Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Macho Arrives Safely In Florida (Stephanie and Danny, too)

Just checked in with Stephanie and all went well yesterday. Macho was not weighed at the counter. The TSA inspector asked how much he weighed, however, and they said 16 pounds. Then he asked if Macho bites, and they said no.

The carrier didn't really fit under the seat, but Stephanie and Danny had three seats to themselves (aisle and window) and no one came for the middle seat so the flight attendant let them put the carrier on the floor. Macho was quite anxious to get out of the carrier, and the flight was actually early.

So all is well with one exception: Macho won't come out from under the bed. I guess it will take a while for him to appreciate his new digs. And Stephanie was off to the grocery store.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Music

I was being slowly driven nuts by a Time Warner Christmas commercial with a very catchy song (that I actually like) whose lyrics made no sense. Each time it came on, I'd try to understand the words, and I could only get the first and last line. Enter the Internet, and the answer is just a Google away. In case you have this commercial where you live, here are the words. You can see why I was hung up on middle lines. I thought "phase" was "face" -- and I thought "coming dear" was "commandeer."

It comes along just once a year,

on Winters wings - Decembers rear,

ahh-ahh humbug phase is coming dear,

and then appears a perfect Christmas time.

While googling this, I came upon a list of top 100 Christmas songs and saw, of course, a bunch of favorites so let's play a game. What's your favorite and least favorite Christmas song? And why?

Here are mine:

Most Favorite: O Holy Night

This song makes me wish I could sing. In my next life, I'll be doing the solo at some beautiful church on Christmas Eve and make people weep with the beauty of my voice. (That will be strange if my next life finds me as a Hindu living in Mumbai.) Back in 1971 when I was teaching high school, I had a few favorite students. One was this young man named Robin. He was this big, beefy guy with a feminine name. After I left teaching, and really missed it, I was getting dressed for my office job at Christmas time and the radio station was featuring some local high school students singing and the one that morning was this kid Robin singing O Holy Night and he sang it so beautifully that the song always makes me sentimental for that time in my life.

Least Favorite: Little Drummer Boy

I think I liked this song the first 342 times I heard it when I was 10 years old. These days, it's a song that can make me lunge for the radio to turn off. Ba-rum-buh-dump-dum!

And you?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Random Thoughts

I am about 150 pages into my Stephen King book and enjoying it. I am thinking that there is some netherworld in my mind where these characters exist and are in freeze frame until I pick up the book again. Then when I start reading, they spring back to action. This only happens in a book that is really good.

Next, I fear for the future of grammar. This is from an email from a magazine editor:

We will also present the writing of some Featured Writers, many of which have been previously published in our online monthly editions.

When I read "many of which" rather than "many of whom," it is like nails on a blackboard. Love the unnecessary caps -- are there people who think if you want to stress a word, you capitalize it? (Hmmmm... at least, he didn't put Featured Writers in quotes.) Not to mention the redundancy of "writing from writers" -- hey, good idea! I am not a snob, don't go around correcting people, am not bothered by other people's (or my own) typos in emails, but when it's formal writing, even an email blast, I expect a certain standard of proper usage.

And last: a complaint. A new one.

I had ordered a bunch of Christmas gifts on line from one company. The box arrived today with the shipping list affixed (like a sticky label) on the outside of the box. Attention all thieves!! Here's what's in the box. Of course, I live alone, but if I didn't, a family member would have easily seen what he or she was getting for Christmas. Dumb idea, but as Mary and I like to quote... it's FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wrapping up the Weekend

I've been thinking how nice it has been to have some slow days of puttering around. I am not a big shopper these days, so I wasn't battling it out at the malls, but I am thrilled with two purchases I made this weekend.

I never used to buy in bulk -- simply because there's not much room in a NYC apartment to store things, but I have gotten into the habit of buying big packages of paper towels. I'd rather find a place to store them than to be constantly lugging them or running out. So the 10-pack was on sale -- reduced from $19.95 to $9.95. I love it. I love admiring the store receipt where the full price is noted and then at the bottom there's MINUS $10.00 in red. Cheap thrills, I know.  What's appalling is that the store makes a profit even at half price.

