Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Always The Way ...

So, I popped over to Goodwill this afternoon, looking for props.

I have another cookie in mind, and June is almost here, and I try to not be repetitive with the props in my photographs. Goodwill is an awesome source. I never know what I'm going to find.

Today, I ended up buying three very disparate items, and none of them for the upcoming shoot, but I'm a sucker for a fluted bowl, I liked the shimmery metallic dude, and the tile? Could he be more charming?

And if you're wondering, no, there is no mark on the back of it. This will not be one of those stories. You will not see me on "Antiques Roadshow" someday – if it's still even on – saying, "I found this tile at Goodwill. It was seventy-five cents," only to have some dapper British gentleman inform me that it's Rookwood or some such and worth two thousand dollars. No, I just bought him because I like him.

Here he is hanging out with some other pottery friends. He feels more at home in this vignette.

Yes, he's a he.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Comedy And Tragedy ...

Oh, Melania, how do you stomach it?

That's what was going through my head tonight, watching Rachel Maddow pull no punches about the complete idiocy that is Romney's alliance with Trump.

As a woman, just a few months younger than me, Melania, how do you put up with such a sorry excuse for a man?

Yes, he's rich. I've read about the gold-plated seat belts on his latest airplane.

But is it worth it? To be married to the man who sat at the White House Correspondents' Dinner last year and was ridiculed, deservedly so, by the president of the United States? Was it possible to have any respect for your husband after that night?

Was it ever possible to have any respect for him at all?

Here's the thing about the Trump absurdity as it spewed forth from every media outlet today: It's funny. It's laugh-lest-you-cry funny.

Here's the other thing about the Trump absurdity as it spewed forth from every media outlet today: It's heartbreaking. Not for Donald, of course. He's soaking up the attention like a free spray-on tan.

But for the GOP. And for this country.

The Grand Old Party is a lot of things these days, but it sure as hell ain't grand.

And truly, what does it say about the United States of America, magnificent country that we are, that the Republican nominee for the presidency is in Las Vegas tonight glad-handing alongside Donald Trump for a measly couple of million bucks?

This is what the Republican party has come to, and as much as I despise a lot of what the party stands for – if you can call some of the low blows it's landing of late "standing" – wow, I can't help but feel some pity along with my scorn.

Can anyone, honestly, see Mitt Romney as president in any scenario? I can't. Maybe you can.

But can anyone, honestly, see Mitt Romney as president in a true leadership and diplomatic capacity? Can anyone, honestly, picture Mitt addressing the United Nations and being taken at all seriously?

Of course not. Because Mitt, as of tonight, the night he clinched the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States of America, is now fixed firmly in the world's mind as the guy standing next to Donald Trump, the "bloviating ignoramus" of our time.

There's a bit of glee in it for me, that the GOP is so far gone, so pathetic, so nuts, that its nominee for the presidency has prostrated himself at Donald Trump's feet, and has proven himself so craven in his bid for 50.1 percent of the vote.

But there is much more sadness. Whither statesmanship? Whither honor?

This is the campaign for the presidency of the United States.

And the GOP has reduced its role in it to a freak show.

Monday, May 28, 2012

'Then Again' ...

I knew I wanted to read it but I didn't know what to expect.

It had been on my list of books to read, the list I keep on index cards in my wallet, and Angelo recommended it and his opinion is surely sound, but then I saw her on Colbert recently and I wondered if she was drunk. There's "flighty" and then there's "downright strange."

But "Annie Hall" is one of my all-time favorite films, and so odds were good that I was going to like Diane Keaton's book. I checked it out of the library. It is in extraordinary shape. I wondered if I was the first.

I started it and then set it aside. Rare is the book that I read without interruption anymore. I blame this machine.

But I picked it up again the other day and then set it down, but only long enough to retrieve the pad of sticky notes from my office. For there, on page 43, was something worth flagging:

"I always thought I'd be crushed by people who didn't buy into me. But I wasn't."

And then, 13 pages later, this:

"I'm still the dumbest person alive. One apparently does not grow out of stupidity."

She wrote that while she was in the company of "Hair."

Clearly, early success had not gone to her head.

Nor did success that came later. Of winning the Academy Award for "Annie Hall," Keaton writes: "I knew I didn't deserve it." Of the fame it brought to her, she wrote: "I wasn't prepared for the discomfort—or, rather, the guilt—that came with it."

