Friday, May 25, 2018

#466 Shower The People

Over the years I’ve joked that my niece better not get married before I do.  I started saying it when she was a kid.  She’s now 25.  And she’s getting married in a week. 

She got engaged in December 2016, so I’ve had a lot of time to process it.  Immediately after it happened, I declared to a friend that I needed to get moving if I wanted to fulfill my prophesy.    

Last summer I tweaked my plan, as I thought I’d have a better chance to find a date for the wedding.  During a long bike ride (where I usually have best ideas) I came up with the concept of putting something on a dating site about finding a wedding date, and modeling it after the movie Wedding Date.  Something like, “Need a wedding date.  Must have a suit.  Must look good in said suit.  Must be a reasonably good dancer.  Must not get drunk at the reception.  Will not pay you $6,000, but dinner and drinks are included.  Sex is not included.  Not mandatory that you look like Dermot Mulroney, but must be reasonably handsome.  The only resemblance I have with Debra Messing is curly hair and a small chest.”  I have my full list somewhere.  I thought it was clever, although I realize most men would have no idea what I was referring to. 

I fully intended to post my idea, but…let’s just say something came up that precluded me from doing so.  Divine intervention?  Possibly.  And you know what?  I’m ok with all of this.  I think if I was in my 30s or early 40s I might have a different outlook.  Certainly still happy for Megan and Taylor.  But maybe a little sad about my personal situation(?)  At this stage in my life all I feel is excitement for them with zero thoughts of myself. 

Another cool aspect is that over the years, my friends have become friends with my brother and sister-in-law, so not only will it be a fun family affair, but my friends get to celebrate with us too. 

Earlier this year Megan asked me to host her bridal shower and I dove in head first.  I started OD’ing on Pinterest and found a photo that I wanted to re-create. 

I knew what I wanted it to look like, but I had no idea how to do it.  I started by walking around Hobby Lobby.  For an hour.  That was followed by trips to Michael's, JOANN Fabrics and a return trip to Hobby Lobby.  My first project was the sign banner.  I saw them online, but wanted to make them myself.  I bought poster board, twine, small bottles of gold glitter and black paint, letter stencils and foam “brushes.”  I cut 6”x 6” squares, painted the lettering on with black paint using the stencils, and then dabbed the gold glitter paint on the edges for effect.  Then I punched holes in the top to string the twine. 

My cousin Diane helped out with the ribbon banner.  I borrowed one from her son's wedding last summer and accented the various beige ribbons with lavender cloth strips.    

My pièce de résistance was the chair veil.  Again from the original photo.  I bought two yards each of lavender and white tulle and cut them lengthwise into two strips.  I then sewed them together on the long edge using a wide stitch.  I pulled on one of the thread strands, which made the tulle gather nicely.  I had the two lavender pieces on top, with the two white pieces underneath, so you got the fullness with just a hint of lavender.  I hand-sewed a thick, satin lavender ribbon to the tulle so I could tie it on the back of the chair.  On the side facing out, I hot-glued small, lavender artificial flowers.  So pretty! 

One of the shower games was “Words of Wisdom” where people write on a piece of paper, roll it up, and put it in a wine bottle.  The married couple then opens a bottle on each anniversary date specified.  I started out with anniversary years 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50.  When I mentioned this to my sister-in-law Lori, she said, “50?!  That’s a long time to keep track of a bottle!”  I reconsidered and cut it down to four bottles, stopping at 25.  I made my own labels and adhered them to the bottles with Mod Podge.

Our other games were to guess the bride’s age from a collage of pictures, and getting points for certain items you had in your purse.  Easy games they could complete while getting food and mingling.  

The last game was to set a timer when Megan started opening her presents.  When it went off (I re-set it every five minutes), whoever’s gift she was opening received the prize.  

My last touch was to use some leftover tulle to make a tiny veil for the pen I used to write down the gifts.  

The prizes we gave were personalized lip balm and a personalized candle tin.  So cute!  And Lori got the cutest party favors - baby whisks!  

The shower was in the afternoon, so we had desserts.  Lori made cake pops, tiny s’mores and chocolate peanut butter Ritz.  She also made a trifle.  I brought an assortment of fruits, nuts, and Megan’s co-maid of honor sent Shari’s Berries.  Our drinks were Blushing Bride Moscato strawberry lemonade (strawberry lemonade, Moscato wine and strawberry vodka), My Main Squeeze lemonade, and Sweet on You unsweetened iced tea. 

