Monday, December 31, 2007


The story behind the evidence photo.

My little nephews Colin and Liam dog pile their cousin Lyndsy on the beach. I think it is so cute, I snap a couple of shots. Moments later, I see Lyndsy is crying.

“Honey, what’s wrong?”

“He pulled my ha-a-a-a-ir. Colin pulled my hair.”

Colin’s dad, my brother Joe, quickly steps in. “Say you are sorry for pulling Lyndsy’s hair, Colin. She’s crying. You hurt her.”

Three and a half year-old Colin, trembling with indignation from head to foot: “I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it. I didn’t pull her hair.”

Me: “Joe, look at this photo.” The photo shows Colin with hands firmly planted in Lyndsy’s hair. It is now evidence.

Joe: “Look at this, Colin.”

Colin, still shaking with righteous anger: “I didn’t do it, I didn’t- (sees photo). That’s not me. That’s not me in that picture.”

We laughed so hard at his defense that the whole thing was dropped.

Though my sister and I think that kids of a certain age can really convince themselves that they didn’t do anything wrong. And criminals do it all the time.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

a small question of size

A friend and I were recently talking about my attempts to lose weight. Between walking and eating organic foods, I managed to strip myself of eight pounds. Only to go on vacation and gain back just under four pounds in two weeks. My original goal was to lose 15 pounds. But like I told my friend, that less-than-lofty goal would just put me squarely at my regular, 15 pounds overweight status. Which is just fine.

Like most women, I’ve spent a lifetime worrying about my weight. Even when I wasn’t worrying about it, that number was still on my mind. Oversized and in lights, like a movie theater’s marquee. Crash diets to slough off the extra baggage included the grapefruit diet (yup, it was all grapefruit, all the time), diet pills (from speed to OTC drugs, I’ve tried them all), gulping diuretics by the handful and my favorite diet, fasting. Drinking organic juices for a day and then not eating at all for several days.

I found that all of the diets worked well. If you don’t count the bitchiness, the gnawing hunger and the migraine headaches. They worked. Until I stopped taking the pills. Started eating solid foods again. Then I gained weight almost as quickly as it fell off.

I was well schooled in my eating disorder from a young age. The older gymnasts made dieting more competitive than doing back flips on the balance beam or executing a well-orchestrated floor routine. It was easy. And I so wanted to be like them. Skinny. Wearing high-cut leotards that emphasized an angular frame. Hair tied back tight. Smoking in the locker room and smirking at the younger girls.

I wasted far too much of my teen years thinking about myself and how I looked, instead of just enjoying my life. It makes me sad to think about it now. My twenties were spent fumbling around, trying to find myself. In the early part of the decade, I wore too much eye makeup and stuck contact lenses in my eyes, accepting the resulting burn as the price paid for beauty. By age 27, I learned to like myself without makeup and to love my glasses. But I still fought to wear a size six. Even if it meant laying on the bed to zip up my zipper. That size meant a lot to me. And it was hard to leave it behind.

But then something happened the year I turned 30. I finally became comfortable in my skin. Nowhere near as skinny as I was when I was 18. Rounder and softer than I was in my 20’s. With lines that appear like a flash every time I laugh.

I always thought I had great self confidence. The bold one in my group of friends. The one who never turns down a dare and isn’t afraid to try anything once. But when I turned 30, I realized how it really feels to be confident. To be comfortable in my own skin. And that kind of confidence is sexy. It draws other people to you like a magnet.

I’m not going to be the prettiest, the youngest or the smartest (not by a long shot, ha ha) person in the room. If I went to the gym every day and sweat it out with the ogling steroid-ridden weight lifters, I still wouldn’t be “cut.” I have no angles or hard edges anywhere on my body. I have a J. Lo that's in fierce competition with the original. Even my curves have curves.

What I am is myself. And I like it here.

Northern Kentucky Winter Hat and Glove Drive

Approximately 400 kids in the Covington Public School system are homeless on any given day; hundreds more can't afford to buy basic necessities like winter hats and gloves. The Northern Kentucky Winter Hat and Glove drive is collecting hats, gloves and scarves as part of the "Lend-A-Hand" program.

There's still time to drop off new or gently used children's gloves, scarves and hats for the Northern Kentucky Winter Hat and Glove drive. To donate winter hats or gloves (children sizes preferred) you can drop them off at various participating MainStrasse Village businesses or at the MainStrasse Village Association office located at 406 West 6th Street 2nd Floor (above Dee Felice restaurant)- call 859.491.0458 for hours of operation.

You can also make a cash or credit card donation to the Northern Kentucky Winter Hat and Glove Drive by stopping in or calling the MainStrasse Village Association office.

Friday, December 14, 2007

feels like this

Jack Rodee, a friend and talented frontman for I-don't-know-how-many-bands in Wisconsin, had a song featured on MTV's "The Hills" recently. The song, written by Daniel Holter & Kyle White at the Burst Collective, appeared on season 3, episode 17.

MTV, in case you didn't know, has more or less migrated from showing music videos to showing non-stop reality TV shows. Now, they feature music by new artists on the shows and it's quite a coup to be selected.

You can have a listen to Jack singing Feels Like This online.

the judge

When I wrote the observer a while back, I meant to address something with blog readers. Then, as so often happens, I got sidetracked and never mentioned it at all: So there is no misunderstanding. I do not sit in judgment over the things people tell me about their marriages or long-term relationships.

If you’ve cheated on your significant other, expressed regret about your choice in a partner to me or generally just feel unhappy; I really don’t care. Unless you’re my brother in law. Then I would have to kick your ass. I mean, I’m sorry that you are unhappy. But it’s your life to live as you choose. How you choose to live that life has nothing to do with me.

I’ve had a few people tell me it isn’t easy, or, you don’t know, because it’s never happened to you, and so on. That is very true. And I don’t mean to judge anyone. Trust me. I am in no position to judge anyone about anything. So I’m not your judge. You are your judge. I am, in fact, just an observer. Duly noted? Good. Now, let’s move on to a lighter story about marital bliss:

I drank a few Harps before it went down (or Harp, as my friend Matt would say; apparently there’s no “s” even if you drink four. Or ten.), so I don’t know if I can get every nuance, but I’ll try.

I’ve been trying to spend time with all of my friends before we head into the holidays and I go out west for a much-needed vacation. My friend KC and I go to a neighborhood bar to catch up. KC is one half of a hot married couple but you can’t hate her; she’s too sweet and good not to be liked. We are sitting at the bar and she is relating one of her hot married stories to me and I am all ears.

“And then,” she says, sputtering with laughter, “his mom walked in! Can you believe it? Busted by his mom!” We are giggling like overly-knowledgeable school girls when the man next to me, who thus far has sat, drinking steadily, without saying a word, speaks up.

“My wife was innocent when we got married. Can you believe it?” I can’t mimic his exact inflection, but he seemed to sort of not believe it himself.

KC is used to people telling me random personal information, but she still looks slightly confused, swaying on her stool.

He nods at me, as if we have been having this conversation for six months, instead of six seconds. “That’s how it was back then.”

“Hmm,” I say, at a total loss.

He is a big man with a huge head of salt and pepper curls, wearing a union jacket and drinking something lethal, like Bushmill’s. After listening to us talk frankly about things for the better part of an hour, he is apparently ready to join in the conversation. Then he drops the bomb:

“She never says a word.”

“Uh…” I have no idea what to say to this. I can feel, without looking, that KC is getting ready to explode into giggles. She is shaking all over and grabbing my elbow, but I refuse to look at her, knowing that I will start laughing too.

“She doesn’t say anything. You mean when you’re... Uh…”

He nods, tossing back his drink with the practiced alcoholic’s finesse. “Not a word.”

Now, remember, I have had quite a bit to drink myself. I am running through possible bits of wisdom in my mind that I can share with the man who is married to the librarian:

There are plenty of movies available that show women talking in bed. Maybe you could pick up a few and that would give her an idea of what to do.

There are books. Surely Harlequin has finally moved from quiet sighs to “yeah, baby’s” instead.

Dude, you could just talk to your wife and tell her what you want. I have pretty much settled on that one, but with KC ready to stretch out on the floor and roll around laughing, I decide to switch tactics.

“Perhaps, sir,” I say, standing up, teetering a bit, and tossing my pashmina over my shoulder. “Perhaps it is for the best that she says nothing at all.”

KC chokes on her laughter while the man nods his assent. He gravely reaches for his (refilled) rocks glass and raises it in a toast to me, before slumping over the bar.

I turn and sweep regally out of the pub, with a puzzled KC trailing after me.

After all, I explained to her outside. Some things are just better left unsaid.

Happy Holidays, dear readers. And I mean that in a totally non-judgmental way.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Love, Honor, Obey

Looking over my old writings there’s often one recurring theme.

If you don’t know me, and you’ve read this blog, you might think that I’m anti-marriage. For the record. That isn’t necessarily true. I’ve just seen how it hasn’t worked well for a lot of people, and sometimes, it makes me feel a little gun-shy… Understandably.

For the record, I am all for marriage. Well. I am all for marriage for other people. I like my bachelorhood. For now.

