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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

There's No Business Like Snow Business

Years ago, my friend Jane sent me a Polaroid of a sculpture her husband had just finished… It was a replica of “The Kiss” – and it was built out of snow. When I find the Polaroid, I’ll post it for you… It was pretty cool.

It made me think of all the amazing artists who have created temporary art – most notably – Andy Goldsworthy. He makes art that falls down, gets washed away, blown away, rotted out, and melted. He makes chains of leaves, pinned together with thorns that he releases down streams. He sculpts hollow snowballs. He makes arches from ice… He’s well worth looking up. His artwork completely changed the way I feel about art – because it gave me a new appreciation of the way things change – and the beauty of the moment.

All this to say, I have a large yard… On which, two nights ago, someone built a large snowman. I first noticed him while driving to work yesterday morning. He was somewhat shocking, actually...

The fact that the snowman was built on my yard isn’t the problem. The fact that they stuck an 8-foot stick into the middle of the bottom snowball (no pun intended… Please. If I’d said “lowest snow boulder” y’all would have made a bigger deal out of it.) The snowman, other than that – was about what you'd expect.

I drove away – thinking many things. Among them, “I wonder if anyone believes that I had embellished the snowman?” “I wonder if we’ll see him in the newspaper, arrested for exposing himself in my yard…” But mostly - I wish I’d had a camera with me – because it would have made this story a lot funnier.

By the time I drove home that evening, someone who had an anti-snowman (or anti-large-stick) bias, nearly obliterated all traces. What remained was the largest snowball sans snow-manhood. I know I shouldn’t laugh… but admit it. It’s kind of amusing, in that bathroom humor sort of way.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


I've been SO busy lately. It seems buying a house takes up a lot of my time - and makes me think I'm going to be ALL Gray by the time it's over... At the same time, I'm so happy to be buying a house, having equity, not worrying about the landlord showing up when dirty clothes are inadvertantly left in the bathroom... It's kinda nice.

Here's a quick rundown of other things that are going on. A good friend is leaving her job after almost three decades of work. I'm not upset that she's leaving. She's been thinking of going for a long time, so the fact that she's going isn't what bothers me. The fact that she was ASKED to leave, partnered with the fact that her boss is calling her leaving a RETIREMENT - now THAT'S what bothers me. These horrible people don't have the courtesy or kindness to let her make her own announcement... I actually consider the whole thing a big lie... as I believe retirement is what one person implements when one decides one doesn't want to further his/her employment because he she believes it's time to kick back, relax, and enjoy ones' millions... Anyway - there's a party for her next week. I sent a note to her boss requesting that the word "retirement" not be included on the cake. Sheesh.

Ok. More later - wish me luck on the house.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Change of Scenery

Hey! I got the House! Unless something goes totally awry with the inspection - it looks like I'll be living here

Friday, February 16, 2007

House Hunting

I made a bid on my very first home today. I like the house so much; I didn’t even notice that as I wrote the largest check I’ve ever written, I wasn't even shaking. (So if anyone wants to steal my identity, I’m not the woman of means you may think I am…) I don’t want to talk about the house any more – because it’s not mine yet… But when and if it IS mine, you won’t get me to shut up about it. Suffice it to say, this was the first time this happened:

Kelly: Dave, I can’t find anything wrong with this house.
Dave: Kelly, neither can I.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Carving Out A Holiday

It’s Valentine’s Day. It’s kind of like all the other holidays that the card stores have concocted, exploited, and made lots of money off of. Now, I’m not a cynic. I’m all for flowers (although Dave isn’t… and told me he thought the florist was somewhere one buys floors)… In fact, someone at work got a dozen long-stemmed roses yesterday. I was happy for her – albeit appropriately jealous (isn’t that WHY men send flowers to their ladies at work?). In fact, the women at work got kind of fussy when they saw the flowers. It wasn’t that they were unhappy that my co-worker got flowers. It was just that they didn’t. It was raw commentary on the state of relationships… And I’m guessing it happens every year.

(To battle the enmity – I found TWO e-roses on my e-mail this AM.)

Anyway, my current celebration of the holidays isn’t all that extravagant. I got Dave a little present – and if the weather permits, we’ll see each other tonight (A guy was quoted in this morning’s local paper as saying, “We got snow for Valentines Day!!!”). On our first Valentines Day, Dave, always the romantic – bought me a microphone. Before you think, “How weird. How cold,” consider this – he thinks so highly of my singing – that he expects me to sing and be heard. It was one of the nicest gifts ever.

I don’t think I really get all that “into” any holiday. I’m not really into huge crowds, so last minute Christmas shopping, 4th of July Weekend beach trips, or New Years’ Eve in Times Square don’t appeal to me. My life is pretty full without decorating – so at Christmas, I put up a tree, and either decorate the mantle above my fireplace or send cards. I alternate years. This year – was about cards.

