Wednesday, September 24, 2008


This week I am working from home after last week's surgery (please see below). I have never tried this method before since going to work for my present employer some 5 1/2 years ago. No matter how much pain I was in or whatever my maladay, unless I was contagious, I have always dragged myself to the office.

This time I decided that the prudent thing to do was to try working from home in order to facilitate the healing progress and to also give myself a little break from my boss. Some of you may have read a few of my comments on various blogs about him and his various "idiosycrasies". Stop me if I'm wrong, but I think trying to answer the telephone by simply staring at it and saying "hello" smacks of odd. I actually have an entire list of certifiable weirdness attributed to him but it is at the office. It would make Charles Manson look sane, so just trust me on this.

At any rate, he is playing art director this week in my abscence, something he is wont to do when I am actually in the office. Hyperfocusing on a particular pet project is one of his favorite pastimes so yesterday I got a series of emails from him with helpful tips to speed me along in the design process:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 9:15 AM
Subject: Swooshes
Add swoosh marks behind and arcing to right

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 9:31 AM
Subject: RE: Swooshes
Put all swooshes AT BOTTOM!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 10:46 AM
Subject: RE: Swooshes
Can’t get it out of Adobe…make swooshes lines , lets see if that helps.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 10:53 AM
Subject: RE: Swooshes

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 10:59 AM
Subject: RE: RE:RE: Swooshes
Pls send me art with no swooshes so I can try to get them parallel.

Needless to say, I spent much of the day attempting to interpret exactly what he meant by all of this swooshing, finally sending him a draft of what I hope will make him happy. I have not heard anything more from him today but expect to at any moment. He may be busy getting his meds refilled.
(editor's note: some of you actually know my esteemed employer so please, no names in the comments box if you please. These are tough economic times and I really need to stay employed right now.)

Monday, September 22, 2008


I have been feeling a bit poorly since last Thursday when I elected to go under the knife and have sinus surgery. This was not entered into lightly, mind you, and I have been mulling it over for some months now. When is it ever a good time to have this sort of thing anyway?

Not being a big "pill popper" I usually look askance at prescription pain killers, reasoning that white wine is just as efficient at dealing with annoying pain and lots more fun. Having said that, I am trying to be adult about managing my post-op pain and also do some symblance of work. So I am working from home this week and am about half way through my government-issued bottle of Lortab. I would prefer J. Lohr but this will do for now.

Having been admonished prior to other surgeries by the nurse because I chose not to remove my navel ring I decided this time to avoid the social embarrassment by taking it off at home the night before my surgery so as not to cause a fuss. Sure enough, the question was asked and I was able to say without reservation that I was sans jewelery or piercings of any description. I was kind of hoping they would demand proof since it was actually a real pain in the you-know-what to remove it. As it turned out, I could have left it where it was. They weren’t going to be anywhere near my belly button unless my doctor got it mixed up with my nose and wouldn’t that be a worry?

By Saturday I was feeling well enough to replace my navel ring, which proved to be a bit of a production owing to my impaired motor skills (thanks to the Lortab). After some dithering around, though, I managed to get it back in there and (I thought) securely fastened and tightened up. Who knew that later that same day I would discover that it was missing and nowhere to be found?! Paco and I both looked high and low but to no avail. It was finally determined that my navel ring had vanished and that a new one would have to be bought pronto or else the little hole would quickly close up and I would no longer be hip. So off we went to the tattoo parlor around the corner, Paco driving while I popped more Lortab.

Once safely parked up in front of the Skin Room Paco opted to wait in the car while I teetered my way towards their front door. It’s a pretty scary place I must say and did not blame him a bit for not wanting to go in there. Fortunately, no one there questioned my spaced-out demeanor or slightly slurred request to see their selection of navel jewelery. Clearly, anyone walking in there that wasn't stumbling around would be the target of deep mistrust. I was just your average Saturday afternoon customer.

Following my purchase Paco drove me home, intending to help me replace my missing ring. Here was our post-tattoo parlor conversation:

Me: Here, let me do it. It’s easier if I do this. Just stand there and hold my shirt up.
Paco: Sweetie, you can’t see what you’re doing and you’re weaving all over the place. Let me do it.
Me: No, no, I can do this. Where are my glasses? I need glasses and a flashlight.

Paco (handing them to me): I think you should lie down before you fall over. If you smash your nose we will have to go right back to the hospital. For goodness sakes, please lie down on the bed. Your nose is dripping.

