Sunday, April 29, 2007

Opening Night

The Artists Against Aids benefit opened Friday night. It looked like a huge success from here; lots of people, good food and free-flowing wine and champagne, and, best of all: Lots and lots of art. A plethora of paintings, photos, sculptures, jewelry, and textiles.

Dan Wild was there, doing caricatures, for a mere $10. He has both a website and a blog, and you have to check them out. If you're into art and graphics, I promise you'll be wow'ed!

Kaye and Kristy were there. I gushed about Dan, and talked them into getting their caricatures done also. Click to enlarge the photo if you want a better look at the finished work.

I took this photo all by myself, can you tell? I was worried about cutting Mike's head off. Mission accomplished.

Raad and Atef both had paintings in the show. If you look at the 2nd picture posted above, Raad's painting of Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett is just below the big light on the upper left.

We ended up the Esquire for pizza—and, unfortunately for me, more wine—after the show. Ran into old friends Steve and Greg there. Their wives let them out for one night, and they end up on some blog somewhere. Tsk.

Some more of my best buds, Tina and Mark and Marcy:

It was a fun evening. I drank entirely too much wine, but it's now Sunday morning and I am completely recovered. Almost. I returned to the show Saturday, for a better look at all the art without the huge crowd. It was busier on the 2nd day than I'd ever seen it. I can hardly wait to hear the final numbers, how much money was raised for this good cause. The show is open today and tomorrow, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

I leave you now with a little video of Kristy dancing at the show. The evening was just this fun:

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Home Again

Thanks to all you that so kindly said hey; it really DID make me smile. I'm glad I asked! (I'm still taking "hey's," so feel free to chime in even though I'm home.

I drove to Muskegon, Michigan today, for a funeral. I referred in an earlier post of my friend Diane's mother being ill. She passed away Monday evening, surrounded by her family. She was an amazing lady, and will be missed by many. Go ahead and send a virtual hug to Diane at, if you know her. And if you don't know her, but are feeling extra nice today, you, too can send her an e-card or something. She'll be home this weekend, and cheered to hear from you.

I know, cuz I was.


And for you local yokels that want to do a nice thing and acquire some beautiful art, don't forget to come out to the Artists Against Aids show this weekend. It's being held at the Orpheum Children's Museum this year.

I'll remind you that last year, I bought this beautiful handblown glass fish, and was accused of having purchased a bong:

It is NOT a bong!!!

Anyway, I was in Monday night at the time contributions closed, and the amount of art I saw in there was staggering. I'm looking forward to finding out just how they manage to put all that art into the arena that used to be a former theater. Those GCAP volunteers surely had their hands full this week as they set this show up.

Opening night is Friday, 6 to 10. Free food and wine and champagne, there's a reason to show up right there.

I warn you though, drink too much of that free wine, and you might find yourself spending...every bit as much as you want to spend!

Not that I'd know anything about that. Just don't ask me how much I spent on that bong fish.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Say hey

Just say hey. When I get home at midnight, tomorrow night, I'd like to hear it. All of you. Say hey.

Monday, April 23, 2007

I think I'm going crazy in the head

Warning: Boxed noodles from a kit look nothing like this.

I'm counting calories lately. I got home late tonight, wanted an easy meal, and pulled out one of those japanese noodle kits. The box says it's 320 calories per serving. There are 3 servings in the box.

I know very well that I can eat 3 servings of noodles. 960 calories! Holy crap!

So I pulled out approximately 1/3 of the noodles, and cooked only that much.

Brilliant, I'm brilliant!

Only I forgot about my brilliancy.

I had morphed into Rainman, reciting "960 calories, definitely 960 calories. K-mart sucks."

I worried so much that when the noodles were prepared, I split out 1/3 of them for my serving.

Sadly, again thinking that I was brilliant.

I threw the rest away, so as not to even be tempted by them.

"960 calories for one meal my ass! Take THAT!" I yelled, triumphantly, as I arranged sliced cucumbers, prettily, around my noodles.

