Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy, Happy Day to Everyone

Besides it being said that (since the 4th c AD) today is the birthday of a certain someone who gets a major celebration every year, it is also the brithday (for definite) of Sir Isaac Newton. You remember him... differential calculus, thermodynamics (action and an equal or opposite reaction). While loads of words have been attributed to Jesus, here are a few of Newton's. "I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore... whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

Today is also the first day of Hannukah, the Feast of Lights. Have fun all my Jewish friends.

Hope you're having a fabulous day and that the sounds of the season are perfect. Click below for some more wonderful noise.

Listen to this...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Thank You SO Much for all Your Thoughtful Forwarded Emails

A girl can never have too much good luck (thanks, Barbie!) and it's just wonderful to know that one's good friends are thinking about them in such a thoughty way.

Dear friends,
My heartfelt appreciation goes out to all of you who have taken the time and trouble to send me "forwards" over the past 12 months. Thank you for making me feel safe, secure, blessed, and wealthy.
Extra thanks to whoever sent me the one about rat crap in the glue on envelopes cause I now have to go get a wet towel every time I need to seal an envelope.
Also, I scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason. Because of your concern I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.
I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put "Under God" on their cans.

I no longer use Saran wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer. I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.
I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.
I no longer go to shopping malls because someone might drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.
I no longer receive packages from nor send packages by UPS or FedEx since they are actually Al Qaeda in disguise.
I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.
I no longer eat KFC because their "chickens" are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.
I no longer have any sneakers -- but that will change once I receive my free replacement pair from Nike.
I no longer have to buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have their secret recipe.
I no longer worry about my soul because at last count I have 363,214 angels looking out for me.
Thanks to you, I have learned that God only answers my prayers if I forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.
I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl who is about to die in the hospital (for the 1,387,258th time).

I no longer have any money at all - but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special email program.
Yes, I want to thank you so much for looking out for me that I will now return the favor!
If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 7 minutes, a large pigeon with a wicked case of diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 PM (CDT) this afternoon. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician.



Monday, December 12, 2005

Barbie's 60th aka Going Welsh at the Hotel Bel-Air

Hotel Bel-Air
Los Angeles, California

Birthday Celebration in Honor of

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Seared Diver Scallops Risotto
with Balsamic Jus

Green and White Asparagus
Sauteed Seasonal Wild Mushrooms
Shaved Reggiano and Balsamico

Grilled Wisconsin Veal Chop
with Truffle Whipped Potatoes
Chanterelle Mushrooms and Asparagus
Zinfandel Jus

Pistachio Tulip
with a Medley of Sorbets

Birthday Cake

Menu Prepared by
Executive Chef Douglas Dodd
(with, I guarantee, plenty of input from Barbie)

What a fabulous evening it was...the food was phenomenal. Not listed in the menu are the appetizers passed around by the charming waiters before the meal. Delicious lamb cutlets with a minted yoghurt sauce for dipping and grilled to perfection shrimp and now I can't remember the other delicious bites we enjoyed before the meal. Suffice it to say that not one waiter was able to saunter past me without my arm shooting out for a goodie. These fellows were so attentive that I never once had a used napkin or shrimp or cutlet remains in my hand for longer than a nanu-second before they proffered a silver tray with linen napkin to cover the offending inedible bit.

And the flowers...oh the flowers. Barbie had gone down to the Flower Market in the wee hours of the morning and created these exquisite...hang on, I took a pic. She sent me home with one of the arrangements and I posed it in the asparagus fern on the back slope. Beautiful, aren't they?

Barbie is emotional (as am I) and her tears come easily (as do mine). Himself refers to this easy tearfulness as being 'Welsh,' i.e., "Don't you go all Welsh on me." Himself and I are inclined to Welsh tears and it doesn't take much more than our granddaughter being particular charming for us to tear up. P.A.T.H.E.T.I.C. I know, but if you have that Welsh gene, you just can't help it. So Barbie's 60th found us openly crying, oh, approximately, every five minutes. Honestly, I kept looking at my man and saying, "Do I have mascara on my chin/cheek/ear?" He's so literal that unless I actually say the body part he'll reply with something like, "No, you look fine." So when I went to the Ladies Room and saw mascara on my nose I couldn't help but think, "GoddamnitRogerdoI havetospellitoutevery flippin'time?" The answer is obviously yes. That mascara was DRY, too, indicating it had been there for some time. Fortunately, when one reaches a certain age you almost count on your friends' blindness. Of course, the wee starlette Julia was there, and one of her self-appointed tasks was running around the table with tissues to blot up all our Welshness. With her perfect three-year old eyes, she pointed out the black blob on my nose.

