wine by the color

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The contents of my closet are probably a little unusual for someone who works a normal job. A woman my age probably should not own as many sports jerseys as she does business suits.

What I do not have is anything that looks like this. Perhaps if I listed actress/rock star/possible nutjob on my resume, I'd own such a get-up:

Hi Juliette. It's been a while. You aren't dressed up for Halloween, are you? Just another day at the office?

The very witty, clever women at Go Fug Yourself offered this synopsis of the above train wreck. I bow to their genius.

And while we're discussing others...

I read the obits every day. I do this for two reasons: 1) when you live in the same town for 35 years, you tend to know a lot of people. And people die. 2) there's not a whole lot of meat to the local paper anymore, so to get my money's worth, I read every word.

Recently, I read the obit of a North Carolina man who had no connection to the local area - no mention of him living in central Jersey at any time, nor any local relatives. What there was, however, was the following: He is survived by his wife, Lisa; his pets, Rascal and Cubbie; a son, Karl, and his wife, Mandy.

I'll admit, I'm a little curious about what Karl did to his father to receive billing behind the pets. Their holidays were probably interesting gatherings.

"Go Gillooly." Classic.

Why, yes. I DID enjoy last night's game.

I don't have much use for this relatively new approach of teammates or varied famous folks introducing a team's lineup during a game. But I did enjoy a hearty laugh when one of the Packers, while discussing the offensive players, introduced "our quarterback, Vinny Testaverde's father, Brett Favre."

Speaking of Vinny, his successor in East Rutherford may well have reached the end of his career with the Jets. The move isn't a surprise. Neither is the fact that Pennington was classy in his comments following the demotion. If only his arm strength matched that attitude...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

"I could possibly vomit."

I said those words to my brother as we drove home from the Jets game today. I was referring to the awful combination of food and beverages I threw down the gullet during our 4.5-hour tailgate, but I could just have easily been having a reaction to Gang Green's on-field effort.


Fortunately, the tailgate was very solid. A beautiful sunny (albeit windy) day, which brought a large turnout. And that's good, because the tailgates are obviously going to be the highlight of our afternoons in East Rutherford for the rest of the season.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pop quiz:

What three things do these movies have in common?

1) Blow
2) Million Dollar Baby
3) Brokeback Mountain
4) Gone Baby Gone

If you guessed: the last four movies Freakgirl and I have seen together in the theater, all quite depressing and all excellent, then you are a winner.

But if you're looking for a light comedy, I probably wouldn't invite yourself along to our next movie-going expedition.

Prior to the trip to the cinema house, Freakgirl and I hit a local diner. I knew this would be the first real test of my recent (and heretofore unmentioned) vow to not eat pizza or fries for one month.

Admittedly, I have my doubts as to whether I can accomplish this. I would estimate that one-quarter of the non-breakfast meals I have eaten in my lifetime have consisted of 1) pizza; 2) something with fries; or 3) peanut butter. But I just started a post-season diet-and-exercise plan and am thus getting up at 5:30 daily to hit the gym before work, so I figured the least I could do was try to complement the exercise with a better diet.

Not that I'm on a diet, mind you. I just wanted to see what would happen if I could eliminate two of the two less-than-healthy foods I eat most often. So while I wanted to order a grilled cheese and fries, I went with a grilled BBQ chicken sandwich with rice.

Of course, I was lured into McDonald's this morning thanks to a low-level hangover and the promise of a Sausage Biscuit (capitalized like the proper noun it is), so don't give me too much credit. But I'm trying.

And I'm going to a diner again tomorrow with The Sandman (because, quite frankly, if you're going to see Bon Jovi open The Rock, you might as well make it a totally Jersey night and eat at the diner) and expect to again be tested. I vow to be strong.

Speaking of peanut butter, I have had fewer relationships last longer than the one I’ve enjoyed with Jif Peanut Butter. Given my lifelong dislike of lunch meat, I ate the same sandwich for my 12 years of pre-collegiate education - peanut butter and jelly. I still eat them and in fact over the weekend had a rare but scrumptious fluffernutter. All made with Jif.

But given the diet-and-exercise plan, I decided it was time to try a healthier option. So after more than 30 years of loyalty to the fine folks at Jif, I turned to organic peanut butter.

Here’s a replay of how things went (and please note, I was having this conversation with myself) as I prepared my mid-morning snack of fiber-and-flax toast with organic peanut butter yesterday:

Me (upon opening the jar): "Hmm, it's very watery. And incredibly hard to stir the cement-like peanut butter underneath."
Me: “Hmm. This doesn’t taste great. Well, at least it's good for me."
Me (turning over jar): "Holy crap! This has 200 calories per serving. And it tastes like brown paste."
Me (heading to pantry): "Jif only has 190!"

