Thursday, September 30, 2010

What's The Big Deal?

I find myself living in a "retail-challenged" area. Shopping options are limited here. So, about a year ago, it was a really big deal when a Nordstrom's opened in a Cincinnati suburb. There is a mall there that is quite "frou-frou", where they have valet parking and all the women dress up just to shop. Except they don't call it a mall... it's a "town center". All the high-end shops are there. I've been to this town center occasionally because that's where the nearest Apple store is. It's a special trip for me, as it's about an hour up the road.

Yesterday I decided to check out the new Nordstrom's for the first time. A long time ago when we were visiting San Francisco, I went to the Nordstrom's there. I was impressed with the selection, the service and the ambience. But yesterday... the one in Cincinnati was a big letdown! Not much selection, and most of it I can also find at my local Dillard's. The dressing rooms were nice, but small and none of the platforms they used to have at Lord and Taylor, where you can stand and look at yourself in all your glory. And the service... what service? I walked around for fifteen minutes and no one offered to help. Finally I found the dressing room on my own. I was met in there by a service person who apologized for the lack of help. She said they were in the middle of a "thing". I had no idea what she was talking about. After a while I realized they were all gathered around a couple of customers who were trying on jeans. I think they were all friends. There was non-stop chatter about this brand and that brand, and how each pair made their butts look... on and on and on. She told me she would check back with me, but she never did.

Finally, I just left without a word. They didn't even notice. I wandered on over to Dillard's and found all the selection and service anyone could want. Nordstrom's? Why bother?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Big Night in Cincinnati!

The Cincinnati Reds became Central Division champs last night! There were fireworks and champagne at Great American Ballpark. Home run in the bottom of the ninth inning... it doesn't get more exciting that that!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What Do They Put In These Things?

I have become addicted to Krispy Kreme doughnut holes. It all started a few weeks ago, when I noticed them in my local market. I decided that one or two holes after dinner as a little dessert wouldn't hurt. It would satisfy my sweet tooth without doing too much damage to my diet. The problem is... I can't resist them. I swear they put something addicting into these things. I see the box sitting there and I am drawn to it. Then I eat one, and I can't stop.

This morning I checked the Nutrition Facts on the bottom of the box. Here it is:

Five doughnut holes: 200 calories, 11 total fat grams, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber. According to Weight Watchers that equals 5 points. Five points! Ack! That's one quarter of a day's worth. I can't lose weight if I keep this up. Remember, I'm not eating a whole doughnut... just five little holes, each about one inch in diameter!

I want to lose weight. I'm not trying to look like some model in a magazine, or some movie star. I'm not that unrealistic; I just want to look like myself twenty years ago and twenty pounds lighter. I look at pictures of myself when I was thinner, and I want to look like that again. If I looked like that once, I should be able to do it again, right? Not if I keep eating doughnut holes. So, I am afraid I will just have to stop buying them. I know where they are in the store. I will have to avoid that aisle because if I see the box I will pick it up. They speak to me... the siren song of Krispy Kreme!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Enough Already!

Ninety degrees! Every day this week it's been at least ninety degrees here. Yesterday we broke the all-time record at 95 degrees, and today it's supposed to be record-breakingly hot again. It's been ninety degrees and over all summer... July and August were the hottest on record. I am SICK of the heat! We are also in an officially severe drought. Everything is dry. Trees are losing their leaves before they even turn their autumn colors. The grass looks like straw. It's horrible!

Officially, it's autumn. It ought to look like this:

I am longing for autumn to get here for real. To see the colors, to feel the cool breezes and the crisp air. To wear sweaters and light fires. My favorite season is being stolen from me this year. First, our spring was cut short by early heat. Now our autumn is being stolen by lingering heat. I have a feeling that our winter will be as unseasonably cold as this summer has been unseasonably hot. There are no longer four seasons here... just brutally hot or bone-chillingly cold! I need to live in a more moderate climate.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Take Me Out To The Ball Game!

