Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I am down with a very nasty GI bug that hit me like a freight train last night at about 3:00 A.M. I thought the worst was over, but, well, it's not. Please pray for me--and for the Scientist, who has been wonderful, and who I hope does not get this after me. Thank you.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I apologize to all of you (Songbird, PPB, Cathy, maybe others) on whose blogs my comments have posted twice, recently. It seems to be some sort of server issue on my end. I promise you I don't believe that my pearls of wisdom are so profound that they bear repeating. I'll try to figure out what the problem is.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday Five: Renewal

In thinking of four favorite means of self-care or refreshment, and a fifth that is, so far, still a dream, here are my first impressions:

1. Reading on the couch. Usually that just means looking at a magazine, but might also mean a novel. Currently I'm trying to get into Jane Stevenson's Empress of the Last Days, the last in a trilogy that includes The Winter Queen and The Shadow King, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. This one, unlike the others, has a contemporary setting and I'm having a little trouble getting involved in it--but it's still nice to lie on the couch and try.

2. A wonderful dinner out with the Scientist, at one of our favorite restaurants, or one of the new ones we've wanted to try.

3. Exercise. It is so hard to get up and get out of the house to exercise. Why, when I always feel so much better after I do it?

4. Singing. By Thursday night I am so tired in body, mind, and spirit. I look forward to going to choir practice that evening, because I feel better when I sing.

If I could cheat and add 4 1/2 I would say "travel". I am deeply grateful for the dream that will be coming true in late April, the vacation of a lifetime that includes, among other wonderful destinations:

5. A week in Tuscany. We will be roaming slowly through the Chianti region with a minimal agenda, other than tasting lots of wine, eating things like artisanal wild boar salami, gazing over the hills, and pinching ourselves to be sure that we are really there.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

All Rise

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Her Grace Lady Zorra the Antediluvian of Goosnargh on the Carpet
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Needless to say, this title comes with a LOT of sterling.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Over at St. Casserole's place there's a pleasant discussion of caring for and enjoying one's fine sterling flatware. I'm sure most people enjoy and take pride in fine tableware, especially if it has sentimental value, but somehow that feels particularly Southern to me. In the time and place where I grew up, my friends and I were taught about china and silver patterns, along with our female relatives' biased opinions about which we should someday choose for our own. We were taught how to take care of our family's nice tableware, and to this day, seeing a jar of Wright's silver polish reminds me of preparing for Christmas dinner. We were taught "proper table service", and at age twelve or thirteen my cousin and I gave a little tea for her out-of-town cousins (other side of the family) who came to visit, because our mothers wanted to teach us how.

If that sounds like another world, there is an entertaining, and accurate, book by Maryln Schwartz called A Southern Belle Primer, or Why Princess Margaret Will Never Be a Kappa Kappa Gamma, that explains it all, and even includes the Silver Pattern Zodiac. Actually I think it was another world, but growing up that way taught me to give a small party with confidence--no small feat for an introvert--and taught me to respect and care for nice things. (How many times did my mother exhort me to care for her 1936 wedding china, reminding me, "This is pre-war Limoges. The factories were bombed. You can't get this now.")

One of the smartest things I ever did was to marry a man with the same last initial as mine. My new name still matched all of that monogrammed sterling! Every time I get out that sterling, and that china, I think of my parents and my family, remembering years of special dinners and celebrations.

When my aunt Sara Dunn left me her Waterford crystal I was grateful, if a bit melancholy, but I didn't expect to do what I did when I unpacked it: sit on the floor and weep over each piece. I wept remembering her, her good life, who she was, who I am, where we came from.