So Jif, I apologize for straying. I have learned my lesson.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

On Wednesday, I returned from my last business trip of the year. I planned to spend my first free weekend in months catching up on domestic tasks at Casa Magnolia, including a good cleaning of the walk-in closet, the floor of which has not been seen in months:

Let's see how that worked out...


Saturday was the Hunt and I thought I would be missing it for the first time in at least 10 years. One of my usual cohorts was out of town and the other thought she was unavailable due to child-care issues. Thus my plan to use the day productively, even drafting a list of household chores I wanted to tackle.

Well, that list remains untouched.

Thanks to a last-minute change of plans, KJ and I arrived in Far Hills on a beautiful, sunny day. We employed our usual system of free agency, wandering to various spots to visit different friends. Most of the day was spent in the "ghetto," the lower area that serves as host to the real clown shows. Case in point, our funnel-toting friend above, whose party also featured a grown man in a Superman costume and another dressed as a tin-man keg...

In a change from most years, we actually watched a few of the races and placed a few bets with Shan's friends. We must be maturing. In many years past, we have gone the entire day without seeing a horse.

All in all, very good times.

Oh, and for anyone who enlarged the first photo, yes, that is a Devils-era Sean Burke poster, which has been in my possession since 1988. Despite his recent retirement, it will remain on the wall.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Four days. Three children. One dog. One woman.

Let's take a look at the numbers:

1 - Number of times I managed to shower before 2 p.m.
1 - Number of times I was asked, "Can I poop?"
1 - Number of times I forgot the dog's propensity for eating things out of the trash.
1 - Number of times I immediately regretted that memory lapse.
1 - Number of wet diapers in the trash at the time.
1 - Number of times I actually counted the children in the car to make sure I hadn't forgotten one.
2 - Number of full brother-on-brother assaults.
2 - Number of said assaults that led to bloodshed.
2 - Number of times I forgot to eat lunch.
2 - Number of times I considered licking a child's fingers a meal.
2 - Number of times I took all three children to a restaurant.
2 - Number of times they behaved like angels in said restaurants.
4 - Number of caffeinated beverages I usually have per month.
4 - Number of caffeinated beverages I had per day for the duration of my supervising responsibilities.
24 - Pounds of food Sweetie Pie Princess can eat per day.
24 - Sweetie Pie Princess's apparent total daily diaper weight.
3 - Number of times I considered the muscle-building potential of carrying around a child who eats as much as Sweetie Pie Princess.
39 - Times I thanked the Freak and the Geek for visiting Saturday afternoon, which really refreshed the crowd.
57 - Number of sympathetic looks I got from strangers during the four days that clearly said, "oh, look at that poor single woman and her three children."
467 - Number of times I said, "Get your hands off your brother."
679 - Number of times I said, "Dog, get away from the high chair."
12:30 a.m. - My usual average bedtime
9:15 p.m. - My average bedtime while watching the Crazies
2:30 a.m. - Average arrival time in my bed of Crazy Nephew #1
4 - Number of times Sweetie Pie Princess awoke before 6:30 a.m.
1 - Number of times I convinced her to go back to sleep.
0 - Number of times I felt completely defeated and cried.

And, perhaps my favorite moment, from the mouth of Crazy Nephew #2...

Late Monday, he was sitting on my lap when I asked for a smooch. He thought about that for a moment, then said, "Okay, I'll kiss you. But I'm not marrying you."

Pictures of this weekend are to come. For now, it's time to return to my footloose and fancy-free life. Newark Airport is calling my name.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

In a weekend where Ohio State inexplicably rose to the top of the (seemingly meaningless) college ranks and Green Bay eked out a victory to improbably improve to 5-1, neither comes close to being the most unbelievable headline of the day.
More than halfway through four days and things are going fairly well. And by fairly well I mean I have managed to keep all three children fed and dressed. A full rundown will follow when I have successfully returned the crazies to their parents in one piece tomorrow night.

I managed to time today's naps to coincide with the Jets game. My reward? Seeing Gang Green in uniforms that looks similar to some of the diapers I've changed in the past 2.5 days.

And here's something to file under good to know ... I have tried to find video from the scene in "Jersey Girl" when Ben Affleck et al are trying to change the baby's diaper at the Hard Rock prior to the Will Smith press conference and the delivery man offers advice about how to clean the baby to avoid the dreaded crotch rot. Might I suggest you not enter "crotch rot" as a search parameter at YouTube.

Trust me on that.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I decided that when my travel season ended (which it has except for a quick overnighter next week) that I was going to take advantage of my time at home. I think I've gotten off to a good start...

Since my office was closed to honor to the first national holiday of the week, I decided to take advantage of the day by taking the crazy nephews to NYC. They love a good adventure so I figured a day with no real plan in the nation's biggest city would be right up their alley.

