Tuesday, November 01, 2011

matt elliott

Matt Elliott at my 50th birthday party, May 15, 2011

Matt was happy.

Matt was at a happy point in his life, doing what he loved in the neighborhood he loved.

I’m taking great comfort in that.

Matt Elliott died on October 27.

Matt was one of those people that I knew would always be part of my life. Who knows where our individual lives would have led, but I knew without a doubt that Matt would be around.

I first meet Matt when we were selling beer for a little craft beer distributor and I soon realized that Matt was everywhere. At various times over the last sixteen years we’ve played poker together, worked across the street from each other, sat next to each other at boxing matches, attended the same shows and tended for each other’s cats.

We took turns being across from each other at various counters and bars– sometimes me waiting on Matt, sometimes Matt waiting on me – sometimes both in the same day. Most fun were the times we were sitting on the same side of the bar. Those meetings typically weren’t planned, but you always knew that Matt was good for excellent conversation and that you were sure to have at least one belly laugh and leave with a bunch of random Indiana-centric facts. If the conversation involved meat or chocolate or newspapers or books or beer, all the more better.

Matt was delightfully curmudgeonly. He was well-versed in the things that caught his fancy and opinionated in almost everything. If he dug his heels in the ground, there was no budging him. I finally gave up in asking him to have decaf coffee brewed in the morning at the Newsstand CafĂ©. But he didn’t let differing opinions get in the way of a good conversation or friendship. In the middle of a debate, he’d throw in a charming wink.

Matt was one of those ‘all in’ guys. He didn’t do anything halfway. We swapped cat feeding duties at various times over the years. I would dutifully feed his cat, fetch the mail and turn on lights while he was out of town. Matt would camp out at my house while I was out of town; keeping my Felix company, enjoying sleeping on my ancient sofa, exploring my stacks of books, and the adventure of living a few blocks away for the week.

For years we worked across the street from each other and the Atlas Food Market was on the same corner. After the fixtures and contents of the Market were auctioned off, Matt realized that they hadn’t sold the wooden sign from the alley side of the building. Matt plotted rescuing the sign for months, but he felt the time was never quite right – which drove me nuts. Matt was deliberate and thoughtful about projects, a right–tool-for-the-right-job sort of guy. I’m a dive in and pound-nails-in-the-wall-with-the-heels-of-my-cowboy-boots sort of woman. One evening, after yet another conversation about the sign, I excused myself, drove around the corner, parked next to the building, hopped in the back of my truck, and crowbar’ed the sign down. Ten minutes later I returned to report that the sign was ready to deliver to his house. It is now on the wall of Twenty Tap, across the street from where Atlas used to sit. 

Matt was a charming escort. And not just because he owned a tuxedo. I drug him to various fancy fundraisers over the years and he could always make me feel comfortable. I tend to wig out over those things – and convince myself that I don’t belong and I’m not wearing the right thing – you get the picture. By the time Matt and I figured out who’s vehicle could actually hold a passenger (we’re both notorious messy car folks), who’s car was mechanically sound enough to get us downtown, and if we had enough cash to park the car and tip the bartender, I was a mess.   

My very favorite Matt memory comes from one of those nights. I was feeling especially tense. I’d already spent $300 on tickets, purchased a fancy dress, and was missing my Red Key shift. I was feeling particularly poor and out of place. There was wine on the tables, but I’m not a wine drinker – wine tends to make my face red and my mood morose – not something you want when you’re already feeling weird. Matt excused himself, found a bar across the street and walked back into the gala with a glass of my favorite whiskey. A man at the table remarked, “Wow, he must really love you.”

Matt really loved all of his friends and would go out of his way to make sure they were comfortable and had exactly what they needed. Except for decaf coffee, maybe.

I did love and admire Matt. After spending time with him my heart always felt full -- from gratitude of living in a community that allows you to meet folks like Matt, and the joy of making strong grown-up friendships.  

