12/31/2008

Happy New Year

I hope 2009 is a great year for everyone who stops by here.

End of year assessment meme

Via Toast

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
Cantored at a Mass. Got paid $50 per hour at my part-time fun job. Went on vacation with in-laws. Started dealing with some problems in my life. Finished a DIY project.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No, I did not keep my NY resolution, which was to write more letters. I don't think I wrote even one letter, except to the editor. I will make one for this coming year, though - I've stuck to them in previous years, I know I can do it again.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
3 of my co-workers had baby boys this year; one of my friends from Harmonious Soul had a baby boy in February; my sister had a baby girl in August.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My friend Al and my friend and co-worker Linda.

5. What places did you visit?
New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Worcester, Northampton, North Carolina

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
More energy, more money, my own car.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
November 4th, 2008. Obama walking out on stage to make his victory speech. The emotions of that moment. First and foremost the overwhelming sense of relief that... we... won. Eight psychologically-punishing years had left me pretty traumatized and it wasn't until that moment that I finally started to unclench my political sphincter. And then the realization that we weren't just finally seeing the end of the Winger Era, we were in fact witnessing an incredible moment in our nation's history. We had a elected a black man president. It was, shall we say, heady. I just copied Toast's answer, and I'll add: November 4, 2008, because it was my birthday.

8. What was your biggest achievement(s) of the year?
Taking over for my boss while she was on maternity leave and by all accounts, doing a smashing job of it.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I continued to not lose weight, and I was very bad about keeping in touch with people. I love you, Leslie, even though I don't call!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Just a few colds that were hard to shake.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Nothing that I can think of...maybe the 20 lbs of honeycrisp apples. They were fantastic.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Obama, Maeve, my SIL

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

John McCain, for treating the presidency with such contempt that he was willing to put a clownish simpleton like Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from it.
Harry Reid, for being a toothless, gutless punk.
Joe Lieberman, for being Joe Lieberman.
The douchebag who dressed up as Santa and gunned down eight of his in-laws.
Every one of those fucking asshats who trampled that WalMart employee to death. Get your consumerism under control, you sick fucks.
John Edwards for cheating on his wife.
Someone else who I do not want to mention.

(Mostly copied from Toast's answer)

14. Where did most of your money go?
Housing, followed by Siobhan's college, then utilities, food, etc.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Harmonious Soul rehearsals; going to North Carolina.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
Everything on the Dr. Horrible soundtrack.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) Happier or sadder?

a little of both
b) thinner or fatter?
fatter
c) richer or poorer?
Richer.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Swimming; gone to the beach more; purging of stuff.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Watching TV; eating junk food; gotten cranky with the people I live with.

20. How did you spend Christmas this year?
In church : P; driving home from church; trying to make a Christmas tree of light; at my sister's for breakfast; at my SIL's for the rest of the day. I can tell you that I spent very little time sleeping on Christmas, and damn, it takes longer to recover now than it used to!

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
No

22. How was work?
Mostly good

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Pushing Daisies


24. What did you do for your birthday in 2008?

Voted for Obama, celebrated his win. By myself, in my living room.

25. What was the best book you read?
In The Woods by Tana French

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I mostly rediscovered stuff this year: David Bowie, Talking Heads, and ended the year by not being able to stop listening to the Robert Plant/Alison Kraus collaboration.

27. What did you want and get?
A Dutch oven

28. What did you want and not get?
Someone to come and clean my house.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
I didn't really see many movies this year. I did enjoy All About Eve for the 6th or so time.

30. Did you make some new friends this year?
Yes

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Same as last year: Impeachment proceedings. Again, copied from Toast.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Stuff that looks good on me.

33. What kept you sane?
My responsibilities

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Nathan Fillion

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Electing a Democrat to the White House

35a. What political issue stirred you the least?
I don't know

36. Who did you miss?
Leslie, my sister who I hardly ever see

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Someone I met in North Carolina - one of those people with whom you have instant rapport, you know?

38. Burn any bridges?
Never

39. Best new restaurant you went to?
I didn't go to any new restaurants.

40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
That you can only control your own actions. I'm slow, though, I have a feeling I'll have to continue learning this before it really sinks in.

12/29/2008

Added to blogroll

beba by my fellow mom of an 11 year old, Betsy.

12/28/2008

Esprit d'escalier

Now that we're packing up the remains of another War on Christmas, I finally thought of the perfect response to make to someone who gets in your face when you say "Happy Holidays". I've written a short play to illustrate:


Cashier: Okay, and $2.53 is your change.
Me: Thank you, and Happy Holidays!
Cashier: It's Merry Christmas, how dare you take the Christ out of Christmas!
Me: Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you were Jewish*.


*You could, of course, substitute another non-Christian religion.

12/26/2008

In Which I Fail At Christmas

So, in all the hubbub of present buying and wrapping and singing at
various gigs and masses and trying to clean my house and keep up
with all my regular grocery shopping/cooking responsibilities, I*
neglected to get a Christmas tree.

I was feeling pretty bad about this, but while getting ready for my
3rd mass of the day (just before midnight), I had a creative
epiphany, and devised a plan.

I would take the Christmas lights, create a tree-like shape with
them by taping part of the strand to the ceiling and part to the
floor, and we would have a tree of Christmas lights! I could
visualize it in my mind, and it was beautiful.

When I got home from mass (at 2:00 a.m.), I went down to the
basement and got the lights. I started building my beautiful Tree of
Lights. I had to use duct tape, which interfered with my creative
vision, and it kind of sagged inward more than I had anticipated,
but it evoked the idea of a Christmas tree, and that's what I was
hoping for. And there it was, more or less the tree I envisioned!
And it was only 3:00 a.m., it was still possible to get 5 hours of
sleep!

I plugged the Tree of Lights in, so I could get the full visual
effect. The lights came on and they were good. And then, there was a
smoky *pop*, and every single light went out.

There was nothing to do but to just go to sleep. And as Loki said
the next morning, we spend 80% of our Christmas at other people's
houses anyway.

12/21/2008

Snow and cold

But I'm inside and totally digging Raising Sand, the Robert Plant/Allison Kraus collaboration. It gets my recommendation.

12/18/2008

Congratulations, Minstrel Boy!

Congratulations to Stevie Benson, aka The Minstrel Boy, on becoming the new Jeopardy champion last night. We were cheering for you!

My daughter wanted you to know that she guessed leopard seal about 5 seconds before you did. Also, she would like to order some truffles. How do we do that?

12/15/2008

Favo(u)rite Actresses

I've been tagged by Hazel at Let's Fold Scarves. The meme is Twenty Favorite Actresses, and the rules are stated by Hazel as follows:

My first criterion is that the majority of the films made by the actresses are in English since I am not likely to have seen more than two or three of their films if they mainly star(red) in foreign language films. My second criterion follows from this and is that I must have seen more than four or more films with the actress in question. My third criterion is that I have to have watched any old nonsense in order to follow these actresses (examples of these in brackets)


I am amending rule three slightly by listing either any old nonsense or something I would not have watched if the actress in question was not in the cast. For example, I know The Mummy was a blockbuster movie. I didn't watch it until I had seen Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener, and then wanted to see more of her.

Hazel is organized and orderly and put hers in alphabetical order; I'm not, so they are just in the order I think of them.

