Saturday 9: The Rain, The Park, and Other Things (1967)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) The Cowsills were a family band who had three hit singles. Can you name another group of popular singing siblings? Hanson!

2) This was their first hit, and it reached #2 on the Billboard charts. It was kept out of the #1 slot by the Monkees and “Daydream Believer.” What’s your favorite Monkees song? Oh, definitely “Daydream Believer.” I’m not a huge Monkees fan, but I adore that song. It’s so damn catchy.

3) After seeing the Cowsill brothers perform with their mother and sister, TV producers were inspired to create the sitcom, The Partridge Family. Did you ever watch it? No.

4) In the song, the narrator takes a flower from a girl in the park. Are there flowers in your home right now? Just fake ones.

5) He isn’t sure if the girl was real, or if he dreamed her. Tell us about a recent dream you had. I haven’t remembered any lately, although I’m pretty sure I had a dream about turning my alarm off and getting up, as one does.

6) At the height of the Cowsills’ popularity, they were hired by the American Dairy Association to promote drinking milk. If we were to peek into your refrigerator right now, would we find any milk? Yep. My family drank a lot of it growing up, and I still do.

7) After the band stopped performing together, John Cowsill went on to become a back up musician for the Beach Boys. His job has kept him on the road much of the time. When you travel, do you enjoy staying in hotels, or would you rather stay with friends/family? It depends–sometimes a hotel is nice because I feel a little more at home there, but staying with other people is more fun.

8)  In 1967, the year this song was popular, Elvis married Priscilla in Las Vegas. Have you attended any weddings yet this year? Are there any weddings in your future? Not yet this year, but we’re invited to two in the fall. Frankly, though, I’m concerned it won’t be safe to go.

9) Random question: Are the bottoms of your feet ticklish? Yep.

Friday 5: Aa Bb Cc Dd Ed Ff Gg Hh

  1. When did you last do something resembling a book report? A proper one, probably college.
  2. What was your most recent art project? I’m not an artsy person. I’m really bad at drawing and things, so I don’t enjoy it, so I avoid it. Closest I came was a sign for the gift drop-off for my drive-by baby shower. My mom got pretty creative with it. The printable invitations we found had little safari animals with masks on, and she took that design and put it on a sign and arranged plastic fern-like leaves to the corners. One of my tasks the day of the shower was to affix the leaves to the sign, which I did with a hot glue gun.
  3. When were you last called upon to do show & tell? That’s kind of what opening gifts was like. If we didn’t have a few cars lined up, I went ahead and opened the visitor’s gift right then and there, but for the most part, we put them in the garage and filmed me opening them later so we can send them to the gift givers. So it’s a lot of me opening things, showing them off to the small group who was there, announcing who it was from, and thanking them.
  4. When did you last feel like someone playing hide and seek? I’m playing hide and seek from the ‘rona.
  5. When did you last have some milk and/or cookies? Just now! My husband is on Day 1 of unemployment and made cookies over the weekend, and he just came back with a small plate of them to share.

From Friday 5.

Back in February, my mom took a ride out here and she I and I spent some time after work checking out this cute little tea house a few minutes away from our house as a potential baby-shower venue. I really liked it and thought it would make for something cute and different, so we were all set.

COVID-19 shutdowns hit the state a month, maybe month-and-a-half later. We held out hope things would be back to normal by the time we were looking to have the shower–early June–but as the weeks went by, not only did that seem unlikely, but if it happened, would it really be safe and would me and my guests really be comfortable with it? And the answer was no.

Moms-to-be in similar situations were going viral for improvising with virtual and drive-by showers. I wasn’t crazy about a virtual shower–it felt a little impersonal, and I knew it would exclude some older relatives. A drive-by shower wasn’t ideal for our house, given we’re kind of the odd ones out location-wise and the road we’re on really isn’t great for that. But my mom realized her neighborhood is kind of perfect for it. It’s small and the roads essentially just make a small circle, making it easy for people to drive up.

