood. I was not focused on the recent mass suicide by members of the People's Temple, who had relocated to Guyana from San Francisco, that had been a blow to my city and had dominated Thanksgiving table conversations throughout San Francisco that year. San Franciscans of all ages had no way of knowing that those events would not even be the most traumatic thing to happen to our city that month or that the Jonestown Massacre was only the beginning of a tough decade for our town, one where the we were severely impacted by the AIDS epidemic, spending cuts in health and other social services during the Reagan years, increased costs of living and, just when the city was beginning to turn things around, the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989.
It was the Monday after Thanksgiving, thirty years ago today, however, that San Francisco again changed forever. That afternoon when I returned from lunch to my sixth grade science class, the nun who was our teacher was visibly distraught about something. She began class that day by somberly announcing that Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk had been assassinated. Some of us were as upset and shaken by the news as our teacher was. However, more than a few of my classmates greeted this news with cheers of celebration and even exuberant shouts of "they killed that f*g."
While he was alive, Harvey Milk had not been a major presence in my life. I was too young to be involved in city politics and was not deeply aware of all of the political struggles going on around me. Nonethelesss, I was horrified and more than a little frightened by this reaction from the other boys in my class. At home I had learned that Harvey Milk was one of the good guys-and one of us. Now Milk, who like my family was Jewish and from New York, had been killed; and my classmates were cheering at his death.
San Francisco was a different town thirty years ago. It still had not become the city that Harvey Milk helped build, but never saw. San Francisco in 1978 was a city in transition; and Dan White, the man who had assassinated the Mayor and Harvey Milk was fighting against that transition and that progress. Dan White represented the reactionary and hateful elements that feared Harvey Milk who, in turn, feared nobody. Thirty years later, it is hard to imagine that San Francisco of the late 1970s was a city that was in some real ways was still divided. While the City Hall demonstrations against Dan White remain important images from that period, it is occasionally forgotten that strong reservoirs of support remained in several parts of San Francisco for the policeman turned city supervisor turned cold-blooded killer.
The controversy or spin, a word we didn't use back then, surrounding the assassinations of Moscone and Milk and the subsequent trial of Dan White, who had been angry that Mayor Moscone had decided not to reappoint him to the Board of Supervisors, began almost right away. Over the next few months at school it was common to hear students, particularly in my older brother's class, saying that Dan White had led an exemplary life and should not be punished too much for making just one mistake. At home the one time when my brother or I made the mistake of repeating this line of reasoning, to use that term very loosely, out on my mother, we didn't get very far.
The famous and strange trial that followed the assassination, the now famous Twinkie defense, the slap on the wrist given to Dan White and his subsequent suicide after being released from prison are well known. While the justice system failed the memories of Harvey Milk and George Moscone, the City of San Francisco, and gay and lesbian people everywhere, ultimately Harvey Milk's San Francisco defeated Dan White's San Francisco. Within only a few years of Harvey Milk's death, gay and lesbian elected officials were no longer unusual in San Francisco as the political power that Milk had sought to create in the gay and lesbian community became institutionalized. The city has become responsive to gays and lesbians and has been at the cutting edge of most civil and human rights issues.
Harvey Milk's impact, of course, goes far beyond his adopted hometown. In his famous "Hope Speech", Milk spoke about the "young gay person who all the sudden realizes that he or she is gay; knows that if their parents find out they will be tossed out of the house, their classmates will taunt the child...and that child has several options: staying in the closet, and suicide..." Because of the work of Milk and other like him that child now had "two new options: the option is to go to California (read San Francisco), or stay in San Antonio and fight." Milk's greatest legacy is that all across America people chose to do both. While the forces of hate are still out there, and still winning some battles, such as the discriminatory Proposition 8 in California, because of the work of Harvey Milk and millions of other lesser known heroes, those same forces of hate will lose their war. Harvey Milk's America will defeat Dan White's America.
As we sit down to our Thanksgiving dinners tonight, progressives have a lot to be thankful for this year, but lets take a minute to remember that great San Franciscan and great American Harvey Milk and the work we all still have to do.

article courtesy of The Huffington Post


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!

I know this picture is a little wrong, but it makes me laugh, and today, that is a tall order.

Here's hoping today is filled with happiness, good food and fun for all of you!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Driving Skills

I am having a rough few days, so I am going to take the easy route for posts the next couple of days and just share some quick photos or videos that make me laugh, or are worth sharing.
I struggle with this time of year, and just honestly wait for New Year's to come, and then breathe a sigh of relief. Holidays are tough for me for a number of reasons. I am hoping next year will be better at this time.
I hope you all have very special turkey days tomorrow!

For now, enjoy Roomba kitty. This is one calm cat, I can't imagine one of mine doing this. This has been a huge hit on You Tube evidently, with almost 2 million hits.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pillow Talk

Lilly and Lucy are eight years old, and for as long as I can remember, one or both of them has perpetuated this little ritual. When I leave the house, and especially when I am gone for longer periods of time, I come home to find one of their toys on my bed --on or near my pillow. It melts my heart every time, even after eight years. It's almost as if they are saying--we missed you-we were thinking of you.

