Wednesday, October 31, 2007

i did it

thirty-one posts in thirty-one days.

It was hard. It might have been slightly easier without the numbers thing, but maybe not.

The good:
I always knew what day it was. Whenever anyone asked "what's the date today" I jumped in obnoxiously fast.

I got in the habit of writing everyday, instead of the binge writing that I tend to do around deadlines.

The bad:
There were some real clunkers -- the post for the 29th was the worst. I thought the post for the 18th was sort of cheating also, but it was surprising popular.

The unexpected:
I spent a ton of time thinking about the posts. Most changed from my original ideas. Six Pack morphed from how I drink six diet Pepsi's every day to talking about my godchildren.

One of my friends pointed out that the entries got more elaborate and reflective. It was very hard to write about some things. Nineteen, twenty-six and twenty-eight and thirty were particularly hard. There were several things in those posts that I did not write.

Looking back at those years I realized that I really have not changed much in the last thirty years, which made me sad. My friend wrote that he kept "hoping for an episode of positive action, where something or someone you seem to wish for develops or appears or walks through the door. It's frustrating when that doesn't happen."

For me too, me too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I was managing a Houlihan's restaurant in Philadelphia when I turned thirty. The bar was very busy on Sunday nights. We had a d.j., a dance floor and drink specials. People would would wait in line to get in. We had doormen and security folks.

My birthday was on a Sunday that year (May 19, 1981) I usually worked the Sunday night shift. I disliked the crowd, but loved the busyness and excitement of the evening. I would spend the whole evening changing kegs, breaking up fights (it's much easier for a woman to break up a fight than a big burly guy -- nobody wants to be the first guy to throw a punch at a woman) and generally trying to manage the mess.

These nights also solidified my utter skin-crawling hatred of two songs.
The Electric Slide and Brown Eyed Girl.

I don't think I need to defend my dislike of the Electric Slide. It was very popular at the time and it would be played several times during the night.

My contempt for Brown Eyed Girl is a little harder to explain. I actually like Van Morrison. It is the reaction that the audience has when the song is played that bugs the Hell out of me. People go nuts! I know a lot of musicians that dread the request that everyone knows is coming..."can you play Brown Eyed Girl?" Last year for my birthday, I requested that the band NOT play Brown Eyed Girl.

It was also the last song that the d.j. would play in Sunday nights, it marked the end of the evening. The you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here herding of the people out of the bar.

The d.j. knew it was my birthday and tried to spin some Nora tunes, the Pixies and The Smiths, but the crowd was not in to it.

We finally finished all of the clean up and closing work at about 2:00 am. My friend Al (another manager) met me to celebrate my birthday. We had our roller blades and packed a cooler (a pickle bucket with six beers covered with ice). I grabbed the Electric Slide and Brown Eyed Girl records on the way out the door. We drove to the parking lot of Veterans Stadium.

I had fun skating over them several times. It was such a great feeling skating in that big parking lot on a Spring night -- I felt very happy and healthy and free.

That might have been one of my best birthdays ever.
And it was a great way to go sailing in to the next decade.

And, yes being the "good girl" that I am I replaced the records, even though it just about killed me to walk in to the record store and by them. I think I bought the latest Dinosaur Jr. record at the same time to show the clerk just how cool I was.

Monday, October 29, 2007

what do you get when you google the number twenty-nine?

I highlighted the ones that I understood (even if it was just a little bit).
And, of course there are 29 of them.

Floccinaucinihilipilification contains 29 letters and is the longest word in the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. Note that the letter e does not occur.

The human skull is made-up of 29 bones.

If an odd perfect number exists, it must have at least 29 prime factors (not necessarily distinct).
The extra day in a leap year is February 29.

The number of visible notches on a primitive recording device found in a Swaziland cave. It was made from a section of baboon bone and dated to 35000 B.C.

The Norwegian alphabet contains 29 letters.

The smallest Gilda prime. Note that if a Fibonacci-like sequence is formed with the first term equal to the absolute value between the digits of 29 (i.e., 7) and the second term equal to the digit sum of 29 (i.e., 11) then 29 itself occurs as a term in the sequence: 7, 11, 18, 29.

Bobby Fischer was 29 years old at the time of his 1972 World Chess Championship victory.

29 may be written in two ways as combinations of the first four primes and the three basic arithmetic operations: 29 = (2*7)+(3*5) = (5*7)-(2*3).

It takes the Moon over 29 days to complete its orbit around the Earth.

The state of Utah has 29 counties.

29 is the second integer parameter n2 in Gilson's formula α(n1, n2) = n2cos(π/n1)tan(π/(n1n2))/π for the value of the fine structure constant α = α(137, 29) = 0.0072973525318...

The great majority of the works by which the postimpressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh is remembered were produced in 29 months of frenzied activity and intermittent bouts with epileptoid seizures and profound despair that finally ended in suicide.

The 29th Fibonacci number (i.e., 514229) is a prime ending in 29, which is also prime.

The highest possible score of a single hand in the card game cribbage is 29.

A prime is formed by using 29 twice in the Firoozbakht function, i.e., fi(29, 29).

The smallest prime equal to the sum of three consecutive squares: 22 + 32 + 42.

TWENTY NINE can be written out with exactly 29 toothpicks.

29 can be written as a sum of primes in exactly 3 * 29 ways.

29^23 + 19^17 + 13^11 + 7^5 + 3^2 is prime.

The middle chapter of the Old Testament is Job 29.

The smallest prime of the form 6n-1 = 7m+1.

29 is only known number m such that both m!-R(m) and m!+R(m) are primes. I.e, 29! - 111...1 (29 ones) and 29! + 111...1 (29 ones) are both primes.

29 is the maximum number of squares a chess bishop can visit if it is only allowed to visit each square once.

2^9 + 9^2 is prime.

29 = (2 * 9) + (2 + 9).

29 people were able to escape through "Tunnel 29."

Track 29 is a famous phrase in the song "Chatanooga Choo Choo."

29 = 2*5 + 3*3 + 5*2.

29 people lost their life when the ship the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank on Lake Superior (17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point, Michigan).

A proof of the infinitude of prime numbers is in Book IX (Proposition 20) of Euclid's Elements. Note that IX + 20 = 29.

Bhargava and Hanke proved that if an integer valued quadratic form (such as 3x2 + 2xy + 4y2) can represent the numbers 29 numbers: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, 23, 26, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35, 37, 42, 58, 93, 110, 145, 203 and 290; then it can represent every positive integer.

The smallest prime preceded by five consecutive composite numbers.

Mrs. Prime reads her recantation in Chapter 29 of the nineteenth-century classic Rachel Ray by British novelist Anthony Trollope.

And my very favorite:
TWENTY NINE can be written out with exactly 29 toothpicks.

every twenty eight days...or so


When we were waiting in line for the Dalai Lama my mom was telling me how she'd done such a good job explaining the birds and the bees to my niece and nephew. I'll admit to turning purple and squeaking "Because you did such a good job with us kids?" Of course, it was incredibly rude of me and my friends shot me evil looks.

I'd been on edge and bitchy for days. Yep, PMS.

But, back to Mom and the facts of life. When I was in fifth grade and a little cheerleader (who couldn't do a cartwheel and was so nervous that I almost threw up before every game) I asked Mom if I could shave my legs, like some of the other girls. Mom told me that I needed to wait until I started my period. Ummm, okay. I looked in the library and sort of figured out what that meant.

A couple of years went by and my younger sister started her period and started shaving her legs. A few more years passed and I was sixteen and working at a nursing home. I took my first paycheck and bought my first-ever pair of jeans and a razor. Another year went by. Still nothing, and mom never talked to me about it. I talked to a nurse at the nursing home and she directed me to Planned Parenthood where I had an exam and they determined that I was okay, just a slow "developer" -- nothing else had developed in the chest area either, if you know what I mean.

I was running in a track meet the last week of my senior year when I started menstruating. I grabbed a dime, bought a tampon from the machine and raced out the door as they were calling for my race. I ran a mile and totally forgot about it. Everything was fine and that set the tone for my periods for years.

I never had any cramps, bloating, backache or PMS. My periods were always light and only lasted a day or two. I can't think of one thing that I ever missed because of my periods (except have the glamorous life depicted in the Tampex ads). I was the woman that other women hated, because the whole thing seems too easy for me.

