Tuesday, May 19, 2020


I've been a little melancholy about turning 59 today.

Being in your 50s is one thing, but 59 is barreling straight toward being in your 60s. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it just doesn't seem like it could be true.

I have wonderful friends, my parents and siblings are all healthy and we all love each other, I have terrific and rewarding job/s, I have a lovely home, and I (mostly) like myself.

Still, 59! What the hell?

One of goals for this last year of my 50s is to get in better shape. I met my weight goal three years ago (thanks to WW) and held steady for two years and then whoosh! 

I could blame last year's broken ankle, the cake recipe I was testing for the State Fair, slowing metabolism, work....any number of things. My disappoint in my self if that I know what to do.

I decided to kick off my new year by starting to do something about it. I walk/jogged the Mini-Marathon this morning. All 13.1 miles in my small house, pajamas, and bare feet. 

I took today off and my plan was to walk through the neighborhoods to downtown and back. But it was raining. My back ached. I was hungry. Where were my ear buds? I could tell that I was losing steam and was ready scrap the idea.  

I launched out of bed and went for it. I came in first (of the people in my house, anyway)!

I did take time to set up my own finish line.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

hunker down projects

On social media I see so many friends tackling big projects while they're sheltering at home. Making quilts, painting furniture, landscaping, homeschooling, cleaning out their garages.....doing big stuff.

Even though I'm still working full-time at Second Helpings, I'm not working Saturday nights at the Red Key or the occasional Sunday at Marigold. I don't have any writing deadlines, I can go to Mass on my own schedule, and any concerts or parties have been cancelled.

Since I have an abundance of energy in regular times, you'd think I'd channel it and all of my free time into painting the house or starting a novel or scanning the boxes of photographs in my closet or writing letters or organizing my Christmas ornaments or cataloging the PEZ collection....or even keeping up with Words With Friends and birthdays greetings on Facebook.


I spent the first few weeks overwhelmed and tired. Second Helpings is doing amazing things and we were working seven days a week in a combination of onsite and at-home shifts and conference calls and planning.

Leaving the house and coming home felt exhausting. I leave my shoes and anything that I was bringing home on the porch, take my clothes off inside the door, run to wash my hands, sanitize the door knob and my keys, toss my clothes down the laundry chute, shower, sanitize my watch and jewelry and glasses, start laundry, sanitize my purse and lunch bag on the porch and fall into bed.

Not that I was sleeping well. I was waking up several times a night in a panic - taking my temperature and realizing that I was hot because the cat was laying on my head or was shivering because the blankets had fallen away. Worrying about COVID-19 symptoms messes with you dang head.

I've certainly settled down. Work has evened out. It's a true testament to how nimble Second Helpings is that we pivoted overnight in how we deliver meals to the community. Not to mention doubling the number of people that we're serving.

I'm sleeping (mostly) through the night and I no longer obsessively take my temperature (now just before I leave the house).

I was feeling guilty that I didn't have a good answer to the question that invariably comes up in Zoom meetings, "what are you doing to keep yourself busy?" Answering "laundry and keeping the cat alive" doesn't seem ambitious enough.

I finally realized that getting through this is a big enough accomplishment in itself. In order to quit feeling like an underachiever I've given myself a list of small things that I can do to feel like I've accomplished something.

This evening I separated a jar of coins from the buttons, pocket lint, and safety pins that had collected there. I went as far as rolling the pennies and separating the Euros from the Canadian coins.

Look at me go!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

happy saint patrick's day

Back in February - that seems so long ago - when I gave up booze for Lent and gave myself a Saint Patrick's Day dispensation, I assumed that I'd be drinking Irish whiskey in a crowd and toasting with friends today.

Boy was I wrong! We're in the midst of social distancing and staying home to attempt to curb the devastation of COVID-19 

I worked from home today. I got a great deal done and am close to cleaning out my email queue. I took a big walk after work - keeping at least six feet from people. It was great to soak in some sunshine and see other folks, even if I didn't talk to anyone.