Rest in peace, my friend. And I’m glad you were happy. Seriously. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Indiana State Fair Day 11 - 2011 edition

Who knew that I'd find the chug of a steam engine tractor so comforting?

Read about the Remembrance Ceremony and my day at the Fair by clicking here

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Indiana State Fair - Day 10 - 2011 Edition

Today is an incredibly sad day. The stage at the Indiana State Fair Grandstand collapsed last night, killing five, with scores of others hurt.

You all are familiar with my deep love of the State Fair and the fact that I've leaned against that very stage dozens of times with camera in hand waiting for the concert to start.

 Thanks to all of my blogging friends that reached out last night through facebook and e-mails. I safely at my waitressing job when the tragedy occurred.

Please click here for my thoughts on the day.

Sending cyberhugs to you all. xoxxox

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

indiana State Fair day 8 - 2011 edition

Another fine day at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Read all about it by clicking here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

indiana State Fair day 7 - 2011 edition

I can't tell you how nervous I was about the "Meet the Artists" reception. First of all, I couldn't believe that anyone would actually want to meet me, then I was afraid that I'd stumble over my words.

It was well attended and I think I did okay.

Read about it by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

indiana State Fair day 6 - 2011 edition

I was on the T.V. Read all about it and see the clip by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Monday, August 08, 2011

indiana State Fair day 4 - 2011 edition

Finally, some rain!

Read all about my trip to the Indiana State Fair Day Four by clicking here.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

indiana State Fair day 2 - 2011 edition

Indiana State Fair Day Two. Click here to read all about it.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Indiana State Fair day 1 - 2011 edition

I almost broke my streak of going to the Indiana State Fair every day on the first day.

Read all about by clicking here.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

where's nora?

I always feel super guilty when I've neglected this blog.

I turned 50 in May. It's not so bad really.

I've been working on the Farm to Fair project that will be exhibited during the Indiana State Fair from August 4-21.

Work at Second Helpings is good and busy.

And I've been kind of, sort of hanging out with a guy. Too early to talk about, but I came home the other day and he'd mowed my grass in the 100 degree heat. How sexy is that?

Sunday, May 01, 2011

nora at forty-six

For the last ten years or so, I got my picture taken with Russel on my birthday. I continued to age and he always looked the same.

I missed that on my last birthday. As you may be able to tell, I'm big on the traditions. The quirkier the better. I used to smoke two cigarettes a year, but now I'm down to one. I love to take a couple puffs off of one of my cousins cigarettes on National Smoke Out Day -- just to be contrary.

The other cigarette was on Fat Tuesday and Russel would light it with his old silver Zippo lighter, I would take an awkward puff and Russ would just shake his head and we would both  laugh.

I'm trying not to mourn the loss of old traditions, but I was really looking forward to getting by picture taken with Russ when I turned 50.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

nora at thirty-nine

Dad and Nora

I really loved this summer. I was working at the coffeehouse and had a great schedule. I'd work from 6:00 in the morning until 2:00-ish and actually had two days off a week. 

Dad's cousin, Rosemary was moving to town from her childhood home and the farm was filled with generations of stuff. Dad and I would travel the hour or so to Cass County a couple of times a week to help sort. 

I loved hearing the family stories as we sorted through balls of twine and wood and baby food jars of nails and screws. Dad and I rescued an old dresser that chickens had roosted in and was missing parts of wood -- it is now a beautiful piece in my bedroom. 

Rosemary let me pour through old albums and several of the photos you've seen here are from her. I loved spending the afternoon with Dad and Rosemary during the day, meeting my boyfriend in the evening and working at the coffeehouse in the morning. Good days, good days - despite the photographic evidence that I wore white socks with black shoes and shorts (sorry Cliff). At least once, anyway. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

nora at twenty-two

Ann Herr and Nora

Ann's husband and my college boyfriend were boyhood friends and another one of their friends got married in Iowa. Got it? 

The trip was fun and I really remember the feeling that washed over me that weekend -- that  Ann and I were lifelong friends and always would be. It felt like a new grown-up phase -- a new level of best-friendness. 