Me: Okay, fine, I will lie down. Please hold the flashlight right there so I can see what I’m doing. More to the right. No I said right. Who’s glasses are these? These aren’t mine. I can’t see anything.

Paco: That’s because you have them on upside down. Stop. Stop. I will do it. Here, hold the flashlight.

Me: Oh, okay. Ouch, be careful. Ouch. No, no, that won’t work. Let me straighten out more. No, ouch, stop.

This went on for 20 more minutes before Paco finally got my new navel ring securely fastened into its new home. Then I promptly fell into a Lortab-induced coma and poor Paco went in search of the bourbon. His patience is wearing thin. I get the splints out tomorrow and hopefully life will start to return to normal. Just in time I might add. I am almost out of Lortab.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Among the many historic landmarks swept away last week by Hurricane Ike (such as the venerable Brennen’s restaurant in Houston), I was saddened to learn that The Balinese Room is no more.

Built in 1929 as a Speak Easy and illegal casino, the B. Room stretched out from the Galveston Seawall some 600 feet into the Gulf of Mexico. (I have always heard that this was supposedly to give the proprietors enough time to hide all the illegal paraphernalia before the Feds showed up). Although they were long-gone by the time my college friends and I showed up back in the late 70s and early 80s, folks like Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Howard Hughes apparently liked to hang out there. I guess they all got bored and went back to Hollywood or Palm Springs, though, because the place fell on hard times and was boarded up off and on, occasionally re-opening as lesser versions of itself over the intervening years.

During my own personal hey day (the twenty-something years) I used to frequent The Balinese Room with my buddies, including my cousin Clare, who’s parents had a beach house on the bay side of the island. Over the years our group matured somewhat and eventually we discovered that it was cool to hang out with the Older Generation. Cousin Clare’s parents and their pals where way more hip than we could have ever been and were much better party animals to-boot. I learned to mix a mean High Ball, play Dirty Boggle and watch the sunset from a beach chair, table and umbrella set up in the surf with this crowd. When the afternoon revelry had subsided and naps had been taken we would head into town for martinis and dancing, usually ending up at The Balinese Room.

I guess the dancing part is what proved to be my undoing. Undoing that has followed me into mid-life, into Book Club which is made up of the Balinese Room beach crowd who are now also middle-aged. Each time “the incident” is brought up to much laughter and eye-rolling I laugh along with everyone else. 25 or 30 years has done much to dull the full brunt of my embarrassment but it still makes me cringe.

The Jitterbug is one of those dances that no one has any business attempting, unless maybe you’re on Dancing with the Stars (and I don’t mean Marie Osmond). At any rate, my dance partner Bob and I were out there mixing it up and twirling around like we knew what we were doing. (I should also add here that black lights were all the rage at the time and it was switched on that night). About half way through our performance Bob decided to toss me straight up into the air just like I was Judy Garland, then catch me and throw me down and backwards, sliding me across the polished floor like a sack of potatoes. Did I also mention that I was wearing a strapless sundress at the time? What about the high-top white cotton panties? Did I mention that part, too? As Bob artfully slid me across the floor between his feet he still had firm hold of my hands, rendering me completely helpless and unable to pull down the skirt of my sundress which was now plastered to my face, leaving me lying on the dance floor with the entire lower half of my body exposed. Keep in mind that this was the middle of summer and I was very tanned. And my sundress was tan. But my panties were WHITE. And the Black Light was switched on, remember? So there we all are, everyone and everything in complete darkness except for one very bright pair of High Top White Panties. Just panties in the middle of the Balinese Room dance floor. And Bob is still standing over me, trying to figure out what he was now looking at. Where had I gone? What had happened to my body? Had the Rapture suddenly taken me away, leaving only a pair of bright white panties in my place?

My hands completely immobilized, I could only squirm and squeal “Please, please, Bob, let me up. Help! I’m stuck. Please, somebody, pull down my dress, turn off the black light. Help, help. Oh please, please don’t let this be happening.” Finally, Bob sprang into action, helping me to my feet and pulling my dress down off of my head. I fled to the Powder Room, Cousin Clare finally managing to coax me out after much effort. Poor Bob was mortified and very apologetic but the damage was done.