And lately, I’ve been feeling more… optimistic about romantic possibilities. It turns out there are still some very, very thoughtful people out there. People who actually mean what they say and say what they mean. Imagine that. I was beginning to think that they all just lied, ripped you off or tried to create unnecessary drama. (it's been a long year, readers.)

I believe that a loving relationship that’s 100% dedicated and committed is possible- I have several shining examples in my own family. My parents. My brothers. Sisters.

I’ve also seen a lot of divorce. In my family. With my friends. These days, a pre-empted marriage is as common as getting married used to be- marriages often end earlier than expected, and for good reason.

Surrounded by family at a recent event, the question of my singledom inevitably arose. This time it came from an uncle, my brilliant radical liberal uncle (who is not really my uncle… but he’s been with my aunt for so many years, we think of him as family). We’ve both been working on a series of poems (his now published) and he asked me about my potential for getting married and having children.

I could have been married ten times now, I said. An explanation that leaves me not bereft, but often feeling slightly dirty, like a used towel. I’m not against marriage, I told him. I just haven’t found the right person yet. And I don’t want to end up unhappy and resentful with the wrong person.

With great intensity, he leaned in and told me this: “You only need to know one thing in life. You need to know when you’re getting cheated.”


That’s profound.

Because he’s right. And I like to think (like I hope that he was implying), that I’ve made a lot of smart choices- instead of a lot of unhappy mistakes. I know I’ve hurt people. In some ways, I’m still hurting them. But marriage? That’s a big deal, man. Maybe the biggest deal there is.

I watched my parents canoodle this summer, as they frolicked and celebrated their 50 years together. 50 years! Five decades of love, honor and fidelity. It’s been a long haul. And it’s been a lot of work. It’s not something you see very often these days.

When I lived with someone and he wanted to marry, I told him we didn’t need a piece of paper to define our love. To define our place in the world together.

But maybe what I really meant to say was I didn’t want to be cheated. Or to cheat him. Because even then, I knew it wouldn’t work out.

My uncle gave me some food for thought. I still think that I will find the right person. One day. And we’ll have a half dozen little boys and live in a tiny house on a mountain. And maybe we’ll marry. Or maybe not.

My other uncle gave me a slightly different piece of wisdom to think about. Inviting me to visit him in Montana for the Stampede next year (Montana’s biggest annual party), he told me I’d have my pick of handsome cowboys, and then he went on to list a number of rodeo activities I might enjoy. Finally he stopped and looked at me, puzzled by my blank stare. Um. Sorry, Uncle Mel. I didn’t hear anything after “handsome cowboys.”

One day.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Holiday Drink Recipes to Make in the Crock Pot

Mark-the-foodie tells me the good truffles, from the Pacific Northwest, natch, are IN at Findlay. Get more information on where to buy and a recipe over at Rehab or Die.

My mom also reminded me that dungeness crab season started a few days ago in Oregon. At Christmas we go crabbing or just buy them off the dock from the commercial crabbers. Never had dungeness crab? Try one. They're better than lobster.

If you're having a holiday party and looking for a few good drink recipes, I put a few favorites together. Whip them up ahead of time and let them rest in the crock pot, to enjoy with family and friends later.

Holiday Crock Pot Drinks

A crock pot can do more than just take up space in the pantry. You can actually use it for cooking! It’s true… And never is there a better time to dust off the ceramic wonder than during the holiday party season. Some holiday crock pot drink recipes that won’t disappoint:

Hot Buttered Rum
Making midnight mass more fun for hundreds of years. Fa-la-la-la-hic!

2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
6 whole cloves
3 sticks cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2-3 cups rum (depends on who’s drinking)
whipped cream
ground nutmeg -- for topping

Put all ingredients, except rum and cream, and nutmeg into crock pot. Add 2 quarts hot water. Stir well. Cover pot and cook on LOW for 5 hours. Add rum; stir to blend. Serve from pot in warm mugs with a scoop of whipped cream and a dusting of nutmeg.

Mulled Wine
Perfect for lazy hikers.

1 small cinnamon stick, broken into 1 inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
Thin lemon slices (garnish)
1 bottle dry red wine

Combine all ingredients (except lemon) in crock pot. Heat on high for one hour or until hot, then reduce to low to hold temperature for serving. Top mugs with lemon slice.

Tom and Jerrys
This has always been a staple in our house at holiday parties. Hard work, but mmm-mmm.

24 eggs
1/2 jigger rum
2 lb powdered sugar
1/2 jigger brandy
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 oz vanilla

Beat egg whites until stiff. Add sugar. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Add in half of the eggs yolks, and blend until smooth. In a large mug, fill with 1/2 batter, 2 shots of [60% rum and 40% brandy]. Balance with boiling hot water. Stir well and sprinkle with nutmeg.

For those of us who leave everything to the last minute: In a pinch, fill the crock pot with prepared hot chocolate and top every mug with a shot (or two) of black rum and whipped cream.

Remember, keep the crock pot on low once the drinks are ready, or you’ll risk losing the booze!

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Last night we went to check out a friend’s band. There were many, many funny moments… but my favorite conversation had to be this:

Jo: That was fast.

Me: Please. You know I’ve never had to wait to get served at a bar.

Jo: That’s because they know you’re going to spend a lot of money.

Talk about a quick deflation! Friends… They keep you grounded.


I save fortunes from fortune cookies. Yes. Another Lisa quirk. It’s right up there with painting my toenails to match my mood (today they are ruby red but I am debating changing to gun-metal gray).

I found this fortune recently while making a half-assed attempt to dust the living room: “Character is who you are when no one is watching.”

I remember why I saved it: I got it the day after I had an argument with my mom.

It’s stupid, I know. They’re random. Or so we’re told.

It’s funny how the little things stick with us. Something that doesn’t mean anything to anyone but you, grabs your heart strings and gives them a little tug when you least expect it.

I don’t know why I didn’t get a funny fortune that day. I wanted one that I could repeat out loud and add “in bed!” to the ending. That one I just folded quietly and stuck in my handbag.

So maybe it was random. I’d like to think that I do have character, even when I am by myself. I’d like to think that my mom accepted my apology and has forgotten all about the fight. I’d like to try to forgive myself for the argument one day. She said she forgave me. She even said I made her think. But still, it makes me question my character. It makes me question my fortune.

I have about 100 Bazooka Joe comics too… Their fortunes are less reliable but some day I am going to send them all in and order t-shirts for all of my best friends.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

heart monitor

Lately I’ve been ruminating a lot about potential love interests and how things often go terribly awry. No matter how much time goes by, I feel like I’ve learned very little about human beings. I don’t understand what motivates some people to act like they do. And I don’t understand why I am so often a target for people who are wrong for me.

It's the same maddening situation that I find myself in again and again. Going back and forth with someone who tells me over and over I want to be with you. So, so much. I think about you all the time. I miss you. Then, when I finally, finally, let my guard down, take a deep breath and say, OK. Let’s do this, often, the (paraphrased) response I get is: Eh.

In other words, after all the pursuit, the refusal to let me move on and the continued attempts to maintain a connection with me- even when I try to break from them- when I finally acquiesce, he coyly sidesteps me in a way that leaves me feeling rebuffed- and remorseful.

Is this my fault? Because I’m left wondering, if I would have said yes months ago, would things have worked out differently? I have to protect myself. I don’t want to get hurt. So I’m careful. About who I trust. Who I let in. Who I care about, too.

But what can you do when you find someone who makes you want to break all of your self-imposed rules?

I’m known for being a very private person. That might seem funny to regular blog readers. But trust me- there’s a whole lot I’m not telling you. I so very rarely let people really get to know me. And when I do, I’m often disappointed. There just seems to be so little regard for how I feel.

If you let someone take a look into your heart, do they take a part of it with them when they go?

And how can you get it back?

Friday, November 30, 2007


I missed the family reunion in Montana last year. I was sifting through old photos yesterday and came across pictures from some of our other reunions.

I call my cousins the hunter-gatherers. It's a lot of hiking, cliff-diving and shooting dinners with a big gun. And where else but Glacier can you fly into an airport and find a mounted 1,200-pound Alaskan brown bear in the lobby?

It's so much fun, lying out by the lake while the older girls braid the little girls' hair... Sitting by the bonfire at night while someone plays guitar, some of us sing, Bobby does that thing with the copper wire so that the fire glows red/green/blue and the children shiver while Uncle Mel tells a ghost story, too.

And I remember the year that someone ran through the dining hall under a sheet and rang that dinner bell at midnight. I knew, I knew it was a joke but still, the clanging shook me to the core. And the next day we wiped the bear paw prints off of my brother's truck. Sigh. That's Montana. And that's my family.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

a room with a view

I used to recycle ex-boyfriends. I was kind of known for that within my circle of friends. In fact, their not-so-subtle use of that term (which I’d never heard before) is in part why I began to reflect on my habit of getting back together with ex-boyfriends... And later decided that I wouldn’t do it anymore.

It’s so easy. To fall back on old habits. To be with someone who wants to be with you. Effortless. This time, we’ll really, really make it work. I always think that. At least until the fighting starts a month or two later.

