Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stuff People Have Said that Amuses Me

Last night as our family was driving together in one car, we were forced to talk to each other. It is rare that the 4 of us have a conversation together.

I was telling them how we got all this chocolate at work, sent to us by vendors. Well there was a box of cookies and a box of cherry cordials that was still unopened a week after Christmas. So yesterday I announced to my floor that my mother volunteers at the food bank, and if no one objected, I was going to take these unopened sweets to her so she could donate them the next time she worked. One person said I should have done that a week ago with all the chocolates we got. So I put them in my bag and brought them home. Well, 20 year old son Joe, who tends to see things in black and white, was dumbfounded: "you don't bring cherry cordials to a food bank." "Why not?" I asked. "Because those people don't eat cherry cordials. They need canned goods." I explained that it would be nice for one of "those people" to take home something sweet; something they wouldn't ordinarily buy, and an argument (aka a lively discussion) ensued til we finally dropped the topic because one never wins an argument with Joe. I will bring the stuff over to my mother in the next few days.

And speaking of my mother, I was thinking about one of my favorite remarks she has ever made. We went shopping one night at a strip center with a big parking lot. It was raining out. She started to pull into a space, and I told her it was a handicapped space; she hadn't seen the sign. And she said "oh, 'they' won't be out tonight." Now my mother is not a mean person; she has spent most of her life volunteering for multiple causes. That remark just stuck with me and I told a friend about it and whenever we can't find a parking space somewhere, she'll say we should just park in a handicapped spot cause they won't be out today.

Then, although it doesn't come under the category "stuff people have said that amuses me" - I was thinking about a dinner we had at my parents a few weeks ago. My mother went to bring out a box of chocolates she had bought for the occasion, and found that someone had opened them. Given that the only person who lives with my mother is my father, she was very angry at him. Half the chocolates were gone. My father said he didn't know she bought them for this occasion. Never mind that my mother is allergic to chocolate. We all laughed but my mother was not amused. Later my sister told me that whenever my mother goes out, my 86 year old father, who lost his vision a few years ago, goes searching through the house for candy. I love seeing the child in all of us.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Angel Clare

A few months ago, an old college friend, Richard, sent me a downloaded song called Woyaya.

I cannot figure out how to download the video (from youtube) or add the music to this video. If anyone on blogger knows how to do these things, please enlighten me! But if you have the time and inclination, click on the link. I think this song is so beautiful.

Anyway, I opened his email and this beautiful music started to play. Music we listened to in college. Richard and Larry shared a room in our co-ed dorm, and all these memories burst forth of a group of us hanging out in their room. There was a rocking chair in that room, and I can't remember if it was Larry or Richard who sat in that chair, but one of them did, and several of us would sit there with the lights out, as we listened to the music of the day.

This was at York University, in the outskirts of Toronto. Our favorite outing was to take the bus and subway to downtown Toronto, where we would travel down Yonge Street and buy our favorite thing - albums. It was so exciting to come back to the dorm with a new album.

When I think of my years at York U, my memories are never of classes. Other than the one on body language where they hired a nude model for the class to discuss his body language. That was my only memorable class. All those thousands of dollars spent, and my main memory was gathering in Richard and Larry's room to listen to music.

When I opened Richard's email and heard the music, it just brought me back to 1975, a very carefree time. And I asked Richard the name of the album that this song was on, and he told me it was on Angel Clare. So I added it to my "wish list" for Christmas this year, and I was so happy when I opened it up.

Last night was the first big snowfall here in Cleveland. I HATE driving in the snow. I woke up this morning and thought well I better head out early to avoid the traffic, cause I drive very slowly in the snow. So I got in my car, popped that new CD in, and I'm telling you, the next 40 minutes (usually 30 but not when you're driving as slow as me) was pure enjoyment. Such beautiful songs on this album.

While I wanted the CD for Woyaya, I discovered another beautiful song called Old Man, written by Randy Newman:

(Randy Newman)
Everyone has gone away,
Can you hear me? Can you hear me?
No one cared enough to stay,
Can you hear me?

You must remember me, Old Man,
I know that you can if you try,
So just open up your eyes, Old Man,
Look who's come to say, "Good-bye."

The sun has left the sky, Old Man,
The birds have flown away,
And no one came to cry Old Man,
Good-bye, Old Man, good-bye.

You want to stay, I know you do,
But it ain't no use to try,
'Cause I'll be here, and I'm just like you.
Good-bye, Old Man, good-bye.

Won't be no God to comfort you,
You taught me not to believe that lie.
You don't need anybody,
Nobody needs you,
Don't cry, Old Man, don't cry.
Everybody dies.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays

(written by The Husband)

’Twas two weeks before Christmas, when all through Krauss House

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings weren’t hung by the chimney with care,

Too much junk prevented us reaching up there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

Nursing the hangovers pounding their heads.

Heather had “tried” to find a temp job,
But settled instead for becoming a blob.
Joe had four finals in his college classes;
We hope he wakes up so there’s a chance that he passes.
Bonnie had long before risen from bed,

And was hard at work to earn us some bread.
She took a quick break to tell David he’d better
Get off his ass and write the newsletter.
He sprang from the bed to answer her call,
Stubbing his toe, cursing, “Damn it all!”
He saw it was she on the caller ID;
She’d just have to wait, ’cause he had to pee.
“I’ll call her right back, as soon as I can,”
He thought to himself as he went to the can.
“I know why she’s calling,” he thought with regret;
“It’s the damn newsletter I haven’t done yet.”
He sat at the keyboard with his writer’s block;
Staring in space, watching the clock.
“What can I write?” he thought, with great desperation;
“I need some help, I need inspiration.”
Suddenly to his wondering brain did appear,
An idea of how to recap our year.
“I’ve got it,” he yelled, “I’ll poeticize!
And the best way to do so is to plagiarize!”
So David was able to call back his spouse,
And tell her he’d written about our fine house.
The best thing of all, as it’s now just past noon;
Is that finally he has run out of room.
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Great Office Holiday Party

Every year we do something different for our office holiday parties. In the years when we were doing really well, it was a night out with a guest - a fancy dinner somewhere. In the leaner years, it was a potluck lunch at work (employees only).

The last few years, the owner of our company has become very creative in the planning of our parties. A few years ago, we all drove out to Crocker Park, a "lifestyle center" on the west side of town. We were all given $75 and told to spend it on ourselves. We were not to purchase gifts for others. We had an hour or so to buy what we wanted, and then we met for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, where we enjoyed a great meal and showed off our gifts (or our creativity; one employee used some of the money to get her hair cut). It was honestly the first time I have ever paid full retail price for items for myself. I felt a bit guilty, but it was just fun to spend. Oh, and if we didn't spend the money, we had to turn it in at the end, and it would be given to charity. Of course there's one in every bunch, and we do have the employee who didn't need anything and donated all his money to charity. Made the rest of us feel like a bunch of heels, but we still had a great time.

This year the party was to be a surprise. We only knew that it would be held at Legacy Village, the east side "lifestyle center." I was VERY happy about this destination because I live 5 minutes away.

So we all met at The Viking Store, which is a kitchen store and cooking school. The party's purpose, as the owner told us, was to work on "team-building." I admit that is an area that needs work at our company. There are only 20 some people working there, and we definitely cause each other a lot of grief.

So we divided into 2 groups, in 2 separate rooms, and within our rooms, we were given a team to work with. Teams had 3-4 people. We had a fun and informative instructor, and with a lot of laughing and talking, we set out to make a cocktail party menu: tiny blue cheese biscuits with seared beef tenderloin; grilled chicken skewers with honey pomegranate glaze; steamed halibut with thai red curry sauce; roasted vegetable and boursin canapes, and for bananas foster for dessert.

Sound good? It was good. Along with the fun of cooking with others (and it was extra fun cause a lot of the ingredients were pre-measured and these ladies came and picked up all our dirty dishes and whisked them away - I loved that!).

While we waited for the food to cook, we were given glasses of wine and told to wander through the store. The one thing I loved was the juicer gadgets that made it so easy to squeeze fresh fruits. At $17, I decided it was beyond my budget, but I will post this here and hope some family member might read this - my birthday is in July!

It really was a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Day At The Post Office in December

One thing that I truly dread every December is going to the post office to send a package to my friend in Canada. For other packages, I have a nice lady at work who will weigh the package and even figure out if I'd be better off sending it via UPS or USPS. But since the package to my Canadian friend involves completing a customs form, I must go to the post office to send it off.

So I woke up this morning and declared that this would be the day I would deal with that task (I always say that coloring my hair is my least favorite activity; I would have to say that this task is my second least favorite activity).

