Tuesday, December 22, 2009

T-minus One Hour and Counting

I'm so bored, waiting out this last hour at work before my vacation officially starts, so I thought I would bore you all with some random thoughts, hehe.

  • Walmart is evil and should be avoided at all costs on the best of days, but especially on a Monday that not only is 4 days away from Christmas but is also on the eve of a major snowstorm approaching.  Grrr.
  • My office phone number is one digit off from a taxidermist's number in a neighboring town.  Today I got 4 calls from a frustrated hunter who couldn't figure out why he kept getting me.  I thought about messing with his head when I saw his number pop up on caller ID again, but I didn't.  It is the holidays, after all.

Yikes!  lol

  • How will no-bake cookies taste using natural peanut butter?  Hmmm...

  • I think my co-workers think I'm insane for listening to 30's and 40's big band music on internet radio in my office.  I have yet to get a comment about it, but I can just tell they wonder.  Especially since when I started working here all I ever listened to was heavy metal.

  • I've eaten enough chocolate and snowball cookies to last me two months.  Ugh.

  • Why do people panic and run to the store before a storm comes?  I mean, have we run out of every single morsel of food in the house and will literally have nothing to eat?  And for what, a couple of days?  Has anyone ever actually starved to death because they didn't make it to the store to stock up on pop and chips and were too lazy to dig their car out  snowed in?  It's funny how we all have this lemming mentality over food.

  • Yesterday Husband and I ate lunch at real old fashioned greasy spoon diner downtown called Tex's Cafe.  Real glass plates, pop served in Coke glasses, long counter with round stools, crusty old men customers flirting shamelessly with the waitresses, who called her customers by name.  Best hamburger I've had in months. 

This isn't the one we went to, but isn't it a cool building?

  • I was reading a thread on the Fedora Lounge forum today, where members were fantasizing about building their own vintage town, a Golden Era utopia, and discussing who would do what job and what it would look like, etc.  All in fun of course, but if such a place existed, I'd want to live there in a heartbeat!

  • Ooh, ooh, TCM alert!  If you like the movie musical My Fair Lady, tonight TCM is showing it, and AFTER that they're showing Pygmalian, the original movie/play My Fair Lady was based on.  I'm excited to see how they differ!

  • My dad really enjoyed the little movie I made the other day and appreciated all the nice comments.  Now he's digging around for other old recordings he may have laying around.  I've created a monster!  ;)  And wouldn't luck have it, but we unearthed another photo that I wish we'd had when I put it together, because it's probably the coolest one of them all (imo).  So, I'll share it now.  :)

That's dad at the mic, front and center.

  • [looks at clock, is it time to go home yet?]   Dang, nope.

Well, guess I'll surf some more while I'm waiting for these last 20 minutes to pass.  Sigh, it's a hard life.....  ;)

Happy Holidays everyone!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Looky What I Did!

I'm a YouTube virgin no longer.  :)

I put together a photo montage set to music.  It's a little rough around the edges, but I'm sure the more I do the better I'll get, right?

Now, for the good stuff.....

In my anniversary post, I described how my parents met in 1952, and mentioned that my dad is a jazz musician who at that time was playing with the Air Force band at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida....well, this montage is a collection of photos of my dad playing guitar with that band, as well as shots of other jazz groups he played with around Tampa  in the early 1950's. 

The music?  None other than a recording of my dad singing "That Old Black Magic" with the AF Band during a live radio broadcast in 1952.

In photos where he was difficult to make out I added cropped shots of him.  Hopefully I didn't do a butcher job!  Anyway, he's the tall skinny guy with the guitar (in most shots; at the end I added shots of him playing stand-up bass).  If you're into old music, pop culture from the 50's and old photographs, this will be right up your alley.

Enjoy....and leave a comment!  :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Quiz Answers and other Random Tidbits

For anyone who is just dying to know the answers to the Christmas Song Quiz from my last post, here they are!  Stefanie and Emily came the closest to guessing all correctly, nice job ladies!  :)

1. Sir Lancelot with laryngitis
(answer: Silent Night)

2. Decorate the entry-ways.
(Deck The Halls)

3. The smog-less bewitching hour arrived.
(It Came Upon A Midnight Clear)

4. The lad is a diminutive percussionist.
(Little Drummer Boy)

5. Exuberation to this orb.
(Joy To The World)

6. 288 Yuletide hours.
(12 Days of Christmas)

7. Do you perceive the same longitudinal pressure which stimulates my auditory sense organs.
(Do You Hear What I Hear)

8. The red-suited pa is due in this burg.
(Santa Clause Is Coming To Town)

9. Far back in a hay bin.
(Away In A Manger)

10. The apartment of 2 psychiatrists.
(The Nutcracker Suite)


12. Present me naught but dual incisors for this festive Yuletide.
(All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth)

13. That exiguous hamlet south of the holy city.
(Little Town Of Bethlehem)

14. Behold! I envisioned a trio of nautical vessels.
(I Saw Three Ships)

15. Listen, the winged heavenly messengers are proclaiming tunefully.
(Hark, The Herald Angel)

16. A joyful song relative to hollow metallic vessels which vibate and bring forth a ringing sound when struck.
(Carol Of The Bells)

17. Frozen precipitation commence.
(Let It Snow)

18. Boulder of the tinkling metal spheres
(Jingle Bell Rock)

19. Vehicular homicide was committed on dad's mom by a precipitous darling.
(Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer)

20. We are Kong, Lear, and Nat Cole.
(We Three Kings)

21. Our fervant hope is that you thoroughly enjoy your yuletide season.
(We Wish You A Merry Christmas)

22. Parent was observed osculating a red-coated unshaven teamster.
(I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause)

23. May the Deity bestow an absence of fatique to mild male humans.
(God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)

24. Natal celebration devoid of color, rather albino, as a hallucinatory phenomenon for me.
I'm Dreaming of a (White Christmas)

25. Obese personification fabricated of compressed mounds of minute crystals.
(Frosty The Snowman)

26. Tranquility upon the terrestrial sphere.
(Peace On Earth)

27. Have hitherward the entire assembly of those who are loyal in their belief.
(Oh Come All Ye Faithful)

There you have it!  How'd you do?