My other bargain was Progresso soups, which is my typical lunch. I had a supply, but this weekend the price was reduced from $3.79 to $1.99 so I stocked up. Now my one shelf looks like a Progresso soup commercial where all you see are the soups.

On to other topics. Just talked to Stephanie and the crisis of the day is she realized she packed Macho's health certificate along with other papers which are all now on a moving van. She has to show the health certificate for the airlines. So we're hoping that the vet will reissue one tomorrow. Of course, it's always something. Stephanie and Danny now have one bed which they are giving away and two folding chairs which she borrowed. Flight is Tuesday. Macho is confused and doesn't know what the heck is happening in his little world. Just wait until he realizes he's going to the vet tomorrow.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday Night

Not much to report. KNOCK ON WOOD that my computer problems seem to be in the past. Did laundry, puttered, got groceries, napped, watched junk TV, did a bit of work-work, finished my one book and started the new Stephen King book on time travel and the JFK assasination called 11/22/63.

This book is really long -- and I remember holding in contempt kids in grade school who complained about how many pages a book they had to read is. Me, I have not selected books based on their being too short... how good can it be if it's that short?

But this one is 850 pages, and sitting there simply holding its heft made me think once more about buying a Kindle. Especially now with the price reductions. I learned from Karen on Thursday that when you download a book from Amazon, you get the first few chapters free and only then are you asked if you want to buy the rest of the book. That service could save me a lot of money in itself since my patience for reading a book I'm not particularly enjoying has been reduced to almost nothing.

Mary is in Pennsylvania and sends along these two photos:

This is Mary's niece Laura and nephew Scott's baby Gwyneth.

This is grand-nephew Derek and grand-niece baby Gwyneth looking like a pink mummy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Creepy Photo - Part II

Another person I follow on Twitter is Craig Ferguson (of late night fame) and he just posted this comment:

Creepy? Awesome? Both?

with this photo:
I can't identify all of them - top row I know is Sharon Osborne, don't know the blond. Bottom row, I don't know the left-hand guy, know the middle guy but can't think of his name, and the one on the right is Gordon Ramsay. Of all these masks, Gordon looks the creepiest -- like a floating head with no eyes.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Just one more...

I follow a wide-range of people on Twitter -- celebrities as well as friends/colleagues. A (female) colleague just Tweeted, "A friend of mine has this creepy baby for a week" with a photo attached. Of course, I had to click on and see the creepy baby, and I have to say I agree!

I wonder if this baby has had too much Diet Mountain Dew! This might be one of those babies who are simulators -- so you can see what parenthood is like - the baby cries, wets, you have to feed the baby and comfort the baby and a computer keeps track of how good a parent you are.

How'd you like to be a houseguest and come down for breakfast to see "Child of Chuckie" on the table??

Photographic Evidence

I didn't take as many photos as I normally would because I was preoccupied with my email problems... but here's the train on the way to Greenwich. Grand Central was so mobbed, and I did a last minute switch in the ticket line. I was in one line and then changed my mind, and, of course, I should have stayed in my original line.

This is Indian Harbor Yacht Club, coming out the main door, after lunch. It's a beautiful, old club, 100 or more years old. Right on Long Island Sound, of course. It was a gorgeous, mild day. 

This is Aunt Pat in the middle with Karen McClellan on the left and Martha McClellan on the right. We are not suntan -- that's the rather strong late afternoon light. Not a great picture, but you get the point. These are two wonderful -- I want to say "girls" but they are grown up, but still love their Aunt Pat. And I love them. To be sentimental, the first time I saw Karen was when she was just a few weeks old and Mac and Stancie brought her to Oshkosh. We put her on the carpeted floor of the rental house, and there was a vase of cranberry glass that reflected the light and we put it next to her on the floor and she just laid there and looked at it. That doesn't seem like 30 years ago!

