Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturdays Are for Weddings: 13 Weeks

Most of the time, this wedding feels like it's happening to someone else and I am just offering opinions from the sideline. Maybe because that's the role I am used to. It's only been someone else. I've been ok with that (mostly) because I never wanted a wedding for the sake of "joining the club." Not at the price of a Very Bad Decision. It's not that I didn't want to get married. It's that I didn't want to end up discovering I had committed myself to the wrong guy. (There were a couple of close calls, but deep down, I always knew.)

Today, I put on my wedding dress. Not a too-big version, clamped and pinned and awkwardly poking out in places and pooling under my feet, tripping me up. This time, the dress fit me like a glove. It hugged all the right places. It fell, smooth and feminine, just brushing the ground in the front, trailing gently behind me. I turned slowly in front of the mirror, watching the dress move with me. We pulled the train out full. We bustled it.

And just for a moment, I saw a glimmer of myself as a bride.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

And the Ortiz stands alone.

And so it came to pass that only one David Ortiz remains from the Red Sox 2004 Championship roster now that Youk has been given new Sox to wear.

I am conflicted. It's hard to say goodbye, because even gruff and mostly unlikable, he was ours. From that bald, sweaty head from which the helmet to be slammed to the ground following a strikeout to that crazy, twitchy batting stance that every non-NESN announcer made mention of. But on the other hand, we simply cannot mortgage the future every time this situation presents itself. It was going to have to be Middlebrooks or Youk. A choice had to be made. Middlebrooks would have only stagnated, whether left on the Boston bench or shuttled back to Pawtucket. His time is now. He is younger, cheaper, healthier...and let's face it: carries none of the baggage of 2011's collapse or the ruffled feathers with Valentine (not that I don't heartily sympathize with that).

Sometimes it happens. The young kid, so much glowing promise, pushes out the veteran fan favorite. It's the nature of this game, which is designed to break your heart over and over. (Truth be told, I lived in fear of this very scenario playing itself out with Mike Lowell a couple of years ago. It brought me immense relief when he retired instead.) We couldn't have scripted a better farewell: playing dirt-dog hard, smacking a loud triple, and being lifted for a pinch runner to a roaring ovation from a curtain-call-demanding crowd. I hope those cheers ring long in his memory.

Youk will get a fresh start, away from the nagging fishbowl media of Boston and their hunger for dredging up drama. He will get more playing time without wondering who will be penciled into the lineup at which position tonight, and who will spend the game on the bench, hoping for a late game pinch hitting opportunity. And thought it will be weird to see him in another uniform, I will gladly cheer him with a hearty YOOOOOOUK every time he returns to the friendly confines of Fenway Park.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturdays Are for Weddings: 14 Weeks

We passed the 100 day mark on Thursday. Double digits now. I'm stressed over the party but I don't have an ounce of doubt about the guy. I know it's a Big Deal. I know it's One of the Biggest Deals in one's life, this commitment, these promises. I may not have a smidgen of experience in hosting a party of any size, but I know this is the best right decision I've ever made.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer rememberies...

...Homemade coleslaw. Potato salad. Bacon and lettuce (Gramp's favorite). Tomato salad. Tomato sandwiches (still my favorite) with tomatoes still sun-warm from the garden (I miss that most). Cucumbers with sour cream or oil and vinegar. Corn on the cob. Shelling peas. Blueberries, the darkest midnight blue and plump with juiciness.

...Walks to Carvel. Walking to church. Walking all the way to the far end of Perkins Street, past Chapel Street, past the change in the pavement, down the hill to "the Witch Doctor's house," spooky and made of stone.

...Dew-soaked lawn in the morning. Bare feet all day long. Hot-footing across the driveway, making the last leap into the cool grass. Running. Riding bikes. Playing catch. Paper dolls and playing school. Reading Rainbow. Invented games with brightly colored plastic playground balls. Combing the orchard on hands and knees in search of tiny wild strawberries.

...Baseball games in New Britain. Four-hour road trips to Cooperstown. Frequent trips to the library.