Today is Friday.....I just have to get through this day, and then Monday and Tuesday, then I'm off work for a glorious 12 days until January 4th.  One of the perks of working for a university is getting lovely long holiday breaks.  I've been spoiled by it....if I ever work anywhere else it's going to be a shock to the system to have to go back to work the day after Christmas!

As I do every year, I have a long list of things I want to accomplish during my time off.  And every year, I usually fail to get any of them done.  I give myself a couple of days at the beginning to be a lazy bum, with the intention of buckling down and getting to work later on......and then I'm looking at the last day of my break wondering where all the time went and mad at myself for wasting all that time.  Maybe I need some of those martinis Kathryn is always talking about in her blog!  ;)

One of those things on my to do list is playing with my new camera.  Yes!  We bought the Canon Powershot I blogged about....but I haven't had much of a chance to do anything with it yet other than take a few test shots.  But even those few shots blew me away with their clarity, compared to my old camera.  I can't wait to dig in and post some stuff I've been putting off simply because the pictures were too blurry to make out.


Something else I've been playing around with is making movies. 

No no no, not that kind of movie.....just home videos I've shot of my dad playing at various gigs (he's a jazz musician) and random shots of our pets.  I know how to upload them onto the computer using Windows Movie Maker, edit, and finish them off with credits and dissolves and such....it's actually quite fun to play around with!  But what I want to do is take smaller clips and make YouTube videos of them. 

Have any of you made YouTube clips before?  I'm open to any and all advice!

Do you have all of your Christmas shopping done?  Chop chop, 'tis only one week away!  If you're needing some inspiration for gifts, stop by Jessica's Chronically Vintage blog for vintage and retro-inspired gift ideas.  Also, Emma at Emma's Music just had a post asking for stocking stuffer ideas, and her readers came through with oodles of suggestions so be sure to stop by and check them out!

Last but not least, I've been given another award by two lovely ladies, Stefanie Valentine and Pink Champagne.  Thank you so much! 

I suppose I should actually do some work, as that's what I'm being paid to do.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Christmas Quiz!

I haven't had time this week to put together a more proper post, but someone at work handed me this quiz and I enjoyed trying to work out the answers....so I thought I'd see how well you fare!

You've probably seen this, or something similar, before, as I have.....still, quite a few stumped me.  Each clue/phrase represents the title of a traditional Christmas song:  just put your answers below in the comments!  Some of them are obvious, and some are waaaay out there and will have you scratching your head.  I'll give ya'll a couple of days to play and then I'll post a followup blog with the answers.

So put on your red and white Santa thinking caps and play along!  I'll give you the first one as a freebie example:

1.  Sir Lancelot with laryngitis
     (answer:  Silent Night)

2.  Decorate the entry-ways.

3.  The smog-less bewitching hour arrived.

4.  The lad is a diminutive percussionist.

5.  Exuberation to this orb.

6.  288 Yuletide hours.

7.  Do you perceive the same longitudinal pressure which stimulates my auditory sense organs.

8.  The red-suited pa is due in this burg.

9.  Far back in a hay bin.

10.  The apartment of 2 psychiatrists.


12.  Present me naught but dual incisors for this festive Yuletide.

13.  That exiguous hamlet south of the holy city.

14.  Behold!  I envisioned a trio of nautical vessels.

15.  Listen, the winged heavenly messengers are proclaiming tunefully.

16.  A joyful song relative to hollow metallic vessels which vibate and bring forth a ringing sound when struck.

17.  Frozen precipitation commence.

18.  Boulder of the tinkling metal spheres

19.  Vehicular homicide was committed on dad's mom by a precipitous darling.

20.  We are Kong, Lear, and Nat Cole.

21.  Our fervant hope is that you thoroughly enjoy your yuletide season.

22.  Parent was observed osculating a red-coated unshaven teamster.

23.  May the Deity bestow an absence of fatique to mild male humans.

24.  Natal celebration devoid of color, rather albino, as a hallucinatory phenomenon for me.

25.  Obese personification fabricated of compressed mounds of minute crystals.

26.  Tranquility upon the terrestrial sphere.

27.  Have hitherward the entire assembly of those who are loyal in their belief.

Have fun!  :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hidden Gems

Ever stumble across a movie while flipping channels that you'd never heard of, ended up watching it, and was thoroughly delighted, wondering how this little gem escaped your attention?

That happened to Husband and me last night, as we flipped to TCM and watched the movie already playing, even though it was 30 minutes into it, because there was nothing else on to watch.

It Happened on 5th Avenue, released in 1947, was a comedy ensemble piece starring Victor Moor, Don DeFore, Ann Harding, Charles Ruggles, and Gale Storm that takes place in New York City in winter.  Victor Moore is a "hobo" named McKeever that, along with dog Sam, has come up with a keen way to live in style:  he cunningly finds ways into rich mansions that are vacant as the owners go elsewhere for the winter, and leaves again before they return, being careful to leave everything as he found it.

This time he has made his winter residence at the luxurious mansion of the O'Connor family.  The O'Connor daughter, Trudy (Gale Storm), however, has run away from finishing school and decides to hide from her family in their vacant NYC home, not knowing that McKeever is squatting there.  Upon running into him inside her home, instead of turning him in to the police, they become fast friends and she pretends to be a squatter also.  The two end up opening the home to others in need of a place to sleep; the group forms a happy little family of sorts.  Trudy falls in love with one of these, a veteran G.I. named Jim (Don DeFore) and tries to get him to fall in love with her, too.   (Another one of these drifters is a young Alan Hale, Jr., better known as "the Skipper" on Gilligan's Island.)

When Trudy's father, the powerful wealthy business magnate Mr. O'Connor (Charles Ruggles), comes to NYC to look for his daughter, she convinces him to help her win Jim over by pretending to also be a hobo who has come to the home in need of a place to stay; Trudy wants Jim to fall for her for real, not just for her father's money, so she wants their true identity concealed for as long as possible. 