Guilt?

Fascinating.

Turns out, her memoir is amazingly well written. There are passages that are truly beautiful. Speaking of her relationship with Al Pacino, she writes:

"One night—my favorite—I listened to him tell me about being a kid on the street. He loved the fall and how the shadows amplified the broken-down brownstones. He told me the world would always be that street in the Bronx. Every beautiful thing was compared to those days, with the light shining its gold on his friends and the street. Always the street. I listened."

And there are phrases like this: "... Dexter has stolen his waffle .... ."

How can you not be charmed?

And I loved her description of family: "One day you end up having spent your life with a handful of people. I did. I have a family—two, really. Well, three if you think about it. There are my siblings, and there are my children, but I also have an extended family. The people who stayed. The people who became more than friends; the people who open the door when I knock. That's what it all boils down to. The people who have to open the door, not because they always want to but because they do."

It is a beautiful portrait of her and her mother, of trying to understand who she is, who her mother was, and who they were to each other. The fact that her life has been punctuated with relationships with Woody Allen and Warren Beatty and Al Pacino is fascinating but incidental. This is not a book about Keaton and her leading men and luckless loves. But they do contribute to the portrait of a woman who exemplifies that even a life as seemingly enviable as hers offers no guarantees. Fame and fortune may be tickets to grand homes and expensive cars but self-awareness has no price tag.

Diane Keaton hasn't figured out a lot about herself, but she proceeds, figuring it out as she goes.

"What is perfection, anyway? It's the death of creativity, that's what I think, while change, on the other hand, is the cornerstone of new ideas."

Don't Mess With A Classic ...

I am a potato-salad purist. No fancy ingredients. No mustard, please. Potato, green pepper, celery, onion, egg, Miracle Whip, and mayo.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Color Rant ...

I just have to get this off my chest:

I. Hate. Kelly. Green.

I hate it. I really hate it. It pisses me off, kelly green. It offends me. It ... ooh, grr.

And I don't know why.

I love the color green. I love it. I have many shades of it in my home. I have many shades of it outside my home. (Trees are predictable like that. Grass, too.) I buy green clothes. I just recently bade farewell – yes, bade, dammit – to my favorite green sweatshirt.

The only instances in which I can abide kelly green are related to food. Well, if you count green LifeSavers as food. Which you shouldn't. And neither should I. There was a time when I liked Green River, but now I think that's disgusting, too.

So, basically, there exists almost no moment in my life nor place in my psyche in which I can abide kelly green.

Which is why I was on the verge last night of shouting at my television like I was channeling Lewis Black when I saw a makeover of a bedroom and they painted it kelly green.

I wanted to pick up the phone and call the person I know who knows the person who selected the color and tell him to tell him to go back in time and choose something else. Anything. Any other shade of green.

Because no one wants to live in a kelly-green room. And if they say they do, I will think they are lying. Because no one should want to live in a room like this.

This is not the room I saw on TV. I didn't even bother looking for the room I saw on TV. I never want to see that room again. That room pisses me off.

I can't explain it. I have no idea why I hate one specific hue in a color I otherwise love. It's not too yellow. It's not too blue. It is smack-dab, hardcore, right-in-the-middle, as-pure-as-green-gets green.

And I freakin' hate it.

And I hate that I saw a blog espousing the virtues of kelly green and the woman included a picture of Granny Smith apples!

Granny Smith apples aren't kelly green, you dolt. You can't spout off about how much you love kelly green if you don't understand the color that is the color kelly green.

Seriously, kids, keep me the hell away from kelly green. It's a trigger to a bad scene.

Though I will still happily accept the green Chuckle.

I guess the green Chuckle is the one exception to the rule.

But don't even talk to me about Fruit Stripe gum.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

To Be Clear ...

I read this post and my breath caught in my chest.

What a remarkable young girl. What remarkable parents she must have, to have raised her to be able to be so clear and so mature about what she needs. And yet even her mother was struck by the simplicity and straightforwardness of her child, in emotional pain, saying, "Mom, I need a lot of love to get me through this."

Those words make me cry.

Because who of us haven't been in that exact place, where life feels overwhelming yet we're unable to ask for what we need?

I've surely been there. In recent years, I've been there quite a lot. Sudden deaths of those I love exacted a large toll. Anticipated deaths, as well. Parents in the hospital at the same time sapped my strength, more emotionally than physically, but physically, too.