Barbie's friends toasted her...told wonderfully humorous and touching stories of their years of friendship, remembered when their children were young together and basically made Barbie (and thus US cry). Her husband spoke eloquently, quietly and tenderly of his love for her and her two daughters AND their husbands spoke of how lucky they are to have this wonderful woman in their lives. Beautiful little tales of love and challenges and of Barbie's optimism and courage were woven into her beautiful girls' and her friends' toasts. Let's say there were perhaps 10 toasts to Barbie and that I cried openly during nine of them. The tenth, mine, didn't move me to tears, but it made my husband well up. Welsh, Welsh, Welsh.

And then Barbie's eldest grandchild, 3 1/2-year old Julia, showed the assembled room how she could channel her grandma. This child has a personality as big as Barbie's and was clinking her glass and toasting her grandma at every available opportunity. She performed a duet with Barbie, "Oh, a Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine go Down" until the spirit moved her to dance. It being the Bel-Air Hotel, they immediately opened a cabinet in the room and lo and behold there was music. Julia performed an impromptu ballet...a long ballet. That child has SO MUCH JOY! Baby Sarah was just a happy, beautiful little chick who was happy to let her big sister rule the room. Every now and then, though, I saw a look cross her face that said, "Give me another year, folks, and I'll be giving Julia some competition."

I wish many, many more years of joy and of living for my friend. Many, many more years of finding fabulous places for sushi and good wine and the perfect place to lunch with a friend. I wish her many, many more years of travel and exploration and many, many more years of sharing with the world her most special Barbieness.

Happy Birthday Girlfriend. xoxoxoxoxo

Cookies that Barbie made and decorated as favors at her party. I only had a couple of small bites...bottom of the '6' and top left of the '0'. Delish.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A Canyon Classic

When I bought three tickets to The Nutcracker at Hella Bella, Topanga's only toy shop, the salesgirl told me to get there early because parking was at a premium. I had taken Tai Chi classes at the Topanga Community House and knew well the limitations of which she spoke and we took her advice, arriving for the show a full hour before the curtain rose.

Teenage boys with flashlights motioned us to a parking space and in the almost pitch black, we picked our way down a rocky hillside to the welcoming lights of the Community House. I don't think I've ever attended a performance of The Nutcracker that Tchaikovsky's score wasn't playing in the background as we wandered in. You know the drill, all the while the audience is fiddling with seats and sweet wrappers and coughing and murmuring and until the orchestral instruments do their unharmonious warmups, in the background one normally hears The Nutcracker Overture. But not in the Topanga Community House. We were listening to "Norwegian Wood." There I was settling my granddaughter and my 8+ months pregnant daughter into their seats and singing..."isn't it good, Norwegian wood." Lottie looked up at me and said "What's that song, Nana? Is that The Nutcracker?"

The Community House is Topanga's village hall and just like village halls the world over, it's used by the locals for Mommy & Me classes, Scout meetings, Historical Society gatherings and as a polling place. But this weekend, it was the home of the Topanga Ballet School's 25th Anniversary Performance of "The Nutcracker."

There's no rise in the Community House so the 30-odd rows of folding chairs don't allow much of a view for small children. The organizers wisely leave about 20 feet of floor space in front of the chairs and there packing quilts and sleeping bags are thrown haphazardly down as a special place for the young to enjoy the show.

Due to our early arrival, we found pretty good seats in the third row. A kindly lady clued us in on the sleeping bag seating in the very front, while Lottie listened attentively, but saying nothing. Not too many minutes later, Lottie walked past us, saying nothing. We watched as she worked her way through a bunch of little kids and found a place to sit. Every now and then she'd look back at us and put her finger up to her lips, admonishing us to be quiet. She's as bossy as her Mum and her Mum's Mum.

