Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

After this year, I understand that line, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." I took some hard blows in 2007, but also had some extraordinary experiences.

Though my mother-in-law technically died in 2006, it was in November and the period of mourning spilled over into '07. We had to deal with her house and all of her possessions. I hated, HATED going through her personal things. We took some mementos home, one of which was her dog, Keeper.

Months later Keeper would tear up my face in some confused attack, sending me to the emergency room. No stitches were needed and my face healed just fine, but the crazy dog that I actually loved had to be put to sleep.

Sparky, our dog and my beloved companion, had to be put to sleep as well just weeks earlier. You have to be a dog lover to understand, but when I looked into his eyes I saw something there. I saw love. It was hard to let him go.

Our oldest son, Jake, moved out suddenly just because he wanted to. He got in his car and drove 1800 miles away to share a house with friends. Three weeks later, two guys walked into their house with guns and demanded money. Jake's roommate was shot in the arm and Jake was hit over the head repeatedly with a gun. He's home now and safe, but still has nightmares about the incident.

In 2007, I was also unceremoniously dropped by my newspaper. Even though I'd been writing my column for seven years and had a following, I was told that they would only run it if they "needed to fill space." Ooooouch!! People still ask me what happened to my column. Idiot editor.

Interwoven throughout these horrible events were some of the most fun adventures I've ever had. I traveled all over the country and reconnected with some old, dear friends who LITERALLY had me rolling on the floor laughing and who reminded me that once upon a time I was fun.

I also made some great new friends who share with me an interest in the music of Taylor Hicks. We had some great times discussing the resurgence of soul music, whether or not an artist is a sell-out if he skews his sound toward pop music and know...other really deep thinkee type subjects that kinda hafta do know, music. Um. Yeah, that's it. Music.

I actually got to meet Taylor Hicks. He put his arm around my waist and I put mine around his as we posed for a picture. (*giggle*) Could you die? Gimme a break, it made this sad woman happy at the time and then happy all over again every time I tell someone about it. Like now.

Well, anyhoo, I hope 2008 has more of the best of times and less of the worst. Actually, at this point I'd settle for lots of times that are somewhere in between.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Husband, My Daddy

My family doesn't "get" this whole blog thing. I told them it makes me happy. I told them it keeps me writing while I look for another publication to write for. They still shake their heads and tell me I'm online too much.

I really don't think I am. I check in with my favorite peeps' blogs and check my e-mail in the morning while my brain unscrambles. If I have something on my mind, I'll write in (on?) my blog. I check in with everyone again at night before I go to bed.

What I don't get is, why is it socially acceptable for my husband to sit on the couch and watch TV all evening, but it's supposedly unhealthy for me to be online instead?

Today my husband treated me like a child and hid the modem for our computer so that I couldn't get online all day. The only reason he gave it back to me is because we need the modem in order for our phones to work.

When I'm online, I'm not looking for a man, or gambling or buying stuff. I'm connecting with people who make me feel good about myself. They think I'm smart and funny. They're interested in what's going on with me.

If you're reading this, you're like me and see nothing wrong with being online. Do any of you take heat from your loved ones every time you log into (on to?) the Internet?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Color Me Pooped

Oh boy. I'm tired. Puppies are like babies except they bite more. I still think he's the sweetest thing, but I'm getting nothing done around the house. I have to know where he is at all times. I have to be aware of how much he's eaten and slept throughout the day. I have to use psychic powers to figure out when he needs to go outside.

He loves me the most, so when he's in the mood to play, he jumps all around me until I sit on the floor. Then he wants to chew on whatever skin of mine he can find. That's not cool with me, but we're working on it. I'm supposed to offer an alternative, so I've been shoving chew toys in his mouth.

He loves being outside, but because he's so small, he has to leap over the blades of grass like a gazelle. And I pity the fool leaf that tries to mess with him! He gives it a good shake in his teeth to teach it a lesson for just being there.

Anyhoo, I'm writing because we're still working on a name and I wanted to throw something out at y'all. The puppy was born on Halloween and given to me on Christmas. I feel like I should be doing something with those facts, but nothing is coming to me. I thought if he were a female I would have named him "Holiday", but called him "Holly". See? I'm no good at this name game!

Got any ideas? Don't forget to vote over there ---->

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Yep- I Got A Puppy!

My husband had me pretty convinced that we wouldn't have a pet for a long time. We talked about it just this past Saturday and he listed the reasons why it's been nice to be pet-free. I'd prefer peace at the homestead, so I accepted it, went to my room and had a little cry.

But then Christmas morning, after we opened our gifts, we were invited to a friend's house for coffee. There he was, all wrapped up in a blanket with a red bow around his neck: an 8 week old, miniature dachshund. He's the sweetest, tiniest thing I've ever seen. We're all afraid we're going to step on him. In fact, I think I'm going to put a bell on his collar so that doesn't happen.

Greg and I actually prefer big dogs, but we don't have much of a yard and we wanted a dog that can travel with us easily. Don't expect me to pull a "Paris Hilton", though, dressing him up and carrying him around in an expensive bag. That ain't the way I roll.

Once the puppy got used to us, he became pretty feisty, stalking our shoelaces and pouncing like a bunny. When he really gets going, he'll let out a little puppy bark. VERY scary.

