Yesterday Matthew returned home after 10 days of travel. In his line of work, he travels often. He has made it clear that this is actually a slow season for him and I should start getting used to the idea that he'll be gone a lot next year. I don't know if I'll ever get used to it but I definitely feel like he's worth waiting for and the homecomings sure are nice.
This was a special event though, because we finally got to celebrate his 40th birthday. I had a present waiting for him and even Z sent over a card for him. He liked that, a lot. I cooked dinner - I made proscuitto/spinach/ricotta ravioli and a tossed salad. And I baked him a coconut cake which was beautiful (I promise it was, I just forgot to take a picture of it). I made pomegranate cosmopolitans, too.
We visited, ate dinner, watched Christmas movies on Lifetime - "A Diva's Christmas Carol" and "White Christmas," before going to bed. He was in a lot of pain because he twisted his back at the airport. I told him that it sucks turning 40. LOL
This morning, I made breakfast. I made whole wheat pancakes with a strawberry sauce and applewood smoked bacon.
I think he's happy to be home. I know I'm glad he is.
All of the previously eliminated contestants came back, most danced, others just visited and reminisced. That was the first hour of the show.
Warren and Kym were the first to do their final dance. They re-did their Hustle and were scored 27/30, bringing their two-day total to 80/90
Lance and Lacey were next, dancing their nautical-themed Jitterbug. This is the dance where Lance lost his shoe but kept going. We’ll see if the footwear remains on tonight. Yup, shoe stayed on. This time the number had a few more tricks. It was great. Score 28/30, bringing their two-day total to 81/90.
Brooke and Derek were last to dance, they’re redoing their Viennese Waltz. Seems to me they went safe by choosing this dance. It’s a beautiful dance though. Nothing new about this go-round. It made Carianne cry. The other two were also happy. Oh look, her fiancée is in the audience crying. Their score, 30/30, bringing their two-day total to 88/90.
First one out…Lance and Lacey! DAMN!
Miley Cirus. Bleh
Tonight’s champions are…Brooke and Derek!
A well-deserved win. YAY! I would not have been sad for them if it had been Lance and Lacey, but I’d have been really shocked if it had been Warren and Kym.
Season 7 is about to draw to a close. Tonight the three finalists dance two final rounds. They are scored by the judges on both and also receive viewer votes. They will dance one more round tomorrow night, and the judges scores will be factored into determining a winner.
They’re starting off the show with a recap of the Stars’ favorite dances from the season, both ballroom and Latin. This is obviously just a time filler. 3 couples and the show is 2 hours long tonight. Go figure.
Brooke and Derek – Favorite ballroom dance, the Quickstep. Favorite Latin Dance, the Paso Doble.
Lance and Lacey – Favorite ballroom dance, the Tango (the goth number). Favorite Latin dance, the Mambo.
Warren and Kym – Favorite ballroom dance, the Viennese Waltz. Favorite Latin dance, the Paso Doble.
Next up is the “Samba Smackdown” where all three couples dance together and then do individual portions of the dance.
Brooke leads, then Lance, then Warren. Brooke and Derek look good. Lots of hips and leg moves. Her Samba roll looked a bit stiff. Lance and Lacey look good. His posture is nice. They did some cute little added thing. Warren came out and did a handstand! He’s moving nicely. She’s not outdancing him so far, he’s doing his share of moves which is good. Not bad. Okay now the group. Hmm…that ending wasn’t needed. LOL Oh well. Len liked Brooke the best, then Lance, then Warren. Bruno commented on Warren’s footwork. Carrie Ann is kissing all their butts but nitpicking little things.
Scores: Brooke and Derek – 28/30 Lance and Lacey – 26/30 Warren and Kym – 25/30
Finally, it’s the Freestyle. Sometimes these are fun, other timese these are tragic.
Brooke and Derek are doing a “Grease” inspired number, complete with lifts, twirls somersaults and antics on the judges’ podium. Lots of energy. Wow. Bruno compared some of the positions to the kama sutra. LOL Carrie Ann has said that they “brought it!” Len called it the “best free style he’s ever seen. “ Score: 30/30. 58/60 for the night.