Arguments made much worse because they escalate so quickly. They escalate because there are so many old resentments. Unresolved issues. A simple disagreement about paper towels becomes a shouting match that ends in pouting and hurt feelings. Because that person never takes responsibility for anything, you see. It definitely isn’t an argument over Bounty. One person thinks making the bed day after day after day is a waste of time. The other, convinced it’s a mortal sin to be without military corners for even an afternoon. How can that ever work?

But lately, well... Some habits are hard to break.

He’s a talented sculptor and artist. He doesn’t work. He doesn’t have to. He creates beautiful sculptures of beautiful women, caught in repose, head bent over knees. Vivid paintings that are striking in their simplicity. Captivating.

And he’s an amazing cook. Caramelized scallops and full-bodied chocolates served with a robust red on Valentine’s Day. When we are together, he binges creatively, painting for hours at a time. Stopping only for sustenance. During one memorable weekend, he painted 30 paintings in three days. When we are not together, he doesn’t seem to paint at all.

The last time I saw him, I flew to New York to visit him at one of his homes in the Adirondacks. That house! It had the most incredible architectural design I’ve ever seen. He designed it and then helped build it too, because he loves to create and work with his hands. Only an artist could have designed that house.

It was built around a birch tree.

I was awe-struck the first time I saw it. The tree rose from the floor in the main room and reached all the way to the ceiling. The top of the tree fanned out naturally into tiny buds, creating the headboard for the bed in the loft. Amazing.

The home rests on a lake. Surrounded by homes owned by other family members. Of course. I loved looking out the window. Staring out at the lake. I did that a lot. He didn’t really want me there. I could tell. Phone call after phone call telling me he missed me, only to fly to New York and to feel his compounded resistance. His anger at his need. His anger at me.

He’s so persistent. Persuasive. I’ve ignored his calls, cancelled dates at the last minute and generally refused to speak to him, and still. He talks me into it again.

“I’m in a different place now,” he says.

And I have to wonder, before my hopes get too high, if that place has a room with a view.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

an untraditional affair

Cheryl has been my best friend since the 9th grade. She was a sophomore then, very beautiful and very glamorous. I was a year younger than the kids in my class so she’s a couple of years older than me. Warm, loving and with a wicked sense of sensibility, I worshipped her then- and I adore her today.

It’s funny, the paths our lives have taken. Cheryl chose to be married at a very young age, and she chose to have children at a young age, with a dedicated, loving husband and father. I focused on school, then on my career, and then over the last few years, on my businesses. And I fall head over heels all the time, but sooner or later I’m looking over my shoulder… Looking for something else and needing more. And more and more.

Meanwhile, Cheryl completed her bachelor’s degree a couple of years ago and her career took off. Now, her oldest child is preparing for college, and her youngest won’t be far behind. They’ve moved from the burbs back into Portland proper, and she and her husband are looking forward to starting a new chapter in their lives. And now here I am, starting to think about setting down some roots somewhere for the first time ever.

I’ve moved so many times since college that I can’t count the moves anymore. I’ve lived on a working farm, in the suburbs and all over the city. And I’ve struggled with relationships, in part because I’m always thinking, is this person willing to move out west with me? It’s a big leap for anyone, including me. I’ve ended more than one relationship because once I realize they’ll never leave, I think, what’s the point?

Sweetest Ann, another heart friend, called and told me of a recent disappointment, asking me, Do I expect too much of people? Yeah, I told her, you do. Because everyone lets you down.

I hate the way that sounds, and I hated to be the one to tell her that. Ann is the widest-eyed naïf that ever lived; I don’t want to be the one to disillusion her, especially about relationships. But if you give people too much, they will at some point let you down. It’s inevitable, and if you expect it going in it’s much easier to forgive (and forget).

But I do have one lasting relationship that’s never let me down. It’s the one person who’s never been unfaithful, dishonest or untruthful to me, ever: Cheryl. She’s never jealous of the good things that happen to me, doesn’t get mad when I make a mistake, and she continues to provide me with an unending line of support. When I am frightened, nervous or second-guessing my choices, she digs her heels in and offers her never ending admiration and love. It’s helped me a lot.

We often define our loving relationships in a very traditional way. Between societal expectations of what we should or shouldn’t be doing, the expectations we have for each other and perhaps most trying, the expectations we place on ourselves, it’s easy to lose yourself. I’m such a wide-eyed optimist that in a funny way, I’ve become deeply pragmatic. I see friends divorcing right and left and I feel for them, but it makes me more convinced than ever that marriage isn’t right for me. I keep looking, but what I need remains elusive and I don’t know when I’ll find it. Hopefully soon.

And maybe in the long run, the love affairs that matter most are the ones we’ve had all along- with our friends.

crazy girl

When I was in college, I went out with a guy we’ll call… Jerod. For about three years. He was seven years older than me. And still living with his parents. His mom would make us breakfast when we came in at 2 in the morning. Did his laundry for him. It was ridiculous (this is how I tell the story in person, too- in italics). And not that guys in rock bands aren’t known for their fidelity (ahem), but Jerod cheated on me. The one and only time it’s ever happened to me, actually (as far as I know).

I found out when the paramour du jour called me. She had to call me, because if no one told me what was going on, we might have gotten married. She forced the issue, you might say. And I am ever so eternally grateful to her for doing so.

But you know what made me mad about the whole thing? Madder than the cheating, even, which really only broke my heart a little. It healed. I mean it hurt a lot at the time, but in retrospect… Not really what I wanted out of life, you know? No, what made me mad was when I confronted him- and he lied about it.

Yup, that “stand-up guy,” as everyone called him, actually had the nerve to tell me that I was crazy. That I was making it up. As if I would make up something like that. He’s the cheater, and he’s telling me I’m nuts. What a jerk.

So he’s arguing with me, denying everything, and finally, after a lengthy harangue, I quietly interrupted. “I know what you did. She called me, Jerod. I know.” And, finally, he admitted it. He didn’t want to. He would have denied it all the way to the altar, I think, but really, there’s only so much a girl can take. And as far as staying together after I found out? Noooo. No. Let her have him.

I do not appreciate being called a liar. Even people who don’t like me or have stopped talking to me or whatever, all- there are about three of them as of last night- all of them would tell you, I’m honest. Maybe a little too honest. Ask me a real question, and I’ll give you a real answer.

I say, if you tell a woman she’s crazy, lying or that you don’t remember saying something, ya takes yer chances. Insulting as it is, when it’s happened to me, I just calmly explain what actually happened. I have to defend my honor, even if I’m dealing with a dishonorable person. Whether he chooses to tell the truth, well, I can’t do anything about that. Like I’ve said before on the blog; I know too many truths. And sometimes, people start to resent the person who knows too much.

Oh, and I almost forgot: Jerod married that nice girl. They bought a great house, I heard. Right. Next. Door. To his parents! You gotta love that!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

happy anniversary

Northern Kentucky News has grown a lot this year. Surprisingly so. Joining us today are visitors from places as far-flung as Australia, Croatia and Estonia! It boggles the mind. The blog is also wildly popular in a tiny town in Illinois. The people there read every day… Often several times a day. More than my family in Oregon read it, actually.

All in all, people from 37 countries and 42 states visited the Northern Kentucky News blog this month. And came back.

Just think of it: worldwide, readers are sitting somewhere, beer or coffee mug firmly in hand, shaking their heads and laughing (I’m guessing) at the silly fluff on this blog. Now I know if Griff sees this he’ll be rolling his eyes… He probably has readers from every corner of the earth. But it’s kind of a big deal to me.

You see, when I started this blog, I never thought of the implications. The Global implications. Of admitting that I have poor taste in men. That I sometimes let a ringing phone ring. That I get aggravated with my family and that I eat over the sink. I put up a comments box but I never thought anyone would feel compelled to respond.

It’s birthed all-new friendships. That’s been wonderful. It’s probably also sunk one or two relationships… too many truths have been posted here. (That’s not going to stop.) But on the whole, I feel pretty good about my efforts. Yeah, there have definitely been some dogs. Just some really poorly written blog posts. I’d delete them, but what’s the point? You signed on to share the good and the bad.

I think it’s made my family look at me… In a somewhat different light. I was surprised when one of my brothers told me he read it occasionally. “Um,” I blushed, “sometimes I talk about things that are, um…”

“I just skip over those posts, Lisa.” OK, whew!

My sister said the same thing. When I write something that’s offensive to the family eyes (or ears), they just ignore it. Taking the "bad" with the good. That’s good advice to anyone who reads a blog. And most of the blogs that I like to read are pure fiction. Fantasy. Nothing wrong with that. If you can't make it up online, where else can you do it?

I once had a guy email me about another blog I write saying, “I hate it when people start their own blogs and then just say whatever they want.”

Well, heck. Isn’t that the point?

As Charles Kinney would say, on his blog from Greenland, Mazel Tov, bitches!

And as Charles Brown would say (in arguably the best Christmas movie of all time- on tonight, by the way) Don’t you know sarcasm when you hear it?

Dec 11th marks the one year anniversary of the Northern Kentucky News blog.

Let’s have a lot more fun together. I’m ready. Are you?


My friend Kat and I were recently talking about the merits of online dating websites. She’s been using a personals website for a while and hasn’t had much luck so far.

