30 December 2005

A really great present

Okay, several years ago, I gave Charles and Samantha (this was pre-Garrett or he'd have gotten them, too) comfy long underwear for Christmas. In my defense, it was a cold, cold winter and the long underwear was really cute. Samantha's even had little pink flowers and everything. Nonetheless, I now must wander the earth carrying with me the knowledge that I am the kind of person who gives little children long underwear for Christmas. Bring on the 17 cats - it's my fate. I know.

I am also related to my mother's entire family, so it's possible that my idea of what constitutes a great present is somewhat skewed.


At Brett and Cate's on Boxing Day, Eileen presented me a cheerfully wrapped Wand of Brussels Sprouts, which I proudly displayed to the assembled company. Yes, I got a lovely twinset from David, and yes I got really nifty "bins" (binoculars to you poor, benighted, non-birding souls) from Dad & Audrey, and yes, I got tasty Godiva chocolates from Chort, but get real - these are actual, edible Brussels sprouts on a convenient, organic Shillelagh.

David and I had some that night and I had some more this evening. I lightly boiled them (as I currently lack a vegetable steamer) and then make them happy with butter, salt, and pepper. I also made some not bad gluten-free spiral pasta and a turkey cutlet with Filippo Berio olive oil* and lemon & herbs. I had an apple that was pretty much use or lose, so I chopped it into bite-size pieces and threw it in with the turkey. Ummmmmmm Yummmmm. (*I use Filippo Berio because a friend works for them. Someone should benefit from my rather profligate way with olive oil.)

I have probably 3 more servings of sprouts left, so I'll be having more soon.

Thanks, Eileen!!!

22 December 2005

Please don't let this be happening to others

The people on the 9th floor (we are on the 8th) are having their holiday party today and earlier this afternoon they were only playing very, very loud music.

Now they've broken out the Karaoke machine. The volume goes to 11. Dear Lord.

19 December 2005

Even if he reads the post, maybe he won't follow the link

David is rehearsing The Crucible (Coming soon to the Reston Community Players!) and, thus, has been researching the Salem Witch Trials and the brand of Puritanism practiced in that period. Well, saints and sinners preserve us, but look what I found a link for on Brett's webpage.

Sure, Christmas was only banned from 1659 to 1692, but Reston's website says that the Trials took place in 1662 - smack dab during The Grinch Times! And even if that gets corrected (as I suspect that it will - or - sigh - my own information will be corrected, dare I say pedantically.) perhaps David would have thought that Governor Danforth would be old school enough to shun the holiday. Or that the ban couldn't have been lifted in time for the purchasing and wrapping of really good presents! What if he returned all my Christmas presents in an effort to immerse himself in his character?!

Horrible. Too horrible.

16 December 2005

I'm in love with a girl named Fred!

Carol Burnett got very famous when she played Princess Winifred in Once Upon a Mattress, which is one of my very, very favorite musicials. The book is charming and the score by Mary Rodgers (daughter of Richard) is far better than most anything written recently (yes, I mean you, Wicked). Mattress is now a standard of community theaters and had a nice broadway revival with Sarah Jessica Parker in Burnett's role and I find it delightful everytime I have the chance to see it.

Well, I have the chance to see it on Sunday evening because Ms. Burnett an executive producer and is starring as Queen Aggravain in a movie version for television to run on ABC (7PM Eastern). Hoorah, hooray!

Carol said in an interview that Bob Mackie, who did all her wonderful costumes for The Carol Burnett Show designed the costumes, but the IMDB doesn't verify that. But let's just take a moment and remember the best costume he - or anyone - ever designed for a sketch comedy show: The Curtains Dress from "Went with the Wind." I laugh just thinking about it.

So round up the kids, pop the popcorn, and enjoy a classic of American Musical Theater. Of course, I have rehearsal that night, so I'll be taping it......

Oh, and I'd like to note that the next time someone tells an actress that's she's too old to play a role, that person may get reminded that Tracey Ullman, who is playing Princess Winifred, is 45.

How to bore the NSA

Have them wiretap me. Can you imagine? Some poor sot at the covert agency has to listen -- in real time -- to my rambling prattle. Especially as I really only have about a half dozen topics that I discuss to death.

Cover Agency Program Manager (CAPM): "Okay, folks, here are the wiretap assignments for this week." Passes around self-destructs-in-five-seconds paper lists.

Three dozen agents not assigned to listen to me: "Whew."

The Short Straw: "Ohhhh noooooo."

Agent (2) who had to wiretap me last week: "Just pray that she's not auditioning for something. You know how she goes on and one about that."

Agent (3) from the week before: "No, she got cast in something. I think she's back to cute stories from work and that Celiac Disease thing."

Agent (4) who had the week when my life was too exciting even for me: "Really? How's the cat doing? He was in and out of the vet back in November."

Agent 3: "Cat's fine. And that damn kids show is over, too."

All: "Oh, thank G-d."

The ritual bottle of strong spirits is passed to a rather shaken looking Short Straw. The meeting breaks up and all but one agent exits the room whistling cheerfully. Well, all but two. Agent 2 is still a broken man with a haunted look and a bit of a tremor.

You know, there is a certain irony in the fact that enemy combatents and furriners are now (theoretically) protected from torture, but NSA operatives might have been suffering agonies untold via my telephone and e-mails for months and months.

So sweet and kind and yet so very Brett

From: Brett
Sent: Friday, December 16, 2005 9:24 AM
Subject: Acknowledgement That Some Derive Pleasure From Holidays and Festivals Celebrated At Or Near This Time Of Year Party, Decemeber 26th 2005.