Now, here's where you come in. I need your help! I'm as bad at coming up with names as Gwenyth Palthrow is. (Remember? Her children are named "Apple" and "Moses".) I over-think it and wind up with something stupid. My second baby didn't get a name for two days because we had to take a family vote ("James" won). So, weigh-in over there on the right, or add something new in the "comments" section. Little "no-name" thanks you!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Taylor Tuesday

"Geez, Caryl! This is quite a Christmas list you've got here!
Gimme a minute to stretch and I'll see what I can do."

Hope all your Christmas wishes come true!
Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Billy Joel & Elton John- You May Be Right

I feel this weird connection to Billy Joel. We're both from Long Island, we both play piano and we both have a thing for blond models (har, har).

I got married on Long Island and when my Mom went to pick up my wedding dress at the dry cleaners, a customer in there commented that it was pretty. Turns out that woman was Billy Joel's first wife.

His first album was titled, "Cold Spring Harbor" and that happens to be one of my favorite towns on LI. My art teacher in High School took the whole class there on a field trip once to sketch the buildings.

I know, it's a bunch of tiny, unimportant details but these little reminders keep bringing me back to Billy Joel's music. I'm a big fan. And I don't care if that's not cool.

He caught my attention in a big way after I saw him perform on my college campus. Strange story. I was asked to go by a guy I didn't know very well. I didn't see him around much after he asked me and then my ticket showed up in my mailbox. What the heck did that mean?

Maybe he didn't want to go with me anymore? Maybe it was a reminder about the date? I didn't have a clue, but decided to use the ticket anyway. I made arrangements to go with some friends but the guy showed up after all.

Billy Joel puts on a kick-ass show. At least he did that night in my University auditorium. Very high energy. At one point, he ran down the center aisle and played around with the lights. So fun. The next day I bought his latest album.

That night I got to know a guy who's been a part of my life ever since. And I ain't talkin about that jerk who took me to the show. Who was he, anyway?

Christmas Letter

I always make a big production out of my Christmas cards. I go too far, put too much pressure on myself and usually wind up mailing them out late. Way back when, before I got the gig writing for the newspaper, our Christmas letter was the one time I could pull out all the stops and let the creative juices flow (and inflict the result on a mass audience!).

I've done funny photos, satirical poems, drawings and top ten lists. Recipients of these cards told me they anxiously awaited them each year. That was all the encouragement I needed to dig deeper and try to top myself, pushing my mail-out date back further. I told myself that as long as my cards went in the mail before the new year, I was good.

This year, when the first Christmas card addressed to us arrived in NOVEMBER, my husband started nagging me about the evils of mailing our cards out late. Finally, he announced, "I'm writing the letter myself this year!" And that's just what he did.

There's something you have to understand about my husband. He's an engineer. In school he was taught that engineers can do anything. I'm not talkin' any kind of engineering work, no. His professor told the class that engineers can do ANYTHING. So he believed he could produce a letter as good as anything I've come up with in the past.

And to prove it, he wanted our victims...I mean, our friends and family, to read the letter without knowing who wrote it. Hardy ha ha, he'd show me! Just between you and me, what he came up with is pretty bad. Ain't no way I want people to think I wrote that. So, at the bottom of the letter, I included this note: "So, who wrote this year's Christmas letter? Find out at Caryls' blog, etc..."

If you actually took the time to come here and check it out, THANK YOU!! I promise to give you something with all of my razzle-dazzle next year. And maybe I'll even get it there before Christmas.

Greg's Letter:

Twas the night before Christmas
When Zim’s letter came out
It’s real short and sweet,
We know you won't pout.

We started the year with Greg, Caryl,
Jake, Jamie and two dogs
A lot happened this year
And here is the blog.

Sparky got too old
So we had him put down
Then our other dog Keeper bit Caryl
Now Keeper is no longer around.

Jake left home in October
To live with some friends
They had place in Virginia
When the crooks broke in.
They were held up at gunpoint
Jake saw his friend get shot
He came home soon afterwards
In jail the crooks will rot.
He is now making plans
For the next phase of his life
Thank God he still has one
Despite all the strife.

Jamie is fine
And doing well in High School.
He’s a 17 year old Junior
And he thinks we are fools.
He is taller than Greg
Though Greg claims he’s still stronger
But Jamie just sighs,
“Dad, not any longer.”

He went to London for Thanksgiving
To play soccer over there
It rained and it rained
But they didn’t care.
He plays soccer and guitar
And is great at both
He still thinks we are fools
Despite all that growth.

Greg still works at xxxxxx
And travels a lot
Went to Australia, Canada, Kuwait
And Saudi Arabia this year
And he hasn't been shot.
He goes hunting and fishing
As much as he can
He keeps the freezer full
With wild game for the pan.

Caryl still writes articles
From time to time
But they are rarely published
Her boss is cheap with the dime.

We traveled to New York
Once again this past summer
Jake did not come with us
And that was a bummer.
We saw family and friends
and that's always nice
We love it up there
We wish we'd gone twice.

Greg took Caryl to Calgary this summer
While on a business trip
They were having a great time
Until Greg asked Caryl to strip.

We had Thanksgiving in the Texas Hill Country
With our good friend, Gail
She is a great host
And she never fails

Now lets move on willingly
Into 2008
Who knows what will happen?
We pray it is great!

We hope this made you grin
And did not bring you fright
Merry Christmas to all
And to all a good night!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hero performed by Michael Israel in New York

My husband was amazed by this video, so much so that he sent it to me. He never does that sort of thing, so I thought it might strike a chord with you as well. (I'll be honest. I found it interesting, but not as AMAZING as he did.)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Robert Earl Keen

"Merry Christmas From The Family"

I bought tickets to see Robert Earl Keen for the hubby for his birthday. I'm not a big country music fan, but this guy is great. We went to the show last night at the Verizon Wireless Theater in Houston and by the end of the show, most people were on their feet, singing along and screaming, "Robert Keen! Robert Keen!" Take a listen. Be prepared to laugh.