...Windows open all day and all night. Reveling in the lush, green world. Storm clouds gathering, the low rumble of thunder, quickly unplugging the organ and the television. Clover, purplish-pink and lavender-white. The big fan with the clear blue plastic blades, oscillating, back-and-forth back-and-forth. Songbirds singing the world awake. The busy hum of honeybees and bumblebees. The unpredictable flight of a butterfly, dancing on the unseen breezes. Fireflies twinkle-glowing over here, then over there, lighting the hush dark with sparks. Crickets and katydids chirping a lullaby.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturdays Are for Weddings: 15 Weeks

Invitations and dress fittings. Buy the stamps, find a better pen, practice each address first. Make sure to bring the shoes. Write until your hand feels like it will disconnect from your arm at the wrist, then take a break and come back for more. Stand still, hold this layer of the skirt, don't look down. Check and double check: spelling, address, everything inside. Do not lose weight, do not gain weight, stay exactly the same for the next fifteen weeks.

No pressure.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

I Watch TV: 2011-2012, Finale (Part One of Four)

It has long been my television-watching mantra that I don't watch shows for their realism. I live in reality. My life is filled with lots of reality, some of it more welcome than the rest, but reality all the same. When I watch tv, that is my down time and I want to be entertained. I don't mind if that entertainment makes me think (to a point) but I am perfectly willing to suspend disbelief for the sake of keeping me engaged, even if it means the subject is embellished, improbable, inaccurate or impractical. Reel me in. Make me laugh. Drop my jaw. Keep me balanced on the edge of my seat. So long as I get to escape the demands and responsibilities of the life I lead as an adult (not that my life is terrible, but let's be honest, there are some rather bland and not-so-fun parts to being an adult and leading a responsible life, even when that life is pretty amazing and awesome), then we're good. This is specifically why I don't watch a single "reality" show (not any more realistic than any fictional show I do watch, I might point out, but reality shows just cast a spotlight on all the drama I pointedly avoid in my own real life, so watching on the screen seems rather counterproductive to me). And if I wanted actual *realism* in a tv show, I would find myself a documentary.

Glad we got that out of the way.

Disclaimer: You shouldn't read if you don't want to risk spoilers!

I thought long and hard about how I wanted to summarize my thoughts. So many different ways to approach a series of posts about television shows. I could rank the shows and post in groups of five or ten. I could classify by genre. I could group by long-running series, new shows with renewals, and cancellations. Breakdown by network won.

I'm going to start with ABC. Why? I don't know. We'll say it's because it's owned by Disney and my  affection for Disney is no secret.

Once Upon a Time (season one): I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this show. It was new and it was certainly very different from anything else I watch. But then again, if anyone can pull off a show about fairy takes and magic and ornate costumes, it would be a company owned by Disney, right? So I jumped in with an open mind. I was hooked immediately. I love the way they weave the familiar fairy tales into a whole land, where all the characters interact. They have created connections and back stories. And even when they stray a bit from the original stories, their improvisation just works. And the imagery they use is fabulous, so many little details to watch for. I was a little shocked that they broke the curse in the first season (though it was the season finale) and I am so curious where they will take us next. The possibilities seem limitless. There *must* be more to this story than just the curse. I will absolutely be tuning in for season two!

Favorite characters: Sheriff Graham/The Huntsman. Mary Margaret Blanchard/Snow White.

Best episodes: "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter." "The Stable Boy." "An Apple Red as Blood." "A Land Without Magic."