Until a few years ago, that is. I would get so emotional; hate my life, hate my job and hate AVS. He'd gently suggest that maybe I was feeling out of sorts because of PMS. Which would usually cause me to burst in to tears and cling to him for dear life. Not fun for anyone, really. I think he started putting Xanax in my applesauce, not that I would have blamed him.

All of these years I was fairly regular, until recently. When I was Nashville earlier this month I had a bad cold and some sort of rash. I laid down for a nap, feeling sorry for myself thinking that I couldn't be much more miserable. Ahhh, but I could. Luckily I had a stash in my travel kit.

And, here we go again. I'm paying for all of those years of smooth sailing.

I also fear that it is the beginning of the end of this menstruation thing. The older girls are when they start the greater chance they will go though menopause earlier.

Intellectually I know that I'm okay with never having children. But some times it tugs at my heart. Or maybe that's just the PMS talking.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

tractor square dancing

2 + 7 reasons this video makes me happy.

1. pink tractors.
2. men in bonnets.


1. the music.
2. square dancing reminds me of my late Uncle Joe.
3. and of sweaty evenings of dancing with my cousins.
4. allemande left.
5. my friend Evan sent it to me.
6. fond memories of the Herr barn dances.
7. promenade.


twenty-six vs. forty-six

We last left Nora at nineteen. Here is a quick recap of the next seven years.
I left Purdue after my sophomore year. I continued to live in West Lafayette for a while, working in a skating rink and hanging out with the punk-rock kids. I moved to Indianapolis and took a few classes at IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis) and worked in a nursing home full time, until I started working at Benihana restaurant -- which was the first restaurant I'd ever worked in, unless you count making cotton candy and Sno Cones at the rink. I was having fun, but not too much fun - if you know what I mean. I was still basically a good kid, although I'm sure those years gave my parents fits. I turned twenty-one and dated punk-rock boy. Carol was attending school in NYC and I spent weeks at a time sleeping on her dorm room floor and soaking in the city.

When I was twenty-two a nice farm boy from Lafayette called and I was immediately smitten. GB and I spent a lot of time together and I re-enrolled in school so I could move closer to him. Carol was back at Purdue and she and I became roommates again. I did much better in school that time around, worked at a nursing home and a pizza place and spent a ton of time with GB. The only thing that was wrong with our relationship was my immaturity. GB proposed and I freaked out and dated one of his friends. It was awful for everyone, but I learned some huge relationship lessons. I've never been unfaithful since then, and I learned that breaking someone's heart sucks as much as getting your heart broken.

I graduated when I was twenty-six with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant management and nineteen job offers. Being an "older" student with work experience paid off at interview time. Today I was sitting in Elliott Hall of Music in almost the same, if not the same seat I had for my graduation.

Today I was there to see the Dalai Lama. He was charming and wise and surprisingly funny. All and all it was a lovely day. I took the day off, had a nice leisurely morning, drove to West Lafayette and had lunch with Mom and two friends. Our seats for the talk were wonderful, in the eighth row, center. Supporting the Convocations series finally paid off ( I cashed in all of the points I've earned over the years). There was no one in the seat in front of me and I could really see all of his expressions. Mom rode back with my aunt and uncle that joined us for the talk. My friends and I took our time driving back to Indianapolis stopping for coffee in Lafayette and for dinner in Zionsville -- my friend Scott was playing with his jazz trio at the restaurant.

At twenty-six I was more confident around boys that I liked than I am twenty years later. The last time a boy cozied up to me I talked about Leprosy as he tried to kiss me. Seriously, Leprosy. What the Hell is wrong with me?

I stopped at the Red Key on the way home. Band practice boy was there and invited me to join him. We were having a nice conversation about books and music and our families and our jobs. I was giving myself a virtual pat on the back for how well it was going. I hadn't talked about a disease or spilled anything yet. Our waitress (and my coworker) handed me a note. I looked at it and blanched. And since I was rude and read it in front of him, I felt like I needed to show it to him. "Bring tampons, the drawer is empty." I started keeping a stash behind the bar a couple of years ago for the waitresses and customers. That sure interrupted our conversation about our favorite authors. I'd just recovered from that when Lana stopped by our table for another story. The Red Key sells little screw cap bottles of wine. We are phasing them out and pouring wine from actual bottles. In my five years of working at the Red Key I'd never sold a little bottle of White Zinfandel. There were at least twenty-five in the cooler and a case of forty-eight in the basement a few months ago when I grumbled one night that I'd do a naked cartwheel when all of the White Zin was sold. Inexplicably the wine started disappearing -- at an alarming rate. A few weeks ago when we were down to twenty bottles, I joked that maybe I still had time to lose twenty pounds... and learn how to do a cartwheel. We're now down to three bottles. So, Lana is telling this story, only changing a few details. Like that I needed to lose THIRTY pounds.

So, if I don't manage to screw up an encounter with a boy, at least I know that here is someone close by to do it for me.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

early mornings

I left the house at 5:25 this morning. As a 'torchbearer' for United Way, I talk about Second Helpings to companies during their United Way campaign. Torchbearers typically tell a tug-at-the-heart strings story about someone that their agency has helped. I'm not good at that kind of speech, my talk is about Second Helpings, which is am amazing story on its own. I throw out a lot of facts and numbers -- 3.5 million meals prepared and delivered, 8.2 million pounds of food rescued and almost 300 adults trained for meaningful careers in the last nine years and how we make that all happen.

I seem to be fairly popular as a speaker. Its hard to talk about hunger while people are eating waffles, but I make people feel comfortable. I'm also asked to give a lot of talks at factories, which I love. I've gotten to see lots of cool behind the scenes things, walk through production floors wearing a hard hat and safety glasses and give a talk in an airport hanger.

I was actually excited about the four talks (in spite of my lack of sleep) I was scheduled to give a the trash company. I use that company for the trash and cardboard pick-up at work and the City contracts with them for some of the residential curb trash pick-ups, including my street. There is only one guy on the truck, they jump out, grab the trash, toss it in the truck and jump back on and drive to the next stop. I usually put my meager trash out in the morning. Occasionally I'll hear the truck as I'm still getting ready and I'll run out as he's a house or two away. He seems like a friendly enough guy.

I pulled in to the lot as the drivers were parking their trash trucks in front of the building, it was still dark and I wished I had my camera. It was a cool thing to see.

The meeting was combined with their monthly safety meeting. One hundred guys in green vests piled in to the room grumbling about the lack of donuts. They were given a quiz about fire safety (after four meetings I could have given the quiz -- and probably in Spanish also). They were lectured about the fact that no one both writes and signs their name to to quizzes, even though they are repeatedly told to. My observation was that maybe the company should print more than just "name" on a line of the quiz, "name" and "signature" would make more sense. Not that I said anything, of course. The guys -- yes, it was all men in the room, were still grumbling about donuts. They added gripes about gloves, rain suits and the cold to their linty.

Somehow, and it was probably connected to the four and a half hours of sleep of sleep that I had, I was still feeling good about my part of the morning. Who doesn't love Second Helpings or me, for that matter?

I was finally introduced. I started out with "Hi, I'm Nora S --, 5200 block of Winthrop, blue bathrobe." Funny right? Nothing, nada, zilch from the guys. I launched in to my talk. I talked about how we've kept over 8 million pounds of food from the dumpster so they didn't have to deal with it. No reaction. I cut my losses and my speech short.

I plowed through the rest of the talks. When the last one was over, the man who was running the meetings apologized. They said the guys were made 'cause there were no donuts. Said they always act like that when there are no treats. Seriously? Next time I'll buy the damn donuts. Not that I said anything, of course.

[Update, I took a walk Friday morning and saw my trash guy. He waved and said "Hey Nora, I enjoyed your talk." Not only was I surprised, but want to yell back "Hey dude, you could have piped up yesterday." Not that I said anything, of course.]

24 hours in the life of nora

midnight-6:00 am - blissfully sleeping.

6:00-7:00 - I started laundry, read emails, listened to the news (a man was run over on the train tracks that run behind the Second Helpings building -- I worry about the homeless folks that sleep back there) and caught up on blogs.