It was. They were wildly fired up about driving through the Lincoln Tunnel, and one of their greatest joys in life is riding the subway. We wound up in Central Park, where we walked around for a while before heading into the American Museum of Natural History. We spent a good deal of time in the Rose Center for Earth and Space and then wandered through the rest of the museum. We watched an Imax movie about dinosaurs, which Adam found so enjoyable he applauded at its conclusion (while Matthew amused himself by letting the seat collapse on him).

After a nice lunch and ice cream, it was back into the car for the trip back to the Garden State. It didn't take long before I was the only person awake in the vehicle.

After making my first in-office appearance in several weeks, I headed north to pick up my cousin. We planned to enjoy a sizzling plate of meat before heading to the first of two Springsteen and the E Street Band shows.

Steve's was closed for renovations for several months this summer and we feared that they were making the mistake of underestimating the importance of the low-key interior of the establishment. Shotguns hanging from the ceiling, random black-and-white photos and fish on the walls, unremarkable (some might call it shoddy) furniture. All important elements of the place's charm.

I am pleased to report they did not make this heinous judgment error. Decor = same. Meat = magical.

Speaking of Magic, then it was on to the show, which I would qualify as solid. It wasn't the best show I've ever seen, but I enjoyed it and left looking forward to night two...

An even shorter stop in the office, followed by a mid-afternoon trip to the Meadowlands parking lot. The folks next to us had set up a mini concert environment featuring speakers larger and louder than the ones I have in Casa Magnolia, so we enjoyed a little show-before-the-show. This may be a case of you had to be there, but sitting in a parking lot on a sunny afternoon sharing beers and conversation with a special friend watching planes fly overhead while the Springsteen catalog of songs was played at top volume was an "ain't no sin to be glad you're alive" moment.

Then it was on to the show, which was just kick-ass. I believe it will find a place in the list of the top five Bruce shows I've seen, joining the first show I ever saw, the one in Atlantic City in 2003 where I got last-minute tickets from a friend of Max Weinberg and wound up in the fourth row, and the Rising Tour finale at Shea. (I realize that only adds up to four, but I can't decide amongst the shows I've seen in Asbury Park.)

A great setlist, a lively crowd, and the band sounded just tremendous. Very tight considering it's only the fifth show of the tour. This was one I'll long remember.

After the show, we hit the Bendix Diner, always a crowd pleaser. Except there was no crowd. In fact, Shan and I were the only customers in the diner. Sitting in a booth in the window as traffic sped by on 17, it almost felt like we were in our own little movie. Given the Bendix's cinematic history, perhaps that's to be expected.

Because I've obviously overdone it thus far with the working this week, I took today off to:
a) recuperate from the excitement of the past two nights
b) honor the national holiday I missed yesterday
c) run a variety of errands
d) prepare for the upcoming weekend, during which I will watch the Crazy Trio for four days.

Yes, I am watching three children, all under the age of seven, for four days. Oh, and the dog, so that's almost like a fourth child.

I'm sure family members are quietly taking bets as to how this is going to go. I'm confident it will be fine, although I do plan to ask my brother and sister-in-law to sign a document confirming they will in fact return, and not permanently leave their wild brook in my care.

So I anticipate one of two things happening during the next few days: either I will be posting constantly with a variety of amusing anecdotes about life as a temporary child-care provider, or you will not hear from me for several days.

If ever again...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

So the weather stripping around my front door started to fall away from the door frame a few weeks ago, and while I was in Arizona the top piece became about 80 percent detached from the top of the entryway. Since my return last week, the loose piece has been hanging in exactly the middle of the doorway, so that whenever I enter or depart Casa Magnolia, the little piece of stripping smacks me in the forehead.

My friend is coming to pick me up so we can go see a 58-year-old man and his friends bust their asses for our entertainment, so I thought I'd quickly fix the rogue stripping in the interest of having the entrance to my abode not look so ghetto.

You know what's coming, right?

Yes. I have glued my fingers together.


Very tired today. Regular posting will resume tomorrow...

Monday, October 08, 2007

leisurely: (adv.) [lei·sure·ly] showing or suggesting ample leisure; unhurried

That was the word the promotional materials used to describe the bike ride my uncle and I undertook yesterday. The Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Tour was advertised as a ride for the "casual or experienced cyclist," and came in a variety of lengths. We chose the 40-miler, based mainly on our successful completion of Bike NY earlier this year, which is a similar distance.

Allow me to use some rudimentary graphics to show the erroneous step we took with this line of thinking:

I consider myself to be a casually experienced cyclist. I cycle semi-frequently when I am home, which, if you've been following along, hasn't been often in the past three months. There are some stout hills around my house, which would have been good practice for yesterday's ride, but I have not been on my bike since early August.

