Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sumer is a goin oot..

Greetings from the tail end of sumer summer. As is usual this time of year (for the past three years) I decided to go down to the pool that I haven't been to all summer long because I'm too lazy. If it weren't for Goal 63 I'd never go at all, I guess.

I know I know I know all three years I've worn the same black bathing suit, so I thought I'd show a picture of the pool pass to prove it was really this year and not last year's pictures dragged out again...Because I know how skeptical and distrustful people can be.

And by the way, I fit into the bathing suit a LOT better now, though I'm not mercifully as skinny as I look in the floating picture. That image is totally an illusion, a product of some light refraction thing I managed to resist learning about in high school physics.

I kick myself every time for not remembering how nice it is in the pool. And how stupid is it that on yet another day this summer when we have record heat, I'm sitting in my office FREEZING. I'm wrapped up in a fleece shawl drinking green tea.


Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
Oliver Sacks

Interesting Fact that I Didn't Know until I Read the Wikipedia Entry Just Now: Sacks's middle name is Wolf. Also a lot of scientists don't like him. To some, he is a better writer than scientist, one critic remarking on Sacks's "idiosyncratic and anecdotal approach."

Another interesting fact: you can't download an image of the book cover that won't have that "Look inside" link attached to it.

Oliver Sacks, as you probably know, is the real-life hero of the movie Awakenings (starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro), based on his book of the same name, about a neurologist who treats people suffering from a 1920s sleeping sickness. His actual work in that field has been criticized for not being scientifically thorough, the studies not double-blind, and what-have-you. Still and all, Awakenings is a pretty bloody terrific story, and there are some awfully good stories in Musicophilia as well.

There’s an amazing tale of a musician who almost completely loses his memory. Not just past memories, but any memory at all, say of what was at the beginning of a sentence just uttered. Can you imagine how debilitating?! For some reason, he was able always to recognize his wife when she visited him and was overjoyed to see her, and was also able to play and conduct music.

If you’re very into music, especially classical, you will find most of this book riveting. I did not realize, for instance, that the way one’s brain processes music is broken down into different aspects of it. Sacks and other scientists know this through people whose brains have been damaged. One person might lose the ability to distinguish pitch, another any sense of rhythm.

Another fascinating thing is how music can help heal people with brain injuries. In particular, Sacks’s final chapter on Alzheimer’s patients is profoundly moving. His assertion that even advanced Alzheimer’s patients still possess their souls—and that it becomes evident when you play music to them—really resonated with me. (My mother-in-law is an Alzheimer’s patient.)

It’s always annoying to me reading books with copious footnotes, and this book was no exception. Anybody else have this issue? I try to ignore the footnote numbers in the body of the text, but as a compulsive reader, I can’t just turn the page and continue the flow of a narrative and leave footnotes on the page unread. I prefer endnotes—then if I really want to have something elaborated on, I can turn to the back and read it. But that’s annoying too…

Now I’m reading a book with no footnotes—David Sedaris’s When You Are Engulfed In Flames. I just started it this morning on the subway, and Sedaris is proving to be awfully good company.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Horace Leighton Kelley 1922-2010

My father died early in the morning on April 29th. We had very little warning.

He had a rich, full life and was loved by so many people. It is a constant ache in my life now that he is gone.

I took this picture the morning of his funeral in Kentucky. I was sitting in my mother's bedroom being all distraught, and she said "I'm going to go cut you a rose; I think you need one." So she did--one of the really fragrant floribunda roses that grows at the corner of the porch. (I'm not sure whether she thought I needed cheering up or that my outfit was way too somber. I was the only one in all black, but then I wear all black an awful lot. I work in NYC after all.) I pinned it at the collar and wore it all day. I still have the dried petals and they still smell.

I was still pretty distraught when I decided I'd take this picture of the rose and my father's photo. As you can see he was a really handsome man--movie-star handsome. And my mother looks pretty awesome, too. They were an incredible couple. I'm so glad, after my first fears for her, that she seems to be handling things pretty well.

Needless to say, this event threw me for a loop for a couple of months. But I'm recovering.

You just never have all the time you think you're going to have.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sabbatical is over.

It's been a while. But I have been very busy and not neglecting my goals! Just so you know.

I've also been very, very busy being a grandmother. So here is a nice picture of Baby Jack and his lovely mother. More posts on the way...I have a lot of catching up to do.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Poem of the Month - "Anyway"

This is known in some sources as Mother Teresa's Anyway Poem, because she apparently had it posted in her room. I don't myself actually consider it a poem; it's just a fairly plain-spoken philosophy that has some symmetry to it. Our priest quoted it in his Easter sermon this morning, and I liked it--enough to remember it and go google it when I finally got home. In a sense, it's about being stubborn, which I kind of am, so that must be what appeals to me about it.

Happy Easter.

