Friday, January 17, 2014

In Memory of Diana Losciale

Yesterday that terrible disease called cancer claimed Diana Losciale.  She was not only a co-worker but a very dear friend and mentor. Even though we lived hundreds of miles apart we talked several times a week and got to see each other 4-5 times a year.  When we did get to see each other we made time to have fun.  We went to restaurants and book stores.  We talked and laughed, we laughed at lot.  We had a lot of inside jokes, including a stuffed monkey named Marcel and speaking liking lGollum. We shared our frustrations with work, our opinions on books, music, tv shows and movies, and stories about our friends and family.  Diana loved writing and reading, music and movies, flower and photography, food and fashion. But most of all she loved her family, her husband Richard, daughter Lea and son Christian.

I can’t believe she’s really gone. The last time I spoke with her was before Christmas.  Since then I’d been mentally cataloguing all the things I wanted to tell her the next time I talked to her and it breaks my heart to realize it will never happen. I’ll never be able to tell her about the book I just finished or find out what she thought of the new season of Downton Abbey. I won’t be able to tell her that a park she took me to when I visited her in St. Louis was in an old Sandra Bullock movie I watched last week.

The last time I saw her was in June.  She came to town for work and we drove up to Mt. Evens after work so that she could see the mountains.  This is Diana at Echo Lake and it’s one of my favorite photos of her. We drove halfway up the mountain and then down to Evergreen where we had Mexican food and margaritas at The Whippletree.

Even though I’m devastated with sadness right now, I still know how lucky I was to have had Diana in my life. She let me bitch and cry about some of the most stupidest things, she gave encouragement and guidance in my professional life and in my aspirations. When I was down she could always make me laugh.  She was smart and creative and wise and I felt smarter, more creative and wiser just from knowing her.
Diana, I’m not ready to say goodbye just yet.  I will always miss you.

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's Too Soon

Have you been in a store lately?  Any store, a department or a grocery?  They are playing Christmas music already!  (Before you answer think about this, try going to work every day and being force to listen to Christmas carols for eight weeks and see how you like it.) It’s bad enough that every store already has Christmas decorations on display and/or on sale.  We haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving yet.  And for crying out loud, it’s not even winter.

What has happened to our society that we have to celebrate a holiday two months before it even happens?  I’m not a scrooge, really, I’m not. It’s just that when all this stuff starts happening earlier and earlier every year by the time Christmas comes around I’m sick of all the decorations and Christmas carols.  It’s no longer special, just a capitalistic holiday defined by stuff, lots of stuff. 

It used to be that the Christmas season started the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Even that was too soon for me.  Now stores like Wal-Mart, Kmart, Sears and Toys ‘R Us are going to be open on Thanksgiving. I’ve worked retail at Christmas before and my heart breaks for those people who work retail on Thanksgiving.  We have become so consumed with stuff that we can’t even allow people to have a holiday where they don’t have to work and instead can spend a day with their family and friends.

I know the economy isn’t what it used to be and everyone is looking for a deal but have we gone too far?  What is more important, getting 20% of the new PlayStation or spending time with your family?   Think about it if you find yourself in a Wal-Mart on November 28.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

America's Prettiest Towns

Forbes recently came out with a list of the 15 prettiest towns in America.  I’ll admit, some I have never heard of.  Fish Creek, Wisconsin?  I had to look at a map to find that one.  Of course, everyone has their own idea of what is pretty.  Mountains, water, trees, flowers, architecture, etc.  There is only one town on the list that I’ve actually been to and it’s the one in my home state (Breckenridge).  But later this month I’ll be heading to Maine and will be staying in Camden which made the list.

The towns on the list are all over the map, from Hawaii to New Jersey.  Criteria consisted of things that would draw tourist: attractive main streets, idyllic settings (mountains or water), fun activities.  Any towns you’d add to the list?

New Iberia, Louisiana
Camden, Maine
Anna Maria, Florida
Decorah, Iowa
Breckenridge, Colorado
Fort Benton, Montana
Athens, Georgia
Lambertville, New Jersey
Kapa’a, Hawaii
Edgartown, Massachusetts
Asheville, North Carolina
Leavenworth, Washington
Galena, Illinois
Holland, Michigan
Fish Creek, Wisconsin

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Nostalgic Summer Nights

Driving home tonight with the windows down and the radio on I got a little nostalgic for the summer nights when I was in college.  I always came home for the summer and worked summer jobs.  But on the weekend nights friends and I would drive to the Denver suburbs (usually in my eight year old burgundy Honda Accord hatchback) to a dollar movie theater.The ceilings of the hallways had strings of flashing blue lights.  After the movies we’d drive down the road to Taco Bell for 59¢ tacos.  We'd sit in the car in the parking lot with the windows down, radio on and eat our tacos and talk.  The cost of the evening was usually under five dollars (that’s including gas).  We were young and innocent and the air was sweet with the fleeting moments of youthful freedom.

