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.