Merry Christmas From The Family

Mom got drunk and Dad got drunk at our Christmas party
We were drinking champagne punch and homemade eggnog
Little sister brought her new boyfriend
He was a Mexican
We didn't know what to think of him until he sang
Felis Navidad, Felis Navidad

Brother Ken brought his kids with him
The three from his first wife Lynn
And the two identical twins from his second wife Mary Nell
Of course he brought his new wife Kay
Who talks all about AA
Chain smoking while the stereo plays Noel, Noel
The First Noel

Carve the Turkey
Turn the ball game on
Mix margaritas when the eggnog's gone
Send somebody to the Quickpak Store
We need some ice and an extension chord
A can of bean dip and some Diet Rites
A box of tampons, Marlboro Lights
Haleluja everybody say Cheese
Merry Christmas from the family

Fred and Rita drove from Harlingen
I can't remember how I'm kin to them
But when they tried to plug their motor home in
They blew our Christmas lights
Cousin David knew just what went wrong
So we all waited out on our front lawn
He threw a breaker and the lights came on
And we sang Silent Night, Oh Silent Night, Oh Holy Night

Carve the turkey turn the ball game on
Make Bloody Mary's
Cause We All Want One!
Send somebody to the Stop 'N Go
We need some celery and a can of fake snow
A bag of lemons and some Diet Sprites
A box of tampons, some Salem Lights
Haleluja, everybody say cheese
Merry Christmas from the Family

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Chris is back!

Wow. It was an eventful episode for Project Runway fans. Jack took himself out of the competition because of an aggressive infection in his mouth. On the phone with his doctor he called it MRSA, a staph infection which has been in the news lately because of its resistance to antibiotics. Jack said he's had it before, so hopefully, he'll be fine. FYI, MRSA killed my Dad, so it's nothing to fool around with.

I truly feel sad for Jack (maybe they'll let him come back next season?) but the good news is that Chris was given a second chance. Back to bad news: I hated his design:

It actually doesn't look bad in this photo, but the judges said it made her look like a 50's hooker in Paris. Now that's specific!

For this challenge, the designers had to rework a favorite outfit of women who have lost a significant amount of weight.

Christian won with this look:


Steve was eliminated with what Heidi called a french maid's outfit. I have to agree. He had yards of fabric from a wedding dress to work with, but used only enough to turn a black dress into pilgrim chic. I liked Steve, but he really blew it:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Taylor Tuesday

(it's my blog and I'll make up words if I want to!)

I promised amyrebo that I'd show the flip side of my "Incognito" post of last week. I've seen Taylor interact with his fans a few times, but the one that stands out was after the show in Tampa.

There was a small crowd and since it was early in the tour, we didn't know for sure if we'd see Taylor leaving the theater. We hoped we might be able to snap a quick photo as he walked to the bus. Our cameras were ready and every time the backstage door opened, we raised them smartly into position. Roadies came out, cameras jumped up and were quickly lowered as we shared a disappointed groan. Poor guys!

People started playing with us, telling us Taylor was already gone, or opening the door slowly as a tease before they showed their faces. The opening act, The Greyhounds, came out and took OUR picture.

Finally, some excitement towards the front, flashes of light and (with a bit of straining) I could see Taylor dramatically posing. Finally, he said, "Well, don't y'all have something for me to sign?"

We were unprepared and scrambled for any paper we could come up with. A woman in front of me had him sign her candy box:

He was very patient.

The fans were nice, too. They politely moved away when they were done so the people in the back could move up and have a moment with Taylor. He signed my concert ticket and I said, "I thought Jeff Lopez was supposed to tour with you."
He answered, "Yeah, he was..."but didn't offer any more information.

I realized I should give up my plum spot to someone else, so I left before Taylor did. I don't know how long he stayed out there, but everyone who walked away was excited and happy.

He didn't have to stop. Those of us waiting would have been happy with a photo of him waving as he walked to his bus. But he did stop and offered to sign whatever we had. Look what he started!

Taylor leaving the NYC book signing.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Christmas Cards

(I'm re-posting this, because I really believe in it.)

Stop right there! Before you buy your Christmas cards, I wish you would consider getting them through a charity. I used to design my own cards and print them up (Too much creative energy! See post titled, "One Crafty Mother"), but then it dawned on me that buying them from a charitable organization is a win-win situation. I need the cards, they need the money.

I'm sure you can find one that you like, but here are a few that I know about:

Friday, December 7, 2007

"I'm Fifty!" (not me-her!)

I have 10 months left to honestly say I'm in my forties, but I can't seem to get the number 50 outa my head. I can't believe it. How did this happen? How did I get here? There must be some mistake.

Take the time to watch this clip. It's hysterical! I guess that's me in ten months. Once again, let's be clear, I'm NOT 50. Yet.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Styles:One Year You're In, The Next- You're Out

The challenge this week on Project Runway was to take an out-of-date style and give it a modern feel. Chris wound up with an impossible task: make shoulder pads look new. Heh? Shoulder pads are shoulder pads. What the heck can you do with them?

He made a short little shrug (as you can see in the above photo) which I thought was wise since they are very much in style right now. Adding the shoulder pads, unfortunately, shoots you right back to "Dynasty" and Joan Collins. Poor Chris. Doomed. He wound up going home.

