Saturday, February 28, 2009
Sometimes I'm oddly modest, and I don't know why. I mean, I have been in SEVERAL stage productions where I had really quick changes. So I'd just run off stage, where two other people would be waiting to help me strip off my business suit, throw on a grandma dress/wig/glasses, and toss me back out there. And the technical crew is all sitting there, and the occasional intern is wandering through, and everybody can basically see everything, but it doesn't really bother me. I guess because a.) it's necessary and b.) it's work.
But when I'm just be-bopping through my normal life, I'm more modest. So I always request a female massage therapist. Because basically, the only man I've been half naked with in a darkened room is my husband, and I like to keep it that way.
So imagine my surprise when I showed up at Trio's today, and this tall guy in a black T-shirt walked up to me, extended his hand, and said "I'm Brad. Follow me, please."
I had a brief internal freak-out, but I am proud to say that I quickly brought it under control. And pretty soon, I was getting massaged and I didn't really care WHO was doing it, it felt so dang good. All the kinks are out of the muscles around my shoulder blades, and my lower back feels WONDERFUL!
So I think I'm getting over one more piece of internal paranoia, because if being in a dim room with Brad is wrong, I don't wanna be right. Dude's got talent.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
First off, we're playing at a new pool place that is MUCH closer to where I live. (SUPER! No more driving 45 minutes out and another 45 minutes back every week! The new place is maybe 25 minutes from the house. It is sooooo much easier.)
Secondly, the break doesn't appear to have affected my (albeit cruddy) game very much. We played 9-ball on Monday night, and while I didn't win any games (because, well, I didn't hit the 9 in), I made some balls in every game. It reallyreally helped that the guy I was playing wasn't crazy-better than me. Nothing demoralizes you more than playing against someone who can cream you without even half trying.
Oh, and I have a new (to me) cue!! One of the guys on my old team GAVE it to me! Now, I ask you, do folks get much nicer? It is really pretty, too. He gave me a case and everything. I sent him a sweet note and a $50 gift certificate to Bravo! My unofficial pool coach tells me that this is perhaps the first thank you note written in the world of pool. If that's so, then pool players should have better manners.
I have also just finished reading another pool book - The GosPool of Bank Pool. The book has alot of racy anecdotes about pool legends, as well as some amazingly helpful diagrams and formulas about how to determine where to bank the ball to get it in the pocket. Now, I'm no math major, but there's at least one formula in the book that already makes sense, so I am very hopeful here.
As for the racy stories, let's just say that coach's insistence that career pool players are not seedy folks is getting kinda flimsy. There's a section on who used to be best at skipping out on restaurant and hotel checks. A story about a hustler who carried three loaded guns on his person at all times. Another section on a talented player who was in a mental institution. (His friends would break him out, take him around to all the pool halls and bet on him, winning considerable money, and then throw him back over the institution wall when they were done with him. Classy, no?) And numerous (numerous) tales of what the author calls "lemons" - con jobs that make easy marks think other players are weaker than them. Then, of course, the "weaker" player beats them out of everything they are willing to bet.
Like I said, quality people, right? Doesn't sound like they had much reason to thank their colleagues!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Mel and I trotted out to Bravo! over the weekend for drinks, appetizers, and dessert. (Who needs an entree when you've got crabcakes, antipasto, martinis, and tiramisu?) The food was delish, and I love the atmosphere of that place. It's one of the few restaurantsI can go to in the Jackson area and know that 1.) I will always be well-taken care of and 2.) the food will always be impeccable. I have never (NEVER) had a bad meal or bad service there. To boot, it's pretty reasonably-priced for the quality.
Anyhoo, we had a wonderful time laughing, eating, talking, and catching up. Things can get so hectic sometimes. I'll look up and realize that I've hardly spoken to Mel for weeks. Even then, though, it's often another week or two before we can get together, because both of our schedules are a bit crazy right now. Yikes! Remember that old quote about life being what's happening while you're making other plans? It seems very pertinent right now!