It was the end of an era when The Balinese Room was finally swept into the sea last week, having survived a long list of deadly hurricanes going back to 1929. No doubt there are lots of stories out there similar to mine and I'm so glad that I got to experience a part of that history. Even if I had to jitterbug my way into infamy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


(Editor's note: This was a recent email sent to me by my cousin out in Arizona. I have reprinted it with her permission)

Speaking of not wanting to associate with Palin face women, I suffered a terrible insult Sunday at the fabric store. While discussing buttons in an aisle with two of my children, an older woman kept staring at us keenly. Finally, she spoke. I thought at first I was going to be lectured about my relationship with my children. But it became evident immediately that she was going to tell me who I resemble. Yep, I was ready. Ever since 2nd grade I've been called on my uncanny resemblance to Sally I smiled graciously and waited..........until the old battleaxe said the words that really smarted.........."You look just like Sarah Palin" (I WAS wearing glasses. My hair WAS dirty, therefore UP) This called for a HOLY WAR. "You are telling this to the WRONG Person" I responded. But she wasn't phased. "It could be your jaw line, or maybe it's the lower half of you face, but I've got a feeling you'll be hearing a lot of this." I went into spasms, foam and spit . Before my throat tightened in anaphalctic shock, I sputtered "That woman needs to go back to her own back yard and pay attention to what's going on beneath her own nose" to which the woman's response was "Well, I am a conservative." "Yes", I replied, "so am I, that's why I said what I said."

My children waited until she left and then said "MOM !!!How embarrassing." But then, these days, whatever I do embarrasses them.

('Nuf said. ed.)

Monday, September 8, 2008


Paco and I were out stove shopping on Saturday, having finally had enough of the ancient Jenn-Air that had been slowly falling apart in the kitchen for the last 14 years or so. We had finally put it out of its misery last week, dismantling it and literally kicking it to the curb. Now it was timed to find its successor.

Driving north to Lowe’s, Paco was, as always, carefully observing the posted speed limit, even dialing it down a few notches just to be on the safe side. Not being the most patient person in the world, I finally felt the need to comment:

Me: You know you can go 40 here, don’t you?
Paco: No, I didn’t know that. Are you sure?
Me: Yes, we just passed 2 new speed limit signs.
Paco: Am I driving too slowly again?
Me: Yes, yes you are. You always drive too slowly. If you’re going to poke along please at least move over to the right-hand lane. At this rate it will be time to color my hair again before we get there.


Paco: You need to read that book.
Me: What book?


Me: Oh, you mean that book the Smyths lent us? What’s it called again?
Paco: “The Art of Happiness” by the Dalai Lama
Me: Just because I need you to speed up? You think I need to read a book about how to be happy?
Paco: It’s about finding inner peace and serenity. You can be very impatient sometimes.
Me: Okay, I admit I can get a little testy sometimes. But I’m probably too impatient to read a book about how to be more patient. Maybe you can just read it and then tell me what it says about patience. I like the Dalai Lama, too, but I bet he drives slower than you do. He would make me crazy if I had to ride with him to Lowe’s. Besides, I prefer books that have a little faster pace.
Paco: You mean like maybe that book about Lizzie Borden?
Me: Yes, like that one.


Paco: This is exactly my point.

We bought a stove yesterday and while we were driving home, Paco said happily “You know you’re getting old when you get really excited about a new stove.” I was thinking he needed to speed up.

Friday, September 5, 2008


A few years ago, just after Paco and I started dating, we went on vacation to Key West. Being a Cancer and therefore water baby, I will always choose sand over snow. Cold weather makes me cranky.

As it happened, we found ourselves down in the Keys over Easter weekend, which was nice for a lot of reasons. Weather was great, it wasn’t too hot or touristy yet, and Easter is one of my favorite holidays (being a cafeteria Catholic if that matters). This last fact was what led us to visit the local parish church there in Key West. Not the only one in town, mind you, but the one closest to our lovely little hotel and within walking distance.

Being as it was Good Friday and I wanted to scope out exactly where the church was and what time Masses were, we decided to have a little wander down that way and do some reconnaissance. Being that it was also Happy Hour on Good Friday, it made perfect sense at the time to stop on the way and have a cocktail or two and then drop by the church for some much-needed reflection.

After stopping in the Green Parrot to take advantage of their outstanding frozen Margaritas, which to our delight could be poured into a Go Cup should the patron have an urgent appointment to get to, we proceeded down the street towards the church.

Things were going smoothly by all accounts as we entered the vestibule, pausing briefly to dip a hand into the Holy Water fount, do a quick genuflect and then have a little sit down in the nearest pew. Not being Catholic but certainly spiritual and reverential, Paco sat down next to me and we proceeded to quietly, individually reflect and bask in the presence of the Lord and what the upcoming religious holiday meant to each of us.

