Sunday, January 30, 2011

Run For Your Lives

Chicago's weather forecasters are all twitchy this afternoon. They're alleging 30 inches of snow will fall by Wednesday.

If we are to believe New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's ad campaign inviting Illinois business to relocate to his home state, I would suggest Tuesday at noon would be a good time to beat feet east.

Last one out please remember to close the door.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Late last summer, the Jewel started giving out annoying stamps with every grocery purchase so shoppers could buy cookware for a penny -- plus the 9 million stamps required to "buy" a sauce pan.

As I don't cook and I don't need pans, thank you, I routinely told the cashier to keep them, or to give them to the next customer.

At the same time, and without my knowledge, my husband was gleefully stocking up on stamps so he could buy a $500 pan. In the past month, and reluctantly, I handed over the occasional stamp so he could reach his goal. Our neighbors kicked in several (thousand) as well, as did Dennis, our delightful son-in-law (who is a wonderful cook).

Friday was pan day. Husband had enough to get two -- one for Den and one for us.

I was too busy enjoying the inaugural ham and cheese omelette to take a picture, but it was delicious.

If you are of a certain age, you will remember S&H Green Stamps. I think my mother bought a hair dryer in the summer of 1961. It had a plastic hood that poofed up when you turned on the air. In about 60 seconds, the back of your neck burned something fierce and you had to turn it off. And that was okay because the thing was so loud, you couldn't hear the TV.

At least I think the hairdryer was a Green Stamp purchase. Maybe we got a blender.

In any event, do you remember Green Stamps? What did you get? And more importantly, do you still have your "free" treasure? Leave me a comment with what you bought, or if you particpated in/boycotted Jewel's great pot giveaway.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What Was I Thinking Part II

"She was dressed in rich materials -- satins, and lace, and silks -- all of white. Her shoes were white. And she had a long white veil dependent from her hair, and she had bridal flowers in her hair, but her hair was white. Some bright jewels sparkled on her neck and on her hands, and some other jewels lay sparkling on the table....I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes."
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

While my 30-year-old wedding bouquet looks pretty good in this photograph, trust me when I say it was every bit as decayed and decaying as the spurned Miss Havisham. (I must confess my first introduction to Great Expectations was television rather than the book. David's Lean's film of 1946 -- particularly with the mice running in and out of the wedding cake -- put me over the edge for a lifetime.)

The link to the scene where Pip first meets Miss H. is here. The mice part comes much later in the movie, so you'll have time to work up to it. 

Note to future brides: press a rose or two from your bouquet and call it a day. Better yet, take a really good picture.

Now back to the basement.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Still Here

This basement rehaul/reno/cleanout/hazmat/disaster is taking a lot longer than I thought, so Naperville Now feels badly about not covering the Apple Store Burglary Part Deux, Rahm Emanuel's exclusion from the mayoral race and those pathetic Bears.

(You won't believe the stuff I've unearthed. What really gets me is why I kept 98 percent of it in the first place. I apologize to Goodwill in advance for the lack of quality stuff headed its way. I also apologize to the landfill. I promise to recycle twice as hard from now until the finish line.)

Thank you to daughter #1 for coming out today to reclaim her leg warmers, shoulder pads, New Kids on the Block cds, and scrunchies. And what a relief to have found those martini glasses, located in a box just under the yoga mats, to the right of the faux Oriental rug, and inches from the floodwaters.

It wasn't really this deep. Just felt like it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Holy Powerball!

Powerball winners sold in 501 W. 87th St....$200,000 to the ticket holder.
For 90 seconds, there was a LOT of head spending going on. Then there was a bit of weeping, because it wasn't us.

But in those 90 seconds, I was deliciously absolved of basement duty. Behold the professional organizers! Summon the floor painters! Feast your eyes on that rainbow of Rubbermaid tubs!

And then there was this:

This is what I tend to dream of, after paying off the house, college and the wedding.

What's your $200,000 fantasy? Leave me a comment.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I'm Working On It

Don't ask how the basement revamp project is coming along because frankly, I've been just too busy accomplishing stuff above ground.

First, I needed to find a gift for my sister-in-law, Sarah, whose birthday gala in Savannah, GA, is in thirty days.

This is Sarah:

She's very glamorous.

She also was the highest ranking teen tennis player in east Tennesse in the 1970s. (At matches, where you draw names to see who you play against, the other players -- usually grown women -- would cry when they drew Sarah's name because no one could return her serve. I love that about her. I'm also glad I don't play tennis.)