Meryl Streep (Death Becomes Her)
Kathy Bates (Rat Race)
Rachel MacAdams (Wedding Crashers)
Bette Davis (Burnt Offerings)
Jane Fonda (Barbarella)
Betty Garrett (Words and Music)
Rosalind Russell (My Sister Eileen)
Kate Winslet (The Holiday)
Judy Garland (Andy Hardy Meets Debutante)
Emma Thompson (Impromptu)
Rachel Weisz (The Mummy)
Madeleine Kahn (City Heat)
Julie Walters (Personal Services)
Sissy Spacek ('night, Mother)
Eve Arden (Hit Parade of 1943)
Frances MacDormand (Somthing's Gotta Give)
Holly Hunter (Copycat)
Sigourney Weaver (Heartbreakers)
Shirley MacLaine (The Evening Star)
Juliette Binoche (Chocolate)

If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged.

11/24/2008

7 Best Albums meme

I've been tagged by konagod

THE RULES:

1. Post your list of the seven best albums, the seven bloggers you will tag, a copy of these rules, and a link back to this page.
2. Each person tagged will put a URL to their Blogger Album Project post along with a list of the seven best albums in the comment section HERE at Hill's Country. Rules, rules, fucking rules!! Enough already!
3. Feel free to post the “I Contributed to the Blogger Album Project” Award Graphic on your sidebar (even though I couldn't find it), along with a link back to this page.
4. Post a link back to the blogger who tagged you.

As with all musical questions, this list is just the first best 7 I can think of today. On another day, it might be an entirely different list. Also, I use the word album very comfortably because I'm old, and that's what I always call CDs unless I think about it. And now, in no particular order:

Aretha Franklin - I Ain't Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You
The first time I heard this album, and that was probably when I was 7 or 8 years old, I decided that I wanted to be a black woman; at the very least, I wanted to sing like a black woman. My favorite cuts are Dr. Feelgood and Drown In My Own Tears

David Bowie - Hunky Dory
I would ordinarily give this slot to Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, but I've been in the mood for Hunky Dory for a month or so now. I think it was some sort of subliminal suggestion from Obama. Favorite cuts: Changes, Life On Mars

Nellie McKay - Get Away From Me
She looks like a 40's movie star, she sounds like the sweetest ingenue, but as my older sister said when she recommended this album to me, Nellie McKay is a head case. I love her sense of humor. Favorite cuts: Manhattan Avenue, Sari, Won't U Please B Nice, Suitcase Song

The Clash - London Calling
This is just a perfect album from the first bar. Favorite cuts: the whole thing.

Lou Reed - Transformer
Another perfect one.

The Duhks - Migrations
A great folk/roots/Celtic/Zydeco/Cajun fusion, with outstanding vocals by Jessee Harvey. Favorite cuts: Down To The River, Who Will Take My Place

Rufus Wainwright - Want One
This was the first Rufus Wainwright album I bought, after seeing him live with Ben Folds and Guster. I was so charmed by his personality, and wanted to get to know him better. He had me at the first cut, when a simple lyric and simple melody expanded into a full orchestra playing Bolero. Favorite cuts: O What A World, I Don't Know What It Is, Beautiful Child, 11:11.

I don't know if I know 7 people to tag, but here goes:
Leslie
Loki
Tree
Hazel
Andy
Liana
Terra

11/18/2008

Vegetarian meals

Last night, while I was taking apart a cooked chicken, Loki, Monkey and I had a discussion about vegetarianism. Loki is very keen to move towards vegetarianism, mostly for health reasons, but also because the production of meat is so cruel to animals, and unhealthy for the planet as a whole.

So I am looking for your favorite vegetarian recipes. Please share in the comments!

11/15/2008

I can control the temperature

It's weird how shortly after I put up my last post, it started to get unseasonably warm here in CT. It was in the 60's today. One time, Loki and I were going to Cape Cod, and it was supposed to rain all weekend, so the whole way there, we sang songs about sunshine, and we had a beautiful sunny weekend, so based on these two instances, I feel quite confident in saying that I have some sort of pull over the weather. Sometimes.

At any rate: my brother-in-law is here right now, fixing our problem. In exchange, I'm making him a nice dinner and we bought him a couple of fine cigars.

11/13/2008

Cold

We still have no heat at my house. Maeve and I spent the evening huddled under blankets, watching Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD (episodes: What's My Line part 1, What's My Line part 2, Ted and Bad Eggs). We are no longer keeping the heat off just to keep our bill down, we are now waiting for my BIL to come over and fix our boiler/heater/whatevertheF that piece of equipment is called. We are not waiting patiently so much as we are too frozen to get out from under the blankets to call and complain.

This morning, I made beef stew in the crockpot, and I put my hands on the pot and laid my face down on the lid, so the feeling in my nose could be restored.

I am thinking of re-reading books like Little House On The Prairie and Little Women, to get tips on how to survive the cold when you don't have central heat.

It's not even really that cold - we haven't gotten near freezing yet, but 45 degrees inside the house feels much, much colder. I would shell out money for someone to come fix it if I had the money; I can pay my brother-in-law in cigars.

11/08/2008

8:00 p.m.

I wish I had something fun to do tonight, but here I am, reading blogs. Soon, I'm going to get even more boring and go to bed. I'm slightly tempted to run out and get some alcohol, maybe some champagne to celebrate the momentous events of this week.

But the first thing I did when I got on the internet tonight was send a letter to Christopher Dodd, reminding him that the same Connecticut Democrats who put him in office DID NOT vote for Joe Lieberman, and we do not want Joe Lieberman to have a chair in the new senate.

Bipartisanship is all well and good, but both parties have to be working in good faith, and Joe Lieberman is only interested in working for Joe Lieberman. Let's give the chair to someone who will use the power appropriately, and let Joe figure out where he wants to spend the next 4 years, until Connecticut Democrats will finally be rid of him.

11/04/2008

BEST.BIRTHDAY.EVER!!!!!

Congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama! I am laughing and crying at the same time.

Voting

I woke up this morning, and it was a rare November morning - warm and sunny. I made some breakfast and coffee, showered, dressed, and headed out to vote. I didn't have to wait very long, and I cast my vote after about 6 minutes. I felt immediately elated, and then, as I got to my car and realized that later today, we could very well have our first African-American president, I got a little choked up. And I've been alternating between giddiness and weepiness all day. (Weepiness, in part, because I have the mother of all sinus headaches.)

Today is not just election day, it is also my 39th birthday, and I'm hoping it will be the best birthday ever, representing the beginning of a better America.

10/21/2008

Concert Update

We had a few November dates available to us, but we've decided to postpone the Harmonious Soul concert until spring, so we can put together a great evening of entertainment. I'll keep you posted!

10/20/2008

Feeling slightly better

Spent the majority of Saturday curled up under blankets watching massive quantities of boob tube - I rewatched My Beautiful Laundrette and it was even better than I remembered, something that doesn't always happen when I rewatch movies I loved in the 80s.

Yesterday, I hauled my carcass out of bed and went to my church gig. Still have a stuffy, runny nose and a cough, but I could still sing, so I went. Then I went to my friend's Sukkot party, because we haven't turned our heat on yet so I wanted to go someplace warm.

Even though I still wasn't feeling great, I made dinner last night because turning the oven on warmed up the house. And I came to work today because work is warm and home is cold. I'm really not looking forward to this winter.

10/18/2008

Sick

I'm sick. Runny nose, watery eyes, sore throat, coughing, sniffling, sneezing, stuffy head, all-over achiness, fever, and even the dreaded vomiting. I keep going to bed hoping that the next time I wake up, I'll feel better, but so far, no go.

10/14/2008

In my dreams, I run

I took a week off from the gym last week because I was sick, and I went back tonight. I'm already sore. Ever since I started working out, I dream about doing physical things I can't do when I'm awake - nothing as awesome as flying dreams, which many people have, but now I have running dreams. This past week, I had such a vivid dream about running that I started crying when I woke up and realized that I can't run.