I read the always-hilarious Crabby Dad's post about bathroom troubles, and thought "Amen, brother!" A disproportionate part of my job is spent dealing with the bathrooms at work. Plunging is my main activity. No one hesitates to tell me if there is the slightest whiff of trouble in there. Now, if one of the coolers is down or there are sparks flying they forget to mention it until I'm ready to walk out the door. This has lead to many an evening of Nora and an earning-overtime repair man bonding. I've written lots of articles and blog posts at my desk while Roy the repairman is in the cooler.

7:00-7:30 - Let the cat, who has been meowing at the window for ten minutes, in. I fed him and took a shower. Wore pants, socks and shoes for the first time in months. I'm the queen of skirts and dansko Mary-Jane's. As I laced up my shoes, I looked at my biker boots longingly -- they are much more comfortable.

7:30-8:00 - Stopped at Posh Petals and left them a goody bag of treats and a thank you note for the flowers they sent me two weeks ago at their back door. Drove to work, thinking that world peace starts with turn signal use. Listened to my my friends on the Bob and Tom show on the radio.

8:00 - walked through the back door to be greeted by one of our employees that is good at pointing out the problems, I keep telling her she needs to spend equal time coming up with solutions.

K: Guess what Nora?
N: You won the lottery?
K: No, what do you hate hear first thing in the morning?
N: There is a problem in the bathroom?
K: [laughing] Yes!

I slowly opened the bathroom room, looking down. Yep, water in the floor - and it was clear, a good sign. I heard creaking and looked up. Four of the ceiling tiles looked like over-filled water balloons. I decided the best thing to do would be to break them up and get the inevitable over with. I looked in my office to find something to poke the tiles with and spied a cane belonging to one of our volunteers, perfect but probably not a good idea - especially if I was caught. Like every good not-for-profit director I keep a mic stand behind my door next to a picture of Joey Ramone. I used the mic stand to poke at the ceiling. There was a resounding crash and I was soon covered in bits of ceiling tile and water.

Lately the restroom has become my nemesis. I love the wall colors at Second Helpings. The bathroom was trimmed in a deep eggplant and the walls were dark mossy green. I always found it to be a nice oasis of calm, even when I was plunging. Our new CEO wanted the restroom to be cheerier and I admit to having a bad attitude about it, and was not very helpful with coordinating the painting or colors. A group of volunteers came to paint the bathroom walls this weekend and did a horrible job. The yellow-ish color is not enough to cover the dark paint. And the high school kids slopped paint everywhere. So now the walls look like a manila folder threw-up on them. So now the restroom has a crappy paint job, is covered in ceiling tile bits and water. All this is missing is the locusts.

8:30 - I called our handyman to see what he thought. The wet tiles followed the water line that goes to the water heater and a re-circulating motor (don't ask why the water heater is in the ceiling or why there is a circulating pump that constantly moves the water so it never gets quite hot enough --I didn't design it, I just have to deal with it), so I guessed it was a plumbing problem but I wanted to make sure. I decided not to go to the off-site Harvest committee meeting (dang). I mopped, picked up ceiling tile bits and made signs for bathroom doors -- Caution wet floors...and ceiling. Yes, Chicken Little the sky is falling.

9:00 - Checked on my phone messages and new emails. Helped get a group of nursing students started in the kitchen [yes, guys --student nurses, you can be jealous]. I realized that Dad was not here (he's a regular Wednesday volunteer), his friend Dale said that Dad "got a better offer.
Hummm, wonder what that means.
9:30 - Dennis (volunteer handyman) came in, crawled up in to the ceiling to and confirmed it was a plumbing problem (there are also HVAC units up there, the last leak was caused by a birds nest that was clogging a drain line).
10:00 - Called plumber to explain problem. Said they'd have someone get back to me. I started this post while I'm waiting for them to call. Worked on setting up interviews for an open staff position. BM, owner of the cane and one of our volunteers sat in my office talking about his new teeth, cat, people on the bus and insisted on showing me the sore on his nether regions. I applied antibiotic ointment (and thought of Jamie Dawn's Butt Paste) and called his mother. BM is my age with some clear mental handicaps and he was an alcoholic that drank every thing he could get his hands on including rubbing alcohol. I have taken BM under my wing and find little jobs for him to do, but sometimes it gets to be a bit much.

10:30 - Still waiting on the call, so I figured I'd help it along by leaving my office for a bit. Mopped a little more, checked to make sure all of the food made it out the door (2900 meals!) and chatted with volunteers. BH another volunteer stopped in my office. BH has made it clear that he's smitten with me. He even came in to the Red Key Saturday. Too bad he's 68 and married. As usual BH pinned me between my desk and chair. I'm getting pretty good at swiveling to avoid the big wet kiss he tries to plant on my lips. I automatically grabbed a tissue to wipe it off my cheek and told him once again "that I didn't want to be his queen."

11:00 - Our founder and chairman emeritus of the board stopped in. She's one of the few people that I'm intimated by. So, of course I'm holding a mop when I see her. The plumber called and he'd be there within the hour. I returned phone calls and email messages and worked on employee files. Today is payday (yippee) so I signed paychecks. I unjammed the printer and reminded everyone that it was not a cube steak -- don't pound on it. Another one of our volunteers with a disability spent time in my office telling me about his job at Camp Atterbury and every detail of what he does (which I've heard every Wednesday for six months). I also spent time explaining who Chicken Little is to several of our culinary students. I was reminded of a statistic that just blows me away. Middle class kids get read to at least 1000 hours before they go to school. Low income kids only average 25 hours. No wonder there is such a disparity in reading skills.

noon - The students called us for lunch. I'd just gotten my food when the door bell rang. I seem to be the only one who can hear it at lunch time. A woman was at the door donating grocery bags and 5 pounds of rice. I filled out the paperwork (what is the value of grocery bags...that we don't really need?). I sat back down to time to hear the door bell again and meet the plumber. Dennis and the plumber climbed up to the ceiling. I stood on the ladder, head in the ceiling to talk to them. They told me it was safer up there than on the ladder, but my fear of heights would not let me make the leap to the little room. They would have to build stairs to get me down. While I'm on the ladder (and being grateful for my choice of pants) BM and another two other volunteers with mental disabilities were circling the ladder and bumping in to it, thinking I was talking to them, not the plumber. The plumber confirmed the problem (bad fitting) and we also talked about some other issues. I liked that he talked to me and showed me what was happening, even thought I refused to step off the ladder. He needed to order a part and schedule a time when we can turn the water off for a chunk of time.

12:45 - I sat down to my cold meal

1:00 - Plunging time again! Checked emails, returned phone calls and looked through resumes for kitchen manager opening. Made handouts for the culinary class I'm teaching about line cooking tomorrow. Printed out directions and details for the talks I'm giving starting at 5:45 tomorrow.

2:00 - Met with director of volunteers to map plans for next week when she is gone and check on the status of the 80 volunteers we need for a big event next Friday. I took a potty break and was looking up at the ceiling as I um, tinkled. Something fell and I assumed it was a chunk of tile. EKKKKK! It was a freaking bug...wait bugs...they must have been enjoying the warm damp dark space. I was stomping my feet trying to squash them and started laughing out loud. I realized that must have been what Senator Craig was doing when he was tapping his foot. He was squashing bugs! I drug ladder in to bathroom and sprayed an unnecessary amount of bug spray in there, killing bugs and a few more of my brain cells.

3:00 - Talked to plumber to try to figure out when we could turn the water off to the building to repair the leak. Looked at more resumes and typed minutes from a committee meeting.

3:30 - Headed to retirement reception for one of our board members. Arrived during the speech phase of the party. I spied my friend CC, who writes for Indianapolis Monthly. CC and I caught up on local news and gossip. I ate a big piece of cake (it would have been rude not too, really) and mingled.

4:30 - Answered two cell phone calls from the United Way staff person that is in charge of the account that I'm speaking to the the morning. The main gate will be locked, and I was thrilled to know where I was to go. Returned a call from my dear friend Ann and caught up on godson Ben and her family.

