Monday, July 30, 2012

Random Monday

  1. It's a beautiful day outside today, with a high of 80F and a tolerable humidity rate of 59%. After a series of crippling heatwaves interspersed with some truly frightening electrical storms in this region, I am thrilled to see a stretch of beautiful weather coming our way. Now if only I could work from home - or, more accurately, from Roberts Pool in Collingswood. ;)
  2. I am returning to theatre!!!!! Burlington County Footlighters of Cinnaminson, NJ has finally, through the committed efforts of three dedicated members, completed a meeting room renovation that creates a 2nd Stage performance space for the company. For it's grand opening, I will be one of six directors presenting a series of one-acts. But not only do I get to direct a challenging little piece called "Caught in the Act", I also get to perform in "Fidelity Farce" and "Sure Thing". I'm really looking forward to walking the boards again, but before I get there, I must find myself a cast - at auditions tonight!
  3. I've been listening to a lot of podcasts lately and have really been enjoying the mix of great information and entertainment that they afford me, while leaving my hands and eyes free to cook, clean, knit, craft, shop, and so on... I wanted to mention a few favorites that have been engaging me lately:
    • Books on the Nightstand features book reviews and discussion from publishing insiders Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman. Recent Booktopia events in Manchester, VT and Oxford, MS have provided additional content for the show, as will, I imagine, the upcoming event in Santa Cruz, CA. Lively call-in topics such as "Who are your favorite underrated women writers?" and "Is there a place for book-snobbery?" keep the show interactive.
    • Knitters have tons of options for listening, but my favorite so far is 2 Knit Lit Chicks, offered by an enthusiastic mother/daughter team of avid knitters and readers. Barb and Tracie begin each podcast talking about their project progress, referencing conversations they've hosted in their Ravelry threads with knitters all over the world. They provide honest product reviews and you'll find valuable information here even if your taste is a little different from theirs. The second half of each episode focuses on books. Barb and Tracie are big into audiobooks, so some conversation is more about reader performance than writing quality. That said, they've gotten me to read at least three titles I would have otherwise ignored, and I enjoyed them all.
    • My final podcast pitch today is for This American Life, which is an unpredictable, intriguing little treat for your day. Each episode consists of three guests telling their own personal stories that relate back to the theme of the episode. Ira Glass hosts, moderates, and interviews, weaving the stories together to create a thoughtful, empathetic program that delves into the collective psyche of America. You will find yourself unexpectedly touched time and again. Well worth your time.
  4. This is my first year participating in the Ravellenic Games (the games formerly known as the Ravellympics), and I think I may have set my goal a bit too high. The plan was to complete all WIPs during the course of the event, but I didn't consider a few key pieces of information. Firstly, one of my four WIPs is Andrea Babb's Meriweather Wrap Jacket - a textured wrap sweater - and I'm only about 1/4 of the way up the right side. As if that weren't enough impediment, I remembered when digging into My Weekender Bag - more aptly described as Kathy Merrick's Folded Tweed Bag - that I had put it into hibernation because I needed another skein of yarn. I still haven't gotten around to buying it. So, folks, I might be the skater who falls on her butt on the ice this year.
  5. Whatever. Knitting is fun. Finishing projects is awesome. I finished Blue from Peru! this weekend. :)
  6. Currently reading Defending Jacob by William Landay and all other books are on hold. It's giving me nightmares and cold sweats. I am really having to tear myself away from it to get anything else done. Highly recommended!
  7. If you are living in Jersey, now is the time to buy local EVERYTHING. Tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, corn, blueberries, peaches, and nectarines are all available in huge local supply. Hit a farmer's market or pick your own, or just shop at a supermarket that buys from local crop.
  8. Boo to US Olympic Team uniforms made in China.We have literally stamped our country's greatest 'amateur' athletes with the phrase "Made in China". WHERE is our civic pride, and where is Ralph Lauren's sense of obligation to the millions of seemstresses and tailors out of work in our own struggling economic climate? Boo, boo, BOO!!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Lengthy, Rambling Thank You

I've been away for a while. It happens. This blog is not my job and, though one or two readers may object to this statement, I believe that my only obligation here is to myself. As is true for most people I know, the first promises broken are the ones I've made to myself, so it's logical that my blog falls off from time to time.

I mean, let's face it. As good as writing is for my soul, sometimes going through the effort of it is just not as appealing as a pint of Ben & Jerry's and a Netflix marathon of Parks & Recreation.

So how's the weight loss goal coming? Errr... not right now, okay?

That said, I'd like to get to the business that brought me back to the blog today - the violent attack of movie-goers at the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, CO on Friday, July 20th.

It's been a few days and despite the pressures of the 24-hour news cycle, it seems as though Friday's press conference remains the most reliable source of information. Certainly, we've since learned a great deal more about James Holmes' apartment and the array of explosives therein. Still, the details of the attack are unchanged, 12 fatalities have been reported with another 58 victims injured, and Holmes' motives remain unclear.

Although this may be frustrating for a nation trying to come to terms with a senseless act of violence, I feel the need to commend the officers of the Aurora police department, and specifically Chief of Police Daniel Oates, for their discretion. Their faith in the American judicial system, and their understanding of its fragilities, have led them to remain tight-lipped about details that could prejudice a jury or trial and pave the way for numerous appeals. Mr. Oates said to the press on Friday morning that although he wished to be cooperative, he was determined that Holmes be tried 'in a courtroom'. This polite statement was nonetheless an unsubtle warning to reporters, as well as an insightful comment on American culture and justice.

It's also worth noting that officers were onsite at the theater within 2 minutes, quickly got 60 people medical attention (all but 2 have survived, although 11 are still in critical condition), got Holmes in custody, successfully evacuated 5 apartment buildings, and by Saturday afternoon had cleared Holmes' apartment of a massive booby trap 'clearly designed to kill whoever entered it.' These extraordinary successes - as noteworthy for their compassion as they are for their efficiency - could easily be overlooked in the wake of the tragedy, so I wanted to take just a moment to raise my little voice in praise of the APD and all the emergency responders who so successfully maneuvered in the moments and days immediately after the crisis.