James Taylor’s song “Shower The People” states, “Shower the people you love with love.  Show them the way that you feel.”  I’m happy that I was able to shower Megan and our guests with a lovely day.  Here’s to Megan and Taylor and their upcoming nuptials.  I wish them a lifetime full of love and happiness. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

#465 Curse of the Rotisserie Chicken

Over the past three weeks I’ve eaten three rotisserie chickens.  They’ve been on sale at Fresh Thyme for $4.99.  I’ve picked them up after tennis and they’ve been an easy, relatively cheap meal – cut off some meat, sauté some vegetables, dinner is served. 

There comes a time, however, when you’ve had enough.  That time came this week.  Enough of the rotisserie chicken.  Tennis is over anyway (for now) and I won’t be by Fresh Thyme all summer. 

I bring my lunch to work and as I came to the last work day I had no leftovers to bring, and no energy to be creative enough to slap lunch together.  When I hit “bottom,” I resort to my Palomino card.  It’s actually a Restaurants Unlimited card, where you collect points.  But the only restaurant covered by the card in my area is Palomino. 

I randomly applied for this free card a few years ago during a happy hour with a friend.  Then one of my committees had a celebratory dinner there not long afterward, and I collected about 300 points.  Which translated into mucho dollars on my card. 

Today I called Palomino and ordered a half rotisserie chicken panini, a half chop-chop salad, and it comes with their garlic fries.  I know…rotisserie chicken!  But it was the best-sounding sandwich they had.  I walked the 15 minutes to pick it up, and in my mind I thought, “You should open the bag and check to make sure you have the correct meal.”  What did I do?  I picked up the bag, glanced at the receipt stapled to the bag (rotisserie chick) and walked 15 minutes back to the office. 

When I opened the bag at my desk, it was the wrong meal.  Instead of getting a half rotisserie chicken panini, I had A HALF ROTISSERIE CHICKEN.  Blast!  And instead of the bill being $15 plus tax for the half and half and fries, it was $30 for the chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans, plus $10 for the half chop-chop salad.  Sigh.  I know, I didn’t “pay” for the meal, but I essentially used up two meals for that one.  (I am a frugal gal at heart!)

Maybe the rotisserie chickens are haunting me since I ate so many of their kind?  Maybe I should listen to the little voice in my head more often.  Open the carry-out bag, people.  Open the bag. 

I did have a delicious and essentially free lunch.  I am thankful for that.  And when I eat the rest of the blasted chicken for dinner tonight, I hope that really will be the last of the rotisserie chicken. 

#464 Chills and Fever

Even though I’ve been to many concerts in my life, I still have a few “must see” names on my list.  Some are permanent, as they are either deceased or no longer touring (Bee Gees, Burt Bacharach, John Denver, Tom Petty).  One is still going strong, and I made plans to see him last weekend.  That would be Sir Tom Jones. 

About 15 years ago he was performing in Fort Wayne (?).  At the time, I thought the distance was too great.  I don’t recall the particulars – the day of the week, the cost.  Regardless, I didn’t go and have not seen his tours come close to me since. 

In January I randomly did a tour search and saw he was performing at the House of Blues in Chicago.  After discussing with my friend Krista, also a Tom Jones fan, we decided to make a weekend of it.  Everything fell into place – I found a reasonably priced hotel and parking garage within blocks of the House of Blues.  Yes!  We would finally see him! 

Being the “Girl Scout” that I am (not really a girl scout, but always prepared!), I checked the Chicago weekend weather.  High 64, low in the mid 50s.  Some rain.  I brought a light sweater and an umbrella.  When we arrived Saturday afternoon, it was in the mid 40s.  Home had been in the 80s so it was a brutal slap in the face.  Darn Lake effect! 

To avoid the cold, Krista and I had an early dinner at Ēma, which is attached to the Hilton Place.  Everything we had was outstanding [asparagus risotto, pan-roasted Romanesque cauliflower, chicken kefta and king salmon (both meats were kebabs, which came with rice).  Krista had a sticky date cake for dessert.]  After a quick, brisk, windy walk to the House of Blues we stood in line for around 30 minutes until the doors opened.  I snagged our tickets at Will Call and we managed to find seats at a tall table with a decent view from the second balcony. 

For those unfamiliar with the House of Blues, most tickets are standing room only.  Not ideal.  I did get a call a few days before the show asking if I wanted to upgrade to VIP seats, which would provide reserved seating, among other things.  “How much extra is that?” I asked.  The woman replied, “It starts at $300…”  I promptly cut her off.  “Oh no, that’s not going to happen.” 