I loved that pink dress, but I remember people teasing me about it. It was appropriate for the late 80s, but not so much in our buttoned up preppy crowd. I've allowed myself one plastic tub of nostalgic clothes, and that dress is in there. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

nora at nineteen

 In full Benihana garb. 

I started working in a nursing home when I was 16 years old - Ann Herr and I were nurse's aides. I worked as an aide in various hospitals and nursing homes for the rest of high school and during summers in college. 

After three semesters at Purdue it was painfully clear that I was a horrible student and just not ready for college. I moved back home and joined my friend Kassie in working at the Japanese steakhouse, Benihana. I was a hostess and Kassie was the bookkeeper. 

Benihana was my first-ever hospitality job and it didn't take me long to realize that I was smitten with the industry and it felt natural and at home. You can tell two things by my giant smile - I'd just gotten my braces off and I loved my job. 

I adored wearing the kimono, it was just beautiful. I learned a smattering of Japanese - mostly how to say, "I don't understand," and to count. Most of the chefs arrived straight from Japan so Kassie and I did everything from helping the guys find apartments to Kassie cutting hair by the dumpster. 

If you've ever been to a Japanese steakhouse you know that the chefs are also big on showmanship. Twirling salt shakers and knives and flipping shrimp tales into shirt pockets. I still giggle when I think about Kassie teaching one of the new chefs that the proper way to greet new tables was: I want to feed your fingertips to the wolverines. Can you imagine the terrified customers if he would have delivered that line?

I worked at Behihana in various capacities for two and a half years. Those were fun and carefree days, even though I was taking classes at a community college and working part time in a nursing home. That was defiantly my feeling my oats era. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

nora at thirty-two

Mr. Herr got off the combine long enough to say hello. 

If you want to visit with a farmer on a good weather day during harvest, your timing better be good. You can either wait at the end of a row and jump on the combine for a lap around the field or stand by the wagon where the farmer will eventually stop to empty the grain from the combine's hopper.

Option one is fun, mostly because you get to ride on a combine, but not very good for conversation. Harvesting takes concentration. And you're picking corn it's important to stay within the rows that were hopefully planted straight in the spring.

I like the wagon scenario. It is noisy - the auger is running and the grain hitting the wagon is loud. But generally the farmer is happy to be stretching their legs and once the grain is in the wagon it is that much closer to being money in the bank. It's hard to be in a bad mood when the equipment is working and the sweet sound of grain hitting the wagon is background to your conversation.

Annie and Ben (Ann and Jerry's son, and my Godson) and I waited for Mr. Herr to unload. It was a fun sun-shiny day October day in Indiana and good to be home.

I can't believe that it has been three years this month since Mr. Herr died -- click here to read all about him.

The proof is in the photo, but I would have sworn that I never owned, let alone wore a long sleeved pocket tee shirt and pleated pants, let alone khaki ones. And tennis shoes. Yikkes.

I wrote on the back of the photograph:
October 1993
Sam Herr/Nora Spitznogle
Boone County, Indiana
from Ann Herr Mitchell
Christmas 1993

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

nora at eleven

Betcha didn't know I was a cheerleader? Yes, sir. Fifth grade.

Here's the proof. I'm in the bottom right corner and Annie Herr is in the top left. Do you like our fancy uniforms (culled from the racks of J.C. Penney's at Lafayette Square Mall)?

GO Perry Worth whatever-the-heck-our-mascot was!

In looking through old photographs I found a packet of old report cards. Decent grades in first, second and third grade. And, shockingly enough, to me at least, I was a horrible student in fourth and fifth! All Cs and Ds.

When I asked Mom about it she said that they just cared if I was nice. That explains the A in Citizenship. And why a D was acceptable in spelling.

When cheerleading tryouts came around I decided to try, even though I couldn't do a cartwheel to save my life. All of the other girls tried out in groups or at least pairs. I couldn't find anyone to tryout with, but Mom convinced me to give it a shot anyway.