And then the all the rustlings and stirrings behind the curtain and outside in the tent dressing rooms silenced and the beautifully, wonderfully, perfectly amateur community production of The Nutcracker began. The costuming and staging were perfect and there must have been at least 100 dancers involved from tentative four-year olds to women of almost 50 who had performed years ago and were involved in this 25th Anniversary show. In one scene, fathers lifted their daughters in synchronized movement. Jane and I cried. We are notoriously sentimental and that just did us in.

Charlotte was completely enthralled from the beginning movement to the final act and it is no wonder this is the perfect ballet to introduce young children to such an exquisite classical art form. As the ballet ended and the audience erupted into raucous applause, Lottie went and stood just below the stage. Looking up at the magical set, she just clapped and clapped and clapped.

Almost 25 years ago, I watched my daughter dance with The Milwaukee Ballet as was one of Mother Ginger's children. I don't believe I made it through any of her performances with a dry eye. Some things never change.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

This Country Still Needs Gary Hart

My friend, Phil, keeps me in the Gary Hart loop and I'm most appreciative.

This is an interesting read. Why are we so accepting of this current administration? What the hell is wrong with us???

The Emperor Will Take No Questions

by Gary Hart

The first U.S. president I ever saw was Dwight Eisenhower during the presidential campaign in 1956. I was in the top most balcony of the Oklahoma City civic center auditorium and there were probably two or three thousand people between me and the president.

But it was a great thrill to be there with a cross section of citizens of Oklahoma City. The event was open to all and, except for the big-wigs, we were admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. The event did not lend itself to questions and answers, but my recollection was that, in those days, presidents did have a give and take with ordinary citizens.

If anyone then had told me that, in my lifetime, U.S. presidents would appear only in select audiences of their hand-picked partisan supporters, before patriotic tableau carefully designed by their "communications directors," and take questions only from pre-screened, adoring fans, I would have scoffed at the idea of such quasi-authoritarian practices ever becoming commonplace in the republic of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison.

But, in the early 21st century here we are. I cannot recall an event since the early Republican primaries in 2000 when George W. Bush has gotten anywhere near a cross-section of the American people he has been elected to represent and to govern. Here in Denver a few months back, some local Republican hack who got himself up to appear to be a Secret Service agent (a federal crime) hustled three local people out of the hall where the president was to speak simply because they had some kind of "no more war for oil" bumper strip on their car. The White House still claims they had nothing to do with it.

Even today, President Bush used the august platform of the Council on Foreign Relations, most recently granted to that great fraud and pretender Ahmad Chalabi (who should have been held to account for the deaths of 2100 Americans but was not), but only on the condition that the president would not take questions from the kind of knowledgable, informed leaders the Council seeks to attract.

How can a president govern who is so isolated, so cocooned away from the American public, so protected from any question, let alone voice of dissent? And how can the press, not only protected by the First Amendment, but also heavily obligated by that protection, not regularly
report that the president has not seen a variety of real Americans for FIVE YEARS?

This kind of unAmerican behavior destroys the very core of democracy. It is more characteristic of a Latin American dictatorship than the American republic. Of even deeper concern, this is the behavior of frightened people. What is the Bush administration frightened of? Are they really convinced the president is incapable of handling himself in the give-and-take of democracy? Or are they simply afraid of the American people?

They may be afraid of me. But I'm even more afraid of them.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Tis the Season...

First it was Thanksgiving and then Himself & Betsy's birthday and then Blogger and I got in some sort of argument and everything I tried to post just disappeared and while none of it was terribly earth shattering, it was a pisser. BUT now it's December and all the wonderful craziness of the holiday is upon me. I just can't take it that seriously, though, because... the oranges are definitely getting more orange and the banks of blue-blushed rosemary jumbled in with agaves, aloe, cacti and jade just don't scream Christmas to me, white or otherwise.

I can't remember having snow on the ground for Christmas in England. Perhaps once or twice we had a white Christmas in D.C., but then again perhaps we didn't and it's all the imaginings of a child's wishes that come true only in memory. White Christmases were often a reality in Wisconsin and that cold and snow made it much easier to focus on dressing the house for the holidays. Here in Southern California I am concerned that if I buy the tree now it may just dry out before Christmas arrives. But, I've taken a leap of faith and bought the bugger and we have it in its stand in all its nine-foot glory and every time I try and pour water into the holder, it spills out all over the floor. Since we're not having turkey for Xmas, I'll just use the regal bird baster for topping up the tree's water bowl.