Pan Am (season one): Another new show this season. I know everyone wanted to hop on board the coattails of Mad Men. This was the only one that caught my eye. It seemed like it could be something like "Love Boat," only in the air. I'm not sure why it never caught on, though I think Sunday nights are tough on an established show, let alone a new one trying to build a viewership. After all, it's competing with Sunday Night Football. And while most of us have the ability to record what we want to see and watch when it's most convenient, thanks to the wonder that is DVR (not to mention OnDemand, online, Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, etc), those don't seem to factor into ratings. unfortunately (a topic which bothers me, but suffice to say, I think they should update the way they calculate ratings to consider the way we watch television now, instead of the archaic methods they still employ). And so I am sad that this one didn't get a renewal. It was a fun show. A new location every week, a cast I mostly enjoyed, single-episode plots mingled with ongoing threads that lasted the whole season. I was happy that they gave us a season finale that allowed for closure in a way, not yet knowing the ultimate fate of the show.

Favorite characters: Kate Cameron. Colette Valois.

Best episodes: "Ich Bin Ein Berliner." "Unscheduled Departure." "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." "1964."

Body of Proof (season two): This is one of those shows that I like for background noise. I don't feel obligated to watch each detail or not miss a second of the action or the dialogue. Truth be told, sometimes I even doze off and miss part of an episode or the ending, and I don't bother to save it to re-watch. This show seems to teeter on the chopping block often. It's supposed to be coming back for an abbreviated season three. I will record and watch as I have the first two. I will grant that this season had a heck of a finale cliffhanger. And now I've read that half the case is being cut, so that takes away some of the suspense. Unfortunate casualty of the information age, I guess.

Favorite characters: Dr Curtis Brumfield. Peter Dunlop (who is not coming back--oops, guess he stops clinging to life after that stabbing).

Best episodes: "Identity." "Going Viral Part 1."

Last Man Standing (season one): I've been a hard sell on comedies since the Friends left their keys on the counter. It's difficult to replace a cast that stuck together from start to finish and truly became to feel like, well, friends you visited each week. It also seems sitcoms have gone the way of raunchy humor, being gross and revolving around just plain stupid. When it came about that Tim Allen was going to be part of a late release show, I had to check it out. It's exactly what I expected: he'll always be Tim the Toolman Taylor, only know he has a houseful of daughters instead of sons. It started strong and then faltered a little, but it makes me chuckle, and with its renewal, hopefully I will continue to chuckle through the sophomore season too. It's just such a relief after the way other shows have grown to disappoint (more on that when we get to other networks).

Favorite characters: Vanessa Baxter. Eve Baxter.

Best episodes: "Home Security." "House Rules."

Private Practice (season five): I followed Addison over to the beach from Seattle, lo those many seasons ago. And I've always liked her, even when she hasn't been very *likable*. This has been my least favorite season at Oceanside Wellness so far, and mostly because, even though Addison's dreams have all come true, she's *bugging* me. She has two guys eating out of her hand and she's leading them both on. That's just not cool. (I am partial to Jack over Sam who only decides what he wants when someone else makes a play for it.) Violet and Pete have irritated me to no end with the constant bickering and inability to communicate with one another. It's time for them to part ways because if I have to endure one more spat, I may have to slap them both...and that makes me look crazy, because they are inside my tv. While Private Practice is in no danger of losing me as a viewer, this season threatened to make this less of a "must see tv" for me, and more of a "Body of Proof" type show. Enter Jack and Amelia They rescued this season for me and made me want to come back for the next.

Favorite characters: Addison (though I liked her less this season than I ever have before, either on this show or her time on Grey's). Charlotte (she may be a real witch but I love the straight forward way she expresses herself). Amelia (her character is difficult to watch, painful even, but Caterina Scorsone acts the *heck* out of that part). Jack.

Best episodes: "The Letting Go." "Drifting Back." "Gone, Baby, Gone."

The Middle (season 3): I had a tough time getting into this show. I didn't watch the first season at all and I only watched the second season sporadically for the first half. I think I was having a difficult time with Patricia Heaton as Frankie Heck when, in my mind, she will always be Debra Barone. She still is but Sue and then Brick started to grow on me. This show is still hit or miss with me, but there have been more hits lately, with some making me laugh right out loud. There will be a fourth season of Hecks, and I will be back for it.

Favorite characters: Sue. Brick (::whispers:: Brick.).

Best episodes: "The Map." "The Sit Down." "The Telling."

