For The Love of a Good Party...


Anyone who knows me knows how I love to plan a good party. Attention to detail is paramount and nothing 'half-assed' will do.
Of course, you can't really have a party without a decent theme. A few of my most memorable party themes have included ... "Kathy & Bob's Out of Africa Party", "Vic's Biker Birthday", "A Night in Munich Party", "Doug's Italian Bistro Birthday", "A Waif's Christmas", "Bob's Survivor Birthday" amongst many others. Every party thrown had appropriate linens, signature drink, lighting etc.

OK, so I get a little OCD about these things but that is why God created cocktails. I'm OK until about 2 hours before the guests arrive and then it's time for a rum and diet coke.

Friday night was "Ben's Magic 30th Birthday" - I'm not sure why I chose 'magic' as the theme except that I remember Ben would trade "Magic Cards" as a kid and I thought he might like the idea.

The colour scheme was black, white & silver. The dining table centerpieces were white bunny rabbits sitting in black top hats. I tied several napkins together and stuffed them into silver mailing tubes to simulate your typical magician's prop. The mailing tubes were decorated in ribbons and "30 Sucks" lollipops. Silver stars were strung above the dining table with fishing line.

It's all about presentation.

After dinner, Ben's surprise guest arrived - "Wizard Wayne" - a magician recommended by a little magic shop nearby.

OK, he was no David Blaine but I think a good time was had by all none the less.



So, I head out to the somewhat artsy/bohemian/seedy/scuzzy section of downtown Dallas on Saturday morning to attend an all-day actor’s workshop.

Some people fish, some people bowl and some people just like taking classes. I like taking classes. Within the past few years, I have attended classes in party planning, computer software, acrylic painting, ‘taking’ tea, digital photography and whatever else was out there that interested me..

Feeling oh-so-out-of-place, I walked into the classroom like I belonged there and took my seat in class. The workshop consisted of mostly professional actors, a smattering of actor wannabees and a few clueless people (like me) scattered here and there. It was a relief to find out that I wasn’t the only newbie in the group and soon linked up with an outgoing forty-something woman who responded to my question “So, are you pursuing a career in acting?” with, “my husband is a workaholic, my boys are grown and my daughter died – I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life.” Whoa. Despite her response, I couldn’t help but see a spark of energy that reminded me of Gilda Radner. I hope she continues getting out there and trying new things.

Assigned to read lines with a partner, I was paired with Marjorie, a 79 year-old, white haired “Steel Magnolia” kind of actress with a very pronounced southern accent. Marjorie started her career in acting almost forty years ago by impersonating Minnie Pearl. She still does the nursing home circuit as Minnie and said, “I will be receiving Meals on Wheels in The Deep End – Thursday night on ABC. “ I’ll be watching for her.

Seated beside me in class was a young man named Dan, a recent college graduate with a degree in Fine Arts and represented by “The Campbell Agency.” Dan had to leave class promptly at six because of work. “Where do you work?” I asked, expecting him to tell me about the play that he was in… “I sold out for retail” he replied. I’m thinking Dan’s Mom and Dad really wished he had chosen another career path. But who knows? He is following his dream.

It was a good day. I had fun, learned some new jargon and met some very nice people. Who knows? Maybe they will be stars one day…

Terminology I was Unfamiliar With...

“Flat Read” – intentionally reading the script without emotion
“Cold Read” – reading your lines without seeing them before
“Flip Read” - reading lines with someone else during an audition. You ‘flip’ the paper to signal to the other actor that it’s their turn to read.

“A one-button” camera shot - top of your head to collar
“A two-button” camera shot - top of your head to mid chest
“A cowboy” camera shot – top of the head to mid thigh (named, to ensure the cowboy’s holsters are shown on film)



They say that the first step in recovery is to admit that you have a problem.

I am an audiophile. There. I’ve said it.

Ear buds in place, I spend many of my waking hours listening to audio-books.

It began innocently enough as a way to multi-task… why not listen to a book while doing mundane jobs like raking leaves, housekeeping and laundry? Kill two birds with one stone and all that. Listening while exercising, driving, grocery shopping, cooking and of course, travel soon followed. Advanced listening included listening during dental procedures, doctors exams and while flipping through magazines, now there's a challenge.

When I started listening to books while doing nothing else, it was somewhat disconcerting for 'Mr Something'. “Joanie, what’s so funny?” (he said) he asked me. No answer. “Joanie” he (reportedly) asked again. No answer. “JOANIE!!!” he hollered. “WHAT!!!?” I hollered back while removing my fabulous noise blocking ear buds.

Now he knows that if I’m sitting quietly, giggling or gasping to myself, I have not lost my mind, I’m just listening to a good book.

The secret to listening is a good plot and a great reader.

I may never kick this audio-book addiction.

The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett.
Narrated by: Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, Cassandra Campbell
This is a great selection for those who have never listened to an audio-book before or have tried but had trouble concentrating.
Read by four absolutely excellent narrators and set in the racist and violent 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, The Help surrounds 'Skeeter' a young white woman who recruits a number of black maids to tell their stories of working for white families and raising their children. Secrets, hypocrisy, mystery, love. 

