Friday, May 18, 2018

#465 Curse of the Rotisserie Chicken

Over the past three weeks I’ve eaten three rotisserie chickens.  They’ve been on sale at Fresh Thyme for $4.99.  I’ve picked them up after tennis and they’ve been an easy, relatively cheap meal – cut off some meat, sauté some vegetables, dinner is served. 

There comes a time, however, when you’ve had enough.  That time came this week.  Enough of the rotisserie chicken.  Tennis is over anyway (for now) and I won’t be by Fresh Thyme all summer. 

I bring my lunch to work and as I came to the last work day I had no leftovers to bring, and no energy to be creative enough to slap lunch together.  When I hit “bottom,” I resort to my Palomino card.  It’s actually a Restaurants Unlimited card, where you collect points.  But the only restaurant covered by the card in my area is Palomino. 

I randomly applied for this free card a few years ago during a happy hour with a friend.  Then one of my committees had a celebratory dinner there not long afterward, and I collected about 300 points.  Which translated into mucho dollars on my card. 

Today I called Palomino and ordered a half rotisserie chicken panini, a half chop-chop salad, and it comes with their garlic fries.  I know…rotisserie chicken!  But it was the best-sounding sandwich they had.  I walked the 15 minutes to pick it up, and in my mind I thought, “You should open the bag and check to make sure you have the correct meal.”  What did I do?  I picked up the bag, glanced at the receipt stapled to the bag (rotisserie chick) and walked 15 minutes back to the office. 

When I opened the bag at my desk, it was the wrong meal.  Instead of getting a half rotisserie chicken panini, I had A HALF ROTISSERIE CHICKEN.  Blast!  And instead of the bill being $15 plus tax for the half and half and fries, it was $30 for the chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans, plus $10 for the half chop-chop salad.  Sigh.  I know, I didn’t “pay” for the meal, but I essentially used up two meals for that one.  (I am a frugal gal at heart!)

Maybe the rotisserie chickens are haunting me since I ate so many of their kind?  Maybe I should listen to the little voice in my head more often.  Open the carry-out bag, people.  Open the bag. 

I did have a delicious and essentially free lunch.  I am thankful for that.  And when I eat the rest of the blasted chicken for dinner tonight, I hope that really will be the last of the rotisserie chicken. 

#464 Chills and Fever

Even though I’ve been to many concerts in my life, I still have a few “must see” names on my list.  Some are permanent, as they are either deceased or no longer touring (Bee Gees, Burt Bacharach, John Denver, Tom Petty).  One is still going strong, and I made plans to see him last weekend.  That would be Sir Tom Jones. 

About 15 years ago he was performing in Fort Wayne (?).  At the time, I thought the distance was too great.  I don’t recall the particulars – the day of the week, the cost.  Regardless, I didn’t go and have not seen his tours come close to me since. 

In January I randomly did a tour search and saw he was performing at the House of Blues in Chicago.  After discussing with my friend Krista, also a Tom Jones fan, we decided to make a weekend of it.  Everything fell into place – I found a reasonably priced hotel and parking garage within blocks of the House of Blues.  Yes!  We would finally see him! 

Being the “Girl Scout” that I am (not really a girl scout, but always prepared!), I checked the Chicago weekend weather.  High 64, low in the mid 50s.  Some rain.  I brought a light sweater and an umbrella.  When we arrived Saturday afternoon, it was in the mid 40s.  Home had been in the 80s so it was a brutal slap in the face.  Darn Lake effect! 

To avoid the cold, Krista and I had an early dinner at Ēma, which is attached to the Hilton Place.  Everything we had was outstanding [asparagus risotto, pan-roasted Romanesque cauliflower, chicken kefta and king salmon (both meats were kebabs, which came with rice).  Krista had a sticky date cake for dessert.]  After a quick, brisk, windy walk to the House of Blues we stood in line for around 30 minutes until the doors opened.  I snagged our tickets at Will Call and we managed to find seats at a tall table with a decent view from the second balcony. 

For those unfamiliar with the House of Blues, most tickets are standing room only.  Not ideal.  I did get a call a few days before the show asking if I wanted to upgrade to VIP seats, which would provide reserved seating, among other things.  “How much extra is that?” I asked.  The woman replied, “It starts at $300…”  I promptly cut her off.  “Oh no, that’s not going to happen.” 

By the time I bought my tickets, the only available spots were the balconies.  Tom had postponed his HoB show from last September when he had hip-replacement surgery, so a lot of the tickets were already spoken for. 

We spent our 1 ½ hour wait before the show chatting with our table mates Glen and Barbara, a nice couple from Wisconsin.  They were supposed to go to the September show and had seen Tom five times before. 

Pre-show and pre-disappointment.  

