Great Read!

I just finished reading Somebody to Love? by Grace Slick (of Jefferson Airplane & Jefferson Starship). I loved it. In fact, I loved it so much, I read it in two sittings. It’s one of those books I want to buy so that I can underline all of the little treasures of wisdom she gives. Besides giving an insider’s take on the Sixties, Grace has a lot of really great insights that only age can bring a woman. And she’s a hoot, a brassy broad who says what she thinks. She’s not only survived life’s challenges and losses, she has transcended them, and with a humor that I just love. Makes me wish she had a weblog, damn it.
On old rockers:

“I consider performing rock and roll to be a young person’s game. Old farts leaping around, trying to hang on to their flapping skin, is not an uplifting experience for me, either to watch or perform. There are certain kinds of performances that simply don’t lend themselves to wrinkles. Like hard rock… Picture spandex on Ted Koppel, or Newt Gingrich behind a drum set. Hideous, right? If you don’t mind geriatric rock, that’s fabulous. It’ll buy Grace Slick a home in Saint-Tropez if you continue to show up at concerts in throngs of thousands and give up your forty dollars a head to listen to a fifty-eight-year-old woman say, “Up against the wall, motherfucker.” That was okay in 1969. But would you buy that now? Maybe I could be the first rocker to have a bedpan roadie, an oxygen unit on stage between songs, a change of Depends, and a Count the Liver Spots contest.”


Thanks For the Memes

1) What were you doing 10 Years Ago?
I was living in Ventura with my ex, working at Procter & Gamble as a technical writer and hating my life.

2) 5 Years Ago?
I was relatively new to Stillwater, caretaking my mother who’d had a stroke.

3) 1 Year Ago?
Pretty much what I’m doing now, and getting ready to be in Mozartballs.

4) Five snacks you enjoy:
- Black licorice
- Cheese-Its
- Banana/Vanilla Wafer pudding
- Rice Krispie bars
- Corn Pops cereal

5) Five songs you know by heart but wish you didn’t:
- The Safety Dance (Men Without Hats)
- Act Naturally (Buck Owens)
- Boys (The Beatles)
- Under My Thumb (Stones)
- Heart of Glass (Blondie)

6) Five things I would do with a LOT of money:
- Pay off my debts
- Buy a new computer
- Invest
- Move to Vienna
- Help people

7) Five things you would never wear:
- A dress
- A Spiderman costume
- Polka dots
- Western wear (well, except the boots)
- Polyester

8) Five things you should never have worn:
- Those black Dockers that made my butt look huge
- Ball caps
- Those boots in Vienna
- Any wedding band that didn’t come from Nettl
- All those stupid outfits my mother bought me when I was a kid

9) Five things you enjoy doing:
- Playing piano
- Blogging
- Drinking with friends
- Fine dining
- Being a house cat with Nettl

10) Five bad habits:
- Nail biting
- Erratic hours
- Talking too fast
- Completing sentences for people because I know what they’re going to say
- General nerdish tendencies

One Weird Thing

Name one weird thing about yourself, something that you’ve had so long, you forget about it. I’ll start:

I can’t wink my right eye. When I was born, my mother got to the hospital before her doctor did, so the nurses made her scissor her legs to hold me back…for 20 minutes! I doubt that happens these days. I guess my right eye was rammed up against her pelvic bone or something, because I can’t wink my right eye, and that’s the one with the worst vision problems. Nerve damage. No one can tell by looking at me, and I forget until I think about it for some reason.

What's your one weird thing?


What's in a Name?

What name do people mistake your name for the most?

I often get called Stephanie. ARG! Steph is a name I chose for myself, and I meant it to be androgynous, not a diminutive of a name that’s more feminine than my actual name, damn it. I chose Steph because it’s what my parents were going to name me if I’d been born male.

Please don’t call me Stephanie! Please don’t presume to know better than I what my name is. If I tell you my name is Steph, please call me Steph. I actually prefer Kaye, which is a diminutive of my middle name, but that was long ago, before I considered having a nom de plume. One day in the not-to-distant future I'm going back to Kaye so I can avoid all this crap.

But back to you. Your turn to answer the question.


