Monday, January 31, 2011

Wash the dishes, dry the dishes, turn the dishes oooover.


knives up

  Bill and I joke that the thing we fight about the most is how to properly load the dishwasher. He tends to over fill, is haphazard with dish placement and intentionally places  the knives facing up. I am more methodical and place the knives facing down. The knife placement is key. My method will  prevent injury to the unloader. That would be... me. I am the unloader. Bill does not unload. Which is another reason we fight about the dishwasher.



knives down
 Our KitchenAid has had three visits from the repair guy. Each time the weight of the door had forced the hinges to fail. Personally, I believed that was because Bill had overfilled the bottom once too many times and left the door open with the rack pulled out - thereby causing too much stress on the hinges. In addition to fixing the hinge issues the repair guy always cleaned the 'trap' and unplugged the drain from packed lobster shells, olive pits and various nuts. (Neither of us rinses well, either - so we're even there). Since those repairs were done, the dishwasher has also lost the functionality of two buttons (so we just don't do those "types" of loads- who uses 'sani-rinse' anyway?) and recently the pop open action of the soap dispenser has become really unreliable, i.e. it doesn't dispense the soap. Water still runs through, there is no rust and it does a passable job if it's not filled up tight. I hesitate to do anything with it because of its almost adequate performance and because the thought of putting one more humongous white appliance in a landfill upsets me.  But, on Saturday I lost it when the entire top rack of glassware had crud pasted everywhere. I was not going to deal with this issue any longer.

I had no idea about the price of dishwashers. So, I looked at the Buffalo News circulars in the Sunday paper. I tend to (OK, I ONLY) buy appliances from Orville's. They are close, they have good service.. and did I mention they are close?

The front page of the advertisement showed a Frigidaire for $247. I thought to my self: "I've been putting up with this and it's really just a $250 problem? I can deal with that".  So, off I went to have a look- see at Orville's.

Savvy readers know where I'm going with the rest of the story... I walked out of Orville's Appliance with an invoice for a $700 dishwasher. SEVEN HUNDRED dollars! And it wasn't even in stock!
But... it had this extra power scrub thing and you can move the racks around and it had a separate heater to make the water EXTRA hot.

The sales lady clearly knew a "mark" when she saw one; she led me immediately to the 'better' models. I hemmed and hawed and even asked if there was any play in the price - and where the heck was the $247 advertised deal? But, I eventually handed her my credit card. WHY? Because I thought if I bought a Kitchen Aid Superba (that's the name of it.... I mistakenly thought that the name on the sheet was accidently cut off and it was actually called SuperBAD - which is a much better name, by the way) and it does everything it said it would, things might change at our house. And all I would have to get used to is having the knives facing up  - and of course continuing to do the unloading.

And then Bill and I won't fight at all.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

if music be the food of love, play on

I am stuffed; over filled. I have had the great, good fortune of seeing two stupendous concerts this weekend.

The first was almost cancelled since the pianist Lang Lang (yes, the same artist that played for our president during the Chinese president's visit) came down with an illness. He was to play Rachmaninoff with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Amazingly, the BPO was able to convince Joyce Yang that she should forgo a trip to Sarasota (current temperature 72 degrees F) to order to play in Buffalo (21 degrees F). This young woman got a standing ovation BEFORE she played - the audience was so appreciative that she even considered coming here. And, she gave us a PERFORMANCE. When the audience requested an encore she chose Gershwin's   "The man I love."  And it was truly lovely. We were in the balcony, and I could see that Kleinhan's was packed. EVERY time I go to this music hall I remark on the incredible acoustics. It is a superb venue. No wonder Joyce chose us over Sarasota.  We are SO lucky to have such a space in Buffalo.

The second musical experience was the Charles Lloyd quartet. If it weren't for Bill I wouldn't know Charles Lloyd. But, he is a magnificent saxophonist who played with Jack De Johnette and Keith Jarrett among others.  He's a national treasure. He now plays with three young, very hip musicians (bass- Reuben Rogers, piano - Jason Moran, and drums - Eric Harland). The Buffalo gig was their last concert until June. They had just come from playing Rose Hall in NYC last night. Charles came out with his hands clasped in "Namaste" and concluded the evening with a tune about enlightenment!! He pulled up a chair beside Jason Moran's stool  at the piano and quoted passages from a  translation of Bhagavad Gita.

The concert was in the "black box" at the Albright Knox Art Gallery. We got to the gallery a little bit early so we were able to take in the three (YES, THREE) rooms of Picasso. The music auditorium has 2 sides of glass: one side looks out at the Buffalo State campus, and the other at Delaware Park. The concert was in the late afternoon so we were able to watch the sun set against the stark, leafless trees. Truly, a feast for eyes and ears.

At the end of the evening, I turned to Bill and thanked him for buying the tickets. If it weren't for him I wouldn't feel so full. And it all happened in Buffalo... without having to ingest any chicken wings.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm OK - You're OK

I met a girlfriend for breakfast this morning. It's a new thing for me to be able to do since the kids are no longer living at home.  Not that I had to be home every minute, but I wanted to be home when they were home. And Saturday mornings, they were usually home - waiting for me to make french toast or egg-in-a-hole.

It was a treat going out, and I really love my friend. We talked for over an hour - uninterrupted -  about all kinds of things. We jumped from subject to subject - maybe due to the extra large coffees we were sucking back - so we covered a lot of topics.

Coincidentally, my pal Annie drove down from Toronto to have breakfast with me earlier this week.  And we talked for an hour or so. It's always hard for me to say good bye to Annie. I worry about her, and I want her to be happy. She sensed that I was feeling that way as we left, and she told me that I had to let "that" go. She quoted that pop-psychology book "I'm OK, You're OK".  And, she made me feel better.
Strangely, my breakfast friend today meandered into that same territory. I thought it kind of a fluke that our discussion veered this same way since we were talking about pre-destination (she's a Presbyterian, too) and Hinduism and enlightenment. It kind of freaked me out that the conversation had taken the same path as it had with Annie.

Bill never used to eat breakfast until about a year ago because his trainer convinced him that it was a good idea. Now, he makes himself a big bowl of yogurt and adds fresh fruit (mostly berries). He makes me the same thing during the week, packs it in Tupperware, so I can eat it at my desk. We don't eat breakfast together. Maybe that's a good thing.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A sound of thunder

Waking up to news of the riots in Egypt I got that old familiar feeling -  that heart in the mouth, overwhelming sense we all experienced on Sept 11th-  that recurred for me during the 2004 Tsunami in Thailand and then again with the bombings in the London Underground in 2005 (and a few other times too depressing to list). That feeling that evoked the knowledge that life as we know it can change in an instant. And, that the safe world that we live in isn't so safe. So little could topple the stability of our world : one Private in the US Army could leak information to a news agency that could alter the precarious nature of international relations - like the butterfly effect. 

