Thursday, May 26, 2011

We've Moved

Come visit "us" at!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Where I've Been... Where I'm Going

I haven't posted much the past couple of weeks and I feel I owe both of you an explanation.

It's because I was kidnapped by blogger-seeking gnomes    I had absolutely nothing to say I was busy trying to pass myself off as Arnold Schwarzenegger's love child so I could lay claim to some of those sweet Terminator royalties.

No, actually, I was setting up our new home. We're moving.

We're moving to a fancy new space, with my own eponymous web address,  a new blogging platform and hopefully increased functionality.  And, oh yes, a new logo designed by the incomparable Patti Argoff, illustrator extraordinaire and my cousin.

I'll send out my change of address in the next few.  I hope you'll come visit.  At Body of Work, the light is always on. Even if there's nobody home.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The World Didn't End - An Avon 2-Day AGAINST Breast Cancer Training Update

Much to my chagrin, the world didn't end on Saturday, which meant I had to get up on Sunday and convince Thing 2 to go to Hebrew School.  For those of you who aren't Members of the Tribe (MOTB) and don't know from such things, this is a significantly more difficult task than convincing the Faithful that the world will end on a predestined date.  Most Jewish children hate Hebrew school, even though it is their surefire ticket in a few years to a bar/bat mitzvah with a chocolate fountain and nubile dancers.  Youth is wasted on the young - as are the chocolate danish and black and white cookies on the Viennese table.

In any case, I used my "bonus" day to do some more Avon 2 Day walk training with my faithful walking partner, She Who Will Not Be Named (SWWNBN).  We put in a good 4-5-6 miles in and around Central Park.  We don't know for sure the distance because we passed out several times along the way and couldn't remember anything that happened after EMS and a crowd of bystanders cut off our clothing and applied the defibrillation paddles to our lifeless bodies.  We carefully planned our  rest stops to include the hospital where SWWNBN works for electrolyte, turkey and Diet Coke IVs and foot massages, and a movie theater on the Upper East Side, where we spent two hours in air-conditioned comfort watching Bridesmaids.  That's marathoning at its Rosie Ruiz best.  It was a GOOD DAY.  Even if we weren't caught up in The Rapture.

The Avon 2 Day walk will take place in October and if my description above isn't enough to convince you to whip out your checkbooks and sponsor me, please visit my personal page and learn about the efforts of She Who Will Not Be Named and myself to eradicate breast cancer for once and for all.  Oh, for those of you who are new to my blog (making a total of 3 faithful readers), please note that I don't solicit funds everyday - just when I'm running low on electrolytes and Godiva chocolates.

Click here, do good (or is it, do well?)

Peace out.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Good fences make good tomatoes - A Tribute to Robert Frost

The garden is in and now I'm looking for a way to keep all the critters out to protect my investment.  This is not a simple task.  For the first couple of summers, all the creatures of the forest (rabbits, deer, squirrels) were deterred by a four foot high "rabbit fence" that not only worked against rabbits, but also against their more plentiful evil cousins, the squirrels.

But the past couple of summers, the squirrels have wised up, discovering how easy it is to climb the fence, given their sharp claws and all.  They've had some lovely summer salads at my expense.

Who knew there were so many different kinds of critter-repelling garden fences at the local Home Depot?  There's rabbit fencing and poultry netting and hardware cloth.  There's fencing in plastic and metal and black and orange, sized to deter two, three and even four foot tall rabbits!

Who knew I could spend so much money in so many different ways to reap $2.39 worth of mealy tomatoes?

These fences remind me of cosmetics, which are not merely mixtures of neuropeptide, phspholipids, polyphenols and alpha lipoic acids.  Oh no, cosmetics are "hope in a bottle" and I think that fences are too.  Hope that your garden will be a summer sanctuary.  Hope that your garden will provide a cornucopia of veggies for delightful family barbecues.  Hope that your fence will prevent you from stumbling facedown onto the garden thatcher one night when the moon is low and you've overdosed on dandelion wine.

In the end I decided not to buy a fence.  Instead, I'll dress the kids up in Beefeater costumes, and ask them to march around the perimeter of the garden in eight hour shifts, waving their arms like crazy people to scare away the critters.  It'll save me money in the long run, what with not having to send the little one to day camp.  He'll be outside getting exercise all day, which is exactly where he should be in the summer.  If he gets hungry, he can always wrestle a cucumber out of one of the squirrel's claws.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The cupboard is bare

I started to giggle as soon as I steered my cart into the fruit and vegetable aisle.  My giggle morphed into a chuckle as I passed the Vidalia onions and by the time I had reached the organic tofu, I was laughing maniacally.  But it was not until I was standing in front of the dried plums (aka prunes), feeling lost and frantically pulling scraps of tissues and rusted pennies out of my purse that I knew without a doubt that, once again, I was rudderless.  I could not find my shopping list.

It never fails that I lose my shopping list as soon as I set foot into a grocery store. I'm pretty useless under the best of circumstances, but when forced to choose among 1,700 kinds of pasta without a list I just stand around with a glazed look on my face, hoping to be guided by trails of Italian breadcrumbs on the floor.

I don't mean to imply that a list is the solution to all of my problems - there's also the not so little problem of my handwriting - which is patently illegible.  On the rare occasions when my list has managed to follow me into the store, (usually clinging to the toilet paper I am trailing on the sole of my shoe) it is not unusual for me to stand for several minutes by the tilapia and stare stupidly at the following:

Pint of gopher milk
Landmine toadies
Chuckle babies
Apple doozy - no flibber!!!

A guy named Bill Keaggy maintains a blog called Grocery  It claims to be the world's largest online collection of grocery lists (is there more than one)?  He started it when he found an abandoned list in the bottom of the cart, found it fun to read and started a collection.

I don't know if any of my errant lists have made it onto  But I'll be looking.  I still need to buy the ingredients for a great recipe I found in a magazine, including flounder eurteabia and turtle grog.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Baby Think It Over

At Thing 2's baseball game, I noticed a young teenage girl sitting in the bleachers - a girl I had never seen before, with no hips and wearing the shortest of shorts.  What stood out the most, however, was that she was "wearing" an infant in a carrier on her chest.  In the judgmental way I have, I assumed that her fashion accessory was the result of a Saturday night game of beer pong gone a little bit wild.

Then I noticed that the baby was a little bit pale and glossy, with a microchip embedded in his onesie - like a baby made of plastic.  In fact, the baby was made of plastic -and lots of wires and electronics.  This was Baby Think It Over - an "infant simulator with realistic computerized responses, which allows teens to experience some of the demands of infant care."  The desired effect of Baby Think It Over is for teenage girls to realize how difficult it would be to simultaneously raise an infant AND practice for text messaging speed contests:  

          An internal computer simulates an infant crying at realistic, random intervals 24 hours a day. Intervals      can be adjusted from 15 minutes to 6 hours for a normal, cranky, or particularly easy to care for (sic) baby.
The "parent" is given a non-transferable key attached to a hospital bracelet on his or her wrist that must be inserted in the Baby for a specific length of time to simulate feeding, bathing, diaper-changing and comforting. Care sessions last from 5 to 35 minutes. If the "baby" has been properly cared for, it will coo to signal the end of the session. If it is neglected (allowed to cry for more than one minute) or handled roughly (dropped, thrown or struck), tamper-proof indicators on the computer will alert the instructor. A drug-affected model, smaller in size, has the additional feature of simulating tremors due to withdrawal from a mother's drug addiction during pregnancy.