I’ve been quite shamed by my friend Stephanie. She’s a decorating wizard. She hangs hearts in the window. She sends Thanksgiving Cards. She’s probably related to Martha Stewart. Her big holiday, however, is Halloween. From the yard to the basement, no surface in her September-through-October home remains undecorated. She puts gravestones and fog machines in the yard. She hangs cobwebs. Witches, Ghosts, Ghouls, Bats, Rats, Cats, and Jack O’Lanterns adorn the house. She carves. She gives candy to hundreds and hundreds young Irish kids (Get it? Trick O’Treaters… groan.). She not only sews her costumes, but anyone else who wants one. One year, I decided I’d wear an old bridesmaid dress to one of her parties. She made me a sash that read “Miss Understood.” – so I could be a pageant queen for a night.

She’s amazing. When Halloween is over, she simply spins the Jack O’ Lanterns around – and has a lovely Thanksgiving display – nearly ready made.

Me? I haven’t carved anything in a long time – unless you consider the people I love – whose images are carved into my heart.

Happy Valentines Day To All – and To All A Good Night!

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Bluegrass Jam

This weekend, Dave, my Dad, and I went to a Bluegrass Jam. These little pieces of Americana should not be missed. Where else can likeminded musicians take over a municipal club? Where else can musicians fill every nook and cranny – including the empty spaces beneath the stairs – with the fast-paced melodies and sad tales of woe that make up Bluegrass Music? Where else can sub-par musicians take their place on stage with some really good musicians – and a few standouts – and sing for an audience of 2PM drunks?

To Dave, the Monthly Bluegrass Jam is a little piece of heaven.

I walked in, and asked the lady at the table if she’d seen my cousin, Deb. Without a beat, an unknown voice behind me bellowed, “She’s in the BAR!” Of course she is. Where else would she be? My cousin Deb is a gifted artist. She’s an amazing photographer, woodworker, and jewelry maker. She actually plays guitar, too. However, when I found her at the bar, she had no instruments with her. She just came to hang out – and show pictures of her new granddaughter, Tannah. (How many grannies out there do you know who hang out at the bar showing off her “brag book” in the form of an artists’ portfolio?

Anyway – the afternoon was highlighted by a young kid in the corner, softly playing his harmonica. When he walked by, we introduced ourselves. His name was Josh. I asked if he liked playing Bluegrass. He assured me he had – and then asked if I knew how to play ‘Tennessee Stud.’

“I know the song – but I don’t know how to play it,” I said.

“If you want to go someplace quiet, I’ll sing it for you.”

Smooth eh? But Wait! It gets better.

“Um,” I said, “I know the words – but maybe Dave knows how to play it.”

We moved to where Dave and my father were playing music (ok – Dave was playing music. My father decided he was too intimidated to play music with strangers just yet.)

“Dave, do you know ‘Tennessee Stud?’ I asked.

“No, sorry,” Dave answered.

“Well in that case, we’d better play ‘Wabash Cannonball’ so you can hear Josh play Harmonica.

What followed was the song. Dave sang softly. I played softly. Josh was playing SO softly, we could barely hear him, but it was clear he was having a good time. Afterwards, we sat around and played a few more songs. Then Josh tapped my shoulder.

“I suppose you’re wondering how old I am.”
Truth be told, I hadn’t been wondering anything of the sort – but guessed that he was 8.

“Nope. I’m nine. But my birthday is in a few weeks – so I’m really more like nine and a half.”

Dave didn’t hear this part of the conversation. When I told him about it later that afternoon, (after we’d left that part of the building), he just laughed and laughed. A few minutes later, Josh walked by us again. He gave me the funniest wave – the one where you don’t lift your arm from your side – but just sort of arch your wrist and give a hip-level wave. I smiled. He stopped.

He brandished his harp (that’s harmonica for all you non-grass people) “Are you ready to go downstairs and play some more?” I told him I’d catch up with him in a little while. Dave just looked at me.

“Is he hitting on you?”

I grinned, “I might just date the two of you for awhile.”

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Movie Reviews, From My Seat On The Couch... The One With The Half-Empty Box Of Tissues On It

It’s February: The month I like the least. It’s about 8-degrees outside. I have a never-ending virus. I haven’t been able to get out very much. I can’t taste food. I wake up with a nose so stuffy I have to get up every few hours.

So in the interim, when things aren’t very exciting, I’ve been watching a lot of movies, care of my free Blockbuster Online Trial:

1)The Station Agent: I liked this quiet little movie about a dwarf named Finbar McBride. He inherited a train station in New Jersey. The whole film (warning: spoilers) pivots around people’s treatment of Finn. He quietly ignores catcalls from street kids like “Hey – how’s the little wife?” He gets frustrated when he can’t protect a woman’s honor: her abusive boyfriend began yelling. When the dwarf interceded, he simply got pushed aside. Later, he gets so drunk he passes out on a railroad track. The last image he believes he’ll ever see is the lights of the oncoming engine. (last spoiler warning) – In the morning, he awakens – his watch was smashed on the tracks, but the train’s wheels proved too far off the ground to… well, kill a dwarf… so here’s a guy that doesn’t want to talk to anyone – yet somehow is cajoled by two neighborhood misfits – into an unlikely friendship. What struck me about this film – was how passive Finn was – he sought no one out, required nothing but a little respect from others – and simply let life happen to him. In the end, he found friendship – but he wasn’t really looking… Or maybe he was.

