Monday, December 31, 2007

A Day With the Traveler

First, let me tell you one of my New Year's resolutions:
Read e-mails carefully and fully and immediately place any obligations and plans on my calendar.

Saturday morning I determined I was going to take the longest hottest shower known to womankind. Unbeknownst to me, Lee was outside, ringing the doorbell, wondering where I was, leaving me voicemail messages. When I finally got out of the shower, hair wet and all over my head, I realized there was a message on my machine, and then I heard the doorbell ringing. Throwing on my robe, I opened the door and there was Lee. He said, "Aren't we going to Bisbee?" I said, "No, we're going on Sunday. Didn't you say Sunday?" Then I came in to find his e-mail and determine that, yes, he had indeed said Saturday and I had read Sunday. I had a day full of things to do, including a dishwasher repairman I'd been waiting three weeks for. So Lee went off to find things with which to fill his day.

On Sunday morning, at precisely 7:30, he again rang my doorbell, and we set off in his cute little red S2000 to drive the almost two hours down to Bisbee to have breakfast at the Copper Queen and explore all the little galleries, shoppes and antique stores. We stopped at my Starbucks for a cuppa, and then headed south and east on I-10, 83 to Sonoita, 82 to 80 and then south through Tombstone. It was a gorgeous day and we were pointing out all the hawks on the power poles and a herd of antelopes just east of Sonoita. We were about five minutes south of Tombstone, tooling along around 65 mph, when all of a sudden we heard a grinding and the car quickly lost forward motion. We pulled onto the shoulder of the 2-lane road and hopped out. Lee opened the hood and spent 15 minutes trying to find the dipstick to check the oil. Once he found it, the oil was full and clean. Then he bent down and looked under the car and saw nothing out of the ordinary. Getting back in the car, he cranked the engine and it just purred. But it wouldn't move.

So we pulled out our phones and he called AAA, to learn that they would only pay for the first five miles of towing. Unfortunately, we needed to be towed to Sierra Vista, 16 miles away, to the dealer for warranty service. He then called his insurance provider and found he didn't have towing or car rental coverage unless he was in an accident. Meanwhile I was on the phone calling every car rental facility in Sierra Vista, all of which were Enterprise, and all of which were closed for a long weekend for their hardworking employees. Lee called his daughter and learned she was at her boyfriend's family's ranch north of Oracle - a good four hours away. Then he called his son and woke him up and bribed him with a $100 payment if he'd come down to Sierra Vista and get us.

I had just gotten a new phone on Saturday night and it includes Verizon Navigator. I didn't think I'd ever use this feature, as I have GPS in my car. But because I had this feature on the new phone, we were able to tell AAA exactly where we were. Without that, we wouldn't have even known the name of the road we were on! Trust me—this is a feature I'll be keeping, regardless of cost.

Then we started placing wagers on what the tow truck driver would look like when he arrived. Lee lost— the driver didn't have a pot belly. But he did have a lit cigar, to which I am horribly allergic. He got the car hooked up and Lee asked him if he'd mind extinguishing his cigar. Then I climbed in the back seat of the big truck and Lee got in the front and rolled the window down to try to protect me from all the fumes.

We got into Sierra Vista and pulled into the Honda dealer's lot. Fortunately I carry a checkbook with me, as the driver didn't accept plastic. Then Lee filled out the envelope and dropped his keys in the dealer's overnight drop. Two young men had just pulled into the dealer and were looking at cars and we asked if they wouldn't drive us to the nearest restaurant (we never did get breakfast and it was now just before noon). So they took us to Chili's and we had a calorie- and carb-laden lunch.

I had woken up with a headache at 4:00 a.m., and it was still with me. We walked to the Target next door and got some Excedrin and bottle of water, then spent a little time walking around Target. Then walked around Staples. Then found a bench in the shade and waited for Brett and Ashley, Lee's son and DIL, to arrive.

They took us back to my house and I told them I'd take Lee home, as they live in SE Tucson and he lives in NW - some 25-30 miles apart.

We left my house at 7:30 a.m. and I finally got back home around 4:00 p.m.

When this boy says he wants to travel, he's not kidding!

P.S. When he spoke with the dealer today, they told him the transmission seal had broken or blown or whatever the appropriate term is, and all the transmission fluid had flown out in an instant. The car has 7700 miles on it! Honda has to order the part from Japan!!

We're thinking they're not going to have it ready by next Saturday, but we're going to take a little drive back down to Bisbee for breakfast again.

Lee's confidence in Honda is completely gone, and as soon as he gets this cute little vehicle back, he's going to be selling it and buying something a tad more practical.

For your enlightenment, here's the map of our trip.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Learning From Experience

Today's "Quote of the Day":
If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.
- George Bernard Shaw

I spoke with my friend Beth last night, after about four months of our both being too busy to catch up. She told me her divorce will be final most any day. This is her third divorce.

Beth is very close to her two brothers, one of whom is a psychotherapist and the other a lawyer. She said the lawyer told her if she ever thinks of getting married again, they're both going to kill her. He told her she "can't pick 'em." I laughingly told her my kids probably think the same thing, but haven't had the courage to say that to me.

She also told me her son, in his late 20s, told her, "Mom, it's hard on us too. We get attached to these people (her husband and his son) and it hurts when you break up." That's something that couples don't think enough about when deciding to call it quits—IMHO.

I told Beth the only good thing about the second and subsequent divorce is that after the first one, the list of what one will put up with gets shorter and shorter. That sentence doesn't work, grammatically, but you understand what I'm saying. Does that mean you get smarter or you get more self-respect, or both?

My buddy Ed, who is gorgeous and smart and funny, was telling me the other day that after his first divorce, he was convinced, based on what his ex-wife had said to him, that he was undesireable and would not find a woman again. Hogwash! The power that we allow others to have over us with their words is untenable.

I've said here how my mother convinced me I was dumb, ugly and incompetent. Then my first husband told me repeatedly, in words and actions, that I was not as good a Christian and not as good a musician as he was. Music was central to my being, and Christianity was central to his so, implicitly, I was a total failure.

As much as I want a best friend/partner/lover in my life, I'd rather be alone with my cat than have to deal with someone who is so insecure he has to constantly put me down to build himself up.

Life's too short!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Courage and Wuss-ness

Okay, I said I was never going to do it again. But I looked. I peaked on to see if there were any good-looking men in and around Youngstown. And lo and behold, there was a nice-looking 59yo attorney in Warren. So I sent him an "eye contact" (cupid's ice-breaker). I checked this morning and he had looked at my profile and had taken no action. No eye contact. No note. No nothin'.

My thoughts today are of how much courage it takes people to reach out to express interest in someone they see online. And of how little effort it takes to reply, to just say "thanks" or even, "thanks, but no thanks." Didn't your mama teach you any manners? But no matter how little effort it takes, I guess it takes less effort to do nothing.

I'd rather make the effort and know that my reputation as a kind and nice person is intact.

And I salute all those single people who have the courage to reach out. In my case, it amounts to nothing. But at least I find the courage and take some action.

I might even try again in, say, six months.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

I received an e-mail from a fabric store the other day that included their New Year's Resolutions for Sewers:

  • I will not add anything to the stash unless something comes out; not that I have room to add anything else.

  • I will buy extra yardage of the main fabric because it's inevitable that I will get close to the end and not have enough.

  • I will buy fabric if I LOVE it. Hey, if I don't buy it now it won't be there when I need it and come back, right?

  • I will not start a new project until I have finished the first project. No more half-finished quilts and skirts!

  • I will read the instructions several times before I start a project. My seam ripper needs a break and my mouth could use some cleaning.

  • I will do a test run of the quilt block or clothing item I am making to be sure it looks how I planned BEFORE I start in on the expensive material.

  • I will finally clean my sewing area and *sigh* throw away that stuff I haven't needed in years.

  • I will learn to love my pins and not just see them as an unnecessary step.

As I start cleaning out the sewing studio to get the house ready to show, I'm aghast at the amount of fabric I have. When I was traveling to exotic places, or Stockholm, with Steve, I bought fabric everywhere I went. Now it fills every drawer. Does Goodwill take fabric? But there's a limit—I ain't givin' this fabulous silk to nobody!

I actually have been sewing up new patterns in cheap fabric this year, rather than cutting into really good fabric and then giving it to Goodwill.

And unfinished projects?! Yikes! I have two or three hand-dyed quilted silk jackets that are in one stage or another of completion. I have the quilt top that I started for Ridley before she was born that I really, really want to finish. I have a quilt I made in a class, using gorgeous fabrics I bought in Amsterdam six years ago. When I was 30 years younger, I always finished a project before starting another. Oh, to live that way again.

As I browse through the homes for sale in Youngstown, I dream of how I can set up my new space for best utilization. Lighting is the thing I'm most lacking in this house and which is a must-have for task areas. My aging eyes love light.

And as I've boxed up books, I realize how many sewing and quilting books I have. Looks like the sewing room will need lots of bookshelves also.

This packing and decluttering is exciting and scary at the same time. How can I get it all done by myself? And how can I get it done in a timely manner?

Cloning is sounding like a good option right about now.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Define: Adult Christmas

I went to my writer friend Maureen's yesterday. She and her new husband, George, live about as far up the mountain as you can get without being on protected property. And the view they have of Tucson — Wow!

