Friday, December 18, 2009

Fitbit! Better than FatBet?

So far, the answer to that question would have to be yes. The FatBet was truly motivating, and I spent some quality time with my friends who were in it with me. I don't really miss the social interaction, because everybody wants to look at my Fitbit Tracker and ask me questions! There is also a function on the website interface where you can invite friends and compare scores. I'm going to see if I can goad some people into joining me there. It's so motivating, you don't really need to plunk down the money for a FatBet. You don't even necessarily have to buy a tracker (it's $99 plus shipping), you can enter your stats and food and activities.

But the tracker is SOOOO CUUUUTE. And so fun! I'm so glad mine finally shipped. And I'm glad that they refused to send it out until they had worked out all (or hopefully most) of the kinks.

You can see how little it is--just two inches long. They keep calling it "thumb-sized" but really it's smaller. At least smaller than my thumb, and my hands aren't that big.

Below is what the readout looks like. (Sorry it's fuzzy, but it's so tiny you have to get really close. I can however read the numbers without my glasses.) You press a little button and it shows you how many steps you've taken that day. (My goal is 10,000.) You press it again, and it shows how many miles you've gone. Another click and it shows the calories you've burned. One more click and you get a little blue flower that grows as you get closer to your goal! (Shoot, I should have taken a picture of that.)

A really cool feature of the tracker is that you can put it into sleep mode and wear it to bed. There's a silky-soft cuff that you put on, and it has a little pocket for the tracker. It records your movement during the night, and can give you a pretty good picture of how well (or not) you're sleeping. Last night I got a score of 89%. I'm not sure how good that is. I was awake from 3:00 to 4:00. This morning I checked the interface online and got a very interesting chart that showed my sleep pattern during the night.

I like the Fitbit interface too. Entering your food for the day is a lot easier than using the Weight Watchers interface! And it has all kinds of little charts that automatically generate and tell you how you're doing.

The Fitbit support people are superlative. I had a glitch downloading the software--just a strange fluke that they had never heard of before--but the support people responded very quickly, and I was up and running in no time. Yesterday I even complained to them about a grammatical error. Today I got an email saying, "Thank you for noticing this and we will contact the website administrator about it." :-) [UPDATE: They actually corrected the error!!! OMG.]

So we'll see how this goes...I'll be posting more about it as I follow the program. (And I lost a half a pound already.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mission Accomplished!

Goal 5 - Attend The Nutcracker

Melissa in the ticket line

I was SO JAZZED by this you have no idea!!! ScottieDog said he'd never seen me so happy at a performance. [Actually that might be an overstatement. I was pretty darn happy at Spamalot!] It was SO. GREAT. Scott said it was certainly the best production he'd ever seen, so much better in fact that he enjoyed it thoroughly all over again.

Well hey, it's Balanchine, after all. What I didn't know is that Balanchine essentially rescued The Nutcracker from relative obscurity and established it as a Christmas classic at the NYCBallet in 1954. I had been assuming it always was--like Handel's Messiah--from day one. But apparently when it was first performed in Russia, people kind of went "meh..." Amazing.

All the little kids were great! And the mouse costumes were amazing! And the big Christmas Tree! Oh gosh... And the dancing! And the snow!

I could go on and on.

Here are some random shots of the evening:

Clockwise from the upper left: 1) the David H. Koch Theater, 2) the humongous stage, 3) Melissa by the newly renovated computer automated Lincoln Center Fountain, though it wasn't doing much at the time, 4) two big strong ladies in the lobby who do great things for Melissa's body image.

(ScottieDog has some great pictures on his iPod that I might post later.)

Then we went out to an Irish pub that turned out to be the hangout for the ballerinas and the ballet guys (ballerinos?). Several of the principal dancers came in after us and sat down at the table in the picture. But by then I was not in a picture-taking mode, being busy with my Southern Fried Chicken. It was pretty good, but real Southern Fried wouldn't have had such a crisp eggy crust on it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dammit, no more yoga!

So anyway, it turns out I have mechanical sacroiliac joint dysfunction. (SIJ) At least it's not arthritis. I decided to go get it looked at since it's been bothering me for years, and because I keep getting hurt.

But get this: the therapist says I can't do yoga anymore! Or at least not a lot of the poses. She says yoga is for mobility, and I have too much mobility. She doesn't want me doing anything with one leg that I'm not doing with the other leg. For instance, the pose in the picture is a big no-no. I wanted to say, does that mean I have to hop upstairs, but I didn't. Still wondering about that, though. (That would make for an interesting Sunday morning, because the choir loft is three flights up.)

I'm also wondering about the "yoga is for mobility" thing, though. I think there are a lot of strength poses in the yoga I've been doing. Even in the Sun Salutation. It's not for wimps.

