Saturday, December 31, 2011

Oh Won't You Choo Choo Me Home

We are in Chattanooga. How the heck are you? I have been hounded in three states about not blogging the last week, but since one of my Rules for Ladies is Never Apologize, Never Explain, I will just say: Hello and Merry Christmas! It is wonderful to see you. You look swell. Yes, those are cake crumbs on my face.

(My mother-in-law's dear friend brought a rum cake over to the house yesterday. Today when I thanked her and complimented her on its deliciousness, she said, "Oh, but you know what? I was out of rum when I made that rum cake so I used a lot of really good bourbon." That works.)

Today that friend and my mother-in-law Betty and a third friend hosted a ladies lunch downtown for everyone to meet my sister-in-law Robin. She's been in the family for two years now, but she's never visited Chattanooga, so this calls for a lunch. It was at the same south side restaurant where I had a bridal luncheon, 99 years ago. And today I was there with Laura, who was not even thought of on that long-ago afternoon. Time, it flies for real.

Blurry but happy.

In other Chattanews, Matt's mom put a new bed in a basement bedroom, so the sleeping situation described in this post is no more. Never say that this blog lacks influence.

It's New Year's Eve! What are you doing tonight? Matt and I went out last night with some friends, and found a place that served really cute drinks with hard-to-find liqueurs in them. This bar was in an old building that had been a bombed-out crack house when we used to live here. We sat on industrial-chic stools that I loved but which hurt Matt's behiney, and we were beautifully lit from below by a glowing tabletop. So that was a lot. Tonight we are going to stay in with his brothers and Robin and play Dominion or Ticket to Ride.

2011 was great--I really can't complain, so if 2012 could just keep it steady, that would be fine with me. Happy New Year from the Sub Mat family. I hope you have a sweet, cozy, or thrilling night with people you like and even love.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dear Santa, Please See Attached

Weeks ago, probably back in October, Laura took me by the arm and ushered me into the office. She pulled out the desk chair for me and seated me in front of the computer. After some lighting adjustments, she stood behind me in the corner of the room.

Then, as she used the wireless mouse to fire up Power Point from across the room, I realized that instead of writing a letter to Santa, she had created a multimedia presentation. After a flashy intro slide, it went:

There were snazzy fade in/segue effects between each slide. I murmured appreciatively at the clarity and succinctness of her bullet points. My girl. Then she turned the lights up, and, I kid you not, she served refreshments.

(I couldn't make this child up. She is one of the universe's most extravagant productions.)

She brought in a plate of cookies and a cup of juice for Hank. For me there was coffee.

And darned if she's not getting just about everything she asked for.

A note about the tween gossip magazine. She has no idea what "cheated" means, or I don't think she's put that term together with what she knows about the biological facts of reproduction. I imagine she thinks it means going around town with someone else. And what's funny about these magazines--they don't have any REAL gossip in them, like, you won't read a word about Justin Bieber's paternity suit. It's all about who lost her cat and whose mom was really sick but now she's all better. L-O-L. And I never bought her one of those, but I think various grandmothers have.

I think her last slide means that she is open to receiving things not listed, but that Santa would like to provide on his own initiative if he has any ideas. She's fine with that.

And yes, I guess this is another one of those moments when you don't just suspect but know with certainty that you are raising one of the most indulged creatures in history, ever, but then you kinda just want to admire your handiwork.

A couple of nights ago, at dinner, Laura opened her mouth to muse about what she would do if she won the lottery. Matt and I--we really have been together a long time--interrupted her and said in virtual unison, "You have already won the lottery. You won it before you were born." Then we kept shushing her until she shushed.

Y'all having a busy week? I'm like, eek! Ork! Argle bargle Christmas! Coming closer! Been making candy for the neighbors and trying to remember a bunch of little things. And loving it, loving it all. I agree with my sister, Christmas forever.

Ring ting tingle!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

That Lock of Hair

Back last year when I'd started chemotherapy, on the night we cut off most of my hair, I saved a little bit of it. It was my favorite piece, from right in the front. I snipped it off first, saying I'd keep it. Matt questioned me about it at the time. I wish I could remember exactly what he said, but it was something like, "Do you really want to keep that? When enough time has passed for that to be a souvenir, you will have grown new hair." Those weren't quite the words, but that was the gist.