I decided to have my own Saint Patrick's Day celebration. My dinner consisted of an Irish banger, steamed carrots with a pat of Kerrygold butter, potato salad, and pea shoots served on a Belleek plate. I put the mustard in a little pot from an Irish pottery company. Guinness and a wee pinch of Tullamore Dew rounded out the meal.

Oddly, I'm having a hard time finishing the beer and whiskey. Probably just as well. Tomorrow is a new day of work that is sure to bring even new challenges. I'm proud of the way that Second Helpings is reacting to the crisis. You can read more about that by clicking here: https://www.secondhelpings.org/4-days-ago

In the meantime, take care of yourself and wash your damn hands!

Sláinte mhaith!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Happy Pancake Tuesday!

Today I was contemplating how to celebrate Shrove Tuesday - or Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras - all names for Ash Wednesday Eve.

As kids we took full advantage of getting in one last shot at whatever you pledged to give up for Lent. It was the time for one last chance to pinch your sister or roll your eyes at your brother or to savor a coveted chocolate bar. Mom would make a special meal that included dessert and we would whoop it up, Boone County farm kid style.

I still take Lent very seriously, not only giving something up (usually booze) but trying to do something extra (typically pledging to write notes to folks to let them know how much I appreciate them).

This evening, I considered my stand-by walking to the Red Key for a Jameson whiskey or driving to a fast food joint for French fries and a diet soda. I'm giving up the drink this year - both booze* and diet soda.

I remembered reading that the Irish celebrate by eating pancakes. According to lore, the tradition started because you needed to use up your eggs and sugar - things that were not allowed to be consumed during Lent. I really enjoyed this explanation. 

As luck would have it, I had all of the ingredients at home. In the spirit of using things up, I added lime zest to the batter and made lime syrup.

I poured my diet Pepsi in an Apollo glass in honor of Katherine Johnson, who died yesterday. I used my Lord's Prayer glass for my carefully-measured ounce of Irish whiskey.

I think it was a pretty decent way to celebrate Shrove Tuesday. Although I'd totally pinch my one of my sisters if I happened to see one of them in the next hour and a half. 

Wonder how many pancakes are being consumed in Ireland today? Here is the surprisingly precise number: 

*I'm reserving the right for a Saint Patrick's Day dispensation.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

surprise visitors and new year's resolutions

My 2019 resolutions included refinancing Chez Pez to a shorter term mortgage, getting back to my WW goal weight, firing up the blog again, keeping a houseplant alive, and making a will.

I seem to have discovered my green thumb and the plants are flourishing, as are the cuttings I've grown from them. The house is starting to look like it's occupied by a plant hoarder.

I signed my new mortgage (knocking almost 10 years off), just under the wire, on December 20. Last week, after a whiskey (mine not hers), I mentioned the will to the attorney that will make it happen, so that sort-of counts.

Getting back to my WW goal ain't gonna happen in the next two hours, so here we are, at the 11th hour, updating the blog.

I wouldn't be sharing any of this with you, if not for a visit from the Morrows and a promise to Cliff that I would update the blog before the year was over.

I'd been feeling a little blue this fall...nothing specific, just in a funk.

In October I was lucky enough to be invited to the twins 11th birthday celebration - visiting the haunted house at the Children's Museum. I was looking forward to it - hanging with Tammy and kiddos in costumes and I'd never been to the haunted house.

Even though we had timed tickets the line wrapped up a ramp and into a room and then another room. I was in a panic - I was clearly going to be late for work - did I bail or were we almost to the main event? Ultimately I stayed in line, but I was feeling the stress of being late but not wanting to ruin the party.

I wound up being an hour late to work. I'm not known for my timeliness, but this was an all time record. I hoped off the bus and raced into the front door of the Red Key making apologies as I went. As I was trotting towards the back of the tavern to hang up my jacket I whooshed by a table and and mumbled "hey Cliff." By the time I took two more steps it dawned on me....Cliff and Marilyn were sitting at the Red Key - and they live in Nebraska!