Well, Mr. O'Connor can only take so much of pretending to be a hobo in his own home and being made to wash dishes and be dog Sam's "valet", let alone being given orders and lessons in morality by McKeever (who has taken on the role of sage leader) so he quietly tries to thwart their efforts.  Trudy catches on and enlists her mother's (Ann Harding) help, who flies in from Palm Beach and adds to the ruse by becoming their "cook." 

In the end it all comes to a happy close with the O'Connor's true identity being revealed and the lot of them learning some good life lessons along the way:  that money doesn't buy happiness, and no man is truly rich without family and friends and love and laughter:  two themes that have appeared in movies repeatedly but never get old because of their truth (and our seemingly inability to remember it).

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie, and wish I'd gotten in at the beginning of it in time to record it.  But, now I have another movie on my list of ones to watch for as they cycle around again and will catch it next time!

In looking up information online about this movie, we were interested to learn that it had originally been optioned for director Frank Capra to do, but for reasons unknown he declined it and chose another project instead:  It's A Wonderful Life.  I wonder if he'd gone ahead and chosen this movie, if it would have become the beloved Christmas classic in place of "IAWL."

So that was my hidden gem of the week....what movies have you accidentally discovered that became a favorite?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

SNOW DAY!!!!!!

I can say without hesitation that the glee one felt as a child when a snow day was called and school was canceled does not diminish when one is an adult, and a snow day is called and work is canceled!!!!

South central Nebraska, where I live, is among the areas across the plains and the midwest that are being blanketed with a mountain of snow today in a massive winter storm front.  So severe is this storm system supposed to be that the university I work at actually announced last night - before it even started snowing - that it would be closed today.  In the seven years that I have worked there, that has never happened before.  How it normally works is that we could be knee deep in snow and all public schools within a 50 mile radius could be closed, except the university.  So when I found out last night that I wouldn't have to go to work today, I shouted for joy!  :)  And then proceeded to stay up until 1:30 am watching old movies.....lol.

Husband and I have been out to shovel the driveway a couple of times this morning already - much easier to do if one keeps up with it in small increments than trying to dig through 12 inches all at once.  No complaints here, I actually love snow.  Yes!  I love snow.  I know, I'm weird.  Here are some photos I just took of the lovely snow....

This is the view standing on my front steps and looking across the street

This is at the kitchen window looking towards the backyard

The thermometer is blurry but it reads 10 F degrees.

Not very good pictures, right?  Kinda blurry, not crisp, and no ability to alter that because the camera doesn't have any features to do so....our camera sucks.  I know that's not a very ladylike thing to say, but sometimes there's just no other word to adequately describe it.  ;)  I have been griping about this camera for years; it was our first digital camera that we bought in 2005, and even then it was considered cheap....the kind of no-name item encased in plastic that you find hanging at the checkout aisle cheap.  But, it initiated us into the digital camera age and served its purpose.  Until now.

Each Christmas for the last three years, Husband and I have been saying that instead of buying presents for each other, let's just buy a really good camera.  For one reason or another we never did it.  This year I broached the subject again.....but then we had some unexpected expenses pop up (thank you, stupid malware viruses!) so I figured it was a moot point.  But.....*squee!!!!!*.....Husband gave me the green light to start looking for a new camera! 

I've been researching cameras online, trying to learn everything I can about what makes a good digital camera and what doesn't, before making the decision.  Oh.  My.  God....this shouldn't be rocket science!  Aside from the fact that there are 50 billion camera models out there, each one has its own set of unique features that don't seem to carry over into other models.  Argh!  I'm not a professional photographer, I just want a camera that I can take decent pictures with.  Shouldn't be hard, right?  Here's my criteria so far:
  • ability to do close-ups that aren't blurry - I've now learned that's called a macro feature.
  • a stabilization feature that eliminates "camera shake" as you're holding it
  • decent optical zoom capability
  • crisp, sharp images
  • shots as close to the real color as possible
  • does well in low light situations, like indoor shots
  • doesn't eat through batteries - therefore must have a rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • the ability to do quick action, fast motion shots (like for taking pictures of pets) - I've now learned that's called fast or quick burst
  • isn't going to require us taking out a home equity loan to pay for it!
After researching this for days, the camera I keep coming back to is the Canon Powershot SD1200 IS.  So far it seems to be the only one that meets my criteria in full.  The problem?  Mixed customer reviews.  Some rave about it, some say it's the worst camera they've ever used....but I guess that's going to be the case with every camera out there, right?  Maybe I'm over-analyzing things, because I feel if we're going to spend this kind of money, I want to make sure that it's going to meet my requirements.....but then again, anything we get is going to be better than what we have....

I haven't made a final decision yet, but I thought I would ask for some feedback from you, my lovely readers, as I'm aware of how behind the times we are and that most people have had "real" digital cameras for years, lol.  What kind of camera do you have?  What do you like about it?  What do you dislike about it?  Any tips or suggestions? 

On a final note....I've lost 2 lbs since last week!  Woo hoo!!!  Now to just keep on track.....oy.

Have a great day, and if you're also in the snow path today, stay warm!

Update:  9:31 pm here and I was just notified that the university is closed again on Wednesday!  *does happy dance*  This is like an extra Christmas present!!!  :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hooray for Mom and Pop!

First off, I just want to say Hi, and Thank You to all of you following my blog....I'm touched that so many are interested in my random word spewings!  Each time I see I have a new follower my heart does a little leap of joy!  :)

Making new friends, whether it's online or off, opens us up to new ideas, new perspectives, and new concepts that we might not have been exposed to otherwise.  If one is open to new ideas, that is....for many years I wasn't.  I had my narrow view of the world and refused to think - or even peek - outside the box.  I didn't want to be troubled by having to think about anything challenging, see.  Thank goodness that's all changed now!

All that to lead up to what I really wanted to share....my newest tangent, if you will.  Well, not really new....but something that's been building in the back of my head for months:  the concept of buying local and supporting your locally-owned businesses instead of patronizing national chains.