What I failed to notice at the time, being so deep in prayer and reflection, was the tiny little woman sitting in the pew across the aisle from us, staring a hole right through my tube top. Paco nudged me, motioning in her direction with his head. As our eyes locked and I was wondering what we could have possibly done to upset her, he gently reached over and lowered my Go Cup full to the brim with FROZEN MARGARITA. I guess the umbrella gave the game away. At any rate, I was mortified and tried to make one of those hand signals that are supposed to communicate that I had no idea how it could happen that I had so casually strolled into church carrying a cocktail. The only thing that could have made this worse is if I had had a Virginia Slim hanging out of the corner of my mouth.

Realizing that I stood no chance of convincing this obviously staunch and loyal parishioner that this was a complete misunderstanding, Paco and I decided to make a swift exit out of there. While I was remorseful and totally horrified about my accidental transgression, Paco was in stitches and to this day still laughs about the day I had Happy Hour at the Catholic Church.

We still celebrated Easter Mass in Key West that weekend at the beautiful Spanish-style Catholic Church on Duval Street, heads held high. But this time, the cocktails stayed behind at the Green Parrot.


Several years ago I had one of those slightly spooky truth-is-stranger-than-fiction experiences that I often think was some kind of sign from God.

I was sailing down in the BVI with my wonderful English friends Jon and Diana and having a high old time catching up with them after a few years of everyone doing their own thing. As often happens when the Yanks and the Brits get together, we started sharing colloquialisms with each other. I introduced them to “discombobulated” among others, and they offered up a couple of classics, including “Kafuffle” and my now all-time favorite “Bob’s Your Uncle, Fannie’s Your Aunt”. If you haven’t ever heard this last phrase, roughly translated it means, “Everything is great / it’s all smooth sailing from here / life is good.”

As we were discussing this delightful new saying I suddenly realized something amazing. I said “Hey, wait a minute! I actually had a great-uncle Bob and he was married to my great-aunt Fannie!” No kidding, Uncle Bob and Fannie were married for a million years and they were two of my most favorite relatives. Uncle Bob was a big-time lawyer in the small Central Texas town where my mother grew up and Fannie was the original Flapper / Southern Belle who taught all of us kids to swim at the local country club pool. Their house was always party central and they were about as eccentric as you can get. Uncle Bob chain-smoked big Cuban cigars and wore a wide-brimmed Panama hat and Fannie loved really good bourbon and never served dinner before 11 pm.

So the entire week every time something good happened on the boat like favorable winds, an empty mooring buoy or the discovery of a previously unknown beach bar, someone would shout out “Bob’s your uncle, Fannie’s your aunt!” and we would all get giddy and I would have to remind everyone again about this amazing coincidence. I might also add here that at the time Uncle Bob had gone on to his reward but Fannie was still very much alive, albeit much older and not in great health.

At the end of that lovely week down in the islands with my wonderful friends we reluctantly parted company and they flew back to Blighty and I to the States. As I walked in the door of my house I saw that the answer phone light was flashing (this was before the advent of the ubiquitous cell phone) so I hit the replay button as I was putting down my bags. The very first message was from my late mother relating the very sad news that Fannie had passed away while I was gone and they had already had her service. So not only did I not get to say goodbye and have closure, but I also had that end-of-an-era sort of feeling. You know, like when something that has remained constant in your life suddenly vanishes? You just think those people will be around forever. But then I started thinking about how the entire time I was lolling about on my friend’s boat down in the Caribbean Fannie and Uncle Bob had been there with us, too. Their quirky, eccentric selves had permeated every part of our trip in such an endearing, life-affirming way. What had seemed at the time as pure coincidence now spoke to me differently. I think it was Fannie’s way of saying goodbye as only someone who loved life, her family and really good single malt bourbon could. The fact that I had spent the first few days smoking cigars (and getting violently ill) and telling funny stories about all the cousins piling into Fannie’s ancient Corvair to go swimming suddenly took on a deeper meaning. How better to celebrate the lives of two figures so firmly entrenched in my childhood than to share my memories of Uncle Bob and Fannie with some of my closest pals?

I still go sailing every year with Jon and Diana and we still shout out “Bob’s your uncle, Fannie’s your aunt!” Because that’s what you say when life is good.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Gee, I have no idea how this got started but I hope everyone will vote for me.
I promise not to practice Pork Barrel Politics, to go on exotic vacations with Washington lobbyists (unless they are related to me by marriage) or any of that other stuff that politicians tend to do. At least not if I can help it.
Take a look:
(click on the "Election 2008" photo)