 I miss those nights.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Getting Back the Happy

It’s been a very stressful couple of months for me and the results have affected me physically, mentally and emotionally.  What I really need is a vacation.  That’s a long-term plan, but in the short-term I need to get back to the things that make me better and happy.

Reader’s Digest listed 20 simple ways to get happy that I thought I’d share.

1. Practice mindfulness. Be in the moment and don’t waste the moment by dwelling on what’s happening later.
2. Laugh out loud. When I’m at work I often laugh because the other option is crying.  Laughter is so good for you.  You on your next break take a moment to read/watch something funny.
3. Go to sleep. I know when I don’t get enough sleep, especially over several nights, my mood changes and not for the better.  Turn off the distractions (computers, televisions, etc.) and get a good night’s sleep.
4. Hum along. Listening to music improved my mood and makes me happy.  I have to do that more often.
5. De-clutter. It may seem daunting at the beginning but the end results feels so good.
6. Just say no. Eliminate activities that aren’t necessary and that you don’t enjoy.
7. Make a list. I made a grocery list last week but forgot to take it to the store. Not much good if you don’t look at them or take them with you.
8. Do one thing at a time. I multi-task so this may be hard.
9. Garden. I know this works for some people but not really for me.  Yes, I like to look at pretty garden flowers but I don’t have a garden to plant.
10. Tune out the news. I tend to watch about 30 minutes of the news in the morning and check the news on the Internet throughout the day.  As a former journalist, it’s what I do.  But when something happens (like the Boston Marathon bombing) where the coverage is non-stop, I don’t have any problem turning the TV off.
11. Take a dog for a walk. I don’t have a dog but my sister does, two actually.  When she travels I house/doggy sit and, while I love her two dogs, I really don’t like walking them.
12. Scent the air. It only takes one Yankee Candle (the best smelling candles out there).
13. Ignore the stock market. Done.
14. Visit a quiet place. I like to read during my lunch hour but there isn’t any place to do that in my office so, weather permitting, I drive to a park.  It makes a difference.
15. Volunteer. Would like to be able to do more of this but don’t have a lot of time.
16. Spend time alone. I probably spend too much time by myself but I'm content with my own company.
17. Walk mindfully. Apparently “mindfulness” is a mental technique to bring about a relaxation response, a physiological response in which the heart rate slows and blood pressure drops (when walking this means paying attention to footsteps, counting one, two, one, two, and to visualize the numbers in their mind). Not sure about this. If I become too “mindful” I can walk into a wall.
18. Give priority to close relationships.
19. Take care of the soul. Studies have shown that actively religious people are happier and cope better with crises.  Having a faith can provide a support community, a sensing of meaning in life, and different/clearer perspective on life.
20. Count your blessings. Every day!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dessert, Glorious Desserts

First, let me apologize to all those reading this who do not live in the Denver metro area. If you like desserts, you'll understand why I'm apologizing.

Last week I went to the D Bar in Denver (D stands for Dessert).
One of the creators of this wonderful place is Keegan Gerhard, former host of Food Network Challenge.  While this restaurant has a regular food menu it specializes in desserts.  And oh, they are wonderful!

There are two dessert menus, one for daytime and one for nightime.  During the day you can get cake and shake, milk and cookies, creme brulee, molton cake, cheesecake, bread puddin' or a bag "o" dounuts.  At night the menu gets more elegant with some of the daytime items but also orange-ya glad this souffle has booze!?, tropical fandango (key lime pie), and pink! (buttermilk panna cotta with raspberry cloud, prickley pear sorbet). 

I went one night after work with a friend who was visiting and were lucky enough to sit at the bar.  But this wasn't you're ordinary bar where alcohol is served.  Nope, by sitting at the bar you got to see one of the chefs plate all the desserts.  That was as exciting as the actual desserts.

My friend and I split the d=mc2 which was milk chocolate three ways with mousse, salted carmel, peanuts and praline, rice krispies and ice cream.  Here's what it looked like:



Yes, it was lick the plate delicious.  So if you live in Denver or plan to visit, make a stop at the D Bar, it's worth it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Waiting is the Hardest Part - Part II

Well the waiting is over.  I had applied to attend a rather prestigious artist retreat in Saratoga, NY called Yaddo where I was hoping to spend two weeks working on my writing.  The place offers residencies to professional creative artist to work on literature, film, choreography, musical composition, painting, performance art, photography, printmaking, sculpture and video.  I didn’t think my chances were that great because technical I’m not a professional writer (I’ve never had anything traditionally published).  Yesterday I got a form letter from the Admissions Committee saying I hadn’t been invited to attend.

It’s not my first rejection letter and it won’t be my last.  I am only slightly disappointed since I didn’t have high expectations to begin with.  But you can’t accomplish anything unless you try.