Thursday, May 31, 2012

51 ways

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." Lao Tzu

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO my loving husband. Since he's 51 today, I'm listing 51 ways he's the best man — in my world anyway. FYI: The title is a riff on Marc Cohn's song, 29 Ways

51.  He's kind to all animals, even bugs.

50.  He pretty much bases how much he likes anybody on how nice they are or aren't to me. If you're nice to me, he likes you; if you're not, you're done.

49.  He looks great in a tux.

48.  He understands Middle East history and politics. Baffles me entirely.

47.  He supports my shoe habit.

46.  He doesn't particularly like football. Doesn't mind it, but doesn't find it compelling.

45.  He likes tennis, track and field, baseball, soccer, swimming, gymnastics, high school and college basketball, but not pro basketball, wrestling, boxing or hockey.  

44.  He doesn't have a mean bone in his body.

43.  He prefers a sailboat over a motorboat.

42.  He's eclectic in his interests and knowledge.

41.  He has the same religious views as I do.

40.  He's manly, not fussy or vain.

39.  He "gets" things — and me.

38.  He likes reading, gardening and traveling.

37.  He's been blessed with attractive physical assets about which I will not be more specific other than to say — head to toe.

36.  He's kind. 

35.  He tells me I look good all the time, even when it couldn't possibly be true.

34.  He cooks, and he's really good at it.

33.  He's very science-y. 

32.  He's a talented musician.

31.  He can get really, really mad (fortunately, not at me). It makes me feel safe.

29.  He can decide to make a change and just make it. Bam.

28.  He likes shopping with me and for me, and he's good at it. 

27.  He keeps getting better at things. 

26.  He makes me laugh.

25.  He loves the great outdoors.

24.  He's chivalrous.

23.  If he wakes up before I do, he'll hold me for as long as I sleep.

22.  He can put the pedal to the medal when necessary as well or better than anyone.

21.  He's a big-time progressive.

20.  He loves to see me have fun, be good at things and voice my opinion.

19.  He has taken big risks on my behalf.

18.  He's WAY smart.

17.  He has the most incredible navigational and pathfinding ability I've ever known anyone to have. Seriously, he's like a savant or something at it.

16.  He's not materialistic or greedy.

15.  He's multi-talented, a true Renaissance man.

14.  He's doesn't seek to control who I am, how I am or what I think and do because he really, really wants me to be me.

13.  He always sees the best in me, even when I don't.

12.  He's very, very romantic.

11.  He likes holding my hand.

10.  He's a great kitty dad.

9.  He thinks I'm funny.

8.  He can find me wherever I am, literally and figuratively.

7.  He likes being around me all the time. Am I lucky or what?

6.  He misses me whenever I'm gone, even it's only a few hours.

5.  He feels deeply.

4.  He's loyal, true blue and faithful.

3.  He tells me how much he loves me every day of my life.

2.  He is endlessly forgiving and patient with me.

And coming in at number one:

1.  He loves me with all of his might all of the time, come hell or high water.

Happy birthday, to my TAHH — tall and handsome husband.


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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Four new words

"The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause."
 — Mark Twain's, Speeches

TODAY I learned four new words:

bricolage |ˌbrēkōˈlä zh; ˌbrikə-|
noun ( pl. same or -lages)(in art or literature) construction or creation from a diverse range of available things the chaotic bricolage of the novel is brought together in a unifying gesture.• something constructed or created in this way bricolages of painted junk.

farrago |fəˈrägō; -ˈrā-|
noun ( pl. -goes)a confused mixture a farrago of fact and myth about Abraham Lincoln. See note at jumble .

gallimaufry |ˌgaləˈmôfrē|
noun ( pl. -fries)a confused jumble or medley of things.• a dish made from diced or minced meat, esp. a hash or ragout.

salmagundi |ˌsalməˈgəndē|
noun ( pl. -dis )a dish of chopped meat, anchovies, eggs, onions, and seasoning.• a general mixture; a miscellaneous collection.