I go back and forth about the viability of online dating. I know of at least a half dozen people who met someone online and married them. So I think it’s a worthwhile venture, if marriage is your ultimate goal. I guess it probably supports other goals too, like just meeting new people.

I get a lot of emails through websites that show my professional profile but I’ve never met any of those people in person. We live in a global community. I know that there are plenty of ways to resolve issues around falling for someone you meet online, if the people involved are mature and can think creatively.

However, there are some downsides to meeting people online. It’s easy to get taken in by someone who claims to be a lot of things that they are not. This happens a lot to my friends who date online. Falling for one handsome photo on someone’s website and then doing a little research and finding other photos that don’t even look like the same person. And certainly don’t reflect how the person presented himself.

What puzzles me about “fake” photos is this: won’t there one day be a day of reckoning? Or do they just assume that they will never meet in person so the other person won’t find out what they really look like? Then again, I don’t know if the people describing themselves are out and out lying, or just don’t see themselves clearly. I asked Kat for her input.

“It has to do with the angle of the photo,” says Kat. “Maybe in that one shot they just looked really good. So, of course, that’s the one they use.” That’s possible, I suppose. Still, I have this feeling that information was withheld. And that hardly seems fair.

Kat refuses to get into an “e-relationship” with anyone she meets online. That surprised me. Isn’t email a great way to get to know someone? But her explanation made sense: “Some people want to captivate you over email, because they know they couldn’t do it in person. They write- and rewrite- well-crafted emails to you, to put themselves in the best light possible.” The kicker being, by the time you meet them, you’re already infatuated. Kat isn’t having any of it with the men who email her through dating websites and she insists that they meet in person right away, even just for coffee. Interesting.

When I researched this topic, I looked at a lot of the online personals websites. I like looking at them. Maybe they’re a little too technical and calculated to “match” singles for my taste, but there’s something really romantic to me about meeting someone from somewhere else. Like they dropped out of the sky to be there just for you. But this time, I couldn’t be swayed by rows of smiling teeth; I moved right over to a website that talks about the lies that people tell on online dating websites instead.

One letter I read was from a woman who created a fake profile to “test” her online boyfriend. That seemed a little extreme. I mean, it’s not like they’re married. They were barely even dating. She did mention, however, that he sent “fake woman” the same letters he wrote to her, with some minor changes. Now that would make me mad. Finding out that something I always thought was written just for me was really written for someone else, anyone else, would really tick me off.

And there are more than just plagiarized letters of devotion circulating through the online personals websites. A study that compared online profiles with the people who created them was done by a Cornell University researcher, and the results were surprising (at least to me). The online dating study focused on profiles from reputable websites, like, Yahoo, American Singles and Webdate.

The results showed that more than 50% of the men and almost 40% of women in the study lied about their height. More than 60% of men and women on the online dating websites lied about their weight. 24% of men and 13% of women lied about their age.

In order to constitute an untruth, the online dating website profile discrepancies had to be more than ½” difference in height, more than five pounds difference in weight and a year or more difference in age. So the results may not be as dire as they seem. Still, it’s an interesting comment on how we see ourselves, vs. how we really are.

For now, I’ll continue to take a pass on online dating. I think it’s a viable option; it’s just not an option for me.

Excerpt from an online pop-up ad for a dating site: “Get 7 DAYS FREE on, the only dating site that screens for felons and married people. Date safer, date smarter.”

Now if that doesn’t sound like an endorsement for online dating, I don’t know what is.

Kat told me that online daters think that people who are online all the time or just "really frequently" are to be avoided. Apparently this shows some sort of dysfunction. Or you could just go to PlayerSnitch, the online dating liars’ website. They allow users to report the following information about the playas who post online at personals websites:

Married In a relationship Last relationship is not over Only wants sex Dates multiple people Sleeps with multiple people Lies about age Lies about height Lies weight Lies about body type Lies about grey or balding hair Lies about having children Lies about employment status Lies about financial security Lies about where they live Lies about health Lies about smoking Lies about drinking Lies about drug use Lies about what they are seeking Lies about education Posted old or misleading photos Overly secretive Is moody Has a bad temper Is a control freak Is overly jealous Will not commit to a relationship Is an active alcoholic Is a drug addict Stalking Cyber stalking Threatening Is physically violent Steals money or property Commits fraud for personal gain Forges signatures or documents Improperly transfers assets to self Sexual assault Claim of sexual interference by a child

Gosh! There’s a lot to be wary about. Before you agree to meet anyone that you found online, do a little research:

* Google them and search on their name and city.

* Google their email address; you'd be surprised at what that can net you in search results.

* Look for them on other personals websites to look for discrepancies in profiles.

* Look at the clerk of courts for their town and see if they’ve ever been brought up on any charges (I do that one all the time after meeting someone new).

Or check out, the website that helps “protect you from the darker side of Internet dating.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

decisions, decisions

I always forget how rural Northern Kentucky really is. When asked if I know the way to Edgewood or other outlying towns, I have a tendency to give answers like, “I only know Covington.” That’s not really true. I’m very familiar with all of the riverside towns. I’ve even made it out to Florence on occasion. But until I’m sitting in a local pub, and a farmer walks in wearing his Carhartt jacket, I just plain forget that we’re surrounded by farmland dotted with small towns.

So now, thinking about moving to Oregon, I’ve been pretty focused on Portland. It’s the hub of everything, really. All of the shops, restaurants and culture you could want. I thought it was just what I wanted. But I also have to wonder… what would small-town life be like for this wide-eyed observer?

There are a number of pre-war bungalows for sale along the coast in Oregon for really reasonable prices. If you aren’t set on having an ocean view (though many of them do), you could pick one up for next to nothing.

I even asked my brother, who thinks living on the coast would be the coolest, what he’d think about trading houses with me on the weekends (he’s in Portland). Then I could see my friends, worship at Macy’s, and check out what’s new at the art museum whenever I felt like it. His (sweet) response: "you could come in whenever you felt like it no matter what I'm doing."

One problem, if I’m moving back primarily to be close to family, living on the north coast (that’s the area I like) might be too far removed to get much quality time with everyone. Though moving to Portland already puts a buffer of an hour or more between me and most of my family, this would tack on even more time to the drive.

Then again. My parents live on the coast and they have people dropping in every weekend. And their little town isn’t convenient to anything, really.

I’ve always harbored a fantasy about living in a resort area. Being a townie, and laughing at all of the tourists. And I can pretty much live wherever I want. That’s sort of the whole point of being self employed. And Portland isn’t so far away that I couldn’t buzz in for a meeting, if necessary.

What I’m wondering today… If you live in a small town, what do you like about it? How far away from a big city do you live? Do you feel like anything is lacking? Is it idyllic, or annoying? Do you get tired of seeing the same people all of the time?

I grew up in Eugene, Oregon, which is about 150,000 plus college students. That’s a small town, from my perspective. I felt stifled when I lived there. But maybe that’s because I felt like I knew everyone, or everyone knew me. Six degrees of separation drops to one degree, when you have seven well-known brothers and sisters. It made me crazy sometimes.

But now that I’ve lived in and around a major metro for years and years, maybe a change is in order.

Have I lost it completely? Or does this sound like a pretty good idea? Oh, and this isn’t a new idea, BTW. My original plan was always to set up in Portland for a year or two and then move to Astoria or Seaside to settle down. My brother did mention my other worry (he knows me well); I tend to be somewhat solitary, especially with working from home. I almost have to force myself to get out as it is. So living in Portland would potentially allow me to meet a lot more people than if I lived in a small town. Decisions, decisions.

Your thoughts, dear readers?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

wishful thinking

I know that I talk a good game, but don’t be fooled, readers. Despite my talk of cheating husbands, drinking ex’s and the rest of it, I’m an easy mark. I’m known for giving people a second chance. Even a third. Probably more.

When it comes right down to it, I’m very Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Yes, I’ve been through a lot. I could have let it break me. But I guess, in some ways, I’m just like my optimistic dad: I believe in the goodness of people. And I only have to spend a little time around people who are truly convinced that only bad exists to be reminded of this.

My crush has hurt my little heart a half dozen times this year. I don’t think that it’s intentional. I hope it isn’t intentional. But, somehow, I keep getting caught in the crossfire. Actually, it’s not “somehow.” It’s more like I keep writing him off and moving on and he keeps coming back. It’s been going on for almost a year. But do I think he’s a bad person? No. I think he’s just very confused. It doesn’t make me hateful. Mostly, it just makes me sad.

Some of the women I know will tell you, all men lie. That floors me. I grew up with a half-dozen men in the house who for the most part are too truthful. Their raw honesty gets me really hacked off sometimes. And it’s the same thing with my many guy friends. The idea that one gender is responsible for everything’s that wrong with the world, well. I just can’t get on board with that.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. I guess I always have. Sometimes, though, you run across people who will tell you that’s just what people tell themselves to feel better about their lives. Ouch. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Because I also know that if you radiate negativity, believe the future is flat and that nothing good will ever happen to you, well, you’re probably right. Nothing good will ever happen. You won’t allow it to happen.

I’m a generally happy person. And maybe, as my friends always tell me, I’m too trusting. I’m too forgiving. I should try to develop a hard shell to protect myself from the bad people. Or at least a thin veneer to act as my shield. But... I know that I’d rather have my heart broken 100 times than to start believing that people are just bad. I really would. Because there’s always that hope.

