Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's a Marvelous Night for a &*^%&* Moondance

It is 3am. I am lying in a crumpled heap on the concrete pad in front of our garage door. My palms burn. I can feel blood dripping down my left knee, absorbed by the shredded remains of my pajama pants and terry cloth robe.

It was really only a matter of time.

There are three sets of stairs into/out of my house. One inside and a choice of two to get to the driveway.
Five carpeted stairs from the main floor to the landing...where my heels got caught, bilaterally, in some invisible fiber sending me careening onto the carpet at my husbands feet while he stood watching in amazement. If he hadn't had the oak door open I would have died.
Six concrete stone stairs making a winding pathway through the ivy under the big pine tree lead to the driveway...where I slid on an invisible patch of ice, pitching into the air in the manner of Tara Lapinski, landing on my butt. It took an hour before the vibration up my spinal column turned to actual pain.
And finally the five traditional concrete steps to the concrete pad by the garage door.
You would think this would have been the safest way down the steps at 3am.
I mean really. In math terms I had a 1:3 chance right?

Why was I walking down the steps at 3am in my now ruined pajama pants and blood soaked terry cloth robe?

I wanted to see the Blood Moon.
The night, here on the Coast of Illinois was cold, crisp, clear. The moon was fabulous. Big and round and moon-like. A shimmery deep pink. To the lower right a bright twinkle, Venus, I believe. One more brightly twinkling star a little further to the right.
Mystical.
Awe-inspiring.

I would have taken a picture but my iPod was not spared injury,receiving cosmetic damage to its face. And although the iPod still works, the moon being eight gazillion-paradigm miles away, is really too far for my tiny iPod camera.

If you are interested it looked just like my scraped up left knee.

I would have posted a picture of that but there is just too much sensationalism in journalism today.
Crossing that line would be a slippery slope.
Like the stairs.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

And This is How an Idea is Born

So I was sitting around with a group of co-workers the other day. We were pouring over the latest Vogue – critiquing the outfits, the models, the prices...
The conversation went something like this:
"Too short."
"Too young."
"Won't wear it. Won't wear it. Might wear it...no, won't wear it."
"Wow, she's scary..."
"He's cute."
"He's my son's age."

The median age of this group is early 50's.

But there was one outfit – The model is dashing across the white page, presumably to meet some exotic friend after a long hard day of international finance and shopping. She is wearing a thin black turtleneck and short white skirt, black knee socks and black chunky shoes. Totally do-able, if the skirt were a little longer and the knee socks were black boots.

"I could see myself in this." I said, optimistically, a vision of me dashing to the local cafe after a long hard day of shopping or museum wandering, in my mind.
My co-workers gave me that 'are you serious' look so I amended my previous statement with, "I mean, I couldn't pull off the knee highs. I don't think I even own knee highs anymore...."

And at that moment it dawned on us all. We simultaneously pulled up our pant legs to reveal BLACK KNEE HIGHS.
They were orthopedic knee highs, but still.

We had discovered the basis for Calvin Klein's newest line.

May I present to you, Calvin – The Menopause Collection.

A line of dresses and skirts in lengths somewhere between daytime hooker and Pentecostal Sister. Blouses in a variety of styles, including halters and thin straps but with BUILT IN BRAS. Real, adjustable banded bras. (Because honestly, those shelf bras are neither shelf nor bra.)
No 'empire' waistlines. (If we wanted to look pregnant we would just stop working out and eat all the Carbs after 5pm.)
And no 3inch or shorter crouch zippers.
No.

We mid-life women want to look put together, fashionable and even a little sexy sometimes. But we do not need to be draped in leopard print, or taupe three quarter sleeves or those ridiculous 'high-low' flowing blouses. Some of us live in the Midwest for Pete's Sake. It is HOT in the summer. Have you ever tried to wear three quarter sleeves in 90 degree, 100 percent humidity?

It is not pretty.
And way too fragrant.

And not to worry Mr Klein. I even have a name for your new line. It embodies the style, grace and experience of the over 50 woman while remaining youthful and en vogue.
Are you ready for:

Haute Phlash

(Just to be safe, I googled 'Haute Phlash'. It seems it is MY ORGINAL IDEA in regards to a clothing line. The only true link to the words used together was to an Alpaca Farm which named one of its babies Haute Phlash. It's daddy being Jumping Jack Flash. And as most of we over 50 women can relate to Mick Jagger, Jumping Jack Flash and alpaca sweaters, and as there is no one on earth who doesn't love baby Alpacas, I am feeling the need to contact this farm for a picture to use as the symbol of Calvin's new line. I feel it will totally solidify our working relationship if I have all the basics ready.)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Well That can't be Good for Anyone...