So we moved forward with adapting everything for the era of coronavirus. We wanted to make it worth everyone’s time to drive out and be as close to a traditional baby shower as possible, so we gave out a bag lunch. Jimmy John’s was the catering winner because they individually wrapped their sandwiches, and we donned food-service gloves and filled little blue lunch bags with that, a bag of chips, individually wrapped cookies made to look like adorable babies, and a little individually wrapped mint, as well as a bottle of water with a custom label. Normally, we’d have made our own cookies and aunts and grandmas would’ve chipped in, but we aimed to be as professional-grade as possible for safety reasons. We also had cupcakes individually boxed.

We also gave out little bags of favors, generally following a theme–they had little keychains, a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer, hand lotion, and a bar of soap that smelled amazing.

Of course, baby showers come with games, most of which can’t be done in a social-distancing version–and I’d found some neat ones. But we did what we could. We found baby-themed scratch-off tickets that we sent out with invitations, we had a car-decorating contest, and we decided we’d award a prize to every so many cars. We also awarded a prize for furthest distance traveled, which went to Julie, who drove down from Erie. Basically, a lot of people got prizes.

The turnout was mostly my side of the family, although a lot of Paul’s family lives about an hour away and I don’t blame them for not wanting to make that drive. My mom made the point that if it were her, she’d want to get out of the house. We had about 40 people come through in about 15 cars, which I was pretty happy with. It went well. People seemed impressed with how it turned out, and we got a lot of our baby needs covered. We have a few things we still need, so the plan is to head out this weekend and take advantage of coupons and gift cards.

All in all, it was a nice day, and as much as I wanted my original tea house, things came together well and I felt like I got my day–and baby, too! I appreciated everyone who came out.

Saturday 9: When Love Goes Wrong (Nothing Goes Right) 1953

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This is from the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Have you seen it? I have not.

2) The lyrics tell us that, when love goes wrong, “a match won’t light.” When did you most recently light a match? I don’t know. Maybe the last time we had people over? I keep a small candle lit on the bathroom sink. But I can’t think of when that would’ve been because we really haven’t had anyone over since I got pregnant.

3) The duet is performed at a French sidewalk cafe, where Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe are (literally) sharing a cup of coffee. With whom did you most recently have coffee? So I’ve never been a big coffee drinker, and being pregnant, I do have to limit my caffeine intake. To be cautious, aside from the occasional tea, I’ve totally cut out my lattes and things I used to love, and I’m dying for one. To give me a little taste of that, whenever my husband makes a cup of coffee, I take a sip. This is probably gonna turn me into a proper coffee drinker, not just, like, Starbucks drinks loaded with sugar. But rest assured, the second I’m allowed, I’m getting the biggest caramel macchiato I can find.

4) The tune was written by prolific composer Hoagy Carmichael. He was influenced by his mother, who earned extra money for the family playing piano during silent movies. Who in your life influenced your career choices? My parents, for different reasons. My dad pursued something he liked, at least, but my mom was very vocal about being miserable at work. So from a pretty young age, I didn’t see a point in chasing a good paycheck if it made me dread getting out of bed every morning.

5) Jane and Marilyn shared something beyond movie stardom. They were both married to Hall of Famers. Marilyn Monroe was married to Joe DiMaggio, who was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1955. Jane was married to quarterback Bob Waterfield, inducted into the football Hall of Fame in 1965. Which sport would you rather watch: baseball or football? Baseball. It’s less boring to me.

6) Jane and Bob Waterfield were high school sweethearts at Van Nuys High. The Southern California school was used as a set for the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Tell us something about your high school. I went to a Catholic school in a small town, and a few years ago, it was among the top 50 in the country, I believe.

7) Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio met on a blind date at a Hollywood restaurant called Villa Nova. Have you ever arranged a blind date? If so, did the couple hit it off and end up dating? I haven’t, but I think it would be fun.

8) In 1953, when Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was released, a tornado did severe damage to Waco, TX. Tell us about a major weather event that you endured (tornado, hurricane, flood, blizzard, heat wave, etc.). The occasional tornado has come through the area, but never close to me. We’re more likely to have blizzards, although if you ask just about anyone, they swear they used to be more frequent and more intense. We had Snowmageddon a few years ago, which was probably the worst of the ones in recent memory, but we have had a few nasty storms in the years since. But that was one where everyone just had to kind of hunker down and wait it out for a weekend, and we lost power. When we dug out, it was a mess.