I like the looks that won:

Not crazy about this collar, though:

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Taylor Tuesday

photo by amyrebo*

March 26, 2007, People Magazine: "Of course he dons a hat so nobody knows who he is. 'I've walked through a thousand fans and nobody notices,' Hicks told People."

Not so fast, there, buddy. Some fans don't notice and some simply respect your privacy.

One of my favorite memories of the summer tour was watching Taylor pull this off in front of the Norva Theater. I was standing outside as fans started to gather for the show. A limo pulled up and spat out more people than I thought a limo could hold. Like a clown car, a seemingly endless line of drunken, giggling women spilled out on to the curb.

My little group traded eye-rolls and I casually glanced at two guys walking up from the other direction to the theater. One of them was Taylor. He had his cap pulled down low and he stared at the ground. He walked right past me.

I waited until he was just about inside, pointed at his back and said to my friends, "THAT was Taylor!" He must have heard me because he turned, looked at me through the glass door and laughed. I pointed at him as if to say, "Oh, you!" and he doubled over, laughing harder.

He dodged a bullet. What do you think would have happened if the clown car women had recognized him? Have you witnessed Taylor sneaking by his fans?

*To be fair, Taylor wasn't avoiding his fans when this photo was taken. amyrebo tells me: "The photo was taken outside of the Capital Center in Concord, NH. He wasn't trying to hide from anyone that night as he stood and chatted with our group of fans for about 10 minutes after the show. "

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Ever Feel Like This?

Ramones - I Wanna Be Sedated

Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go I wanna be sedated
Nothin' to do and no where to go-o-oh I wanna be sedated
Just get me to the airport put me on a plane
Hurry hurry hurry before I go insane
I can't control my fingers I can't control my brain
Oh no no no no no
Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go....
Just put me in a wheelchair and put me on a plane
Hurry hurry hurry before I go insane
I can't control my fingers I can't control my brain
Oh no no no no no
Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go I wanna be sedated
Nothin' to do and no where to go-o-o I wanna be sedated
Just put me in a wheelchair get me to the show
Hurry hurry hurry before I gotta go
I can't control my fingers I can't control my toes
Oh no no no no no
Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go...
Just put me in a wheelchair...
Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be sedated
Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be sedated
Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be sedated
Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be sedated

Thursday, November 29, 2007

No Freakin' Way!

I can't believe Sweet Pea made it through to the next challenge on Project Runway with this outfit! She even admitted that the shirt was a mess.

Here's the disclaimer which is flashed on the screen at the end of the show:

"The judges considered both their scores and input from the Producers and Bravo in reaching their elimination decisions."

So, I'm assuming again that Sweet Pea is considered an interesting character and the producers wanted to keep her around.

On a lighter note, we were treated to a bevy of handsome male models this week! And Tiki Barber ain't so hard on the eyes, either:

He'll be wearing the winning design on the Today Show. If you're like me and never heard of the guy, he's a former running back for the New York Giants and is now a member of NBC's Today Show and Football Night in America/Sunday Night Football.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"My Sweet Lady"

Ingore the unattractive facial hair and just listen. Ahh...I heard this song today and had to post it here. "My Sweet Lady" is so beautiful that I almost can't listen to it. Here are the three reasons it hurts me:

1. It reminds me of the only guy who ever broke up with me. Now, that sounds pretty impressive until I reveal that I've only had four boyfriends my whole life (and I married one of them).

2. John Denver's clear, strong voice. Oh my. The voice alone could make me cry.

3. John Denver's untimely death. I'm still pissed at him for going up in that experimental aircraft. What a loss.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Taylor Tuesday

(I wish)

The List

I remember reading a quote from Ace when the American Idol tour wrapped up. He was asked about the craziest thing that happened on the road. Ace answered that a couple approached him after a show and the wife propositioned him. She said it was OK because her husband had given her his permission. Ace looked at the man who nodded in return. Ace declined the offer.

Do you and your mate have a list of people they'll give you a "pass" on? The List usually consists of five famous people you're attracted to. You have permission to sleep with them because your spouse knows how much it would mean to you. Aw, that's sweet. Ha! The truth is it's OK because everyone involved knows it will never happen.

I know what you're thinking. You think I brought this up because Taylor's on my list. Remember, your spouse has to give you PERMISSION. I ain't got that. My husband is seriously jealous of Taylor. I just look at the hubby, puzzled. I'm invisible to Taylor. Even when I'm standing in front of him.

I've seen the sweet young thangs gyrating at Taylor's feet during the shows. Believe me, I know my status in the booty hierarchy. I'm nowhere, man. My husband has nothing to worry about.

And, oh yea, I forgot. I would NEVER do such a thing even if Taylor were heavily medicated and carried to my room. I'm a married woman! That's right, I'd NEVER run my hands through that shimmering hair and

Oh, right! The List. Who's on yours?

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Our pal, Gail, came through for us this Thanksgiving. If not for her, my husband and I would have found ourselves knocking around our big house, eating...I don't know..maybe a baked chicken this holiday.

Gail has a beautiful house on Lake LBJ, outside of Austin. She invited us up and cooked a big, traditional Thanksgiving meal. And since it was just the three of us, we were rebels and only made what we really liked.

Gail didn't want to be in the picture, so Greg jumped in so that everyone would think he cooked. (oops, I just blew his cover):

Now he's pretending to be getting us drinks:

We were planning to get out on the lake at some point, but the weather turned cold! It was in the 40's.

