Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Just Like Me!

Champ10 things/people I identify with in these Olympic games

1. The way John Orozco's mom watches his routines. When she watches there's a lot of gasping and hand wringing and peeking through her fingers. I can't imagine what it would be like if I personally knew, or had raised, one of these kids, I'm already freaking out. This morning it's possible I yelled from my empty living room to a swimmer whose race had been over for more than 12 hours, "America needs you to win this!"

2. The way Ryan Lochte is absolutely fantastic at what he does and yet on some days it's just not coming together for him. It's happening to me a lot lately and it's frustrating as hell even without the Olympic hoopla.

3. Every single one of the people crying in these photos. I am a weepy mess during the Olympics, it all makes me cry, the good, the bad, and even the indifferent.

4. Swimmer Lia Neal commutes every day from her cool Fort Greene home to somewhere far away for her swimming. I commute that way for work. I bet it's an even bigger drag at 5 or 6am when she does it than at 8:30 when I do!

5. Missy Franklin and I are only children. Gotta stick together.

6. One of the support staff for the female US gymnasts carries all of their backpacks to the next event. I, too, carry a heavy backpack all the time. I feel her pain.

7. Did you hear about how Misty May Traynor was done with the Olympics until her former partner Kerri Walsh found someone else to play with in the London games? I, too, often hate to feel left out of something big, even if I'm not sure I want to participate in it on its own merits.

8. I often find myself talking about the events non-stop, even when I've run out of useful or insightful things to say. Surely Bob Costas can relate.

9. Last night the poolside interviewer for NBC (not going to look up her name because she's kind of killing me) pressed Michael Phelps for predictions about his performance in his next final. He very politely put her off and finally said, "My swimming does the talking." I'm learning to have the measured, firm, sane response when things get emotional. I can't always pull it out but some days I have as much poise as Phelps v2.012.

10. The US women's synchronized springboard diving team. My underwear crawls up my butt all the time and I'm grateful that no one is wandering around with a camera and broadcasting my relief efforts on international broadcast.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Learning the Lesson


I got disappointed today and I took it really hard. I mean it wasn't even like I got a "no," it was a "not yet" but my gut just absorbed all the bad and held it really tight. Fortunately my brain absorbed the more nuanced truth and I responded politely with questions about how to move toward yes and how I can continue to improve in general.

Some might say I'm not honoring my feelings properly. To them I say, "You may be right but I don't think so. Also, we're out of ice cream please go get a couple of pints. I can't move I'm too busy crying with Missy Franklin's parents."

It's a pretty good idea to get your disappointments in a week where you're swimming in Olympics coverage. The lessons to be learned from these competitors are legion. The hardest lesson for me, always and forever, is to let go and move on. I hold on. I'm a gold medal wallower.

When I was in college I did a lot of stage managing. My favorite part of stage managing is what's known as "calling the show." You have a copy of the script with fancy notes you've made all over it and you call out to the people changing the set, operating the lights, and playing the sounds so that doorbells ring and sunsets fade and curtains close all at the appointed times. It's a total rush...right after you get over the sheer terror of all that responsibility. My first professional stage management teacher taught me, though, that the very most important thing in calling a show is not dwelling on mistakes. You can't go back because everyone else is still moving forward. Going back will only pile on more mistakes so you have to move forward, patching holes as you go. It was implied that, though she would always love me, she would find it harder to do that if I snow balled mistakes from one end to the other of her show. So I didn't.

Skimming through a recording of last night's late night Olympic coverage I saw the eldest member of the Romanian team, Catalina Ponor, do her beam routine. The announcer talked about how this was an event Ponor owned, it was the first thing she was noticed for. She mounted the beam and two elements in she had a big balance check. For someone else it might have ended in a fall. She breathed carefully, re-set herself and kept going. The next three or four things were so crisply landed I gasped.

Catalina Ponor is not a wallower. She can't afford to be. She's the better for moving forward and the judges rewarded her for it.

Ms. Ponor is a good teacher. The question is, how good a student am I?

Worth At Least 1,000

My Weekend

This picture sort of perfectly encapsulates my entire weekend. That's Eddie at my feet, Elvis* playing flat cat on my knee, Anna guarding my back. They like it when I sit in one place so they can keep an eye (or a paw or an ass) on me. The hat is for unwashed hair, the clothes are suitable for the park, there's an ever-present glass of dilute vitamin water on the coffee table.

I'm watching the Olympics. So much of the Olympics. For two days I basically taped NBC and MSNBC and flipped between them so I could fast forward through the commercials and bits I was bored with and gather as much intel as possible. The computer is open to my left for fact checking and the tweeting of important jokes. This was probably my best one, "They keep specifying that it's "foil fencing." Is there also waxed paper fencing and clingfilm fencing?"

The photo was taken by Pony Express who joined me for much of the watching. These are the kinds of days that keep me from letting go of cable TV. If I didn't have it we wouldn't be able to have these lost weekends.