We do not  appreciate the stabilityof our lives here in America (and Canada) until it is threatened. And so many of us are blissfully unaware of the threat!

As I drove to work today and noticed all the familiar landmarks and buildings and the way the snow beautified some not-so-beautiful parts of Main Street I took a deep breath. And I thought how we all need to be thankful EVERY DAY. We need to appreciate EVERY DAY  that we are able to get up and go to work and be productive and then come home and have dinner with our loved ones.

I opened a bottle of champagne tonight with Bill. It seemed a little incongruous that I would open a celebratory bottle when the world is in such a mess. But, as Bill says, we'll be dead a long time. And we need to celebrate while we can. So... CHEERS!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Secrets under the bed

79 year old Mum negotiates steep hill in France
in order to get the shops
My mother loves to shop. If there is a shopping experience she will not miss it. When she travels with us we have to make sure that there is time baked in for her to shop.

She used to love to shop with our cousin Joan -who was QUEEN of the MALL. Joan was an awesome woman who always looked terrific and chic - I mean Hollywood level of chic. I loved her.  When the two of them would get together in Florida they would attack the mall with a vigor that was remarkable -especially since they shopped after dinner when the rest of us were burnt and done-in. They were a sight to behold.
But, they were very sneaky with their purchases. They would never parade all of them around after they bought them, rather they would hide the packages under the bed. One or two items would be displayed - to make the trip look plausible - but the rest of the items would be packed in their suitcases and hustled under the bed at their respective homes ... only to be pulled out weeks or months later. When my dad would innocently ask "Oh, is that new?", my mother could honestly say "Heavens, Paul I've had this for EVER". And she wouldn't be lying. She was  Presbyterian after all.

I am very different from my mother. I hate the mall. I hate the parking lot, hate the lines, hate the people in the mall... you get the idea. However, I don't mind shopping at stand-alone stores - like ... MARSHALLS!
It has exactly the right combination of attributes for me. It carries clothing and home decor, the quality is usually pretty good, the merchandise is sold at a reduced rate and there is a Marshalls  8-10 minutes from my office (depending on the traffic and the lights). In other words, it is the perfect place to spend my lunch hour.

I feel OK spending money at Marshall's because I always think I'm getting a deal. Bill has NEVER, and I mean NEVER said anything to me when he sees Marshalls bags in the hall.  I do not feel the need to hide my purchases from him - I've never done it. In fact one of his favorite refrains is "SPEND THE MONEY" . Can you imagine? I still reel when he says that. Luckily, I'm very frugal, so I don't - spend the money (I am Presbyterian AND Scottish). But, maybe I don't spend the money  because he says "spend the money". And maybe he says "spend the money" because I don't spend the money. OK, this is one of those circular logic things that makes my head spin. 

The conclusion of this story is that I do not hide any purchases under my bed. I use that space for other secrets.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Performance Reviews

I'm in the middle of writing performance reviews for my team at work. I would hazard to guess that 99% of management hates doing performance evaluations.  Mostly because they suck at it. And, why do they suck at it? Because it's a totally unnatural thing for two adults to sit in an office and discuss the frailties of the subordinate. We spend our normal adult life pussy-footing around each other, being polite and remembering to be non-judgmental. We go to great lengths to avoid upsetting one another (except when we're driving and are protected by the 1/2 ton of steel that separates us) even lying to one another just to protect the others feelings. But at review time, the gloves come off. Suddenly, it's ok to talk about "issues" and how to correct behaviors.

This is such an onerous task for managers that there are books and videos and how-tos about "delivering effective feedback". I was regaling Bill with some dos and don't of delivering effective feedback (since I had viewed a video just 3 hours prior) last night at dinner. After laughing about it, we then looked at each other sheepishly with what I can only characterize as "recognition". We both agreed that we could use help in this area.  One thing about Bill, he is self-aware. He knows his short-comings (no pun intended) and is always willing to try to improve. I'm much more reticent about change...yet another thing I have to work on.  Usually those management books make some sense, but the managers who need to learn from them do not READ them. They either blunder through the review (making the work relationship worse) or they avoid it all together - leaving the employee feeling un-appreciated and forgotten.

There is, however,  one easy way to fix this problem for managers. And, I have figured it out. Make sure your team members (a) like their jobs; (b) are professional; (c) are good at what they do; and (d) are smart.  That's the secret to my success. Oh, and we conduct our reviews over breakfast. Whoops - forgot one ... (e) think breakfast is the most enjoyable meal of the day!

Come to think of it, maybe I don't have to change at all.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Bar

There was another reason that Emma came home last weekend. She needed to retrieve a 'Business Law' book for one of her classes AND she wanted to get a crash course/refresher from her father.

Bill has been a practicing attorney for over 35 years and has been teaching business law to the management students at UB for over 30 years and the law school for ten. In other words, he knows his stuff. Even though Emma's book was about Canadian Business Law, he had taken the time to read the chapters for which she was responsible and taught himself the differences between US and Canadian legalities. And there are quite a few. It IS a different country, after all.

I could overhear Bill quizzing Emma on executory contracts in the living room while I was making Chicken Marengo (one of my signature dishes) on Sunday. And it sounded so familiar. He continued his discussion by explaining the seminal case of  Hadley v. Baxendale  (an English case about consequential damages and the issue of foreseeability). All of a sudden I was back in my Contracts class with Professor Girth hoping that she wouldn't call on me. She was tough. And smart. And she scared the crap out of me. Contracts was taught in the first semester of  first year and I didn't think I'd make it through.  However, I had a secret weapon at home: Bill Savino - Mr. Memory. 


By the time I  began to study for the Bar Exam, I had come to rely on Bill's tutelage. Studying for the bar was onerous - AND I had two fabulous distractions: 1) my 2 year old sweetheart, Emma and 2) I was pregnant with Will. I have such great memories of wheeling Emma around Hoyt Lake in her carriage while Bill quizzed me on torts and constitutional law, civil procedure and criminal law. My biggest challenge then was trying to stay awake past 9 p.m. I worried that others who were studying had an advantage because they were able to utilize more hours in the day to study. 