Still under the Changing Season - Can't Focus disease. But wanted to stop off and say HI from the Coast.
Saw this sign pasted to an I-beam under the oldest bridge to cross the Mississippi.
So, leaving you to ponder:

I can only imagine the ER visit...

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Slight Deviation from Normal

I have been needing/wanting to update the Coast of Illinois for a week now. However, everything in my life has taken a back seat to the revolt occurring under my far back molar. I find no humor in dental work. Although hearing the dentist assistant describe the fact that my teeth have extra roots as a 'slight deviation from normal' would have been sort of funny it I didn't have flatware for eight sticking out of my mouth at the time. 

But, it has been four days, six Vicodin, eighty Advil and a small duodenal ulcer since then. It is Friday and 70 degrees outside and the Sunday before the this whole oral assault happened I spent a fabulous afternoon at a winery on the Coast of Illinois and I wanted to share some photos from our coast. 

Eat your vegan hearts out Malibu!


We were at Grafton Winery and Brewhouse. It was one of those rare pre-spring afternoons when the temp is really only 50 degrees but everyone is so excited to see the sun that we are willing to brave a semi-blustery breeze to sit outside and get a pre-summer sunburn. 

Oh sure, it's not a Carnival Cruise ship, but then again, there is no random gastrointestinal attacks going on.

We watched barges moving up and down the Mississippi as Terry Beck played tunes. There was wine and olives and salami and cheeses and enormous chocolate chip cookies and the company of three good friends plus one more who insisted on buying everyone a cigar. 
I do not smoke cigars.
Anymore. 

Seriously, even without the ocean breeze this is beautiful.
And on the ride home we saw the full moon peaking out from behind pink and purple clouds. 
This is the Coast of Illinois.

Monday, March 10, 2014

An Olfactory Betrayal

I have a distressing confession to make.

My new favorite fragrance is Nirvana Black. It is full-bodied without being heavy. Spicy without being incense-y. With just a hint of sweetness, but not so much that you could be mistaken for a roll of Smarties.
It is manufactured by the Elizabeth and James brand.

Which is owned by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.

I am fifty-three years old.
I am too old to purchase a perfume from the brand which brought us How the West Was Fun and New York Minute.
Plus, I have never been a sucker for celebrity endorsement.
The first thought which pops into my head when I see someone's name on a bottle of perfume is: Why would I want to smell like Elizabeth Taylor (too divorcee) , Christina Aguilera (too Idol-y), David Beckham (too sweaty) or Jennifer Aniston (too friend-y).
Except for Judy Garland.
Actually, back from the grave Judy Garland.
It was the Clinique campaign using vintage video of Judy in her black bodysuit and top hat singing "Come on Get Happy" that prompted me to run out do just that. The fragrance is exactly as advertised. I can't wear it without feeling happy.

And now this.
Nirvana-Black.
I feel all mysterious and sophisticated when I spritz my sample bottle* to my wrists. I want to sit in cafes with striped awnings dripping rain and drink french press coffee in my long flowy skirt and oversized bowler hat as I wait for a dark stranger with a luxuriously full head of hair to arrive and whisk me away on his motorcycle.

Not at all the image I get when I think of a fragrance by two tweeny-bopper icons.

Have Mercy!


(Okay, this is NOT the catchphrase from that spunky Michelle Tanner (aka – MaryKate and Ashley) because seriously. I did not watch Full House for a goofy looking baby. Like every other woman in America I watched it for Uncle Jesse aka John Stamos. And thankfully that fact has not gone unnoticed by the Greek Yogurt Society.
Thank you Oikos.)


*This is in no way endorsed, nor paid for Elizabeth and James. My sample bottle is just that – a teensy little spritz which the counter girl at Sephora** filled for me after I spent one too many Benjamins on a cover stick.

**This is also in no way endorsed by Sephora. But should the marvelous people at Sephora consider contacting me, I am down with whatever you have in mind.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Laissez le Bon Temps Rouler...until the Hairnets show up...

I purchased a brand new Deep Fryer on Friday. (smirk) Because, you can't fry eight pounds of alligator in a Fry Baby with three legs.

It seems almost politically incorrect to admit that I ever fry anything. But in my defense, I only use vegetable oil AND the deep fried food which prompted this discussion is for a celebration with the word FAT in its name.

That's right. Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras.

Now, let's clarify a few things.
I am not from New Orleans. Or Louisiana. Or Rio de Janiero for you Carnivale fans.
I was not raised in a household which gave things up for Lent.
And yes, I did say eight pounds of alligator.

Just where do you get eight pounds of alligator?
(Not the weirdest question I have ever been asked.)