If I am gone for several days, traveling with work, I will often come home to a little group of toys piled up on my pillow just to let me know they were counting the days until my return.

Anyone who thinks animals don't have emotions, don't feel and think and become close to us, are just dead wrong.

There's proof of the opposite in so many ways in my house.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Random Notes

I love stories like this, just random little oddities, the unexplained that get me wondering. With this one, it seems like it was a nice gesture, but why and for whom? I wonder if they will ever figure it out.

Mystery piano in woods perplexes police

(CNN) -- Was it a theft? A prank? A roundabout effort to bring some holiday cheer to the police? Authorities in Harwich, Massachusetts, are probing the mysterious appearance of a piano, in good working condition, in the middle of the woods.

A police officer examines an oddly placed piano in the woods of Harwich, Massachusetts.

Discovered by a woman who was walking a trail, the Baldwin Acrosonic piano, model number 987, is intact -- and, apparently, in tune.
Sgt. Adam Hutton of the Harwich Police Department said information has been broadcast to all the other police departments in the Cape Cod area in hopes of drumming up a clue, however minor it may be.
But so far, the investigation is flat.
Also of note: Near the mystery piano -- serial number 733746 -- was a bench, positioned as though someone was about to play.
The piano was at the end of a dirt road, near a walking path to a footbridge in the middle of conservation land near
the Cape.
It took a handful of police to move the piano into a vehicle to transport it to storage, so it would appear that putting it into the woods took more than one person.
Don't Miss
No claim on found piano
Asked whether Harwich police will be holding a holiday party in the storage bay -- tickling the ivories, pouring eggnog -- while they await word of the piano's origin and fate, Hutton laughed. No such plans.
Harwich police have had some fun, though. Among the photos they sent to the news media is one of Officer Derek Dutra examining the piano in the woods. The police entitled the photo "Liberace."
article courtesy CNN, photo courtesy Harwich Police Dept.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Children See

Someone sent me this ad last year, and it has never left my memory. This is so powerful and SO true. Especially when they are young, children watch their parents, and LEARN. I have seen this in action when I have worked with kids as a camp counselor, with Guardian ad Litem, and when teaching drama to kids of all ages. Children do indeed learn what they live.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

100 Posts!!!!

It's hard to believe I have reached 100 posts, but this November, I made a commitment to post every day, so that really has put me over the top. Most days what I have to say may not be terribly relevant or important to anyone but me, but the main reason I started blogging was to keep myself writing...to get myself doing that every day (or close to it). As I said in an earlier post, my dream is to publish a novel, one I am writing now. And I have to admit, that writing for this blog has sharpened my skills, made me think, and gotten me to write more. So, it has been worth it.

Now, all of you have to put up with pictures of my cats and my political ranting for at least 100 more posts. Lucky you!


Friday, November 21, 2008

A Lost Soul

(Megan's mother, Tina, holding photos of Megan)

I cannot remember when a story has enraged me the way the case of Megan Meier did. In case you don't remember, this is what happened:

Megan was a 13 year-old-girl, like many 13 year-old girls, battling self esteem issues, and in her case, struggling with depression. She had been close friends with a girl named Sarah Drew, but they had suffered a recent falling out (also characteristic of 13 year-olds). The story turns here when Lori Drew, Sarah's mother, decides to get way too involved. Lori, a forty something midwestern mom, thought that Megan had been spreading rumors about Sarah and decided to get to the bottom of things by, and hold your breath here, helping to set up a fake My Space account in the name of a boy named Josh Evans, and then using that account to communicate with Megan.

Lori and some of her daughter's friends then went on to communicate with Megan as Josh, "flirting" with her, supposedly gathering information, although I have never seen evidence of any of that. What I have seen evidence of is a grown woman toying with the emotions of a child. Lori was aware of Megan's battle with depression and that she was on medication for it. The group continued to communicate with her, posing as Josh, pretty much having an online relationship with her as him--Lori wrote many of the messages directly to Megan--and then abruptly turned on her, saying viscous things, ending with "Josh" saying to her in a final message: "the world would be a better place without you".

Megan hung herself in her closet shortly after this message, and died not long after.

The hate in my heart for Lori Drew has not lessened one bit since this happened, and has only seethed because she has never seemed to show any remorse. If other kids Megan's age had been the only ones involved, it would have been tragic, but not quite as heinous. When adults get too involved in their children's affairs and become children themselves, and then TEACH this vindictive behavior to their children, then, I am sorry, I think we all have to stop and make these people pay, make an example out of them, so no other idiots do this ever again.

At first, there seemed no law that could prosecute Lori Drew, mainly because our laws have not caught up with the technology. But, she has been taken to court. It is a shaky case based on the written law, but I am just glad this has dragged on, even if she is not sent to jail, just so this case is not forgotten, and everyone is reminded of what happened to Megan. I feel for Megan's parents, and I hope this trial gives them some sense of closure, or at least some feeling that some fight has been fought in Megan's name.