New York state has a 2 day exam. I am convinced that people fail for only two reasons : (1) they whip themselves into a state of hysteria and/or (2) they don't study systematically.  Even though the logical part of my mind told me that I had an edge with Bill's help in studying, I was still on the edge of hysteria. Maybe because I was pregnant and had to go the bathroom every hour and a half....  Anyway, sensing that I needed a little hand holding, Bill met me at lunch time both days of the exam. He took me to eat at the Hyatt (that's where the exam was being written) and calmed me down. Those lunch hours were precious. And key to my success.
Emma doesn't have the hysteria problem. She is calm and collected and pretty much unflappable. But, she learned early that she has an invaluable resource in her father. So did I.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The DMV

Emma is now the proud owner of a used 2003 Ford Escape with 90k+ miles on it. It used to be mine, but because of various insurance issues and the fact that she goes to school in Canada, it made the most sense to 'gift it' to her through the magic of title and registration transfer.

To make the magic happen, one must make a visit to the DMV - a place that strikes fear into the hearts of most residents. I hate lines and I hate waiting (one of the many reasons that Bill does the grocery shopping). Bill understands this and offered to go with Emma to make the transfer. He even re-arranged his morning to do it, but since I actually held the title it made more sense for me to go.

So off we went. And to minimize the delay we decided to get to the DMV when it opened at 9 a.m. We chose the DMV at the Northtown plaza partly because it was the closest, and partly because there is a Manhattan Bagel in the same vicinity.

We also picked the coldest day of the year.

As I stood outside the glass front waiting for the DMV guy to unlock the door, I hoped that the process wouldn't take long and that we had everything we needed. One thing about Emma, she is ORGANIZED. She had researched the 'how tos' on the DMV website, secured Canadian insurance (and proof thereof) and reminded me to bring a screwdriver in case we had to surrender the plates.

I held the door open for another frigid Erie county resident - thereby allowing her to gain the 'first in line' status. Did I get a thank you? A nod? An acknowledgement? NO! Do you know why? This is the DMV - and it is every man for himself.

The ticket number that the rude Erie County resident  received was A -1 . We received B-400. I told Emma that things were not looking good. It was 9:02 a.m.

But, by 9:03, we were called to Desk 4 where Marjorie held court. As we approached I tried to assess Marjorie's mood. Clearly, Marjorie had been working there a long time. She was a mature worker and I could tell by the lines on her face that smiling wasn't a common occurrence. Plus, she wore a hearing aid and had a LOT of trouble understanding me. Within the first moments of our transaction she told us that she was 'one of those DMV bitches'.  Emma and I exchanged a look. Marjorie then went on to explain that she didn't make mistakes and that, therefore, her performance reviews were perfect; so, it didn't really matter that she was a bitch. I took that as a fair warning.

The funny thing was.... she took a shine to Emma. She talked directly to her and kind of left me out of the conversation. Being an astute HR person, I backed away and let Emma handle the rest of the transaction. When Marjorie figured out that we hadn't filled out a particular form, she gave us her only copy and let Emma fill it out while still standing at her counter. She did not make us sit down and take another number. Things were looking good and I decided that now was a good time to secure the screwdriver and the WD-40 and unscrew the plates.  Emma pleaded with Marjorie to keep the old plates (Emma hates the retro orange ones) but Marjorie said it was the law. She then told us that the only person with whom she had dealt that actually liked the new orange plates was a woman who owned a yellow car. The way she said "yellow car" you could tell she didn't approve of anyone driving a yellow car.

I left the warmth of the DMV and gasped at the blast of cold air.  Due to my tremendous handy-man skills I got those plates off lickety-split. I even brought a brown paper bag to dump them in (they were wet and really dirty). It occurred to me that I probably looked a little strange in a full length fur ripping off plates from a filthy SUV.

By the time I got back, Emma had completed the transaction and she and Marjorie were waiting for the plates. When I handed them to Marjorie in the aforementioned brown bag (it also had handles and the take out bill from Wasabi stapled on the side) Marjorie actually smiled: "Oh good! I can use this for any other plates I get today".

As we made our way out to the lot to put on the new plates, Emma told me that Marjorie had told her that her mother's name was Emma and that she also had a granddaughter named Emma. Emma thought that perhaps that was why Marjorie was so nice to her. But, I think Marjorie, the self-proclaimed "DMV bitch" merely recognized an organized, respectful, pleasant young woman who sincerely appreciated being 'gifted' an SUV with 90k+ miles.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Counting threads

I have an unhealthy love of linens -  Tablecloths especially.  I love to wander in the linen departments of major retail chains and peruse catalogs devoted to sheets. Threadcounts of over a thousand make me giddy.

My best friend, Annie, Will and Emma help
me pick tablecloths in Jaipur
 When we travel I love to check out the local linens. One of my favorite shopping sprees was in Jaipur, India where we visited countless stalls to look at the fabrics. HEAVEN.

My mother's recent move to Florida meant that she could unload a generous number of linen tablecloths from her 'collection'. Come to think of it, she has a bit of a habit, too. She came by it honestly, though! Her grandfather grew flax in Ireland (the main 'ingredient' in linens) so her family was laden with linens as well. My christening gown was made from the flax from my great-grandfather's estate in Ballymena. It's been worn by quite a few babies in my family - and even made a trip back to Scotland to be worn by another relative. So, perhaps my love of a good cloth grew from that first experience as a wee christened body. Who knows?

I always use a tablecloth on our kitchen table and change it with great regularity. I have a cabinet in the kitchen entirely devoted to the cloths. I always thought that I was one of a very few who did this. But, last night we were visiting friends at a lovely cabin near East Otto. Laurie had a great looking tablecloth on her kitchen table. I noticed at the end of the night, after we cleared the dishes, that she whipped that tablecloth off and replaced it with another equally attractive one. I AM NOT ALONE! That is exactly what I thought.

When I met Bill, he was living as a bachelor in a fairly large house. He gave me a tour and I noticed that he had a crisp looking comforter on his bed. It looked new - as opposed to the other things in his house. I snuck a look at the sheets (the comforter was turned down - so it was easy) . They were masculine (grey/red stripes) and were of a decent quality. I was impressed. Especially since he had told me that during college he didn't even use sheets - he was too lazy to do the laundry.

It wasn't til years later that he confided that he had just bought the comforter and sheets  in hopes of 'getting lucky' with me. (It took more than that!). And, he didn't even know about my obsession.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Final wishes

Bill is terrified that I will have him cremated if he dies before I do. His statistical analysis has already given me a 17 year advantage so he's assuming I will take care of his final wishes.

The environmentalist in me is still trying to convince him that cremation is the earth friendly method of leaving. He, however, has an illogical fear of burning. I kid him that I'll be able to make all his final decisions -and that it really doesn't matter how I handle them since he will be, after all, dead.  But, I am just kidding.