Lest you think I lost the entire weekend I did actually wash my floors, cook and pack healthy foods for lunches, help at a friend's stoop sale, feed Our Bethany's pets, have dinner with R & Sara, and take my dog to the park for over an hour each morning. Still, mostly Olympics.

It only happens every 2 years, right?

*His new name is Toothless O'Gummerton but that's a story for another day. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Goodbye Old Friend

Ally Christmas 2010

I can't now remember how I first got to know Our Amy aka Grammar Snob online. I think she was a commenter of Chili's and then we got to talking. I do remember that I started to care for her as an off-blog human when she shared the journey while her husband, Roy, had heart surgery. He came through with flying colors and inspired their family to waste no time in living their dreams. Amy has recently completed training as a nurse and her social media posts are now heavily weighted with declarations of happiness surrounding every aspect of her job, even the hard ones. Every time I read one I am simultaneously filled with gladness for her, gladness tinged with envy.

Today there is less gladness. Amy's family said goodbye to their wonderdog, Ally. It is unimaginably difficult and I hate that Amy and her family had to go through it. There's nothing I can do to help. All I can do is spoil the ever-loving fuck out of my dog.

Treats for everyone.

*Photos from Amy's family albums. Used with permission.

Clara Hughes

I've been thinking about this timeline for Olympian Clara Hughes. At 39 years old this Canadian athlete is competing in her 6th Olympic games. She is pretty amazing.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Where That Is Else Today

I put something up at Kizz & Tell about how we learn about sexuality.

Remember the content there is sexual in nature and may be uncomfortable for some. You can't say I didn't warn you.

Fond Remembrances


Pony Express came over last night for takeout and TV, as we often do. Before she left she remembered something.

"Oh! Did you see the gazelle thing?"


"You get Gothamist stuff, right?"

"Yeah, I mean, I skim a lot of it but..."

"A baby gazelle was born in front of everyone. The mother went into labor earlier than they expected so she was out in the habitat and everyone watched. So there's video of the baby trying to walk."

"That is so cool!"

"It's hilarious. They really aren't very graceful. I mean, we called her our little gazelle but she really was!"

You see, Emily wasn't exactly....er....light on her feet. She was strong, really strong, but she ran into things and she stumbled and occasionally she fell off things, like the bed. I can't even explain what happened when she rode in a car. All I can say is it's a miracle she never went through the windshield. We learned to watch carefully to save her from herself. Fortunately she was made out of steel so she never really hurt herself but her flailing was not in keeping with her partial German heritage.

I just watched the video of the baby gazelle and Pony Express is right. I miss my dog.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Photo Challenge: BLUE/BLEW

Here we are again. Pointing and shooting in a peaceful and beautiful way. Enjoy! (And scroll down for the next prompt.)

Hey, ref, you blew the call. Again.
Our Sueb0b is a devoted soccer fan. Apparently the ref the other night had questionable eyesight and this player had to point out how badly he was blowing calls.

Ghostly view of Chesapeake Bay Bridge

At first glance this looks like Our Janet submitted a negative or a sunprint or something. Just a very particular view of Chesapeake Bay.

Blowing in the wind

Our Lisa lives in a landlocked state now. When she comes back to the homeland she spends as much time on or near the water as possible. I didn't even know she liked to sail!

Skyline bird
This one brings back good memories of Our Cindy's recent trip to NYC. Miss that girl.

I took this one over in Our Bethany's backyard. I had positioned myself out of the way in the corner and the cake drama somehow came to me!

I'm headed to Blogher and to a wedding just before the deadline for this next prompt. I expect to meet a lot of people, some quite run of the mill and others leaning further away from the beaten path. Let the next prompt be STRANGER. Play with that as you will.

Please add your photos to our Flickr photo pool by 9am on Tuesday August 7th for posting on Wednesday August 8th. Let me know if you have any questions!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

10 Things Louise

Fugue for Tinhorns Karaoke 1999

This week I'm playing at being a real, live singer. A real, live singer with a full time music-less job and three furry dependents and a floor that might be reinventing penicillin but a singer nonetheless. Last night was dress rehearsal, tonight is a performance with Grace & Spiritus Chorale and Opera On Tap. Tomorrow night I meet with the accompanist. Thursday is boning up on all the things I'm bringing to my voice lesson on Friday. Every morning I warm up while I'm showering and getting dressed and feeding the beasts. So far the comments from my neighbors have all been constructive.

Here are 10 things I'm singing this week.

1. Libiamo ne'lieti calici from La Traviata (you'd recognize it if you heard it, I'm sure)

2. Bits of It Ain't Necessarily So and Oh Lawd from Porgy and Bess

3. Va, pensiero from the opera Nabucco

4. The Promise of Living by Aaron Copeland

5. Stomp Your Foot also by Mr. Copeland

6. Make Our Garden Grow from Leonard Bernstein's Candide

What are you singing these days and how do your neighbors feel about it?   