Here is a piece on yesterday's court proceedings:

MySpace Trial, Day 2: Lori Drew Says, "It's Not Like I Pulled The Trigger"

By Jessica, 9:30 AM on Fri Nov 21 2008

Yesterday was Day 2 of Lori Drew's federal trial for cyberfraud in the tormenting of 13-year-old suicide victim Megan Meier. Day 1 focused on the emotional testimony of Megan's mom, Tina, who described her daughter's depression and last words. Day 2 involved Tina's cross examination by defense lawyer H. Dean Steward and the initial testimony of Drew's accomplice in Megan's tormenting, Ashley Grills, who testified with government immunity. Lori Drew's hairdresser also took the stand, and her testimony about Drew's glee while mocking Megan was perhaps the most damning of all.
When Lori Drew helped set up the fake MySpace account because Megan had allegedly been mean to her daughter Sarah, she
bragged to her hairdresser Christina Chu about it. Chu was so upset over Drew's callousness she had to retreat to the back of the salon.
"After Meier's death, on the day of her wake, Drew showed up again to have her hair done. Chu asked Drew why she was going to the wake, given her role in the cyberbullying. Drew's response, Chu said, was, 'It's not like I pulled the trigger,'" Wired reports.
In his cross-examination of Tina Meier, Drew's lawyer
pummeled her on Megan's past internet behavior. According to Wired, before the Meiers' started monitoring Megan's internet usage closely, "Megan created a MySpace profile as an 18-year-old woman, and swapped sexually-charged banter with other users, he said, citing notes he'd obtained from Megan's psychologist." The lawyer pointed out that Megan had also violated MySpace's terms of service at one point by lying about her age.
Drew's lawyer also pointed out that Megan was taking a trio of antidepressants when she died. "One of them, the antidepressant citalopram, has a reported side affect of contributing to suicidal behavior in children and adolescents suffering from depression, he noted."
Ashley Grills, the then-18-year-old who was Lori Drew's assistant, said that the creation of the MySpace account was initially
her idea, but that Lori Drew agreed and "thought it was funny," the L.A. Times notes.
Grills said that Lori Drew was present when they agreed to the terms of service, but neither woman read them.
From the L.A. Times:
Grills testified that she, Drew and Drew's daughter were trying to figure out a way "to expose Megan" for rumors she'd allegedly been spreading about Sarah…She said Drew also helped formulate messages that were sent to Megan and at one point suggested that they have 'Josh' arrange a meeting with Megan at a local mall at which Sarah and her friends would 'pop out' and tease Megan.
This part also hurts the case of MySpace fraud against Drew: the final contact between Megan and "Josh" took place on AOL Instant Messenger, according to testimony by Grills.
Grills also testified that she had no idea that Megan had
had emotional problems in the past, until Drew told her shortly after Megan's death, "We could have pushed her overboard because she was suicidal and depressed.'"
When the Drew family and Grills got word that Megan had
killed herself, they got off the internet and turned on the TV. Shortly thereafter, Wired reports, "Curt Drew started yelling at them to get rid of the MySpace account. When asked what Lori Drew did at that moment, Grills said at first she sat quietly and was consoling her daughter, then she, too, started yelling at them to delete the account and told them not to say anything to anyone."

article courtesy of Jezebel.com



I have been having my usual nights of insomnia, and a few nights over the last two weeks, I haven't slept at all. Last night was one of them. So at 4:45am, I went to the grocery store. I knew I was meeting a friend for an early breakfast, so I figured I might as well get something done since I wasn't sleeping.
So, my groceries are in my car and I am driving home, it is now about 5:40am. I see some flashing lights on what I thought was a truck ahead of me, until I got closer and realized it was a school bus. On it's route. Picking up children. At 5:40am in the morning. WTF???
I rode the school bus when I was younger and it was always daylight when I waited for the bus, thank you very much, and it was hours after 5:40am, I can tell you that.
I couldn't believe it when I saw that the bus was stopped and a lone 9 or 10 year old walked across a DARK, busy road to board the school bus before 6am. Let's think about that. To be ready for the bus at 5:40am, that child probably got up no later than 5am. That means that by lunchtime at school, that child will have been up and involved in "school" really for 7 hours. I just think that is asking a lot for kids.

Some of you may have kids that get picked up this early, maybe you can explain it to me, but it breaks my heart. I talk to friends who talk about the 4 and 5 hours of home work that are being loaded on kids that are half the age I was when I got that level of homework, and I just think we are taking away their childhoods piece by piece. I am not a parent, so maybe you all think I am off my nut, but hell, I don't even get up to go to work at 5:00am; it just seems a bit much.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Paying for Weird

I rarely watch The Tonight Show, but when I do catch it, I love when they feature the crazy ebay listings; things so far out there, you couldn't imagine someone would actually fork over money for it, but they DO.

So, some fun person started a blog entitled Weird ebay Listings, and now I can get my fix. Some of them are quite entertaining. I have shared a sample below.

