Saturday, December 24, 2011

Of birthdays, baba ghanouj, and bibs

So yesterday was my birthday, but technically I celebrated it on Thursday. I knew we would be traveling (and packing) the day of my birthday to go to my parents' for the holiday and I wanted the entire day to myself.

Ornament= shitty gift
My birthday has traditionally been kind of sucky- two days before Christmas, everybody's busy with their holiday preparations and people try to cheat and give you Christmas-themed gifts. (Let me state for the record that the worst present you can give a small child is an ornament that goes straight to the tree and gets put away for the year once the tree comes down.)

I've only ever had one birthday party, the year I turned seven, and even that was fraught with mishaps. The week before my birthday, I'd been playing out in the back yard, climbed up a tree after my hat that had been tossed up in the branches, and fell. A branch tore a jagged cut in my upper thigh. Never tore my corduroy pants and never bled. I only knew that my leg hurt and when I went inside and went to go to the bathroom, I saw the gaping wound in my leg and started screaming. So I went to the ER and got a bunch of invisible stitches, as well as seven that would need to be removed. So, get this: 7 days before my 7th birthday, on a day where the temperature was about 7 degrees, I cut my leg, needed 7 stitches, which were removed 7 days later and left me with a scar 7cm long. Spooky!

Anyway, so that particular year, when I finally had a birthday party, I was laid up with stitches in my leg and couldn't really move around much. So much for fun.

So since then, I take it upon myself to have an adventure day for my birthday. In years past, I've gone for massages, pedicures, outings to places only I'd like to visit to take photos. It's always a solo excursion- I like to have the time to myself and more often than not, no one is free to go with me anyway. My favorite book when I was real little was by the author of Good Night, Moon called Mister Dog which was about a dog named Crispin's Crispian who belonged to himself. It pretty much explains just about everything about me, especially my adventure days.

This year, I went to the Division of Rare Books & Manuscripts at Cornell University and faked a research project to look at E.B. White's first draft of Charlotte's Web, one of my very favorite books.
1st page of 1st draft. Note picture of Charlotte in corner.
I spent about two hours with the manuscript, which was just awe-inspiring- written on plain unlined yellow paper in pencil, with all his scratchings and notes. My favorite was where he drew a bracket around a small paragraph and in the margins wrote, "Fix. Make better."

After I was done there, I went to Collegetown for a much-needed hair cut, then I took myself out to lunch at a middle eastern/mediterranean restaurant called Aladdin's. (Unfortunately, they were out of tabbouleh, which is my very favorite, but the baba ghanouj, hummus, felafel and spanakopita were delicious.)
Still giggling because I spent the day at the Kroch Library,
followed by the Johnson Museum. Say it out loud. You'll get it.
After that, I went back to campus and visited the Johnson Museum of Art. Besides this really cool and incredibly old cuneiform tablet that was found sealed in a terra cotta envelope, I was mostly impressed with the view from the 5th floor. I swear I could almost see my house.
Love to eat those little claws ...
And then later, the coup de grace- lobsters at the Antlers! Always fun to dine with friends when you're all wearing bibs.

So, now I'm back in my hometown, at my parents' house,  the dogs anxious that this is where we live now (Frances will not let me get two feet away from her) with Christmas almost upon us. But I'm more excited for New Year's, not necessarily for the party we're planning on having, but for the start of resolutions. I love the fresh start of a new year, even though New Year's Day is almost always written off as a day to rehydrate and laze off a hangover.

My resolution for the coming year is to write every day. Hopefully, through this I will finally finish the book I have been working on FOREVER, but also to become more disciplined at this game. I've signed up for a 750 Words A Day challenge, which shouldn't be too bad, considering it's about half the daily word count that NaNoWriMo was. I'm also going to try posting on here everyday. May not be good, but hopefully it will be consistent.

So happy holidays to you and yours (unless you're one of those people who get pissed off at folks for saying something other than Merry Christmas, even though these same people's idea of "keeping Christ in Christmas" is to buy a 500-inch television at WalMart on Black Friday and litter their lawn with plastic reindeer).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Keeps things cold ...

6:50 a.m.
A citizen said her neighbor drives around with a can of beer between her legs all the time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The paperboy and the cat go way back


5:45 a.m.