Where do you go on a Friday night in Cincinnati? A Reds game! As you can see, it was a beautiful evening.

The Great American Ballpark sits on the banks of the Ohio River. That's Kentucky on the other side of the river.

The ball park was full of fans wearing red.

We had a great view from our seats behind home plate.

The boy in front of us with his parents was celebrating his 13th birthday.

In front of him, the cutest baby girl sat with her parents. She was wearing a red tee shirt that said "My First Reds Game" on the front.

The game went 12 innings, and she stayed awake the whole time.

She was paying close attention... not to the game, but to the fans sitting behind her. At one point in the game, when she was facing forward, they put the fan cam on her and she was on the big screen.

A fun night was had by all! (And the Reds won!)

Not A Lot of Fun Lately

Last week my left arm went numb, and my hand was tingly. The doctor sent me in for some tests. I spent all day Friday at the hospital, being tested. I had an ultrasound of the heart, an ultrasound of the carotid arteries, and an EMG. Found out I have carpal tunnel syndrome. Probably from typing on my laptop. I am supposed to wear a splint on my wrist. (I think it all started when I discovered Freecell!)

Last week I had to go to the dentist... again! There is a certain tooth that won't hold on to a filling. They keep putting it in and when I floss it comes out. My husband says "don't floss there any more" but the dentist insists that I should. Maybe I will suggest they use super glue next time... It worked in Italy!

Today I went to the dermatologist to have a mole removed. I thought to myself "I've been having a lot of procedures done recently". I've spent too much time during the past week sitting in medical and dental offices. There are many more fun things I could be doing. Between the doctor's office, the dentist's office, the hospital and the dermatologist's office, I've been in a lot of waiting rooms recently!

I did find out something interesting this morning, as I was leaving the dermatologist's office. There was a sign posted about their "family". I found out my dentist is married to my dermatologist! And I had never even realized it. It is a small town.

Since today is only Monday, I hope I have some more fun experiences to write about before the week is over.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Will Disney Pay For My Therapy?

This is Disney... looks all happy and playful, doesn't it?

Well, I know Disney has a dark side. I grew up on Disney, and it affected me for life. I have been taking anti-depressants for years, and I blame it all on Disney.

Remember Bambi? It was all sweet and lovely... and then Bambi's mother died, in a very scary way. I was just a child, and that affected me. I cried. I was scared. I took it to heart.

And Dumbo... what they did to his mother. She suffered, she cried. It was cruel. I cried, too. What does Disney have against mothers anyway?

But, no, not just mothers. Fathers died, too. I refused to see the Lion King because the little cub's father was cruelly killed. I knew I couldn't handle that.

Worst of all... Old Yeller. It wasn't even a cartoon. It showed a real boy, and a real dog. The boy loved that dog. The dog loved that boy. They were best pals. We all know how love of a dog can be. And what happened to the dog? And how did that boy feel? It was just too much. Why Disney, why?

Now that I am all grown up, I still can't shake those feelings. It's too easy to be sad. A child doesn't need to be exposed to all that sadness. And I don't think much of all the Princess stuff, either. Now every little girl grows up thinking she should be a princess. All those little girls growing up with that sense of entitlement can't be good. Have you seen shows like "My Sweet Sixteen?". Unh-huh... think about it.

Clearing the Decks!

I have devoted today to clearing the decks. Recycling old magazines and catalogs. Sorting out things for Goodwill. Clothing, dishes, cups, books, lamps, rugs, chairs... if I don't use it, out it goes! I am tired of looking at clutter. Our house is small, and it looks cramped. I want to see sleek and uncluttered surfaces. I am a recovering pack rat.

I like the sentiment expressed in the photo above, but why have three rocks when one will do? That's my new philosophy. Pick one pair of jeans you like the best, one black tank you like the best, and pitch the rest (well, maybe keep one other one in case the best one is dirty). I am getting radical here. I want to be able to move freely in the world, not be weighted down with my possessions.