Note, if you will, that someone's shadow SOLD for $5.70. I mean, that's not a lot of money, but PEOPLE, please. Hey, at least the shipping was free. There were actually ELEVEN bids for this. And I love the link at the top where you can "See all similar items". Hmmmm, and what would those be?



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Orsay You Say?

When I think of Paris, my first thought is Musée d'Orsay. This museum resides in a renovated train station (the before and after pic is above), and the large trasluscent clock in the cafe section of the museum is popular with photographers, amateurs and professionals alike.

I am a huge fan of the Impressionist painters, and Orsay houses an impressive collection. To see these huge canvases in person is breathtaking, and to know a great many of the artists lived and created those works in Paris makes it all the more special.

When you walk in the museum, it appears that it has its own personal sky- the top of the museum so far away, and light enters through milky glass. Sculptures line the main walkway in and the galleries are on the left and right and via stairwells on either side. I am a big fan of most art museums, and have been to some of the biggest and the best. But Orsay is by far the most beautiful museum structure of them all.

The first time I went to Paris was in May of 2000. I was fortunate enough to get to go back that same year at Christmastime, spending the holiday there. Many people tried to warn me that Paris would be cold and dreary during Christmas. They couldn't have been more wrong. It was cold, but nothing near dreary. White twinkling lights draped everything in sight, the most ornate and gorgeous window decorations filled the storefronts--I spent hours trying to take them all in. The Eiffel Tower was lit up with special colors of the season and exploded into starry flashes at midnight each night in celebration.

But, my favorite thing of all, was when I went to Orsay on that trip. It was cold and snowy that night, and I got off the subway and walked briskly to the entrance. I was dreading the long line that was always outside of the museum. It was about 5pm, but was dark early. The museum was open late that evening.

When I got to the museum, there was no line. I walked right in, and thought for a moment that I had read the hours wrong in the brochure I had gotten from the hotel. But there, at the ticket counter, was a woman waiting to see my museum pass. I asked her if the weather was keeping everyone away. She told me that no, during the week of Christmas, the museum was pretty quiet.

I don't know if that is still the case, but that night, I had the museum completely to myself. I think there were one or two others in the museum, but we never really crossed paths. Now, you have to be an art freak like me to understand this, but to be able to take your time, to stand so close to these paintings, to see the actual brushstrokes, to hear the clip clop of your shoes echoing through the whole building...it was magical.

I know people rave about the Louvre, but Orsay, in my opinion, is the better museum. If you go to Paris, tell Orsay hello for me.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Elf Yourself Comes But Once a Year

Office Max has done this little promotional bit every year for the past few years, but now Jib Jab has picked it up in partnership with them. I always have to do it, and usually grab pictures of my friends and send it to them, copying everyone I can think of on the email. It's fun to do for your kids with their pictures too. Click on the link below mine to make your own!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards


Monday, November 17, 2008

Optical Illusions

I couldn't find better words to describe this artwork than those on this collection page. These are CHALK drawings! So amazing.
People will actually walk around the drawings thinking they are real holes in the pavement!

Julian Beaver is an English artist who’s famous for his art on the pavement of England, France, Germany, USA, Australia and Belgium. Beaver gives to his drawings an amazing 3D illusion! Remember, as you view them……. these are all done on level walkways!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Laughs

I needed a good laugh this morning, and went searching for my all-time favorite commercials. These three clips never fail to make me smile. The Citibank one, OMG, when he repeats that password on the train, I laugh so hard EVERY time. The EDS commercial is just brilliant as far as I am concerned. The whole concept, the seriousness of the cowboys-- it just kills me. And this aired years ago, and I remember it still.
The Mastercard one is airing now, and I will stop whatever I am doing to watch these little guys. Love it!


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Good Karma

A ten year old sent me this message in an email. It was a forwarded email, and one of those messages that asked me to forward it to five people and I would receive good luck. Boy, could I use some luck!

But, that is not the reason I am posting it here. The email claims these are words from the Dalai Lama, but whether they are or not, I think they are all good things to remember, to do, to think about.


1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three R's

-Respect for self

-Respect for others

-Responsibility for all your actions

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great relationship.

7. When you realize you have made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

11. Live a good, honorable life. Then, when you get older and think back, you will be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation, do not bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge, it is a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go someplace you have never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one where your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.


Friday, November 14, 2008

The Best Stuff on Earth

I am definitely a southern girl-- I love my sweet tea. But what I love even more, yes even more, is Snapple Peach Tea. When I lived in California and then in Maryland, it was all I drank, and I scoured the grocery stores for it, so disappointed when I couldn't find it.

Now that I am back in the south again, I don't get as desperate for it because I can get sweet tea all the time. But lately, I have started craving it again, and I almost got a little nasty with the stock boy at Harris Teeter yesterday when the shelf was empty. This stuff is so tasty.

I just found a few places online where you can order it now, so I can keep my pantry stocked all the time!