And now it's on to Washington DC and dinner at Mary's. Her guests were Emily and her brother and Dave. I'm going to make up captions, since the scenes are so familiar I feel as if I were there so Mary can correct me if I'm wrong.
Here's the table all ready and awaiting two things: the people and the food.

This is Emily examining the turkey and indicating that it's ready to eat!

Here are Emily and Elliot ready to eat -- I am trying to see what the buffet consisted of. I see turkey, Mary's challah bread, mashed potatoes... what else?

Here's Dave, otherwise known as Meredith's husband for those keeping track of all the characters, eating. Dave is explaining the vintage of the wine. Or else, someone said, "this wine is pretty good, what is it?" and Dave is explaining.

When I return from Connecticut, I typically get off at Harlem/125th Street and take a gypsy cab home. Those are unlicensed cabs that are owner-driven. When I asked, the driver told me the charge was $12 which was reasonable, and I gave him $15. I did not think that was being overly generous, but he literally gasped and said, "oooooh lady, thank you." And I got God bless'd -- the works. In a way, it shamed me, even though he was being entirely sincere, that a person could get that excited over three dollars.

However, we did have a good laugh together on 86th Steet. I noticed an encampment of what I thought were homeless people at 86th and Lex -- and just as my mind was forming the question in my mind, "Why are there so many homeless people on this corner?" the driver pointed out to me that these were people camped out in front of Best Buy.

In case any of you are ever crazily tempted to ask me to accompany you outside of a Best Buy for a door opening vigil, the answer is no. I will buy you breakfast afterward and tell you got a great deal, but you're on your own for sidwalk camping.

Bad day, Good day

My day began with Stephanie telling me she believed my email address book had been hacked. What a fricking nightmare. Of course she was right. My computer sent out two rounds of emails -- one peddling viagra (Hmmm... a new profit center for me??) and one said something like "urgent" but was empty so a number of people who care about me thought something terrible had happened to me and I just had enough life left in me to send them an email as a last attempt to save myself.

Not how I envisioned spending my Thanksgiving!

So I have done a full system Norton scan (with nothing but cookies showing up), changed my password, and deleted my entire address book. I also talked to AOL tech support... well, I didn't talk, we texted. After two unsuccessful attempts with the talking computer phone tree, I gave that up. ("I don't understand what you're saying. Did you say you want to change your password?" NO NO NO)

This woman was nice -- showed me how to delete my entire address book at once, which was not intuitive, so nothing has gone out since 11:30 this morning so I hope it's over. No one was pissy with me, not even close, and many thought it was funny or had an uh-oh sort of attitude. I have to say, though, that I cringed when I saw some of the people (business contacts) who got the spam from me.

Another friend told me that when it happened to her, she was in the midst of an active job search and her spams went to all these people who she was interviewing with and her spams said, "Thought you'd enjoy these photos of my family" and there was an attachment.

So, along those same lines, from time to time I get a misdirected email from someone who must be doing some close variation of PatriciaLu on AOL --- and I got this one today, and it made me laugh. There's something odd and silly about hearing about a stranger's relatives.

This email said:

Well it's that time of year again!

Myself, Dan, Andrew, Timmy, Lisa and Sarah are all wishing you and yours the most amazing thanksgiving holiday possible. We'll be up at Dan's grandma's house for a good while enjoying the fall scenery, embracing each others company, enjoying grandma Mulleys hickory smoked bacon she loves to make. We hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday! See all of you soon! Christmas is right around the corner!

The Mulleys

Hey, maybe I should respond asking her to send us some of Grandma Mulley's hickory smoked bacon and have everyone over for BLTs.

So, like my new friends, the Mulleys, I hope you are enjoying your holiday and "embracing each others company."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cat Nap

Via Fran, here is Angelina in her post-breakfast nap, which does not look comfortable to me. It took me a few turns to figure out which side was up in this photo.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Who Wants to Join Me?

I am holding myself responsible (and accountable) for cleaning out my email inbox between now and a week from now. I figure it's a good exercise to do over the holiday weekend.