9) Random question: You see a filthy puddle. Floating on top are cigarette butts, a leaf, and a $1 bill. Would you bend over and rescue the dollar? Only if I was really, really desperate.

Friday 5: Both Sides Now

  1. What side of you do people at work never see? I don’t want to say they never see my fun side, but that’s so depressing to think about. But it’s kind of true. I’m quieter and focus on getting things done, which is fine, I just feel like if you were to show my coworkers a video of me with my friends or even family, they’d be a little surprised.
  2. What will you be doing outside this weekend? I had a drive-by baby shower, so I was parked under a tent at the end of my mom’s driveway. And my husband and I just went out and dealt with some weeds in the front of the house that have gotten way out of hand. I’m limited in what I can do and tuckered out quick, but it’s less of an eyesore now. And unless he runs out of steam, too–and I hope not because today’s probably ideal for these things–he’s laying some mulch to pretty it up a bit. I was originally gonna put some money in to professional landscaping this year, and then I got pregnant and said nope, not spending on that right now.
  3. What usual side dish do you frequently enjoy as an entree? Things like potato salad, although in my family, potato salad is an entirely acceptable meal.
  4. What food that is flipped during cooking have you most recently consumed? I believe it was pancakes, but that was a few weeks ago yet.
  5. What’s recently been a thorn in your side? Pregnancy pains. Like, I shuffle around half the time, and now probably because of heat and being on my feet more than usual yesterday, my right foot is swollen.
  6. Bonus question for people who can answer it: What album has a flawless B side? I was gonna go with Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, but “Oh Daddy” doesn’t do it for me.

From Friday 5.

I’m losing more and more time to…sleep, I guess. I nap for my lunch break and usually fall asleep after work–typically, I’ll last for an hour or so after my shift and will fall asleep around 4 or 5 and sleep until 7 or 7:30 at the latest. Today, by some miracle–probably my mom calling me twice–I maybe only dozed for an hour, and I’m kind of happy about it. I have shit to do! Like laundry. That’s gotten put off all week solely because I needed Paul to carry the basket to the laundry room for me. Could he have done the laundry instead? Probably, but I like pretending I’m functional.

I realized I haven’t touched my books in two weeks, which feels ridiculous. The last time that happened, I was working in the office and doing a lot of overtime, so it’s weird to think my evenings are shot to the point that I haven’t even carved out reading time.

On Sunday, we went to my mom’s to basically assemble favors for the drive-by baby shower–put homemade labels on things, bag things, that kind of stuff. It’s gonna be pretty cute, and I’m pleased with the expected turnout of about 40 people in about 15 cars. That’s definitely more than I expected. I don’t blame people for not wanting to participate, especially those who have a drive of like an hour, but I feel like they’re getting a good bit out of it. A bag of favors and a bagged lunch, essentially, consisting of a sandwich, chips, a cookie, cupcake, and bottle of water. I think for having to adapt, we did good, and I keep teasing my mom and telling her she should go into the quarantine party-planning business.

Maybe it’s the sleep, but the weeks are flying by at this point. We’re down to the last four weeks before my due date. The crib is assembled. We’ll see what I get at the shower, but I expect we’ll have a few gaps to fill. We have some mental prep to do, like the online birthing classes since they’re not being done in person right now. Instead of being freaked out, I’m actually calmer and kind of ready, as much as I think one can be. I’m tired of the discomfort, and as I’ve heard a few pregnant women say, I’m ready to have my body back to myself.

Paul’s taking tomorrow off in the hopes of tackling some yard work but also to take a break since his days there are numbered. He’ll be paid for his unused time, but we both feel like he might as well use it and have a couple of relaxing days at home. We’re gonna head to my mom’s sometime in the afternoon or evening and spend the night there to make shower prep easier Saturday, and then I get my own little parade of friends and family to help welcome the baby since the tea house I originally wanted is out.

Sure, my state is moving to the “green phase” and there’s a chance I still could’ve done it, but let me tell you how little I trust it. I think this country is pretending things aren’t as serious as they are, and it’s gonna bite us in the ass in about two weeks.

