Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturdays Are for Weddings: 5 Weeks

I'm ready for this to be over. The planning and the chasing RSVPs and the eleventy billion details that are balanced like a house of cards. I really just want the part where I say my vows and all this nonsense is nothing but static. Don't get me wrong, there are details that make me smile, because I love them, and people I am thrilled will be there (hopefully) but there is no "enjoying the process"...but ... (No one wants to read all my whiny, hormonal ranting over things that ultimately don't matter, so we'll skip it. Poor T has already found himself on more than his fair share of drivel for things that *he* has not done. I am tired of myself.)

...I will enjoy making promises to that man. And whoever shows up and whatever they eat and however the details work or fail, I will still be married to a wonderful guy. That's the part I can't wait to get to, not the party or being a princess for a day. Just the part where I am *his* princess. The way I already feel every day.


They will exit the way they entered.

Every sports media outlet is talking about The Blockbuster Trade. Why wouldn't they? Three members of the Red Sox, toting contracts with obscenely large numbers, are on the brink of exiting stage west, destination Los Angeles. The buzz is deafening. And the opinions come down on both ends of the spectrum, though rest assured, everyone has an opinion. I've yet to see someone invested in Boston's baseball franchise (emotionally, that is) simply shrug in disinterest.

Two of The Big Three can be difficult to swallow, given the talents they possess. As much as it was nice to think of Carl Crawford no longer running willy-nilly all over us, it was even more appealing to have him actually doing it *for* us. Adrian Gonzalez brings both a bat and glove to a team that are difficult not to desire. Though I was far more excited for the latter, I could see the pieces both could bring to the organization. They arrived with much fanfare and a loud cha-ching. We speculated. We salivated. We wanted the zeroes on the paychecks to make us cheer, though we cringed a little. 

Here's the thing though. The money was tempting, too tempting to pass up, so they came. But I believe they came with some quiet reservations tucked in their back pockets. They came from low-pressure, minimal-attention ball clubs. Maybe they thought they knew what they were getting into in Boston. Maybe they had a clearer idea of the reality they were accepting, but thought they could handle it anyway. But those quiet concerns have a way of whispering loud in our ears, and louder still, when things don't play out to the best outcome. For all the talents they can offer, a place like Boston demands that a player not just tolerate the environment, but thrive in it. Thriving seems to manifest in two ways: you have the guys, the Mike Lowells, who seem to tune out most of the noise with some kind of Zen immunity, and you have the Dustin Pedroias, who seem to fuel themselves on the swirl of energy and emotion, motivating themselves with the pressure and even challenging it to bring more. But for a player who suddenly feels scrutinized down to the cellular level, who feels chased down, misunderstood, claustrophobic from the crush, no matter how much they can bring to the table, those talents won't benefit the team, the potential will go unrecognized. It just stands to reason that a player who is neither happy nor comfortable will be able to reliably produce. I don't believe it was for lack of *wanting* it to work. If you can't thrive, you simply wither. And what a waste at what a price.

And then the final piece. One Mr Joshua Beckett, who arrived amid the gorilla-clad drama of Theo Epstein's first exit from Yawkey Place, a deal placed under "temporary management" and eyeballed skeptically by Theo upon his return. Beckett descended at the heart of drama, he pitched with post-season drama, he appears to have been a ringleader in the beer-and-fried-chicken drama, and now, he departs with as much drama as ever. Is he a good pitcher? I know he once was. I know he pitched us to a second championship. I know his swagger was once a quality over which we grinned and in which we trusted. But there comes a time when you dig a hole so deep, there's no climbing back out. He could not have righted this ship. And his attitude was poisonous. I don't think the Red Sox could have survived another two years of this anger and arrogance.

There was a lot of money tied up in these three players. Money that no longer yielded much promise of a return. It was time. Time for them-- two for whom the environment was hostile, one who made the environment unhealthy--and time for us. They exit as they entered: amid breaking news voices, high-dollar contracts, and top prospects changing hands. Only this time, instead of raising what is already a ridiculously overblown payroll, the Red Sox are paring things down.

It's no secret I've had little to say about my second beloved this season. Things have been volatile, sometimes ugly, and entirely disappointing. Not in the record as much as the drama and the rumors and the constant barrage of off-field jockeying for the camera to throw a new character under the bus at every other turn. Maybe this will be a fresh start for more than just those exiting, but for those staying as well.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Want Wednesday: August 22, 2012

**I Want this tote -- I love that color! -- but I am not interested in spending $104 on it, so I will just admire it and move on.