There is a great deal more to write, and I imagine much of it will be written. If not by myself, then by others. For now, please be safe. Please be happy. Please be grateful for the people who fight to keep you that way.

Monday, April 30, 2012

April's Showers - Golden This Year?

I'm not going to pull any punches. I feel pissed on.

April started off sweetly enough: Shabuchwae visited, we celebrated Westley's mom's birthday in style at Seasons 52 with all the NJ and MD crew, I went shopping with CoachFiend and Mischief and got to check out the new Lush at the Cherry Hill Mall (awesome store in my favorite mall - both will feature prominently in future posts), and enjoyed a beautiful Easter Sunday complete with an egg hunt, excellent Spring weather, and grilled lamb.

But just like the girlfriend you bring home a little too soon, then can't seem to escape, April turned into a psychotic little bitch on me. Now some of this, like my grief at the anniversary of a cousin's sudden death, was anticipated. I knew the 24th was going to be difficult for me, but that I just had to take it as it came. I do not blame April for that. I am not an unreasonable person and I don't blame my exes for tragedies they didn't perpetuate, just because they were there.

But some of it has been bizarre, freak-show kind of luck. In just the last week, I've said "That's it! That has to be the last thing!" more times than I can count. My bank account, credit cards, patience, and fortitude are all stretched to the absolute limit. If that doesn't sound like a bad break-up, I don't know what does.

I've been trying to breathe deeply, to work through it, to keep calm and carry on. I haven't wanted to write. When I started DMluvsPrufrock, I wanted it to be about all the things I celebrate in my life. I lead a somewhat unconventional one and I often feel that my choices are judged by others with more conservative values. So I wanted my blog to be about all of those choices and how they have made me happy, how they can make others happy, and why no one should feel uncomfortable about wandering down 'the road not taken'.

But this weekend, when I was attending yet another fun family event (I had three in 8 days) and still really couldn't pull myself out of my funk (the alcohol helped me to act convincingly joyful, but the effects were fleeting), I realized that any good blog should be an honest reflection of it's subject. And this subject has been bitchslapped by the universe quite a bit lately. It might be time to slap back with a little catharsis.

So without further ado...

DMluvsPrufrock's Calendar of Crap, April, 2012

Despite having requested the day off from my corporate job, my manager (ToriNot) has forgotten that I am not at work, has brought a vendor to my building to meet me, and has apparently started smoking from the ears when she 'discovers' I am not there. No multitude of emails can convince her that she approved the day off and I receive notice from HR that I will have to submit proof of the approval immediately or I will be placed on probation for job abandonment. (Really? I was there Friday...) Thankfully, HR accepts an email to me saying "Sure! Have a great holiday and we'll see you on Tuesday," as unequivocal proof that the woman is a basketcase. Unfortunately, the whole situation takes almost eight hours of phone calls and emails that tether me to my work-issued Blackberry and by noon I wish I had just gone in, because I've spent the whole day dealing with ToriNot anyway and now I've burned a personal day to do it.

Sadly, more work issues. ToriNot is still fuming about having lost our last battle and now I've got a target on my back. When our landlord's plumber insists that a pipe must be repaired immediately and states that his earliest availability is the following day at 9 AM, I agree to it. After communications are sent, ToriNot flips out and demands that the work be put off so as not to inconvenience the building, publicly reprimands me for scheduling work without her approval (which is my job, by the way), then calls my desk line just to let off a string of insults that reduces me to tears within minutes. Thank God tomorrow is Friday... the 13th!

4/13/2012, 7:45 PM
Mischief, Westley, and I are sitting in a dark movie theatre, watching previews. I am eagerly anticipating the film, The Hunger Games, which has been the light at the end of my tunnel through a very difficult week at work. Suddenly, Westley is not okay. He is flushed and feels like he is going to pass out. Then his heart starts racing. Then his arm goes numb. Within moments, we are in Mischief's car, racing to the nearest emergency room...

4/13/2012, 8:15 PM
After discovering that the nearest emergency room is now closed and redirecting to the next-nearest emergency room, Westley is finally checked in and a team of orderlies is sticking on EKG leads, monitoring his heart rate, his blood pressure. Westley never felt better the whole time we drove and didn't want to talk to me. He's German that way, but I'm still not used to it, even after 5 years. Now, he's embarrassed, feeling vulnerable, and I just want to hold him, but he's covered in these weird monitors. We're all trying to make jokes and Westley tells the orderlies "I can't believe I'm having a heart attack after losing 80 lbs," when they say, "We'll set you at ease. You are not having a heart attack." I sob - once, but fiercely - in relief.

4/14/2012, 1:48 AM
Two rounds of bloodwork and five hours of monitoring later, Westley is released from the ER with a clean bill of health, a stern warning to watch his caffeine intake (turned out he had had like 12 servings that day), and strict instructions to see a family doctor and get a stress test.

4/14/2012, 1:49 AM
It really, truly, hits me that Westley is uninsured and that I have no idea how much the emergency room bill is going to set us back. I know that another uninsured friend recently racked up $6000 in emergency room bills for a similar situation. I am suddenly, vehemently furious with the politicians and pharmaceutical lobbies of the United States, who have successfully created the only nation in the 1st world that does not provide state-funded medical care to its citizens...

4/14/2012, 1:50 AM
...Then, it hits me that I couldn't care less. Westley is okay. That's all that matters. After all, any problem that money would solve isn't really much of a problem, right?

4/15/2012 - All three of us venture back to see The Hunger Games. It's disappointing. That sucks, because I really wanted to be wowed and moved like I was by the book. Westley and Mischief, who haven't read them, have a lot of questions that I feel should have been addressed within the film. Whatever, this is a stupid thing and I chalk it up to too much expectation. Still, it would have been nice to have really enjoyed something. Especially something we paid for twice.