He's still not sure.

His most important request: a good band at his funeral. He tells me he's already cleared it with Amigone's (note to non-Buffalonians - one of the larger funeral homes is actually owned by the Amigone family - I know, I know - a most unfortunate last name for a funeral home).

He has a list of tunes that he wants the band to play but he still needs to figure out how I can procure and distribute kazoos to the attendants. His dream? To have the guests all play the theme from the movie "Alfie" while he is in attendance - albeit in a lovely casket - but in attendance nevertheless.

I'm not talking about the "What's it all about, Alfie?" tune, but rather the Sonny Rollins tune - take a listen here: http://www.ilike.com/artist/Sonny+Rollins/track/Alfie's+Theme
 He figures we can teach everyone the tune in less than 90 seconds.

Bizarre? Completely. But, he's talked about it for so long that I know he is 100% serious. So, if I manage to comply with his statistical analysis, I promise to procure, distribute and teach the tune to all the Kazoo players in attendance.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Food, glorious food!

I just got home from a delightful evening with a bunch of women that I just adore. We ate at Wasabi ( one of my son's favorite place)  where we each tried a different dish and shared our plates. We had fun - as we always do when we get together. We're lucky to have a great sushi place so close to us.  I'm not sure people in Buffalo understand how spoiled we are with our unlimited access to all types of food. From our fabulous grocery stores to our varied restaurants - we have it all. I remember growing up in a small town in Ontario where we celebrated when  Mother's Pizza moved in on the main street. In those days, we thought we were very cosmopolitan.

One of the best things about traveling is being able to sample all the local food. When Bill and I travel we can't wait to find great places to eat. And we will try just about anything. In India we ate 'local' food for every meal - and our taste buds were assaulted - in a good way. We loved it. I still salivate when I think of pani puris. And we're lucky to have a few great Indian restaurants in Buffalo where we can get our fix for coriander and biryani. 
 
We got to visit a bunch of  great cities when we took our first (and only) cruise on the Mediterranean. We were determined to find great places to eat when we made port- and if we could find one close to an architectural treasure, Bill was in heaven. I can't tell you the number of great places we found  and how many calories we ingested. We took so many pictures of food that I always thought I'd put together an album that consisted only of meals we had devoured. I still may do it. But it's an insurmountable task - there are so many pictures.


When I look through those "food" pictures what always shines through is the joy and the love that we have for each other at these meals. We regularly have arguments while traveling especially about what kind of food we'll eat and which restaurant we'll visit. We are all opinionated. Although we are on 'vacation' there is always a certain amount of uncertainty, unfamiliar stressors and, of course, a huge change to routine ... so we fight. 

Bill and Will in Barcelona

But at meal time - it all gels. We are once again together as a family - sharing our day, sharing our food and creating a memory. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One ringy-dingy

When we lived on a farm we had a party line. For those of you too young to remember, a party line was a telephone line that you shared with a neighbour. If you wanted to use the line you had to make sure your neighbor wasn't also talking on it. It  was my understanding that a lot of our neighbors got their 'news' by listening in on their shared line. Having a party line was just something we got used to as we managed our affairs; we learned to keep the length of our calls to a minimum and stick just to the facts. If you started to speculate about a particular issue, that speculation could morph into something uncontrollable. So, I learned the phone was a device intended to relay important information that  you used infrequently and only when necessary.

It was  a big deal when we got a private line.  A PRIVATE line: it sounded so snooty. I still remember the phone number we had 939-6502. When a school friend called, I would take the call upstairs, away from prying eyes and big ears,  face the wall and talk in a very low tone. I was taking the "private" part to the nth degree. However, we were still told to keep those calls short since we were paying per minute.

Nowadays we can have private conversations without anyone even knowing we are conversing. Texting is almost  like working undercover. Click click click - send. You could be relaying highly confidential information or you could be googling the origin of the word "nosey parker". And when someone uses a headset or bluetooth  the only way you know they're talking is when they adopt that glassy eyed  non-focusing stare. People talk at times when silence was expected - church, in the car, walking down the street. It seems if someone ISN'T on the phone, they're not doing anything of importance.

Bill was always a big phone guy. When portable phones were first introduced he managed to procure one of those suitcase phones for travel. It was actually another piece of luggage. Very high tech. He loved it. I can't begin to count the number of phones he has had during our married life. It's his life line.

He often jokes that he calls me so much that there is no way that he could be having an affair... that is unless his lover his highly tolerant of his checking in with his wife 10 times a day.  He gets right to the point on his calls and sometimes starts his conversations with the words :BULLET POINTS and then he'll list his news items. Many nights he'll call me successive times:
Call 1 he's packing up at the office;
Call 2 he's walking to the car;
Call 3 he's in the car; and  
Call 4 he's almost home... do I need anything?  

By the 4th call he usually detects my exasperation because my initial cheery "Hello" (we have caller ID)  has changed to  a surly "WHAT?"

But as my mother says, I''ll miss it when it ends.  And I won't have a party line to get my fix of the news of the day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kind of Blue

Will leaves tomorrow to go back to school. Bill and I will be alone again. I'm not sad about it the way I was when Will initially left in the fall. Mostly because Will is having a great time at college. But I'm still a little depressed. He's happy though, so I'm feeling ok. No tears.

With Will's departure the house gets quieter. Not from his voice but from the music he brings. He and Bill share a love of jazz that is fun to observe. They have an intelligent banter about the genre; they introduce each other to musicians they love, try to stump each other on who is playing on what album/cd, debate the prowess of certain saxophonists/trumpeters/drummers/pianists etc.,  and they also jam together. I love that part - when they go down the basement and create. I never go down there when they are playing. It's their time together and its precious.

Bill introduced me to jazz when I met him. I was 25 and still listening to Foreigner and Queen, The Police and Van Morrison. The first album he played for me was Miles Davis - Kind of Blue: he had me at the first tune. That cd is still one of my 'go to' albums when I need to be soothed and when I need a familiar "voice".

Teaching me about jazz was one of the many things that Bill has done for me for which  I will be forever grateful. Bill's love of jazz infected Will, too. Will was listening to Parker and Diz and Oscar in the womb so it was inevitable that he'd develop a deep affection for it. I'm glad that it is something we all share. We love to go to hear 'jazzcats' (as Bill still calls them) play at music venues in Buffalo or if we're lucky enough to catch some music when we're travelling.  Will just told me tonight that he's going to hear the Charles Lloyd Quartet play back at school. He was pumped. Coincidentally, it's the same tour that Bill just bought tickets for us to hear at the Albright Knox in a few weeks.  