I hadn't seen them since Blogstock in 2008.

They were kind enough to route their vacation through Indianapolis on a Saturday night to visit me at the Red Key! I was gobsmacked at their generosity!

And I swear that I've been in a better mood ever since then. Their thoughtfulness in planning their trip to include a surprise visit flipped a switch in my brain. It has reminded me of the power of face-to-face visits and friendship.

I've been making an effort to have more visiting time recently and all visitors are welcome here...except maybe for the possum currently residing on my porch - that's a post for another time.

Big thanks to Cliff and Marilyn for coming to Indianapolis. I can't begin to tell you how much it meant to me.

Here's to a great 2020 and another resolution crossed off the list - with almost two hours to spare!


Friday, November 11, 2016

big chill

 I'm sharing 20 memories in honor of living in my house for 20 years. This is #11

Some people get geeked out over classic cars - I'm all about vintage appliances...and the things that go with them.This stove is what started my obsession. It is a Frigidaire made by General Motors. 

My kitchen is too narrow to get a good photograph of the behemoth. It has two ovens, a warming drawer, three burners, and a crockpot-like thingie. Everything works but the clock.
This beauty is the newest resident of Chez Pez. It's a 1949 Crosley Shelvador and I've only had it for about a month.

Do you know why it's called a "shelvador?" It has shelves in the door! Quite a revolution at the time. 

Before you all start in on the energy efficiency thing, refrigerators from this era were built when electricity was more precious so they were made to be as efficient as possible. They are smaller than modern ones and they don't have automatic defrost so they're not constantly running to keep up. 

I actually enjoy the defrosting process - and hanging laundry to dry and hand-washing my dishes. It is a chance to slow down and enjoy my cozy house.

This General Electric fridge was my first vintage refrigerator and we had seven good years together. After it gave up the ghost I thought I wanted something newer. 

I got this lovely turquoise refrigerator after that, but we never really bonded. It ran ALL of the time and never stayed at the right temperature - stupid defrost feature. It was perfect for craft beer root vegetables. Our relationship didn't last that long. I loved the way it looked, but it just wasn't practical worrying about food safety and all. 

Having the new /old has made me excited about eating healthy again and using my Pyrex refrigerator dishes.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


I'm sharing 20 memories in honor of living in my house for 20 years. Here is #10...

I've spent a lot of time in the last 20 years not sleeping. 

At first it was because there was so much music to hear and books to read and people to meet. 

For eight of the years that I've lived at Chez Pez I worked in a coffeehouse and bakery. I would get there around 5:30 in the morning and work at the counter until noon-ish, do paperwork, ordering, banking, and scheduling for a few hours then go home for a nap or laundry or whatever.

On evenings that we had music I would go back to work around 6:00 pm and work until it was over. Most nights I was going out to see music after that. 

I used to joke that my life was a series of naps. 

And it was fine. I've never needed a lot of sleep. I was the kid reading under the covers with a flashlight when I was young. 

I was always a good sleeper - it never takes me too long to conk out and I can sleep just about anywhere. 

Then one night I just woke up. Wide awake. For no reason. 

It happened again and again and again, night after night after night. 

In those days, um, nights - I'm guessing it was about 15 years ago - I would get dressed and head out the door to walk through the neighborhood. In retrospect it wasn't the safest thing to do, but I was never worried. 

I had my little route, I'd zigzag through about a six block area always having in mind who's porch I'd run onto if I felt afraid. 

One early morning I as I was looking at posters in the window of LUNA music I saw a guy sitting on the bench on the corner. I sort of recognized him and we struck up a conversation. As it turned out his wife was part of my extended circle of friends. Tom and I had a nice chat at 3:00 AM. That's how all friendships start, right? 

Now I'm a little wiser about my middle of the night adventures. After reading this article I started embracing the idea of a "second sleep." I will get up and do dishes or read or make my lunch for the next day. I might get as far as my backyard, but no more wandering the neighborhood. 

Sleep tight, my friends.