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.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I had a Tonic Ball meeting (November 21, mark your calender) at the Northside Newsstand. I moved up to the counter to enjoy some delicious tomato and artichoke soup and conversation with one of those bad boys, the kind your friends tell you to stay away from. You know the type; long beard, leather jacket, no discernible source of income, hoop earrings, keeps a protective eye on you in the bars late at night and has a motorcycle parked out front....

Anyway, I snapped out of it, finished the conversation about early 1980s punk rock bands and headed home. When I fished my keys out of my purse I checked my iPhone.

Holy Crap!

Three missed calls and a text message from Tammy.

The Tammy who is pregnant with twins. The Tammy who asked me to be with her for the birth. The Tammy who is counting on my to get her to the hospital. The Tammy who is due in the beginning of December, seven weeks away. The Tammy who told me that twins usually come early, probably around Thanksgiving (I was convinced that it would be Tonic Ball day).

The Tammy who's water had just broken. The Tammy who was driving herself to the hospital because she couldn't reach me. That Tammy.

I raced home and did my best bumbling sitcom father routine. I tripped flying in to the house, shucking off my dress as I went. I pulled on jeans and a top. I fed the cat, grabbed my tooth brush, a book, a big cozy scarf, my camera and my computer and raced out the door. I saw that I'd missed another call from Tammy - could I please print out the phone list she'd mailed everyone last week? I raced back in to the house walked in circles, raced back out to get the computer and back in to print the list. As I was locking the door I looked down to see that I'd put my top on inside out. I whipped my top off walking down the driveway and juggling my computer and turned it right side out. I stopped at the Red Key to cash a check- I don't know what I thought I'd need money for, but you never know.

By the time I got to the hospital they'd given Tammy a shot of steroids to help mature the babies lungs. The doctor on-call came to check her. As it turned out she lived right down the street from Tammy and just a few blocks from me. We joked that we could have all stayed in the neighborhood. They moved her to a room and started an I.V. designed to stop labor.

No luck.

Within an hour Tammy's contractions were two minutes apart. Apparently there was a queue for the Delivery OR. In the meantime the neonatal pediatrician came in a told Tammy all kinds of scary things about premature babies. Tammy did a great job, but I wanted to scream "Dude! The train has left the station. Can't we just cross that bridge when we come to it?"

I finally asked Tammy if she'd decided what to name the babies. Our group of friends have been calling them Corn Dog and Tatar Tot, but I assumed that was not her final decision.

They whisked Tammy to the OR and gave me a bundle of paper-ish clothes to put on while they got Tammy ready. I used the time wisely, zipped on the white jumpsuit, put on the cap and mask and took selftimed photos of me trying to do my best Elvis sneer. By the time I was allowed in the room the drape was already up and I was given instructions not to look and to let the anesthesiologist know if I started feeling woozy. Ummm, okay.

The room was full. A team of doctors for each baby and the team doing whatever they were doing to Tammy (I didn't peek, not at first anyway). She was a champ! I'm good in crisis situations, but I'm not so good at the comforting stuff. I was saying helpful things like, "hey the anesthesiologist is wearing a Purdue cap, you know he's got to be smart" and "wow, who thought the day would end like this?" and "if you hurry, we can make last call at the Red Key." I think it was soon apparent to the doctors and nurses that the twins did not have two mommies.

Baby Boy (5.4) was born at 11:46 and Baby Girl (5.3) at 11:47. I decided that the best sound in the world must be hearing a baby cry for the first time. They let me step around the curtain and peek at the babies and snap a few photos.

Evan and Katherine are beautiful, just beautiful. And I was honored to be there for the first minutes of thier lives.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


On the way to work this morning there were cars on the ramp above, by the time I came home the whole road was gone.

I don't have a horrible drive to work. It generally takes me about twenty minutes, unless I leave twenty minutes before I'm supposed to be there (8:00)- then it takes twenty-five.

