March, 2010 Archives

28
Mar

LSS: Loving my lipstick

by Jan in Uncategorized

I allow myself to use my favorite lipstick so rarely that I hadn’t realized it was missing from my super-secret make-up stash until I found it in my youngest daughter’s box of treasures.

She helps herself to my old make-up. She had no idea the value this tiny tube holds.

Because it was my birthday, I decided to wear my “special” lipstick.

The lipstick smeared. Without thinking, I wiped it off with my index finger.

Then I went back to the computer to write what eventually became what you now read. Later, I noticed the pink dots and smudges over the once white keyboard.

I didn’t mind. In fact, I smiled. After all, it was my favorite lipstick. Even the color, “Les roses,” made me happy.

While there’s no doubt that make-up specialists wearing barely green jackets standing behind glass cases filled with crazy-expensive oddly shaped bottles would approve of this ancient tube of lipstick, I love it.

I love the way it feels. I love the way it smells. I love the way it looks.

And I must savor it.

It was a free sample a nice lady at a make-up counter far, far away gave me. She gave it to me simply because I was American.

We both knew her reasoning. I said something about liking pink. She immediately went to a special drawer and pulled out the small tube and said, “This is for you.”

I graciously accepted her gift and was touched by the generosity. I didn’t realize until later, after I left the country of its origin, the near mystical powers of the tiny tube — a veritable fountain of youth in a pink and gold plastic tube.

In reality, it may not make me look any different than I do on my best or worst days, but who’s living in reality? When I’m wearing it, I feel…well…I feel pretty.

It’s a beautiful shade of pink — almost the exact shade Estee Lauder called Ceramic Pink and discontinued after I wore it every day for seven years.

But with this lipstick, it’s not about color.

It’s about the way it feels.

It’s about fragrance.

It’s about sheen.

When I first wore it, I was young. And, the bottom line is, that’s the way it still makes me feel.

I knew from the get-go that this stuff was special. Just putting on the lipstick was intoxicating and has always reminded me of far-away places I may never see again. After recovering my treasure from my daughter’s treasures just before my birthday dinner, I put on the lipstick and felt just as young as the first day I wore it.

Of course, the lipstick-induced euphoria never lasts long.

By the time I got to the Noodle House, I was brought back to earth. We were having a lovely time. I was convinced friends must be wondering where I got such lovely lipstick when one of them leaned over and whispered, “You’ve got lipstick on your teeth.”

I didn’t care. I still felt pretty.

21
Mar

LSS: Words and zip-codes

by Jan in Uncategorized

I suppose the new nine-digit zip codes serve a purpose. The codes are like Social Security numbers for locations. Every one is distinct and specific. In theory, a letter could be delivered to the correct address with no additional information beyond the nine-digit code.

There’s merit in efficiency. However, so many numbers make my head go squishy.

To begin with, I’ve never understood why house addresses need to have so many numbers. If there are less than 999 houses on a street, is there really a need for four-digit street numbers?

Given my preference for words over numbers, I long for days when houses had names. Not that I ever lived in those days, but still, I wish it wouldn’t sound ridiculous to call your home by a name. In that spirit, my family and I have been searching for the right name for our home for five years.

Like any good name, the name needed to be able to stand on its own but needn’t be contrived. It should fit the landscape and be easy to say and spell.

Finally, we found it.

To appreciate our home’s newly christened name, you need to know a few important details. First, our home is not a normal home. We readily admit that it’s strange. The back of it is primarily glass. (We try our best not to throw stones.) In our early search for a house name, the giant, magical Live Oak that dominates our backyard captivated our imagination. Its branches twist and turn every way. One lumbering branch nearly stretches the length of the house is covered in what led the next goose chase in coming up with a name.

When we first moved here, I couldn’t figure out why the lush green fern covering the limb would be green and beautiful one day and dried up and brown the next and then green and wonderful the day after that. When a neighbor explained the nature of Resurrection Fern, the mystery was solved. But calling our house “Resurrection” didn’t seem quite right.

Continuing the search for an appropriate name, we considered the house’s other prominent feature. It’s on a sliver of the Vermilion River. However, every decent name with Vermilion seems taken. We didn’t want to be confusing, even among ourselves. Vermilion is derived from the French word vermeil, used to mean any red dye. Nevertheless, vermilion is a specific shade of red used since caveman days, also called China Red. The pigment, derived from cinnabar, is a naturally occurring substance most plentifully found in China.

When I heard the word cinnabar, I knew we struck something good. The word makes a direct connection to the Vermilion. The association with pigments fills our artistic requirements. The clear connection to China is a solid reminder of our youngest daughter’s homeland.

Check. Check. Check.

Remember though, if you write us and put Cinnabar on the envelope, your letter won’t reach us, but you can use the nine-digit zip code for that.

17
Mar

White Enchiladas — yum, yum, yum — seriously delicious

by Jan in Uncategorized

While not low on calories, this recipe is delicious. Enjoy.

