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.

Friday, December 29, 2006

I Am A Terrible Host

I am a terrible host.

Last night, I was expecting the arrival of my friend Cara, driving in from Michigan. She was bringing her adorable fiancé to meet me.

I expected them around 10. The actual drive between Grand Rapids and me is about 12 hours… When you add food/gas/facility stops, you add another hour or two.

So I was able to get all of the last minute house cleaning done (ok. Let me rephrase that. I did enough house cleaning so my guests wouldn’t think I was a total pig… I have a home office that is always in incredible disarray. Example, I cleaned it out one day. The next day, I started collecting stuff for a yard sale. Then it was a disaster of boxes for a few weeks… After that, Christmas decoration boxes… It’s endless. In my mind, I’m the neatest neat freak on the planet. In reality, I’m a busy girl with limited space and time… sigh)

Anyway, I can’t tell you how much better I felt vacuuming… Immediately following, I blew up an air mattress… which filled the whole room. Again. It looked cluttered. Can’t win – but I can rest in the knowledge that underneath the air mattress lies a vacuumed rug.

Ok. With the house “clean,” I waited for guests. I sat on the couch, and turned the TV on. It got chilly, I pulled a blanket over me.

The next thing I recall is my friend Cara standing over me on the couch, “KELLY!!! We’re here!!!!”

Apparently, they’d been there for a while… long enough to bang on my front door… call Michigan… walk around my kitchen… and discuss the measures to make me awake.

In fact, they only realized I was under the blanket when I started snoring. I hate it, but I can't deny it. I'm a chronic snor-er... At least they knew I hadn't forgotten them! The question begs - Who falls asleep while waiting for guests? Who falls asleep instead of devouring every moment of “Grays Anatomy?”

I’m such a bad host. I'll have to make it up to them.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Quote of the Season

My nephew was unwrapping his Christmas present. It was a large red duffel bag that was encased in a plastic baggie. He read the label and squealed with delight.

"Oh Boy! A Duffel!"


"What is it?"

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Miss Potter

I heard a review of "Miss Potter," Renee Zellweger's new film about a little bit of Beatrix Potter's life. It made me smile. First off, it made me remember those cool little books about Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail... The little books with the satiny pages. I loved the paper they were printed on! Isn't that a weird memory? Anyway, Cheers to Peter Rabbit and his cute little blue coat.

Has anyone seen the film yet? I don't think it's come to my neck of the woods yet.


Friday, December 22, 2006

My Favorite Things About Christmas

When I was a kid, my favorite part of Christmas had nothing to do with the traditional cookie baking, gift giving, caroling, or tree-decorating. I mean, all those things were fun, but looking back, anticipation became the tradition that far trumped opening gifts…

Instead of buying for all three of my siblings, we always picked names and bought for one person. The gifts were never as much fun as sneaking around, trying to figure out who had my name – and who everyone else had. Keeping my name a secret was also a lot of fun. One year, I was in charge of the slips for the name pick. I wrote “Kelly” on each of the papers, and passed the hat. When I drew the last slip, it was so much fun to say “Oh! I picked my own name!”

When everyone protested in unison, that no – THEY’D picked my name, my family had a big laugh…

The best holiday tradition I can think of, however, was The Yearly Big Box.

Each year, either one of my sibs or I was the recipient of “The big box.” My mother kept all of her wrapped presents in her bedroom. They weren’t particularly hidden. To enhance the mystery, my mom would tag every box – except the big one – so we’d all sneak in at different times, survey the wrapped wonderland and hope that this year was “my year” for the big box.

When my turn actually came, I didn’t know it. It was huge box with snowman wrapping paper, and true to tradition, it was unmarked. I knew I HAD to have whatever it was… so one afternoon, I wrote my name on the paper and snuck out. The next day, on my daily visit to “my” box, I noticed my father had crossed out my name. I knew it was Dad – because beneath crossed out “Kelly,” was red-lettered “Dad”scribbled below.