I have a semi-stored backlog of emails in my inbox that number between 60 and 80. As it approaches 100, I vow I'm going to delete 10 a day. I do that... for one day.

I came upon this article today about cleaning out your inbox which gives a step by step plan that appealed to me. Funny, how I could write the article, but sometimes it's easier to just be told what to do. This caught my eye:

Think of snail mail as an analogy. If you put every package or letter you received on your kitchen table without filing it away or throwing it out, your kitchen would soon become an unmanageable pile of papers. Your inbox works in the same way—it’s most effective when you clear it out.

I need to be spoken to clearly and simply like this.

When it comes to snail mail, I am almost obsessive. I quickly divide it into recycling, shredding, a pile (such as bills) that needs action and checks which go in a specific place awaiting a trip to the bank. I am religious about this. Yet I have emails going back to April that have sat there for months. I also have files of emails from old trade shows, old articles, etc. that can be deleted.

So who wants to join me in the great email purge?

PS: In case you don't go to read the article, it also talks about unsubscribing. Every so often, I'll get on a tear and do that ruthlessly, but somehow, just like a starfish's legs, they all eventually grow back. So I'll be unsubbing too. I think what annoys me -- let's say Stonewall Kitchen -- I buy from there from time to time, like their merchandise (sort of old fashioned foods, jams, syrups, etc.) but I don't want to hear from them every day. I wouldn't mind an occasional email, but I don't need a daily one. Bye bye Stonewall Kitchen.

And I have to add that "We miss you" as a subject line brings a smile on my face that I haven't been shopping!

Update: I've done my first unsub -- the St. Kitts Chamber of Commerce news release list, left over from when I wrote for a diving magazine. I didn't want to ask to be removed (oh man, this is embarrassing) because I really liked the woman and I didn't want to hurt her feelings. I know: I should slap myself upside  my own head. So I asked to be unsubbed and thanked her for the lovely job she does on behalf of her clients. Then it was on to a Radio City Music Hall email that I swear I get way too frequently from when I bought tickets there about eight years ago. Then another daily one so I've started the unsub campaign.

Monday, November 21, 2011

'Time Passing

When I was at my client, I asked a colleague how his kids were. His son started kindergarten and he told me the homework was that his kid brought home a print out of a computer keyboard and the kid was supposed to practice typing his first name. In kindergarten!!

That notion really stuck in my head.

Today I was talking about touch typing vs hunt and peck typing and how my typing teacher in high school told us that if we cheated and looked while we were learning to type numbers that all our lives we would have to look... and almost 50 years later, she is right. I can talk and type (accurately), day dream and type (accurately) but I can't type numbers without looking.

The person I was talking to is younger than I am... and I said I still remember when you used the lower-case L for the number 1. And I still find myself doing that by accident every so often. She had never heard of this.

But along those same lines, I always wondered why the @ sign was on the typewriter as it was so rarely used... funny, how now it's no doubt skyrocketed to the most popular symbol on the keyboard.

Oh yes, and I still occasionally reach for the capital 6 to do underlining. Don't know when that was moved and the carat (if that's how it's spelled) was substituted.

I still maintain that no one can appreciate a computer who never had to type on a typewriter! Now I'll go sign up for AARP and take my Geritol for iron-poor blood.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy, Sad Evening

Stephanie and I had our farewell evening together at Maz Mescal, and we had a fine time. The time was made better when the restaurant owner came by at the end of the meal to say the entire meal was on her. And, of course, we had then to regret that we only had one drink each and decided to skip dessert. Just kidding (not really).

Neither Stephanie nor I enjoy protracted goodbyes, and I suggested we say goodbye at the table and then out on the street, we would simply do our normal goodbye. She was all for that. Well, of course, when it was time to actually do that, I got all teary -- you know when if you open your mouth to speak you know you will start crying? That's how I was. So we sat there, not looking at one another for a minute or two for fear both of us would start the waterworks.

I tell myself (and Stephanie) that this is a happy moment -- it's not like she's going to Tibet or prison where I'd never see her again. But change is hard. No one has cut my hair but Stephanie for 25 years (I know, I sound like a pampered princess) so I'll miss that. I know Stephanie is going on to another chapter in her life which will be enjoyable -- a whole house to herself (and her husband) after a lifetime in apartments-- and her own swimming pool too!

We need to summon up all our positive thoughts, helpful angels, etc. for Tuesday, November 29th -- that's the day Stephanie and Danny are flying to Florida -- no problem there -- but they are bringing Macho the cat with them on the airplane. The airline's rule is that the cat and its container can weigh no more than 20 pounds and let's just say Macho came by his name honestly. People (including the vet) have told her that the airline (I'm not going to name them out of paranoia) does not weigh cats, but you never know if you'll come across some eager beaver who is a stickler for the rules. Door to door, the cat will have to be in its carrier for seven and a half hours. Oh my. I told Stephanie tonight that Macho will make it to Florida, one way or another. So let's just hold to the possibility that everything will come off without a hitch.

And here's to Stephanie and her new life in Florida.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Overused Words

I am consciosuly trying to cut back my use of the following words which I overuse:

in fact

I was just writing some copy and I had to delete several of each of them. Sometimes I'll look at an email and realize I've started every paragraph from the second one down with "Anyway." I start every second sentence with "so."

Now I've gone on record, and I'll have to be more careful.


In fact, now that I've gone on record I'll have to be really careful so I don't use them. Anyway, that's my plan.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

What I'm Reading

I have a fascination with the Gilded Age and the whole Upstairs/Downstairs dynamic. I forgot how I heard about this book, but it's the memoirs of a woman who was the lady's maid to Lady Astor for 35 years. I'm on chapter 3, and what I learned so far that surprised me is that even though lady's maids dressed their particular lady, attended to their clothes, were like companions -- they never saw the lady naked. They'd get the bath ready, leave the room and stand outside the door, and then the lady would signal for the lady's maid to return. She said in 35 years, she never saw Lady Astor naked except for near the end of her life when she could no longer care for herself.

Also, I just read that in a typical day (this was late 1920s), Lady Astor would change her clothes five times a day. So that's the book I'm reading now, and what's next on the list is the Stephen King book on time travel and trying to prevent the JFK assasination.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Starbucks Restrooms

The New York Post is reporting today that Starbucks is going to close its restrooms in New York City because employees have to compete with customers to use the restrooms and it's taking them away from their jobs for too long. When I read the headline, I was surprised that was the reason -- thought it was going to be that people were doing nasty things in the restrooms.

A few years back, I was in a Starbucks near me waiting outside the (locked) door to use the restroom. The person inside was taking a long time, and so I knocked, got a response of "just a minute" or something and continued to wait. Luckily my need was not too great so I waited and waited... finally got impatient and knocked again.

After a few more minutes, the door opened and two schoolgirls came out -- and I use that word in that these girls were like 7th or 8th grade girls, in their school uniforms, looking sort of sheepish and I knew something fishy was up. Of course, I thought they were smoking (old-fashioned me) but there was no smoke and I wondered about drugs, and then something caught my eye.

Sitting on top of the open trash can was a box from a pregnancy kit. I have to say my mood instantly changed from snoopy annoyance to compassion for the stupidity of kids. These were "good" girls by their appearance and I can only imagine the backstory to this one. It made me sad.

Bitter Coworkers

When I was looking for appropriate cakes for Meredith's farewell, I came upon this cake -- I imagine it's from coworkers who are jealous one of their gang has escaped to a better job. It made me laugh!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bon Voyage, Meredith

Meredith leaves today for her one-year stint in Afghanistan so we wish her all the best. We'll miss her every day until she is back with us.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mary's Monday in DC

Mary provides the following photographic evidence of her lovely vacation day along with this narrative:

Here is a view of fall on 43rd Street. The weather report said the high would be 66 but it feels more like 76 - I was out in the yard with a tee shirt on and it was warm. A perfect day for raking leaves and pulling up invasive ivy - now I'm going to go out and plant some pink daffodils to enjoy in the spring. I'm so glad I took a vacation day today!