And I've been very fortunate. I am very fortunate. In the wake of loss, in a sea of stress, friends and family rallied. Mom delivered countless meals. So many formed a continuum of caring, gestures large to small, all appreciated equally. From dinners out, to get me out of the house, to flowers to sympathy cards to emails to IMs to texts, all of them carrying the same message: I'm thinking of you.

Oh, how they buoyed me then.

One person was conspicuously absent and while I know I should not have let his absence affect me so deeply, it did. Our friendship ultimately ended. I did the ending. And in my heart, I know it was the right decision, for many reasons.

But this morning, after reading this post, I wondered what might have been if I had been able to say to him, plainly, "I need a lot of love to get me through this."

Perhaps he would have been able to provide it. Perhaps not. I'll never know.

But what a good lesson for the next time life presents me with an emotional challenge. What a good lesson for us all.

Women are "allowed" to be emotional but some days are more than we can take. On the flip side, men are "expected" to man up and muscle through tough times but, likewise, some days, they must need more than they can muster on their own.

There is much we grown-ups can learn from that young girl.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When In Doubt, Ball Of Twine ...

I've been looking at the intersection of these picture frames forever, thinking I needed something to set them off. Something natural. Something round. Something to soften the lines.

I thought about a croquet ball. At a home store, I paused at a bin of decorative spheres. But I'm not a big fan of anything mass produced.

Then this morning, I glanced up and my brain said, "Twine!"

Yup, twine. Of course.

I have extra twine from a past project. Why not a ball of twine?

I gave myself a head start with a ball of foil, then started wrapping it in twine. When I couldn't see any more foil, I figured I was done.

Yup. Ball of twine.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fare Thee Well, House ...

"House" is over.

I miss it already.

Last week, after the penultimate episode, after the promo for what was to come this week, I let out an unexpected little sob.

"Really, Beth?", I thought to myself.

But then I understood: I wasn't sad for the loss of my favorite TV show.

I was sad for the loss of my favorite TV show because it reminded me of the loss of my friend Dave.

L.A. Dave is the one who turned me on to "House," many years ago. I didn't watch it from the very start. I don't know why.

But Dave knew that I would love it. He was always recommending movies I should see. My Netflix queue grew to unwieldy proportions because of him. Some titles landed in my mailbox. Come on by sometime and I'll hook up the VCR and we can watch "Next of Kin."

Dave would see Hugh Laurie at press events and report back the next day: "Hugh Laurie says 'Hi'!"

Hugh Laurie says "Hi."

I never questioned whether Dave actually told Hugh about me. I don't think Dave possessed the ability to lie.

Hugh, even, is mentioned in the blog post that I wrote the day I found out that Dave died.

So the three of us, we're inextricably linked, in my mind, you see.

And so a farewell to "House" was a bit of a farewell to Dave all over again.

I won't rehash the episode, lest I spoil it for those who haven't seen it. Suffice it to say that the writers did not disappoint.

I will miss my Monday-evening date with my DVR. It was a show like no other.

And one day, perhaps, I'll run into Hugh Laurie on the Santa Monica Pier.

He'll remember Dave, I'm sure.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Life Lesson, Edited For Time ...

I can multitask.

For example, last night, I was lying on my couch and judging the people on the television.

I was watching "House Hunters" – I almost didn't have to mention that part, huh? – and the couple in question was downsizing because the husband lost his job at a bank.

I wasn't judging the job loss. I've been there. It's an awful feeling.

And I wasn't judging the decision to downsize. That is a practical, grown-up response.

I was judging that they were downsizing from a 7,500-square-foot home into about 3,500 square feet.

Oh, poor babies.

I spoke sternly to my television: "Do you know how many people in this world never live in 3,500 square feet? Do you know how many people live six or 10 to a room and are grateful just to have a roof over their heads?"

Clearly, the existence of absurd shows and specials like "Million Dollar Rooms" and "Million Dollar Closets" are getting on my nerves.

They saw three homes, as all couples on "House Hunters" do, and I was sure – sure, sure, sure – that they would pick the third house, because it was the most "done," because it was the most like the space they were leaving behind. "Because they're shallow," I said to my TV.

But no. They picked the first house. Well, knock me over with a feather.