Lance and Lacey are doing a hip hop number, no lifts. I’m not sure what to judge here, I’m not sure what to look for as far as moves. It’s good, and they’re in step which is a good sign. Lots of energy. Hope the judges like it. Carrie Ann liked the beginning and the end but was lost on the middle. Len loved it. Bruno was very complementary. Score: 27/30. 53/60 for the night.
Warren and Kym are doing something with lots of lifts. It’s a quick number to “Proud Mary.” Very energetic! Judges all enjoyed it and called Warren a true entertainer, but Carrie Ann spotted a mistake. Score: 28/30. 53/60 for the night.
I’m torn now. I think Brooke and Derek are great and I would love it if they won but I really enjoyed Lance and Lacey. They came a long way and deserve it. Warren and Kym are pure entertainment but I think they’re in 3rd place.
QTS stands for "Queens Talking Shit," and it's a message board I've belonged to for years. I've got some fantastic friends on that board, we have a good time. We talk about EVERYTHING. We've seen one another through surgeries, mourning, births, new boobs, new jobs and new relationships. Members of the board live in different parts of the world, but mostly we're from the United States.
My friend Linda lives in Alexandria, VA. This happens to be where Matthew has been staying. Knowing it was his birthday, Linda volunteered to be my inside source and get something to Matthew on his birthday, his 4oth.
I sent a parcel with 2 CDs, wrapped with a card, on Wednesday, it arrived Thursday. Now, Linda could give Martha Stewart a run for her money (as could I), without the insider trading stuff. I sent a bit of money for her to use as gratuity at the hotel, as well as for embellishments. In my mind, I pictured a couple cupcakes in a box, to be placed next to the gift and the card. Well, bless her heart, Linda ran with it and with my approval, she included party hats, candles, matches, a votive candle and purchased cupcakes from a swanky little shop near her home. Here's how it all turned out.
The selection of baked goods, at Buzz.
The patrons, enjoying an early afternoon at Buzz.
Oooh, a cute little box. Wonder what's inside...
Mmm....cupcakes! Vanilla with vanilla buttercream frosting, just like I suggested!
Back home, there's the gift and card that I sent, along with the party hats, bag, cupcakes, candles, matches (in the "a great flame" box), coordinating tissue, and gift bag.
The finished product.
At 1 pm my time, I gave my final approval on the package and left for the gym. On my way over to Matthew's apartment (from where I'm typing this), he called to say Thank You, the bag had arrived. It was in his room when he went upstairs. He was very surprised and a bit stunned, I think. He of course said "you didn't have to do that." I said "Duh, but I did anyway, it's your birthday and you're working and I wanted you to have at least a moment where you stopped and smiled, I'm thrilled it happened mid-day since after a long day of work." I then gave all sorts of credit to Linda for making it happen. She added the "WOW" to the presentation.
So, our mission was a success. Of course as it was happening, we were talking about it on the message board, so it became a group effort. Kudos to my dear friend Linda for going above and beyond to make a good guy feel great on his birthday, and for making me look like a star. Shout out to "Team QTS" for their involvement and encouragement. They're a great group of friends and I love them so.
My Mom, whom I often refer to as "Z," goes grocery shopping every Saturday. She takes the car and goes to the local Jewel and shops for the week. She comes home from the store, I unload the car, and then we unpack the bags. During this time she usually complains about people in the store. Today's story is one of the better ones.
According to Z, "Today must have been, bring your scooter to the store day because there were all these people blocking the aisles, getting in my way. One guy had a tag on his that said 'I Count.' He was slumped over in his scooter, not moving and he was in the middle of the aisle. Well I count too, buddy, so get out of my God damned way!"
Whether she actually said that to him, I don't know. Would I put it past her? No.
She went on to say "I do feel bad for those people but the would get a little more compassion out of me if they didn't shop when I was trying to get my shopping done."
Perhaps this will help you all understand a bit better from where I get my odd take on things.
New for me, but I guess this has been out for a while. She was on Letterman over the summer. I actually saw this video on VH1 some time ago and was mesmerized by it but didn't remember who it was until I heard the song on the radio a couple weeks ago, then found the video online. Great song, cool video. Love her accent.
