Wednesday, December 31, 2008

december wrap up

I didn't have enough energy to write about the rest of the holiday parties. I spend lots of time napping and reading at home with some work tossed in. I did make myself venture out in the last hour of 2008 to ring in the new year at Kirsten and Ben's wonderful party - and I talked Novella in to meeting me at the Red Key after midnight for a drink. 

I'll admit that I was in a funk even before the mugging (more on that later). And then my dear friend Ann Herr's aunt and uncle were killed in a one car accident right before Christmas. Larry and Kathy were lovely people. They were part of every July 4th celebration and Christmas Day. I already had a pile of quarters ready to play Cob and had a Christmas present ready for Kathy. Again I realized that we're all grown up when Ann called to tell me of the accident. It broke my heart for Mrs. Herr and the kids - it's been a rough year for them. The funeral was lovely. Larry and Kathy were well loved in their church. Kathy attended Mass every day, and the priest had wonderful things to say. 

There was a funny moment at the cemetery. One of Larry and Mrs. Herr's cousin is a priest and we were chatting at the graveside. He asked if I was married -- working to recruit me to be a nun. I tried to deflect the question by chattering on about my job - pointing out that I am doing God's work already. Just as he said that I should consider joining an order a big gust of wind blew the row of chairs under the tent around me. Father said: that's the Holy Spirit talking. 

Other sad news in my world - our board of directors made the decision to close Just 'Cause Catering as of December 31. The board felt that in these uncertain economic times it is prudent to concentrate on the core mission of Second Helpings (can you tell I practiced saying that?). I'll offer no opinion about the decision, but I will tell you that it sucked to let six friends and co-workers go.  Second Helpings was generous with the separation agreement and I'm confident the talented folks will find something even better. 

I was also as sick as I can ever remember being. I missed almost a whole week of work - and I never miss work. I barely left the sofa, 'cause you know - the bedroom was too far away. In retrospect there was a funny moment. I had such an awful headache that I couldn't think. I couldn't concentrate enough to call someone for help, but I was really worried. Then I saw a television commercial that featured a photo of a footed water glass with a bendy straw in it. The message of the ad was: Headache? Maybe you're dehydrated - drink more water.  I forced myself to off the sofa to the kitchen and made myself and made myself drink water and take a glass with me. After a day of drinking water I felt better. It wasn't until a week later when I was washing a footed water glass that looked suspiciously like the one in the commercial, that it dawned on me that I'd dreamed/hallucinated the whole thing. I'm glad I did!

There were certainly fun times in December - hanging out with my sweet niece and nephew on Christmas Eve was one. I was thrilled to be able to pass my collection of Meg books on to the June Bug. 

All things said, I was happy to see the month go. 

Thursday, December 25, 2008

christmas with the cousins (holiday party #14)

Christmas was really different this year. We didn't spend Christmas with the Herr's this year - more on that tragic story later.

I puttered around home during the day, eating Grandma's cranberry salad and popcorn and basically being a lazy ass.

I left home around 4:00 to meet Dad at the farm. We drove to Logansport to hang out with cousin Chuck and his family. It was great fun (and lots of food - ham, yum). There was some Euchre playing, looking at old photographs and story-telling. I got to see the Little Mommy Gotta Go in action - ick!

We spent the night - I slept like a rock star in the spare bedroom. I slept very well, I didn't realize how on edge I was.

The next morning we went to Bullshippers Cafe, connected to the stockyard. It the kind of place that I can imagine meeting a nice farmer and watiressing for the rest of my working years. It was a lovely morning.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

christmas eve with the family (holiday party #13)

My brother and his family hosted Christmas Eve dinner. I was sorry to miss June Bug's performance at 3:30 Mass, but I was right in the middle of changing locks at that time. We were a smaller crowd than usual. Mom is in Phoenix with Ann and Tim and brother-in-law Ron had to work.

Anna and J.R. very wisely let the kids exchange gifts before dinner. June Bug gave me beautiful crucifix earrings and her brother gave me a necklace to match. I don't know whether the kids think I'm very holy or that I need a good dash of religion. Either way, I love my gifts. Ron and I had each other's names in the gift exchange. He gave me cool PEZ ornaments and I gave him a six-pack of Bell's Porter - that just answered my question of what the kids were thinking when they loaded me down with crosses. Both Mom and Dad gave me something green that magically turned in to an iPhone.

Dinner was wonderful. I was feeling a little snappy and tired by the end of the evening. I decided that I'd rather sleep at home with my new locks than spend the night somewhere else. When I woke up to the neighbor's dog barking wildly at 2:00 am, I convinced myself that it was just Santa passing through.

Here is last year's Christmas Eve with the family post.

christmas eve at the red key (holiday party #12)

I went to work this morning, even though I didn't sleep much after last night's drama. I knew that Dad would be at Second Helpings for his regular volunteer shift. I needed a Dad hug and knew that he'd float me a loan.

Everyone has been incredibly kind and generous. I worked until 2:00 and spent the afternoon replacing my locks (I did it myself!), phone and lip balm.

Walking in to the Red Key was like walking in to a group hug. Everyone was full of concern and good wishes. My stocking had some extra goodies - a little purse and coin bag. And I got the best present ever - a leg lamp! It is so cool! I'd just been watching the Christmas Story as I changed my locks. It's proudly displayed in my window at home, with the soft electric glow of sex for all the neighborhood to see.

As much as I wanted to stay for the carolling, it was time for the next party.

Emi took some great photos - see them here.
Here is last year's post.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

drama in the 'hood.

I was a victim of armed robbery tonight.

The more-than-good news: I'm fine.

The news-news: I went to the Northside Newsstands Festivus party tonight. I considered walking the four blocks from my house to the party, but decided that the sidewalks were too treacherous. I almost parked on a side street, but decided that it would be safer to park on College Avenue, a well traveled street. As I was walking toward the Jazz Kitchen two men walked toward me. Being ever so polite, I moved over and walked on the grass so they could pass. No dice. One man batted at my purse and the other showed me his gun. I very nicely handed over my bag. The part that really frosted me was that they both called me a bitch....really? You're taking all of my favorite things and calling me names. Whatever, asshats.

The I-know-I-am-loved-news: It took me a few minutes to walk/slide/freak-out my way to the Jazz Kitchen but I knew once I got there I'd be taken care of. I whispered the situation in to the ear of Frank, the doorman. You know how I hate to cause a scene...I'd debated whether to call 911 or the non-emergency number as I was walking, but Frank very rightly called 911. I stood in the lobby as I was waiting for the patrol car and made small talk with people passing by. The weather was awful and the police were super busy. The policewoman finally arrived and we realized that it was too loud to talk in the entryway. So I got to sit in the back of a squad car, in front of the Jazz Kitchen. By the time I got done giving my statement a crowd of friends had gathered on the deck waiting in the rain for me. It was like walking in to a big group hug. I just wish someone had gotten a photo of me getting out of the police car.

