Love in the Matinee

Last week another blogger was commenting on how watching rom-coms makes her fantasize about Prince Charming riding up on a white horse, sweeping her off her feet, and riding off together into the sunset. Having grown up in a very small Southern town, most of the folks who graduated high school with me stayed in that small town, got married, and had babies. All before I had even graduated from college. Which I did in three years.

I would wonder if I’d ever get married. Ever find my Prince Charming. I felt like an old maid at the ripe old age of 21. And I had two scapegoats for my singlehood. My father and Walt Disney.

My father had high standards for who he thought was appropriate for me to date. He had to considerate of me; he had to be intellectually inquisitive; and he had to be of the same political party as my father.

Walt Disney taught me that all I had to do was wait long enough and some handsome, chiseled hunk of a man would come rescue me from wherever I happened to be. I didn’t have to do anything except look pretty, sing well, and talk to forest animals or mice. “Beauty and the Beast” and “Mulan” came out well after my dating years. But even then the heroine talks to the furniture and china or a lizard with a dragon complex.

Yesterday I stumbled across “Eight Myths Romances Perpetuate.” They are, and I quote:

1. Love Changes Him

2. Sex Solves Problems

3. You Don’t Need His Number (because he’ll always call)

4. You Just Know He’s The One

5. Change Yourself and He’ll Fall Head Over Heels

6. Playing Hard To Get Works

7. If You Run, He’ll Follow

8. Love Knows No Socioeconomic Bounds

Sure, I like to watch rom-coms just like the next girl. But for true escapism, for me, give me something like the newest Star Trek. Nothing like blowing up a few multi-billion dollar starships to set my heart aflutter.


Hey, My Eyes Are Up Here

Being a tall woman means some men use the excuse of height as a way of looking at my cleavage rather than my eyes during a conversation.  Little did I know I was helping their physical fitness.

Researchers in Germany (where else?) studied 200 men for five years and found that those who ogled a woman's breasts for ten minutes daily had lower blood pressure, slower resting heart rates, and fewer cases of coronary artery disease. 

So the next time your significant other catches you staring at a pair of jugs just tell her that you're increasing your life expectancy.  Which could be cut short by a sharp blow to the head with her skillet if you're not careful.


It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Psst. Wanna know a secret? Come closer and I’ll tell you. [Looks both ways and leans in close to the monitor.] Christmas is on December 25th this year. And Valentine’s Day will be on the 14th of February next year. And your taxes will be due on April 15th.

A neighbor posted a photo online of her cat on top of the tax forms she was filling out. She LOL’d that they were late again this year filing the taxes. Why do people drag out the agony for so long?

Unlike Easter, Shrove Tuesday, and Ash Wednesday, which are always on a Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday respectively but move all over the calendar based on the date of the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox (can’t you just imagine the ecclesiastical debate over that one?), the other holidays always fall on the same day. Every year.

So, guys. Let this be your first warning. You have 149 days until Christmas. Don’t let me catch you in the stores on December 24th with only one person marked off your list!

As for birthdays and anniversaries, you’re on your own.


PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER, itty-bitty living planet

On our recent trip to Britain, we hired a car to drive from London to York and on into Scotland.  Along the drive, we all ended up with our own favorite sights.  Whenever we'd see our favorite we'd announce it to the entire car. 

"Graveyard!" was mine.  What can you expect from a genealogist?

"Motorcycle!" was Mr. Gaelic's.  Natch.  Even going so far as talking to a group of riders at one of the rest areas while the girls went to the toilet.  (Don't call it a bathroom.  It's called the toilet.)

"Would you look at that shot!" exclaimed artistic Finola.

Deirdre's was "SHEEP!"

Maeve mooched off everyone else's favorites.

Another thing that we saw a lot of during our trip was alternative energy sources.  In the Midlands, you could pass numerous nuclear plants within an hour's drive.  Nearing Scotland, wind farms dotted the ridges of mountains.  Seeing the juxtaposition of nuclear plants and wind farms on one side of the valley and the ruins of a castle or abbey on the other side didn't seem to bother the Brits.  Were there ever calls for maintaining the vistas as there are in America?

Folks in Massachusetts cry foul when their view of the Atlantic may look like a picket fence with the addition of windmills placed eight miles from shore on barges.  The administration looks to be ready to scrap Yucca Mountain plans.  States express concerns for having spent rods transported through their borders on the way out West. 

From what I've read, all forms of energy have both pros and cons.  Coal, oil, hydro, solar, wind, nuclear, you name it.  But according to a report on NPR this morning, there is a clean energy source that doesn't produce any carbon dioxide.  Does the future lie in nuclear fusion?


