Sunday, September 30, 2012

Daytona Beach, Florida

No Red Roof Inn on this trip. I'm in a fancy Hilton, oceanview, with the sliding doors open -- well, not doors since there is no balcony, but I can hear the surf. Got here after dark so I can't take a photo, but I can hear the surf and it is a full (or nearly full) moon tonight so it's nice. It's also lightning and thundering a bit -- the perfect natural sound effects for drifting off to sleep.

Since you have to change in Atlanta to fly to Daytona, I had this brilliant idea I thought I invented to fly to Orlando and drive 90 minutes. When I mentioned this, expecting people to tell me how clever I am, everyone interrupted me and said, "No, fly direct to Orlando."

I'll have to take photos outside my window when it's light, but here are some pics of the trip:

I hadn't been to LGA in a long time, and Delta has redone all their gates -- instead of rows of chairs, there's workstations and these booths. I don't know why but I find it annoying. I know that is totally unreasonable.

I was watching this old guy -- an old Road Warrior -- and I hadn't seen a "briefcase" like this in years. At least he's upgraded to a roller board (or roll aboard) -- I remember when business men wouldn't use them because it's what flight attendants used. These guys thought they were un-executive-like. So then when he pulled out a newspaper  I thought oh my he really is old fashioned. Used to be when you flew on Sundays, people would bring the Sunday papers with them, but no more.

The flight to Daytona was $467 in coach, and the flight to Orlando was $630 in first class, so I was willing to pay the difference myself. I wish I were confident enough to demand first-class travel from my clients, but no one is doing it. It's so different in first class, here's my soda in a glass made of glass and a double bag of peanuts.

Followed by lunch. Can't remember the last time I got a meal during a flight. You had your choice of a turket sandwich or this Buffalo Chicken on Salad. Figured the turkey would be bad, slimy turkey roll, pressed into two-day old bread, so I went with the salad. The greens were mostly romainey ribs. The chicken was almost unseasoned -- and I had to laugh because I really don't like Buffalo chicken wings -- too spicy, and these had almost no seasoning. Some crackery bread sticks and a blondie for dessert.

The walk to the rental car isn't bad, if you take individual segments, but put them all together and it is one long effing haul from the gate to the car. Of course, I was at the farthest gate so you walk from there to this tram. Get off the tram and walk around the whole security area to these escalators to baggage claim. Then of course my baggage claim was the farthest possible. Then to the rental cars on a lower level. It's like a huge area of counters of rental cars-- after all this is Orlando -- and I had a reservation with Thrifty and I kept walking and walking and walking, past every conceivable rental car -- it literally is as far as the eye can see, and I couldn't see anything that looked like Thrifty. So I asked this guy who looked like he worked at the airport. He told me it was the last one (of course it is), and said they have cars -- this was an outfit called E-Z Rent --- not one I would necessarily pick. Offered me a full-size car for $20 a day and I said yes.

I had gotten a pretty good deal from Thrifty and the total was something like $140 -- this total is $90. I wouldn't use EZ Rental for a long trip -- of course, there was a catch... from the counter to the actual car was across the street, back all the way to the opposite end, and the cars were the last company is this parking garage. I was sweating like... well, like all get out.

I was kind of surprised when I saw my car -- it's a brand new Hyundai and very nice. Every so often I touch something on the steering wheel and this woman's voice said, "I didn't understand the command" -- the world is getting too complicated for me. But soon I was blasting myself with the air conditioner and I was on my way. Easy drive to the hotel.

Beautiful king size bed with fluffy comforter and real down pillows.

Behind my roller board is the door to the room, but before that is the bathroom -- you can see the large screen TV

BREAKING NEWS: It is absolutely pouring rain, so I have the ocean, the rain, lightning and thunder to go to sleep by.

Desk/work station and the full windows overlooking the beach.

 One quick funny story that anyone who knows kids will appreciate. There were two Australian women with six beautiful blond children between them headed toward Disney. They ranged in age from 18 months to about 10 years old. The 10-year old boy and one other hadn't drunk all his bottle of water so he asked the mother for it and there were two bottles of half-drunk water and he started drinking out of one of them and the mother said, "No, that's Angus's water" and he literally spit, or let drool, the water in his mouth, back into the bottle. Now he wasn't being obnoxious -- he was being solicitous that he shouldn't be drinking Angus's water and was trying to "put it back." The mother reprimanded him and when she realized he didn't get it -- she said seriously, "You don't see why what you did is disgusting?" and the kid really didn't.  This all happened two feet in front of me, and it made me laugh.