And I walked around mumbling to myself after dinner, "THAT was one serving of noodles? No WONDER I've put on weight! I'm a glutton! I'm disgusting! Next they'll tell me a serving of meat should be the size of a deck of cards..."

And then, of course, when I did the dishes, I found the remaining 2 servings of dry noodles sitting on the counter. I only ate 1/3 of 1/3 of the box! Yayyyy!

I'm hungry.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I Get By With a Little Help From my Friends

I have, as you know, been coming to terms with my son being in Baghdad. God, I think. This is the worst; how can I cope?

My family is reeling now, from news that my sister's cancer has returned. God, I think. That is worse. That burden is definitely worse.

A cousin of mine died suddenly this week, leaving behind a wife and 4 children. He was 39. God, I think. There is nothing—nothing—in my life, that even begins to touch the heartache of those he left behind. I ache for them, and know: Their burden is far, far worse.

Virginia Tech. My son was safer in Baghdad than he would have been on one of our own college campuses last week. How messed up is that?

There are two more women in my family with cancer right now. I lost 2 other friends in the last 10 days.

It's been too much to write, and focusing on the joys interspersed in that time seemed somehow disrespectful in the light of other's troubles. A dissertation or two about basil seed drinks and Clamato were my outlet.

But now I'm back.

To be honest, I'm a little fried. Once again, sleep does not come to me. When it does, it's in short spurts. I awake several times a night, thinking about Brian. All of that bucking up during waking hours haunts me at 2:30 a.m. And 3:38 a.m. And 4:58 a.m....

"You look tired," people are saying to me now, on a regular basis.

I know. I know I do, and I promise you I'm doing double-time to remedy that. Or, at least, to take care of myself. I really am trying to sleep. I'm managing the occasional 20-minute nap when I can squeeze one in. I'm fixing salads. Opting for club soda. Taking a walk every day. I bought vitamins.

I am blessed with wonderful friends and family, and to be living in a great community. You all continue to make me a laugh every day. Your emails, greeting cards, blog comments, and stepping out of your way to say "hey" are all what keeps the scale in my life still tipping in my favor. I'd wager most of you don't even know who you are.


This weekend was the deadline to get in any contributions to the Artists Against Aids show. I promised myself I'd submit this year, for the first time. Ugh. I'm tired. I didn't want to do it. I wasn't pleased with the photos, hypercritical of my work, and depressed and it's all stupid, and who would buy my stuff anyway?!!

But SDF inspired me last week when I read on her blog that she'd preregistered. I did, after all, ask her to join me this year in entering something. How could I wimp out after that?!!

And I picked out 2 or 3 stupid photos that I found tolerable, and I broke down and matted and framed them today. And I set a few more "maybe's" aside.

And Marcy and Mike joined me at the registration table, and while I whined about this one, they acted wow'd. And they helped me change out a few mats, and move a few frames around, and they shined up the glass, and told me to put higher price tags on them.

Thanks to my friends, I contributed 7 photographs, and left feeling good about each of them. If they sell, great. If I bring them back home after the show, that's fine too. Submitting them into a public venue is just one more hurdle cleared, and one more item crossed off of my "things to do before I die" list.

We celebrated with an ice tea at Cafe Kopi, and then went our separate ways, this evening.


And I came home and phone my dear friend Diane, who, as I write, sleeps, along with her two sisters, in their mother's hospice room.

And told her I loved her, and sent hugs to her family.

And I hope to hell that my phone call and short conversation provides her with even a fraction of the comfort that you all have provided me, during tumultuous days.

Because I am learning, people.

I am learning:

We really do make a difference in each other's lives.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


It's been a crazy week, one of those in which the hits just keep on comin'. When life gets all chaotic on you, it's good to put your energy into something positive, to help you keep your head above water. If you can't do that, go ahead and stare at the wall and contemplate something completely inconsequential for half a day, I say.