As the doorbell dinged at the end of the show and viewers checked in with them two months later, a little bit of my faith in humanity was restored. They were happy in the new home, they said (and it seemed real, not something a producer instructed them to say), they were closer, they spent more time together. Yup, that'll happen in a smaller space. When each kid doesn't have a cavernous bedroom to call their own, they might actually hang out in the common areas of the house. Yes, even with the renovations they were planning, they were able to find happiness for about $400,000. And they genuinely seemed better for it. Yes, they discovered, home is about being together, not square footage.

Now maybe they can have a chat with the people who think they can't live without a million-dollar closet.

Friday, May 18, 2012

My Cell Phone Is Dumb, And Dumb It Shall Remain ...

Last fall, I wrote a post about my Fisher-Price phone.

I still have it. The hamster that powers it hasn't yet died, so it remains my phone, such as it is.

Oh, sure, I flirt with the idea of a smartphone. Well, not just any smartphone. An iPhone. I am a Mac girl. Period. If I were to go down the smartphone path, the spirit of Steve Jobs would be beside me.

But more and more, I realize that I don't want one.

I never was a cool kid, and smartphones have been around for so long already that owning one will bring me no cool-kid cred. And everywhere I look, most everyone's gaze is fixed to a phone. It's unsettling.

A few days ago, Mark Sisson posted this: "Why We're Missing Out on Real Life." And reading it called to mind too many instances of bad smartphone behavior.

Like the friend I hadn't seen in a year who, over the course of our conversation that lasted maybe two minutes, turned his attention to his phone twice to text or tweet or something. Really, pal? You can't go two minutes without ignoring the person in front of you? Twice?

And like the guy I dated who brought his phone to bed every night. Um, really? You're not a doctor, dude. There will be no middle-of-the-night calls for you to race to the ER and save someone's life. Do you really need to know if someone updates their Facebook status at 2 a.m.?

Also, smartphones remove any chance at plausible deniability. It's pretty hard to find an excuse for not being in touch with someone when you carry a phone-cum-computer in your pocket. Then again, such access does lay bare the truth about a relationship: If someone has 24/7 access to communicating with you and chooses not to, that says a lot, doesn't it?

I spend too much time on my laptop as it is. It's wireless, but I don't tote it with me everywhere I go. Sometimes, even when I'm home, I make myself not check email for an hour or two.

Of course, someday, work may demand that I have such connectivity. And then, I'd relent. But as a civilian, I'm happy with my dumb phone. It's lovable in its decrepitude. And the hamster needs the gig.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Color Quest ...

It all started here.

Which was pinned from here.

Which was taken from here.

I was so smitten with the chairs – I have this obsession with peacock blue, and don't ask me where it came from, because I have no idea – I didn't really notice the wall color until Angelo mentioned that it, too, is pretty swell.

Oh, is it!

I started poking around Benjamin Moore's site (it's the only paint I use) and found this swatch and it looked pretty similar to the inspiration, but who can tell, what with monitor calibrations and all?

So, today, I stopped by the paint store to nab a couple of chips. And I cut out the color I needed and taped them together (to judge the color from a small square not a smaller rectangle) and looked at that chip in relation to the chip of the color in the adjacent room, and you know what?

I really like how they relate to each other.

This photograph doesn't capture the colors exactly, but the Providence Olive swatch on Benjamin Moore's site looks very, very beige. Then again, Providence Olive on the wall in my TV room looks much more green than this, which pleases me.

So, Jack Pine may have to become the color of my office. Just as soon as I get moldings installed to give me a point up to which to paint. My office has a high, angled ceiling. There's no logical place at which to stop painting. Unless I paint the ceiling as well. Which might not be such a bad idea.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Squirrel In Repose ...

Yesterday, I glanced out my dining-room window and saw a squirrel, sitting in the grass. Now, squirrels sit in the grass. This is nothing new. But usually, squirrels sit in the grass briefly, in between bouts of bounding about and scampering up and down trees.

But this squirrel just sat. And he appeared to have his paws folded in front of him. A squirrel in repose. I nabbed my camera and snapped a few frames, uploaded them into my computer, and then snapped some more. Over and over. I even called out to the squirrel, paparazzi style. He continued to sit. Eventually, he made a couple of leaps over to the base of a tree, but then he resumed his pose.

I decided that his name is Felix.

I hope he returns.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mothers' Day ...