Mary says: here's the nandina (I think that's the name) bush in the back - the red berries are so bright against the drab background

My globe trotting friends

Here's Shannan in Prague, London and Paris. Shannan works as a contractor for the same client I do so we were colleagues first, now friends, still colleagues, but there should be a unique word for that.

This makes me want to go to Prague.
This looks surreal to me, as if it's a fake background and she never left Utah!

I wish she had struck the same pose as the statue!

My favorite candy from long ago

Got an email from Miles Kimball (long-standing catalog company in Oshkosh). I remember my mother receiving the Miles Kimball catalog in the days when catalogs were few and far between. Anyway, the email was pitching "nostalgic candy" so, of course, I had to go look.

And there it was: my girlhood fave!

I am so freaking old that I remember buying these for 5 cents. If it was warm outside, the taffy was soft and chewy. And if it were cold outside, the taffy would be hard and you'd put it in the palm of your hand and slap it down on a table and it would break into random pieces. I have to say I liked all flavors equally, and I can still taste that fake banana flavor.

So did I order any?

No way. I would fear for my dental work! I'm not taking any chances of having a crown embedded in a wad of half-chewed strawberry taffy.

Old age is a bitch.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Have now used 3 of my 4 graces...

When I left my hotel room this morning, I was panic stricken to note that the headlights of my car were on. I parked around 6 pm, and skipped going out for dinner and it was now 9 am. Even though I thought the battery would be dead, I realized the lights were still shining which made no sense. I didn't bother putting my suitcase in the car, but immediately got in and it started normally. Let it run for a while, started it again and all was well. I have no explanation for this.

I know I have problems sometimes with car lights -- headlights, overhead lights, dashboard lights that go on automatically and I can't tell you the number of times I've stood in a hotel parking lot waiting for the interior lights to slowly go off before I went to my room. In fact, I remember one night I felt they weren't going out so I'd open the door and look until I realized that every time I opened the door, the opening would extend the time the light would stay on.

So I don't know how I dodged that bullet, but I did. One grace left. Wait, maybe I'll believe that there are unlimited graces so I only have one left in this round, but many more to come.

It was an easy ride home, across the George Washington Bridge -- still miss the Twin Towers every time I see the skyline. This picture looks like late afternoon, but it was actually around 11 am.

When a car is returned to this rental car place, you have to make a hard turn into this garage whose door fit cars in 1930, really, then down a steep ramp. And then haul your butt back up. Today, one of the rental car people said he'd do it for me, and took my suitcase out of the trunk, and refused a tip, but I offered it again and he said no, and I said "please have a beer on me" and he took it.

When I went to find a cab, there was one about one-third of the way down the block, just letting someone out so I'm feeling so lucky that I might have to go buy a lottery ticket.

Home again where the tree across the street has morphed into that beautiful late fall dayglo (almost) yellow.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Forgot to complain about this

After I got my room key at this hotel, I remembered there was a drive-thru coffee place in the adjoining parking lot and I thought I'd get a great big iced coffee since I wouldn't have to worry about bladder control -- well, you know what I mean -- for a while, having finished driving for the day.

I say "large iced decaf with milk" into the microphone and out comes something that I couldn't even pick out words for -- was it the amount I owe? Was it "we don't have iced coffee?" I asked nicely for her to repeat it, and I couldn't understand it the second time either. This was not about static, it was about saying slurred words too fast. So I drove up to the window, and apologized nicely for not being able to understand her -- so then I ask her (nicely)  for "one sugar" and she scolds me -- says how she had asked me already if I wanted sugar and I didn't say I wanted it. She was begrudging me a sugar packet because I didn't ask for it at the proper time -- according to her schedule. JUST GIVE ME THE EFFING SUGAR, YOU IDIOT.