We sat across from each other at the kitchen bar for over four hours, back-to-back laptops, while I taught Word tips and tricks to Maureen, a veteran WordPerfect user. When she was on a roll, I'd work on my bead crochet for a while. We'd stop long enough to baste the turkey. Then around 5:00 we stopped and had a lovely dinner.

It was such a nice, peaceful day. I guess this is how empty-nesters spend their holidays. I think it suits me. My mind was so occupied with helping Maureen that I didn't linger on missing the babies.

I hope your day was peaceful also.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Forgetting, Learning

On Christmas Eve I sank into the tub
with two gifts from my firstborn:
a book of poetry and a tube of honey bubble bath.

Both had come from my wish list and
both had arrived on time, something for which he was not known.
Was he growing up? Was I?

I lay there, soaking, banishing the chill of a seasonably cold day
in unseasonable Arizona. I read the book cover to cover,
one poem after another.

As I read I wondered why I had requested this book.
I'm not a poetry-kinda-gal. There was something about each poem
that was not like me, not something I would have chosen.

Then I reached the part about adoption, about being adopted.
And there, on the final page of the book, was the poem I had read
on an earlier day. There was the phrase that resonated with me.

"I believe 'normal' is just a cycle on the washing machine."

I looked to books, looked for books, to feel less alone,
to affirm my existence.
I had always wanted to be normal, but had never succeeded.
I always wore that adoptee's hat of "not here, not now."

I always wanted to be accepted, loved, accepted, good enough, accepted.
My friends, my children, reassured me that I was.
Accepted. Loved. Good enough.
But I didn't know it. Didn't feel it. And tried to believe it.

And yet here, on the final page of a book I received after fifty-seven years
of not being normal, was a poem entitled "Creed" that I wished I had written.

Creed, credo, what I believe.
I believe Mother said what she did out of ignorance.
I believe the original mother believed she was being kind.
And yes, I believe my friends and my children love me.
I deserve that. I deserve to learn that and carry it with me,
sitting on my shoulder along with Daddy, who whispers in my ear,
"You're a good girl."

I'm a good girl.
I'm acceptable.
I'm good enough.

That'll do.


"Creed" by Meg Kearney
from An Unkindness of Ravens

I believe the chicken before the egg
though I believe in the egg. I believe
eating is a form of touch
carried to the bitter end. I believe
chocolate is good for you. I believe
I’m a lefty in a right-handed world,
which does not make me gauche,
or abnormal, or sinister. I believe
“normal” is just a cycle on the washing
machine. I believe the touch of hands
has the power to heal, though nothing
will ever fill this immeasurable hole
in the center of my chest. I believe in
kissing, I believe in mail, I believe
in salt over the shoulder, a watched pot
never boils, and if I sit by my mailbox
waiting for the letter I want, it will never
arrive. Not because of superstition, but
because that’s not how life works.
I believe in work: phone calls, typing,
multiplying—black coffee, write write
write, dig dig dig, sweep, sweep.
I believe in a slow, torturous sweep
of tongue down the lover’s belly;
I believe I’ve been swept off my feet
more than once, and it’s a good idea
not to name names. Digging for names
is part of my work, but that’s a different
poem. I believe there’s a difference
between men and women, and I thank God
for it. I believe in God, and if you hold
the door and carry my books, I’ll be sure
to ask for your name. What is your name?
Do you believe in ghosts? I believe
the morning my father died I heard him
whistling “Danny Boy” in the bathroom
and a week later, saw him standing
in the living room with a suit case
in his hand. We never got to say goodbye,
he said, and I said, I don’t believe in
goodbyes. I believe that’s why I have
this hole in my chest: sometimes it’s
rabid, sometimes it’s incoherent.
I believe I’ll survive. I believe early
to bed and early to rise is a boring
way to live. I believe good poets borrow,
great poets steal, and if only we’d stop
trying to be happy, we could have a pretty
good time. I believe time doesn’t heal
all wounds; I believe in getting flowers
for no reason; I believe Give a Hoot,
Don’t Pollute, Reading is Fundamental,
Yankee Stadium belongs in the Bronx,
and the best bagels in New York
are boiled and baked on the corner
of first and 21st. I believe in Santa Claus,
Jimmy Stewart—Zuzu’s petals—Arbor
Day, and that ugly baby I keep dreaming
about. She lives inside me, opening
and closing her wide mouth. I believe
she will never taste her mother’s milk,
she will never be beautiful, she will always
wonder what it’s like to be born, and if
you hold your hand right here—touch me,
right, here, as if this is all that matters,
this is all you ever wanted, I believe
something might move inside me,
and it would be more than I could stand.

A First in a Short Life

In my weekly call with the babies yesterday, Boston said, "Can you make it by tomorrow night?" I asked, "What do you mean, Baby? Can I make what?" He repeated, "Can you make it by tomorrow night?" Suddenly it hit me. I said, "Boston, do you mean can I get there by tomorrow night?" He replied, "Yes."

Stab me in my heart! "Oh Boston, I can't. It would cost me a thousand dollars to come for Christmas." I know there's no difference between twenty dollars and a thousand dollars in his little life, but I suddenly realized this will be the first Christmas in his life I haven't been right there, oohing and aahing over all his gifts.

I'm so sorry, Bean. I'll be there next year.

Flick Your Bic, 21st Century Style

The final TSO Pops concert yesterday included a few moments of hilarity that had me laughing out loud, on stage.

Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School (I've included their bio below) played three numbers in the concert again this year. These kids are simply incredible. But a few of our singers wanted to have some fun this year during the performance of Felice Navidad. So four tenors whipped open their cell phones and waved them aloft in time to the music, a la waving lighters at rock concerts. Pretty soon eight women on the back row of the chorus were waving their arms aloft in sync with the cell phones. This went on during the first verse. Pretty soon we started noticing waving cell phones in the balcony and the very back of the main floor of the hall. In the left of the balcony, front row, I noticed four cell phones together, which I later determined to be my boss, her husband, and their daughters. It was just so funny to me that these guys in the chorus would have started this and then for so many people to jump right on the bandwagon.

To me, this was a nice way to end a month of rehearsals and performances. The concert was followed by dinner with the Traveler at Rio Cafe, then a delightful hour with old friends at Jill's party, where I may have agreed to adopt another cat.

If you open your gifts tonight, as my darlings do, I hope you find many beautiful delights in those packages under your tree. Today I'll take a bubble bath in the Perlier honey bath and shower cream that Scott sent from my Amazon wish list. Then when I get home from dinner at Gail's, I'll open the other packages from Scott, Tyler and Jaci.

And a note about the genius programmers on staff at Amazon: they recognize when something on your wish list is consumable. When someone buys that item, it isn't removed from the wish list. It stays there so it can be purchased again and again. Sheer genius!

Now I gotta go bake some cookies for Santa.
- - - -

About Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School
Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School was founded in the fall of 1992 by Mr. Richard Carranza, as a curricular component within the Pueblo High Magnet School Performing Arts department. Comprised entirely of Pueblo High Magnet School students ranging in age from 14 to 18 years old, the mariachi program has grown from eleven students in its first year to well over one hundred and twenty students currently. Students are offered three levels of mariachi music: Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced/ Performing group – “Mariachi Aztlan”. Students entering the performing group must, after audition and acceptance, maintain a high level of academic achievement in order to remain on the “first team”. Their extensive practice and performance schedule also demands most of their free time. The sixteen-piece Mariachi Aztlan is motivated by pride and dedication to their cultural heritage of Mexico.

The group plays authentic mariachi music, arranged and conducted by director, John Contreras, himself a mariachi musician with over twenty-five years of experience. Dressed in their elaborate traje de charro outfits, the group boasts a repertoire of traditional mariachi music.

As Tucson’s most popular youth mariachi, they have gained a reputation for excellence, sharing the stage with many of the world’s finest Mariachi ensembles as well as Symphony Orchestras. Through their music, they are continuously promoting a manifest pride in their cultural background and are an excellent example of the best our youth has to offer.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On Being Desired

My mother constantly sits on my shoulder and whispers in my ear, repeating all the words she said aloud to me in the 50s and 60s: you're not nice, you're not desirable, people don't like you. Well, those weren't the exact words. The words, precisely, were "You'll never get a man. You're too obstinate." and "You wouldn't want to have a daughter. She'd be just like you and nobody would want that."

Being raised to believe one is dumb, ugly and incompetent is a very heavy pattern to redraft (to use a clothing design metaphor).

And today I'm struck by the number of friends I have who want me around.

  • Jill has invited me to her party tonight.
  • Gail has invited me to join her family for dinner tomorrow.
  • Maureen has invited me to join her and George for dinner on Christmas, their first Christmas as a married couple. And I'll take my laptop and teach her some Word tricks.
  • Pat, a chorus friend, asked me last night if I would come over and teach her and several friends how to do bead crochet, in exchange for her providing lunch. (Ah, the way to my heart — home cooking.)

So there, Mother. I am nice. People do like me. You're wrong. Now get off my shoulder!


(No, I'm not going to hum a few bars here of an oversung old song.)

