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.