Dave Allee (owner of the Jazz Kitchen) let me use is office, phone and computer to call in credit cards and de-activate my phone (it was bad enough the jerks had my beloved iPhone, I'll be damned if I'll let them use it). Newsstand Joe sat with me while I made the calls, Tammy, Cara and Novella were there for hugs and support. Hostel John had my spare set of keys. Broad-shouldered Hugh drove me to get the keys, made sure no one was in my house and drove me back to my car. And Tammy and the twins were kind enough to let me sleep at their house.

[I wrote the above the night it happened]

Now that I've had time to sort it out, I realized that I'm just good old-fashioned pissed off. I'm mad for the neighborhood -- it was on College Avenue, between two of my favorite places - the Red Key and the Newsstand. I'm mad because I love to walk at night. I'm mad that they were black and that people ask and that I've had to say it a hundred times. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to be a young urban black man. I'm mad that people are giving me a hard time for walking alone at night (it was around 9:00). I'm mad that I've totally overeaten the last two days and feel like crap.

I'm mad that my camera is gone --I feel really naked without it. I'm mad that the notebook that I've kept notes for every show I've seen in for 2008 is gone. I'm mad that my press pass is gone. I'm mad that my Jesus key chain that was also a flashlight is gone (you never know when you'll need Jesus to light your way) and my Hatch Show Prints key chain is gone. I'm mad that all of my make-up is gone (not that I wear a lot, but it was all in there). Not to mention cash and credit and gift cards and other crap. I'm mad that I have to get another driver's license. I'm mad that my cash is gone. I'm mad that I'm achy and sore (between adrenaline and the one block walk of running/sliding to get help I really goofed up my neck and back). I'm mad that Christmas notes I'd written to friends are gone. I'm mad that I had to change my locks. I'm mad that I don't feel comfortable in my own house. And most of all, I'm mad that I'm mad.

But all in all, it's okay - I'm thankful that my dad could hand me cash and a credit card so I could replace the phone and have some walking around money. I'm thankful that I have such caring friends and family. I'm thankful that I have a warm and cozy and mostly safe neighborhood to live in. I'm thankful for living in a neighborhood that people know my name. I'm thankful to have a good job that I love.

But I'm still pissed. And a little afraid.

There were some funny moments. Me stepping out of the squad car in my sparkly skirt was one. Before the police arrived and the news spread Dave Allee came out and teasingly asked if I had any ID. I flipped him off, I don't know who was more shocked -- him or me. When I came back in from making the report Dave asked if I needed anything. I said: whiskey and a nice boy to make-out with by the dumpster later. All night, people who didn't know what happened were telling me how beautiful I looked - apparently I wear wide-eyed flushed-faced fear well.

For the record: the whiskey appeared, but alas, no boy.

Monday, December 22, 2008

second helpings christmas party (holiday party #11)

The Second Helpings party was at Santorini again this year. Everything was delicious. The food was served family style and there was plenty of it. I didn't even try to keep track of Weight Watchers points. 

We played the draw a picture on your head game again. It is a giggly good fun game. This year we drew a snowman with falling snow. Here is my version. I think it is better than I could draw if I was looking at the paper. 

We also did a gift exchange. We played a game where you could steal someone else's gift. Mine was wrapped really pretty and in a great box and kept getting stolen and traded. The gifts tucked inside were geared towards a woman. Holiday socks, cocktail napkins, a headband, coffee mug, tissues and a candy cane headband.

Chef Carl wound up with box. Here he is showing off the headband and cocktail napkins. 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

birdy's x-mas party (holiday party #10)

I'm still not feeling great. I've actually skipped some parties and stayed home. If you're keeping score, by this time last year I was on party # 15. And if you're keeping track (and I sure am), I'm 25 pounds lighter than I was in my photo with Santa last year. Woo Hoo! For more photos click here. 

The Birdy's party was a blast and they collected rice, pasta and money for Second Helpings this year. Thanks Jeff, Mike and Sue! 

You can read my review for NUVO here

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

TNAS basketball banquet (holiday party #9)

The Tuesday Night All Stars included the auxiliary in their annual holiday banquet. As half of the auxiliary and the only one over 21 (and can get in to the Red Key) I represented the women. 

Here is Commissioner Jeff showing off the official team ball. It was fun to catch up with the guys. I hadn't seen then in ages. I've been trying not to hang out at the Red Key when I'm not working - dinners of cheeseburgers and potato chips are not on the diet. 

Thanks for including me guys! And I still have very-appropriate-I-know-you're-all-married-I-don't-want-to-date-you crushes on all of you. Here is last years TNAS party recap. 

Monday, December 15, 2008

linda's birthday (holiday party #8)

My friend Linda turned, um, lets say....a year older today. I was thrilled to be invited to a small party in her honor. It was one of those wonderful parties that I always assume that everyone is attending or hosting on Saturday nights when Cinderella Nora is working (even though the reality is that most folks are dozing off to a Seinfeld rerun on the sofa in their bathrobe). It was fun to get all fancied up and go to a dinner party.

Tim's home is beautiful. I try not to have house envy, but it's fun to dream. Check out this stove! The stove area is the size of my whole kitchen. Tim's art collection is fabulous and his Christmas tree is amazing.

Dinner was delicious. Wonderful soup followed by leg of lamb and roasted vegetables. We all toasted Linda. I've known Linda for half of my life now. When we first met, I knew what I'd know her forever. I never dreamed that I'd be working in her wildly successful clothing store twenty-five years later. She's a great friend!

Happy birthday Linda.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

red key bake sale (holiday party #7)

Maureen Webb Cox and her crew out did themselves this year. They raised over $1400.00 for the Red Key Ceiling fund that benefits the Children's Bureau. I made two batches of English Toffee for my contribution. It was fun to do some real cooking on my 'new' stove

I got to take home a plate of wonderful peanut butter cookies with kisses. I was good and only ate one and stuck the rest in the freezer. Not that the temptation to heat up the oven and warm one up is not there!

Here is last year's recap. 
Good job Moe!

Friday, December 12, 2008

lunch with our neighbors (holiday party #6)

Here is last year's post about lunch at Horizon House. It sums up the whole experience pretty well. Except for the emotion and anger and helplessness that I feel about hunger and homelessness. I don't pretend to know any answers or solutions. I just keep plowing on and fighting the good fight.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

fsma party (holiday party #5)

Second Helpings is a member of the Fountain Square Merchants Association. Several of the agencies we serve are in the boundaries of Fountain Square and the Tonic Ball is held there every year.

I'll admit to being terrible about attending the meetings so when I got the invitation to the party, I declined. One of the officers of the association urged me to attend. I told her that I would hate to have the only meeting I attended all year be the party. She told me that I'd be in great company and to bring a door prize.
I'm glad I went, not only did I discover the delicious goodness of a Sidecar but I had the chance to chat with the merchants that I usually only see in passing. The party was held in the wonderful Fountain Square Theatre Building. I've been lucky enough to be able to explore most of the nooks and crannies of this great building. I worked for a caterer that operated out of the building for a few years. It was great to see all of the hard work and attention to detail they've put in to the building. Anyone wanna go duckpin bowling?

christmas at christamore and mass at st. john's (holiday celebration #4)

I didn't take any photographs at the Christamore House to day. It just didn't seem right to snap photos of people picking up clothing, gifts and food for their families. The event is sponsored by the Christamore House Guild. Each child gets clothing, coat, hat, mittens and toys. The family gets a grocery store gift card, fruit and stocking stuffers.