(I didn't get the Piquante kind)

That said, I walked by a bottle of Clamato last night in the grocery store. Clamato sounded good to me. It sounded delicious. I had to have it. I craved it. I'd never tasted the stuff before in my life.

Clamato is, if you didn't know, a juice that combines both clams and atos. For the record, I did find it delicious, though not very clammy. In fact, I could taste absolutely no clam flavor.

On a whim, I checked the ingredients.

1. Water. 2. Condensed tomato juice. 3. High fructose corn syrup

!!! Sugar is the #3 ingredient in Clamato?! In fact, "clam" isn't mentioned until the end, and it's listed as "dried clam broth." Mmmm, clam powder.

I'm sure you're riveted, so I have to share with you that is one jazzy website. Those Clamato people are obviously hellbent on giving their drink a fun party image: there is a link called "celebrate." There are photos of beautiful people having fun, and it says "Celebrate... at your holiday parties/ with your friends/on vacation..." Hm. I have a big fat idea of just how many guest will show up to my next Clamato party.

There is also a recipe link. A drink called a "Tijuana Taxi" calls for Clamato, beer, and vodka.

I don't juana.

Another for a "Clamato Spritzer" consists of Clamato and Squirt. Squirt?!! Isn't that grapefruit flavored soda?! Grapefruit, clams and tomatoes?! Let's just tip over a dumpster and drink the dregs.

Look what else I found:

Clamato Potato Chips. Ok, they're corn chips, I just wanted to say "clamato potato." Clamato potato, clamato potato. Anybody ever seen these? I juana try them.

The Clamato website states

The brand is well poised for future growth behind aggressive advertising and promotion investment

I'm happy to help their cause by making fun of their beverage for no apparent reason. I actually love the stuff; it's tasty, filling, and a relatively low-cal snack.

And no frog eyes, it's got that going for it.

This concludes my clam rambling. Clambling Rambling.

I think I need some sleep.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Royal Taster

That's what my job should be; I love to try new things, and it usually pays off. I like to think I'd try anything, but Tai made me think twice in this post. I cringe at head things: brains, eyes, tongues. Come to think of it, tail things don't sound appetizing to me either. I'll eat anything but Heads 'n Tails. Actually, I'd try it all, if there's proof that people really do eat it, and you're not just tricking me into trying stewed monkey brains, only to laugh and laugh at me later.

It's not as adventurous as a brain, I'll admit, but I finally did pop open this can of Basil Seed Drink, that I picked up in the Indian grocer in Chicago a few weeks ago:

I love basil, yet couldn't imagine what this would taste like. Liquid basil? Does a basil seed taste like a basil leaf? Can you really squeeze juice out of a basil seed? I imagined it to be clean and refreshing, like that water with cucumber that Cafe Kopi serves up. And green, duh, I knew it would be green.

I opened the can, and took a whiff.

It smells like bananas! What a surprise.

And surprise, it's not green! The appearance was not at all what I expected. It was thick, and full of polliwogs:

Click to enlarge

Take a look at just how chunky this stuff really is:

Gloop, bloop, gloop, gloop.

I took a 'lil sip.

Not bad. It's very sweet. It does taste like bananas, but green bananas. Sort of like a banana with just a twinge of freshly mown grass clippings.

But it's....well, lumpy. Chunky. Slippery. Here's one basil seed on the counter, extracted from my glass:

And one on my fingertip:

Doh! They tricked me! Those aren't basil seeds, they're basil EYES! Little basil retinas, in a glass full of banana snot.

Suffice it to say I didn't finish the can. The juice was too sweet for me, and the texture much too weird: thick enough to get all in your teeth and seem chewable, too evasive to bite, and too lumpy to drink.

So, there's my Basil Eye Juice review.

What should I taste next?


A friend sent me this humorous review of the Basil Seed Drink, that includes a couple of other drinks that weren't nearly as appetizing as this one.