I arrived and there was a line of about 10 people. And one postal employee. I proceeded to fill out my customs form. That took a few minutes, and then I looked up to check out the line. Why is it that there is always one customer doing some kind of transaction that takes forever? And why is she always there when I'm there?

Well, she was there. And people are shifting their feet, watching and praying that another employee would magically appear. Well there were several other employees, but none of them seemed inclined to wait on anyone. Maybe it wasn't their job. But I think we are all spoiled by standing in a long line and having the lone employee make a page: "help needed at the front." This was clearly not gonna happen.

So the older lady who was 2 in front of me turned around, looking for someone to meet her eyes. That someone was me. She said "this is ridiculous. One employee 2 weeks before Christmas" And I said "I know. It's like this every year." She said "well this is just inexcusable."

I glanced at the guy between us and could tell he was annoyed at the complaints. He said nothing.

A few minutes later, the old lady (OL) turned around again to complain about the service. This time the annoyed man (I'll call him CM for cynical man) decided to join in.

OL: I have things to do! It's taking 10 minutes a person. It will be an hour before they get to me.

CM: In case you haven't heard, there's a deficit. And the post office can't afford to hire more people. So I consider it my patriotic duty to stand in line.

OL: How is it patriotic to stand in line?

CM: It's either that, or we pay higher costs.

OL: I'd rather pay higher costs.

CM: I wouldn't.

OL, looking at me: Well how do you feel about it? You get a vote.

Me: My salary certainly isn't going up every year.

CM, smirking: Yeah.

OL: Well my time is worth something. I would gladly pay more to not stand here for an hour.

CM: Ok, well offer the first guy in line a $20 and see if he'll let you go ahead of him.

OL, eyes rolling: You know, there should be a way that we can weigh our own letters and not have to wait for this.

CM: There is a way. There's a scale over there.

OL: Well I don't know if it's first class or what.

CM: It has instructions on it.

OL: I'm not very technical.

I actually wasn't minding the wait, since I found this all quite amusing. In the meantime, they did add a second employee. As I watched the two employees working, I saw that they were very calm. I would have been quite stressed, seeing that line, but they handled it very well and were very polite to all the customers.

The line started moving quickly at that point.

So I'm done with my second least favorite activity.

Til next year.

Friday, November 27, 2009

2 Thanksgivings

Just finished Thanksgiving Dinner #2. Had planned on bringing my camera to both, but forgot both times. So, my friend Sharon took some pix from Thanksgiving Dinner #1. Picture #1 is the son, the husband, me and the daughter. Picture #2 is Sharon's daughter Linda, with her cheese and turkey ball. It actually has turkey in it. A very festive addition to the party. And picture #3 is a table of appetizers. I made a tuscany dip and holiday pecans.

I ate way too much last night. I have reached a point in my life where I can no longer eat heavy food and feel fine afterward. The company was wonderful, the table was beautiful and the food delicious.

This morning I left the house at 6:20 to pick up Sharon for our annual tradition - Black Friday shopping. We've been doing this long before they called it Black Friday. So we went to stores that weren't offering early bird specials - Gabriel Brothers, Big Lots and Ollies. All the stores were relatively quiet and well staffed. There were no long lines. We did not make much of a dent in our shopping, but I think we agreed the tradition was more important than anything. After shopping, we met Kenny for breakfast. Then we went home and went to bed.

Tonight was dinner #2, at my parents' house. I was very good. I did not go overboard.

I am looking forward to 2 more days of freedom.

On that note, the pecans were pretty good, and VERY easy, so here is the recipe:

Paula Deen's Southern Holiday Pecans

2 C pecan halves
3 T unsalted butter
1/3 t cayenne pepper (or 1/2 t hot pepper sauce)
1 t ground cinnamon
1 T sugar
1 t salt

Heat oven to 325 and place rack in center. Line a rimmed baking sheet with
foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. Place nuts in a large bowl.
In small saucepan, melt butter. Add cayenne and cinnamon and stir.
Pour over nuts and toss until coated. Toss in sugar and salt.
On prepared baking sheet, spread out pecans in a single layer and bake,
stirring once, for 14 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and cool.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Morning

I started to lose interest in work at about 1:00 yesterday. I had a 4 day weekend to look forward to! When someone brought their kids to work at about 3:00, and they started running through the office and yelling, I decided I'm outta here. Is it just me, or is it only the parents who think their kids are cute when they do that?

This morning it was just glorious to not have the alarm go off at 5:50. Pepper the dog did start to run over to my side of the bed when she heard me move, so I came down to feed her and let her out at 8:00. At 15, Pepper does not have the eyesight she used to. When I let her out, there was a squirrel in the front yard, sitting on its haunches eating a nut. I thought oh no, squirrel, be careful, because in her younger days, Pepper would madly chase after the squirrels. But today Pepper just quietly went out and did her business and came back in, and I thought well Mr. Squirrel, you have something to be thankful for today.

After letting Pepper out, I happily went back to bed. Three cats awaited me - 2 in bed with my husband and one on the loveseat. I am so thankful for these little creatures who are truly the most amazing things ever created.

Pepper followed me up and proceeded to roll all over the floor. I have heard that rolling like this is the sign of a happy dog, and Pepper has always been a happy dog.

I got back into bed and started to read a book I've been enjoying. Heaven! A weekday morning to be totally lazy and do whatever I want.

The husband came down and made his Caribou coffee. Something else to be thankful for, cause I always make the cheap and easy stuff during the week. I proceeded to make cinnamon streusel muffins from a mix and put them in the oven. The daughter is home from college and has a friend sleeping over and they can wake up to the smell of fresh baked goodness. That is, if they wake up soon at all (last night involved a trip to a local bar where they enlisted the son to be their designated driver). I don't think I like that my daughter is 21.

The husband just commented that my mother, Lenore, has not called to ask if we're watching the parade. Yet. She has done this in 23 of our 24 years of marriage. I'm sure the call will come soon.

We are having a double Thanksgiving this year. We usually trade off every year - odd years at my sister-in-law's house and even years at my parents' house. I am ashamed to admit that at age 52, I have never cooked a turkey. I never needed to! But anyway, this year (not being my parents' year), my mother decided we should have Thanksgiving at her house tomorrow. She would not follow the normal rules this year.

All I know is that while I used to love to have people over, it is just too much work! So I am thankful I just have to make appetizers for tonight (I'm trying Paula Deen's recipe for spiced pecans and a hot tuscany veggie dip that has all kinds of good stuff in it) and a salad for tomorrow and that's the extent of my obligations.

There is much to be thankful for. I hope everyone out there in blogland enjoys the holiday.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fragments of my Life

You know how when you go to the grocery store and you are buying gum or a candy bar, the bagger always asks if you want to take it with you? Well this is embarrassing to discuss, but last night the husband and I went to the grocery store. Among other things, I was buying a bottle of stool softeners. So we're waiting for the bagger to bag up the groceries and he holds up my bottle of stool softener and asks if I'd like to take it with me. I said no. And I looked at the husband, thinking he hadn't heard this, and he had this big grin on his face, and when our eyes met, we just cracked up. What was this guy thinking?

Went to dinner tonight at this local Italian place. This is the same place we went to a year ago where the waitress had a tantrum and told the owner that "they" (us) "could get their own food out of the kitchen." So we were a little nervous about what we would find, but tonight we found the opposite - a young smiling waitress who told us several times that she was just a happy person. No matter what we asked, her response was "no problem." Once we realized this, we would smile at each other when she responded with "no problem." Then the husband said "I think I'll ask 'how bout a blow job?'" and see if she still responds "no problem." Needless to say, he didn't.

That's all that's new over here. The son turns 20 in a few days - we will have a party tomorrow and I am going to make a giant snowball - He won't let me use coconut so I'll try chocolate chips.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Humor at Ho Wah

Let me start by saying I would be perfectly happy eating Chinese food 7 days a week. But my husband doesn't feel the same, so we don't get it too often.

Tonight the husband came in, all stuffed up. He said he didn't feel well.

Me: I know what would help you!
Husband: What?
Me: Hot and sour soup! I'll order and pick it up.
Husband: You want to order chinese?
Me: Yes! And you can get pork egg fu yung, which is kind of Atkins-y.
Husband: OK.

I called my son to see what he wanted, and then I called Ho Wah, our favorite local chinese restaurant.