5:00 - Home, and at a decent hour - for once. I puttered around the yard for a bit. I tossed some summer plants in to the compost pile and plunked mums in to their pots. I drug my living room rug out to the clothes line and pounded on it with a stick. Went back inside coughing and sneezing to take an antihistamine. I'm like the boy in the bubble, its a wonder that I survived my farm kid childhood.

6:00 - Make a delicious dinner of mac and cheese and did dishes and more laundry. Thought about bringing fall/winter clothes up from basement and putting away spring/summer clothes (my new house only has one closet) and ignored that thought.

7:15 - Back out the door and headed back downtown. Hey, wasn't I at this stoplight 12 hours ago? My friend Jeff invited me to the Ryan Adams and the Cardinals show. Thoughtful and generous Jeff also dropped off the latest Ryan Adams CD, two Halloween PEZ and a parking pass. I'd been listening to the CD between plunging and stuff. I loved whipping right up to the Murat and parking. The show was supposed to start at 8:00. I wandered around the beautiful lobby for a while, didn't see Jeff (he was at dinner with the woman he's been dating) and headed to my seat at 7:50. Center main stage, cool. Row A, seat 13. I kept walking and walking toward the stage. Ran in to a usher who asked to see my ticket. She looked at it and pointed for me to keep walking. Row A actually meant row A. Not row A, followed by ZZ, YY, XX, WW....And seat 13 was right smack in the middle. I plopped my happy little ass in the seat and looked around. The theatre was still pretty empty. I checked out the stage. A pedal steel -- woo hoo! From the way the stage was set up I guessed that there was not opening band. A couple sat down next to me. I couldn't believe dear cousin Sarah and her husband John! By 8:15 our row was full of the cool kids. Ryan and the band finally came out at at 9:00 and he apologized for being late, pointing out the time difference and saying that he should have asked Flavor Flav what time it was. He was contrite and funny, so like most boys with guitars I forgave him.
He played a great 45 minute set and was charming with his fumbling with his earpiece (new technology for him) and talking about our downtown mall and the FFA kids in town. As much as I loved being just 10 feet from him and wished I had my camera, the sound was a little weird. We were so close that the the speakers were behind us. No monitors on stage made a difference also. The fifteen minute break turned in to 45. The long break was okay, I got to chat with Jeff, Sarah and John and loads of other folks. Sarah's birthday was earlier this week and I was telling her that I remembered holding her when she was born - I was 12.
The show started again at 10:30. Ryan is clearly brilliant musician and I've loved his music since his days Whiskeytown, the band that turned me in to an alt-country fan. The first couple of songs after the break were what I love about him. Clever, melodic and full off goodness. From there the band played amazingly, and turned every song in to a jam - reminiscent of The Grateful Dead. Which is exactly the kind of thing that makes, well, my skin crawl. I don't know whether I don't have enough attention span or I'm just not sophisticated enough to get it. Either way my mind was wandering. I shifted my "band crush" from the pedal steel player to the bass player. When I started counting seats I knew it was trouble - if I turn to math, that is a bad sign. I scooted out of my seat at midnight.

12:20 - Home and setting my alarm for 5:00, I'm giving at 4 talks starting at 5:45 to a group of trash haulers. 'night.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I'm 46, but typically I feel like I have the energy and spirit of two twenty-three year olds.

Not lately though. I don't know whether it is the change of season, troubles at work or a good old case of the blahs. I've been crabby, missed a huge NUVO deadline and generally no fun to be around.

The National FFA Convention starts tomorrow. Thousands of FFA kids have been in town since Monday and several volunteered at Second Helpings yesterday. The rest of the 55,000 delegates start pouring in to town tomorrow. The convention is the largest the city hosts. Indianapolis really rolls out the carpet for them. Seeing the sea of blue jackets walking down the street (renamed FFA Way for the week) was good for my soul.

I was invited to the convention kick-off lunch today (with 1000 of my closest friends). It was a real feel-good, made me smile event. All of the tables were sprinkled with FFA kids. I sat with students from New Hampshire, Montana, Colorado and Oregon. They were polite, well mannered, clean scrubbed and impossibly good looking. And smart as whips. Ms. Montana's family are cattle ranchers (2000 heads), Mr. Oregon was telling me about a group of farmers that grow things specifically for food banks and community kitchens and his sheep business, Ms. New Hampshire talked about fisheries and agricultural education and Ms. Colorado told us about how the FFA convention works and about her local chapter.

As a 4-H kid I was always jealous of the blue FFA jackets. I always search thrift stores for them. I was seated next to the guy who owns the business that provides and embroiders the jackets. They started doing it in 1936. He was teasing the kids at the table that he will know who their next president is before it is announced, because he embroiders their name on the presidents jacket.

I wish I would have brought my camera -- blue blue blue!

Monday, October 22, 2007

22(0) freak out

My mortgage payment book came today. And my monthly payment is $220/month more than I thought it would be. Actually it is almost $400/month more than I originally hoped.

Now is not a great time to be getting a mortgage. Mortgage companies are going over everything with a fine-tooth comb. My landlord gave me $10,000 credit toward the purchase price, from rent paid over the years. The mortgage companies said they could not accept it unless I could prove that I'd paid the $10,000 over market rent in the last two years. Which was impossible. Instead the Young's very generously knocked the $10, 000 off of the purchase price.

So, even though the purchase price was ultimately the same -- it made a huge difference in my down payment. I went from having 20% down to having to pay mortgage insurance. And property taxes went up considerably this year, not that anyone has quite figured out how much they are.

So, the bottom line is that I'll be paying twice what I was paying in rent (and adding my tenants rent to that) and living in the exact same house...and paying for more insurance, water and general repairs.

I know what my taxes will go down in a year when the homestead credit kicks in and that I can refinance in two years (by then I will be able to rid myself of the mortgage insurance). Good thing for my new tenant that I didn't know how much the mortgage was going to be.

And, I can swing it -- my car is paid for, I have a an embarrassing number of jobs and I'm healthy.

That said, I'm heading to bed to hide under the covers for the rest of the evening.

so, as i was drinking moonshine with the third base coach of the giants...

...I handed him $21 for the three CDs he'd just given me so I could write about it tonight. And when I say that I drank moonshine, I mean that I put my lips on the water bottle of Uncle Max's Kentucky moonshine until they burned - I couldn't bring myself to actually take a swig.

Tim Flannery is a singer/songwriter and baseball guy. He was with the Padres for 25 years as a player, coach, manager and announcer. He's now the third base coach for the Giants, and chasing the dream of a World Series ring. He spends the off season playing his music.

I really enjoyed talking to Tim before the show. Baseball and music are two of my favorite things, so I was a little star-struck.

Tim's songs are rooted in bluegrass and Gospel and are heartbreakingly beautiful. The harmonies with his brother, Tom were amazing (and that was before the moonshine). I'm a real sucker for songs about family and the land, Tim's music is right up my alley.

(Tim Flannery)

(Tim and Tom and Uncle Max's "water")

The brothers were touring with Steve Poltz . Steve played for years in the punk-pop-folk band The Rugburns. He's been touring for a couple of years as a solo act. If you've seen the new Jeep sandbox commercial, you've heard Steve's music. He co-wrote the longest running Billboard hit "You Were Meant For Me" with then girlfriend Jewel. I'm fascinated by his early life. He trick-or-treated at Liberace’s house and was Bob Hope’s favorite altar boy. He's very clever and charming. Its not often (okay never) that a touring musician greets you with a big hug. Steve is also poster child for ADD. He jumps around even more than I do. Between my lack of focus when taking photographs and his constant motion it is hard to get a good picture.

(Steve Poltz)

(Steve and Nora)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

twenty minutes

I spend a good chunk of my life thinking in twenty minute increments.

I takes me twenty minutes to drive to Second Helpings. That is if I leave at 7:30. If I pull out of the driveway at 7:40 it takes me twenty-five minutes. Guess what time I continue to hustle out the door?

I always try to give myself twenty minutes to get to Marigold, which is only five minutes away but I have to factor in the coffee stop and parking. Guess what time I typically race out the door?

I always tell myself that it only takes me twenty minutes to get ready for work. I've always been terrible at math. If I dry my hair that adds twenty minutes and another twenty to straighten. No wonder I'm putting on mascara at stop lights.

