Monday, September 14, 2015

Photo of the Day

I'm not greedy.

A couple tens of thou would be good.

And a hug.

And a chocolate bar.

Actually -- just a hug.

Friday, September 11, 2015

September 11, 2001

Sometimes, there are no words.

Sometimes, somehow, someone finds them.

Years later, they remembered where they had been. At their desks or in their beds, indoors or out. Driving, walking, working, alert, or half asleep. Each recalled momentary confusion. An airplane hit the World Trade Center. Pilot error? Technical glitch? And then the shock. A second plane. No accident. No mistake. The flames were real, as everyone could see on television. The Twin Towers burning, again and again. Bodies falling, again and again. The same towers, and the same bodies, and the Pentagon in flames. The scenes played constantly, at one heartbreaking and titillating, their repetition necessary, but also cheapening. Who, after all, could believe such a catastrophe after just one viewing? And who, after viewing once, could look away?               
[Chapter 27]

… Ash fell. A fine gray powder covered everything. Ash coated burned-out cars and traffic lights. Ash infiltrated apartments, graying books and dishes, smothering house plants, clouding windowsills. Ash smogged streets and soiled papers, loose and lost, invoices and receipts, canceled checks, business cards, appointment books, memoranda unremembered. Black dust, black ink, black banner headlines in The New York Times. Black articles about firefighters, rescue workers, schoolchildren, orphans. Black border ads from ExxonMobil, Allstate, Prudential, Home Depot, OppenheimerFunds, Fleet, Lufthnasa—to our friends in America, AOL Time Warner, Merrill Lynch. Our hearts go out to everyone who’s been touched by the tragic events … our through and prayers … our gratitude for the tireless efforts of the emergency and rescue workers. Condolences from Israel and Egypt, the city of Berlin, the Iranian-American community—profoundly saddened, the Red Cross, the Ministries of New York—we’re here to pray for you.

Museums opened free of charge. Oases of deep color: Rothkos, Rembrandts, Egyptian tombs, Roman glass, iridescent bottles outlasting their perfume. Amulets, silk gowns, and Grecian urns. Those young girls with parted lips, those haystacks, those stone angels taking flight, those paintings of fruit and full-blown flowers.

Classical-music stations broadcast elegies, and listeners stopped what they were doing to hear Faure’s Requiem or Barber’s Adagio for Strings. To breathe again.

Churches opened doors for candle-lighting, singing, sermons, vigils. In the name of the National Cathedral, President Bush said, “We are here in the middle hour of our grief…” and he told the American people to keep on living, to travel, to attend the theater, to go out and buy. Alas, buying did not appeal. Only American flags sold out. Great flags hung from walls and firehouses. Smaller versions adorned shop windows and front doors. Drivers clipped miniature flags to car antennae where they fluttered in the breeze.

A flag was tangible. Its stars and stripes were real, unlike the dot-com bombs of yesterday. Who remembered those? The upstarts, overhyped and overfunded. When the Nasdaq reopened on September 17, even Cisco hovered at twelve dollars a share. Vaporizing into usefulness, online shopping, e-mail, and instant news, the Internet lost its mystique, and suddenly it was everywhere and nowhere, like the air. A flag had value …               
[Chapter 28]

… By spring, fewer troopers with dogs and submachine guns stood guard at the airports. Obituaries and memorial services had tapered off, and flags were smaller where they still flew. Magazines showcased 9/11 widows and their families, especially the babies their husbands would never know, but those same publications featured recipes for easy, breezy outdoor fun, tips for praising children the right way, and full-page photographs of fruit cobblers, no-bake desserts, no-sew craft projects, closet makeovers, and illustrations of simple exercises for those mornings when there was no time to run. Death never died, but the idea of death receded, as it must.         
[Chapter 32]

From The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Photos of the Day: Out on a Limb

The last time I was in the City, back in June, my friends and I were strolling down the streets of the Upper West Side - with their very nice brownstones. I love wandering the side streets, looking at how "the other half" lives.

I can't remember WHERE we were, but I had to play tourist when I came to this dwelling. First I spotted this stoop staircase artfully entangled in the roots of a climbing vine:

THEN I looked up and spotted Ragged Annie up out on a limb.

Further study of this scene on my computer revealed that Annie wasn't alone, but hostessing an entire party.

Can you spy everyone who got an invitation?

This charmed me more than I can say.

~ photos by iTouch.
Taken June 22, 2015

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Resume a Routine: Survival Tips from the Festival

So I guess now that the kids are back to school in NY, the Labor Day holiday is over, and vacations are a memory, it's back to the swing of things at work. I don't know about some of my other colleagues, but I have at least 6 standing meetings a week. (Not physically standing - you weisenheimer, you -- they would go faster if they WERE standing.) SIX! One day this week, the entire day is meetings. Not work. Meetings. ?WHY?!

I wonder what survival tips we'll have to adapt for the fall and the Fall Festival.

~ ~ ~

For the summer, we had a variety of coping mechanisms, survival tips if you will. You do what you can.

There was the Departmental hooky day at the lake last month.
Of course with a buffet, because our department doesn't "do a thing" without some kind of buffet.

We may have been wondering if there was some way senior management could delay coming back from their vacations. We might have needed them to be on vacation for at least another month, so we could have caught up from the last 8 MONTHS. (Not 8 weeks. 8 MONTHS!) {Why? MEETINGS!}

There was the post-concert, staff Karaoke Kontest, and Kameo by an Ice Cream truck on Closing Night of the Festival.

There may have been some lapsing into some outrageously outre accents. Da, comrades?

Someone MAY have been making up lyrics celebrating the end of the Festival. With apologies to the writers of One Day More from Les Miserables:

One day more! Another day, another destiny. This never-ending road to [revelry]; These men who seem [pay my dime] Will surely come a second time.

Tomorrow we'll discover What [the HR ladies have] in store! [party] One more dawn [Can I make it?] One more day [I will make it!] One day more!
There was a farewell to departmental seasonal help at a final seasonal staff meeting with, of course, a buffet.

Week 6's Opera evening saw some art therapy going on during the intermissions.

There may have been an impromptu dance solo during a rain burst, leading to the question/answer:

Q: Should I apologize to all the audience members who saw me dancing barefoot with my umbrella during the pre-concert microburst? #sorrynotsorry

A: Nope. Perfectly happy to enioy my #singingintherain solo. Life is too short, and I work too hard, not to dance like no one is watching.

Other people on Twitter agree.

We ate a lot of leftovers from the previous night's party platters. If the cookies have oatmeal and raisins in them, it's a healthy option for breakfast, right?

We got MORE punchy. Even "Secret Summer Santa" has having a hard time.

There might have been low-tech hot stone massages and fake tans (aka our feet hurt so much the radiant heat on the train platform felt good on dirty swollen feet.)

People came in on an "early" train just so they could sit on a bench in front of an indie bookstore in the sun, to enjoy 30 minutes of a book, when it wasn't too hot, before the car pool arrived.

People left at 5pm a day or two--and refused to feel (too) guilty about it.

There may have been meditation moments during musical interludes. NOT sleeping. Nope. We weren't sleeping. We were mediating. (Rigggggghhhhht.)

We may have gambled on not getting Lyme Disease, malaria, or other foot/mouth diseases, by walking around barefoot in the grass.

One rainy night on a late night commute, we got to enjoy the musical stylings of a quietly playing, considerately mellow, talented guitarist on a train platform.

We may have started paraphrasing the Bard as we longed for sleep.
" sleep, To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there's the rub, For in that sleep...what dreams may come," ~ Hamlet 
Still-lifes may have been artfully arranged.

We were burning the candles at both ends. When we weren't actually burning candles.

There actually MAY have been naps. A LOT of NAPS. And the 12hour sleeps of the NyQuil-assisted.

We may have gotten a little too excited when other departments showed up with the rest of the summer swag.

There were random ice cream socials with a cases of ice cream shipped in from Graeters Ice Cream.

Every meeting seemed to come with some kind of decor, treat, and/or buffet of goodies.
EVERY.  Meeting.
This was National Popsicle Day.
  I forget why there was champers and strawberries. Though, do you need a reason?
But then there were ALSO cheese-cake birthday surprise bashes and birthday buffet dinners.

Maybe our eating habits were REALLY random.

Maybe there were occasions of breakfasts of PB Cups. Logic: PB is Protein, Protein is necessary. Sugar is Energy ERGO PB Cups.
Days that started with PB Cups and ended with Tastykakes. Because we are adults. And we didn't have time for that whole "balanced diet" thing.
Days that started with 3 Twix for breakfast, then a chaser of knockoff Fruit Loops w/a 1.25 liter of Diet Coke, and 3 Advil. Because, yeah -- sometimes ... 

Perhaps meetings involved random exercise breaks including planking and jumping jacks.

Mayhap there was a H20 drinking game involved during marathon Gala prep sessions. Mayhap I should leave the details of this drinking game out there on Twitter for everyone to enjoy and not document it here.

Could it be that the backstage crew had the best coping mechanism of all?

Could it be that this phrase really best describes multi-week Festivals?

"It's not a sprint, it's a marathon" does NOT apply to multiweek Festivals. It's more a decathlon, that starts with a Gala/marathon.

A FEW people tried to start our summer out right. Not one, but THREE people had goodies ready to go at our Festival kick-off meeting.


That should have been a clue.

As for ME, my coping mechanisms are front and center on my desk - as long as I remember to look at them:
 The paperweight is there for DRASTIC moments when I absolutely HAVE to chuck it at someone's head.

THOSE CUTIES! (Minus Jaime -- unfortunately.)

And the realization that THIS email exchange was more honest than anyone can know.
Query: "What do you do to keep yourself sane."
My instant reply: "I'm not sane. You think I'm sane?"
(We kid, because there is truth in comedy.)
A day without meetings ... is like a . So precious. So rare. To be treasured and noted when spotted.

Maybe one day I'll spot my unicorn again.

~photos by iTouch

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Back to School 2015: Family Edition

I am in denial that it is fall. It is 90 degrees outside. I was so in the thick of things from the spring and summer that I didn't really register those two seasons, not to mention those important life-milestones.

Like Nathan's May graduation from pre-school.  Whoops!

Congratulations Nathan Buddy!
(Unimpressed girl is unimpressed.)

But now that the school calendar has flipped, the big kids in Idaho are off to school.

Quoth Christina on September 1st:
Off to school for these three! Amber is going into 4th grade, Elle 2nd, and Nathan Kindergarten. 
Wow, my kids are growing up.

Sadly, on September 4th, the bane of parental planning struck. School germs. (sad trombones)

Quoth Christina: Well that didn't take long! School germs are the worst. After 3 days at school Nathan is home today sick.

Momma is also learning what its like with not so many helpers around. Grumpa reported that Christina said she was not sure what she was going to do without Elle around to help, now that school was starting.

Meanwhile, down in Nevada, Drew started 5th grade in mid-August.

(The kids in New York barely started this week, and some don't start until next.)

 With thanks to Grumpa for grabbing these off the sib's social media, so I can collect them and share all at once.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Dining Al Desco: Part 2

If you ever want to make me laugh, say this to me: "Oh Auntie Nettie, you must enjoy eating outside on your lunch hour. Your workplace garden courtyard is soooooo beautiful."


HA! I dine, when I do dine, al desco. I even took occasional photos to document this.  Part 1 is here.

Don't judge my eating habits. At least I had SOME lunch. Between meetings. Between projects. Between IMs, emails, phone calls. (Sigh. Can I go back on vacation?)

Also: Those of you who know me, know I have a Diet Coke addiction. There are many pictures of Diet Pepsi shown here. They were FREEEE. FREEEEEE trumps everything - ever.

Dino Bits are cheap Fruity Pebbles with DP
Emergency supplies for later. You DO spy PB and J fixin's
Fancy mustard, VERY fancy cheese, cashews and DP
Eye Candy (yum), fudge gelato, Advil and DP
GINORMOUS Diet Coke and chocolate? garlic knot? (OI - I think that's HOME actually on a work-from-home day).
Someone's leftover Greek or Indian something or other
Oh HELLO, random Kale Salad

Pens in the homemade egg/potato salad. This is why we can't have nice things.

I picked the cucumbers yesterday morning in the office garden. Does that count for anything?
My desk is STILL a mess.
~photos by iTouch