Sunday, February 27, 2011

Must. Pick. Up. Dry. Cleaning.

What is the longest you've left something at the dry cleaners?  I drive past my dry cleaners twice a day.  On the way to work and on the way home.  The ticket is in the cup holder in my car to serve as a reminder. It is my cream silk blouse with ruffles.  I iron, but I cannot get the wrinkles out of that silk blouse. 
A guy that I went to high school with owns a dry cleaners.  He had a guy leave a brown leather coat there for a year.  After a year had passed, my friend started to wear the coat.  That was when the owner of the coat returned to claim said coat.  My friend had to clean it again before he returned it to the rightful owner.
Do you take clothing to the dry cleaners?  There was a time in my life when my dry cleaning bill was one of my biggest bills.  I worked in advertising and lived in suits.  I wore suits daily.  Thank goodness those days are behind me.  As a rule, I try not to buy clothes that need to be dry cleaned, but I am drawn to linen, cotton and silk.  I always joke that the way that you know that linen is linen is because it is wrinkled. 
Everyone that knows me knows that I iron.  My ironing board is set up all the time.  Usually with a  stack of clothes sitting on it.  I find ironing soothing.  The hiss of the steam smoothing out all that is wrong.  People tease me about ironing.  I like to be pressed and fixed.  If a collar is crooked or there is a wrinkle down the front of what I am wearing, it makes me crazy.  I ironed for an hour or more today in preparation of the upcoming work week.  I am an extreme ironer, but not like this: 
No, I don't ride my board this way.

Um, yeah. 

Is this for real?
Do you iron?  Do you take things to the dry cleaners?  If so, what is the longest you've ever left anything?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shop Girl

I just finished watching the DVD of the 2005 movie, Shop Girl.  The movie was produced after Steve Martin wrote the novella by the same name.  It is hard to imagine that the same "wild and crazy guy" wrote such a sensitive story.
In the movie, Ray Porter, played by Steve Martin, is an older man who goes after a younger woman - Mirabelle, played by Claire Danes.  Who wouldn't want to go out with Claire Danes?  Doesn't she have the most beautiful mouth? 
Martin's character claims that from the beginning of the relationship he is straight up with Mirabelle, telling her that he doesn't really want anything.  Of course, typically female, Mirabelle doesn't hear him say that to her.  She gives herself over to him with her whole heart.  And then she is shocked, hurt and disillusioned when she finally realizes that he doesn't love her.  Then Martin's character is surprised to learn that maybe he really did love her, but of course it is too late and Mirabelle has moved on with a man who gives himself over to her with his whole heart.
The man who wore the bunny ears, wore the arrow through his head, sang King Tut has some kind of unusual effeminate feelings deep down inside.  In the book, Shop Girl, he writes with the voice of a woman with a tone that rings true.  To this woman, anyway.  Somewhere deep inside the outer shell of insanity, there is a man who plays banjo, collects art and continues to write.  He has a new book coming out and I can't wait to read it. 
The movie Shop Girl made me cry.  I've been the woman loved by the man who didn't quite love enough.  I was the woman who gave my heart over completely believing that in the end, I would have the man.  He held himself back, tied to money and a past life that he couldn't break away from.  He is the one that haunts me.  The one that I see the back of his head and quicken my step or drive a little faster just to catch the face and see that it isn't him.  He stands at the edge of my dreams, observing even in my subconscious.  Movies, lines, words, scents, songs all bring him hurling back to me.  Victimized, I am attacked by memories that I do not invite.  I cannot push the memories away.  They wash over me, hurting me all over again.  I've heard that he is with someone else now.  A younger woman.  I imagine she thinks he hung the moon.  Or, maybe she is independent enough, hip enough, cool enough that she can handle someone who doesn't give himself over and who is still tied to his old life.  I am not that hip or cool.  Do I haunt him?  Do I appear in his dreams?  Does he imagine that he sees me only to realize that it isn't me?  I do not know.  I just know that all of what we had back then or what I thought we had back then is nothing, now.   Sometimes that is still unbelievable to me.  People reading may wonder who he was.  Some probably think it is my children's father.  It does not matter who he was.
I'm just glad that I am not the one that is with him now.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Help

