Thursday, January 31, 2008

miss cellaneous month-end wrap up

Red Key- men's room wall, January 25, 2008

I finally made the men's room wall. I always have been a late bloomer!
Thanks to Maureen for showing it to me (why she was in the men's room is a whole 'nother story). Now, if only we knew who "KG" was - Kute Guy?, Kenny G?, Karmann Ghia?, Kilo Gram?

But back to the wrap-up.

I really expected for my life to slow down this month. I pictured that my house would be sparking clean, my desk at work would be clear and I'd sleep so much that my face would have permanent pillow marks.

No, no and no.

Those pipe dreams aside, it was a good month.

Meeting Robert Egger and reading his book, Begging for Change has really made me re-think how not for profit agencies do business. Its a good feeling, but slightly overwhelming.

I wound up writing parts of a cover story for NUVO.

MLK Day at the farm was a blast as usual, but I think I'm still recovering. Sprinkled in with all of the fun is a big work day. I was at the farm from 9:00 am until midnight - lots of cooking and cleaning and keeping people from falling in to the fryers.

I was reminded (and re-reminded) not to be a bragger.

I booked a trip to Ireland (woo hoo!).

Apparently it is okay with you dear readers, to date men that are younger than my television.

Stuff I didn't blog about:

Crabbiness. I was crabby for a good chunk of the month. I'd wake myself up because I was scowling in my sleep.

The computer ate my column. I e-mailed my 1200 word Broad Ripple Gazette column to the editor before the deadline. The first time since, well, the first time ever. I titled the subject line "don't faint." Well, faint we almost did. Only one paragraph of the column transmitted. I went to work last Sunday and tried to retrieve it. No luck. I spent the afternoon alternating between re-writing the column, stamping my little feet and crying. That was also the first and only day in January that I was not scheduled to work any of my three jobs. And, of course I remember that first version as being the best thing I've ever written.

I make a real point not to blog about work. It was a challenging month. That's all I'm saying.

Overall, the good outweighed the bad. The month was a great kick-off to 2008.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the year brings.

Monday, January 28, 2008

blue jacket fashion

I was headed out the door to pick up Bad Influence Girl to hear Cara's band play. I was wearing jeans and a sweater. I remembered that an interesting age-appropriate man was going to be there. I turned on my heel, changed in to a clingy top and black skirt, slapped on some makeup and five minutes later was headed back out the door.

The weather was nice (50s) so I didn't need my winter coat (which still smelled a bit like the MLK party- heavy on the fry oil and fish). So what did I top my 'dressed-up' outfit with?

A vintage FFA blue corduroy jacket.

I've always been fascinated by the FFA kids (I was in 4-H). At the National FFA Convention kick-off luncheon I sat next to the man who's company embroiderers the jackets. I started searching eBay for an Indiana FFA jacket, but never found one. I finally bought this 1974 Iowa version.

When I picked Tammy up, I apologized for being late explaining that I've changed clothes in an attempt to look 'hot.' And apparently that included an FFA jacket.

It didn't seem to impress age-appropriate man, but this too-young boy was very interested.

I spent way too long explaining why 19 years is too big of an age difference.

I hate it that my most desired quality I'm looking for in a date is "age appropriate."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

soup swap

After all of the fried food goodness at the MLK Jr. Day fish fry I was ready for some close-to-home healthiness.

Kristen and Ben opened their home to twenty-five people bearing eighteen different soups. January 23 was National Soup Swap day.

The premise: bring six frozen quarts of homemade soup to swap for six other soups.

Everyone wrote about their soup and we all wandered around the table checking things out. Some people brought soup accessories- homemade croutons and fancy tags.

Everyone gathered for the "telling of the soup." You shared what motivated you to make that soup and what was in the soup. I rode Dad's coattails and brought his oxtail vegetable soup.

Dad makes the broth from home-grown tomato juice and oxtail. He add loads of vegetables, including sweet corn from this summer. I helped with the chopping and preparation when I was at the farm on MLK Day, and claimed six quarts for myself. The party was so big that another pot was heated up and served, using most of what I'd stashed in the fridge. Only two quarts were left to me to take, which meant that I had less to swap.

After the soup stories, we chose numbers for the order of picking soup. The oxtail soup went in the first round, I was wishing I had more to give. I went home with a carrot ginger soup and vegetarian chili, which was the perfect amount to fit in my freezer.