An added bonus of being at Gail's are her delightful dogs. Our house has been pet-free for about six months and I hate it. I may have spent more time with her two dogs than I did with the humans in the house, but I couldn't resist them.

This area of Texas is so beautiful, that we're putting it on our list of possible places to retire. And living near Gail would guarantee us a decent meal from time to time!


Through a series of events, my husband and I unexpectedly found ourselves on our own for Thanksgiving. Our oldest son is at my Mom's, spending time with his cousins and our youngest son is in England with his soccer team. They'll both have a great time. But what about us?

My husband had the week off and to be perfectly honest, he can be annoying when given too much free time. I suggested we spend a night at a Bed and Breakfast I had found a couple of years ago. Despite the ribbing he took from his friends, he agreed. (Why do men think B&B's are gay?)

It's located in Comfort, TX. The B&B was a stage coach stop in the 1800's, located on a sanguine little creek. Charming shops are just a walk away and we ate in an unassuming little restaurant which served surprisingly good, authentic German food.

In the morning, as we packed, I smiled and told Greg our stay had been therapeutic. I enjoyed the peace and quiet, the lovely old buildings full of antiques and the gently swaying branches dipping down towards the slowly flowing water. Comfort indeed.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

One Crafty Mother

I have a lot of creative energy which can make it difficult for those who live with me. I usually have about twenty projects going at once: curtains to sew, a chair to paint, some photo project, etc...I have more ideas than time to follow through on them. It drives my husband and kids bananas.

A few years ago I decided to put this insatiable need to create towards a practical goal. I started doing craft fairs.

I don't like to talk about it because craft fairs conjure up images of crocheted toilet paper covers and "country kitchen" decor. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!) What I make is jewelry and Christmas ornaments.

I pick beautiful, sparkly supplies and will only sell what I think is tasteful and happy. When you pick up something I made, I want it to make you smile just because it's pretty.

So far I've only done a couple of shows a year because most of them have huge entry fees. Who knew? Some of the bigger craft fairs charge hundreds of dollars to rent booth space.

Yesterday I did a show at my own church. Though I don't get any breaks on the fees, I like to do it because it's comfortable. I know everybody, I know the space, everyone is pulling for me. It's fun.

As usual, the night before the show I asked myself what I had gotten myself into, why did I think this was a good idea and the perennial favorite: who's gonna buy my crap, anyway? But then Saturday morning the show got under way and as people strolled by and complimented me on my work (and actually bought some!) I relaxed and enjoyed myself.

Earlier this week, I considered giving it up and having a going-out-of-business sale. But the shiny beads beckoned, the ideas started to swirl and...well, hell...I need to do more shows! I'll have to see if I can do a couple more before the holidays.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Worst Dress Ever

I curled up to watch the Season Premiere of Project Runway last night and was not disappointed. I must say, though, this crop of designers seems to have more impressive credentials than on previous seasons. I prefer to watch novice designers feel their way through the creative process. But, maybe the challenges will be more demanding, too. We'll just have to wait and see.

I can appreciate thinking outside of the box, but Elisa's dress (shown above) was just too far out there. Heidi Klum said it looked like the model was "pooing fabric" because the train was just a blob of unrelated colors and material. And she tripped over it walking down the runway!

Guess I've watched enough reality TV to know that even though Elisa deserved to be eliminated, she wouldn't be because she's an interesting character. She's very odd.

Did you know that you can bid on all of the designs from Project Runway? I think that's such a cool idea (and very tempting). Go take a look. Let me know if you win anything:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Project Runway Season Four

Yeah!! Project Runway is my favorite show. You may have to endure commentary from me every Thursday morning now that the new season is beginning. Be there tonight on Bravo, 10/9c.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Taylor Tuesday


Last Wednesday was the anniversary of my mother-in-law's death. I planned to write about it- about her, but when I sat down at my computer, the words wouldn't come. I didn't want to rehash the events leading to her death. I didn't feel like sharing stories about the good times. What I was feeling was rushing inward, I couldn't reverse the flow.

She was a good friend to me, more than my husband's mother. She called me her first daughter, not her daughter-in-law. And when she lay wasting away in a nursing home and told me, "I just want to go home and let nature take it's course", I seriously considered trying to make that happen for her.

I still feel guilty that she had to endure the extra months that doctors gave her as they tried to keep her alive. I know that sounds strange for a loving relation to say, but those last months were filled with frustration, confusion and humiliation for her. And in the end, she died in a hospital alone.

So what does this have to do with Taylor Hicks? After she died and we returned to our sad, quiet home, I saw that joyful character singing a Christmas song on TV and wondered if he had a CD out. I got online, typed in his name and was directed to

I found a lifeboat in a sea of despair and have ridden that sucker all the way to this moment here with you. My mother-in-law would have liked the fact that I found such a life-affirming diversion and that through Taylor's music I'm able to make a joyful noise in everything I do. I don't know why-I don't CARE why, but that boy has given me hope and an excited anticipation for the future.

So last Wednesday when I sat staring at my computer intent on writing about my mother-in-law, a funny thought popped into my head involving a playful discussion at TFHZone about whether or not Taylor had a clone. An hour later, I had the following photo. It made me double over laughing and you can BET my mother-in-law was right there with me.

(I know, my hair looks kind of weird, but I don't care. Well, maybe I care a little. If only I knew how to photoshop bangs!)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I Got A Woody

allen movie on my tv

So I woke up today feeling pretty blah, tired of being strong, weary of pushing through. You don't know what I'm talking about. I can tell by that puzzled look on your face.