*If you miss Rockapella you should click that link.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

I'm Putting Cream

Tweetable Photo of Itchy ChupacabraI don't know if you've met my dog. Don't know how you could have avoided it, either. He's...got a big personality. At least that's what my neighbors all say. I think it's like when your kid's report card says, "willful." Everybody knows it means, "stubborn-ass pain in my patoot" but we appreciate the pleasantry. Most willful kids are also clever and funny. So too my dog balances his explosiveness with more positive attributes. He is cuddly and charming just for a start. He's often good for a laugh, too, thank goodness. Sometimes he can take some credit, even if he's one step removed from the joke.

I often call him The Chupacabra. As you may know a chupacabra is a mythical beast often found in the southerly parts of the Americas. It is a canine-like creature known for a fearsome grimace and tearing goats limb from limb.

Last night I snapped a funny picture of Eddie (shown here without even the benefit of a modesty patch) scratching some itch he'd been working on for a while. (He has allergies. He's a delicate flower.) I tweeted it with the caption, "The chupacabra has a persistent itch."

Unbeknownst to me someone tweets under the handle @theChupacabra. Apparently they're pretty good at searching for uses of the term, too. When I checked my "interactions" on Twitter this morning I found that @theChupacabra had retweeted my photo with the following addition, "I'm putting cream."

Is that hilarious or did it strike me at just the right angle of funny? I've been laughing at it all day, even going back to look at the actual tweet because for some reason reading it is funnier than remembering it.

"I'm putting cream." It's killing me!

Tell me another one. What's nudging your funny bone today?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

50 Shades of Friends

Clemo with Stars!

A few weeks ago I was thinking about birthdays in July. That led to birthdays in general, my birthdays, the birthday I had in Michigan. After a little bit of math I'd figured out that Clemo would be turning 50 this year. This month. Today.

Clemo Chomp

Misti, Dion, and I talked about it a little. We wanted to do something to mark the day but figuring out something we could afford that would say what we wanted to say took a tiny bit more math. We decided to spam him.

That's the traditional 50th Birthday gift, right? Spam?

Clemo Color

We each printed out a picture of John and we took it around with us. Then I spent my day posting them to his Facebook wall. He hasn't responded yet. I think he's either working very hard or on vacation. Can't remember if he said he was going away. Whenever he sees what we've done I hope it gives him a laugh.

We may not have much but we've got love and humor.

Clemo & His Love

Happy birthday, friend!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Use Your Voice Joyfully

UntitledI was going to tell you about something else today. Then it seemed like talking about the movie theatre shooting was what I should do. Honestly, I haven't even been able to read much about it so writing about it is out of the question. I did find one thing that helped me think about it and another thing that made me laugh and cry and feel a little bit better. It would be selfish not to share.

1. Over at Blogher MarfMom, someone I remember fondly from Blogher 2011, is asking people not to make assumptions about who is at fault for not stopping the shooting before it even became a plan. In the process she points out the ways in which getting help for the shooter, if help is indeed what he required, might have been derailed.

2. Over at Shakesville this classical flash mob in Spain was on offer as an antidote for the hard feelings of today. Maybe you think classical music or a flash mob or even Spain is stupid. I would counter that even if it's not exactly your cup of tea the experience of being surrounded by a gigantic piece of music is transporting. Can it do its work via a dinky little online video? Depends. Fortunately you can see the audience being transformed and that is just as uplifting.

Be good to you and yours people.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Moody: Beginnings

LunchA little over a year ago my friend, Michael, died. A few years before that he was in an accident that left him paralyzed from the mid chest down with only gross motor movement in his arms and hands. He required a health care aid 24 hours a day and used a motorized wheelchair with modified controls to enable him to move around on his own.

For about the last five years of his life (don't stop me if you've heard this before) we went to the movies together on Fridays. During that time I learned a lot about being disabled in New York City. Not as much as Michael learned, to be sure, but a lot more than I knew before. I wanted to write about it here and I thought about it but ultimately wasn't able to draw clear enough lines for myself between his story and my story to tell.

He's stopped telling his story, though.

So I think I can tell my story now and not feel bad about it in any way. I think it needs to get out here. Five years of nearly weekly visits won't fit into one post so it'll be an occasional series. I could go with non-fiction parody titles (Michael & Me, Fridays With Michael) but I'll refrain. When I used to work for him ages and ages ago we just called him by his last name, Moody, because it really (really) fit. So I'll go with that.

UntitledI'd like to kick off today with just a short uplifting story from the first movie date we were actually able to keep, about two years after Michael was paralyzed. I don't remember what we saw but we were joined by Michael's friend, Andy. Andy met Michael after the accident and, I believe, has been quadriplegic longer and had served in part as a guide through the various adjustments and services he'd work with. I, however, hadn't seen Moody for years, maybe even a decade. I'd heard about him more recently but for me he was still the demanding, control freak workaholic who'd been my first full-time job boss.