I have a journal that I've been keeping for almost two years now. It's a five-year journal with 366 pages and five sections on each page. When I write my entry for each day, I can look back to the previous year and surrounding days to see what was going on in my life. It's manageable for me, as the space allotted for each entry is only about a paragraph. No unstructured blank pages are staring at me, overwhelming me.

Until about six weeks ago, I was religious about writing in the journal daily. But lately I neglect it. About once a week I pick it up and write "work, rehearsal" or "work, Snell & Wilmer party" or "laid in bed until 9" on the appropriate pages.

I'm recording no feelings, no impressions, nothing of substance. And I realize that's because I have no feelings. Well, I have feelings of sadness at being away from the babies at Christmas (for the first time since Boston's birth), but aside from that sadness and the angst over getting this house boxed up and decluttered around here to show the house, I feel nothing.

Oh, wait. I feel envy for those couples I see around me who have relationships and a loved one to talk to. Last night at the end of intermission, I saw my friend Shawn (horn) signal to her husband Mike (trombone) and he walked over so they could talk for a few minutes before the second half started.

I feel — oh, devoid of feelings. Emptiness is not a feeling, but that's what I feel. And I wonder if this is to be the beginning of many, many years of emptiness until one day I die.

I realize that's the problem with being widowed from a very good marriage at age 48. There's the possibility that my life was not yet half over at that point.

Could aloneness be equated with peace and calm? The marriages of ten, five and two-and-a-half years, all filled with so much unhappiness, and the four years with Steve, which were an absolute nightmare — are they the antithesis of the next [possibly] forty years of "peace".

If loneliness is peace, I'm not sure that's what I want.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Random Thoughts from an Exhausted Mind

Four days off — Yippee!

Last night I lost my shoe as I was climbing the stairs to the risers. I was wearing slides and my heel caught on one of the steps and it came off. The woman behind me reached down, picked it up, and handed it to me. I couldn't stop and put it on, as I was impeding the progress of about 30 women trying to get to their chairs. I was carrying my shoe and my folder, a shawl (it's damned cold on that stage!) and a small purse. Then as I turned to go into the back row, I dropped my purse. It's clutch (note to male readers: that means it doesn't have a strap or a handle) and I couldn't pick it up. There I was, holding up the whole line of women trying to get into the back row as I was trying to balance all this shtuff. Finally got the purse up, then got to my place in the middle of the back row, put everything on my chair, put my shoe on, then sat down. I'm sure it only took a few seconds, but it felt like I had my butt toward the audience for about 10 minutes trying to pick up the shoe and the purse! Lesson: wear pumps tonight, even if they're less comfortable.

Today I must run errands while trying to stay as far away from the malls as possible. I never gave the Continental Ranch Home Owners' Association proper notice when I rented my house last year, so need to take the lease addendum and some other paperwork out to get my [wonderful] tenant's signatures. (I hate HOAs.) Also have to pick up two Christmas gifts that were shipped out there. I've been in my new house for a year-and-a-half. How could my brother and sister-in-law and John's brother and sister-in-law not have my address?!

I want to pick up some rocks at the materials place to spread in the cactus garden along the east wall in my backyard. The landscape people came a week ago and did several hundred dollars-worth of cleanup and the yard looks fabulous. Next Thursday the tree guys will come and trim the trees. Then the painter will come just after the 1st of January and when he's done I can put the house on the market.

Speaking of trees, I was listening to yesterday's Wall Street Journal feed while waiting for the concert last night. Did you know there are places where you can be fined for trimming your trees? The article, "Step Away From the Clippers" tells about, among others, a couple in Glendale, Calif., who faced a $347,600 fine from the city this summer for pruning some of the towering oak trees and sycamores on their property, even though they were ordered to do so by the fire department. I'm hoping my arborist is up-to-date on the tree-trimming laws of Tucson before he gets me in trouble with the local tree cops. (Tree Abuse? There's actually something called "tree abuse?" What next? A bill of rights for trees? Gimmeabreak!)

Frank (remember the Gardener?) dropped by the other day and left a bottle of wine and a gift on the dining table. (He has a key for all the times he takes care of Rudi for me when I travel.) I called him yesterday and told him how embarrassed I was. When he asked why, I told him "my house looks like four slobs live there." His gentle reply? "You're a woman in transition." I think I'll have that tattooed on my forehead.

I'm trying to keep from feeling overwhelming sadness at being away from my family this Christmas. I am extremely grateful to my friends who are stepping in and propping me up: Jill is having a party tomorrow night; Gail has invited me for Christmas Eve dinner; Maureen is having me over for Christmas dinner; Howard is taking me for dinner and jazz on New Year's Eve; and Jim and Debra (who keeps thanking me for suggesting she try, where she met Jim) are having their engagement party on New Year's Day.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Passionate for Puzzles

It was on this day in 1913 that the very first crossword puzzle appeared in The New York World. It was the invention of journalist Arthur Wynne, who called it a "Word-Cross," but the typesetter made a mistake and printed the game as "Cross-Word" and the name stuck. London's puzzle in The Daily Telegraph for May 1944 is possibly the most famous crossword in history. Just before D-Day, the puzzle ran with the highly classified operation code names Utah, Omaha, Overlord, Mulberry, and Neptune as the answers to some of the clues. The incident was later investigated by England's department of Military Intelligence and ruled as a coincidence.

I'll have my ever-present puzzle book with me tonight as I wait to go onstage for the first of three Holiday Pops concerts.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Remote Christmas Tree

I haven't put up a tree in years, so I'm enjoying Tyler and Jaci's tree vicariously through these gorgeous new photos Jaci just posted on her blog.

I Miss My Mind the Most of All

The image above is a good example of a portion of what I do at work. That graphic is referred to as a "spotlight". I am given the details of products that are being announced, and I have to come up with some snappy phrase that will catch our Web visitors' eyes and make them want to learn more about this product.

I work with this terrific design god named Ed, who has become like my fourth son, after Scott, Tyler, and Ty's best friend Chip. As I'm forming the words for the spotlights, I'm simultaneously trying to think how my words will fit with images, and trying to make things easy for Ed to browse the stock photo site and find good photos to make our point.

Yesterday I was working on a new page of resources—white papers, analysts' briefs, IBM documents that will help the visitor learn more about our storage products. I wanted to suggest to Ed various education-related themes he could search for, such as a pair of glasses laid on an open book, a library shelf, or a microscope. Only I couldn't think of the word for microscope. Okay, so I'm a geek, not a nerd (with no insult intended to you science types), and a microscope isn't in my bag of tools, but really! Microscope. I knew it ended in "oscope" but I couldn't get the micro part.

So I sketched out a very rudimentary microscope. Then I turned to my officemate, a 30-something who still has her brain, and asked her what it was. She laughingly set me straight.

Is this how it starts? With something as simple as "microscope"? I'd better step up my daily crossword puzzles.

On the other end of the spectrum, last night when I was playing for the little elementary-school cuties in the CYT musical theatre class, one of them, seeing my badge hanging around my neck, asked me where I worked. I answered, "IBM". Her response? "What's that?" What? Really? Someone who has never heard of IBM?

I said it was a company that made computers and that they introduced the PC. Another little girl said, "You mean the laptop?" Ouch. These kids know what my iPod Nano is, but they don't have any knowledge of computers other than laptops.

And here I salute my sons, who both work in the computer industry and who credit their success in their field to those $100 IBM PCjrs I got them at an IBM "fire sale" when they were about nine and ten years old.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rethinking Retail

I need to whip up a couple of my cute little mesh bags to send to Scott's girlfriend for Christmas. Last night I chose the fabric, pulled out the mesh, then began inventorying my collection of zippers to see if I had the right lengths and colors to assemble these bags without making yet another trip to the fabric store. Alas, I didn't.

So then I started scouring the house for a current Jo-Ann's or Hancock's coupon. And my level of annoyance rose.

Why do stores insist on requiring shoppers to sign up for frequent shopper cards or mailing lists in order to save money? If a store owner can afford to discount one item by 10% for the shopper who walks in with a coupon, he or she can afford to discount one item for every shopper who walks through the door. After all, would I rather shoppers come in only when they have coupons, or wouldn't it be nicer for them to consider me the retailer of choice when they need something? Wouldn't I rather a shopper stopped in whenever she was driving by instead of going back home to get the coupon and coming back another day?

They're all doing it. Safeway offers strawberries 2 for $6 if I swipe my card. Fry's, Basha's—my key ring has more frequent shopper dangles than keys!

And we won't even discuss the department and clothing stores—Dillard's, Macy's, Gap, J.Crew—who offer you 10% off if you open a charge account. Ain't happening! I've got enough charge cards. In this day and age of identify theft, I don't want any more open accounts than I absolutely need.

Which reminds me: Prudential Insurance, who holds my old life insurance policy from the early days at IBM, sent me a letter saying that some data was stolen and offering me two free years of credit monitoring. I signed up (it was free, after all) and discovered that the three credit bureaus now list 59 Grace Rd., Wilmot, NH, as one of my addresses. That's the home Steve's new wife got him to renovate for her at the cost of close to $100,000, and where they live during the summers when he's not teaching in England. Does it piss me off that the credit bureaus think that's my address? You bet your sweet bippy.

I can't even tell you why it pisses me off so greatly. There are more emotions tied up in that feeling that yards of fabric in my stash.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta surf over to and to see if they've got a coupon online I can print to save some money on a zipper this evening.