Now whether I can remember them is an entirely different issue!
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Monday, May 28, 2012

Repose and remembrance

"What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly." — Lao Tzu

IT'S GORGEOUS WEATHER where we live in Iowa. Paul has made a park in the backyard, and we're outside relishing it with Shye, Shiva and Boy Boy.


The view straight up from our blanket in the backyard.


The elegant Miss Shye.

The exotic Miss Shiva.

We enjoyed our weekend together. Friday night we hung out with Paul's parents. Saturday we attended Taylor Kobberdahl's graduation party, and afterwards I got a pedicure while Paul visited Uncle Larry.

Yesterday Paul mowed and planted flowers while I spent time upstairs with Anaya, and last night Paul had a Des Moines Big Band gig featuring Scott Smith

It was a wedding party. The bride called Paul to book it because he'd put together a Scott Smith combo for her friend's wedding reception which, oddly enough, I attended. Gloria Gray and I happened to be downtown together for something else, so we party-crashed. Gloria stayed for a little while, but since I was with Paul, I was there for the duration, and I ended up taking a bunch of pictures for the bride and groom.  

While Paul was at his gig last night, I managed to roust myself enough to do a few loads of laundry and start reclaiming the house, but not before reading the New York Times Magazine and in general savoring having nothing required of me.

Still, we remain mindful of the events of one year ago, and so sweetness and sadness, repose and remembrance intermingle. Jennifer passed through my dreams two days ago: radiant, beautiful, happy.
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Sunday, May 27, 2012

благодаря

"A different language is a different vision of life." — Frederico Fellini

IF THERE ARE any Hey Look readers in Bulgaria, here's the only Bulgarian word I know: благодаря

In English it's pronounced blahgodahria with the accent on the dah — and means thank you. Paul and I learned it a couple of years ago from a young Bulgarian woman who was working as a server at a Greek restaurant in Chicago.

But don't freak out if you're from Bulgaria, like the person from Mustang, Texas apparently did. Someone (or it could have just been an bot crawler) from Mustang opened at least one page, and I liked the town name so much that I dedicated a post to him or her (or it) with the lyrics of Mustang Sally and a video clip of Wilson Pickett performing it. And then he/she/it from Mustang disappeared entirely. I believe he/she/it thought I knew who he/she/it was! 

I didn't. 

Unless you write a comment, all I ever know about readers are the cities where page openings have taken place, and outside the US, often just the country. I don't even know whether the page opening was on purpose, accidental, whether the content was actually read, or whether it was just someone's cat walking across a keyboard. 

So here's to you both, Bulgaria and Mustang, and seriously, there's no reason to be paranoid. 
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Saturday, May 26, 2012

A small miracle

"Of all God's creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the lash. That one is the cat." — Mark Twain

IT'S BEEN EIGHT months and 13 days, but yesterday at long last, Anaya purred for the first time.

If you want, you can go back to posts from September 12, 2011 and September 13 to hear how her life and ours initially intersected. We seemed destined for collective happiness, but only now are we beginning to taste some of that.

She was terribly thin when we live-trapped her, but besides that and being extremely stressed and scared, which of course she would be having been so completely feral, she is entirely well. We were the miserable ones along the way. 

I'll tell her story bit by bit as I'm able.

BTW: As much as we enjoyed having our first real vacation in two years, if necessary I would have gladly traded the whole thing for yesterday's small miracle.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Back to work

"I put a dollar in a change machine. Nothing changed." — George Carlin

VACATION IS OVER. Back to trying to save the world. Yeah, yeah, I know; but maybe I can help make it a little better place — just a little?

Today's effort is sharing my new favorite website:
http://www.stoprush.net  

I have to admit that I totally don't get tweeting, but the thing I like about this site is that by clicking on the tab at the top called Tracker, you can get an up-to-date list of those who continue to advertise on Rush Limbaugh's show.


Do I want to put him out of business?
To quote Meg Ryan,"Yes.Yes.Yes. YES!"