Mom's always been really beautiful. Me? Well, I had hair only a mother could love.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Created Equal ...

I know this may come as news to some but the United States is not a theocracy.

That is, the Bible (or any other holy text, for that matter) cannot be used as a justification for enacting laws.

Period.

And to those same people who would attempt to use the Bible as a bludgeon or an exclusionary tool, may I direct your attention to the phrase in the Declaration of Independence, "all men are created equal."

Equal.

As in "not unequal."

It should not anyone's place to vote on whether other citizens should be granted their inalienable rights.

Because they are inalienable rights.

Inalienable.

As in "unable to be taken away."

Except that some people have never had them in the first place.

This week, North Carolina voted not only to ban gay marriage – which was already banned in North Carolina – but also voted to deny a whole lot of rights to a whole lot of people who straight, too, while the very next day, President Obama pronounced his belief that gay people should be able to get married.

And I've watched the volleys on Twitter and Facebook and many sites I read.

And I see a lot of fear.

And I don't understand it.

Love, people. All we're talking about here is love. The right to marry the person you love.* And please, don't make a mockery of this very important discussion by asserting that if we allow gay people to marry that suddenly people will be allowed to marry their dogs, or, as one legislator suggested, marry ice cream.

I've written about this before. I've asked someone – anyone – to explain to me how allowing gay people to marry "weakens the institution of marriage" as seems to be the prevailing "reason" to deny people their rights.

Marriage is plenty weak already, folks. Have you seen the divorce rate?

Yet straight people are allowed to get married and divorced just as many times as they please. Or as many times as their bank accounts will allow.

But gay people aren't allowed to obtain a piece of paper that will make their combined lives easier and better even though many of them have been together for decades.

Any why is that?

No, really, I'm asking.

Why is that?

Because some people think it's "weird"? Or "unnatural"?

What if you were gay? Wouldn't you want to be able to marry the person you love?

What if your child was gay? Wouldn't you want your child to be able to marry the person they love?

Some years ago, an older friend of mine was preparing to go to his daughter's wedding. She was marrying her partner, a woman. And my friend said, "Beth, I don't understand it." And I said, "You don't have to understand it. You just have to love her."

It's that simple.

Everything in the world comes down to love or fear.

Let love prevail.

* Some people may bring up the idea of plural marriage here. But for the purposes of this discussion, I'm focusing on couples.

P.S. For all those who cite the Bible in discriminating against gay people, you have to follow through on all of these points, too.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

When A Fear Comes To Pass ...

My basement flooded.

Not feet of water, thankfully, but any water is too much water inside a home.

Especially if that part of the home is carpeted. And drywalled. And finished with lovely oak baseboards. And open to the main floor of the house. I can't just close a door.

We had extreme weather move through, dropping many inches of rain in the span of a few hours. Too much water, too fast. Storm drains couldn't keep up.

I have confronted this possibility before. Hoses and pumps and generators have been involved. And each time, I managed to stay ahead of the crisis.

But not this time.

The water started coming and despite the valiant assistance of my lovely neighbors, there was nothing we could do.

What fascinated me, though, was that once I had resigned myself to what was happening, I felt surprisingly OK. I had feared this happening, and now it was happening, and I was still here. I was fortunate, even. Natural disasters continue to mount. So many have lost their homes, have lost all their belongings, have lost loved ones.

In comparison, what was water?

Just a nuisance, really.

And so I wondered what it was I should do, as the rain continued. I couldn't sleep. I was too amped up on adrenaline and I was dirty, besides. I couldn't take a shower. I didn't want to add to the water issue. I couldn't do anything requiring power, as we had lost power partway through the storm.

So I changed into some dry clothes, put on my robe, covered the couch in the living room with some towels (my hair was wet from the rain), and tried to rest for a while.

I dozed on and off. For about two hours.

I had to be out of the house for most of yesterday, so one of the lovely neighbors came by to be here while the plumber did what he needed to do, and now the clean-up team is here, sucking water out of my carpet and installing industrial-strength dehumidifiers and doing their best to make things right again.

So while I hope to never have another such occurrence, I'm strangely glad to have finally dealt with something I'd hoped I'd never have to face. Because it is yet another reminder that I am capable of dealing with whatever comes my way. It is also yet another reminder that I have amazing family and friends who leap into action at a moment's notice and help me with whatever needs to be done.