Matthew's 40th birthday is Saturday. He's feeling a bit uneasy about it. Matthew also travels for his job and he's on the road now, gone for 10 days. He'll be out of town on his birthday.
Mind you, I've known him close to 2 months. Not a long time. Yet, I remember my 40th birthday and it was an absolutely amazing time. My friends threw me the most wonderful party. To this day, guests still tell me that it was one of the best parties they have ever attended. I've also had a part in planning 40th birthday parties for Dan and Luis, both of those events were really special too. I think everybody should have a celebration. Matthew doesn't seem to have a lot of local friends. Perhaps that's because he travels so much. He's got a small group of very close friends. There was early chat of doing something with them. Last night I asked him what he wanted when he returned home from his trip, he said he just wanted to play it by ear, but wanted me to spend the night on his first night back. I'll cook dinner and make him some cupcakes or a cake.
But...he's in Washington DC for his birthday. He'll be working. His dear friend Dana, who works in the same field as him will be with him.
I have friends in DC. My friend Linda, whom I've never met in person but with whom I chat online daily, thanks to my message board, has offered to be my messenger.
I bought a couple CDs for him. He mentioned that he loves James Taylor. I read an interview with James Taylor on CNN.com last week, discussing his new CD. I quizzed Matthew about it, his answer indicated he didn't have it.
The CDs, wrapped with a card attached, were mailed tonight. They should arrive in DC on Friday. Linda will take them to the hotel on Saturday. The hotel is about 2 miles from her home. She's been given creative license to add anything to the parcel, I suggested a couple cupcakes, boxed. The items will be delivered to the concierge and with a gratuity (enclosed), they will be delivered to his hotel room, waiting for him after he returns from his day of work.
Well, that's how I have it planned out. Hopefully it'll work. Linda and her partner both work in the hotel industry, she consulted a concierge at her hotel and was told that similar deliveries are common. Fingers crossed that all goes well.
As predicted, Cody and Julianne ended their run this week. Moments before, it was revealed that couples Lance and Lacey and Brooke and Derek would compete. With Cody gone, that leaves Warren and Kym.
3rd - Warren and Kym 2nd - Lance and Lacey 1st - Brooke and Derek
I didn't see all of tonight's show. I was at Matthew's house, it was on in the background while we were doing other things. Mind out of the gutter, kids. He's leaving town for 10 days tomorrow and we were going over things he wants me to do in his apartment while he's away. I'll be watering plants, getting mail, checking on the housekeepers, and tossing things from his refrigerator.
Come to think of it, we should have been doing "other" things. Oh well.
Tonight is the semi-finals. The remaining contestants will dance the one ballroom dance that they did not dance during the competition, plus another of the “new” dances this year.
Brooke and Derek – Jive; Hmm…Brooke seems off. She’s got energy and some of the moves but just isn’t the usual WOW that she puts forth. I don’t like what she’s wearing or the routine. Yeah, her ending was about a second after Derek’s. Judges were not pleased. Carrie Ann said there was a “blatant illegal lift.” 21/30.
Cody and Julianne – Paso Doble; Ack…he looks so stiff!! His timing is off, too. This is an odd Paso Doble. The judges were not thrilled. 22/30
Warren and Kym – Mambo; It’s a big boy mambo. He’s got some smooth moves but started off looking a bit clumsy. Overall, it’s looking pretty good. Judges were critical. 24/30.
Lance and Lacey – Mambo; ooh, sexy! Wow, this looks good. Nice leg work, good theatrics. I think it was the best of the 4 dances we’ve seen so far. YAY! Len loved it. Bruno loved it. Carianne called it a show-stopper. 28/30
Time for round two:
Brooke and Derek – Salsa; This is much better than their last dance. Her pants bug me but she looks so much more confident here. Wow…fancy spin thing at the end. That was fantastic! But will the judges think so… Bruno said “fever pitch” but it sounded like he said “viva bitch.” LOL Carianne liked it, so did Len. 28/30.
For the night – 49/60.