A caller on West First Street said there was a possibly rabid cat near the paperboy.  The complaint was unfounded.  The paperboy and cat are friends, police said.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Of rubber chickens and gratitude...

So I haven't been posting much (okay, at all, really) since NaNoWriMo started in November. NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, where you sign up to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That's 1,667 words a day if you're consistent, which I am not. It's crazy, especially to do it in November which is my very busiest month of the year for work, but  it's an incredible motivator. I took the day off today so I could move ahead on my word count, so I can't spend much time here. The project I'm working on I originally started back in my senior year of college and to see an end in sight is pretty exciting. I dug out what I had written back in 1995 and it's cringeworthy bad, so I can also feel a sense of accomplishment that my writing has improved significantly in the past 16 years.

But anyway, we're coming up on one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is one of my favorites because it's so pure in its intention- to be thankful. There's no religious stickiness or ridiculously overt commercialism and pressure to perform like Christmas, no confusion like Easter (I get chocolate bunnies & dye hard boiled eggs 'cause Jesus died and came back to life? Whah?) and no loud noises and strict color scheme like the 4th of July. (Usually.) The reason for celebrating Thansgiving? To be thankful! Grateful, to appreciate what you have. And yes, it can get bastardized into an orgy of eating and the whole Macy's Parade- wind-up to Christmas, but the bottom line is that it's an occasion for gratitude. Which I love.

My grandmother Genevieve was a big believer in gratitude. She used to tell us that there's always someone better off than you, but there's always someone much worse off than you, so you should be grateful for what you have. Her father died when she was a very little girl and her mother was encouraged by everyone she knew to split her kids up to different families. My great-grandmother refused and worked herself to the bone to keep her family together and even though she was just a tiny three-year-old when it happened, my grandma Genevieve never forgot that sacrifice and was always thankful for it. She was a young adult during the Great Depression that only further instilled in her gratitude for what she had, no matter how little it was. She was grateful to have enough.

I think enough is a concept that is entirely foreign to most Americans nowadays. We're taught that you can never be too rich, too thin, to always demand the best, that we deserve fine things just for being us, to stock up, to collect. Enough is a foreign concept and I think many people actively discourage such thinking. Sometimes I think this idea of never having enough comes from those people who survived the Great Depression. Having experienced the lack of so many things and not being sure where your next meal might come from, there can never be enough for some of these folks, and I think they passed that way of thinking on to subsequent generations but without the deprivation to give it context. When we bought our house, my in-laws were terribly concerned that we didn't have enough for it. My husband tried to explain how housing prices have gone up since they had bought their house in the 50s, but how salaries have as well, and that unlike their situation, we both work and have equivalent incomes. They still worried that it wasn't enough, even though we had been very careful to choose a house that was well within our affordability. I think for folks who have been through the Great Depression, there is never enough and that is one of the great tragedies of that time in our history.

But back to being thankful. I love Thanksgiving for the reflection it inspires. I think often of my grandma's saying, especially when I'm tired and cranky and whining. Especially these days, you don't have to look hard to see someone who's just barely squeaking by, who's under tremendous pressure to try to take care of their family, especially when they're surrounded by the pressure of buying a million expensive gifts for Christmas that they really can't afford. Whenever my job irritates me, I think of the thousands of people who would be grateful for any job, as well as the people working jobs that are so physically demanding that it takes their health, and of the people working as many jobs as they can fit in the day just to get by.

During Thanksgiving dinners when I was little, my dad would ask us what we were thankful for that year. I'd usually come up with something generic like being thankful we were all healthy or some such nonsense. But my brother, inevitably, every year, would reply loudly and proudly, "I'm thankful for rubber chickens!" We dismissed it as silliness at the time, Kevin being absurd to get a laugh out of the table, but I really am thankful for rubber chickens. I'm thankful for a family that taught me to see the humor in situations, that to laugh is to cope, that the stupidest silliest things that make you forget your troubles for a moment are worth their weight in gold.

I haven't done Thanksgiving with my immediate family in several years. I always have to work the day after Thanksgiving and frankly, I'm happy not to have to try to travel on that day, and my mom is happy not to have to go all out for a meal that lasts barely an hour before everyone departs for the tv. My friends and I get together and have a potluck, everyone bringing a part of the meal that we will share together in the spirit of thankfulness. And while we eat and enjoy each other's company, I'll be thankful to be generously blessed with friends, for my beautiful little dogs, for my cozy house, for my health, for my fulfilling and never-boring job, for a husband who tolerates and encourages me disappearing into my little nest to work for hours on a project he's never seen and I won't talk about until I finish it, for role models like my grandma, and for being aware of what I have to be thankful for. Like rubber chickens.

PS- Good grief, what a sanctimonious post. More police blotter reports and plastic dinosaur pictures to come soon.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Smell ya later

I'll smell y'all on the flip side.

(Translation: I'll blog more in December.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Inka, binka, bottle of stink

Working with seniors is always ... interesting.
In my nearly three years at my place of employment, I've seen the woman whose pants mysteriously disappeared everyday after breakfast (seriously- we NEVER found them), a woman who liked to wear the plastic wrapping on a bouquet of flowers as a headdress, and the gentleman who was fond of telling pretty, young volunteers, "Hey, honey, if you come up to my room, I'll show you my trophies." With accompanying eyebrow wiggling.

The other day, I was walking by the elevators and saw a resident standing in front of the up or down elevator buttons. She was tapping them and repeating (in a stage whisper) "Eeny meeny miney moe. Catch a tiger by his toe. If he hollers, let him go. Eeny meeny miney moe. My mother told me to pick this one right here." Followed by "Come on, UP!" She was playing the elevator buttons like a slot machine.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Of drunks, portable radios and ears of corn

2:13 a.m.
A man on First Street reported a loud party going on. The people were advised to turn the down the music. They agreed to quiet down.

What an agreeable group of partiers!

2:33 a.m.
A man on Bridge Street said a man was passed out in the doorway of Steven's Paint Store. Parents were called to pick up the subject.

A "man"? How old was he if he his parents were asked to come get him?

10:48 a.m.
A woman on Elm Street said her neighbors let their dog out every morning and it barks and wakes her up. Police spoke with the owners who said they'd keep it on a leash.

Yeah, that'll stop the barking.

12:57 p.m.
A woman on First Street said her neighbors yell and scream profanities all day long. She was advised to call when the noise was going on.

First Street does not sound like a nice or quiet place to live.

2:50 p.m.
An East Second Street man said a woman was walking up and down the street yelling into a portable radio.

6:08 p.m.
An East Third Street resident said neighbors were in a shouting match over a boundary dispute. Officers spoke with the neighbors, who agreed to build a fence.

Seriously, if we could only tap the negotiation skills of the Corning police force, there would be peace in our world forever.

10:04 p.m.
A woman on Pulteney Street said a man with a warrant out on him in New Jersey was driving around in a black Cougar.

11:20 a.m.
A motorist said ears of corn were blocking traffic at the intersection of Pulteney and Bridge streets. The Department of Public Works was notified. Fire and place officials assisted at the scene.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Eggs apparently weren't worth the price of the carton then

This Sunday was quite the wild night. Eggs must've been super-cheap in Corning at this time for folks to be using them recreationally.

2:44 a.m.
An officer reported that two cars on East Fourth Street were egged.

5:35 a.m.
A caller on East Second Street said a woman was standing outside and yelling that she was going to kill everyone. The woman was gone when officers arrived.

6:12 a.m.
A caller said a woman on Pine Street was acting crazy.
(Makes you wonder how close Pine Street is to East Second Street.)

9:30 a.m.
A man on East Fifth Street said his car was egged for the third Sunday in a row.

10:26 a.m.
A woman on East Third Street said her car was egged during the night.

11:38 a.m.
A woman said she offered assistance to a black labrador at a red light, but that the dog jumped in her vehicle and wouldn't leave.

You asked him in- you didn't think any farther than that? Next thing, he's gonna ask you for a steak & his name on the lease.

2:50 p.m.
A man on East Second Street said a woman was walking up and down the street and yelling.

Not actual crazy woman, just photo representation.
She gets around.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Of ticks, name changes, and police blotters ...

A few things:

1. I went for a glorious hike yesterday and took a million pictures of all the cool cliffs I climbed up, the creek I walked along and the things I found along the way. On the icky side, I found a tick on me. Still creeped out. Don't wanna talk about it.

2. Seeing as discarded underpants seem to find their way into my path NEARLY EVERY WHERE I GO, I've been contemplating changing the name of this blog to Discarded Underpants. I'm still kinda disillusioned about the "Hamchuck" thing since I found out about it's origins. 

3. When some friends were over awhile ago, we trotted out my Corning Leader Police Blotter collection.  I'd forgotten how funny they were, so I'm going to feature some of them here.

A little background- back in 1998/1999, the local newspaper in Corning, NY, The Leader, was being criticized for not alerting its citizens to criminal activity in the area. (My parents used to subscribe to The Leader because our local paper is only an afternoon edition, and by that time of day, they didn't care any more.)

The Leader apparently responded by directing some hapless staffer to print nearly every item of the Corning police log every day. I've personally seen the police blotter (more on that in a bit) and the items are written very tersely, very "just the facts, ma'am." This Leader staffer, who has remained unidentified, took it upon him/herself to "jazz" the items up a bit. The result? Hilarity. I started collecting them after my mom pointed out this first gem to me:

5:21 a.m.
A person at Dunkin Donuts said a man who thought he was the devil wouldn't leave.
The alleged demon had left by the time police arrived.

I eagerly scanned each day's edition of The Leader for gems like this and I wasn't disappointed. I started clipping them and collecting them in a little book, with the idea that it would make an amazingly funny novelty book. I contacted The Leader about permission to reprint and was swiftly and irreversibly rebuffed. Those items were the property of The Leader and they would not give me permission to reprint. I could, however, reprint the original police reports they were written from, as they were public information.  That's when I went to the Corning Police Department and saw that the real gold was in that lowly underling's genius as he/she crafted those complaints into comedy gold. 

So, in lieu of my original intent, I'm going to be mining my little scrapbook for these police reports and print them here. Narny, narny, narny, Corning Leader.

Monday, September 26, 2011

In which I have a rawther fabulous weekend

I have just had the most fantastic weekend. Let me tell you about it.

Brett & I took a bus trip in to New York City. This involved being in a parking lot ready to board the bus at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m. I do not take too kindly to mornings, so things were not pretty. We sat in the car trying to keep our eyes open and watched in disbelief as this young man who was WAY TOO OLD TO BE WEARING ONESIE PAJAMAS, especially in public, did a variety of dances in the headlights of his mother's car (I'm assuming- only a mother would put up with that kind of sh!t). I had all kinds of visions of him being a screamer once we were on the bus.

But I didn't have to worry about him. No, I never even saw the kid again until we'd arrived back at that parking lot 17 hours later (still in the damn pajamas! I truly hope he changed once the bus got to the city, then put his jammies back on for the ride home. God, I hope so. For his sake.) No, the real treasure of the bus ride was the woman sitting behind and across the very small aisle from us. The woman with NO INTERIOR MONOLOGUE.

You know the things that run through your mind throughout the day? Things like, "Oh, I should move that, it might fall. Never mind. I'm sure it'll be fine. No, if I don't move it, it'll fall, then it'll break and Josie will be all, "I told you so," god, I can't stand her, she's always just so... you know, ugh! But she did let me borrow those cute shoes that time. Oh wow, look at that woman's hair. She should really do something about her grays. I should too. I'm overdue. I wonder if Shana could get me in this week?" And so on and so on. Normally, these things stay in your head. WHERE THEY BELONG.

But not this fine lady. No, she shared them ALL with everyone in hearing range.
It was 6:00 a.m. On a Saturday morning- the beginning of a very long day. Everyone else on the bus immediately settled in to nap before we stopped for breakfast in two hours. Hers was the only voice on the bus. Brett said, "She's talking so much that I'm beginning to hate language as a concept."

I heard her say, "Did you see Judy's pictures from the zoo? So cute. I really loved the pictures she got of the dinosaurs."
"Dinosaurs? What am I thinking? I meant rhinoceros!"

After this brilliant monologue, I stuffed my headphones as far into my ears as possible and cranked up the volume.

Once we got to the city, we immediately hopped the subway to Astoria, Queens, to the Museum of the Moving Image that has had an exhibition on the life & work of one of my heroes, Jim Henson. In total coincidence, we happened to be visiting on what would've been Jim Henson's 75th birthday. We'd read that the first 1,000 visitors on this day would get a free commemorative cookie and would get to sign a guestbook that would be kept in the Jim Henson legacy archives. There were two people ahead of us in line and I was really close to just steamrolling them over. We paid our admission, got our cookie tickets, signed the guest book with our messages about Jim Henson and headed into the museum.

In addition to Jim's doodles, drawings, sketches, storyboards and video of some of his early work, there were several working Muppets on display. The first one you saw when you entered was Kermit, of course. I stood staring at him for the longest time. It was really him. Then I noticed on the display card that this was a Kermit that had been used in the 70s. So this was a Kermit I watched on tv, in Sesame Street and the Muppet Show. This was the Kermit I watched and adored. I choked up a little. It was like looking at an artifact from your childhood.

There was also a Rowlf, Ernie & Bert, Mahna Mahna & the Two Snowths, Miss Piggy in her wedding dress from Muppets Take Manhattan, Fraggles, and props from The Dark Crystal.

They showed Timepiece, Jim Henson's weird avant-garde short film, and clips from several of the commercials he got his start doing:

We got our commemorative Muppet cookies, and hit the gift shop.

I got this cool tshirt there and a little giftie for my friend, Gary Rith!

1. That's not Bert.
2. That's not a good idea.
Also saw the most inappropriately labelled finger puppet ever:

By the time we left, the line for museum admission wound through the wait line several times, went out the door and all the way to the end of the block. I'm betting those people didn't get a cookie.

We went across the street to a restaurant that happened to be a sponsor of the Jim Henson exhibit, The 5 Napkin Burger. I got an amazing bacon cheddar burger & Brett got the brunch eggs benedict sliders- two wee burgers on english muffins topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. With home fries and a salad. It's a good thing we had to walk a ways to get back on the train to the city.

Finding ourselves with 4-5 hours until the bus left and dead cell phones, we went to the Apple Store so Brett could sneak a little charge for his phone and get a battery-charging case for it. Then we headed across the street to the Plaza Hotel, so I could have my Eloise pilgrimage.

Eloise & her dog, Weeny
Children's book connoisseurs know that Eloise was created by a rawther fabulous lady named Kay Thompson who was an actress, singer, composer, and musician (she played the fashion editor in the Fred Astaire/Audrey Hepburn movie "Funny Face"). She invented a character named Eloise, a wild, rawther badly behaved, six year old girl who lived at the Plaza Hotel with her nanny, her pug, and pet turtle. Eloise was based partly on the exploits of Liza Minelli, who lived at the Plaza at the same time Kay Thompson did. A gentleman unfortunately named Hilary Knight did the iconic artwork, all in black, white and pink.

So we had to go to the Plaza and have my picture taken next to the portrait of Eloise near the Palm Court, and then, of course, hit the Eloise shop! (There is an Eloise suite at the Plaza where you can stay- it's decorated like Eloise's rooms in the books. I think I might have actually DIED if I got to see it. The minute I come into any kind of money, I'm booking a night in the Eloise suite.)

We also had a drink in the Algonquin Hotel, famous for Dorothy Parker & her vicious circle of wits who met there to trade snarky barbs.

Buddha say a rose is a rose, is a rose ...
Then we headed back to Bryant Park, where the bus would be picking us up. Brett & I both thought this statue of Gertrude Stein was Buddha from behind.

I wanted a picture of me with one of the lions from the front of the Public Library, but this dude was sitting here. I guess I photobombed him because he seemed to think Brett was taking HIS picture.

Then we hung out in Bryant Park until the bus came, we took our seats in front of Chatty Lady and headed back to Ithaca.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Afternoon Delights

After an aborted attempt to take Minchy for a walk on our favorite South Hill Recreation Trail (a disgustingly dirty stray came flying out of nowhere as we walked toward the trail, probably only wanted to play but Minchy read it as fighting and I hate having a dog on a leash around one who's off-leash), we headed down toward the lake to the dog park, then a walk down by the water. Thanking our lucky stars that most of the flooding missed us, and hurting for those folks who lost everything or even almost everything to the east of us.

Terriers wrestling at the park

"Hey, newbie, come this way!"


What? Where?


Ithaca College towers seen on the hill over the marina