Tuesday, September 29, 2009

cash for clunkers

We’ve been harping on my dad to get rid of his old Suburban. It’s the Titanic on wheels. It’s big and heavy and drives like crap. And Dad loves the damn thing - it has plenty of room and besides he’s got the radio tuned, knows how to use the tape deck and his electric razor is in the console.

We thought the Cash for Clunkers program was the perfect time for him to get a new vehicle. Trade in the Suburban AND get his GM discount. How could it go wrong?  Clearly we should have paid more attention.

Dad traded in the 1988 Chevy farm truck. The one that used to be red, but turned in to more of a mauve-ish color in the last decade. The one that moved all of us kids to various schools and apartments. The one that we all borrowed when we came to visit. The one that has hauled thousands of dozens of sweet corn. That one that dad made his own wooden box console with a place to store stuff (the spare electric razor, a rosary, cough drops and paper towels) and cup holders cut out of the top.

He got a fancy new GMC bright red 4-wheel drive truck. It’s beautiful and has all of the bells and whistles including the OnStar navigation system. Dad took me to the airport today. I was looking up the directions --Indianapolis has a new airport terminal, when Dad said he wanted to use the OnStar. Sounds like fun I said.. Ha – famous last words!

It stared out fun. Dad punched the button and the nice lady asked our destination and sent the route to the truck. Magically the directions appeared on the radio console and a voice told us to turn left out of the parking lot. Then the trouble started. Dad decided to go off route – “The highway is quicker.” As soon as we turned the voice told us we were going off _-route and asked if we’d like to re-route. I wasn’t worried; I’d already looked up the directions and knew what exit we needed. The new OnStar directions look us another way, but I didn’t question it. I have the sense of direction of a donut. If I think we should go right, invariably it is left.

It took us on interstate 465, that is heavily under construction and there were no exits for five miles. Still no [visible] panic on my part. We turned around, headed for Highway 70, I assumed. Then Dad called back the magic voice. The voice that told us to take Exit 12 on 465, which didn’t exist. That didn't stop Dad from slowing down and looking and the voice telling us to turn and the trucks and traffic whizzing by. That didn’t lower Nora’s blood pressure either. Even though I kept suggesting that we should just head to Highway 70. We followed the long-winded directions. In OnStar’s credit, it eventually led us to the airport. THE OLD AIRPORT!

We’re now about an hour from my flight time. And I’m not at the airport. We followed the signs and arrived just in time. And I was smiling as I got out of the truck. Because Dad is using his old wooden homemade console, even though the new truck has all kinds of storage compartments and cup holders. It’s hard to be mad at a guy who is willing to mix the new with the old.

Monday, September 28, 2009

leavin' on a jet plane

I’m headed to the Austin City Limits Festival. It’s been the usual scramble getting ready for the trip. By the time I pack, get the house clean enough to let someone in to feed the cat, get my shifts covered and work organized I’m ready for another vacation.

I think that half of Indianapolis will be there – I’m making plans to meet up with friends that live a few blocks from me that I never see. I’m also looking forward to seeing people that have moved from Indy to Austin and one to NYC.

This will be my third trip to Austin, the first trip I was only there for 36 hours for my Aunt Bernadine’s funeral. I took a taxi from the airport to the church to pull up just in time to see the mourners coming out of the church.

I went to the Austin City Limits Festival (ACLF) last year and loved every second of it but only stayed for four days. This time I’ll be in Austin for a full week. Watch out!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I have not gone farther than my front porch today. Or put on pants or spoken one word and I don’t intend to. It’s a good day to be wearing a cozy robe.

I’ve had a productive writing day. And been blog surfing. And getting one step closer to being a crazy cat lady.

Too bad I’m allergic to cats.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

college friends and cucumber sandwiches

I crashed North Central High School's pre-reunion party last night. My friends Carol and David graduated from there 30 years ago (my 30th reunion was this summer also). North Central is so big that Carol and David didn't meet until Purdue.

Carol and I were roommates in college. Off campus even. In fact I'd probably still be living in a dorm if not for her. Carol introduced me to so many cool people and exposed me to lots of new things. Those days seemed so much easier.

As a shy kid I was not emotionally prepared for college. I went to Purdue without a typewriter. It was not that my parents would not have gotten me one, it just never occurred to me to ask. My freshman year also started a long history of not being able to say no. Somehow I was named the representative for my floor in the dorm. Which lead to being the recording secretary for my dorm. Which required a typewriter. I learned that I could type the minutes in the student government office. Soon I was sneaking down to the office in the evening to type papers, often sitting in the almost-dark.

A punk rock band, Dow Jones and the Industrials slated Chris Clark for student government president to promote the band. Much to everyone surprise Chris won, ending a long reign of fraternity men in the post. When Chris and company went to check out the offices I was there, in the empty offices, typing. I was instantly recruited to the team and it changed my life - in a good way. And my friendship with Carol is the best thing that came out of that time.