One of my earliest memories was sitting on the floor in front of the television while my parents watched the evening news.  Every evening, there would be a report of how many lives had been lost in the Vietnam War that day.  Walter Cronkite's voice would drone on, there would be some film footage or what impressed me the most- a chart with lives lost depicted through stick man figures.  And what I remember was sometimes there would be a half of a stick man.  The stick men probably represented numbers such as ten or twenty, but I always wondered about that half man who had lost his life.  Why would I think of such things?  I was born in October of 1958.  I was very young.  As I said, it was one of my earliest memories.  (My daughter likes to tell people "my mom was born in the fifties."  I always retort "the late 50's.")
The Help is set in 1962.  So many situations that Kathryn Stockett writes about I recall being played out on our black and white television set.  One example was Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech and the march on Washington in 1963.  It gives me cold chills to this day.  How thrilling.
Stockett grew up in Jackson, Mississippi where the characters in her story also live.  Stockett was raised by a nanny named Demetrie, who she was very close to.  Demetrie was her comfort.  It was Demetrie who builds up her self-esteem.  There is a similar character in the story named Aibileen.  The protagonist mirrors Stockett's life in many ways.  I adore the protagonist whose nick-name is "Skeeter."  She has incredibly curly hair and fights to straighten it.  I can relate to that as well.  In the photos with the movie trailer, Skeeter's character is pictured wearing what we called (in the 70's) "orange juice can" rollers.  Some women rolled their hair with actual orange juice cans.  My rollers were pink and I probably wore them (a head full- even to sleep in) from 1974 or 1975 until the early 80's.  At some point in time there was a hairdryer with a brush attached that I was able to straighten my hair with and I think that was when I gave up my big pink rollers. 
On Kathryn Stockett's website under discussion questions she asks "do you think racism is inherent or taught?"  That is the old nurture versus nature question.  I feel racism is a learned trait.  It may run so deep in a family or a geographical area that it is all someone might ever know any different.
I grew up in the shadow of racism.  I never went to school with an African American until I was in the 7th grade.  There were not any black families in my part of town until I was in high-school.  I remember hearing people use the "n" word.  People in my own family using the "n" word.  I despise that word.  In high school one of my best friends was a young black (in the years I grew up we would say "blacks and whites") man named Clyde Smith.  He was in band and choir with us and we would have so much fun.  Whenever there was an opportunity to dance, I wanted to dance with Clyde.  Because of the part of Indiana that my Dad was raised up in, (and the time) he was very concerned about my friendship with Clyde.  But everyone loved Clyde.  (Sadly, Clyde is now deceased.)
In the town that I grew up in Indiana, there were not a lot of race issues that I recall.  I grew up in New Castle and most African American families were like white families.  There wasn't a lot of difference or problems.  I remember the African American families in my home town to be "fine" families with outstanding children and people who made a difference in the community.  Or, that is the way that I remember it. 
There were two towns nearby, Muncie and Anderson that had a lot more race issues.  And I suppose Indianapolis had a fair share of race issues.  The KKK was still active then.  The clan continued to have rallies in my hometown when my children were little and on days that I was aware there was a clan rally, I would take my children and we would head out of town.  I didn't even want to be in the same town where such awful things were going on. 
I grew up hearing my paternal Grandma use the word "colored" whenever she spoke of a black person.  I would always tease her and say "what color were they, Grandma?"  Whenever she would grow weary of my asking her that she would scold me and say "Now Cheryl Kay, Grandma had some very good friends that were colored people!"  My paternal Grandma was a cook and worked with women who were  "colored."  My maternal Grandma was a farm wife.  They worked a large farm and had "farm hands."  I don't ever remember her mentioning any African Americans.  She was a little more higher class than my maternal Grandma.  (Again, that is how I remember it.)  My paternal Grandma went to church every Sunday and belonged to Home Ec Club.  She would get dressed up and wear necklace and earrings.  In fact, I don't ever remember her wearing pants.  She would mow her lawn in a dress with her stockings rolled around her ankles with sandals.  That doesn't sound very fancy, but she was a little higher class than my maternal Grandma. 
I have long suspected that somewhere in our family line, we are related to African Americans.  In the area of the state that my Dad's family is from, there are African Americans that share our last name.  My mother tells me that when I was a little girl, I was black.  She called me her little blackberry.  She said whenever we were out in public and she would have me by the hand, she would get strange looks like "what is that white woman doing with a black child?" I have always had a very dark complexion.  I never experienced a sunburn until I was sixteen years old.  That year the tops of my shoulders burned and I wondered what it was.  My skin was natually dark (especially in the summer) and my hair has always been nappy.  I joke about life before mousse.  I was in my twenties before I knew about mousse.  My hair was thick and bushy like a brillo pad.  I remember as a young girl they would thin it in an effort to get it to settle down.  I also didn't know about using a pick and would use a hairbrush on it and that would just make it fuzzier and bigger.  Once I learned about using a pick and how much better it was, I threw out my hair brush.  To this day, my hair is either straight (now I used a two inch barrel curling iron or a flat iron to straighten it) or I wear it curly- "natural." My son has inherited the curls and wore an afro in his senior picture. He has the most beautiful curls and he always told me that I did too much to my hair.  He is probably right. 
Every person that I've encountered who has read The Help loved it.  It is one of those books that you hate to see end.  As you can tell, for me, it stirred up a lot of memories of my growing up years.  If any of my readers or followers have memories they would like to share, I would love to hear them.
The movie will be released in August of this year.  Photos and information found here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