I shopped for two families this year in lieu of buying gifts for friends and family. The shopping needed to be done in the height of my sickness. I was getting so confused looking at the slips of paper for six children and three adults that I made myself a cheat sheet with sizes and wish lists.
The adults all asked for cleaning supplies and one of the moms asked for plates. I found a cute set of dishes and loaded up on cleaning supplies and diapers for both families. I also gave both families a package of florescent light bulbs -- no time like the present to start with energy conservation.

I seriously had a fever when I was shopping for the clothes and toys. And I was in my least favorite store in the world - not so much because I think they are an evil empire, but because the people who shop there are rude horrible asshats.

The whole time I was shopping I had a prayer/mediation running through my head. I was praying for the young parents that they had the patience and strength to raise these children. I was picturing the kids and how they will have so much fun with their siblings. One family the mom is 22 and the dad 24 and the two daughters are 22 months and 7 months old. I actually giggled as I picked out cute outfits for the girls and thought about how much fun they'd have together.

When I got home I started laying everything out and putting names on piles of goodies. As I was checking names with the notes on my cheat sheet I realized that the 7 month old girl was named Keith....and she was a boy! F dash dash dash. I had to put my coat on and go back out in to the night. Grrrr.

As it turned out, I was not really needed for the day of passing the things out, there were plenty of high school kids there. Since I was already out of the office I decided to play hooky and go to noon Mass. Saint John the Evangelist is the oldest Catholic church in Indianapolis.

The parish was founded in the 1830s by Irish immigrants. Grandma Leona attended Saint John's Academy which was on the church property. It was very peaceful and emotional to think of young Leona Donohue sitting at the same spot 100 years before. I'm going to have to sneak out for Mass more often.

For historical photographs of the exterior click here. For interior photos click here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

marigold holiday party (holiday party #3)

As you can tell by the photograph, I'm still not feeling good. I remembered to take the camera, I just didn't take any pictures that were worth a damn. This one is of Linda showing Elizabeth and Sofia the new store site. The only picture I took at the dinner at the Brew Pub was of my beer, and I think that was by accident. Since we all work at the coolest clothing store in town, you know we were all very stylish -- you'll just have to imagine how pretty and sparkly we were.

Anyway, the Marigold party was fun. Since I only work there once a month it was fun to catch up with everyone and solve the worlds problems.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

send holiday party (holiday party #2)

....and me without my camera.

I clearly over-estimated my wellness. As good as I felt in the whiskey-soaked glow of one of my favorite musicians and being out of the house last night, I felt equally as crappy today. I worked a long day and drove home through the cold rain, happy to see my driveway. As I was turning in my phone rang - brother J.R. He'd just moved one of his businesses close to Second Helpings and I'd been encouraging him to get to know the neighborhood.

J.R.: Hey, where do you get a drink in Fountain Square?
Nora: The Brass Ring, I'll meet you there in 25 minutes.

And that is why I turned around and drove to the exact same way I'd just come from. In the cruddy weather. And not because I wanted a drink, but because my brother called. I've made it a practice to not turn down a chance to hang out with any of my siblings or parents or cousins or niece or nephew. I've never been disappointed.

I met J.R. and his plant manager, Vince at the bar. As it turned out I knew a few people (no surprise, really) and introduced them to J.R and Vince. Then I talked them in to going to the Southeast Neighborhood Development (SEND) party. Second Helpings is in the SEND area and several of my friends work there (hi Paul! hi Kipp!). I got to introduce the guys to even more neighborhood folks. And eat some cookies. Just 'Cause Catering made all of the food and I'd been looking longingly at the iced cookies with the SEND logo all day.

I forget what a diverse group of friends and acquaintances I have. The Fountain Square area attracts out-of-the-box folks. The neighborhood is chock-full of artists, musicians, writers and other creative types. By the time I'd introduced J.R. to several performance artists; burlesque and belly dancers his head was spinning (again, where was my camera?).

I have a feeling the guys are now fans of their new neighborhood.

Monday, December 08, 2008


I'm finally feeling a little better. I can't remember being that sick. Ever.
I only worked two half days last week and only worked a little bit of my Red Key shift Saturday night.

Hayes and Nora

I did rally enough tonight to see Hayes Carll and drink a little whiskey. Both did wonders for my health. 

Read my interview with Hayes here
See photos here. [not yet, having trouble uploading them to NUVO].

Thursday, December 04, 2008


John Spitznogle and Mary Ellen Grememspacher Spitznogle
are thrilled to announce the engagement of their daughter
Miss Nora Leona Spitznogle
to her long-time friend
Mr. Sofa Davenport

Miss Spitznogle and Mr. Davenport have become especially close lately, Miss Spitznogle barely able to leave Mr. Davenport's side in the last week.

Mr. Davenport is a long time family friend. He has been a part of Miss Spitznogle's paternal family for generations. He first came to live with the Bauer family in the 1930s, occupying a place of honor in the living room. He was host to several parties, baptisms and was even present when family members were "laid out" in the front room. He there when young Nora Bauer Spitznogle brought her nine children (including Miss Spitznogle's father, John) to visit their aunts and uncles. 

In the 1970s, Mr. Davenport was moved to the basement and covered with blankets. He was a mighty port in storms and and electrical outages and provided a cozy spot for resting between washing and ironing chores.

Miss Spitznogle began admiring Mr. Davenport in the late 1990s, but didn't want to come across as too forward. She heard the Mr. Davenport was being auctioned off with other household goods in 2003. She began saving her tip money in order to secure Mr. Davenport's release.

Miss Spitznogle's father was present the day the auctioneer came to move the contents of the house. His cousin Rosemary Bauer in conference with the auctioneer decided to burn Mr. Davenport. Mr. Spitznogle jumped in just in time to stop Mr. Davenport from certain death.

Mr. Davenport has resided at Miss Spitznogle's home for the last five years, making himself available to countless touring musicians and guests. Mr. Davenport was recently portrayed in a very realistic cartoon here.

Miss Spitznogle and Mr. Davenport have not set a date yet, they are enjoying their engagement in the mean time. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

nuvo winter celebration (holiday party #1)

When I got the invitation to the NUVO party I was excited. Not only was it fun last year, but I knew that it would be a good chance to catch up with Kim. And it was at the Jazz Kitchen, within walking distance of my house. 

I didn't walk, there is the whole being sick factor and it's a crappy icy rainy night. 

It took me forever to figure out what to wear. I'm used to having only six minutes to get ready for a party. Having six hours really threw me off my game. Plus I got motivated last week and took a bunch of holiday clothes to the consignment place. I finally found a sparkly skirt that fit and paired it with the velvet top that I'm sure you'll be seeing lots of. 