It was cold as we left the theatre on a late fall afternoon. Michael's aide and I had held the doors for the two chairs to get through and we were headed a few blocks away to the bus stop. I was trying to politely talk to Andy, who had struck up a conversation with me, while still including Michael who was a few chair lengths ahead. By the time we turned the corner he had widened his lead considerably and, with one ear cocked to Andy, I kept my eyes glued on Moody. His caregiver trailed well behind us all. My heart caught in my throat as he sped down a curb cut and across a potholed street. Miraculously he seemed upright and fine when I had to return my attention to Andy.

"That's amazing," he said to me.

"What?" I asked, taking another quick glance to see Michael summit the curb on the other side.

"Look at him out there on his own all independent."

I had to absorb that for a minute, it seemed to hold the slight warmth of guilt as I heard it. "That's funny. That's how he's always been."

"Oh, well, I've never seen him like that." Andy said neutrally.

And I had never seen him any other way because I had been gone so long. I only saw Andy a handful of times after that but I'm always grateful that, even if it was accidental, he pointed the change out. I needed it.

*Regrettably, and due entirely to my own failings, I don't have any photos of Moody. Before his accident he was a great cook and gardener so I'll try to honor him with photos of things he would have enjoyed when I'm decorating these posts.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Various


Apparently Shell Oil decided to crowd source their next ad campaign by allowing people to come to their web site and create a print ad using stock photos. Go see them quick. I feel certain they'll be deleted very soon.

Look at these fabulous libraries made in spaces that used to be used for other things.

I found a few new pics of our mermaid shenanigans.

This is my new favorite Tumblr.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

2nd Amendment Scenarios

UntitledYou may remember Steven Weber from a long ago sitcom, Wings. He played the loveable, hunky screw up. No matter what he did everyone thought he was the bees knees. In reality Weber is a sharply witted political liberal with a penchant for pissing people off. I'm aligned with most of his views and even I get a little put off sometimes. When a fan from his rom com days is offended by his true persona they'll often make a point of letting him know how disappointing he is on Twitter before doing the sensible thing and unfollowing him. There's a reason I don't follow Adam Baldwin on Twitter. There's no reason I had to make sure he knows about it.

Weber will, as often as not, take the time to retweet these notifications of perceived betrayal. Some of them are pretty disturbing but his openness in reposting them gives fans the opportunity to giggle, if only in a nervous, hide-your-granny kind of way. This morning's gem was, "Yuck show some class you pinko godless heathen too bad Hussein Obama took my gun away." It got me to thinking that there are very few scenarios in which President Obama could actually have taken this dude's gun away. I mean, the 2nd Amendment is still intact and gun control laws are still, to the best of my knowledge, the same as they were under Bush, mostly because the Republicans are spending all their time making sure that women have to carry the bullets rather than worrying about who's stockpiling the guns. I did come up with one (barely) plausible narrative to justify this guy's fears that I'd like to share with you.

Scene: This guy's house. Exterior. Day. President Barack Obama (PBO) approaches the front door and knocks. After a moment This Guy (TG) answers the door carrying a gun.

PBO: Hi, I'm President Barack Obama. I wanted to stop by and say hello. 

TG: You suck!

PBO: I get that a lot around here. No worries, I won't stay long. Hey, nice gun.

TG: Mine! (clutches gun to chest)

PBO: 2nd Amendment, dude, I know. Rock on.

TG: ...

PBO: Can I see your gun?

TG: No! Mine!

PBO: Please?

TG: You pinko godless heathen!

PBO: Just for second. I just want to see what that writing is on the side. I'll give it right back.

TG: That sounds like a trick.

PBO: (holds up three fingers in a boy scout salute) Scout's honor, I won't take it.

TG: Well....just for a second. (Begins to hand over the gun) Careful!

PBO gently takes the gun, peers closely at the lettering then bolts and hides behind a Secret Service agent.

PBO: Ha ha, I had my fingers crossed! (Shows crossed fingers, jumps into armored limo, limo speeds away.)

Please feel free to leave other possible scenarios in the comments section.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Friend Me

Us, June 2012My college friends have a saying, "There are only 700 people in theatre." We mean that the community is so small and the people so connected that pretty much everywhere you go you're going to run into someone who knows your ex or your roommate or who worked with that one director who creeped you the fuck out. I find there are similarities to the internet. Something along the lines of, "There are only 700 stories in circulation at any one time." You'll get the same funny grammar busting ecard from your aunt, your aforementioned ex, and your entire sorority. This article in the New York Times about making friends as an adult is one of those things I've gotten from every angle.

One of the things the article cites a lack of in adulthood is "repeated, unplanned interactions" with potential friends. Immediately upon reading the phrase I realized I needed to tell you about the funeral I went to two Saturdays ago.

Bear with me. It's relevant.