Addiction is tough.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Into the Wild

One of my favorite little escapes that I take every now and then, and that can leave me staring at my computer for hours, is Africam. This is a site where you can go and get a peek into the African wild, without the heat, danger, or expense! There are several cameras set up in various areas and it does take some patience, although you can learn prime times to watch. I have squealed as giraffes snuck up to the cameras for a closer look, and watched lions sleepily lumbering to a watering hole after chasing prey. It is a lot of fun, and great for your kids to watch.

The cameras are on 24/7, but be warned, it can be addictive!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Art in Residence

(click photos to enlarge)

When I imagine winning the lottery, I dream of a lot of things, and yes Paris figures into those fantasies. But more than likely, I would start purchasing pieces of art...all different kinds of art, my tastes vary. But, it feeds my heart and soul in a way that I can't explain well in words.
When you come into my house, there is an eclectic collection of sculpture, photography, prints and original paintings that I have collected through my travels, often spending my last dime and scraping together pennies to purchase a piece that I couldn't go home without. And I have never regretted an art purchase that still to this day makes me smile, or comforts me when I walk by and look at it and remember when I found it, or what I know about the artist and what inspired him or her to create it.
My favorite pieces are in my bedroom, as this is where I spend most of my time. When I write, I do it in my bed, surrounded by pillows and my comforter, with my laptop glowing in front of me. On weekends, I often stay in bed all day on Saturday, glad to escape from work, watching movies from the comfort of my pillows in my pajamas. So, my favorite artist's creations surround me.
The three pieces pictured are: (from top to bottom) Standing in the Rain by Janet Davis-- Janet is a Hawaiian artist. Only a few people close to me know the story behind this painting, but I will tell you, if my house was burning down, and I could only take one worldly possession, (after my cats, of course) this would be it.
The second is Christmas Night by Patrice Cudennec. I bought this on my last trip to Paris back in 2001. I was there over Christmas and wanted so badly to buy an original painting by an artist. I had found a gallery on my first trip to Paris and had seen his pieces there before, but they were all huge canvases and way out of my price range. This one was small and overlooked and the gallery owner took pity on me and cut me a deal. I treasure it.
The last one is a reproduction I bought from an online store that carries a lot of French wanna-be stuff, but it makes me smile. (the picture doesn't do it justice). I look across those painted fields, and imagine I am in Provence for a weekend, taking leave of my Paris apartment for a few days.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Taking the Cake

There are several blogs I *must* check every day and Cake Wrecks is one of them. This is a blog that features professional cakes that are anything but. Cakes that have gone-as the blog author puts it- horribly, hilariously wrong. The best thing about the site are her descriptions and commentary. I get a laugh almost every day. You are in for a treat if you don't know about this blog. Go back through the history and read them all. Below are a few of my favorites (with her commentary):

When Brides have No Budget (or Taste)

Obviously someone needed to rein in this woman during the wedding planning. What kind of ego does it require to commission a life-sized replica of yourself in cake? But what really baffles me is this: the details are exact right down to the hair clip, so what the heck is UP with that tacky red rick-rack down the skirt of the cake? "Sure, we hand-painted a matching bodice-design, copied the make-up and hairstyle, and have identical veils - but then we thought this giant rick-rack would add just the right extra touch!" ?!?Obviously Bridezilla shares my opinion: she's eying that red trim with murder in her eyes.

I Believe the Children are Our Future...

"Teach them well and LET them lead the way, Show them all the [juvenile delinquency] they possess insiiiiide…" Because every four-year-old is searching for a hero, that’s why. And if that hero can bus’ a cap with his 9 mil (check the photo), so much the better.
Play on, Lil’ Derrick: play on.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Perchance to Dream

Last week, someone I admire very much, and whose advice I value, looked at me and said: What are you waiting for? This was in response to me talking about my dreams, my hopes, things I wanted to do with my life.

It was a tough question, and one I didn't have an adequate answer for.

I have several dreams. The first and biggest, is to be a writer, a published writer. And I mean when someone says what do you do?, I can honestly answer: I am a writer. That kind of writer. Published, the whole nine yards.

The other dreams are to have a side photography business, and to move to Paris and open a bookstore. But, you know, I can only do so much at once.

But, I can start trying now. That was her point. Today is the day. And although it may sound hokey, I think a lot of us do have these dreams, the little wishes tucked away that we think about, and put aside when real life gets in the way.

I don't know why her words were so powerful, or why it has changed things with me, but it has. For so long, my job has been my life, my work just took over somewhere down the line, and I identified myself with the job I had, the work I did. I have a great career, but a lot of other things got lost in the process. I am realizing now how important these dreams are to who we are, to rescuing ourselves, to helping us remember daily what we are all about.

So, as I told her-- I am on it. ;0)

I'll keep you posted.