4/16/2012 - A 17-year-old in a huge Jeep with (as we would soon discover) an expired insurance card rearends us in the beautiful Hyundai we've had for less than four months, completely crushing in the trunk. Her first words are, "Oh, God, I'm so sorry... Listen, I'm late for work. Can I just give you my dad's phone number?" Westley and I were having none of that. Sorry, sweetie. I know it was very scary, but there was no way we were leaving without a police report and a check pending from your insurance. I hope you learned a valuable lesson about looking forward before you hit the gas. And all in all, you were very lucky we were all injury-free.

4/18/2012 - More work drama - this time, the back door won't stay closed. Millions of dollars worth of equipment, not to mention proprietary information, are allegedly 'secured' in this office location, but the doors can't lock if they won't close! I spend my entire day on the phone with the landlord, the maintenance man, ToriNot (God help me - her best idea was to chain it closed. It's a fire exit, for Christ's sake!), the technical security vendor, and the landlord's HVAC guys. We finally get the air pressure equalized, which allows for the doors to finally secure, and as I head home an hour late, I check in with ToriNot only to hear her say, "I'm glad it's fixed. I need to take you on the road tomorrow for job shadowing. I'll pick you up at 8:30!" And then she said, and I swear I'm not kidding, "It'll be fun!"

4/19/2012 - ToriNot is acting more like Glinda today. It doesn't really throw me. What is annoying is that all of the meetings she was so eager to have me sit in on are cancelled. And I have to visit three facilities, which means spending half the day in my least favorite place - the passenger seat of ToriNot's car.

4/20/2012 - Although I enjoyed seeing a friend in Forum and having a drink at The Pour House afterwards, it truly is the little things that break you. On this particular Friday night, I am sobbing irrationally, late at night, unable to calm down long enough to have a drink of water or to listen to Westley's attempts to calm me. And although it was really because of the difficulties at work and concerns over Westley's health what finally sets me off is a fairly inoccuous letter - a notice from our apartment management letting us know that rent is going up. I cry so hard and so long that I fall asleep in my clothes, curled into the fetal position.

4/21/2012, 5 AM - My back is sore, my head is throbbing, my neck is kinked, and I'm awake from sheer discomfort.

4/21- 4/22/2012 - A couple of naproxen and a gallon of water fix me up and I'm thrilled that I finally have things to look forward to - an afternoon with Mom, a Bridal Shower for Funnyman's fiancee (still no nickname, sorry), an overnight stay with LittleT and her gang, and a birthday celebration for her little man. Everything was lovely. I thought my luck might be turning. Someone snapped my picture with Westley at the end of Sunday's Elmo-fest and when I saw it I realized that the picture showed my real smile. What a relief, I thought. I was feeling happy.

4/23/2012 - For weeks (since Shabuchwae's visit, actually) I've been expecting some Mario Badescu skin-care samples. I've also been expecting a dress that I ordered to wear to 5 weddings and an awards dinner, the first of which is scheduled for Saturday, the 28th. In two emails back-to-back, I learn that I will not be receiving my samples because someone else with my address had previously received some, and that my dress will not arrive until the 30th at the earliest. The skin care makes me sad, the dress panics me. And once again, I wonder why nothing seems to want to go right.

4/24/2012 - This date marks the anniversary of the death of my cousin, Cristin. She was a hard-working girl who had been trying for years to save a failing marraige and to raise her beautiful little girl, Sophia. I didn't know her as well as I should have. None of us expected to lose her already, a young woman who had not yet reached 30. Nobody was prepared to learn, on Easter Sunday, 2011, that our Cristin had been found unconscious, facedown in her bedroom in the Browns Mills home her family shared with her mother-in-law. My aunt and uncle and Cristin's two sisters remain beside themselves, unable to let go of a nagging feeling that this shouldn't have happened. And I agree. But none of us know where or how to channel the anger.

4/25/2012 - Westley drops his iPhone in the (clean, thank God) toilet. He rescued it right away and plunged it into a baggie full of raw rice. As far as we can tell, the whole rice thing is a horrible myth. At least, it didn't work for us...

4/26/2012 - At work, I am once again wrangled into babysitting during Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day. It's annoying. I don't see many men volunteering and none of them are volunteered by their managers. Of course, they don't work for ToriNot. The children touch me and they are sticky. I am out of hand sanitizer and there is blueberry yogurt on my slacks.

4/27/2012 - Westley and I buy a load of alcohol. I get drunk and we watch Horrible Bosses on tv. We're having a great time, putting everything out of our minds and laughing our butts off, when out of nowhere he starts having the pains again. At this point, Westley's been through the ER and to see a family doctor. Both have told him he was okay, that he should watch his salt and caffeine, and get a stress test. His family doctor also recognizes that he's having some gastrointestinal problems, and that those could be contributing to what he's feeling. (Also, that the numb arm could be from the colony of knots in his back muscles pinching a nerve or two. The boy is in desparate need of a good Swedish massage.) Yet despite that reassurance, the pains are incredibly scary. We spend the next few hours walking in circles, deep breathing, stretching to try to relieve any muscular issues, massaging his arm and taking his pulse. He seems fine, but he feels awful and can't seem to tell me how. I want to call 911, but he won't let me. He just wants me to stay there with him, walk with him, take his pulse, and I'm trying to stay calm but I just want to scream that if there's a chance he's going to die, I can't just walk in circles with him and watch it happen! How can he possibly expect me to do that? I love him and I'm not just going to let him slip from me because we were too scared or embarrased or whatever to call an ambulance. And I'm finally about to ignore his protests and call emergency when... something happens. And I look at Westley and my mouth drops open and we both start laughing and then... it happens again. And then it happens from... somewhere else. And we're laughing and his discomfort is fading and the tightness in his chest is releasing and the 'something' just keeps happening and I have to chase him around with a spray bottle of air freshener now, but he's okay! He's okay! He's okay!!!!! (Epilogue: I still can't shake the fear. My sleep has become increasingly restless, as I pop awake several times a night to stare at Westley and make sure he is still breathing.)

4/30/2012 - And today, the last day of April, we finally received the medical bills from the 13th. It's almost $6000. Also known as half a year's rent. Also known as far more than we have in savings.