Soggy basement and all, I am grateful.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

On The Importance Of Introductory And Parting Thoughts...

Yesterday, my friend Patti Digh returned to her alma mater on the 30th anniversary of her graduation to deliver the commencement address.

She was honored, as you can imagine anyone would be, to be invited to impart one of the last lessons the graduates would learn.

Reading her address yesterday reminded me that I had no recollection of who spoke at my college graduation. A visit to my university's web site this morning to ascertain that information made me laugh: There was no one listed for the year I graduated. Maybe I had no recollection because no one spoke. But if someone did, they were entirely forgettable, as evidenced by the fact that I have forgotten them entirely. I can only surmise that nothing profound was said that day. Nothing that felt profound to me, anyway.

And so as I read my way through Patti's address last night, I was very mindful of the good fortune of yesterday's Guilford graduates. What if someone like Patti had spoken at my graduation? Would I have been mature enough that day to truly absorb the importance of what I was hearing? I'd like to think so. But then again, I was only 21, and for as much as I thought I knew that day, I know now that I knew next to nothing.

You should absolutely take the time to read her remarks in their entirety, but allow me to comment on a couple of moments that struck a chord:

The verbs we live – that is, the actions we take – create the landscape of our lives. The verbs we live, the actions we take, the story we frame over those actions – all those things together create the structure of our land – those valleys and mountains of our atlas of experience. And like any hike up any mountain or through any landscape, the process is messy while you’re in it, and there is just no way you can see a clear path, not until you’re finished. So it is okay to be lost. That is what I’m telling you. It’s okay to be lost and not know – because that’s what learning is, that’s what life is.

Truly, these words would have altered the course of my life. I've no doubt.

It's okay to be lost and not know – because that's what learning is ... .

It's okay to be lost and not know.

I have spent all of my adult life in search of that knowing. I am just now, in the past year or two, figuring it out. As much as I can figure out any of it. A good number of my days, from that day 'til this, have been spent wondering what was wrong with me, watching nearly everyone I knew and know go about their lives with what appeared to be a sense of assuredness and wondering why it eluded me.

Patti is one of the people in my life who models for me that there is another way to live beyond what is "expected" of us. In some ways, her life is "typical" – she is married, she has kids – but in many ways, her life is remarkable to me.

And I wonder if she knows that that is how she is perceived. (I know that I am not alone in my appreciation of her.) And I wonder if she sees her own life as we perceive it to be.

I expect not, not entirely, because I don't know if anyone is capable of feeling inside what is witnessed from outside, but on the other hand, I hope so, too. Because that would be a good feeling to feel.

And so, I hope that everybody reads her words, be they college grads just starting out or those much further down their paths, because I can't imagine that any of us couldn't use a little reassurance.

Another passage that truly struck me was this:

Don’t feel panicked if you don’t know what that dream is yet. It is like those old roadside signs that used to spell out an advertisement one sign at a time as you went down the highway. While you’re navigating the landscape, the atlas of your life, the signs will come to you one by one. The way they connect isn’t known until you get to the last sign. The map is only complete when you stand at the final page of the atlas.

I have spent an absurd amount of time trying to chart a course that, turns out, has always been unknowable to me. Because it is unknowable to us all.

Which is as it should be, unsettling as that may sometimes seem.

But as E.L. Doctorow once said: "Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Makes Beth Happy, May 5 ...

The Makes-Beth-Happy Word of the Day is:

Bucket!
Specifically, a bucket of pulled pork. As with everything in life, context is key. Bucket of sand? Not funny. Bucket of pulled pork? Funny!

The Makes-Beth-Happy Recipe of the Day is:

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Because you'll need pulled pork for your bucket. Frankly, this recipe seems like too much effort – I'd just use a good off-the-shelf barbecue sauce – but I really liked the image, so sharing the link was the right thing to do.

And the Makes-Beth-Happy Objet of the Day is:

Vintage London Clock

I love him.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Farewell, Son Of Woobie ...

Sigh.

Once upon a time, I had a sweatshirt. From Eddie Bauer. But not a sweatshirt like we think of sweatshirts. It didn't have a banded bottom. It did have vents on the side. I'm sure some catalog writer had a more clever name for it, but it was like a sweatshirt. But better. Softer. Heavy.

It was like my woobie.

(Remember that scene, from "Mr. Mom"? When Michael Keaton talks his son into giving up his woobie? By the way, don't let the YouTube link confuse you. "Woobie" is the proper spelling, not "wooby." I checked.)