10/02/2008

William F. Buckley: If there is a God, it's hot where you are,

and your son Christopher will be joining you when he kicks off.

As William F. Buckley Jr.'s only child, satirist and former White House aide Christopher Buckley is poised to inherit a fortune worth tens of millions of dollars.

But as Buckley waits for the estate of his late father to go through probate court in Stamford, a former Random House publicist is fighting in a Miami courtroom to increase the $3,000 a month in child support he pays for the special-needs son he fathered with her.


$3000 is pretty generous for child support for an upper middle class family (or so I understand), but Buckley has been resisting an increase, despite the fact that his child has special needs, which can seriously ratchet up the costs of raising a kid.

But Christopher comes by his assholery honestly, I gues

It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that the Buckley family's efforts to keep Jonathan at arm's length don't end with Christopher Buckley. In his will, William F. Buckley Jr. leaves the contents of his estate to Christopher and the two children he fathered with his wife — and leaves no doubt that Jonathan will get none of the money.

"I intentionally make no provision herein for said Jonathan, who for all purposes ... shall be deemed to have predeceased me," wrote William Buckley, who died in February.


Now, I don't think anyone with money is obligated to leave it to their children and grandchildren, but to deem the child as dead? Because he wasn't born in wedlock? Disgusting.

I have a copy of Thank You For Smoking somewhere in this house, purchased before I knew who Christopher Buckley was. I'm going to send it to his lawyer, with a polite note explaining that I am shamed for having ever contributed a penny to such a loathsome douchebag. And then I'll send the cost of the book to Irina Woelfle's lawyer to pass on to little Jonathan. It's not his fault his dad and grandfather are wretched, scumsucking, repulsive excuses for human beings.

9/24/2008

Connecticut Democrats debate whether to censure Lieberman

What's to debate? He's not a Democrat anymore, he hasn't been since at least 2004.

WTF is up with the squirrels?

I am starting to get very concerned about this winter, and this concern is largely driven by my observation of unusual squirrel behavior.

1. Squirrels are digging holes all over my backyard and burying nuts and seeds.
2. Squirrels are now looking for food on the sides and medians of the highway - I've never seen a squirrel on the highway before, but now I'm seeing squirrels scampering along the sides of I-84, I-91 and I-691 - and of course, a lot more dead squirrels on the highway itself.

We can't afford new windows, so I'm setting aside a weekend in October to caulk shut some of the windows and cover them all with plastic. Our house was built in 1925 and all the windows are original, so they are not good at keeping the cold out.

I'm also getting new storm doors, since we also have the original wood screen doors that came with the house.

9/18/2008

I know, Photoshop and all that, but...

My state has electronic scan machines for voting. Since we don't get a receipt, I've decided to bring my camera with me and take a picture of my ballot. I just feel better having a record of my vote.

Where am I?

Maybe you've asked yourself that question. Mostly, I'm working: I got a promotion at work, and now I'm super busy there all the time, and my church gig has started up again. I also have my weekly a capplla group rehearsal*, Monkey is taking dance class, and I joined the gym.**

*Our concert is going to be relocated and rescheduled. I will have more details, but hopefully, we will be celebrating Obama's win with a concert on 11/7.

**Yes, the gym. I really, really have to get serious about both losing weight and improving my muscle tone and flexibility before I get my hip replaced. I have to lose 60 pounds. So far, I've only been able to squeeze in 2 workouts a week, I'm hoping that when our schedules settle down a little I can get there a third time. Yesterday, I took an Aqua Fit class, and I'm feeling it today. My usual workout is 10 minutes on a bike, then some crunches, using weight machines for either my upper body or my lower body depending on which one I did last, and then a long walk on the treadmill. I am also making a concerted effort to eat all my fruits and vegetables every day, and this is definitely helping me to eat less, overall. Please feel free to send me words of encouragement on this, because I need to stay motivated.

9/10/2008

Srsly: Kudos, media

Somehow, the McCain campaign has gotten the major cable channel to spend hours discussing what was meant by a common aphorism (there are thousands of occurances of this phrase on Google, dating back years). It's like we're watching Candid Camera, except we're the schmucks that everyone will be laughing at when the Dumbest Campaign Ever ends up winning because people think it's some kind of reality show and they want to vote the smart guy off the island.

I know that this kind of bizarro shit has been going on for some time, but I feel we've reached new levels of empty, shallow idiocy. I was listening to NPR today, and they had a story about what happens when you literally put lipstick on a pig. (Suprise, surprise: the pig eats the lipstick).

Jesus H. Keerist. Apparently, Steve Schmidt watched the movie Idiocracy and has adopted it as a vision of the future.

9/09/2008

Concert Update

Bad news on my concert: we've lost our venue. We are currently looking for a venue to take us on short notice, but if we don't have something locked in by Friday, we're going to cancel the concert.

9/05/2008

Omnivore Meme

I first saw this at Angelos' blog, and then I just saw it at Toast's blog, so I'm doing this with Tracy & Toast's revisions.

1. Copy the list and post in your blog
2. bold the items you've tried
3. cross out the items you would never ever try
4. put asterisks next to the items you must try before you die
5. put question marks next to items you had to look up


1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding (every Sunday at breakfast - I loved it)
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho

13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses?
17. Black truffle (in a very fancy mac & cheese)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes

22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras**
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (that was a mistake)
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda?
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi?
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
although I didn't have them at the same time
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat - I have a lot of Jamaican friends
42. Whole insects
does it count if it was unintentional?
43. Phaal?
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more*******
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal I've lived 38 years without ever having a Big Mac. I'm certain I can survive the rest of my life without one.
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads - I don't want to say never, but it would be highly unlikely
63. Kaolin?
64. Currywurst?
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost?
75. Roadkill - no, only yardkill: my bil gave me squirrel stew once
76. Baijiu?
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong?
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum?
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.***
85. Kobe beef - it's good to have a chef in the family
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish - the first one, it was a fish I caught
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

I'll have to re-assess some of the ones I've never heard of. I may have eaten some of them, or maybe I MUST eat some of them.

8/29/2008

Now that McCain has chosen Sarah Palin as his VP...

My bold prediction is that suddenly, Republicans will notice and denounce sexism. Against Sarah Palin, anyway.

8/12/2008

You're invited

Harmonious Soul, my a cappella* group, is having a concert and you're invited!
The program will feature a cappella arrangements of music by artists from across the popular music spectrum, from James Taylor to Guns 'N Roses.

Details:
What: Harmonious Soul in Concert
When: , Friday, September 19, 2008
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: The Church of the Living God, 199 Deming Street, Manchester, CT
(I-84 E to exit 63, merge right off of exit onto Rt. 30, the church is located 1/2 mile on the right)
Cost: $5.00

*A Cappella is a style of music that spotlights the human voice, with no instrumental accompaniment. That doesn't mean it's just chanting - several songs feature vocal percussion. Harmonious Soul is a women's a cappella group, formed in 2000, and I've been singing with them since December 2007.

7/26/2008

Since I can't sleep

Another meme via Toast: pick your favorite album released every year you've been alive. Go to Wikipedia, seek the year you were born, look up album releases, and go on from there.

This is going to get very difficult at some point.