Chinese lady: Ho Wah
Me: I'd like to order something.
Chinese lady: OK
Me: Sweet and sour chicken, hot and sour soup, and pork subgum chow mein.....Oh, WAIT. I don't mean pork subgum chow mein. I mean the dish that's made with eggs.
Chinese lady: (silence)
Me, who can't remember shit: What's it called - the dish made with eggs?
Chinese lady: (silence)

I was scanning the menu as fast as I could, and then I found it.
Me: pork egg fu yung.
Chinese lady: 15 minute.
Me: OK.

I arrived at Ho Wah. While I waited for my food, I was watching the chinese owner. Everyone who works there is oriental, but tonight there was a young white guy.

Chinese owner, looking at paperwork, mumbling something about Christmas, looks at the white guy.

Chinese owner: You work Christmas.
White guy: Uh, I don't think I can do that.
Chinese owner: You work Christmas. Everyone work Christmas.
White guy: (frown)
Another Chinese employee: This is a Chinese restaurant!!!

I told a friend about this exchange and she said it sounded like I was in a Seinfeld episode, and I said I FELT like I was in a Seinfeld episode! It was like the most important thing about working in a chinese restaurant was being able to work on Christmas.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Veal Scallopini

This is the first time I made this dish, and I just loved it.

Veal Scallopini

3 T olive or veg oil
1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 lb thin veal scallopini (less than 1/4 inch thick)
1/2 stick butter, cut into pieces
1/2 fresh lemon
1.5 T drained small capers

Heat a 12 inch heavy skillet (not non-stick) over high heat until hot, then add oil and heat until hot.
Meanwhile, stir together flour, 1 t salt and 1/2 t pepper, then dredge veal in flour, knocking off excess.
Cook veal in 2 batches, turning once, until browned and just cooked through, 2-2 1/2 minutes per batch.
Transfer to a plate.
Discard oil from skillet, then add butter,and cook over medium heat, shaking skillet frequently, until browned and fragrant, 1 - 2 minutes. Stir in juice from 1/2 lemon, capers and 1/4 t each of salt and pepper. Return veal to skillet just to heat through.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Disgusting Lunch

My husband is on the Atkins diet. We started on it together, but, as always happens, I could no longer stand the sight of meat. Plus, I've been under the weather, and when I am under the weather, I crave pasta and can't even think about meat.

So at dinnertime, he does his thing and I do mine. I will prepare something for myself, and he will prepare something for himself.

Last night I came home, feeling quite exhausted, and found a family size Stouffers escalloped chicken and noodles casserole in the freezer. Mmm, that sounded like the perfect dinner for me. And since I've not made it to the grocery store in a while and have no bread in the house, I thought I could bring the leftovers to work for lunch.

So I put the frozen dinner in the oven as soon as I got home. It has to cook for 66 minutes. When it was done, I just helped myself to a bowl full and sat down to watch TV. The husband came in and asked "what can I eat?" I said "well there's lots of stuff in the freezer." He said "but none of it appeals to me." He looked in the fridge. He looked in the freezer. He was like a forlorn child. I left the kitchen thinking he'll figure something out.

Meanwhile, I was not happy with the temperature of the casserole. After cooking for 66 minutes, it was barely lukewarm. I started to eat it that way, and finally, realizing it had no appeal, I stuck it in the microwave. I was amused when I went back into the kitchen and saw that my husband had helped himself to the casserole. I smiled to myself thinking he's had enough of Atkins too.

Later on, I spooned a helping into a tupperware container to take for my lunch.

Work was not good today. For some reason, I could not get into my word files that I needed to work on. No one in IT could figure it out. I kept getting messages about not having access. I had counted on getting certain things done. And then, another co-worker came to work very sick. I stopped by her office and told her she looked terrible. She was coughing non-stop. She told me she had a temp of 101.9. I told her she needed to go home. Meanwhile, many other co-workers were very annoyed she was there. Just this week, our company put anti-bacterial soap and Clorox wipes all over the place. The containers promised to keep flu germs away. As I was filling my coffee cup, reading one of the containers, I laughed to myself, thinking they can put all these germ killers on every visible surface, but if you have a sick person who comes to work, these germ killers will do nothing.

Finally it was lunchtime. I walked down a floor and heated my chicken and noodles. I carried my tupperware container back to my office to eat at my desk. I took a bite, and damn, if it wasn't a deja vu experience - it was barely lukewarm. So I walked back down to the kitchen, reheated it, and with the lid half on, started to walk back to my office. Then - I have no idea how it happened, but the tupperware container flew out of my hand and my chicken and noodles were scattered all over the carpeting. "SHIT!" came out of my lips before I could think about it. My helpful co-worker Donna was in the kitchen and heard something fall, followed by my rather loud "shit." She said to someone else in the lunchroom "that didn't sound good." She came out to investigate and saw my huge mess. And I mean huge. It looked like someone had gotten sick all over the office carpeting.

So I grabbed a trash can and started to pick up the pieces. But chicken and noodles comes with a lot of sauce, and sauce is hard to pick up. Donna and another co-worker helped, and I grabbed some of those Clorox wipes to try to get the cream sauce off the carpet. Donna, being much more fastidious than me, decided we should leave paper towels over the spot to help blot it up. As other co-workers came in from lunch, they wondered "who got sick." The news that no one got sick but klutzy Bonnie spilled her food was soon through the office.

Meanwhile, I carried my tupperware container back to my office. It had one spoonful of chicken and noodles left. I ate it. It was not appealing. It was lukewarm again.

I don't think I'll ever be able to eat Stouffers chicken and noodles again.

Monday, October 26, 2009

There's Nothing Official Wrong With Me!

It has always been a fear of mine, when I schedule a doctor's visit, that there will be nothing wrong with me and he will wonder why I am wasting his time.

So that fear was realized today.

When we were at a wedding in MI, 16 days ago, I was hit with some kind of bug. I felt miserable. Lots of coughing. No fever. Sore throat. My chest hurt. Every time I tried to talk, I would go into spasms of coughing. My voice was barely hanging in there. A few days after the onset of my yuckiness, my son had a 104 temp. I had had my flu shot exactly 15 days before. He was diagnosed with the flu, Type A.

He got better. My thing kept hanging on. I read all the symptoms of the regular flu and H1n1 about a hundred times. I googled pneumonia. I googled bronchitis. People who work with me were tired of hearing me hack away. My family was getting tired of listening to me. Everyone said "when are you gonna call a dr?"

So today I got to work and received emails from some friends: "Call a dr. This has been hanging around too long." I thought well it's Monday. The dr's office will be filled with people much sicker than me. I am able to function. Finally, I just called the dr's office and waited on hold, listening to a recorded message for 15 minutes while I hacked away. I must have done a good job at describing my symptoms, because amazingly, I got an appointment for today.

I got there and described my symptoms. He sent me for a chest x-ray. He gave me a breathing test. The verdict: "all normal." I thought oh hell. I was hoping for some official diagnosis. I felt like an idiot for wasting everyone's time. He prescribed an inhaler for me and told me to call if I'm not better in 2 weeks.

Not better? But there's nothing wrong with me! I came home and went to bed.

For someone who has nothing wrong, I certainly feel like crap.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Love Trader Joe's

Cousin Deet, who got me into this blogging adventure, just emailed me to ask how come I haven't put anything new on the blog. I know! I told her. Nothing seems blogworthy, and the longer I go like this, the worse it gets.

So, for lack of a better topic, I will write a post about Trader Joe's. I LOVE Trader Joe's. When they first appeared in my part of town about 7 years ago, my husband and I took a friend over to that shopping center. It was 9:30 and Trader Joe's was closed, but the lights were on, and there were people working inside. It was a nice summer night. So we were looking in the window, and a manager type of guy came out and asked us if we had been in the store yet. We said yes, but our friend, who lived on the other side of town, hadn't. So the guy who worked there said "well come on in and look around." And we just walked in and looked around. It's always difficult to shop at TJ's and not buy anything (the registers were closed) but it was a fun little adventure.

Every time I go in that store, it seems that the employees just love working there. When I'm checking out, they will comment on something I bought and tell me how they just tried it and loved it and served it at a party. The check-out lines are never dull. There is always conversation going on. I have decided if there ever comes a time when I don't have to work to live, I will go work at TJ's and just have a gay old time and happily talk to people all day long.

No one is in a bad mood at TJ's. Everyone is happy. Well, sometimes my husband gets grumpy, as he tends to do, when the aisles are packed and you can't move. But I've discovered the simple solution of leaving the cart at the end of an aisle and I just go breezing through the store free as a bird.

Tonight I wanted to view the hummus and salsas in a refrigerated case. There was a lady standing in front of the case, and she was kind of in my way, but I walked around her and grabbed what I needed. She realized she was in my way and apologized, laughing to herself as she told me "I have no idea what I'm doing here. I don't even know what I'm looking for. But I'm just standing here stuck looking." And I knew exactly what she meant.