In my working career I've had commutes ranging from an hour and a half to three blocks. I have a love/hate relationship with my vehicle. I'd be happy never to drive again, yet I'd hate not to have a car available. I've never cared about having a new fancy car, just that it ran well. One look at my current ride- 2002 Chevy S-10 truck would convince you of that.

They were working on the closest intersection to Second Helpings and the street in front of the building was closed for two months. It really wasn't that bad, the detour was only around the block, occasionally you'd get stopped by a train on the way to work, but nothing to fuss about really.

But fuss, some of our neighbors did.

I loved the whole road construction project. The moved an intersection --in only two months! That is amazing to me. I was happy to share our driveway for access and to let them park machines in our parking lot at night. In turn they fixed holes in our parking lot and patched a place in the sidewalk...oh, and we got a brand new street! A good deal, I think.

I had people telling me that I "shouldn't be so nice," that it was not our problem.

The point of this whole messy rambling post is: we need to be partners in the improvements we want in our city, or any where. Not that my contribution to the project was big, but by being a good neighbor the business next to us had access, the whole street could be repaired at once and they didn't have to drive the equiptment too far (wasting time and gas) to store it.

Phew, and I call myself a bleeding heart liberal.

Side story (and I always have a side story) - I called our HVAC folks to schedule our quarterly maintenance last month. When they went up there to change fliters, check belts and grease what ever needs greased they discovered that some one had been on the roof messing around. Most of the screws holding the covers on the units had been loosened (we have eight heating units and almost as many A/C units up there, plus motors for the hoods over the ovens). It looked like someone had done prep work for stealing the units, or at least the valuable copper. I was sure it was because the street was closed and they could work all night with no one driving by.

I had the HVAC guys tighten everything back up - with as much power as their electric tools had. I stayed late several nights the next couple of weeks. I was determined to catch the person on the roof. I even had a plan. I'd knock their ladder down and then call the police.

One night I felt the whole building shake and lots of noise. The time had come! I ran outside with my phone - 9 and 1 already punched in, waiting to push the other 1, a flashlight and my keys. I decided that I should probably drive down the block after I knocked the ladder over. I shakily walked around the whole building, no ladder. I walked to the front of the building only to discover they were steamrolling the fresh asphalt, causing the building to shake.

I felt like a big asphalt. I was just glad I had no witnesses.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Hi, my name is Nora and I'm addicted to Facebook.

Seriously. I love it. I've reconnected with old friends, cousins and neighbors. I spend an extraordinary amount of time there looking at photographs of friends' families, seeing who's friends with who and seeing if old boyfriends on Facebook. As you can see, Facebook really speaks to my Gladys Kravitz nature.

You can post a quick one line "status update," tonight's says Nora is full of grilled cheese, tomato soup and happy thoughts.

And I am. I've decided that if anyone wants have a meeting with me it has to be at the Northside News Cafe. I have meetings the next three nights - all of them there. Everything is better with soup!

Monday, October 13, 2008

meridian-kessler mondays

I was tired (I know, what's new Spitznogle?) after work tonight. I was looking forward to catching up with my friend Kristi, but I was wishing that we were sitting on my sofa for our girl-talk session. I've had meetings after work almost every night for weeks.

As always, hanging out in the neighborhood was a blast. We met at the jazz club a few blocks from my house and across the street from the coffeehouse that I used to manage. I got there first and ran in to Joe, who owns a kick-ass Cajun restaurant just a few doors down. Joe and I got caught up on neighborhood and family news. As it turned out I knew most of the staff and customers in the club - including a man what was hosting Russian judges who were here to study our judicial system.

I had a delicious dinner, a fine Jameson and water and was reminded of why I live where I do.

My neighborhood is like Cheers - everyone knows your name.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

road trip

We (cousin Jim, his lovely wife Karen, Dad and I) meandered home from southern Indiana. We stopped for Mass at the other Catholic Church in Jasper, Saint Joseph's. The church is beautiful. Marble, mosaics, stained glass and giant poplar columns. The Germans really knew how to build churches. 

