Friday, November 19, 2010

Amazon recommends

My life is aptly reflected in my "Amazon recommends for you" list.

Apparently I need... athletic trainer exam review book (Kayla, this spring!).

...a great variety of AP exam review books (Chris has 7 AP exams in spring). releases of youth videos (Kayla has a love of all things animated and young - recent 'treats' from mom include Toy Story 3 and How to Train a Dragon).

...philosophy/theology books (I was on a used Peter Kreeft book binge - I mean, come on, if I can get it for $3, why not???).

...romance novels (not reading them so much these days, but a few cleaner authors still pique my interest).

...things to do with boats (Barry), cameras (Amy), Xbox (Chris).

...classic literature (Periodically buying books for Chris - the short stories of James Joyce, The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene, and Hamlet, by what's his name, the English guy who was in Shakespeare in Love).

If Amazon REALLY employs any psychological foundation for their recommendations, I must make them NUTS! OR...I AM nuts. OR both are true. They're not mutually exclusive.

In reality, Amazon LOVES me. Every time I sign on, they rejoice. "There she is! Our golden ticket to early retirement!" They are so happy someone still reads and wants to own books. I'm a sought-after anachronism!

If I don't post again, Happy Thanksgiving from your video watching, game playing, exam studying, high-brow literature reading, romantically foolish, sailing into the sunset, philosophically questioning, theologically content, athletically healthy, photogenically preserved friend....

Monday, November 15, 2010

Is it wrong to love a small appliance?

I posed this question on facebook a few days ago, after using my NEW food processor to make PERFECTLY sliced potatoes. Truly, they were lovely. Works of culinary art. I was terribly impressed. Nearly moved to tears by their uniform, perfect circles. An ode to the sliced potato.

OK, a bit of wine was involved in my romantic soliloquy. Specifically, Cameron Hughes Lot 141. Do you know about Cameron Hughes wines? He's a reseller - buys up excess of great vintages and then bottles and sells for significantly less than the original. He can't reveal the origin of the wine, but gives hints, and frankly, I've never had even a mediocre bottle. Sam's Club and Costco occasionally get shipments (if you sign up for the mailing list they'll notify you when new stock is delivered). For example, I got an email that a good Malbec (Argentine red) was going to be stocked at the Miami store. Since his South American sojourns began, Barry loves Malbec, so I trooped over and bought a case. The only problem is lack of storage space - I have Malbec tucked in multiple kitchen locations, giving the impression to the innocent visitor that I'm hiding bottles like a veteran alcoholic.

With or without the help of inebriation, I do love a good appliance. When I grew up, Mom had a portable mixer for cakes, but otherwise stirring, slicing, dicing and blending was all powered by the magic and skill of human hands.


Appropriate wonderment, murmurs of awe.

She LOVED the line "I have THREE dishwashers - Ann, Kirk, and Kim." Ha ha and ha.

After my marriage, Barry's parents gave us a food processor. I don't remember using it too much, except one fine holiday dinner when I thought "hey, I bet this would make GREAT mashed potatoes!" I did not fully appreciate the power of the processor. Rather than hitting pulse multiple times (pulse is the processor's friend), I turned it on and watched it go.

We had potato soup-ish yuk as a side dish that year.

Chris was helping me prepare for Home Made Pizza Night last Friday. In a special, touching, mother-son-passing-the-torch moment, I allowed him to be in charge of "The Pulse". And, I was (cue to wipe away sentimental tear) amazed at his ability to chop pepperoni, onion (ok, maybe the onion was almost goo), and peppers like a pro. AND, as a bonus, his lingering twitch has diminished - developed from my, ah, insistent kibitzing "NO! Stop!...ok...wait...a little more....STOP!...ok,, patient...just a few more...STOP!"

My second most favorite appliance is my Kitchen Aid Mixer! Mixer-o-mine, how do I love thee? Now HERE is a device that makes mashed potatoes without any disaster. Cookies? Ingredients, mix, slap on the sheets, into the oven - VOILA! I got it for my birthday about 15 years ago, and I remember sharing the thrill with my friend Maryann. She was less than impressed and I believe lectured her husband about NEVER giving her a small appliance as a gift. HA! Bring them ON I say! My friend has all the attachments - she uses her Kitchen Aid to grind meat, make pasta, and change the oil on her cars. IT'S AMAZING!

And what about...the Blender? Who can say enough about the sweet, sweet blades that blend frozen strawberry mix, rum and ice into a magical moment on a weekend afternoon? We survived a tragic day yesterday. While putting together our traditional Football Sunday frozen drink and special snack (this Sunday: fudge cupcakes - done baking before they are "done" and are eaten warm with gooey, leaking chocolate - RAPTURE!), the blender DIED! Mournfully unresponsive, the useless motor base was crowned by the glass carafe awash with cubes and mix, all floating, miserably unable to transform. We wept, then, dehydrated, we were forced to drink - prepare yourselves! - ice WATER. However, we managed to pull ourselves together by indulging in a second cupcake.

Our ability to cope with domestic crisis is legendary.

Do NOT panic!!!! Macy's is having a ONE DAY sale on Wednesday. Well, it's a ONE DAY sale on TWO days - and I'll be there bright and early on Tuesday for the early bird blender special.

And so Ann's World continues to turn:)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Yes, Julia, There is a Blog for You

Attended the graduation of my niece, Julia - she received her Master's degree in Occupational Therapy.