I was so frazzled by my lack of appropriate shoes (note to self: find some shoes that are not worn out from work or thrift store purchased boots) that I forgot my camera. And my iPhone battery was worn down, so I couldn't snap a photo that way. For the first time in the year that I've had the phone I forgot to charge it. I've been sleeping on the sofa and the charger is in the bedroom and it never occurred to me to plug it in there. Clearly, I've not been myself. Anyway, I took the photo above in front of my Boy Scout wreath when I got home. Okay, back to the party--

The party was lovely. I squeezed in to Kim and Wayne's table. The food was great - and even some half-way healthy choices, a tasty strawberry salad. I balanced that out with a big hunk of brie topped with brown sugar. 

It was fun to meet other freelancers and hear what they are working on. And I got a nice compliment for this interview of one of my favorite musicians from a writer that I admire. 

I was happy to hear the publisher's recap of the year. NUVO is doing well. Circulation is the highest ever. Ad sales are up. I wish I could remember how many people have contributed and how much money they've been paid. Anyway, all good news in the face of other papers laying off employees. 

I'm thrilled to write for the paper and they seem happy with me. I had a moment of panic when the publisher and editor were teasing me about all of the places I write, but they were clearly okay with it. 

This might be one of the most disjointed things I've ever written. I'm calling it a night. Work tomorrow, ya know. 


I intend to revive last year's recap of all of the holiday parties that I'm invited to. I had to miss the first one last night (Christamore House Guild meeting). 

I haven't felt good for weeks, but it all came crashing down on Monday. I woke up feeling extra crappy and had no voice at all, but guess what? I went to work. I'm an idiot, really. I was able to score a noon doctor's appointment and have not left my house since then. 

Three whole days with out leaving the house - unless you count the 5:30 in the morning dart to the driveway to retrieve the paper. Three whole days of not getting dressed. 

I wish I could say that I cleaned the house and decorated for the holidays. Nope, I mostly slept on the sofa, popping a cocktail of antibiotics and Ibuprofen. And blowing my nose. And coughing. 

Three whole days of eating freezer food. Can you believe that I still had some soup left from the soup swap? It was a lifesaver -- and very delicious. 

I thought if I ever had three days at home I'd read, write, catch up on blogs and organize. Nope. Lots of watching fuzzy television (no cable or high-def TV), surfing Facebook and napping. 

I've been sitting so much my bum actually aches. 

There was a highlight to being sick. When I got weighed at the doctors office it showed that I'd lost 20 pounds since my last visit! And my blood pressure was lower than ever. Woo Hoo!

I'm off to shower. And trust me, it's time. 

Sunday, November 30, 2008

month end wrap-up

November was a typically busy month. 
I spent a good chunk of it feeling overwhelmed and freaked out. 

SH is still wonderful and one of the best nonprofits in the city, but I had a frustrating month. Nothing to worry about, but for the first time in three years it feels a more like a job than anything else. And I know that I bring on a lot of the pressure on myself. Despite my almost 30 years in the workforce this is my first "office" job. I'm still working my way around the minefield of office politics. I also know that I cannot expect everyone to have the same amount of energy and stamina that I do. 

Some switch flipped in my head and I relaxed, let go a little big and had a blast the last week. 

There were lots of highlights: 

*I'm still all giggly and blushy when I look at the cartoon

*The Tonic Ball and Tonic Gallery were amazing - and helped renew my commitment to my job.

*I was quoted in an embarrassing number of publications.  

* My truck was hit by a potato chip truck. On first glance this is not very funny. But I was not in the truck at the time the potato chip truck backed in to me. The impact pushed my truck back a few feet, to with in inches of a beer truck. I had visions of potato chips and beer for life. I can't believe that I forgot to take a photograph. 

*Thanksgiving was great. I loved going to Logansport with Dad, but it made me a little sad also. Back when I had a more flexible schedule Dad and I would travel to visit cousins at least twice a month. Before Thanksgiving I can't remember the last trip that did not involve a funeral or wedding. 

*I got to hang out with the twins. I don't know if I'm much help when I'm there, but those kids sure are precious. 

*I got to go to Dean's Post-Thanksgiving Jam. There were several circles of musicians playing old-time and bluegrass music. It was good for my soul. There were more banjos in one place than I've ever seen, several fiddles, a few stand up basses and one musical saw (thanks to my friend Kipp). 

*Even though I had to work both part-time jobs Thanksgiving weekend, they were filled with friends and laughter. And I'm thrilled to have them. 

Click here for photos of Thanksgiving, Fight Night at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and the Post-Thanksgiving Jam

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Just when you thought it was safe, and I couldn't possibly be quoted on one more here to read what I'm thankful for business-wise. And I'm honored to be in the company of these real Indianapolis movers and shakers. 

I couldn't begin to list the all of things I'm thankful for. 
I am blessed with a wonderful life. 
And, you dear bloggers are part of that. 
The blog has made me a better writer, introduced me to new friends and strengthened old friendships.

I've spend the last several Thanksgiving weeks in Sanibel with brother J.R. and his family. This year I'm here, but Mom is in Phoenix with sister Ann and Tim. So it's just Dad and sister Beth and Ron and I.

clockwise: Ron, Beth, Nora, Dad on the front porch of the Propylaeum Club

We had a lovely dinner at the Propylaeum Club - turkey and all the goodies. We got to tour the house after lunch. Some of the furnishing are from the old Claypool Hotel, including the things from the room where Carole Lombard spent her last night (January 15, 1942) before her death in a plane crash the next day. 

Dad in Carole Lombard's "room" 

Ron had to go to work and Beth went home to care for their sick dog (poor Santo). Dad and I travelled a whole block to cousin Diane and Tony's home. We had a nice visit with Aunt Muriel, and cousins Jim, Carmen and their families. 

Dad and I met at the farm and headed north to Cass County. I love going to visit all of the cousins. We didn't have any real plans. I was hoping to run in to some of the Grememspacher side of the family, but we didn't drive by the right house. 

We found a whole nest of cousins at Chuck's beautiful house. I played a game of Euchre and sampled some more food. It was fun to laugh, drink a beer and look at photographs from Aaron and Jennifer's wedding. 

Rosemary, Nora and great-aunt Mamie's coat

I wanted to be sure and see Rosemary. She is one of Dad's cousins and is a font of information and fun. I was wearing great-aunt Mamie's coat that she'd given me and I wanted to show her that I love and wear it. 

Dad and I made one more stop on the way home. The lights were on at Cousin George's. We had a nice chat with his wife Monica and son Andrew. 

And over the river and down the highway, dad and I drove south...

I had one more Thanksgiving stop to make- a sleepover with the Lieber twins. 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

tonic ball 2008

Once again, the Tonic Ball lived up to my expectations.  It truly is my favorite night of the year. 

I was feeling bad that Tammy wasn't going to be able to attend, but she realized that the all-ages venue, meant just that --all-ages. Here is little Evan Lieber (five weeks old) at his first concert. 

Here are some of the women (past and present) of Second Helpings. I'd like to point out that I'm the only one not holding a drink -

Back in my college, punk-rock days these guys (Dale, Evan, Gary) were all around. The forty-something me can't believe that the coolest guys of twenty-five years ago are hanging out with me now. And they're still the cool guys!

Speaking of the cool kids -- sound man Jonee Quest. Jonee has the daunting task of running sound for the fifteen bands that played Queen in Radio Radio - with only ten minute changeovers. And we ran on time. And he's still smiling. 