I kept it though. I tucked it in the top of my jewelry box, not in a bag or anything, just lying there. And there it lay. Every day or two, when I lifted up the lid of the box to get a pair of earrings out or something, I would have to poke it aside gently with my fingers so I could find what I needed. After that night, the hair on my head went on and fell right out and then, in time, started growing again, and the seasons went around.

Months turned into a year, and then started rounding on year two, and still that lock of hair was there. A couple of times, I took it out of the box. I would smooth it in my fingers a little and admire its texture and color. I thought, "I need to save this to show my colorist when I get highlights put in my hair again." Then I would remember that my hairstylist has my precise color formula recorded in her little black book, just waiting to be called up. Then I would put the lock of hair back in the jewelry box.

Life continued to happen. I kind of stopped seeing the lock of hair at all. With one hand I would flip up the top of the box, nudge the hair aside, pick up my jewelry, and flick the lid shut again. It grew to be kind of a nuisance having it there, as you can imagine. You need to pick up a pair of little stud earrings and there's, like, some hair in the way.

Just as I ceased really seeing that actual curl of hair, the whole issue of having hair and losing it and regrowing it kind of fell out of my top stories. Like, it wasn't the headline anymore, then it slipped below the fold, then it got buried way, way back on like page E20. Maybe after Lifestyle but before Real Estate. No longer current events, no need to catch anyone up on it.

The other night, at my first book club meeting, there was a girl there who had a kid in the same class as Laura a few years back. We kind of recognized each other, but it took a few minutes to make the connection. She shook her head and said, "Oh, I didn't know it was you! Your hair was really long, right?" I said, "Yes, it was long." She kept on, making a kind of gesture with her hands, as though to indicate big, full hair. She goes, "I mean, it was like, really different!" There was a time in the not even distant past when I would have said, "Yes, I had to have chemotherapy and it all fell out, but it's all fine now," or something like that. But I just repeated, "Yep, it's short now!" And left it there. It is not something I find I need to process in conversation anymore.

This is what I would say to anyone who is facing chemo and the loss of hair, because I know that for many people, this is near the top of the list of their fears. But I would say that, believe it or not, not only will you get through being bald just fine, there will come a day when you don't even really regret that it happened, and you sure won't spend any time thinking about it. That day will come sooner than you think. As hard as it is to imagine when you're just starting down that road, the whole story of going bald and being bald will one day be boring to you. Like, over, done, next topic.

So, that lock of hair. Late last week and into the weekend, Matt was gone to California for work. The day before he was to come back, I wanted to freshen up our little bower for his return, so I decided to clean and organize the bathroom vanity. Because you know how husbands come home from trips and say, "Show me the bathroom sink!" Yeah. I also had a cute pedicure to show him. Like, "Let me see your feet, wife!"

Anyway, I was straightening our stuff and I opened my jewelry box and plucked out the lock of hair. I hadn't really looked at it in a long time, and it just seemed like a relic. Not in the good sense of something precious preserved, but like something that had once seemed important and was now just odd. Is that still lying around? Clutter. I picked up my phone, snapped a picture of it, feeling kind of ridiculous even doing that, and then tucked it down in the bathroom wastebasket.

You always hear personal organization gurus tell you not to hang on to unnecessary things. If it's not useful and it's in the way, get rid of it. If it's sentimental, take a picture of it, then keep the picture and get rid of the thing. So this blog post is my way of doing that.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Things I've Learned about Making An Omelette

For the last four months, I've had the same breakfast most days. I'm a big believer in the maxim that you should standardize one of your meals, especially if you are trying to lose weight or monitor your intake. My two-egg and cheese omelette has 220 calories, and it staves off hunger for hours. I reached my goal weight last week (GOOOOAAAAL!), but I'm still eating the same things, pretty much. Now I'm making this breakfast for Matt every day, and all modesty aside, I have gotten really good at it.

The Lord laid it on my heart to tell you this. Honestly, I was just now standing in my kitchen, and I thought, "I need to speak to my people of these things." Now that I remember, my dad tells a story of the only time he thinks God spoke to him, and it was to tell him to get my mom to eat a good breakfast every day. For real.


1) Use a small pan. I have some kind of "green" nonstick pan. I hope this means that the nonstick coating isn't killing us.

2) I put a little olive oil, like not even a teaspoon, in the pan first.