And so ends the month of April. I know we're going to be just fine. We'll get a payment plan for the medical bills, my dress will probably show up in time for the next event, and Westley and I are taking steps to get him some affordable preventative medical care. The insurance check will eventually arrive to pay for the damage to our car, and it will be like it never happened. The iPhone will be replaced (it was a 3GS - they're pretty cheap now). The rent isn't going up by much, so we get to stay in this home that we love. And although my day job is always going to stink, it does afford me some rather impressive benefits and perks that make my private life much, much better.

So farewell, April. I'm thrilled to see you go. May you grow up over the next eleven months of solitude and learn to stop being such an enormously petty and hurtful bitch. Maybe someday, we could be friends.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The American Catholic

Easter is probably my favorite holiday. Definately my favorite Catholic holiday. A season of sacrifice and hope, new beginnings, and forgiveness, I've always felt that if you understand Easter, you understand Catholicism.

Before anybody gets the wrong idea, no, I'm not an extremely religious person. I was raised in the Catholic church and I enjoy the history, mystery, and ritual of that institution. I am a person of faith - I believe in a genderless Creator, the miracles of Jesus Christ, and that reading the Bible can create as much confusion and conflict as it does comfort and enlightenment. I do not believe in Papal infallibility, that premarital or homosexual love is sinful, that the sole responsibility of a Catholic is to make more Catholics, or that traumatized women should be forced to carry unwanted children to term.

Despite these and other rather stunning philosophical disputes, I do consider myself a Catholic. I do pray the Hail Mary and believe in about 80% of the Nicene Creed. (I'm not really looking for the resurrection of the dead, for example. Zombies are more Westley's thing.) And the truth is, I know many more Catholics who openly embrace gay marraige, birth control, and the consumption of beef on Good Friday than those who oppose these practices.

All I can really say to explain this seeming paradox is that I am, and most of the other people (and therefore Catholics) that I know are, American. America is a pluralist society. For the most part, we believe in a prismatic nature of truth. Just as the angle of the light as it hits the prism will alter the shape and strength of the rainbow, so the experiences and influences of a person's life will effect the way each of us sees the world. This doesn't stop some of us from being obnoxiously stubborn, but it does protect our right to disagree with the status quo and think through to our own conclusions. In the end, it's really the Golden Rule that most of us try to follow - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Disagree with respect. Don't attempt to legislate morality. Recognize that faith is beautiful, but fanaticism is hideous. And so on...

In any case, I had a lovely Easter this year. Westley's family had us over for brunch and an egg hunt with the kids, then we joined my family for a delicious lamb roast and shared a film together. It was a busy, beautiful day, full of sunshine and love. And as I broke bread with not one but two diverse groups of Catholics, all of whom have shared intense disagreements and debates with one another over the years, I realized that this was a true Easter - a celebration of our miraculous, unconditional love for one another, and our resurrected faith in family.

Monday, April 2, 2012


I have a friend named Shabuchwae. I didn't have to come up with that nickname because he's had it for as long as I've known him. He also goes by Uncle Toilet - that's what all the friends' kids call him.

Shabuchwae lives in NYC and has been peddling his gorgeous voice and intimidating acting talent throughout the City for some time. Aside from breaks for touring, an extended stay at the Freedom Farm, and cruise ship performances, he's lived there pretty much since he graduated from college, just a year or two after me. Despite the fact that it's only a two-hour bus ride into Manhattan, I just don't get up there very much, and when Uncle Toilet visits the kids, I can usually only scrape him away for an hour at best.

You can imagine my excitement when I got a call that said I could have him all to myself for an overnight visit last Friday!! It was his first time seeing our apartment, having me cook a full meal for him, and showing him around downtown Collingswood. Even the trickle of rain that persisted through Saturday couldn't bring my spirits down or stop us from our tour.

So after a bit of confusion (read as: The Bolt Bus driver didn't announce the stop at the Cherry Hill Mall and Shabuchwae ended up in Center City Philadelphia...), we finally got our guest back to the apartment around seven-thirty.

A super-quick tour (it's only a two-bedroom apartment, after all) was followed by a home-cooked meal of seared salmon, sauteed spinach, roasted vegetable melange, and roasted garlic mashed potatoes. I didn't get a picture of that. We ate too fast. :)

Sexynurse, Cellophane, and Shabuchwae
Then a couple of our friends, Sexynurse and Cellophane, dropped in for dessert. I knew I wouldn't have time to bake, which was actually a blessing because it gave me an excuse to drop by My Little Kupkake on my way home from work. When I brought out the plate, Shabuchwae dove for it, which I was infinitely pleased to capture on camera. The cupcakes were huge, so I cut each one into six pieces and let the sampling begin. There were four varieties - Canoli, Coconut, Coffee Cake, and Smores - and each one was a hit! The sugar kept us up way past my bedtime and when I finally crashed, I enjoyed a fully restful, dreamless sleep.

On Saturday morning, Shabuchwae and I got a few hours to catch up while Westley drove his sister, Mischief, to pick up her car from the shop. I showed off my Ulta Beauty Smoothies collection (he chose to shower with Cocoa Velvet Truffle - yum!) and my new blog and he hooked me up with some awesome insights and a bunch of free Mario Badescu samples!

Chilaquiles at The Tortilla Press!
Then all four of us - Westley, Mischief, Shabuchwae, and myself - met up at The Tortilla Press for a wicked meal consisting of pulled pork with chipotle peanut barbecue sauce, blue corn pancakes, breakfast burritos, and my personal favorite, chilaquiles!

After that, we walked up the strip despite the drizzle with the intention of working off some extra calories. Unfortunately, there are too many good places to eat on the strip and we ended up walking into The Candy Jar where, unbeknowst to us, we were fed full-sized samples until we were ready to burst! Thinking there was no way we were going to eat another bite or spend any more money, we dropped in on Gourmet Popcorn Creations, where we promptly did both.

With our stomachs threatening to rupture, we saw Shabuchwae off at the PATCO as he made his way to Philly for another whirlwind visit before returning to NYC on Sunday.