Now, everyone has already heard for years about how and why Walmart and the concept of the "big box" store are evil and drive local stores out of business, etc. etc.  But did you ever really stop and think about all of the ramifications such chains bring upon us as a whole?  I never had, until recently.  I looked at the issue on a surface level only and said, "Oh yes, I agree it's evil," and then went on about my business without altering my shopping habits.   50's Times shared a link to a documentary called "Independent America" a couple from Canada made about the death of local businesses and "mom and pop" stores and restaurants in the U.S. and I have to say, it really opened my eyes in a way other information on the topic hadn't before. 

Here is the link to watch the documentary on Hulu - it's about an hour long, but well worth it.  I encourage you to make the time to watch it (I know many of you already follow 50's Times, but if you haven't watched this yet, please do!). 

What's wrong with going to big box stores and chains?  Well, I could rant my views until the cows come home, but I won't bore you with that.  I have a feeling many of you probably already feel the same way as I, anyway.  Besides, what could be more vintage in this day and age than making the conscious choice to patronize your local shops and restaurants instead of lining the pockets of CEOs a thousand miles away? 

In that documentary, someone interviewed talked about the "10%" rule:  if everyone made the conscious choice to make just 10% of their purchases at a locally owned business (and not a chain franchise simply owned by someone local), it would help out their communities economies immensely.  I really like that idea, but I'm going to try and go beyond 10% as much as possible.  Unfortunately, our finances right now won't allow me to completely eradicate all big box shopping; for example, buying a package of toilet paper at a grocery store versus buying it at a box store like Walmart has an astronomical price difference, with the box store coming out the victor, even if one uses coupons.  And admittedly, shopping at a local grocery store will result in a higher total on the receipt than buying groceries at Walmart; one has to be practical about things when one's income is really, really, low.....but one can also make changes in other areas to accomodate more local shopping, something I aim to do in this new year. 

I've been attempting to cook more at home instead of eating out (and doing more cooking from scratch instead of relying on frozen convenience foods), but for times we do eat out I want to patronize a local restaurant instead of a chain.  And if I want fast food - which will be less often as I lose more weight - I'll choose the "smaller" chains like Dairy Queen, Sonic, and Runza (a Nebraska regional chain).  If we get bored from the places in town here, there's several small towns that are within a 15 minute drive that have some great places to eat.  Here is a wonderful resource to help find local eateries, and celebrate mom and pop culture:  Roadside Online.  Also, when summer rolls around again, I'm going to take full advantage of my local farmer's market.  I did a little bit this past summer, but not as much as I could have.  I'm also going to buy more groceries at our local stores, and patronize K-Mart more for those dry-goods items like the above mentioned example of toilet paper.  I know, K-Mart is still a big box store.....but it's a little less "evil' than Walmart. 

On a different but similar vein of thought, this can even go beyond just local stores and restaurants....today Jessica at Chronically Vintage posted a blog about a new discovery she made of an indie magazine that focuses on quality not quantity.  As magazines fold left and right, there's also a growing number of smaller independent magazines starting up that are catering to niche interests, but also are seeming to take into consideration the quality of the content, instead of regurgitating out the same information a dozen other publications has (not to mention the 80% of ads one has to wade through in those other mags).  If you come across one of these indie mags and it's something that's right up your alley, do you part and support them!

On yet another tangent, last night Husband and I were discussing the newest electronic buzz gadget, Kindle, and the downside to this latest e-sensation.  Loss of jobs due to printers and publishing houses closing.  More bookstores closing - independent booksellers are already pretty much extinct thanks to box book stores like Borders and Barnes and Noble, and now even they're in trouble.  Libraries becoming extinct.  Potential monopoly on the book marketing business by Amazon, resulting in fewer options for readers and authors alike.  One more piece of technology to make us dependent on!  And while it may not be as obvious, I think this, too, ties in with how important it is to be conscious of the bigger picture and what consequences can come of our purchases....now don't get me wrong, technology and progress are good things....but not all of it. 

It's my hope that these tough times are making people more mindful about how they spend money....not only for their pocketbooks, but also in looking at the big picture at the ramifications our purchases can make on our way of life if we don't take care.  We, the consumers, must ask ourselves if our spending habits will make us pay a higher price further down the road....not just in dollars, but in the way our entire society runs.  If we don't like what we're seeing, don't like things the way they are, it's up to us to take a stand and make the change, using our weapons of choice:  our cash, checkbooks and debit cards.

What about you, do you buy locally and support your independent stores and restaurants?  With the biggest shopping time of the year upon us as Christmas approaches, and in this tough economy, are you purchasing more for less, or less for better quality?  Which is more important to you?  Share your thoughts!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Man I Love

Figure skating has always been a passion of mine.....not me actually skating, though I enjoy it, but following the sport and being a fan-girl.

The other day on the fabulous online station Cladrite Radio  (btw, if you like old music, you must check out this station!), I heard Gershwin's "The Man I Love" come across the speakers and had an instant lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.  Why?

Let me tell you a love story about my favorite skaters of all time, Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov.....

Moscow, Russia, 1983.  Two young skaters who were struggling as single skaters were paired up by the coaches to see if they'd have better success as a pairs team.  Ekaterina, "Katia" for short, was just 10, and Sergei was 14.  They were put through the rigorous training paces of the Soviet sports regime, but the hard work and sacrifices began paying off, and the team started collecting titles and medals under their young belts as the years passed.

Calgary, 1988.  Katia and Sergei, known affectionately as "G&G", won their first Olympic gold medal.  Katia also began developing a schoolgirl crush on her handsome older partner....and Sergei began to realize that this waif of a girl who he'd always looked at as a little sister was starting to become a woman.  As their relationship off the ice evolves, so does their skating, revealing a newfound passion and maturity.

1991.  The couple marries, and leaves amateur skating to turn professional.  They settle in Connecticut and join up with Stars On Ice, a prestigious skating tour founded by Scott Hamilton.