I will continue to go through life thinking that things will work out for the best. On their own, or with my help. I don’t know how it will all work out. But I do know, as the good things keep happening, that I’m welcoming them with open arms.

Because I knew it would work out for the best. I knew it all along.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Holiday Gifts Have Local Flavor

The Enquirer has a bit on Kentucky Proud gift baskets today. Kentucky Proud foods are made in Kentucky and locally you can buy them at Remke.

For the longest time, I thought Remke was a discount grocery store. Then I ran in once to get something, and found out that they're actually a specialty grocery store with a lot of unique foods you won't find at Kroger. I ended up going through the whole store and filling up a basket. I have tried a few Kentucky Proud food products and thus far my favorite is a cajun microwave popcorn.

I love giving consumable gifts to people. Especially to my parents, who are always downsizing. They try to pass off more crystal to me every time I visit them. The latest thing I heard was that I'm about to get the silver tea set. I rarely drink tea, and when I do it's just a mug-full, but apparently that's not important. Neither is the fact that I have no intention of wasting a day polishing silver every month.

My parents' fancy cast-offs (crystal candlesticks, vases, salt and pepper shakers and depression glass) have grown to rival my angry pile of Tupperware. I hate Tupperware and constantly try to pass it off on other people, but the pile always magically reproduces on its own. Funny. I never thought about it before. My parents are elegant crystal. I am cheap plastic bins.

I used to entertain visiting clients and bought Montgomery Inn gift baskets to place in their hotel rooms. They're a nice alternative to something that will end up tucked away on someone's shelf. You can order the baskets by phone, tell them you live locally, and pick them up at the warehouse to save on shipping.

Nowadays, I make my own gift baskets for far-away family and special friends. They include all of the usual suspects, like Frisch's tartar sauce, Montgomery Inn BBQ sauce, Cincinnati chili mix, LaRosa's spaghetti sauce and a few other odds and ends. Most of it can be purchased at Krogers. They love getting the local foodstuffs, and I know it won't go to waste.

Feel free to post your ideas for things to include in a Cincinnati / Kentucky gift basket. I won't shop for another week or two.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

and even more reasons to give thanks

Some of the most world’s most famous- and infamous- bloggers have been profiled on Bloomberg Marketing’s Blogger Stories. This week, they went in an entirely new direction.


I once lived on a farm.

Terrified of horses, I’d never spent much time in their company. But soon I found myself racing home after work to walk along the stalls, giving treats to the many horses who boarded there. The stout, strong Arabians flicked their tails in greeting, while the paints whinnied at my approach. And then there was Tot.

Tot, a horse of questionable breed, stomped and neighed the loudest when I entered the barn and was quick to flash his teeth when I asked him to smile. I learned from Tot that horses are really just big dogs, who love getting hugs, and will often hug back, digging their noses in your shoulder with pleasure when you rub their flanks and sweet-talk them.

Reed, the migrant farmhand, lived in the half-abandoned old house next door. Baby owls nested in the eaves of that old house. I often wondered over to check on them and to while away some time talking with Reed. He worked on the horses, cleaning their hooves, feeding them and tending to their minor ailments.

Reed knew Oregon, having lived there for a time, working in the orchards. We often reminisced about the state’s natural beauty and the warm and open friendliness of the laid-back people who live there. And he told me colorful stories of warming up the cool Oregon night air with smudge pots, and sleeping under cherry trees at night-time. He also told me that he’d move on eventually. And one day he just disappeared. The farmhands’ way of giving notice.

And then there was June. The old farmer who owned the land lived next door with his wife, a lovely mature Kentucky belle. I would often talk to June when I was working outside in my little garden. Her language mystified me with its strange cadences and odd pronunciations.

“I love them flares.” Flares? “Them flares you planted. I jist luv ‘em.” Oh, yes. Flowers.

And there was an old, old white pony that had a large outdoor pen by itself and its own beautiful stall. A hand-tooled saddle worth a fortune hung on the wall but was never used. I could never understand why they spoiled that horse so. Until one day the farmhand told me. The pony was a long-ago gift from a young man to his beautiful bride and was also her namesake. Junebug.

The next time I bumped into June I called out to her, “Heyyyy, Junebug.” And she blushed. Blushed, remembering a love that was kick-started by a bucking pony and a brash young man who loved her so.

Sometimes we’d wake in the middle of the night to bright lights and commotion. A horse had taken ill. An unexpected injury turned into infection. Those nights were tense and we moved quietly around the workers the next morning, trying to stay out of their way as we got ready for work.

And it was one of the happiest times of my life. The saddest too, because it marked the beginning of the end of an important relationship. But I wasn’t happy. The only thing I’ve ever wanted is to live my life honestly and without pretense. I was living a lie. In a funny way, Junebug made me see it.

Seeing that pony quietly chewing on grass. Watching June trip gracefully up the steps to her little home. Joyful. I knew I wouldn’t be spending my twilight years with him. And I knew it just wasn’t fair to go on letting him think he owned my heart. My heart that wanted to be free like a white pony’s spirit. That wanted to be spoiled with the love of a good man.

It was sad saying goodbye to the horses. Walking through the barn one last time. Sadder still was my dog, who always worried when she saw packed bags, knowing it meant we were leaving. She kept nosing her way into the boxes, picking up odd items of clothing and running away with them. Telling me to stay. That’s what broke us down, finally. Weeks of being overly polite worn away by a dog’s fear of the unknown. She marked our fear of the unknown, too.

We cried a lot that last night together.

And in the years since, his continued devotion still makes me sad. No one can take away our time together, I told him. And it’s true. We’re happy now, living separate lives but still bound together by a mutual respect borne from a relationship based on fidelity, honesty and trust. And just like I knew he would, when I called he offered to move me across the country. Friendship. It’s not so bad.

And sometimes, I get to remembering. I remember the nights when the train tracks thundered in the distance. When the sky opened up for a meteor shower. And the flares gave off a scent that was heady, as I rubbed my dog’s head and sat on the porch swing.


I often think about the karmatic implications of the time continuum.

One example: A client was telling me about some business that went away and I told him exactly what I believe: it probably went away because you needed to be available to take on some other work and be open to other opportunities. And in fact, he has been busily working on other projects ever since.

And one day this summer, while visiting family in Oregon, I drove 60 miles across a mountain range only to find the road was out less than 10 miles from my destination. An enormous, centuries-old tree had fallen and blocked the road. Then, a car came careening around the bend and smashed into the tree. This happened just before I arrived.

I was upset. I mean 60 miles that includes going up and down a mountain is not like driving 60 miles to Dayton. It takes time. There were people waiting for me at the end of the road, and I didn’t even have phone service to tell them why I was so late until I’d almost completed the round trip back to town. Then, I had to start the trek all over on a different rural route, and it was hours before I showed up, tired and stressed out.

But the first thing that popped into my mind when the EMT told me I’d have to turn around was, thank goodness it wasn’t me. I was driving fast. Faster than the hairpin turns allow. I’ve driven that road in rain, sleet and after dark and I know it like the back of my hand. When that happens, you get a little too confident in the driver’s seat. A little too forgetful about the dangers that lurk in nature, potentially appearing at any moment in time.

I was in a really bad car accident more than a decade ago. I still remember the scene officer telling me, “’nother inch and you wouldn’t be here.” As it was, my tiny sports car was pushed into a ditch, with the pick-up truck that hit me on top of my car. So yes, the accident caused me a number of problems, then and now, but on the whole. It could have been worse. Much worse.

If you feel like you’ve missed out on something, consider the karmatic implications. Maybe you lost the job, were late to the meeting or missed the phone call for a reason. You may never know the reason why. But if only good things happened to good people, we’d never learn any life lessons. Accept what’s happening around you as part of your purpose, and maybe it will start to make more sense.

And if you lie, cheat, steal or treat other people badly, well. Karma will find you, too. One thousand fold.

I believe that more than anything.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

is it just me?

... or is everyone ready for a long weekend?

2007 Happenings for the Holidays

Celebrate the upcoming holiday season in Northern Kentucky with a number of upcoming events:

The East Row Historic Foundation presents its 14th Annual Victorian Christmas Tour on Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 1-2, 2007, in Newport. The tour runs from noon to 6 p.m. each day in the East Row Historic District, the second largest local historic district in Kentucky. Tickets cost $15 per person and may be purchased at The Carnegie Event Center, 401 Monmouth St., during tour hours. Children under the age of 12, when accompanied by an adult, will be admitted free. Purchase advance tickets online or at the following Newport shops: Kentucky Haus, 411 E. 10th St., and The Galleries Together, 701 Park Ave.

The holiday season has already started in MainStrasse Village. Carolers and Carriage Rides will remind you of Christmases past and you’ll want to visit the Village often during the weekends of November 23–24, November 30-December 1, December 7–8, December 14-15 and December 21-22. Mainstrasse shops will have extended hours from 4 pm until 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays during Holiday Weekends in the Village.

The City of Covington and MainStrasse Village Christmas Tree Lighting - Tuesday, November 27 from 6:30 until 8:30 pm at 6th & Main Streets. The Holmes Junior/Senior High School Choir will welcome Santa with carols; and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies, a petting zoo, pony wagon rides and a special gift from Santa for everyone that visits with him.

1st Annual Christkindlemarket happens in Mainstrasse Village on Fri, Sat & Sun, December 7, 8, 9: Times and Activities TBA

Bellevue Christmas Walk
DATE: Saturday, November 24
LOCATION: The shops along historic Fairfield Avenue
TIME: 10 am to 6 pm
Escape the malls and come to Fairfield Ave. for a day of shopping for unique gifts, free refreshments and lots of opportunities to win prizes.

Light Up Bellevue Home Tour and Gallery Receptions
DATE: Saturday, December 8
LOCATION: Various historic homes in Bellevue
TIME: 6 pm to 9 pm
Take a trolley ride and visit new condominiums and historic homes decorated for the holidays. Our galleries will be hosting openings showing works from regional artists. Stop in and dine at our restaurants and do some shopping too. Home Tour tickets are $10 and are available at all Fairfield Avenue galleries -- Sigra Gallery, Hilde's Gallery, Fusion Gallery, Field of Vue, and Crone Cottage/Creative Hands Artisan Studios.

the rules

If someone contacts you repeatedly, it’s ok to tag them back every once in a while, right? A little communique give~and~take? Well, no, apparently, that’s not always how’s it done. Unless a terse response- or worse- is what you had in mind when you responded with a call, email or text message.

Lately, I feel like this keeps happening to me. And it always makes me feel like I did something wrong. Like that person is angry about something. Like I don’t know how to play their game. And it’s true. I don’t know the rules.

I definitely don’t need to be made to feel… like I’m not a person of consequence. Like I’m unimportant. I don’t treat other people that way. At least I don’t think I do. So why does it happen? I could chalk it up to being busy... But that doesn't really make sense, either. Because we're all busy, every day. Regardless, I guess I’m not doing the right thing, somehow. Not correctly playing by the rules of this particular game.

I wish I had the rules. Because the game knocks me topsy-turvy every time.

And when someone tells me that they are not a bad person, my antennae go up. Because why would you tell me you’re not bad, when you could just show me what a good person you are?

A friend of mine used to tell me that when someone begins a sentence with “Honestly,” or “Truthfully,” that you know that they’re about to lie. I don’t know if I believe that. I start sentences with those words all the time, and I’m not lying.

But like so many other innocuous comments made by my friends, it stuck. Now, whenever I’m in a conversation with someone and they start off with Honestly or Truthfully, I pay close attention to see if they might be lying. Breaking my rules.

You can hardly expect that someone who will hurt you or take advantage of your good nature will tell you that they are about to do it. But wouldn’t it be nice for a change? To understand the rules?

Instead of:

“I don’t play games.”

We might hear:

“My ‘Game’ is ‘Not Having a Game.’”

Rather than saying:

“I’m telling you the truth. I’m not a jerk.”

We were told:

“I can’t make up my mind about what I want, so I think I'll just keep stringing you along.”


“You’re the one I want to be with.”

How about:

“Well. At least until something better happens by.”

Would it make things easier? Or would I crumble under the weight of too many truths? ~

Another quote from a great movie: “Doesn’t anyone here CARE ABOUT THE F*CKING RULES??!!”

hint: bathrobes and white russians are optional.


I have a lot of friends who are artists. I don’t know any successful artists. The artists I know are all universally broke.

My artist-friends go to every art opening. In fact, if you go to an art opening and it’s crowded, I’m willing to bet that 50% of the people there- or more- are local artists. They don’t go to support a new entrant into the art world. They don’t go to increase their knowledge about art. Mostly, they go for the free food.

Typical conversation with an artist:

“So, how was the opening?”

“It was amazing!”

“Her new stuff looks good, huh?”

“Oh… I don’t know. But they had wine! Red and white!”

The success-or-failure- of any art opening in Northern Kentucky and greater Cincinnati seems based solely on the quality of food served and whether or not there was an open bar.

Because I want to support my friends’ efforts, and hell, get a snack, I often go to art openings. Where, inevitably, I meet a lot of local artists. The typical artists that I come across at an opening seem to fall into a few different categories: uber-artists, deadbeats and soccer moms.

The uber-artists are the artists that appear to be making some money off of their work. They actually have patrons. And ponytails. They like “world music” (whatever the hell that is) and discussions with them always leave me feeling… Slightly insulted. Like I’ve been one-upped but don’t know how, exactly.

The deadbeats are more along the lines of my friends. They’ll show up to an opening of an envelope if they know they’ll be able to eat. They’re younger, hipper and moody as hell.

The soccer moms paint but they aren’t very art-y. I bought a couple of paintings from a soccer mom artist at Duveneck a few years ago. When I started asking her questions about her work, she didn’t have a clue. Just painted subjects or used certain mediums because she felt like it. Funny. They use the most expensive frames for their work, though. I love my soccer mom art.

Get to the last Final Friday before the holidays at the Pendleton Art Center on November 30. If you're showing art or know of any galleries in Northern Kentucky or greater Cincinnati doing something special for holiday shoppers, feel free to post a comment here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Northern Kentucky Health Department Offers Lead Safe Work Practices Class

The Northern Kentucky Health Department is offering a class on Lead Safe Work Practices. The class will be held on Saturday, December 1st and again on Saturday January 12th from 8:45 am to 5 pm. The class is free and registration for the classes is Friday 11/30/07 (for the December class) and Friday 1/11/08 (for the January class).

The lead safe work practices classes will be held at the Northern Kentucky Health Department, Lower Level, 610 Medical Village Drive in Edgewood, Kentucky. The Northern Kentucky Health Department is located at the corner of South Loop and Medical Village Drive Edgewood, Near St. Elizabeth South. Look for the Health Department sign.

Who can benefit from the Lead Safe Work Practices class:

- Homeowners doing renovation, repainting, or remodeling work where lead-based paint may be encountered
- Building supervisors and landlords
- Contractors undertaking projects with requirements for performing interim controls in Federally assisted and owned properties
- Homeowners and property owners associations
- Community and social service organizations
- Home (or code) inspectors
- Maintenance workersState and local municipal agencies

What will be covered in the lead safe work practices class?

This class teaches attendees lead-safe work practices and strategies for implementing lead safety. Many homes built before 1978 contain lead-based paint, so renovation, remodeling and repair activities need to use methods that reduce and control dust and debris. Even a small amount of dust containing lead can pose a serious health risk to children and families.

For more information check out the website at the Northern Kentucky Health Department or register for the lead safety class online.

Much thanks for this reader tip!

Friday, November 16, 2007

quotable quotes

Some favorite quotes, from some of my favorite movies. Can you guess the movie that goes with each quote?

I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.

What if the super you meets the super her and the super her rejects the super you?

A man understands one day that his life is built on nothing - and that's a bad, crazy day.

Are you gonna pull those pistols or whistle Dixie?

Don't sell yourself short Judge, you're a tremendous slouch.

You know, there's a million fine looking women in the world, dude. But they don't all bring you lasagna at work. Most of 'em just cheat on you.

My job consists of basically masking my contempt for the assholes in charge, and, at least once a day, retiring to the men's room so I can jerk off while I fantasize about a life that doesn't so closely resemble Hell.

Uh oh. Baby, you'd better get me back to that hotel. You got me hotter than Georgia asphalt.

I'm seein' you for the very first time, right this minute. I can feel my heart click. I see you 15 years old. I see you the first second I ever saw you. I see you long-legged little colt, stupid braces on your teeth. Every time I ever see you, that's what I see.

I'll post the answers in a couple of days, in the comments for this post.

the deal-breaker

My friend Lala has a guy-pal, Christopher, who has very high standards when it comes to the women he dates. “If he opens her fridge and it’s a mess inside, that’s a deal-breaker,” she explained to a somewhat puzzled blogger. “He won't ask her for a second date.” Thinking about the state of my own fridge, I realized that a relationship between Christopher and I can never happen. We are not "kitchen-compatible." Too bad.

But it got me thinking. About deal-breakers, and the high standards we put on each other- and ourselves- when trying to find love.

I’ve known women who actually had lists of what they wanted from a man. I mean real lists, on paper. Things like “opens doors for me” and “is nice to his mom.” That slays me. Because if there were a genie who could produce my perfect mate, don’t you think I would have rubbed his lamp a long time ago?

And men, like Lala’s friend, are also susceptible to their own pre-conceived notions about love. Though in my experience, their lists often run to the more superficial aspects of the female physique (sorry, guys).

Like my friend Charles, who recently got very buzzed on g & t’s and described his perfect woman to me. “I like blonde hair, long legs and really full breasts,” he told me, using his hands to illustrate what appeared to be an EEE cup-size. “Well, and she should have a good sense of humor.” Nice save, Chuck.

Looks are important, I guess. But are they a deal-breaker?

There’s no getting around it. Someone can be the nicest person in the world but you might miss them if they don’t catch your eye. That isn’t to say that good looks can sustain a relationship. It isn’t to say that admiring the one you’re with will make you happy over the long-term, either.