Cody and Julianne – Salsa; Jilianne lost an earring, Cody looks like he’s laughing about it. Cute dance, looks kind of messy though. Judges are critical of technicality of the dance but thought it was a nice performance. 24/30.
For the night – 46/60.
Warren and Kym – Jitterbug; So far not a lot of jitterbug moves, just some playful stuff. Meh…just doesn’t have the “BIG” feel of a typical jitterbug. Warren is wearing his funny orthopedic shoes again. Mixed reviews from the judges. 25/30.
For the night – 49/60.
Lance and Lacey – Jitterbug; OMG…one of his shoes flew off! Wow, that was really well done. What fun! I love the jitterbug. Bruno called it “brilliant.” Carianne and Len loved it as well. 29/30.
For the night – 57/60.
I think Cody has danced his final dance tonight. He was a good contestant but I’ll be surprised if he makes it to the finals. The only other one I can see not making it to the finals after tonight’s round is Warren but I think he’ll make it.
Tomorrow night we’ll find out who goes to the finals. Stay tuned…
Welcometo my bed. Please just focus on the bed and not the clutter on the floor around it. I'll take care of that one of these days.
Linens-n-Things announced their going out of business sale a few weeks ago, I went over and snapped up some bargains, including this bedding set that I'd been eyeing for a couple months. I love the colors but hat that it's so shiny. I think it looks cheap, but it was The entire set was about $60. Cheap is good because I have a cat with claws so inevitibly things end up snagged or torn.
Friday night, after Matthew and I had dinner, we retired to my bedroom, to watch TV. Honest! While we were laying around, he commented on my bedding. He said "I like the green, but there's too much brown. Get rid of it, I don't like it." I told him that I would if he bought me new linens. Laughter ensued.
Saturday I went over to Matthew's for dinner. When I arrived he said "I got you something." I like presents so my ears perked up and he held up a bundle, it was a package of linens identical to my set. He said "I want you to feel more at home here so I bought these. " I said "but you didn't like the brown." He replied "after I said that, I realized that the linens were growing on me. I like it now.
I already felt at home over there, but what a sweet gesture.
Yesterday, in cities all throughout the United States, rallys were held protesting California's passing of Proposition 8. My best friend Dan, his partner Luis and good friend Polo attended the Chicago rally. I was asked to go but did not. I'm a little ashamed that I did not go and voice my opinion. It's not that I don't agree, I just didn't go.
True, I had other things that I needed to do - my mom didn't feel up to grocery shopping so it was up to me to take care of it. True, I needed to go and have my glasses adjusted, they had become bent. True, I wanted to go to the gym, I've been slacking this week. I did those things, but I could have found time to do those things later in the weekend. I could say that I'm uncomfortable in crowds, which I am. But that never stops me from going to street fairs and concerts, which sometimes are more rowdy than protests. In the back of my mind, I was picturing the Chicago riots of 1968, when the Democratic National Convention was held here. War protestors clashed with the police and things got ugly. Silly, I know.
According to the Chicago Tribune "thousands" were out there. Would my presence have made the difference? Perhaps, or maybe not.
I feel a bit like I let my friends down and I'm sad about that.
I vow to do what I can from a behind the scenes, to show my support for this cause. If that means writing letters, I'll do it. If that means additional support for the HRC, I'll do that, too.
To those of you who attended rallys, I love you for doing it, I thank you and I won't let you down.
All of the meals that Matthew and I have had together have either been out to eat or at his place. Tonight, he's coming to my house for dinner. I've ordered food from Reza's, a local Mediterranian restaurant, I've bought a bottle of wine and I've cleaned house. Tonight he gets to see where I live and he gets to meet Z (aka my Mom), and Millie (the cat).
My friends and I have proven that we're capable of extravagant gifts for the holidays and birthdays. Big parties have been thrown, trips have been taken, fancy dinners have been consumed. But now times are a bit different and we're all watching our wallets and pocketbooks.
All of my friends with whom I normally exchange Christmas gifts, have agreed that we will do Christmas on a budget this year. A maximum of $30 will be spent, handmade gifts are always welcomed. I love this idea, as it's easy to find "the perfect gift" and even thought it's expensive, you know it's just right for the recipient. With limits, thought is required and it sharpens the focus on the creativity. I think this is going to be fun. I've made a couple purchases. Today I'm off from work and my quest will continue. I've got my list, I'm checking it twice and I'm hitting the road.
What are your Christmas plans, and will your shopping habits be changed this year?
Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic As published in "Barefoot in Paris" by Ina Garten - 2004
Cook time - 1hr 5 minutes Serves - 6
Ingredients 3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves 2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 2 tablespoons good olive oil 3 tablespoons Cognac, divided 1 1/2 cups dry white wine 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons heavy cream
Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside.
Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don't want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.
Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.
Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, was in a suburb of Chicago today to sign copies of her new book. As a fan of hers, I took the day off from work to go to her signing.
I got to Barnes and Noble just before 9 am and was # 56 in line. Since I didn't have to be back until close to Noon, I had time to wander around the mall and Christmas shop. I'm off to a good start. Buy this isn't about Christmas shopping, this is about Ina.
I got back to the store, found my place in line and found my ladies with whom I chatted this morning. I knew I liked them when they started talking about "Dancing With the Stars." So when I got back to the store, they greeted me with excitement and let me squeeze right in (we were numbered so it wasn't like they had a choice but they let me get next to the rail so I could take pictures while we waited).
The line moved quickly. Before I knew it, I was downstairs and getting ready to face Ina. The last time I attended a book signing of hers, I told her that I had baked her jam thumbprint cookies.
A store employee took my camera and captured these pictures.
I shared with her the story that Matthew and I (my exact words were "my boyfriend and I") cooked her recipe for chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. She replied as if she was expecting me to say something about the recipe. I said "It was fantastic, we loved it. We also made your couscous with roasted root vegetables." She was happy to hear it and said that those both go well together. Then she thanked me for coming to see her today.
I emailed Matthew to tell him about the signing. He likes her too and wanted to be there but a work assignment kept him from attending the signing with me. He called a bit later to talk about his long day at work and said that he saw the pictures. He then said "oh, so I'm your boyfriend now, huh?" I said "yeah, are you okay with that?" He said "Yeah, that works." I said "Good!"
The bottom two were Cody and Edyta, Maurice and Cheryl.
I'm pleased. I would have been sad to see Cody go, now that it has been confirmed that his regular dance partner, Julianne, is returning next week. I think next week may be his final week but at least he'll close out his run with his regular partner.
Tonight’s twist on DWTS is that the Stars had to learn two dances again. The first is a ballroom number, the second dance they’ll perform tonight is a Latin number that includes a 15-second solo from the star.
Cody and Edyta – Fox Trot; Smooth and elegant. Ooh, I saw a lift. Wow…high kicks. Nice, kid! Oh this is nice. It looks like he’s more at ease with his temporary partner this week. YAY! 24/30
Brooke and Derek – Tango; Very powerful. She’s got all of the purposeful moves and pops and head turns. So sensual, a really nice number. Carianne and Bruno were amazed by it, Len was not very flattering at all! 28/30
Maurice and Cheryl – Quick Step; Wow he’s totally out of step and a mess…or at least that’s how it looked to me. He doesn’t look into this one at all. He’s just kind of running while she does more of the work and he’s tossing in a few tricks here and there. Ew…Carianne loved it. Len did too. Apparently Bruno did too. Hmmm. I hated it, but my opinion doesn’t count. 24/30.
Lance and Lacey – Fox Trot; It’s light and fun. Okay yeah, he’s gay. J Lots of little cute steps and moves but really nicely done. I liked it! Len was complementary, Bruno really liked it, so did Carianne. 26/30
Warren and Kym – Tango; He moves like he weighs 100 pounds. He’s so fun to watch and he’s good. Kicks and hip twists and toe leads. Kym really knows how to choreograph his strengths. YAY! 28/30
Now the Latin round –
Cody and Edyta – Mambo; He’s got decent mambo moves…a bit stiff in the hips. Okay, he just started to breakdance in his solo. Hmm…it looked a bit out of place but he ended by landing on the judges stand. Cute. 24/30 + 24 = 48 for the night.
Brooke and Derek – Mambo; What’s nice about watching them work is that Derek lets Brooke shine. Looks like she had a touch of trouble coming out of a hold. I didn’t really see her “solo” but I guess that was it at the start. Her solo was on the judges steps so they couldn’t see her feet but Len said he could tell they were correct. 27/30 + 28 = 55 for the night.
Maurice and Cheryl – Paso Doble; He bugs me…looks like he’s stomping around like a pissed off child. Okay, his solo was a bunch of cape twirling. Whatever. Judges liked it. 24/30 +24 = 48 for the night.
Lance and Lacey – Samba; Lance’s solo was a true dance solo and I thought it was fitting to the routine, it was near the beginning and they bridged back into their dance nicely. 24/30 + 26 = 50 for the night.
Warren and Kym – Jive; Nice! His solo was excellent and totally fit the number. Cute moves, a really nice performance! 26/30 + 28 = 54
I’m a bit pissed off because the one I want to go home, Maurice, was scored well by the judges. But, he shares the bottom of the board with Cody. I just hope Cody can stick it out for another week. I want to see him dance once more with Julianne who is supposed to return next week. Stay tuned…
I have had it with our country's current administration and I can't stand what they've done to our country. We've become a laughing stock of other countries; from the policies and acts performed by the Bush administration, to the whole race for the White House. Was Palin really the most qualified of the Republican VP candidates who were "vetted?" I'm so glad that America woke up and smelled the coffee and elected Obama. Now I just pray that he delivers on his promises.
I'm quite thankful. I'm in an industry that for now is solid. I work in healthcare and so far, customers continue to come to us for their long term acute care needs. People still apply for work with us and I'm still paying people, so I'm busy. Meanwhile, so many people with whom I'm close are feeling the effects of the economy and are challenged by it now. I'm helpless because it's my nature to want to help, but there's not a damn thing I can do. I'm so angry about it. I want it to stop, I want this crap to be over. I want people to start spending money again. I want people to not fear that they're going to lose their home because they can't make the payments. I want people to buy cars so that our American auto workers can keep their jobs. I want these things now.
I guess we're about 2 and a half months from the new Presidental administration. I don't expect things to magically turn around on January 20, but I hope that people will decide that there is light at the end of this long, ugly tunnel and will be less afraid to spend some money or invest in the stock market.
In the mean time, I'm going to keep my friends, and others who are challenged by our economy in my thoughts.
I did this to myself, but that doesn't mean I won't complain about it. This is how my Monday is going to look.
Arrive at work by 7, this means that I'll have to get up at 5:15 am. 7:30 am - Open Enrollment presentation. 8:30 am - drive to Chicago North, assemble benefits packages 9:45 am - Benefits presentation at General Orientaiton 10:30 am - return to Central 1:00 pm - Employee interview 1:30 pm - Open Enrollment presentation 2:00 pm - Employee interview 2:30 pm - Employee interview 3:00 pm - Open Enrollment presentation.
I should have no voice by about 1:30 pm. I can't waiit.
Oh well...Open Enrollment only happens once a year, thankfully.
Last night I watched election returns with Matthew. He cooked dinner, we had drinks and watched TV. It was nice watching history in the making with someone special. Since we both had to work today, I left at 1o. As I was crossing the street to go to my car he called to tell me that Obama had just been projected the winner. I arrived at home and watched TV while chatting with my online friends (shout out to QTS!). I finally went to bed at about 11:30.
Today at work, everybody was very quiet. I think so many people were exhausted but relieved at the outcome. I felt like I was just there, going through the motions. Today was one of those days where I needed to be in both buildings, so it was interesting to gauge the reactions at both buildings.
Today was also the fist day of Open Enrollment for benefits. I conducted my first two meetings this afternoon. Over the course of the next two weeks, I'll conduct another 15 meetings. My next one is at 7:30 am tomorrow morning.
Goodbye to Susan Lucci and Tony Dovolani. I think it was time for her to go. I thought she was doing a nice job but just lacked the finesse that the performers should have at this point. Someone on the show tonight pointed out that she's in her 60's and should totally be commended for performing so well week after week.
It was nice to see Maks back for one of the dance numbers during Lionel Ritchie's number. Maks is now sporting a buzz cut. HOT!
Here we are at week 7. Six couples remain. They've added a number of twists this season and this week is no exception. Tonight’s twist has team group dances. Team Cha-Cha and Team Paso Doble. Two teams of three couples and the team’s score will be combined with their individual score.
Warren and Kym – Fox Trot; Nice start, Warren is displaying some nice footwork. Some of his steps look flat, now he looks nervous. Timing isn’t great. However, he’s so charming, hope that helps him. The judges were not wowed. Bummer. 21/30
Susan and Tony – Paso Doble; Nice! Could be a little more vibrant but her moves are nice. It’s hard to judge because I’m comparing it the same dance done by Melanie B or Laila Ali. The judges liked it. 24/30
Maurice and Cheryl – Cha-Cha; Maurice is dancing with an injury. The way he jumped down the steps, it doesn’t show. His arm extensions suck. Footwork looks good. Carianne liked it. Len liked it. Bruno liked it. 25/30
Cody and Edyta (subbing for Julianne who had surgery) – Viennese Waltz; They look nice together, except that he seems a bit out of step, as if he’s not used to her strides. He improved towards the end of the dance. Carianne loved it. The other two…not so keen on it. 22/30
Lance and Lacey – Rhumba; a barefoot Rhumba. Looking good…smooth moves, nicely timed, looks like he’s doing a bit of ballet. Cute!! Oh look, Kathy Griffin is in the audience! Bruno and Carianne loved it. Len “didn’t get it.” 25/30
Brooke and Derek – Fox Trot; Brook is lways elegant. This routine has the feel of a 40’s dance number. Beautiful!! YAY! Judges loved it! 30/30
Time for the judged group dance.
First up is team Cha-Cha: Susan and Tony, Cody and Edyta, Lance and Lacey. Cody did a nice job with it. Susan is also doing well but looks a bit stiff with the hips. Lance and Lacey gave it some energy, their routine was fun. Okay that was a nicely done group routine. Carianne didn’t like the unison, said it was awful. Lance and Lacey were the overall favorites on the group. 20/30
Next is team Paso Doble: Warren and Kym, Maurice and Cheryl, Brooke and Derek. Wrren and Kym are first to pair off and they’re doing a nice powerful Paso. He’s fast on his feet and it looks good. Maurice and Cheryl are next, Maurice looks clumsy. Brooke and Derek now and they are FLYING. The energy, the kicks, she looks so good next to the two pro women. This was definitely the better of the two groups, with the exception of Maurice. The judged had no criticisms for any of the individual pairs. 29/30.
Early prediction, Susan has danced her final dance. We’ll find out Wednesday night (delayed a night because of the election). Warren’s scores were lower on the individual dance but benefitted from the group.
Last night was round two in the quest to find where the arms should go. Yes, the requisite snuggle arm was wrapped around Matthew. I found that if I curl my other arm up under my pillow, it remains comfortable there and it doesn't fall asleep. At least that's where the arms stay until one of us decides to roll away because it's too hot to remain in that position.
As far as falling asleep goes, I'm still working on that. I'm thinking I need a firmer pillow. Would it be presumptuous to bring a pillow along?
Back about a year ago, I introduced all of you to Vahona. She is what I affectionately call my "fruit fly." We get along so well because we are alike in a lot of ways; we're both neurotic and a little crazy, humble but fabulous, hard-working and honest, we're really good people with an evil side. We get each other's jokes, like each other's music and we're both passionate about the things we love.
Vahona has started a blog. So far it's become her sounding board for the daily happenings in her life, the stuff that bugs her about work and about her family but knowing her, you'll see the fun side of Vahona and understand why we get along so well. Check out what she has to say at How To Be Good.
She's one of my best friends, I hope she'll become one of your friends, too.
The past two nights, I have had some unusual dreams.