White Enchilada Recipe

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 8 oz. sour cream
3/4/ cup onion
2 jalapenos – chopped
about 2 cups chopped chicken or turkey
10 white corn tortillas
3/4/ cup chopped onion
2 cups Monterey Jack shredded cheese

Melt butter in saucepan on low heat. Add flour. Stir until smooth.
Cook one minute, stirring continuously. Gradually add chicken broth.
Cook over medium heat until mixture is thickened and bubbles. Stir in
sour cream and peppers. Pour half of sauce in greased 12×9 pan. Set
aside rest of sauce. Place chicken, onion and cheese in tortillas.
Roll up and place seam side down in pan. Pour remaining sauce on top.
Bake at 425 for 20 minutes. Sprinkle rest of cheese and bake another
five minutes

16
Mar

Eight year anniversary

by Jan in Uncategorized

Next week will mark the eigth anniversary of my writing a weekly column for The Daily Advertiser. That’s more than 400 columns. Looking back over them, I am comforted by my husband words of wisdom, “You can’t hit a homerun every week.” Even so, I am grateful to the readers who continue to read my weekly musings. I am especially grateful to the ones who send me their thoughts and ideas. Here’s to another eight years of writing.

14
Mar

LSS: It’s in the stars

by Jan in Uncategorized

A local artsy friend is a fiend for horoscopes.

This girl believes in the charts she studies.

With minimum encouragement, she will tell you everything you want to know about how the stars align according to the day of your birth, how your year should be, how a relationship may (or may not) work out, about your financial prospects and on and on.

Like so many others, I love listening to her. To be sure, she knows her stuff.

Her depth of knowledge is as fascinating as her passion for the subject matter. As she’s talked, I’ve watched people enthralled, doing their best to pick every detail they can from her words. I’ve watched others beg her to say no more. And she doesn’t. She understands it’s not for everyone.

Astrology often engenders extreme emotions. It has its loyal followers, like my friend – and its equally fervent naysayers.

Unlike my friend, I have looked upon horoscopes mostly for entertainment or food-for-thought-conversation-starter reasons.

However, over the years, I have noticed what some may see as simple strange coincidences about friends’ birthdays. Here’s the deal: Since I was a child, there has been a steady stream of people who I just “get.” I like these folks. I understand them. They make me smile. I know where they’re coming from. They’re “my people.”(You get the drift.)

The number of those people who were born during the second week of March would astound you. The fact that so many people I care about share birthdays could be just a fluke, but I’m ready to do some informal research and see if anyone else out there shares this phenomenon.

At any rate, thank goodness for e-greetings.

To fully explain, my “birthday friend zone” is broader than a single week. From the end of February through the end of March (even into early April), I should send out close to 100 birthday cards.

Narrowing the focus, between March 7 and March 12, at least 15 close friends celebrate their birth.

Even more specifically, if you were born on March 9, March 10 or March 11, I am almost bound to like you – a lot.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not audit perspective friends or check their birthdays ahead of time. It’s one of those things I eventually learn and then say, “Oh, that explains that.”

Thankfully, plenty of friends and loved ones have birthdays outside “the zone” – i.e. my husband, children, parents and siblings. But, by this point in life, I’ve accepted that I am naturally drawn to people who were born around this time of year.

Which takes me back to astrology.

And how the stars align.

And makes me wonder about the mysteries of the universe.

No matter the level of silliness of my observation, I am comforted and inspired by strange little coincidences out there. Taking a moment to notice the web of connect-the-dots puzzles of life – even the off-the-wall, harebrained and ultimately meaningless ones – simply makes life more fun.

7
Mar

LSS: Put the pom-poms back

by Jan in Uncategorized

The announcement came through loud and clear.

“Pick up packets for cheerleader tryouts in the office. They must be turned in by Friday.”

Of all people, I should remember the spectacle of middle school spring cheerleader tryouts, but somehow, I had forgotten.

Later, when I overheard a 12-year-old girl tell her mother, in all seriousness, that cheerleading tryouts were “the most important things in the universe,” I remembered.

Long ago in a land not-so-far away, I was a cheerleader. (I apologize if the image proves to be too much of a stretch for tender readers.)

In my middle school, cheerleading auditions happened in front of the entire student body. Then, fellow students voted. It was brutal.

Melissa Marveggio and I tried out together. She was a tumbling fiend. That girl could Nadia Comaneci across the whole gym. If I do say so myself, I did the most beautiful herkie in the whole sixth grade.

But alas and alack, neither of us was elected to the esteemed honor of seventh-grade cheerleader. Sixth-grade political savvy gave me insight into the dynamics of the popular vote. I was not surprised when Mr. Wade read the election results over the intercom.

Nonetheless, I was sad. I dreamed of my very own pleated skirt with multi-colored insets.

I brushed the whole matter off and said, “Maybe next year.”

So, I tried out the next year.

And didn’t make it.

And the year after that.

And didn’t make it.

And, I’m not proud to admit this, but I’m pretty sure I tried out the year after that.

And didn’t make it.

Finally, we moved to another town before my junior year in high school. That spring, I decided to give cheering one last shot. The try-outs were more formalized. We had a clinic, learned routines and certain cheers. I did all the deeds and, a team of outside judges announced the results.

I made it.

For one brief shining moment, when I had just turned 17, all was right with the world.

And then, the next day, cheer practice started.

International military invasions have been launched with less planning (and scheming) than what happens inside a high school cheerleading squad.

As it turned out, my sixth-grade classmates knew something I didn’t.

I wasn’t cut out to be a cheerleader.

Oh, I did it and mostly had fun doing so. (There were a few magical moments. After all, my herkie was still rather spectacular.) I hated that aspects of cheering brought out what seemed to be some of the worst in humanity.

Even so, ten years ago when my parents moved from our childhood home, my brother nonchalantly tossed my old pom-poms in the trash – which led to the two of us having an old-fashioned sibling brawl. Eventually, I was running down the street of our youth, pom-poms in hand, chasing my brother driving a loaded truck, as he yelled out the window, “Put the pom-poms back.”

Clearly, he had no idea the tenacity those pom-poms represented.