And I can't cross my legs anymore either!!! Or stand in that cool model pose with the hand on the hip and the weight on that leg... She says I have to stand in the army at-ease position. Great. That'll look elegant.

So anyway, now I have to do Pilates instead. I changed my Goal 49 to say "Take Pilates classes," and I'm in the process of registering for one, except they have to have my doctor's approval. Bureaucracy... (Speaking of which, did you read this???? Counterbureaucracy Scary!!!)

But here's the good news: Tonight I am going to go see The Nutcracker!!!! (Goal 5) For the first time in my life!! Just one of those weird unexplainable gaps in my musical entertainment experience...

ScottieDog is all excited; he's seen it a bajillion times growing up in Chicago, but I never did except for bits and pieces on TV. I asked him if he minded taking me, but he said "God no!" He explained that it's like having your child's first trip to the zoo: you get excited all vicariously. He did say it was an awfully "girly" ballet.

Again, I have to say I would never have scheduled this, or a lot of the other things I've done in the past year, if it hadn't been for my "101 Goals in 1001 Days" project. I'll be lucky if I get 50% of them done, but just look at what I've accomplished that I might not have done! I got to see Jon Stewart!!!! And the stars!!! (The real ones.)

I'm making a very big effort to get a bunch of them done before the new year. I slacked off majorly here lately, and I have some lost ground to make up for.

I was going to try to do another December of Discipline, but I'm off to a very late start for various reasons, such as SIJ. Still, I think it's a good idea. Get a running start on those New Year's Resolutions with me!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Revisiting Goals 80 and 81

Acquire five new good habits and get rid of one bad habit.

The bad habit I got rid of was leaving my shoes all over the house. And this really stuck!!! I hardly EVER leave my shoes anywhere any more. Of course now they're all thrown into the closet cluttering up the floor, because I'm too lazy to put them in the shoe thingy, but still. I call that an improvement.

The good habits I've been trying to, I just hope I can even remember what some of them are. (Must I reread all my posts? Oog...)

1. I do know the first one was trying to get my makeup on before I leave the house, and though I've done well mostly, I have lately slacked off majorly. I credit the spiral-down with this development. I keep sleeping until the last possible minute, if not beyond.

2. And one I addressed in the last post, processing the mail every day.

3. Oh geez, flossing. I really need to do better with this one.

4. Getting over myself already. I've been trying to do better with this, but my reputation as a Wincer, at least, is still alive and well, according to my colleagues. And I don't think I did so well in one of my recent concerts; I got so worked up I started gagging when I started to sing. Not the solo stuff, thank God, just the ensemble stuff. And I hate those concerts where I have to go back and forth between solo voice and ensemble's really hard.

What's number five....? Maybe I didn't start one. I'm sure something will occur to me.

One thing that strikes me revisiting these goals--you really have to keep reminding yourself what your goals are.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Revisiting, Remotivating, Retailing...

Whoa, it's not a good idea to take so much time off from blogging. Not that I was really "taking" time off, time was sort of taking me. But whatever. It's been so hard to get back into the groove.

(In fairness, I should note that most of the time I used to spend blogging I now spend looking at pictures and videos of Baby Jack. Or actually looking at Baby Jack.)

But here I am again. Since it's coming up on the end of another year, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit some of the goals I've accomplished and the ones I'm working on...and to see if I can't knock off a bunch of them. (The Nutcracker ought to be an easy one this time of year.) [Update: bought tickets for 12/8!]

Here's the first goal I posted about:

Goal 31-Get all the papers filed.

Well, hm. I did make some excellent progress back in June when I had to throw a big party (Goal 86). Then I kind of slacked off. It's not nearly as bad as it was before, though.

At one point I decided I would try to develop the habit of dealing with the mail as soon as it came through the door. This actually worked for a while!!! We were doing great! Then came my little spiral-down and I got to where I would come in the door and just stare glumly at it. I need to get that habit up and running again, because it was working really, really well. I would take care of the days mail, and after that I would make a stab at one of the stacks of accumulated clutter as well. It took fifteen minutes at the most! I figured the stacks would have to get smaller and smaller every day, and eventually I'd be down to just doing the day's mail.


Two big huge goals got whacked owing to my receiving a ****load of money in my personal injury lawsuit: to wit, Goals 16 and 17, pay off credit card debt and save an additional month's expenses. Lucky me. (By the way, I do not recommend breaking your right hand and suing somebody as a financial strategy.)

[Update: I did not actually get the settlement from the city but from the property owner. NYC is a little stingy that way.]

So anyway, now I'm going to go shopping. I'm going to throw out all my clothes except for this really neat sweater I bought at the Gap a while ago and a couple of other things. I mean it.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

In Which Baby Jack Tries to Eat Grandmother

Greetings to all you remaining readers...those who haven't given up on me yet. I just had a spiral down thing there for a while.