Thanks For the Mammeries

Buck Owens died on Saturday. I’m not a big fan of country music, but Buck did write “Act Naturally”, the song that Ville and I turned into “Fake Mammaries”, our most requested song when we get together.  Thanks, Buck.


Good Morning

What a peculiar day it has been. I’ll write more in the morning. Right now I’m simply blown away and have to process. Not to worry; it’s all good.

Have you ever checked out Ask Yahoo? It’s pretty cool. I’m trying to think of a question. I came up with a good one last night, but now I can’t remember what it was

Did you know that an average of 62 billion emails are sent each day? Tonight, I and a well-known composer raised that by number by almost 100. Amazing. Now I’m all fired up and can’t go to sleep.

I went to the grocery store at 1:30 am, drove all the way home, and discovered I’d left a bag sitting in the Self-Checkout bagging area, so I drove back and got it. All the way there and back I listened to a Haydn symphony. It was worth the trip.

And now, a question for you to chew on with your morning brew:

What do you think is completely overrated?


The Correspondence of Friends

Twenty years ago Paul and I fell into corresponding with each other via long and rambling—often verbose—epistles in which we recorded not only everything we did, but every thought, idea, and observation we had. When our letters grew too heavy to mail in conventional envelopes, we turned to blank books, calling them “journal letters” or "diary letters"...


Playing the Hanon Scales over and over in your head does nothing for piano technique or finger agility, even if you compose new ones.

Just saying.

How Do You Do?

I had a mother who spent her entire life in search of the Incurable Disease. A true hypochondriac, she filled her time on this planet with symptoms and signs, aches and discomforts that were never there. When I was in my twenties I remember thinking, “Good God! Do you ever quit focusing on how you feel, and just live?” The truth is, no, she didn’t. Every other phrase that came out of her mouth was “I feel”, and her sentences were punctuated with little moans and groans and gasps of supposed pain. But my mother never got anything worth complaining about until 1997 when she developed an isolated tumor outside her colon wall. She was 72 then, and had it removed. She didn’t even need chemotherapy. Did she ever enjoy that experience!...


Foamy Reflections

I used to manage Lorenzoni’s, a coffeehouse/gourmet deli in the Ventura Maria in California. That was a few years ago, but I never forgot how to make a great cappuccino. I made the finest microfoam in the house, but for the life of me, I can’t seem to recreate it with my new espresso/cappuccino maker. I don’t get it. I use a stainless steel vessel, I use 2% milk, and I do the usual whirlpool motion, but all I get is flat, hot milk. Might as well have a latte. Except that when I want a cappuccino, I want a cappuccino, resplendent with thick foam like beaten egg whites.

As I sit here drinking the one beer I’ve allowed myself, I’m feeling homesick for Ventura. At this very moment I wish I could have stayed in my penthouse apartment with its view of the Pacific. The old 1914 building would have felt quite at home in Portofino I think, with its inner courtyard, its red roofing tiles and its shutter-style windows and wrought iron window boxes blooming with Bougainvillea, Lavender and Rosemary.

But what’s there for me now? Frank is gone, Steve is gone. Paul’s in Atlanta and Debra is sleeping at this very moment not three miles away. La Bohème has scattered to the four winds, and in a some cases, beyond. It’s the lifestyle I miss, mostly. I miss the street life, the cafes, the focus on the Arts, the street musicians, the celebration of eccentricity… In short, everything that I love about life anyway. These are what drive me to relocate to Vienna in 2008. Ventura holds my past while Vienna holds my future, and in an ironic way, vice versa.

Still, if I could live in my penthouse of 1997-1999 with my family of 2004-2008, and be surrounded by my friends of 1985-2006, I’d be very happy tonight. Here are some paintings of Ventura by Katherine McGuire. She caught the town’s spirit beautifully.

Eat Your Vegetables

As some of you know, for the past two years I’ve been waking up each morning in the midst of crippling anxiety attacks. I didn’t know that these attacks are partly due to the Hashimoto’s Disease. And all this time I thought it was because I have a conscience… Since the first week of taking my Levoxyl these attacks have disappeared, until this morning when I awoke as panicked as though it were the tornado sirens that disturbed my sleep. I slept too damned late. But now I wonder, “Late for what?”...