By the time I bought my tickets, the only available spots were the balconies.  Tom had postponed his HoB show from last September when he had hip-replacement surgery, so a lot of the tickets were already spoken for. 

We spent our 1 ½ hour wait before the show chatting with our table mates Glen and Barbara, a nice couple from Wisconsin.  They were supposed to go to the September show and had seen Tom five times before. 

Pre-show and pre-disappointment.  

 At 8:05 p.m. Barbara what what might be keeping Tom.  And then, the “voice of God” came over the loudspeaker and announced that the show was postponed.  Barbara thought it was a joke.  Everyone was stunned.  About 10 minutes later, the voice spoke again.  No joke.  The house lights came up and the roadies started breaking down the stage.  Why, why, why??! 

We checked social media to see what had happened to Tom.  No information.  Of course, I thought I had killed him, as celebrities tend to die when I’m out of town (See Post #84).  Did he have a stroke?  A heart attack?  A family issue? 

Eventually we said goodbye to our new friends and walked back to the hotel, stopping this time at the Ēma bar to have a drink (the You’re a Peach was delicious!) and wallow in our sorrows.  Sunday afternoon Krista forwarded me an announcement on Instagram that Tom had a throat infection.  Which is ironic, since I woke up Sunday morning with a slight sore throat.  Oh, how I wish I’d caught it from him. 

So now Krista and I stand at 0-2 with our attempts to see Tom.  First time, we didn’t try.  Second time, we tried valiantly but ended up with an expensive girl’s weekend.  With a little luck, there will be a third, successful time. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

#463 For You To See The Stars

Music is a huge part of my life.  I listen to it in the car (where I am an awesome singer), at work and at home.  I especially love seeing my favorite artists live.  There’s just something about seeing them perform in person.  And when I can see them up close and peek through a tiny crack into the window of their soul, their music becomes even more personal. 

Last October I attended an Indy Acoustic Café Series concert at the Wheeler Center for the Arts featuring Radney Foster.  He was nothing short of amazing. 

I’ve been a fan of Radney since college.  He’s a country singer-songwriter who started out in the duo Foster and Lloyd.  I first heard his songs “Nobody Wins” and “Just Call Me Lonesome” in the early 90s from his album Del Rio, TX 1959.  Such soulful singing and wonderful lyrics.  Not bad on the eyes either.

He was in town in 2015 but by the time I found out about the show, it was sold out.  I was so disappointed.  I added him to my Bandsintown App so that wouldn’t happen again.  Bingo! 

To prepare for the show I listened to his repertoire on Spotify for a couple weeks leading up to the show.  He was promoting his new CD and accompanying book, both titled For You to See the Stars.  Right out of the gate, the title track made me weepy.  At work, no less.  Just beautiful.  

When concert day arrived, I couldn’t contain my excitement.  This venue is like, 100 people ya’ll.  My friend Julie went with me and we sat in the third row (I didn’t want to be too stalk-ish).  Radney played with Eddie Heinzelman (a fantastic guitarist in his own right and from Indiana).  It was an incredible show.  He sang, he told stories, he read from the book.  He has the best accent.  He’s still hot, even though the dark wavy hair that I remember has turned silver.  I teared up once more when he sang the title song.  I also got emotional at the end of the show when he sang, “Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)” after explaining why he wrote it.  Of course, I had to buy the book and the CD, and after the show he hung around to sign them. 

I played his CD in my car for a couple months after the concert.  I’ve been a country music fan for over 20 years, but I don’t care for a lot of the music currently played on country stations.  After I scan the stations and can’t find anything I like (on the pop or rock stations either), it became Radney time.  It’s still in my permanent car rotation. 

Those who know me well, know that I’m a huge James Taylor fan.  Well, Radney is giving Sweet Baby James a run for his money.  I’m serious.  I will always love James, but Radney is right up there with him in my musical book.  And speaking of book, Radney’s book is amazing.  He read the story “Bridge Club” at the show and had us rolling.  “I had peed on bridge club.” 

If you are any kind of a music fan, please give Radney’s music, and specifically this CD a listen.  And please give his book of short stories a read.  With these two masterpieces, everybody wins. 

(P.S. - I am sooo late in posting this, but finally tweaked it enough and had time to do it justice.  My initial draft was incredibly long so there was much to do, along with other life happenings.  Please know that my lateness in posting in no way relates to this performance's effect on me.)  