Now, onto someone that I hold in high regard, for obvious reasons--making her dream a reality. She is an American named Aimee, from Kansas- who relocated to Paris to open a tea house. And she is doing well. But I love this entry of hers, the first on her blog:

I arrived at the café and took a moment to walk around and take in this moment. The café was quiet as it hadn’t officially opened for the day so the blinds were pulled shut and the lamps turned off. I went over and stood at the door and looked out at the pietons passing by and wondered who would be the first to come in?
Customers starting coming in and some asking if the place was no longer for sale. It was surreal to introduce myself to these customers whom I later found out were almost daily regulars. They checked me out. One peeking over her glasses the other with a half smile on her face, “Ah, c’est vous l’Americaine?!” That made me smile. They immediately started requesting that their favorite teas be reinstated as soon as possible. Much of the stock had been exhausted because the sale of the tea house took longer than anticipated. I reassured them. Gave them my word and they bid me goodbye but with the promise that they would be back to check very, very soon. I got butterflies in my stomach.
There was a moment when the tea house was empty and only radio Nova keeping me company. I stood behind the kitchen/bar looking out into the room and it hit me in a huge wave. Tears welled in my eyes. I quickly sat down on the stool and caught my breath. I peeked over the bar once more and looked around. And again, the wave hit me like a Kansas gale and I quickly ducked down in case someone came in. My dream. It’s real.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Leaves of Change

I have been saying for months now that I would go to Asheville, and every weekend, I would change my mind or something would happen. Finally today, I got up early and headed to one of my favorite spots. The drive was even shorter than I remembered- just under two hours.

The leaves are beautiful this year, more vibrant than I remember in a long time. But, my two favorite reasons to go to Asheville are to go to The Grove Park Inn--just to walk around and soak in the beauty and history, and then to the New Morning Gallery. If you have never been to either one, put it on your "must" list, wherever you live.
A great day, fabulous weather, in a beautiful town, all good.
To see the rest of my photos from today, click here.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

The New Way to Read

My love of reading began by accident. I associated books and reading with schoolwork, just like most kids my age-- until third grade. Our teacher started a contest in our classroom, challenging us to read a certain number of books by the Christmas holiday, and any books over that amount were extra credit. I was a little perfectionist, and a challenge like that wasn't taken lightly. I set out to read more books than anyone.The first few books I read were just for the contest and I trudged through them. Reading was easy for me, but there wasn't any real joy in it...yet. Then, the next book I picked, I am sorry to say I can't remember the title, I started reading it, and suddenly I realized this could be something different. I looked forward to the time I could return to reading the story, wondered what would happen to the main character, and then hated when I was done with the book. My love of reading was born. Since then, I have had an ongoing love affair with books, bookstores, and reading.
When I started hearing about the Sony e-book and the Amazon Kindle, I really didn't think I was interested. Half of the reason I love reading is honestly the feel of the book in my hand, the words on the page, etc. But I thought that it might be good for travel, and I travel a lot with my job. I did some research and settled on the Kindle, thinking if I didn't like it, I could return it.
The Kindle has a unique feature in that it comes with free wireless service, or Whispernet as they call it. Wherever you are, you can order books from Amazon, and they are in your Kindle in a second. That has come in so handy when sitting in an airport, having just finished a book, and needing something for the next flight. Also, books cost half of what they would off the shelf, since they are electronically delivered.
From the minute I got the Kindle out of the box, I was in love. The ease of getting new books, the way the screen looks just like a real page, it is all perfect. And the worry of the feel of the book being missed? It has gone by the wayside. I would say right now, that the Kindle is one of my prized possessions, and I am so glad I put my hesitations aside and went digital! I recently heard that Oprah just got a Kindle and is having the same reaction. They were selling like hotcakes already, but Amazon better stock up!


Friday, November 7, 2008

Come on Get Happy

I have been trying to climb out of a bit of a rut, and yes that is an understatement, so the title of this article caught my eye: 10 Ways to be Happier. OK, I think, I can at least read it. And at first, I was a little annoyed. This little tart worries that her life is in crisis when she is married to the love of her life, has two beautiful children, has her dream job, and lives in a city she loves. Oh, how horrible! But, the tips are good ones, I think, so I will cut her some slack. But, hey Gretchen, come here and try my life on for size, let's see how tough you really are!!! (she is still a tart).

10 Ways to Be Happier

by Real Simple, on Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:00am PDT

How happy are you -- really? If there’s room for improvement, then Gretchen Rubin has some suggestions.

A few years ago, on a morning like any other, I had a sudden realization: I was in danger of wasting my life. As I stared out the rain-spattered window of a New York City bus, I saw that the years were slipping by.“What do I want from life?” I asked myself. “Well…I want to be happy.” I had many reasons to be happy: My husband was the tall, dark, handsome love of my life; we had two delightful girls, ages 1 and 7; I was a writer, living in my favorite city. I had friends; I had my health; I didn’t have to color my hair. But too often I sniped at my husband or the drugstore clerk. I felt dejected after even a minor professional setback. I lost my temper easily. Is that how a happy person would act?I decided on the spot to begin a systematic study of happiness. (A little intense, I know. But that’s the kind of thing that appeals to me.) In the end, I spent a year test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and tips from popular culture. If I followed all the advice, I wanted to know, would it work?Well, the year is over, and I can say: It did. I made myself happier. And along the way I learned a lot about how to be happier. Here are those lessons.