Dad taught me a cheer from his stint as a high school cheerleader.

B.E.A.T. Beat 'em.
B.U.S.T. Bust 'em.
Beat 'em, bust 'em
That's our custom.

I delivered this 1950s cheer on one shaky knee, in a squeaky voice.

I was terrified, but the only thing that scared me more than a multi-purpose room full of my peers was telling Mom and Dad that I didn't go through with the tryouts.

Pity votes carried me to victory.

I don't remember much about the actual cheerleading stint, except that my usual duty was to kneel in front of the group on one knee with my arm straight up and my index finger pointing out a number one.

Very appropriately, my parents wouldn't let me wear makeup or shave my legs. Mom did buy me some shiny lip gloss. Ann didn't get to wear makeup either.

And that was the end of my cheerleading career.

B.E.A.T. Beat 'em. 
B.U.S.T. Bust 'em. 
Beat 'em, bust 'em
That's our custom. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

nora at thirty

While we're on the subject of ice skating, this was taken at Rockefeller Center in New York Center in 1991. Dad skated too, and took this photo.

I was working in Philadelphia at the time. Dad and his sister, Lucille came for a visit. We had fun touring Philadelphia and checking out the fancy department store displays and historic sites. One morning we took the train to NYC and jammed in a whole bunch of fun. My friend Marty, joined us and treated us to lunch at the brand new Planet Hollywood.

As restaurant people we tend to order a bunch of stuff to try. I think we ordered every appetizer on the menu, including calamari and passed it around the table. On the train ride on the way home, Aunt Lucille commented that the "onion rings" were the best she'd ever had. I didn't have the heart to tell her that she'd just eaten squid.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

nora at fourteen

Even though this photo is in bad shape I have it framed and love passing by it each day.

It was taken through the window at Grandma Leona's house, December 26, 1975. I'd gotten ice skates for Christmas that year and the sidewalks at Grandma's were icy enough for me to clomp along.

The living room was full of the people that I loved the most - Mom, Grandma, Aunt Rita and my siblings. I was feeling stylish in my fancy embroidered coat, I'd just learned to knot the scarf I'd also gotten for Christmas and Grandma had tied her chiffon scarf around my head.

When I was outside I pretended like I was on stage performing for the audience inside. I remember been happy as can be and feeling loved and smart and beautiful.

Aunt Rita wrote on the back of the photo:
Christmas, 1975
Nora Spitznogle
outside the window
at Grandma Leona's

Saturday, April 23, 2011

nora at six months

I'm just guessing about my age here - and to be honest, I'm just assuming it's me. There is nothing written on the back. It's another one from Great-Aunt Mamie's collection.

I love this photo because it is in Grandma Leona's kitchen. I can't remember ever having a bad time in that kitchen. I loved the smell of coffee and bacon and the sound of the local station coming through the radio. And best of all, standing as close to Grandma and telling her every little thought that popped into my head, knowing that I was loved unconditionally.

Grandpa Don's rocker was not far from the bouncy street. I'm sitting on it now as I type on my laptop. Who could have imagined such a thing in 1961?

nora at eight

This snapshot has been well-circulated. Mom enclosed it in Christmas cards that year. This one came from one of Great-Aunt Mamie's albums.

It was taken in 1969, our first year in the new house - which is now what us kids consider home. The mantle is cut from the walnut tree that had to be cut down for the house. I think that at least two of the things on the mantle are still there.

I've always adored Beth's stripped dress. J.R. is sporting some serious boots. I'm wearing the classic white shirt, jumper and knee socks that was popular among the eight year-old set in the late 60s. Sailor suit Annie is sitting her little chair that now belongs to the twins.