**I Want to go look at these vases in person. I think the colors might work well in the living room. And they are on sale. And I have a gift card.

**I have no idea where I would hang this print, but I love it. I Want a home that promotes that very feeling all the time.

**I Want a subscription to Food Network Magazine, but that would require I adhere to my self-imposed rule -- no more new magazine subscriptions unless I eliminate one I already have -- and I can't decide which one to discontinue.

**Remember that gift card I mentioned? I Want to go shopping at Pier 1. Like, a lot.

**The next time I explore a new place, I Want one of these guide books. They look amazing!

**I really enjoy the look look and comfort factor of the wraparound tops that have been all over the place lately. I Want more patterns in my closet too. I seem to stick with mostly solid colors, I've noticed.

**I Want to go play with my camera in the Disney Parks at night. Something I haven't done nearly enough.

**Now *this* print, I Want to hang in my closet, on the blank wall I face every time I open the closet door.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturdays Are for Weddings: 6 Weeks

For the past too many weeks, T and I have declared we needed to go shopping for wedding rings. And then something else came up or nothing else came up, and we just hadn't gotten there. *This* week, though, we knew we had to get it done or risk pressing our luck that we'd have wedding rings by the time we pull our of Dodge and head north for The Big Event.

We went to Jared. (Yeah, I know, those commercials irritate me too, but while browsing online to see who had what, Jared's selection and prices won.) I cannot speak highly enough of the treatment we received. The sales manager was helpful but not at all pushy. He just let us point out rings we wanted to see and never tried to prod out toward any specific price range. That gets high marks in my book.

First, we found T's, which fit him right out of the case. It was the only one he tried on. Mine took a little longer, because I had a very specific goal in mind: I didn't want it to overpower my engagement ring, which is a very understated setting (which I happen to love). T also didn't want me to go with a plain band, since he felt the engagement ring's simplicity would end up making the combination look bland. I finally found the one I liked...which fit me perfectly right out of the case as well! If that isn't a sure sign that you've made the correct choice, I don't know what is.

We could have walked out of the store right then with our little bag of rings, but for a very agreeable amount of money, my engagement ring got all cleaned up, as well as a fresh, shiny new rhodium coating so she would sparkle on my wedding day. (She needed it badly, after a year of daily wear-and-tear.) So we left her in their capable hands for an hour and went to Olive Garden for some soup, salad and bread sticks.

The best part is that for a ridiculously small amount of money, my wedding band is insured for life--cleanings, rhodium plating, repair, replacement of diamonds--as long as I bring it in every six months. It's a bit of a hike from home, but it's not far at all from Disney, so I will just make it part of a Disney trip every six months. Easy peasy!

What wasn't easy? T's truck deciding it was going to be time for a new transmission on the way home.

And there you have it: the ups and downs of being a grown-up.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saturdays Are for Weddings: 7 Weeks

I strongly recommend taking a break from the whole process and spending a few days relaxing somewhere far, far away from the word "wedding."

Four days in San Francisco for me with two of my favorite people.

(Ok, we didn't completely take a vow of wedding-related silence. Nichole and I shopped for wedding jewelry for us girls yesterday.)


Saturday, August 4, 2012

One of these days...'re going to read that I died of a heart attack. No matter what T claims, it was *not* from natural causes. It's because he sneaked up on me and scared me all the way to death, instead of just halfway there.


Saturdays Are for Weddings: 8 Weeks

I was filling out a vacation request form at work this past week. It's for a couple of days off in October. I started laughing because I didn't know if I should use my last name or T's, because, then, I will have a new last name.

I am going to need to learn to sign with a new last name. Which means my signature is going too look like a third grader's for a good chunk of time. I've tried it and the first letter of T's last name does not flow as nicely from my middle initial as mine does.

I *will* be changing my last name. Traditional is just how I roll. Plus, I will not miss spelling and pronouncing my last name for everyone on the planet. If you butcher T's last name, you cannot possibly be familiar with the English language.

Now I know why people get married younger than this. After just shy of 36 years with one name, I'm going to have a whole new one. It's weird. Awesome, but so weird.

Eight weeks. Clock is ticking.

Signing out to peer into the mailbox, waiting for the other half of my responses to materialize.

p.s. Less than two weeks til *that* deadline. Then I can finally tackle my remaining To Do List. Lesson learned: I will never delay responding to a wedding invitation again. It's makes the bride a crazy lunatic. She wants a head count and she wants it now. Even if the due date is still two weeks out and you aren't late.