My hands were full when I left - the group also collected 40 pounds of pasta for Second Helpings. I continue to be amazed at the generously of my friends and our community.

I've been so busy lately that opening the freezer and finding a yummy dinner has been perfect.

I've added Kristen's blog, Middle West Meals to the blog list. I look forward to the next swap, whatever it might be.

You can read about the soup swap on her blog here.
You can read the review that Kristen wrote for the national site here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

mlk fish fry at the farm

My dad started having his General Motors buddies to the farm when Martin Luther King, Jr. Day became a paid holiday for them eighteen or so years ago.

Cass County Cousins

The gathering has evolved (yes, I said evolved) from all men to a fascinating mix of Boone County (where the farm is located) farmers, the mayor and the priest, Cass County (both of my parents are from there) cousins, GM co-workers and friends of ours.

Ann Herr Mitchell and Nora

My little restaurant/food safety heart could not stand for re-using the fry oil for years at a time (you read that right - they would pour it back in the jugs and stick it in the basement 'til next year) and Cousin Benny's cigarette ashes floating in the grease.

I took over the cooking a dozen years ago. At the time I was the only woman 'allowed.' I think the women were just smart enough to stay away. I hate to be told 'no.' The guys used to fry the fish in the same room they were eating in. You can imagine the cloud of old oil, cigar smoke and fish that formed in the room. I started introducing women in to the mix by inviting my best friend-since-we-were-six, Ann Mitchell to help with the cooking.

Some folks arrive at lunch-time to dine with the Mayor and the priest. Others come by after work for dinner, story-telling and euchre. They can expect fish, Dad's stew, little fried balls of dough, tater tots and homemade wine*.

Over the years I moved the cooking area - from the chicken house to the cow barn. I enjoyed the uncertainty of cooking in a pot filled with oil heated over the flame of a propane tank. The occasional fires added to the thrill of the day. I have to admit being nervous about the open pots of boiling oil, the uneven floor of the old cow barn and people who insisted in hovering close to the flames with a glass of Dad's wine in their hands. I was a little nervous – this year we borrowed actual fryers from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Lebanon. I pictured the potential of an even bigger and more spectacular accident. I have a wicked scar on my foot from a fondue pot incident in the 1970s.

As it turned out was brilliant! Much safer (you could control the temperature) and there was always a line of guys waiting to do the 'cooking.' After years of working in restaurants with fryers, I'd honestly be happy never to dip a basket of anything in hot oil. Ann and I did all of the breading and prep work with a little help from the next generation.

John and the June Bug

Dad has fancied up both barns with reclaimed lumber from barns that were being torn down. He's added floors and walls to both structures. The old chicken house is now his workshop.

I'm guessing that over 100 people attended the party. I always love being the cow barn (or production kitchen as I was calling it). Its warm from the fryers and the spirit of the cousins. I love the feeling I get from looking around the room and being related to most of them.

brother J.R.

J.R. demonstrating the lifting skills of the old John Deere B

*Dad makes wine. I always joke that I'm not old enough to drink it. It tastes like Kool-aid and is very high in alcohol.

Dad is an amazing restorer of old things. He rescued a sleigh from a barn haymow several years ago. He researched the colors of that time at the sleigh museum in Connecticut. This photograph does not show much of the sleigh. Hopefully we'll get enough snow for a sleigh ride around the farm this winter. Dad does not pull it with a horse, he uses a Deere (I can hear the groans from the farmers in the crowd).

Several of my friends made the trek from the City (the farm is about half an hour from Indianapolis). I didn't do a good job of photographing everyone - but I have tons of goofy things, everyone loved wearing the fur hats that Mom brought sister Beth and me from Russia).

fellow bloggers Tammy and Cara

MLK Day at the farm ranks up there with one of my favorite days of the year. My top three are Tonic Ball, MLK Day and St. Valentines Day- in no special order. The common thread is the gathering of community.

Mark your calendars for Monday, January 19, 2009. I'll be the one with breading mix on my hands and bright eyes from holding back the happy tears.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

a series of naps, a trip booked and lesson (re)learned

This week was incredibly busy. I worked at all of my jobs and a couple that I didn't even know that I had. Besides working at Second Helpings (and the events surrounding our annual meeting), the Red Key and Marigold, I wrote three pieces for NUVO and turned a giant Broad Ripple Gazette column. I also wrote the sponsorship letter (and mailed a bunch out) for an event the Christamore House Guild is having in April. 