Some of the surprising (and disappointing) national sponsors are:

Staples — We have bought thousands of dollars worth of office equipment and supplies from them over the years. That's stopping as of now.

WalmartPaul has been trying to talk me into not shopping there for years. Done as of right this moment.

Amberen — I'd never heard of this product, but it's a pill that's supposed to help women with menopause. Can you think of anyone more condescending and disrespectful to women than Limbaugh?

I've emailed all three. Contact information for advertisers is also on this site.

I was much happier about an hour ago having read reports from various sources that Limbaugh's ratings have suffered a serious decline, that is until I read this Hollywood Reporter online article. Here's what it has to say:

The Arbitron data that was released to several reporters shows a decline from March to April -- presumably due to Limbaugh’s characterization of law student/activist Sandra Fluke as a “slut” -- but only after a surge that was probably caused by the same incident.

Limbaugh made the remarks on Feb. 29 and March 1, and his audience in several of the biggest markets in the country actually grew in March as curious listeners tuned in to hear Limbaugh’s take on the controversy. Once the hype died down, the audience fell to more traditional levels, the data shows.

For example, in New York, Limbaugh’s audience leapt 21 percent in March over February, then fell 19 percent in April as the controversy faded. The ratings are based on average quarterly hours for the 12-plus demographic and come from Arbitron data compared with station clearances.

Limbaugh’s audience numbers are registered across several demographics, and where it appears he fared the worst was in the 25-54 age range, which is what most bloggers and journalists were focusing on Tuesday. Of interest to many media outlets was a 40 percent drop in that demo during April in the Seattle market, though many are reporting the decline without noting it came after a 55 percent surge during March in that same demo.

The Seattle data can be particularly misleading when other demographics are considered, because not only did Limbaugh’s audience surge in March in all demographics, but in the broader 12-plus category (and most other demos, including 35-plus, which is particularly important in talk radio) he actually improved on those gains the following month, even as the 25-54 demo dropped significantly.

“It looks like whoever picked this data chose the demographic where Limbaugh was weakest,” one radio insider noted.

Another insider who spoke to Politico, though, had the opposite impression of the same data: “Clearly Sandra Fluke isn’t the only one who didn’t like Rush calling her a ‘slut’ given how many viewers that comment incinerated,” the insider said.

Here’s how Limbaugh’s numbers shook out in other major markets in the 12-plus demo:

Los Angeles: No change in March; no change in April.
Chicago: 6 percent increase in March; 8 percent decline in April.
Dallas: 16 percent increase in March; 2 percent increase in April.
Houston: 3 percent increase in March; 16 percent decline in April.
Miami: 21 percent increase in March; 19 percent decline in April.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Marc Cohn, Bonnie Raitt concert

"I think my fans will follow me into our combined old age. Real musicians and real fans stay together for a long, long time." — Bonnie Raitt

THE CONCERT was great! I wanted to be there to hear Marc Cohn, and Paul wanted to hear Bonnie Raitt. We enjoyed both musicians, and each of us came away with enhanced appreciation of the other's preference. In both cases it was the power of their voices and the soul with which they sing that won us over. 


I think Bonnie is someone who sounds better live than on records because the accuracy and quality of her voice are more obvious in person. No studio required to improve her sound. We both also appreciated that they reinterpreted their songs instead of just covering themselves. I don't think it's possible to sing I Can't Make You Love Me more beautifully than Bonnie did.


The theater itself, The Chicago Theater, called the "Wonder Theatre of the World" when it opened in 1921, is worth the trip. This is probably more than you want to know, but here is its history from the CT's website.


The Chicago Theatre was the first large, lavish movie palace in America and was the prototype for all others. This beautiful movie palace was constructed for $4 million by theatre owners Barney and Abe Balaban and Sam and Morris Katz and designed by Cornelius and George Rapp. It was the flagship of the Balaban and Katz theatre chain.