Mama was loving towards her baby, cradling him (her?) close to her chest, rocking him tenderly when he cried, feeding him when he was hungry.  That is, until the end of every half inning when her boyfriend, who was calling balls and strikes, was free to chat through the baby-protecting wire fence, while baby was left on the hard metal bleacher, face up to the blazing sun (with no sunscreen), supplicating his maker (RealityWorks of Eau Claire, WI) to rescue and take him back to the factory where he was born and remake him into a fun Rube Goldberg contraption.

Yes, I DID take the following photo. That's Mama on the right. At least she cushioned his head on her faux Coach purse:

Monday, May 9, 2011

OCD Lite

I am reading a book called Devil in the Details, by Jennifer Traig. It's a light, autobiographical romp through the author's life with a condition called Scrupulosity.

Wikipedia ("The Source!") defines Scrupulosity as a moral or religious form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, wherein sufferers perform ritualistic actions repeatedly to expiate themselves of perceived sins. (Note:  I came up with the word "expiate" all on my own).  For example, in the worst throes of her disease, Ms. Traig would pray for six consecutive hours after sitting on and getting "contaminated by" a couch previously occupied by a friend who, 12 years previously, had eaten a BLT (bacon being forbidden in Judaism).  Or, she might wash her hands in water so hot it left them red and raw as punishment for having coveted her neighbor's Playstation.

You get the picture.

I suspect the author and I could be good friends.  We have two things in common: 1) we're both Jewish and 2) the fact that we are both somewhat pleasantly mentally unhinged.

Long ago I made the vow that I would not use this blog to make fun of people less fortunate than I am (unless they are better looking or more successful than me), but I don't think we can consider someone whose roman a clef has been favorably reviewed in the New York Times lacking in the "fortunate" column.  Aside from that, I can - and do!  over and over again in these virtual pages - make fun of myself, which I am going to do right now because I too suffer from a mild form of Obsessive Compulsive Order - what I call OCD Lite.

How does OCD Lite manifest itself in my life?  Let me count (literally count) the ways:

  1. I favor odd counts of items over even counts and if I am forced to split the items into two groups, the odd count needs to go on the left hand side.  For example, if I have the choice of five or six M&Ms, I would choose the five, and put three in my left hand and two in my right.  If I wanted to "odd out" the score, I would add a seventh.  Which means four in my left and three in my right, which is not comfortable for me, so I go up to nine and then I'm happy again, with five in my left and four in my right.  Got it?  Good.  (And if you think this is just an excuse for demanding more M&Ms, you're right).
  2. I can't sleep if the closet door is open even a little crack.  My fear is that the dust bunnies will float out, settle on my face and start reproducing in my nostrils.  Sort of like Watership Down, only with me as the victim.
  3. At night, my shoes need to be placed just so at the side of my bed, left on the left (here we go again), right on the right, toes pointed slightly inward.  Because if they're not, we'll have Sarah Palin as President and Donald Trump as her Veep and 2012 will indeed have lived up to its name.
That last is a lot of responsibility, even for me, but I'm confident I can handle it. Particularly with five bags of M&Ms beside me, on my left, and four on my right, keeping the world safe from harm.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Out of the Box Mother's Day Gifts - from HK Interiors!

My friend Holly Mantell Kalisher has done it again - personally selecting a wonderful range of kitchen-type items for Mom for Mother's Day.  Take a look - you KNOW she doesn't already have one of these!

Out of the Box Mothers Day gifts - from HK Interiors

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I coulda been a contender - I coulda been a ... Navy Seal

Many of you know this story already, and if you do, go ahead and to click on "next blog" above.  PSA: my blog is threaded into a series of born again Christian and Portuguese-language blogs, so do so at your own risk).

When I heard that Osama Bin Laden had been taken out by the Navy Seals, I, like many others the world over, was struck with admiration for these mysterious (and probably very well-built) young men who had embarked on this covert and dangerous mission.  With no apparent thought for their personal safety, well-being or whether their hair would get frizzy in the heat and humidity of a Pakistani spring, they displayed fortitude, courage and, in the words of my ancestors, kishkes.

But then I remembered that I, too, had once dipped my toe into the rarified waters surrounding this elite group.  In the tradition of Agent 99, Agent Orange, Agent Provocateur and Agent Valerie Plame (which ended badly), I was almost a spy.  In fact, I was a mere series of "extensive psychological tests" away from landing a position with the CIA, when I was young and in search of an exciting career.  (Never mind that   "psychological testing" was doomed to scuttle my application, unlike my "extensive background check" which only threatened to bore the Agents in Charge to death).

Here's how it unfolded.  As is my motto here at Body of Work:  EVERY. WORD. IS. TRUE.
  • I responded to an ad in the New York Times placed by the CIA.  The agency was seeking young people (which I was at the time) who  1) had lived abroad, 2) spoke a foreign language and 3) were good with people (check, check, gong!).
  • Got called in for an interview, instructed to meet a man whose name I cannot remember (he must have slipped a pill into my water) in a nice hotel on the east side.  He did not look like Pierce Brosnan (just saying).  Neither did I.
  • During my interview he asked if I liked spy novels.  I replied that I did not, but in true job interview fashion I offered that my major weakness was my tendency to work too hard and write mission statements in my spare time.
  • My interviewer asked me what I thought the position I was interviewing for entailed.  I told him I was imagining some "overt administrative position."  He assured me that I was, in fact, wrong and handed me a book called "Waterboarding for Dummies." 
  • The position for which I had been called in to interview was a REAL spy position, a job whose responsibilities might include waiting for hours in European train stations to pass notes to shadowy figures.  (This is the actual example he gave to me before he answered his shoe phone).
  • We both agreed that it was better for the country, nay, better for humankind, that I look elsewhere.  Because I look better back-lit with lots of black netting over my face, rather than in shadow.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Big Deal

I have been thinking quite a lot lately about Kate Middleton and her path to Buckingham Palace.  What must have passed through her head the first time she realized that it was the future King of England - and not just some schlub with a funny accent (though we now know that the two are not mutually exclusive) - who had asked her out for some fish and chips.  When it occurred to her that her art history degree (with honors) was besides the point.  When she knew for certain that she wouldn't be selling party favors over the Internet like her mum and daddy.

In other words, when she realized that she was A Big Deal.

Coming from poor, yet hearty Norwegian stock (my father was a fishmonger, my mother sold Viking souvenirs at Epcot) I knew I was probably destined for nothingness, unless I committed a major crime or fell into frigid water while ice-fishing, surviving long enough underwater to have a medical condition named after me.  Neither one of these situations panned out and I found myself as an adult in the New York metropolitan area looking for the break that would thrust me into the spotlight.  But it never arrived, probably because I still smelled of fish.

This morning, for example, I knew that I wasn't a Big Deal when I woke up, looked at my social calendar, and saw nothing but a notation that I needed to go out and buy a set of measuring cups, because the printed sizes (1/4 cup, 1/2 cup, 1 cup) had faded from the ones I bought about 15 years ago at a Tupperware party.  And a cup of salt is VERY different from a 1/4 cup of salt, especially when you're grinding it into an open wound or baking brownies.

Similarly, yesterday, I suspected that I wasn't A Big Deal because I went to bed on Friday night with my sink stacked high with pots and pans, and found they were still there when I woke up in the morning.  Had I been A Big Deal, someone dressed in a nice suit would have appeared in my kitchen during the night, cleaned up the mess in the sink and left me a little note in a beautiful cursive flanked by a red rose.

