Kelly In Catty

This blog is Kell's attempt to keep in touch with friends far away who complain that I don't e-mail nearly enough.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Writing Assignment One

Here it is - my first effort in Writing Class. The assignment was to write something with the title "The Window."

Windows aren't always made of glass. I've come to think of them as openings that allow us to see what could otherwise be unknown. They're everywhere, and if we're paying attention, they can teach us all kinds of things. For example, the Thursday special may provide knowledge of the chef's culinary inspiration. A red carpet gown can shed light on its designer's personality. 'In The Mood' certainly lends insight into the songwriter's thought patterns.

In the case of my grandmother, a late model console organ became the window that gave an unusual glimpse into the life of her neighbor, Barbara.

My grandmother was a romance-addict. Perhaps it began with her courtship. For each date, my grandfather arrived with a box of chocolate and a Harlequin novel. When he asked her to be his wife, she became the heroine of the romance that lasted “till death do us part.” Throughout their marriage, she read every love story she could get her hands on. She actively watched the soaps. She adored the romantic stylings of the Lawrence Welk singers. I believe the books, songs, and stories reminded her of weekends with her one-and-only.

Barbara lived across the street, and sported a vintage '60's beehive. She was short, stout, and despite the throwback hair, always looked prim and proper. In the months following the death of Barbara's husband, my grandmother and I would visit — just to check on her. I always enjoyed seeing her. Sometimes, she'd let me listen to the banter on her CB radio. Barbara explained that talking on the CB helped pass the time.

My grandmother had different hobbies. After my grandfather died, she never considered another man. Therefore, speaking on the radio with strangers was absolutely out of the question. She preferred making music. Aided by large-print fake books, she spent her afternoons playing 'I Dream of Genie,' and 'Toot-Toot Tootsie' on her console organ. She enjoyed playing as much as I enjoyed listening to the funny old songs.

One afternoon, I walked into the living room. My grandmother was sitting at the console, her ear leaning towards the speaker. “Can you play 'Bird in A Gilded Cage?' I asked. “Shhhhh!” She motioned for me to sit next to her.

She whispered, “I'm listening to Barbara talk to truckers on her CB radio!” Sure enough, Barbara's voice emanated through the speakers. A gravelly-voiced truck driver asked to meet her. I listened with rapt attention as they settled on the local greasy spoon at 8 o'clock. I was stupefied. “How's that work?”

“Shhhh!” came the reply. Silently, we sat listening for quite awhile. When the conversation got a little racy, my grandmother turned the organ off.

I glared at the keyboard. “Does it always do that?”

“Well, it didn't used to — but lately, I can hear everything!” she answered gleefully.

I recently asked my friend, Bob, an engineer to explain why this particular window opened.

Bob laughed. “Well, organs made before the dawn of electronics produced sound from little glass tubes. When the tubes started to wear out, they'd develop vibrations - radio frequencies… The tube's vibrations were strong — but probably only transmitted over short distances.”

I was fascinated. My grandmother's organ, through wear and use, had a second life as a boxy old antenna!

“So what you're saying, Bob — is that other people could pick up Barbara's conversations because my grandmother was transmitting them further?”

“Not only that — it was quite possible that your grandmother was broadcasting her music to the truckers without even knowing it!”

Barbara's conversations were just the entertainment my favorite romance-junkie craved… When I think of my grandmother, sitting at that old console, in my mind, I hear her playing 'In The Mood.' I hope it became something pleasant for Barbara to listen to as she primped her beehive and prepared to meet her date. It seems only fair that my grandmother would return the favor.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Birds, Bees, and Puppies

The other night, I was sitting around with some friends. The conversation skewed to birth and family (not necessarily in that order). Two at the table were married (not to each other). Two were not (see? Someone finally let me sneak away from the 'singles' table and sit with the marrieds.).

The two marrieds were telling delivery room stories. "I wouldn't let my wife have an epidural," said one. "I tried to go natural," said another. "But at the mere suggestion of epesiotomy, I got it..." And so, the stories flowed. Not having any kids of my own, I offered my "This is How Kell Learned About the Birds & The Bees" story:

When I was five, I was told my dog, Gladys, was pregnant. I didn't think she looked fat or anything, but I was thrilled to hear that puppies were on the way. As the due date drew near, I dreamed of little Gladdy's running around, entertaining me. I loved the idea that I'd have another animal - or twelve... and something soft to cuddle.

When the moment of truth arrived, my family gathered in the downstairs bedroom. "Kelly, the puppies are coming out soon!" exclaimed my mother. I couldn't wait. I had no idea, however, what she meant by 'coming out.' I began to search closets. I looked under the dresser. I stuck my head under the bed. "Where are the puppies?" I asked.