Built in French Baroque style, The Chicago Theatre's exterior features a miniature replica of Paris' Arc de Triomphe, sculpted above its State Street marquee. Faced in a glazed, off-white terra cotta, the triumphal arch is sixty feet wide and six stories high. Within the arch is a grand window in which is set a large circular stained-glass panel bearing the coat-of-arms of the Balaban and Katz chain - two horses holding ribbons of 35-mm film in their mouths.


The grand lobby, modeled after the Royal Chapel at Versailles, is five stories high and surrounded by gallery promenades at the mezzanine and balcony levels. The grand staircase is patterned after that of the Paris Opera House and ascends to the various levels of the Great Balcony.


The 3,600 seat auditorium is seven stories high, more than one half of a city block wide, and nearly as long. The vertical sign "C-H-I-C-A-G-O," at nearly six stories high, is one of the few such signs in existence today. A symbol of State Street and Chicago, the sign and marquee are landmarks in themselves, as is the 29-rank Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ.


Balaban and Katz spared no expense on the workmanship and materials for this miniature Versailles. Marshall Field's supplied the drapes, furniture and interior decoration. Victor Pearlman and Co. designed and built the crystal chandeliers and lavish bronze light fixtures with Steuben glass shades. The McNulty Brothers' master craftsmen produced the splendid plaster details and Northwestern Terra Cotta Company provided the tiles for the facade.


The Chicago Theatre first opened its doors on October 26, 1921 with Norma Talmadge on screen in "The Sign on the Door." A 50-piece orchestra performed in the pit and Jesse Crawford played the mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ. After a "white glove inspection," a staff of 125 ushers welcomed guests who paid 25 cents until 1 p.m., 35 cents in the afternoon and 50 cents after 6 p.m.


During its first 40 years, The Chicago Theatre presented the best in live and film entertainment, including John Phillip Sousa, Duke Ellington, Jack Benny, and Benny Goodman. The Chicago Theatre was redecorated in preparation for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair and "modernized" in the 1950s when stage shows, with few exceptions, were discontinued. In the 1970s, under the ownership of the Plitt Theatres, The Chicago Theatre was the victim of a complex web of social and economic factors causing business to sag. It became an ornate but obsolete movie house, closing on September 19, 1985.


In 1986, Chicago Theatre Restoration Associates, with assistance from the City of Chicago, bought and saved the theatre from demolition and began a meticulous nine-month multi-million dollar restoration undertaken by Chicago architects Daniel P. Coffey & Associates, Ltd. and interior design consultants A.T. Heinsbergen & Co. of Los Angeles, interior design consultants. The Chicago Theatre reopened on September 10, 1986 with a gala performance by Frank Sinatra.


Since that time, an array of the entertainment world's brightest stars and greatest productions have graced the stage, including Allman Brothers Band, Arcade Fire, Blues Traveler, Kelly Clarkson, Harry Connick Jr, Ellen DeGeneres, Aretha Franklin, Kathy Griffin, , Gipsy Kings, Indigo Girls, Alicia Keys, David Letterman, Lyle Lovett, Oasis, Dolly Parton, Prince, Diana Ross, Van Morrison, Widespread Panic and Robin Williams.


These photos were just taken with our iPhones and hardly do the place justice.






The big NATO get together was going on in Chicago while we were there, and Paul was a little concerned about how difficult in might be to drive into downtown. Turns out no problem getting in. 


Getting out was another matter. When we were walking to the theatre, we passed by the Chicago Cultural Center which was barricaded off with all kinds of police, and there was what looked to be an honor guard comprised of every branch of the service in their dress uniforms lining the steps. Then we noticed the plastic over the red carpet leading up the sidewalk and steps and figured out that they were rehearsing for an event to take place in a little while which turned out to be a "working" dinner of the North Atlantic Council of Defense Ministers. We didn't stick around to watch.