(I couldn't find this webmaster's address anywhere, so I hope it's ok that I linked to his site.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

God Bless America and Playboy TV

Brian's First Care Package

I got to talk to Brian Monday, for 1 minute, 53 seconds. It was his last phone call for quite some time. He had to hang up and run for a helicopter that would take him to Butler Range, where he will not have internet or telephone access. Indefinitely.

It's snail-mail now. Pictured above are a few of the things I threw in his first box. There is also cookies, candies, chapstick...anything I could think of, and as much as I could cram into the Flat Rate box.

And ask me what's in that FedEx envelope.

[Lori, what's in the FedEx envelope?]

Thank you for asking. It's a gift, from another blogger! Isn't that sweet?

It turns out that Fightin' Mad Mary, a Hollywood blogger in the reality TV biz, has a few contacts at Playboy TV. Together, they arranged a *very* nice surprise for Brian. The very patriotic stars of Night Calls, Jesse Jane and Kirstin Price, made up a little sign, and posed for this photo for Brian:

Playboy Models Support the Troops!

Mosaic enhancement is mine; sorry folks.

Imagine the e-mail I sent to Brian that accompanied these attachments:
Dear Brian

Attached please find photos of sexy topless stars from Playboy TV.

Love, Mom
At any rate, I'm pretty sure I'll get a medal from the U.S. Army declaring me Mother of the Year. I kid you not, I got this e-mail from Brian last week:
Dear Mom

My address has changed. Please make sure the Playboy people get it.

Love, Brian
Nothing about making sure Grandma gets that address, did you notice that? Nothing about making sure his friends or family, or YOU get it. Just the Playboy people. Just Jesse and Kirstin and Fightin Mad Mary. MmHmm. We see how it is.

Well, there's more, from Fightin Mad Mary. Here she is, popping some signed glossies, from Jesse and Kirstin, in the mail.

Here's proof that they arrived safe and sound:

And the photo is now on it's way to Iraq.

Seriously, I can't thank you, Fightin' Mad Mary, and Jesse, and Kirstin, and the all of the others for making this Mama's first care package such a fun one. These are somewhat nervewracking times, new to us, and this particular donation has put a smile on all of our faces.

You have also, I am sure, boosted the morale of at least 1 U.S. Soldierbaby, and, in all probability, several of his friends.

God bless you, you little sweeties!


*****Revised 4/13*****

Mary has asked me to post a few pix of Brian so that her friends at Playboy TV can get a glimpse of this mysterious Private Jolley. I'm only too happy to oblige, here he is:

And when you meet him in person, here's what you'll get:

Thanks again, everyone!

(Man, I am scoring Mom-points all over the place, encouraging beautiful Playboy models to meet and hug my son. I am *so* going to make him mow the yard or something for this, when he comes home!)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Decisions, decisions

I just went through my caller ID, for the home phone, for the last 30 days. I had 15 calls: 1 from my sister, 13 from solicitors, and 2 wrong numbers—one at 5 a.m, mind you. A very gravelly voice announcing "I'm at Keith's." At 5 a.m., who has the presence of mind to mess with a wrong number? Had I been more with it, I would have said "you get the hell out of Keith's house and get your lilly-white ass home right this minute! I've called all the hospitals looking for you!"

I digress.

$50, I paid, for these calls. As I did not use the phone to call out during this time, I essentially paid $3.33 for each incoming phone call, most of which occurred while I was out, and none of which I answered.

Why, then, have I hesitated to take this step to cancel my landline phone?
  • Because I don't want solicitors to phone my cell phone.
  • Because I like the idea of being listed in a phone book, and having someone be able to contact me, in an emergency. Or for, say, a date. It could happen.
  • Because I love the sound of my old-timey red phone, when it rings.
  • Because I'm old, and change is bad! It somehow makes me feel panicky to not have home phone number, and line.
  • What if the power goes out for 3 days and my cell phone dies because I can't charge it?
  • What if I misplace my cell phone, and can't call myself to find the damned thing?
I'm leaning towards jumping into the 21st century, and canceling the landline.