I'll be dropping off Will at the airport tomorrow. He's got his bag packed and his stuff ready.  And, I know that when I start up the engine the first thing I'll do is hit the "play" button so I can feel the sounds of Miles wash over me. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Traveling incognito

It happened again today.

I was working out at the gym when I saw someone I have been introduced to at least a half a dozen times. We have had conversations (although brief), been at the same social functions, have mutual friends - you get the idea. Anyway, I recognized  the guy  - knew his name, the connections, the whole social fabric thing.  And, he had no FRICKING clue who I was. In fact, he looked right through me.

WHY? Why you ask.
I'll tell you why.
Because I wasn't with Bill.

There are so many people that I "know" only when I' m out with Bill.  You know the exchange:
Bill:  "And, you remember my wife, Liz"
Acquaintance:  "Oh yes, of course, how are you Lisa/Leslie/Lucy?" (insert approximation of name here). Granted he knows a lot more people than I do, has lived here much longer, is older ( had to say that) and goes to more 'things'  than I do.

But, REALLY? Am I that much of a non-entity? Can I not make enough of an impression? Or does Bill's presence simply eclipse mine? Come to think of it...

Sometimes when I'm out (without Bill) people will say : Savino...? Are you related to Bill? And I always say "no", because technically I'm not actually related. Sometimes I relent and tell them we're married and invariably they'll say "I'm sorry" or  "You must be a saint".  So, it's obvious that they know Bill. (sorry, honey)

I am sure that there are other spouses out there who get the same treatment: Not with the spouse? You are now officially incognito. There should be a way to take advantage of this,  I'm just not sure how. In the meantime, I'll ruminate on whether I should create a higher profile or relish the anonymity.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Namaste

A few years ago I started reading books by Indian authors. I have no recollection why I started this kick - but once I started I couldn't stop. As luck would have it, the Babel series ( a local city wide book club) - check it out here: http://www.justbuffalo.org/,  invited author Kiran Desai. She was one of my all time favorites. I lined up to have her sign my very worn copy of "The Inheritance of Loss". A very untypical thing for me to do - so you know how much I liked her writing.

As a side note, the Babel series had also invited Turkish author Orhan Pamuk to kick off the season (Desai closed the season). Pamuk is a writer of gorgeous prose. I'm guessing about that because his book was written in Turkish.  So, perhaps it was his English translator who had the gorgeous prose. So,here's the freaky thing:  about a month ago, Bill informed that Desai and Pamuk  were boyfriend and girlfriend!!! Isn't life strange?

A couple of years ago we planned a trip with the kids to India. You can imagine my excitement having read so much about the country. I was thrilled to have the chance to go. Bill had a client in Mumbai who helped with a lot of the arrangements. We travelled from Delhi to Mumbai with stops in Agra (Taj Mahal), Ranthambore (for a photographic safari - also the place that Katy Perry and Russell Brand were recently married), Udaipur (where the James Bond movie "Octopussy" was filmed), Eklingji (a very holy place for Hindus) and Jaipur (the pink city known for it gemstones). Anyway, we had the time of our lives. It was probably the best trip we'd ever taken as a family  - mostly because of how affected we were by India.

One of the things we were taught to do immediately was to greet others with our palms pressed together at our heart-center (yoga people will know this greeting) perform a slight bow and say "Namaste" or "Namaskar".  Now, this greeting is so much more than just "Hey, how's it going?" It's a greeting of respect - which literally means "I bow to you". But, it's more than that - it's a recognition of one other, that we are equal and that we honor the God or spirit that lives within each of us. Kind of like James Cameron's "Avatar" (ps: rip- off  of  "Fern Gully") where the blue people greet each other with "I see you".

On another side note, the architectural design of many windows in India incorporates Namaste. Check out how the outline of pressed palms mimics the outline of this window opening.



My son and I share a blissful moment


So, everywhere you go there is this constant reminder of equality and spirituality.  I didn't drive in India, but I can bet everyone gave 'the wave' or it's Indian equivalent when a roadside kindness was offered.

But the strangest thing we remarked upon was the juxtaposition of the Namaste mind set and the fact that the caste system is still a going concern.  To us westerns it seemed like two opposites that have somehow come together and formed a peaceful union. Kind of like Pamuk and Desai's love affair.  Kind of like me and Bill.



Saturday, January 15, 2011

All I want is the wave

Walking down Elmwood today was not a treat. At about 11 a.m. the wind was howling, the snow was swirling and the slush under my boots made it treacherous to walk. I was picking my way carefully across the street because I'm still scared that I"ll slip and re-injure my Achilles tendon.

As I made my way down the sidewalk a woman in a station wagon was trying to pull into a parking garage. She wanted to pull in front of me so I stopped and gave her the signal to go ahead. OK, so you get the picture: Me standing in the cold and snow, her in the warm station wagon. She completed her turn. Do you know she didn't even LOOK at me, let alone give me the little wave I was expecting. She just kept driving. I mumbled under my breath as I trudged along. 



A few years ago at work we started a campaign called "Courtesy Counts".  I work in Human Resources so this is the kind of thing we do.  The idea was to reward behaviors that were courteous. Simple things like replacing the toilet paper, making a pot of coffee when the pot was low, not walking away when the printer was out of ink. It was an attempt to make our co-workers understand that we're all in this together so let's try to make work as pleasant as possible. Today there is still a sign in the cafeteria that says "Your mother doesn't work here - clean up your own mess". 

As I walked along I wondered why the little wave was so important to me. What did it really signify? It's not just 'thanks' - it's more a recognition that we are in this together and that your needs are no more important than mine. It's also a reassurance that the 'giver' is not regarded as the 'maid'. When I don't get the wave, I feel like the hired help.

My son reminded me of this the other day when he was praising his father's cooking. He's been away at school and may have missed some of the delectable dishes that Bill concocts. I had, once again, taken his culinary skills for granted.  " All he wants is a little thanks, mum. It's so easy to do".

Yes, it is.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

If you had to pick which one of us was more environmentally conscious, most people would vote for me over Bill.  Largely, because I actually LIKE the outdoors (canoeing, camping, gardening, swimming, etc.) and Bill will think of every excuse to avoid staying in cottage country for the weekend. He is always threatening to form his own 501(c)(3) (that's a "not-for-profit") corporation which he has already affectionately  dubbed "The Pave the Planet Foundation".  He laments that he is not comfortable unless pavement is close at hand and he has the ability to get in his car and drive. He believes that if the planet were paved, the world would be easier to navigate and pesky on/off ramps would be unnecessary. 

