Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Finished NaBloPoMo!

Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo, and I did it! Between this blog and my food blog, I did 60 posts in 30 days! Go me!

It was both easier and harder than I thought it would be. For the first week and a half, I was convinced as soon as I posted each day that I'd never think of another thing to write and that the next morning I'd be sitting at the computer staring at the blinking curser until I started bleeding out of my eyeballs. It never happened. There were busy days, and days when I was exhausted, but I eventually figured out that if I had nothing at 6 a.m. I'd think of something before bedtime. Basically, it was one of those Zen-like exercises of living in the day and letting tomorrow take care of itself. I suck at that.

The best part was having a blogging partner in Monica of 5 Cats Shy. We reminded each other to blog, we each tossed out ideas when the other had run out, and we encouraged each other along the way.

It was fun. I would definitely do it again. But not next month.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Book of YES: Shatner Edition

William Shatner interprets "Rocket Man"
Drink in the awesomeness, my friends. Rock out to the 1970s instrumentals. Note Shatner's dramatic pauses. Revel in his over-acting. Giggle like a schoolgirl when you see the drug reference at the very beginning that he got past the censors (Mom, I'll explain it to you later).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Book of Wrong: Vintage TV Edition

While I was noodling around Google looking for a link to make an extremely hip Bobby and Cissy reference on my other blog, I came across this little gem. It's Gail and Dale, dressed as Holly Hobbie and a barbershop singer, respectively, singing "One Toke Over The Line" on The Lawrence Welk Show. Clearly, they are blissfully unaware of exactly what they are singing about. At the end, Lawrence Welk calls it a "modern spiritual." It's hilarious.

[Mom, if you're reading this, a "toke" is the inhalation of the smoke from a joint ("marijuana cigarette") for the purposes of getting high. I only know this because I Googled it. Honest.]

Saturday, November 27, 2010


After yesterday's epic relaxation, I woke up this morning with a will to win. Or, more specifically, a will to clean. I fired up the vacuum with its fresh, new HEPA filter and attacked the sunroom with a vengeance. Despite the fact that it's the nicest room in the house (it being sunny and all), and despite the fact that's it's where my desk and computer are, the sunroom tends to end up a catchall for things that I don't want to deal with right away, such as junk mail and bills. I'm well aware that this has a lot to do with financial anxiety, but so far my progress in that area has been minimal.

But today, I tackled the room from top to bottom and sorted through all kinds of paperwork. I even polished the desktop with old fashiond paste wax. It's a start.

When I was looking for an image of Carol Burnett's Charwoman character for my post, I started thinking about how when I had to write an essay in my first week at college, I said Carol Burnett was one of my heroes. Sure, I was eighteen and away from home for the first time, impressed with my own coolness. They could make me write an essay about heroes, but they couldn't make me take it seriously.

It occurs to me, though, that a person could do worse than choosing Carol Burnett as a hero. I loved watching the Carol Burnett Show. The cast came across as a group of friends having a hell of a good time. And they were so funny! No matter what was going on in my life or in the world, I could count on Carol Burnett to cheer me up. She didn't care how silly she looked, she just wanted to make people laugh.

The other night after dance class, I was talking to one of my friends who said she liked having me in class because I make her laugh at the end of a long workday. At the moment she was referring to my Happy Dance, which I had demonstrated during class -- and yes, it is very silly.

It's a start.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hiding Out At Home

About a week ago, the Army Dude asked me if I wanted to get up really early on the Friday after Thanksgiving and go shopping. My response was "Have you met me?

Hell no, I don't want to go shopping on the busiest retail day of the year. There is nothing I need or want so badly that I would get up while it is still dark and fight crowds for it. Nothing. Not even at Tiffany's. I started my Yuletide shopping weeks ago to avoid just this sort of panic.

Instead, I have spent the day doing yoga, napping, reading, browsing catalogs, and getting my holiday baking plan organized. (Oh, and I also showered. Go me!) Tonight, I'm going to eat leftover lasagne and watch a movie in my pajamas.

Now that's how you spend a bonus day off.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Army Dude and I are repeating last year's tradition of Pajama Pants Thanksgiving, which involves a lot of sitting on the couch and watching TV.

The Army Dude will NOT be wearing pajama pants that look like this -- for which I am truly thankful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Words of Wisdom: Laurie

What's the worst thing that can happen - jazz hands?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Auntie's Tips: A New Wardrobe In 4 Easy Steps

Forget shopping! Follow my directions and you will be enjoying a new wardrobe without spending a dime.