I can't describe how great this night is for me. It combines my job - Second Helpings, my passion- music, friends and community. I truly walked around all night with goose bumps and a full heart. 

For more photos and videos click here. Click here and then click on the Tonic Ball marquee to see a great video of the event [and a not so great view of me explaining what Second Helpings does]. 

To answer the question on the top of all of your minds -- no dumpster making-out, not even tempted. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

okay, just one more...

The Tonic Ball is the cover story for NUVO this week - with a great illustration by the very talented Wayne "Barfly" Bertsch. Wayne also drew at strip that describes Second Helpings very well. See it here.
You can read the cover story here, complete with some slightly dorky Nora quotes. Not that I didn't say them....
I'm looking forward to tonight. I've been battling a wicked cold and I'm full of fizzy medicine. I might have to have a medicinal whiskey tonight....

Monday, November 17, 2008

more media

Any one tired of reading about me yet?

The interviewer becomes the interviewee. For the Indianapolis Business Journal no less:
Doing Good Tonic Ball VII

I was lucky enough to get involved with the Tonic Ball in the second year. The experience really has changed my life. It connected me with Second Helpings and loads of great people. It is by far my favorite day of the year.

The founder, Ken Honeywell connected with Becky Hopewell over the event- and now they're married. Woo Hoo. The committee is amazing. We all trust and respect each other- novel, I know.

The committee members are all friends in real-life too. Each year we make a bet about who will go home in a taxi. It's never me- I'm always too conscious of my responsibilities through out the evening. And typically I'm hauling a drum kit or an amp or a drunk musician home - or sometimes all three. In my little truck.

I joked that this year my goal is to make-out with someone by the dumpster behind the club. I hope it's not raining....

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I joined Weight Watchers in August and have lost 17 pounds. Over 10% of my starting weight. I'm at the weight I was when I started working at at Second Helpings three years ago. I'd love to lose another 10 pounds, but I'm thrilled with the progress so far.

I'm having fun opening boxes of clothes that I haven't been able to wear for a few years. It's like having a 24 hour boutique in my (clean and dry!) basement.

I'm doing the Weight Watchers program online, which is perfect for me. I can enter what I've eaten in to the points tracker and it figures out the points for me.

I've learned some interesting things. A fist full of my beloved red vine-y goodness is equal to eating a cup of chicken and dumplings. My Waterford Twizzler jar is sitting empty and I've learned to write without eating at at the same time.

Work is the hardest part. We're surrounded by food. The students are always creating dishes and looking for tasters. When a proud student comes to you with the first cheesecake they've ever baked or chicken Parmesan they made from scratch it would be rude not to taste it, really. Even if it is 9:30 in the morning.

Last week two pallets of candy were donated. Not cases, pallets. Of candy. Three Musketeers, Butterfinger, Snickers, Dove dark chocolate covered caramels and yes, Twizzlers. The helpful drivers brought bags of the sinful decadence to the table right outside of my office door. And the other thousand pounds are just a thirty second walk away. Damn it.

One thing I like about Weight Watchers that you can exchange activity points for food...or maybe beer. The State Fair helped me kick start the program. When you walk a 1.5 miles each way to eat a sandwich it sure helps. A brisk one mile walk equals a Jameson and water. Now that's math I can wrap my head around!

Many of my activities don't show up on the WW activity point scale. Sitting on my hands, jiggling my legs and holding in comments during a two hour committee meeting is not on the list. I think it should be worth at least one point.

Moving the humango oak bookcase, that took Dad and two other people to haul onto my porch --in the house by myself-- and standing it up with a complicated system of pillows and increasing taller chairs to lean it on should be worth at least five points. Getting the bookcase stuck in the hallway should be worth at least two points in frustration.

Squeezing around the bookcase to get to my bedroom for a month should be worth something. Having to hold anything that I wanted in or out of the bedroom over my head -- laundry, books, the cat, glass of get the picture-- should be worth at least a point a pop. [thanks to Miss Adventure for helping me get it into the bedroom- where its going to stay- forever.]

Frenzied cleaning and organizing and recycling Saturday knowing that there would be company in the house. Worth at least four points. Cleaning out the truck, putting air in the tires, gas in the tank and wrestling with the hood that wouldn't open to add windshield wiper fluid should be a two point value.

Getting ready for the Gala and discovering that the two pairs of sheer black stockings that I own both had runs - at least a point. Deciding between tights and fishnet stockings to wear with the dress, one point (I went with the tights). 

Pulling out of the driveway for the Gala with Kipp in the truck and the hood popping open. Worth at least two points in embarrassment. Getting lost on the way to the Gala- in my own town, mind you. One point. Getting called out by the social reporter for the paper for not being "the Guild type," two points. 

Sweating over deadlines, two points. Feeling guilty over a messy house, one point. Constantly running late, three points. 

You get the idea- I'm losing weight, even if it is in a very neurotic way. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


[I can't figure out the sizing thing. Click on the comix to see the whole thing, including the groovy flower background]

Thanks to Wayne and Kim!

Sunday, November 09, 2008


I had two days off - in a row. How fancy is that?

It was a fun weekend. The Tonic Gallery opened on Friday. Hundreds of people visited the show and my friend Scott played beautiful guitar music.

The art will be up for a silent auction November 21. Only one piece sold at the special $500 "buy it now" price - the bench that Dad made!

Saturday night was the Christamore House Guild Gala. I love the Christamore House and the Guild does wonderful work. I'm a bit of a Guild anomaly. I'm the only single woman out of 75 active members. And I'm guessing that I'm the only one that had to get her waitressing shift covered!

[I just looked at this photo a little closer - to make sure there was nothing embarrassing in the shot, and noticed my demonic cat peering through the window!]

I had fun and my friend Kipp was a champ. Only about a dozen people asked if he was my husband. My favorite moment: The social reporter of the Indianapolis Star looked at us and said: Nora, you're not a Guild person - at all. Kipp, what are you doing here? I guess I should be flattered that she knows my name...
Today was a real treat. I slept in- I do feel bad about missing church. I didn't drive at all. I walked to the newsstand for soup and puttered around the house.

Is this how people spend their weekends?

Thursday, November 06, 2008


I'm catching up on reading blogs, watching The Office and listening to my cat snore. 

A fine way to spend the evening. 

Saturday, November 01, 2008

october experiment wrap-up

The October Experiment sucked. I really hated it. As Ralph pointed out, I posted in batches. All written in a panic in an effort to cross something off my list.

Some were easy to write, some emotional and others just plain goofy. I felt committed to finishing the project and not skipping a day, but I feel like I missed some good stuff along the way. And wrote some crap to fulfil the obligation.

I am glad that I finally wrote about the CPR incident. Of course writing about the twins was fun and I love the picture of my feet in the booties and the severed finger cookies. Still, I'm glad its over.

I put a lot of pressure on myself in October. Work has been nuts, which I typically thrive on. I worked on finding entertainment for a marathon and beat myself up way too much when bands weren't falling out of the trees to volunteer. I took it very personally when bands didn't want to play at 8:00 on a potentially cold morning - as it turned out it was sunny and warm. Thanks for your offer to help, Teresa.