 At 8:05 p.m. Barbara what what might be keeping Tom.  And then, the “voice of God” came over the loudspeaker and announced that the show was postponed.  Barbara thought it was a joke.  Everyone was stunned.  About 10 minutes later, the voice spoke again.  No joke.  The house lights came up and the roadies started breaking down the stage.  Why, why, why??! 

We checked social media to see what had happened to Tom.  No information.  Of course, I thought I had killed him, as celebrities tend to die when I’m out of town (See Post #84).  Did he have a stroke?  A heart attack?  A family issue? 

Eventually we said goodbye to our new friends and walked back to the hotel, stopping this time at the Ēma bar to have a drink (the You’re a Peach was delicious!) and wallow in our sorrows.  Sunday afternoon Krista forwarded me an announcement on Instagram that Tom had a throat infection.  Which is ironic, since I woke up Sunday morning with a slight sore throat.  Oh, how I wish I’d caught it from him. 

So now Krista and I stand at 0-2 with our attempts to see Tom.  First time, we didn’t try.  Second time, we tried valiantly but ended up with an expensive girl’s weekend.  With a little luck, there will be a third, successful time. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

#463 For You To See The Stars

Music is a huge part of my life.  I listen to it in the car (where I am an awesome singer), at work and at home.  I especially love seeing my favorite artists live.  There’s just something about seeing them perform in person.  And when I can see them up close and peek through a tiny crack into the window of their soul, their music becomes even more personal. 

Last October I attended an Indy Acoustic Café Series concert at the Wheeler Center for the Arts featuring Radney Foster.  He was nothing short of amazing. 

I’ve been a fan of Radney since college.  He’s a country singer-songwriter who started out in the duo Foster and Lloyd.  I first heard his songs “Nobody Wins” and “Just Call Me Lonesome” in the early 90s from his album Del Rio, TX 1959.  Such soulful singing and wonderful lyrics.  Not bad on the eyes either.

He was in town in 2015 but by the time I found out about the show, it was sold out.  I was so disappointed.  I added him to my Bandsintown App so that wouldn’t happen again.  Bingo! 

To prepare for the show I listened to his repertoire on Spotify for a couple weeks leading up to the show.  He was promoting his new CD and accompanying book, both titled For You to See the Stars.  Right out of the gate, the title track made me weepy.  At work, no less.  Just beautiful.  

When concert day arrived, I couldn’t contain my excitement.  This venue is like, 100 people ya’ll.  My friend Julie went with me and we sat in the third row (I didn’t want to be too stalk-ish).  Radney played with Eddie Heinzelman (a fantastic guitarist in his own right and from Indiana).  It was an incredible show.  He sang, he told stories, he read from the book.  He has the best accent.  He’s still hot, even though the dark wavy hair that I remember has turned silver.  I teared up once more when he sang the title song.  I also got emotional at the end of the show when he sang, “Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)” after explaining why he wrote it.  Of course, I had to buy the book and the CD, and after the show he hung around to sign them. 

I played his CD in my car for a couple months after the concert.  I’ve been a country music fan for over 20 years, but I don’t care for a lot of the music currently played on country stations.  After I scan the stations and can’t find anything I like (on the pop or rock stations either), it became Radney time.  It’s still in my permanent car rotation. 

Those who know me well, know that I’m a huge James Taylor fan.  Well, Radney is giving Sweet Baby James a run for his money.  I’m serious.  I will always love James, but Radney is right up there with him in my musical book.  And speaking of book, Radney’s book is amazing.  He read the story “Bridge Club” at the show and had us rolling.  “I had peed on bridge club.” 

If you are any kind of a music fan, please give Radney’s music, and specifically this CD a listen.  And please give his book of short stories a read.  With these two masterpieces, everybody wins. 

(P.S. - I am sooo late in posting this, but finally tweaked it enough and had time to do it justice.  My initial draft was incredibly long so there was much to do, along with other life happenings.  Please know that my lateness in posting in no way relates to this performance's effect on me.)  

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

#462 Dear John

I couldn't resist a good photo op!

Dear John,

The time has come for me to say goodbye.  You have been a good companion to me for these past 18 ½ years.  Although I’m not sure of your age, since you were already a part of my home when I arrived.   

We’ve been through a lot together.  Yours is one of the longest relationships I’ve ever had, and you know me better than probably anyone.  You provided me many moments of relief, along with moments of cool comfort after the occasional violent upheavals.  You started to show some signs of age on your shiny façade.  I overlooked that, as I am showing some signs as well.  What bolstered my decision is that your effectiveness had fallen off.  I tried to get you help, but after the plumber recommended your eventual replacement, I felt it was time. 

I appreciate that you were gracious in your exit.  You didn’t put up a fight.  Your replacement looks and acts similar, but is stronger and, to my great delight, is a bit taller.  As we all know, I prefer taller companions. 