1969 - Five Leaves Left, Nick Drake
Yes, I know: Abby Road, Tommy, Man of Song/Man of Music, The Velvet Underground, The Stooges. I'm just feeling Nick Drake tonight, so he's my choice.
1970 - Moondance, Van Morrison
1971 - oooh, tough choice. I'm going to have to go with Who's Next by The Who, closely followed by Hunky Dory (David Bowie) and Young, Black and Gifted (Aretha Franklin)
1972 - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, David Bowie, closely followed by Transformer by Lou Reed.
1973 - Raw Power, The Stooges
1974 - Rock & Roll Animal, Lou Reed...although I would like to pick Meet The Residents, it's really something that amuses me, not my favorite.
1975 - A Night at the Opera, Queen
1976 - A Day at the Races, Queen
1977 - tough, tough year. I will go with Aja by Steely Dan. It's the only album of theirs I have, and I love it, and I don't care how dorky that is. But closely followed by Never Mind The Bullocks, Here's the Sex Pistols.
1978 - More Songs About Buildings and Food, Talking Heads (closely followed by Feeding of the 5000 by Crass)
1979 - London Calling, The Clash (closely followed by The B-52s)
1980 - Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, Dead Kennedys (runner-up: Boys Don't Cry, The Cure)
1981 - Kiss Me Deadly, Generation X, although it occurs to me that some of these albums were not my favorites in the year they came out. In the early 80's, I was listening to teeny-bopper stuff. At the time, my favorite was probably Duran Duran. I came to the punk stuff later in the 80s.
1982 - Bad Brains by Bad Brains, Combat Rock by The Clash, and 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 by Midnight Oil...although at the time, it was probably Rio by Duran Duran
1983 - Violent Femmes
1984 - Let It Be, The Replacements
1985 - Meat Is Murder, The Smiths
1986 - So, Peter Gabriel
1987 - Introduce Yourself, Faith No More
1988 - Shadowland, k.d.lang
1989 - Paul's Boutique, Beastie Boys
1990 - I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got - Sinead O'Connor
1991 - Nevermind, Nirvana
1992 - Little Earthquakes, Tori Amos (followed by Ingenue by k.d.lang
1993 - I have no favorite for this year.
1994 - ditto
1995 - Ben Folds Five
1996 - Tidal, Fiona Apple
1997 - Whatever and Ever, Amen, Ben Folds Five
1998 - Hello Nasty, Beastie Boys
1999 - The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Meissner, Ben Folds Five
2000 - nothing
2001 - Poses, Rufus Wainwright
2002 - nothing
2003 - Want One, Rufus Wainwright; The Love Below, Outkast
2004 - American Idiot, Green Day
2005 - nothing
2006 - Back in Black, Amy Winehouse
2007 - nothing
2008 - yet to be released

Light Posting

Yes, even lighter than it's already been. I will be out of town for a few days, and I'm not thrilled about it (it's work related, and I'm going someplace hotter than it is here, which is not something I'm keen to do).

I have to get up in about 4.5 hours, and I can't sleep...

7/23/2008

My List

Tracy at Bowl of Life tagged me with this kind of fun meme: who are the 5 celebrities you would want your spouse/partner to grant you a Get Out Of Jail Free card for?

In no particular order:

1. Jon Hamm


He's a new addition to my list, I've been mesmerized by his subtle performance as Don Draper on Mad Men since last summer. He is charming and funny in interviews, and he looks like he's a really good kisser.

2. Nathan Fillion


I already loved him from Firefly and Serenity. But did you see Dr. Horrible? He SINGS, too! I admit, I would like to spend some time with the Captain and his Hammer.

3. Daniel Day-Lewis


I have been in love with Daniel Day-Lewis since the 80's, when I saw him in My Beautiful Laundrette. He's tall and thin, with dark hair and light colored eyes, which is a look that hits me right in my sweet spot. And his intelligence and compassion shows in his acting. Love him.

4. Liam Neeson


Love his accent, fantastic speaking voice, dreamy eyes, I even like his nose, which is proportionally large compared to his face. He has such kindness in his expression.

5. Tie between Kate Winslet and Rachel Weisz




I think they are both so beautiful, and so intelligent and interesting.

So that's my list, fow now.

7/19/2008

Oh my God. They killed Penny! You Bastards!

Joss, clearly, you've been away too long. I had forgotten that in your 'verses, actions have consequences. I was thinking I was watching a love story, about a sorta sweet villain and the do-gooding girl he loves. I thought her purity of heart would turn him around, make him into a hero.

Instead, I was watching supervillain origin story. You zagged when I expected you to zig. I kind of hate you right now, but even more than that, I love you. You rotten bastard.

7/15/2008

Nathan Fillion can do anything

Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog, Part I is now available. Please, do yourself a favor and check it out.

I'm not joking around, people. Get your lazy asses out of bed and hit the site!

7/13/2008

Where am I?

I am busy at work, my home computer is still dead, and I've been having lots of excitement.

1. I was on vacation! As I wrote below, I took 5 days off from work and basically just read a lot.

2. My darling husband was in the hospital with a staph infection. You do not want to get a staph infection. He had a temperature of 103.5, and his poor, needlephobic self had to get 3 IVs (pulled the first one out while he was sleeping, the second one didn't work, and so he had to get a 3rd one for his intravenous meds. He is feeling entirely better now.

3. On the plus side, his doctor wouldn't let him go back to work until today, so we've been spending lots of time together.

4. He got 2 pairs of Converse All Star sneakers, and I have to say, seeing him wearing them makes me a little weak in the knees.

5. I'm working on a writing project that I will tell you about later.

6. I've been watching my Mad Men DVDs. Jon Hamm makes me almost as weak in the knees as my husband in his Converse All Stars.

7. Monkey is at camp, so it's just grownups in our house.

8. This is the week we will get our first look at Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog. I am practically palpitating with excitement.

6/30/2008

To answer the question that no one is asking....

...I've been busy.

Plus, my home computer has a virus, and I don't want to pay the Geek Squad's extortionary rate, so I'm looking for something better.

Also, I took a wee vacation so I could spend some time with Monkey and go to the beach. We happened to pick the only cold day in the past week to go to the beach, but eventually it started raining, so we didn't stay at the beach for long.

I've also been reading. I read The First Casualty and Dead Famous by Ben Elton, Twilight and New Moon by Stephenie Meyer; The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett; A Long Way Down by Nick Hornsby; and I just started The Historian by an author whose name I cannot currently remember.

Lastly, I've been going to bed at a reasonable hour - before 11pm most nights. It helps that I put an air conditioner in my room and it's bloody humid right now. I want to sleep more so I can wake up in October, when it's cool again.

6/16/2008

Tony Awards

I used to love all awards shows when I was younger, but I've definitely lost my love. However, I make an exception for the Tony Awards. When I was a child, the Tony Awards was a window into a world that I wanted to belong to. I pictured myself singing and dancing, in fantastic costumes, on stage in front of a live audience.

I liked a lot of things about last night's show. But the highlights for me were Lin Manuel-Miranda's acceptance speech for winning the Best Original Score Tony - which he delivered in freestyle rap - and the presentation from Sunday In The Park With George, which might be my favorite Sondheim musical.



I'm not sure if it's the music or the words or what, but that song gets me every time.

6/09/2008

I am so happy

that Jesse Taylor is back at Pandagon. I didn't realize how much I missed him until I started reading his posts again.

Maureen Watches Too Much TV: The Dance, Dance, Dance edition

This week, my TV viewing was almost entirely dedicated to dancing, with a small foray into changing partners with the new CBS drama Swingtown.

So You Think You Can Dance: We had one episode dedicated to auditions, which were kind of boring, and then the Thursday night ep was the Vegas episode. This is when the top 200 dancers get put through the ringer. At the end of the episode, they introduced the top 20 dancers, which surprisingly did not include Kelli Baker or Brandon Bryant, both of whom I thought were locks for the show. The show gets much better once the top 20 are chosen, so I'm looking forward to this weeks episodes.