Depression isn't something you ever get over, no matter how exciting and wonderful your life gets. In fact, I think sometimes excitement and wonderfulness can be so stressful it can bring on an episode. Especially if you have a doctor who refuses to give refills, so you're continually running out of your medication at the end of the month and have to pig along without until the office finally calls in a new prescription and you actually have time to go get it refilled. I'm changing doctors.

So anyway, I am BACK. So much better.

I'll try to catch up on all my news, all that's fit to print anyway, at some later date. Meanwhile, here's a sample of the wonderfulness I've been trying valiantly to cope with:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oh Baby Mine! Special bonus video.

Bonus first, because it's chronological. This is me and my gurlz at my daughter's baby shower, singing, appropriately enough, "Oh Baby Mine." It goes on a bit long because I couldn't remember how it was supposed to end. But it's worth it to wait for the mom-to-be's "Baby mine..." right before the end. (She's singing baritone. And I'm singing bass.)

And hey!!! It's been almost a month since I posted anything. I can't believe it. But I've been busy. Start of the concert season--and precious Baby Jack had his precious christening last Sunday evening! Omigod, it took me days to fully recover, it was so precious. Here's a bunch of pictures:

Of course they made THE GRANDMOTHERS put him in his christening dress, and boy was he mad. He wouldn't unbend his arms, and trying to get them through the sleeves made me think we were going to be there til midnight. Irish handkerchief linen is not stretch material. (BTW I'm in a choir robe because most of us were singing in the choir for the Evensong beforehand, and because I was doing wardrobe, I didn't have time to take it off. And I was wearing my sexy black suit, too...)

With godmother

With Daddy

He looks like something off the ceiling of an old Italian church in this one. Except not so naked...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Starry Night

(I did not actually take this picture.)

What a nice little vacation I just had! I went to a friend’s daughter’s wedding in Kentucky (my home for my first fifty years), and I saw people I had been longing to see forever! And family, of course. I spent four whole days there. Poor ScottieDog had to stay home, and I missed him, but it was still fun.

Over the long weekend I managed to knock off Goal 79 – Drive out into the country on a clear night and look at the stars. It was awesome! Nothing like getting away from the New York Metro Area to get a little star action. Of the actual star variety, not the celebrity kind--and not just the major planets which is all we can usually see, unless there’s a humongous blackout which happens once in a blue moon.

I had a reservation to rent a little car to get around in, but when the shuttle from the airport let me off, there was this really nice black convertible sitting in front of the rental office. So I went in and jokingly asked, “Could I have that one?” And they said, yes, I could have that one for sixty dollars more (for the whole four-day weekend), and I said “I'll take it!” It was a Volvo hard-top convertible, and boy, was it swanky!

(I’m kind of addicted to convertibles now, ScottieDog having bought one last year over my strenuous objections. Scott was so proud of me for upgrading! I wish I'd thought to have somebody take a picture of me with it. This one is one I took at the rental office; the nice lady coming up on the left is going to show me how to put the top up and down.)

So I promptly went out (literally I drove right to a mall from Enterprise) and bought a nice black suit to match the car. I had in fact been going to buy something to wear to the wedding because the stupid dull green silk matronly outfit I brought with me, which was the only thing I owned that was halfway appropriate, was depressing. And it would have looked really stupid with the convertible.

My daughters were all proud of me for looking so soignée at the wedding, and they sure got a kick out of watching the top go up and down on the car. It was like a Transformer or something.

The effect was somewhat modified (not for the worse, I don’t think) by my carrying the adorable Baby Jack around all the time, because his mother and her sisters were all of them wedding attendants and I offered to do the grandmother thing and look after him. And indeed, I have a lot to learn yet about being a grandmother. For instance, these are not grandmother shoes:

I soaked my feet that night in very warm water and then in very cold water and they hardly hurt at all the next day, but my biceps and quads were KILLING ME for two days. Carrying Baby Jack around is like carrying a cannonball. I think it’s safe to say that he is thriving.

Baby Jack and his mother and aunt left for New York the next day, but I stayed behind with my middle daughter Sylvia (who is hilarious as well as beautiful, BTW). We spent the next twenty-four hours having a Kentucky Experience. We visited the farm and saw my parents and sister and grand-niece, we sat out on the deck and traded memories, we had a mini-recital, we went to Lexington and had a late dinner downtown at a really cool bistro, and then (this was worth the whole extra sixty dollars) drove out with the top down way into the country towards the Kentucky River, and looked at the stars. “Venus looks like a porch light!” Sylvia expostulated.