When Cousin Deet comes in town, from Lansing, she stocks up on all her TJ stuff. It is quite amusing watching her fill her cart to overflowing, and she says that she really didn't mean to buy that much.

All of the food is fascinating to me, from the chocolate covered everythings (the dark chocolate caramels and the toffee are the best) to the frozen foods you can't buy anywhere else, to the special soaps, to the best priced olive oil in's always an adventure.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Friend for a Few Seasons

Years ago, when my son was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and a bunch of other stuff, I spent a lot of time on the computer, just trying to get information. We went through some very bad years with some very challenging behaviors. I've seen bloggers blogging about issues such as what we went through, and I am very glad to see all the support they get from their followers. When we were going through this stuff, it seemed there wasn't much support out there.

One night I was checking out a site on TS and I started to read the comments. Most comments I couldn't relate to, but one comment just struck a nerve with me. And I sent an email to this stranger ("G"), whose son seemed to have the exact same issues as mine.

I could be completely open with my new friend, because he was going through the exact same stuff. We would tell each other about new medications that were coming out, what our doctors had said, if flax oil was effective (it was, but my son wouldn't take it) and how we responded to some of the difficult behaviors. We worked together to find a new way to live. Both of us were living lives that we never would have envisioned living.

At the time, G was an investment banker in L.A. He and his wife had adopted their son from a woman in Cleveland, where I live. That somehow seemed to link us more. And so began an email correspondence that lasted for several years.

There is an email that comes along every few years about friends - it's about how a friend can be there for a reason, a season, or forever. The gist of it is that sometimes someone comes along to fulfill a need, and that friendship doesn't last forever, but it is there for you in your time of need.

G and I emailed on a daily basis. I printed all the emails and kept them in notebooks. I have 3 full notebooks of our correspondence. After a few years of corresponding, G got divorced from his wife, came out as a gay man, and moved to AZ to open a bed and breakfast. He invited my family to come and stay, as his guest. We accepted.

Shortly before our trip, I went for my annual GYN exam. The dr was making conversation and asked if I had any plans for spring break. I said yes, as a matter of fact, our family is going to stay at this B&B of a man I met online! I told him the story and he kept saying "that is SO cool!"

So our family flew out west for a vacation. We flew to Las Vegas, spent a few days there, and then drove down to AZ. My husband had cousins living in the same city (one lived right across the street from the B&B, which was bizarre, and we introduced him to G). We spent about 5 days getting to know G. I have to smile when I think of that trip, because I think about how all these couples meet online and then decide to get married, and people think "but they haven't even met!" but when you email someone every day, you do get to know them - often better than you know people you spend 8 hours a day with as co-workers.

G's son became more difficult. His wife had sole custody in L.A. and he didn't see his son much. When he did, he had a very difficult time and soon it became easier for him not to see his son at all. Our emails became less frequent, as the focus of what had brought us together had changed. It seemed to me that G changed a lot too. Gradually, I realized that this man who had tried to hard to help his son had basically given up, and wanted to live his life without him.

I still have my notebooks. Once a year or so, I think oh, I should just throw the damn things out. And then I pick them up and start reading. The reason I had printed them and organized them so carefully was that a friend suggested I do this as my own journal of what we lived through. And that is what those notebooks have become for me. When I start to read them, I am really horrified by what we went through. We tend to put very unpleasant things out of our mind, and while I have vague memories of what we went through, those notebooks are the black and white proof of what happened. And it wasn't pretty.

G and I haven't corresponded in about a year. I sometimes get on his B&B website to see if he's still the owner, because he used to talk about doing other things. With no strings attached to anything, he is free to take off for anywhere and start a new life.

I don't think this was a life-long friendship. But it is a friendship that was there for several seasons, and more importantly, it was there for a reason, and I am grateful that we had what we had.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A School Shooting

On October 12, 2007, a co-worker looked outside the office building where I work and noticed many police cars outside the building. Right across the street from our building is a Cleveland school, called Success Tech. We turned on the TV, and TV crews were filming kids standing outside, some in tears, as well as stretchers with the wounded being carried out.

We found out that a 14 year old freshman walked into the school, shot two adults and two students. After police entered the school, he killed himself.

It seems commonplace now to be reading about a student somewhere who is entering a school or college campus and shooting people randomly. It is still shocking news, but seemingly less than it should be.

At Success Tech, after the shooting, they put in metal detectors for anyone entering the school.

Every morning I pull into the parking lot at work and see the kids lining up to get into the school, to go through the metal detector. They are all very orderly. Today I was watching them, thinking this has become their norm, to have to walk through a metal detector to get into their school.

And I thought how completely sad this whole thing is.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

$20 for a pair of Tweezers?!!!!

I am by nature a thrifty person. I was raised that way and I have stayed that way.

I have washed aluminum foil to re-use it. I not only cut coupons religiously, but I exchange the ones I don't want with my mother and my friend Sharon. And if a coupon is really valuable to me, I'll email my work colleagues, giving me like 7 total coupons for the same item. I let the weekly grocery store sales dictate what I'll be buying for the week.

So what I paid for a pair of tweezer this week astounds me as well as all who know me.

Daughter Heather was home for the summer. We call her "princess" because she likes the finer things in life, and she really likes having her parents pay for the finer things in life. We are quite happy she is a senior in college so she can start buying her own finer things in life.

While Heather was home, she complained that her tweezers no longer worked, so I told her to get herself a new pair. I'm thinking $5. Well she came home with the most amazing tweezers I have ever used. Tweezerman tweezers. I always thought tweezers were basically the same, but I learned I have been wrong. I am used to trying 5 times to get that one hair. With Tweezerman, you get it on the first try, always. I asked "how much did you spend on these tweezers?" and she said '$15."

I decided my time is worth something, and it is time-consuming to keep missing the same hair. So I went to CVS and found about 10 different types of Tweezerman. The one that most closely resembled what Heather brought home was $20. Yeah, $20! And I bought it! And it has made a major difference in my life!

I went to work the next day and mentioned I had spent $20 on a pair of tweezers. Those who know me and those who are thrifty like me were appalled.

Secretly, I think they might buy these one of these days.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


And the winners are............

Number one winner: Trish

Number two winner: Anno

This was done thru the random number website that Delaney provided to me (thank you, Delaney!)

As established in the rules, Trish chooses first, then Anno gets the second book.

Thank you to all who entered!

And so today starts year 2 of blogging!

Sunday, August 30, 2009


My FIRST blogaversary is 9/12.

In celebration, I am having a give-away. I am giving away two books. First winner gets to choose; second winner gets the other one.

To enter, just make a comment telling me you are interested in joining the contest. And make sure I have a way of contacting you.

I will draw names (if anyone knows how to do the random pick that everyone talks about, let me know; otherwise I will literally draw names from a hat) on my actual blogaversary - 9/12.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Fun Day at BJ's

Sharon and I like to do "queer" stuff. We like the simple joys of life.

So when I read that our local BJs was having a FREE LUNCH today, I called Sharon, the only person I know who would want to join me for this. The ad said that local restaurants would be giving away samples of food.

So off we went, at 12:30 today. This local BJs is usually empty (which I love) and we figured there would be somewhat of a crowd with this special promotion. We were right. We walked in and there was music playing. A DJ was directing line-dancing. Several employees and a few non-employees were participating. I wish I had the guts to join them. But I know what I look like on a dance floor. And it ain't pretty. There was a table where we could enter a drawing to win fun stuff like beach towels, which we entered.

First stop: samples of lasagna from an Italian restaurant. It was delicious. Second stop: pizza. Sharon wanted to browse where we happened to be but I saw the 3rd stop was sub sandwiches from Jimmy Johns. I said Sharon - come on, we have to get our subs before they run out! So we sampled a sub - our choice of turkey or salami. Fourth stop: Mr. Chicken. There were no chicken samples, but they had sweet potatoes, cole slaw and the most delicious BBQ meatballs I have ever eaten. The Starbucks table looked like it was closing up, so we wandered through the store. I called my husband and suggested he come, but he had already eaten lunch. Then I called my parents:

Lenore: Hello?
Me: Hi. How are you? (Lenore has had pneumonia)
Lenore: I am good. You're calling from your cell phone.
Me: Yeah. I'm at BJs. You ought to come. There's free food from restaurants?
Lenore: Free food?
Me: Yes, and you don't have to belong to BJs.
Lenore (talking to Art, who heard "free food") - it's Bonnie. They have free restaurant food at BJs.
Me: It goes until 2:00.
Lenore: But it's 1:15.
Me: It's up to you - you're only 10 minutes away. I have to go; you can decide.