All of this left little time for sleep, but I did get several naps in - which seems to work well for me. I've become a champion napper. 

The Ireland plans: I'm traveling with some folks from Philadelphia. Kevin will be celebrating his 50th birthday while we are there. The group includes his brothers, a few cousins and friends. Dad and I went to Dublin with some of that group five years ago and had a fabulous time. 

I managed to get a great deal on the air fair. I'll fly to Philadelphia to meet up with the gang on February 28. We fly overnight to Dublin arriving on the 29th. Kevin's cousin Jimmy is going to be our bus driver, which is brilliant. None of us have to drive or worry about Guinness intake. I'm going to share hotel rooms with a friends of Kevin, which will help greatly with costs (the exchange rate is not the best). 

Here's our itinerary. 
Friday, Saturday and Sunday (2/29, 3/1, 3/2): Dublin
Monday (3/3): Nenagh, County Tipperary
Tuesday (3/4): Ennis, County Clare
Wednesday (3/5): Galway, County Galway
Thursday, Friday, Saturday (3/6, 3/7, 3/8): Cookstown, County Tyrone
Sunday (3/9): Dublin
Monday (3/10): fly home

I have not taken a vacation this long, um, ever. Very exciting!

Okay, I'm sure you've been wondering about the "lesson learned" part of the post. 

I got a press pass for the Three Girls and Their Buddy show. I was also offered a photo pass. 

I had to sign an agreement that I would not use a flash and could only take pictures for the first three songs. I was beside myself with excitement and very nervous. I was afraid I'd throw-up on Emmylou Harris's boots. 

So what did I do? Text Mr. Ex-Boyfriend to do a little bragging. 

What happened when I showed to up pick up my pass? They told me it was faxed in to the tour manager too late. No pass. 

Premature talking bit me in the ass again. 

I did saunter in with my camera anyway. The seats were excellent (row 8, center). I was tempted to snap some photos (lots of people were taking flash pictures), but I was sitting next to the music writer for the Indianapolis Star and wanted to at least pretend like I was professional. I'd already joked that I was going to copy off of him.  After David left to file his story (his deadline was  11:15 - mine is Wednesday).  I snapped a few photos. Here is one of Buddy Miller. 

Thursday, January 17, 2008

news, news and more news

Writing: I wound up writing two pieces (here and here) for the Emmylou Harris cover story. And my name was listed (in big print) as contributing to the story.

I was quoted in the Jazz News, a jazz um, news thingie. Anyway you can read it here.

Traveling: I just booked a ten day trip to Ireland. I'm going with my Philadelphia friend Kevin and his family and friends. We're going to celebrate Kevin's 50th birthday.

More on all of that later- I've got an article to finish.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

wiped out

I'm wiped out, but it was a lovely day.

First check out Robert Egger's blog entry from Indianapolis.

Nora with Robert Egger

Second Helpings first-ever annual meeting was today. We held the meeting in an old duck pin bowling alley. It went wonderfully, all of the glitches happened before the doors opened at the venue. I arrived at the building about forty-five minutes before the event started. I should first point out that I'm hyper-aware of my surroundings, follow me if there is a fire. In fact I'll probably be the first one to notice the fire. I can't recite my multiplication tables, but I'm always prepared for disaster.

Anyway, I rolled past the building and see a heating and cooling repair van parked outside and a puzzled looking man on the roof. F-dash-dash-dash flew out of my mouth, and I started saying a Hail Mary immediately (hopefully the two things cancelled each other out). I was on my fourth Hail Mary by the time I reached the door. I arrived just in time to see the lights pop back on (the HVAC problem had also tripped a breaker). The heat came back on, but the room was cavernous (again, an old duck pin bowling alley) and the outside temperature was 20 degrees.

Our catering staff was working well under the pressure, but the coffeemaker was not. If there is one thing I know for sure, it's that cold Hoosiers want their coffee. I ran to Iaria's, the restaurant next door with three coffee pump pots. I burst through the door "Hi, I work at the Red Key and I need help." A waitress looked up, and said "Hello Nora." There is an whole underground restaurant workers mafia- we always hook each other up. Julie promised to make the coffee- and deliver it!

Back to the venue- everything was going wonderfully. Dad and Mr. Ternet were posted at the door to greet people and point out the awkwardly placed steps (the only two people that tripped on the steps? My parents). Lunch was terrific (special thanks to my sister Beth for helping). The CEO did a great job with her "state of the agency" address, we gave out awards and Robert Egger had the whole crowd inspired and fired-up.