I am no longer saving things I can't wear now, but will be able to wear when I lose five pounds, or ten pounds, or whatever. What I can wear now stays, and the rest goes. If I lose weight I will reward myself then by buying something new. At one time in my life I had a chest with layers of pants... size six on the bottom, size eight above that, size ten above that, waiting for myself to diet myself down through the layers!

We have decided we will move to a different place when we both retire. I have a friend who had a house full of antiques and a style to go with them. When they moved to a condo she got rid of everything and started over with a new, modern style. I want to do something like that. Start fresh! I have a few favorite things, and the rest is going.

Of course it isn't always that easy. There are days when I feel like I can't part with anything. I look at each item and memories come flooding back. There start to be too many favorite things. Then... other days I get out of bed and feel like clearing the decks. I have to do it then, while I feel like it. Who knows what I will feel like tomorrow? That's why today is "clear the decks" day. It has to be out of the house now before I change my mind.

Why is this so hard?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sometimes They Amaze Me

I have three nieces who never stop amazing me. This one is 11-year old Aubrey. She's smart, and a voracious reader. She has a rollicking sense of humor, and an effervescent personality. Today I picked them up from school. On the way home she was telling me about "Orpheus in the Underground". Then we went home and she played Mozart for me on the piano... while wearing a ring of flowers on her head. She said "I love the classics". Amazing...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Just Another Monday

Two indoor cats... and two outdoor cats:

Not much to say this morning, but I wanted to get that 9/11 image off my front page. It was a beautiful weekend here, finally some cooler weather. I love it when we can open all the windows and have a nice breeze. We still need rain badly, but we did get a little sprinkle on Saturday morning.

We went to Cincinnati Friday night for a Reds game and out to a nice restaurant Saturday night. A relaxed, peaceful weekend. Thank goodness for weekends like that.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

My New Favorite On-Air Personality

I don't watch reality television. I don't like any of the "Real Housewives" or those "Jersey Shore" punks. I used to watch "Say Yes to the Dress" on TLC, but my husband recently issued an ultimatum: "either that show goes or he goes". I wrote a while ago about a new show on HGTV called "Selling New York". I find it fascinating to see how "the other half" lives, in the multi-million dollar lofts of Manhattan. Now I have a new favorite... her name if Sarah Richardson.

Sarah Richardson is a Canadian designer. She has several shows produced by Canadian production company PrimaVista. I have seen two of her shows on HGTV here in the USA. One is "Sarah's House". She buys an old run-down house and fixes it up. I have seen a farmhouse and a a 1950s era ranch. I understand she has another show called "Sarah's Cottage" which runs on HGTV Canada. I wish we could see that one here, too.

Now there is a new show called "Design Inc." in which she is part of a group of young designers.

I am a fan of her work. She is dynamic, funny, and has good taste. Apparently there are other fans too; I recently found a Facebook site called "The Sarah Richardson Appreciation Group".

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Talk About The Weather

Finally! A break in the weather! It has been the hottest, most humid summer on record here. All my flowers have died from the heat. The grass looks like straw. It has been miserable all summer. Summer is supposed to mean having fun outdoors, but not this summer. Outside for a few minutes and you are gasping for air.

This morning it is finally COOL. The windows are open. You can actually go outside and breathe. What a nice change.

By the way, I came across this photo this morning and just wanted to share it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Book Stash

I've been writing about my ongoing decluttering process. I have stashes of all kinds of things; too much of everything. These are my books, at least the ones that aren't still packed in boxes. You know those file boxes they sell at office supply stores? When we moved here, I had sixty of them full of books. The movers had to redo their estimate when they saw all my books!

The books shown above are in the basement. The books shown below are in the guest bedroom (any guest here has a lot of reading material).

In the photo below, the shelves hold my collection of travel books. I have travel books for places all around the world; I have visited most of them, some I hope to visit in the future. On top of the shelves, you can also see part of another collection... dolls.