Surprisingly, gator is readily available here on the Coast of Illinois.* However, before I realized that we ordered it online from CajunGrocer.com. And as I am mostly brand loyal, I continue to order from them. They promise prompt delivery of humanely raised, hand fed gator which is massaged daily and when gastronomically euthanized the skin is turned into the finest shoes for underprivileged cowboys.
I may exaggerate a little.
CajunGrocer.com does offer tenderized one pound packets of frozen gator tail meat packed in dry ice and delivered within three to five business days. They also offer a multitude of other Mardi Gras and every other day Louisiana type food products. 
The City Boy gator costs $3 more a pound and is more rat than gator.

But why? Why would you need eight pounds of alligator?
um...twelve pounds of gator...

You see, we throw a Mardi Gras party nearly every year and nothing says Let's Celebrate the Beginning of Holy Season and/or It is Almost Spring and Maybe This &^$(#& Snow Will Go Away like deep fat frying a huge reptile. 

Plus, my family LOVES gator. So eight pounds go to the party, two pounds go to the family immediately after the party and two more pounds sit in my freezer until I get sick of moving the packages around and fry them too.

And this year frying all that gator was a delight. Because I have a new Deep Fryer. Step aside Fry Baby and make room for the Lipitornator!
This baby comes with a removable mesh basket, a thermostat, a lid to control the spatter and it breaks down into five pieces for easy cleaning. Never has it been so easy to make food that will clog your arteries and make party goers shout 'Huzzah!'

(There may have been one 'huzzah'.)
Part of our decorations. What you can't see are the 700 strands of lights strung all around the ceiling of the entire upstairs which won't be taken down until sometime in May because honestly, they are just so festive.
There was definitely gator at this year's party. There was also gumbo, jambalaya, a shrimp boil, killer crab cakes, fruit plates and salad, crusty bread, hurricanes, Cajun meatballs, shrimp stuffed crescents, fancy sandwiches, hurricanes, key lime cake and chocolate cake and hairnets

Yes.
This is me, in a hairnet. After two hurricanes, mind you. And I am not laughing. It is more of a cry for help.
 At last count forty seven hairnets.
I left the kitchen for five minutes and returned to find a hairnet on EVERY guest as well as on every inanimate object in every room of the house. 
Mardi Otter was just minding his own business.

I love our friends.

And that is why we have the Mardi Gras party. And fry all that gator.
Because nothing says 'you all mean a lot to us' like deep fried reptile.

And Hairnets.


Actually, the Coast of Illinois has a long tradition of celebrating Mardi Gras. The Soulard neighborhood of St. Louis has the second largest celebration (next to New Orleans) in the United States. There may be some debate but all you other cities can forget about it. Soulard has been around since before Lewis and Clark and is the closest thing to the French Quarter you can get. Plus, we have the Mississippi River. So neener. 
 
The 'Parade Marshal' designation was a little misleading. Only two more years and I will be allowed back on the parade route.

I worked the parade one year when the hospital I worked for was asked to run the first aid tent. This was early in the history of Soulard Mardi Gras. The biggest injury we had to deal with was when one of the other nurses nearly ran over her own foot playing with the golf cart they let us use for emergencies. We did see some bare boobs, it was Mardi Gras after all. And the Mardi Gras association provided the most amazing buffet for volunteers in the upstairs of Soulard Market.
I had no idea the market had an upstairs. But the market does have Frendeka's Meats and Pet Shop which sells gator. And bunnies.
But the live ones are at the Pet Shop. Which is at the other end of the market...

(If you have the time and curiosity, click on each  'hairnet' reference. I am constantly surprised by how often my friends and I have seen random hairnets and even more surprised at how often I have written about them. Also - the pics of Otter and me in the hairnets were courtesy of my friends Mel and Joy, videographers extraordinaire.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

@OverExaggeratedCommuterProblems

I commute to work. During rush hour it is a 50 minute, 17 mile drive. Or a 35 minute train ride.
Unless there is a Windnato.

(Windnato is a real word. Windnato: from the meteorologic To Be Freakin'Windy and not in a Tornado way but in a Big Bad Wolf – That's Right, I AM Going to Blow Your House to Oz. You, your half brick house, your train and Your Little Dog TOO! Due to poor organizational skills, Windnato does not get the respect that Tornado gets. It should really try harder.)

On the day that Windnato hit I got out of work about an hour early. (This will be important later during the math portion of this post.) It was my next to last day of work. Bart, who had been gone overnight, would be home. As I walked down the fifty stairs to the platform the wonky alarm was sounding.
Nothing good ever comes after the wonky alarm. Wonky Alarm sound something like this: "Looo-ser...Looo-ser....You're Screwed....Looo-ser..."
It seems, Windnato had taken out one third of the train route with a flying cow or house or something. Consequently, we Eastbounders would be... (scary, dramatic pause where you see the shadowy figure with an ax lurking just behind you) Bus Bridged.