I don't know that I'm any more or less immune to the trappings of physical attraction than anyone else. I have dated Really Good Looking Guy, and really, watching someone watch themselves in every window you pass, or waiting around to go somewhere while really good looking guy gets ready to go out always made me feel impatient- and kind of embarrassed for him.

I say this all the time and I’ve written about it a lot, too: There will never be a time when any of us is the smartest, sexiest or best looking person around. The best you can hope for is some kind of inner peace. Some self acceptance. And it sounds silly, probably, but when you start to accept yourself, it changes the perceptions that other people have of you. You become better looking. Smarter. Sexier.

I’ve come a long way down the path of self acceptance. And I know, I still have moments where I am really, really hard on myself. But most of the time, I feel pretty good about me.

That’s the unbreakable deal that I made- with myself.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Tacky Tour: Christmas Lights Displays in Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati

Caught unawares, I was driving to yoga the other day in Westwood and almost wrecked my truck on Montana Avenue. Someone had their Christmas display in full effect, and me without my good camera. I’ll try to snap a shot when I head over this week, to post on the blog.

I love, love, love doing the tacky tour during the Christmas holiday season. Driving around and checking out the unbelievably out of control Christmas lights displays is terrific fun. Every year we swear we’re going to get a limo and go, but we haven’t done this yet. So far, just having a designated driver seems to work fine.

The home I referenced is none other than the Leagues’ house, with more than 25,000 lights and 100 “classic” plastic Christmas figurines. According to published reports, you can only see part of it from Montana, and slipping down a side street to see the backyard is highly recommended. You can see this Christmas lights display at 2574 Montana Avenue in Westwood.

Another classic on the tacky tour for greater Cincinnati is the Christmas lights display at Zapf’s place in North College Hill. Zapf has been running his display for more than 30 years- and uses more than 60,000 lights, about 30 Christmas trees and almost 600 figurines to show his holiday spirit. Doh! It lights up the sky, literally, and visitors never seem to stop streaming through the yard. Its sensory overload at it’s tacky best and I highly recommend it. Check out Zapf’s Christmas lights display at 2032 W. Galbraith Road.

I’ll post more entrants on the tacky tour and Christmas lights displays to see in Northern Kentucky and greater Cincinnati as the season unfolds. Meanwhile, please, send me your votes for homes to include on the tacky tour- big or small, as long as they’re tacky. Send me your photos (Kevin!) if you have them, and I’ll post them or post links to your photos on the blog.

By the way (enter non-elitist disclaimer here), the folks included in the tacky tour typically don’t mind being called tacky. In Butler County, they used to post the top 10 on the tacky tour in the Hamilton Journal every winter, and it was considered quite a coup to take top honors. I’m not sure if they still do this. But the owners of the out of control Christmas lights displays I’ve spoken with in greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky know that they’re out of control, and have a sense of humor about it. Just in case you were wondering.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

the mind-reader

A few months ago, I went to see a psychic. My first time. My friend Anna talked me into it. She’s been going for years and thought I would really enjoy the experience. Surprisingly, I did.

Now. I’ve never been a believer in psychics. I’ve always put soothsayers right up there with evangelists and rodeo clowns- funny, but nonsensical. But I do believe there are other things at work than what we see around us every day. I’ve seen and experienced too many strange things not to believe.

I was surprised at what the psychic told me. I walked into her house, we sat down and she released a torrent of information about me. The strange thing was how she addressed things that were on my mind not just in general, but in the week preceding my visit.

I thought she would ask me leading questions to try to gauge my mood or to learn more about me. Instead, she talked, and I listened. The only questions she asked were when she seemed to be getting mixed signals. E.g., “The man you lived with is ill? Or injured?” He was injured- and we hadn’t discussed my living with anyone up until that moment.

She gave me a lot more information, but I won’t outline it here. I know that most of you are probably rolling your eyes, you non-believers, and that’s fine. I won’t give you a blow-by-blow of our discussion. But it was spot-on, as far as I know. When it comes to stuff that hasn’t happened yet, I don’t know if she was right or wrong. Time will tell.

Since I was a little girl, my friends and family have told me I have an uncanny knack for predicting the future. While it’s true that I try to use a skosh of real-life experience to decide what’s going to happen next, I don’t feel like I can pass myself off as a clairvoyant.

I wish that I could read minds. I wish I knew what you were thinking. To know what you think about me. Why you say the things you do. Why you leave so much more unsaid.

It would ease my mind, if only I knew. But then, maybe we’re not supposed to know what’s going to happen. Maybe we’re not supposed to know why.

Maybe, if I could read your mind, I wouldn’t like what I found there.

Or maybe I already know. And that’s what worries me most.

Friday, November 9, 2007

the jonah week

All week long, I’ve been making people mad. An ex-lover. A friend. An out of town client. My crush. Every. Single. Day. I’ve aggravated someone. It’s nothing intentional. It’s just that something about me this week really pisses people off.

Hell. I’m even annoying myself. I cringe when I think about this week’s mish-mash of confusing phone calls, emails and voicemails. It’s all gone jonah, and I wish I could take a lot of it back. Rewind. But I can’t. Unfortunately.

Last night I went out with Anna, high-powered VP and sweet, home-grown local girl. I adore Anna. She’s just so easy to be with. No stress, no recriminations. No jealousy or anger. Just a really nice, unassuming person. I told her that and for the first time all week, I got some really nice compliments in return.

But friendships aren’t always so easy. Sometimes they go jonah, and then you have to make some decisions.

A dear friend recently had a falling out with another friend. And as sometimes happens, everything wildly escalated, quickly getting out of control. Why? Because the two people involved are both right. At least, they each think that they have the right reason for being upset with each other. And no one will back down.

And two other friends recently had their own issues with friends not paying for their part of a vacation. In one case, the expense was fairly costly; in the other case it was just a few bucks, really. But the result was the same: hurt, offended people who feel like the non-payers owe them. My advice? Let it go.

You won’t get the money. Or if you do, by the time you do, your friendship will be wrecked, anyway. It’s not worth it, if you want to keep the friendship. If you don’t care about the friend, and just want the money (not true in either case), then by all means, hound them like the dogs of hell until you get paid. But, otherwise, eh.

Sometimes, when you have a fight with a friend, you just have to apologize. It’s critical, I think, especially when you want to keep the friendship. If you care about someone and respect someone, and you think you hurt their feelings, you should always say you’re sorry. Even if they started it; even if you’re not sure that you did anything wrong. And a fake apology won’t cut it, either. You have to mean it.

And sometimes, you have to let stuff go. Money, especially, has ruined many a relationship. It’s not worth it. That money has no worth at all, in fact. Not when it’s counted against the cost of a failed friendship.

On the many occasions when I’ve apologized, and not been sure that I was in the wrong, it still felt right. It felt righter than if I’d stuck to my guns, stubbornly refusing to work things out.

I’m not going to worry anymore about the people who are mad at me. They’ll come around, or they won’t. I’ve done my part, and tried to make amends.

Hopefully, they’ll find some resolution and we can move on. Separately. Or together.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


I experiment a lot with blog layout (obviously), testing different things so I can then bring them to clients. Today when I opened the blog, it took several seconds to load, even with my high-speed connection.

Did I overdo it with all of the additions? (probably.)

Should I delete a couple of fun add-ons? Scale back on the pics I attach to posts? (possibly.)

Is the blog painfully slow to open on your end? Or can you access it fairly easily?

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

catch and release

In fishing, catch and release is the term used for sportspeople who catch fish and then let them go, with little or no harm to the fish. Or so they say.

I’ve never bought into it; my family hunts and fishes, but only for food. And some bragging rights. If you’ve ever been fishing, you know that it’s rare to catch any fish without hurting them. It’s that sharp hook that pierces right through, without a care to whether they’ll be alright in the end.

In relationships, catch and release takes on a somewhat different meaning.

For as long as I can remember, I found myself in relationships with very destructive people. Hyper-intelligent men with some fatal flaw. Charismatic people that ultimately prove to be unreliable. And the relationships followed a very vicious pattern. Of fighting. Making up. Breaking up. And then starting the whole process all over again. Ironic. Because I’m not a fighter. My role has always been the peacemaker. Smoothing things over.

It’s catch and release. And it’s been perfected by relationship sportsmen.

It’s the oldest game there is, rewarding my good behavior with a carrot and punishing me for my bad behavior with a stick.

Pouring on the charm. That charisma that always hypnotizes me. Catch.

Guilting me when I am ready to go. Turning the tables and then turning away when I need him the most. Release.

I don’t think I deserve to be punished. Or do I? Because that’s what this is all about, right? I don’t think that I deserve to be happy or loved, so I continually seek out people who will make me unhappy? Make me dread every step I take inside the house? Sitting in my car in the rain debating about whether to turn in the drive. Or whether to turn around and leave.

Maybe I do deserve to be punished. After all. I’ve done a lot of stupid things. Probably haven’t done enough for other people. Possibly dissipated. Definitely lacking in moral virtue. Even a touch of crimentality as a wayward teen.

I’ve said it again and again in my writing (and to anyone who will listen). You cannot change anyone. But perhaps my fatal flaw is wanting to save someone. Soothe the hurt. Make the pain go away.

But I’ve tired of the Catch and Release Game. And I’m starting to realize, I don’t deserve to be punished. After a summer of personal turmoil and emotions gone awry, I’m finding something simpler. That allows me to just be.