I go to the park in the morning for off leash time with my dog nearly every day. I'd guess 999 days out of 1000 except I haven't had him for 1000 days yet. On days when I'm going to the office we arrive between 6:00 and 6:30am and we generally run into Kath and my retired neighbor and the woman from Kentucky and a small clutch of teachers. On other days we roll in between 7:30 and 8:15. We stay longer on those days and run into Stella's people and Diego's people and R & Sara and the man behind the pitbull version of Pepper Potts, just to name a few. Some of these people we hang out with outside of the park and some not. For the most part I have at least an email where I can contact them or know, within a couple of doors, where their homes are.

UntitledIn the middle of Independence Day week the email chain fired up to say that a gentleman from the park, the wife of someone I see frequently on our later days, had passed away. He had been very ill and we hadn't seen her in a couple of weeks so it was assumed that he wasn't doing well. News of her well-being and promises to pass on contact information and schedule of services flew around for a couple of days. I debated going to the service. Some of our group were away for the holiday. I worried that enough of us wouldn't be here. I'm used to funerals so it's not traumatic for me to go to them. However, was it appropriate? We hardly knew each other.

While I debated the ins and outs others were making carpools and assigning seats and getting directions. One of the hottest Saturdays of the year so far found me crossing the park with Teddy's Girl to climb into the back seat of A&M's car and head off to a historic cemetery in Brooklyn. There were 9 of us park goers at the lovely informal service. We passed the time before paying our respects to the widow by deciding which of us now wanted to be buried in this wonderful place by the wildly personable funeral director. Our friend was glad to have us there and we were, I think, a little relieved just to lay eyes on her after so long away.

We decided to go out to lunch afterwards to a place on our way home. While others were considering the relative merits of oysters from different places I cast a glance around the table. Teddy's Girl was in the corner. I've known her the longest. We stood for early morning hours on frozen tarmac letting our dogs romp in a previous home neighborhood. I took care of Teddy when she traveled for business. She walked Emily when I was out late for rehearsals. Had Pony Express never picked Emily up off the street I probably would have let Mr. Hedgehog do all the off leash dogging and I never would have met her. But I did and I moved and then she moved and we're a block away with two new dogs who have become friends.

DrippingA & M, are friends from the old days in the park before Emily became too unpredictable for letting off leash. Their starter dog was a fluffy shepherd mix named Bingo that Emily and I both loved deeply.  Back then dog people were a bunch of law breakers and I'd often see them in the morning at sanctioned off leash time and again around 6:00pm when the smallish group of us would go up on the hill and let our dogs off leash to wrestle and eat dirt even though it was illegal because most of the time no one in their right mind would go up there outside of broad daylight, not even the cops. M has daubed Emily's wounds after an altercation with their current dog, Carly. After Emily died I soothed my heart a little by taking their former boy, Diego, out for walks around the park in the chilly darkness of the winter of 2009.

I was seated between R & Sara. They were close friends of Kath's and I'd always liked them and wished they could be my friends. A little over two years ago I realized that they could be my friends, I could actually take steps toward that, it was in my power. So I accepted more invitations and continued more conversations and here we are. They were the first people that Eddie stayed overnight with when I went to China. I rode to the emergency vet with R when Bu was so badly injured. We have a walking home from the park pattern together and regularly accidentally meet up for evening walks, too.

Miss CarlyL&D are, among other things, part of the group that stands around on weekend mornings with us, watching our leashless dogs frolic and shooting the shit. We disperse at 9:00 only to bump into each other repeatedly in the greenmarket just outside the park. I made my connection to L during a New Year's Eve party at R & Sara's house where I didn't really know anyone but I recognized her from dog events and we got to talking about their son. Now when we reminisce we often forget that the other one never knew our previous beloved curs because it seems impossible things weren't always like this.

I don't know if anyone really heard me when I said, "This is why people get dogs." In their defense I slipped that in while we were being served heaping plates of delicious food. I was hardly paying attention to me either. It is, though, at least here in New York. We get dogs for companionship and it turns out that the dogs aren't the only companions we acquire. As an adult with homebody tendencies I count myself extremely lucky for the chances for friendship I've had surrounding my little chupacabra and even luckier for the people who have watched my clumsy advances and seen them for the opportunities they are and not just another dog-related chore.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Back in the Saddle (Dirty!)

I'm always thinking of the things I ought to be doing but am not getting around to. This evening I was finally inspired enough to get back to Tell Kizz. Chatting about books today.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Weirdly Sensible

UntitledThis afternoon I spent a couple of hours in the park with friends working on skills our dogs may not yet have perfected in preparation for attempting to make them Canine Good Citizens. I keep referring to this as a weird thing to do. Then Sara pointed out that it's kind of ridiculous to think of training one's dog as weird. Did we think that well trained dogs just manifested out of the ether? Sure, occasionally you get a dog who doesn't do much outside your parameters of acceptance but the truth of it is that it's almost always more the humans ignoring or avoiding the bad behavior than it is a dog coming out of the box perfectly mannered.