Coupled with this desire for more pavement, is an unholy fascination with cement and the making of concrete. He had a "lucky" encounter with a concrete wizard while flying from California many years ago who regaled him with the science of concrete for the entire 6 hour flight. He still quotes the man! I won't even begin to tell you his fascination with other building materials and struts and vaulted ceilings. That's for another evening.

And don't get me started on NYPIRG. When they start their door-to-door campaign in the summer he is fit to be tied:  He'll answer the door, turn on his heel and shout over his shoulder: "You want my wife, not me .... Liz, your FRIENDS are here".

However, those who know Bill know that he is complicated at best.  So, despite this crazed interest in pavement and concrete and all things man-made, and his apparent distrust of environmental organizations,  he will be the first to sort through the recycle bins to pull out non-recyclable material. I was reprimanded last night for tossing an envelope that had a plastic see-through window.

He'll peer into the garbage looking for the rare yogurt container that didn't get rinsed and properly sorted into the blue box.

He reuses the cardboard sleeves that Donny Gilbert (here's a shout out to Corvette Cleaners - best Dry Cleaners in Buffalo) puts into his boxed shirts. He uses them to write out his weekly grocery list and lately, he's been using them to leave me notes in the bathroom:
LIZ: Didn't sleep well. Don't wake me. (translation : keep the Today Show volume to a minimum).
LIZ: Can't find my (fill in the blank). Did you take it? Where is it?.
LIZ: Don't forget to order my Rx from the online pharmacist.  

So, DOES he actually care about the environment?  "Care" might be too strong a word. But, there is something going on. I just haven't figured out what it is.  Maybe I will in the next 25 years.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Olive branch

I am currently enjoying the heady scent of lilies every time I walk upstairs. My cousins, Gary and Pat brought the most amazing bouquet of flowers to my mum's party on Saturday. They brought them from Toronto - across the border ( I didn't know you could do that!) -  and the bouquet has taken up residence on the landing. They are gorgeous and dramatic and I'm enjoying them thoroughly.

Cut flowers in winter seems very decadent to me; a special treat - an extravagance. And I love it when we have them in the  house.

My husband knows how much I love flowers and makes a habit of sending me flowers at work. The ladies at work tell me how lucky I am to have a husband who sends flowers. What many of them don't know is that invariably the flowers are his first attempt at an apology or at mending fences.

He knows absolutely nothing about flowers -couldn't tell a rose from an aster - but he listens to me when I talk about my preferences. So, when I get a bunch of cut wild flowers I know he's especially contrite - and he's given specific instructions to the florist.

And, the flowers work every time - they are the proverbial "olive branch". My icy heart melts and I break down and call him to tell him they have arrived.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oh the games people play...

When Bill and I were first married we used to play games in bed. I'm talking about board games, like Backgammon, Battleship, Mastermind, Yahtzee and when we were particularly motivated we'd get out the Risk board. We'd play on lazy Sunday mornings when Bill relented and decided not to go into the office. When he was younger, he used to go into the office every evening and most Saturdays. He usually stayed home on Sundays.

As the years went on and kids were born, the games were put away- the cards and wee pieces were lost and the boxes thrown away. I saw my old backgammon board the other day in the attic and I noticed that  some of the stones were chipped. It made me somewhat nostalgic for that stretch of time that we took for granted on Sunday mornings.

Recently, when we went to Jamaica and had ample time to relax, we bought a deck of cards and I taught Bill how to play "31" or "Scat" as it's more popularly known. (I mistakenly call the game "Spit" all the time.) The ladies at work taught me the game; we play sometimes at lunch as we kid each other and pretend we care about who wins.

Bill had a little trouble with the strategy and then tried his own which was to "knock" almost immediately thereby ending the game. He won quite a bit that way. He was positively giddy when he outsmarted me with this tactic.

The only game we have played with regularity is what we have dubbed "The Birthday game". On Saturday mornings the Buffalo News lists the ages of famous people. Bill reads out the names and I guess the ages - 2 points for getting the age exactly right and 1 point for plus or minus a year. He is always the moderator, and I am always the guesser. I don't know why we like this game - but it's the one that has stood the test of time.

It occurred to me last week that the reason this game has lasted is because it's the only game where we don't compete. There may be some wisdom in that.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A new campaign

Last Friday I drove Bill home from work.... I took the 33 (wink). 

As we drove along Eggert I stopped at a 4 way stop. The car opposite me stopped at the same time.  Since he was not to my right (and thus would be afforded priority status) I moved into the intersection. The other car moved as well.  We did the false start and stop TWICE ( I would go and he would go) - however he was inching towards his left attempting to turn in front of me and to his left.  Did I mention that he DID NOT have his signal light on? That's kind of key to the story.

I pulled up along side of him and rolled down my window. Before I could say anything he yelled : "Lady, it's a 4 way stop, you're supposed to stop!"
ARGH!
I told him to put his damn signal on. He said (are you ready for this?):

"Yeah, well my signals don't work." 

I was so proud of myself when I told him to put his DAMN hand out the window and use the universal signal for turning. I even illustrated with my own arm. He looked perplexed.  I was tempted to use the universal middle finger signal but I didn't. I drove on.

Bill said " I love it when you get angry ... at someone other than me".

Years ago when I was still new to Buffalo I remember driving with Bill as we entered the circle at Millard Fillmore Hospital (Gates Circle). Do you know that the majority of drivers have no clue what to do at a circle? We had another 'encounter' with a driver when Bill had a sudden inspiration.
He said to me, completely seriously:
"I'm starting a campaign - it'll be aimed at drivers. We'll put up billboards all over the city. And the billboards will simply say DON'T BE AN ASSHOLE . What do you think?  Catchy?

Very.

 I wish he had followed up.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The 33

If you live in the Buffalo area you must take the 33. It is the main artery into and out of our fair city. And it is the usual way for travelers to get to and from the airport.  It is referred to as THE 33 as are most of our highways - the 190, the 90, the 198, the 290... you get the idea.  It's a Buffalo thing. The 33 is curvy, changes elevation and has rock formations in parts and, at its most interesting stretch, is the exit to the 198. That exit is treacherous -  partly because that's the curviest, rockiest spot and partly because the real name of the 198 is "the Scajaquada" . I believe that non-resident drivers are actually wrestling with the pronunciation of the route name when they should really be paying attention to the negotiation of the curve.



So, of course, recently the people in charge  increased the speed limit on the 33, including the stretch leading to the 198 interchange.  I still don't get it - although I'm glad they did because I've always ignored the 50 mph limit. But, I'm a resident and I know how to pronounce the Scajaquada.