3) Let the pan get hot before pouring your beaten eggs in. I did this wrong for about two months and the whole mess stuck like crazy. Hot pan.

4) Use a soft silicone spatula to nudge the cooked edges in and let the runny egg take its place.

5) Add your sprinkling of cheese to one half of the omelette, or a little chopped tomato if you go that way.

6) Use your soft spatula to fold the omelette over, lightly and gently, like you're covering up a baby.

Enjoy in health.

I had some other post for you but OBVIOUSLY this is more important, as it concerns eggs and cheese.

Happy Monday.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

More Gravy Than Grave

Laura as Jacob Marley

Marley and Scrooge

Laura as Jacob Marley

This happened tonight: Laura as Jacob Marley in the school production of A Christmas Carol. I don't know if anyone has ever played the role with more relish. Certainly no ten year-old girl has. Her Marley was just a little too happy to be wearing the chains he forged in life, and she brought a refreshingly brisk impatience to her exchange with Scrooge. Like, "Okay, dude, lemme break it down for you. You're gonna be visited by three ghosts. No, three besides me. Try to stop talking for a second. This is important." She speaks well, though. And of course I thought she was the best one, NATURALLY.

The whole performance made me think of this David Sedaris piece from Holidays on Ice. 

Although the program listed no director, the apathetic staging suggested the limp, partially paralyzed hand of Sister Mary Elizabeth Bronson, who should have been excommunicated after last season's disastrous Thanksgiving program.


Once again, the sadists at the Jane Snow-Hernandez Middle School have taken up their burning pokers in an attempt to prod A Christmas Carol into some form of submission. I might have overlooked the shoddy production values and dry, leaden pacing, but these are sixth-graders we're talking about and they should have known better.

Laura asked us what our favorite part of the play was, and I told her it was when she first said, "SCROOGE!" from offstage. It was startling! And then she was clinking her chains. Jacob Marley gets a fine entrance.

She wore a pirate shirt from my old Halloween costume, a Mrs. Claus wig we bought at Party City today, and some dog chain my dad procured from the hardware store. She also gave great thought to the single, torn sock she wore. She wondered whether to rip the toe entirely off or leave it dangling. She decided that partially attached was more suitable to her vision of the character.

The girl doesn't have a nervous bone in her body. After the curtain calls, another mom came up to me and said, "If you could just get the child out of her shell a little." And Matt was like, "She's related to me how?"

Hank needed to tell how, at school today, they acted out the first Christmas in Chapel, and he got to be one of the Wise Men, the one with the gold, and there was no gold in the box but they pretended, and he got to wear a purple shirt and a purple sash, and it was very exciting because another Wise Man was the darling Annabelle, whom he loves.

So neither child is hiding any lights under bushels.

I hope you are all feeling festive out there.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

That Is Not Festive

Is your community plagued by the scourge of the inflatable Christmas yard decoration? This is my neighbor's house. I drive by several times a day, and Frosty, Santa, and Rudolph are ALWAYS lying down on the job. Rudolph looks like he just slipped in a puddle of his own Christmas cheer.

At least at night they're inflated. During the daytime, they lie there as wrinkled shells of themselves, looking for all the world like giant, discarded Christmas condoms. I kind of wish our HOA would institute a brutal crackdown. Eyesore! Litter!

Yes, I need to sip some wassail and chill.

I do think those inflatable things can be cute, maybe, if they're inflated. Eh, you know what, I was going to try to say something conciliatory so as not to alienate anyone, but we can just leave it with, inflatables are not to my taste.

Now, do we possess an adorable light-up tinsel Rudolph and tinsel penguin that we will be placing on our front porch tonight? Affirmative. So it's not all small white lights and fresh garlands from the Maine woods up in here. Heh.

We're going to get our Christmas tree today. Yay! I just like having a huge tree in the house. If it could stay there all year, that would be great. As it is, I tend to leave it up long enough to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. My mother-in-law once redecorated hers with red bows and hearts for Valentines Day.

I also love all of your comments on my previous post. Matt and I have been reading them and exclaiming over them. Just, wow. Here's to some peace of mind and better days for those who need some.

Oh, hey, I have a nice Christmas playlist that I made, over on Spotify. If you have Spotify, you can click here I think to listen? I spent a ridiculous amount of time putting this together. Back in September. I'm all about readiness.