Although I’ve always been a night owl, I do wish I could go to sleep when I want and need to. I went to bed just after 3:30 this morning and lay there for well on an hour and a half until I finally fell to sleep. I was sleeping pretty well, too, but a mere two hours later I heard a small squabble going on between the kids and I was awake again. It’s no fault of theirs; when I’m like this a fly scratching its back legs on my wall will wake me up.

I lay there until a little after 7:30, drifting softly between sleep and wakefulness, a wholly pleasant sensation. I was aware of everything. The soft blanket against my foot, my face caressed by the pillowcase, my low, barely there breathing. Everything feels soft to me and has all week. This is not merely a feeble attempt to describe my emotional responses to my environment, it is an altogether visceral thing. I feel as if my senses are wrapped in a down and silk blanket. I move more gently through my day and nothing seems to be able to get in to bother me. Perhaps it’s the meds. Perhaps it’s the weather. Or perhaps it’s both.


Agents & Publishers

Here’s what's said about my book, Night Music, The Memoirs of Wolfgang Amadè Mozart:

“Several editors have looked at the material, and all enjoyed it. The general feeling was that it was a good, unusual read. Unfortunately, however, we have decided that it is not quite suited to our list.” (Bloomsbury Publishing)

“Thank you for giving me a chance to read your material. Although I enjoyed it, I’m sorry to say I’m going to have to pass on it.” (Linda Allen Literary Agency)

“As an ardent “fan” of Mozart’s music, I can not resist the opportunity to consider your novel. It sounds as though you have the necessary musical and scholarly background to deal with the material.” (Sobel Weber Assocs., Inc)

“I have loved Mozart since I was ten. I was very happy to look at your biography of this great man. It is professionally done. However, I simply don’t believe I could market it to either your satisfaction or mine.” (Pelham Literary Agency)

“While your novel does an outstanding job of giving Mozart’s personal “take” on his brief life, it’s not a work I can successfully place in today’s dismal marketplace.” (James R. Cyber Literary Agent)

The above comments are only a few I pulled out of a file folder of 39 rejection letters.


Every Once in a While

Throughout my entire lifetime I think I’ve done three truly smart things:

1. I married Lynette
2. I gave her the finances
3. I went to bed last night at midnight after a long hot soak in the spa tub.


What You'd Rather Be Doing

So, what would you rather be doing today? Here are my guesses.

Bob would rather be sitting in a Belgium cafe drinking Lambeck. Dr. Pants would rather be lying on a beach in Mexico drinking Coronas. Geor3ge would rather be in an Edinburgh pub drinking Glenfiddich. Nettl would rather be drinking Heffeweisse in Vienna. Ville would rather be in a beer garden with all of her closest friends.
Bunch of lushes...

How’d I do?


On This Day

On This Day…

~  I woke up feeling rested and invigorated.
~  Thomas called just as I sat down with my first cup of coffee. Nice!
~  I couldn’t stop smiling all morning.
~  I took a long, hot bath with the jets on full blast.
 I loved Nettl more than I did yesterday.
 I elected to listen to music rather than watch TV.
~  I decided to order a piano sonata book (I lost all of my music in the Big Dump of 2001) and start playing again.
 I thought kind thoughts about someone who hates me.
~  I talked about an old hurt that still hurts.
 I made dinner and enjoyed every minute.
~  I seeded the tomatoes for the salad.
~  I braved Wal-mart and bought some groceries.
 I bought some things we don’t usually get for ourselves because the kids would eat them in 10 minutes.
 I spent an hour on a conference call with Rhombus Media concerning a web design project.
 I looked at Nettl’s smiling face when she told me about her musical evening while I was gone, and felt absolute bliss knowing that our love is indestructible.
 I opened a bottle of German wine.
 I still couldn’t wipe this silly smile off of my face.
 I was filled with love for everything and everyone. Can this be healthy?