Until this day, I have managed to avoid the Bus Bridge. I assumed it was something in the universe that prevented all manner of bad things happening to me. Turns out, it was just dumb luck.

I dutifully walked, with the rest of the Eastbounders, towards the bus depot where we were semi-assembled on the grassy knoll alongside Taylor Ave. Taylor is one of those oldish city streets which is fed by no less than two side streets, two parking lots and the aforementioned bus depot. It is also crossed by the now FEMA certified train tracks.

Instruction was minimal. Mostly 'The buses are on their way' and 'Please stay out of the street. We are already having a bad enough day and don't really won't to have to scrape you off the pavement.'
The first bus arrived to cheers only to be soundly booed when it was noted to be (ONE) packed and (TWO) Westbound.
Four packed buses later, I crammed onto the back of an Eastbounder. Where I was promptly offered a swig of Strawberry/Kiwi wine. People were laughing and comparing Bus Bridge horror stories. Camaraderie was high.
For one block.

It really got ugly as we circled the block where we were first picked up. There was discussion of the right on red capabilities of the bus company and the IQ of the driver. Also his genetic legitimacy.
Then it began to smell.
Bad.
Really bad.

And then it got quiet.

Quiet is never good.

One hour later we arrived at the first working station for the Eastbound train. It was one stop east of where we started, maybe two miles away. Let me state this again.
ONE HOUR LATER.

We piled off the bus and towards the platform where we were greeted by a train on our Eastbound track. However, the train was heading West. In train lingo this is known as Single Tracking.
It is exactly what it sounds like and it is terrifying. You are essentially riding a train into on-coming traffic with only those pretend train track traffic lights to protect you.

There were a half dozen smug westbound riders pressing their faces upon the glass of the windows staring out of their warm cars as we Bus Bridge refugees stood huddled under the fluorescent heat lamps as Windnato continued to blast us with Arctic Vortex furry. Clouds sped past at nearly 45 miles an hour.
Which is much faster than any mode of transport had moved thus far tonight.

I was beginning to curse the fact that I had been lured by the unseasonably warm 60 degree forecast and left my hat at home. My coat was warm but as discussed in other posts, scrub pants are little more than glorified bed sheet pajamas. My legs were morphing into Otter Pops and then it happened.

The Wonky Alarm sounded.
And the train conductor announced, "This train in out of service. It will resume service Eastbound".

Confetti fell from the sky and someone sprayed champagne as a cheer went up from the platform. (or it may have been a two liter soda and some shredded newspaper caught up in Windnato's fury. But the cheer was sincere.)

A toxic cloud of curses boiled from the train cars as the doors open to expell those smug Westbounders who were now being directed to the ...BUS BRIDGE!

Forty minutes later - at the time I would normally have gotten home if I had left work at the regular time - I arrived at my home platform.
It was pitch black. As was my house.
It seems Windnato has NO respect for Thursday night television.


I swore I would never ride the train again.
I drove in on Friday. I had plans to meet some friends later and once again the work Gods were with me and I was released 40 minutes early. Perfect. I would meet the girls at about the time I would have been leaving work.

Except...

The van refused to start.

I have come to the conclusion that either I am not allowed to leave work early or I am never going to work again.
Since the later is not a possibility I am researching sacrificial items to offer up to the Gods of Mass Transit and the Goddess of 2002 Venture Van Fuel Pumps.
Because nothing is sweeter than arriving home before you should have clocked out.


*I have calmed down a little from this harrowing episode. Although there were several fiery phone calls home during this entire ordeal. I tend to start off taking delays in my routine very personally and expect Bart to fix them, immediately. He offered to rescue me numerous times but I was feeling martyr-ey. Once I calmed down I started playing a game of It Could Always Be Worse and realized that I am lucky to have people who offered to rescue me at any given time, I didn't have small children waiting extra hours in daycare for me to finally arrive and I had a coat.

**Windnato was a nightmare. Winds were clocked at 40-45 miles an hour and took out power over apx 1/3rd of the Coast of Illinois area. It also appears to hate train track cross bars as I counted about fifteen broken ones on that final ride home.

***In an effort to make driving better, the Coast of Illinois has opened a new bridge. It is beautiful and named after Stan Musial. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce Stan, the Span: 
Stan is gorgeous with suspensions that mimic the Arch. Thanks to my friend Julie for the pic. When I tried to take one all I got was rearview mirror and car sick.