1992.  Katia and Sergei have a daughter, Daria.

Lillehamer, 1994.  Due to a change in the rules, professional skaters are allowed the opportunity to return to the amateur level and compete in the 1994 Olympics....Katia and Sergei take that opportunity and run with it, resulting in their second gold medal.

G&G are now considered to be at the peak of their game, elite legends among the skating world.  They have a style that even today is unmatched....they were perfection personified in their posture, speed, balance, and grace.  They had a quiet subtlety that stood out among other pairs who were only capable of doing flashy tricks with no substance.  Not only their passion for skating shown through in every performance, but also their love for each other....they made love to each other on the ice, much like it was said of Fred and Ginger's dancing....ethereal, timeless.

The Man I Love, spring, 1995

Lake Placid, NY, November 20, 1995.  Katia and Sergei are at a rink practicing one of their new programs for the new season of Stars On Ice, when Sergei collapsed on the ice.  Katia skated over to him, screaming for someone to call for help.  Sergei was rushed to the hospital, skates still on his feet; he was pronounced dead a little over an hour later.  He'd had a massive heart attack, due to undiagnosed heart disease.  He was 28.

Katia was only 24, and now suddenly a single mother; not only had she lost the love of her life, but her livelihood as well.  During those first awful months following his death, she didn't think she was going to survive, but knew she had to be strong for Daria.  Her good friend Scott Hamilton shipped her skates to her in Moscow from her home in America; she would later write in Sergei's memoir that forcing herself to get up in the morning for nine o'clock ice time would be the only thing that kept her tethered to reality in those early dark days, even though it seemed as if her career was over.

Three months after his death, the skating community wanted to do a tribute to Sergei, for the dual purpose of celebrating his life, but to also establish a fund for Katia and Daria.  The event would be televised, and those skaters who knew the couple best would perform.  And then, an amazing thing happened....they received word that Katia not only would be present for the tribute, but that she wanted to participate in it.  She wanted to skate.

She worked with their longtime choreographer, Marina Zueva, to construct a program that told the story of their life together, his loss, and Katia's rebirth.  Skated to the Adagietto of Mahler's 5th Symphony, it is a testimonial to Katia's strength.

Sergei Grinkov:  A Celebration of a Life, spring, 1996
Katia Gordeeva....the black skirt of her costume respresents deep mourning; fading into the bodice as white, representing life, light, and love

Katia went on with life, caring for Daria with the help of her parents who moved from Moscow to the U.S.  She reinvinted herself as a singles skater, with great success.  She found love again, marrying fellow skater Ilia Kulik (1998 Olympic gold meal champion in men's figure skating) in 2001.  Later that same year they had a daughter, Liza.

I still follow Katia's career, and even had the privilege of being just a couple of feet away from her when we saw Stars On Ice perform in Denver in 2007 and our first experience of having on ice seats....one of the most thrilling experiences of my life! 

That's Katia sitting in the seat, during a number that required interaction with the audience....and that's Husband's arm in the foreground, hehe....oh, if only she had sat by us instead!

I can't hear songs like The Man I Love, Mahler's 5th, or indeed any piece of music G&G used without instantly tearing up.  But as much as I still love Katia and am happy that she's been able to find happiness again, G&G will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Monkey, Monkey, Monkey!

I bet now you're wondering if I've been hitting the eggnog a little early, right? 

Nah.  But I remember years ago watching MTV and vj (remember those?) Martha Quinn said that on the first day of the month, before you say anything else that day you should say "monkey, monkey, monkey" and it would bring you good luck all month.  I don't know why that popped into my head this morning, but how's that for totally random useless trivia?  :)

Ah, it's December 1st.  Time to start thinking of Christmas decorations and presents and food.  It's all about the food, of course!  And just when I'm re-embarking on my weight loss journey, too.....this is going to be an interesting month! 

I've been hitting the treadmill the last few days (yay me!) and last night I tried a minute of jogging at the end of my 30 minute walking session.  Yowsa!  If I hadn't already known I was overweight and out of shape, that would have opened my eyes for sure, heh.  I'm glad no one could see me huffing and puffing away all sweaty and red-faced....but I'm determined to stick with it and continue to intersperse short bursts of jogging during the sessions to give a little extra oomph to the calorie burning.  Makes sense to me, anyway.

I've received another lovely blog award, this one from the equally lovely Golden Girl of the West.  Thank you so much!

I believe I must forward this on to 7 other fellow bloggers (and thank goodness there's no questions to answer,lol!):

1.  Chronically Vintage
2.  Born Too Late
3.  Emma's Music
4.  Grayscale
5.  LaPetiteMort
6.  Glamour Daze
7.  Dad's Dish Retro Blog

I'll close with a rant.  Our home computer got infected with malware viruses that were too massive for our [cough] outdated anti-virus software to handle so off to the computer doctor it went today.  At the university I work at, our IT department will work on employees' personal computers, for a price of course.  Still, it's cheaper than taking it somewhere else.  We had the same thing happen a couple of years ago and were only charged $30.00.  Good deal, eh?  So I figured it would be around the same price again. 

Nope!  The new rate is.........$125.00.  $30 to $125!?  Yeah, my jaw dropped too.  It needs to be done though, and I wasn't going to haul the heavy thing back out to my car to take elsewhere so $125 it is.  Sigh.  So much for that new digital camera for Christmas.....unless Husband takes pity on me [wink, wink, nudge, nudge].  He he he....love you honey!  [bats eyelashes]

Anywho....all you fabulous bloggers out there:  make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software is up to date and working properly.....and see you on the other side!

*edited to add:  I've been having problems with some of the blogs I follow not showing up in the blog updates on my dashboard....so if I haven't stopped by your place lately it isn't from lack of want!  Hopefully Blogger will get it figured out soon....ugh!  I couldn't live without the internet but sometimes I just hate all the hassle computers give us!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Picking Myself Up....and Starting Over Again!

That's always been one of my favorite scenes from a Fred and Ginger movie, that being from Swing Time of course.  And it's true for my personal life as well....this past year has not been an easy one to traverse and I'm hoping 2010 will be much less stressful!