Tagged Again

Unlike some of my own blog victims pals, I actually enjoy being tagged with the various questions and games that waft through Blogsville. While I was out of commission Lynn tagged me with…

The First Ever Comprehensive Music Questionaire
Favorites, or just the first that comes to mind.
(Warning! There will be a lot of Mozart on my list)

  • Symphony: Mozart’s No. 39 in E-flat, K543
  • Piano Concerto: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K491
  • Violin Concerto: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major
  • Concerto for any wind instrument (flute, clarinet, oboe, horn, etc): Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K622
  • Concerto for two or more soloists: Mozart’s Simphonia Concertante for Violin and Viola, K364
  • Overture or other short classical work (less than 12 minutes long): Mozart’s Overture to Die Zauberflöte
  • Piano Sonata: Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8, Op. 6 in C Minor (”Pathètique”)
  • Other unaccompanied: Bach’s Suite for Unaccompanied Cello No. 2
  • Sonata with accompaniment or other music for only two instruments: Poulenc’s Flute Sonata (flute & piano)
  • Trio: Beethoven’s Piano Trio No. 4 in D Major, Op. 70 No. 1 (”Ghost”)
  • String Quartet: Mozart’s String Quartet in C Major, No. 19, K465 (”Dissonance”)
  • Other Quartet: Mozart’s Adagio & Fugue in C Minor for String Quartet, K546
  • Quintet: Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K581
  • Other chamber music: Mozart’s Piano Quartet in E-Flat Major, K493
  • Latin choral work (Mass, Requiem, Stabat Mater, etc.): Faure Requiem
  • Choral work in a language other than Latin: Howard Goodall’s Psalm 23 (Theme from The Vicar of Dibley)
  • Opera: Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro
  • Classical work composed after 1950 (other than movie music): Arvo Pärt’s Te Deum
  • Classical work composed before 1650: Monteverdi’s Madrigals for War and Love
  • Classical vocal work: Mozart’s concert aria, Ch’io mi scordi di te? K505
  • Movie Score: Amadeus
  • TV Theme: Howard Goodall’s Psalm 23 (Theme from The Vicar of Dibley)
  • Song (Rock, Blues, Country or other): “The Lady of Shallott” by Loreena McKinnett
  • Guitar or Lute, classical: Rodrigo’s Fantasia para un Gentilhombre
  • Guitar (Rock, Blues, Country or other): The lead guitar work in the Beatles’ “And Your Bird Can Sing”
  • Goofy novelty song: My own “Box of Wine for Four Friends & Piano”
  • Bonus (anything you’d like to add that wasn’t on the list): Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite and Ravi Shankar’s Concerto for Sitar & Orchestra

Stupid Movies I’m Ashamed to Admit I Like

C’mon. You know you have some guilty movie pleasures. ‘Fess up! Here are a few of mine:

Casanova’s Big Night (Bob Hope)
Office Space
The Imposters
Austin Powers
Mommie Dearest
The Incredible Mr. Limpet
Trains, Planes, and Automobiles
Anything by the Marx Brothers
Calamity Jane (Doris Day)


I Believe in Miracles (of Modern Science)

I woke up wide awake at a quarter to seven. I put in my eye drops and laid back with eyes shut to let them do their magic. Nettl was in the bath getting ready for work and when she came out, I was sitting up in bed, smiling.

“Look at you!” she exclaimed, grinning from ear-to-ear.
“I feel great!” I replied. “And look. My eyes aren’t swollen. I don’t have scrotum sacs under them anymore!”
“You’re so gross; you’re feeling better.” She then leaned over to look into my eyes. “They’re still red, but not anything like yesterday. Don’t over-do it today. I know how you are.”

I got up and made my coffee, fed all the fish, tidied up the sink, then came back to make the bed. After Nettl left, I took a shower, took my barrage of meds, and dressed. I then started the laundry, poured another coffee, and here I am. Have I over-done it? Nah. My eyes are itchy, but that blister is gone, and my vision is back to normal. My only real complaint is a mild headache, but I can live with that. Not complaining at all.



Despite the fact that my eyes are still sore, swollen and watery, I feel pretty good today. In fact, I’m doing some laundry and plan to take care of my fish and plants this afternoon. Thanks to all for your well-wishes. I’m not a religious person, but I believe strongly in the power of focused thought (what some call prayer). You’re all wonderful. Special thanks to Debra, Beau, Larry, Thomas and Jessica! You know why.

I was sorry to hear about the passing of Dana Reeve, but I believe she and Christopher are together and happy again in their healthy and fit spiritual bodies. My thoughts and prayers go to their son, family and friends.