It really doesn't matter, but we all have those days when we don't feel like doing whatever task is ahead of us. It's Sunday and what's ahead for me are domestic chores and my teenage son's soccer game. I sat down with my coffee and asked myself, "So what would happen if I don't do any of it? Just this once?"

My family might get P.O.ed, but they'd get over it. So I granted myself this one day to be selfish, sad, lazy and whatever the opposite of proactive is. Nobody can count on me today. I'm not there for you.

I didn't exactly feel better, but I wasn't going to fight it. I got online to check my messages and matter-of-factly clicked on the TV. Sweet mother of all that is holy, what popped up on the screen was classic Woody Allen.

And just like that, my mood changed. I laughed out loud. During the commercial, I put in a load of laundry. I switched to the TV in my bedroom and stripped the bed. I made a grocery list. So before I dash off to the store, I wanted to share a clip from that movie with you.

This is my kind of mood-elevator. And don't you just love Diane Keaton? I think I may have a crush on her. (Ha! See the "I Loves Me Some Dave Foley" thread. I have a crush on everybody.)She's not in this clip, but I wanted to mention her anyway because she's brilliant.

Friday, November 9, 2007

I Loves Me Some Dave Foley

I've got a crush on this guy. Ever since "NewsRadio", I look forward to seeing him whenever he pops up TV. Lately, he's been spotted on "Late Night With Craig Ferguson" as a regular extra. (I've got a crush on Craig Ferguson, too, but we'll get into that another day.)

This clip makes me laugh out loud:

This clip involves TWO crushes, so it's extra-interesting to me:

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I'm sorry, what?

Tuesday night my husband and I went out to dinner with some people from the company he works for. We dined with 2 men from England, a woman from Scotland and another man from Louisiana. Though we were all speaking English, the accents were flying and none of us understood the other.

One of the Englishmen told a long story about the people who work for him and the only thing I understood was, "Indian head MAssage." We all laughed at the conclusion of his story because (from what I gleaned from his facial expressions and hand gestures) his employees expected to receive these massages as a perk regularly. "Indian head MAssage" became the catch phrase of the evening.

Then the Scottish women asked my husband a question which he asked her to repeat. He still didn't understand her, so he blurted out, "I think she was a hooker!" We all laughed because it made no sense. My husband doesn't even know why he said that, but I'll be interrogating him on that for the next few days.

Great food and great company, even if we didn't speak one another's language.

VideoJug: How To Do An Indian Head Massage

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Taylor Tuesday


Hear me out. Have you ever noticed that Taylor can look very different from one event to another? And how could one man be on tour, write a book and do all of those interviews at the same time? What about these stories we hear about how he was hugging everyone at one meet and greet, but barely speaking at another?

Well, the answer is obvious, my friend. He must have a twin. That can be the only logical explanation for why he didn't remember me in a crowd at the San Antonio show even though we had met just one month earlier in a crowd at the Tampa show. I believe that is incontrovertible evidence right there.

The topic actually surfaced on another blog yesterday. (I'll give you the link, but you gotta promise to come back, OK?) For photographic proof and further discussion, go to:

If you happen to be my Mom and can't work these newfangled links, I'll post the most revealing photo here:

Forget about identifying the blonde on the beach. Was that the real Taylor?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

"Oh What a Night" by The Four Seasons

For Danny

It's not what you think. This was the theme song for "The Commack Clan", a group of us in high school who did everything together. (No wonder I rarely dated) It became our theme song after our first night at Lehigh University where we were visiting Danny for the weekend. Now that my Dad is gone, I think it's safe to add that grain alcohol was involved. But since my mother is still alive, I think I'll leave it at that. Enjoy!


Danny and a young boy. 1976

One of my best friends is getting married today. Danny (he goes by "Dan" now, but he'll always be Danny to me.) was the boy next door. We've known each other since we were babies. And, except for a fling in High School, he's been like a brother to me.

(We've talked about that, haven't we, Danny? Maybe "brother" sounds TOO platonic.) I'd like to amend that- he's been like a cousin to me. But as cute and fun as he was, our one-year relationship wasn't a great love connection. Even our friends nicknamed us "Donnie and Marie" because of our lack of chemistry.

I'd like to say that Danny's been single all these years because he never found another woman as wonderful as me, but the truth is, Danny got over me pretty quickly. Let's just say that Danny moved on well before we ever broke up. And let's just say that Danny moved on before I knew he was moving on.

Just teasing you, big guy! He actually married the chick he moved on with, but as I suspected, that marriage was short-lived. They only stayed together for...let's see...25 years or so.

I can joke about all of this because our friendship is strong, even though we live so far apart. When I go home to visit my family I always make time to see Danny, though lately my husband monopolizes the conversation.

I'm glad Danny has found someone who makes him happy. I met her this summer and she laughed at my jokes, so that's all I need to know. (It's all about me, of course.) The wedding should be starting in a few hours, so I couldn't let the day go by without posting our prom picture. (refer back to the sentence in parenthesis)

Best of luck, to you, my friend!! I look forward to seeing both of you the next time I'm home.