So glad we got to have you, Shabuchwae! Hope your return trip was less 'adventurous' than the journey down. I love you and can't wait to see you again soon. :)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Making, Reading, and Being Green, Installment #2

An update before I disappear for the weekend...


Here's a shot of my Hey, Teach sweater blocking on beach towels on my bed. This has been an awesome knit and I really do think it's going to look very cute when it's finished, so I strongly recommend it. The pattern, by Helene Rush, is available for free at (linked above). At that price, I don't know how anyone can resist knitting this!

You might be wondering, If this is such a fast, fun, awesome knit, why has it taken her so long to get to this point? The answer to that question is sheer paranoia. I avoided blocking this for a very long time because I was absolutely convinced that the yarn was going to grow madly as soon as the thing touched water. I was sure that by the time I was done, my cute little cardigan would become a duster knit to the specifications of a stilt walker. This is because I've used this same yarn before (KnitPicks Shine Worsted) for a skullcap that ended up a snood.  But now that I've conquered my fear, soaked, and blocked, I have to admit that the whole snood debacle must have been my fault. There's nothing wrong with this yarn. I really should have checked gauge on the hat. Also, it might have been helpful if I had not tried to block a skullcap on a dinner plate. Clearly, I think my brain is much larger than it is.

I've taken a break from my Folded Tweed Bag due to my complete inability to pick up the correct number of stitches along the sides for the border. I've double-checked three times that I knit the correct number of rows and that I am religiously following the pattern, but I'm still coming up 20 stitches over. So I've set it aside until I can figure out what I'm doing wrong. I swear it's going to be an awesome weekend bag when it's done, but right now I need a break. The pattern, by Kathy Merrick, is available in Interweave Presents: Knitted Gifts; I am knitting in four shades of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Tweed.

Taking a break from one project, of course, means another becomes a priority. In this case, it's a little project called Chiara Scarf. I bought two balls of Lana Grossa Chiara in a beautiful shade of celery the last time I visited Woolbearers in Mount Holly, NJ. As it turns out, the purchase entitled me to a free scarf pattern and as soon as I started knitting it, I knew who this scarf was for. Now to get it done in time!


I really don't have time to talk to you about books right now because I'm reading Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games and must get back to it immediately!

Being Green

5 Things You Can Try This Weekend to Be a Little Greener:
  1. Remember your reusable bags when you go grocery shopping. Most of us have them, but frequently forget to take them with us. I keep mine by the door as a visual reminder to take them with me.
  2. Got an errand in town? Walk or bike to it. You'll save on gas, produce fewer emissions, and get a little exercise too!
  3. Carpool to distant family events. Even if everyone has to drive a few miles to meet up somewhere, loading up one car with five people is way better than taking five cars the whole distance. Plus, you'll spend a little extra quality time with those in the car with you.
  4. Take a train or bus to the city or the mall. Public transportation is yet another great way to conserve gasoline and support lower-emission travel. If your destination is beyond a comfortable walking distance, check train and bus schedules before you decide to drive. It may take longer, but it'll be far more relaxing to read or listen to music than it would be to battle traffic on your own.
  5. Check out a farmer's market for fresh, locally grown produce. It tastes better, has more nutritional impact, and it didn't travel on two airplanes and a cargo ship to reach you!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Going Bananas

When you are an event planner, going to a big party that you didn't plan can be an experience. It's not that you mean to be critical - you just can't help it. You notice all kinds of things that ordinary party-goers don't. Does the venue decor clash with the event decor? Is station placement logical, with a steady flow? Is someone there to assist guests with anything that isn't automatically apparent?

Last Sunday, I left Elvis Weekend in Wildwood, NJ to make the trip to Washington Crossing, PA for JQ's baby shower. I had done nothing for the party, and was feeling kind of bad about it. Especially since I had done so much for JQ's sister, LittleT, when she was expecting her first child just a few years earlier.

But LittleT and her mom had given me a heads up in advance and knew about the weekend conflict. Getting to the shower wasn't an issue, but being available in the days beforehand to prepare, collect, deliver, etc. wasn't going to be possible. So there I was, an ordinary guest at a party with no insight into what could be expected.

Kudos to LittleT - you have a career in event planning if you ever get sick of teaching music! (As if that would ever happen!)

The venue, the Martha's Vineyard room at the Washington Crossing Inn, was pretty great overall. Onsite catering created a Sunday Brunch menu that was varied and interesting, with several lower-calorie options available to prevent the buffet from becoming a dieter's dilemma. Everything tasted fresh and bright and even the baked goods (which I'm pretty sure were prepared by a local bakery, not onsite) still had the day-of aroma and texture. The room itself was a little tight for the 40-person party it claims to service and was heavily decorated - plants, clocks, fireplace, fans, pictures, candles. This can be a problem, but LittleT and my aunt set it to their advantage, enlisting just a touch of fun, simple party decorations that gave the whole space a cozy, party-in-someone's-living-room feel.

Monkeys were key. JQ and hubby had chosen monkeys as a theme for the nursery, so monkeys combined with various shades of green in the linens and balloons to make a sweet little jungle.

The cake, which was made by a friend, was absolutely adorable and used fondant appropriately. (It's decoration, people. Just because it's edible doesn't mean it's tasty!) Hand-cut fondant monkeys peeked out around the cake and bounced around the topper, which read "Let's Go Bananas... (JQ)'s Having a Baby Boy!" I wasn't supposed to eat any cake, but I had a few bites of Mom's and it was a delicious, moist, devil's food. (Layer 2 was orange pound cake. Party-goers gave it great reviews, but I didn't get the chance to taste it.)

Games were all written and served as excellent icebreakers. My favorite was coming up with a boy's name for each letter of the alphabet, which resulted in awesomely rediculous suggestions like Nostradamus and Renquist. This is especially funny since the couple have not yet come up with a name (they swear they aren't just withholding), so even the most absurd suggestions seem somehow possible...

A traditional ladies-only shower allowed for a huge cross-section of JQ's life to be present with her despite the 40 max guest list, and it was wonderful to see so many friends show up to share the day with her.