Bill loves the 33. He is convinced that you must use it each and every time you leave our house and are headed towards the city. We are both obsessed with trying to figure out the shortest way to our final destination. We fight about it and time our drives.  He will invariably incorporate the 33. I like switching it up with city streets and am partial to Main Street. We get giddy when we leave a function downtown with both cars so we can perform actual time trials. I speed during those tests because of my need to win. I don't know if Bill does. But, I suspect he might.

I love the 33 for an entirely different reason: Bill proposed to me as we were driving on the 33. It was just after the first curve past the airport but before the entrance to the 190. I know that sounds hopelessly romantic (HA!) but if you understood our whirlwind courtship it makes perfect sense to us.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A girl's dream

Even though I said we abducted my mum from Florida to throw a party to celebrate her birthday, she actually had an additional agenda item.   Oh, we HAD  the party last night and she had a lovely time. She looked gorgeous! And, we ate a lot of food and drank a lot of booze (thanks Bill and Kevin) and she stayed up really late.

However... when she woke up this morning she reminded us all that her intended purpose was to go skating. She used to skate a lot when she was a kid and she adores skating. But, she hasn't skated in a long time and there are no rinks near her in Florida.

We pulled her old skates out of the basement and headed over to the Pepsi Center (now known as the Northtown Center) for the "free skate" at 1:00 p.m.  As I looked over to my mum in the car I noticed she had a peaked cap on - one she bought in Ballymena, Ireland that says "Ballymena" on the brim (note to movie fans - home of Liam Neeson and of my mother's mother). I asked her what the heck she was doing with the hat on - it wasn't really skating garb - and it was kind of perched awkwardly on her head.  She said she was wearing it "for her mum". I caught the eyes of Will and Emma in the rear view mirror (her skating buddies) and their eyes went wide.  How sweet and sad and marvelous is that? An 80 old grandmother thinking about her own dear mum ...

Anyway.... the rink.  Man, that place was humming!  After a series of false starts with some rental skates that she hated, we opted for her own skates that had a little rust but were still pretty sharp. The ice sharpener guys said it would be an hour before we could get the skates sharpened - and we were not about to waste time in line waiting for HIM. We were here to SKATE.

So rusty skates it was.

By the time she got on the rink she had created a bit of a stir (average age at Northtown is about 12.5 years so she kind of stood out)  and a few people were watching in anticipation as she made it round the rink. And she DID! She had Will on one side and Emma and the other and they had a BLAST. Just what she wanted for her birthday! She had a huge smile on her face as she unlaced her skates and pulled on her boots.

And when we got home Bill had made mum a superbly delicious prime rib sandwich (left over from last night's dinner party)  that was so rare it was almost dripping blood. And she devoured it, the way an athlete would.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Towne

First of all, my inspirational blogger congratulated me on writing for a week! How awesome is she to notice that! Thank YOU, Mary! You are my hero.

Secondly, today's installment has to be written in the morning since it's my mum's 80th birthday and you know that we're having a dinner party for her. So, despite the fact that I said my house is tidy... it really isn't. Will is home from college and there are all manner of items littering the front hall and I still haven't washed all the glassware or set the table. However, my dearest girl, Emma drove home from Toronto to help me prepare. Trouble is she went out with some friends last night and she is still sleeping...

She texted me about 2:30 a.m. to tell me she was eating at the Towne restaurant. For those of you not from Buffalo (I pity you) the Towne is one of those establishments that everyone has visited. I'm not sure it ever closes - it's the place people go after the bars close.

I was just there for lunch this week. My friend, Molly and her daughter (a Buffalo cop) took me. The Towne (I still don't  understand the name... if anyone knows the origin I'd love to hear it) has a wide variety of clientele. No one feels uncomfortable there and I think part of the reason is that the waitresses never change. The hostesses change but those dolls who serve souvlaki ... nope! My favorite is Bonny because she goes out with a man who works with me and she's a really nice and patient woman. I should ask her sometimes what secret Mr. Towne has that he is able to keep wait staff for so long.

I always look at the menu, but invariably order the open chicken souvlaki. Unless it's breakfast - and I love breakfast. If it's lunch (as it was when I was there with Molly) I always order a chocolate shake. This week, I ordered (not from Bonny) a shake and I saw a shadow pass over the waitress. Being an ex-waitress myself, I asked her "what? .. .what's the face about?" She answered " I'm just behind with my orders and we have to make the shakes ourselves". Which is why the shakes are so good!!! The waitresses make them!!

They use 2% milk and ice cream and chocolate sauce (and they don't skimp with the sauce) and mix it in one of those old fashioned mixers that mixes in a stainless steel tall container. The thing about the Towne (and the reason I order chocolate shakes) is that they serve you the shake IN THE STAINLESS STEEL CONTAINER- along with a regular glass. So, you're really getting TWO shakes. And they're awesome!!!!

Molly and her daughter both ordered water and I could see the relief on our waitress's face. And I said (out loud  - by mistake) "oh, you like them better, don't you". Luckily, she laughed - those Towne women are great!

That quick little interplay reminded me of my waitresses days. I used to work in a hotel and serve breakfast. I absolutely hated people who ordered tea. I, myself love a good cup of tea. But, in the morning I need coffee. The problem with waitressing and serving tea  is the same chocolate shake problem - the waitress has to make it. They have to find the little silver pot, slice some lemon and put the whole thing on a tray. Granted,  it's not much to do - but it's more than just pouring the coffee directly into the cup. And, those tea people ALWAYS ask for more hot water. UGH!
Bill worked in a pancake place when he was growing up. He, too hated those little silver pots because they always leaked and he was the busboy so his job was to deal with messes. He's told me some harrowing stories about messes in pancake houses - mostly involving syrup.... but that is for another blog.

Bill drinks decaffeinated tea in the morning. He makes it in the microwave (sans little pot) and directly in the mug.  And, he drinks it black.  A waitress's dream.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Morning News

It takes me awhile to wake up in the morning. I don't like to talk and I refuse to engage. Bill, on the other hand,  is immediately engaged with the world upon waking. He gets out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off - he does not moan and languish in the warm sheets. He bolts out of bed and goes to get the newspaper. By the time he's finished Section A I'm just pushing back the covers and looking for my slippers.

We tend to get ready in the bathroom together. It's a small bathroom but we've divvied up the space quite well: I get 2/3 and he gets 1/3.

We both relented and bought a wee television for the bathroom counter so we could catch the news in the a.m. As I said, I don't want to engage, but I can listen passively to the news. I'm hooked on the Today Show; I've been watching it for years. Bill tolerates the Today Show - he hates the screaming masses that wait in the plaza for the 2 seconds of face time and he thinks they spend too much time on fluff stories. He will physically leave the bathroom if Lindsay Lohan's name is mentioned. But, he never asks me to turn it off. He does, however, turn to MSNBC the moment I leave the bathroom to get dressed.

