Living the dream

I've been craving magazines. Thick glossy fashion pages, trashy celeb gossip, over-intellectual pieces printed on recycled paper, reviews and profiles and ads…I want it all. Maybe it's a direct result of my early 20th-century novel burn-out (3 down on my book list, 97 to go—I'm officially taking a little break), or maybe it's just a side effect of living the life of leisure. I've been somewhat successfully ignoring them in grocery check-out lines, instead being content to daydream about which subscriptions I'll splurge on this fall (at the moment I'm thinking The New Yorker, Women's Health, and Domino).

I had just about reached a breaking point, succumbing yesterday and buying the Atlantic Special Fiction Issue. And then today I got the most glorious, perfectly-timed package in the mail. Before I left for the summer, I got a private mailbox in H-town, but I keep forgetting to have them forward my mail because I pay all my bills online. I finally called them Monday to get the past 6 weeks' mail, which, as I discovered today, contained almost exclusively magazines: 5 weeks of Entertainment Weekly and a Vanity Fair with my (gossip) girl Blake on the cover. I'm in magazine heaven.

The BossiPod's playing the "My Favorite Ladies" playlist, the Bossy Cat's dozing with her chin on my arm, and I'm drinking lemonade and eating green grapes with Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar, happily ensconced on the couch surrounded by magazines.

Unemployment has its perks.


willingness to eat anything wrapped in bacon.
tendency to belt shout tunes in the car.
sarcasm for any occasion.
naturally wavy hair.
impeccable taste.
perfect "that's what she said" timing.
easy laughter.
mad tap dancing skills.
respectable alcohol tolerance.
perfect 20/20 vision.

See, it's not all bad.


fondness for juicy gossip.
willingness to eat anything wrapped in bacon.
propensity for daydreaming.
lack of willpower.
inclination to swear at other drivers.
addiction to iTunes.
weakness for sweet talk.
tendency to overspend.
habit of shouting out answers during game shows.
readiness to cry at the drop of a hat.
susceptibility to all things pretty.

Into the woods

Nature called this week, and for once I didn't let it ring through to voicemail. Instead, I strapped on my Tevas, slathered on some sunscreen, and headed down to Shenandoah National Park with CameraMan for a short vacation (or in my case, a vacation from vacation). Although we were only about an hour from DC, it felt like another world, a foreign land where the accents are thick, the deer are fearless, and the gas prices are under $4.

Up on the mountain the weather was gorgeous enough (and CM was tired enough from his other girlfriend) that we could have done nothing but laze around in chaise lounges for the whole trip, but instead we went in the complete opposite direction (and judging by the fact that CM can barely walk and I can only turn my head to the left, maybe too far) and decided to prove just how rugged and outdoorsy we could be.

We started the trip with a kayak trip, a first for both of us. We rented a tandem kayak, and though we quickly discovered that we knew next to nothing about how to steer a kayak, we found other ways to amuse ourselves: "Oh, Shenandoah" sing-alongs, posing for goofy pictures with our waterproof disposable camera (you'll see some soon, I promise, just as soon as we scan them all—we are of course completely inept when faced with pre-digital technology), and oohing and aahing over the COWS(!) in the river. And despite getting on the water totally unprepared for how to kayak, the one thing we were worried about (capsizing, obvs) never actually happened. And then there was the added bonus of being able to cross another item off my list.
  1. Go kayaking.
Which brings me to the next day, in which we hiked up and down mountains (seriously) for 6 hours, pausing briefly to snack on trail mix and Lunchables, and whimpering only when absolutely necessary. The Bossy folks tell me this counts as an all-day hike (see #22). What do you think? In some ways it felt like all day (in that I had to be horizontal the rest of that day and into the next), but in other ways it didn't (in that the being horizontal part of the day started around 2pm). So, I'm taking a poll. What say you, dear readers?

"I am rugged and outdoorsy" is my new mantra, although I'm quickly reverting to my old self. Since we got back I've been spending way too many hours swimming in HTML and CSS, going to see bad movies (Don't see Mamma Mia. Just don't.), and eating things that would not be on any hiker's diet.

Still, if she calls again, I just might get back to Nature.

The Itchy & Scratchy Show

A few years back I spent the summer making opera in a small college town in northern New England. On a rare day off, I set off with a group of friends to go tubing for the first time. We floated down the river for hours, drinking beer and frequently falling out of our tubes (I deny any connection between the two). At the end of the afternoon we climbed out of the river up a plant-filled embankment to get back to our cars. It should have been no surprise when almost exactly 24 hours later a patch of raised red bumps showed up on my arm and started itching like crazy. By that time, of course, the poison ivy oil was on my towels, my sheets, and my clothes, so the rash spread for the next few days, eventually making it up my neck to my face. It was a highly unpleasant experience that prompted me to learn what poison ivy looks like and become ultra-vigilant when hiking and doing other outdoorsy activities.

Which is all fine and good, except that I haven't been hiking recently. In fact, I haven't been outside much at all, unless you count walking from the apartment to the car, or sitting in the outdoor theatre for Candide. Since I got back to the Trap I've been deliciously lazy (and it's been hot hot hot), so I've been spending all my time in air-conditioned interiors. I couldn't possibly have come into contact with poison ivy.