At one point we stopped by a big field, and Sylvia made me turn the lights off and climb over the gate so we could get out from under the trees and get a better view of the night sky. (The ticklish part was the cow-catcher grate on the other side of the fence. It was constructed so as to “catch” grandmothers, too, though I don’t think that was the intent. I’m lucky I didn’t break my leg.) I let Sylvia drive on the way back so I could lean back and do the star-gazing. It was almost more impressive from that point of view than out in the field. It was pretty damn coolish by that time, but rather than put the top up we turned on the seat warmers full blast. No fools, we.

*Sigh* Can't wait to go back! We're supposed to go for Thanksgiving. I wondered aloud to ScottieDog if they would still have the same car and if so could we rent it, but he sagely pointed out that it would likely be too cold in late November to make getting a convertible worth it. (No fool, he. :-P )

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Dumb Thing #3

I've already posted about the two dumb things I did while at Bard, and was waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it took almost the entire two weeks but it finally happened.

So you remember how I whooped it up at the Spiegeltent the second week. Which was okay, except that (you have to realize I really dance vigorously because I tend to forget that I'm actually superannuated) I overdid it and pulled something in my right hip, I think it was my gluteus medius. I pulled that in my left hip a couple of years ago doing an aerobic workout, and I had to go to physical therapy to get that resolved. At least I remember the treatment and all the exercises. Now I just have to remember to do them.

I did, however, get to the pool on Friday!!!! It was just barely warm enough, I thought, but wow it was so pleasant. One of the things about swimming on a not-so-hot day is that once you get in the water and get acclimated, when you get out it feels a little chilly and so it feels really warm to get back in the water. I didn't swim a long time, but since I'd been a little inactive because of the pulled muscle, I felt like I got a real workout.

Scott wasn't home, so I didn't have anybody to take a picture of me in the pool. So I took one with my iPhone of my toes in the water. You just have to take my word for it that they're my toes.

I have this goal in a headlock. One more summer to go.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bummer, No Summer

Goal 63 - Swim in the pool every summer

I am having a real hard time getting to the pool this summer. It's been cold and rainy. When I was off at Bard, the weather got real hot, like in the nineties, but then like I say I was off at Bard. And ever since I got back, the mercury dipped quite a bit.

Today it was supposed to be 82, but hey, it isn't. I just went out on the balcony and it's windy and coolish-to-warmish. It almost has to be in the upper eighties before I can go swimming. I hate getting cold and wet like a cat. The dumb 10-day forecast (which changes radically from day to day) says it might heat up to 84 later next week, and MAYBE I'll get myself down there before they close up the pool after Labor Day.

The point of this goal is that we spend so much money on rent (Google rents in the NY metro area sometime, for a two-bedroom high-rise apartment with doorman and parking and pool), and we don't take advantage of all the facilities. I forgot to mention the gym. At least I do get down there once in a while.

I DID, however, use the pool because I had the lovely AC take my step-granddaughter down there when she was visiting. So maybe I can make that count toward the goal! I even think they went down there twice!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Book Report!

(Goal 61 - Read all the books on my reading list)

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

Random Fact:Wilde was so extremely disliked at Magdalen College, Oxford that his fellow students dunked him in the river and trashed his room.

One word review: Lordy.

Okay, I'll elaborate. First I'll back up: when I was making up a reading list I consulted various "must-read" lists floating around the internets--the ones that claim in order to be considered well-read or educated, you have to have read the following, blah blah blah. Dorian Gray was on at least one of them, and I thought it would be entertaining, since Oscar Wilde usually is.

I whiled away the long idle stretches of rehearsal last week (at the recent Bard Festival) with this carbuncle of a novel. A fellow "literati" had warned me, when I told him that Dorian Gray was next on my list, that it was a bit "ugh," and sure enough it is. This exercise in decadence is beautifully and overly wrought, and the story is extremely unpleasant if fascinating.

The plot is well-known, but I'll excerpt the Wikipedia summary here:

The novel tells of a young man named Dorian Gray, the subject of a painting by artist Basil Hallward...Realising that one day his beauty will fade, Dorian cries out, expressing his desire to sell his soul to ensure the portrait Basil has painted would age rather than himself. Dorian's wish is fulfilled, plunging him into debauched acts. The portrait serves as a reminder of the effect each act has upon his soul, with each sin displayed as a disfigurement of his form.

So, you gotta know this isn't going to end well.

Wilde's prose is very, very purple, ornate and exotic. Not that it isn't beautiful. Every now and then he throws in a witticism; the most famous one in this book is uttered by the impossibly effete Lord Henry: "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." Dorian late in the story calls Lord Henry "Prince Paradox." I'm not sure whether that was because he considered Henry personally paradoxical, or because of Henry's penchant for uttering paradoxes and passing them off as witticisms (unless we should really credit Wilde with that). That first one isn't bad, but they become annoying as the story slithers on. (Lord Henry's witticism formula: "[noun] is [superlative] except for when it isn't.")

