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. 

Thursday, February 03, 2011

icepolocypse 2011 day 3

Back to work today.

Folks need to eat.

My car is still stuck as stuck can be.

Thankfully neighbor Kipp gave me a ride to work. He picked me up at 7:30 after chipping the ice off of his truck. On the way in I commented that I couldn't believe that school was called off again, which he hadn't heard. And it meant that his office was closed too. Whoops!

The potato fork is coming in handy. I'm not sure I could walk down the hill of my icy driveway without it. Lots of salt and chipping and an hours work cleared one of the doors to Second Helpings.

We told the volunteers to stay home, but some came anyway — which was great, the staff worked in the kitchen and helped deliver the meals.

I sorted bread and desserts. I love thinking about the folks we're serving — cupcakes to the kiddos and pies to the seniors. 

Being hands-on today reminded me of the generosity of our donors and volunteers. 

Life ain't bad. 

Except for this damn ice. 

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

icepolocypse 2011 day 2

Uncle Cletus's potato fork came in handy today. It's pretty darn good at chipping off the ice.

And there is plenty of ice.

Another day of no work.

I spent hours clearing the ice off the car. And the damn thing won't budge.

Stuck as stuck can be.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

icepolocypse 2011 day 1

All of the dire weather predictions were right. The ice storm hit. Schools closed and almost every thing shut down.

I managed to fall down three times in my driveway - one of them hard enough to knock my hat and glasses off.

Once I pretended that I was ice skating, it was much easier.

Through the wonders of facebook, I read that Zest! was opening for lunch. I met up with neighbors Jamie and Sidney for a slide two blocks down the Monon Trail for a delightful lunch and fun.

Snow days aren't so bad!