And of course, family! All of the aunts, cousins, and mothers were there - even our cousin Funnyman's fiancee, whose wedding we'll all be attending this summer. (This girl is awesome and I need to come up with a nickname for her pronto, because I have a feeling she's going to factor in our lives in a big way from now on. You can sort of see her in the top picture of the collage, helping JQ and hubby hold up her gift - a clothesline filled with beautiful new baby clothes.)

All in all, a huge success, a ton of fun, and the little snugamuffin made out like a bandit!

Congrats, cousin!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I'm Out of Focus

It's been a week since I last posted. A full week that passed in an absolute blur. It's pretty rare that this happens to me, since I'm pretty good about budgeting time to fit in all the stuff I want to do. But although I know that I knit, I'm showing no progress on projects. I know that I cooked, but can't remember a single recipe to share. I know that I read, but don't feel like I made much progress there. And to top it all off, I'm pretty sure that I completely forgot to exercise all week, so weigh-in should be fun!

I'm feeling a bit like that scene in Deconstructing Harry where the actor - not the lens, not the foreground or background, but the actor - is out of focus.

I can tell you, at least, that I know what happened. There were three major contributing factors:
  • The Return of Netflix - Now that Westley has finished ME3 (and yes, he was ticked about the ending, too), the television is back and we've been making up for all the streaming we haven't done all month. I'm not usually a TV junkie, but when it's been a while, I find myself zombified. Now that the novelty has worn off, I fully expect to return to my regularly scheduled programming.
  • Elvis Weekend - Westley and I joined our good friends Joker & Red at Summer Nites in Wildwood, NJ for the annual March Elvis Weekend. There was sangria-infused hottubbing, a rousing round of Truth or Dare, a trip to Gateway (a legendary arcade - Westley won me a Yetti!), and an intimate performance from Keith "King" Gipson. It's a great time, with lots of dancing and Red playing Ann-Margret. But between packing for the weekend and all of the alcohol consumed during, it's really no wonder that I've got a few over-taxed or outright dead brain cells.
  • Baby Shower Extraordinaire - I hitched a ride on Sunday all the way from Wildwood, NJ to Washington Crossing, PA for JQ's baby shower. I don't have the pics from that yet, though, so I'll have to write more about it later. But for now, let's say that the buffet, the cake, the mimosas, and the gifts were all quite decadent...
In any case, it's time to recommit and get moving again. I'm working on my shopping list and I've got some really great plans for this week that I'm looking forward to sharing, so I hope you'll all check in with me again soon!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Quarterly Report

Some people make New Year's Resolutions. They say things like "I will not smoke in the new year!" or "I'm going to eat healthy this year!" or "I will get married this year!" Never mind that cold turkey is only a successful smoking cessation program for about 10% of smokers, that no American I've ever met can get through 365 days without a few seriously decadent desserts, and that the institution of marraige requires at least two people to agree to engage in it... we make these inflexible promises to ourselves and promptly break them. If we're smart, we know that they're bullocks from the minute the hangover wears off and we don't take much notice of them. It's not that it's a bad tradition - it's just that it's all about self-improvement, and that is a gradual process. No one gets smarter / thinner / healthier / happier overnight. And no matter how hard you might try to change others, the only behavior you can control in the end is your own.
Google's uplifting tribute to Spring!

A few years ago, I started making year-long personal goals at the New Year instead - things that will foster better habits for my future, that I can work on over time, and that I won't automatically fail to carry out because I had a bad day.

As today's Google Doodle reminds us - we've hit the Spring Equinox. The warmer, brighter days are coming quickly. It's time for The Quarterly Report!

Goal #1: 18 NEW books in 2012!

Having looked back at the previous decade, I had realized that reading - which was once one of my greatest joys - had fallen almost entirely off my radar. Although my book collection is formidable and I was already the happy owner of a Kindle, I frequently found myself re-reading things I already knew I liked, rather than checking out things that I had never read before. So I challenged myself to finish reading or listening to 18 titles new to me by December 31st.

Progress: So far, I've finished 6 books - so I'm ahead of schedule!
Interested? I should soon have reviews up on my account at; just search for DMluvsPrufrock!

Goal #2: Finish 12 Knitting (or other Making) Projects in 2012!

If I didn't have such a severe and chronic case of Startitis, completion of this goal would not be the formidable challenge that it is. Sure, I could just go through and complete 1/2 the projects I've almost finished, but that would take valuable time away from casting on new projects and (gasp!) contemplating other crafty endeavors! But not finishing things I set out to do is kind of a chronic problem for me, so I'm hoping that if I start here, I can learn to have a little more follow through where it really counts. (Plus, I don't want Westley to ever leave me because he fears drowning in WIPs!)

Progress: Also ahead of schedule, but just barely. I've finished a hat/scarf set for Westley, one for my friend T, a cowl for me, and the platter I posted last Friday. (Sadly, I've had to rip out a good deal of the sweater AND the bag I'm working on, thanks to late-night math errors.)
Interested? I should soon have pics up on my account at; just search for DMluvsPrufrock!

Goal #3: Increase Personal Savings by 100%!

I don't have a lot of money to spare, but I've never been good about saving what I do have. This truth came into sharp focus when I was unable to help my parents rebuild after Hurricane Irene demolished the first two floors of their home. I'm a good daughter and I love my parents and that experience really made me feel helpless and a bit like a loser. I started thinking not just about what they were going to have to spend to rebuild the house, but also about the other expenses that are probably not terribly far off in their lives. Things like in-home nursing assistance, which can get very expensive and may not be covered under anyone's insurance. So since my personal savings wasn't much to begin with, I decided that it shouldn't be too hard to double it, and that's what I'm working on. :)

Progress: I'm doing better at thinking of savings as long-term, rather than just stocking up enough for a new whatchamacallit, but I'm still behind schedule. In Q2, I'm going to have to come up with ways to increase how much gets into that account in the first place...
Interested? Too bad - finances are personal! LOL But I promise that if I find some great tips, I will pass them along...