Saturday 9: Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (1971)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) The lyrics tell us Paul believes it’s going to rain. How’s the weather where you are today? Similar. We started with a short thunderstorm this morning and although most of the rest of the day was sunny, it’s cloudy again now.

2) Paul sings that he is sorry because he hasn’t “done a bloody thing all day.” What do you hope to accomplish this weekend? Because I’m doing this late, I’ll tell you what the answer would’ve been–going to my mom’s house and getting favors together for my drive-by baby shower, and accomplish that we did.

3) He also references butter pie, which is made primarily with potatoes (with onions and, of course, butter). That dish is not popular on this side of the Atlantic. Last time you had potatoes, how were they prepared (baked, mashed, hash browned, french fried …)? They were in a soup! My mom made one of my grandma’s soup recipes while we were over, which always includes big carrots and potatoes.

4) Linda McCartney is credited as co-writer and performer on this recording. Paul and Linda were partners in real life, too; married 29 years, they raised four children together. They often said they tried never to spend more than a few hours apart. Do you enjoy a lot of togetherness, or do you value your personal time? Has your experience with Covid19 and quarantine changed how you feel about this? Both. I tend to need some time to myself but have an easy time getting it. Pre-COVID, my husband had a tai chi class a few times a week, so I had a couple hours to myself a couple times a week and that was generally good enough for me. Especially with him–one of the signs I was in love with him was I get sick of everyone around me at some point or another. I usually needed a break from even my closest friends and family to just have time for myself, and I’ve never, ever felt that with him. And quarantine hasn’t really changed that. It probably helps that his job adjusted his hours to limit the number of people in the building at one time, so we’re on different schedules. But since I work from home, I’m still around that whole time before he goes to work, and it’s not quality time together, but it also doesn’t feel like we’re barely seeing each other. Now, because I’m pregnant, I’ve barely left the house since March, and on top of that, at this point, he’s had to pick up my slack because I’m just not functioning the way I would normally. Between that and quarantine, after the baby is born, I want to find a way for him to get away for a few hours, which is gonna be easier said than done with a new baby in a pandemic that’s not actually over.

5) Paul and Linda came from very different backgrounds. His family was lower middle class, lived in Liverpool’s public housing and received government aid. She grew up in affluent Scarsdale, the daughter of a wealthy theatrical attorney. Do you think it’s more important for a couple to share a common background, or to share common interests? Common interests, but my husband and I are from slightly different backgrounds and it does come up in relationships. For us, it was mostly early on. There were clear differences in attitude about money and it probably does still affect how we approach finances as a married couple, but it’s not something we fight about.

6) Paul is known for his work ethic. At age 78, he’s still making music and performing live. What’s your favorite Paul McCartney song? I like this one a lot! I don’t have a single favorite, but one of them is “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five.”

7) In 1971, when this song was a hit, Bobby Fischer was the world’s most famous and highest-rated chess player. Do you play chess? No. I learned at one point and I’m sure I will again because my husband enjoys it, but for now, no.

8) England’s Princess Anne turned 21 in 1971. The occasion was commemorated by a formal portrait, taken by celebrated fashion photographer Norman Parkinson. Who took the most recent photo of you? I think my husband–we had a small lunch at mom’s for Mother’s Day, so we lined up me, her, and my sister-in-law with the baby for a picture. My mom’s also snapped a couple delightful pregnancy shots of me, mostly sitting in strange places, occasionally with a milkshake in hand.

9) Random question: Do you find it more satisfying to work with your hands, or your head? My head, I think, but I do enjoy hands-on work.