1. Make friends with someone much tinier than you are, who believes -- despite the fact that she is an adult -- that she is going to grow any day now and should shop accordingly.

2. Wait around while this friend stocks up on things that will never fit her. During this time, it's a good idea to ascertain that this friend has excellent taste. (If not, go back to step 1.)

3. When it finally dawns on your friend that she is not going to grow, and that she is running out of space in her closet, go to her house and select things that don't fit her (but that fit you) and take them off her hands.

4. Enjoy your new wardrobe!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Army Dude: Nice Guy, But A Little Crazy

Exhibit A

The Army Dude, sweet guy that he is, is letting me drive one of his cars while I deal with my flat tire situation. I'm very grateful, but I question whether I need this much help in the looking-crazy department.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

Which one is different, do you know?

I woke up yesterday morning to a flat tire and a neck sorely in need of a chiropractor. I placed a 911 call to the Army Dude, and to his everlasting credit he hopped in his car and came right over.

After getting me to my chiropractor appointment, a hearty breakfast, and making a couple of unsuccessful attempts to get a new tire for my car, we decided to rearrange the weekend and do some pre-Christmas shopping at Target. We'd originally planned to shop on Sunday, but since the Army Dude lives an hour away and has his own life to lead and cat to cater to, we decided that it would be more efficient to reschedule.

By 4:30, we were exhausted, tired of being around people, and hungry. We stategically chose the Cracker Barrel. I figured that given the early hour, it would be filled with senior citizens quietly scarfing down meatloaf and macaroni and cheese.

If only I could make oracular predictions like this all the time. Life would be so much simpler, wouldn't it?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Picture This

The Team Maria President and I have been discussing, via email, the status of my blogs and how we can strengthen the brand going forward into 2011. He expressed concern about the fact that the quality of photographs of yours truly tends to vary.

I have prepared this presentation to explain why, at times, I look like I am waiting for a firing squad. You can make it into a multi-media presentation by humming a showtune -- I suggest "The Lady Is A Tramp" from the Broadway musical Babes In Arms.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Words of Wisdom: Albert Camus

In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's A MAJOR Award!

I have an ongoing quest to bring the most obnoxious gift possible to my company's annual Christmas Yankee Swap. I'm not sure why. It could be because I resent having to go to three different company Christmas parties and the swap in the office is the last one. Or it could be because one year a friend brought a reindeer hitch cover to the swap and I thought it was hilarious.

My first attempt was a huge Christmas snow globe with snowmen and reindeer inside. It played eleven different Christmas songs. It lit up. The lights changed color. The "snow" was made of little balls of styrofoam. At the party, the son of one of my co-workers fell in love with the thing so his dad had to swap for it. The person he took it from was actually disappointed.

Last year I purchased a calendar with vintage pinup gals from the 1940s. I taped some lottery tickets to it and I warned the ladies I work with which gift to avoid. I thought it would be like a hot potato but the boys fought to get it.

This year I'm bringing a leg lamp from A Christmas Story. It looks exactly like the one in the movie, except it's smaller and therefore more tasteful. Well, it's smaller anyway. Nobody could possibly want that. Could they?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy Dancing Auntie

I've realized in the past few weeks that I've taken many dance classes, but I've never really been trained before. What I mean is, I haven't had anyone consistently teach me which muscles I should be using (or should not be using) to perform a particular step, and push me to perform steps in a particular way. I just sort of mimicked whatever my teacher was doing and when in doubt, I threw in some big arms to make it look fancy.

Now I have a teacher who is training me. He is my age(ish), so he is not impressed with my decrepitude. He sweetly ignores my whining and my belief that I can't do half of what he expects. He'll stand right in front of me and smile while he orders me to try. And damned if most of the time he isn't right. I hate that in a man.

Last night while I was doing my ronds de jambe, he corrected my foot position. It's a minor correction, but one that is hard to maintain and also keep the leg moving and my arms where they're supposed to be (hence the need for training). But here's the thing: he said "You have great turnout, and this looks even better."

You have great turnout. Gentle readers, do you have any idea how that made me feel? It made me feel awesome. I've been digging deep to find the little girl who danced so effortlessly and joyfully back in the day. Most of the time I feel more like one of the hippos in Fantasia.