We got a little rain last night, but nothing worth bragging about. I wish we’d get a downpour, complete with thunder and lightening. The tornadoes can stay away, however.



On Friday night I bought another Betta and I have to say, he is the most beautiful fish I’ve ever seen; certainly the most beautiful Betta I’ve owned. He is of the Halfmoon variety, and I named him Jet. Not only is he very young, he’s also very active and playful, and blowing bubbles like crazy. This pictures isn’t of him, but it’s very close, except that Jet’s fins are textured with a sort of stripe and pin dot design and he’s so dark blue that he’s almost black.

From now on, my fish are getting only bottled water. The recent pipeline work around here killed Yo-Yo and my two Calicos even though I used a water treatment. Jet has absolutely no chemicals in his tank, and he never will. He’s in an octagonal 1.5 gallon tank that has only some polished black stones and one plant in it. I’d like to add some low-growing plants though.

I’ve really grown fond of Bettas, and I’ll probably always have one, now that I’ve come to understand them. They'll like tiny little dogs. Really!


Well, If This Isn't the Shit

I’ve been doing a little research on hypothyroidism and found a list of symptoms. If this isn’t what’s wrong with me, I’ll be very surprised...


Dies und Da

Signs of Life: My spring bulbs are beginning to break the soil. Some are already a couple inches tall.

Yes Ma’am: My doctor is checking for hypothyroidism. After talking with me she said, “Well, go down to the lab and feed the vampires and I’ll get back to you as soon as we know something.” I secretly hope this is what’s been wrong with me because once on meds I can lose the 15 pounds I’ve gained since Christmas. I’d like to take off 25.

Nervous: I still haven’t heard why in February I didn’t receive two of the annuity checks I’m used to getting each month. $800 is a lot to miss in one month. My hope is that they’ll be included in March’s.

A Day Late and a Dollar Short: In my life I’ve gotten used to not having certain things that other people have at any given point in time. I eventually get these fun little things, but it’s always always after they’re no longer new and cool, and the prices have gone way down. For example, I didn’t get my first cell phone until 2000. I have one now, but it’s not one of the nifty flip-open models with cool ring tones, the cool display, or a camera. Just a functional phone. Still, I’m grateful to have it at all. I’d also like to have a new computer. I’m still using the HP I bought in 1999, which runs Windows 98, but I try not to complain for fear that it will hear me and break down altogether in rebellion.

I handle my car in the same manner, mentally. It’s a 1996 Ford Contour and the only car this family of six has. I seldom see it, and I’m terrified that it’s going to break down and we’ll all be up shit creek, and I’ll never again see what lies beyond our neighborhood. Not that I do anyway. Lynette and I have a telly in our room, but it’s borrowed from Debra and Beau, and it has no jacks for a DVD player, or even VHS.

I wish I had a digital camera so that I could use it for this blog, if my computer could handle it, that is. For instance, out by the (now closed) road, which is completely dug up, the water main that goes to the fire hydrant is standing about five feet above the ground, with the hydrant still perched on top of it. It would make a great picture, and I could make a stupid comment about a very big dog. I don’t care about an iPod, except that I’d like to make podcasts. I’d also like to have the equipment it takes to make this blog into a vlog (video blog), or to at least add some video to it once in a while.

None of these things are absolutely necessary, except the car, so I’m not really complaining. I have what I need and I have the compensation of a happy, healthy family, a beautiful marriage, and a circle of true friends, some who go back nearly 40 years. But sometimes, you know, I just wish I could know what it’s like to not exist on needs without a few wants thrown in. My life has always been about having things in order to live a modicum existence, seldom for fun. Still, I can’t really complain and I feel guilty when I do. I’m the kind of person who feels guilty when I have to buy a new halogen bulb.

Little things: Sometimes, something in the house will give me an unexpected jolt of pleasure, something that I usually pay no heed to because it's been around for so long. This morning my eye spotted the claw and ball feet of my wingback chair by the fireplace in the living room. I was instantly transported to the day that I bought it in 1997, and I remembered the quiet happiness I felt when, while living in Ventura, I sat in that chair watching the freighters pass by on the Pacific horizon. Look around your house. Is there something that does it for you?