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