I started a home organizing project that emptied the stuff out of my two closets. And the planned yard sale never happened. So I've added other people's crap to my crap. I've been dodging junk on my porch, living room, dining room and bedroom for a month. I literally have a path open to get to the other side of the house. I'm slowly chipping away at it. I might even be able to invite company in to the house soon.

All of this caused me to turn down paying writing gigs [*gasp], miss exploring a career opportunity that I wanted to pursue and burst in to tears at extremely inappropriate times.

Here's to a new month and back to our regularly scheduled program.

Friday, October 31, 2008

all hallows eve

I had a lovely day. I gave a talk this afternoon and worked from home for the last hour. It's amazing how much you can get done with your laptop in the back yard on a sunny and warm October afternoon. 

I hung around home hoping for some trick-or-treaters. Not a one! And I had PEZ dispensers to give out. 

I strapped on my bee wings and antennae and went to my niece and nephew's neighborhood. There were tons of kids and parents and food and creepy looking treats. It was a hauntingly good time. 

From there I went to visit the twins. I took Tammy a severed finger [cookie] and may or may not have delivered a jello shot to her. I got to hold Katy for an hour. Evan was sleeping and even I know enough not to wake sleeping babies even if they are wearing a ghost hat that just begs to be photographed. 

Tammy and I went to see a band whose name I can't bring myself to type --I can't imagine the Google hits that would show up here. You can read my review here (after 11/6)- I'm sure you can figure out which band I'm talking about. Anyway, the band was fun and I alway enjoy seeing my friend Scott B. play. 

I ran in to an old friend-- he was dressed as Elvis, so I'm not sure I'd recognize him again - we figured out we'd been at the same punk-rock Halloween party at the Purdue Armory in 1980, headlined by Dow Jones and the Industrials. Hows that for a blast from the past? 

My two doors down neighbor was having a party that was still going strong when I got home. I ended the evening with a bunch of ghouls, goblins, witches and another bee. 

You can see photos of the evening here. 

And that folks, ends the October Experiment. 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

i'm not tired, really. swear.

I almost didn't go out to hear music tonight. I was still tired from the day before -- fashion show followed by going to see music followed by the PHILLIES WINNING THE WORLD SERIES followed by a celebratory glass of champagne. The champagne would have been okay on its own, but paired with skipping breakfast, lunch and dinner, a day of nervous excitement and three beers before that- it was not the best decision I've ever made. 

I was dragging all day. It took me until noon to realize that I had a hangover. I honestly can't remember the last time I've had a hangover (some of those early coffeehouse mornings don't count). I muddled through the day and gave a torchbearer talk on the way home. 

And then I had to drive back downtown for a meeting. I agreed to help with a project that I feel like I'm failing miserably at, which makes me feel guilty and bad and useless. Anyone want to play along the marathon route this Saturday at 8:00 am? 

After the meeting I went home to feed the cat and sit for a minute. I had to talk myself in to going back downtown (for the third trip of the day). One of my very favorite musicians, Tad Armstrong was playing a CD release party for his first solo album. 

I'm glad I made myself go. I ran in to friends that I have not seen for ages and the music was terrific. Sam's Saloon is housed in a building that is 125 years old and has been a bar for over a 100 years (I'm not sure what happened during the whole Prohibition era). It still has gaslight fixtures and a potbelly stove in the lobby. 

I can sleep when I'm dead, right? 

To see photographs of the show click here. To read the review I wrote for NUVO click here

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

model citizen

I was in a fashion show tonight (Kristi and Liz were not, but they should have been). Yep, that's what I look like all fancied up. It was a blast.

All of my worlds collided in a very good-way at the Night of Fortune…Fun, Fashion and Finds for the Home.

It was hosted by Marigold (work there), The Rivera Club (enthusiastic member) and Style Salon (new fan). And – the icing on the cake (ohh, I’m also a big fan of cake - the band and the pastry) – and benefitted Second Helpings (work there too).

I was sure I’d trip or step on the edge of my skirt or something but it turned out okay. The women from Style made me hair all smooth and flat and did something not Nora-like with my makeup.

I got to pick out two Marigold outfits to wear. For the third trip down the runway we all were sporting G.Thrapp Jewelers goodies. Carol Golden (what a great name for a jewelry store person!) put the necklace, earrings and bracelet on me and I ran up to the stage with out seeing what I was wearing. When I heard the description of the necklace and earrings I stopped in my tracks and looked down. I was wearing more diamonds than I ever have. Wheeee!

The evening drew a standing room only crowd – over 225 people, collected 400 pounds of rice and a healthy monetary donation to Second Helpings. Several Broad Ripple merchants showed off their lovely goods and there was a wine tasting. Thanks to all of my friends that were there to support me (I even got a hoot and a holler or two) and special thanks to Marigold, Rivi, and Style for making me feel so glamorous.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I like to consider myself an informed voter. I know the name of all of the elected folks that control my immediate world and most of them know me. And not in the quick-hide-crazy-Nora-is-heading-over-here-way. These people are from both sides of the aisle. And more importantly I know what there job is and what they control. For instance, you can be mad at the mayor for high property taxes but they don't control a very big slice of that pie.

I was thrilled to be invited to a 'meet the Republican candidates' tea in my neighborhood. I was armed with my V3 "How are you going to partner with nonprofits?" questions and my new coat - it's really cute and I was dying to show it off to a group of women.

I'm already a fan of Teresa Lubbers and plan on voting for her. I'll admit that I didn't know much about the county treasurer or coroner. Luckily I have not had the occasion to meet either one of them.

I was thrilled to hear John Pless speak, candidate for coroner speak. He's compassionate, smart as can be and has a plan for cleaning up the current mess in that office.

I'm a ticket splitter from way back- so for it's looking about half and half between parties on my ballot.

Monday, October 27, 2008

shhhh...don't tell anyone

No one is more surprised by the fact that I have a byline than me.

It all happened accidentally. The editor/publisher/chief paperboy of the Broad Ripple Gazette asked if he could write about me - it was shortly after the coffeehouse closed. I told him I'd rather write and....viola! It was that easy. I've been on page 6 ever since.

I love writing the Gazette column, even though it is a volunteer project and spend at least six hours a week writing, researching and going to shows. And I attend most shows on my own dime. But I get total freedom on what I write - I get to infuse a good dose of my personality and cheerfulness in the piece. I'm not given a minimum or maximum word count or told what I can and cannot cover. I write with the "if you can't say something nice talk about the weather" credo.

The column has morphed (and hopefully matured) in the last three years. I've had good advice along the way. One thing that I took to heart was a comment that I was writing too much about how I was older than everyone else and attending the shows alone. I've toned that down, an occasional "I'm old enough be their mother" comment slips out and I do want people to know that it is okay to go to event by themselves. But I've dropped the whole woe-is-me thing. I save that for this blog :).

I've had two writers from the Indianapolis Star tell me recently how much they like my column. One said it's the "most honest writing in town." I'm not sure about all of that, but I'm grateful for the opportunity. I post all of the Gazette columns here.