Modern Family (season 3): So many people call this the funniest sitcom running right now. I don't know if I feel quite as strongly about it. There are definitely shows that make me laugh more and this one comes up short sometimes. I didn't see much of the first season. I saw more of the second. I saw all of this one, and, as irony would have it, I didn't like it as much as what I saw of the previous season. While Cam and Mitchell can be funny, especially as such polar opposites, they are just as capable of annoying me. Luke and Manny often feel expendable to me. Gloria and Jay can grate on my nerves separately, although together they make me laugh. Modern Family dropped off with a real bombshell. I wonder how Cam & Mitchell will react to Gloria's pregnancy, given that they have struggled to adopt all season and took it pretty hard in the season finale. This show is supposed to be funny and that's a pretty heavy topic.

Favorite characters: Alex Dunphy. Claire Dunphy. Phil Dunphy (about half the time).

Best episodes: "Dude Ranch." "Hit and Run."

Scandal (season 1): This was a short (seven episodes), late-season show. Another Shonda Rhimes creation, but departing from her penchant for medical dramas. Olivia Pope and her "gladiators in suits" clean up messes in the messiest place there is: Washington DC. I loved the quick dialogue, the "onion layers" to each of the characters who have only begun to be revealed to us, and the depth of the stories. There is always more that you don't know and when it comes to the surface, it leaves you with your jaw on the carpet. I am so excited for a full season of this show. I can't wait to get to know these characters better.

Favorite characters: Olivia Pope.

Best episodes: All of them. When I tell you this show just got better each week, I mean exactly that. And it started out strong. If I had to pick, the last two episodes, "The Trail" and "Grant: For the People," were probably a wee bit better than the rest, but not by much.

Grey's Anatomy (season eight): One of my perennial favorites. I didn't get on board with this show til the second season (though I went back, bought the first to catch up and now own them all) but I've always felt a kinship with Meredith. Not in the physical sense, but in the emotional one. She was dark and twisty at the same time I was, and we've both climbed out of those trenches almost in unison. I love the opening and closing monologues, always have. And even though it's unrealistic, sometimes gross and often heart-wrenching, I love it. I don't know if I can say I loved this season. There was a lot of pain. But the acting was raw and that deserves some credit. And that ending... I get it--contracts end, actors are ready to move on--but it's still so hard when the characters make you like them or at least get attached to the role they play. I'm glad it was Derek (I was worried) but I'm sad that Teddy and Lexie won't be back. And with all the residents looking as if they are prepared to scatter, I just can't imagine where season nine will start, never mind where it will take us. I assume it won't end in the wilderness though. 

Favorite characters: Meredith Grey. Derek Shepherd. Jackson Avery.

Best episodes: "Dark Was the Night." "Suddenly." "If/Then."


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Want Wednesday: June 13, 2012

**I Want this outdoor clock. I do not want to spend that much for it though.

**I Want a "Fenway Park 100 years" t-shirt. I don't want to spend that much for that either though. (Planning a wedding and being a new home owner makes one quite frugal. I feel like money is being sucked out every time I open my wallet.)

**It's silly, but I Want to have a copy of the big anniversary celebration they did at Fenway on DVD. It seems like a good addition to the commemorative collection I have from the 2004 and 2007 Championship seasons.

**I Want something that will allow me to dust under the refrigerator and stove. I think this Oxo Slim Duster might work.

**I can't even remember where I saw the "ServeItUp" but I Want one. What's not to love about a porcelain stand that will turn bowl or dish into a pedestal?? Cake dishes are awkward and take up a lot of space to store but this baby is so versatile, much easier to store when not in use, and the possibilities are endless! In fact, I would like one large one and one small!

**These ice cream bowls from Crate and Barrel make me so happy. I Want to open my kitchen cabinets and see a little stack of these waiting cheerfully to serve up a frosty treat.