Oh, and my store, when I open one? Each and every shopper will get 10% off one item every day. I don't know how I'll track how many times a shopper comes into the store each day. But I will not require frequent shopper cards. Come one, come all!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tears of a Cynic

I love Christmas carols and songs. I can't help myself. Christmas carols bring back warm memories of my childhood.

I have sung the Messiah no less than two times a year for the past five years, and George Hanson always uses the Hallelujah Chorus as an encore, turning and conducting the audience in a sing-along. When we stand and I see the looks on the faces of the audience members, thrilled to a person to be singing along with the orchestra, my eyes well up and I have to concentrate very hard to get back on task.

This weekend the Tucson Chamber Artists performed a lovely Nine Lessons and Carols, twice. Standing to sing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" along with them, my eyes again welled up.

I may be cynical about many things, but this music brings tears to my eyes.

To continue with the cynicism, during yesterday's 3:00 performance by TCA, someone walked into the pastor's study where the women singers' purses had been stashed, and walked off with five singers' wallets, and one woman's car and apartment keys (along with her wallet and all her ID). How can people do that? I can't understand how people can do that! It was a very disturbing occurrence to the board, trying to figure out what we can do for these young people to make things right worrying about liability for this fledgling, struggling organization, and trying to think how we can prevent a repeat occurrence at future concerts.

As the director and two other board members and I were discussing this at a party last night, I heard a story about the Sunday Messiah performance that I was unaware of. It seems the first chair second violin had shown up drunk to the performance. When he was confronted about the situation at intermission, he quite vehemently said "FU" to the orchestra manager. At the end of intermission, he came back onstage, found someone else sitting in his chair, and approached the concertmaster to repeat his admonition to "FU", on stage, not quietly, in front of the audience.

Ah, the drama of the arts world.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What Was I Thinking?!

I recently added a brown wool Eileen Fisher knit dress to my wardrobe and wanted to wear it to yesterday's Tucson Chamber Artists concert. But I need a slip to keep it from clinging to my legs. So while I was out running errands yesterday, I thought I'd zip into Dillard's and pick up a new non-cling slip.

Oh! My! Gosh! Once I got onto the Tucson Mall property, I hit a dead standstill. I totally forgot that on the weekends, the entire population of Mexico drives to Tucson for two purposes: 1) to hit every garage sale seeing what they can purchase for nexttonothing for resale in Mexico, and 2) to go to Tucson Mall.

As quickly as I could, I found a side exit and left, driving to Buttons 'n' Bolts to pick up a piece of brown lining fabric and some elastic to make a slip. I'll go attend to that as soon as I finish this post so I can wear the dress to this afternoon's concert.

As I was driving to the fabric store, I realized that yesterday was UofA graduation. That meant that all the out-of-town parents were suddenly navigating our streets and the horrible middle turn lane on Campbell. Drivers who are unfamiliar with these turn lanes tend to leave their butts in the driving lane and put only their noses in the turn lane, impeding traffic. Oh, and if they're turning left out of a shopping center, they don't understand that they should cross the two lanes coming from the left and sit in the center lane until the traffic from the right is clear. Leaving Beyond Bread took me about ten minutes until the parent in front of me gave up and turned right.

Ah, the joys of living in a town filled with students and snowbirds!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Merry Christmas

A singing friend in D.C. posted this to the City Choir listserve, and I just had to share it with you. Love it!

The Melanoma Belt

I doubt that any other part of the country has the phenomenon of not being able to get in to see one's dermatologist for three months.

I called mid-November for my annual check-up and zap session. I was given an appointment on February 12th. Today I received a call from my doctor's office telling me he was retiring immediately for health reasons. This news makes me very sad, as this is a really nice guy, probably 60 years old. Fabulous table-side manner.

I have a couple of places that are bothering me, so I immediately pulled up the Blue Cross/Blue Shield web site and started searching for another dermatologist. I chose one fairly near my home. I thought a group practice with several physicians would give me a higher likelihood of being seen soon. The appointment date I was given? March 31st!!!

I made the appointment, then kept going down the BC/BS list to see if I could find anybody who'd take me sooner. Hallelujah - there was one person on the list who could see me in early January. I snagged this appointment and cancelled the first one.

That's one of the challenges of living in the land of year-round sunshine and a population filled with snowbirds.

Sorry - Silence

I've been living through the Musician's Hell that is December and have nothing to share that I felt was of interest.

Tonight I'm playing for the partners' holiday party for the law firm of Snell & Wilmer. Tomorrow morning a painter is coming to give me an estimate on painting several rooms, then I have to take the car back to the shop; tomorrow night I have to sell tickets and so on for the Tucson Chamber Artists Christmas concert. Sunday afternoon is the second TCA concert, then my friend Terry's holiday party. Monday night is Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus, our piano rehearsal with the conductor for next week's Pops concerts. Tuesday night I have to play for Christian Youth Theatre. Wednesday and Thursday nights are TSOC rehearsals with the orchestra; Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon are the Pops performances. My friend Lee is coming to the Sunday performance, then we'll get a bite to eat, then I have another party to go to. Then the 24th arrives and I might not get out of bed all day.

On Christmas day I'm having dinner with my Pi Phi friend Maureen Mylander and her old beau/new husband. I will be breathing a big sigh of relief and joyous to share this milestone Christmas with Maureen and George.

Hope your holidays are progressing peacefully.

(And I give a public hug here to my friend Bindy, who unexpectedly lost her mother - who was her dear friend - this week. Life is not fair.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Need a Wife!

(With apologies to Tyler, who hates it when I say that.)

I've spent an hour-and-a-half this morning on the phone dealing with various service providers: Waste Management, where both my tenant and I have been paying for service on that house and there's an overage of $200 that Waste Management owes me and they've been sitting on for a month (never mind that I had to point out the double payments to them); DirecTV who has charged me an early termination fee for a DVR unit that they forced upon me when I moved and it's take three calls and over an hour on hold trying to get resolution; ReadyHosting who billed me even after I told them I wasn't going to renew, then told me they'd refund the amount and never did; AmeriTrade where you have to place a phone call to terminate an account you opened online; and so on.

I am a single woman who works long hours. My work is as a contractor, and I'm am not supposed to use IBM's resources for personal reasons. So how does one manage the business of running a home and work long hours and deal with people who want to make problem resolution as difficult as possible so you'll just give in?

I know one thing for sure: I will never again use DirecTV for my television service. This $75 they want me to pay has now cost me at least two hours of my time.

I guess it could be worse, but the illustration of how it could be worse escapes me right now.

Monday, December 10, 2007

All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth

Be sure to check out Jaci's blog to see my sweet Boston without his two front teeth.

Who Inspires You?

I found today's Writer's Almanac most interesting.

Dickinson spent most of her adult life in her corner bedroom, which contained a writing table, a dresser, a Franklin stove, a clock, a ruby decanter, and pictures on the wall of three writers: George Eliot, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Thomas Carlyle.

If you were to place on your bedroom or office wall the pictures of three persons, living or dead, who had inspired you, who would they be?

My number one would be Grace Murray Hopper. She is credited with discovering the first computer "bug" and coining the term. I wrote about her in my undergrad studies. It was in my research for that paper that I saw for the first time the statement, "It's always easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission."

I guess my second would be Nadia Boulanger, from whom I learned how little I knew about music. When I went to study with her in the summer of 1971, I had been an enormous musical fish in a very small pond all my life. I had never met anyone else who had perfect pitch. Suddenly I was surrounded by people with perfect pitch. My specialness was gone. My whole life changed as a result of studying with her. And I can't say it changed for the better or for the worse; it just changed for the different. That was a very pivotal summer, when lots of forks in the road were reached. Sometimes I look back and wonder what would have happened if I had taken a different fork. Ah, hindsight.

My third would probably be my daddy, John Edward Crews. He was the one person, until John Ross, who made me feel like I had any value or worth. He still sits on my shoulder and tells me I'm a good girl. Who would I have been if he hadn't been in my life?

Tell me, who are your inspirations?

Writing about Online Dating

My friend Gail Remaly told me about a book written by the daughter of a friend of hers in New Jersey. The author, Trisha Ventker, is a 30-something elementary school teacher, drop dead gorgeous, who tried online dating and wrote about her experiences. The book, Internet Dates from Hell, is available on Amazon and other stores.

The book arrived on Friday and I indulged in several long bubble baths over the weekend while I read through Trisha's experiences.

Many of you have encouraged me to write a book and, especially after reading the blog posts over the last 17 months, to write about my dating experiences. My friend Cindy in Florida has been encouraging me to write for about 30 years!

As I soaked and read, all I could think of was how much better I could have written that book.

So thank you for your encouragement. Once I get the house pulled together and on the market, I'll turn my attention to that.

Dating Over 50: From the Male Perspective

You've all seen the comments from and read the references to the Traveler, my friend Lee. Lee and I met on and quickly became friends. He is very smart, writes beautifully, is highly successful in his career and respected in his professional community, a good dad, a patriot, a risk-taker, generous of spirit, and on and on. Basically, he's a Very Good Guy. And yet he has no more success in trying to find someone to date than I do.