The summer after my freshman year Mom and I were on campus to sign me up for the next semester classes (no online registration then!). I remembered where Carol was living for the summer and we stopped to say hello. She invited me to stay for a few days so I did - the good old days of sharing clothes and buying a toothbrush at the drugstore and not worrying about anything else.

Carol and I lived in four different places over the years, including a memorable semester about the popular bar, Harry's Chocolate Shop. You might think that was a cool place to live, but it was horrible. Friends would come up to use your bathroom, when the line was too long downstairs and there invariably were guys urinating under the back steps. The whole building shared a heating system, so the bar smells would waft upstairs and worse yet, they split the heating bill eight ways! We were paying as much as the bar and a huge record store/card shop in the same building. When we moved in the previous tenant asked if she could stay another month, we agreed - she never moved out! Carol and I shared my bed for the whole semester - it's funny to think about it now, but didn't seem like a big deal at the time.

Not only did Carol introduce me to so many great people, but two of my favorite meals. Cucumber, tomato and cream cheese sandwich on wheat toast is the perfect taste of summer. And baked beans on toast (or some times we'd substitute potato chips) reminds of our poor, but fun college days.

Carol moved to California almost twenty-five years ago. I rode with her for the cross-country trip. In her Pontiac Fiero. Can you imagine driving that far in such a small car? We had a great trip, and after sharing a room and clothes for so long it was a breeze.

Friday, September 25, 2009

pez and porch packages

Sometimes I forget that collect PEZ dispensers - even though I walk past hundreds of them in my hallway several times a day. I came home yesterday to a find a package on my porch from Amazon. My dear friend DM sent me the new Wizard of Oz PEZ set. I have so many wonderful thoughtful friends and DM is right on the top of the heap.

I love getting mail and used to be great about sending letters and remembering birthdays and leaving thoughtful gifts on on friends porches. I miss doing that sort of stuff and I don't know when I got too busy or lazy to keep it up. In the meantime I'll just add it to the list of stuff I need to get back to.

For today I'm just going to worry about whether I should keep the Wizard of Oz PEZ in the box or not. Thanks DM.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

cut (and let's be honest, color)

Michael cutting my hair today.

There are a lot of things I tackle on my own - mowing grass, shoveling snow, light plumbing, hand-washing things that say 'dry clean only' and computer repair.

I can live without central air-conditioning, cable and a fancy car. I'm happy to buy generic brands and shop at the Dollar Store.

I will not compromise on having my hair cut and colored professionally. I first got my hair colored before a trip to New Mexico to meet my then boyfriend's friends. Aaron is seven years younger and I was very nervous about meeting his friends and didn't want to look old. It was pre-cougar culture.

I thought my hair looked too dark and too big, but the greys were gone so I guessed it was okay. Plus I have a really hard time breaking up with people, be it the people who cut my hair, bagel or pizza. I'd sooner move then change dentist, doctor or hair dresser. Plus the woman who cut my hair bought coffee from me every day, so it would be awkward to break it off and I hate awkward.

We had another hair dresser that also came in for coffee each morning. I shyly started asking him questions: Where did he work? Did he have room for another client? How far out was he booked? I finally asked if he would cut my hair, and he said he'd been waiting for me to ask! He also coached me to write my current hairdresser a note to tell her that I was ready for a change.

Michael is great -- and he knows what I look like first thing in the morning. When I first started going to him the rotation was cut, cut, cut and color, cut, cut. Then it changed to cut, cut and color, cut. A couple of years later we moved to coloring my hair with each haircut. Sadly, now the routine is cut and color, color, cut and color, color.

I wonder at what point I should quit coloring my hair. Probably when I'm too old to have a second job to help pay for it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

what i did this summer, part one

It really was a busy summer. Germany, house guests, seventeen days of the State Fair, working three jobs and writing and an occasional day at the pool made the last three months fly by.

One thing I did this summer was get my name/photo in the paper an embarrassing number of times. It started with this:

My recipe for "cheaters" salsa was in the Indianapolis Star. The article is too old for the free link, so here is a picture of me showing the piece to my family while were in Baden Baden.

I didn't realize that I would be photographed, I thought they were just going to shoot photos of the salsa. I always hate the way I look in pictures so I asked my friend Joni, who used to teach modeling classes for tips. She she had me practice standing with my weight on my back leg and doing some complicated shoulder roll for good posture. Once I realized that I was being photographed holding the salsa I tried to remember my modeling moves. I'm not coordinated on a good day, so you can imagine my awkwardness in trying to hold a bowl of salsa in one hand and a basket of chips in the other as I tried to pose. I must not have had the swanky look I was going for, because the photographer said, "great, look like you're walking in the door." I do like the way it turned out.

A few weeks later I was in the social column...wearing an apron!