Oh, and I finished Sarah's Key this morning. Most of it was a good story and I couldn't put it down, but I thought it had a weak ending.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sarah's Key

It's already 10:30 in the morning on Labor Day. My husband is off playing golf. I should be well into my daily four hours of decluttering. The back of my car is full of stuff I have packed up for Goodwill. (Are they open on Labor Day? Maybe not.) Anyway, my day has been derailed. I picked up this book and began reading it, and now I can't put it down. It was published in 2007 but I have just discovered it. As I said, I can't put it down. It is riveting.

**Update: Okay, now I've managed to put the book down for a while and have managed to do two hours of decluttering!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Labor Day Cincinnati Style

Every Labor Day weekend Cincinnati has Riverfest. It's a party all weekend long. The highlight is a fireworks show on Sunday night. It is spectacular!

The epicenter of the fireworks is the Ohio River. Fireworks are launched from bridges, and from barges in the river. Thousands of people are watching from the banks of the river, both on the Ohio side and the Kentucky side.

The fireworks began in 1977, as an anniversary celebration by a local radio station. They program music to go with the fireworks. It's quite a show!

The entire city is ablaze with light and color...

with the sounds of music all around.

This year my favorite part was set to the song "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka. There were multiple fireworks floating down on parachutes, meteors streaking through the sky:

At one point, there were thousands of lights floating on the river, looking like candles flickering in the water. It was magical!

Still At It!

Yes I am. Still at it. For the past week, I have spent at least four hours a day decluttering my basement. Hard to believe, but I have made only a small dent. Slow but steady progress.

Although two of us live here, I must admit that most of this stuff was accumulated by myself. (As my husband often reminds me.) I have finally realized the awful truth... I am a packrat! I have boxes full of socks, scarves, gloves, boots, and shoes. I have ten boxes full of tablecloths and place mats. I have boxes full of old magazines and newspaper articles. I have another box full of Absolut Vodka ads; some have been pasted into a scrapbook, others are loose. I have every card my mother has sent me since we moved here almost five years ago. Sentimental me.

Not to mention my sewing stash... fabrics, thread, trims, patterns. Knitting supplies, embroidery supplies, buttons, appliques. Books about sewing, quilting, knitting, decoupage.

Oh, and boxes full of photos and old negatives. More boxes full of cassette tapes and video cassettes. Lots of out-moded stuff like that.

One whole storage room is full of holiday decor. Outdoor decorations, indoor decorations, special plates. special napkins, special tablecloths, aprons and towels. If you name a holiday, I have something to decorate it.

Four hours a day, pulling out boxes I haven't opened since we moved here four and a half years ago. Finding things I had forgotten I had. Some of it is worth keepng. Most of it I will never use again, so I am not keeping it. I will be making many trips to Goodwill. I told my husband they will probably ban me from bringing in more. They might have to expand their building to hold all my stuff!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sitting is Lethal!

I recently read about a study showing how sitting decreases life span. According to this study, every hour spent sitting meant an 18% increase in deaths from heart disease and an 11% increase in overall mortality. Ack! This scares me because most of the jobs I have ever had involved sitting for eight hours a day. Recently, I've been doing too much sitting and not enough getting up and walking around.

As part of my personal "rebirth" I have promised myself to get into better physical shape. To this end, I am trying to spend less time sitting. I've been walking around my house, looking for things that need to be done. This has led to more cleaning, organizing and decluttering. Also, my sixty-something neighbor recently told me about a senior yoga class at the YMCA. Yesterday I went with her. It looks something like this:

Some of it was done sitting and some was done standing. I wonder... is sitting okay if you are doing yoga? Anyway, it was a good stretch. I think I can do yoga without a chair, though. Maybe more like this:

Though I kind of doubt that I will ever be doing this:

It does look very healthy though, doesn't it? I guess the important thing is to just keep moving!