Step It Up And Dance: This week was the finale, and the final 4 dancers were to present their solos. Of course, first they had to participate in a choreography set to a terrible, terrible song by Fergie. As one of the contestants said "we thought we were going to the finale, but instead, we have finale purgatory." But the solos were impressive. Each one of the dancers presented their solo to notable choreographer Jerry Mitchell, who gave really useful critiques to each one of them. Based on what they presented to Mitchell, I was convinced that Mochi would win - her solo was powerful and beautiful. But when they presented their dances on stage, it was clear that the only possible choice to win the competition (and $100,000) was Cody Greene.

America's Best Dance Crew: I will watch anything dance related that doesn't have the word "star" in the title, I guess. This is an MTV show, produced by the mostly incoherent Randy Jackson. I recorded this one, which was a wise call, because in a TWO HOUR program, there was possibly 8 minutes of dancing. Since I don't care about all the chit chat, I fast-forwarded through everything except the routines. None of the finalists in this one grab me as much as the winners of the last season of this show, Jabberwockees. But it's early days yet.

Swingtown: I was as surprised as anyone when I heard CBS was going to do a show about swingers in the 70s. The premiere episode was okay - they opened the episode with a fake-out blow-job, and they had to make the nod to price differences (heavens forfend, ground beef for .88 cents a pound!), but this could be interesting summer viewing. Molly Parker (Susan) is dreamy (although she either got new boobs or the costumer can do miraculous things), Miriam Shor (Janet) is uptight and judgemental, Jack Davenport (Bruce) is so cute but he's too mumbly, and the swinging couple across the street (Grant Show and Lana Perilla as Tom & Trina Decker) are positively predatory. I'll keep watching this one, for the time being.

6/01/2008

Banned Book Meme

Tagged by Deborah

These are the top 100 banned books. Bold the ones you've read, italicize the ones you've read only in part.

#1 The Bible
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

#4 The Koran
#5 Arabian Nights
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
#7 Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
#11 Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne
#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
#23 Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

#29 Candide by Voltaire
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Capital by Karl Marx
#37 Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
#43 Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys
#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 Color Purple by Alice Walker
#58 Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence

#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 A Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

#77 Red Pony by John Steinbeck
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright

#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
#102 Émile by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#103 Nana by Émile Zola
#104 Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
#108 Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes


Consider yourself tagged. Also: some of these books are puzzling inclusions. Little House On The Prairie?

It's a Mr. Death? Something about the reaping?

A couple of weeks ago, our lawn mower passed away, and since it was late spring, the grass grew and grew and grew, until it was very long. I was starting to feel anxious about it (since we live in a neighborhood of people who are obsessed with their lawns), thinking everyone was talking behind our backs about how we were letting things slide, so I decided I had to do something about it.

My initial thought was to buy a reel mower, so we could mow our vast .14 of an acre yard using only man/womanpower. But our grass was too long for a reel mower to be effective. So I bought a grass whip.



It took a little while to get the hang of it, but it was pretty darn effective. You basically swing it like a golf club, only less hip action. The best part: the children in the neighborhood gathered around to watch me reap, and they all wanted turns. I was happy to oblige. My shoulders feel well exercised, and Loki went out and evened out my work (and then did some more), so it looks good now. It's also quiet, uses no fuel and will be handy for those times when we let our lawn get a little out of control.

I think I'll still get the reel mower, though. My friend Katrina has one and she says it works great.

5/28/2008

Update

My friend Leslie has created a new blog, and the link has been updated in my blogroll: Leslie's Life.

5/20/2008

Maureen watches too much TV

ETA: Can you give me feedback on this post? I would like to know if you think I should have included a plot synopsis for the episodes...sometimes I forget that other people read this and that it's not just for my own personal enjoyment. Do you think a brief synopsis of the plots of the shows listed below would have improved this post?

It's only Tuesday, and thanks to the magic of the Tifaux, I've watched the following series finales since yesterday:

The Big Bang Theory: I only started watching this after the writer's strike was over. I was recording another show and I caught a snippet of the end of this one, and it made me laugh, so I started watching. It's kind of spotty, humor-wise, and this episode featured one character, Leonard (who is a nerdy science type, although I'm not sure which field he works in) kissed Penny (dumb blonde who lives across the hall whom Leonard has had a crush on), and the studio audience reached Married With Children levels of whooping it up. That bothers me. I do like some of the characters: Raj, who is a computer guy, is adorable and consistently makes me laugh; Howard, an engineer, is creepy-funny, and physicist Sheldon, Leonard's hyper-rational roommate can be hilarious when used in small doses.

How I Met Your Mother: I had to start watching this show. I was a huge fan of both Freaks & Geeks and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and this show has Jason Segel (Nick Andopolis from F&G) and Alyson Hannigan (Willow from Buffy). I like to keep up with the careers of actors from shows I like. This show has moments of absolute brilliance, and I enjoy the out-of-order storytelling. The finale was a little more sentimental than I like, and they may make the character Neil Patrick Harris plays grow and change, which I'm not sure is a good thing, but I trust the writers.

Bones: I watch this one because David Boreanaz was on Buffy and Angel. The finale sucked. It's like the show is being written by fan fic writers. All I can say is that I've guessed who the bad guy is in every single episode I've seen this season. I might have to drop this one.

House: The season finale was the second part of a 2 episode story that started last week. I was a little disappointed last week because I figured out that Amber was the victim the first time House noticed the beautiful woman's necklace, but otherwise, these two episodes featured stellar work from Hugh Laurie, Robert Sean Leonard, and Anne Dudek, who was radiant in the final episode. RIP, Cutthroat Bitch, you were just too awesome for this world.

Music for a melancholy day

5/18/2008

Oblivious

Did you ever have one of those days where you suddenly found out all kinds of secrets about your family? I never realized how completely oblivious I am to what's going on around me.

5/11/2008

Ten things about my mother

1. She never says goodbye on the phone. When she's done talking, she just hangs up.
2. She will not accept any presents.
3. If you tell her you like something in her house, she will immediately force you to take it.
4. She has never said "I love you" to any of her children.
5. She has the most lovely singing voice, which she will only rarely share.
6. She once stole a cat and returned it when her mother found out. She then collected the reward for the missing cat.
7. She will drive across state lines for a great pizza.
8. She taught the kids in our neighborhood how to jump double dutch.
9. She made up funny nicknames for teachers she didn't like; the principal of my elementary school, Mr. Reardon, is actually called (according to my mother) Mr. Rearend.
10. She taught me the following rhyme to say to kids I didn't like:

Scab sandwich
pus on top
monkey's vomit
camel's snot
eagle's eyeballs dipped in glue
that's a sandwich made for you

My mom's not perfect, and I can trace certain issues I have back to certain behaviors of hers, but I love her so much. If nothing else, she provides me with some of my best stories.

Kittens

Monkey is a hog in mud right now, because we are foster parenting two adorable little kittens for the next month.



The sprawled out kitty is Fiona; the curled up one is Candy. When they aren't curled up sleeping, they are climbing furniture, crawling underneath things from which it is hard to get them, and engaging in the impossibly cute things that kitties do.

New to blogroll

Tracy is a bowl of life.

5/09/2008

Clinton v. Obama

My .02 on this volatile subject:

I am loathe to tell other people how they should vote, but if you tell me that you will stay home if your preferred candidate doesn't get the nomination, I reserve the right to think that you're a self-centered idiot.

I don't think Obama is the savior of the Democratic Party, or that Clinton is the only one who can defeat McCain. I don't expect either one of the them to be perfect; if I had my druthers, we would have a truly progressive candidate instead of two mushy centrists to choose between. But if you can't see that either of them is better than the alternative, you need more than the services of a good opthalmologist - you need to ignore the past 8 years, pretend that the 2000 election never happened, and think so highly of your own personal take on the political situation that you can't fathom that maybe you don't have all the answers.