Note to self: Speaking of delaying...we really should go get rings.


Friday, August 3, 2012

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

Man, life ran away with me. I kept meaning to get back to this topic and then not finding the time to devote it. And now, suddenly, it's August and new shows are up next month. Time to get on the stick! (Gosh, I hope I still remember enough.)

NBC is on the clock for this segment.

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

Harry's Law (season two): I'm still smarting over the fact that this show got the ax. I am an unapologetic fan of the creator, David E Kelley, following Boston Legal. This show wasn't quite "favorite show" material, but it was good. The characters were eccentric and exaggerated and completely unrealistic in many ways, but they were believable in the ways that mattered, when it came to their emotions and their humanity. Kelley always weaves current hot topics into the fabric of his episodes, addressing them in an over-the-top manner, but still giving you plenty to chew on after the credits roll. I will miss that tremendously. Very few shows can pull off being both fun and thought-provoking, making you laugh in one scene and cry in the next.

Favorite characters: Harriet "Harry" Korn. Adam Branch.

Best episodes: "Sins of the Father." "American Girl." "New Kidney on the Block." "Onward and Upward."

Parenthood (season three): One of my favorite shows currently running. I look forward to the Braverman clan every week. They are so real. The interactions and the emotions. This is the first cast that has felt like "people I know" since the set of Friends faded to black. Like any family, sometimes you love them and sometimes you really don't. They make you cry, warm your heart, make you feel. Season three brought a lot of upheaval. So many changes happening now, more on the horizon. Big changes and emotional challenges. They've been through the wringer, screamed at each other, betrayed some trust, and hugged it out. My heart broke for Julia and Joel, and ached for Sarah, who I just can't help but feel belongs with Mark despite the challenges. I marveled at the the way Amber as grown and cringed for her during every awkward moment she faced as she tried to navigate things with Bob. I alternated between feeling for Kristina with her worries about her marriage and wanting to smack her for meddling in Amber's life. I was disappointed in Adam more than once--isn't he supposed to be "the good one" of the bunch? And all my angst over Crosby and Jasmine was ultimately rewarded. I love that their relationship is messy, because sometimes real love is not quite so tidy and glossy as television scripts would have us imagine. I am so excited that this show will return.

Favorite characters: This one is tough because I think you need them all for this show to work, and I love them all as much as I want to shake them silly. I guess, this season, it was Crosby Braverman, Julia Braverman-Graham and Sarah Braverman.

Best episodes: "Sore Loser." "Just Smile." "Remember Me, I'm the One Who Loves You." "My Brother's Wedding."

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (season thirteen): It's so difficult to say you like a show of this nature, when it is frequently disturbing and always revolving around the anguish of a victim. There just aren't many light moments in this show. And this season brought some new faces, with Elliot Stabler gone. Two new detectives join the squad, Amanda Rollins and Nick Amaro, and they bring their own baggage. The former has some gambling problems, which find her beaten and threatened on more than one occasion, and the latter is clearly having some marital turmoil with his active-military wife. We dabbled in a little bit of romance between Olivia and the Executive Assistant District Attorney David Haden (played by Harry Connick Jr), but, to be honest, we've spent so little time focused on the personal lives of the characters as they dig into the personal lives of victims and suspects, that it all felt very contrived. The season's finale cliffhanger left me lukewarm. When the Captain starts digging into some dirty cops who want him out of their hair, it appears he gets framed for the murder of a high end escort who was earlier fearing for her life. Did he do it? Will they find the truth? Only the Law & Order ::chung-chung:: chimes know...

Favorite characters: Oh, probably Sgt. John Munch. Mostly because his sarcastic commentary makes me laugh.

Best episodes: "Double Strands." "Lost Traveler." "Child's Welfare."

Are You There, Chelsea? (season one): This was one of those new shows you start watching and you're just not sure how you feel about it, so you keep watching, hoping it will tip one way or the other, and force you to make a decision one way or the other. We ended up watching the whole (half) season of a show (Winter premiere) that never got any less awkward than its title. (Seriously, I never understood why *that* was the title.) And it was neither a surprise nor a disappointment when it didn't get picked up for a second season. Actually, it was kind of a relief.

Favorite character: Ummm...Dee Dee, I guess?

Best episodes: Hahahaha. Episodes. Ok. How about just "Those Damn Yankees" and that isn't saying much since it's only redeeming value was that they focus on Chelsea being a diehard Red Sox fan.