To give Wilde all the points he deserves, his anti-hero's long spiral down into debauchery and cruelty seems to point up the limitations of the aesthetic philosophy that Wilde held, or professed to hold, so dear. Or maybe it illustrates, or he hopes it does, that if you make something really beautiful it doesn't matter if the subject is depraved. I guess the question is how beautiful it really is.

I will now, absent Oscar Wilde, go dunk this book in the river.

Second Random Fact: the cover image for this edition (Barnes & Noble Classics) shows a portrait of the composer Franz Liszt by Henri Lehmann. (Coincidentally we just "did" Liszt at the Bard Festival a couple of years ago.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Auf wiedersehn, Wagner...

It's hard in some ways to pack up at Bard and come home, but on the other hand, we live in a dorm, and I'm attached to my creature comforts. At least this time I took an actual lamp, and a big pillow so I could sit up in bed, and two bouquets of flowers. I meant to take a dhurrie rug but I forgot it.

I meant to post up at Bard last week, but I inadvertently erased all the photos on my iPhone. I was transferring them to my Mac at home, so they're all here, but they were inaccessible up at Bard, so I didn't get to post. Well, I could have, but I think posts with no photos are kind of boring. Unless there are good stories.

So I thought I'd post some random artsy photos from the week. (Keep in mind they're only iPhone pictures!)

The one at the top was just some interesting shadows I saw on the side of the Ward Manor gatehouse. I somehow thought that the shadow of the lantern was a touch ironic. And pretty.

The one below is one that I snuck over the top of my music of Leon Botstein, with the men in the chorus in the background. When you realize that that's like three rows of men and the semicircle of the chorus goes all the way around the room in a big arc (I'm at the end of the semicircle on the other side), you can tell how big a group it is.

The music is part of the vocal score to Die Meistersinger. The thing about singing Wagner, and Brahms for that matter, one of whose pieces (Triumphlied) we did on the same program--it has three dynamic levels for most of the time: 1) loud, 2) stun and 3) kill. At least for this program we didn't have any siegs that I remember, though we did have a lot of heils. I kind of hope I don't have to sing any Wagner again for a long while, by which time I will be too old. But it was kind of fun. Die Meistersinger is a very cute opera, for Wagner.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bard-y Girl

Wow, I had the best time last night. One of the big attractions at the Bard Summerscape Experience is the Spiegelpalais, which most of us call the Spiegeltent because it's more of a tent than a palais. (Spiegelpalais means "mirror palace." It's full of mirrors. AND a disco ball.) But it's a pretty substantial tent--with a big dance floor and bar and restaurant. They have shows there, bands and singers and things, all summer long. It's great when we're there for the Bard Festival, because all the people come out of the concert, performers and audience alike, and head over to the tent for some party time.

Yesterday we had a grueling agenda--a marathon choral concert at 5:00 and then a whole bunch of Wagner excerpts at the first big orchestral event of the festival at 8:00. That's a lot of singing. The choral concert was an ordeal--Wagner, Palestrina, Bruckner, Liszt and Brahms. Lots of Brahms, because he has a ton of great choral music. (And Wagner supposedly didn't even like choruses, though he used them a lot in his operas.) So at the 8:00 concert, screaming excerpts from Tannhäuser and Lohengrin seemed like a walk in the park in comparison. Mostly because the orchestra and soloists did all the heavy lifting. (We actually, really, in the Lohengrin part, sang "Sieg, heil!" at the top of our lungs. But not for long.)

So anyway, the ever-lovely AC and the handsome Scottiedog came up for the weekend. After the 8:00 concert, I changed into my jeans, and we made a beeline for the Spiegeltent. Where we proceeded to do some serious cardio and core workout. I had a bunch of wine, but I don't know how much because my glasses kept getting bused while I was out on the dance floor.

Today my kneecaps hurt; it's the strangest thing.

ScottieDog took this picture when we got back to the room; I think it was about 3:15 a.m. (The Spiegeltent closes at 1:00 a.m., but we went and played poker after that. We party hearty.)

Here are some pictures of our outing this afternoon:


This is a mansion that just happens to be on campus. Ward Manor, which I mentioned earlier, is sort of a "getaway" cottage that was part of the Blithewood estate, if I'm remembering correctly.

This is the Blithewood garden. It's heavenly.

ScottieDog and AC in the Blithewood garden

P.S. I have not had any more f-ups after all. But I feel like I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Back at Bard

Hey all, Bard Music Festival 2009 is under way here at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, and I have already sung more Wagner in four days than I ever have in my entire life. Or probably ever will again.

It turns out, though, to be a lot more entertaining than I thought it would be. And my voice is, unbelievably, holding up.