When I started this blog a few months ago, I did so with the intention of it solely being a way to document my reclaiming of my health, physical and mental.  That intention got put by the wayside when I realized I didn't want to be limited in what I "vented" so it quickly became an all-purpose blog, leaving me free to write about whatever was on my mind. 

Unfortunately, my intention of doing the actual work involved to reclaim my health also got put by the wayside.  I am happy to say that I am re-motivated to get back on track in that aspect.  I also have to say that becoming a part of the Blogger community has been a HUGE part of that motivation! 

As I searched out blogs to read, I kept stumbling across more and more folk who love all things vintage and love the old classic movies of the 30's and 40's.  Sharing that same love myself, I was overjoyed at finding so many people who are of the same mindset!  Now, having older parents, I grew up being exposed to big band music and jazz, and hearing of what life was like growing up in the first half of the 20th century; I was a true child of the 80's though and Wanted My MTV.  But even while I was obsessed with Def Leppard and worked my acid wash jeans and mall bangs to the full hilt, I still had an appreciation of "days gone by." 

That appreciation grew even more when I discovered the work of Ms. Ginger Rogers.  I had heard, of course, of the iconic Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers but had never seen any of their movies, nor really even ever seen a picture of them.  All I knew was that they were famous for dancing and that she had blonde hair.  One day in 1988 or '89 (not sure specifically), I was channel surfing and landed on American Movie Classics (back when they were what Turner Classic Movies is now and actually played old movies!) and saw the most beautiful actress I had ever seen before.  It was black and white; she was standing in front of a window, through which one could see it was snowing, and the snow provided a lovely backdrop for her dark, curly hair.  I had no idea who she was, but just that freeze-frame moment captured my attention enough to watch the rest of the movie (which was excellent!).  When the movie was over I learned that it was none other than Ginger Rogers, and the movie name was Kitty Foyle.  What?  Ginger Rogers?  I thought she had blonde hair....and only did musicals.....well, I was hooked.  I kept the channel parked on AMC as often as possible and fortunately, the channel was playing a lot of Fred and Ginger, and Ginger's movies that she did without Fred. 

Now, as years passed, I didn't lose my love for Ginger, nor for old movies or the past, but neither was it the focal point of my life and hobbies.  It wasn't until 2007 that I realized that my love of the past could be incorporated into my everyday life.  That was when I stumbled across The Fedora Lounge , quite by accident.  Here was an online community of people who not only loved the past, but lived it everyday in some form or another!  Here people chat about WWII reinactment weekends and where to buy CDs of old radio programs.....women chat about how to do pin curl sets and what shade of red lipstick was truly authentic to 1940....guys chat about how to get properly fitted for suits and how to care for vintage fedora hats....they post pictures of how they've just installed an oven in their kitchen from 1953 and of the vintage pencil skirt just won on ebay they wore to the office that day.  I was enthralled!  Before this, it had never dawned on me to try and seek out vintage furnishings....or that people existed today who wore vintage clothes (and hair and makeup) as part of their everyday wardrobe.  It never occurred to me that I could do this, too! 

Despite my newfound knowledge, I kept to the fringes and continued to live life in the same way I had for years, until I found myself at somewhat of a crossroads this past July as my life turned upside down and I could no longer ignore the changes I knew I needed to make.  Ever since then I've been slowly, slowly, coming back to life, albeit with a few bumps in the road.

Now, I can't tell you what a shot in the arm discovering this massive vintage (and non-vintage too!) blogging community has been for me!  Not only has it re-awakened my love for the past, reading all of your blogs has inspired me to want to start living life with a more vintage eye for things....and more importantly, it's motivated me (again) to want to take much better care of myself and of my home.  It's so much more than just the aesthetics of vintage....it's a mindset that touches all aspects of life. 

So basically, I want to say thank you to all of you.....you have come to mean a lot to me in this short space of time.  I'm not a religious person, but I believe everything happens for a reason and I feel that I was led to you all by a force much greater than I. 

 I'm off to watch and record The Shop Around The Corner with Jimmy Stewart....have a great night and see you all on the other side!  :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Radios, Anniversaries and a Whole Lot of Other Stuff!

I saw the coolest thing online today, so of course I have to share it.  :)

This is a 1941 Philco Beam Of Light Radio-Phonograph-Recorder with the first wireless remote...ever.  The "Beam of Light" pickup didn't use the ordinary record-gouging steel-needle heavy pickups of the era, but a feather-weight sapphire attached to a small mirror, which deflected a beam of light to play the record: "This Close" to being a CD player.  The arm on the left of the turntable is a cutting arm, to cut (record) your own record.  How cool is that?  (photo, info and video courtesy of Cousin Hepcat of the Fedora Lounge)

Here is a YouTube of this most fabulous piece of equipment in action (note the beam of light shining down on the vinyl in place of a needle:

It just fascinates me that this is so similar to our CD technology of today, yet this is from 1941.  The mind boggles!  Plus the wood casing is sooooo gorgeous....who could want a plastic piece of crap over this? 

No, I'm not saying we should all give up our disc players and ipods.....but c'mon, you have to admit that is one fine looking piece of equipment! 

On to cooking......sigh.

I am not a cook.
I would rather read a book.
If you want from scratch.....alas!
Be prepared for a kick in the ass!

OK, I'm not a poet.  I'll leave that to my Husband.  And I'm not *that* bad of a cook.  I just don't like it.  I guess more specifically, I don't like the cleaning up afterwards that must be done.....especially when we don't have a dishwasher.  That said, I'm trying to get back to cooking more.....actual cooking, not just ripping open a bag of frozen stuff and heating it up.  It's better for the pocketbook, better for our health, and better for the environment.  If I can get myself into the habit of planning ahead and just doing it, I'll be alright.

There is one dish, though, that I pride myself on making well....chicken stew.  Recipie?  Here you go!