It's possible that getting together a group of friends to work on dog training is a little nerdy but I'm done thinking of it as weird. It's smart and it's making my life better in a lot of ways.

Is there anything you do that some people consider weird that is actually just common sense?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More More More

I wrote a few more short movie reviews tonight. If I'm not careful I might catch up with all the movies I've watched soon!

Photo Challenge: FREEDOM

I had an eventful Independence Week. How about you? Most of it was more fun than I can express. I look back and feel extremely lucky for the people around me.

I also feel lucky to get such fantastic submissions to these photo challenges. Please show your love in the comments and/or click through to the photographer's Flickr streams. Also, scroll down for the new prompt.

Little stone church
Our Janet said she wished I could include the whole set of pictures from her trip to the White Mountains in the prompt. I do, too. It's a pretty place and she captured it well.

Our Bethany had houseguests during the hottest days of the year so far. One lunch time they were reluctant to move away from the wading pool where they were literally cooling their heels. Brilliant!

If Our Cindy hadn't prompted me to do it I never would have found myself on the first boat to Liberty Island on the Fourth of July. She's a good prompter. It was a great day.

Remember when I used to do cute two word prompts? Those were fun times. I keep wanting to do one of those color prompts, too, but then feel it's restrictive or weird. But I'm weird so what's the problem? How about this, let's do BLUE/BLEW as our prompt. You can use either word or a combination of the two. Can't wait to see what you decide.

Please add your photos to our Flickr photo pool by 9am on Tuesday July 23rd for posting on Wednesday July 24th. Let me know if you have any questions!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Words On Moving Pictures

I did a few more reviews at Please Pass the Popcorn in case you're interested in what I've been gluing my eyeballs to of late.

10 Catty Things

UntitledIn the last post Ruby made a point to mention that she was grateful for more pictures of cats lately since I tend to favor the dog. By way of explanation I thought I'd use my 10 Things Tuesday to explain why the cats feature more rarely in photos.

1. They're skittish. If one so much as leans toward a camera (or a drink or a remote or a phone or a pillow) or moves a foot they bolt away.

2. I have spent nearly 12 years trying to get photos of Anna where she's not scowling at me. Success is so rare I've all but given up.

Untitled 3. Max is the best subject and I don't live with him so opportunities are more rare. Fortunately when I do see him I'm usually inspired to send a photo or two to his mistress so I make a point to get some shots.

4. The dog tends to get jealous and get in the way.

5. In the dog's defense he will actually sit still for a photo, for many photos, whereas even if the cats aren't scared off by the mere presence of a camera-like object they don't sit still. If I posted for you all the blurry photos of cat asses I've taken you'd beg me to edit more carefully.

cute max on trunk 0806 6. The lighting in my apartment is good but not great and can be abysmal. This is what you get for purchasing all your lighting fixtures at discount warehouses. All the standing lamps in the house lumped together didn't cost me as much as $30.

7. My house is chronically messy. Right now it looks like a tulle factory in Atlantis blew up after its employees went on a 3 week meth bender. I don't have the photoshop skills to gloss over the things that show up in the background.

8. My cats are opinionated. They think that when I'm in the house I should be doing one of two things; feeding them or petting them. Attempts to accomplish other tasks are met with resistance. Sometimes passive like crawling into my lap and sitting on my hands while spreading over my entire torso until I'm pinned and swallowing a boatload of fur. Sometimes aggressive. Stay tuned in coming weeks for video of Elvis breaking into the bathroom while I'm singing in the shower and yelling at me to shut the fuck up. No, seriously, that's what he says.

Peace 9. This one is really entirely my fault. I've photographed everything in my house a million times so I have ceased to really see it the way I do the outside world. It's a small place. I tend to forget photo opportunities once I've come home and closed the door.

10. I'm already the crazy dog lady in my neighborhood. I think I'm trying to avoid being the crazy cat lady, too. If only my neighbors knew that my cat lady tendencies are far more deeply ingrained and refined than my dog lady ones.

I have collected all my cat photos from recent years in one place. If you'd like to peruse them please feel free, they're here.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Monday, Monday..That's All I Know

Cheesy FriesSeriously, what's the next lyric to that song? I'm going to just be singing Monday Monday for about three days straight now.

So, I just found out that you have to have a Disqus account to comment at Shakesville Manor. I don't have one. Too much trouble to make one. I'm already pissed enough about Wordpress making me sign in and therefore comment as my Wordpress name on every Wordpress blog. I like being Kizz and it's not letting me. Stupid.

Here's what I wanted to say, though, in reference to this post: 5 Favorite Books by Female Authors
1. Beauty by Robin McKinley
2. All the books of The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett
3. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
4. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
5. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Meanwhile over at Jezebel, a girl overheard a guy threaten to rape someone walking across the street. So the girl turned around and punched him. Her post about it has gone viral and the debate is on! Was she wrong to punch him? Not up for debate, the people commenting on her post that she deserves to be raped are wrong, wrong, wrongity, so fucking wrong.