It doesn't bother me that I'm not A Big Deal because I have a beautiful new set of measuring cups.  Here's a photo of the ones I bought at Target:

I had wanted to buy them in blue, to match my kitchen, but they didn't have that color in stock.  And because I'm hearty and bounce back quickly from disappointment, that's okay with me.  It's not such A Big Deal.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Sibling Rivalry

Kate Middleton's younger sister's name is Pippa.  Not only is Pippa NOT marrying a prince like her sister, but her name is Pippa.  It's kind of sad.

Today, everyone the world over is focusing on Kate.  Kate's dress, Kate's prince, Kate's honeymoon. Kate's doddering old father-in-law, the future King of England.  Kate's grandmother-in-law, the carrier of the pocketbook.

But what about Pippa?

(Before I continue, let me say that I couldn't find a single picture of Pippa without that blood clot you see in the photo above affixed to her head).

According to Wikipedia ("The Source") Pippa is "known because of her sister." Nice.  According to another "source," it is rumored that Pippa is to fulfill the duties of a Lady in Waiting for her sister.  What does this entail?  Pippa will assist the new Princess on her travels and attend events with her, but rather than being a ‘formal’ Lady in Waiting and having to curtsy to The Queen, she will become Kate’s right hand woman.

I have to wonder what goes on at Casa Middleton, when the whole family is letting its collective hair down, far from the cameras.  Do the two sisters get into cat fights (as sisters tend to do), with Pippa spitting out "Mummy always liked you better!" to an astonished Kate, who replies, "But at least you don't have to pretend you enjoy supporting all those bloody charities!"  Will Pippa try to slip out of the house unnoticed, wearing Kate's tiara?  Who gets the front row tickets to the Bono concert?

Did I mention that her name is Pippa?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pressure....It's What's for Dinner!

For reasons that I choose not to reveal at this time (to confound my stalkers...and DYFS), I've been driving through the drive-thru lane at McDonalds quite often lately.  And each time I arrive at the first of three windows (1=order, 2=pay, 3=collect food), my heart starts to race.

It's not because I've seen Supersize Me, that wonderful documentary by Morgan Spurlock tracing the deleterious health consequences of eating a diet of McDonald's three times a day for an entire month.  It's because, apparently, when the server greets me with "WELCOMETOMCDONALDSWOULDYOULIKETOTRYOURDELICIOUSOATMEALNO?MAYITAKEYOURORDERPLEASE?" he means...well, may I take your order please right now.

Forget the fact that I've just put the car in park, and haven't even had the chance to unfurl my napkin or glance at the daily specials menu the menu board with the raw egg running down it.  Doesn't every gourmand  like to take her time to consider before ordering?  What do I feel like eating today?  How will that resonate with what I ate yesterday?  When I feel pressured to choose an appetizer, entree, dessert AND drink by a disembodied 17 year old voice and a line of cars stretching back to the Burger King down the road, I get very, very nervous.

I know it's fast food, but do they have to rush me?

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Legend

There is a legend that has been passed down from generation to generation of women in Central New Jersey (08820), whispered under the cover of darkness by a loving mother to her shy daughter, shared along with a cup of tea and Twinkies in the warmth of a cozy kitchen, offered as a gift by BFF to BFF.  The legend tells us that should a woman, heavy with child, go to eat with the father of her unborn child at a certain popular, local Chinese restaurant (a restaurant that will hold the MSG if asked nicely) she will soon go into labor.

I know that this legend is true because, nearly 20 years ago, within a few hours of consuming a combination of moo goo gai pan and beef lo mein (light on the scallions), I too found myself in the bathroom in the middle of the night, staring at my mucus plug in the toilet.  And a mere 36 hours later, Thing 1 entered the world.

I've been thinking about birthing babies a lot lately, because some of the my MUCH YOUNGER friends and relatives are still having them (and let me take this opportunity to send a big shout out to my newest cousin -Michael!).

Since birthin' my own, I've noticed a continuing trend to go "crunchy," with "rooming in," "attachment parenting," "family beds" and "doulas" all the rage.

Anyone who has ever met me knows that I've never been a particularly "crunchy" mama. This is the first time I have ever admitted this ANYWHERE, but in the hospital, when the nurses asked me if I wanted them to bring Thing 1 to me for  his 2 a.m. feeding (the alternative being that they feed him in the nursery), my response was a firm "Hell no!"  (A similar response to that which I write on the forms I complete at my annual gynecological appointment, when asked if I have completed my family.  To which I write, in a very neat and sure hand, "DAMN STRAIGHT."  With "DAMN" underlined. Twice.)

At Lamaze, where I learned NOTHING that would be valuable at a time when I expected to be clutching my DH's ear and digging my fingernails into his larynx -- hard -- the teacher went around the room asking if we would consider drugs to alleviate pain. I suspected this was a trick question.  If I answered "no," she was going to hand me a picture of a beautiful Tahitian sunset ripped from an old calendar upon which to fixate if the contractions became too vexing.  If I answered "yes," all eyes in the room would swivel towards me in horror, branding me Mommy Dearest before I had even had a chance to prove them right (which I have many times over in the past 19 years).  Ultimately I equivocated - I said that I would try to do "it" without meds, but that I was glad that medical science had developed pain relief in the unlikely event that I needed it. All the while mapping out the quickest route to Barnes and Noble so I could go out and purchase Epidurals for Dummies and self-administer, should that become necessary.  It couldn't be too difficult to find my spinal cord when doubled over in pain, passing that Chevy truck destined to become my son, could it?

In the final analysis, I gratefully accepted an epidural when I was one centimeter dilated, from a doctor who had refused to administer this very wonderful medication in advance - i.e., when the pregnancy test came back positive - but who was otherwise sympathetic to my desire to avoid pain.

I just don't understand those who attempt childbirth without meds.  I liken it to the following:  Would you rather ski gracefully down one of Aspen's famous mountains, swooping and swirling your way to your final destination, where "apres-ski" awaits in the form of a roaring fire and a brandy?  Or would you rather tumble head over heels again and again, breaking every bone in your body and collecting small stones in every crevice of your body until you reach the bottom of the mountain?

In either case, you reach your destination.  So why not reach it in one piece?

On second thought, in the second scenario they might offer you morphine to dull the pain.  Or, if you're really lucky, an epidural.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What will Kate wear?

With all the hoopla over the Royal Wedding and everyone wondering what Kate will wear, how she will look, and what she will say, it occurs to me that she has neglected to turn to the ONE person who could give her great advice about the day she is to become Mrs. Prince William.


I was about the same age as Kate when I got married (we both snuck in just under the proverbial wire -- i.e., right before we turned 30, after which the chances of getting married are less than the chances of a commoner like me getting an invite to the Royal wedding).  And while I may not be a fashion icon, speak with a cultured accent or have blue blood- whatever that is - I've been married to the same man for 23+ years (longer by far than all the recent Royals).  So I just may be able to teach her a bloody thing or two about how to comport and dress herself on her "special" day.

Here's a picture of me on my wedding day:
When it comes to the start of a royally long life together, who can argue with success?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Eenie meenie minie...dishwasher

Sears' large appliance department stocks about 50 different makes and models of dishwashers.  They all look the same to me... except for their price tags.  Same deal for the 30+ models of ovens and 15 or so over-the- counter microwaves.

We visited Sears a few weeks ago to scout out features and models.  What did I learn? I learned that microwaves heat food and make popcorn.  Dishwasher clean dishes and ovens boil water and, if I'm really good, will clean themselves.  And they all have a gazillion buttons just dying to attract the attention of a 10 year old who enjoys, well, who enjoys pushing buttons.

Yesterday, a cold rainy Saturday, we dropped Thing 2 off at his friend's house and hightailed it over to one of those direct buying clubs where several years ago we allowed ourselves to be suckered into paying an unconscionable sum for the privilege of purchasing our home furnishing needs at a discount.  (So far we've purchased a sink and a toilet there.  So much for gaining back our investment).  Armed with print-outs from Consumers Reports highlighting the "best-buy" makes and models and the brands with the cleanest complaint histories, we consulted the club's catalogues, only to learn that the club carried virtually none of the models we had selected as a result of our research.  

So we did what any intelligent, modern consumer accustomed to spending hours researching features, reading blog reviews and comparing prices and dimensions would do under the same circumstances.  We changed course.  As in "eenie meenie minie mo."

In the final analysis, between the three appliances and the vertical blinds we selected at JC Penney, we spent about $3,000 in three minutes.  Three minutes during which we looked for a coin in the return slot of the on-site soda machine, tossed it three times, and took turns calling it.  "Heads, it's GE!  Tails, it's Frigidaire!"

Because in a world where the only things between me and clean dishes are 53 models, 9,000+ pages of technical specs and a snake oil salesperson named Dick, that's how I roll.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Treasure from Trash

Thing 2 brought home an assignment to create "Treasure from Trash."  It was meant to teach recycling, respect for the earth, responsibility and independence.

While we usually have plenty of trash in the house, in a cruel twist of fate, said assignment came to "our" attention (so much for independence) the day after the town hauled away our recyclables, leaving us with nothing discarded from which to create a treasure.

So we had to buy something that we could discard, just to rescue it from the trash to complete the assignment.  (Somehow I don't think this is in the spirit of the assignment.  But I digress....)

Thing 2 decided to make a toothpaste and toothbrush holder out of old toothpaste containers. We didn't have any empty ones in the house (who collects those things?).  So I recycled myself over to the A&P and bought....

5 tubes of AIM toothpaste......

and emptied them into a Tupperware container

So that the fifth grade can save the Earth.  .

Now I'm looking for a project for the rectangular boxes the toothpaste came in. And a dental school with very minimal hygienic standards that accepts toothpaste donations.

And the winners are:

Taube - for a correct guess!
Deb Claxton - for most politically funny guess!

Identify yourselves so I can send you your prizes!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's a Body of Work Mystery! Enter our Contest and Win a Valuable Prize!

Can you identify what this is?

Post your guesses RIGHT HERE on Body of Work.  I will award two prizes:

  1. The first reader to post a correct guess will!
  2. The reader with the funniest guess (as judged by me) will win...another one of it!

Winner to be announced tomorrow (Friday April 15) along with a really snarky good explanation.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Garage Door Blues

There is no home-related purchase more boring than a garage door.  Except maybe two new garage doors.  They're duller than sump pumps and boilers, with which you at least have the opportunity to actually develop a relationship.

Bob Vila never waxed poetic over garage doors.  So handing over almost $2,000 bucks to the garage door guy was like a stake through my heart.  They're not exactly up there on a girl's wishlist.  I would much prefer to go shopping for, say, a plush new sofa,  kitchen cabinets with interior lights and a lazy Susan, granite countertops, a spa tub big enough for me and the pool boy a good book .......excuse me, I need to go have a cigarette.

Since I am notoriously unobservant (a couple of years ago I said to my DH of 20 years, "Your eyes are blue... right?"), I was thoroughly unprepared to tell the garage door man what "style" windows I wanted.  So I set out on a walk through the 'hood to check out my neighbors' garage doors.  I discovered that there are, in fact, only a few styles to choose from.   Here are your (and my) choices:

And here's what I chose:

Apparently, garage doors are a capital improvement, so I can add the cost to the value of the house (or subtract it, I forget which).  I only hope the sump pump and boiler don't get jealous.

Monday, April 11, 2011

We came, we walked, we didn't eat knishes

Running a marathon is the ultimate challenge.  It requires absolute dedication, hours upon hours of training, early morning slogs through every type of weather, caring for pulled and tired muscles and identifying just the right type of Lycra that prevents your jiggle from hitting the other runners around you. I have the utmost respect for marathoners, even though they are usually younger, prettier and more slender than I am.

Walking a marathon - as I and thousands of other women will be doing next October as we participate in the Avon Walk for (in my case "against") Breast Cancer - is pretty tough too, only slower and better, because it gives you time to windowshop and grab a Starbucks skinny latte in-between donuts.

The greatest challenge that my training partner (aka "Agent Trader Joe's" because my lawyer is still reviewing the waiver she insists I sign before I can identify her in this blog) encountered today as we tackled our first "long walk" together was turning our collective backs on Gus' Pickles, Russ and Daughters and Yonah Schimmel's Knishes before we walked over the Williamsburg Bridge into the wilds of Brooklyn.  It's one thing to fortify yourself in preparation for exercise with granola bars and Gatorade.  It's another thing entirely to brace yourself with the food of our ancestors, hearty stock who not only came to this country with nothing but the pickled herring they carried on their backs, but somehow managed to make me feel guilty about it 100 years later.

Agent Trader Joe's has been training every day by running up seven flights of stairs - twice! - with a Baby Grand Piano strapped to her back.  Me?  It's a long way down from my bedroom to the refrigerator, but I persevere and make the trek at least 52 times a day.  On my light training days.

Agent TJ's pedometer indicates that we walked nine miles today.  Her inner sense says it was more like six miles.  I'd say four or five.

That's okay.  It's not the distance that counts.  It's the number of clean bathrooms you can find along the way.

If you'd like to support me in my walk, please click through to my Personal Page.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Triple Threat

In the wee, small hours of the morning, when I'm tossing and turning (and sending cats flying) while contemplating the futility of life, Spanx and the quest for an honest politician, I torture myself about the failure of my blog to go viral.

I've read a lot about blogging and know that the most successful bloggers have focus.  They write about business or music or gardening or witchcraft - anything that is interesting to a discrete group of individuals.  Their readers return to the blog day after day to get more of their "fix" of the topic at hand.  And their authors publicize their blogs by visiting other forums, related blogs, or ezines on the same topic - and leaving a trail leading back to their own site, like so many breadcrumbs.

The two of you who read me regularly know that there's no rhyme or reason (or purpose or value....) to this blog.  So in order to right those wrongs, today I'm going to discuss three popular topics - the workplace, relationships and finances. Today I am a focused triple threat to the blogosphere!

The Workplace:
  • Do not utter the words "mission statement" in my presence.  I will remove your dashboard and summon up your KPIs.
  • Lunchtime was designed to regroup and decompress.  But if you can simultaneously cook the company books or steal office supplies while shoving a turkey wrap down your throat, so much the better - it's so much more efficient.
  • Dress for success; dress "up" for the position you want; and, unlike some of the younger folk - -just get dressed before you come to work in the morning.
  • Do unto others - before they do anything untoward towards or onto you.  Particularly if they are much bigger than you and have a lifetime membership at Equinox.
  • Don't ignore any chance for love.  You just never know when that unexpected meeting in the infectious disease holding cell might turn into something meaningful, permanent and catching.
  • Never discuss old loves or disgusting habits on a first date.  Especially if they are one and the same.
  • Watching Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" does not make you a Financial Tycoon anymore than watching Masterpiece Theater makes you British.  
  • Save money for a rainy day -- but don't deprive yourself.  Splurge on some new dental caps or a fresh box of baking soda every now and again.
  • Don't feel compelled to leave your children a large nest egg.  It's a tough world out there and it's about time they learned it - and what better place to teach this lesson than at the reading of the will, having already exited stage left?
There - bracing myself now for going viral!  Into the Infectious Disease holding cell - never know who I'll meet.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

WINNING! - An Interview with Charlie Sheen

I was thrilled when Charlie Sheen of Two and a Half Vials of Tiger Blood responded to my recent request for an interview.  (Of course, he didn't respond with any words that I can print on this family site, but at least I got a response).

Charlie and I met via Skype between his stops in Detroit and Chicago during his Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not An Option tour.  I found him to be tall, dark-haired and male...even when I asked the difficult questions.

How has your life changed since you went ballistic, embarrassed your family, alienated your fan and bought a new bowling shirt?

It has been amazing.  I'm in it for the strike, got a spare, and rolling down the alley.  Going for commerce, dude.  Yeah.

Do you think that your recent problems have any connection to the fact that your given middle name is Irwin?

No.  Do you think your recent problems have any connection to the fact that you're a Barry Manilow fan?

Um, we were talking about you, Chuck.  You know, Adonis DNA and the fact that your life is so much more bitchin' than mine?

You got that straight, duh???

On a personal note, if I may, where do you find your goddesses?   

Why?  Are you interested in applying?

(Me:  Thinking Skype connection must be a little bit fuzzy) Uh, no thanks Charlie.   Now, in doing research for this interview, I learned that  in 1990 you "accidentally" shot your then fiancee, Kelly Preston, in the arm and that she broke off the engagement soon after.  Comments?

It was an accident.  I swear, I was trying to cut off her head and the gun just ...went... off.
So, what's next?  Do your think you'll ever go back to Two and a Half Men?

NO WAY!  Okay, maybe. If they put a sign on my dressing room door that says "Warlock."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Climb Every Mountain

Not Me on Mt. Everest
In the late 1990s, after reading Jon Krakauer's account of the 1996 tragedy on Mt. Everest in which a record number of climbers died in a single climbing season, I became obsessed with Chomolungma.  I read every other new book written on the topic, studied photos of climbing routes and became expert at Everest-speak, throwing around words like "crevasse," "Khumbu Icefall," "Advanced Base Camp" and "crampons" like so many snowballs with a hard ice center.

In retrospect, coming off a central NJ winter during which I barely crossed the threshold of my home because it seemed to snow every other day and the wind threatened to muss my hair, my obsession with Everest may seem strange to you. Well, it seems strange to me too.  After all, I don't care for the cold, snow or ice, peeing off the side of a ledge 25,000 feet up, yak meat, the threat of avalanches, or cerebral edema (that's swelling of the brain at high altitude).  And, oh yeah, my lips get chapped when the humidity gets too low.  (Like a papercut, that's the absolute worst).  Me?  I would never be tempted to climb Mt. Everest simply because "it's there" as George Mallory so famously pronounced.

The only way I can explain my obsession is through my admiration for the indomitable human spirit - that small, still voice that whispers "You can do it!" when one is discouraged, tired, hungry or screaming "MAMA!" while dangling from a fixed rope at 27,000 feet, watching ones oxygen mask fall into Tibet. (The last time I heard that voice I was almost at the bottom of a pint of Cherry Garcia, and I didn't need that much urging).

Fortunately for me, the Cafe Everest Diner is only two miles from my home on terra firma. You might reasonably ask me why, living in chain restaurant paradise as I do here in the unnamed city I call home, with Chile's, TGIFs, and Ruby Tuesdays almost around the corner, I would choose to eat at the Cafe Everest Diner - where they don't even serve yak steak.

Why indeed?  Because it's there.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Stuff you didn't know about me.

Those of you who know me as a fashion icon may be surprised to learn that my pajama top and bottoms do not match.  I don't remember how this started, but it has become my signature evening attire.  Come over for dinner one night and you'll see.  I'll share some Fiber One with you!

There are many fun facts that you probably don't know about me.  Here are just a few:
  • In the early 1980s, when the CIA recruited personnel via large display ads in the New York Times, I  scored an interview for a job as a spy .  My interviewer (whose real name I never learned) and I met in a midtown hotel, but we soon both decided that spy-dom was not my calling.  This realization came about after the standard questions about teamwork and personal hobbies, when he asked me how much I would enjoy hanging around seedy European train stations in the middle of night waiting for someone to pass me a note. In fact, I prefer cruises to train travel. (By the way, this is a true story).
  • I am 52 years old and I can still stand on my head.  I don't do this very often, as I am hoping to live till at least 53.
  • As a baby, I was kidnapped by gypsies and raised by wolves.  Like all market researchers.
  • While I may be a righty, I have always bounced a ball with my left hand.  This came in very handy during my brief, but highly successful professional basketball career.
Now that you know all of this, I may have to kill you.  I  might have recused myself from the CIA job, but not before learning a thing or two.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stairway to Heaven, Sidewalk to Nowhere

Shel Silverstein wrote a poem called "Where the Sidewalk Ends."  Had he visited my suburban Northeastern town (whose identity I can't reveal due to my personal retinue of stalkers who want to do me harm or, at a minimum, tickle me) he would have noticed that there are an increasing number of sidewalks to nowhere.

My immediate neighborhood is sidewalk-less, and I understand that this is considered "upscale."  (Which is pretty funny, because considering someone like me "upscale" means that the word "upscale" is most definitely going "downscale").  However, whenever anyone builds a new house or renovates an existing one, the owner is required to install a sidewalk.  And that owner is required to pay for a permit to gain permission to build the sidewalk that one is required to build whether one wants to or not.

Why wouldn't one want to build a sidewalk (and why am I using the royal "one" so many times in this blog post)?  In my opinion, there is a definite downside to "owning" a sidewalk.  Namely, the owner is bound to keep it clear of snow and ice.  And given the winter that we've just endured, that means many many hours of back-breaking work.  With no assurance that someone isn't going to slip and fall anyway on your cracked, winter-ravaged sidewalk and sue you for whatever little you've got left post renovation.

Since there's no particular pattern to the renovations, it is not unusual to pass a entire row of (upscale) houses without sidewalks and then, just when you thought you were home free, come upon a sidewalk.  From the air, I imagine it looks like the remaining tooth in an otherwise toothless smile.

I was taking a walk the other day in my sidewalk-less neighborhood when I came upon a single sidewalk.  It stretched the length of one modern home and was very white and shiny.  I stepped up onto the sidewalk (because what else was I supposed to do?), took 10 steps and found myself at the other end, at the limit of the property line.  I started to step down....and fell into the abyss.

My luck, I fell onto the sidewalk-less part of the street.  Who am I to sue (or more accurately, whom am I to sue)?  Maybe Shel Silverstein.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rating Consumer Reports

We are in the market for a new microwave, dishwasher and oven.  Since I have neither the time nor the inclination for research (despite my two decades plus long career as a .....researcher), I am relying on the folks who invented comparison shopping -- Consumer Reports -- to do it for me.

Consumer Reports is my go-to resource when in the market for something more expensive than a pack of gum. I am confident that I can rely on the good people of CR for objectivity, thoroughness and figuring out all the features of an appliance that I would probably never notice, much less use.

What I can't rely on from CR is an intuitive pictorial rating system. Here is the system that CR uses:

The system goes from left to right, with the "best" roducts and features marked with the little red circle with the whitedot  in the middle.  On the other end of the spectrum, the black circle represents the worst.  It's like a Likert scale on colorful steroids.

Why is this system so confusing to me?  Let me count the ways:
  • To me, red says "stop," (except if you're on a pseudo-highway in New Jersey like Route 1), "danger," and "warning Dr. Smith!"  -  not "go ahead and buy this puppy!"
  • Similarly, to me black is "good" as in "being in the black," "black leather" and "black caviar."  Black doesn't conjure up a washing machine that's going to spit soap suds all over the laundry room as soon as the warranty has expired.
  • I look for symmetry in my life (my therapist says I'll overcome this as soon as he has enough money for a down payment on the lake house). Why is there a little circle in the middle of the red dot, but none in the middle of the black dot way on the other end?  This makes me itch.
Because of these inconsistencies, I need to constantly refer to the "key" as I scan the CR ratings. This slows down my research and threatens to make me late preparing dinner.  Which is ultimately not such a big deal as my microwave, oven and dishwasher aren't working anyway.  What goes around, comes around -- even in a black or red circle, with or without a dot in the middle.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ode to Winter Weather that Returneth

Oh morning in Edison, NJ - 08820
I awaken to see a white blanket of mush and slush
Covering the emerging daffodils and deer poop on my lawn
Falling silently during the night
While I lay awake, listening to my slumbering husband snore
To beat the band

Why doth thou return when I had thought ye gone?
Must ye torment me with thy glistening reminder
That man is but a meaningless afterthought?
Mother Nature is surely in charge
And decideth when I go to the mall
To take advantage of the Nordstrom twice a year sale
Or not.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Push "Print!"

I had been doing so well. Resisting when the urge overcame me, looking for creative alternative ways to keep myself busy, attempting mind-body techniques to smother the subtle beckoning.  But sometimes the siren call is too much for me and I give in.  First, just occasionally, and now, more and more.
I'm using my printer again.

When I started this telecommuting new job , I realized that without access to a high speed printer (and an administrative assistant to unclog paper jams, call the printer company, replace printer cartridges and provide a steady stream of hard candies from a bowl on the her desk) I would need to be a bit more parsimonious with regard to my use of the "print" button.  What this meant was that when writing one of my secret papers, I would have to forego reprinting all 20 pages when all I had changed was one or two words:  "oily" to "unctous" for example or "crazy conservative bitch" to "Anne Coulter."

Instead I learned to pull information off my screen and set up two documents side by side to compare edits and changes.  I was proud of my progress and acutely aware of the impact I was making to preserve this earth of ours and fight global warming, one wrinkled 8 1/2 x 11 sheet at a time.

Now I feel myself slipping. It started when I found myself using my "editor's best friend" Sharpie permanent marker directly on my computer screen.  Or "zooming" the text up to 400 times times normal so I could actually read my ramblings.

Now, while accepting my failure, I'm not ready to give up.  I am fairly certain there is a one step program for people like me - those who have failed "Earth Day, 101." I'm going to look it up on the Internet.  And then print out the directions and instructions.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

It's Out of the Box Friday - On Saturday!

My friend Holly Mantell Kalisher is a very talented interior designer operating HK Interiors, based in Florida.  While living in NJ, I can't take advantage of Holly's services, I CAN enjoy her every-Friday feature called Out of the Box Friday.

Every Friday on HK Interior's Facebook page, Holly features a series of unusual design elements centered around a particular theme.  Check out last week's Out of the Box Friday (link below), which I particularly enjoyed.  If you'd like to get notifications of new Out of the Box Friday postings directly, just "like" HK Interiors on Facebook!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Prince and the Commoner

I just love reading about the Royal Family.  There was a very interesting article by the Associated Press in yesterday's Home News Tribune about Prince Charles.  Apparently Prince Charles is finding himself in an uncomfortable position during this last month leading up to the wedding of his son Prince William and lovely  Kate Middleton.  The Prince is an afterthought, an aging codger, caught between his mother, Queen Elizabeth, who seems destined to be embalmed on the throne and his son William, who is infinitely more popular and hip than Charles ever was.

Finally, a Royal crisis I can relate to.

According to the AP, Chuck (as I like to call him) is seen by some as "slightly potty — a stooping man who talks to his plants and ......relies on a retinue of loyal aides to handle life's more tedious tasks, like putting toothpaste on his toothbrush."

Just like me, except for the "loyal aides" part.

Also, at the post wedding dinner he is hosting he "will be expected to provide the food and the wine and to make a heartfelt toast — and then make himself scarce so the kids can have a good time."

Just like me, except I would wager that Chuck doesn't have to keep checking downstairs every three minutes to make sure the kids haven't stuffed the cat into the toilet weighted down by the crown jewels.

There's one more thing that Chuck and I have in common.  Take a look at the photo in the article.

I wear a dress and carry a purse.  And Chuck.....

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Good Sport

Yesterday evening found me making my selections for the NCAA hoops tournament.  I'm in a bracket....or I've got a bracket....or I am a bracket -- I'm not sure which.  My friend's daughter is raising money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society and it somehow involves choosing which team is going to win a basketball game... and that's good enough for me.

But despite my ignorance of the world of basketball (which, if you could see me in all my "Short People" splendor, you would understand), you shouldn't write me off completely in terms of sports picks.  Many years, I entered into - or participated in - or dove into - the Superbowl pool at work.  The kind where you write your name on a box, someone writes numbers around the margins of the paper, and you "win" the quarter if the numbers surrounding your box correspond to the last number of each team's score at the end of each quarter.  Well, I won the first quarter - $125 worth of dumb luck.  I couldn't believe it - COULD NOT BELIEVE IT. 
Then the next year -- also at work and riding on my winning streak of one -- I entered the NCAA hoops tournament.  And some of my co-workers laughed at me because I selected an underdog team to go all the way to he finals.  Which it did.  It was me and a co-worker down to the last game - with over $500 on the line.  Down to the last minute.  I could barely watch the game.  My team lost by two points.  But only because I neglected to wear my lucky socks and stepped on a crack that morning.

So now I'm out for revenge.  And, using my no-fail system, I'm going to ride my bracket - or work my bracket - or follow my bracket- whatever - all the way to the top.  I''m not going to reveal my method, but let's just say that my favorite colors are winter white and robin's egg blue.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What the boob tube has to do with modern medicine

I figure that if I hadn't watched all the tv I've watched over the past 30 years, I could have completed medical school four times over and read through the entire complete works of Bill Shakespeare and back translated them into Romanian (a language that I don't speak because of all the tv watching).  That's a lot of appendixes that I failed to remove because of my habit.

Truth be told, I love to watch tv. It is my guilty pleasure.  Between the Real Housewives of the OC, Miami, New York, New Jersey, Beverly Hills and DC, The Apprentice (from time to time), Say Yes to the Dress! and Househunters, some episodes of which I have seen three times, there's hardly time to engage in life's essentials, like ordering in Chinese food and thumbing my nose at authority. 

But there's a true social utility to all this tv watching.  For the sake of my career, I need to be able to engage in conversation around the wine water cooler.  Of course, now that I'm working from home, there's only me, but I still like to be able to hold my own when arguing with the bitch myself about plot lines and cliffhangers.