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
salt &  pepper, to taste
1-2 tbls olive oil
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 medium potatoes, chopped (can use 3 smaller ones) - you may peel if desired, but I usually leave the skins on
1 cup* chicken broth
1 tbls ketchup
1 tsp* dried thyme
1 tbls* cornstarch, for thickening

(for a budget friendly version, decrease amount of chicken and increase amount of potatoes used)

In a deep 12-inch skillet or dutch oven, cook chicken in olive oil over medium heat until no longer pink inside.  Season chicken while cooking with salt and pepper to taste.  Add celery and onion and saute for 3 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Add carrots and potatoes and saute for 5 minutes. 

In a separate bowl combine chicken broth, ketchup, thyme and cornstarch; whisk together until cornstarch is dissolved (*may need to add more broth, just have to "eye it".  Can add more thyme according to taste; and add more cornstarch if a thicker stew is desired.)

Add broth mixture to chicken and veggies and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until potatoes and carrots are cooked through.  Stir occasionally to avoid scorching.

If you try it, let me know how it turns out!  This is one of my favorite meals to make.

And now, on to anniversaries!  :)

Tuesday, November 24 is my parent's 57th wedding anniversary.  Woo Hoo!! 

They have the classic head-over-heels in love story:

In 1952, my dad, age 21, was stationed at Macdill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.  Now, my dad was a country hick to the core, born and raised on various farms in Colorado and Nebraska throughout the Dust Bowl years of the Depression.  Poor was his life.

My mom, age 22 in 1952, was from an upper middle class family in big city Tampa who wasn't touched much by the Depression....hence, she was somewhat of a socialite who was accustomed to having a cook and housekeeper.  Well off was her life.  (kinda sounds like the set up to Green Acre's, doesn't it?)

One night, their paths converged.  They both happened to be at the same party.  Dad, as a jazz musician, had brought his stand-up bass (in those days it was common to get together and "jam") and during a break had laid it on its side on the floor.  Mom, in another room, was talking to someone as she was backing out of a doorway; not looking where she was going, she tripped over his bass.  Luckily, no harm was done to the bass, it being over 150 years old (he still has it to this day), but one can imagine Mom's embarassment!  After the party, Dad asked a mutual friend about "that crazy girl who tripped over my bass."  In no time, a blind date was set up.

Now, Mom happened to be engaged to be married to another fellow at this point in the game.  But, he was out of town, and she was bored, and figured she'd go on this blind date just to get a nice dinner out of the deal.  She didn't even bother dressing up much, because she wasn't out to impress anyone. 

Upon opening the door and seeing my Dad standing there in all his lean, 6'2 handsome glory, she immediately regretted not paying more attention to her wardrobe.  As she tells it, she was swept off her feet from the moment she saw him.

He took her to a dancing club.  Recognizing my Dad in the audience, the band leader coaxed my Dad on stage to sing a song.  He sang "I Got It Bad, And That Ain't Good" and the entire time he was singing he kept his eyes on Mom.  That pretty much sealed the deal, right then and there. 

They were married 3 months later.  :)

November 24, 1952

Enter Me......After being told for years that she couldn't have kids, and trying various routes to adopt to no success, they resigned themselves to being a childless couple.  Until the summer of 1972 when Mom started feeling ill and feeling a growth in her stomach.  She literally thought she had a cancerous growth.....it never dawned on them that she was pregnant after being told so often she couldn't have kids.  When the doctor told her she didn't have cancer but was 5 months pregnant with lil' ol' me, you can imagine their shock and delight!  She was 42 and Dad was 41....and having their first and only child.  I was born on November 28, 1972.....20 years and 4 days after they were married.  :)

Alas, that means that on Saturday I will be turning 37.  Oy.  Double Oy.  And let's throw in a YIKES just for giggles. 

But I couldn't have asked for cooler parents.  [waves] Hi Dad!  :)  Dad reads my blog because I link it to my Facebook account.  Of which he had a Facebook account before I even did, and he's 78.  My Dad Rocks.  :)

With Thanksgiving coming up, it's a busy week.....their anniversary, Turkey Day, and then my birthday.  One small happy family! 

So, my lovely readers, how will you be celebrating Thanksgiving this year?

Friday, November 20, 2009


I've been sneezing and going through Kleenex (ok, technically Puff's Plus with Lotion, but it's so much easier to just say Kleenex!) like crazy the last couple of days, and either I'm catching a legitimate cold, or I've developed an allergy to my perfume.

For the last 15+ years, I've been a loyal devotee of Red Door by Elizabeth Arden.

About three or four years ago, I stopped wearing perfume, mainly to save money.  I used less and less as time went by until I wasn't using any at all in the last couple of years.

This week I realized I missed having "my" scent on and started wearing it again.

Well, either it's just bad timing and I'm really getting sick, or the perfume has "turned" after sitting stagnant for so long, or I've suddenly become allergic to something in it because all day I've been snotty and my throat hurts from breathing in the fumes, of which I'm keenly aware of every time I take a breath.  No, I'm not drenched in it, t'was just a normal light spritz to my throat like I always used to do.

I know perfume can "turn" if not used over a period of years; one of the greatest gifts I ever received was when I graduated high school in 1990:  a bottle of Chanel no. 5

I rarely used it because it was so precious and I knew I'd never be able to afford to replenish it once it was gone.  Big mistake.  Huge, even....because over the years the scent evaporated out of it and it was mainly alcohol, and I still had more than half a bottle left.  I still held onto it though, because it looked pretty on my dresser....but this year I finally threw it away.  I wish now I had actually worn it when I had the chance!

I wonder if when it goes bad, something activates in the chemicals to make one allergic?  Who knows.  All I know right now is that I'm not going to be wearing my perfume again any time soon.  I should experiment to see if it's just this Red Door perfume that's making me like this, or if others do it too.  I don't have a problem with other perfume scented things, like soaps and lotions, so I'm hoping it's just this perfume.  I'd hate to not be able to wear perfume ever again!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Aww, Shucks....