When we left the performance we had to detour many blocks on our walk back to the underground parking garage due to police barricades. We pulled out of the garage just in time to see a busload of police in crowd-control gear pile across the street in front of us, and we had to drive a circuitous route out of downtown again because so many streets were blocked off. We were glad to get out of the city!


Paul and I both missed the kittens, and although the sensible thing to do would have been to travel a reasonable distance out of town and get a hotel for the night, I could tell that wasn't going to happen. Paul is barn-broke when it comes to getting home to the kids. We were in at 5:00 AM. Whew!

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Reza's and Mancini's

"If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world." ― J.R.R. Tolkien

WE WERE INTRIGUED by a sign we saw boasting of "award-winning Persian and vegetarian food" at Reza's, so that's where we ate Saturday nightWe both ordered vegetarian sampler plates with spinach-stuffed green peppers, tabbouli, eggplant steak, kashkeh bodemjan (roasted eggplant, garlic, caramelized onion, mint and whey), Persian salad, and vegetarian shami (falafel topped with sweet and sour pomegranate and crushed walnut sauce). All of this was accompanied by a gigantic flat bread about 16 inches across. We were stuffed, took about half of it home with us and had it for breakfast Sunday morning.

Sunday afternoon we drove Oak Park — not to be confused with Oak Brook which I think has more restaurants and stores per square foot of any place I've ever seen. Oak Park on the other hand is a charming older suburb with an eclectic, funky, almost college town feel. We discovered a fun store called Penzey's Spices only to get home and discover there's one right here in West Des Moines. Now we know.

We ate lunch at our favorite little Italian restaurant, Mancini's. We love this place! It's family owned and run, and they are so nice. Definitely have the pumpkin ravioli in walnut cream sauce. It's de-lish! It's like an entree and dessert combined. Their portions are generous. We split one order, both had a salad and split mango gelato afterward, and we quite comfortably satisfied. Their gelato is wonderful, but then again, all their food is, and the prices are reasonable. www.mancinispizzapastacafe.com

At Mancini's.


Pumpkin ravioli with walnuts. You'll want it all the time.
This is half an order!

It turned out they were having an art fair in the park about two blocks from Mancini's so we hit that for a little while, and we popped into the Oak Park library which is open on Sunday's (I think all libraries should be open seven days a week) and caught a Czechoslovakian traditional quintet. Fun!

Then we were off to hear Bonnie Raitt and Marc Cohn



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Shoes, shoes, shoes

"I don't know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot!" Marilyn Monroe

WE DROVE TO JAX Friday so as to be ready to catch a plane back to Chicago the next day. We had gone back to Millhouse Steakhouse that night, the restaurant we'd given such high marks, but unfortunately this time it was not a good experience. The lump crab cakes and rice I ordered were SO salty I could hardly get it down, the recorded music on the sound system was much too loud which was followed by a live duo made up of a bad guitar player and a bad singer.

We found a great hotel, though. When we flew in, we stayed at a Microtel. Verdict: small room for not as small a price as one would think applicable. This time we chose a newly-opened Marriott Springhill Suites. It was a GREAT room for $71 with hip decor throughout and a good breakfast. Paul liked it so much that he signed us up for Marriott rewards; I was ready to move in.

We had an unremarkable flight back to Chicago, except that Paul almost tossed his cookies. He has never gotten sick on a plane in his life, but this time he came over all dizzy with cold sweats and everything spinning. He said it felt like some weird inner ear thing.

In Chicago, we stayed in the Oak Brook area. I had planned an expedition to Nordstrom Rack downtown, but it turned out that there was one right across the street from our hotel. 

I have small feet — size 5, once in awhile 4.5, now and again 5.5, but pretty much a 5. Most stores don't carry anything smaller than a 6, and the ones that do often offer only sneakers. I've had to resort to buying shoes in the children's section at times, so when I get a chance to shop for actual grownup shoes in my size, I get very happy. I was in shoe delirium. Paul looked at the glazed over expression on my face and said, "Right then. I'll just be leaving you here for awhile." I left Nordstrom Rack with three pairs and a smile. 