I can write a post in twenty minutes, right? Ummm, no.

Today is a good expample. I went to run errands. I'll just be gone for twenty minutes, then I'd write this post, plant some bulbs, make some calls for a NUVO piece and take a twenty minute nap before I worked at the Red Key. When I got home two hours later I re-shifted my priorities. I'd take a twenty minute nap and write this post and make the telephone calls before I went to work.

When I woke up twenty minutes before I had to be at work, I decided that I would whip out this post and race to work. It took me eighteen minutes to find pants that fit and I arrived at work five minutes late. And no post.

When I got home at 2:00 am, I told myself I'd write for twenty minutes, take a shower and go to bed. After reading your blogs for twenty minutes and falling asleep, computer on my lap I shuffled off to bed all Red Key smelling (smoke, cheeseburgers and beer, heavy on the smoke).

So here I am, finishing this post, with twenty minutes to get ready to leave the house to go volunteer for a Crop Walk. Hair still wet and no idea of what I'm going to wear.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

nora at nineteen

Sheeh, tell a few bad jokes and your readers turn on you!

Crabby Dad, I do have to tell you that your joke might have been repeated last night in an establishment that serves Guinness. And Bad Influence Girl and I might have both said the word "perineum" at the same time during an unusually quiet moment in the bar. Kim, we'll call you next time, we can working on our stalking plan for you-know-who.

So in the interest of not getting any more cyber-groans over jokes or blurting out body parts in the Red Key, I'm taking Ralph's advice and writing about my life at nineteen years old.

I turned 19 on May 19, 1980.
I was just finishing up a rough year of college. My freshman year of Purdue is a bit of a blur, not because I was partying -- I was just trying to keep my head above water. I was one of those high-school students that sailed through school with out ever taking a book home. I had no study habits and was also terribly shy and socially immature. Which was the perfect combination for bad grades and hiding out in the dorm laundry room on Friday nights. And to add to the fun, I got braces the week before I started college.

Near the end of the school year I'd met a group of group of punk-rockers. Chris Clark of band Dow Jones and Industrials ran for student government president to promote the band's new record. And, they won! I'd gone to college without at typewriter and had taken to using one in the student government offices to type my papers on. Shortly after they got elected Chris and the rest of the crew dropped by the offices to scope things out. You can imagine the scene.
Skinny (I think I weighed 95 pounds then) braces-wearing shy Nora hunched over a typewriter that she probably was not supposed to be using, doing her best to look invisible.

One of the guys asked if I could type. Since I was pretty much caught red-handed with my hands on the keys, I murmured "yes." I wound up helping them with some projects and was grateful that such cool kids took me under their wing. I think there was also some value to sending innocent-looking me to get checks signed from the dean for their projects. I enjoyed my time with them and did a good job sitting quietly and soaking it all in.

That summer I lived back at the farm and I worked two jobs that were depressingly alike. Both as nurse's aides -- one at a nursing home and the other at the local hospital. It was not a bad summer, but nothing special.

On a day off I ran up to Purdue to register for Fall classes (way before signing up for things on-line, in fact for my computer class that semester I wrote programs on punch cards) and dropped in on my friend Carol. I didn't know Carol very well, but she was one of the punk-rock group and was always nice to me. I wound up spending the night and Carol and I started a life-long friendship.

I spent that year in the dorm and trudged to classes, changing my major every week or so. I continued to volunteer in the student government offices and started coming out of my shell. I loved how the punk-rock crowd was not judgmental. They didn't care that I didn't dress like them or what kind of music I liked. It was a real eye-opener for me.

Soon I was involved in fun projects -- a Halloween party that filled the Armory, a giant Fli-Back competition and a Ganja Giveaway at a football game (a trip to Jamaica). I dressed as an artichoke and talked to pre-schools about the importance of nutrition during our self-proclaimed Vegetable Awareness Week. I might have also worn the same outfit and held a sign up that proclaimed "****** ****** is my favorite vegetable" when a certain president came to town.

I've spent the evening looking at scrapbooks-- unfortunately everything is too glued down to scan, and realized that being 19 was a real turning point for me. I was living between two worlds that year -- innocent dorm-dwelling girl and innocent sneaking-in-to parties to hear Dow Jones play chick. Sort of like my life right now. Not-for-profit director by day, music writer by night. And, sadly by dating life is about the same.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

eighteen goofy jokes

I thought I'd start today off with some Halloween jokes.

Why don't witches like to ride their brooms when they're angry?
They're afraid of flying off the handle.
[and maybe hitting the side of the barn]

Where do baby ghosts go during the day?
Dayscare centers

Who did Frankenstein take to the prom?
His ghoul friend.

What monster flies his kite in a rain storm?
Benjamin Frankenstein

What do ghosts serve for dessert?
Ice Scream

What's a haunted chicken?
A poultry-geist

What's pink and gray and wrinkly and old and belongs to Grandpa monster?
Grandma monster

Why are most monsters covered in wrinkles?
Have you ever tried to iron a monster?

What kind of mistakes do spooks make?
Boo boos

Why couldn't Dracula's wife get to sleep?
Because of his coffin

What kind of monster is safe to put in the washing machine?
A wash and wear wolf

What's the first thing ghosts do when they get into a car?
They boo-kle their seatbelts

What has webbed feet, feathers, fangs and goes quack-quack?
Count Duckula

What do you call a person who puts poison in a person's corn flakes?
A cereal killer

Why are monsters huge and hairy and ugly?
Because if they were small and round and smooth they'd be M&Ms

Why wasn't there any food left after the monster party?
Because everyone was a goblin!

Why should a skeleton drink 10 glasses of milk a day?
It's good for the bones

Why didn't the skeleton cross the road?
He didn't have the guts.

Have a goofy day!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I'm struggling with the everyday posting/numbers thing, it's beginning to feel a bit tedious and ego-centric to me, so I cannot imagine how its feeling to you.

I've been thinking about how I felt when I was seventeen years old and I realized that it is a hell of a lot like forty-six feels, only I was skinny.

I went out for a drink last night (can't do that when you're seventeen -- not legally anyway) with another single friend --she's is my age, pretty, petite and has a great job. She's a radio personality on a syndicated morning show. She is one of the few women that I get a little jealous of and imagine trading jobs with. Then I listen to her in the show on the way to work and wonder how she gets through the morning without punching her coworkers in the nose.

Our talk centered around boys. The ones we like don't seem to know that we exist, and the ones that are interested in us that we manage to find fault with (not that there is anyone for me to find fault with right now). How crazy is that?

I was on my way home tonight, after leaving for work fourteen hours earlier and feeling a little melancholy and a lot crabby. The fact that my bum was soaking wet because I'd left my window down and it poured during my committee meeting was not helping my mood. I called AVS, who I have not talked to since he was here. It was one of those good/bad conversations. Good to talk to him and catch up, bad 'cause he was eating Tater Tots and watching Friends - my favorite rainy day/crabby mood dinner. And as we all know you should never call an old boyfriend when you're feeling sad and crabby. Should be a State law.

Now that these pathetic seventeen sentences are over, I'm going to bed - tomorrow is a new day!

behind the wheel

I've become a bit obsessed with this posting everyday/numbers challenge.
So, as I was showering at 4:30 this morning, I was thinking of today's post.

Okay, thats not the first thing I thought of...I was giggling when I realized that the last time I'd showered was 4:30 on Sunday morning after covering 10 hours of music and making myself write my column when I got home. I took a quick shower before I went to bed. No wonder I'm always so tired, and bowl like crap.

Anyway, back to number sixteen. Of course the first thing that popped in to my head was "sweet sixteen and never been kissed." Not much to talk about there, in fact we could expand that to sweet seventeen, sweet get the idea. Which probably would would have led in to a discussion of sweet forty-six and, again, you get the idea. Pretty dang boring.

Like most of you I got my drivers license when I was sixteen and one month. As a farm kid, it was slightly anti-climactic. I'd been driving around the farm for years and on bigger equipment than I'd ever take on the road. And as the oldest of four, I knew that I was just adding another chore to my list.

In fact, on my first day of official driving I was asked to drive one of my sister's friends home and I threw a bit of a fit. Which meant that I said nothing, but boy did I tell everyone off in my head. I learned a huge lesson that day.
Don't drive when you're mad.