Exactly 12 minutes later, I looked down an aisle there were Lenore and Art

Lenore: We were watching the Kennedy funeral on TV. We already ate lunch. But dad said "you only go around once."

Sharon started to shop and I said wait, I have to watch them. This is greatly amusing to me. I watched as they sampled the lasagna, pizza and subs. I thought these are the only people I could call from BJs and have them run out to get the free food. At 86 and 84, I thought let me be like that at that age.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Little Charlie

I wanted to write something special for this, being my 100th post, and I have known for a long time what the topic would be. And today I finally met the subject of my post - Little Charlie.

Little Charlie's parents, Michelle and "Stan" decided many years ago that they wanted to adopt. I don't think they knew at the time all of the work and adventures that awaited them in their search for Little Charlie.

Michelle was a journalism major in college and is an amazing writer. She kept a private blog of the experience, and this will be such a wonderful keepsake for Charlie when he grows up. Reading her blog was like reading a novel or watching an exciting movie, as her readers wondered what would happen next, and how soon it would happen. I would pass on some of the blog posts to some of my friends, who took great interest in what was happening. I don't think Michelle and Stan knew how many people were rooting for them.

So what did it take for Michelle and Stan to find Charlie? Well, in Michelle's words, it took "lots of money, paperwork, heartache and patience."

Money came in part from a fundraising cookbook that Michelle and Stan created (200 copies sold within one week!). One friend won a superbowl office pool and donated her winnings. Paperwork involved having the required background checks, home studies and countless fingerprints. Heartache - during the wait, Kaz, as it came to be called, closed, then suspended adoptions by U.S. citizens.

In October of 2008, Michelle and Stan were notified that they might be able to travel to Semey (Kaz) in 2008 to meet their baby. In November, they flew out there. There were some fascinating and humorous posts about the trip out there. They stayed in an apartment and visited the Baby House twice a day. It was so much fun to check the blog for pictures of this adorable little boy with very big cheeks. We were also treated to pictures and history of Kaz. After spending almost a month in Kaz, Michelle and Stan flew back to Cleveland alone. These are the rules. They then had to wait to find out when Charlie would be flown to Cleveland.

Charlie arrived in the U.S.A. (fittingly) on Valentines Day. I just love this picture of Charlie's Homecoming at the Cleveland Airport.

Charlie has grown and flourished in his first 6 months at his new home. We've read about Charlie tasting french fries, first words, discovering how lights turn on and off. And that smile - you just want to squeeze those plentiful cheeks and experience Charlie's joy for life.

So today David and I met Charlie and what a good time that was. Charlie is a VERY BUSY GUY. If I had 10 percent of that energy, I'd have a spotless house, a weedless garden, and a spotless office at work. He is a very lucky guy, because he has such committed parents who worked so hard to get him here, and continue to work hard to acclimate him to his new home. We feel fortunate to know these people and we hope to have more visits with Charlie, to watch him continue to bloom. And to see that smile that can just melt your heart.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Getting Rid of The Clutter

I must be doing something wrong. I subscribe to Woman's Day and Better Homes and Gardens. I also have shared a subscription to People Magazine with a co-worker for about 20 years now. Every year when she gets the renewal notice, she asks "how many years should we renew for?" and I always give her the same answer: "one - who knows where we'll be next year...." And then a year passes by and we're doing the same thing.

But I digress. Maybe that's part of my problem, is that I digress too much. So in addition to my own magazines, Sharon gives me all her old issues of Family Circle, Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal. They are piled high on my coffee table. Very high.

Now what do all of these magazines feature? Well, in addition to recipes that are dangerous to me, cause I cut them out and stick them in a pile to later be filed, and coupons (same thing), they all feature articles on how to get organized. If you judged me by how many of those articles I have read in my lifetime, you would think I was the most organized, clutter-free person on earth. Unfortunately, the opposite is true.

Tomorrow night our friend Jim is coming over to bring dinner. No special occasion; he comes for dinner occasionally, and at his request we have grilled cheese, tomato soup, some kind of potato, and a nice dessert. Well this time, he insisted on bringing the entire dinner, including dessert. So what does this mean to me? It means I have absolutely no obligations, other than to clear the clutter off the table. Uh, I mean tables. The kitchen is worse than the dining room.

I have been working on that for the last hour, and I am exhausted.

So how did I get so out-of-control? Well, I decided to analyze my piles. I think the #1 problem is recipes. I am so ambitious when it comes to recipes, that I cut out hundreds a year. I have a very organized notebook, with sections for meats, veggies, etc., that I tape the recipes in. The notebook is huge and the loose recipes far outweigh the ones in the organized notebook. What else? Retail coupons, restaurant coupons, and the neighborhood books of coupons. Now, if this wasn't plentiful enough, I have to thank David's friend Jeff Miller for our multiplying mail. Jeff, you see, subscribed to Sports Illustrated. He was having trouble reading the print, so he sent a change of address to the magazine, changing his address to our address. In other words, he was giving David his Sports Illustrated. Do you know how much mail we get now addressed to Jeff Miller? Sports Illustrated must make a fortune selling Jeff's name. At first I was complaining, but then we started getting "welcome to the neighborhood, Mr. Miller!" offers. Nice offers. Like half price coupons to nearby restaurants. We just have to pretend we are Jeff Miller cause half the offers have Jeff's name on the coupon itself.

What else? Oh yeah, Sharon's magazines. Every time we see each other, we do an exchange. Sharon, my dear friend, I am so out of control, and I swear I'm gonna read those 5 year old magazines, cause I just can't bring myself to throw them away, but they are largely responsible for my problem!

And the I-will-read-someday magazines like the Costco Connection. There's good stuff in there, especially the book reviews. Parade Magazines that separate themselves from the Plain Dealer every Sunday and end up in my clutter pile. Oh, and the Ohio Farm Bureau Magazine - I had to join the OFB to get a discount on my car and auto insurance, which is thru Nationwide. I have no idea what I would find in that magazine that would interest me, but I read it once and I actually liked it!

So there you have it. If I just had more hours in the day, I could work my way through the clutter and get a ton of reading done. Then again, I sadly think of my mother (Lenore) and father (Art) arguing over Art's clutter. Art worked as an engineer.

Lenore: "Art, get rid of the electronic magazines."
Art: "I will read them."
Lenore: "You will never read them. You have been accumulating them for years."
Art: "I will read them someday."

Sadly Art lost his vision before he could get to those magazines. I wonder if Lenore ever got rid of them.

I fear we will end up doing what we always do - throw all the clutter in a box.....never to be looked at again. I am bad.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Our New Garden Friend

This is our new garden friend. I got it as a late birthday present from my friend Sharon. We don't know if it will work in keeping the critters out of the veggie garden, but I haven't seen any deer in there since we placed it there.

And maybe we'll get to eat a tomato or two before the critters steal them all.

Pepper is 15 today!!!


About 12 years ago, my kids started bugging me about getting a dog. We already had cats, but they just weren't the same as a dog. I think my daughter envisioned jogging down the street with her long haired sleek looking golden retriever type of dog. I don't know what my son envisioned. I just wanted a friendly dog to love.

One day I was reading the paper, in the pets for sale section, which lists all the breeds alphabetically. I was open to any type of dog so I read every listing. The one that caught my eye was listed under "H" and it was for a "Happy Dog." Mixed breed. Perfect. I called the number, and was told that the owner (Ted) and dog lived on the other side of town and that Ted was moving out of town and could not take the dog with him. I asked if we could set up a time to meet the dog. Sure, he said, you can pick a 15 minute time slot, and he told me what time slots were available (there weren't many left). I said well now wait a minute, I'm not gonna drive across town with my kids and have you tell me that someone else already bought the dog. No, he said, I am setting up one evening where people can visit "Pepper" and then I will decide who can get Pepper. I said ok, and the next night I drove my kids across town. We went to Ted's apartment, and there were people on their way out who had just viewed Pepper. Now we had our 15 minutes. I prayed for my kids to be good, for us to look like the perfect family for Pepper. I felt like we were all auditioning for a show. Pepper liked us and licked us, but Pepper liked and licked everyone. When our 15 minutes was up, the next couple appeared for their owner-of-Pepper-tryouts. We got home, and I sat down and waited for the phone to ring. After 15 minutes of silence, I thought oh hell, I'm calling Ted. So I did, introduced myself and said "I just want you to know our family really wants Pepper." To my amazement, he said "well you were the first to call, so Pepper is yours. I just want a few more days with her - can you get her on Saturday?" I said sure.