Choir Update

Way back in November, if you recall, I left the Congregational church where I sang for 7 years, along with the choir director and the accompaniest, and started singing at a Catholic church with them. The new choir was...not good, to put it as succintly as possible, and I wasn't sure I wanted to continue with them.

I just wanted to share that huge leaps and bounds of progress have been made with the choir. I'm really proud of my section in particular, since we have a committed group of altos who are there every week and put in the work to make our part as good as we can.

In addition to vast improvements in our sightreading and musicality, I've grown to love the people in this choir. They are kind, generous, warm...just a lovely group of people. So I think I'll be continuing with them for a while.

5/08/2008

I saw it, so I'm tagged

Meme via Angelos

1) Ten years ago I was...
Working at Cox Communications, at about this time of the year, I was promoted to work in their new telephony department as a Broadband Analyst. I worked kind of insane hours, but I loved the job. Although, if I hadn't gotten the promotion, I would have been laid off in a great economy, with a year's severence. I would have gotten another job and 2 years salary in one year's time. I regret that, sometimes.

2) Five things on today's (tomorrow's) to-do list:
Buy eggs
Do some yoga
walk the dog
finish the book I'm reading
laundry

3) Things I'd do if I were a billionaire:
Pay off all my debts
Set aside money for Monkey and Sio
Give a big chunk of change to my parents, my siblings, my father-in-law, my aunt-in-law and my sister-in-law
Quit my job so I could go to school full-time and get my damn degree already
Travel around the world
Buy a house in Ireland
Find a way to use my money to help create the kind of world I want to live in

4) Three bad habits:
Overeating
laziness
nail-biting

5) Five places I've lived:
Hebron, CT
Meriden, CT
Yalesville, CT
Portland, CT
Glastonbury, CT

6) Six jobs I've had in my life:
Meat wrapper
video store clerk
grocery store cashier
retail wage slave
waitress/sandwich maker
secretary

Exactly how I feel

D. Aristophanes at Sadly, No! has captured my opinion of the Clinton v. Obama slugfest. Indeed, I could have written the same post, word for word, if A. I wasn't too lazy to write that much at one time and B. excepted the parts about interblog fighting, because I don't really do that.

5/07/2008

Invitation to the Dance

Ferdy on Films is running a blogathon called Invitation to the Dance. The subject is dance in the movies. Check out the site for links. There are some great videos out there, too. And this gives me an opportunity to share, again, one of my favorite dance scenes from the movies: the dance battle between Bob Fosse and Tommy Rall in My Sister Eileen.



I'm a huge fan of dance battles, and I think we should consider resolving all the world problems with dance battles.

While I was looking up this video, I noticed that several people have taken a video of Gwen Verdon and two other women doing what I describe as a K-Tel Records Easy Listening Songs of the 70's dance, choreo'd by Bob Fosse, and set it to some rather more contemporary songs. For example:



Damn, I love the internet.

Birthday and hiccups

Monkey opened up some cool presents tonight. She got a couple of books (A Wrinkle In Time and Gossamer, the latter of which caused her to jump up and down with happiness); some chocolate, a new bathing suit, some unmentionables* that she refused to open even in front of Loki, and a boombox (and that's what it's called, because it was in the aisle marked "Audio - MP3 - Boombox").

I made a homemade pizza, which is always an adventure because no two doughs ever come out the same. The last one I made didn't want to rise; this one wouldn't stop rising. It was a fluffy crust, which is not my preference, but it did mean that one piece was enough for me. For dessert, we had birthday cake. As per Monkey's request, we had an ice cream cake, and rather than buying a Carvel ice cream cake at the grocery store, I MADE an ice cream cake. I liked a Pyrex bowl with parchment paper, then put a layer of Breyer's Vanilla. I let that freeze up a bit, then I added half a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie, a layer of cookie crumbles, and then a layer of fudge. I let that all freeze a bit, and then I added a whole pint of Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie, and then the remaider of the Chocolate Fudge Brownie went on the bottom.

It was pretty awesome.

*yes, I am the kind of mother who buys things like underwear and socks for birthdays and Christmas. If I'm buying something, I like buying something that will get used.

Oh, hiccups. I've been getting them a lot over the past couple of days, usually at night before bed and in the morning when I wake up. It's extremely annoying.

Eleven Years Ago Today

I woke up at 5:30 in the morning. I thought I was wetting the bed, but my water had not so much broken as sprung a leak. I felt the first contraction, and called Loki, who was at work. While I waited for him to come home, I turned on the TV and watched the movie Party Girl, where Parker Posey plays a Club Kid who discovers a love of the Dewey Decimal system.

We got to the hospital around 7, I was having contractions, but they were all over the place: 13 minutes apart, then 6 minutes apart, then 12 minutes apart, etc. But they admitted me, and soon enough, the contractions were coming hard and heavy. And back to back, which meant that I would have 2 minutes of contraction, and then 30 seconds in between to recover.

Sidebar: Everyone always makes jokes about pushing the baby out, but the part of labor and delivery that is hardest, in my opinion, are the contractions. They feel like the worst menstrual cramp you've ever had, doused with gasoline and set on fire. Pushing the baby out is sweet relief after that.

It wasn't easy, but it was fast: at 11:08 a.m., Maeve was born. She weighed 6 lbs, 13 oz., and was 18 inches long. When we went for her first checkup, a week later, she had lost a whole pound, and it took her 2 months to gain that one pound back. So my time off from work was spent going to the doctor every other day, getting tons of tests done on a tiny screaming baby, all the while knowing in my heart that she was just fine.

So Happy Birthday, my Monkey.

5/05/2008

This post brought to you by the letter M

Generically tagged by Toast for this "meme" (I really hate that term). All answers start with the first letter of your first name.

What is your name? Maureen

A four-letter word: math

A vehicle: motorcycle

A city: Montreal

A boy's name: Michael

A girl's name: Margaret

Alcoholic drink: martini

An occupation: mayor

Something you wear: mittens

A celebrity: Marilyn Monroe

A food: mussels

Something found in a bathroom: mess

Reason for being late: migraine

Something you shout: MAEVE!

An animal: monkey

A body part: mouth

The inserts are getting weird

I don't subscribe to any newspapers, but our office subscribes to three: The Hartford Courant, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. (We also get Newsweek, The Economist, and, oddly enough, Glamour). I'm the first one in on Mondays, so I picked up the papers, and when I took them out of their bags, I found an interesting insert in all three of them.

The top of the page says GODS Planet Earth ForEver Isaiah 44-24. Then there's a picture of a woman making the Home Alone face next to a title that says IT'S BACK. IT'S LIVE. next to a picture of the logo for The Connecticut Forum.

Below that is a paragraph with the title Journalism. I'm typing the paragraph as it is written on the insert.

As Some Of My Coworkers In Freedom Of The Press*Try To Play Hillary Against Barack*And Try To Play Obama Against Clinton*Please Stay Focused*That Hillary And Barack Isnt The Problem*The Problem Is The bush Administration*Over One Million Human Beings Have Been Killed*Over One Million Human Beings Have Been Injured*And Over Two Million Human Beings Have Been Made Homeless Because Of The bush Administration*Not To Omit That 90 Percent Of Those Human Beings*Were UnarMed Innocent Ladies*Unarmed Innocent Women*UnarMed Innocent Children*Unarmed Innocent GentlemaNs*And Unarmed Innocent Men*Corrupt Politician george bush Is A War Criminal*Guilty Of War CriMes Against Creation And Humanity John 8-32*Yes Now You Have The Truth Humanity*And The Truth Can Set Human Beings Free John 8-32**


I'm pretty sure that this wasn't a paid insert.