Do you have any advice, or cases for or against, before I jump in?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Lift Advertisement

This one had me rolling. This is totally the sort of thing we'd all try, if you came to my house for dinner.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Melissa & Joey's wedding, as I mentioned before, was in the Silvercreek Greenhouse, Saturday night. I also mentioned much merry-making that evening.

It's been a long time since I've done a shot.

Or four.

This was the big winner for the night: X-Rated Vodka, a fusion of blood oranges, mango, and passion fruit. My inside informants (the Silvercreek bartender) told me that they went through 3 bottles of this stuff Saturday night. I'm not much for a fruity drink, but this stuff was good. AND, if you go to

you can sign up to win a free bottle of the stuff.

Only don't do it, because it will only decrease my chances of winning.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mini-Vacation Wrap Up

5 fun days, wrap it up, wrap it up, back to work! Keep those doggies rollin!

I picked Ilaiy up from O'Hare on Thursday, and we set out to the Indian community on Devon street for a light lunch and shopping. A light lunch to Ilaiy is 2 appetizers, a ton of rice, and 2 fish entrees. I was stuffed, while he thought it a lovely snack, and complained of still being hungry. Afterward, we shopped in my favorite gorgeous grocery store, the World Fruit Market.

Thursday night was Greektown, and Greek Islands. I was still full from lunch, so had only a grilled octopus appetizer. They still had heads. I cut them off and hid them under the parsley. Gross. Yummy.

Friday was Chinatown. More shopping, and I FINALLY got to eat at Joy Yee's, a popular noodle place that's always closed by the time I arrive. Thick fruity drinks with giant tapioca are a specialty there.

We happened into a grocer that had a back room lined with aquariums filled with fish, shrimp, and frogs. I really don't know what to do with live food, but I imagine it's better than what I usually pick up at my own grocery, all dead and stuff.

Saturday was Melissa and Joey's wedding, held in the greenhouse of Silvercreek restaurant. The setting was gorgeous, the food amazing, and the! Everyone had a blast. I'd been practicing my toast for 2 weeks, and I could never get through it without crying-even in the car! When the time came, though, I looked the happy couple right in the eyes, and I didn't cry.

I might have cried. I honestly don't remember; I was so nervous that I don't remember a thing I said. I just remember being surprised that I really addressed the Mr. & Mrs, when I'd sworn I would not look at them, for fear of not being able to make it through the toast without blubbering. They were the only familiar faces in front of me though, and I was too nervous to look at anyone else!

Sunday, I have no photos of, but it was still fun, dinner for 10. Two of the new guests were our tattoo artist and his wife; it was their first Indian food. They found it relatively spicy, even though I made Ilaiy cut the Thai chili's back from 20 to 4. (True.)

Monday afternoon Ilaiy screwed up the courage (kind of) to get his ear pierced (see video below), and the evening was spent with Marcy and Mike, watching Ilaiy getting his latest tattoo. It was a large tat over his shoulder and arm, and rather painful on his shoulder bone and under his arm. I think we all had headaches when it was over. But Ilaiy forgot about his ear, so that was good.

Tuesday it was back to Chicago. Ilaiy had to have Heaven on Seven (Cajun food) before he flew out. We spent 4 hours roaming the streets before it was time to drop him at the airport.

It was a good break from the daily chaos: friends, food, rejoicing, laughter, dancing, drinking. I needed this, and am thankful that my mini-vacation couldn't have gone any smoother!

Oh. And I never want to eat again as long as I live.

As I said, Ilaiy "kind of" screwed up the courage. Yes. The lady that pierced his ear DID give him a sucker beforehand, to calm him down.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Joy and Tumult

The last 5 days have been a whirlwind. Ilaiy's in town; we spent 2 days running the ethnic neighborhoods in Chicago, taking photos and stuffing ourselves with great food.