My second accomplishment this week was to finish piecing a quilt that's taken me (wait for it) 2 1/2 years to complete. I think I'm developing some sort of attention deficit issue. Fabric lost, fabric found, fabric replaced. Stitches torn out, blocks pieced incorrectly, appliqued leaves too big. And then there's the math of it, which I can't even go into without weeping.

Needless to say, this artistic stuff has taken a huge toll. Luckily, my friend Joyce (you've read her guest post in this space) salvaged the shreds of my quilt, along with my textile dignity, just before Christmas. Last weekend, I got 'er done and delivered it to a quilter in Glen Ellyn. In an ice storm.

Here's the quilt top:

It's far from perfect, but we don't do perfect around these parts.

I'll take a picture of it when it's quilted and bound.

So now that I have these two items crossed off my list, the basement beckons.


Monday, January 17, 2011

You'll Help Me, Won't You?

I am bucking a long-standing tradition of making no New Year's resolutions for two reasons: the sewer backed up into our basement just before Christmas and I've seen several episodes of Hoarders. 

Consequently, reduce, reuse and recycle is going to be Naperville Now's basement theme for 2011. But I need your help in the form of comments, reminders, and encouragement. Also directions to an electronics drop-off site.

I have been captivated by a most excellent article by Martha Beck since it appeared in O Magazine in 1999:

"There are two ways of going through life: Gather everything in sight, just in case you need it. Or, trust that you'll find exactly what you need, just in time. Guess which one lets you really stop and smell the roses?"

This may be the most liberating essay I've ever read. Too bad it took me two years, the sewer and the A&E Channel to tip me into action.

By New Year's Day 2012, my goal is to have a basement that looks like this:

Or as close to this as possible. Bear in mind there are things I cannot change about the basement, like the HVAC stuff and, possibly, the quantity of Christmas decorations. (And then there's that stupid crawlspace, which should be stricken from the home engineering handbook. If you're digging a basement, dig the whole goshdarned thing. Don't leave a huge square of dirt just for grins. It's gross. And damp. And gross.)

My accomplished son-in-law, bless him, built 8 feet of freestanding shelves over the weekend. These will hold a few strategic items off the floor, and as for the rest, I hope to be able to reallocate all of this stuff from my house to someone else's via the online Naperville Yard Or to Goodwill, which just opened south of us. Or I will recycle it. Or repurpose it. Somehow.

Then I shall paint the floor a lovely shade of grey and close the door.

I think this is doable.

Anyone have any thoughts on mold eradication?

P. S. My pal Nancy informs me that the Naperville Park District is recycling broken Christmas lights. You can read about it here. Too late for me, but perhaps it's not for you. You have until Feb. 1st .

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Hard to believe, but our iPad-winning, life-saving, true-blonde baby nurse turns 24 today.

Not sure how that happened, or where I was when it did. Probably driving carpool. And doing laundry. And volunteering at school. And cooking (what a waste of time that is.) And trying to quit smoking. Any millions of things mothers do.

I would tell my younger self to pay attention more. Be in, as they say, the moment. The laundry, the toys, the dust, all of it can wait. But I didn't hear that part very well, at least not until later. Sometimes we can make the rules for our lives. And that is a gift.

How far that little candle throws his beams.
So shines a good deed in a weary world.
William Shakespeare

To our good deed-doer, Happy Birthday. The Baskin & Robbins ice cream clowns await.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Major Award

In the late 60s, I won a tiny black and white television by correctly identifying several cartoon characters and the Kellogg's cereal they represented.

This feat is still referred to in reverential tones by my family because it was the only time any of us achieved such heights in the contest realm.

The next generation, however, is an entirely different story.

Our daughter, AJ, may be the luckiest person on the planet, starting with Astro Jetson, a stuffed animal she won at Naperville's Last Fling balloon pop. ( I think she was 4. It was all she could do to carry it home, given its height. And what my husband was thinking to let that child throw a metal-tipped dart anywhere still eludes me. But, I digress.)

AJ also has won lunch with a favorite teacher (in a grade level not her own), raffles for hair care products and craft supplies, and the occasional speech and writing awards. (She is also amazingly gifted in finding usuriously-priced items at mind-blowing discounts. Jimmy Choo heels, for instance. For $75. At Nordstrom Rack. Perhaps the state of Illinois should hire her as its treasurer.)

Luck? Diligence? Maybe a bit of both, as her latest endeavor has earned her this major award:

for renaming her hospital newsletter The Stethoscoop.

Now that is seven kinds of cool.

And look -- no rabbit ears.

Ever won a contest? Let us know in the Comments section.


Being sick for a week is not how I planned to start of 2011, so I am declaring Jan 10th New Year's Day. (Naperville Now can be very despotic in that way.)