**There aren't even words, just squealing, to express how badly I Want these dish towels in my kitchen all summer long.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saturdays Are for Weddings: 16 Weeks

You know what I've learned? The moment you start addressing wedding invitations, you hate every pen you own and you can't stand the way your own handwriting looks.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Saturdays Are for Weddings: 17 Weeks

We have been inching along with the details, but this week, *so* much got accomplished! Invitations arrived. My first fitting got scheduled. We settled on someone to do hair and makeup. We got to meet with the contact at the venue to discuss times and menu options and room arrangement and napkin colors. We had an appointment with the DJ and made some progress in the music department.

And we ate cake. Oh my word did we eat cake. And frosting. And fillings.

And this is what I can tell you:
1. We signed our contract and we *love* who we chose.
2. We are locked in on our flavors and I am so excited!
3. I don't want to see anymore cake until September.
4. Fondant is seven levels of nasty. Why do people willingly coat their cake in that...waxy gum??

And here's my bit of advice when it comes to shopping for your own cake: Ask what their contingency plan is if, say, something cuts them off on their way to deliver or they trip while carrying it in. Because we went to one bakery where, I kid you not, the answer was "We'll supply you with a dummy cake for display and photos, and refund your money." A fake cake?! Ummm...pray tell, what will I give my guests for dessert?! Wrong answer, madame baker.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Snapshot From Along the Broken Road: May 2012

A photo of me:

T and me in front of the Godspeed, docked in historic Yorktown, on the York River.

1) Candle scents this month:
Lilac Blossoms. Garden Sweet Pea. Bahama Breeze. Buttercream.

2) What I am reading this month:
Getting down to the end of Love in the Time of Cholera. Just one "chapter" remaining.

3) Top three songs I was drawn to:
I have a playlist of songs related to the wedding. It's been on a fairly constant loop for most of this month.

4) Movies I saw:
Man on a Ledge - We watched this at T's sister's house, while we were there. Decent movie. Held my attention and I didn't doze off.

5) Favorite tv moments of the month:
"Onward and Upward," Harry's Law - Series finale of this show. Only two seasons. I'm really bummed about this. And I'm sorry more of you didn't watch it.
"Flight," Grey's Anatomy - I have a difficult time calling this a "favorite" and yet it will resonated with me. It was a painful and sobering, but important. It's nowhere the best season finale of this show, or even just regular episode, but some of this acting was too good to go unacknowledged. Part of what is most poignant for me is that this show has been allowed to exist for long enough that I actually get attached to the characters. I wish more shows had that opportunity.
"An Apple Red as Blood," Once Upon a Time - The way they weave this story, even when the deviate from the well-known versions of fairy tales just sucks me in.
"Mother's Day," Blue Bloods - This episode is a microcosm of everything I love about this show.
"Grant: For the People," Scandal - I didn't even multitask while watching this episode. My attention was glued to the tv.

6) Something yummy I made:
I feel like between the heat, an angry stomach, and all the time I spent away from home in May, I didn't really make much of anything!

7) Restaurants where I ate:
Kouzzina (Disney's Boardwalk). Tutto Gusto (EPCOT, Italy Pavilion). Raglan Road (Downtown Disney). Biergarten (EPCOT, Germany pavilion). Yak & Yeti (Animal Kingdom). Narcoossee's (Disney's Grand Floridian). San Angel Inn (EPCOT, Mexico pavilion). The Island Cafe (Yorktown, VA). McDonald's. Wendy's. Arby's. (Can you tell we were on a road trip? Ha.)

8) Five things I am loving this month:
1. Rain on the roof. 2. Disney with good friends. 3. Season finale cliffhangers. 4. The dresses my girls picked. 5. The shower gift T and I received from his sister--so thoughtful!

9) A goal I had for this month:
Choose a baker for the wedding. Mission accomplished...three bakeries, 20-something cake flavors and twice as many frostings and fillings later.

10) This month I looked forward to:
Spending some time with my west coast friends, and five days with T in Virginia.

11) Something I want to be thankful for this month:
All that T's sister has done with the preparations for September.

12) A photo I took this month:

Father of our country.


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