When Having It Good Is a Bad Thing

Finola is going away to college next month.  The change brought on some anxiety about surviving academically at a challenging school, integrating socially, and just leaving home.  Mr. Gaelic and I tried to assuage her fears by explaining that 1) in the past year she took four AP classes which are basically college level classes, 2) the house she's been assigned to sounds like it's full of people just like her, and 3) she's been going to resident summer camps since she was seven.

That brought up a discussion of Mr. Gaelic's and my college experiences.  Whereas Finola isn't chomping at the bit to get away from here, I, on the other hand, couldn't wait to get the hell outta Dodge. 

It's not that I didn't love my parents.  They gave me as much love and attention as they were capable of while dealing with an older sibling who had mental and emotional problems. 

But in my small Southern town of 7,000, you run with the same group of kids in everything you do.  The same people are in your class at school, your church choir and youth group, your Girl Scout troop, your ballet class, and on and on and on.  And when a certain wannabe-Alpha girl gets mad at you in kindergarten for having a boy like you before a boy liked her, she can turn the other girls against you.  For life.  Or at least for twelve long years.

In high school it didn't help matters that I was taller than every boy except two.  Or that I was the valedictorian.  Or the county winner of the Junior Miss pageant.  More flame for the fire of making me a pariah.  I couldn't wait to get out of that little town. 

Thoughts of Hemingway, Faulkner, Wolfe, and Williams rushed in as I was explaining this to Finola.  One thing makes for great writers - a tortured life.  Finola has written several multi-chapter stories that she's published on Internet sites.  Being the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad mother that I am, I turned to Finola and told her she'd never be a great writer.  "You had too good of a childhood."

She agreed.


What Have I Done?

Holy Shit! I can't believe I just did that. And in public to boot! It's like announcing to the world that you're going to lose 20 pounds by Christmas. Everyone will know if you don't. Crap! What have I gotten myself into?
It all began innocently enough. Reading the New York Times. Then one article touched a nerve. How many times have a told Deirdre, my middle daughter, that she has too many clothes and nothing to wear? But am I guilty of the same thing?

I never thought so. I'm judicious in what I buy, making sure that things fill gaps in my wardrobe and match the colors that I already wear. Okay, okay. I also indulge in finer pieces such as silks and cashmeres. But in my defense, I know a terrific outlet mall with real outlets not just make-believe outlets where I've been known to buy $600 pairs of pants for $30 and $800 dresses for $60. And I sew a lot of my own clothes, especially the cashmeres and designer fabrics.

When I read the article, it was very easy to click on the outside links to the clothing diet programs. Yep, clothing diet. There are two extremes. One was to make do with only six articles of clothing (not including underwear, shoes, or accessories) for a month. The other was to not purchase any new clothing items for a year.

Damn, I hate the internet. Why don't I read hard copies of newspapers? That way I couldn't click from one of the programs to the "Like" button on Facebook. Maybe none of my friends will notice that I "liked" a clothing diet of not purchasing any new clothes for a year.

Or maybe I should stick to my guns and try it. Can I do it? Updates to come.


Turning Over a New Page

Three days ago, Amazon announced that sales of e-books are surpassing sales of actual books.  Reading a Kindle, iPad, or Nook while on a business trip or even a commute on the subway makes sense to me.  Newspapers and magazines are also available electronically.  It's easier on the environment.  Fewer trees used to make paper editions.  Makes sense, but not my cup of tea.

Once upon a time in America, few people had the means to buy books.  They were very expensive.  The folks at Colonial Williamsburg will tell you how a blank ledger book could cost almost a month's wages.  Even though costs came down, books still remained out of reach for most.  Enter Andrew Carnegie and his Robber Baron philanthropy.

Libraries put books within reach of thousands.  But slowly books became cheaper for people to own, becoming like a lot of other things in American society - disposable.  Leaving a paperback on the beach wasn't a big deal.  Just buy another one.

Last night, Deirdre (my middle child) and I went to a lecture by a noted historian and author who also writes historical fiction along with her nonfiction.  Deirdre loves the historical fiction and has begun reading the nonfiction as well.  After the lecture, the author was available to sign her books.  The queue passed the table with stacks of her books for sale.  Our two books were brought from home, purchased years ago for one and months ago for the other. 

In line in front of us was a lady with a box of audio CDs she wanted signed.  The author had a most difficult time signing the box since the front was dark colored and the reverse was filled with writing.  She had to resort to a Sharpie to make it visible.  But it was back to a pen for our books which she signed on the page before the title page with a huge flourishy signature.

Having watched her confusion of dealing with signing a box, which is still a sale, I walked away wondering how in the world she would sign a Kindle.