Goal #4: Weigh 30 lbs. Less on December 31st!

This is really just about maintaining my weight loss program and not letting the holidays mess with all my hard work. Easier than it sounds, but this is still a very realistic goal. The key is that I'm not on a diet - I'm changing my lifestyle. Being conscious of my food consumption and activity levels (and acknowledging how crummy I feel when I slack) really does keep me on track.

Progress: I've lost the 'holiday weight' again, but not much further, so I'm technically behind. But I'm not worried because warm weather months, in my opinion, are the best and easiest time to lose weight. I'm looking forward to my weekly walks to the Collingswood Farmer's Market, where I will be able to get fantastic local fruits and vegetables so delicious that my mouth waters thinking of it. Plus, exercising is easier to squeeze into your life when it's fun, and it won't be long before Collingswood opens the community pool! 
Interested? If you need a great program to help you lose weight and get healthy, I strongly recommend Weight Watchers.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Making, Reading, and Being Green

Made: Springtime Serving Platter

An update before I disappear for the weekend...


Happy to announce that I have a MADE object to show off this week, though it isn't knitting and it only took a few hours, so it's not as impressive as I'd like. This Springtime Serving Platter came about as a result of being 'widowed' by the 3/6/2012 release of Mass Effect 3, which had Westley so excited that he was literally dreaming about it for at least a year in advance. I relented my favorite knitting chair (which also happens to be his favorite gaming chair) for the night and took myself out to a super-cool pottery painting studio called All Fired Up! ( A week later, I stopped back in and picked up my beautifully fired platter. I love it. It's colorful and manages to go with the hodgepodge of kitchen stuff I've already got. And doesn't it just look like the perfect resting place for an Easter ham?

As far as knitting goes, I have five WIPs at the moment, but I'm hoping to be at least one down by the end of the weekend. I'm VERY close to finishing both my Hey, Teach sweater (pattern by Helene Rush, available at; I am knitting in KnitPicks Shine Worsted Sky) and my Folded Tweed Bag (pattern by Kathy Merrick, available in Interweave Presents: Knitted Gifts; I am knitting in four shades of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Tweed). Hopefully, I will soon have progress pictures and updates up on my profile at - I'm DMluvsPrufrock there, as well. :)


I have a LOT of books and audiobooks going at the moment, but the one I plan to finish ASAP is Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt.

This is one of so many books that I have wanted to read for years, but could never 'find time' to do it. I remember the huge impact it had on its initial wave of readers, particularly within the Irish-American community. I think every woman in my family read this book back in 1996. (The men in my family, for some reason or another, didn't read much back then.) I also remember going to see the 1999 film when it was out in the theatres, though I can't for the life of me remember a single scene. I can't decide if this means I should watch it again or assume that it bore virtually no resemblance to the book and move on.

In any case, I am enjoying it so far, though I'm taken aback by the juxtaposition of hardship and a really queer sense of humor. Frankie is clearly a wit. My Kindle tells me I'm at 84%, so I'm looking forward to finishing this weekend in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

Being Green

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I'm going to say that this week's Being Green challenge is to learn a little bit about the dangers of our current state of agriculture and specifically about the fast-food-feuled propensity toward monoculture. Why? Because it killed around 1 million people in Ireland in the 1840s. It's true. There are five thousand varieties of potato, but only one variety was introduced to Ireland. When Phytophthora infestans infected the crop, therefore, everything died. We know this today as the Great Famine.

So learn, then go out and have some green beer or something!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thursday Theory: Why Salad Is Bad for Me (and Brussels Sprouts Might Be Bad for You...)

To get myself writing a little more frequently, I've decided to give myself themes to share and ponder for each day of the week. Not that I'll post daily, but that the type of post I'll make will be determined by the day, so to speak. I certainly can't take credit for the idea, as I blatantly stole it from Stephanie Pearl McPhee's incredible knitting blog,, where she features such recurring posts as "Random Wednesday".

So Thursdays are now set aside for "Thursday Theories", the point of which will be to share some lessons that I've learned (or that I'm still learning) in this transformative process of growing up. Some will probably be a bit obscure, but for this first "Thursday Theory", I've chosen a topic very close to my heart that I feel is also quite universal: dieting advice.

I know that there is a huge community of people of all ages who are struggling with their weight. I know this not only because I am involved with many of them, but also because the statistics regarding obesity in America are absolutely staggering. For example, while in 1991, no state had obesity levels over 15%, as of 2011, 38 states had obesity levels over 25%! And just for the sake of argument, we are talking about clinical obesity, which is a measurable metric defined as "having a body weight more than 20% greater than recommended for the relevant height and thus at risk from several serious illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease." (Visit for more information on obesity in America.)

A little more than a year ago, Westley and I finally accepted that we were, in fact, members of this obese community. At the time, I was carrying 243 lbs (110 kg) on my 5'4" (1.6 m) frame. I won't reveal Westley's starting weight, but suffice it to say he was also feeling many negative effects. Despite the fact that we had both quit smoking a year prior, neither of us could climb a standard flight of stairs without pausing for breath. We were involved in community theatre and both feeling the recurring sting of our body weight dictating what roles we could (in his case) and couldn't (in my case) play. Even without the added weight, our fast-food-huge-portions-high-sugar-low-vitamin-no-water diets were literally making us sick. With a poorly feuled immune system, I caught every cold and flu that ventured anywhere near South Jersey. I frequently ate so much in an evening that I would wake up in the middle of the night to vomit; not intentionally, but because my body simply could not process the amount of food I was consuming! Westley and I were in love and we realized we were killing ourselves. We wanted a long and happy life together and we knew, just as we had when we had decided to quit smoking together,  that it was time to get serious about losing weight.