Instead of seeking approval, I looked inside myself to find out what I really want: A life of uncomplications. Someone whose needs are simple. Without guile, reservation, or worry. Someone strong, that I can rely on.

No more games. And yet, I still feel like I’m winning. ~

Monday, November 5, 2007

the observer

People tell me things. My friends are used to it by now. Wherever we go, whatever we are doing, someone, or several someones, is going to tell Lisa their story. Their often sad or horrific stories. I’m not sure why. My friends say it’s because I’m a good listener. Yet how could someone know that much about me just by seeing me across a room?

I have another theory. I think it’s related to physiognomy. Physiognomy is when people react in a physical and/or psychological/unconscious way to how someone looks; attributing certain characteristics to someone because of their outward appearance. To wit:

I have a heart-shaped face, and if you’ve ever seen studies that talk about physiognomy, studies show that people equate baby faces and wide eyes with open and honest personalities… and with naïveté. Curious. But I’ve always wondered, when I see those studies, if that has something to do with why people tell me all of their secret hopes, their fears… and their dreams.

“You’re very observant,” a friend recently told me about my blog-ramblings. Yes. I am the observer. And I am so very interested in other people’s stories. It’s all grist for the mill.

I know too much. I have a face that’s full of secrets. I won’t divulge them. At least, not in a way that identifies the owners or brings them disgrace. It’s a pact I entered into with the strangers I’ve met. With the people who come in and out of my life. Bound together by our secrets. I think they tell me because sometimes, a secret is too much to bear on its own; it needs a partner to release the owner from too much responsibility.

I’m entranced- and romanced- by the stories you tell me. By telling me your secrets, you invite me to the party, and I’m happy to attend. I won’t let you down. In fact, I share my own secrets to keep you company. To allow you to be the judge. And there are now a number of things that I wish I hadn’t admitted to you. Practically everyone who calls or emails me during the dinner hour quickly quips, “Are you eating over the sink?”

I’d like to think that I do have an open and honest personality. And yes, some naïveté. I hope it gives me some perspective, when you tell me your secrets. I have opinions, but I usually hold them close to my heart. I won’t judge you. But I will write about you.

By the way, I no longer eat my meals over the sink. I found out that if I keep the meal in the Tupperware dish while I’m eating, it can go straight to the dishwasher when I’m done. So there!

Some more on physiognomy.

anchors away

The Anchor Grill in Covington is an institution of sorts. In business for 60 years, the 24/7 diner never closes. We ended up at the Anchor Grill after checking out one more girl on a stage Friday night at Southgate House. The show rocked, with stand-out performances by the lovely Jordana and alt-country superstar Lydia Loveless.

I overdid it Friday. I have a three beer limit that went out the window at Southgate House around midnight. Thankfully, the pay lots in Newport will let you leave your car (usually until noon) if driving is out of the question. It was. Out of the question.

Saturday, my place looked like a schizophrenic’s apartment that I once visited. Instead of prescription bottles and pizza boxes though, my coffee table was papered over with post-it notes and a jumbo bottle of aspirin resting next to my diet coke. Sure, Saturday I was at Jean-Ro’s French bakery, but at 2 in the morning on Friday, it was all about the Anchor.

People-watching at the Anchor Grill nets a complete mix of regulars from the neighborhood (at the bar) and hipsters in skinny jeans and chucks rolling in after a night out (in the back room). We got to the Anchor before 2 so netted my favorite booth, in the front room by the door. All the better to watch and listen. Friday night we eavesdropped on a couple of boys who didn’t fare well at the bars and were madly text messaging random women. Any women. Trying to find a place to rest their weary heads for the night.

The Anchor Grill doesn’t have a non-smoking section. The late-night crew that mans the kitchen tends towards 50’s era classics on the jukebox, and Friday night we sang along to Ol’ Blue Eyes while we noshed on a late-night breakfast. Nothing’s organic at the Anchor Grill. Thank goodness. I recommend the home fries. With cheese, of course. The perfect antidote to a night of beer drinking and live music.

The Anchor Grill, located at 438 W. Pike Street, Covington. Closed on Christmas.

My head hurt until about 3:00 on Saturday, when I finally went back to sleep. Ow.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Daylight Saving Time Ends Today

Daylight Saving Time ended today. Though some people never got with the program at all.

Weekend Trips from Northern Kentucky: Fall Foliage

If you love looking at leaves, you’re not alone; every year, people travel to enjoy our country’s fabulous fall foliage. Taking a trip to look at trees may sound silly. But couple it with a charming cabin in the woods, a deep bathtub with a picture window, plenty of hiking trails and a few bottles of red, and you have all the makings of a lovely weekend.

A lot of the northern states have peaked for optimum fall foliage viewing, but who cares, really? I’m a lazy hiker anyway; always trying to convince everyone to stop, enjoy the view and open up the canteen of mulled wine. Some ideas for weekend trips from Northern Kentucky to view the best fall foliage this year:

Champaign, Illinois promises lovely fall foliage this year. In addition, it’s a college town, so there’s always a game or some activity to attend. College towns also boast good shopping, restaurants and concerts, too. Under four hours to drive to Champaign, Illinois.

Parke County in Indiana claims to be the covered bridge capital of the world. 31 covered bridges do seem like a lot to explore. When you tire of looking at bridges, the many historic buildings and the widespread Amish community also delight. It’s a little over three hours to drive to the heart of Parke County.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is the high holy place of tacky commercialism, but, it’s also in the heart of the Smoky Mountains and the hiking- and the fall foliage- is spectacular. Stay far, far out of town and bring your own food to avoid the madding crowds. A hiker’s dream. About a four hour drive from Northern Kentucky to Gatlinburg.

The high point of the Mid-Ohio Valley Region of West Virginia for leaf-peeping and hiking might just be Cairo. North Bend State Park features the historic North Bend Rail Trail, an abandoned railroad track. Lodge rates just plummeted, so take advantage! About four and a half hours’ drive to Cairo, West Virginia from Northern Kentucky.

If you go on a hiking trip or fall foliage excursion in the Midwest this year: Let us know where you went, and give us some idea of time to drive and costs to stay. And do you give your weekend fall foliage trip a thumbs up or thumbs down?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Rabbit Hash, Kentucky Benefit this Weekend

This weekend Rabbit Hash, Kentucky is holding a benefit for Richard Young, husband to the proprietress of the famed Rabbit Hash General Store. Richard has been diagnosed with cancer, and money raised during the benefit will go towards his medical expenses. The Rabbit Hash benefit commences tomorrow, November 3rd, and runs through Sunday, November 4th. The benefit includes performances by local bluegrass bands and more beginning at noon both days and running well into the evening. A silent auction will be held during the Rabbit Hash benefit on Saturday from 4 to 7 pm and includes items like custom jewelry, baskets and art.

Get more information about the Rabbit Hash benefit, including directions to the event and information about bands that are performing at the General Store's website. The benefit is free, but a $10 donation is suggested. If you're unable to attend the benefit, but would still like to make a donation, the Rabbit Hash website has a PayPal link for contributions or donations may be made to the Richard Young Expense Fund at any Heritage Bank.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Kroger strike imminent

Well, the Kroger grocery store strike in Northern Kentucky and greater Cincinnati is looking like it might happen this weekend. This strike also affects grocery store employees in my hometown in Eugene, Oregon. At issue for the Kroger employees are health care expenses (!) and fully funded pension plans.

I once crossed a picket line. It was by accident. After being a life-long supporter of striking workers, banning restaurants because of their shitty treatment of employees or discriminatory hiring and firing practices (still have never set foot in a Cracker Barrel) and generally taking a stand against corporate greed even when no one knows it but me, I found myself in San Francisco during the hotel and restaurant workers strike several years ago. For one reason or another, I was at some swanky hotel in the city and when we pulled into the tunnel for valet parking, the noise from the striking workers was deafening. Clanging bells, drumming drums and singsong chants reverberated everywhere. I was shaking so hard that the scab, actually a member of management filling in for the valet, had to help me out of the car. Damn, that sucked. And I still feel bad about it today.

Kroger workers are holding a rally today at 5:30 in Fountain Square to share their demands. There’s supposed to be an online petition at Grocery Workers United that we can sign to show support but I can’t find it.

What you can do: Tell your Kroger store manager that you support store workers and want them to have a fair contract. I told my Kroger store manager that I didn’t want to shop somewhere where the employees weren’t treated fairly. He nodded and gave me a tired smile that said he didn’t like what was happening, either.

the trash, man

The homeless people who go through my garbage every week know all of my secrets. Think about it:

They know about the pick-up cycle for garbage in our neighborhood. They know about other cycles, too.

They know that mostly, I eat organic food. But sometimes, I go to Big Boy and order a cheese steak sandwich. With fries.

Do they know the wadded up Kleenex is from crying about my mom?

Empty pill bottles, a salve to my pain?

Do they read the scraps of paper, filled with story ideas? Do they wonder about the ones that I finished, and how they ended?

When they see the broken mirror, do they know I broke it on purpose?

When they see me on the street, are they nodding hello to a stranger?

Or do they know more about me than my own family?