When I am not at my desk

At work, when I am not at my desk,
I post a sign to inform others as to my where-abouts. 
I might be at lunch.
 Downstairs.  (I work on the second floor.)
 I might be in a meeting. 
 I showed these to dug the evening I made them and he said
"wouldn't you hate to be in a meeting with those people!"
 And my favorite informative sign (take that to mean whatever you decide)...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Spring time inspiration

I went to Lola Rue recently seeking out a bit of springtime inspiration and look what I found!  I love going into Lola Rue and visiting with Lisa.
  We talk, talk, talk, talk, talk!
 She is so positive and cheerful and encouraging!
A kitchen hand towel by Anna Marie Horner.  Anna Marie.  Swoon.  I was first drawn to the towel  and the bright colors and sweet bird  (love birds) and then I saw the tag and the voice in my head said:  "Must. Have." 
Anna Marie is so adorable.  She has lots of beautiful children and still manages to be so together and successful and beautiful.  I wish she would give lessons on that!  I'm amazed and mesmerized by her! 
What little bit of springtime have you managed to bring home? 
***before you ask...I photographed the towel over the back of my paternal grandma's sewing rocker.  I know.  Great piece of furniture. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Improving my outlook on life

The temperature was fifty-five degrees today and someone got a wild hair and decided to wash the vehicles.  Including mine!  First of all, it isn't much like him to wash a vehicle at all- and I believe this is the first time he has EVER washed mine.  I think spring fever hit him.

 It was difficult for me not to try to tell him how to do it.  I managed to keep my mouth shut. 
My Honda is an '03, but she still cleans up very nicely.  It has been so nasty weather-wise with snow and ice and freezing temperatures that my car had not been washed in months.   I cleaned the interior- vacuuming and cleaning the windows on the inside.  Whoever thought of putting black velvet-like interior in a car never dreamed of having a Corgi riding shotgun.  If she is in my car one time- even if I put a towel or sheet in beforehand, there is hair everywhere.  And how do the windows get dirty on the inside when I haven't had the windows down, there are no children with fingerprints, usually it is just me.  I love it when my car windows are clean and the sun shines in. 
Afterward we took Chelsea out to the trail (in his truck- not my just cleaned car) and we walked five miles.  We ran into two other Corgis on the trail!  We've seen them before but not for a long time.  Interesting how some Corgis look so different.  They had one tri-color like Chelsea but she was so fluffy and had such long hair.  I can't imagine.  Chelsea's coat is bad enough.  Has the spring shed started?  I think so. 
So between washing my car and cleaning the windows and taking a nice long walk in the sunshine, my outlook on life greatly improved today.  I hope you had a sunny day, too!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Winter Wren

duvet cover, pillow shams
My daughter, the wonderful gift-giver, gave me a down-filled comforter for my birthday in October.  I've been wanting to show you this duvet cover that I bought from West Elm.  It was not expensive.  The best part is, it isn't the kind of material that corgi hair adhers to. 