After saying farewell, I propped you up outside in the front yard (as east-siders sometimes do) to enjoy the warm, summer day, hoping someone else would see you and think you were a good fit for them.  Three young girls flirted with you for a bit, before pushing you over, shattering the top of your tank.  I’m very sorry about that.  I had no idea that would happen.  I sensed your anger when you bit my pinky finger as I picked up the pieces of your broken heart. 

Maybe I should have cried for you, as the little girl did who came back to sweep you up.  Or maybe her father’s disciplining words provoked her tears.  Nonetheless, there was sadness around your passing.  And along with the girl’s tears, there are now tiny droplets of my dried blood at the end of my driveway. 

I will miss you.  I still have hope you can be re-used or re-cycled.  If not, I wish you a quick and painless end.  You certainly served my end well. 


Tall Chick in the City

P.S.  It’s now three days later and you are still with me.  I never thought I would be that neighbor who has a toilet in their front yard for several days.  The Habitat for Humanity Re-Store said they could not use you because you are missing a tank cover.  (Picture me shaking my fist in disgust at the three little girls.)  Heavy trash pick-up is the third Monday of the month.  Strike two.  You are too heavy for me to carry back to the garage, so I must wait for assistance from a neighbor or a friend.  Or I may take a hammer to you and put your pieces in my trash bin.  I abhor violence so that is my last resort.  I appreciate your continued patience, and that of my neighbors. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

#461 Barbara Bush We're Proud Of You

Upon learning of the passing of Barbara Bush, I recalled the one and only time I saw her in person.  And at the time I had no idea it was her.

I was cycling through Kennebunkport on my last day of Bike Maine 2015.  The week had been quite enjoyable but the last day biking from Kennebunk back to Kittery was exceptionally glorious.  The sun was bright, and we rode along the coast for several miles. 

After passing the Bush summer home in Kennebunkport, my riding companion Duane and I stopped at the beach at Sandy Cove.  The tide was out, and it was a long way to the water, but we took our shoes off and dipped our toes in the cool water.  In the distance I noticed an elderly woman walking on the tightly-packed sand close to the water’s edge.  She used a walker and had a few people around her.  As I watched her move slowly along the sand I thought, “Good for her!  I hope I’m out and about walking on the beach with my walker when I’m her age.” 

I don't think that's her in the background but this is how far away she was
Duane and I returned to the sidewalk to put our shoes back on and continue our ride.  A couple walked by with their dog, so we asked them to take a photo.  We asked them questions about the area and they asked us about our ride.  Then the woman asked, “Did you see Barbara Bush walk by a minute ago?  She walks every morning on the beach.”  That wonderful elderly woman with the people around her was the former First Lady with her secret service!  She was far away, but I enjoyed my brief brush with Mrs. Bush. 

And after posting my trip photos on Facebook I learned that a high school friend spent several summers in Kennebunkport.  Her interaction was a lot more involved than mine – her husband worked security detail for the Bush family for four years.  Two degrees of separation!  Not bad. 

Mrs. Bush has left a legacy of faith, family and a love of literacy.  As a book-lover myself, I especially like that!  She even has a school named after her in Houston – Barbara Bush Elementary.  Every Friday morning the students sing the Barbara Bush Song. 

Barbara Bush is our school’s name, from a grand first lady it came.
Our school puts us to the test, helping us to do our best.
To our school we’ll always be true, Barbara Bush we’re proud of you.  Proud of you."

Barbara Bush, I’m proud of how you served your family and your country.  And I’m proud that you made the effort to get out on that beach with your walker.  Proud of you! 

Monday, April 16, 2018

#460 Sleepless In Seattle (Part 2) -- TCWT Stop 1

I had heard from several of my friends that Seattle had changed a lot.  To be honest, I didn’t remember a lot about the city, except for the areas I used to frequent and the downtown tourist district.  My apartment (formerly Avanti on the corner of Pike and Boren) is now a Homewood Suites.  The Washington State Convention Center takes up more of Pike Street after its 1999 expansion.  Gameworks and my movie theater are still there, as is the Nordstrom Rack and the Elephant Car Wash.  As much as some things change, others stay the same. 

I arrived in Seattle late evening on the last day of January.  Since my free hotel nights expired in July, I had to get moving.  Spring was too busy work-wise.  June looked to be busy personal-wise.  I decided on February, which, although not ideal weather-wise, turned out great as I avoided the summer rush and the cruise ship madness along the waterfront (another change from when I was there). 

I spent three full days in the city and flew home Super Bowl Sunday morning.  While in town, my mornings consisted of walking.  A lot.  I did some serious shopping Thursday morning, and straight-up walking along the waterfront Friday and Saturday mornings.  Even with the rain, being around the water was glorious.  I could even make out the mountains across Elliott Bay.  

I struck up a conversation with an off-duty ferry driver at the Bell Harbor Marina who offered to take my picture.  He then proceeded to take one with his phone (?!), before taking one with mine...