Stand by for the view tomorrow. I think it will be worth the wait.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Off on a trip tomorrow

I have to go to a client annual staff meeting starting tomorrow. So I'll file a report. Am flying out of LGA. I have a surprise hotel location, and I am hoping for a hotel room view like I haven't experienced in quite some time -- that is a great one. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

More later.

Friday, September 28, 2012


I heard on the radio a teaser about the three products whose prices are most marked up. I guessed one and a half of them.

The answers were movie popcorn (which I guessed); greeting cards (which I missed) and bottled water (which I almost got because I said iced tea in a restaurant).

I haven't been to the movies in a long time, but I remember if you buy a popcorn and a soda (and not even the big sizes), it's upwards of $10.

I know I've told this story before, but I have a strong memory of my father giving my sister and me a dollar to go to the movies. It was 35 cents to get in so that left us with 30 cents. We would each buy a candy bar or something for ten cents each, which left us 10 remaining cents. We would then negotiate one last thing to share. That is circa 1964.

Those prices seem incredible -- just like my mother's oft-told story of being sent to the store with a quarter to buy a quart of milk, a loaf of bread and something else.

These are the prices I haven't adapted to: cigarettes (of course I don't smoke, but I can't imagine paying $7 or $8 and more for one pack); bras (still think a bra should be around $5... ok, maybe $10); greeting cards (which I've stopped buying and use note cards instead -- last time I bought a birthday card or graduation card or something I picked a normal, average card and didn't even look at the price and it was $4.50.... what??); soda (still remember when a small was 5 cents, a large was 10 -- later raised to 15 cents for a small and 25 cents for a large).

What got me thinking about prices was the radio bit I mentioned, and then today I was editing an essay and the person wrote about 36 cents a gallon gas. Well, I remember 29 cents a gallon gas. I also remember in high school when someone had a car and we had to chip in for gas (to cruise around to nowhere), we knew certain gas stations that would "open the pump" for one dollar. We avoided the ones with higher minimums. Imagine pooling our change to buy a dollar's worth of gas. Those were the days before self-serve.

Candy bars were 5 cents. I dont buy one often, and I don't know how much I think one should be, but I'd say about 25 cents, but I'm amazed when it's 65 or 75 cents for a formerly nickel bar.

When I was working in 1972 in a trade association in DC, I made $6500 a year and had a paycheck of $96 a week. Paid on Fridays. So on Fridays, my big treat was to go to this lunch counter in a drug store and order the hot meat loaf sandwich which was about 1/4 inch thick slab of meatloaf on a piece of plain white bread, with gravy, and an ice cream scoop of mashed potatoes. That was their $1 lunch special. Then I'd buy a bouquet of flowers, also for a dollar. Remember the outdoor florist signs that said, "Your choice. $1" Now you couldn't get one stem or one bloom for a dollar.

I think when I first moved to NY, the subway was 35 cents. You could get a slice of pizza and a can of soda for a dollar. My first apartment rent in NY was $167.50, then when I moved to York Avenue, I shuddered at the jump in rent. I paid $330 a month.

In college, an everyday dress was in the $20 range. Blouses were $5 (Ship 'n Shore!).

Ok, enough of my little trip down Economic Memory Lane. What prices do you remember?

Oh wait, one more. When we'd go to my grandmother's house in Wisconsin during the summer. my sister and I would get a nickel to go to this little store to buy a popsicle. The kind that you broke in half and had two sticks. Fortunately we would agree on the flavor -- cherry mostly with an occasional orange. Then there was the delicate matter of breaking it in half. I don't think I had my own popsicle... both sides... until I was in college.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Twitter Photo

This photo was sent via Twitter with the heading "Resilience of Kids" -- this is an Afghan boy, using a plastic bag for a kite, while standing on a Soviet-era weapon.

Meandering Thoughts for Thursday

Here's one of the reasons I like Twitter -- it allows people to express petty annoyances and actually have an audience. Someone I follow on Twitter just sent:

Once again for the courtesy impaired: if you're driving and someone slows to let you in wave a thank you.

This is one of my pet peeves too. On numerous occasions, I have let people out of a fast-food place or gas station when there's a long line at a light -- they would be waiting forever if I weren't such a fine fellow, and it appalls me when they don't even acknowledge I've done something nice.