Mom wrote on the back of the photograph:
Beth (7 - December 31) roasting hot dogs
J.R. (5)
Nora (8)
Ann (2) 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

nora at thirty-one

I remember this night clearly. That is the old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia in the background. The Phillies played the Chicago Cubs - you can read the box score and game rundown by clicking here. Sister Beth and her then-boyfriend and now-husband Ron were in town for the series. Ron is a life-long Cubs fan - in fact he's named after Cub's great Ron Santo.

The game was awesome - not only did the Phillies win - which was sayin' something, they were worst in their division that year, but the game was chockfull of interesting players.

The Cubs had Ryne Sandberg, Luis Salazar and Heathcliff Slocumb. The Phillies had Terry Mulholland, Micky Morandini, Darren Dalton and my favorite, John Kruk.

I've had several closer-to God moments in baseball parks. That night was one of them. Baseball and family. That beer in my hand had nothing to do with the feeling. Swear.

[on a side note, that was one of my favorite dresses. ever. I wonder what happened to it...]

I wrote on the back of the photograph:
Nora Spitznogle
31 y.o.
Vet Stadium
Philadelphia PA

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

nora at five

I'm not sure where this photograph was taken. And yes, I'm eating a sandwich. I wish I could tell what J.R. was holding.  I rocked a pixie hair cut for most of my childhood, so it is fun to see my little self with longer hair. 

I found this in a photograph album that Dad's cousin, Rosemary let me take photos from.  The album belonged to my Great-Aunt Mamie (Grandma Nora's sister). Aunt Mamie was lovely. She was a tiny woman -- I have a couple of her great coats from the 1920's. I assume they must have been long on her, or maybe she was taller as a young woman.

She kept albums full of photographs - one was filled with each cousin's graduation photo. Another of baby pictures and others with pictures like this. 

Mom's writing on the back: Nora -5, Beth - 4 on New Years Eve, John - 3 in February. 
I forgot there was ever a time that J.R. was called John. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

nora at four

Since I will be 50 years old in exactly one month, I thought I'd drag out some old photographs. My baby book got soaked in a basement flood at the Farm several years ago, but a few photos survived.

I love this picture from 1965. I wish I still had this dress - in a bigger version, of course. I wonder what I was eating - it looks like at must have been a treat that we didn't get very often.

This birthday is one of my earliest memories. I think this is the year that I got a swing set for my birthday. We lived in a sweet little house on a hill near Zionsville. I don't remember much about the house, but I do remember spending time in that kitchen. I remember the yard the best - plenty of room to run around and play. You felt like king of the world on the top of that hill.

I can't imagine how Mom was keeping it all together - Beth would have been almost two and a half and J.R. just fifteen months. The fact that I'm in a pretty dress and there are fancy paper party cups is more than I could have pulled off.

My favorite part of the photo is Grandma Leona's writing on the back: Nora's birthday 1965. Isn't she precious? 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

i can see clearly now....for a whole year

I've worn glasses for exactly a year now. 

I was afraid that I'd never adjust to them. I thought it was going to be a big crazy deal and that I'd either lose them with alarming regularity or run them through the washing machine or smash them. 

And I really like being about to see. 

I only misplaced them once and they were on the top of my head. 

Of course, I just jinxed myself. 

Better order the replacement pair now. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

radioactive spider bite

These way-cute rain boots were a Christmas gift from a friend.

They were parked on my porch for two months waiting for a rainy day that didn't also include ice.

I was pretty excited to wear them for the first time  a few Mondays ago, they made the rainy day a little brighter. I snapped this photograph right after I put them on for the first time.

About five minutes from work, I felt something bite one of my left toes.

I drive a standard transmission which means that in order to stop I need to use both feet. One on the clutch and the other on the brake pedal.

I had to wait until I could pull into the parking lot to peel off the boot and claw at my foot.

My toe had a little hole in it, itched like hell and was turning red. I downed two Benedryl - incidentally I had a very productive day.

I sort of thought it was all over, but by Thursday I was sitting in the doctor's office.

Nothing ten days of antibiotics can't fix.

Stupid spiders.

I still love the boots.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I’m wrestling an 81 year-old house in to the digital age. 