This of course, meant war.

As Christmas approached, Dad’s name got crossed out. Jill’s name appeared. Then Jill got the “X,” and Gwen wrote her name. I reclaimed the box. My brother may have joined the action… But the crossing out continued until Christmas Eve.

On Christmas day, the actual tag appeared on the gift – taped above all the scratchy names of my sisters and “Dad.”

It said “Kelly.” I beamed triumphantly.


In case you’re wondering… The contents of the big box weren’t nearly as entertaining as the game my family played.

It makes sense that I grew up to appreciate the process of making things – far beyond what I actually create... because the real story is the process!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What I Am In My Head

Among other things, like calm, cool, and collected, in my head, I am a master chef. The truth is, I really like cooking - I just don't have time to do it. However, because my vegetarian sister has requested more vegetable matter at the family Christmas table, I have delved into my vat of unused collectibles - my cookbooks.

I have a lot of them. The one I use a lot is called "The Zondervan Family Cookbook." My mom gave it to me years ago. I even adopted her practice of using a cookbook as a notebook. When I like a recipe, I label it "Good," or give it a big orange star. If the recipe yields horrifying results, I just cross it out - or write "ew" in the margins. It's handy, because I don't cook enough to remember...

Anyway, I'm sharing the recipe I'm making for my vegged-out sis:

Squash & Apple Bake

2 lbs butternut or buttercup squash (I've never seen a buttercup squash, but have no doubt Wegmans will know what I need)
1/2 c. Brown sugar
1/4 c. butter or margerine, melted
1T. Flour
1t. salt
1/2 t. mace or cinnamon (I only know one kind of mace - so I guess it's cinnamon!)
2 baking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2" slices

Cut each squash in half. Remove seeds, fibers, and peel. Cut into 1/2" slices. Arrange squash in ungreased 11.5" x 7.5" baking dish. Arrange apple slices on top of squash. Mix brown sugar, melted butter, salt and cinnamon (I'm not using mace) and sprinkle over apples and squash. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until squash is tender.

I just need y'all to know that there are no notes on this recipe, so I'm not guaranteeing it's success. I just know that my sister will eat it, my nephew Ian won't - but TJ might because it's got sugar in it.

I thought I'd give you some recipes from other wacky cookbooks in my nearly unused collection:

Years ago, I did video for a prosthodontist. He did dental implants. His wife, the enterprising woman she was, created a cookbook for various stages of implant recovery. She even signed my cookbook... Where I'm tempted to share her many day after surgery recipes, like the Tuna Shake (no I've never made one), Here's my favorite recipe from her:

Banana Hotcakes

1.25 c. unbleached flour
2T sugar
2t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. nutmeg
3/4 c skim milk
1 c. (roughly 3 medium) mashed bananas
2 T. oil
2t. Lemon juice
1t vanilla
2 egg whites

spray skillet or griddle with nonstick cooking spray and heat to 375 degrees. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup. Level off. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar baking powder, salt and nutmeg. mix well.

Add remaining ingredients - stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

For each pancake, pour 1/4 c. batter onto skillet. Trun when edges look cooked and bubbles begin to break on surface.

NOTE: I admit I use Bisquick for the pancake batter and just add the spices. I will tell you these pancakes are great with a little applesauce on the side.

Here's a recipe from my totally unused, yet read "Taste of the Outer Banks" cookbook:

Tomato Grunt (Yes, you get this recipe because I like the name)

3 large fresh summer tomatoes peeled, cored, and cut into chunks. You can also sub a 28 oz can of tomatoes cut up.
4 cold biscuits or stale slices of bread torn into pieces
1c brown sugar
1 stick butter, cut into chunks

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a greased casserole. Bake in a moderate oven until bubbly and light brown on top, about 45 minutes.

NOTE: This seems like it's not only a cool name for tomatoes, but a colorful holiday dish. I might sub this instead of the squash apple thing.