On the other hand, I probably go overboard with my own waving and thank yous. I wave once when I realize the favor is being offered, then I wave again after I complete the maneuver, then about two seconds later, I do another wave sort of in my rear view mirror to express my gratitude one last time.

New topic: Ana was here and I heard glass breaking and then a gasp from her. Ohhhhhhh Patreeeeeeciaaaaa. All I could think is "whatever it is, I don't care." I was mentally scanning my living room thinking what broke that I really care about? Of course I have things that I like, but I don't ever want to care more about things than people. She came in and showed me, and at first I didn't recognize it, but it was part of a candle holder. Her eyes were filled with tears. Oh yeah, as if I'd start screaming at her.

I said calmly, "don't worry, i don't care" and I am slightly handicapped by her lack of English language skills so I rubbed her back and said, "I don't care. Just be careful with the broken glass."

New topic: No mice, dead or alive. Ana was going on about cock-ee today, it was something good like she didn't find any new cockeee so I just said "Ok, good."

New topic: The windows are open and some incredibly yummy smell is currently wafting through the windows...beef, garlic... my stomach is rumbling. I'm not sure where it's coming from. Every so often, my neighbor used to grill steaks and that was hard to resist going outside and begging them for a bite or two.

New topic: I've been going through a period of having very vivid, detailed dreams that really make no sense. I hear a commercial for a drug where one of the side effects are "vivid or unusual dreams" and I always think that would be a good thing, an interesting thing.

New topic: I don't drink coffee every day, but I had a large glass of iced coffee at lunch, and I can vouch for the fact that coffee is a diuretic.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pampered Wednesday

I can't complain too much about today since I was in good hands all day long. First off, my helper Marilyn came. I think I am just burned out on a lifetime of doing everything myself, so the weeks I know she is coming I just throw all the clean laundry on the sofa for her to fold. Well, I spare her my underwear, but everything else is hers. When she comes, she folds, I watch her, and we chat about "hot topics" which is mainly politics, reality tv, etc. Then we packed up ... whoops, SHE packed up some books to send, this power chord my Ohio client loaned me when mine broke when I was there and she was off to do my errands -- bank, dry cleaner, drug store, post office (to mail and she got the package) etc. -- a whole list of places.

While she was gone, Moira, who is the super's wife, arrived to install my brand-new CO detector which is a combination smoke/CO detector. I have a working smoke detector, which I know still works, but it is literally 20 years old so she took that one down and put the new one in its place and both detectors had the same footprint so it was a great exchange. When she tested it, the damn thing is ear splitting -- much louder than my 20-year old smoke detector. I have a CO detector in my bedroom, and now the smoke and CO detector in the living area.

Then Marianella, my mobil spa woman, arrived for my monthly mani/pedi/waxing. Last month she told me I should post a before and after of my hands on my blog. I always comment how my nails look 100 percent better once they are filed and de-cuticled, even before the polish goes on.

I let Marianella pick the color as I don't really care that much, and I sort of like how she pushes the envelope with colors I'd never choose. I won't do blues and greens, but today it was a purplish brown -- a color I would NEVER choose, but I have to say I like it -- I like it alot. The color is named Toni.




 Marianella asked me if I wanted to take before and after pictures of my chin, too. Very funny, Marianella. I said no, I don't think the world wants or needs to see that.

So just to make sure my day wasn't totally wonderful, I did see a mouse a few hours ago. But the glue trap is out so it's just a matter of time before I get the last laugh. I killed your kids and you're next.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday Lunch

I met two old friends for lunch today -- and when I say old, I mean old. I went to kindergarten with one of them and then was best friends with the other girl from third grade. But first, there was an incident.

I was supposed to meet them at 1, right in my neighborhood, and I left with plenty of time to get there in a leisurely way. Right in front of my building, there is a big pothole in the street, and as I walked by a cab came and slammed into the pothole, spraying me with water. It got me on my side, and I instinctively turned toward the street just as another car sped by and I got full front dousing... I was so wet that my shirt was clinging to me... not a good look... so I had no choice but to go back inside to change my shirt, wipe my face, and I walked in my apartment, left the front door open (since I'd be leaving in a few moments), quickly changed my shirt since a new one was conveniently hanging up but not put away from laundry.

And I was on my way... and all was well until I went to return home... No keys. Yes, I locked myself out. I have trained myself with a key holder right inside my door... the moment I walk in, I hang my keys, and when I leave I have them in my hand.

Except for today.

I realized what I had done is to walk in my apartment with the front door open, put my purse and my keys on this painted sideboard. Changed my shirt, put the wet one on top of my keys, and left.