And yet…

Bossy Biscotti Bake-off

As I write this I'm munching on the results of the latest item crossed off my Ultimate To-do List: Papa Bossy's famous biscotti, which we baked together while I was in Oregon visiting the Bossy Ranch.

I don't use the word famous here loosely. My dad got the original biscotti recipe a long ago from my Great Aunt Bossy, who had it passed to her from real Italians in earlier Bossy generations. He spent years tweaking and perfecting the recipe, and what he came up with is more Oregonian than Italian. He replaces some of the flour with ground hazelnuts (Oregon grows 99% of the hazelnuts grown in the US—did you know?) and uses all natural, organic ingredients. They're softer and denser than traditional Italian biscotti, and all who taste them become immediately addicted. They're expected at family gatherings, and it's entirely possible that the Marion County Democrats (the Bossy folks are very active behind the scenes in local politics) owe all their recent successes to biscotti fuel.

Papa Bossy is a perfectionist and a craftsman; he doesn't do anything half-way. The biscotti baking process is detailed and exact. He refers to his Kitchenaid stand mixer as "the biscotti machine" and generally has a jar of orange peel soaked in liqueur at the ready should the urge to bake biscotti come upon him unexpectedly. He spent a morning teaching me how to make it. I haven't done it alone yet, but as soon as I get back to Houston and my own "biscotti machine," I'll try my hand at it. In the meantime, here are some pictures of my dad working his magic.

  1. Learn to make Papa Bossy's famous biscotti.

2 down, 98 to go.

Yadda yadda yadda

I spent a little time this weekend with my other boyfriend (aka the Bossy Camera, which is slowly but surely revealing all the wonders it can perform) and CameraMan's other girlfriend (aka Alcina). Yes, I'm back at Wolf Trap for a nice long visit.

As I've mentioned all too often, I am currently a homeless nomad (although maybe not for long—more on that soon). Faced with an entire summer with no employment and/or housing, the question was, where to go? The obvious choice was to the Trap, which this summer has the greatest concentration of people I adore (although Central City comes in at a close second). Add to that a lovely place to stay for me and the Bossy Cat, the proximity of DC (and MuseumGirl, a good friend from college), and my familiarity with the area from the last two summers, and I was sold. In the back of my mind, though, I was concerned about what it would be like to be here without working here. I don't have a great track record of being content during stints of unemployment, and I worried that watching all my friends working where I had been so happy in the past might just send me over the edge.

But as it turns out, I'm having the best time. I keep forgetting that so many people here now know me as a girlfriend rather than as a director, but I'm getting used to it. And I'm so thankful to be able to just sit in the balcony during a rehearsal, taking pictures when I feel like it, reveling in the beautiful music being made by CameraMan, The Wise Soprano (pictured above), and everyone else in Alcina, not to mention everyone who sang the hell out of Candide last night (I'm looking at you, ACB). And it turns out that being an Opera Girlfriend comes with many of the same perks as actually working here: comp tickets, party invitations, etc. So while I don't expect to make a lifestyle change anytime soon (I still have more fun when I get to run the rehearsal, of course), it's been good for me to realize how much of what makes me happy has absolutely nothing to do with work.

Plus, if I hadn't come here I probably never would have been at a party with George Costanza like I was last night. True story.

Nectar of the Gods

As if you needed another reason to love Oregon…

This chocolate milk bears absolutely no resemblance to the kind you make at home by mixing milk and Hershey's syrup. It's rich and creamy and it tastes like liquid chocolate pudding. For years the only place I could find it was a bakery in Three Forks, Montana (true story), but not anymore. Now I know it lives right in the dairy cases of Oregon grocery stores.

I guess I'll have to come back soon.

Oregon, O Oregon

I defy you to find a more gorgeous place at this time of year than Oregon, where I've spent the last few weeks at my parents' house. The weather is perfection: clear, sunny days coupled with cool, dry nights. Here at the Bossy Ranch we've been eating loads of fresh avocados, local berries, and cedar planked salmon, all of which we eat on the deck, where the wildlife sightings are plentiful. I've seen baby deer and any number of birds in the backyard, not to mention the 4 kitties lounging on patio chairs, sunny patches of deck, and curled up in the coiled garden hose. It's the perfect weather for long walks along the river, and I even got outside to mow the lawn, something I haven't done since… ummm… quite possibly never.

It's also, of course, the perfect place for a tie-dye themed wedding reception in a vineyard full to bursting with pinots both noir and gris. The bride wore tie-dye, the groom wore tie-dye, the cake was tie-dyed (see left). It was one of those "Only in Oregon" kind of events, and I'm so glad I went, although I myself did not wear tie-dye, in case you're wondering. I didn't know many people there, so after saying hi to those I did, I mainly hid behind my camera. I even chatted up the wedding photographer to geek out over lenses which led to him lending me his $1100 lens to try out. It was a good day.

I ended up taking more pictures of my parents than anyone else, and one of them has led me to be able to cross the first item off my list.

I framed this picture and gave it to Mama Bossy for her birthday, and it is now holding pride of place in the living room at the Bossy Ranch.
  1. Have one of my photographs hung on the wall of someone else's house.

1 down, 99 to go.

Oh, and by the way, thanks to Papa Bossy for all his help on the new header. If you read Little Ms. Bossy on Bloglines or Google Reader, come check out the new look.


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