Friday 5: Un_____able

  1. What’s a movie you once liked but is now unwatchable? I was a Twilight fan for a hot minute back in those days, but it didn’t take long for that to fall apart–the writing is awful. But it did mean seeing most of the movies as they came out, and granted, by that time, we were heckling them more than truly enjoying them, I think. Kristen Stewart, with a few exceptions, is just a bad actress, I’m sorry. I realize she was given a weak character in this instance, but the only two movies I’ve ever seen her in where she was either good or her style worked were Adventureland and Into the Wild.
  2. What’s a song you once liked but is now unlistenable? I don’t know that there are any I’d call totally unlistenable, but I definitely burned myself out on a lot of stuff I loved as a teenager. There’s a lot of stuff from then that I still love, too, though.
  3. What’s a book you once liked but is now unreadable? Ha, see above. I’m also tempted to include 50 Shades of Grey not because I liked it but because up to a point, it wasn’t that bad. It’s one of those books that destroys itself as it goes by just getting worse and worse. I truly started it thinking, “Okay, this isn’t good, but it’s tolerable,” and ended on burn it all down.
  4. What’s something you once found unbelievable but whose truth is now undeniable? I don’t know!
  5. What’s something you once found tasty but is now unpalatable? Please, this was my entire first trimester of pregnancy. Nearly all of my staple foods sounded disgusting, vegetarian foods in particular. I’d just jumped on the Beyond Burger craze, and the thought of any meat substitutes was awful–that, fake chicken patties, fake hot dogs, even the things like orange chicken made me nauseous to even think about. For a while there, I needed very simple, almost bland foods. I’m mostly out of that now, but I’m definitely not back to normal. There’s still a freezer full of food I’m just not quite ready for. I’m also really tired of hard-boiled eggs. They were great for a little while as something quick, easy, and healthy for me, but that got old fast.

From Friday 5.

We increased our circle a smidge this weekend.

Since we still haven’t met our nephew, Arlo, Paul had the idea to see if it would be cool if we could do a drive-by visit, and Katie said that was long as we wore clean clothes, she was okay with us coming in for a proper visit. She and I have talked about this a little–among all of our little branched-out families, most of us pretty much aren’t leaving our houses, so we figure seeing each other is probably okay. I realize this isn’t quite in line with what the experts are advising, but I mean…I’ve left the house four times since restrictions started in March, and Katie’s situation is very similar.

So we visited for a little bit, then came home to our new writing group Paul’s sister Emily got going. The last one I was in dissolved–it was made up of coworkers, and all but two of us have moved or switched jobs or both. Although my contributions will likely be spotty for lack of time, I’m glad to be involved in it. We hop on Discord on Saturday nights and discuss.

This was also the weekend where the limitations of pregnancy made themselves painfully clear, literally. The goal was to really put time and work into getting ready for the baby. After a delay of about a week, the crib is supposed to arrive tomorrow, and my mom offered to steam-clean the carpet in his room. So the first project was getting ahead of the mess that the living room and kitchen had become, most of which turned out to be empty boxes. But normally, we split the work for an hour or so and it’s done. Now? I can’t, and I really didn’t expect that and was surprised by just how hard it was for me. At best, I’m moving a lot slower and get a lot less done than him, and at worst, I need to sit down after carrying something from one end of the house to the other. So that’s how Paul did the bulk of the cleaning on his own Sunday.

But the weather was nice, so I thought, “Hey, I know I need some exercise.” My original plan for this point in the pregnancy was to be walking on a treadmill at the gym, which of course didn’t account for a damn pandemic shutting the thing down. So we decided to go for a walk in the park, which I maintain was a good idea for the most part, but I ended up overdoing it. I needed to go slower and sit down a lot, but for the most part, I felt pretty good and felt like getting out and moving was helping. The problem was I misjudged my limit, so I was really, really struggling when we turned around to go back to the car. It didn’t help the aches and discomfort I was having, and instead, I ended up with aches and discomfort in other places from not being active lately.

I was still feeling it a bit this morning. We were set to finish the cleaning project, and while I did contribute, it was minimal. I just couldn’t. It was taking a lot of me, which was making me frustrated, and fortunately, I’m married to a saint who keeps telling me my job right now is to literally grow a human in my body and that’s it.

Weirdly, as of the last couple hours, I feel really good. Maybe it just takes over 24 hours to recover from exercise and for the benefits to kick in.

My mom came over and steam-cleaned the carpet in the baby’s room. For that being the least-used room in the house, it was kind of amazing to see how dirty the water was, and I’m afraid of how offensive my office and our bedroom probably are. Woof. But at least he’ll have a nice, clean room, for the most part. When the crib is up, I do want the cats to have some time to check it out and make some progress towards understanding in their little kitty brains that it’s gonna have a very different purpose soon.