I'll also recommend the coolest cookbook I've never used: "Movie Menus" - a book that takes a film genre and creates a menu for a party. I swear I'm going to do it one day. Here's a sample. If you want a recipe, let me know.

If you're showing, for example, a war movie (cause Dave loves war movies. His daughter once noted, "Dad, your favorite movie would be 'Banjos of WWII.")

You might make these:

Coming Attractions: Victory Garden Salad
WWI Potato Soup

Feature Presentation: Cheese rarebit
Creamy Shredded beef with Almonds
Tuna a la King
Peanut and Cheese Macaroni
Woolworth Special

Closing Credits: Maple Glazed Angel Food Cake
Peppermint Devil's food Squares
Jam Triangles

So get cooking! If you make any of these, let me know!


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Things I didn't Really Say, But Wanted To

Does anyone else get annoyed by things that should, on paper, thrill their souls? I do. One of them is that Dave really seems to like Will Ferrell movies - but I'll save that silver screen tidbit for another day (really, dear. Like whomever you want...)

Ok. In 1999, some friends and I produced a CD of Christmas songs as a fundraiser. It wasn't a big deal. I was convinced that if you didn't know us, you wouldn't want to listen to the CD - but people seemed happy to have a copy of it. It was fine, really.

Ok. It wasn't that fine. The production of the CD was difficult. The four of us who paid for the production decided that each writer could produce their own songs sans influence from the others. As fate would happen, um... a lot of people - one in particular - produced, influenced, and cajolled production onto other people. A writer who didn't pay, but whose work appeared on the CD complained the whole time about everything, noting how unprofessional we were (she was right. None of us were music professionals, and with the exception of one, still aren't)

The duplication house we chose didn't get their work done in the time they said it would be done. I had to call a lawyer friend of mine to get the product delivered in time to sell for Christmas. I hate being heavy-handed - and hate those who make me heavy handed even more!

So no one really knew what went on behind the music - but it was tough. I was gratified that people liked the CD. The problem was, in order to make them really valuable to us financially, we had to press 1,000 of them. Do you know how difficult it is to sell one thousand CD's made by non-professional musicians? If you don't know - it's hard. Each year, I was depressed when I saw stacks of them for sale... Each year the price dropped.

Each year, despite my best efforts to like the CD that I felt was fine - but not great - someone said something to remind me of all the crap associated with its production...

Each year, I had to hear from "Sally," one of the writers, about how much she hated the production of this CD - and how badly it sounded - and how blabbidy blah blah blah (One year, someone asked if they could sing a song I wrote. I said, "sure." - After the performance, Sally said, "That song has never sounded so good..." etc...

It's not that I'm not grateful to have had the opportunity - Really. It's just that now, after the CD was published six years ago, It'll never really go away... I guess it's kind of a "duh" moment I had. Whatever you record will never go away. It's like what Murphy once described as a "Pearl Harbor File."

Anyway, last night, as I was sitting in the parking lot in front of my neice's school (I was waiting for my parents. We were going to see her Christmas Dinner Theater), the phone rang. It was Bob, one of the pastors at my church.

"Kelly, who wrote 'Joseph's Blues?'

"Russ and I. Why?"

"Well, I'm using it in Sunday's sermon, and I wanted to give credit where credit is due."

"Bob, this CD will never, ever go away, will it?"

"Nope. It's a Pearl Harbor File..."

Ok, Bob didn't really say that last line. What he said was "Nope. I guess not."

Then Bob asked, "Should I tell people the CD is available if they want one?"

"I thought they sold out last year."

"No. I think John (another writer) has piles of them in his basement."


Ok, I didn't really say that to the pastor of my church... But on the inside, I yelled it at the top of my voluptuous lungs.

What I said was, "Oh. I guess it really is hard to unload one-thousand CD's."

"Seems so." said Bob.

"Ok - do what you have to!"

This morning in church, just as if I'd just produced the album yesterday, people kept approaching me, "Kelly, that was a great song."

"Thank you."