I loved that sweatshirt. It was sage green. It grew softer over time. It was the closest I ever came to wearing pajamas in the real world.

I washed it and dried it too many times to count. The cuffs began to fray. Holes began to form. I didn't care.

My mom cared, but I didn't care. I loved it.

But one day, I realized that I could no longer wear it out into the world. It was beyond ratty. I'm surprised Stacy and Clinton didn't cart me away.

I saved it for a time, thinking that someday I would cut a swatch from the body of it, which was still intact, and make a pillow. But eventually, I let it go.

I returned to Eddie Bauer to buy a replacement, but of course, they were no longer there. Lines change. People – people who are not me – move on.

But I found one that was similar. Similar in color, similar in cut. I bought him and brought him home.

He was stiffer, not as comfy. But I knew I'd grow to appreciate him over time.

One day, I noticed an odd splotch on him. And then another. I realized that where I had been pouring detergent on him, he'd been losing a bit of color. That was strange. I don't remember buying any detergent with bleach. But it kept happening. Eventually, he looked a bit like camouflage.

He was never the same as my first sweatshirt, but I loved him, too.

We were together for a long time.

Until today.

I did a load of laundry, and as I sat folding it, I looked at him and his forlornness, and I knew it was time to say goodbye. No longer could I justify turning the cuffs back multiple times to hide his wounds. Even though he had long ago been relegated to sleepwear.

Change is good. I need to move on. There will be other sweatshirts. They won't be the same, of course, but I'll learn to love them.

So, farewell, son of woobie. May you find your father, somewhere in the great beyond.


Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Walking ...

Yes, this really is a post about walking.

Perhaps tomorrow, I'll tackle its fascinating sibling: breathing.

No, not really.

But this morning, I read this Mark's Daily Apple post about walking (I love Mark's Daily Apple; I recommend it often, like now) and one of his points is that our society isn't set up for walking, and indeed, it is not.

Yes, there are the often treacherous slabs of sidewalks that jut up dangerously thanks to tree roots underneath, but in many places, there are no sidewalks at all. What is up with that? Shouldn't they be part of every urban and suburban development?

I like to walk my errands when I can. I like to walk to the post office. I like to walk to my insurance agent's office. I like to walk to the grocery store. I haven't walked to Starbucks in a while (OK, maybe like a year), but I used to walk there every morning. And back. The back part was always more pleasant, being caffeinated. But folks would marvel that I'd make that trek. It's about 3.5 miles, round trip. Not ridiculous. And certainly not ridiculous if you're sucking down a latte for half of the trip. I may not have been burning off as many calories as I was consuming. I may have been gaining weight while I was walking.

Happily, I've mostly sworn off Starbucks. But I miss the walk.

I used to walk to the Hallmark store, as there were sidewalks almost all of the way there, and then I'd just traipse through the grassweeds in front of the store for the final few feet. But then the Hallmark store moved to a ridiculous development that is not only, realistically, too far away for the purposes of walking, but there is a dearth of sidewalks along the way.

Even my Walgreens moved slightly beyond comfortable walking distance.

Humph.

I have a treadmill, but walking on a treadmill is often boring. Even with tunes.

Walking outside is nice, but I'm easily influenced by the weather. Too hot? No walk. Too humid? No walk. Too cold? No walk. Too windy? No walk. Raining? Forget it. Snowing? Surely you jest.

Yes, that's right: I'm a wuss.

But truthfully, I do walk when walking's called for. One very snowy day, I trudged up and back to the store because my car was out of commission. And after the big storm last year, I walked a lot, but that was largely due to the fact that there were trees lying in the street and my car was trapped in my garage.

But yes, walking. I have such romantic notions about it, of communities where people go for evening strolls, perhaps on their way to a place that sells great ice cream. Or where they walk to farmers' markets and chat about vegetables. Where kids run ahead – safely – and stoop over to pick up caterpillars or pluck a bouquet of dandelions. Where stoop sitters greet passersby and extend an invitation for a glass of lemonade.

I see a fair number of folks out walking in the morning, for exercise, and that's good. (Oh, look, there go two of them now.) But it would be nice to see more people out and about just because.

Oh, I also like to walk to the library. It's nice to have a book on hand in case I want to stop somewhere pleasant and read.