I forgot to mention what Pepper looked like. Before we went to view Pepper, I asked Ted what breeds she was, and he told me she was a shelty dachshund mix. I also asked how much Pepper weighed, and was told she weighed 21 pounds. I somehow expected a delicate looking dog. How wrong I was.

Well the real Pepper was very low to the ground and very, very wide. Someone we know hit the nail on the head when he said she looked like an ottoman.

So on Saturday, we got the hubby to go with us to fetch Pepper. Hubby, remember, had never met Pepper. His words when he first saw her were "oh my God." Not an enthusiastic OMG, but more of an eye-rolling what-have-you-gotten-us-into-dear OMG.

So after a sad goodbye between Ted and Pepper , we took Pepper home. We weighed her. She weighed 42 lbs, not 21. Ted had given me a bag of Bill Jac food and Pepper refused to eat it. Ted called the next day to see how Pepper was. I said she's not eating - did she usually eat this dog food? Ted said well, actually, she ate a lot of table scraps. I said did you know she weighs 42 pounds? No, he said. Ted had owned Pepper for one year and we had the vet's records from one year ago. Pepper doubled in weight in one year!

So we set off to put Pepper on a diet (a difficult task), and to welcome her into our home (an easy task). Pepper was a lover of life.

About six months after we brought Pepper home, Ted called and explained that his roommate was very ill with a brain tumor and he and his roommate were in town for a few days and it was his roommate's wish to see Pepper - could they come over now? OK, I said, and I scrambled to clean the house, a task that takes much longer than an hour. The doorbell rang 30 minutes later and only Ted was at the door. He told us his roommate was too sick to get out and could he take Pepper to the car to see him? I thought either this is the saddest thing I've ever seen, or these people are about to kidnap my dog. I said ok, and I stood at the door, thinking in my delusional state that I would run after the car if they indeed tried to kidnap Pepper. But I need not have worried; 20 minutes later, Tom returned with Pepper and said "thank you so much. This meant to much to my friend. And Pepper seems happy."

We determined that Pepper was a border collie - corgi mix. We got her weight down. Not to 21, but fairly close. Pepper loves to eat. She joined the right family.

Pepper has brought so much joy to our family and well, I admit it, especially to me. She is the only creature who is overjoyed to see me 100% of the time. She kisses me and I kiss her and when I want companionship in the garden, she comes out with me. She makes me laugh cause she loves food so much she spends her day sitting in front of her empty bowl. She loves people and all she asks for is a little attention in return for her love.

Pepper used to follow me everywhere and she especially loved to get in bed with me (you had to hoist her up because those little legs of hers would not climb). Now she has slowed down considerably. When it's time to go out, she looks at you like you-mean-I have-to-get-up-now? Sometimes I get up in the morning and just touch her to make sure she's breathing. My happy dog has enriched our lives more than I ever would have thought possible.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Hornet's Nest

Look what we discovered in our front yard yesterday - a hornet's nest! (Click on it to enlarge it.)

David first had a crazy thought that he would tackle this himself. I told him to google how to get rid of a hornet's nests first. Then he came to his senses.

This prompted me to read up on hornets' nests. Wow. It is a huge nest. I learned that hornet nests are made of a paper-like material made by the insects from chewed up plant material and their own saliva. The honey comb shape is a very efficient way to pack a strong structure with lots of cavities into a small space, each comb cell in a wasp or hornet nest serves as the hatching and growth chamber for one egg and larva (since I am the most UN-scientific person on earth, you will know that I cut and pasted this from a site that I googled).

We called the city to ask for a recommendation on who to call to get rid of this. The city asked how close it was to the sidewalk. "Very close" David replied. And to our great joy, the city agreed to come and get rid of it. And it's gone today.

I kind of miss it! I read that a lot of people save the nest as "a decoration or conversation piece." So this picture will be our only reminder that it existed.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Margarita Pie

At the office where I work, we have a cinqo de mayo party every year. One year, Marsha brought in this amazing pie and gave me the recipe. It is tangy and perfect for a hot day. It has become a family favorite:

Margarita Pie

1 (8 oz) container whipped topping, thawed
6 tbsps butter or margarine, melted
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c lime juice
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (1/4 oz) package Kool-Aid lemon-lime powdered drink mix
1 1/4 c pretzels, crushed

Step #1 Mix crushed pretzels, sugar & butter
Step #2 Press firmly onto bottom & up side of 9-inch pie plate
Step #3 Refrigerate until ready to fill
Step #4 Combine condensed milk, lime juice, & drink mix powder in large bowl until well mixed
Step #5 Gently stir in the whipped topping
Step #6 Pour into crust
Step #7 Freeze 6 hrs or overnight.
Step #8 Let stand at about room temp 15 mins or until pie can be cut easily.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Our Cottage in Michigan

I have spent the last few days at our cottage in Michigan. I almost didn't go. I am embarrassed to say that I haven't been up there in about 8 years. This time was almost the same as prior years. There were so many reasons not to go; it's a long drive; this would be the first time leaving the kids at home alone - they would surely throw a party and the police would come; old dog Pepper has a UTI and no one would clean up after her or let her out....

But at the last minute, I decided to move outside my comfort zone (something I just told a fellow blogger to do) and I went. We belong to an association of other cottage owners, and there's an annual meeting, and this year the meeting was going to be at our cottage. That happens every 20 years. David was willing to go up alone, but I thought he should have his wife there to co-host this event.

I had a day of worrying; could Pepper make the trip with us? She'll be 15 in 2 weeks and is showing signs of her age. I gave up on the kids watching her. How would the kids do? Finally, I did what I always do when I worry too much; I became exhausted. And I reached the point of thinking que sera, sera.

It was a lovely few days. Pepper did fine on the trip - we stopped every few hours and she was a hit at the rest stops - one guy even gave her a dog biscuit he apparently keeps in his pocket. And once we got there, Pepper acted like a puppy! It was very amusing to see the transformation. The weather was perfect - not too hot. The cottage looks great - there is new furniture since I was last here.

Now I'll tell you what amused me the most about this trip. David goes up to the cottage every summer for a week with his high school buddies. They play golf, poker, and hang out. One of his friends, Jeff, wanted to spend some extended time at the cottage this summer. He went up in early July, stayed through the week of the guys hanging out, and stayed afterward. He used it as his home base as he visited friends and relatives in other cities.

Now Jeff has the cutest dog ever. He was featured in an earlier blog post, but here is Ducky again:

Well in the 3 days we spent at the cottage, EVERYONE we talked to said "I enjoyed talking to Jeff." David's family has owned this cottage since the 1920s and he doesn't know half the neighbors, but in the month that Jeff spent at the cottage, he somehow endeared himself to everyone up there. We had 15 people at our cottage for the association meeting and David didn't know who several of them were. But they all commented about how much they enjoyed being with Jeff. I think Ducky helped.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Vegetable Garden

A little white eggplant; Bing the cat feasting on weeds; a little broccoli; and yeah, that's me holding a giant zucchini and a little eggplant.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Foreign Languages

I was sitting here reading blogs with the doors and windows open and I heard this very loud talking in a foreign language. Pepper the dog was barking and I thought what the hell is this? So I wandered over to the front door, and saw that the guy who lives across the street (I hear he's Russian; he's been living there 5 years and I've been planning on introducing myself for 5 years now) had stopped his car in the drive and went to get his mail, while the radio loudly buzzed out in Russian. I didn't even know you could get Russian radio stations.

It reminded me of my first year of college. I went to college in Toronto. My roommate lived in Ontario but was of Dutch descent, and they spoke Dutch in her home. So she always had the radio tuned to Dutch stations (I guess it's no different than the Russian station this guy was listening to). Every morning we would wake up to her radio alarm, with people speaking in Dutch.

Which reminds me of a party I went to last week. The hosts gave a party for their friend Wanda, also from Holland, who has been living here for many years. Wanda has a best friend, Wilma, who is visiting her for about a month this summer. So it was kind of a "meet Wilma" party. I talked to Wanda and Wilma and asked them how often they see each other. They said one will visit the other every 3-5 years. I asked how they keep in touch between visits and they said some email but they call each other every week. They said they just liked to hear each other's voices. Wanda has been living in the states for about 18 years, I'd guess, and Wilma was her best friend in Holland, and they remain best friends. They seemed to enjoy each other very much. They would be conversing in English and then they would just switch to Dutch, and as I sat there listening, I wondered "do they realize they just switched languages?"