Yep, I hit the side of the barn. With an audience.

I'm still fairly ambivalent about driving. I'd hate not having a car, but I'm not a big fan of driving.
I have the sense of direction of a donut -- I consider it a victory when I don't have to make a u-turn to reach my destination.

I've always driven very practical vehicles, nothing sexy.

Nothing about the whole driving process appeals to me. Most of all the maintenance.
This morning I was thinking of the glory days of getting my car fixed. I'd follow Dad out to Sam Shepherd's house, Sam would fix the car and on we'd go. The Shepherd family attended the same church we did. Sam was one of a bunch of kids, the youngest Wanda is my age.

I left the house wishing I still had a Sam Shepherd in my car's life.
Now I'm at the mercy of the dealership or local repair shop.
I wondered what ever happened to Sam, I have not seen him in 20 years.

I was giving two talks at a factory this morning the first at 6:00. I left in plenty of time, but in usual Nora fashion things went awry. It was dark and raining. The map-quest directions left out a critical piece of information and I missed a street. It was one of those frustrating you-can-see-it-you-just-can't-get-there moments. The business was across the street from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and you couldn't turn around. I finally got to the address I'd been given.
And the gates were locked. I had to park and walk up to the gate to read the sign.
Did I mention the rain and the dark? And that the neighborhood was not great?
The sign directed me to a street address a block away. I found that gate, parked, walked through the rain to the guard shack.
From there I had to leave my driver's license, and was issued a hard hat, safety glasses, a pass, parking permit and electronic key fob that would let them know where I was at all times.

It's now 6:00 and I'm still not at the right plant building. I'm a little freaked out. I followed the map through the factory grounds, someone met me a the door, led me thought the factory floor, up a flight of stairs and launched my damp frizzy haired self in the room just in time to talk. I didn't have a chance to look around the to see who I was talking to ahead of time.

I've given hundreds of talks in the last couple of years. I'm pretty unflappable. I've only stopped talking in the middle of a speech once. I was giving a talk at the FedEx hanger at the airport. A large door, as big as our barn was open in front of me facing the runway. I could handle seeing the planes taxi by, but when one turned in to the hanger toward me I had to stop and ask "is this okay?"

So this morning, I'm talking away looking around the room and who do I see in the crowd, that makes me stop mid-sentence?
Sam Shepherd!

Tomorrow morning I'm going to think about George Clooney and see if he shows up at my 6:30 am talk.
Maybe I'll start dreaming about him now.

Monday, October 15, 2007

happy anniversary to me....

Today is my one year anniversary of blogging.

I've come a long way baby, from the days of sitting in my truck in front of the newsstand to grab their wireless connection.

In the spirit of my commitment to blogging every day this month and connecting it to numbers, here are fifteen updates about posts and events this last year.

1. One of my first posts recounted my recent dating history. I'm happy to report that I'm still having awkward encounters with men and that they continue to move out-of-state at an alarming rate.

2. Remember the missing screws to this dish rack that I purchased on this trip? I found them - in Tekamah. They were in my suitcase the whole time --they'd been to Phoenix and Sanibel and lived under my bed for six months. Too bad I found them too late to save the Ronald McDonald glass.

3. Construction still has not started on the grocery store that is to be built on the CATH coffeehouse site. Every Sunday for three months I've stood in the exact same spot and taken a progress photograph. If there is ever something to see besides a porta-potty, I'll post it.

4. I have not written much about my PEZ collection, the namesake of this blog. The collection toured two libraries this year. It married two of my favorite things -- PEZ and the public library.

5. A Friday night dinner with Jerry led to a trip to Nebraska to visit Cliff and Marilyn and their family. That trip is one of the best things that I've done this year. I don't think that I've ever properly thanked Jerry for sponsoring me for the trip. Thank you Jerry.

6. I got promoted in March. I can't believe that was six months ago. I still think the job is a perfect fit for me. I keep waiting for a slow week to catch up on filing and correspondence. Heck, I'd be happy for a week without plunging a toilet. That said, I love every second of it and cannot imagine doing anything else.

7. Music continues to be a tremendous part of my life. Over the weekend I saw 13 bands. You can read my Broad Ripple Gazette columns here and my NUVO work here.

8. In May I posted the first of many photographs of my feet. Most of the pictures have been snapped by accident and some on purpose. I'm finding them to be a fun remembrance of where I've been. And what the floor looked like.

9. I turned 46 this year. I still don't know how that happened. I swear I'm still 28. Except when I look in the mirror.

10. Something very traumatic happened to me in June. I only had to wait until August for relief. Thanks Cliff, and I suspect that Ralph helped the process along.

11. I bought this camera and it truly has changed things for me. Not only do I take pictures of my shoes and my chocolate covered self, but several music photographs have been published. Here and here are two of my favorites.

12. A lot of my friends have moved out of state this year. Besides the boys that I seem to drive out of town, Maura, Amy and Otis have all hit the road. I'm thrilled for the opportunities that they have, but I miss them.

13. I bought the house I've been living in for 12 years! I couldn't be any happier about it. It has a great back yard, is full of books and usually a little messy. I'm working on the whole air conditioning thing.

14. In looking at the sidebar of labels I see that they number one thing (30 times) that I've blogged about is family, followed by crabbiness in a close second place (25 posts). Coincidence?

15. I am looking forward to meeting even more of you at Blogstock '08.

If anyone told me a year ago that I'd be visiting Cliff in Nebraska, buying socks from Crabby Dad's kid, anxiously waiting for photographs from Ralph's daughter's wedding, tracking Kim down in at a concert, re-connecting with a girl that I knew from my Sunday School days through a writer in Canada, taking a road trip with Jerry, talking Def Leppard with a Michigan mom, meeting Loner at her dad's funeral, learning and experiencing Jamie Dawn's word hitonious, looking forward to Rachel's Sunday church signs, watching Scott teach a class at Second Helpings, sending a little milk money to Spilt Milk, worrying about Granny Annie's chickens and corresponding with the most wonderful Naomi, I'd have called them crazy.

Thanks also to you regular non-blogging readers: David, Maureen, Nancy, Susan and Brenda. You guys are the ones who make me the most nervous.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

but your boobs look really good

...was the nicest thing that was said about my bowling game.

The scores for my threes games: 85, 86, 86.
The score for my top: 2 thumbs up.
I can joke about that, since no one ever says things like that to me. When I tried the top on at Marigold, the woman I was working with said "not good, you look like you're all boobs."
Which made me run to get my check book.

Today was the annual Red Key vs. Just Judy's bowling tournament. Judy's is a bar down the street from the Red Key.
This is the first year that I've played, and it just might be the last time they invite me.
think the last time I bowled I lived in New Jersey, so that was at least a dozen years ago.

I did have fun. The teams were made randomly by the bowling alley. My team consisted of the Posh Petals girls and my accountant. For the record, it was the Posh girls that made the boobs comment, not my accountant.

From there I went to a house concert. Tim Grimm and his wife Jan Lucas-Grimm were playing. I really like Tim's music. He's a actor, hay farmer, singer. He and his wife moved back to Indiana to live on his near his grandparent's farm. He sings of the land, neighbors and family. Cliff and Jerry, I think that you would really enjoy him. Speaking of that I talked to Jerry while he was driving the tractor today.

Ding! The timer just went off -- I set it for fourteen minutes.

Good night!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

thirteen nashville photographs

I was making a list of things that I need to accomplish today before 3:00 and thinking of a post was one of them. Then I got the oh-so-clever idea to post the list of thirteen things that I needed to do today. Since screwing around on the computer was not one of them, I decided to do some of the chores first. Unpacking my suitcase was the first thing I tackled. I sorted a few things out and got to some cough syrup covered stuff (the lid was not on the bottle correctly, child proof my ass) and decided that unpacking my camera would be way more fun.

(Otis, Amy, Scott)
Waiting at the Pancake Pantry

Pointing out the sites

(click on his name to hear his music)

Cute Couple

Putting the "i" in Nashville

We went to check out the new house. Since the banks were closed (Columbus Day) they could not close on the house. That did not stop us from peeking in windows, planning the landscaping and mourning the break down of Amy's car and the horribleness of their move.