Our friends, Melissa and Joey got married Saturday night; one of the funnest weddings I've ever attended. We ate, drank, and merried until 2 a.m. Sunday morning.

A dinner party at my house last night, with Ilaiy serving as Guest Chef: A roasting pan full if Indian rice & lamb (Biryani) made the way Mami makes it. Old friends and new in attendance for food and reunion-izing.

And in the midst of all of this merry-making was laced fear, tears and heartache. Maybe it will get easier as we adjust, but having a loved one newly in's hard to explain the emotional rollercoastering.

You do what you can to stay strong, and move forward with hope and strength, and then suddenly the rug is pulled out from under you, and you find yourself on your face. And all you can do is get back up, dust yourself off, straighten out the rug, and start walking.

I am blessed to have remained friends with Brian's dad, Jeff. We have a pact: If you hear from him, let me know.

We are still handling this situation differently. Since Brian left, I've been watching the news like crazy. Watching War Zone Diary, and The Soldier's Heart, a documentary on PTSD. Jeff, on the other hand, has had to change the channel, throw away the newspaper, and turn off the radio; he's cut himself off from the media.

It's not a bad idea. One of my friends recently chided "shut that off! You'll make yourself crazy!" I promised him "when I can't take it any more, I'll turn it off."

Three nights later I dreamed that I was driving my car down a road with landmines exploding left and right, and that I could smell gunpowder in my car.

Hm. Maybe I will make myself crazy. But how can I not look? You don't send your kid to college without checking out the campus! How can I wave mine off to war, and choose not to look at where he is? I simply can't. For now, I'll take the nightmares along with the education.

Anyway, I was in Chicago's Chinatown Friday afternoon, heading back to the car after eating rice out of a pineapple, and taking photos of old men scooping live shrimp and big fat frogs out of giant aquariums, and shopping, and laughing all afternoon with Ilaiy, when Jeff called.

He'd just gotten off the phone with Brian. His first mission is tomorrow night, 2 a.m. He is "scared to death." Two other companies had been hit this week, by bombs with cone-shaped disks meant to tear through armored vehicles. No one killed, but men hurt. Their conversation still raw, I can hear that Jeff is crying while he tells me that Brian sends his love. I was, by then, sitting in my car in Chinatown, crying along with him, consoling him as I consoled myself: "he's going to be fine. This is so tough, he'll call on Sunday, and he'll be fine." We know it. We KNOW it. But we cry anyway.

And then I start the car and drive back to Champaign, where we meet friends for dinner.

Brian is fine.

I got email from him yesterday:
I'll be calling a bit later. I'm waiting on my friend to get back from his mission because I dont like walking around here by myself when its dark.
I responded "don't do anything you're not comfortable doing just to get to a phone!"

He got through few hours later, while I was driving to the grocery store. I pulled over and turned the car off in front of a "never ever ever park here or we'll haul you to jail" sign. They could cuff me for all I cared; I wasn't going anywhere.

First mission went fine, Brian told me. He's been to a few Baghdad Memorials (The Unknown Soldier, and the Swords of Victory). The Architecture is amazing, palaces and small street shops alike, though don't vacation there to check it out. He can't think of anything he needs right now, will call again on Tuesday.

And a P.S. in another e-mail:
Oh yeah, I swam in Saddam's pool too. Crazy.
Good God. Crazy is right. In my mind he is 4 years old, and I am squawking, "you get out of that nasty man's pool! I don't care if he is dead, you're not swimming in his pool! He's dirty! Bad!"

In summary...having a kid in Bagdhad sucks Saddam pool water. But he's fine. I was infinitely relieved and lighter of heart after hearing his voice, and got right to conferencing with his Dad, who also feels better. For now. Whew. Only 17 more months to go.

And I know some of you have been waiting; I have his mailing address for any of you that are interested. Email me at, and I will give you the particulars.

He, so far, is in want of nothing, but I'll post ideas when I get them.

Oh, and love to you all, from me and my kid.