This picture is the gatehouse to Ward Manor, which they made into a dorm a long time ago. Ward Manor kind of looks like this except bigger. I pass by the gatehouse walking back and forth to the cafeteria . I'm not staying in Ward Manor this year for the first time in my seven years of coming to the Festival. This year I "get" to stay in the new air-conditioned dorm (see below), which is pretty comfortable but short on atmosphere. And bugs.

A couple of dumb things have happened: first I locked myself out of my room on the First Day...and had to call Security to get back in, and they made me sing something over the phone to prove I was who I said I was. I thought that was pretty weird. It took forever for them to come, too, so I must not have made much of an impression.

The second dumb thing is that I muttered under my breath during a rehearsal and was overheard by the conductor. This guy is Leon Botstein, who is extremely brilliant and kind of crazy, not that there's anything wrong with that, and also really effing funny. From time to time, like once or twice per rehearsal, he goes into a long story or speech about something--at which point the room gets extremely quiet because you don't want to miss what he has to say, because it will be interesting and there will always be a big laugh somewhere along the line. For some reason he was going on about the faithlessness (or stupidity) of Elsa, the heroine of Lohengrin, and he got off on this satirically misogynistic thing about weddings being a march to the scaffold or something, and then he interrupted himself to say that in some cultures they play the same marches at weddings that they do at funerals. At which I muttered under my breath, "You're making that up." So then he slewed around and looked right at me, and said, "You think I'm making that up? I'm not!" He wasn't frowning, or anything, so I sure hope he knew I was kidding.

Since supposedly things come in threes, no doubt I will do something dumb at this afternoon's rehearsal. If so, I'll be sure to let you know.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bag Lady Wins!!!

Hey!!! Bag Lady won the Baby Jack I caption contest with this entry: "NO, don't look at me - I haven't brushed my teeth yet.... oh, wait, I don't have teeth yet..." (You have to look at the last post for this to make any sense.)

Oddly enough, the runner-up (on Facebook) had kind of the same theme going..."ScottieDog, you have bad breath.". I can't believe how many people responded with only a comment and no caption at all. Not to take anything away from Bag Lady's awesome comment...

So while I think up some post, any post, that is not Baby Jack related, here's another Baby Jack CAPTION CONTEST (If you double click or right click on the picture, it will enlarge in a most satisfactory manner--I think...):

Bag Lady wins a drawing on any subject of her choosing. Seriously. :-) (Drawing will be posted on this site and will count toward my Goal #2 Draw 10 pictures 6 down, 4 to go!)

Monday, July 20, 2009


What a weird sight I just saw when I was out getting my lunch. As some of you know, I work in Lower Manhattan, right next to the WTC site. Across Cortlandt Street from my building, there's a small pizza bar where, if you want to eat on the premises, you have to stand up at a counter, if there's room. Patronizing this establishment was a large group of nice young ladies (teens) in spiffy yellow tee shirts and shorts, evidently pausing for refreshment while visiting ground zero. There were way too many to fit into the pizza bar, so about twenty of them were SITTING DOWN ON THE SIDEWALK NEXT TO THE CURB with their pizza. And I mean they had SHORTS on.

I VERY NEARLY stopped and screamed at them, "WTF do you think you're doing??? Only crazy homeless people sit down on the sidewalk!!! Get your behinds up from there!" But I didn't. I was too tired, or stunned or something. (Does that make me a bad person?)

One has to wonder where their chaperones were. I mean God only knows what was on that sidewalk...besides the filthy chewing gum residue, no doubt several kinds of bodily fluids. Ugh. I thought about taking a picture to post, but then I thought, No, the world is ugly enough. So here is a nice picture of Baby Jack instead:

He is seventeen days old here. And getting so BIG. I have to say, being a new grandmother is really interfering with the bloggery. Sorry about that. So here is another picture (with ScottieDog), to make up for my sparse posting lately. Feel free to suggest captions! I may be moved to bestow a reward on the best one...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Baby Jack and Little Brown Jug

("Baby Jack" sounds like a kind of cheese, doesn't it?)

I know you're panting for more baby pictures, so here is one I took yesterday with my iPhone. It takes really pretty darn good low light pictures! Better than my "real" camera.

I got to babysit yesterday for almost an hour while The Parents took a stroll round the neighborhood. Little Jack was disposed to be fussy at first, so I sang him "Little Brown Jug" about 20 times and he SOOO loved it. After a couple turns up and down the hallway, he started dropping off in the most melodramatic way, and then settled into a long nap on my lap. Thank God I had my iPhone nearby. After I took as many pictures as I could of Sleeping Infant in Cute Shirt in the Same Position, I resorted to playing Solitaire. Between periods of just staring at him...

Monday, July 6, 2009


Well as you can plainly see, Baby Jack is one of the cutest babies in the known universe. He is only a few hours old in this picture, and already he needs a haircut! The nurses brushed it up into a stylish mohawk.