So I said, "I told you that I was sorry, that I couldn't understand you." She hands me my change and six packets of sugar. What's up with that? Normally I would hand the extra five back, but I figured we had discussed the sugar long enough.

Meandering East

I decided to take it easy coming home. Even though I could have made it home today, I didn't. Now I'm about two hours away so I'll be home Sunday morning.

After last night's hotel direction problem which didn't turn out to be much of a problem, I thought I'd used up all my good luck, but something else happened today. I had my camera out this morning to take a photo of the clean dump I stayed in last night:

My room #204
Later that morning I stopped to get gas and was tidying up the car, getting rid of the trash, and I realized I couldn't find my camera. Looked under the seats, in the back seat, between the seats. I knew I had it this morning and ran out of places to look.

Then I remembered the trash bag. I had taken the wastebasket liner from the hotel room this morning to gather up the trash, put it on the passenger seat, along with my purses, camera, etc. I went back to the trash can at the pump, took out my bag, and yes, there was my camera. Luckily it just had a bit of schmutz on it, but it was fine -- or so I thought. It started doing crazy things, and then I realized the battery was running out, but now I've charged it and all is well. It would have really annoyed me to have lost it and I thank the garbage angels or whatever force was at work.

Mabye this license plate rubbed off on me. I don't know what it means, but I love having -- and wishing you -- 4X Grace.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Lunch out/Angels Looking after me

I wish I had photographed my lunch today. We went to a place named City Barbecue, which I believe is a chain. The lunch special was 1/4 lb of meat with two sides. I took pulled chicken with corn pudding and mac and cheese. It's self-service -- well, you order at a counter and then they hand you your plate. At the table they have a half dozen sauces. One of my colleagues had pork with gumbo for one side and hush puppies for the other. I tasted his gumbo and the spiciness of it burned my mouth. He also used the spiciest sauce. Funny how people's palates can tolerate different levels of heat like that.

Left at 3:30, got to my hotel around 7:45 by the grace of direction-angels. Either I screwed up or Google Maps screwed up. This town has three exits off the highway. As I was following the directions, getting off the exit as per Google Maps, I see my brand hotel, just by a sheer coincidence of glancing in that direction, but the directions went on for about 10 minutes so I thought "wow, there must be two of them at this exit."

Sure there are.

I follow the directions which take me in the middle of nowhere, really back country, dark, unlit residential area. So I backtracked, thinking I'd check out the hotel at the exit and that was the place. When I got to my room, I saw the address of the hotel is 810 High Street and the address Google Maps was directing me to was 810 Highview Street. Same town, of course. Lesson for me was to use the hotel name, not the street address.

I am so grateful that I happened to glance that way and saw my hotel -- and that High Street and Highview Street happened to be at the same exit, 10 minutes from each other. Of course, I had to go to the bathroom the whole time I'm driving around just to make it more interesting a drive, but I made it to my room with at least 45 seconds to spare!

Found this place on the Internet -- it's only $50, and the reviews all said the people are delightful, the place is a dump, but it's an immaculately clean dump so I thought I'd try it. When I walked in the office (this is like an old-fashioned "motel"), the woman said cheerfully, "You must be Patricia" -- really warm greeting.

And it is a dump, old furniture, beat up furniture, cigarette burn in the bedspread, but I have to go along with the reviewers: this place is clean!

I'll take some photos in the morning.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Fireworks over New York tonight to celebrate that Stephanie's various tests for a recurrence of ovarian cancer came out negative, with no sign of anything brewing anywhere.

She has had to wait a long time to hear the final verdict and today was the day.

So we'll be off to Maz to celebrate and to have our farewell dinner together but how good to end on such a wonderful outcome.

In the meantime, driving back to the hotel today, I heard a female political commentator on the radio being asked about Herman Cain's reference to Nancy Pelosi as Princess Nancy. When I heard this last night, it just made me exhale -- not even a full-grown sigh, but it did bother me, especially coming from him. She said she calls things like that "micro aggressions of everyday life" and I loved that term.