Oooh, and today, I went to Two Sisters for lunch with a work colleague. We got to eat fried chicken AND I got my interview. (He's in our continuous improvement office, and he closed some great projects recently that are going to help employees do their work more efficiently and more accurately. Yahoo!) Driving back to the office, full of bread pudding, we briefly considered heading to the park and soaking up the sunshine for a while. More dedicated thought prevailed, however, and we headed on back to work.
Darn our continuously-improving work ethics.
After Joanne, a rich and beautiful constituent (Roberts) impresses the gravity of the Afghan situation upon Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson (Hanks), he finds himself with a desire to help. Over the next several years, Charlie authorizes millions of U.S. dollars to quietly flow into Afghan armament and training, recruiting none other than Israel to help source weapons untraceable to America. The armament is successful, allowing Afghan troops to defeat the Soviets and drive them from the country. However, when further funding (in a much smaller amount) is then needed for infrstructure/rebuilding, Charlie is unable to marshall the support required to appropriate additional dollars. Everyone is "over" the Afghan war.
I thought the movie started incredibly slowly (though folks who enjoy seeing Hanks hot tub with naked starlets might think it was the most AWESOME. THING. EVER.). It took a little while for me to begin caring about the story. However, once Charlie attends a swanky fundraiser at Joanne's house, the viewer begins to understand how all of the pieces might come together.
There are several notable angles to this story:
1.) Charlie is the most unlikely of supporters for a strictly Muslim nation. He's a heavy drinker. He's an unabashed womanizer. He loves a good time. He's more thoroughly unprincipled, even by Western standards, than most.
2.) Charlie doesn't seem to really be a "mover and shaker" in D.C. However, he sits at the nexus of two committees uniquely positioned to appropriate funds for covert actions.
3.) The plan works. 'Nuff said. As Charlie is quoted at the end of the movie - the endgame (rebuilding the country) is where everything fell to pieces.
Performances are uniformly good in this. Hanks, as always, is rock solid. (There's an awesome scene between Hanks and Hoffman at the end of the film, with the two characters discussing "victory" on a balcony. Both are priceless. Hanks' face speaks volumes in this scene.)
Worth seeing. I'd give it a 3 out of 5 or so.
Friday, February 20, 2009
We all bought in for a nominal sum (Hubs staked me, as I was out of cash and it saved me a trip to the ATM.), and then the poker-playing lesson began. Shawn taught most of us how to play Texas Hold 'Em, and it was such fun! I started out pretty sucky. I was the last person at the table to win a hand. Pretty soon, though, things started looking up! Around 10 p.m., myself and another player decided to call it a night and split the pot. (What can I say? We are old, and we were tired.) Sooooo, I walked away with triple the money I put in! Not too shabby for a creaky old woman!
Well, THEN I find out that if someone else stakes you, you have to give them SEVENTY PERCENT of your winnings! What?! Luckily, my backer thinks I'm hot. In capitulation, I took him out to lunch today at Sal and Mookie's. He'd never been there, and the two of us much enjoyed our stolen hour together. (And may I recommend the Gambino pizza? SOME kind of good.)
The restaurant has a great atmosphere, and they've kept the original stage and proscenium from the auditorium. They've trucked in Peavey electronics and theatre-grade lighting, and they plan to book live music there in the evenings. The walls feature vibrant original art. The place is nicely-sized, but not so big as to feel impersonal. There's a bar at the back.
I chose the shrimp and grits for lunch, and they were DIVINE. Service was a tad slow, but they are new (open, I think, for only a month or so) and we were there at the peak of the lunch hour. Another great benefit - they've just resurfaced the old school parking lot, so there is TONS of great parking (a hot commodity in Fondren)!
The restaurant is partially-owned by Nathan Wells, he of Basil's and Rooster's. If you haven't been by yet, check it out! We really enjoyed our meal there, and we'll definitely be back!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
In the film, Boleyn sisters Mary (Johansson) and Ann (Portman) are raised in the country. The two girls are unfortunate enough to have an ambitious father and uncle, who plot to advance the family's fortune and position. To achieve such a lofty goal, the two men decide to use Mary and Ann as bait for the frustrated King of England (Bana), whose current wife has failed to bear a male heir to the throne.