A pair of size 5 Steve Madden's.
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

St. Marks, Tallahassee and the Flying High Circus

"The sun stands for energy and youth, which is what I thought the circus should be about." — Guy Laliberte, CEO of Cirque du Soleil 

ABOUT 25 MILES south of Tallahassee is the Big Bend region of Florida where the gulf coastline changes from a north-south direction to east-west, and the St. Marks River empties into the gulf. Thursday Paul and I drove to the National Wildlife Refuge there to take in the sights.


There's also a lighthouse built in 1830 at St. Marks.


After St. Marks, we drove to Tallahassee to look around. I'd forgotten that it's the capitol of Florida. It's also home to Florida State University, Florida A and M and Tallahassee Community College. As we drove through the FSU campus we saw circus tents set up, and a sign that said Flying High Circus. They have a circus school! is that cool or what? Here's what the FSU website says about it:

We are one of only two collegiate circuses in the United States.

A unique tradition on the campus of The Florida State University since 1947, the Circus is a year-round program in which FSU students can participate. We boast an impressive student group that takes advantage of a marvelous learning opportunity from the circus as a part of their collegiate experience.

Once you see our show you will be amazed that it is put on by amateur college students. Even though they receive no class credit, they are able to put on a performance that rivals that of a professional show. Not only do our students perform in the show, but they also are involved in virtually every aspect of production from setup of our Big Top tent to the sewing of our costumes. The show is the culmination of the tremendous amount of hard work, dedication, and skill that our students bring to our organization. If you are enrolled at Florida State University, and would like to get involved, you can contact us at circus@admin.fsu.edu.

We finished the day by having dinner at St. Marks on the water and feeding shrimp tails to Mr. Gull.





Saturday, May 19, 2012

At least one tick per mile

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." — Henry David Thoreau

WEDNESDAY, the third day of our stay at Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, we went for a nine-mile hike on one of the trails. Paul, I swear, is a tick magnet. We were pulling ticks off him for an hour afterwards. It was a beautiful walk, though.  

Besides the wildlife we saw on the boat ride, we've seen Florida deer, a Florida wild turkey (it's a subspecies), armadillos, brown pelicans, a white pelican, jays, too many shore birds and gulls to mention, little gray squirrels, black vultures, hawks, wood ducks, yellow throated warblers, killdeer, red wing blackbirds, red bellied woodpeckers, great blue herons and an alligator maybe 50 yards away while we were walking.


A well-used home for woodpeckers.

Entering this water is extremely unrecommended unless you're willing to 
chance a close encounter with a gator.

We walked this trail twice — four miles one day and
nine the next and barely made it back the last time before dark.
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Friday, May 18, 2012

Limpkins and gators and gars, oh my

"If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to the man. All things are connected." — Chief Seattle of the Suwamish Tribe, letter to President Franklin Pierce

ON THE SECOND day or our stay at Edward Ball Wakulla Springs Lodge, we took the boat ride on the river. Since it was only 45 minutes long, I wasn't expecting it to be as interesting as it turned out to be, but we had a knowledgeable park ranger as our guide, and we saw so much wildlife! Here are some pictures from the trip.



Alligators eat once every three or four days and will go even as long as a week before eating.


We think this is a limpkin, and by we, I mean Paul.


There are three cooter turtles and one alligator on this log. The bottom lump 
is the head of the alligator.

Ranger Jeff said this anhinga pose is quintessentially Florida. 


An anhinga drying his (or her) feathers on cypress "knees" which are the breathing apparatus for the roots.


An osprey nest, either mom or dad osprey and at least one baby.

We took the last boat ride of the day, and had only three other people with us.



A moorhen.

A snowy egret.


Since he/she has a yellow bill, not a black one, we think this is an egret, as opposed to a snowy egret.


A least bittern.


Two gators. You can just see the tail of the other one.


A little blue heron.


A great blue heron.




Looking down into the water.


A longnose Florida gar.