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

Friday, April 2, 2010


Okay, I know I know I know I've been a really terrible blogger lately, but 1) my day job has suddenly gotten extremely busy!!!!! which is where I was largely composing my posts during slack time and now there is no slack time, and 2) I am now a devoted grandmother which can be very time consuming. When I'm not actually babysitting or visiting, I have to spend a lot of time on the computer obsessively poring over the voluminous photograph archives and watching videos over and over again.

But I will try to make it up to you: here is a beautiful photo of Baby Jack:

And just to show you that he can look as silly as any other regular baby who is not The Most High Regal Baby Jack, here is my latest iPhone grab from my last babysit:

And....The Second Fatbet is over! I lost. BUT I also lost 8.2 pounds!!!!! YAY!!!!! That's what's so neeeet about Fatbets; it's a lose/lose situation. Even if you know you probably won't win the bet, you're motivated to get as much as you can for your money. Or in this case, lose as much as you can. If my math is right, and it always is, I spent $12.20 per pound lost. Wouldn't you?

So I am now--*drumroll*--only 1.8 pounds away from my Goal 45-Weigh ≤130!

The Fatbet Ladies are going to meet in Midtown for dinner on April 21st. I decided I would extend my bet 'til then: I told them if I had not reached ≤130 by then, I would buy all their entrees. That ought to motivate me.

In other news, my new wardrobe (per Goal 78 - Go clothes shopping with someone knowledgeable and come back with at least two good outfits) is growing by leaps and bounds, and I'm getting a reputation as a fashionista!!!! Somebody whose looks I revere (who is also young enough to be my daughter) asked me if I would pick out a new wardrobe for her!!! I had to, sadly, inform her that I have no taste whatsoever in clothes and that my wardrobe was the work of a professional. Note, though, that I didn't actually pay anybody, even though I was prepared to. I just went into Variazioni between rehearsals because they were having a winter coat sale and I needed a new coat, and there was this nice swanky looking saleslady who outfitted me for free because I had the bright idea of saying, "Show me something else that I should buy." From there on, it was all downhill. I also went in several days later and she had another go at my wallet. All very, very much worth it. Yes, I know, I don't have any pictures to prove it yet, but there will be some. The other day I bought a silver raincoat! :-)

AND--*drumroll*--I have almost achieved the impossible: to wit, Goal 31 - Get all papers filed! I did this by throwing some money at the situation and hiring an assistant. Believe me it has been worth it. She found some checks for $200 plus--actually she also found a $2000 plus check, but it turned out to be already dealt with. I'm telling you, being disorganized can really cost you money!!!

More on that later. We're still working.

I deserve all kinds of congratulations, so as Mizfit likes to say (who by the way has a must-read post today), please to hit us up in the comments!

Monday, February 15, 2010

(Psst...Fitbit, Inc. Rocks)

(Don't tell anybody, but they gave me a new Fitbit for free because I have been so nice to them.)

(NB: This is not their usual policy. And I was totally prepared to buy a new one--I ordered it, appending a pitiful message about how much I missed it and needed it right away, and they e-mailed me a nice note that they had cancelled the order and were sending me one post-haste in return for valuable information about how I lost it and how I used it so that they could improve their product.)

(I just had to tell somebody how wonderful they are. I did ask them if they preferred me not to mention the replacement publicly--not that this blog is all that public--and I did not hear back. The ONLY time they have not been responsive. But I just have to say, don't expect free replacements in the event of loss...though if you do buy one you can expect a great product and sterling customer service!)

And BTW, the Fatbet is going swimmingly. For everybody but me, that is...I seemed to be stalled out at about minus three pounds. Still have some time though...

I seem to be bogged down in ellipses today...

Upcoming: I knocked off Goal 78 (Go clothes shopping with someone knowledgeable and come back with at least two good outfits) and exceeded my goal to an amazing extent. More on this later. ScottieDog keeps trying to take pictures of my new outfits, but we are really not good fashion photographers. For one thing, he's so tall and all the pictures he takes are from above which make me look like I'm about four feet tall and as wide. We'll get that figured out sooner or later...

... ...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Must We Be Idiots? (No...)

Every now and then it will occur to me that I'm an idiot. Not generally, just about one particular thing or other.

I've been working really hard knocking off a bunch of goals, and actually revising some that I didn't really care about to others that I did actually want to accomplish, like re-organizing my kitchen.

I should actually break that down into smaller goals, but what the heck.

Today I organized my antique pie safe! Which I am actually using as a kitchen cabinet, there not being many of the ordinary variety in my approximately 10-foot-square kitchen). Here's a "before":

What you don't see in this picture is all the stuff I DO use stacked all over the dining room table and the wine rack and sitting on the floor behind doors and stuff. Why on earth would I be storing a whole bunch of stuff I never use in this cabinet???? Idiocy!