1. Don’t start with profundities. When I began my Happiness Project, I realized pretty quickly that, rather than jumping in with lengthy daily meditation or answering deep questions of self-identity, I should start with the basics, like going to sleep at a decent hour and not letting myself get too hungry. Science backs this up; these two factors have a big impact on happiness. Learn how to
Get a Good Night's Sleep.

2. Do let the sun go down on anger. I had always scrupulously aired every irritation as soon as possible, to make sure I vented all bad feelings before bedtime. Studies show, however, that the notion of anger catharsis is poppycock. Expressing anger related to minor, fleeting annoyances just amplifies bad feelings, while not expressing anger often allows it to dissipate. (See 16 Ways to Manage Your Anger from Real Simple)

3. Fake it till you feel it. Feelings follow actions. If I’m feeling low, I deliberately act cheery, and I find myself actually feeling happier. If I’m feeling angry at someone, I do something thoughtful for her and my feelings toward her soften. This strategy is uncannily effective.

4. Realize that anything worth doing is worth doing badly. Challenge and novelty are key elements of happiness. The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction. People who do new things — learn a game, travel to unfamiliar places — are happier than people who stick to familiar activities that they already do well. I often remind myself to “Enjoy the fun of failure” and tackle some daunting goal.

5. Don’t treat the blues with a “treat.” Often the things I choose as “treats” aren’t good for me. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt and loss of control and other negative consequences deepen the lousiness of the day. While it’s easy to think, I’ll feel good after I have a few glasses of wine…a pint of ice cream…a cigarette…a new pair of jeans, it’s worth pausing to ask whether this will truly make things better.

6. Buy some happiness. Our basic psychological needs include feeling loved, secure, and good at what we do and having a sense of control. Money doesn’t automatically fill these requirements, but it sure can help. I’ve learned to look for ways to spend money to stay in closer contact with my family and friends; to promote my health; to work more efficiently; to eliminate sources of irritation and marital conflict; to support important causes; and to have enlarging experiences. For example, when my sister got married, I splurged on a better digital camera. It was expensive, but it gave me a lot of happiness bang for the buck.

7. Don’t insist on the best. There are two types of decision makers. Satisficers (yes, satisficers) make a decision once their criteria are met. When they find the hotel or the pasta sauce that has the qualities they want, they’re satisfied. Maximizers want to make the best possible decision. Even if they see a bicycle or a backpack that meets their requirements, they can’t make a decision until they’ve examined every option. Satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers. Maximizers expend more time and energy reaching decisions, and they’re often anxious about their choices. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

8. Exercise to boost energy. I knew, intellectually, that this worked, but how often have I told myself, “I’m just too tired to go to the gym”? Exercise is one of the most dependable mood-boosters. Even a 10-minute walk can brighten my outlook. Try one of these 15-Minute Workouts.

9. Stop nagging. I knew my nagging wasn’t working particularly well, but I figured that if I stopped, my husband would never do a thing around the house. Wrong. If anything, more work got done. Plus, I got a surprisingly big happiness boost from quitting nagging. I hadn’t realized how shrewish and angry I had felt as a result of speaking like that. I replaced nagging with the following persuasive tools: wordless hints (for example, leaving a new lightbulb on the counter); using just one word (saying “Milk!” instead of talking on and on); not insisting that something be done on my schedule; and, most effective of all, doing a task myself. Why did I get to set the assignments?

10. Take action. Some people assume happiness is mostly a matter of inborn temperament: You’re born an Eeyore or a Tigger, and that’s that. Although it’s true that genetics play a big role, about 40 percent of your happiness level is within your control. Taking time to reflect, and conscious steps to make your life happier, really does work.

So use these tips to start your own Happiness Project. I promise it won’t take you a whole year.

About the AuthorGretchen Rubin is the author of several books, and she keeps a daily blog at www.happiness-project.com. Her next book, The Happiness Project, will be published in late 2009. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Big Picture

I am still on an Obama high, so thrilled with the election results. I have been so exhilerated to read the comments all over the internet on blogs and websites of Americans so full of hope and high expectations. The words they write are so different than I remember ever reading in my lifetime about the election of a president. I read them with such joy--I believe we are at a turning point.
I am saddened, however, that Prop 8 was not defeated in California. We are making steps in the right direction, I know. The election of an African American president, what a historic moment. But, rights for everyone, equality for everyone... it saddens me that there were still so many people in California that voted yes on Prop 8.
Now, the title of my post, The Big Picture, refers to a site I love visiting. It is on the Boston Globe's site, and features absoultely amazing photographs. They update it all the time. It is always timely, sometimes shocking, sometimes breathtakingly beautiful. Today's feature was, of course, our new president. Take a peek, and keep checking back. You won't be disappointed!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Oh my, I am watching history being made tonight, and most importantly to me, I am breathing a sigh of relief. I honestly think this man, our new president, Barack Obama, (I love saying that) has the best chance of uniting so many groups of people in this country. Moreso than any president in my memory, I think he can do this. My hopes are high, and I believe they are well placed. What a night! What a fantastic, wonderful, glorious, historical night!!!!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wishing and Hoping....