My mother had no idea that I didn't understand, so she just said, "soon!"

Gladys, in the meantime, panted on the blanket.

"What's wrong with Gladys?" I asked.

"She's in labor."

Then, something completely educational happened. As Gladys gave birth to puppies one through six, I finally understood.

And I was completely grossed out. Puppies were supposed to be dry and fuzzy. Not slimy - and oozy.

I was further mystified when my dog began licking the dogs clean - but at least I knew where they were coming out...

It was a big shocker.

After an hour or so, I found myself even further shocked, as for the first time, Gladys seemed to growl whenever I took a puppy. She'd slink over, take the tiny pup from me, and return to the others. I wasn't used to my dog growling at me.

She got used to my 'borrowing' Sam, or whatever we named the others, and I got used to the fact that babies come from mom's. I don't know why I didn't think of it before.


Monday, February 20, 2006

I Get Paid To Do This...

I'm working on a project where I need several children's drawings. After compiling all of the necessary components, my boss and I kind of forgot we needed them - so, trooper that I am - did about five of them tonight... This is my favorite.

Can you believe I get paid to do this stuff? It's unbelievable.


Weekend Report

Dave and I drove to the most dangerous city in the US this weekend to see The Kruger Brothers perform. I just have to tell you to go and listen to a sample on their website, because if I tell you that I went to see a couple of Swiss brothers who moved to the US and now play American rootsy/lovely, lovely melodic banjo-led tunes, you might think I was crazy. Jens plays banjo - kind of like Bela Fleck, but very different - and in my opinion - better (sorry, Bela. You know I love you and have nothing but good memories of seeing you live), and Uwe, the other brother plays guitar and sings with a homey-deep voice. A non-related bassist rounds out the trio...

From the day Dave played their CD for me one in the car, I've loved them... - As the CD played, for the first time in our relationship, I stopped talking. I love those guys. Ok. I have to stop talking again and politely suggest that you listen to the samples.

In unrelated news, I lost my cell phone yesterday while walking. Miraculously I found it about 45 minutes later... "Were you mad?" asked Dave. "No," I answered. I hate that phone so much, the only thing that bothered me a little was the hassle of cancelling one and finding another. I have this endless hate-thing about my cell phone (and my cell carrier, but that's another blog for another day. Suffice it to say I can't sit on my couch and talk to you. I get great reception, however, if I hang the front half of my body out my front door - which is okay except when it's 20-degrees out)

Ok. I'll make a deal with you - I'll stop writing, and you stop reading my blog and go listen to the Krugers! Tell me what you think.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Channel Changers

I’m constantly amazed at exactly how forgiving the general public is towards celebrities. I was watching The Insider this evening. Pat O’Brien: Forgiven for drunken debauchery and leaving “Pearl Harbor File” phone messages. On the show, Pat tossed to a package, hosted by none other than the woman who insulted Mickey Mouse in his own backyard, Nancy Kerrigan: She got Forgiven. How is it they all end up on Gossip TV? Come to think of it, it’s kind of insulting. Kathy Lee Gifford interviewed Diane Sawyer. She got forgiven for the Sweat shop thing. Just a click away, on EXTRA!, you’ll find Jerry Penacoli (Does anyone remember this story?): Forgiven.

Maybe Gossip TV is penance for the crap you do in life.

Ok. I can tolerate these people… I guess they’ve paid their dues…

I feel I have to offer something constructive here, so I’ll present my list of people who should never, under any circumstances, be allowed back on TV (I apologize that my list consists of mostly African American Male Athletes and Blonde Girls. I’m not being racist or prejudiced. The list was written purely based on the actions of the following individuals:

1) Mike Tyson: Let’s not glorify this idiot any longer.
2) Michael Jackson: He’s just out of control
3) Lindsay Lohan: Where it must be tough living out one’s difficult teen years in the public eye, I’ve had enough
4) Britney Spears: After Chaotic, need I say more?
5) Tanya Harding: (I know it was a long time ago – But she’s malicious!)
6) OJ Simpson: ‘nuff said
7) Paris Hilton: I’m not sure why she was EVER allowed on TV.
8) T.O.: Someone once defended T.O. by telling me he was misunderstood. No, I think he made his point loud and clear.
9) Marcus Vick: Learn from your brother. Play nice.
10) Dick Cheney: I know. I don’t hate him. I just think it’s time for him to retire and enjoy his millions.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Stupid Platitudes

I found a quote at the end of an e-mail (from an HR professional) that has inspired me to share "Stupid Platitudes" with all of you:

"We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box."