P.S. (Danny: I'm posting a video for you separately, because I don't know how to include it in here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Taylor Tuesday

Since I'm been too busy to write, I'm trotting out an article I wrote in May about attending my first Taylor concert. You may have seen it already. But here's something you may not know: I gave Taylor a copy of this in person. (God! what is wrong with me?I'm so embarrassed) He told me he'd read it on the bus. Go ahead, tell me the truth, was that a dumb thing to do? Imagine Taylor reading this:

National Ledger
May 15th, 2007

Season six of American Idol is coming to an end, but frankly, it's been a snooze-fest. Where's the passion, the raw uninhibited energy of last year? Well, I’ll tell ya. It's been on a national tour, playing to sold-out crowds. Taylor Hicks took his music to the people, earning respect as a serious musician and leaving behind satisfied, happily dazed fans. Just look at me: the secret smile, the vacant far-away expression, the occasional “Woo!” blurted out for no reason at all.

I’ve been there, man, and there’s no turning back. Taylor won me over on American Idol last year as I walked through the living room and heard him singing “Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne. His voice hit my ears and traveled to my heart, causing an ache so great I had to sit down. He sang, gripping the mic stand, glancing down and then suddenly up into my eyes. The exquisite pain was all there and he made me love it.

That night was the first time I ever voted for anybody on American Idol. I had to keep that brilliant voice in my periphery. I haven’t felt the same way about anyone on the show this year.

When his CD, “Taylor Hicks” dropped in December, I was happy to hear the intensity of his performance come through, even though I couldn’t watch it on my TV screen. But, c'mon. Anyone familiar with Taylor Hicks knows his magic happens in the live performance.

Lucky me, when the album tour was announced I found a date that coincided with a visit to Florida. The only downside was that I’d have to go alone. It was already sold out (sold out!) but I found one ticket available online.

Other fans cautioned that there’s a lot to do before you see Taylor live. You have to go into training because he delivers what he calls a “high impact soul aerobic” show. So, I built up some endurance, memorized his lyrics, practiced whipping out a sharpie and finally, bought a push-up bra and good-butt jeans. Why the clothes? Guess it was my way of giving a little back if I should get an autograph.

Turns out the gods smiled on me so much that day in Tampa that I’m beginning to wonder if something bad is on the horizon. Without any serious stalking on my part, I ran into Taylor three times! And though meeting him was exciting, the highlight of that whole day was the show.

It didn’t matter that I was alone. The feeling in the theater was that we all were in this together. We responded to the musicians and they fed off of our energy. Taylor called the shots, signaling the band to extend certain songs or “’shushing” to segway into another song altogether. He sang, played guitar & harmonica, and danced letting the music take his body wherever it wanted to go.

He showed us no mercy. One song built into a frenzy as Taylor wailed on his harmonica, hunched over, face red and sweaty until finally he threw the instrument down as if it were on fire. Whew! Pardon me while I have a cigarette.

Later, through sheer unbelievable coincidence, Taylor and I wound up on an elevator together. He looked exhausted, wearing a baseball cap to cover the “headlight” (as he calls it) that is his gray hair. He was polite as always, but very subdued, a far cry from the ebullient character he offers up on stage. Bottom line: I saw a real person, spent from a long day of trying to make the world happy. I decided to show my appreciation by leaving him alone.

When we got to my floor, I told him it had been a great show. He thanked me and I left with a little wave over my shoulder. I’ve thought about all the things I could have said during our five flights together but I’m glad I gave this hard-working guy a break. The only thing I regret is that I wasn’t wearing my good-butt jeans as he watched me walk away! Sigh. Gimme a break. It IS all about the music, but I’m still a girl.

I hope whoever wins American Idol this year can deliver as memorable a tour as Taylor unleashed on us. But they’ve got some big New Balance sneakers to fill.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Last night I slept in Jake's empty bed. Nah, I haven't gone completely bonkers. I got into bed with my husband and in the dark and the quiet, I started thinking about Jake alone somewhere in a hotel with all of his possessions packed in the car outside. I started crying again and decided to sleep somewhere else so as not to wake the hubby.

Yesterday I gave Jake's room a good cleaning. It actually looked kind of inviting with all the furniture gleaming and the carpet freshly vacuumed. When I got into his bed I looked around and thought about all the horrible things he lived through within those walls: the terrible stomach pain that kept him up at night, the mornings I literally dragged him out of bed to get him to go to school, the screaming fights over doctor visits. The three months when he only left his room to eat and use the bathroom.

He's had a rough life. Severe allergies, asthma, ADHD, IBS and depression. And as hard as I tried, I could't help him. He has the same struggles today he had six years ago. We've taken him to every specialist you can name, including a pain management specialist and a therapist. A couple of years ago Jake shut down and refused to see any more doctors. He stopped telling me when something was wrong.

And this is why I've been so upset. I didn't help him. I didn't make it all better. I feel as though I sent him off with a bleeding cut and no chance of finding a bandaide.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Big Girls Do Cry

It's 12:20 at night and I just got done talking to my son, Jake. He had a lot of questions about what to do on a long drive. I gave him my best advice and a good map. I hugged him from behind as he turned to leave and he told me he'd see me in the morning.

He's moving away tomorrow. He's 19 and has decided it's time to get on with his life. He'll be sharing a house with a couple of friends from high school. In Virginia! That's about 1200 miles from here.

It's all quite sudden. He says he's been thinking about it for months now and he did mention it to me as a distant possibility once or twice. But suddenly it was all a "go". Today he told me he's leaving in the morning. He said he hoped he could leave on good terms.

Jake's dad took it much better than I expected. No big lectures, no screaming tirade. Instead, he asked Jake a few questions about his plans and told him he could always come back if it didn't work out.