We are having an Acknowledgement That Some Derive Pleasure From Holidays and Festivals Celebrated At Or Near This Time Of Year Party at our house on December 26th, from 2pm to 8pm. This party is intended to derive pleasure from our gathering as friends during this time of year when many are celebrating their all equally worthy celebrations without favoring any of these celebrations directly over any other celebrations as that could offend someone and that is bad. You, as one of said friends with a working email address are invited, along with your family and any others whom you think appropriate whose email address I don't have or have wrong. I have been out of the US for the last three year end celebratory periods and see that things have changed somewhat about how the 'holiday' period is celebrated and acknowledged, so rather than be judgmental about it, I have decided to pitch in with the spirit of the times.

We will be grilling, with plenty of grill space and will provide some other food and drinks, but feel free to supplement the food and drink with anything you think is appropriate, 'holiday' themed food and drink is welcome, but non-holiday food will not be made to feel sad, at least not any more sad than it feels already during this stressful year end time of celebrations.

Children of all ages are welcome, the house is fairly child safe, but nothing substitutes for good behavior. Children that insist on singing parts of 'holiday' songs over and over will be politely asked to do so in the yard. Older children and teens are also welcome, we will attempt to have a 'cool' corner where they can gather and gripe about how this Acknowledgement That Some Derive Pleasure From Holidays and Festivals Celebrated At Or Near This Time Of Year Party is really lame so they can get their money's worth as well

Gifts. Nothing causes more heartache and mental agony at 'holiday' time. I have been lobbied for and against gift exchange at the party. I have been told that some people I love will stay away if gifts are exchanged, and I have been told by others that this is the only time some people see each other and is thus the optimum time to exchange gifts. Ahhhhhggghhhh. First let me explain my unique (or deficient) theory of gift giving, then I will cut to the chase on the gift policy at the Acknowledgement That Some Derive Pleasure From Holidays and Festivals Celebrated At Or Near This Time Of Year Party.

I love to give and receive gifts. I love it year round; when I see something that I think would be cool for someone I tend to buy it. I then often forget I bought it and it disappears into my home somewhere. Sometimes for years. I have the memory of a duck and I am terrible about making lists so I tend to forget who I have given things to and who I haven't. If you are still my friend you have probably forgiven me this, unless you are one of those bitter stalker types who have been planning a horrid and relentless revenge for years. Anyway, I give gifts when I remember to, sometimes prompted by 'holidays', sometimes reminded by birthdays, and sometimes just because I managed not to forget the item I bought or found that kicked the whole thing off in the first place. Anyway the long and short of it is that I am embarrassed every year by having forgotten to get something for someone I really, really wanted to get a gift for, but just forgot. Then I feel like I let them down. Then I forget about it and hopefully sometime in the next year or two I remember them and get them something and they continue to be my friend. So, as you can see gift giving can be stressful to me too, yet somehow I really end up enjoying it. You cannot be worse at gift giving than I am. I have over the years offended all sorts of good people be either forgetting them, or just giving bad gifts. So if the thought of gift giving and receiving depresses you, please just think of how crap I am at it and rejoice. Wow, that went nowhere really.

Gifts at the party. First off, the schmaltzy bit, you are the damn gifts at the party. You. Your presence. Your company. You get the idea. That is what all of us who will be at the Acknowledgement That Some Derive Pleasure From Holidays and Festivals Celebrated At Or Near This Time Of Year Party really want. We want to see you and yours. However, if you want to exchange gifts at the party you may, as long as you are reasonably discreet about it. Please don't open gifts at the party. As for gift giving, there is some stress about who should give gifts to who. Should adults give other adults gifts? What about just giving food gifts? Only gifts for the children? I can't solve any of that for you, as noted above I am not organized in anyway in my gift giving, how could I possibly try to organize yours? Again, you are the gift at the party, anything else you want to do is up to you. If you feel stress because somehow you think more is expected of you I will either smack you or make you sit in the cool area where you can agree with all the teens at the party that the Acknowledgement That Some Derive Pleasure From Holidays and Festivals Celebrated At Or Near This Time Of Year Party is really lame. Friendship isn't a competition and there is no keeping score.

Lastly, if I have offended anyone, I apologize. You can smack me at the party. I cannot stress how much we missed you all while we were in the UK, please stop by and enjoy yourself. Besides, if you have known me more than a week you already know I am a jerk, so why would that change?


For Directions:
{yeah, like I'm really going to post that part to the entire internet}

P.S. My email address book is horridly out of date. I expect a ton of bounces here. Please let people know they are invited if you even vaguely think they should be. I will be trying to get an address book to have everyone put their info in for the party.

15 December 2005

William Proxmire, 1915-2005

"Power always has to be kept in check; power exercised in secret, especially under the cloak of national security, is doubly dangerous."

11 December 2005

This explains a lot

The following is posted in Audrey's sewing room.

My Motto

"No one expects the stamp collector to actually mail letters with his stamps. No one expects the coin collector to use his coins in a vending machine for soda. So why does everyone expect me to use my fabric collection to actually sew anything"?

I'm not a fabriholic; I'm a fabric collector!

06 December 2005

How to stay young and beautiful forever

Come to work in my 60-degree offfice.

No, really. When I got in this morning, it was 60 degrees at my desk. It has since warmed up to 65, so I guess I should count my blessings, only I can't because my fingers are too cold.