And we’re both dragging our feet. 

Even though it’s called ‘wireless,’ it requires wires. And drilling through brick and plaster – and woodwork, unfortunately.

I’ve been paying for internet access for years, but the wiring and controls were on the other side of the house (I own a double and live on one side and rent the other) and I wanted to move them for a couple of reasons. I hated that if something was wrong I had to ask my tenant to deal with it or go to her house to fix it. Of course, it also felt a little shady to have to bill go to one address and the access go to the other.

Last Saturday was a crappy weather day. It is waffling between big fat raindrops and big fat sleet. The technician and I walked around the house discussing our options.  They both involved drilling. His idea was to drill through the floor of the other side of the house, run the wire under the floor, drill through the cinder block wall dividing the basements and then drill through my floor. My idea was to run the wire around the outside of the house and drill into my wall. One drill hole, verses three. And I figured that plaster is easier to patch then replacing the wood trim.

He promised that he would drill through the plaster and not the wood trim. I even offered to take the storm window out so that I could hold a yardstick out to show him the spot. Nope, he had it.

His first attempt hit the edge of the wood and cracked it! I was yelling, “STOP!” through the window. He came in to check it and went back out and drilled LOWER – through the woodwork. I thought I was going to punch him. 

But I’m a wuss.

And at this point the damage was done. What good would being angry do? He was a subcontractor for the giant cable company, so I knew that my chance of any reparation was slim. And it was my idea...and I got to pay $49 for the pleasure of having two holes in the brick and the woodwork. 

I wonder -- at what point do I stop putting up with things being ‘good enough?’ I don’t let myself off the hook that easily, why do I let others slide?

In the meantime, I’ll drown my sorrows in a rousing game of on-line Scrabble. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

feet frequency fail

It tried, I really tried.

I had a grand and ambitious plan for 2011. I blame this guy - Doug W. ran every single day in 2011. And if that's not crazy enough, he blogged about it too. Every single day. Jerk.

I thought I could do the same thing in 2011. Not the running part - don't be ridiculous, the writing. Couldn't be that hard, right?

I had the idea that I would take a photograph of my feet that day and blog about something that happened along the way.

The photo above, of Doug and I was snapped on December 31st, after his last run of the year. I had a head full of good intentions and a belly full of stew and Guinness that afternoon.

I did pretty well the first two weeks. My parameters were that I had to take the photo that day and at least start the blog post.

That part was easy. Finishing the posts in a timely manner was not. Some days were just to frantic and busy. Or boring. Or sad. Or in some cases all four. I was missing out on some good stuff for lack of time and throwing up some junk just to check it off. I can't tell you the number of times in the last twelve weeks that I've fallen asleep with the open computer on my lap and jerked awake with the idea that I was failing.

I'm throwing in the towel on the blogging every day scheme. I just can't do it, and the myriad of other things in my life. There are several blog posts that were waiting for me to fill in the days between. I'll post them now, gap days be damned.

Starting now, I'll blog when I can, most likely with a foot photo.

Thanks for swinging by....


Tuesday, February 08, 2011


I baked tonight -- shortbread cookies for the Saint Valentine's Day party next week. I have a fancy mixer, but my kitchen is so small that it's a major production to even get the darn thing out. And then there is not enough space between the cabinets and counter top for the mixer to fit between, so I have to either hold the edge of it up prop it up with a complicated system of cutting boards and upside down bowls and pulleys, or haul it to the living room and use it on the coffee table.

Instead, I love pulling out the Pyrex bowls I've collected over the years from family members and cracking open my well-worn Joy of Cooking cookbook and baking in my ancient oven. This evening I didn't play a DVD in my laptop or turn on the radio or spin a record. I soaked in the sounds of the wooden spoon on the side of the bowl, the eggs cracking and the cookie cutter slicing though the dough and the old timer ticking.

I don't have many periods of quiet like that. It drove me slightly crazy. But I made myself do it. And it turned out well. As did the cookies. I've been buying Indiana produced butter and eggs, the results were delicious.