Said the Spider to the Fly

Two weeks of weather bliss!  Scotland clocked in with highs in the high 60s to low 70s.  London was warmer with mid-70s.  Rain or sprinkles every day.  Hey, you get used to it. 

Much better than the weather back home during the same time.  There it was over 100 for almost two straight weeks, so the rumor goes.  It's much "better" this week.  Highs in the low to mid 90s with chances of afternoon thunderstorms.  Those Three H's of summer - hazy, hot, and humid.  Ugh!

It'll be like stepping into a torture chamber for me today.  The director of the ballet summer camp is due for knee surgery this morning.  Which means I'll be teaching ballet and running the camp.  No sweat!

But I will be sweating.  Buckets.  The name of the camp?  Ballet In The Grass.  Yep, you guessed it.  We'll be outside.  Not only is my body still on Greenwich Mean Time, it's also still acclimated to British weather. 

Could the weather gods be persuaded to send some North Sea breezes my way today?


The Non-IT Girl

My plan for today was to upload my photos from the recent trip to Facebook and to blog about the trip with photos.  Yeah, right.  Not happening.  I'm blaming it on the jet-lag.  That brain fog is quite thick still.

The directions are easy, really.  Insert the computer stick thingy which Mr. Gaelic calls a flash drive into the laptop.  Then the laptop is supposed to automatically download the files to my hard drive.  All that worked perfectly.

Now I can't find my pictures on my laptop.  I searched the recent downloads, the My Pictures folder, the recent documents.  I opened Picasa and every other program that has anything whatsoever to do with photos or video.  They're nowhere to be found. 

A pictorial blog will have to wait until my IT-guy gets home from his day job.


How'd THAT Happen?

All those magazines surrounding the checkout counters at grocery stores tout how to lose weight.  "Lose X pounds in X weeks!"  "Drop Y pounds by walking!" they scream at you while picturing smiling, supposedly-newly trim women in spandex or, worse, swimsuits.  And always in red.  To grab your attention.  Which works.  Especially with men.  Ever seen how a woman wearing a red bikini at the beach gets more stares from men than the polka-dot wearing woman?  But I digress.

This morning, after two weeks on holiday with the family to Scotland and England, the scale had fantastic news.  I dropped FIVE pounds!!!  In two weeks!

Maeve, my youngest, asked if it was due to all the walking.  After all, exploring ancient castles means lots of walking.  Yes was my immediate answer.  But then I stopped to think.  That's always a dangerous thing when a woman thinks.  Of course, men stop to think and sometimes never start again.  Oops, another jet-lag induced digression.

My conclusion is that walking was only half of the equation.  Sure, the calorie output was upped.  But the calorie intake was reduced as well.  Snacking was much more difficult while on holiday.  No easy access to even healthy snacks.  No late night TV watching with a bowl of popcorn.  Fewer nightcaps, mostly because buying a drink at a time rather than pouring one at home really adds to the cost of the trip.

At mealtime, I noticed that I ate larger portions than I normally do at home.  And felt a guilty pleasure, thinking that packing on the pounds is just part of vacation. 

Now I'm wondering if I can keep it up here.  Do I have enough willpower to walk more and snack less?


Bound Check

Testing . . . one, two, three.  Is this thing on?

It's always amazed me that in the high heat of summer people schlep off to the beach to roast themselves even more.  I mean, you complain about the heat and humidity where you live and then decamp where the main activities include lying on the ground with only a towel beneath you and the sun glaring overhead.  It's just like the folks who cursed the weather gods for Snowmageddon then complained when there wasn't enough fresh new powder on the slopes of their choice for the ultimate skiing experience.

By all accounts, most Americans aren't able to jet off to the Chilean mountains in August or to Phuket for Christmas.  Most of us scrimp and save for years to afford our dream vacation.  As a child, I remember a big jar for spare change that we dubbed our New York jar.  I think we saved for six years to be able to pay for a trip to New York City in which we drove to avoid airfare, used a half-off coupon from the Entertainment Book to pay for the hotel, and ate early-bird dinners at a reduced cost.

My children don't know how fortunate they are.  In 24 hours, we'll be leaving for our family holiday.  Finally, I'll feel like a jet-setter heading off to different climes.  The Weather Channel reports that the high will be 79°.  After two plus weeks of 90+° temps here, we'll need jackets for the cooler nighttime temperatures with lows in the mid-50s. 

Passports?  Check.  Tickets?  Check.  Itinerary?  Check.  Walking shoes?  Check.  Dress for theatre?  Check.  House sitter?  Check. 

Where are we bound?  Scotland and England!  Where else would the Gaelic family go?