I have a great story to tell you about a major award, won by our daughter in St. Louis. But first, I have to go to work.

So, more -- much more -- tonight. (Unless I come down with hemorrhagic fever, which wouldn't surprise me in the least.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I recommend buying stock in all manufacturers of tissues. Naperville Now is going through a box every 30 minutes.

Hate hate hate being sick.

I'm thinking I must agree with Erma Bombeck: "Housework, done right, will kill you."

If I'm dead by morning, you'll know it was the evil basement. Feel free to keen and wail.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Waste Not

While I am cleaning rugs and sketchy basement floors, my friend Joyce has agreed to write a guest post on a subject that is terrifying to us both: the memory thing. Forgotten Christmas gifts. Forgotten appointments. Found objects that we do not remember buying. Garage door up or down? Car locked?

Our children cast a gimlet eye as we protest we do NOT remember commiting to babysitting or remember an event that they told us about a week/day/minutes before.

As long as I remember who Joyce is, I am somewhat reassured that we are in this brain dilemma together. Hers is compounded, however, by her love of and creation of many, many forms of ART. Textile, mostly. But that is only the starting point for many, many other projects. All lovely, by the way. But we are both in need of a professional organizer and, possibly, a personal assistant. Preferably hunky. I can share.

Here's Joyce:
In the immortal words of Dan Quayle, "It's a terrible thing to lose one's mind.  Or not to have a mind at all."  Though he was trying to quote, and mangling, the American Negro College Fund's tag line, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste," Dan was on to something.  As any woman who is nearing, in, or past menopause knows, it IS a terrible thing to lose one's mind or not to have a mind at all.  This tragedy plays out in bizarre ways when the woman is trying to live a creative life.  
Creativity has come to require massive quantities of stuff -- "collectables" (formerly other people's stuff), found objects (ditto), decorative papers, a dizzying array of adhesives (how many ways are there to stick one thing to another?  you wouldn't believe.), stamps, inks, pencils, stencils, awls, needles, fabrics (both vintage - other people's - and new), beads (ditto), wires, pliers, scissors, charms, felt, books, yarn, embossers, glitter, sequins, buttons, ephemera (other people's old postcards and photos,) hole punches in a dizzying array of sizes and shapes, and did I mention adhesives?  I wouldn't want to leave out the decorative Japanese rice paper tape, a product currently very popular, carried, surprisingly, in Anthropologie as well as in high-end arts and craft stores, the uses of which are chronicled in a book devoted entirely to that product.  Which, I am embarrassed to admit, I own (otherwise how would I know what to DO with the decorative Japanese rice paper tape?).  
And if the creative woman ventures into Archiver's or Paper Source or Art Mart, she will find, and buy, tools that she had no idea anyone would ever need, but which she now must own.  A hole punch that is spring-loaded and can punch a hole in the middle of a page -- no longer constrained by the space between the hole punch part and the hinge of the apparatus; a pen-shaped tool that has a tiny spot of sticky material on the end that picks up a minute piece of paper and a release mechanism that drops it just where you want it. Seriously. Once you know it exists, how can you do without it?  And even if you can do without the item, you are held hostage by the gorgeous packaging, and by the grouping of this item with other beautifully packaged items that attach to it for even more obscure purposes.
So here is how this all relates to memory.  Six months after buying the stick-and-release tool, I run across it in my drawer (or even worse, in the original bag in which I brought it home from the store) and think... what did I intend to do with this?  More likely still, what IS this?  And wow, I paid $13.99 for it?
Thus I have made this 2011 New Year's Resolution:  Do not go to bed until you have written detailed annotation regarding whatever art item you bought that day.  What is it?  What project do you expect to make with it?  This note must be securely attached to each item bought, or can be attached to bundled items bought for a specific project.  This at least gives you a prayer of remembering that brilliant insight you had about the decorative hole punches in the vintage fabric that will be made into a pillow trimmed in thimbles.  

It's me again.

By the way, the fabulous PaperSource is opening a new store in Naperville. Would it be just mean to invite Joyce to the grand opening?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Not So Pastalicious

You know when you have dinner catered for a group of friends? And it's all nicely cooked and in foil pans? And you are really looking forward to Lemon Chicken and Mostaccoli? And you get everything tucked into the oven? And 45 minutes later, you remove the pans, add extra sauce and put everything back into the oven?

Well, remember to read the directions and add a cookie sheet under the stupid foil pan, or it will collapse in a steamy heap on your Oriental rug.


And no, the 5-second rule will not apply.

My New Year's resolution is to eat out more.

What's yours?