Dignity CatI'll post about it at Please Pass the Popcorn a little later but I saw Magic Mike and, I'm telling you, I really enjoyed it. It's not high art and it's got its problems but it was much better than I expected while not skimping on all the guilty pleasures I did expect. It was nice to see that someone at Feministing agreed with me. 

There have been articles and posts all over about the success of a young woman's campaign to get Seventeen Magazine to stop digitally altering its models. I've only had a chance to skim some of them. Can anyone tell me if the headlines are specific? Have they agreed to stop digitally altering photos of girls or does it apply to women of all ages?

Maggie Mason has begun to write a little about her divorce. She recently posted a few pieces of advice she appreciated and the last one is something I always forget to deploy when I'm feeling pressured to date more/now/better/quick/at all. "It takes a very good boyfriend to beat no boyfriend at all." I know that a lot of people would rather be with someone than alone but I can't, however I try, understand it. In my experience, having someone who is dragging you down is in no way better than doing things on your own. In fact, it's a way I evaluate when to invite someone to functions where I have a plus one. Am I doing it because I just feel like I ought not go alone? If I invite _______ will the experience be good for both of us or will be all dragged down by each other? Try it some time, you may find that going out alone is preferable to bringing your devout Mormon colleague to her first Eddie Izzard show.

Can't decide whether to laugh or cry at this old newspaper clipping asking men on the street if women should be spanked. How about a sort of horrified chuckle?

Last but not least let us look at this absolutely enchanting selection of portable planters. Now you can plant something on your bike or your lapel or your purse. It's like an invitation to take my killing spree on the road.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Best Thing I've Heard All ______


I went to a neighbor's funeral today. After the service people were complimenting the photo of the deceased and the widow explained it was one of the few she had of him dressed up. In the course of the conversation she told this story:

"I never picked up my wedding pictures. The place was way out in Queens. We didn't have a car. I thought, 'Eh, it's not like this is going to last.'"

They had been married 45 years.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Things That Are Little


It is, as they say, the little things.

Beach Bag

As a photographer I am an avowed documentarian. I will often show the messy shot, the imperfect, the embarrassing, because it tells the story in a way that the more technically adept pictures didn't manage.


I am deeply grateful and not a little in love with my iPhone because it allows me to catch the moments a little easier, a little faster, a little more often, than I've been able to in the past. The Blackberry was lovely and all but its camera was for shit.

Master of His Domain

Over this holiday I've spent some quality time with some neighbor animals as well as with my own. How they all remain as ridiculous as they are beautiful I do not know. Guess I'll have to keep documenting them until someone can figure it out.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

A Day

UntitledToday was a good day. I felt lucky to be a part of it.

Part of the day involved my first tour of Ellis Island. I expected to learn a lot. I expected to enjoy myself. I did not expect to be so fully engrossed and was simply not prepared to be moved in so many ways.

Coincidentally I just finished watching all three discs of When The Levees Broke, Spike Lee's documentary about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. There are more similarities than I care to think about. There are also more similarities than I've had a chance to ponder.

In the middle of watching WtLB Aaron Sorkin's new show, The Newsroom, premiered. My synapses flickered and I realized I really wanted to watch just the very end of the Christmas episode of his previous show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Thankfully the internet made that pretty easy.

As you may remember, this episode was filmed shortly after Katrina and used musicians who had been displaced by her. Trombone Shorty represented all the New Orleans musicians with a soft-spoken guest spot who brought the fate of these folks to the attention of the main characters. Every time I watch it I get tears in my eyes.

I could go on about why I think all these things are related and why I think they're especially important right now but today I don't think I will. I'll just ask you to click, listen, and feel.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

10 Brains on Holiday

Beer & Ice CreamI have assessed my job requirements and decided that leaving at about 3 will work out just fine. (My office phone has not rung since late last Wednesday. All of my filing is up to date. My desk is as clean as it ever gets.) As a result I'm not sure I can think of 10 related things or 10 things related to anything. I don't have to come back to work until Monday. Don't get me wrong, I have stuff to do, but it won't be going to the office for my j.o.b. Hey, let's see if I'm doing 10 things between now and next Monday. I bet I am.

1. Calling my dad, it's his birthday today.

2. Going to the Statue of Liberty (1st Ferry tomorrow morning).

3. Visiting Ellis Island (feeling lucky it's included in the price of the Liberty Island Ferry and I can get another part of a Life List Item knocked off).

4. Trying to ensure that my pets don't learn to be wigged out by local or regional fireworks. (I cannot count the number of times I've read this today; "More dogs run away on July 4th than on any other day of the year." Mine won't be running away I don't think but we sure don't need a lifelong phobia.)

5. Hugging Our Cindy (again, actually, since I started that yesterday).

6. Voice lesson.

7. Practicing for the aforementioned voice lesson.

8. Napping (I should feel bad for all the napping I did this weekend but I totally don't and I can't wait to do it again).