Wow....I've been bestowed my first blog award!  Thank you, Gingeyginge, for thinking of me!  :)

Now, as part of the rules for receiving this award, I've got to bestow it on 10 other lucky bloggers:

1.  50's Times
2.  Destination 1940
3.  BlackLog
4.  Gingerology
5.  Picture Imperfect
6.  Keep Smiling Smileyfreak!
7.  From the Inside....Out
8.  Gay Guy/Straight Guy
9.  The Call of the Jitterbug Doll
10.  Jordiegirl

I'm so new to the Blogger universe that I'm still getting to know folks...but the above blogs especially are ones I've come to look forward to immensely.  :)  And I'm sure the list will continue to grow!

The other half of the award rules is that I've got to answer the following 35 questions about myself, but only using a one word answer.  This will be interesting....

1.Where is your phone? wall
2.Your hair? disappearing
3.Your Mother?  southern
4.Your Father?  incomparable
5.Your favourite food?  junk
6.Your dream last night?  nada
7.Your favourite drink?  wine
8.Your dream/goal?  happy
9.What room are you in?   office
10.Your hobbie?  reading
11.Your fear? Loss
12.Where do you want to be in six years?   wiser
13.Where were you last night? Home
14.Something that your not?  thin
15.Muffins?  blueberry
16.Wishlist item?  camera
17.Where did you grow up?  Nebraska
18.Last thing you did?  movie
19.What are you wearing?  flip-flops (that counts as one word, right?)
20.Your TV?  recording
21.Your pets? Many
22.Friends?  lacking
23.Your life? improving
24.Your mood? Good
25.Missing someone?  myself
26.Vehicle?  chevy
27.Something your not wearing?  socks
28.Your favourite store?  Kohl's
29.Your Favourite colour? Blue
30.When was the last time you laughed?  recently
31.The last time you cried? recently
32.Your best friend?  Husband
33.One place that I go to over and over?  insane
34.Facebook?  sigh
35.Favourite place to eat?  OUT!

So there you have it, how'd I do?  Now you lucky 10 bloggers, it's your turn.  Post the above award graphic on your blog (if you wish) and go to town with the 35 questions.  I look forward to your answers! 

What else is new.....well, I'm re-discovering my love of all things vintage and old fashioned.  Not that it ever goes away, but sometimes other things take precedent.  But since starting up here on Blogger, I've found an awesomely large community of folks who have the same love, and it's refreshing to know there's so many people out there that value and want to hang onto those vintage things worth preserving.  Not that I get overly rose-colored-glasses over the past; I'm fully aware of the bad parts too.  Civil and equal rights are something that was severely lacking in the "good ol' days," and I don't want to return to a time of bigoted ignorance.  I don't think anyone who claims to love vintage does.  But there's so much to celebrate of them "good ol' days" as well, and I commend anyone who is able to support the cause! 

This week I've been able to expand my old movie collection, thanks to TCM and our trusty VCR.  Yes, we still have to use a VCR to record stuff on the TV....sue me.  :)   I got to capture two Ginger Rogers movies I'd never seen before:  Rafter Romance and 20 Million Sweethearts, both from 1934.  They were absolutely delightful, of course!  But I'm biased on the Ginger front.  :)   And, tonight I'm recording The Harvey Girls with Judy Garland, Here Comes the Groom with Bing Crosby, and Breakfast at Tiffany's with Audrey Hepburn.  Five new movies in one week for free....can't beat that! 

Work is going well, and I even have a new piece of office furniture.  No, it's not a plush leather recliner, much to my chagrin.  It's merely a table with a hutch/shelf for the massive 3-ring binders that are now my life in my new position, but it fills the room up a little more and makes it feel a little more cozy.  Well, as cozy as generic office furniture can be anyway!  I'd much prefer something like this...

....but I'll take what I can get, as long as it keeps me employed! 

That's it for now kiddo's....thanks for reading me, and all of your lovely comments!

Friday, November 13, 2009

New Vintage Magazine!

I just discovered a new magazine that has made its premiere just this month....called "Zelda: The Magazine of the Vintage Nouveau", it's a magazine devoted to everything vintage and early-20th century. I've ordered the first issue, it looks promising....especially to anyone like me that loves old stuff!

Check out the link, and if you're into old stuff too, help this fledgling magazine out and order one!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Peace Of Mind

What a difference a week makes! Last week, I was still banging my head against a wall in frustration, depressed over my job situation and therefore, my self-worth. I never understood before how much of my confidence and self-esteem had been wrapped up in my job.

This week I've been slowly getting acclimated to my new job duties. Today specifically was a great day....it was the first time since July I truly felt good about being here. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of me.

Part of the restructuring included me reporting to a new boss. I was apprehensive at first about this.....because my new boss is a person who I disliked intensely when I started here in July, and therefore avoided her as much as possible. In analyzing it, I can see it's because I was intimidated by her. She's tall, model-thin, wears cool trendy clothes, and has a brusque, no-nonsense personality that I read as "bitchy." Now, after having worked more closely with her this past week, I know she's really nice and I shouldn't have any problems working with her. (I'm still intimidated by her cool, polished outward appearance though....ugh)

So....last post I said I needed to spruce up my office to feel more homey. I took some pictures of how it is now so you can see just how bare it is. I'm going to scout around this weekend for some posters and stuff, as long as they're not too expensive, of course. All out of my own pocket, sigh....anyway, if you have any (cheap) suggestions, lemme know!

Now, keep in mind that my camera *sucks* so the lighting is really bad. This is the view from my desk as I'm sitting in it. The window goes all the way to the ceiling. It's really the only nice thing about the office.

And the bare, stark, white corner with the cement block wall and my one lonely chair for visitors, lol. The opposite corner is the same.

And my bare little corner.....that chair is awesome though. It reclines! :)

I had to take a picture of the floor (and my space heater, lol) to show you the nasty blue/green carpet. It looks washed out in the pic but it's much, much brighter than that in reality. And has paint drips left over from the last time they painted in here....

And that's my office in a nutshell. It's the first time in my life I've ever had a private office, and now that I know I'll be staying, I need to "own" it. Mark my territory. Stuff like that. :)