"Are you writing songs still?"

"No, now I'm only writing about diesel engines and serial killers..."

Ok. I didn't really say that, but I wanted to... What I really said was, "No, I've moved on to prose. Not really doing much songwriting these days."

"Why not? You're really good."

"Well, thank you."

I really said Thank you. I really meant it, too, but darn it... That music was really a pain to produce...

I wonder if Bobby Rydell feels like this whenever someone says, "Hey, I really love that 'Volare..." I wonder if the making of the thing - no matter how great that thing is - no matter how long it's endured - just gets kind of 'been there, done that...' - And then I wonder if I should just quit my bitching... because the reality is - who really gets to make a CD? sigh.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Six Months In Review

Being that I got a new computer in June, I lost months of calendar, and can therefore only offer the Last Six Months in Review:

1) In June, I had my first real photography disaster. I forgot a gig…I got there, but it was late, I was embarrassed, and I’m sure the photos weren’t as good as they should have been.

2) I July, I stood up my friend Rob for coffee at Borders. To date, every time I speak with him, he swears to me he’s still waiting, and his coffee is very very cold.

3) In August, my band played a whirlwind three gigs in three days, marking our very first, very short world tour. I like to think of it as the "Blink and Miss Tour of 2006."

4) In September, I shot a wedding of an entirely “green” couple – they drove a car that ran on bio-fuel (vegetable oil), and announced that the wine served during communion at their ceremony was 100% organic local wine. The only meat served at the reception was erroneous raw fish served at the sushi bar; the favors were cast wind mills, made by a friend of the happy couple’s. In all, kind of a cool twist on weddings, and it was nice to be able to be a part of it.

5) In October, I met an author who writes about vampires.

6) In November, my father played bass for my gig. And even though he only LEARNED the bass two hours beforehand, and only played one song, he still commented to my sister that he didn’t get paid. For Christmas, I’m giving him a Christmas Ornament. It’s a snowman dressed in Washington Redskins gear (Dad is a big Joe Gibbs fan). I’m also including a gift certificate. I’m going to tell him it’s in payment for his phenomenal bass playing, even though it’s really just his Christmas present. I know this may sound cheap to you, but know that we left my father a bass AND an amp (not to mention the free lesson), so please don't judge me too harshly. (You can, however, judge me for leaving Rob in the coffee shop for months. I'm a terrible friend.)

7) This month, even though I’m going to kick and scream the entire way, I’m returning to my neice’s Christmas concert. I’m not fussing about my neice or her singing ability… I'm not fussing about going to her concert. Really. My beef is that last year, her chorus teacher sang four love duets with a student. I found this not only professionally inappropriate (teachers should showcase their students’ talent; not their own), but uber-creepy.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Chaos

If anyone's seen my address book, I'd really like to send your Christmas card. Grrr.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Giving of Gifts

I have to write something almost mindless today - just to get my mind off of events of late... (Yesterday, I got a work-related call while en route to my family's house for the anniversary of my nephew's death - and where it wasn't a big deal, I just needed work not to be a part of my day... for a day.)

Anyway, It's a tradition I have - I miss my sib's birthdays every year. My brother's is on November 14, another sister's on November 16, and my oldest sister's is on November 24. I'm terrible at remembering birthdays, but I'm good for it. To raise the spirits of my family yesterday, I brought their gifts.

My oldest sister is easier to buy for. I got her a gift card to a store that she has to buy something for herself... She usually neglects herself, so I must force her to treat herself a little. My other sister, however has rules... and where I love my sister, I have to say that she makes the gift-giving process both stressful and not-so-fun.

One: Ideally, the gift must be a surprise.

However, when she tells you what she wants, she's been known to return a lot of gifts... Last year, my mother called in a panic: "Kelly, can you help me find boots for your sister?" I scoured the internet for the proper pair of boots. I chose based on price, appearance, and my sister's strict instructions. I thought I did all right. I even wrapped the boots and brought them home on Christmas Day... Two weeks later, my sister called asking for the receipt. She didn't think they were warm enough.