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

#462 Dear John

I couldn't resist a good photo op!

Dear John,

The time has come for me to say goodbye.  You have been a good companion to me for these past 18 ½ years.  Although I’m not sure of your age, since you were already a part of my home when I arrived.   

We’ve been through a lot together.  Yours is one of the longest relationships I’ve ever had, and you know me better than probably anyone.  You provided me many moments of relief, along with moments of cool comfort after the occasional violent upheavals.  You started to show some signs of age on your shiny façade.  I overlooked that, as I am showing some signs as well.  What bolstered my decision is that your effectiveness had fallen off.  I tried to get you help, but after the plumber recommended your eventual replacement, I felt it was time. 

I appreciate that you were gracious in your exit.  You didn’t put up a fight.  Your replacement looks and acts similar, but is stronger and, to my great delight, is a bit taller.  As we all know, I prefer taller companions. 

After saying farewell, I propped you up outside in the front yard (as east-siders sometimes do) to enjoy the warm, summer day, hoping someone else would see you and think you were a good fit for them.  Three young girls flirted with you for a bit, before pushing you over, shattering the top of your tank.  I’m very sorry about that.  I had no idea that would happen.  I sensed your anger when you bit my pinky finger as I picked up the pieces of your broken heart. 

Maybe I should have cried for you, as the little girl did who came back to sweep you up.  Or maybe her father’s disciplining words provoked her tears.  Nonetheless, there was sadness around your passing.  And along with the girl’s tears, there are now tiny droplets of my dried blood at the end of my driveway. 

I will miss you.  I still have hope you can be re-used or re-cycled.  If not, I wish you a quick and painless end.  You certainly served my end well. 


Tall Chick in the City

P.S.  It’s now three days later and you are still with me.  I never thought I would be that neighbor who has a toilet in their front yard for several days.  The Habitat for Humanity Re-Store said they could not use you because you are missing a tank cover.  (Picture me shaking my fist in disgust at the three little girls.)  Heavy trash pick-up is the third Monday of the month.  Strike two.  You are too heavy for me to carry back to the garage, so I must wait for assistance from a neighbor or a friend.  Or I may take a hammer to you and put your pieces in my trash bin.  I abhor violence so that is my last resort.  I appreciate your continued patience, and that of my neighbors. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

#461 Barbara Bush We're Proud Of You

Upon learning of the passing of Barbara Bush, I recalled the one and only time I saw her in person.  And at the time I had no idea it was her.

I was cycling through Kennebunkport on my last day of Bike Maine 2015.  The week had been quite enjoyable but the last day biking from Kennebunk back to Kittery was exceptionally glorious.  The sun was bright, and we rode along the coast for several miles. 

After passing the Bush summer home in Kennebunkport, my riding companion Duane and I stopped at the beach at Sandy Cove.  The tide was out, and it was a long way to the water, but we took our shoes off and dipped our toes in the cool water.  In the distance I noticed an elderly woman walking on the tightly-packed sand close to the water’s edge.  She used a walker and had a few people around her.  As I watched her move slowly along the sand I thought, “Good for her!  I hope I’m out and about walking on the beach with my walker when I’m her age.” 

I don't think that's her in the background but this is how far away she was
Duane and I returned to the sidewalk to put our shoes back on and continue our ride.  A couple walked by with their dog, so we asked them to take a photo.  We asked them questions about the area and they asked us about our ride.  Then the woman asked, “Did you see Barbara Bush walk by a minute ago?  She walks every morning on the beach.”  That wonderful elderly woman with the people around her was the former First Lady with her secret service!  She was far away, but I enjoyed my brief brush with Mrs. Bush. 

And after posting my trip photos on Facebook I learned that a high school friend spent several summers in Kennebunkport.  Her interaction was a lot more involved than mine – her husband worked security detail for the Bush family for four years.  Two degrees of separation!  Not bad. 

Mrs. Bush has left a legacy of faith, family and a love of literacy.  As a book-lover myself, I especially like that!  She even has a school named after her in Houston – Barbara Bush Elementary.  Every Friday morning the students sing the Barbara Bush Song. 

Barbara Bush is our school’s name, from a grand first lady it came.
Our school puts us to the test, helping us to do our best.
To our school we’ll always be true, Barbara Bush we’re proud of you.  Proud of you."

Barbara Bush, I’m proud of how you served your family and your country.  And I’m proud that you made the effort to get out on that beach with your walker.  Proud of you!