I had assumed that at age 47, I would never get back the turnout in my legs and hips. I was wrong. I guess all the sur le cou de pied I've been doing while waiting for photocopies at work is paying off.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cat Math

Every time the Army Dude gives my cat a treat, he gets concerned because I always want him to give her approximately half as many as he wants to give her. She's an elderly cat who needs to have good nutrition and not to -- as my mom used to say -- "fill up on junk." For years now, I have been telling him to relax because cats can't count.

I have recently discovered, however, that Miss Daphne knows the difference between "one" and "many." If one treat drops on the floor, she looks at it and then looks up at me with an expression that says "One treat? Really? How much do you like having a poop-free comforter? Think about it. Take your time." If I put down a few treats, she dives on them and eats them gleefully with no sarcastic facial expressions.

Just between us, sometimes I put one treat down because her snarkiness amuses me. But then I follow it up with more because I am no fool. I like having a poop-free comforter a lot.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Auntie Goes To The Opera

The Army Dude and I went to see Tosca at the Shubert Theatre in Boston yesterday afternoon. Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that the Army Dude is a saint to sit through the opera with me, and you're wrong. He's the one who introduced me to the opera. Apparently, he became a fan when he was in Europe on Army business.

Tosca was fabulous. The costumes, the music, the lighting, the sets, the voices - all amazing. I find myself saying that a lot when I go to a theater event because it's really difficult to translate an experience like that into words. Which may explain why theater critics are so crabby all the time.

I can tell you a couple of things, though. One is that I have a little crush on Diego Torre, who sang the lead role of Cavaradossi. He's a wonderful actor with a voice that has to be heard to be believed.

The other is that I highly recommend going to a Sunday matinee. The average age of the audience is about a hundred and two. I can't remember the last time I felt so young.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Catch You Later

A few weeks after the rat encounter, my landlord asked me if I'd seen any rodent activity around the trash area. I told him that I had, and that it probably would have been comical if he'd been home that day to see it. He seemed surprised at my lackadaisical attitude toward a Rodent of Unusual Size.

He then asked me if the rat was getting into my side of the house. I thought, have you heard any crazed shrieking lately? Then, no. But I simply replied in the negative. He told me that the rat was getting into his kitchen garbage and that he'd tried a few different things but had not managed to get rid of him. He was thinking about calling in the guys with chemical weapons.

At this point I started to feel sorry for the rat. After all, he is just trying to live his rat life and do his rat things. He had probably lost his regular habitat because of all the road and sewer work that has been going on in town. None of this was his fault.

The next time I took out the trash, I directed a little speech toward where the rat was suspected to be nesting. I said "Dude," (I call all animals whose actual names I don't know Dude. They seem to like it) "you need to find a new home before the Big Blue Bug Guys show up. Take my advice and move along. Also, I hope you've enjoyed my cooking."

I didn't see him - or any evidence of him - after that. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Call Me Crazy

Billy Ray Cyrus debuted his new mullet at the CMA Awards the other night. I think it's kind of sexy. Is that so wrong?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kick-Off To The Holiday Season

One of the perks of getting shot at occasionally is that the Army Dude receives free tickets to things like the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at the Providence Performing Arts Center. It seems like a strange trade-off, but there you go.

We went to the show last night and it was indeed spectacular. The singing, the dancing, the costumes, the sets -- and of course, the Rockettes -- were all excellent. I'd never seen the Rockettes in person before and the precision of their dancing was just amazing.

During the intermission, I read in my program that the Rockettes train aspiring dancers. I turned to the Army Dude and asked if he thought I should sign up. He did not laugh or mention my age, weight, and decrepitude. He didn't question my ability to kick at eye level. He simply said "Don't they have a height requirement? I don't think you're tall enough."

That, my friends, is grace under fire.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Auntie Maria's Top 5 Tried-And-True Decorating Tips

I'm sure many of you have been asking yourselves "How can I get that quirky old maid style in my own home?" Fret no more, gentle readers. Auntie Maria is here to help.

1. Forget about trends. They come and go, and then where are you? You're in a dated living space, that's where. If you absolutely must have something trendy because you love it, indulge in moderation. Try places like Target for trendy on the cheap. Remember: retro is cool, vintage is fabulous, but dated is tragic.