So I rolled up my sleeves and started looking at the junk in there as though I'd never seen it before. Like those humongous schooners up on the top of the cabinet--we never use those, and they just sit up there and get covered with greasy dust. Out they went. Also out went serving dishes we never use, a set of old measuring cups I didn't even know were in there, a whole dish full of water bottle get the idea.

Now I have room to put all the humongous wine glasses I got for Christmas! Plus some of the old ones. And the Chardonnay glasses I'm planning to buy.

After I clean out the bottom of the cabinet--NOT looking forward to that--I'm going to put all the random Rubbermaid containers down there, and possibly the KitchenAid mixer which is now sitting on the floor next to the new Cuisinart.

You'll notice the top of the cabinet is slightly less picturesque than before, but that's because I decided to put only stuff that we actually use up there every now and then, like the wok, so it doesn't sit there for ages and get the greasy dust thing going on.

There were Splenda packets in the right drawer that must have been eight years old. And I swear we must have fourteen boxes of birthday candles...I have to be selective what I put in these drawers because they don't open and close very easily. This is a VERY OLD piece of furniture. Well, by American standards, anyway--circa 1810.

So NOW I have a whole bunch of stuff to throw out/store/give away stacked on the dining room table and sitting on the floor, etc. Wonder how long it will stay there...

As a reward for reading all the way to the bottom of this very boring post, here's a bonus picture of the spice system I put up several months ago and having been meaning to brag about. I don't have room for a spice rack anywhere, and I've never liked them anyway because you're limited to however many the rack will hold and if it held a lot it would be a great big thing to have sitting around in your kitchen. Anyway, I heard one day about magnetic spice containers, and I went straight online and bought some. I forget how much the whole thing cost--I guess about $75. But what's it worth not to spend your entire cooking life having to dig around for the spice you want and usually knocking several of them off the shelf unless you keep them in a drawer like I used to but can't now because I have no drawers to spare. And I can always buy more jars if I need them. I even keep them in alphabetical order (except ScottieDog keeps putting them back wrong). (But that's okay because I really appreciate his cooking.)

BTW that yellow apron was a Christmas gift from the lovely AC! Isn't it the cutest thing? It has rickrack on it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


"I'm so sorry, Grandmother!"

Week of utter disaster (in three parts).

1. Massachusetts discovers its inner idiot.

2. The Supreme Court issues the worst decision in the history of the court.

(I went to a lot of trouble to write the following for a post elsewhere, so I'm pasting it in various places.)

[getting up on my soapbox]

From the WSJ: "the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision supporting free political speech."

Here's the problem (aside from the issue of whether corporations are people): they keep conflating money with speech. Everybody already has free speech in this country. It isn't as though a corporation can't issue as many press releases as they want in support of whatever they want, or an individual can't get up on a soapbox in the town square or write a letter to the editor or sign a petition without fear of persecution.

What is at issue here is that money is not speech. It is power. Those who have more money have more power. If you conflate that with speech, then those who have more money have more free speech? What kind of democracy is that?

Speech will no longer be "free." You'll have to pay through the nose to keep up with what the corporations are doing.


3. I lost my Fitbit. I was babysitting the adorable Baby Jack (see above), and he kicked it out of my pocket, or kicked it loose enough to fall out when I went home, and I feel bereft and abandoned. We can't find it anywhere. I put in a Lost and Found inquiry to the MTA, but it takes ten days at least to find out anything. So I just bought a new Fitbit--I figured somebody somewhere could use the extra if it turned up--but that won't get here until the middle of February.


But at least there's a sweet picture of Baby Jack.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

In Love with my Fitbit!

Well, hey, everyone!

I have been super busy with holidays and packing on some poundage, but all to the good since I've just gone on another FatBet today!

I'm so pleased to be starting at exactly 140. That's counting the holiday poundage, but before that I was maintaining my last weight (after the last FatBet) pretty darn well. This time we have four people! $400 is on the line, and ten pounds is the goal. If I get to 130 I will be thrilled, since that's Goal 45.

But about my Fitbit...*sigh* It's the greatest. We are never apart! We even sleep together. I found out on the Fitbit community site that people are naming their trackers! Well, they're so cute--but somehow I'm not catching on; "Fitbit" seems like a good enough name to me.

Check out my sleep charts for today! I got a 100% efficiency on my nap!! I really zonked out. (You can't see the time in this shot, but it was 32 minutes.) My first 100%! And last night I got 90%. That's pretty good--usually I get in the low 80s. (Sorry about the low picture quality; I had to shoot the screen with my iPhone. I couldn't do a screen grab.)

Yesterday I got all 10,000 steps in and my activity score was up in the 800s (1000 is the goal). That was undoubtedly because I was babysitting Baby Jack!!! And I know you're dying to see a picture, so here you go:

(Well, okay, it's three pictures, but it's not like you can have too many.)

I got to feed him peas and rice cereal!! Every time I gave him the peas, he went "mmmmm!" God, I love being a grandmother.