Yesterday afternoon he wrote me a note about his recent experiences and, with his permission, I share it with you today. I thought the guys had it made, but I guess not.

Read on:

I've read your blogs on the several men who have been in your life over the last two years and the inevitable end of possible relationships. Here is what has been my experience with the dating world in just the last two weeks:

Corine A: I called her at work and asked if she would like to meet for lunch. Her reply: "I don't want to meet you." "O.K."

Lucy S: I called her at work to see if she would like to meet for lunch. Her reply: "That's impossible!" I asked if she was already in a relationship. "That's none of your business." "O.K."

Carolyn R. A woman I've known for 30 years. I called her twice last week after having lunch with her. She sends me an email telling me she is a hermit, doesn't appreciate me calling and leaving messages and she is not interested in starting any relationship period. "O.K."

Melita H. A nice lady I've met for lunch several times while I'm in Phoenix for meetings. She likes me so, I asked if she would like to attend a concert with me. "I'm sorry Lee, I've been asked to marry a man and I've accepted." "Congratulations!"

Luz P. A lovely woman I met while a member of TSA here in Tucson. She is now in New Jersey. I called her to see how she was doing. We had a cheerful conversation on the phone. When I asked if we could meet sometime and that I could fly out there if she couldn't get away, I sensed a little frost. No, as a matter of fact, I sensed heavy snow! "O.K."

Peggy B. I went to H.S. with this lady. She smokes like a chimney. I have major issues with that. When we are together I ask if she could refrain from smoking so much. I said two packs a day is going to kill you Peggy. She says she smokes three packs a day! I point out to her that that is one cigarette every 10 minutes! She says, "what's your point?!" Hmmmmm.

C.J.H. A really nice woman who winters here and summers in Ft. Collins, Colorado. I talked to her today to see when she was coming back to Tucson since it's snowing in Colorado these days. She says she's coming in a couple of weeks and oh, by the way, there is a swell guy waiting to see her in Tucson. "Congratulations C.J.!"

I'm beginning to think that dating for me is bovine scatologly!

And this morning he added:

I have one more to add that happened last night.

Nancy P: I dated her six times. No kisses, only hugs. Last night I called to see how her weekend went. After she told me what she did, she asked me what I did. I said I was installing some "bling" on my motorcycle since it was raining and I couldn't ride. She then said, " a fool and his money are soon parted." After ten seconds of silence I asked her if she thought I was a fool. She said, "well.....".
I said have a Merry Christmas and goodbye.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Can't Argue with Good Acoustics

The Friday night and Saturday night Messiah performances were great (in my humble opinion). They were light years better than the Thursday performance. To sing in that wonderful hall at Catalina Foothills High School, where one can hear oneself and the orchestra, is just a dream.

I was so enjoying the bass solo tonight, I had to scramble to stand at one of the appointed moments.

One more tomorrow, then we're done for another year or two.

Sweet Babies

As I was buttering my toast this morning, I remembered an anecdote from my last week in Youngstown.

For breakfast, Ridley eats two pieces of toast and drinks a glass of milk. I had fixed her toast one morning. I laid the first slice on the plate, buttered it, then laid the second [warm] slice on top of it to finish melting the butter. Then I buttered the top slice. The butter on the bottom slice deposited some butter onto the underside of the top slice.

I delivered the toast to her at the dining table and she started to eat it. Then she took it to her mother, crying, because I had buttered both sides of the bread.

Watch out, men. Here's a woman who knows what she wants and, by God, she's going to get it or pitch a fit about it.

(To see the most recent photos of my babes, click on the link to Jaci's blog.)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Tired of Messiah?

If you had told me a year ago that I'd ever get tired of singing the Messiah, I'd have said you were crazy. But I would have been wrong. I'm tired of it.

We had our first of four performances last night. This one was in SaddleBrooke, AZ, which is not even in the same county as Tucson! A friend who lives just east of my office said he drove 51 miles to get there. I got home at 10:30 last night and just fell into the bed.

The first challenge last night was that we had no risers, so the singers were all jockeying for position to see the conductor. The next challenge was that we couldn't get onto the stage from backstage. We had to walk through the house to get onto the stage! What geriatric with early dementia designed this hall?! The third challenge? Disinterest. The performance just had no oomph.

The balance of the performances will be at Catalina Foothills High School, in an auditorium that only a monied school district such as Foothills could construct. It's a great hall and we always have an appreciative audience in that venue. I'm hoping my enthusiasm for the piece will increase tonight.

One problem for me, personally, is a little health issue I've got as a result of last week's colonoscopy. This little health issue makes it difficult for me to stand or sit or walk. And especially difficult to stand and sit quickly on stage. (Oh, read between the lines. Don't make me use the embarrassing "h" word.) Unfortunately, this condition is not going to ease before these performances run their course. Suck it up, Crews. It could be worse: a friend in the chorus told me a friend of hers had the same procedure a couple of months ago and is very, very ill in the hospital with a perforation.

I learned yesterday that the Tucson Symphony has omitted the Messiah from next year's schedule. My first reaction was astonishment and disbelief. This thing appears to be a cash cow. Why would they throw away guaranteed income? But, honestly, my second reaction was relief. Enough. Enough Hallelujah Choruses. Really.

And with any luck at all, my attitude will improve by about 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon, when all this is over.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

What's Important: Employment

I'm applying to this position and have exchanged two e-mails with Paco Ahlgren.

I had never heard of him before reading his post on craigslist yesterday. He sounds as unique and eclectic as I, but on a whole different plane.

In his e-mail this morning, he said he's been inundated with applications, to which my immediate reaction is, "And what were you thinking when you posted that salary? Of course every Tom, Dick and Jane is going to pop out of the woodwork to apply for the job. You're going to have a very hard time figuring out who's on the up-and-up and who's just BSing you to get to that amount of money. After all, nobody knows you're a dog on the Internet (referring to applicants, not to Paco!)."

Anyway, as I was saying before I got sidetracked with sass, his e-mail this morning said

At this point, we're only considering candidates who can demonstrate an interest in what we're doing, from both a business and literary perspective -- applying innovation, eagerness, preparedness, familiarity, and a desire to go above and beyond in order to prove a good fit. I'm looking for long-term loyalty, and I'm obviously willing to offer a great deal to secure it.

Any ideas you could give me about how you would go about creating a niche for yourself -- no matter how specific -- would really make my job a lot easier. I’ll be looking over your resume in the next few days. In the meantime, if you want to know anything else about the position, please don’t hesitate to ask. And thank you again for the submission!

Ouch! How does one respond to that?!

I've been pondering what one would request applicants to say or show in order to successfully weed out the ringers.

How about: what are the ten most important characteristics an employee in this position should possess?

And my answer would be: honesty, reliability, grace, organizational ability, motivation, creativity, curiosity, selflessness, love of books, desire to learn and grow as a person.
Are reliability and dependability synonymous?
Likewise motivation and drive?
Are curiosity and desire to learn synonymous?

Okay, given that list and this position, what's most important? Is it possible to categorize those traits?

As the person chosen for this position will be working on his or her own a lot of the time, I believe reliability must be number one. But honesty must immediately follow or walk hand-in-hand. Can one be reliable without being honest? Certainly one can be honest without being reliable. Is honesty a moral value and reliability a learned trait?

Enthusiasm. I left out enthusiasm. Maybe that would go in place of "desire to learn and grow as a person."

Okay, here's how I think the list shakes out, from one to ten:
organizational ability
love of books

But how about ability to communicate, both verbally and in writing? Should that replace "love of books?"

Yes, I think it must replace "love of books" and jump up to #3.

So the new list is:
communication skills
organizational ability

Why is each of these characteristics important?


The employee will be dealing with the employer's greatest commodity - his customers. The employer needs to know that the employee can be trusted to not act in such a way as to destroy these relationships. The employee will also be handling aspects of the employer's finances, and must be trustworthy.


The employer needs to know that when the employee says he or she will take action, the action will be taken.

communication skills

When employer and employee are transacting business at a distance, the ability to communicate one's requests or desires clearly is tantamount.


This is a multi-faceted job and will require much hard work. Enthusiasm will feed energy when the job seems too big.

organizational ability

Travel plans, schedules, appointments, contracts — all must be dealt with, arranged and coordinated seamlessly and clearly.


The employee must be able to anticipate the employer's needs as if they were her own. She must be willing and able to take action to keep the businesses running smoothly.


This is not a "normal" job, with repetitive tasks. This is the type of job that presents new and interesting challenges with each passing day. The employee who is creative will always devise solutions to challenges.


The employee who is curious will always want to know more about each facet of the job, and her performance and ability to deal with these facets will increase with each new bit of knowledge.


The employer's clients are entrusting their wealth to him. In my experience, people who cede some measure of control over their wealth to another tend to be easily alarmed about the treatment of that wealth. The employee must know how to deal gently and non-confrontationally with the clients and be able to diffuse their concerns.


For an employee to be successful in a support position such as this, she must understand how to put others' needs and desires in front of her own.

That's my list. But does it match his list? Or does he even have a list?

Further on Admiration and Honor

JW, my dear old friend to the north, suggests I add sports to the music, theatre and dance list of things in which adults nurture and mentor youngsters. And I heartily agree, although sports has had minimal impact in my life.