Which reminded me of a French class I took in college. I had taken Spanish all through high school. But since the products in Ontario were labeled in both French and English, I decided I should try French. So what we had was a freshman class of kids who had all taken Spanish in high school. And the first day, the French professor told us there would be no speaking in English. None. So as we struggled along to have conversations, if we didn't know a French word, we automatically used the Spanish word, and we all understood each other cause we had all taken Spanish, and the French teacher spent the year yelling "NO ESPANOL!" The funny thing is that none of us realized we were doing it.

I really marvel at people who speak more than one language.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mary Poppins

David and I subscribe to the Broadway Series of shows that come to Cleveland. The last show in our series was last Friday night - Mary Poppins. I remember when I saw that it was included in the series, I thought ok....well, we'll just sit through it and MAYBE it will be enjoyable. I also knew that many of the season ticketholders would be bringing their children and grandchildren.

We parked and walked the short distance to the theater. Sure enough, there were lots of very young people. Boys and girls all dressed up, for a night of downtown theater. It reminded me of my own youth. My grandmother sang in the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and we used to go downtown to see the "pops" series. I remember being overwhelmed by the fancy facility and all the people united in one place to see a concert.

It also flashed across this brain of mine that often parents or grandparents bring their kids to shows like this, sure that the kids will love it, but the shows are long, and often it is hard to hold the attention of young ones when a show lasts several hours, during which you must sit in your seat.

Well, it was an amazing show. The actors were amazing, as were the special effects. They actually had Mary with her umbrella way up in the air, sailing over all of us! And Bert tap dancing on the ceiling! And the music - well who can not get into Step in Time, Feed the Birds, and of course Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (I have no idea how to spell this)? And, when David auditioned for Fiddler earlier this year, it will always amuse me that he chose Chim Chim Cheree as his audition song. There is great music in this show.

For Good Commenters Out There

Well I had a nice surprise today when I found out I won this award. For being a good commenter! And this from someone who's very easy to read and comment on! I did not know until today that she's only been at this for a few months, but check out Sandy's blog at

I have to say, it's very easy to be a good commenter. You don't have to rack your brains out trying to think of something to say! You just read what someone else wrote and make a comment.

So I will take this time to thank the commenters on my blog, and I feel like we're all so intertwined that we've all checked out each other's blogs anyway, but here we go - to my loyal commenters:

Other than Jeanie at Marmalade Gypsy, who got me into this blogging world, I have never met any of these folks, but I feel like I know them, and I look forward to my evenings when I can sit back, relax and read their blogs. Subjects are all over the place, but they are always interesting.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Writer's Block Over Here

Writer's block over here. This tooth thing has made me a little nuts. I'll spare the details, but recovery from this thing is slower than I thought it would be, and I have pain at night so I don't sleep and despite large volumes of caffeine in the morning, I feel like I'm in a fog all the time.

So I'm posting a current picture of Marty's garden. Note the solar lights - very cool - they light up at night (I guess that's what solar lights do).

The veggie garden has turned out to be a disaster. The only veggie growing, besides some lettuce, is zucchini. Some animals have eaten the tomato, bean and pea plants. I have to say, it has not been as much fun working in the garden this year. It's very buggy out there and having all those mosquito bites is yet another reason for me not to sleep.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

It Wasn't TMJ

Well, I saw my dentist on Monday, my birthday, to tell him I had TMJ. He x-rayed a tooth just to be sure, said the tooth looked fine, and I told him I'd like muscle relaxers, cause that's how it was treated 10 years ago. I also wanted anti-inflammatories and he told me to take Advil. Then we discussed how much ibuprofen I was taking and he declared it was way too much.

I left his office and went to work. I kept taking more ibuprofen. A co-worker told me I should call him back and tell him I wanted "the good stuff" to relieve the pain. I thought I'd wait for the muscle relaxers to work.

The next few days were a fog. I tried going to work for a few hours on Wednesday and a co-worker offered to get me a McDonalds shake at lunch. YES, I said - THANK YOU. And as I sat at my desk, falling asleep cause the pain was keeping me up all night, I thought once I get that shake, I'll be fine. Well she called and said guess what? McDonalds has no shakes today. I never understood how a place like McDonalds could run out of shakes. That was the final straw for me. I left work, stopped at another McDonalds, got my shake, and went home.

Thursday I woke up with a face that looked like the Elephant Man. I had a 7:30 mammogram scheduled, and I went from there back to the dentist, with no appointment. This is the second time in my life I have done this. Once when I was pregnant, I had horrendous head pain and didn't want to be told I could come in later in the day, so I had walked in as soon as the office opened and said I can't wait for an appointment. So I arrived at the dentist and the friendly receptionist said hello. I said I don't have an appointment, but I know I have a problem. After 3 nights of googling TMJ in the middle of the night, I had spent the previous night googling "abscessed tooth" because I knew that's what I had. The dentist graciously examined me again and said "this isn't TMJ." I said "I know." He said but the x-ray was fine. I said "I know." He handed me 3 antibiotic pills and said "I'm writing you a prescription - fill this right away, and if you don't see improvement by tomorrow, call me and I'll try to get you in to see an oral surgeon." The pain was horrendous. First thing the next day, I couldn't talk because I was so swollen and it was like I had 100 marbles in my mouth. I had my husband call and ask the dentist to get me in to see an oral surgeon. He did.

I went to see an oral surgeon at 12:30. He looked at me and said "I hope I can extract this today." That shocked me; I thought that's why I was there. I asked "why do you say you hope you can do this today?" And he said "because I don't know if I can control the pain." At that point, temporary pain didn't bother me if it would just end the chronic pain. He walked out and I said to his assistant "I am a wuss - can he knock me out?" She said she didn't know. He took more x-rays. I was surprised to learn that an x-ray will not always show an abscess. He said "I am confident this is the bad tooth" (the one the dentist had initially x-rayed, that showed nothing). He gave me a local anesthetic and pulled out the offending tooth. I looked at that little thing and thought I can't believe that little thing can cost me so much money and so much pain.

That was yesterday. I am on vicodin (the good stuff) and an antibiotic that I have to take every 6 hours and I can't lie down within a half hour of taking it. That makes sleep hard. I finished my book club book and caught up on People Magazines. I still look like the elephant man. The pain is less intense. The ultimate irony is that I have lost weight during this ordeal, but I look like I've gained 50 pounds. My formerly double chin is now a quadruple chin.

People have said "you're lucky it wasn't TMJ - that is very hard to treat." I think I am lucky that this is behind me, but I was hoping for a normal face by this point.

I missed almost a week of work. I have watched every episode of Housewives of New Jersey. I have learned I can't stand being out of commission.

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 6th - Another Year Older

Well, today is my 52nd birthday. Our plan was to go to Little Italy yesterday to celebrate, but I have been afflicted with something that I believe is TMJ - and which is causing me a lot of pain. I was up at 3 this morning, reading emails and looking for blogs to read. The email part was fun, because this feature on facebook allows people to put my birthday on their calendar, and it is quite amusing to me to receive birthday greetings from old high school friends who I haven't spoken with in many, many years.

As for the blogs, well, it seems most people have taken a blog break, cause there wasn't much new out there!

Years ago, my son Joe declared there were 2 types of older females. A "lady" is a thin, beautiful female, with long hair. A "woman," on the other hand is an overweight female, usually with short hair. He did not hesitate to point out that I am a woman. Now whenever I hear the terms "woman" or "lady" I find myself thinking in terms of his definition. I wonder if I ever get thin in this lifetime and if I ever grow my hair out, if I can qualify as a lady. But being a woman is not all bad. I think of a woman as being more seasoned than a lady; someone who works harder; someone who's been around the block. So today I will define myself as a 52 year old woman.

I have had mixed feelings on the facebook concept for a long time now. At first it was fun, and then I thought ok, I've been there and done that, and there's nothing more to do. Then my friend Sharon convinced me to put my maiden name in there (I argued and said why bother) and I believe she was right in that - more people came out of the woodwork. I will say that most of the people I've "friended" (Sharon, who is in the know, corrected me when I said "befriended" and told me "friended" is the correct term) were not people I was good friends with in high school, but it is fun seeing what they are up to now. It seems most of my fellow Clevelanders have left Cleveland for places south and west.

A few weeks ago, I received a facebook message asking if I'd like to meet for lunch; one of the transplanted ladies (yeah, she's thin with long hair) was going to be in town and wanted to meet for lunch. I hesitated, cause I do work for a living, but then decided I could take the time off, and life is short, and I should do this. So I went. There were 7 of us who got together, and I have to say, it was surprisingly enjoyable. We had little conversations with whoever was next to us, and bigger conversations with the whole table, and I was surprised by how much in common I had with these people. As I looked around, I thought I really wasn't friends with any of them in high school, but it was very easy to talk to them, and it occurred to me that we had more in common than I thought. I think just growing up in the same period, in the same place, gave us that commonality. As an adult, I seldom meet people who I can just fall into an easy conversation with (other than the blogger friends I've made this past year, who are surprisingly open and friendly)!