2. Buy things you love and they will go together. You may not realize it, but your likes and dislikes are probably fairly consistent - you prefer light or dark woods, solid colors or patterns, florals or stripes, modern or traditional furnishings. If you love it, you will find a place for it even if it's a little outside your usual zone.

3. Try moving things around before you buy anything new. Redecorate with what you already have and you'll get a fresh look without spending a dime. Move things around and from room to room. If space permits, store small decorative items and rotate them as the seasons or your moods change.

4. Your home should make you and your family happy. Whether you prefer the clean lines and clear spaces of a Zen monastery or the busy bric-a-brac of a Victorian parlor, if you walk through the door and you're happy to be home, you're doing it right. You don't want to decorate to impress people who don't even live there, do you? Well, do you? I didn't think so.

5. Hello Kitty goes with everything.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How I Met Monica of 5 Cats Shy

You know how you can meet certain people and it's like you've known them your whole life? That's how it was when I met my NaBloPoMo buddy, Monica of 5 Cats Shy.

I'd been posting for a couple of years on an internet message board full of women (and a few men), when I received an invitation to join a small group for a weekend on Nantucket. I knew that if I told my friends and family what I was doing, they'd be convinced that I was going to be murdered or sold into white slavery, so I did the only logical thing: I didn't tell anyone and I went anyway.

I had a blast. We stayed in a beautiful vacation home owned by our hostess' in-laws, where nine of us, ranging in age from early twenties to early fifties, totally came together as a group. We hung out and talked, toured a winery-distillery-brewery, and watched a few episodes of I Love The 80s.

I liked everyone, but Monica and I bonded right away. I don't remember what we talked about (alcohol was involved), but I remember we were chatting away in no time like old friends, and she loaned me a shirt to wear to the bar that night.

The entire group arrived at the bar wearing tiaras, boas, and sashes that said "Miss Nantucket," and as our hostess reached out to open the door, she said "They don't know what's about to hit them." They didn't. It was one of those epic nights that goes down in the annals of partying.

We were having an impromptu bachelorette party, and the bride had a list of tasks to perform, such as to get a group of strangers to toast to her love and to get up on stage with the band. Monica and I decided we also needed a list, since we'd both had engagements end in disaster. I don't remember the whole list we came up with (did I mention alcohol was involved?), but I do remember one in particular. There was a guy who was obviously very drunk, who was constantly dancing all by himself whether the band was playing or not. The band was Orange Crush, an 80s cover band, so we knew that at some point they would play "Dancing With Myself." We decided that when they did, we would dance with him.

The band came back from a break and played the first notes of "Dancing With Myself." The only person on the dance floor was Dancing With Myself Man, but not for long. Monica and I ran out there and stared dancing all around him. We were laughing so hard we could hardly stand up, but the guy was oblivious to our presence.

That was several years ago. I've lost contact with most of the girls from that Nantucket trip, but Monica and I remain friends. I've visited her twice - one in Burlington, VT and once in Raleigh, NC - and we had a great time then, too. Mostly, we stay in touch via phone and internet.

It's a wonderful thing when you don't have to explain yourself because somebody just "gets" you. For me, Monica is one of those people. And she always makes me laugh. How can you not love a person who keeps you laughing?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

What The HELL Is That?

Those were my exact words, gentle readers, when I looked out the window yesterday morning and saw the ground covered in snow. Snow! On November 8! I took it hard.

I know I live in the Frozen North. Snow comes every year whether I like it or not. But it's not supposed to be winter yet. No, no, no, no, no!

Apparently, snowy weather brings out my inner two-year-old. Fasten your seatbelts, my friends. If this keeps up, we're in for a bumpy NaBloPoMo.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Words of Wisdom: Charles Buxton

You will never "find" time for anything. If you want time you must make it.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Project Puritan

Last night I dreamed that everyone who was "auf'd" from Project Runway had disappeared. There were occasional messages from some of them, but they had been banished to another plane of existence. They weren't dead, they were just... gone. It was frightening.

I guess this is what happens when you finally get around to watching the disappointing season finale of Project Runway, then you do a little reading in a book on American colonial history before bed. (The Puritans of Massachusetts Bay Colony, in case you were not aware, banished people to the wilderness right and left when they weren't putting them to death outright.) Obviously, things got a little jumbled.