The King is initially captivated by Mary's innocence and sweetness. However, conniving Ann turns the King's affections towards herself, despite the fact that Mary bears the King an illegitimate son. Unsatisfied with simply being a mistress, Ann convinces the King to divorce his wife and break with the Catholic church, merely to possess her. As England, and the Boleyn family, is ripped in twain by the King's actions, Ann and Mary cling to one another.
I thought that all performances were solid, but the movie suffered from a talk-y plot and too much meandering, too much readiness to cast blame upon characters rather than just present the action. Also, it is unfortunate that Johansson's beauty, one of her greatest assets on screen, was basically washed-out in this film. Very little makeup, lots of drab colors. I understand she was presented as an opposite of the vibrant Ann, but such choices did the actress a disservice.
Bana did an admirable job, as did Kristin Scott Thomas (who played mother to the two girls). David Morissey, as the calculating Duke of Norfolk, was delightfully seedy. (He reminds me of someone, an older actor, but I can't place it.)
I'd say that, out of 5 stars, this one merits a 2.5 or 3. Not necessarily something I'd rush right out and rent, but it did have its moments.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
That year, I wore a Jessica Rabbit dress. It was red, red, red, with spaghetti straps and a sweetheart neckline. It was floor-length, but it had a racy slit up one side. I will never forget the look on hubs' face (and the little gasp he made) when I opened the front door that night. I felt like the most beautiful girl in the world.
For Valentine's Day, we talked my mom into keeping booger for the evening and made reservations for a swanky dinner at Atlantica. (For several years now, we've mostly forgone Valentine's Day gifts in lieu of doing something together. We usually go out for a nice dinner, though we have done a few weekends away - Vicksburg, Natchez, the coast, etc. Since the baby came, I have been an even stronger proponent of the "alone time" idea. We've pretty much siezed every opportunity possible to let someone else do diaper duty while we laugh over a glass or two of wine somewhere.)
Anyway, I strictly forbade Brian from entering the master bedroom last night when I was dolling up in my latest red dress. He was exceedingly complimentary when I made my entrance!
We headed to the restaurant, and the meal was wonderful - crabcakes, a creamy bisque, duck with wild rice, chocolate mousse, washed down with red wine, coffee, and champagne. Yummmmm. Hubs made a few similar choices, but he had the filet with garlic mash (of course) and bananas Foster bread pudding for dessert. I hadn't been to Atlantica since just before it opened, and it's a shame! I will have to start going back.
And the sexy, red, low-cut dress? Considering how well it was received, I think it was worth every penny I paid for it. It's nice for a lady to be able to stop traffic a bit when she needs to, no?
Friday, February 13, 2009
Now, though, it's beginning to look as though I'm a complete yuppy.
Add me to the fan list for Chef Troy. A week or two ago, I caved in and stole Sandi's chef. He came over, we talked about our food likes/dislikes, and he took alot of notes. Then, he emailed me a proposed menu, and we hired him to make 10 meals and leave them in our freezer. Easy as pie.
He went to the grocery, bought our food, came over to the house while we were at work (bringing all his own pots/pans/knives/utensils), made the meals, stored them in the freezer, and cleaned up after himself. (He's like a food elf!)
So far, we've eaten tarragon chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce, pot roast, island pork tenderloin, and manicotti. All were yum, and each entree came with a side dish. I have been super-pleased with the quality of what he put together, and it has been soooo easy to just nuke something or throw it into the oven when I get home from work.
While I still cook a bit during the week (tonight, we had baked chicken with butter garlic rice and stir-fried veggies), his meals are fabulous for those nights when I'm tired/stressed, when time is short, or when I haven't had the chance to get to the grocery.
So now, in addition to having a weekly maid service, employing a yard guy, living in the suburbs, and driving a convertible, I have a personal chef. Geezum. When did I get so dang WASP-y?
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Clay is talking more and more, and he's repeating more and more of what we say. He'll say, "Name Mama!" and point at me. (Brian's been working with him on the whole concept of names.) He's also starting to say some of his colors, but he rarely matches the right word with the right color. (He calls ALOT of things "lello." It is sooo cute!)