close up of wren
I've never had a down filled comforter.  Can you believe that?  It is about time.  We sleep on a heated mattress pad.  Between the heated mattress pad and the comforter, we call it the heat sandwich. 
If you haven't looked at West Elm, do so.  It rocks. 
How do you like to sleep?  Do you have a heat pad or a comforter?  How do you stay warm? 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Quick and easy pizza

I love pizza. nom, nom, nom.  I think I could eat pizza every day.  I always see the scales go up a little when I eat pizza, so I try to only eat it once a week.  This week I decided that I would make pizza for us for Super Bowl Sunday.  What is wrong with that phrase..."Super Bowl Sunday?"  Why can't it be Super Bowl Saturday?  I mean, if you want me to come to your house for a party (or host a party), it needs to be on a Saturday and not on Sunday when I have to get up at six a.m. because I have to work the next morning. O.k., now that I have that out of my system...
I usually make crust with Chef Boyardee pizza crust mix.  But because we went to the store so late on Saturday and they were wiped out- I bought a thin pre-made crust.  I had never bought this brand before...called "Mama Mary's."  It said "made with honey" and I thought it was a good tasting crust. 
First I brown the sausage in the microwave.  I like Jimmy Dean sausage.  I used one package, which I don't even think is a pound anymore.  I cook it four minutes at a time and stir and break it up with a fork then put it back in, repeating three or four times.  Then I drain my sausage and pat with a paper towel to get any remaining grease out.  Then I set it aside to cool.

browned sausage
Normally this is where I would say something about putting the crust on the pizza stone.  But I can't say that because MY PIZZA STONE IS MISSING!  Doug and I turned the kitchen upside down, but could not find my Pampered Chef pizza stone.  So I made this pizza on foil over a baking rack and the foil stuck a little.  I used a pastry brush and put a little olive oil in a small bowl and brushed it over the crust.  I love olive oil.
crust brushed with olive oil
I used store brand pizza sauce and spread it over the crust with the back of a tablespoon.  I am right handed and it was difficult to take this picture of me spreading sauce with my right hand while using my left hand to push the button on the camera, so I hope you appreciate this photo.

spreading pizza sauce on the crust
Then I sprinkled canned Parmesan cheese over the pizza sauce. 
pizza sauce topped with Parmesan
 Then lots of pepperoni.
 Then I spread the cooked sausage over the pepperoni.  Then sprinkled basil and oregano over that.  The pizza sauce had some spices in it, but I like a lot.
sausage on top of pepperoni
 Then I used two small cans of mushrooms.  It would probably taste better to use fresh mushrooms, but I used canned.  I like to call mushrooms fungus.  I like to say "there is a fungus among us."
 Then top with cheese.  I used four cheese Italian.  Almost two cups.
 Preheat oven to 450 degrees then bake ten to twelve minutes at 425.  Because your crust and sausage are already cooked, you are really only heating all of the ingredients thoroughly and melting the cheese.
ready to eat?
I usually make my home made pizza in my cake pan and make it deep dish style.  This pizza made up a little faster but was very good.  It would probably taste better with fresh ground Parmesan and fresh mushrooms, and cooked on a PIZZA STONE, but this was quick, easy and tasty.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Saturday morning

I love to go out to breakfast on the weekend, don't you?  We woke to more snow.  Doug hustled out and shoveled our drive.  We live on a hill an have a big, long drive.
  Then we headed to "the spoon." 
"they dined on mince and slices of quince which they ate with a runcible spoon."
 I love the blonde mocha which is a mexican coffee and the mimosas by the pitcher.
a pitcher of mimosas and a blonde mocha
 I love living in a college town.  It is so interesting.  The young men to my right were speaking in a language which I didn't understand.  The women at the next table seemed to be a professor and a student.  I love watching people.  The young woman and the older woman, who I imagined to be a professor, were both so beautiful and seemed to be having such an interesting conversation- I wanted to join them.  Do you watch people like that and imagine what their line of work is, if they are single or married or any manner of imaginings?  It is so fun.
to my right
 This pic of Doug- such concentration.  Or maybe he just couldn't see.  
Doug scowls