In any case, I've got to go now.  You know why.  And it has nothing to do with a scheduled C-section.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

See Joan Run! Walk! Stumble! - An Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Special Edition

Today I am introducing a new monthly feature called See Joan Run! Walk! Stumble!  This special column will be a running (hah!) account of my uh, "training regimen" as I prepare for the 26 mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer which will take place on October 15 and 16th throughout the streets of NYC.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me explain that this is not a walk for breast cancer.  It's a walk against breast cancer, so you can feel very comfortable reading about and supporting my endeavors, safe in the knowledge that I am against cancer, not in favor of it.  And, in the interest of further disclosure, I have a personal stake in this - I am an 18 year breast cancer survivor, and I would conservatively estimate that dozens of my friends and family have also battled "the beast."

But let's get back to the funnies!  I have "done" this walk before and while I was all kinds of messed up at the end of it, I still have eight months to get myself in shape to a) walk 13 miles on the first day, b) sleep badly that night (because I'll be obsessing over how much the hotel room costs) and 3) get up and do it all over again the second day.  And I'm going to take you on the journey to the finish, if you'd like to come along (personally, I wouldn't come along, but that's because I'm bad company, a miserable tipper and whine a lot).

Here's a photo of me in the 2008 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer:

So, yesterday was the official start of my "training regimen." I changed out of my "work outfit" (jeans and a sweatshirt) into my "work-out outfit" (jeans and a sweatshirt).  By then I was so exhausted I wanted to call it a day.  But since I have a goal to achieve, I pressed on through the pain and "felt the burn."  (Never mind that the pain and the burn occurred on my way down to the basement treadmill, when I stumbled over the cat and fell into a simmering pot of chili ).

I will not complain. I will walk until my knees hurt.  I will walk until the blisters on my flat feet split open and start oozing Diet Coke.  I will walk until the next corner, and the next, where I am bound to find a Starbucks and a wireless connection - the only "carbo loading" I need before a race.

Until next month's update, if you'd like to read my story and perhaps make a contribution to the cause (not for the cause, but against it), or just learn a bit more about breast cancer or the Avon Walk, please click through to my personal page.  I promise I won't hit you up again for another month.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Selling My Soul for New York

I wasn't born to live in a "Classic 6" apartment on the upper West side of Manhattan, but I sure have grown into the role.  For the uninitiated, the term "Classic 6" refers to a prewar apartment building with six rooms: a living room, formal dining room, kitchen, plus two full sized bedrooms, and a smaller third bedroom typically referred to as the maid’s room.

Those of you who don't live in the New York City area should know that a Classic 6 can easily cost...oh $2 or $3 million.  Or rent for $10,000 a month.  That's a lot of secret, middle-of-the-night Ebay's sales of DH's old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collection.

For years all I wanted was to live in the suburbs in a single family home instead of the apartment in which I grew up. The dream finally came true when my family moved to the 'burbs when I was a teenager.  The suburbs "worked" for me for many years, initially when the kids were small and enjoyed running around in the backyard, when I would lay on a chaise lounge reading a book - actually that last one never, ever happened.  Now my frustrations with the suburbs range from the lack of green grocers within walking the lack of interesting sights to distract me when I (don't) take my daily squirrels chewing through my vegetable garden and occasionally breaking into the garage.

Selling New York, an HGTV show, is my newest obsession.  Selling New York.  It follows the Kleiers, a prominent New York real estate family, as they broker high end apartments all over the city.  Viewers get a glimpse into fabulous apartments, both contemporary and classic, as well as what they cost and the commission that the Kleiers make on each sale. 

I am fascinated. I am intrigued.  I am so jealous I could vomit all over the "traditional crown molding" or "six burner professional grade stove." 

The apartment shoppers on Selling New York get chauffered around in limos and dine with their realtors at 3-star Michelin restaurants.  They dress for a day of house hunting activities in the type of clothing that I would wear to a fancy bar mitzvah, minus the Spanx. When we moved into our townhome, our realtor sent us a dustbuster as a thank you gift.  When we moved into our house, we received a plant.  It died a week or two later.  I wore sweatpants to the closing, leaving my Manolo Blaniks at home to avoid tripping over the threshold of our attorney's office.  I didn't want him to regret representing us in case we ever needed him  to post bail for us in the future.

If I lived in the city, there would always be interesting people to ogle, boutiques to visit and esoteric parades in which to march.  I wouldn't have to worry about squirrels breaking into the garage.

Heck, I don't care if they stick me in the "maid's room" in my Classic 6 (this would actually be very fitting). I just want to be north of a good bagel shop or green grocer.  Where the crown molding stretches as far as the eye can see.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Why March doesn't suck

My friend Lisa is pretty unhappy, because, from what I can tell, it's "only" March and she is sick and tired of any month with more than four letters in its name (unlike May, June and July).  So if, as T.S. Eliot so famously wrote, "April is the cruellest month," then, according to Lisa, March is a veritable sadistic month-fest!

In an attempt to cheer up Lisa (by the way, I haven't seen Lisa in nearly 35 years and I don't believe we were "besties" back in high school either, but I'm benevolent like this and also, she says really nice things about  my blog), I have compiled a list of the reasons why "March doesn't suck."  This one's for you Lisa!
  • Marshmallow peeps in the A&P.  In all sorts of pastel colors.
  • This year, at least, Passover isn't until late April.  Which means we still have a month -- one glorious month called March - until all the family in-fighting, the struggles with tough briskets and flat matzoh balls and the festival of the "Sneaking of the White Bread" starts.
  • Forsythia. 
  • March 20 - National Alien Abduction Day.  I kid you not.  National Alien Abductions Day  I understand it's pretty warm on Mars, Lisa.
  • NCAA Hoops! (whatever the heck that is, but I understand some people get pretty revved up about it).
  • James Madison's birthday on March 16th.  He would have been 260 years old if he weren't dead.
  • I saw some fuzz on the trees today.  Unless those were my Morgagnian cataracts.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Meet BOW's Thursday Guest Blogger - Dr. Al!

Go ahead, you KNOW you want to ask him a question!  Click the link below.

Ask Dr. Al

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

FAQs - Part Deux

Six months have passed since I started this blog, and I know that my fans, reader mother has been wondering how my new venture is going (since she's given up on the idea of my ever wearing lipstick).   So I thought I'd publish some more answers to your FAQs.  It's FAQs- Part Deux!  There may even be a Part Trois in the future-- it's up to you - send me your most pressing questions.  (In the meantime, here's part 1!  FAQs - the Original

So, do you enjoy writing Body of Work?

  • Indeed I do!  I love the discipline, the creativity and how writing enables me to avoid my real responsibilities, like vacuuming up cat hair, burning dinner and ruining my children's lives.
Has writing a blog opened up any new opportunities?

  • I'm so glad you asked.  My blog has created a veritable media whirlwind to rival that currently being forged by Charlie Sheen. In fact, I've been invited to appear on a number of  talk shows: Dick Cavett, Mike Douglas, David Frost and Phil Donahue, to name a few.  I'm also in negotiations with the George Burns and Gracie Allen show.
How would you characterize your reader, I mean, your readers?

  • My readers are simply the best!  I feel like we know each other, not only as friends chatting over a cup of coffee together, but on a more visceral level.  Together we laugh, we cry and we snort milk out our noses.  It's like having a support group -without the Sanka, powdered milk and cheap name tags they serve up at AA.
Do you have any plans to expand or enhance your blog?