Friday night, my dream involved my dear friend Vahona. We had driven to Milwaukee Wisconsin. I can't say that I've ever spent much time in Milwaukee so there were no landmarks that I could identify as Milwaukee, I just knew we were there because we talked about it. We went to attend some sort of street festival. It was warm. I parked my car in what looked like an alley with diagonal parking spots. We got out, walked and somehow became separated. I ended up on the roof of a building. When I realized how high up I was, there were other people realxing on the edge, watching the goings-on below. I was scared to walk to the other side because it meant walking over and around the people. I was next to another building but I doubted my ability to jump to it even though I could see that I would be able to get down. Instead, I turned around and ended up on an outdoor deck. I figured I could ask to come in and get outside to find Vahona. I looked at my phone to call her and it was broken. I had done something to crack the front of it and I was unable to call her.
I knocked on a door to ask if I could come in just so I could go out the front door. The resident was a woman and she told me to wait, that he party guests were arriving. I sat and watched people arrive to what looked like a grand party. Lots of gorgeous costumes. Think Dangerous Liaisons but with the color volume turned up to 12. Bright pinks, violets, blues and shimmering sequins and beads. It was visually spectacular. Finally I found my way down to the street and I was standing in an empty lot. It wasn't a threatening neighborhood, just completely foreign. I could think of nothing but finding Vahona and finding my way back to the car. I decided to look for a police car to help me find my car and to maybe let me call Vahona's phone.
That's when I woke up.
Dream number two was last night. I spend the night at Matthew's and I'm still trying to get used to sleeping over there. We spent the evening having dinner with his friend John. After he left, we went to bed. We were too tired to do much more than snuggle and fall asleep. He fell asleep, I went into my "cat nap" mode, or sleep-lite.
At the point where I finally went to sleep, the dream I had was quite unsettling. I was with Matthew, we were staying someplace together, in bed. The place we were staying had a living room in the center and bedrooms on either side. All I knew was that a friend of Matthew's was staying there too, thought I don't know if it was anybody I have met. I heard noise coming from the other room - loud voices and the sound of things being moved. The next thing I knew, someone came bursting into the bedroom. Matthew jumped out of bed and was gone, and the person was coming after me with an axe.
That's where I woke up.
So much for sleeping last night. I spent most of the rest of the night back in sleep-lite. I probably managed to get 3-4 hours of sleep.
I think things will get better. I will get used to the sounds of the street from his place and the feel of sleeping in a bed with someone else. It's a learning experience I look forward to.
On Friday, Halloween was celebrated both at work and at Dan and Luis' house.
The day began at work, where I decided to go as "Joe the Plumber." I put on jeans, work boots, a white t, a flannel shirt and a backwards baseball cap. I carried a plunger. Inside the plunger was a picture of McCain and Palin. I had to throw in a bit of politics. Two other coworkers also dressed. Sonny was a Greek Goddess, Mike was "Nacho Libre." We had fun.
So one day prior, I learned that there was a theme at Dan and Luis' home - PIRATES. Those who were invited to spend the evening with them were told that they needed to dress as pirates. A trip to the dollar store was rewarding, they had all sorts of crappy pirate stuff. But, the favorite items I found had nothing to do with pirates. They had PIMP hats for KIDS!!! I decided that Matthew and I would be Pirate Pimps. I took extra eye patches and sewed them to the front of the hats and VOILA, our costumes were done.
Mind you, this was going to be Matthew's re-introduction to Dan, Luis and Polo, and his first time meeting Denise and Tina. I was a bit nervous, not because I was worried about my friends (okay, just a bit) but my fear was that for whatever reason he would not like them and, well, they are my family and he would either have to learn to like them or it wouldn't work.
I'm happy to report that everybody got along just fine and we had a fantastic evening. Below are some pictures from the evening.
Luis and Dan, our pirate hosts:
Jim and Matthew, Pirate Pimps. Note, my camera's lens cover sometimes doesn't fully open, this is one of those times when it didn't fully open but I liked the picture of us. :)
The always-delightful Tina!
I'm guessing that Luis and Polo were doing something at the top of the stairs, hence Dan's scornful look.
Luis, Polo and Dan (with half of Denise in her skull and crossbones vest)
For someone who doesn't really do Halloween, it was a great evening! Any evening spent with some of my dearest friends is a good one.