a chair on the porch

this is where we sit when it is warm
 Then we went next door to Boxcar Books.  Boxcar Books is ran by volunteers.  When we went into the store, there was a young lady out front- shoveling the walk.  She said "let me know if you need any help."  Who just lets you go into a store and trusts you not to rip them off? 
There is a public bathroom inside with lots of posters and information.  There is a sign instructing you not to "poo."  Apparently, the toilet will overflow if you "poo."  There was a big chalkboard with lots of chalk in the bathroom.  In pink chalk I wrote "no poo, no ew."  I thought that was a good contribution.
next door to the spoon

in the front yard of Boxcar
 Because Doug and I were the only ones in the store, for some reason it occurred to me to to make an artistic statement and I asked Doug to take the photo of me, below.  I thought it was funny.  But I'm a little strange different that way, sometimes

too many mimosas!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day, 2011.  Despite the fact that the university didn't close, I chose to stay home today.  Doug works for the city and he was told to stay home.  No one was on the roads.  Initially, classes were to begin at 10 a.m. and then 1 p.m.  I didn't have cable or Internet until late in the day, so I felt out of touch.  We lost a limb on a tree in the back yard, last night.  I heard it crash to the ground with the sound of breaking glass.  That was the extent of the injuries.  I piddled and putzed today. 
I did hear that Punxsutawney Phil didn't see his shadow. 
 Jennifer came over and we watched the 1993 movie Groundhog Day. Bill Murray plays Phil Conners, TV weatherman.  Andie MacDowell plays his producer, Rita.  Chris Elliott plays Larry his cameraman. 
Groundhog Day movie
Murray plays a man stuck in the same day.  Living it over and over, at first he decides he can do what ever he wants to do without any consequences.
No regrets!
He asks a couple of guys that he is bowling with "what would you do if basically your life was the same, day after day?"  Basically, that is life.  It is up to us what we do with it.  How we change it up.  How we choose to affect others.
In the movie, he kidnaps the groundhog and lets it drive.  He is telling it "don't drive angry."  To me, this seems like a good philosophy.  
"don't drive angry"

If you haven't seen the movie, you should do so.  I bought it at Target for $5.00.  (Not an endorsement for Target.)  It is worth $5.00 to watch it once a year.  You need to see how Phil finally breaks the spell.  It does have to do with making the most of this life we are given. 
I know that whenever I'm in a rut, I try to look up and around and see how I might better the life of someone around me.  If you've seen this movie, tell me what you think.  If not, tell me how you spent your Groundhog Day. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Indiana weather report

Got up this morning and made coffee and muffins.  Waited around for the university to close.  (The university never closes.)  So, I went to work.  It was like a tomb, so I got a lot of work done.  The city closed down at noon unless you were essential.  As Doug is a lab tech in water quality, he was considered non-essential.  Because of that, I was able to come home to a warm house with a fire burning.
my car after work
sur la terre

encrusted tree in town
 My car-clearing technique includes heat running full-blast and the rear window defrost on.  I sat there revving my car in an effort to speed up the process.
driver's side window
In all fairness, maybe a quarter of an inch of ice.
before I thawed/scraped
 It took me a couple of stops before I got the hang of it.  My ABS was going crazy.
ice every where

 After that, I was overly-cautious and arrived safe and sound without mishap.  Then I wandered about taking some photos of the frozen tundra.
woods at home


more ice covered

fence and foilage

rear of dug's truck

more rear.  note moisture on lens
  I've been kind of bummed lately.  If you've been bummed, too, raise your hand.  I was going to stop at the grocery (again) today and had "flowers" on my list.  Doug stopped for a few things this afternoon and he told me "I have a surprise for you."  I hoped it was flowers and it was.  I love flowers.
On the table when I got home.  Good boy!
We had spagetti for supper and the lights were flickering.  It was "hurry, hurry, hurry get supper done" and "hurry, hurry, hurry down-load photos" and "hurry, hurry, hurry to post!"  We have a fireplace and can cook, sleep, stay near for warmth- but I hope we get to keep our lights on. 
So many states are affected by this storm system.  Wherever you are, give me a shout-out.  I hope you are warm and safe and dry.  This has been your Indiana weather report.  Over and out.

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