So, to all the soccer and baseball and football coaches out there, I salute you.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

To Be Admired and Honored

As I sat on the piano bench at St. Francis on Saturday morning, playing for girls and boys aged 4 through 18 (and a few adults) who were auditioning for roles in "The Sound of Music," I looked at the eight adults sitting at the table, observing, critiquing, listening.

These friends gave up their December Saturday morning to sit, without compensation, deciding who would be right for the various roles in this play. Then I started thinking about the number of times this scene was replicated across Tucson and the entire country: staging for "Amahl and the Night Visitors," herding tiny mice in the dress rehearsal for "The Nutcracker," helping Tiny Tim find his mark in "The Christmas Carol."

In my view, these adults' interest is twofold. They're pursuing their own interest in and love of theatre and the performing arts. But they're also helping these children follow their passion — or stick a toe in the theatrical water to see if an interest is going to develop into a passion.

I was there because I adore Robert Encila, and because he was paying me to be there. I'm not sure I would have been there without the pay. I missed the Pi Phi holiday brunch to take this gig.

But those adults sitting at this table and tables and stages everywhere, helping and nurturing? I don't see the self-interest in their actions. I see a heart for the children and a desire to give and teach and help little ones grow.

And I salute them.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

City Choir of Washington Interview

Kathryn Tidyman, my friend and president of the Board of the new City Choir of Washington, was interviewed on WBJC prior to the November concert. One of the technologically-savvy chorus members converted the audio interview into a posting on YouTube.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Piercing Questions

Why do smoke detector batteries always run low and start chirping in the middle of the night? Why never during the daytime when one can see what she's doing, find a new battery, and easily swap it out?

And can I successfully ignore this chirping and sleep until morning?


I've been withholding information and now I'm going to come clean.

Remember the last time I spoke about Mr. Match when I said I was going to tell that boy to lose my number? Well, I never got up the courage to do so.

I think I've seen him once since then. He came over around 9:00 one night and we sat and had a drink and talked for 90 minutes or so and then he went home. Evidently his goal was to show me he could just be sociable without trying to get my clothes off.

When I was in Scottsdale several weeks ago for the NATS musical theatre auditions, my phone rang at 2:20 a.m. It was Mr. Match, calling from Australia. I think the time difference is 17 hours, which I think would have made it about 9:00 a.m. there. But maybe it was 9:00 p.m., because the conversation was definitely a post-three-martini conversation.

(While proofreading, I just did the math again. 9:00 p.m. Definitely 9:00 p.m. Definitely post-three-martinis.)

He said when he got back from Australia and I got back from my Thanksgiving trip, he wanted to have me over, cook me dinner, and so on. And he said he would give me a ride to the airport on Friday morning. (He works a mile from the airport, so it's no biggie.) On Tuesday of that week I e-mailed him to ask the name of the pet sitter he uses when he and his ex-fiancée are simultaneously out of town. He replied that he'd ask her and get back to me. That's the last I heard from him.

He was supposed to get back from Australia on Thursday night. No word from him. Friday morning: no call, no car. I drove myself to the airport and left my car in long-term parking, not at all surprised.

I have never heard from him again.

End of story. End of book. Close it.

My courage is up. The next time he calls, I will tell him I want him not to call me any more.

He doesn't deserve anything as good as I am.

Clean as a Whistle

Okay, so I had my first colonoscopy today. It was as dignified as any such procedure can be. Modern anesthesia is a wonderful thing. And the results were "no abnormalities; see you in ten years." Whew!

My anticipation of the event was far worse than the event itself. Actually, my anticipation was of the preparation for the event. I don't like wierd-tasting things, and while I have a sweet tooth for good dark chocolate and sweet breads, I don't like sweet drinks. I drink maybe one soda a month, if that - usually a Coke when a headache has made me sick to my stomach.

The instruction sheet the doctor's office sent said I could only have clear liquids the day before the procedure, so I picked up a bottle of white grape juice, a bottle of apple juice, and a twelve-pack of ginger ale. When I got home from the store, I tasted the apple juice and the white grape juice and made a face after tasting each. Too sweet. I took a couple of cans of ginger ale with me to the office, figuring that would fill me up enough that I'd be okay without solid food and wouldn't get too bad a headache. Then the instructions for the Phospho-Soda said to mix it with eight ounces of ginger ale or water. I chose ginger ale.

Let me tell you that sixteen hours after sipping my last gingerphospho cocktail, I can still taste it. I think I don't want to look another ginger ale in the face until ten years from now, when I have to do this prep again.

If you've never had the procedure and are over 50: Go. Do. No big deal, despite my whining. I'm just a wimp.

You go on a clear liquid diet for 24 hours. You drink a solution that really isn't terrible. You poop a lot. Your ass hurts a little. You sleep through the whole procedure. And you get reassured that you're free of any threat of colorectal cancer.

Frank, who kindly provided me transportation to and from the appointment, said when he had his done several years ago, the doctor found a number of polyps and removed them during the procedure. He has to be retested in five years, rather than ten.

Colorectal cancer is slow-growing, so early detection is key to survival.

And don't smoke. I don't think anybody who reads this blog smokes, but if you do, quit. Don't be stupid.

(I've mentioned that Steve got married ten weeks after I moved out. The woman he had been courting behind my back, who became his wife, had colorectal cancer. She was and still is a chain smoker. Stupid is as stupid does.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Who? What? When? Where? Why?

Yesterday I called my dermatologist's office to make an appointment to get all my little thingies (that's the proper medical term, right?) zapped. The next available appointment is February 12, 2008.

I've been putting out résumés for over a year now. Can you imagine how hard it is for me to imagine still being here in February?

Today I put a number of résumés in to positions in D.C. One is for a web administrator position with Chorus America. My friend Robin Perry Allen works there and agrees with me that I'm probably overqualified, but would love to see me work there. Then I started looking at condos and apartments in the area. Hey, I could get a thousand-square-foot studio apartment in Alexandria for a mere $1450 per month.

Why is there no easy answer? Why is there no quick answer?

I'm trying to be patient, but I don't like it at all.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas Card 2007

My beautiful and talented Jaci took my annual Christmas card photo on Friday night. Do you know how hard it is to get a 6- and 4-year-old to smile nicely for the camera. Simultaneously? My head is tipped because I was trying to get Ridley to behave, and tickling her so she would smile cutely, not grotesquely.

Jaci has her work cut out for her, choosing this as her occupation.

Love is

I'm home now. I arrived late Saturday night and spent all day Sunday in bed. I am still suffering from the cold I came down with as soon as I hit Youngstown. I'm not feeling well and feel I have nothing of interest to say, but saved something from the Writer's Almanac last week to share with you.

The Nearness That Is All

Love's what Shakespeare never
said by saying, "You have
bereft me of all words, lady."

Love is the man who siphoned
phlegm from his ill wife's throat
three times a day for seven

Love's what the Arabs
mean when they bless those
with children: "May God keep them
for you."

Or why a mother
whispers to her suckling, "May you
bury me."

Love's how the ten-year
widow speaks of her buried
husband in the present tense.

Love lets the man with one leg
and seven children envy no man
living and none dead.

leaves no one alone but, oh,
lonely, lonelier, loneliest
at midnight in another country.

Love is jealousy's mother
and father.

Love's how death
creates a different nearness
but kills nothing.

makes lovers rise from each
loving wanting more.

says impossibility's possible

Love saddens glad
days for no bad reason.

Love gladdens sad days
for no good reason.

mocks equivalence.

Love is.

"The Nearness That Is All" by Samuel Hazo, from A Flight to Elsewhere. © Autumn House Press, 2005.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Let It Snow!

Here's what the world looked like when I woke up this morning. I froze my hand brushing snow off the car so I could take les bebes to McD's for breakfast. I'm loving every minute of this weather!

At breakfast I recounted to the babies what the day's schedule would be—belated Thanksgiving dinner at the Gould's; Art Youngstown tonight for their opening exhibition, where Jaci has two photographs on display; Grandma bring the babies home and put them to bed; Grandma get up early in the morning and leave. Boston's face suddenly turned cloudy. How lucky I am to be so loved and so wanted.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Turkey!

Wishing you all a lovely day with family and friends. I am thankful for your friendship and support as I live on my own personal roller coaster.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dreaming the Impossible Dream

I mentioned that I had been talking to the people at Turning Technologies about the Internal Development Manager position they had posted. I was expecting a phone interview to take place last week or the week before with the VP of Operations and then an in-person interview this week. It's now the day before Thanksgiving and neither of those events has occurred.

Last night I dreamed I got back to Tucson and told my colleagues how disappointed I was not to have gotten this interview. Raj then came to me and brought me three IBM shirts with my name embroidered on them, telling me he had sponsored me for IBM employment. (Trust me. It ain't that easy. Nor is it likely to happen, as Raj tends, culturally, to not like women in the workplace. At least, that's the sense several of us get.) I was so thrilled, in my dream, as this meant I could begin telecommuting and be with my family again.

Oh well. One foot in front of the other.

It must have been the NyQuil talking in my dreams.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Almost as soon as I got to Youngstown, I caught a cold. I'll post again when I'm feeling better.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Utter Bliss

I'm home. In Washington. Home.