I typically give myself permission to eat the broken cookies, but that is not a Weight Watchers sanctioned activity.

What the heck, one won't hurt, right?

Monday, February 07, 2011


I got a package in the mail today. It was properly wrapped in brown paper and lots of tape.

The box inside was pretty swell too — a vintage clothing box, with a tag ostensibly signed by a friend's cat, that I watched this summer.

The box was chockful of vintage Saint Valentine's Day decorations.

Thoughtful, amazing and perfect.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

icepolocypse 2011 day 6 - the super bowl edition

These sensible boots are on some stylish woman at a swanky hotel opening. I couldn't stand the snow boots one more day, so I broke out my brown 1970s Frye boots.

The JW Marriott is Indianapolis' newest upscale hotel. It has changed Indianapolis' skyline — it is now the seventh tallest building in Indianapolis.

It has been fun to watch the construction from our seats at Victory Field during the baseballs games the last two seasons.

I'm not someone who likes building for the sake of building, but the new hotel fits into the skyline. The building has a gentle curve that mirrors the center of the town, Monument Circle. 

I was invited by the opening by Risa, who was on the Bahamas trip last Super Bowl Sunday. It was almost like being in the Bahamas. With an ice storm and winter coats at a potato fork, which I still need to navigate walking up and down my driveway. The valet parking guys were kind enough to not point it out, although they had to wonder what the heck it was doing in the front seat.

You can see a photo of me and some swanky folks at the party by clicking here — we made the  Talk of our Town section of the Indianapolis Star. Society folks at our finest!

I loved seeing everyone and drinking a fancy $10 pomegranate Cosmopolitan and pretending I was one of the swells.

I feel like the article calls for a Paul Harvey, 'rest of the story' explanation.

First of all, I worked at the Red Key last night and it was 4:30 in the morning before I was showered and in bed. Up at 9:00 for a meeting at church, then 10:30 Mass, followed by working at Marigold all day. Not to mention that the ice made everything from walking to driving difficult.

At half time of the game I started to head to the washroom but decided to go to the lobby to call Dad instead. I knew that he would enjoy hearing about the new hotel, all of the televisions, who I was hanging out with and the fancy drink. 

Dad sounded a little odd and swore that he had not dipped into his homemade wine. I asked if he wanted me to drive out, and he did. Which he never does. 

I thanked my hostess and joined my friends in the valet queue. I was concerned enough that I didn't take time to go to the restroom. 

The drive to the farm from downtown took about 25 anxious minutes. 

I drove straight back to the chicken house, now repurposed to his workshop. Dad was fine and working on restoring an old cider press that he remembers using as a child. 

I was relieved that he was okay and slid back out the door to make the trek to the house and bathroom. 

I crashed through layers of ice and snow in my beautiful boots on the way to the house, falling twice. Trust me, falling in the freezing cold and struggling to stand up while having to pee is torture. Why did I leave the potato fork in the car? 

I finally made it to the house. The laundry room door was iced shut — three inched of ice kept the door from moving. I skated cross-legged and fell up the step to the kitchen door. Same deal, iced shut. 

Back to the work shop, more falling, more crashing through the ice-crusted snow, to burst into through the door. 

N: [hopping from foot to foot] Dad! How do you get into the house? 
D: [looking at me like I was nuts] What do you mean? 
N: [exasperated] How are you getting into the house?
D: I use the ski pole.
N: [shouting] What? 
D: The ski pole I found in the ditch. 
N: [with tears of frustration] How. Are. You. Opening. The. Door. To. Get. In. The. House? 
D: I wonder how a ski pole got in the ditch. It's amazing what I find out there. 
N: [screaming] Dad! I NEED to get in the house. 
D: The doors are frozen. 
N: Yes! Have you been living in the workshop this week? 
D: [looking at me like I'd said the most ridiculous thing ever] I go through the garage. 
N: [so relieved I almost wet my pants] How do you get in? 
D: Through the garage. 
N: How. Do. You. Open. The. Garage. Door? 
D: I push the button. 
N: What button. 
D: I think it says 'enter.' 