2)March of the Penguins: The funny thing that happens when a documentary dresses up as a narrative… I fall for characters, but don’t get all my questions answered. I think I actually have more questions about emperor penguins than I did before I watched this film.

3)Bullets over Broadway: I just love John Cusack. In this role, he plays David Shayne, a near playwright. I guess I love Cusack because his roles are always these conflicted men, who unlike Finbar McBride, are fighting every day to gain identity ground… His Shayne is a combination of Martin Blank (Grosse Point Blank), John Trager (Serendipity), and my favorite, Rob Gordon (High Fidelity). In this silly little tale, Shayne is given the opportunity of a lifetime: his play will be produced on Broadway, if and only if he agrees to cast Olive, the tripsy-dipsy girlfriend of his mobster financial backer. Olive sucks – but the real truth is – Shayne’s play isn’t very good. It isn’t until Olive’s cocksure bodyguard helps Shayne do a rewrite that the action really heats up. It’s an altogether watchable film. I was especially impressed with Diane Wiest - who gave an amazing performance.

4)American Splendor: I liked the convention of this film far more than I liked Harvey Pekar, the protagonist. Pekar, the real-life creator of the comic book ‘American Splendor,’ appears in interview-style as Paul Giamatti is “That Guy who doesn’t really look like me” who portrays Harvey in the vignettes that reenact Pekar’s life. Especially interesting: When Harvey Pekar appeared on the David Letterman Show – Giamatti appears in the greenroom, but it’s the real Pekar who shows up on screen. Overall – this is truly a redemption tale of a guy who’s “almost there…” Maybe more like David Shayne than I care to admit.

5)Auto Focus – This film really bothered me – and despite the appearance of Willem Dafoe, it’s one of those movies I regret sitting through. The story of the unsolved murder of Hogan’s Hero star Bob Crane, I thought the film was going to be more of a mystery. Instead, it just depressed the snot out of me (And now that I’m trying to shake my cold, maybe I should watch it again…) (Forget it. I won’t do it.) Director Paul Schrader and I went to the same college. I’ve heard him speak, I’ve read his book – but I can’t help but feeling that he should be seeing a therapist – not working out his life issues on film (et, tu, Quentin Tarantino).

Okay – I sent back The Aviator, and another movie I can’t remember – because as it turns out, I didn’t really want to see them after all.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Blinded By The Bike

One evening - at about 4:30PM, when I was 10, a screw came loose on the bicycle I was riding. It may not have been so bad had I not been speeding down a long hill. It may not have been so bad had I been wearing a helmet (kids, please wear your helmets!). The bike fell apart, and I hit the road. I hit pavement so quickly I don't remember much that happened after that. Of the parts I do recall, I remember only in short scenes. For example, I remember stumbling into the ER with my mother. I remember the nurse telling me to take a seat. I remember the doctor who happened to wander into the waiting room - and how he ushered me in immediately.

Other than that, I remember flashes of faces, needles, and ice packs. I sustained an orbital fracture - meaning I cracked my skull.(Please wear your helmet!) - The fracture chipped. The chip severed the optic nerve in my right eye. My world has been without depth perception ever since... (I like to tell people I have perfect 20 vision) (It's a half blind joke. Get it? 20? Not 20-20?) (Never mind)

Anyway, I've had a few painful surgeries since then - but mostly, I've developed a sense of humor about the whole thing - "Use your good eye, Kell!" (That's what my father would say - and continues to say to me whenever I can't find something). I still occasionally bump into things. Sometimes I come up short at stop signs (I think I replace brakes in my car more often than most people. The worst is when someone throws something at me to catch. I become "MAD CLAW" swinging wildly - trying to guess where the heck in the space/time continuum the object is. Most of the time I get hit, or I awkwardly bat it to the floor. It's so embarassing... There are also times when I make myself laugh out loud. I'll grab for an object sitting at my desk - and grab NOTHING. Seriously. It's pretty funny. I'm usually off by about 2 inches.

The best, however, was when I took a tennis class in college. I tried, and tried and tried to play tennis. I love the idea of tennis - the skill of tennis - the cute men of tennis... But alas, the coach finally told me, "Kelly, I don't think I can help you." No, I guess he can't. The other day - a co-worker handed me a pair of 3-D glasses - you know - the ones with the red on one side and the blue on the other? He wanted me to look at something he had found for a client. I was forced to tell him the story of why I can't see in 3-D. "Wow. You can't tell..." he said. I guess not.

Anyway, I'm not sharing this to garner pity. Quite the contrary. There are a few benefits of such a condition. Today, just before having the backs of my eyes photographed (which is something that I hadn't had done since I was 18 - and let me tell you - technology has come a long way from the days they had to pin my eyes open to flash photograph my poor eyes) - that the good thing about being half blind - is that during the photography - the flash through your iris only hurts on one side... Seriously, the digital photography has made the process a lot simpler - so simple, I could ask for a printout of my eye...

I know I'm probably breaking some HIPPA code - but would you like to see the back of my eye? It's pretty cool: