A Middle Aged Woman’s Shopping Miracle

Saturday was a beautiful day in Portland. It was one of those days that if someone asked, “Hey, where’s Portland?” Someone else would answer, “Oh, they went outside.” If you knew anyone that would even care to have that sort of discussion. Saturday was also the day I set aside to go to Popina. Popina is a bathing suit store. I had lined up my pal AVC to come with me but she messaged that she was under the weather and might have pink eye. (Feel better Ame!) While I am very sorry that my friend who I haven’t seen in too long, is under the weather; her condition also had a serious impact on me.

It meant I would have to go try on bathing suits by myself.

notreadyspring break

I often cry when I have to try on bathing suits. Or I steel myself, knowing it will be awful and I will have to try on the most giant top to fit the girls in. BUT! a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do and me and my girls are goin’ to the Caribbean on the 6th so I am getting a goddam swimsuit!

I have gone tanning twice in preparation for the trip and in keeping with a tenet: tan fat is better than white fat. Now I had to take my tan fat to Popina ALONE and try on bathing suits. Hopefully without crying.

Upon entering Popina, a very young, tall, and very thin, very Portlandia girl asked if I needed help finding anything. I marched right up to her and said “Yes I do. I need a bathing suit that fits these” and pointed at my chest. She took me to the big boob section and told me to try on whatever I liked and let her know.  I picked out a half dozen tops and went to the dressing room.

Aside: they serve beer at Popina. Free, for while you are shopping. Who in their right mind wants beer when trying on bathing suits? Add to that gut while voluntarily humiliating yourself? At any rate, I said No thank you.

First top: Nope and it looks like we are heading for a grueling bathing suit experience. Wait! Next one is too big! The one after that is super cute and quite a boobalanche. The next one is DAR — LING!


Portlandia Girl brings me the three different bottoms that go with the top. I find one that I really like and stand there looking in the mirror at my self in a bathing suit. In a 2-piece bathing suit. It’s not RihannaWear but it’s cute! I’m not going to make the cover of a magazine but not bad. NOT. BAD. And comfy!

I did a happy dance in the Popina bathing suit shop dressing room and THAT folks is a Middle Aged Woman Shopping Miracle.

A most miraculous bathing suit.

A most miraculous bathing suit.

I’m not going to make any promises but I might allow a photo of me to be taken in the Miracle suit and I might show it to you but I’d probably have to have some beer first.

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When I was growing up in the ’70s, my brother was an altar boy at our parish church, Our Lady of the Lake. Back then there were only altar boys, not altar servers like we have now which includes girls. I would always read the bulletin to see who was serving which mass the next week to make sure I went to the mass with the cutest boys.

My brother and his best friend, Mike, served together often. This was time when the Church still had Communion rails. The following photo is from ipadre.net and is not of our church but is very similar.


Mike and John were serving a Christmas season mass and were supposed to light the Nativity candle. I’m sure neither one of them had been paying attention to any instructions prior to mass, so had no idea where the Nativity candle was. The two of them wandered around the altar lighting any candle that wasn’t already lit. My brother left the altar out the swinging communion rail gate and lit some candles that you light for people who had died or you’re praying for, which are typically at a side corner of the church. Mike went backstage and lit some wedding candles. I’m sure the priest was watching their performance in total disgust.

When John and Mike reunited on the altar, Mike said, “we beefed it.” A phrase my family uses to this day.

My father was an altar boy back in the 1930s when there were many altar boys serving every mass. One Christmas Eve mass, there was something like 20 altar boys in the processional for opening mass. See those boys in the front of that group holding the candles? Well, that Christmas mass in Belleville, Ontario in probably 1936, ALL of the altar boys were carrying those candles.

Los Angeles parish 1936 from flickr.com

Los Angeles parish 1936 from flickr.com

My dad was 12 and one of the head altar boys. There were two brothers in the procession, who fought with each other all the time, that night one of them purposefully tilted his candle forward and lit his brother’s hair on fire. My dad ran up and started beating the kid on the head to put out the fire and before you can say, permanent scarring, there was a Christmas Eve altar boy brawl going on.

One of my pals, AVC just commented on Facebook with this story:

At my Grandpa’s funeral, my brother was an altar boy, standing up there near the casket. It was hot, he locked his knees and went down like a tree. Totally passed out. I was 11 and thought he died. Commence freak out. Father Ansgar didn’t miss a beat and just said, ‘take him away’.

Most any cradle Catholic you talk to is going to have stories of ridiculous things that happened at church. Catholicism is an endless trove of good comedy material.

Last evening after work, the girls and I went to mass at St. John Fisher, where I have never been before, simply because they had a 6:00 mass.

This is what we saw there. Brigid took the photo on Annie’s phone because she could get the best angle. Yes, I allowed Brigid to take a picture on her phone in Church because, of course, what choice did we have? I’m giving up bread for Lent, it will all even out.


That is the actual church and the actual altar boy out cold during mass. Best performance by an altar boy on Ash Wednesday….EVER.

It should be a meme, right?

Well, happily I have twisted friends who have already gotten that ball rolling.


Credit to Bob R. brother-in-law to my bestie, Judy.


By Donofalltrades one of my all time favorite bloggers.

By Donofalltrades one of my all time favorite bloggers.

There it is the new viral altar boy meme. Take it. Make it yours.

Happy Lent.

The Ash Wednesday Altar Boy

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Let Me Ash You Somethin’

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I’m giving up bread for the next 40 days. If I do that successfully, it will be the second time in a row and in my whole life that I have stuck to my Lenten guns. Last year was Diet Coke. I was thinking about giving up cheese this year but that just leaves me with my other two food groups: wine and Diet Coke. So bread it is. Let me ash you, are you observing Lent this year?

My favorite Ash Wednesday story (you probably don’t hear enough Ash Wednesday anecdotes) took place in Boston in 1988. I was working for the Bank of New England and since most everyone in Boston is Catholic, lots of people were going to get ashes at lunch. I joined the crowd and we walked to the chapel at Downtown Crossing. I had never lived in a city with such a large Catholic population and was amazed at the Ash Wednesday machine. The St. Anthony Shrine has two chapels — one upstairs, one downstairs. The service took 20 minutes and as we left our chapel all ashed up, people were entering the other chapel and that’s how it goes All. Day. They were cranking out ashed Catholics like Star Bellied Sneetches.

I just checked, St. Anthony's will be giving out ashes from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. today. Nice to know they haven't changed since I was there.

I just checked and St. Anthony’s will be giving out ashes from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. today. Nice to know they haven’t changed since I was there.

Derwood was confirmed into the Church last Easter. We have some very interesting conversations about Catholicism. He being a recent convert and me being born this way — results in very different ideas on the Catholic faith and the practice of that faith. Last night was one of those conversations that made me really think about what Lent is to me, what is my understanding of it. As a kid and clearly into my young adulthood, I got the ashes and talked the talk about giving up something but it didn’t mean much. Everyone was doing it.


I think that Lent has become something akin to Labor Day or Memorial Day. Its true meaning has been lost in the chatter. Ash Wednesday is like New Year’s Day and Lent is a second chance at New Year’s resolutions. That is not its intended purpose.

To me, Lenten sacrifice is to remind believers of what Christ went through in the desert for 40 days prior to his crucifixion. Lent takes Catholics through our faith in 40 days ending in the heartbreaking Passion of the Christ, His sacrifice for our sins and the joy of the Resurrection.

It’s not a jump start on quitting smoking or dieting. Whatever little sacrifice we make during Lent is just a nudge. So when I want a bagel in the next hour, I’m reminded that I’m not going to have one and why I’m not having one. I am a pretty self-indulgent gal, which is why I’m hard to shop for (50th bday countdown: B minus 8), so actually imposing a restriction on myself isn’t common. Forty days isn’t much to ask to think about something other than the weather, Brian Williams, or what’s on Netflix (and those are all worthy topics).

Thanks to dear Derwood, I’m reminded that Lent can be and should be more than an empty ritual of my faith. I think about what I’m doing and WHY I am doing it in ways I really never bothered to before because, again, that’s was just the way it was.



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My Writing Space

I have been meaning to post photos of my first ever writing space but my time was taken up with last minute work on an event that took place on Saturday.

And then Sunday I was busy not moving and watching “Scandal”.

And then Monday was taken up with looking at the results of the event and doing some trouble shooting. One thing I learned from the event is that I am a genius at silent auction pricing. I really am so damn good at that. My live auction ideas need some work as two packages that I thought were super spiffy, were not. At least not to this crowd. Don’t you think that a private bocce party at a vineyard with your friends and food and wine would be fun? Or a guided salmon fishing trip? Nope. Those were the two packages I was thrilled about and I was wrong.

Earlier today was taken up with my dear, sweet car going into the shop. Then hearing from mechanic Goran, in his lovely Slavic accent, tell me, “there is so much” ahhhhh ahahahaha. Oh I know Goran, there is so much and I am a crappy car owner but here is a kidney, my favorite jeans, my new neon pink Sharpie pen, and my retirement savings….please let me know when I will see her again.

Finally, here is my new desk and writing/work space which is in the former sitting area of my bedroom. Don’t you all have sitting area’s in your bedrooms? A snug area where you put an armchair and some books and framed photos so you have a cozy place to pile your dirty clothes? Yeah, well the cute vintage chair that I never had reupholstered turned into a scratching post for the cat and a combo hamper/filing cabinet for me. It’s gone!

In its place is this lovely desk and chair purchased at the low low Litko discount from my sister who is moving.


There it is! I love it although it reminds me that I need new carpet/flooring in the bedroom.

Let’s look at other stuff in my room, this is going to be so much fun!

IMG_5210That there is my night stand with my book piles and my dad’s shillelagh which I will use to crack an intruder’s head, if need be.

Last summer I subscribed to the Friday, Saturday, Sunday package of the NY Times because the Oregonian is now the size of an Archie comic.

IMG_5211That is a selection of the NYT sections I haven’t read yet because three days of the NY Times’ is too much to read if I am to keep up with Scandal, Downton Abbey and start watching Better Call Saul. The cat’s tail is featured in the upper right hand corner.

I will try to write a post from my new desk and let you know when I do. I’m so used to writing at work, it will be difficult to compose in a different environment. Do any of you bloggers have that issue? I get very hung up on where I write. Anyone? No, just me? Check.

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Post Your Brian Williams Misrememberances Here.

Maggie O'C:

I think Brian Williams once drew a beard on my face with Sharpie pen.

Originally posted on Long Awkward Pause:

Bert, lending Brian Williams some credibility. (image via muppet.wikia.com.)

Anchorman. It’s a job title that implies a measure of stability and reliability.

It implies reliability, but in the game that now passes for broadcast journalism in the United States, we can no longer count on that being the case on any channel. Time after time, network after network, we find that the people who we count on to bring us truth are only loosely acquainted with it.

In the latest instance, NBC anchor Brian Williams has admitted that he “made a mistake” about the facts surrounding a helicopter ride he took with members of the US military. On more than one occasion since 2003, when the incident Williams has described didn’t occur, he has described how the helicopter he was in was hit by rocket-propelled grenades and forced down in the desert.

Not surprisingly, when you misremember enough on…

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My Superbowl Wish

I have thought this for weeks. I haven’t had a computer and now I’m running out of time. Real quick here is my Superbowl wish.

My Superbowl wish for Superbowl 49 (Roman numerals hurt my brain and I always know the Superbowl is one year younger than I am or will be in that year).  My Superbowl wish is that both teams, the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks, all get stomach flu and the NFL and the network carrying it decide to pass on the game. Everyone is barfing and has diarrhea and they simply cannot play the game.

Tom, you bug me. BUG. ME.

Tom, you bug me. BUG. ME.


You know what Pete? It ain't ladylike to chew gum.

You know what Pete? It ain’t ladylike to chew gum.

Misc. January

Brigid is no longer a student at Lake Oswego High School. She’s not a student anywhere right now but we will get her registered at her new high school tomorrow. You know the best thing about withdrawing your kid from high school? When the counseling office admin says, “Don’t take this the wrong way but you have such a cute figure, you look great in those leggings.” Here’s news, there is no wrong way to take that. I will now strut my stuff for the rest of the day!

Unless you are me, of course.

Unless you are me, of course.

This month is the three year anniversary of this blog. I have over 5,000 followers and I think some of the new ones are real people. I tried to write my Dear Judy blog but it didn’t work. I couldn’t write it. Isn’t that odd? It’s just typing in the same program that I’m typing in now but the voice was different and I couldn’t get comfortable. I’m happy to be back here and I thank all my pals for sticking around for the past three years and am happy to see some new regulars.

Now that Annie is in at AADA, I have decided to bother with financial aid. I have done absolutely ZERO research into how all of that works. My strategery there is “if I look into financial aid, I will jinx her getting in…. so do nothing.” And hello, it worked!

Derwood broke the computer. We have no computer at home. He dropped the laptop and the screen broke inside. It’s a bummer and I need to buy a new one but it is also quite liberating. I’m free to do a ton of other things because I’m not looking at the computer. For those who are new here, I don’t have a SmartPhone so I just go without the interwebs! This past weekend, I had no email or Facebook or Google or IMDB, it was just fine.

broken computer

The shit got real when the wifi went down and I couldn’t get Hulu. Hulu is my new thing. I found “Devious Maids” there, which is fabulous trash. Hulu has Bob Newhart and Mary Tyler Moore. I tend to live in other decades sometimes so those shows are perfect. AND! I have started watching “The Mindy Project” which is laugh out load, choke on it funny. Then the wifi went down. I called Comcast. The computer told me they were aware of the problem and that I was not alone. It was my “area”. My “area” was down. This was the part of the weekend where I started seeing spiders and picking bugs off me. I’m nothing without my wifi. I tried On Demand but “Mildred Pierce” was too theatrical, too sophisticated.  And I think Kate Winslet got thin. No one fell down or had ridiculous birthday parties with a best friend in a wheelchair or looked like a normal size woman. None of that happens in “Mildred Pierce”.

It took an hour or so but the earth returned to its axis; “The Mindy Project” and all the other joys of Hulu returned.

I’m also reading. Finished my 2nd book of the year The Secret History by Donna Tartt. She is one of my new favorite authors. She is a gifted storyteller. I highly recommend this book. I also highly recommend that when you hit the last 50 pages or so, make sure you have peace and quiet to read them. You don’t want any interruptions. You don’t want people coming in and out of the room where you are reading to see if the IPhone they found is working or if that is the old one or why it rings if you call it from the same number on the new phone. You don’t want that. Trust me.

credit to Geek Blogger 04

credit to Geek Blogger 04



She Did It!

This post is just a little bit of crowing by a proud mama.

Annie got into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City! She starts in September!


annie behrens green

I am so proud of her. She has had a rough four years. Aside from the highs and lows of being a teenager, she has also battled anxiety and depression. She has struggled academically. Annie doesn’t test well and she has trouble memorizing information.

Unless of course she needs to memorize a script. That she can do and it makes her come alive.

I was concerned that she wouldn’t be ready for her audition this past Saturday because she was deep in depression in November and December and we were working to get her meds right. The meds kicked in. Annie had great material. She was in the audition/interview for about an hour while her father and I sat outside and waited.

I will never forget her walking toward us after the interview. She knew the woman from AADA was right behind her so she was mouthing, “I NAILED IT!!!” After all of her struggles, she nailed it and she knew it.

The audition was on the 17th and she was accepted yesterday! What? After jumping up and down and calling people to shriek “She got in!”, I went and looked at the school’s website. The auditions are being held around the country and in Europe till the end of June. AADA has rolling admissions so they accept people into the program as they go. I’m guessing they really wanted her because they could have just waited to see who else auditioned and then let her in.

Whatever, I’m just thrilled to pieces. The one thing I did in all of this was to get out of her way. She has the talent and the drive and she is on her way!

Last week I posted this on Facebook:

An entry level engineer just turned down our offer of employment. Not enough vacation time (10 days a year) for him and he “really likes to get out and do things”. I weep for the future.

To set the scene:
Last week a fresh-out-of-engineering school job applicant declined a job with my company. Anyone who has read this blog knows I’m here for the health insurance but it’s not a bad company. The company that I work for is a niche firm specializing in hydraulic and hydrologic computer modeling. I can make an educated guess that the compensation package offered to “Scott” (his real name), a recent graduate of the Univ. of State at City, included: salary of at least $50k, 10 days of paid personal leave, 10 paid holidays including St. Patrick’s day (which is dumb….should be the 18th for hangover care), birthday day off, employer paid health insurance, 401K, Roth IRA and probably other stuff but like I said, I’m here for the insurance.
My comment on Facebook reflected my opinion that the current generation of American 20- and early 30-somethings is looking for a work/life balance that prior generations had not thought of till later in life. In my opinion, they earned it. I think that we have a generation of “kids” who were given trophies for showing up. No winners. No losers. Just curry that self-esteem. I think they have been taught that they should have what they want when they want it and not let work get in the way.
I’m going to share some comments from Facebook and my thoughts on the repercussions of this generation’s decisions. I would also like to know what you, my brilliant readers think about this.
I had a few comments like the following:
“Ah, the Age of Entitlement. The saddest era ever.” and “He must have received a 10th place trophy as a kid. You can’t just give it to the team who wins.
But for the most part, my friends supported “Scott’s” (I think, that’s his name) decision to look for a job that offered him the free time he wanted. There were also comments from people who live/work in Europe or work for European companies. That is a topic for another day. For the purposes of this post, we are discussing the United States in the here and now.

So, here are some of the comments from Facebook:

I guess I see it differently, I’d say good for him! He’s probably in his early 20s, why should he settle for employment that won’t leave him fully satisfied? Engineer jobs are aplenty and he has a good 40 years or so of work ahead of him. I recently turned down a job with a $23,000 pay raise for another job that gives me more time off and I still feel like it’s one of the best decisions I ever made.
If he can find an equally good job with better vacation, why not? Sounds like he is just taking advantage of a free market where he has options.
Oh you and I could have a long conversation about this I’m 26 and just resigned from a FT position, some of the reasoning behind it was how much time I was selling my life to work!

I say good for him too. I actually applaud him for not settling for something that doesn’t fit into the lifestyle that he wants for himself. Maybe he doesn’t measure his self worth by how much money he makes, but by his life experiences. He may not need “things” like the rest of us do. He may have impeccable work ethic. He may have already figured out how much money he needs to survive, support his lifestyle and what he’ll need to retire and when. If all of this is the case, we should all take a page from his book and maybe we’d all be happier and fulfilled.


I know the people who wrote these comments and I can comfortably say that almost all of them have taken on great mental, emotional and financial responsibilities for themselves, their families, and their country. And if they say, let the next generation or two take it easy, that is their prerogative.
My thoughts on the subject differ from theirs (as you knew they would).
Scooter Scott, I understand that you would like more time to “get out and do stuff” and that is your choice. I want you to understand a few things, though.
1. You still need to pay off your student loans. I know they are onerous. Actually they are outrageous but you signed the papers. When you default on loans, it costs the rest of us money.
2. If, after you have received your degree in history or Aztec studies or ecological poetry or water resources engineering, you don’t get that “meaningful” job with plenty of vacation time to hike things, don’t go live in a tent in a public square and compose rants on your IPad against the 1 percent. There are plenty of 1 percenters who worked their asses off to get where they are.
Well there are, I should know.

Well there are, I should know. Except I don’t get paid $50k to blog and play Friends with Words.

3. I don’t want to pay for your insurance. If you drive a car, can’t afford insurance and get into an accident OR blow your knee snowboarding without any health coverage; my insurance premiums go up.
4. If somewhere 10-15 years down the line, you change your mind and decide you do want to buy a house instead of renting but can’t qualify for a mortgage because you don’t make enough money or your credit score is inadequate; don’t complain that it’s not fair and demand that mortgages be easier to obtain. Subprimes are no one’s friends.
Scott (if that is your real name), I understand that you want to have more time to enjoy life. Don’t we all? Go! Go Carpe Diem, Carpe hard! I only ask that you realize that your decision comes with its own implications and you are not freed from society’s responsibilities simply because you want to get out and do stuff.

I couldn’t get the YouTube link to work.

What say you?

Note: I have no idea what is wrong with the spacing on this post but I’m done fighting with it. Done, I tell you!


Life/Work Balance with a First Job. Too Much to Ask?

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I Got Published!

That is not true at all but I am thanked in a book that has been published. I edited the hell out of this book and have eaten a lot of good food thanks to this book.


My friend Eddie from college has a blog dedicated to Italian food and wine and restaurants and food.


Once a week he posts a recipe for Sunday Pasta. He assembled the Sunday Pasta recipes into a beautiful cookbook (I know it is beautiful because Eddie sent me one because he never could have done it without me, as far as you know) and called it Sunday Pasta, which makes sense.

Eddie was in my dorm freshman year. I think he was my secret Santa or I was his or something like that. We both lived in Boston after college. What I’m saying is that although I’ve been friends with him for a long time; I got to really know him by editing this book. He writes about his history, his family, his parents and grandparents, his wife and kids. This is a very personal cookbook and I am so happy I was asked to help with it.

That being said, I wish I had known about what a foodie Ed has been all his life. I wish he had mentioned, at some point, that he was raised eating and cooking gourmet Italian food. The authentic and delicious food he has shared in this book. I wish I had known that back in the 80s when I was cooking him my version of chicken parmigiana which I believe included my forgetting to saute the chicken before sticking it in the oven, just gloppy eggy bread crumbs in tomato sauce.  Yep, I would have appreciated having this information back then.

If you want your own copy of Sunday Pasta click here.

Buon Appetito!

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