We got him a set of 26 little alphabet books (one for each letter). When I read them to him, he'll repeat the letter after I say it. He LOVES B, C, and K. He'll run around holding the K book and saying, "K! K!" (A related point: what on EARTH was I thinking, buying 26 little books? They are EVERYWHERE! I'm confident that, should I go to purgatory, I will spend my time there picking up little alphabet books.)
He's also saying "okay" alot now. It's so funny to hear him. He'll bring me a book to read to him, and as we're settling down, he'll say, "Okaaaay." Precious!
Some of the things he's saying are making sense, too. Like, when he stubbed his foot the other day, he looked at me with this shocked, pained little face and said, "Toe!"
Oh, we got him a potty chair and then quickly relegated it to behind closed doors because of the destruction he was causing with it. I don't know WHEN we will get around to potty training, but since he's barely 19 months old, I'm not too worried about it just yet.
He's doing really well at daycare. Some days when I come pick him up, he doesn't want to leave! Though it stings my feelings a little bit, it makes me super-confident about the quality of care there. I'm glad he enjoys his teachers and the other kids.
He's climbing all over EVERYTHING now. He's learned to push things up to the counter to use as step-stools and reach what he wants. He's also learned to open doors. (May God have mercy on us.)
Most of all, though, he's just being sweet and precious and the best kid ever. Brian and I frequently talk about how smart he is, how cute he is, and what a great little dude he's turning out to be. (Such indulgence is, I guess, par for the course for parents, so I don't feel guilty about it!)
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
On Sunday morning, we woke up late and headed over to Morning Call for yummy beignets and coffee. Now, Stace proposed that we split orders of beignets, because we had scheduled a 12:30 p.m. lunch at The Palace Cafe. But you know how I hate to share. So we all got our own orders, struck up conversations with our servers, and ended up finely misted in powdered sugar. YUM.
After bumming Morning Call hats from the staff, we headed out to the cemetery. (Right? Or was that later? Sheesh. I AM getting old.) I was really excited about this, because, though I've been to New Orleans many, many times, I'd never actually walked around in one of the beautiful cemeteries there. Plus, I have a serious thing for taking photographs of statues. I have pictures of statues from every major city/destination I've ever visited. Hubs thinks it's weird, but I find statues fascinating. I love the idea that what I'm looking at, something that can appear so alive and real and filled with emotion, was once just a hunk of rock. And some guy (or girl) looked at that rock and thought, "There's something in there. Maybe I can find it." It just boggles my mind.
Anyhoo, the weather was absolutely heavenly, so we spent a little while in the cemetery, taking photos and enjoying the quiet. I think I got some great shots, and I'm super-glad that I've finally checked this off my "New Orleans to-do list."
We also drove around the Garden District a bit, checking out all the huge mansions and paying our respects to the "Touchdown Jesus" statue in front of Loyola. ("And the Lord goes WILD!!")
Then, it was back to the Quarter for lunch at The Palace Cafe. If you have not been, please go. Do. The place is super-swanky, and they have a gorgeous grand staircase that I could totally see myself floating down in a floor-length evening gown. (It just wasn't the same in my jeans and rayon top, though I at least had musical accompaniment from the three-piece band.) I had the oyester pan roast, and it was slap-your-mama good. I ate it ALL and washed it down with a nice, refreshing mimosa.
After that, we stopped in at the St. Louis Cathedral, which was ornate and historic. It was a nice bit of peace in the day. It's hard to believe while you're looking at the shiny altar that mere yards away are clusters of skeezy fortune tellers. You feel as though you're a million miles from everything.
Next, we stopped by a boutique because I wanted to buy a dress. More specifically, I wanted to buy a really sexy red dress to wear when hubs and I go out for Valentine's Day on Saturday. (We already have posh dinner reservations; I just needed the dress.) I'd seen a couple of likely candidates on display at a shop called Violets. Now, I'd never bought a dress at Violets, but I think I've picked up an accessory or two there. After we walked all the way to the shop, I got in there, picked out two dresses, and tried them on. The first one was very ladylike, but tight. The second one looked pretty dang amazing. It had a halter top, it was bright red, and the length was right. It was made of a sheer jersey-type fabric. And I felt fantastic in it.
Only one small snafu. It was expensive. Like, really expensive. Let's just say it's more than I think I have ever spent on a dress. I consulted with my fashion team. I weighed the options. I assessed my reflection. Then I bought it. I've since vacillated about whether I made the right decision, but the dress DOES look wonderful on me. And as for sexy, well, let's just say I won't be able to wear too much under it other than my best intentions. (Besides, I don't think I can afford underwear now! HA!) I'll throw it on come Saturday, and I have a feeling hubs will clearly remember why he married me. ;-)
After draining my wallet at Violets, Stace told us we had to have cannolis at Brocatto's. We stopped there on the way to City Park and got the sweets to go. Once we got to the park, we settled down by a stream bank and wolfed down what were perhaps the most delicious cannolis in the world. Now, I've had a few cannolis in the Jackson area. And I must say, I've been disappointed. I can now state with confidence, however, that I have had a REAL cannoli. And it was delish.
After cramming those into our stomachs, we of course went tree climbing! The trees in City Park are really old, with lots of low branches. Climbing them is often just a matter of putting your feet in a few knotholes, and then you're on your way! You can see me and Sandi above. We climbed a couple of trees and then laid around in the grass for a while, letting our food digest. We talked. We threw acorns and sticks at one another like junior high kids.
Then, perhaps more full of food than I have ever been in my life, I climbed into Stacey's car for the drive back to Jackson. We had a TON of fun (and I do mean a ton), and we are already thinking about where we'll go next!
Monday, February 09, 2009
We left at about 7 p.m. on Friday night. That gave us time to pick up little people from daycare, eat dinner with the family, and get lost out near CoonTown Farms. (Well, at least ONE member of our party got lost out there. I got a frantic call from Stace, swearing that she could hear banjos in the distance and lamenting that there were no lights, or even roads, out where she got turned around. Good times.)
Once we got on the road, we made excellent time (and hit the only two clean bathrooms) to New Orleans. We checked into our hotel around 10 p.m. At such point, did we gussy up and go out drinking? No. We stayed in the hotel room to KNIT. Sad, sad, sad. Next time, I'm forbidding Sandi from bringing yarn and looms.
In the morning, we headed straight to La Madeleine for breakfast. Soooo good. I had a crazy yummy chocolate almond criossant thingy with a cafe au lait and a peppy little fruit cup. We sat at the most perfect table in the restaurant (in the cozy corner in the back. We could see everyone.) and made copious jokes at one another's expense.
After breakfast, we headed out to the Quarter. Sandi hadn't spent much "touristy" time in N.O., so we walked along the riverfront, traipsed through the Quarter, and ended up at Cafe Pontalba (in Jackson Square) for lunch. The place was crowded, but the line moved quickly, and pretty soon another perfect table (right near one of the big open windows - we were practically on the sidewalk) was cleared. We went over to sit down, and as we were making ourselves comfortable, this grandma and a young boy of about 11 walked up. The little boy immediately screamed, "Where's my FOOD?!" and burst into this cross between a high scream and a wailing keen. Apparently, they had gotten up from their table (er, our table?) to go to the bathroom, and the restaurant staff had unknowingly cleared it, even though they weren't finished. Awk. Ward.
After lunch, we headed out to The National D-Day Museum. I had never been, but the attraction had been on my short list since it opened. It was amazing. First of all, the subject of the exhibit is touching because it is about US. I've been to alot of famous sites/churches/museums in Europe, and they were perfectly wonderful, but I never felt very personally involved in what I was observing. What's different about this museum is that my grandfather and my grandmother's brothers fought in WWII. The subject matter was about people I knew and loved.
Plus, the whole place is brilliantly laid-out. The exhibits build slowly through the planning and preparation for D-Day, and by the time you arrive at the section of the museum devoted to the storming of the beaches, you are totally keyed up. It was profoundly moving, and the use of the personal effects of soldiers and their direct testimony resulted in a tremendous experience. Not to be missed!!!
We basically stayed until the museum shut down, and then we headed over to St. James Cheese Company for dinner. Oh. My. Gawd. I got the three-cheese tasting board, which came with Comte (delish), goat cheese studded with raisins (which you MUST try) and a third, unremarkable cheese. Also included were sliced pears, honeyed walnuts, grapes, and a lovely sliced baguette. Add a nice glass of red, and I call that dinner. We ate and ate and ate, and Stace's sweet sis and her hubby joined us for some wonderful conversation. The weather was really mild, so we got to eat outside. I loved this place and would recommend it to anyone.
And of course, Stacey couldn't just let the eating be over at that point, could she? NOOOO. She then toted us to Sucre, an upscale artisan candy shop and bakery. At this point, I was beginning to feel like Templeton from Charlotte's Web (you know, the night he goes to the fair and eats WAY too much? Skip ahead to 1:40 for my true mood at this point.). But what can I say? I'm weak. I had a caramel-y, chocolate-y, coffee-flavored something, plus a cup of decaf. I tried to convince Sandi and Stace to doll up and go dancing with me afterwards, but no luck. (I must admit, I was exhausted myself. I tried leaning my head on Sandi's shoulder, but her bony arm nearly gave me a flesh wound. We've GOT to fatten her up a bit before we go out of town again . . . )
We headed back to our non-haunted hotel and hit the hay.
Monday, February 02, 2009
And I thought, "Why not?" Shoot, I'm up for learning new things. So she gets me a loom (It's not what you're thinking. Whenever I'd hear her say "loom," I'd think of this huge apparatus, and her sitting in front of it on a stool, working like a pioneer woman. It looks kinda like this.) and some pretty blue yarn. She shows me how to start off a scarf, and, after a few blunders, I'm knitting away. (In between telling Clay not to beat on the satellite box with his tiny fists. Geez. I hope that thing still works.)
And, hey, I've definitely made some progress. My little scarf (wool wristlet? ankle warmer?) is growing nicely, and it looks pretty decent for being whipped up by someone who never thought in a million years that she'd be knitting. Here's the only problem. After spending all day at a computer, taking over the world with my keyboard, maybe crouching over a loom and doing more repetitive hand gestures is not the best thing for my ergonomics.
But that sneaky Sandi knows I'm too OCD to just let the scarf sit there, unfinished. So while I should be cleaning the kitchen, or reading plays, or updating this here blog, I've been knitting. I've decided I'm going to finish this scarf, though. And when I'm done with it, I will GIVE it to somebody, therefore giving a gift I made and crossing an item off my 101 list.
Because I'll be damned if I'm going to knit an entire scarf and not get some sort of list payoff for it. That's just how OCD I REALLY am.
On Saturday, I ran errands, paid bills, and did a mountain range of laundry so that I could do nothing all day Sunday if I wanted to. (Woo to the hoo!)
Sunday was gorgeous. Enter the annual Bradshaw yard work day. (We do it once a year, whether the yard needs it or not!) We raked up pine straw and used it to mulch all my flower beds in the back yard, which look sooo nice now! I realized that I still have a $100 gift card to Home Depot that I meant to cash in for plants but never "got around to" using. What shall I buy for spring?
Then, while hubs and his buddies got their football on, booger and I went by Sandi's house to visit and inhale bratwurst. (Yum!) I ate far too much (and then sampled more Ro-tel, hot wings, and other unmentionables when I got home, too - ooof) and tried my best to keep Clay from destroying her house.
Brian has one friend, Eric, that's never been married and has no kids. In fact, he's really not that into kids. I think they kinda scare him. Well, when Clay and I got home, of course, everybody was still there. (The game didn't end for another hour or two.)
Anyhoo, after Clay's bath, I let him putter around in the den for about 20 minutes until bedtime. Clay was absolutely fascinated with Eric - climbing all over him, grinning at the dude, patting him on the shoulder, and finally practically sitting in his lap. It was weird, because Clay is usually not that into folks he doesn't know, especially guys. But he LOVED Eric. Even funnier was the slight bit of perspiration that I detected around Eric's temples as Clay turned him into his personal trampoline and, in general, lavished sweet baby love on him. I was laughing like crazy, and laughing even harder because I was trying not to laugh. I soooo wish I had gotten it on tape, but the darn battery in the camcorder was dead.
Then, today, I got a buttload of stuff done at the office, then came home and cooked hamburger steak with mashed potatoes and gravy and steamed veggies. 'Cause that's how I ROLL.