My uncle, however, not only did some wise pre-ride training but also did a test run of the entire course in his truck. He warned me that there were at least two severe and several moderate hills along the way. Being somewhat familiar with the area, I knew that would be the case. I just didn't realize how frequently it would be the case.

When we reached the first notable incline, I asked my uncle if it was one of the two severe hills he mentioned. It was not, and that was disheartening. When we finally reached the first of the severe hills, I was stunned at how steep it was. My brain, heart and legs held an emergency meeting to discuss the trauma they were all experiencing. About 3/4 of the way up, I had to admit defeat and walk my bike the remainder of the way. Upon my arrival at the crest of the hill, I sent a quick text message to my cousin, asking him to make sure lots of Springsteen was played at my funeral.

But things improved from there, even if the hills did not. The ride up Storm King Mountain was an absolute bitch, and I downshifted my bike to its lowest-possible gear. But we eventually made it all the way up without walking and were treated to this view:

The ride's brochure promised the "opportunity to see the Hudson Valley at its most beautiful time of year." Well, it was definitely beautiful. It will be more beautiful next week, when more of the leaves have turned, but it was still a scenic, enjoyable ride. It's a really pretty area, and certainly quite a contrast from the streets of New York City.

One of the highlights of the trip was the Orrs Mills Railroad Trestle. We passed it at a distance once, early in the ride, and then rode under it a few hours later.

Another high point was the lack of fellow riders. Bike NY, while fun, gets ridiculously crowded and backlogged with its 30,000 riders. Not a problem here. This is one of the rest area/food stops along the way. Much different from the mob scenes at Bike NY, at which I once had a run-in with a fellow biker over a banana.

All in all, it took about four hours to go 34 incline-filled miles (we skipped a side trip or two, and rode directly back to my aunt and uncle's house, rather than returning to the starting point). Upon arrival, I collapsed into the recliner for the balance of the day, thankfully sleeping through most of the J-E-T-S' second-half disappearing act against the Giants.

I made it through the rest of the day with minimal pain (except for watching the Packers-Bears game, but that was more emotional torture than physical) but was sure my body would take the night to think about what I had put it through and make me pay today. My biggest fear was that I would be unable to bend my knees when I awoke, which would result in me having to tell two little faces that we would not be going to New York City today because Aunt Jersey Girl was unable to walk.

Imagine my surprise when I did some preliminary knee bends this morning and found everything in working order. And then stepped out of bed and experienced no knee buckling.

So off to the city we went. More on that tomorrow...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Is there anything sweeter than the sight of a young girl hugging her scarlet-and-gray football?

I'm going to say no. Unless it's her throwing said ball to the ground with a sassy smile on her face. Fourteen months old and already aware of how to spike a ball. Such pride I have...

Sweetie Pie Princess figured out how to walk last week. As you can see, she's taking advantage of her newfound freedom in admirable, sporting fashion.

Tomorrow, after taking the Crazy Nephews to the city that never sleeps, we'll catch up on the recent goings-on in Jersey Girl Land, including a discussion of the word "leisurely." You won't want to miss it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

According to the online tracking program my friends at Continental Airlines offer, I just looked to find that they are still unsure about the whereabouts of my wayward bag.


When I walked out of my hotel at 6:55 this morning, there was my old friend, sitting unwatched and alone on the ground outside the front door.

As you can imagine, I was somewhat confused. It would seem my bag has been here for at least 11 hours, and Continental still doesn't know where it is. And I certainly never got a phone call telling me it was in Arizona and on the way to my hotel, as I was repeatedly promised would be the case when (or, as I kept saying, IF) they found the bag.

Clearly, a call to the Baggage Claim Center at Continental was in order...

Continental Airlines Customer Service Rep: "Hello, can I have your file reference number please?"
Me: rattling off the 10-digit number I have by now memorized
CACSR: "Ok, give me just a moment ... your file seems to be closed. Let me see what I can find out."
Me (after letting her hem and haw for a few moments): "Well, that may be because I have my bag."
CACSR: "You do? Oh, that's terrific."
Me: "It is indeed terrific, but I'm a bit curious as to how it showed up on the front door of my hotel, and I was never called or notified about its arrival, and you all don't seem to have a record of its delivery."
CACSR (after a long pause): "That is strange."

That conversation ended quickly thereafter, and resulted in me now having a somewhat-generous travel voucher for future use. And the promise of repayment of the 200 bucks I spent last week.

So that's that. A quick inspection yielded that all the contents were still in the bag and, except for a tube of face cleanser that opened (thankfully within an air-tight, waterproof bag), all seems well.

I fly again Thursday night. Can't wait to see how that goes.