The family is home now resting comfortably and doing fine as far as I know. I hope I get to go see him this afternoon! He is so spectacular!

As part of my ongoing effort to emulate the Bag Lady, here is some food porn:

These are my famous deviled eggs, which I made for the fourth of July. We also had watermelon and hot dogs and hamburgers. We had to broil the hot dogs and hamburgers in the oven, though because it was way too windy out on the balcony. I didn't really notice any inadequacy of flavor, though. The Macy's fireworks were okay--they were on the Hudson this year, but rather far away from us. Still, it's great to sit on the balcony and watch about 50 firework shows going on all around.

Here is a very special video (one minute) of Baby Jack being comforted by his brand-new daddy. He is such a good baby!

And yet another baby picture, just in case you need one.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Little One

He finally got here! Got a little bit stuck, so they had to do a C section this morning, but I'll take him however I can get him. He is. The. Cutest. Thing. Ever. All of 7 pounds 11.8 ounces.

My son-in-law scared me out of 20 years growth, though, by messaging that my daughter was going in to surgery and then not calling back. After sitting around for hours (only two but honestly it seemed like twelve) getting more and more frantic, I schlepped down to St. Luke's to see for myself what the heck was going on. I was sure there was going to be some degree of awfulness when I got there; I've never been so terrified! Seriously. AND I had the grandmother of all hangovers from drinking too much Chardonnay while I was waiting up last night. (You do not want to be on the NYC subway terrified out of your wits AND hung over, take it from me. Just don't go there.)

But no, they were all just fine, just not thinking of doing PR and busy worshipping the baby. I was glad of that, and so did not shake my precious son-in-law until his teeth rattled. I'll tell you what, though, I really hope (without their incurring any actual harm) that Little Johnny scares the bejeezus out of him at some point, and then I will point and laugh and say remember when you did that to me??? Hm???

Whew. :-)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Flowers and Candy

It's Mid-Year!!! Golly. I have been so slacking off lately, I don't know what the trouble has been. And now here it is my daughter's due date--I'm going to be a grandmother at any moment!!!! [UPDATE at 2:12pm: BABY IS ACTUALLY ON THE WAY!!! ON HIS DUE DATE!!! WHEN HAS THAT EVER HAPPENED????]

So here are some flowers. I've been buying flowers like a maniac ever since we had the baby shower. It was so nice to have them all over the house, though I have discovered I really don't like flower arranging much. I went on Amazon today and bought a new pair of flower shears; maybe that will help. I have sort of developed a procedure wherein I keep whatever is in the vase that doesn't look dead and put that into a new vase with new flowers added. This week I added pink spray roses to what was there before, mostly chrysanthemums and alstromeria. (The alstromeria is I think almost gone, but it still looks nice. Almost like orchids.) So it's kind of a motley bouquet at this moment!!! And the roses are a bit :-| because I got too tired to rearrange the flowers yesterday and let them just sit in water in their cellophane thingy. Martha Stewart I'm not.

And I never did post my Proof of Goal Attained picture for "Goal 37 - Get tugboat picture framed." Here it is:

I absolutely adore tugboats, of which there are thousands around here. I hope so much to get to ride on one sometime, though I understand they are rather loud, being almost all engine. My Buddhist therapist once told me that I probably like them so much because they are Bodhisattvas, sort of. They help people get going on their journeys. Okay...I thought I liked them because they are so cute. (I realize you can't see the tugboats very well in this photo, but believe me, they're there.)

This is an etching that I bought on eBay. The title is "East River Basin New York," but the signature I can hardly make out. It looks like "CurtSgakasoy." ?? It's an awfully nice etching. Doesn't have a date, but I believe the eBay listing said it was somewhere around the turn of the century. (1900 or so)

As for the candy: I was just watching a Facebook link of Jon Stewart interviewing Oliver Sacks on The Daily Show, and it's all about the effect of music on the brain. Sacks's favorite composer is Bach (mine too!!!), and the clip shows a scan of his brain while he's listening to some Bach. It's so cool: it lights up orange. And Beethoven leaves him kind of cold. But anyway, Jon Stewart asks him, "Is Bach candy?" Sacks says, "Yes," and I would have to agree. Here is my proof. You're welcome.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Bad (And Poem of the Month)

Oh POD deemed fit to comment recently: "I seem to recall you writing this blog about goals. I better go back and see if slacking off blogging is one of those goals."

It's so true. Except I had a good excuse--it's the end of the season and I had a lot of singing and catching up to do. AND I had to suddenly produce a lot of documentation in the broken hand lawsuit. I am just so tired.

But I have to say also that I am having a terrible time with a couple of my goals, namely, Goal 74 - Listen to a CD every week and Goal 82 - eat at dining table at least once a week. Though we did have dinner at the table last week (see above), I made pepper chicken with crushed red pepper instead of green chilies because I didn't have any chilies and it was WAY TOO HOT. So it wasn't a big success.

I've been thinking if I buy flowers for the table, that will make us want to eat at the table so we can enjoy the flowers. I just have to come up with some better menus.

But the CD thing: I just can't hack it. I have to come up with a replacement goal. I DON'T WANT to have to listen to a CD every week. You have no idea how hard it is. I just want my ears to be left alone... Please don't judge me too harshly. I have an audio-intensive career.

As compensation I'm posting a link to an audio clip of a concert I just did. It's the hardest tonal work ever written for choir. This piece is toward the end of a larger piece, about 25 minutes long, and we were exhausted by the time we got to this last one, so the blend is a little off. You'll hear that it's for two competing choirs. Mine is the first one you hear (in stereo, it's the one to the left). Sometimes we sing together, but mostly it's a dialog. (The high E at the end: that's mostly me.) (BTW each choir has only 8 singers in it--2 on a part. I tend to dominate the sound of my 2 voice section, but that's because I'm really tired, and it's hard to blend in when you're tired.)

The text is a poem by Paul Eluard written during World War II. The program notes say it was "smuggled to [the composer Francis Poulenc] under pseudonyms; Eluard stayed underground to avoid imprisonment for his support of the French resistance. Likewise, the musical score had to be smuggled out of France for the first performance, which took place in London, on March 25, 1945. Thus, the themes of death, war, oppression and liberty that fill the pages of the work have a deeply personal resonance, for both Eluard and Poulenc, as well as for all of Nazi- occupied France."

So not only is this my guilty compensation, it's the Poem of the Month (I especially like the part about the dog):

[PS It looks like a really long song, but the words go by FAST.]

VIII. Liberté [Liberty]

On my school notebooks
On my desk, on the trees
On the sand, on the snow
I write your name

On all the read pages
On all the empty pages
Stone, blood, paper or ash
I write your name

On the golden images
On the weapons of warriors
On the crown of kings
I write your name

On the jungle and the desert
On the nests, on the broom
On the echo of my childhood
I write your name

On the wonders of nights
On the white bread of days
On the seasons betrothed
I write your name

On all my blue rags
On the sun-molded pond
On the moon-enlivened lake
I write your name

On the fields, on the horizon
On the wings of birds
And on the mill of shadows
I write your name

On every burst of dawn
On the sea, on the boats
On the insane mountain
I write your name

On the foam of clouds
On the sweat of the storm
On the rain, thick and insipid
I write your name

On the shimmering shapes
On the colorful bells
On the physical truth
I write your name

On the alert pathways
On the wide-spread roads
On the overflowing places
I write your name

On the lamp that is lighted
On the lamp that is dimmed
On my reunited houses
I write your name

On the fruit cut in two
Of the mirror and of my room
On my bed, an empty shell
I write your name

On my dog, young and greedy
On his pricked-up ears
On his clumsy paw
I write your name

On the springboard of my door
On the familiar objects
On the wave of blessed fire
I write your name

On all harmonious flesh
On the face of my friends
On every out-stretched hand
I write your name

On the window-pane of surprises
On the careful lips
Well-above silence
I write your name

On my destroyed shelter
On my collapsed beacon
On the walls of my weariness
I write your name

On absence without want
On naked solitude
On the steps of death
I write your name

On regained health
On vanished risk
On hope free from memory
I write your name

And by the power of one word
I begin my life again
I am born to know you
To call you by name: Liberty!

Click to hear it (you might want to open another tab and click it so you can go back to the words):

The New York Virtuoso Singers sing "Figure Humaine" by Francis Poulenc (Movement 8)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Check! It! Out!

Goal 31 - Get all papers filed.



Well, okay, they're not really all filed unless you count moving all the extraneous boxes of mother-in-law documents into public storage at great expense, as well as the six boxes of old stuff I moved into the closet last year, and then throwing everything that's not glued down into other boxes and stacking them in the newly cleared space in the closet. But hey, it seems to work, at least for me. Now I guess I have to take the boxes out of the closet one at a time and deal with the contents.

So this goal is not actually accomplished yet. But hey, it sure looks better!

They say the best way to get your house in order is to throw a big party, which is what we did. I co-hosted a baby shower for my daughter, along with her mother-in-law. Since her mother-in-law lives out of town, we had to have it at my place, and I seized the opportunities afforded by this crisis, like Rahm Emmanuel says to.

Along with boxes of documents, I took all non-essential furniture to storage as well, and gave some of it away to our progeny who showed up for the baby shower. Yay for opportunities! Then we hired a cleaning company to come in and clean. Nothing like throwing money around in a situation like this. Fortunately I had a little bit to spare at the time, and I think it was money well spent. The place looks so great!!!

Bonus picture:

Happy Expectant Family (in clean apartment!)