View from the front porch.

Amy on the front porch
(click on her name to hear her music)

Scott and Amy in the backyard.

Later that night...

Nora's foot, Scott's boots
The Station Inn

Moving day...


Mr. Monkey arrives in Nashville.
Almost all of the fliers for Amy shows and her vacation photographs feature him.

This Mr. Monkey greeted me when I stopped for gas.
Nervous Charlie,s carried fireworks, sorghum ham, tons of souvenirs featuring outhouse humor. Luckily they also had gasoline and diet Pepsi.

Friday, October 12, 2007

size twelve

I worked a long day yesterday and ran to Target before it closed --you know how it goes, you race in to the store ten minutes before closing time and get the hurry-up-and-shop you inconsiderate moron grimace from the employee straightening the carts. I'm sure its pretty darn close to the look I give people that walk in the bar at last call.

The intention of the shopping trip was to buy a toothbrush and cat food. Just a toothbrush and cat food. So as I was trying on jeans, I started giggling. Which I'm sure endeared me to the Target staff just a little bit more. The jeans that fit were a size 12. Not only was I thrilled that my fat monkey ass could squeeze in to a pair of size 12 jeans but it took me back 25 years.

But first, I have to tell you that I don't believe in size tags. They vary so wildly from manufacturer to manufacturer. I always joke that I'm going to rip all of the tags out of the clothes at Marigold and re-group the sizes in to the broad categories of sun, moon and stars. Then when someone comes in the store you could say "Hello, you look like a star! Let me show you some things." I've never cared about sizes. In fact the skirt I'm wearing right now has a "small" tag and my tee shirt is an "XL". But a surprising number of people care about what the size tag says. Yep, that tag that no one but you see, that tag that can easily be cut out. Even if the skirt is the most flattering thing they've ever put on their body, women get caught up in sizes. I've learned to say things like "Oh, that line runs really small" or "That designer cuts very generously."

When I was in college my dear boyfriend and I hung out with another couple. Greg and RR were high school buddies. RR's wife managed a clothing store in the Mall. I was a skinny punk rocker with a penchant for thrift store clothes. In those days you could score beautiful beaded sweaters, handmade dresses, biker boots and well-worn Levi jeans.

One Christmas season Mrs. Mall spent a lot of time telling us about a coat selling contest between the stores in her district. I was not totally shocked when Greg gave me a coat from everyone-looks-like-everyone-else store in the Mall. I was tiny and the coat was a size 6. Which technically fit me, but I thought it was way too tight for a coat and not my style at all. I'm a fan of the swing coat. Loose and plenty of room for layers underneath. But I appreciated the fact that Greg was supporting his friend. I took the coat back to exchange it for a bigger size. I tried a couple of them on and took the size 12 one up to the counter. Mrs. Mall looked at me and said "I would never be caught dead wearing a size 12!"

I was not a big fan of Mrs. Mall anyway and that was the last straw. I told her that she had a good point and that I didn't want the coat and would just take the money. She swore that her store lost the contest because of that return.

Greg and I eventually broke up -- saying no to an engagement proposal tends to take the wind out of the sails of a relationship. I graduated from college, moved to Philadelphia for five years and came back to Indianapolis about a dozen years ago. I ran in to RR and I learned that he and Mrs. Mall were divorced. She'd had an affair with a younger man that she met, at you guessed it-- the mall.

RR and I dated for a bit. We saw a lot of music and hung out with old friends. He still lived in the college town an hour away. I was managing a pizza place and worked a lot of nights. We didn't see each other often and I didn't know much about his life beyond the superficial stuff. I got a call at work one night telling me that RR had tried to commit suicide. Of course I felt horrible and guilty. And, of course RR's problems had nothing to do with me.

Or what the size tag in your clothes says.

these go to eleven

No one is more surprised at my life than I am. Sitting around with some of favorite people this week in my cough syrup-induced haze was bringing out some deep thoughts.

Mostly how did a shy farm girl from Boone County, Indiana come to be sitting in a living room in Nashville, TN with three amazing musicians and all-around swell people?

Part of the reason I often feel like a fraud is the big gaps in my education, both traditional and social.

  • I don't know my multiplication tables.
  • I've never had a manicure or pedicure.
  • I didn't watch much television as a youngster. I'm a whiz at Brady Bunch and Partridge Family trivia, but most episodes of Gilligan's Island, MASH and All In The Family are new to me.
  • I couldn't diagram a sentence if my life depended on it.
  • I have not seen a lot of movies. I decided a few years ago that I'd never catch up, so I try to stay current -- but I've thrown in the towel on a that lately also. AVS used to tease me "there are these things called movies, they tell a story..."
  • I didn't own a record until I was 16 and hardly ever listened to the radio. I was a freshman in college when John Lennon died and I didn't know who he was.
  • I have the sense of direction of a donut.

Most of the time when the conversation centers around something I don't know about I just nod and try to soak it in. That happened to me several times in Nashville. I enjoyed the recounting of a Sanford and Son episode I have not seen, talk of a book I have not read and I kept myself entertained checking out Scott's collection of records and DVDs.

I've yet to see the film This Is Spinal Tap, but when I was thinking about todays post the phrase "these go to eleven" popped in to my head. If you hang around enough band sound checks, musicians and movie buffs some stuff just gets burned in to your brain.

Here is the scene:

“ Nigel Tufnel: [pointing to a customized Marshall amplifier head unit] This is a top, to, uh, you know, what we use on stage, but it's very, very special, because, if you can see...

Marty DiBergi: Yeah...

Nigel Tufnel: [pointing to the control dials] ...the numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board: eleven, eleven, eleven, eleven...

Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?

Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.

Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is that any louder?

Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most... most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up... you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?

Marty DiBergi: I don't know...

Nigel Tufnel: ...nowhere! Exactly! What we do is if we need that extra... push over the cliff, you know what we do?

Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.

Nigel Tufnel: ...Eleven. Exactly. One louder.

Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder, and make ten be the top... number, and make that a little louder?

Nigel Tufnel: [pause, blank look and snapping chewing gum] These go to eleven."

Maybe its time for me to get a Netflix account...or cable television.
Of course then, I might not ever leave my house.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

nashville as it should be

One of the reasons I timed my Nashville visit around a Monday was to see the Western Swing Band Time Jumpers at The Station Inn. My friend Scott says they are one of the main reasons that he moved to Nashville and I believe it. All ten musicians were just amazing.

The band is made up of a core group of studio and touring musicians. I'm a big fan of the pedal steel guitar -- it makes me swoon. I was lucky enough to hear one of the the best session players in the business. Paul Frankin was sitting in for the regular player. You can hear Paul on everything from Barbara Mandrell to Megadeth.

As much as I loved the Time Jumpers, I adored the crowd. There were 200-ish people there on a Monday night at 10 pm. And I was one of the younger ones.

I've love to see them again -- when I'm not spending more time blowing my nose as I am listening. I knew I was really feeling bad when I was not up for checking out another band. Next time, for sure.

nine words

Too tired from the drive home to write anything.

Monday, October 08, 2007

eight up

I'm still a bit of a tired sick mess. My voice has still not recovered and as my Grandma Leona would say, I've got nose full.

I'm in Nashville, TN visiting my friends Scott, Otis and Amy -- who are all living together, until at least tomorrow. Otis and Amy are closing on their new house at 2:00 (cross your fingers).

So far it has been the move from Hell for them. They were supposed to close on their Nashville house on Friday, but a bank glitch kept that from happening. They packed their Indianapolis house up on Saturday and drove towards Nashville. Amy's car broke down, so they had to get it towed and rent a trailer to attach it to the moving truck. To add insult to injury they grabbed the wrong set of keys and could not get in to Scott's house. Otis had to sleep with the truck and the car in a parking lot. Amy and her brother had to find a cheap motel and sneak the dog in.

As horrible as that is for them, I've enjoyed hanging out with them today (between naps). I feel like I'm getting my own private good-bye weekend.

So, in the spirit of keeping up on my October post-a-day here are eight thing on my mantle.

from left:

The Queen Bee caricature that runs with my column in the Broad Ripple Gazette. The very talented Josh Johnson is the artist. I have to admit that when I heard that a caricature was being made I panicked. I had a vision of five chins and a huge nose, but it think it is very cute.