So, as I wait for my dentist appt in mid-morning, I will hope to be pain free so that I can celebrate yet another year of being a woman.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Me and Heather and a Dead Mouse

Last night, when I was so tired from my lack of sleep, I was looking forward to bedtime. David and Joe went to see Hangover, and I was home with Heather (age 21). It suddenly started to pour, and I quickly opened the door to let Bing the Cat in, and then I ran upstairs to close the windows.

As I was coming down the stairs, I saw a dead mouse in the hall. I assume Bing brought it in to proudly show us what he had been doing outside.

Me: (screaming) "HEATHER!!!"
Heather: "WHAT?"
Me: "There's a dead mouse in the front hall!!!"
Heather: "So what do you want me to do?"
Me: "KILL IT!"
Heather: "NO - you kill it!"
Me: "I can't."

I did venture a little closer to make sure it was dead. Today I was discussing with a co-worker whether it's better to find a dead mouse or a live mouse, and we agreed it would be better to find a dead one. I thought ok, maybe I can pick it up with an oven mitt. But that was just too gross for me to handle. So I moved the garbage can into the hall and got a broom and a dustpan.

Heather (annoyed): "WHAT?"
Me: "Come and help me."

Amazingly, Heather appeared. I handed her the dust pan.

Heather: "You're giving me a dustpan?"
Me: "yes. I'll sweep it in and you hold the dustpan."

Amazingly, she took the dust pan. I took that broom and swung like it was a golf club. We both screamed. It landed in the dust pan.

Me: "Throw it in the trash!"

She did.

Me: "Help me close the trash."

She did.

I grabbed the trash bag, screamed, and ran outside with it.

We are such wusses.

Another Night of No Sleeping

I have found that Sunday nights are usually my worst, in terms of not being able to sleep. But last night was really ridiculous.

For some reason, I felt the need to worry about anything and everything.

My son lost his wallet. Who took it? Why? Did we need to worry about identity theft? Could it be lost in his car? How much money did he lose?

I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for this morning. Would I have gained weight? What is the lightest thing I could wear to the appointment?

I needed to get more exercise. Would I have enough energy to get up before my doctor's appointment and take a walk? If I did, would I be able to stop sweating after my shower? I didn't want to subject my doctor to my sweating body.

Over the weekend, I had read twice about the 10/10/10 rule. That rule suggests that with every complicated decision you make, you should consider how it will affect your life in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years. Well, let's face it - most worries will continue to be a worry 10 minutes from now. But 10 months or 10 years? Hell, there will be new things to worry about then!

This started at 3:00 AM. I stayed in bed for a while, trying to convince myself that nothing would matter in 10 years. It didn't work. I came downstairs at 4:15 AM. I let old Pepper the dog out. As I opened the door, I saw a car driving very slowly down our quiet street. Who could that be? What was that car doing? I finally realized it was the lady who delivers our paper, come rain or shine. I had no idea she arrived so early every day.

I read emails. I don't know why I subscribe to the New York Times via email. It comes way too often! I never have time to read it! And the only email waiting for me in the middle of the night is usually from my sister Laurie, who keeps bizarre hours.

At 4:30, I finally went back up to bed and turned on my lamp to read. I then noticed a fly that was buzzing around the lamp shade. I watched and listened to it for a while, and it became increasingly more annoying. I finally banged my book against the lamp shade. Well, that did 3 things. It woke David up; it caused tons of dust to fly thru the air – it’s one of those pleated shades that collects dust; and it caused Milo the cat to come racing over to see what was going on. Milo immediately made it his goal to kill the damn fly, which I missed when I banged the lamp shade. Milo got inside the shade and started pawing it, and the fly flew below my nightstand, as did Milo, and then Milo emerged, seemingly victorious, and climbed on David to sleep.
Mission accomplished. Easy for Milo to then relax; he's a cat. He doesn't have to get up in the morning!

I finally fell asleep at 6:30, only to be woken by the alarm at 6:45. I actually was glad the alarm went off, because that meant this awful night had come to an end!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Marty's garden

Marty's Garden (created in memory of my wonderful father-in-law Marty, who passed away 3 years ago) has gained a new addition: an official sign. My son Joe created the plaque in ceramics class a few years ago (it's hard to read, but it says "In Loving Memory of Martin Luther Krauss"), and our friend Jim created the official sign holder to hold the plaque.

Jim is actually the one who gave me the idea for creating the memory garden. It has been his tradition to plant items in memory of friends who have passed away. It is a wonderful way to honor and remember a loved one.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Our House Guest

Is this the cutest thing ever?

David's friend Jeff has been on a long road trip. He lives in FL and has been working his way up to our cottage in Michigan. En route, he stopped in Cleveland to stay for a few days. And he brought his little friend Ducky.

I worried about how my old dog Pepper might respond to Ducky, because Pepper is a border collie mix and I read once that border collies are a jealous breed. And we have certainly seen that. If we are seen petting or holding one of the cats, Pepper is immediately by our side, saying "give ME all your attention!"

Well, amazingly, Pepper loved this little shih tsu. She followed her around, with her tail wagging more than I've seen it wag in years. It's like she thought Ducky was a little toy.

Jeff lives alone and Ducky is a wonderful friend to him. He is clearly devoted to him. When Jeff wanted to take a walk, he had to sneak out. And when he returned, Ducky greeted him like he had been gone for months.

It was a fun 2 days.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Dinner at the folks tonight. It can be comical, and tonight was one of those nights.

I was driving home from work today wondering what I was gonna do for dinner. David went up to the cottage in Michigan. Heather went down to Athens to move from one house to another. And Joe is never around. I loved that I was going to have an evening where I wasn't expected to prepare dinner. So I got home and my dad had left a message on my machine: "We have leftovers from a tray from Corky's. You must come for dinner. Call when you get this."

Corky and Lenny's is a well known deli in Cleveland. My dad was in a fraternity in college and at age 86, he still gets together with his fraternity brothers. The guys and their wives spend New Years Eve together and gather for dinners throughout the year. There have been deaths, illnesses and remarriages, and they are all going strong.

I will also add that my mother has the same "disease" that my sister and I have. It gets worse as we get older. The disease is that we always use the wrong word when we are telling a story. Our families are used to it, and they usually know what we mean.

So I called my dad back and said it's only me, but I'll come. I asked what time. He said I don't know - it's just 3 of us - you decide. I said ok, 5:45. He said 5:46. I said ok.

And I arrived at 5:46, cause that's how I was raised.

The table was set for 3 - me, dad (Art) and mom (Lenore). We all sat down and my mother looked at the tray and this is how the conversation went:

Lenore: "Oh look, there are sweet potatoes on the tray!"
Me: thinking, but not saying "huh?"
Art: "What do you mean there are sweet potatoes on the tray?"
Lenore: "What are you talking about? I never said there were sweet potatoes on the tray."
Art: "Bonnie, did she just say there were sweet potatoes on the tray?"
Me: (laughing) "yes."
Lenore: "Well I can't believe I said that."

So I went to help my dad, who can't see, with his sandwich.
Me: "What do you want on your sandwich?"
Art: "Steak pastrami."
Me: (looking at the tray with similar looking meats) "Which is the steak pastrami?"
Art: "What, have you become a goy? It looks different than the corned beef!"
Me: "OK, what else?"
Art: "Mustard."
I put some mustard on the bread.
Art: "That is not enough mustard! Even I can see that there's not enough mustard!"
Me: (looking at the tray) "Oh, I see sweet pickles. That must be what mom meant by sweet potatoes.*
Art: "You didn't know that? Of course that's what she meant. You think I could be married to her for 63 years and not know what she meant?"

Lenore: "Have some fruit. I cut up some fresh fruit today."
Art: "I'll have fruit."
Lenore dishes out a few pieces of cantaloupe.
Art: "That's enough."
Lenore keeps dishing out more fruit. Art and Lenore start talking to each other. Lenore keeps dishing out more fruit. Art keeps eating more fruit.

Me: "What are you gonna do with all this meat?"
Lenore: "Sam's coming for lunch tomorrow. I think I'll freeze the rest."
Me: "I don't think cold cuts freeze very well."
Art: "We don't want to freeze it. Call Bernice and invite her over for dinner tomorrow. We won't tell her we got the tray today."

Someone said my family is like a Seinfeld episode. Too bad the show went off the air. I would have plenty of material to submit.