Christamore House was given the Recipient Agency of the Year Award

Robert with the Second Helpings Culinary Students

More later, I'm literally under the covers as I type -still wearing my clothes and boots.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

swanky dinner update

Nora and Robert Egger
(I'm the one wearing the skirt)

Robert Egger gave a terrific talk and I'm terribly energized.
And yes, we were the only two wearing cowboy boots.

miss (ing) in action

I have been incredibly busy with writing (nothing I want to talk about yet) and work and work.

Second Helpings (first ever) Annual Meeting is tomorrow. The guest speaker is one of my heroes, Robert Egger - he's a little bit rock n' roll and a little bit not-for-profit. He started the DC Central Kitchen, on which Second Helpings is modeled. He's also a blogger.

There is a swanky 'donor cultivation' dinner tonight, a student/alumni breakfast in the morning, the annual meeting luncheon and 'cocktails and conversation' in the evening. Oh, and we'll be preparing and delivering the usual 2900 meals and rescuing 6000 pounds of food tomorrow. I'm not complaining - this is the sort of thing that I love.

My house looks like crap*, but what is new?

I'll check in soon.

*why is it that the less time you spend at home, the messier it gets?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

miss cellaneous income

Woo hoo!

I got a 1099 form in the mail today.
Which means that I got paid for writing.
And there was a comma involved.

Should paying more income tax make me so proud?

Monday, January 07, 2008

miss taken identity

I was noodling around on Google and typed my name in to an image search. The first eight photographs were not of me, but of people that I'd written about or photographs that I had taken. The ninth one is my work photograph. There are lots more photographs that I snapped or of work that has illustrated articles I've written. There are photographs of Bad Influence Girl, Kim and my sister Ann.

Of the 113 images only three others are actually photographs of me -one with the Easter Bunny, one of me on stage at Verizon Music Center and the self-timed-from-the-tailgate-of-my-truck the day I bought my house one.

There are two pictures of my house, one exterior and one of my bookcase full of Nancy Drew mysteries. And three different photographs of tractors.

There are five different pictures of my feet (no one is surprised, I assume).

The photographs that made me laugh the hardest...the two of the Morrow Kennels cup!

Friday, January 04, 2008

miss 2007

I'm in the mood to do a year-end wrap-up, some reminiscing.

Favorite events of 2007, in chronological order:
Indianapolis Colts won the Super Bowl: I got especially geeked-out about this, I loved the excitement and pride that glowed throughout the City.
Chez Pez on tour: My PEZ collection was on display at two public libraries. As someone who credits the library with changing my life, I got teary-eyed preparing the displays.
Visiting Cliff and Marilyn in Nebraska: This trip was fun for many reasons. Of course meeting the Morrows was a blast, but I also really enjoyed hanging out with Jerry. Hours in the car and we're still friends!
Purchased a 'real' camera: I love it for illustrating the blog and it is really helped with my music column.
Took the first (on purpose) picture of my feet: It has turned in to one of my favorite ways to illustrate my stories. I'm hoping to to hang of series of "my feet" photographs in my house.
Indiana State Fair: I got to see David Cassidy and ride in the Tractor Parade. Two childhood dreams come true in one week. Almost too much to bear.
Posted every day in October: Posting every day really cemented my commitment to blogging. Thanks to all of you who suffered through it.
Tonic Ball: Best day of the year, hands down.

Things that happened this year that made me feel like an adult:
Got promoted: The job is perfect for me and I love it. It is the first job I've had in years that does not feel temporary (even though I held some of those temp jobs for seven years).
Bought my house: I went from having no debt and being a tenant to having a mortgage and being the landlord.
Money: I spent the year with a chunk of money in my savings account, hell, I had a savings account for the first time in years. I got a significant raise. The raise just covers the amount of money that I'm paying over rent I was paying, plus what my tenant is contributing. So, my standard of living is exactly the same. And I have no savings account.

Things that did not happen like I thought they would:
Writing: I vowed at the beginning of the year that I was going to quit writing for this paper. It was starting to feel like a chore. Boy, did I misjudge that one! I started writing more, and pitching stories to them. I seriously considered (and was encouraged to) applying for the music editor job when it came open in November.
Quitting a part-time job or two: Still working all of them. I tried to breakup with the clothing store, but they offered to reduce my schedule even more (and I still get the discount). The Red Key is part of my social life - they'll have to kick me out.
Dating: I'm not sure that I had an actual date this year. A couple of almost/are we on a date-dates. It does not get any easier. Ugggh.
Weight: No more, no less.
Organized basement and garage: No comment.