This being Memorial Day weekend, somewhere around Friday or Saturday I thought we could head out to my dad’s grave today, especially since it’s so close to our house. I mentioned it in our family group text, and everyone kind of was separately thinking the same thing, so my mom spent the morning doing the steam cleaning and we drove out to the grave around 1, then grabbed some takeout and came back to the house to hang out a little bit.

Ordinarily, we probably would’ve had a cookout, even if just a small one where Paul did most of the work, so it was a little strange for it to be small and limited and not feel much like Memorial Day, honestly. But I guess that’s just how it is now, and I don’t see it changing–and at least we can see each other instead of being totally separate like we have up to this point.

I expect this weekend, we’ll stay in. Paul sounds like he’s gonna tackle assembling the crib during the week, and until the drive-by baby shower, we won’t have a ton of stuff to put in there just yet. What we definitely need to do is devote some time to the hospital’s virtual classes, since in-person ones are all canceled.

I making this point a lot, but it’s strange times to be a new parent-to-be.

Saturday 9: Battle Hymn of the Republic

Unfamiliar with Judy Garland’s rendition of this week’s tune? Hear it here.

Memorial Day is the federal holiday designated to honor American service people who died in battle. 

1) On May 30, 1868, President Grant presided over the Memorial Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery. Have you ever visited Arlington Cemetery? I have.

2) On Memorial Day, it is customary to fly the flag at half-staff until noon and then raise it to the top of the staff until sunset. Will you be flying the flag at your home this weekend? We don’t have one, no.

3) Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, because flowers and ribbons were left on graves of soldiers.  Do you find solace in visiting cemeteries? I don’t know. I guess a little bit. We’re going to my dad’s grave on Monday.

4) The lyrics to this week’s song were written by Julia Ward Howe in 1861. Her inspiration was a White House visit with Abraham Lincoln. In 2020, under normal circumstances, public tours of the White House are available but you must request your ticket in advance from your Member of Congress (House or Senate). When you travel, do you plan your trip weeks before you go? Or do you decide how your days will unfold once you reach your destination? First of all, I remember back when anyone could get a ticket, you just had to get up early in the morning and line up for it. As for the actual question, it depends who I’m traveling with. Personally, I like a mix of pre-planned things, if it’s that kind of place, with some free days to explore or just hang out. Most of our traveling in the last couple years has been for weddings, and for the most part, what we did was take a few extra days off to enjoy the area. In Erie, we spent time on Presque Isle, and in Virginia Beach about two years ago, we took a couple extra days to enjoy the beach.

5) Judy Garland performed this week’s song before a live audience as a tribute to President Kennedy, who had been assassinated just weeks before. She knew Kennedy personally and considered this a farewell to a friend. While the performance was difficult for her — at one point she flubs the lyrics — she believed it was important, and could perhaps help the country heal. Tell us about a song that reminds you of someone you loved who is no longer with us. Since I mentioned my dad, I made this playlist after he died.

6) John F. Kennedy served in WWII and was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps medal and a Purple Heart. His brother Joe also served and was awarded the Navy Cross, but he received his citation posthumously, having died during a flying mission over East Suffolk, England. Here at Saturday 9, we consider everyone who serves a hero and want to hear about the veterans and active military members in your life. I’m surrounded by them. Both grandfathers served, my dad and one of my uncles did, my brother and my best friend’s boyfriend is National Guard, I have some distant cousins in, some of my husband’s college friends, my brother-in-law was in the Marines for a few years…we’ve got someone in every branch.

7) Memorial Day is considered the beginning of the summer season. Will you be enjoying warm weather this weekend? Oh, yeah. We’re still social distancing, so we won’t be hosting or attending anything like we have in the past, but we’re definitely having summery weather, finally.

8) Berries are especially popular in summer. Which is your favorite: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or raspberries? Raspberries and strawberries are probably about tied, then blackberries. I like blueberries the least. We have blackberry bushes at the back of the yard, and we planted some strawberries in the garden this year.

9) If you could attend a Memorial Day picnic with any fictional character, which would you choose? I don’t know.