That lead to me being in the panel of the Top 10 Live list in this paper each week. I'm one of a handful of people that votes. It is published in, a division of the Indianapolis Star each week.

I waited on the editor-in-chief of NUVO at the Red Key one night. He made an off-handed comment, "send me something some time." I was totally innocent in the ways of submissions and such. I interviewed Susan Cowsill, had my dear brother-in-law Ron edit it. Ron not only corrected the grammar, but pointed out that I hadn't mentioned what her music was like. I Whoops - thanks Ron. I sent the completed unsolicited article in. NUVO was kind enough to find room in the next issue and actually pay me for it. I was so excited that I hung the check on my bulletin board) and forgot to cash it for months)!

Everyone loves the Gazette, but the other two papers might have a bit of a rivalry. I try to fly under the radar with them.

I'm not quite sure how it all came together, but I know I get geeked-out when I walk by the rack at the Northside News Cafe that has all three papers available. I have to stop myself from jumping up and down and grabbing innocent bystanders and making them look at my name in all three.

You should have seen me when I drove by paper boxes with my cover story. I'm surprised I didn't cause any accidents.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

cinderella sunday

Besides my dear sweet mother and several aunts and my grandmothers there are only two women that I've said "I want to be her when I grow up." One is Doris, the other is Joan.

I met Joan at the coffeehouse. She came almost every afternoon with her own mug and stuff to read. She was one of the main reasons we brewed a pot of decaffeinated flavored coffee each day. She is very stylish- and not in the way that most 80-something women are. She wears cool glasses and I love her silver jewelry. 

I always invite her to my annual Saint Valentine's Day party and we've talked about getting together for brunch for years. Joan finally rounded up Novella, Marcella and I for brunch today. 

Her home is beautiful- on the property of a former Catholic all-girls high school that I attended my freshman year (the school closed, nothing to do with me- swear). Her house is full of wonderful art work, books, photographs and memorabilia. 

Joan is up on current events and has a real-life experience and history to back up her opinions.

 She and her husband ran a Kentucky Fried Chicken for years - she's familiar with hard work and long hours. Even though she and her husband have been separated for decades she visits him everyday in the assisted living facility for Alzheimer's patients. Their only child, a son was killed in a car accident years ago. 

She prepared an amazing brunch- sausage frittada, spinach and stuffed tomatoes. And two desserts- pumpkin pie and cranberry puddingy something - both with freshly whipped cream. I could have stayed there talking all day. And Novella and Marcella stayed until the afternoon. 

You guessed it- Cinderella Nora had to go to work at Marigold. 

I know that people don't have amazing brunches with wonderful people in beautiful settings every Sunday, and I hated to race out of this one. 

I've been feeling super bogged down lately. My poor house is a mess, all I seem to do is race in for a few minutes, drop a bunch of junk on the floor, and race out. Or like last night (or rather this morning)- get home from work at 3:00, shower, dry my hair and sleep for four and a half hours and do it all over again. 

I'm declaring 2009 the Year of Nora Slowing Down on Volunteer Stuff. I know that sounds a little selfish, but its someone else's turn. 

The hard part will be saying no. 

Saturday, October 25, 2008

cinderella saturday

I want to start out by saying that I love working at the Red Key. Not only is it a fun, social, three-blocks from my home job but the money allows me to do things like travel to Ireland, heat the house and pay the mortgage. I've never once apologized or felt embarrassed about waitressing or working in a bar.

That said, working most Saturdays I've missed my fair share of stuff. This Saturday I felt extra Cinderella-like. I've had the last two weeks off - I really needed to work tonight and I've exhausted my options for getting my shift covered.

Today is the Broad Ripple Music Fest. And I am the music columnist for the Broad Ripple Gazette - hummmm, maybe I should be there. The festival matches venues with nonprofits and two places picked Second Helpings adding another layer of guilt.

I raced around the village seeing as much music as possible before 5:00 and stopping in to the two venues to talk about Second Helpings and to thank the volunteers running those stages. The night turned in to one of those excruciating ones that happen every year or so. Not only did the cool kids and lots of musicians come in, which I typically love, but every yea-hoo in town darkened our door.

The Red Key is a family owned bar - wonderful. I'm not a member of the family - not that I wouldn't be honored to be related to Russel, but I'm not his daughter. A customer tonight argued that point for quite a while tonight. Ugggh, seriously - would I choose Spitznogle as an alias?

I am the waitress and the cook and a lot of times I'm making the drinks too. I've worked at the Key for five years and I've got a bit of a routine. Except no one else was playing with my rules tonight. Gette posted this nice little insight in to the world of waitressing. In my crabbiness tonight I thought I'd expound on her list a little bit.

1. We have a business relationship. I am the employee and you are the customer. I can't give you free drinks or food, it is not mine to give away.

2. Just because I'm waiting on you does not mean that I'm stupid. Waitressing is hard work -not only is it physical but it stretches your brain. I've got all of the drink and food prices stored in there, the location of thirty beers and hundreds of liquor bottles and the recipes of thousands of drink combinations and what glass they are served in, I can do math in my head (two beers + a cheeseburger deluxe+ chips + cashews = $12.25), I remember who is sitting where and most likely I remember what you drank that last time you came in and whether or not you like onions.

3. I'm happy to tell you my name and usually throw it in when I'm delivering your first round of drinks. If you're going to ask me my name it is good manners to offer yours at the same time. Tonight a guy made a huge deal of asking my name and then proceed to call my Lora the whole whole evening, even after his friends corrected him. That same guy whipped a bottle cozy out and wrapped his beer in it. I couldn't tell whether his beer was low without picking it up. I asked him every single time I passed by if he needed another drink. He waited until I'd walked away from his table to shout LORA I NEED ANOTHER BEER as I was waiting on other tables. I never did learn his name, but he was wearing the moniker Asshat while he was there.

4. I'm not standing over your cubicle telling you how to do your job. I'm just saying.

5. If you don't see me for a few minutes chances are I'm cooking your food or taking out the trash. I'm not smoking by the dumpster or eating the last order of potato salad, swear.

I'm out of steam and ready for bed- you're spared any more ranting.


Friday, October 24, 2008


My cat (at least I hope it was my cat) left me this gift on the door mat this morning. I did not feel the need to try to revive it. I learned that not only is my dustpan a good for scooping it was a surprisingly effective way to launch a critter to his final resting place. 

Sometimes I feel like I'm too callus in my attitude about some of God's creatures. I know that all animals have their place in this world. I also grew up with the Catholic belief that animals don't have souls. That said, I treat all animals humanly - except for the ones I feel the need to step on or squash or call a professional to remove...or um, eat. 

I think my cat, Felix lives the life of Riley. He gets to eat and sleep indoors if he so desires. He also gets to play outdoors and be the king of the backyard and enjoys the attention of several neighbors. He was rescued from the streets and has had all of the proper shots and snipping. 

I have friends who don't think I should let him outside, that he won't live as long. I think it's a quality of life issue - for him and me. He needs tree climbing time and I need time to do stuff without tripping over a cat. 

I think the scale of cat people goes like this (from bottom to top)
the rest of the world
Click on their names for cat posts. 