5/04/2008

In A Funk

That's where I am these days. We've had some cold and wet weather, which is bad for my hip, and I'm still coughing because I haven't been able to get to the doctor, and I'm slightly stressed out about money because I have three birthdays to shop for this month, one of them on Wednesday, when my Monkey turns 11, and I STILL have no idea what I'm going to get her, and I'm trying to eat right and stay on top of the cleaning I've done recently and get a good night's sleep, and it's all sort of turning me into a cranky and kind of anxious person, and I hate feeling that way. Or being that way.

Which is why I haven't posted.

4/27/2008

Guess what we're having for dinner?

This weekend, Monkey had to work on a project of dubious educational value: the pasta car. This involved going to 5 different grocery stores in search of wheel shaped pasta, the purchase of about 5 metric tonnes of various shapes of pasta, including the aforementioned wheel shape, trying to figure out whether the pasta should be cooked or uncooked, and then various attempts of varying levels of success to make pasta into what roughly resembles a car.

In the end, Monkey and I ended up with 2 prototypes, neither of which promise to be big winners in tomorrow's pasta car race. One of them is kind of cool looking, though.

4/24/2008

Will I ever be healthy again?

Last night, I had a rough night of sleeping because I kept coughing. I've been coughing for a while now - it seemed like it was about 6 weeks of coughing. But I went to refill my albuterol inhaler today, and the original prescription was filled on February 6. So I've been coughing for almost 80 days. For most of 2008. I've been so busy at work that I didn't realize that much time had passed.

I'm definitely calling the doctor tomorrow.

4/17/2008

The Club

Down the stairs to the dive
the pit
the bar
The Club
Cool and dark like a cave
Smell of beer and smoke
like dad
The men turn in their stools
and cheer with their brogues
"Ah, a round for Billy!"

Me and my sister play pretend
and War
and pool

I sing a rebel song
and collect quarters from men
who pinch my cheeks

We are seven and eight
we can pour a perfect pint

As the sun goes down
The Club fills up

The men are three deep at the bar
and we dodge lit cigarettes
as we push through the men,
playing tag
and hide and seek
until next week
when we come back to the bar,
the dive
the pit
The Club

(c) Maureen Barton (aka: maurinsky)

(Obviously, I know this poet, too.)

A Neolithic Meditation

------------------------------------------------------------------------------


They'd have handed you a hide sack
and a cow's shoulderblade to shovel with
here, and sentenced you to daily quotas
from the gravel pit or a sod-field
past its prime, or with better luck, to paddling
a dugout down the Boyne where that salmon
and its wisdom was always beyond
the spearhead. Out of the overseer's eye
you'd be able to pace yourself until
you returned with a boatload of white stone
for enhancing this burial mound's face.
Full of noose-around-the-neck wisecracks,
you'd have been an unwilling toiler,
envying the horse its stamina,
the hare its jagged speed over broken
fields, and bog cotton its deference to wind
on peatlands against blue mountains,
where it crowds white-headed
as ancient peasants herded off the best
grazing, enduring as if they'd do better
as plants hoarding minerals through winter,
hairy prodigals spinning existence from clouds,
from mistfall two days out of three, the odd
shoal of sun drifting across. If you've come here
for your roots, lay an ear at grazing level,
down where even the sheep-splats
awry on stones are beginning to raise moss,
the level of folk wisdom, where maybe
you'll hear, "Need teaches a plan,"
or "Better to live unknown to the law."



© by Brendan Galvin

I actually know this poet. He teaches (taught?) poetry at Central Connecticut State University. He is also the stepfather of Loki's best friend from high school.

4/15/2008

Another poem

maggie and milly and molly and may
by E. E. Cummings


10

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea






Copyright © 1956, 1984, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust from The Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, Edited by George J. Firmage. Reprinted by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

4/14/2008

For at the first glance of the glory of god in the east

It's Monday morning, and I'm as chipper as a thing that is really, super-chipper, and why is that, you ask?

THE SUN IS OUT!

We have sunny days in the winter, but the springtime sun is special. It offers not just light, but warmth, and it makes me feel like dancing. (I was going to say it made me feel like bursting out into song, but there is very little that DOESN'T make me feel like bursting into song, so...dancing it is.)

Yeah, it's Monday morning, and my cat woke me up early by leaping on top of my bad hip, and I had trouble motivating those people I live with to get out the door in a timely fashion, *but* I'm sitting here, taking a quick break from work, with a perfect cup of coffee, and the sun streaming in through the office windows, and I feel GLORIOUS!

I'm twitterpated, I tells ya.

4/09/2008

National Poetry Month

My thanks to Sir Robin for letting me know that April is National Poetry Month. How appropriate, when my part of the world becomes a visual poem every day! Since I am completely twitterpated owing to spring, I thought this would be a good poem to share.

Spring and All
by William Carlos Williams


By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast-a cold wind. Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen

patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees

All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
leafless vines-

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches-

They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind-

Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf
One by one objects are defined-
It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf


But now the stark dignity of
entrance-Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted, they
grip down and begin to awaken




Copyright © 1962 by William Carlos Williams. Used with permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publisher.

4/08/2008

Olivier Messiaen

Back at the Congregational church where I used to sing, after the service, the choir would all stay until our accompaniest was finished playing the postlude. One Sunday, as conversations swirled around me, I sat, transfixed by this otherworldly music emerging from the organ. The music was glorious and terrifying, as if inspired by the Old Testament God.

That piece was Apparition de l'église éternelle by French composer Olivier Messiaen. This year marks the 100th anniversary of his birth, and a New York Times profile on the composer and tributes to him ran this past Sunday.

I'm still learning about Messiaen, but I found this video of the piece I mentioned above on YouTube. This is Daniel Roth playing Apparition de l'église éternelle.



I'm getting chills listening to it. (The video is kind of boring, although that is one hell of a magnificent looking organ.)

This is why I use recipes

Tonights dinner didn't really need a recipe, I just needed an idea, and the recipe provided it. I made salmon with roasted leeks. I just trimmed the leeks and cut them into quarters, cleaned them, drizzled some olive oil over them and seasoned them with salt & pepper, and then roasted them. When I had about 10 minutes left to cook them the way I like them, I added some salmon (salted & peppered) to the pan. So lovely. I squeezed a lemon over the whole thing, and that was perfect. Simple and perfect, just what I like.

4/06/2008

Why do I follow recipes?

It so often turns out badly for me. For example, I am making a pork loin roast with garlic and au gratin potatoes. I checked the website for Pork, and it said a loin roast the thickness I was preparing should be cooked 20 minutes per pound. That seemed a little low to me, so I upped it to 25 minutes per pound. The roast is only 1 and a quarter pounds, and it's been in the oven now for 45 minutes, and it's nowhere near done.

Also, the au gratin recipe I was using called for 2 lbs of potatoes. I used slightly more than that, about half of a 5 lb bag. The recipe also called for 1 cup of cream and 1.5 cups of milk. Now I've got potato and milk soup with cheese on top.

I really should just go with my gut. I almost used less milk and cream, but I didn't. I almost put the roast in even earlier, but I didn't. It's not a disaster, but it's not the beautiful dinner I had invisioned, either.

4/02/2008

Making Music

I spent much of last week involved in a women composer's festival, and this afternoon, on my way home from work, I caught Nellie McKay on NPR's Project Song.

I am entranced by the process of crafting a song. It is like magic to me. I was speaking to one of the composers last week, and I told her that, and she was puzzled. "Haven't you ever had a tune running through your head?"