From Jasper we wound down the road to French Lick. We stopped at the French Lick Springs Hotel is beautiful. The renovated hotel is connected to a casino. I turned my $20 dollars in to $25 on a video poker game. I then turned that in to $15 on a slot machine. 

I was anxious to check out West Baden Springs Hotel. Click here for some history. The photo above is taken from one end of the lobby (a classic 'long arm' photograph- stretching my arm out as long as I can and snapping the picture). The 200 foot in diameter dome was the largest in the world for sixty years and called The Eighth Wonder of the World for decades. The hotel fell in disrepair, was used as a seminary, community college and Larry Bird basketball camp before totally closing in the mid 1980s. The Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, with the help of community financial support bought the property. The renovation has spent decades, but they are doing it right - it is amazing. 

Karen and I got a cocktail at the lobby bar and settled in the big chairs under the middle of the dome to get a taste of how the other half lives.  I can't wait to go back and visit. 

I had a nice nap on the way home. Thanks for driving Jim! 

The wedding and the take-our-time trip home felt like a little vacation. It was wonderful. 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

jennifer and aaron

Cousin Aaron got married today! And we all love Jennifer.

The wedding Mass was wonderful. You had no doubt that they were in love and had the blessing of their friends and family. I was honored to serve as Eucharistic Minister at the Mass. They got married at the beautiful Holy Family church in Jasper, Indiana.

The reception was a blast and was held in the hotel where most of us were staying. This photograph was taken around 11:00 pm, six hours after the reception started. Aunt Lucille is one of Dad's sisters, her birthday is next month and I think she'll be 82. She's dancing with three of her many grandchildren.

I really had a wonderful time, I got to have great, meaningful conversations with several of my cousins. A friend from Evansville joined me for a while, braving the overwhelming group of cousins.

It was very liberating having the party in the hotel. You didn't have to worry about how you were going to get home and there is comfort in partying with people that you know have your best interest at heart. Let's just say that I blew my Weight Watchers points for the day on beer and wedding cake. If I'm dancing, its a pretty sure bet that I might have a bit of a hangover in the morning.

Congratulations to Jennifer and Aaron, I'm thrilled for them.

For more photographs click here. Heavily edited, of course.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Second Helpings' largest fundraiser of year is Harvest. It is an amazing evening showcasing the generosity of our community. A dozen restaurants participated and there were over 250 different wines to sample (also donated). Sixty-three volunteers decorated (Dad was on the decorating committee!), worked the event and helped clean-up.

It was one of these evenings that makes my heart swell. Everywhere I turned, there was family and friends - providing the music and flowers, volunteering, donating food and providing financial support.


Thursday, October 09, 2008


I swear that I've had a headache since I was in Austin. I keep blaming allergies and general busyness.

I did some yard work after work-work. When I say 'yard work,' I mean that I dumped the dirt from the pots of mums that I let die in to the hole in my front yard and stepped on it to tamp it down. No matter how much dirt, plant parts and twigs I've packed in there over the years the hole keeps getting bigger and I keep tripping over it.

I wandered in the house and tried to make myself do house work, but decided to take a little break and read. Under the covers. Watching That 70s Show. And closing my eyes for just a minute....

I woke up six hours later, disoriented and in a panic. About everything. Work, the economy, my truck, my mortgage payment, insurance, my social life, my age, family, my cat, Everything.

It's going to be a long weekend.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Since Indiana moved to the "swing state" column last week we've been been getting hit hard with ads and such. No matter what your political views are, it is pretty darn amazing to be standing just 30 feet from a presidential candidate.

My biggest goose-bumpy moment was when 12,000 of us recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

As exciting as this presidential election is, don't forgot to pay attention to the local races. Your governor, mayor, city council members, school board members, assessors and township leaders have an awful big impact on your day-to-day life.