When his kids were growing up, my paternal grandfather (Sara Dunn's dad) often told them, "Remember who you are." While that primarily meant, "...and behave accordingly," it seems that something as mundane as cherishing the tableware that he and his children used, plays a part in helping me remember who I am.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Extra nerd points

In somebody's blog comments tonight I was reading about a way to earn "extra nerd points", a suggestion that was enthusiastically received. That got me wondering: how many of us self-identify as nerds? How many of us were considered nerdy as kids, and grew up to say "so what" and celebrate the intelligence or the special interests that the other kids had scorned? When I was a kid I thought there were very few people like me, and that I needed to learn to act like all the other belles-in-training. As I grew older I was fortunate to realize I'd been mistaken. I met more and more people like me--quite a few people who "get" me. Eventually I even married someone like me.

What's the difference between a nerd and a geek, anyway?

If the Scientist and I had been able to have kids, I would have loved to receive this at my baby shower.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I try really hard not to get hooked on TV shows. I refuse to get caught up in having to sit in front of a box every week at a specific time. My last "must see" was Chicago Hope, which was a long time ago, and before that it was St. Elsewhere, my all time favorite show. Since I love doctor shows, I've resisted getting involved with Grey's Anatomy because if I did I'd have to watch it every week. I've tried to stay away from all the shows people talk about at work, like Lost or, God have mercy, American Idol.

Well, tonight I made the mistake of tuning in to 24 for the very first time. BIG mistake. Oh my gosh, that show is WAY too violent for me, but, well, now I guess I'm going to have to watch it anyway.

(Sorry I have had nothing profound to say lately. Work is frying my brain.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Just as well

I have to laugh. I just spent ten minutes writing a post in which I begged your indulgence as I vented about the frustrating events of my day. I went to preview it, then tried to switch back to the previous page and lost the whole thing. I will not write the whole thing again. I will repeat that after a day like this is over, I am thankful that I can go to church to help fix (and eat) baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans with my friends, and then sit with my husband as he leads a discussion on the providence of God. I'm so tired, I may not say much tonight. But that's OK.

P.S. Quotidian Grace has posted about a wonderful woman from our church, named Vivian, who died yesterday after a long battle with melanoma. Please pray for her husband and teenaged daughter.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Friday Five: Birthday, Redux

1. "It's my party and I'll [blank] if I want to..."
Favorite way to celebrate your birthday (dinner with family? party with friends? a day in solitude?) I prefer to go to a special restaurant with the Scientist and perhaps family and a few close friends. The older I get, the less interested I am in having a big party.

2. "You say it's your birthday... it's my birthday too, yeah..." Do you share your birthday with someone famous? (Click here to find out!)
Well, I already knew I shared my birthday with Mikhail Gorbachev...and at one time, it was a point of particular pride to me that John Cowsill and I were born on EXACTLY THE SAME DAY. Now I find that among my other birthday buddies are Lou Reed, Jon Bon Jovi, and Laraine Newman--not to mention Daniel Craig, the new Bond.
My dad and I nearly were birthday buddies, as his was the day after mine. The story goes that shortly before I was born at around 7:30 P.M., Mama asked Daddy if she should try to hold on until midnight. He assured her that would not be necessary.

3. "Lordy Lordy look who's forty..."Milestone birthdays: a) just like any other birthday--they're just numbers, people. b) a good opportunity to look back/take stock c) enjoy the black balloons--I'll be hiding under a pile of coats until the day is over d) some combination of the above, or something else entirely.
Mostly (b), I guess, but probably more (d). I received the full black-balloon treatment for 30 and 40, and enjoyed it. But for 50, this past year, I wanted something quieter and more intimate. The Scientist and I went to Big Bend and the surrounding area for a week, and enjoyed hiking and just hanging out in the beautiful West Texas desert. We had my birthday dinner in a very chic little restaurant in Marfa, an odd little town that is a bit full of itself but should not be missed if you have any interest in contemporary art, or like to hang out in cool bookstores. I am bursting with more West Texas travel tips, which I will gladly provide on request. :)

The Scientist's 50th birthday and our silver wedding anniversary will both be this year. We plan to celebrate this spring with three weeks in Italy!!