Whitney (season one): I'm still not sure how I feel about this show. Whitney Cummings is actually fairly amusing in an annoying sort of way, which sums up her show in a nutshell, really. Her mannerisms and tone lend themselves much better to stand-up comedy (which is her "day job," so to speak), but while we nearly stopped watching the show on more than one occasion, it did finally get to be a bit more funny during its second half. I'll be shocked if it's a show we ever love (T will loathe Alex's lazy scruff for eternity, I suspect), it does stand a chance at making us laugh, so we'll keep allowing the DVR to pick it up and then watch it when we get to it (read: after we've watched all the other shows we like better).

Favorite characters: I don't have one. Maybe that's part of the issue this show has. None of them have stopped annoying me long enough to emerge as likable enough to be called a favorite.

Best episodes: "48 Hours." "Mad Women."

Up All Night (season one): Neurotic Christina Applegate entertains me. It's clear that this show, much like one third of the Brinkley household, is in its infancy. I feel like Up All Night has places to go, once it can establish who it is. To be honest, I could live with less Ava and Missy, but they are the key people-components to Reagan's job, which comprises one part of who she is as a professional, mother, wife, woman, and friend. I feel like this show is so close to grasping its identity, and when I look back at the first season of Friends, it gives me hope, because, let's face it, go back at watch that show's freshman attempts and they are just as not-quite-but-almost-there. That isn't to say I am proclaiming this the next Friends (yes, the measure by which I compare all sitcoms forever and ever amen), but I'm saying it has potential. And I'll be tuning in.

Favorite characters: Reagan Brinkley, in all her awkward glory.

Best episodes: "First Night Away." "The Proposals."

The Firm (season one): I am completely baffled how this show got dismissed unceremoniously to Saturdays so early on. It's not just another law show. There was a ton of thriller action. Granted, I am not sure how much longer the McDeeres could keep up at this pace and adrenaline level, all the while casting a glance over their shoulders, without succumbing to complete paranoia. However, the show was certainly entertaining. Kept me on the edge of my seat to the point that I had to watch episodes during daylight hours, simply because I was too amped up by them to watch before trying to sleep. Each week left you with its own cliffhanger. It wasn't to be though. One season of The Firm is all I will get...and I'm still not done with it yet. Once I knew it was canceled (although NBC was tricksy-tricksy by never really announcing it), I decided to hoard save the episodes, which were still airing well into July, as some summer entertainment, when tv pickings are slim.

Favorite characters: Mitch McDeere. Ray McDeere. Abby McDeere.

Best episodes: (of the ones I've watched so far, so through Chapter Seventeen) "Chapter Eleven." "Chapter Twelve." "Chapter Fourteen."

Part One (ABC)


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I Want Wednesday: August 1, 2012

**I haven't the first idea of where I would hang these, but every time I see these prints, I Want them.

**After doing a lot of reading on various tutorials and blogs, I am fairly certain this would be the next lens I Want for my camera.

**Also, I Want to play with a star filter.

**I have long been fascinated by Disney's poster art. I Want this book so badly I can taste it.

**Another print that I am drawn to with no clue where it would possibly hang. Wouldn't work in my kitchen, but maybe in my laundry room...? I don't know. I just know every time I look at it, I Want it. It's just so fresh and clean.

**Now *this* one I would love to hang in my dinging room or my kitchen. I Want art that reflects that we enjoy and there is zero question that Epcot's Food and Wine Fest is one of my most favorite things ever. Every year, I look at their commemorative prints for sale, and I like them, but something about this one I really love.

**I try very hard to remain disciplined and to be selective about the souvenirs I purchase at Disney World. Living so close by, it is easy to be tempted by the new releases that arrive in the shops with each new season. I stick mostly to useful items, like t-shirts, and I've been good. I really only have three (though I have liked many more than that). My most recent, I bought at last year's Food and Wine Fest, after eyeing them for years. The others I had liked all right, but the one I got, I fell in love with. I'm glad I waited. For months, they teased me with the mens version of the t-shirt depicting what is one of my most favorite things about one of my most favorite places. The mens cut would be fine for lounging around at home, but I wanted a ladies cut that I could wear to the parks. Finally, *finally*, here she is and I Want this. Yes, I do. Difficult to argue it isn't meant for me!

**I've done my fair share of baking, but I've never truly ventured into the art of pies. And it is an art. Trust me. I spent my childhood in the kitchen of a master. My Gram's pies were (locally) legendary. I keep thinking that I Want to master this skill, as a tribute to someone so dear to me. So I window shop lovely pie dishes and dream. Look at this one, so cheerful in a cherry red...