Think about this - not all that helpful, eh? Ah, if life were only this simple.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Why There's No Olympic Medal For Body Builders (And Other News about Baseball)

Conversation Du Jour between Kelly (who loathes Baseball) and Dave (who Loooooves Baseball):

Kelly: Wanna watch the Olympics?
Dave: Oh, please no! The entire Olympics are comprised of people sliding from one place to another... They slide down hills. They slide on ice. They slide down ice chutes... They slide lying down. They slide standing up... They slide big rocks...
Kelly: Kind a like Baseball?
Dave: What?
Kelly: They slide into first! They slide into second. They slide into third. Sometimes they slide feet first. Sometimes they slide head first. Slide, slide, slide.

Then, Dave just looked at me, kind of cockeyed. Then he didn't say anything else. He did, however, make me watch, in lieu of the Olympics, a TLC story about a female body builder who didn't *exactly* deny steroid use. "No one gives us credit for the exteme athletecism body builders exhibit..." said the she-male, deep voiced, waxed and polished woman with 2.8% body fat and breast implants.

I just want to watch someone slide down a hill. Badly.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Sizzlin' Citrus

Ok. Since enduring a lunchtime chat with co-workers about porn shops/personal porn preferences, etc,* I found this amusing entry on a website. Apparently, the censors of the Vietnam web world told a company to find another name for their grapefruit business.

I’ll just copy and paste it- cause you’ve got to read this:

Vietnam's internet authorities rejected a website for a grapefruit wholesaler this week over fears web surfers might think it was a sex site, an official said.
The attempt to register was turned down because without proper Vietnamese tone and vowel markings the word "buoi" (grapefruit) might be confused with "buoi" (penis), said Minh Ngoc, an officer at the Vietnam Internet Network Information Centre.

"It's very sensitive .. it could cause misunderstanding," Mr Ngoc said yesterday.

"In written Vietnamese, the two words are distinct, with the citrus fruit using a rising-falling tone, while the part of the male anatomy has different "u" and "o" and a falling tone."

However, in the western alphabet most commonly used for Vietnamese websites, the two words are indistinguishable.

Ok. So if a person is looking for a porn site, and accidentally find the Grapefruit Wholesaler's site, wouldn’t they just keep surfing?

I’d think that if a person were searching for a Grapefruit wholesaler, and accidentally stumbled upon the porn site, it’d be much worse.

So I offer you Kell’s Words To Live By, for February 10, 2006: “Find Quality Problems.”

*Honest – I’m not a prude, but I really *don’t* want to discuss porn with my co-workers. If perchance I am a prude, I’ve always been taught not to air my dirty laundry at work. I’m absolutely positive that discussing porn with co-workers constitutes dirty laundry. If I don't have to discuss porn with my co-workers ever again, I'm even okay with being a prude.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Warm in February

I'm posting the armadillo I sent Trixie. Trixie said I should post mine because she doesn't have time to do it... So here it is. I haven't however, photographed the one I got in the mail, so this'll have to do for now.

It's February. It's never a great month for me - It's just in the middle of the winter. It's bleak. It's cold... And nothing interesting seems to happen in February. We've even had to rely on President's Day and invent Valentine's Day to get ourselves through February.

Traditionally, I've tried to travel in February. From 1999 to 2001, I travelled to Haiti for a week each year to photograph a medical clinc in Port Au Prince. This year, all I get to do is listen to the daily election news and hope for Haiti's sake that they find a president that can manage the abject poverty and the 5% of the population who are so rich they can control the outcome of the rest of the nationals. It's dreadful in so many ways. It's like a civilization turned inside-out.

But. In February, it was warm in Haiti - wonderfully between 70- and 79-degrees. Flowers and breadfruit bloomed, and these crazy dogs roamed the streets. Everytime my group would travel to the clinic, small children would line the streets and yell, 'Blanc! Blanc! Blanc!"

One day, my friend, Warren, and I were walking through the market, looking to photograph. No one wanted to be photographed, so we were threatened and chased out. Once in the neighborhood, I was cornered by one of the wild dogs. Everyone just laughed. I couldn't fathom the possible and likely diseases the dog carried, so I inched my way to safety as quickly as possible. Wild times in Port Au Prince were had by all.

I met some of the most interesting people there. Celem was my favorite. He worked with us in the clinic, spoke very little English, yet frequently read French philosophers. Celem's tale was pretty common among Haiti, I think. He once worked in the baseball factories. He lost his job with the US embargo during the Clinton administration. Most people lost their jobs at that time. Celem has a wonderful wife. I called her "Mrs. Celem," because she refused to tell me her first name... Or her last name for that matter... They had several children, who could often be found at home, bleaching their Sunday clothes or scrubbing the Haitian dust from shoes and purses. When Celem needed money, he'd rent a Haitian taxicab (called a 'tap-tap' due to the rickety noises the engines often made) and haul loads of people wherever they wanted to go. At the clinic, he'd often sing hymns. When I could catch the gist of what he was singing, I'd sing along in English. It made us both smile.