How could I have a niece with a Master's degree? To freeze time and preserve my youth, I will studiously ignore her age and education just as I have attempted to ignore that my other niece has a doctorate in Pharmacy, and is currently Head Pharmacy Resident in an Indianapolis hospital...and that Kayla (daughter #2) is a college senior applying to graduate programs...and that Amy (daughter #1) has been out two years, traveled the world, teaches in Chicago and is currently IN graduate school...and that my son Christopher completed six college applications in order to study biomedical engineering...

Wait...with a wave of my hand...voila! They are all toddlers again!:)

How long can I retain my delusions that "the kids" are still kids? I"LL TELL YOU! As long as I DARN WELL want to!;)

NOW...who wants to play Mickey Mouse Yahtzee? Junior Monopoly? Go Fish?

Maybe I do have to close my eyes to keep the fantasy. Or look at the photo albums.

And then I am sad.

The sadness is counterbalanced by the amazing adults these beautiful children have become. They truly are bright, beautiful, caring, ambitious, giving young people. And even though I know the aim of parenting is that exact result, I yearn to be back in the process (with the caveat that I get to skip the 15 - 18 year old ages...shiver, cringe, pale). I miss the simple joys and intimacy of that time.

Julia is married to a lovely young man named Steve. At one point after the ceremony, I was texting Amy, and Steve sat down next to me and gently reminded me never to text while driving.

See, this part I like. Christopher does the same guy putting his hand on my back to guide me through hazardous airport pedestrian traffic or reminding me to drive carefully when I go out. It's nice, in a weird, role-reversal kind of way. My mom has told me she had (has!) a struggle relinquishing the caretaker role for care-receiver. At her age, a lot of things are becoming physically, and sometimes mentally, quite challenging. I'm in sort of a comfortable middle stage - the girls (women) still ask for advice, but they also give it, because, I acknowledge, they are more current on certain issues (technology, music, exercise)(cosmetics, clothes, foreign countries)(who isn't more current?) than I am.

I met a 68 year old woman on the plane (accompanied by her two shitzus and husband - blog post to follow!) who lectures on cruise ships, teaches part time at the university (she is a professor), writes, and rebuilds foreign sport cars.

Now THAT's the inspiration I need to contemplate!

Moments like Julia's graduation force me to question and think - what do I want the NEXT 50 years to look like? I need to set some goals and challenge myself. I've felt a heavy burden of "endings" lately, but as my darling brother pointed out - commencement means beginning. I need to decide how I will begin again as my life continues in this new direction.

So, dear Julia, daughter of my Auntie-heart, congratulations on another new beginning. Many prayers and blessings on your new ventures as a compassionate, effective (evidence based) occupational therapist!


I thought you were my friend!

I've blogged before about my enamourment with Jen Lancaster - her books and blog, Jennsylvania.

In order to appreciate her particular perspective, I'd strongly advise reading her books, memoirs of the last few years. She has a delightful, biting sense of humor. Ms. Lancaster mocks herself and the world around her. To read her is to get to know her, which, as a recent blog entry revealed, can be problematic:

Caveats, Conversation, and Conservatism

To summarize, Jen had not written a blog entry in some time. She was busy, writing a novel and another memoir. She received an abundance of email, complaining about the lack of blog, as well as presumptuous requests for lunch dates, meetings, travel, etc. Some people railed against her weight (she has a BOOK about fighting her "Pretty Fat"), her conservatism, and other personal issues - issues she has openly shared in her books.

I would guess this is a common problem for women of fame - especially those who put their lives our there as part of their entertainment product. After I moved to Miami, I was in a real funk. I still don't have the social life/network I did in Chicago. I began to personalize my relationships with my "TV friends". I SWEAR I believed I could be best friends with Ellen Degeneres, Martha Stewart (I know she's tough, but I'm laid back enough to take it. Come on...she has her own SHEEP and CHICKENS. We could declutter my closets and then make PIE! Who wouldn't want her as a friend?), and Judge Milan from the People's Court (Marilyn - as I like to call her - lives in Coral Gables! I have a shot at this one.). I love the humor and presence of Paula Poundstone on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell me!" OH, and Joyce Meyer, the minister - I LOVE her!

Each of these women (or those you each love, like Oprah, Whoopi or Rosie) is charismatic and appealing. That's the attraction, and that's the trap. We know, but we don't know these people. We have an attachment to them,'s the hard part...they don't have an attachment to us. In a broad, general way, they do - we're their audience. We ARE the people they relate to - otherwise, they wouldn't be successful. Yet, it must be hard to work diplomatically around the intimacy we feel, which might be quite intense, and the fact THEY DON'T KNOW US FROM ADAM.

I haven't stalked my favorites, haven't written any personal appeals for lunch, money, or board games (Ellen? Want to come over Friday??). But during the more lonely times, I could see how easy it might be to cross the line between being entertained and being deluded.

I guess I'll end by saying that I appreciate these women's willingness to put themselves out publicly - whether for entertainment or evangelism. It's their calling, and while it is glamorous and exciting to be famous, there's a downside. We have to respect the boundaries between personal and public life. We need to acknowledge, maybe a little wistfully, that we most likely will not have the opportunity to nosh with Oprah, or glue gun with Martha, or talk a little Romans with Joyce.

Repeat after me: Reality...Entertainment....Reality...Entertainment.

Chose REALITY. Enjoy entertainment!

P.S. Martha, Paula, Ellen, Joyce, Marilyn, Jen - call me! I'm open for lunch...