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Sometimes all you need is a pumpkin beer at your local brew pub and a five year-old with a crayon in his nose to end the day on a high note.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

safety glasses and hard hats

It's United Way campaign season. Which means that I give a lot of talks about Second Helpings to companies that are running their United Way campaigns. 

My favorite talks are the ones where I got to wear safety glasses and a hard hat to walk through the plant floor to get to the meeting room. 

Sometimes I get overzealous about these talks and I accept more than I should. In some insane moment I said yes to three in a row - at 5:45 in the morning, half an hour from my house. 

Today is day one. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

ffa goodness

I had the grand pleasure of attending the National FFA convention kick-off luncheon. And I got to sit with three state chapter presidents --Maine, Vermont and Ohio on one side and two delegates from North Carolina on the other.

I've always had faith in our youth, seriously. I think there are a lot of good, smart, caring kids running around. It does make my heart swell to see them packaged all clean and shiny and wrapped in blue corduroy jackets. There are over 500,000 youth in FFA nationally and something crazy like 55,000 people attend the convention. It's wild to see the sea of blue jackets walking through the city. 

I grabbed Bill Stagg, the director of information for the national association as he was walking by the table. He jokingly told the FFA kids that they were sitting with one of the most important people in Indianapolis. I had to spend the whole lunch convincing them it wasn't true. 

Click here for photos from the Indianapolis Star. Here is last year's post

Monday, October 20, 2008

phone books and cpr

The new phone books were on my porch when I got home tonight. I haven't used a phone book for its intended purpose for years. It's too easy to Google for a number and information is free on the cell phone. 

At home I use the phone books to stand on to do leg lifts or to raise something up, but mostly I just keep moving them around. When I was first living on my own I loved getting the new book and looking for my name. For years I was the only Spitznogle in the Indianapolis phone book, and I am related to all of them listed now. When I was living in New Jersey I was the only one in the county. 

Phone book delivery day three years ago etched a whole new memory in my head. 

I heard a horrible noise coming from the reception area. Then I heard yelling. Our receptionist, J. was unconscious and slumped under her desk. One of our volunteers, Cheryl is a nurse and after she determined that J. was non-responsive she started chest compressions. I jumped in to do the breaths. I was very awkward at first, J. was still under the desk. I needed to elevate J.'s head a little bit to open the airway better. I looked around, ripped open a cellophaned block of phone books and grabbed one out. 

Cheryl and I were not able to move J. and keep doing what we were doing. We asked for help from another staff member. And then the hilarity could this situation be funny, you ask? 

I worked in nursing homes and hospitals all through high-school and college. There is protocol before you move a patient- count off 1, 2, 3. That's what Cheryl and I were expecting. We forgot to clue in the guy helping us. He yanked on J.'s feet leaving Cheryl and I still doing our thing, only our patient was in a different place. J.'s head clunked off the phone book and I was breathing in to air. 

Cheryl and I were back in back in business and someone else was on the phone with 911. The 911 operator wanted to know if I was certified to give CPR, my between breaths reply was "does it matter?" I heard the door bell ring, the paramedics had arrived. J. and I were the people who usually answered the door. I head the door bell ring a second time...blow, blow....reach up, lift up the phone receiver and say in my company voice, "come on in," and hit the door opener....blow, blow. 

The paramedics arrived started doing their thing - shock paddles, starting a breathing tube and other scary stuff. They packed J. up and carted her out. 

Then one of the responders told me that I should not have done CPR with out a mask, that I should get a baseline HIV test and Hepatitis shots. As if the scariness of CPR was not enough and not being sure if J. was even alive, I was being told that I'd screwed up. 

CPR is a messy thing. I won't go in to details, but it was it was messy. As it happens the clinic that we use for work injuries is right next door. I very shakily walked over. I told the nurse at the desk that I'd given CPR and got an earful from the staff about how they would never do that....ugggh. I was starting to feel woozy by the time they led me to a room. 

I was stretched out on the examining table trying not to freak out when the doctor walked in. He asked me how long ago the incident had taken place. "About half and hour ago," I replied. "Where?" he asked. "Next door." He looked puzzled and asked exactly what happened. I told him that I'd given CPR with out a mask. He started laughing - all my chart said was "fluids exchanged." Ugggh, I can only imagine what kind of fluid exchange he was thinking of that required an HIV test and Hepatitis shots. 

They drew blood and gave me a Hep A and B shot. I went home, threw away my clothes and rolled up on the sofa and didn't move for twelve hours. 

I was afraid to go to work the next day, I was not sure what I'd hear about J. 

It was good news! Not only did she live, but she was doing well. 

And, six months later I was done with the Hepatitis series and tested negative for HIV. 
It all ended well, mostly. I still jump every time I hear someone yell at work, I'm not sure if that will ever go away. And I'm not sure I'll look at a phone book the same ever again. 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

water, water everywhere

Today feels like the lost day.

Target to buy a cozy robe for Tammy.
Hospital to deliver robe and pat the babies.
Work a water station for Crop Walk - BY MYSELF -20 gallons of water in 1000 little cups. [did I mention the BY MYSELF part?]
Back to the hospital to hang out with the twins.

That's all she wrote.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

full moon

My sister Beth and I revived the full moon hayride tradition after several years hiatus. I was so disoriented when I woke up this morning I thought - wooo hooo, nothing to do all day until I work at the Red Key. A second later the - holy crap, we're having a hayride at the farm for 100 people! thought burst in to my brain.

Beth did most of the work and all of the cooking. All I did was pick up drinks and ice. Thanks Bethie!

This year featured a record number of kids -I counted over 50 at one point. It was a great evening at the farm. Good food, friends and family, lots of children running around like nuts, a bonfire and s'mores.

I think there were at least four sedate wagon trips stuffed with kids. Then a friend asked for an 'adult' ride. Whoa Nellie! J.R. whipped us around the pasture doing figure eights and doughnuts. All I kept thinking was 'tuck and roll' - as I was laughing my fool head off.

Life doesn't get much better than that.

For more photos (including one of Jerry on the wild ride) click here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

hello world

Twins. I'm freaked out and they're not even mine.

I texted updates to Tammy's friends. After the 1:00 am "They're here!" message, two of Tammy's friends replied that they were in the lobby. I ran to fetch Andrea and Lizzie - at this point I had super power all-access bracelets (one for each baby) and a code number to open the doors. We had excited chatter about the birth and I got to show off the photographs I took of the slightly gooey babies.

Tammy hadn't really gotten to see the babies yet, they'd held them up to her face in the OR, but they were bundled up. They moved Tammy to another room, taking a detour along the way to let Tammy touch them. I'm not exaggerating when I say that Tammy was beaming.

When we got to the new room I was starting to crash, I'd been up for 22 hours at that point. I tried to stay awake but I tucked in to the cool pull out in to a bed chair for a nap. I got up at 7:00 to run down to NICU and to give a report to Tammy.

Tammy finally fell asleep after that and I took another nap. I think I want one of those chairs for my house! Tammy's sister and Cara arrived and we took another field trip to see the twins.

I went home and slept like rock star, only waking up long enough to get my ass kicked in Scrabble.