And, if you're ready for big change, watch this (with thanks to Jamie Dawn). I promise a PEZ in every pot and mandatory turn signal laws.

For more rally photographs click here.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


I started work early today. 6:00 in the morning to be exact. I left for a couple of hours for a Christamore House Guild board meeting and general meeting.

Today had all of the elements of a fun workday for me. Plumbers*, computer repairs, paperwork, staff issues and general mayhem.

As you can see, I had two computers going at once. My PC was switched to the server, so I sent myself the documents I need to work on and used my laptop.

I really do enjoy days like this.
I just need to figure out how to do it in less than 16 hours.

*I don't know why I can intelligently discuss the need for a new pump on the main water line, but get all giggly when discussing the urinal. The urinal would not quit flushing and I could not figure it out - even though I'd downloaded diagrams and instructions from the Internet. Today's tip: don't Google "urinal won't quit flushing."

Monday, October 06, 2008


I try to do business at locally owned places as much as possible. I also like to support places that are in not-so-great neighborhoods. I appreciate that they are there. There is a drug store on the way home that I frequent for my antihistamine and diet Pepsi needs. 

More evenings than I like to admit I stopped for a People Magazine, chips and a candy bar on the way home. No wonder I gained so much freaking weight. 

I stopped this evening for diet Pepsi and spent way too much time loitering the snack aisle talking myself out of chips and candy. Damn diet. 

Sunday, October 05, 2008

broad ripple village

I worked at Marigold today. I only work there one Sunday a month, but its usually after a Saturday night Red Key shift. If all goes well on Red Key nights I can be showered and in bed by 3:00 and I have to be at Marigold by noon. As you might guess I'm a usually a little grumbly and tired on my way to work.

This morning I goofed around so much that I didn't have time to stop at Northside News for coffee. Once I get to work I'm fine and happy to be in Broad Ripple. I always enjoy working at Marigold once I get there. The customers are great and my shift always feels like one big shopping day. My biggest challenge is not spending too much money on clothes.

Most Sundays I'm scrambling to write my Gazette column, but for the first time ever - I'd turned it in early. I was free as a bird!

I caught up with Big Hat Books Liz after the store closed for the day. We were walking down the street discussing where to grab a beer, when I spied Mark on the patio of The Corner Wine Bar. Decision made.

I left my beer decision up to Mark, who is the beer expert. He started us out with the very fun Coney Island Freaktoberfest. It pours red- cool stuff.

Liz and I had a delicious dinner and worked on solving our problems. We talked a lot about community. I love being involved in our neighborhood and the community. I've also been struggling with my need to always do the right thing and my need to have people like me. The good news about all of that is that I don't ever have to worry about ducking behind potted plants to avoid anyone. The bad news about all of that is that it's not always fun.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

farmers market

One of the music booking things I have not let go of over the years is scheduling the musicians for the Broad Ripple Farmers Market. This Saturday featured Gary Wasson and Cara Jean Wahlers. And it was Cara's birthday - happy birthday girlie! 

I have not gotten to the market as much as I wanted to this summer. This morning I plopped myself down and listened to the great music. 

The BRFM has really grown over the few years....whoa!....I just did the math in my head.....almost decades. I got to help out in the first year of the market when it was held in the Broad Ripple Brew Pub parking lot. It then moved to the Art Center parking lot and has found a home behind Broad Ripple High School for the last couple of years. 

Hanging out at the market reminds me of what a great neighborhood I live in. I love running in to friends and catching up on the neighborhood news. 

This weeks purchases: beets, sweet potatoes, whole wheat English muffins, sweet corn and an Amish made chicken pot pie. 

Good stuff, good stuff. 

Friday, October 03, 2008

woooo hoooo!

Graduation days at Second Helpings are always special, but sometimes I bond with a class more than others. Class 51 was one of those classes. 