Ah, February. No trips this year till next month. For now, I'll have to entertain myself with my writing assignments: I've signed up for a Writer's Course Online. Once the class begins, I'll get lectures and assignments online, I'll write my submission (which I will post on the blog - unless I've already posted it on the blog) and upload it. The teacher will comment on it. Then the other students from cyberspace will comment on it, and we'll start the whole process again. Sounds like fun, eh?

I'm kind of excited. It'll be good to have some sort of academic feedback for my work - and some sort of outlet to hear from other writers in the same boat.

It's been a long time since I've had homework. I wonder what kind of student I'll be as an adult. Hopefully, one like Celem - who just keeps reading, singing, and smiling.


Quick Update

Anne and Don are splitsville. Anne reports she has no physical attraction to him. She further reports that she'd like to still hang out with Dave and I. We're much cuter than Don.

Also: Coming Soon: The results of the Armadillo Swap. It was really fun. Photos soon!


Monday, February 06, 2006

Code in my Dose

Everyone at the office today has told me today that I either LOOK sick, sound horrible, or has offered a heart-felt "poor Kell..." No one has suggested I go home. No one suggested I get some sleep, although my boss bought me sushi for lunch - because wasabi clears the nasal passages like nothing else.

It's interesting what this amazing steamroller of a cold has done to me. I could taste the hot - and for awhile, it helped. I could NOT taste coffee. I could taste salt. Couldn't taste tea, although the hot helps.

All day I've been working on a project with the tightest deadline imaginable. (which is why no one has sent me home) - It looks good - and I am grateful (eternally grateful, really) I just need a vat of Vicks Vapor Rub. And a massage... And some juice... And a pillow.

Ok. I promise no more whining. I want to say that I heartily endorse the following Superbowl Ads: The Budweiser Streaking Sheep, The Fed Ex Caveman, and the Aleve Spot with Leonard Nimoy. Very clever, ad execs. Very Clever.

I'm panning the Pizza Hut/Jessica Simpson Ad - and even though the "Code Black" promos made me watch Grey's Anatomy, I feel I've seen the same basic plot on ER. That's it. The Cold Report, and my Superbowl Critique - all in one neat, easy-to-read blog.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Girl Interrupted

Life has such a way of changing my plans.... And it seems every time I have an overbooked weekend, something happens, and nothing goes according to schedule. This weekend, it was all about illness... For some reason, I've developed yet another cold (Could it be that I should've had a flu shot? My doctor said I probably caught it from the generous children I videotaped last week). I was so sure it was a sinus infection that I ran to the doctors for some fast remedy. "I'm sorry, Kelly. I see a lot of this run through my office, and I'm afraid you have a cold."

I also had a gig on Friday - and was so worried I wouldn't be able to sing. It's bad enough I'm short a guitar player (Fran is still in Singapore, living a life at a luxury hotel that I remain unaccustomed to) - In addition, I'd volunteered to cook at a camp I used to work for. In addition, I was bringing my nephew with me. I was thoroughly looking forward to spending some time with him. Following cooking, I was going to watch the Superbowl with Dave and his father.

To make a long story short, I managed to get through the gig. I sang for three hours before my throat began to ache (and hasn't stopped). My sister called late in the day to tell me my nephew was also ill and wouldn't be able to come with me. I cancelled my Superbowl plans, too...

I will say Dave took good care of me yesterday - and brought me soup... (Isn't that nice?)

I'd try to nap, but I had a work issue and needed to go into the office for awhile this afternoon (It's amazing what one can accomplish when no one else is around) -

I'm sorry to be such a whiny-puss, but between the coughs, congestion, and cancellations, I'm just so... interrupted. sigh.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006


Everyone collects something, right? I collect armadillos. I don't personally know many people who do, but within the last year, I met two. One is the woman from Florida who I interviewed two weeks ago. The other is my blog friend, Trixie.

The woman in Florida and I decided that we'd swap armadillos. I'm sending her one of my favorites (I know it sounds strange - but I've enjoyed it for a long time - it may just be time for someone else to look at it for awhile... Besides, it'll look good in her great room.)(I got the idea from Ardie Rodale of Rodale press, who once wrote a short story about giving her favorite scarf away... She said it gave her a great deal of joy to share it... I thought I'd give it a go.)

Trixie's swap was harder to decide (maybe since I've never seen her living room) - but I found one that I love - it's cheerful, fun, and in the mail.

I'll post photos of both after Trixie gets hers - I don't want to spoil the surprise... and let you know how the Great Trade-A-Dillo turns out. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?