I can't wait to see what 2008 brings.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

miss aligned

I'm feeling out of sorts, out of whack.

I've upset the delicate balance of whiskey, potato chips, lack of sleep and second-hand smoke that I've been surviving on for the last month.

All of the green tea, sleep and soup have given me a cold and a big old case of crabbiness. Even I can hardly stand to be around me.

I just updated my music blog with my latest column, including New Year's fun. I spent half of an hour trying to get the spacing right. When I found myself giving the poor computer screen the finger, I decided that it was good enough the way it was.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

miss appointed

If asked, I'd swear that I'm not superstitious, but I suppose I am. Not in the rabbits foot, cross my fingers sort of way. I'm superstitious in the don't talk about things until they are a done deal sort of way. The don't count your chickens before they are hatched way. The no bragging until you see your byline on the cover sort of way.

But Mr. Ex-Boyfriend was in town and I just had to tell him and brag a little. And once I told one person, I blabbed about it to anyone that would listen - in at least five counties (Marion, Boone, Cass, Hamilton and Hendricks - if anyone is keeping score). I just knew it was going to be my big break.

I was assigned a cover story for this paper. It was to be a 2000 word story profiling this iconic musician. I was nervous as hell, there was talk of turning the interview in to a podcast. I kept joking that I'd say "Hello Emmylou, I like your hair and you have a real pretty like cheese"
I did a ton of research and was anxiously awaiting the call from her publicist with the interview details - I was not having much luck, but kept rationalizing it - luckily I have lots of experience with boys not calling me. "She's in the studio" - "It's the holidays" - "She never got the message."

It became clear last week that I was not going to be able to talk to her. The focus of the project changed a bit. 500 words on Emmylou and 300 each on Shawn, Patty and Buddy. I started the research on them and contacted their publicists. I'm a big fan of all three and was looking forward to talking to/writing about them. And having a cover story.

Today I got an email - a freelance music writer shopped the story to the paper and he had interviewed Emmylou at a music festival last spring. It makes perfect sense to have him do it and I'm sure it will be great. He's also writing the pieces about the other three.

I can't believe how disappointed I am. I contacted the publicists and told them the story had been re-assigned. Then I got another email - could I still write one of the profiles? Of course. I re-emailed Buddy's people (who now must think that I'm as flaky as they come).

Moral of the story - No bragging, not 'til you see it in print anyway.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

miss organized

I read a cool (I read a lot of great stuff) New Year's tradition at Empty Boxes - get your house in order for the New Year. Start with a clean slate.

I've done a good job of keeping the house relatively clean this month. I hung my clothes up after wearing them and there were no dirty dishes in the sink.

I have a bad habit of building a nest where ever I land. Almost magically a pile of papers, books and glasses appear around me.

I made myself straighten up the house, catch up on laundry, change the sheets, vacuum and finish my column before I let myself open my stocking.

Santa brought something for Felix and me. Felix got a rubber band ball, which looks suspiciously like the rubber band ball he got last year, just a little bigger. I got a box of peppermint tea and fun pair of sock monkey slippers. My old pair of slippers were a Christmas gift at least ten years ago.

The new slippers and soft and cozy - and darn cute.

month end wrap up


As you can see it was a busy month - and that was just the parties.

Britney, Paris and Lindsey have nothing on me - except for well, money, youth and a stylist. And I'm sure those party girls don't have to worry about being at work at 8:00 in the morning.

The month was exhausting and energizing.

All of the celebration reminds me what great friends and family I have.

If you know me at all and read between the lines, there was a lot I didn't talk about this month- work, writing, out-of-town guests and such. We'll save that for another month.

I came out of it generally feeling good and happy, which is not always the case around the holidays and when AVS is in town. I hate to make a bold statement declaring that we've found a happy ground in our friendship. I know the whole thing drives my friends that had to live through the aftermath of our breakup crazy. But, I've always known that somehow AVS and I will always be connected - I just needed to figure out how to do it. No dumpster stories this time. Hopefully, we can put a nice bow on that portion of my life.*

Thanks for hanging out for all of the parties - I'm off to hibernate.

Happy New Year!

*As soon as I typed this, I had a vision of famous last words blazing through my pea-brain.