I snoozed a little on the plane from DFW. When I woke up, I looked down and saw mountains. Mountains! Square mile after square mile of forested mountains. After watching for a few minutes, I realized we were over the Blue Ridge Mountains. I saw mountaintops dusted with snow. And I saw Skyline Drive, where I have hiked. I saw the Shenandoah River, where I have canoed. I saw fall leaves from above. We flew over horse country and then swung around and came up the Potomac. Gorgeous fall Washington day, flying into my city fills me with elation.

I arrived at National around 4:00, picked up a cute little white Grand Prix, and headed down 395 to the Marriott Courtyard Pentagon South. When I got to the exit (slowly, Friday afternoon traffic plus a three-van accident on 395), I decided to go over to Northern Virginia Community College to find Schlesinger Hall while it was still daylight. As I drove past the hall, I saw an old friend walking in and called hello to her.

Then went to my hotel, where they didn't have a reservation for me. Oh, guess I forgot to make the reservation! I've never done that before. Quickly made a reservation, and they put me in a lovely room on the top floor. As I walked into my room, I could see through the west-facing window the purple sunset. Gorgeous, fall sunset.

I quickly changed clothes and went back over to the hall, where I received hug after hug from friends I've known for 23 years. It was wonderful. Once they went on stage to warm up, I ran to get some dinner, then came back to the hall to see more old friends.

The concert was fabulous. The orchestra came on, then the concertmaster entered and they tuned. Then the chorus filed in and the audience started applauding, and continued applauding until the entire chorus was onstage. The chorus sat. then the soloists and Bob Shafer entered. The audience applauded at great length. Bob then spoke to the audience, thanking them for attending the premier concert of The City Choir of Washington and spoke for a few minutes about the work that was being performed.

Then he turned around and started the concert, and all I could think was this man has so much music still inside him, how could the Washington Chorus board ever think he was ready to step down and be emeritus?!

When the intermission ended and the chorus reentered, again the audience applauded. When the chorus was all in place, the applause swelled and continued for a minute or so.

The instant the last note was sung, there were shouts of "Bravo" and cheers and applause that went on and on.

As the concert was drawing to a close, all I could think of was what we had all gone through for the past year to arrive at tonight's concert. A lot of tears have been shed, a lot of anger has been felt, and it all paid off. All the work came down to one fabulous concert and a great deal of joy.

It's about time!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My New Philosophy

Today I'm feeding you two songs that may or may not be new to you.

The first is from the Broadway musical "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" and is entitled "My New Philosophy." I accompanied a darling 13-year-old girl who sang this with lots of verve last Friday night.

"oh, yeah. That's what you think."


That's my new philosophy: "Oh, yeah?
That's what you think!"

Well, why are you telling me?


Why are you telling me?

"Why are you telling me?" I like it!
That's a good philosophy: "Why are you telling me?"
Why are you telling me?"

"Why are you telling me?"
My new philosophy
The teacher gave a "D" on last week's homework
She said, "Miss Sally Brown,
Your grades are going down."
I could have told her-

You new philosophy?

My new philosophy!
[as teacher]
Miss B?
[as herself]
I'm she

Look see.
A "D?"
A "D."
Well, why are telling me?
And that's my new philosophy!

That's your new philosophy?

Why are you telling me?
My new philosophy!

That's great, Sally, but I've gotta go practice Chopin's
Nocturne in B-Flat minor.

No!! I like it! "No!" That's a good philosophy.
"No!" "No!" "No!"

That's your new philosophy, huh?

Yes. I mean-- "No!"
Just like a busy bee
Each new philosophy
Can fly from tree to tree and keep me moving
When life's a dizzy maze
On alternating days
I choose a different phrase-

Your new philosophy?

My new philosophy!

Some philosophies are simple:
"Man does not eat by bread alone."
Some philosophies are clear:

"Leave your message at the sound of the tone."

Some philosophies pick and choose
Deciding what goes in it.

Some take a lifetime,

Mine take a minute.

But, Sally, anything that takes only a minute can't be
very lasting. For instance, Beethoven took over two years
to complete his brilliant Ninth SYmphony.


I can't stand it!

"I can't stand it!" I like it!
It's like a guarantee.
My new philosophy.
And things are sure to be a whole lot brighter
"Oh, yeah? That's what you think!"
"Why are you telling me?"
"I can't stand it!"
Now life is free and easy,
Much more philosophy-zy,
With my brand new-

You know, someone had said that we should live every day as
if it were the last day of our life.

[LUCY (passing by and overhearing)]
Aaugh! This is the last day!! This is it!! I only have
twenty-four hours left!! Help me! Help me! This is the last
day!! Aaugh!

Clearly, some philosophies aren't for all people.
And that's my new philosophy!

And the today I was listening to my "Basia" station on and the song "Cancer," recorded by Joe Jackson in 1982 came onto my playlist.

This song is a follow-on to my recent post about wine and weight — are they good or are they bad. Basically, we're all going to die, sooner or later, one way or another. This song brought a smile to my face.

Everything gives you cancer
Everything gives you cancer
There's no cure, there's no answer
Everything gives you cancer

Don't touch that dial
Don't try to smile
Just take this pill
It's in your file

Don't work hard
Don't play hard
Don't plan for the graveyard
Remember -

Everything gives you cancer
Everything gives you cancer
There's no cure, there's no answer
Everything gives you cancer

Don't work by night
Don't play by day
You'll feel all right
But you will pay

No caffeine
No protein
No booze or
Remember -

Lest you think I've become suddenly mean and cruel, lighten up. That's all this post is about: lightening up, taking life a little less seriously.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Having It All

I'm reading Cathie Black's "Basic Black," a business handbook written primarily for women, but of use to anyone who darkens an office door.

She talks about "having it all," of the need for women to have it all in their lives. But she says you have to define what "all" is. The better term she uses is "360 degree" life.

For some women, having it all means children-spouse-career-friends and success in all areas. But the definition of "all" need not be the same for everyone.

That got me to thinking about what my "all" is. For me it's being available for my children, being involved in the lives of my grandchildren, having a job where I feel my performance is respected, having the opportunity to make music, and having the opportunity to be creative with fiber. Wow, that's a lot. I also think I want a man in my life, to some undefined extent, but when I look at that list (and when I look at my calendar!), I'm not sure where he would fit in.

What is your definition of "all?"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

One Colossal Oops!

My friend Jill and I have a little shared history with e-mails sent too hastily, almost getting us in very hot water. But our little "some people can't read" e-mail was nothing compared to the e-mail that Washington Post music critic Tim Page sent recently. Trust me, he will not win a second Pulitzer for this write.

Truly, anyone who has been exposed to Marion Barry and his shady politics and his lack of moral values knows the man is a total and complete jackass. But I think Tim Page must have been having a very, very bad day to have hit "Send" on this one.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Ultimate Compliment

I was going to leave Scottsdale after I was finished with my accompanying duties on Saturday, but sweet 17yo Jaimie from "Why We Tell the Story" was scheduled to perform in the master class and asked me to stay and hear her.

As I stood talking to Jaimie, one of the other little girls from Magic Voice Studios said they wanted me to stay around. She said, "we decided we like you."

It only took me forty years to be popular with high school girls!

Better late than never!!

Response to "Not dead yet"

Today's Real Simple quote:
Even if happiness forgets you a little bit, never completely forget about it.
-Jacques Prévert

I guess I'm not dead yet

I went into Paradise Bakery & Cafe for lunch on Saturday afternoon. A handful of gorgeous, impeccably dressed and groomed men were dining alone. I noticed.

I thought, maybe I should pursue that job in Scottsdale that was proposed to me by a headhunter last week.

But while I was driving around Scottsdale, surrounded by hundreds of cars, I remembered what it's like to live in locations with constant heavy traffic. I don't enjoy that.

So many factors to balance. Finding someone to be with versus being with my family versus the lure of big cities versus the downsides of big cities.

But it was interesting to me, after stating maybe I'm done with relationships, to have my radar on alert seeing these gorgeous men.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Study in Contrasts

The Scene: Marriott Suites in Old Town Scottsdale, dining room, Saturday morning

I sit eating my granola with yogurt and berries and sipping a cup of tea. I have brought nothing to read, so I continually glance around, taking in the participants.

To my right are two couples, appearing to be in their 40s, plates filled with eggs, bacon, sausage, ham and hash browns. The men are overweight, wearing baggy shorts, NASCAR-themed t-shirts and ball caps. (Whatever became of men removing their hats in the dining room?) The very blond wife of one man gestures and points with her fork as she talks and eats.

Across the room is another couple, in their 60s. They exude elegance. He wears a black long-sleeved button-down shirt, black slacks and shoes. He sips his coffee as he reads the Wall Street Journal. She has a mass of lovely naturally-grayed hair, poufed delicately up into a topknot on the back of her head. She wears a rich blue shirt, collar turned up to frame her face. Her light tan slacks are cinched with a patterned fabric belt. On her feet are the most beautiful caramel ghillies with tan trouser socks. As they wait for their breakfast to arrive, she sips her tea and checks her agenda on her PDA.

Such is life in the Valley on the weekend of the Checker Auto Parts 500 at the Phoenix International Raceway. Scottsdale is known for its money and class. But a NASCAR event brings visitors from far and wide, finding hotel rooms wherever they can. Mixing up the demographics.