And so I've spent the day crying. Maybe tomorrow I can be more eloquent, but right now I can't find the words. All I've got today are pictures in my head of all the days and nights I spent with this child and one thought: it's over, it's over, it's over. He's packed. He's ready. Am I?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Taylor Tuesday


I'm in the mood to start a rumor. It seems to be all the rage these days. My facts cannot be backed up, I have no inside information and I don't really want to waste my time digging into matters that are none of my business. But I can play around with photos, so let's do it!

Is Taylor Hicks putting out an exercise video? Word on the street is that Taylor's been behind closed doors filming a new work-out routine. My fake sources tell me that the video includes:

Leg lifts:


And Jumping Jacks:

And of course it's all set to Taylor's favorite music. Oddly enough, during "The Runaround" the viewer is cautioned not to imitate Taylor's trademark spin as he owns the rights to this particular move. If you brazenly do it anyway, you are required to pay him a residual. It's suggested instead that you simply...well, run around.

These same fake sources leaked a promotional photo:

(Must be one of those supersized videos)

Well, he said it a thousand times: "I call it High Impact Soul Aerobics." Who knew he was being literal?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Being There Blooper

One of the best movies ever made. Here's your assignment: Go rent this movie, watch it and then come back and tell me what the heck it means!

It's a superlative comedy even if you don't care to find the deeper meaning in it. So...what are you waiting for? Go! Go rent it. I'll be here when you're ready to break it down for me.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fergie - Big Girls Don't Cry MUSIC VIDEO

I love this song. I'm obviously not a music snob! I don't care that it's top-40 or that it's sung by Fergie (who usually annoys me).

I kind of relate to the words. No, I'm not leaving my husband, but there are some things you have to handle alone, within yourself. I recognize that I'm coming off a bad year, maybe even a bad decade. Dealing with: the death of my beloved Dad; a child who was sick so often that his principal recommended he just get his GED; the deterioration and death of my mother-in-law; the death of our dog; the end of my run in our local paper; the end of my youth; and the end of being the mom of young boys who loved my company.

Lots of unpleasant stuff. But it's time to stop wallowing in sadness and get on with it. Fergie sings, "I've got to get a move on with my life..." Yeah. Time to be a big girl now and see what the second half of my life will bring!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Grand Canyon Update

Just one week after we left the Grand Canyon, a four year old girl died after a fall at a section of the rim which had no barrier. It happens to be the spot where I got my first glimpse of the Canyon. No fence, no brick wall, no nothin'. I was so upset by the crowd nonchalantly moving towards the edge (remember I'm afraid of heights) that it made me cry. Here's the first photo I took there:

Park Rangers say this kind of tragedy is unusual. But I think it's a sober reminder that, though the view seems almost unreal (that's the first thing a lot of people say), the danger is VERY real. Respect it.

My heart goes out to the child's family.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Taylor Tuesday


This quote is from Parade Magazine, 10/07/2007. Article written by Dotson Rader.

Brad Pitt: "You get no warning about what celebrity is or how to deal with it. It's sort of multitiered. The intial stage is feeling discombobulated and not up to the task. I didn't understand the incessant attention when I went outside, the way people completely focused on me. It made me very uncomfortable. Then you start to see the fickleness of celebrity," he continues, "that it isn't rooted in something of real value. There is this strange wanting by people to get next to you. It has nothing to do with you but with something they feel they are missing in themselves."

Sometimes I wonder if Taylor says to himself, "Be careful what you wish for." Fame is a blessing and a curse, as we all know. But in Taylor's case, I think both good and bad are amplified. Those who love him smother him with their attention and those who don't love him tear the poor man to shreds.

Next week, I'd like to explore why he rouses such passion in people. It's sort of a puzzle to me. I understand his appeal, don't misunderstand. But we'll get into all of that next time.

Today I'd like to hear your thoughts on fame. Do you think it's everything Taylor hoped it would be? Would you ever want to be famous?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

It's a Grand Canyon

(I'm the one in the orange shirt. I don't know who those other people are.)

We had a family get-together at the Grand Canyon this weekend. I've never been there before and it's obviously quite spectacular. I'm not gonna bore you with the details, but I will say a few things from the perspective of a person who's afraid of heights.

Are people freakin' nuts??!!

First of all, the Park Service. Most of the Canyon has no barrier to keep people from falling in. Granted, you can't fence in the entire Grand Canyon. But you also don't need to put in a trail and invite people to walk right along the edge. They post adorable cartoon signs along the way as a reminder, but I still think it's insane!!

I'll tell you why I feel that way. It's because of idiots like this guy:

We saw people all over the place sitting on the edge and dangling their feet. We saw others navigating trails into the Canyon that weren't actual trails.

We saw two groups of "suicidal" people who stood out: Two women dressed in costume, going down a trail in HIGH HEELS!

And later, two "men" climbing a dead tree right on the edge of the rim. My sisters and I enjoyed taking their pictures so we would have the last photos of them alive. (ha)

What's interesting is that we learned that few people die from a fall at the Grand Canyon. Most deaths are due to heat exhaustion. People head out on a trial unprepared with little water & food.

They underestimate how long the hike will take or overestimate how much their bodies can take. We spoke to a Park Ranger who said they, "lost eight people THIS YEAR," because of just that.

Well, we survived. We watched our footing. We carried water and snacks. We had respect for the wildlife. But, most importantly, we stayed close to the gift shops and restaurants!

It was really fun meeting up with (most of) the family at a new place. We've never done that before, but I'd like to do it again. A big Thank You to my sister, Nancy, for making it happen.

Some random photos:

A condor:

My sister, Cathy, and her husband, Bruce, looking at...
...this deer!