Two: Gift must be wrapped. I take offense to this rule, even though it's traditionally accepted as a gift-giving practice. My brother-in-law is not really into the whole wrapping thing. I myself am a horrible gift-wrapper. I really stink at it. My lines are often crooked... I used to be tape happy... I never curl the ribbon properly... I don't enjoy the practice...

Days before her birthday, she called me to complain about her birthday anxiety. "No one ever surprises me. No one gets me what I want... And my husband doesn't wrap gifts. I hate that. Can't he just wrap it?" I know the idea of gift-giving is to please the other person, but I have to be honest. If I didn't have to wrap, I would't either. (I've compromised with gift bags)

Incidentally, she's not the only one... If my sister-in-law receives a gift without proper wrapping (or proper accessorizing), she comments, "Oh, Aunt Kelly just hates cards, doesn't she?" I ask you: what in the world does a five-year-old need with a card?

Anyway, back to my theories on gift-wrap.

I work hard to please people - too hard, most of the time.

So I made sure I wrapped my sister's birthday present. I chose pretty, handmade paper in a color I know she loves (Volkswagon green). I didn't bother with ribbon, because to date, ribbon never made it to the list of rules we must follow. I got a card with a phrenology head on it (My sister is in the psych field). To my credit, I did well... She commented on how much she liked the paper. I said I folded it over so she could keep it.

That's where I made my fatal mistake.

My family then chimed in with endless joking about my grandmother (on my dad's side), who saved every square inch of wrapping paper so she'd never have to buy any. She saved most gifts to give to other people - but thankfully, that didn't
enter into the coversation, or my sister would've suspected I regifted her present - which I didn't.

My sister was so upset, that she crumpled the pretty green handmade paper I'd so carefully chosen for her on the basis of her recycling it into something nice - I felt like I'd failed. Yet another thing I must thank my cranky-grandma for on Judgement Day.

Anyway, gift wrapping was only really fun for me once... Maybe six years ago. I'd taken all my gifts and wrapping paper to the nursing home where my other grandma lived. We wrapped together, and she oohed and ahhhed at my gift choices as if she were receiving each and every one. It was really nice to spend time with her - and a memory I've wrapped in my mind with the shiniest of papers, the most glowing of ribbons, and a card that reads "To Kelly with all my Love."


Friday, December 08, 2006

One Year Ago Tomorrow...

I can't tell you how I miss this kid. I can still hear him denying an act I watched him commit... 'I nindnt Nooooooooh it." ("I didn't do it.") It makes me smile. The next time I'm with my sister in the car - and she hits a bump, I'm going to yell "MY BONES!" (Just like I taught Jay to do. She hates it, but we laugh now.)


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pearl Harbor Baby

That's right. It's my birthday. I have to tell you, aside from the fact that I have a sore neck, I don't feel any different.

Ok. Today, I got an e-mail from a friend, wishing me a Happy Birthday/Pearl Harbor Day (my Dad used to call me up and sing "Remember Pearl Harbor" every year. He hasn't done it today - but I'll see him this evening.)

She also asked if Mary Q. (not her real name) had sent me birthday greetings.

Mary Q. is a woman both of us used to work with. She's a veteran on-air personality of the area I live in. I call her "The Goddess of the Lehigh Valley..." She smokes a lot, wears so much perfume, I always smelled her before I saw her, and was generally... well, kind of scatterbrained.

Her birthday is today. I know this - because, well, don't you kind of know who's birthday is on the same day as yours?

Each year, I'd say "Happy Birthday" to her and each year - she'd stare at me incredulously. "How on earth did you remember it was my birthday?" I'd remind her that it was my birthday too. The next year, the cycle would repeat.

It was a little embarassing.

So. Just so I don't miss anyone, Happy Birthday to the state of Delaware, Tom Waits, and Larry Bird. Many Happy Returns.