"Forgive Us" wood cut print by my Renaissance friend Kipp Normand. I always joke that I should marry Kipp so I can be Nora Normand. You might also know him as "band practice boy".

Tonic Gallery plate. The Tonic Gallery is the sister event to the Tonic Ball, which benefits Second Helpings. This plate was made by a fourth grader and looks an awful lot like me. Several people at the event thought the young artist used me as a model. Of course, I had to own it.

Beautiful flowers from my friends that own Posh Petals. Meredith and Erika sent them to me to welcome me to home ownership. They are amazing -- the flowers and the Posh girls. I love feeling like I have my own florist. How grown up is that?

Two pieces from my amazing friend Amy McAdams. I just love them. Amy is coordinating the Tonic Gallery this year -- taking over in Maura's absence.

Great-Uncle Herman's ball of twine. This is one of the things I'd grab in case of a fire. I love thinking about Herman saving the twine and who knows -- maybe it predates him. It came from his work bench on the farm where his wife Mamie grew up. Nora and Mamie were sisters.

Grandma Nora's glasses. Nora died when Dad was fourteen. Most of her things were divvied up among the married children. Most of all I'm thrilled to have her name, but it's fun to have something that was so personal to her.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

june bug

I honestly did not know that I could love someone this much.

When I held her that first day I was knocked off my feet by the overwhelming wave of unconditional love. I know without a doubt that I would throw myself in front of running bulls to save her and her brother.

June Bug is a smart, confident, loving and thoughtful seven and a half year old. Things Auntie Nora is still working on at forty-six and a half.

I can't wait to see what the future brings for my lovely niece.

It's hard to remember what our family was like before she was born. I know it was not nearly as fun!

a six pack

or my pallbearers

I have six godchildren. They range in age from 31 to 7.

Mike is the oldest and a cousin. I was 15 when my dear Uncle Con and Aunt Karen asked me to be his godmother. I felt very grown up and responsible when I stood at the baptismal font and promised to be responsible for this spiritual growth. I also took the gift giving part very seriously. The year of the puppy (I asked his parents first) was a hit. One of my favorite memories is taking Mike and one of his buddies to a Purdue basketball game. My college boyfriend Greg and I had a blast with the two sixth graders – who acted exactly like sixth grade boys are supposed to, giggling, goofy, soda spilling nerds. That little boy wound up attending Purdue for both his undergrad and graduate degrees. He is now living on the East coast and working for ESPN.

Caitlin is the next oldest. Her mom is an old friend from grade school. She was in grade school when she was baptized, so I didn’t get to hold her during the ceremony. She’s finished one year of college and is taking some time off to figure out what direction she’d like to take next.

Ben is number three. His mom and I have been inseparable since first grade (40 years for those keeping score). Ben gave me the only Christmas present that has ever made me burst in to tears. A framed copy of a school assignment.

“A Very Special Person”
The person who I admire is my godmother. Her name is Nora. I admire her because she’s nice. She collects Pez and gives us Pez candy a lot, and she’s funny. My mom knew her ever since she was a girl, and on Christmas she dresses up like Santa Claus.
Ben (August 25, 1997)

Ben is now a freshman at Hanover College, on the football team and a great student.

Sweet Mallory is Caitlin’s sister. Mallory is a middle school student. She’s creative, sensitive, independent and well traveled. She knitted me my favorite scarf.

Thomas is little brother to Caitlin and Mallory. He’s a hockey playing, sports loving grade schooler. He was a very rambunctious little boy. One time his mom called me and asked me to pick Thomas up from pre-school. Cassie was so angry with him that she thought it was better that I fetch him. In the past when I’d picked him up I’d have to sign in and show my identification. This time the teacher was waiting outside with him and she pushed him toward me the when I opened the car door. Thomas had bitten a classmate and not for the first time. Once I got him buckled in and asked him what happened.
“You know how it is when you’re tired, Aunt Nora. I just lost my head.”
Out of the mouths of 4 year olds.

My dear sweet niece Molly is number six. You can read more about her tomorrow.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

these five rooms

living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom--and the five just like them on the other side of the house, are now mine -- today was closing day.

(rooms one and two)

It was stressful and strange and last minute.
I didn't know until an hour before how much money I needed to bring with me. Luckily I had that much-- with a few dollars left over

The first thing I signed said "Nora Spitznogle, unmarried woman"
Was that necessary, really?

My landlords were incredibly generous and kind -- and took me out for a beer afterward.

Chez Pez

The whole thing drained me -- I lost my voice and am exhausted.
I went to a swanky party and was too tired to stay.

I couldn't resist a self-timed photograph pointing to MY house.
I'm off to curl up in the fetal position under my covers.
In MY bedroom!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

this young man

is four and three-fourths.

He's persuasive, sensitive, smart as a whip, funny and terribly handsome.

His favorite things are John Deere tractors, Grandpa, swimming and teasing his big sister.

Who knew that the things I found so annoying in a little brother would be so lovable in a nephew?

I am thrilled to be Auntie to this sweet boy.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

work, work, work

I'm in my third year of working at Second Helpings.

Working somewhere for three years is not a big milestone for me. I worked at the same nursing home every summer and school breaks for six years. I worked for Houlihan's for eight years and the coffeehouse for over seven. I've worked part time at the Red Key for five and off and on at Marigold for sixteen. If anything, I have a problem letting go.

The job of director of operations at Second Helpings feels like it was made for me. Usually it doesn't feel like work. And some days it feels overwhelming, but mostly it feels just right. I'd never pictured myself working for a not-for-profit agency, or having any kind of office-y job.

This is the first job where I've had my own office. Or desk, chair or telephone extension -- or telephone for that matter. In the restaurant world I always shared an office. When I was a general manager we had a whole desk, but often my work space was crafted from milk crates and broken bar stools.

This is also my first job with any kind of an office culture. Of course the restaurant business has its share of work place drama, but it usually involved a hostess thinking a bus boy was mean or hot -- either way, tears were usually involved.

After years at the coffeehouse I was used to hitting the day running. When I started at Second Helpings I learned about office pleasantries and politics. Co-workers would be standing outside my office discussing manicures and Survivor and my head would be ready to explode thinking -- LIVES TO SAVE! PEOPLE TO FEED! CHOP CHOP CHOP!
I soon learned that we were feeding people and saving lives, but you can take time to stop and smell the nail polish.

I also learned what you can and cannot talk about at work.

Last night's American Idol - okay
The punk band you saw at midnight - not so much

The bottle of wine you and your husband shared at dinner - okay
The front porch beers you shared with a neighbor - umm, no.

The anniversary of Princess Diana's death - okay
The anniversary of Joey Ramone's - maybe, but you'll spend a lot of time explaining who Joey is.

Today was a typical day for me and as they all do, it flew by.

I started the morning by coming to work early to make sure everything was okay. Dad and Mr. Ternet were among the 25 volunteers today and I waved at them on the way out the door.

I attended a committee meeting downtown. From there I went straight to BigMediaCo and gave a talk about Second Helpings. I was pretty nervous (the audience included the publisher of BigSlickCityMagazine and his staff and the director of BigRadioCo and his staff). The talk went well and they laughed and threw money (okay, maybe not the money part, hopefully that will come later).

I drove back to Second Helpings, resisting the grey day temptation to duck in to the coffeehouse on the Circle. Second Helpings was bursting at the seams with big group of high school students volunteering.

I checked email, returned phone messages, rebooted the server and signed checks. I gave a tour to a potential funder and had lunch with Dad --and fifty other people. The students prepare lunch for the volunteers, staff and students each day. That is a great perk -- and why I've gained twenty pounds in the time I've been here.

The afternoon consisted of updating employee files, plunging a toilet, plowing through the stacks of stuff on my desk and taking a phone call from a staff member that may or may not be returning to jail tomorrow (don't ask) and talking to outside council about another employee issue (don't ask again).

Even days like today when I feel like I'm spinning by wheels, I have to look back and realize that we fed 2900 people, educated eleven unemployed adults, rescued 4000 pounds of food and provided a volunteer experience for twenty-five teenagers.

And that was just today.
I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.