The link for this is expired too, so here is a photo of the article on my fridge (if I wasn't so damn lazy I'd scan it). I love it that Cathy talked about Second Helpings Culinary Job Training program and my friends Linda and Kristi and her daughters. And you might also note that Fuzzy Zoeller is wearing an apron in the same article - I think we're starting a trend!

NUVO did a great cover story about Second Helpings: Serving Second Chances and a video about line cooking: Line Cooking at Second Helpings (you get to hear me being bossy, see my sister Beth training the servers, Ann Mitchell, Mrs. Herr and Kristi and her daughters).

I made the social page one more time with our Harvest event - here I am with the chairman of our board of directors. Click!

My favorite thing was that I got to fulfill a long time dream and write about my Top Ten favorite things about the Indiana State Fair. Click! NUVO also used several of my photographs, including the one of the corn and the Ferris Wheel.

Thats enough for tonight - I have dishes to do....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

little beulah and winemaking

I heard that dad had a new cat. I should say that I overheard that dad got a new cat. I heard him ask another Second Helpings volunteer about low cost spay and neutering and I assumed that he was not asking for himself.

Little Beulah is named after a long line of farm cat Beulahs. She sure is cute.

I went to the farm to help make wine. The basic recipe is to de-stem Concord grapes, squish them and add sugar water and stuff it all in a barrel.

My timing was perfect! The work was done and the brats were on the grill when I arrived. I had a fabulous dinner of Dad's soup, corn, brats, veggies and apple pie. And lots of laughter.

Dad poured "new grape" - last year's wine. Which will be bumped to "old grape" when the new wine is ready. We're very clever in naming things at the farm, be it cats or wine. It's part of the reason that going home is so darn comfortable.

p.s. Happy birthday Ralph!

Monday, September 21, 2009

six pack...

...of socks. Or in this case, sox.

I'm a bowler now, or at least in a bowing league. Bowling requires accessories, and generally I'm down with that. But I can't seem to get it together. You can rent the shoes and borrow a ball at the bowling alley, but you have to bring your own socks.

I even managed to find two white socks that matched this morning and left them on my coffee table. Next to the cat. And an empty popcorn bowl. I can either blog or keep the house picked up, okay people? Since this is my second round of bowling I've learned some tricks. Like you can buy socks at the drug store.

This evening I was clever enough to buy a six pack. I left the other five pairs in the truck. That will hold me 'til Halloween at least.

Not that I needed one more thing to add to my busy schedule, but bowling has been good for me. I've met a whole new group of people and gotten to know others better. It keeps me from working too late, at least on Mondays.

I thought I'd just be a sub this round, but two really fun people I met this summer asked me to join their team. Julie is in an MFA program for writing, which I think is the coolest thing ever. Kathleen and I bonded over the fact that we're both single and have to share a room with our parents on vacation. She is a career coach and has given me great advice on some workplace issues.

Now I just need to improve my bowling game -- there is no where to go but up, my average is 95.

And yes, I'm usually (okay, always) wearing a dress.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I have to admit that I feel like I've been cheating on this blog with Facebook. Facebook makes it so easy to post photos and give quick updates. If I could have invented a way for me to communicate it would be Facebook.

And I get to keep up with Rachel, Lacy, Jamie Dawn, Gette, Kim, Jerry, Cara, Teresa, Elizabeth, Crabbydad, Kirsten, Kent, John, Terah, Jenny and Annie there.

For a while I was cheating on Facebook with Twitter - Monica is over there too, but I couldn't keep up with that very well.

Here is my Facebook page: NORA -- if you're in the neighborhood.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

[Hostel] John and Karen's wedding

My friends John and Karen got married this afternoon. The wedding was beautiful and romantic and meaningful. The minister made all of us part of the ceremony - including having us all tell the bride and groom that we loved them.

The wedding and reception was in the backyard of a friend - and the spot of John and Karen's first real conversation. I remember John telling me after the party that he'd met someone he really liked. I've enjoyed watching their relationship grow.

The first time John and Karen met was in the kitchen of the Hostel. I had booked Jason Wilber for a concert and Karen came from Chicago to visit a friend who took her to the show. Jason played at the reception - I love how they tied at all together.

We all know how I love to tie things together too -- I wore lots of heart jewelry, including the flashing ring on my finger. I wish the photo showed my pretty skirt - I don't want you to think that I wore all black to the wedding!

Cheers John and Karen!

Click here for more photos.

Friday, September 18, 2009

hello....anyone still out there?

Um, hi. Is there anyone out there? Can you hear me? I don't blame you if you're gone.
I've been busy doing boring life stuff - keeping all of the balls in the air and trying to be a good employee, daughter, writer and hostess. And keep the house picked up and the basement clean and the grass mowed and the truck from falling apart and the weight off.

I got to write about one of my favorite things this summer - the Indiana State Fair. Read my Top 10 picks by clicking here.

I also went to the State Fair each day. It almost killed me! You can follow that here.

I'm committing to checking in here more often.
Pinky swear