(Question: I understand how an airport gets to be international — flights arrive there from other countries. But how does a raceway get to be "international"?!)

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go make music. You see on which side of the demographics I'm situated!

P.S. As I reread this before clicking "Publish," I have to reveal that I've been to NASCAR events. I've been once to the Daytona 500 and twice to the Daytona 250. My dad and oldest brother were/are both big race fans. I always told Daddy he had to invite Mother to go, and she never accepted. (See how I want everyone to always feel included? How sick is that?!) But every time I was asked, I went. So this post is not about putting down anyone's lifestyle. It's just about the variety, the spice, of the human race.

Gimme an O! Gimme an R! . . .

What's that spell? ORGANIZED!

God spare me from having to deal with disorganized people!

I got to Chaparral Christian Church a little around 6:30 this evening, knowing the first student I was scheduled to accompany was on at 7:35. The teacher I'm working for, Stevie Fox, was in the lobby of the main building. She said, "Thank God you're here." (Oh, I feel a primetime comedy show coming on.) She was surrounded by little singers, so I sat down, turned on my iPod, and refreshed my ear on the ten pieces I had to play tonight.

At about 7:05, I noticed Stevie had disappeared without a word to me. One of the girls who was singing tonight stuck kinda close to me, said she didn't know where Stevie was, but took me to where the rest of my little girls were waiting. I directed them to the room where they were to perform. At the appointed time we went in, not knowing if we were the next ones to perform. Stevie hadn't told me anything about protocol, and this was the first time I had accompanied singers for a NATS competition.

One of my five girls wasn't there yet. When number three of my five finished singing, in walked number five with her mother and younger sister, dragging a suitcase. Seems Stevie hadn't given her the name or address of the performance venue. The mother had walked into the lobby of the hotel and overheard someone talking about the church.

We got through it. The five little girls (ages 12 and 13) did fine, and I got out of there alive. Stevie was still nowhere to be seen. I drove to the hotel where we were to stay, knowing that I was to share a room with Stevie. The woman at the desk had no record of my name and couldn't give me a key until Stevie showed up — and I had no clue when that would be. So I drove to Nordstrom and looked at brown shoes for half an hour. I drove back up to the hotel, parked for a moment and, frustrated, punched "Marriott" into my GPS system. Then I called the Marriott Suites in Old Town Scottsdale and asked if they had a room. They looked up my account and said, yes, they had a room for me and they would make it an executive room. Woo woo. All those points pay off.

I drove the seven minutes to the Marriott and checked in. Opening the door to my room, I walked into a living room that contained, not a sofa, but a six-person conference table! Remember how Cheryl and I keep getting upgraded at the Marriott Marquis? I think this may be the ultimate upgrade! The table is so large I could have slept there rather than this elegant king bed.

And to bring this post back around to being single, the thing I missed the most this evening was having someone to call to complain or laugh or commiserate with. And then I realized that I could pull out my laptop and write this post and you'd all laugh and moan with me.

And I can hear you toasting me for taking care of myself.


Tomorrow morning at 10:00 I will go back up and accompany three more students, then walk around Nordstrom a little longer and head back to Tucson for afternoon tea at Tohono Chul with some Pi Phi friends.

Friday, November 09, 2007

How Many Friends Does One Girl Need?

My musical friend Lissa shared with me the music to the show "Closer Than Ever." I laugh every time I listen to the song "You Want to Be My Friend?". So in my hyper-busy and preoccupied mode, and wanting to give you something to read today, I've given you the lyrics to this inspired song. (I apologize for the caps. Here's the code: Text in mixed case below is spoken; text in all-caps is sung.)

Enjoy! I'm off to Scottsdale in a couple of hours to play sixteen show tunes for eight voice students. I'll be back tomorrow evening after getting my Nordstrom fix and attending a Pi Phi tea at Tohono Chul Park.


You Want To Be My Friend?

Friend? Friend?



(Perhaps I should be going)

You stay right there.






(I really should be going ...)

You stay right there!
(You're right, I deserve this you're such
a wonderful person and I'm such a...)

(But I don't want to make a commitment to you)

Is my name on this lease?
Is my name on this lease?

Then get out of my apartment!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Whodya Believe?

Did you see the news earlier this week that an extra twenty-five pounds is a good thing? What?!

Medical "experts" have been telling us for several years to get the weight off, that there's a national epidemic of overweight. And now they say a little extra cushioning can help us fight illness better.

A few years ago we were told a glass of wine a day can help ensure heart health and fight cancer. Then we're told it can contribute to breast cancer.

I'm depressed about my living situation. When I'm depressed, I eat. I try to watch what I eat, but then I end up with a headache, which makes me sick to my stomach, which makes me want something creamy or salty. And then my weight doesn't fall off, and I get depressed about my weight.

A Pi Phi friend just ran the NYC marathon. She's in her upper 30s, I believe. And all her training makes her lean as a rail. And then her older, motherly friends criticize her, saying she's too skinny.

I guess you can't please people. And I guess you have to follow your [healthy] heart and your head and try to take what you believe to be the best course of action.

And then fuhgedaboudit!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Where Was Everyone?

Last night I was privileged to attend a performance of the LA Theatre Works: Top Secret, the story behind the publishing of the Pentagon Papers.

It was a fantastic performance, and made me think back to those times. I was totally unaware of politics in those days. I was 21 years old and studying in France with Nadia Boulanger on the day in 1971 when they were published. In fact, I was pretty unaware of what was going on in Viet Nam at the time. The other thought, when watching this performance, is the parallel between what was going on at this time and what has been happening in the U.S. over the past few years.

What was interesting was how few people were in the audience. I believe the UAPresents administrative staff made reduced tickets available to school systems and teachers. And the house wasn't even half-full.

Every high school (and maybe middle school) history and middle school teacher and class along with the UA and Pima Community College history and political science instructors/professors and their classes should have been sitting in that theatre.

George Santayana said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." I would amend that by changing "remember" to "understand." Last night's performance was a wonderful opportunity to understand a little more about our history.

(Jill - thanks!)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Last night I posted all my known musical gigs on my calendar -- through May! I'm exhausted just looking at it and thinking about the constant running. Go to work; come home from work; drop bags, change clothes, grab bags, race out again; come home; drop into bed; repeat ad infinitum. Exhaustion.

This morning I looked in the mirror and just wanted to cry. I don't want to be here. I want to be there. I don't want to be here just trudging through each day, all alone. I want to be there where I can call the kids and take the babies for dinner, giving Ty and Jaci a little break. I want to be there where I can make a difference.

I'm trying to be patient. I'm trying to believe that the time isn't right yet and when it is, it'll happen. But I'm discouraged.

And just plain tired.

Monday, November 05, 2007


On Friday evening I have to make my way to Scottsdale and find some mega church were the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition is being held.

The teacher whose students I'm accompanying called to talk about maps and directions. I told her I had GPS in the car, so it wouldn't be a problem. She replied, "I have 'Oh shit, I made a wrong turn' in the car."

There's your Monday morning giggle.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Hitting the Books

I've been busy lately, learning new things. I'm hitting computer books and music books.

I'm working on mastering ColdFusion, a software development tool used to create dynamic web sites. I've had a preliminary interview with Turning Technologies in Youngstown, OH, and the HR person who interviewed me indicated the vice president of operations, who would be the next person to interview me, would be apprehensive about my lack of ColdFusion knowledge. So I'm racing to show him that I can develop in ColdFusion.

And out of people I met and worked with in the St. Francis musical revue, I met a local singing teacher. I am accompanying eight of her students in the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition in Scottsdale next weekend. I spent four hours yesterday listening to and learning show tunes I had never heard before, sometimes from shows I'd never heard of! I rehearsed last night with six of my eight assigned students. When another accompanist didn't show up because of illness, I sightread difficult music (including "The Light in the Piazza" - überdifficult!) for six of his assigned students.

It seems the original theme of this blog is superfluous lately. There are no dates; there are no men; the love in my life comes solely from my kids and grandkids and some cherished close friends.

May this only be a brief dry spell while I wait for all my Ohio connections to fall into place.

Now, will you excuse me? I've gotta get back to my books.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Hallowe'en

Trick or treat. I treated myself to a manicure and pedicure. How did you celebrate?

And here is a photo of my little darlings. Any reader who has known me longer than 25 years will be astonished to see how much Boston resembles Tyler at the same age.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Should I Be Offended?

I exchanged e-mails with the Professor on Sunday. He told me he was just back from a week of meetings in D.C., my favorite city. He told me he had found the perfect gift for me. He also mentioned he had seen the Edward Hopper exhibit, which I will see on November 24. He knows of my love of and connection with the Hopper painting "Hodgkin's House", which is the home in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where my birthgrandmother grew up.

So of course, putting all those facts together, I figured the Professor had gotten me something — a poster, a postcard, any little thing containing that image — from the National Gallery to sate my hunger for all-things-Hodgkin's-House.

Last night I noticed a package in the mailbox. When I opened it and unwrapped the item inside, it was a lovely Asian fan in a beautiful silk brocade case. This gift is, no doubt, directly related to my frequent hot flashes. I'm not sure whether I should be insulted or amused. I choose amused.