I always love seeing how the students change over the course of the ten weeks. They have a chance to stretch their skills and self confidence during the class and it sure is fun to watch. 

If you look closely at this photograph you'll see a police officer wiping a tear from his eye. One of the graduates was thanking the officer for believing in them and not giving up. 

If I'm frustrated or angry I let out a big "wooooo hoooo" - think Homer Simpson. I've done it for years in restaurant kitchens. It is a good stress reliever and much better than a blurting out a cuss word. During the line cooking exercise there were a lot of good natured woooo hoooos flying around the kitchen. 

Each of the students gave a great graduation talk, with several of them thanking Miss Wooooo Hoooo. 

I was the teary one standing against the wall. 

Thursday, October 02, 2008


When I took this photograph of the lovely table that Mom created for a fundraiser, I wrote a totally different post in my head. Twenty-six woman decorated tables and invited friends and family for high tea. My post was going to be about how proud I am to be my mother's daughter, about how creative and generous she is, about how happy I was to be doing something fancy with Ann Herr Mitchell (and how fabulous we're looking, if I do say so myself) and how much fun my sister Beth is to hang out with. 

Instead, we're going talk about how I earned my Miss Safety First sash. 

I'm a cautious person, whether I like to admit it or not. I like to think I live on the edge, but I really don't. Not at all. 

I always wore my seatbelt, even before it was a law. I always have jumper cables, a coat and an emergency $20 in the truck. I always use my turn signals, even in my own driveway.

I had renters insurance in college, no matter how poor I was at the time. I have an extra umbrella policy now that covers anything my regular insurance might not.

You can find safety pins, double sided tape and BandAids in my wallet. I can fix almost any wardrobe malfunction or minor injury.

I have a coaster bike, can't go too fast or get tangled up in gears on old Blue.

Stick close to me if there is a fire or other disaster. I've already scoped out the exits and fire extinguishers and I'm not afraid to throw you over my shoulder.

Heart attack? Stand next to me, baby. I know CPR and I'm not afraid to use it - and have. Bleeding, ditto - I'll have you laughing as I'm holding your arm above your heart, applying pressure and wrapping that severed finger in plastic wrap and putting it on ice before you know it.

I got a chance to use my fire extinguishing skills at the tea. The table next to us was decorated with glass balls, crystal flutes, netting, candles and sliver grassy stuff. When the tea was over one of the women blew on a candle. The flame caught the grassy stuff on fire. As I was headed to the table with a water pitcher another woman blew on the fire, which spread the fire further around the table and spread to the netting. The same woman was waving her arms and spreading the fire even more. I calmly held her wrist down and followed the fire around the table with the water pitcher. 

My work there was done. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

union break

Remember last October? When I blogged about a number each day? 
I decided to do something similar this October to get back in the habit of posting every day. I tossed several ideas around my head. ABCs? I was a little cranky when I was thinking about that idea and was coming up with A is for Asshat, B is for Broke, C is for Crabby, D is for get the idea - I scrapped that thought. I though about asking for suggestions from you all, but I didn't get that done - P is for procrastinate. 

I decided to rip off the great blogger, Arnie for October, at least. My goal is to post one (and only one!) photograph --- from that day, and write about it. I can't believe how hard it is. 

So, with out further ado....

Dad volunteers at Second Helpings on Wednesdays. I love it because I get a little Dad time and we get to see each other out of our usual father/daughter roles. I've really enjoyed seeing Dad make new friends. The things that make me roll my daughter eyes other people find charming. He is a great volunteer and everyone loves it when he's there. 

Around 9:30 Dad and his buddies take a "union break." I always try to make sure I have a diet Pepsi ready for him. Dad is known for foraging for a box of cookies or other sweets from the dock. 

I love it when I can join them. There are always stories (some taller than others) and current events. Dad and I hash out plans for any events and discuss family news. As much as possible I try to be around for the union break - it is one of my favorite times of the week.