**Someone mentioned this book to me. Now I am curious. I Want to flip through it.

**I admit, I am intrigued. I think I Want to see this movie.


Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: July 2012

A photo of me:

Love her! (photo by Dan Kane Photos)

1) Candle scents this month:
French Vanilla. Honeydew Melon. Fruit Fusion. Sweet Strawberry. Juicy Watermelon. (I have so many delicious fruity scents for summer. I don't know what happens. I guess it's too hot to think about lighting a flame? I just don't go through as many when it's warm out.)

2) What I am reading this month:
The first book I read was Up Till Now (William Shatner with David Fisher), Shatner's autobiography. I found it informative and very entertaining, but if you aren't a Shatner fan, it's probably not for you. I followed that with another cozy mystery from a different series: Bundle of Trouble (Diana Orgain). I flew through it because it was quick and easy, a nice, light read. I really enjoy this genre. And now I have two books going at the same time. One is Knuckler: My Life with Baseball's Most Confounding Pitch (Tim Wakefield with Tony Massarotti), which is Tim Wakefield's autobiography. I have always been a big fan of Wakey, but I like him even more now. What a humble man. Goodreads tells me I'm about a third done with this one and I am thoroughly enjoying it. The other is The Help (Kathryn Stockett). I am telling you, this book deserves all the attention it has received. I just finished chapter nine and I don't want to put it down. I want to know what happened to Constantine, what was in the pie, what Miss Celia is doing up there and why she won't tell her husband. But I can't just tear through this one, because I am reading it with my friend, G, so I am waiting on her to catch up before I get more.

3) Top three songs I was drawn to:
"Bless the Broken Road," by Rascal Flatts -- I just keep thinking about this blog, why it has the title it does, and just how far down this broken road I've really come. "Crazy Girl," by the Eli Young Band. "Glass," by Thompson Square.

4) Movies I saw:
T & I went with my mom to see Ted while we were all on vacation. This movie was funny, but so so wrong. I am still scandalized. And still horrified at myself for laughing about it even now.

5) Favorite tv moments of the month:
"The Price You Pay," Dallas - JR Ewing is endlessly quotable. I love it. "The best way to understand a man is to talk to his friends...and his enemies. My friends are in the State House. My enemies are gonna be harder to find." "Time has not been kind to your face, but I do recall the smell of brimstone and crazy." "I'll be there when they put you in the ground, Barnes. Listen close. I'll be the one dancing on the dirt overhead!" "Bullets don't seem to have much of an effect on me, darlin'."

6) Something yummy I made:
I didn't do much making this month, between the heat and the being away for over a week.

7) Restaurants where I ate:
Michael's Restaurant and Pub (Stockbridge, MA). Village Harvest Cafe (Hancock Shake Village, Pittsfield, MA). Water Street Grill (Williamstown, MA). Chandler's Tavern Cafe (Yankee Candle Flagship Store, Deerfield, MA).

8) Five things I am loving this month:
1. Seeing old friends, some that I haven't seen since high school graduation, and others that I just haven't seen in too long. Makes my heart ache with happy.
2. Dancing with my guy and seeing the photos. *I* get to  be the girl he looks at like that. More happy heart.
3. Vacation time!! I had barely more than a breath off from work from New Year through July fourth, but I paid the piper and now I get to play! So much time off for the rest of this year! And so many wonderful things planned.
4. Seeing the gold medal ceremonies for the Summer Olympics. Seeing the stars and stripes be raised up while the national anthem plays gets me every single time.
5. Fresh summer fruit. Cherries and nectarines and cantaloupe and pluots. So much yumminess!

9) A goal I had for this month:
Finally get that darn file cabinet organized. It's done done done! (Pretty sure T is at least as thrilled about this is as I am.)

10) This month I looked forward to:
Seeing some wonderful friends, some of whom I haven't seen in far too long to comfortably mentions, others of whom I haven't seen in simply far too long (a couple of years). I looked forward to hugging them. And meeting my two-year-old nephew. And seeing my Dad. And dancing with my guy.

11) Something I want to remember about this month:
We borrowed my mom's car while we were vacationing with her at her timeshare in the Berkshires. We plugged in the GPS and headed toward the grocery store. Or so we thought. Until we crossed the state line into Vermont. Leave it to me to get us lost *with* a GPS! But we laughed and set our course again. Because we're easy like that. I want to remember to be grateful for someone who doesn't lose his cool when the plans don't go exactly as they should.

12) A photo I took this month:

This butterfly was so cool--he was transparent!!


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