Made me think of my guy at the post office who was so hostile -- and then coming back to my hotel room, my electronic key -- for the SECOND night -- didn't work. Last night, I thought it might be my fault although I am typically careful with keys -- had to go to the front desk to get the key changed last night. Tonight as I tried it, got the blinking red light again (and again, and again, and again), I went back pretty riled up to the front desk and said a bit gruffly that this is the second time this has happened. She had this non-reaction, thinking that if she simply recharged (or whatever they do) the key, all was well.

I said to her that the lock was obviously broken, and maybe she should report it. You saw this dim bulb in that mass of gray gook of her brain sort of flash and grow a bit brighter. NOW THERE'S AN IDEA!! So she found this piece of paper and a pen, and said, "Now what room is this?" and wrote it down as I walked away.

And my "Thursday out" lunch today was "Thursday in" where I'm working and we ate out of vending machines. I had a 1958-style "ham salad" sandwich on white, a bag of sun chips and a bottle of vitamin water. Work tomorrow and then head east in the late afternoon.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cold and Rainy in Ohio

Not much to report. The beautiful fall weather disappeared and was replaced with cold, rainy weather. Good day to stay in bed, but I was up and at 'em early.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Forgot to mention

When I left on Monday, the little table in the apartment building hallway -- the one where I left the Halloween candy as my random act of kindness -- had something on it. I sort of squinted and realized it was one of those crepe paper turkeys -- you know with the baffles and the cardboard head? Then on the mirror above the table, there was a store-bought Happy Thanksgiving sign.

I know it was not the building management that did this because they never decorate, so I am hoping that the chocolate chip cookies I received that I returned with the Halloween candy motivated someone else to do a random act of Thanksgiving kindness -- or maybe it's my friend of the anonymous cookies.

Arrival in Ohio

I had a pleasant day driving here and all was well until I checked into the hotel. I requested the first floor, got the third floor, when I got off the elevator, I was assaulted by smoke smell (not a fire, but old musty smoking smoke)... went in the room, sat on the bed, turned on the TV, was feeling overheated and claustrophobic and felt a headache developing, kept sniffing the air, then I saw the dreaded ASHTRAY and knew I was in a smoking room on a smoking floor.

Called the front desk, who thought I wanted a smoking room, had reserved a smoking room (no on both counts) and he was really an idiot. You know how you wonder how it can take you so long to check someone in? Like what the hell was he doing? So he asked me to come down to the front desk. I said no, I wasn't going to troop down there to watch him stare blankly into his computer... ok, I didn't say the "stare blankly" part, but I did say I wasn't going to make the trip unless he had a room. He said he'd call me back, but in the meantime, I started packing up, thinking I can't stay here for three days. Then the phone rang, he had another room, a non-smoking one, on the first floor (this is after telling me there were no rooms available on the first floor), and I swear it is like a different world.

Yuk. I was thinking about the lack of smoke in my life. I can't think of anyone I know who smokes. NYC is so anti-smoking that I don't ever come in contact with it. You can't even smoke outside in NY. Where I typically rent a car -- Dollar -- all cars are no smoking and you have to sign something that you won't smoke. Where I sometimes stay here, a Marriott property, is also all no smoking.

It still sort of surprises me that me, a former smoker (even though it's been 25+ years) is bothered so much by the smell. It's just so stale and headache inducing.

Anyway, now I'm happy, and here are some photos from today:

Despite this McDonald's sign, there was only one car in front of me where the woman was having such a prolonged conversation that I eventually put the car in Park. I can't imagine what she was doing. This was not a friendly chit chat. It took a lot of restraint to not at least toot the car horn. And hey, who wouldn't want to start their Thanksgiving Day with a trip to McD's?
I saw these bushes a lot today, and they were quite pretty, deep red.
Traveling along in Pennsylvania.

Dramatic sky in Ohio.

I thought of Fran when I saw these trees, especially the big one. This is from when I got off the highway to get gas-- uh, for the car.

More sky drama as the sun sets.