I continued to the Olympic Sculpture Park and stumbled upon the Pocket Beach, stopping to enjoy watching a man and his dog play fetch in the water.  I enjoy traveling with company, but I also delight in exploring places alone now and then.  It’s nice to be on your own schedule and truly do what you want to do.   

Olympic Sculpture Park walkway

Pocket Beach
This pup was having a blast!

Thursday afternoon I met up with Peter at Rival Fitness.  After a fun and informative workout, we had lunch nearby at Tentenyu Ramen.  Peter is the modern-day Jack LaLanne.  Simple, yet effective exercises.  Wise on all fronts.  And he continues to hold the title as the only person to get me to gain weight.  As I once told him, “A good-looking guy and a free dinner is my best motivator.” 

Friday night was scheduled for my Reign team reunion, or aptly named “Reigniacs Revisited.”  We met at Melinda and Mark’s house in Queen Anne.  Melinda was the Reign’s director of community relations.  We lost some of the reunion lineup due to kids' basketball games, illness and travel, but the final roster consisted of players Tara Davis, Kate Starbird, Val Whiting (and her two boys Joe and Victor) and myself.  And Melinda and Mark’s adorable and hilarious kids, Rees and Julia.  Missing was Karen Bryant (GM), Cindy Fester (director of media relations), Migee Han (coordinator of merchandising and community involvement), Robin Moore (trainer) and Rhonda Smith-Banchero (player). 

LG, Melinda (on a chair), Val, Kate, Tara
We had a fun, relaxed night telling stories, reminiscing and reminding each other what had happened.  I am sad that not everyone was able to join the fun.  I guess I will have to make a second trip to catch the rest of them.  Hopefully when the weather is warmer. 

Even though the ABL was short-lived, I feel blessed to have been a part of this league.  I am happy that women today have a place to play after college in their own country, but, for various reasons I won’t get into, I carry a tiny spec of “bitterness” for the WNBA and how the ABL was pushed aside.  Despite that little blip, I wouldn’t trade my time in the ABL for anything.  I don’t recall if it was just my team or for the entire league, but we were each given a small, gold wagon-wheel-like pendant with “ABL Pioneer” inscribed on the back.  I still wear it now and then.  No one knows what it is or what it means.  I do, and that’s all that matters.  

So the title of this blog is “Sleepless in Seattle” and I’ve not yet talked about my sleeplessness.  The time difference is “only” three hours, but I usually feel the effects more when I travel east to west.  The first night especially, I tossed and turned, and seemingly woke up (and had to use the toilet) every hour. 

In the movie of the same name, Meg Ryan’s character flies from New York City to Seattle to see Tom Hanks’ character, a widower who is sleepless after the death of his wife.  Yes, part of my sleeplessness was because of the time change.  The other part was because I was going to see Bryan.  I had no doubt we would have a good time.  I just had that “pre-date excitement-bordering-on-nausea” feeling.  Although, technically, it wasn’t a date.    

Bryan picked me up Friday afternoon at my hotel and we had lunch at Eve Fremont.  We met up Saturday as well, hitting Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Museum of Pop Culture and the Frye Art Museum.  The Indianapolis Children’s Museum has a 43-foot tall Chihuly piece, so I am somewhat familiar with Chihuly’s work.  So beautiful!  The Seattle museum was a bit smaller than I expected, but still very nice.  MoPOP was fun and huge.  It just kept going and going.  It was one of those museums where you can’t remember where you have and haven’t been.  (Where are we?!)  These first two museums are located close to one another at the Seattle Center.  Frye was a short drive away. It’s smaller and free, with more “regular” art.  There was one large room with paintings, and some other special exhibits.  Our afternoon ended at Homegrown in Queen Anne, where we grabbed a bite before bidding adieu. 

Chihuly's Mille Fiore (Italian for "a thousand flowers")

Bryan and me at Chihuly

Cool guitar sculpture at MoPOP

From one of my fav movies, Pet Sematary (MoPOP)

Also a fav, The Princess Bride (MoPOP)
Despite having no contact with Bryan for the past 20 years, we quickly fell into easy conversation.  I expected such, but was pleased to see he hasn't changed.  He's still intelligent, funny, handsome, and one of the nicest, if not the nicest, man I've ever known.  As I told him, his company was the best part our time together, but I relished being around a tall man.  He brought up the fact that we only experienced one comment about our height the entire day at the museums.  Alone, we get numerous comments.  Maybe we tall people are more intimidating in pairs?

If you have read my prior post about Bryan, you may be wondering what my prayer was this time around.  That, my friends, is between me and my God. 

The first stop on my Tall Chick World Tour was a huge success.  Where will I go next?  I have no idea.  But I have no doubt that the location will reveal itself to me when the time is right.