I crashed back out the door, this time following the path of the driveway, and using by best ice-skating techniques made it to the garage door. I flipped open the key pad (things are getting modern at the farm) and jabbed 'enter' with my mittened finger as hard as I could. 


Absolutely nothing. 


Remember that bad word that Ralphie said in A Christmas Story, when he was helping his dad change the tire? 

That was my mantra all the way back to the work shop. 

N: Dad! I couldn't get the garage door open!
D: Did I tell you there was a code? 
N. Nooooooo....what is it? 
D: I haven't told you the code before? 
N: I don't know....can I have it now? 
D: It's ****. Do you want the ski pole?
N: I'll be back. 

This time I took a different route. To the back of the cow barn. 

All of the practice of going to the bathroom outdoors in my farm-girl childhood paid off. The added layers of clothes and coat and sub-zero weather added to the fun. I did it. And didn't get any on my boots. 

And that is the rest of the story: from the society page to peeing behind a barn.

Ain't life glamorous? 

Dad and the damn ski pole.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

icepolocypse 2011 day 5

It was very important that I get the car unstuck today. Because it was very important that I be sitting in this chair, reading a magazine and getting my hair cut (and let's be honest, some color too).

At first I thought I could walk to the appointment. It was only a mile away, a mere ten blocks. Ha! Not on this ice. Not even with the potato fork.

Friends to the rescue! As much as I like to think I can do everything myself, pushing the car out is a team effort.

Don used a pick axe around my tires. I tried not to micro-manage, but an axe, near my tires. Really? Trust, it's all about trust.

Scott shoveled and pushed. 

I might have given this helpful message the finger. 

In the end, we freed the car. Don drove and I joined Scott pushing and it popped right out. I was able to guide the car down the icy hill without hitting the vehicle parked on the street across from the driveway. 

And I got a kick-ass new haircut. 

Friday, February 04, 2011

icepolocypse 2011 day 4

Christos and Nora

Are you getting tired of seeing the snow boots? I know that I am tired of wearing them. 

Another day, another precarious trip down the driveway with the help of the potato fork and hitching another ride to work (thanks Kipp!). 

Work was a little more 'normal' — maybe 'typical,' is a better word. School is still canceled. The three inches of ice on the sidewalks and parking lots makes it too dangerous to send the kids out. Although at this point I think I could come up with thousands of parents to hack away at the school entrances. 

Today is the first Friday of the month, and there is a city-wide First Friday initiative to celebrate the arts. Most galleries are open and new work is unveiled. My friend, Christos Koutsouras, is in town for his show at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art. I had been looking forward to it for weeks and intended to go - ice be damned.

My friend Jake fetched me, and the potato fork from work to go to the show. It was Jake's first visit-ever to an art gallery and I was happy to share it with him.

Christos and Jake

Christos work was on two floors of the building and included an installation piece (which basically means that you build something on site, just for the show). 

I wish I would have leaned the potato fork against the piece - it already reminded me of a corn crib. If you looked though the slats you could peep at some amazing drawings and studies Christos' has created. 

It was also the first art opening for the twins. The girl is the perfect height to see the art.

inside the piece

The boy twin.

The show was great - on the second floor was some of his earlier work. I also enjoyed seeing Christos in his element. Although I suspect that everywhere is his element. 

When he lived in town there was a period that we spent some time together. As you might guess, I tend to be pretty jumpy as a rule- always worried if I am doing the right thing. Christos really worked on teaching me to be present in the moment - and not worry what everyone else is doing. 

He's also very confident and I admire that, but is happy to laugh at himself too. He's one of those guys that in the course of saying hello winds up with his hand on your ass, and somehow you don't care - and moreover, it doesn't seem offensive. I'm not sure I can explain it. 

The show - and his painting of the sea was a nice respite from the ice.