4. "Happy birthday, dear... Customer..."Have you ever been sung to in a restaurant? Fun or cringe-worthy?
Horrors!! I hate it!! When I turned 24, the gentleman I was seeing at the time took me to a very elegant and, in those days, well-known Houston restaurant where peacocks roamed the manicured grounds amid the azaleas, and the food and service were impeccable. Not the sort of place where one would expect a birthday serenade. But when the maitre d' found out it was my birthday, he offered to have all of the waiters come and sing. I begged him PLEASE PLEASE not to do that. At the end of the meal he came over by himself, gave me a mint, and sang "Happy Birthday", very quietly. That was OK.

5. "Take my birthday--please"Tell me one advantage and one disadvantage about your particular birthday (e.g. birthday in the summer--never had to go to school; birthday near Christmas--the dreaded joint presents)
EDITED TO ADD: This could also simply be something you like/dislike about your birthday (e.g. I like sharing a birthday with my best friend, etc.).
The only disadvantage to my birthday is that it almost always falls during Lent, when I am usually attempting to abstain from alcohol and refined sugar. I confess that I have been known to grant myself a special dispensation for that one day.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Moving on

Tonight at choir practice we sorted all of the Christmas music (and there was a LOT) so that our devoted volunteer librarians could file it away. I never did blog about how thrilled I was that this year we sang Vivaldi's Gloria, which has been very special to me since I first sang it with a group of good friends about 26 years ago, at the church where the Scientist and I later met and married. That piece reminds me of some very happy times, and to have the opportunity to sing it again was a joy.

When we opened our folders tonight, there instead of the Christmas pieces we found Dubois' The Seven Last Words of Christ. That was slightly jarring, but I know that in a way it is fitting; even during Christmastide, we remember Good Friday.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Random asterisks of New Year's Day

There's a lot to be said for going to a New Year's Eve party on your own block. Our neighbors three doors down had a great party--lots of good company and good food, and I had my--believe it or not--very first martini. (Meh.) We excused ourselves early to go get Amie and walk down the street to my mother-in-law's house, where the six of us (counting all of the dogs) rang in the New Year. After making a valiant attempt to watch New Year's Rockin' Eve (Who are these people?) we were delighted to find Garrison Keillor hosting Emmylou Harris and the Old Crow Medicine Show, among others, from the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Now that was a great New Year's Eve show.

Why, yes, we are old. And your point?

Did anyone else notice that Lake Wobegon Lutheran Church follows the common lectionary? Keillor delivered a brief homily on the same Colossians passage we had heard preached Sunday morning.

Now I'm watching the Rose Parade, which I love to do because of the six years we lived less than a mile from the parade route. I get a little homesick for Pasadena when I see those shots of the San Gabriel Mountains and the Norton Simon Museum. We used to get up around 6:30 and walk over to Colorado Blvd. to stake out a bit of sidewalk (hard to do, since the sidewalks are covered with sleeping revellers at that hour) or, better yet, a random bit of scaffolding on which to perch. The floats look wonderful on TV, but you cannot imagine how breathtaking some of them are in person. I'm a big crier, and I have been moved to tears more than once by seeing an amazing float, up close and personal.

Something they don't show you on TV: The reason the cameras are near the beginning of the parade route is because these very heavy and elaborate floats sometimes break down halfway down Colorado Blvd., and must be towed the rest of the way. Not telegenic. Something else they don't show you on TV: the horde of street preachers following the parade with megaphones and huge turn-or-burn signs, handing out tracts that Pasadena sanitation workers later sweep up by the hundreds.

One of my classmates at Fuller was a native Pasadenan who grew up in a neighborhood near the end of the parade route. When he was a kid, he and his friends would comfortably watch most of the parade on TV, and then run outside to see it live!

Twenty-five years ago today, in a tiny apartment living room, a smiling young man knelt before his girlfriend, took her hand, and asked her to marry him. She said yes--then cried for joy. Sometimes she still does.

Don't forget your black-eyed peas! Happy New Year!