If Bill had his druthers he would give me a blow by blow of his day during those bathroom encounters. But, he knows I just don't care at the time of the day. So, he keeps quiet. Sometimes, I can see him assessing my mood out of the corner of my eye and he'll ask "can I talk?". At that point I usually realize the witch that I have become and I relent.

But every morning, before I leave for work he tells me that I look good, or that he thinks I've lost the weight from Christmas, or that my butt looks good in those pants - something uplifting. So, I always leave the house with a positive attitude - at least about my outward appearance.
And, I thank God that I'm not Lindsay Lohan.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Order and Disorder

Many people believe that a perfect union is one in which both parties have the same ideas about how to (a) raise children and (b) handle money.Those are big issues and if you don't see eye to eye there will  be conflict. However, I've always believed that the key to a happy marriage is that both parties must have the same level of tolerance for what I'll call 'disorder'.

We all know people whose homes are very clean... almost antiseptic; others who homes are always picked up and orderly; still others who have a certain amount of disorder; those who thrive in chaotic homes and, lastly the currently popular category known as HOARDERS.

When I met Bill, he was seriously descending into what I would consider hoarder mentality. Once we were married and I moved into his already established house I started to impose my system on him - i.e. I started to pitch things. And, I mean I seriously pitched things out the window and into a rented dumpster in the back yard. This took some mental fortitude since Bill was ADAMANT that I not touch his stuff. I didn't throw stuff out during the honeymoon period or anything ... I waited a few months and did it over a period of  time and I did it when he wasn't home. I was newly married and very naive. But, I was cagey. I started in the attic and moved down.

By the time Emma was born, the house had a tolerable level of disorder. I was content. And, Bill didn't seem to mind.  It wasn't until Emma was about 4 when we were blessed to find the most wonderful nanny who  elevated my disorder level to a much higher level of orderliness. Bill sometimes complained that he couldn't find things, but, for the most part, I thought he appreciated the tidiness.

We've shared a walk-in closet for 17 years. It has varying levels of disorder -depending on my mood, my energy and the time of the month. Bill has NEVER said that he wishes I would pick my side up, or that he hates how my shoes are strewn, or how my housecoat is invariably draped over something of his. All this time I've figured that his tolerance for disorder mirrored mine exactly - even during the ebb and flow of my acceptance of messes.

But, now I've finally figured out that his tolerance has nothing to do with the amount of disorder or order in our house - he's just highly tolerant of me.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A bottle of red

I always thought that cocktail hour was a very civilized way to usher in the evening. However, when you're raising kids and working full time, cocktail time gets pushed aside ... in order to supervise homework, unload the dishwasher from the morning and get dinner on the table.
Tonight, however, Bill and I arrived home together (the car thing with our son has forced us to share rides to and from work). Dinner was going to be simple and Bill had pre-planned the menu (as usual). My mum arrived home just as we did, so we walked into the house together.
Bill suggested a glass of wine. We opened a bottle of red and mum and I drifted into the living room while Bill banged around some pots in the kitchen.
But, then....Bill came into the living room with his glass of red. He joined us in front of the fire and the cocktail hour magically began.
It's amazing what you can learn about each other while the bottle empties into each other's glass. We had a scintillating conversation about the world's travails from Pakistani political plights to Paladino's peccadilloes to our own family's smaller issues.
Bill tolerated the conversation even when it digressed to points where I knew he'd had enough. A glass of wine will do that. For all of us.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Snow globe

I didn't have a car today because my son is home and we were all jockeying for possession of a vehicle. He drove me to work so that he had some freedom to come and go today.

Sheepishly, I asked around at work if anyone could drive me home. I actually had 2 offers, and I took the one that left the earliest.

As I was getting ready to pack up I looked outside the office and it was, of course, dark but it was also absolutely, stunningly beautiful. The snowflakes were huge, they were falling at what appeared to be a slow rate of speed (I know, I know that doesn't make sense), and the big spotlights at my office were illuminating the trees and flakes in such a way that the world outside the window seemed surreal; like I was looking into a vast snow globe. And I thought : "I love Buffalo". The feeling was evoked certainly because of the beauty but also because I was, at that moment, standing in the building where I work (a gorgeous piece of architecture on Delaware Ave.), I had a particularly productive day,  and I had two offers to drive me home... from two women I really, really like.

The woman who drove me home is a great driver, and she has one of those SUVs that feels substantial and safe and secure. When I shut the door after we brushed the snow off the vehicle, I got that snow globe feeling again. The beauty, the safety and the camarderie combined for a sublime sense of contentment.

The first night Bill cooked for me at his house was a snow globe night. I remember walking to his house from my flat with a sense of anticipation and wariness. I also remember thinking how much I loved Buffalo then and how glad I had moved here. As I knocked on his door, I could see inside his front window, where the fire was burning and the table was set. I shook off the snow from my hat, walked out of the snow globe world and into a new one. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

I'm FIFTY - FIFTY YEARS OLD

So, last month I made a giant leap into old age! I say "leap" because it kind of snuck up on me.
Bill took me to Jamaica on my birthday (ok I made all the travel arrangements and he agreed to go with me despite the fact that there was NOTHING to do at the resort)  to celebrate (aka hideout from the world). I didn't think that turning 50 was going to be such a major deal. But, one month prior to the big day I tore my achilles tendon and was encumbered by a cast/boot on my right foot. My driving foot PS.  Bill said that God "smote me" because I was too caught up in the whole aging thing. I agreed that it was a cosmic joke just to drive home the fact that my body was betraying me.
Anyway it's healing, and  my health at age 50, other than the whole tendon thing,  is very good.... not quite as good as Sally O'Malley
... but pretty darn good.        

Strangely, this year was one of milestones in our family - our daughter, Emma turned 21 ( we celebrated at the casino), our son, Will turned 18 ( he said he drank some alcohol), I've already mentioned my mum and now, Bill is about to turn 60. Seems kind of weird that it's all happening at once. And that we all feel the need to mark the milestones somehow. Bill and I approach birthdays differently- and we both respect each others choice. He ALWAYS wants a party and I ALWAYS don't want to have a party.

But, as Bill says, we'll be dead a long time - so why not live it up while we can. It's kind of an American thing, I think. Throw a party in the garage when the kid graduates from pre-school type of attitude. He may have something there.
Maybe when I turn 51 I'll  change my mind about a party.