9. Watching the 2nd episode of The Newsroom and I fully expect to enjoy it. Will I write about it, too? I sure hope so.

10. Taking a bunch of pictures with my camera and my phone and all my fancy apps. Stay tuned!

What are you doing with the rest of this week?

Monday, July 02, 2012


UntitledThe worst case scenario is that I'm at work and the pets are home and enough power goes out that I have to walk home and...

No, the worst case scenario is all that but if the pets were home shut into the AC and....

Wait, the worst case would be that I'm on Ellis Island on Wednesday and they're all in the AC and enough power goes out to....

There are a lot of shitty scenarios, let's just leave it at that. Frankly, the least shitty of them involve me being home when the power goes out and staying there safely until everything gets fixed. Still not great but doable.

Why am I worrying about this? Well, contract negotiations between Con Edison and two of their unions have broken down. Yesterday the company locked out around 8500 workers and now they have managers doing the vacant jobs until an agreement can be reached. While some of the managers worked their way up the ranks and have practical knowledge of the system it's hard to tell what percentage of them do. Since it was all fresh in our minds yesterday when the lockout (a first for Con Ed, I'm told) began there was a lot of worrying. As time goes on people seem less bothered by it while I, thinking it through logically, am amping up the worry the longer we go without news. Keeping a system going is a simpler task than making repairs and restoring widespread outages. Even with all hands on deck outages occur during high usage times and we've had two heat waves in as many weeks. Whether something big happens or a number of little problems crop up the chances of loss of power only increase the longer the lockout goes on.

When I cautioned friends on social media yesterday to conserve energy in an effort to keep the system working as long as possible a friend of a friend got out his soapbox, climbed all the way up on top of it and started to beat his drum about shutting down the whole city and teaching Con Edison a lesson about union busting thereby teaching the GOP a lesson and keeping Obama in office and killing Rush Limbaugh and...ok, he didn't go quite that far but I've seen his previous work and, unchecked, that's exactly where he was headed. I was forced to lay the smackdown early and with the biggest, baddest, high card I had.

Dead old folks.

You see, on Friday the elevator went out in my building. As I was going down to change my laundry I ran into two younger gentlemen escorting their elderly male relative upstairs to his apartment. Given his frailty and the heat they were debating whether he'd make it or whether they ought to just carry him. It was about 95F that day so probably 105F in the stairwell and the man might live as high as the 7th floor. He's not the only elderly or disabled person in my building but it's good to know that he's got big, strapping family members looking after him. I don't know how many of the rest of them have that luxury. I can tell you right now that a paid caregiver is highly unlikely to be carrying a client anywhere. The elevator runs on electricity. The city-run cooling centers, which will likely be in operation 24 hours a day with the help of generators in the event of a power outage, are outside of everyone's homes. Getting seniors and the disabled to these places (where, by the by, their pets aren't allowed) is no small task and adds as many risks as it takes away.

In conclusion, I don't condone union busting but I also don't condone using defenseless citizens as bargaining chips. Both sides need to wise up and fix this before something tragic happens.

Sunday, July 01, 2012


DipticThey say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. I don't disagree. Not entirely. On the other hand I wish no one had told me that. I probably need to believe you have to keep working on it forever and ever (which you do which makes it less a belief and more, well, the truth).

About a month ago it seemed as though I was on track to do a set of shows in August before I leave for Italy. A deadline is like catnip to me. Or perhaps more like a cat-o-nine tails. I realized that I was going to have to start strengthening a lot of performing muscles so I needed to start working out after a fashion. The solution seemed to be found time and I found it in my morning routine.

So every week day, at least, I began doing my vocal warm ups while I shower, feed the beasts and pack up for the day. I expect the thank you cards from my neighbors to come rolling in any time since I leave the house by 8am. It's working, though. I'm hitting some milestones with my workout goals and getting more songs under my belt and showing up at my sessions better prepared. What's not to love, right?

About the same time I passed the 21 day mark on this habit it became clear that August wasn't going to happen. Through circumstances outside of my control I wasn't going to work in that time frame. To say that this made me angry is to underestimate the joy of a good nut punching. Unfortunately actually doing the nut punching will delay me further so I'm not going to do it.


The deadline, however, she is gone. Like magic, just when that happened, the resentment of this routine set in. I used to watch DVR'd episodes of Craig Ferguson in the morning while I brushed my teeth or catch up on Sunday night's True Blood while I marshaled my forces to go into the office. I miss my stories! Some days I just want to see who bit who instead of mi mi mi-ing my way to some elusive fucking performance that I can't believe anymore will happen.

Still angry. I know. Working on it.

I realize, though, that this happens to me with almost every habit I try to establish it. Once I hit the mark where it's "mine" I resent the shit out of it. Weight loss. Piano. Writing every day. Blogging every day. Cleaning. If you take away my accountability I am lost.

Anyone else find themselves in the same predicament?