What is Love?


"Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own."

A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,
while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

Love does not dominate; it cultivates.

'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

You will find as you look back upon your life,
that the moments
when you have truly lived,
are the moments
when you have done things
in the spirit of love.

I had often heard through music, poetry and Oprah, that 'love' was the answer.

I didn't get it.

Then when I was in my twenties, I met a stranger who 'showed' me...

She was beautiful, well dressed, forty-something and I would hear her as she came off of the hospital elevators by the click-clack of her high heels. Always one with a warm, broad smile, she would head straight into her husband's room where he lay, unable to speak, body contracted and immobile as a result of a devastating neuro-muscular disease.

She had insisted on bathing her husband daily. Afterwards she would read the newspaper to him and then a chapter of a book.

One day, while she was combing his hair, I asked her how long they had been married. She gushed as she reminisced about their love story and then she reached into her handbag and showed me pictures of their life together. He had been tall, athletically built and drop-dead handsome. The pictures showed a happy couple traveling and enjoying life.

It was clear to me that despite the ravages of his devastating disease, lying in his hospital bed was still and would always be, her handsome man.

That is love.

Annslee Mae is Home


After spending the first ten days of her life in a neonatal intensive care unit, Annslee has been sprung!

All safe and cozy with a very pleased and proud mommy and daddy

Ski Counterpoint ...


'Happy' skiers -Doug & Brent

OK, so my review of skiing was somewhat jaded. Maybe I am not the most athletic, agile or balanced person ever to hit the slopes and that fact certainly did impact my view of the 'skiing experience'. Be that as it may, I was shamed into writing a counterpoint today from those limber types (not mentioning any names) who read yesterday's blog and who just happen to LOVE skiing...

What's not to love?

1. Fresh, crisp mountain air.
2. Clean, white snow all around you.
3. The exhilaration of traveling at faster speeds than you had ever thought possible.
4. Nature.
5. Hot Cocoa at the end of a run.
6. Traveling high above the tree line - what a view!
7. Sunset in the mountains.
8. Never 'dressing up' for dinner.
9. Ski attitude.
10. Exercise
11. Fun.

I vow to remain a spa-er on ski trips.

Ski Trip 2010 - Taos, New Mexico


In past blogs, I have eluded to the fact that I am nothing, if not a trooper.

I’ll try most anything at least three times – even if I hate it. My ‘three times rule’ has applied to food, sports and yes, even dating. If by the third time, I was still averse to it, then... it was tossed out, given up or broken off.

I gave skiing three shots. If only someone had virtually slapped a little sense into me before I decided to attempt the ridiculous.

If you are considering 'hitting the slopes', I have compiled few questions for you to consider first...
  1. Do you consider yourself to be fit, agile, possessing a great sense of balance?
  2. Do you enjoy freezing cold weather?
  3. Do you tolerate shortness of breath well?
  4. Does a lot of snot gross you out? Believe me, it’s in the faces of the people you see and many times, you are producing it yourself. Bring tissues.
  5. Do you enjoy walking in the snow?
  6. Do you enjoy walking in the snow with boots that weigh about six pounds and bruise your shins with each step you take?
  7. How graceful do you think you can be when getting on a moving carousel while wearing 6 foot long skis on your feet?
  8. How do you feel about heights? Especially while on that afore-mentioned carousel without a seat belt travelling at least eight stories high.
  9. How graceful do you think you can be when getting off of a moving carousel while wearing 6 foot long skis on your feet?
  10. How confident do you feel about sliding downhill at a 30 degree angle on waxed skis with potential targets (trees and people) all around you?
  11. How do you feel about falling down- alot?
  12. How do you feel about getting yourself up after falling-alot
  13. Are you familiar with the diagnosis of a “torn ACL”?

[A “torn ACL” is a common injury caused by a twisting motion of the knee. It sometimes requires surgery and frequently requires up to a year of rehab]

So there you have it.

After three ski trips, one torn ACL and shedding a few tears along the snow capped mountains, my answers to these questions are as you would think.

I have resolved to give up skiing but not to forego ski trips.

Now, as my sweet husband sets the alarm to get up at 7am so that he can be one of the first skiers on the freshly groomed mountain, I find myself all snug my bed until I feel like getting up and going to the little wifi-enabled coffee shop that plays smooth jazz while drinking my caffe mocha caramel latte. Afterwards, off to the local spa for a massage/facial/mani/pedi then a movie/shopping/casino visit …ahhh, I’m all about ski trips.

Welcome to the World!


On Saturday, January 31st a new and perfect little soul was brought into this world of ours. She also just happens to be our first grandchild...

Annslee Mae Spotswood.

Proud parents, Ben & Kara.

Arriving five weeks early, she was soon whisked off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Where she will stay for a few more days.

I have a feeling (and secretly wish) that Annslee's impressive entrance into our world will be just one of her many grand entrances...

Paranoid in South America

Anticipating travel to South America was both exciting and scary. Admittedly, reports of muggings, kidnappings and police corruption go...