It's not as crazy as it sounds. Outfits like this one from the winning collection were enough to give anyone nightmares.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Other Mothership

I take myself out to lunch every Friday. It's a little thing I do to celebrate getting through another work week. I have already established my love of books, so it should come as no suprise that Barnes & Noble is one of my favorite places to have lunch. It's like going to a small library with a cafe. What could be more awesome?

Sometimes I browse through books that I eventually buy. Sometimes I look at giant coffee table books that are beautiful and tempting, but I enjoy them and put them away because book space is at a premium at my house as it is. Also, I don't have a coffee table.

I get a kick out of browsing through oddball magazines such as Haunted Times, the only magazine whose publisher has a Telephone to the Dead. (That would be people who have shuffled off their mortal coil, not the Grateful Dead. Except, come to think of it, Jerry Garcia, who is both dead and Dead.)

I often think about working at Barnes & Noble, but then I remember that it's retail. I'd spend a lot more time dealing with people than with books. That's where the dream dies.

Friday, November 05, 2010

This Just In

I received the following text message from the Army Dude yesterday morning:

Swamp Yankee update: Hillbilly cat contemplates coup d'etat of oppressive non-democratic military regime. Coup revealed via communication intercept bewtween hillbilly cat and the revolutionary tick army. Hillbilly cat planned to fund coup with blood money.

Now you know why I forgave him for the Military Ball dress debacle. The Dude is hilarious.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Anticipation Runs Rampant at Old Maid HQ

I'm ridiculously excited about the new Lanvin collection for H&M. I couldn't get a picture of any of the looks without stealing from Tom and Lorenzo over at Project Rungay. I adore TLo and I would never do that.

I also adore Lanvin. Whether vintage (like the dress above, from the 1950s) or modern, Lanvin clothing always exudes a certain ladylike sophistication. The collection for H&M is awesome, and priced in a range I can aspire to. Even if none of the dresses fit properly (the H&M customer is, after all, young and junior sized while -- let's face it -- I am hovering in the neighborhood of being a senior citizen) the collection includes jewelry, sunglasses, jackets, and shoes. I will own something with a Lanvin label!

The collection goes on sale November 24 and I can't wait. Pathetic, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

At Last

Ahhhhhh. Do you hear that? It's the sound of airwaves all over this great land of ours, free of political campaign ads. This may, in fact, be my favorite day of the year.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


In the spirit of the scary movies that tend to come out around Halloween, each year the Army Dude likes to go over safety tips he's gleaned from watching them:

1. If a psychotic, machete-wielding killer is chasing you, don't run because you will fall down. Then you will be killed.
2. The psychotic, machete-wielding killer will be at the barn (or whatever safe place you choose) before you, and he will not break a sweat. Then you will be killed.
3. If you're a teenager, do not sneak off to have sex. You will be killed.
4. If it's late at night and there is a strange noise in the basement, don't be the person who volunteers to check it out. You will be killed.

I mention this because at midnight on Halloween night, I was awakened by a strange, high-pitched noise. It was the kind of noise that might be made by a malfunctioning refrigerator, a washing machine that has a broken belt, or an alien spaceship landing on the roof. The sound got annoying after a minute or so, and I got up to investigate.

I was halfway down the stairs when I thought of Rule 4. It gave me pause. I reasoned that I was only going to the first floor of the house and not into the basement. This knowledge did not make me feel a whole lot better, but I soldiered on.

I checked my refrigerator (it was fine), I checked my crockpot (breakfast was cooking nicely), and I walked through the rest of the downstairs. I saw nothing unusual. I didn't go outside and check for aliens on the roof. I have a live-and-let-live policy with beings outside my home, including mice, skunks, bugs, and aliens. As long as they're doing what they're doing outside my personal space, I have no beef with them.

The absurdity of the whole situation struck me as I went back upstairs, and I started laughing. After all, if Jason or whatever his name is had come across a cranky, middle-aged woman in no makeup with crazy hair and wearing flannel pajamas with counting sheep printed on them, he'd probably be too stunned to kill me.

You'd think the Army Dude would have realized that.

Monday, November 01, 2010

I May Have Lost My Mind

You are probably asking yourselves, gentle readers, "How can she tell?" My answer to you is that I've signed up for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). Both blogs. That means 60 posts in 30 days.

I told you I'd lost my mind. But I figure it this way: global domination will probably require more effort than I have heretofore been putting in. Did Genghis Kahn sit around watching the Food Network and wondering if maybe he should invade the Caucasus? I don't think so.

Wish me luck!