Letting Madeline steal our hearts again, and hopefully Obama will steal the election!!!! I am waiting nervously tonight. A tough day for me turned into a really good night. An Obama victory would make this the best day ever!!!


Monday, November 3, 2008

The Privilege to Vote

Even as I have made my political views perfectly clear, I want us all to remember what a privilege we have in being able to elect our leaders and cast our votes. Whatever your political beliefs, it is important to get out, wait in line (no matter how long) and make your voice count. So, if your state didn't have early voting and tomorrow is the big day, or if you didn't make it to early voting, make the time, take the time, do what it takes to VOTE.
I found this piece* from Daily Kos truly informative and powerful, showing people from all over the world waiting in line to vote and highlighting their struggles.

And if tomorrow you are standing in line, trying to decide if you can stand there any longer, or if it is worth it, please remember this: people from all over the world, and people in this country have had to fight for the fundamental right to vote, and standing in line is perhaps the easiest part of everything they've had to do to bring about change.*


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Helen on Elizabeth Dole

If you aren't reading Margaret and Helen, the political blog I mentioned in an earlier post, you should be. I am completely addicted, and love Helen's writing.
As I think most everyone has been, I was appalled by Elizabeth Dole's most recent political ad. I have to say--and this is a huge statement--this ad is the worst, most horrible attack ad I have ever seen produced in any race on the county, state or national level. I post it here, along with Campbell Brown's pointed (and excellent) commentary. This is a new low in politics--and that is a low place, my friends. If you are using Bill O'Reilly in your ads in a supposed effort to HELP you, I think that alone is a sad place to be. We need separation of church and state in the first place, but since that seems unlikely, hitting below the belt here in the very religious south is just dirty. Frankly, I don't want to hear ANYTHING about religion (or lack of) in ANY ads. I know that makes me a minority, but, oh well.
It looks like this is going to backfire on Dole, and I hope so. I will let Helen do the (rest of the) talking for me. This is her post about it:

Elizabeth Dole Just Started a Jihad

(Seven Posts in Seven Days - Day 6)

Now folks of all the things that have scared me this year in politics, one of the worst was learning that Sarah Palin declared the war in Iraq to be a task from God. Just do a little research on the history of religious wars and see how you feel about that. They tend to be long, bloody, and in every case, the biggest loser is God.

So I have spent more than a few hours writing about my less than warm feelings about Ms. Palin. But as of today the worst person in politcs is not Sarah Palin. It is Elizabeth Dole who ran an ad suggesting that her opponent is godless. Nevermind that her opponent, Kay Haggan, is a Sunday school teacher and an elder in her church. Nevermind that calling someone “Godless” leads to jets flying into skyscrapers. Nevermind any of that. Just follow this argument to its logical conclusion. Quick somebody, throw Haggan into a lake and see if she floats!

There is a reason that separation of church and state exists in the founding documents of our great nation. Our founding fathers were all too familiar with living in a world of religious prosecution just as much as they understood the ramifications of a government without religion. The solution is a government that allows both freedom for religion and freedom from religion. Smart bunch of guys those founding fathers.

A bit of history (I wasn’t there despite how old I seem to you): On September 17, 1787 the Constitutional Convention came to a close in the Assembly Room of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although seventy individuals were chosen to attend the meetings, ultimately only thirty-nine actually signed the Constitution. George Mason of Virginia, Edmund Randolph of Virginia, and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts refused to sign the final document primarily because they were fearful of an all-powerful government and wanted a bill of rights added to protect the rights of the people. We owe a great deal to these men.
But today, Elizabeth Dole has spit on all of their graves.

It’s not pretty, but it’s almost over. Go vote. Thanks for stopping by. I mean it. Really.


Not Much Longer...(thank God)


Saturday, November 1, 2008

A few smiles, the election, and worry, of course

I have really been struggling this week, but I have to admit that picture of Madeline put a smile on my face. Matt (from Matt, Liz and Madeline--his blog) posted her Halloween pictures yesterday. Who couldn't smile at that??? I saved that photo on my desktop. I don't think I have seen anything that cute in a long time.
Even with everything going on, I did make it to vote this week. We have early voting in NC, and this also made me smile:

It's kind of a lousy picture, I only had my phone with me, but I was so heartened to see the large turnout for voting. This is such an important election, and I am glad to see people getting out and making their vote count. I had to wait two hours, but I think the lines will be much longer on election day. I would have waited longer, happily. NC is going to be a battleground state, and I think you all know where I stand on these issues. I am so hopeful about this election and that Obama could make a positive impact. After the last eight years, hopefully, HOPEFULLY voters have learned something.
And on another note, I have some huge worries for work and just my life on Monday. I don't normally ask directly, but please send good vibes my way. Thanks for all of the support.



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