Now, I could go on for a very long time about our journey over the last year. There were triumphs, disappointments, setbacks, and celebrations aplenty. I could tell you about our early experiences with meetings (we joined Weight Watchers - a responsible, healthful program that I'm happy to suggest to others), struggling with portion control, blowing out my knee the first time I tried to exercise... I could also tell you about great stuff - like the fact that we no longer snore or get sick easily, that last Summer was the first Summer of my adult life that I weighed less than 200 lbs (90.72 kg), or that between the two of us we've lost 140 lbs (63.5 kg)! But the reason I'm really writing this is to share with you one of the most important things I've learned in this process.

Don't eat food you don't like!

Each of us has healthy foods that we can't stand. I think quinoa is disgusting. Okra makes me sick. And frankly - and I know this is generic - I don't like salad. (There's actually one exception - but that's for another day.) When I started my weight-loss program, I was convinced that the only way I was going to manage to consume my fruit-and-veggie requirements, stay full, and stay within my Points (for non-Weight-Watchers, think calories or food rations) was to eat a huge salad every day.

Gross! As The West Wing's Toby once said of his salad " can cover this thing in barbecue sauce and it'd still taste like the ground". Exactly. I would choke down these huge meals of raw lettuce and carrots and other assorted weeds and all I could taste was mud. Adding dressing, croutons, and bacon upped the Points values and, so I thought, defeated the purpose. Not to mention when I tried I found myself wanted to drown the blasted vegetation in the stuff.

For months I struggled with this. I would eat these huge disgusting salads, feel full, but still have intense cravings for all the stuff that I was trying to avoid. Walking by the work vending machine without buying Doritos or Hostess - even when I was packed to the gills with romaine - required an act of divine intervention. I was miserable, struggling not with hunger but with cravings every single minute of every single day. I gave in from time to time. I didn't feel like I could help it. I beat myself up about it. I kept eating those damn salads. I kept craving the crap. And though I initially lost a bit of water weight, the subsequent weekly losses were pathetically under par.

One day, I was sharing some of my frustration with my cousin, LittleT, and she said the simplest thing. "If you don't like salad, don't eat it."

It's true. Eating food you enjoy leaves you feeling not just full, but emotionally satisfied. That means it fends off cravings, which are every dieter's true downfall. And just as we all have healthy foods we hate, we ALL have healthy foods we enjoy! Strawberries, clementines, nectarines, green beans, spinach, zucchini, and dozens of other nutrition-packed yummies are on my list. I'm not saying I don't still indulge in a Ben & Jerry's Half Baked binge every now and then, but the desire is much less frequent and I'm capable of saying no if I know I don't have the room in my diet.

On the contrary, eating food you hate feels like punishment, which reminds you that you've been bad to yourself by becoming overweight in the first place, which increases your self-loathing, which kills any self-esteem that early-morning walk might have bought you, which leaves you vulnerable to give in to cravings, which makes you want to punish yourself, which restarts the cycle and ultimately sets you up to fail. But what might be the worst part is that even food you hate is still food! It still has mass and it still has calories - even if it is 0 Points. Add that to everything I've already mentioned and it turns out that eating food you hate can actually contribute to weight gain!!!

And that, my friends, is why salad is bad for me and why brussels sprouts (or cabbage or broccoli or whatever food generally considered 'healthy', but which you absolutely despise) are bad for you.

Now, I've still got a ways to go to meet my goal, but I'm losing steadily again, week by week.

Well, except for over the holidays. That was a disaster.

But I'm back on the horse, so to speak, and so is Westley. We're doing well. We're keeping the kitchen stocked with healthy, low- and 0-Point things we both love. We're happy. We're getting healthy. And we're eating stuff we like. :)

Monday, February 27, 2012


I was a privileged child. Not rich, mind you, but privileged. I had two parents (still married today after 40 years), two brothers, loads of extended family living locally and, up until a month or so after my 16th birthday, three living grandparents. When I was very young we had a beautiful dog named Patches, then Tiffany (rescued from an abusive home in Trenton), then Lucky (named by my then-5-year-old brother). In other words, there was always someone around that I loved and who loved me.

I don't know what kind of money my parents made then or make now, but I do know that we always had food to eat, a house to live in, comfortable clothing that fit us, vacations in August, and gifts and parties for our birthdays and all major holidays. In other words, I didn't have much to worry about.

Having been raised on The American Dream - you know, that beautiful notion that each generation has greater opportunities, and therefore greater expectations, to succeed in every way possible - I felt it was my duty to continue it. My father held a Bachelor's Degree, so I thought it was expected of me to earn a Master's. My mother volunteered a few hours a week, so I believed I needed to sit on a Board somewhere. My parents were high school sweethearts who married young and raised three children in a four-bedroom house in a safe suburb with great schools and a neighborhood park. Surely I could manage even more.

What nobody realized was how easy it had been for me to take that charmed early life for granted. Boyfriends came easily to me, but relationships didn't. In a world where technology was rapidly taking over every aspect of life, I was still in love with old paintings, Greek philosophy, and the smell of a newly-purchased paperback. I moved slowly, was a bit of a technophobe, and didn't plan very well. The truth is, it had never even occured to me that it would have been possible for me to fail. Graduating from college with very little money of my own, few job prospects, and enormous looming student loans was frightening. Over the ten years that followed, I destroyed my credit, pursued 5 different careers with  9 different companies (always managing to stay steadily underemployed), failed 3 separate attempts to pursue a graduate degree... the list goes on. That decade was marked with dozens of weddings for cousins and friends which I happily attended before returning to my apartment, more frequently than not, alone and absolutely miserable.

Recently, though, things started to turn around. I've been re-evaluating my goals and discovering how many of them weren't really mine to begin with. And when I boiled my life down to what I really want, I started to realize how much of it I already had.

Those early adult years are really difficult as we come to grips with our expectations and our dreams. The more I opened up and talked to people about my discoveries, the more I came to understand that their own struggles, though differently themed, often had the same set of rules for resolution. I found that many of my friends were struggling to juggle their joys and challenges in a way that left them feeling rewarded, instead of giving in to the inevitable disappointments. I started to wonder how many more people there are out in the world, coping with these issues and struggling to make a life they feel they can be proud of, without ever stopping to consider what they take pride IN.

So I've decided to blog a bit, and see where it leads...