I had to answer yes to that question - but the tune is never one of mine. It's the curse of having a good ear and memory for music that anything that sounds even marginally similar will morph into a tune you already know.

Then there is the fact that I don't play an instrument.

I would love to write a song, and I'm going to make it a goal for myself, but from where I am now - it's going to take some magic. I hope I can get there.

3/31/2008

There was a turf war

and I was the turf.

Our Saturday morning rehearsal for the afternoon concert got pushed back an hour, so there was going to be a significant overlap between the afternoon concert rehearsal and the evening concert rehearsal. I was sitting there, all warmed up, and all of a sudden, there was a fight going on over who needed me more.

Afternoon concert won, and I think they probably did need me more, since we had a lot of non-sight readers singing with us. So I didn't go to the evening concert rehearsal, which meant I couldn't perform in the evening concert. Kind of a bummer, because they had an outstanding piece that I was looking forward to singing, composed by Jessica Rudman. (It's her SSA "Two Poems" - so, so beautiful.)

3/25/2008

Local Women Composer's Concert

...or how I gave my week to women composers.

One of the women in my a cappella group asked if any of us were interested in singing in a local women composers concert. I said yes, because I have been looking for songs to sing for my eventual audition into a music ed program, and I was specifically hoping to sing pieces composed by women.

So I got the music, and I talked to the woman organizing the event, and had a rehearsal on Saturday morning. She gave me postcards and brochures for the event, and we quickly went over most of the music. We had another rehearsal scheduled for tonight.

(This was happening, btw, during the music marathon that is Holy Week).

Tonight, I got another new piece, and I got to meet the composer, Sebastiana (I can't remember her last name). Sebastiana speaks at least three languages, and she set the song to a poem by Goethe. It's gorgeous. It's not an easy piece, but somehow, it is easy to sing - I think that's the mark of a good composition. This one will be performed tomorrow evening, so that's an additional concert I just found out about today.

We also went over another piece, one that the organizer asked me sing tenor on, and this one kicked my ass and then played a game of keepaway with it. Ho. Lee. Crap. I'm not sure I'll be able to get this one. It's one of these pieces where it's not so bad when you sing you're own line, but as soon as another part is singing, it all falls away.

Then the organizer asked me to go to another location where the other choir was practicing for another concert, which will take place on Saturday evening.

This is probably getting difficult to follow, so I'll just point you towards the website for the event, which has been going on all month: The 8th Annual Women Composers Festival of Hartford.

(oh, and hey, there's Sebastiana's last name: Sebastiana Ierna, from Sicily. Which means she speaks at least 4 languages: Italian, English, German, and Portuguese.)

So I went down the road to the other rehearsal, they were just finishing up with the SATB pieces (S-soprano, A-alto, T-tenor, B-bass, for the non-singers), and I had just enough time to get all the music and practice 2 pieces, both of which were lovely.

So, if you're in the Hartford area and you would like to either meet me, hear me sing, or are generally interested in women composers, I will be in the following concerts:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008: 7:30 p.m. at the Hartt School of Music, Konover Building - Women of the World Concert.

Saturday, March 29, 2008: 2:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Meeting Hall, Bloomfield Avenue, Hartford - Local Woman Composer's Concert.
AND

Saturday, March 29, 2008: 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Meeting Hall, Bloomfield Avenue, Hartford - Concert Pro Femina

And as my choir director would say, I'm putting the music under my pillow.

RFA

Or, Request for Assistance.

Can anyone help me figure out the correct HTML coding (and where in my template it should go) to increase the amount of white space between the timestamp/comment line and the title of the post below it? This is bugging me, I've tried increasing the margins that are in the template, but I can't find the right one for the space that I want to change.

3/24/2008

I'm not sure I like it

Well, I've made all these changes, and I'm not sure I like any of them. But they are made and I probably won't go through the hassle of changing it again for another few years.

One More Thing....

Does anyone know how I add additional white space after each blogpost?

Working on it

Blog changes are underway, but I have a very short lunch period, so more updates will be coming...including an updated blogroll.

3/20/2008

Updating ye olde blogge

I'm going to be updating the blog soon, and if you think I would enjoy your blog and you would like to be included in the new blogroll, let me know.

For today, I've added Sir Robin Rides Away. I first noticed Sir Robin over at Shakesville, when he agreed with me about something, and I love when people agree with me. I didn't read his blog until recently, but I like it very much, so I included him in the Friends and Family section.

I always loved Gene Kelly

He apparently had good taste in women, too.

This is what happens when I clean

Monkey lost something very important for school, and we turned the house upside down looking for it, until we figured out that it had accidentally been disposed of. Which sucks, because now she'll have to do the work all over again, but it did provide me an opportunity to find pictures from our 2003 trip to England. You can double click the pictures to enlarge them.



This is Sio, Monkey and me using the Underground. Sio and Monkey are singing something, and damned if I can remember what. ETA: I finally remembered: they were singing a song they learned from the Peter, Paul & Mommy CD, Leatherwing Bat . As an additional sidebar: I was watching a documentary about Peter, Paul & Mary at my parents house last weekend. Mary Travers was the shit when she was a young woman, I couldn't take my eyes off her.



I love this one of Sio & Monkey. We were shopping with my cousin Eileen in Enfield (north end of London), and Sio was keeping Monkey entertained by reading her a Power Puff Girls comic.



Driving by not just a henge, but THE henge: Stonehenge.



Great picture of the girls on their way up to the Glastonbury Tor. Loki took this one, I was writing postcards down in the village, where it was lovely and sunny and warm; it was a wee bit colder and windier up where they were.



Monkey and I on the London Eye - you can see Big Ben behind us.



Loki and the girls. I can hardly remember him without his beard!



This white peacock was at Leeds Castle. It was kind of a sad story - he had a mate, an albino peahen, but she was killed by a fox, and none of the other peahens would have anything to do with him because he was albino.



Sio and Monkey enjoying a picnic lunch at Leeds Castle.



Honestly, I cannot remember when or where this picture was taken (although it's obviously on a boat), but my god, Monkey is a gorgeous child. Not that I'm biased.

I don't know if you noticed, while you were looking at the England pictures, but if not, I'll point out the unusual thing in all of them: sunshine. Everytime I've been to Ireland the UK, the weather has been gorgeous. They really should pay me to visit them.

3/17/2008

Obligatory St. Patrick's Day Post



Apparently, some people are bothered by pipes and fiddles, so here's a harp. Go ahead, try and complain about the sound of a harp.

3/14/2008

Photo Meme

I've been meaning to do this one for a few days, since I saw it over at Konagod's. Today I saw at Brave Sir Robin's, and I have insomnia, so here we go:

what's your first name?
Maureen

where do you live?
Manchester, CT Seal

what is your relationship status?
Married

what is your favorite color?
green

favorite food?
Dim sum

what are you listening to right now?
Silence

what is your favorite movie?
Citizen Kane

where is your dream vacation?
New Zealand

what are you thinking about right now?
beach

who is your best friend?
Cugel

nickname?
mo

where do you work?
planning

what (who) makes you laugh?
eddie izzard

what are you going to do after this?
brush my teeth

how do you feel right now?
:(

and

CONFUSED

and

restless

what are your plans for the weekend?
Laundry

what is your favorite thing to do?
sing

what school do you go to?
mcc

what are you addicted to?
Internet!

what's your best feature?
Redhead

3/12/2008

If you're wondering why I've been quiet...

...it's because I've been playing this game over and over again.

I've made it to level 9 a few times, but the continent of Africa kills me. To be fair, when I took Geography, Rhodesia had only just become Zimbabwe, and there was this place called the Soviet Union.

Update: I'm now regularly making it to level 10, but so far I've come 15 points short of advancing to level 11.