  • I rely on feedback from my readers and am always soliciting new ideas (though I nixed the suggestion from a reader in Vatican City who suggested I post photos of myself in a French maid's costume).  Some of the ideas I am considering include Reader of the Week (contestants to be chosen from those who click the "Donate Now" button), Sarah Says! where we dissect Palinisms for hidden kernels of lucidness and Sudoku for Idiots, which uses only two numbers:  II and IV.

What about your competition?

  • You mean websites like Google and Facebook?  I don't really consider them to be my competitors.  Sure, one out of 12 people on the planet has a Facebook account, but Body of Work has Fahrvergnugen. 
Say what?

  • Goodnight, Gracie!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Evidence that I am a sloth and need to get out more

  • There are popcorn kernels in every crevice in my home, including my decolletage.
  • We hardly ever eat Jello, but all that's left in the cupboard are five boxes of it - strawberry, lemon and lime. The strawberry might go well with the daiquiri mix under the counter. 
  • When I emerge from the house to drive Thing 2 to Hebrew school wearing my vampire-repelling garlic necklace, all I can think of is adding sour cream dip and potato chips to the mix.
  • My most often-used excuse for why dinner is not yet on the table is that I don't want to disturb the cat sleeping soundly on my lap.
  • For weeks I couldn't get to the side of the house to put the garbage in the garbage cans because of the piles of snow.  Now that the snow has melted, I no longer have that excuse -but realize that I liked it.
  •  I've just started to watch the latest in the Real Housewives franchise - Miami.  That's seven cities worth of plunging necklines, plastic surgery  and women who claim to put their families first, but who, between their lunch dates, fashion shows and lingerie parties, never seem to spend any time with them.  (Yes I am jealous).
  • I've forgotten my ATM password - and that is perfectly okay with me.
  • My muscles have atrophied to the point where - scratch that, those were ganglion cysts.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hair now

My hair - both strands of it - is the bane of my existence.  From my youthful cowlick, to my inherited male pattern-balding (thanks Dad!) to my (fortunately only temporary) chemotherapy-induced baldness, my hair and I have been through a lot together. 

As a child I looked like this - check out that cowlick on the left hand side of the photo.  (And yes - that really IS me!).

The years took their toll.  This winter my hair has been particularly wild and frizzy.  I've been looking more like this:

So, the other night, after a 10:30 p.m. temper tantrum (mine) that left me no choice but to hop into the car in the middle of an ice storm and drive around aimlessly, I decided to stop by the 24 hour CVS to find something to help me tame my unruly locks.

I am not a night person, so I have often wondered about those cars one sees parked outside retail establishments in the wee, small hours of the morning..  Who are these people?  What kind of business brings them out?  Why don't they buy mangoes and lettuce on a Sunday morning like the rest of the world?

Now I know.  These people are the kind who, very late at night, decide that they absolutely, positively cannot wake up yet another day looking the way they do.

People like me.

I'm happy to say that I found the holy grail of hair products at CVS - it's a secret Chinese recipe with natural elements and "calming qualities."  I'm feeling much more manageable and in control than I was that icy night and so is my hair.  Here's a picture - what do you think?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Victoria Beckham's not the only Spice Girl around here

No one ever told me back in eighth grade Home Ec that spices don't get better with age, the way wine does.  So when my mom gifted me with her still full vintage 1960 McCormick and Durkee spice containers when I moved into my first apartment in 1980, I thought I was the favored child.  The spices were already 15 years old and with any luck, I would have them for another 30 years.  If I didn't cook that much, I might even be able to pass them down to my own two Things!

I learned how wrong I was about the spices with my first pot of chili (which tasted like tomato flavored sawdust) and I've been avoiding the spice cabinet ever since.  But this past weekend I ate in a Middle Eastern restaurant and in the four days since, I have become obsessed with making Chicken Tagine - at home.  It's a very spicy dish and I had most of the ingredients at home - except for 21st century spices.

So off to the supermarket for coriander and tumeric and saffron (a "pinch") and cumin.  Which are all crazily expensive and will probably depreciate in taste and value as the previous crop of spices did.

No matter.  By the time I had paid for the spices, I didn't have any money left for the chicken.  So I think the kids' inheritance is safe.

Friday, February 18, 2011

It's all becoming clear....or maybe not

I stopped wearing my contact lenses and my progressive bifocals a couple of years ago when I drove my van into a fruit fly perched on the windshield, thinking it was an exit ramp on the turnpike. 

Other than that, I've had relatively good luck with my eyes.  I didn't wear glasses at all until I turned 30.  They were big glasses, overwhelming my petite frame and making me look like a stick figure encased in a snowglobe.  I was nearsighted, which meant that while I could comfortably read, I couldn't for the life of me find my way to the bookstore or library.  Over the years, I tried different styles of frames, but never quite found one that complemented my Audrey Hepburn Herman Munster good looks.

So I finally decided to try contact lenses and it might be an understatement to say that in them I found religion. When after three weeks I finally became accustomed to the continuous sensation of three million grains of sand in each eye, I felt light and free (or as light and free as you can with the Hamptons floating in your vitreous humour).

This worked for a few years, until I turned 40 and developed presbyopia.  You might not know the term, but you can spot the sufferers in any restaurant.  We're the ones sitting at the table against the wall, while a kindly stranger holds our menus up across the room so that we can order dinner.

The problem (there's always a "problem") was that if I wore contacts, I couldn't see both near and far. When my obstetrician opthamologist suggested that I wear $10 drugstore reading glasses over my contacts to counteract this problem, I grew despondent, finally agreeing to wear progressives, which, with a mere shift of my gaze up or down, allowed me to take advantage of the specially calibrated glass:  distance on top, nearby on the bottom.

Except (there's always an "except") dividing the lens in two meant I had only 50% of the usual lens surface  to peer through, whether reading or driving.  This felt limiting, so I finally threw away both glasses and lens and am currently going without.

See?  Good.  Cause I can't.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Putting out fires at work

I’m not into Feng Shui like some are, but I do like to have a nicely appointed personal space in which to work. So now that I’m working from home for real (my new job is a telecommunting one - yeah!), I’ve arranged the area around my desk in an inspiring, yet professional and motivating, way.

There’s my radio (from which alternately issues forth NPR and jazz), photographs of Things 1 and 2, postcards of quilts, the dozen roses my husband gave me for V-Day, meaningful personal mementos like the amigurami Domo I crocheted up last summer, dying plants, my files, my rolodex, etc.  It's a pretty inviting, space:  professional - yet personal; tidy - yet lived in; functional- yet quirky: a place where I am motivated to move mountains and write mission statements till the cows come home.

Today, to complete the look and to ensure a calm, Zen-like day (like I've seen on tv) I decided to light some candles.

(You know where this is going, don't you?)

Dear Reader, before I could shout "Town Hall meeting!" I had set my Bounty paper towel - a remnant of my two-Diet Pepsi business lunch - on fire. At first, it merely darkened the edges of the “Quicker Picker Upper,” but then the paper towel was quickly enveloped in flames, reminding me that I'm a contract employee and lack disability insurance.

Fortunately, there's an "en suite" bathroom in my "office" (reserved only for the most senior - or most incontinent - of employees). I rushed the burning mess over to the  bathroom where I pushed aside my wet pantyhose, ignored the globs of toothpaste in the sink (what kind of slobs work here anyway?), tossed it down and turned on the faucet.

This is a true story.

I’ve had to put out fires at work before, but never literally (I wrote that last line by myself, by the way).

So, no more candles for me. From what I heard at my performance review, they may not let me play with scissors in the future, either.  I just can't be trusted.