But all was not lost. I had left with the door to my garden open since it was such a spectacular day. When I got back to my building, I had my cell phone, but I didn't have the number for the super.

To get to my garden, I can go in the basement, out a side door, into this alley area between the buildings, then up a built-in ladder to my garden. I am willing to do that, but would rather not. If someone had come in or out, I would have done it.

I realize I can get the super's phone number from the real estate management company and so I try to get their number from directory assistance -- all voice-recognition software -- no live humans. The company is called Mautner Glick... and I kept getting, "I think you said Mountain Resources, is that correct?" or "I think you said Medical Offices of Manhattan, is that correct?" -- couldn't get myself to a human operator... then it gave you an option to spell it which worked no better.

I hung up, tried again, failed again, tried again and this time I got the number. Called them, got only voice mail; waited a minute; called again, got the phone of the super, called the super, got his wife, she said she'd come over. I waited about 5 minutes and she arrived and went to the basement, the garden, through my apartment to the front door and out to me waiting outside. I tipped her $20 which was about 20X less than my last resort which would have been a locksmith.

Meanwhile, back at lunch. We had a wonderful time. Judy brought some photos she had found in her mother's possessions and one was a kindergarten trip to the beach and there I was in one of them. It was so odd to look at this little stranger who was me. One funny thing is that there were photos of the girls going in the water just in underpants which you know would not happen today. Ever. Ever.

So here we are, having our lunch. We asked the server to take the shot:

Judy, who is sitting next to me, and I have been friends since 1954. That's a long time. She is a nurse, and Hester, the woman across is an artist... a real one, with gallery shows and everything.

This is the dessert which we split. It was chocolate mousse cake.

This just made me laugh. This is Hester trying to see the Blackberry and figure it out and this Blackberry is a hand me down from her teenage daughter.

And Judy trying to figure out where her photos went since she thinks she deleted them all by accident.

Judy lives in Vermont, but is here because her daughter Abby is about to give birth, making Judy a grandmother for the second time. Wait, weren't she and I just playing on the beach a few years ago?

One sentimental story about Judy: At the reunion I went to in 2002, I had my own hotel room and she was sharing a room with a girl who turned out to be a total nut case, and Judy asked if she could sleep in my room. Of course. So there we were, in the dark, in bed, talking and gossiping and it was like a time warp -- it could have been 1965 and we could have been having a sleepover back in high school. This was Saturday night of the reunion and we were all going home the next morning. I asked her, "Of everything that happened this weekend, what was your favorite part?' And without a pause, she said, "Right now." That so touched me. And it was -- just a lovely time to be together with an old friend.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Three Anecdotes

#1 The Best Sandwich: I had the best sandwich for lunch today. Started out with two pieces of Levy's "Everything" rye bread which means it has garlic, onions and caraway seeds. Put on a thin layer of brown mustard. I buy 1/4 lb of baked ham each week, enough for two sandwiches. I like the meat cut as thin as possible. I bought this ham on Sunday and hadn't looked at it yet. When I opened the package, I say YES. This was thinner than paper thin. It was like shaved ham. Hard to even separate the piece. Then I added a fairly thick slice of (store brand) swiss cheese. Ok, so here's the best part. Then I put on fresh cole slaw, right on the sandwich. It was heavenly. All those tastes combined along with the cool cole slaw.

I also like peanut butter and jelly with the Levy's Everything rye. You wouldn't think those flavors would work, but I did it one day when I had no other bread.

I have to say a sandwich might probably fit into my last meal plans. This ham and swiss with cole slaw, of course a BLT, or fresh fresh thinly sliced turkey or chicken with mayonnaise. Really, what's better? Over the weekend, I was thinking about a sandwich I haven't had for years. I don't remember where, but I used to go to an IHOP -- haven't been to an IHOP in years either, but they had this Hamburger Club Sandwich which was a club sandwich with a hamburger, bacon, lettuce, tomato and cheese. And speaking of club sandwiches, when I would go to Stancie's club, they had a lobster salad and bacon club which was to die for.

And then of course, just the plain lobster roll -- cold lobster salad on a toasted hot dog roll. Oh yes, yes, yes,

#2 Phone Tree Round One: Over the weekend, I was attempting to make a rental car reservation on Travelocity where they show all the car companies and all the car sizes. I picked a Budget car that would have been $142 total, but when I went to actually confirm the reservation, it showed the total as $302. It was weird that it would show the price and it would be the right price, but then the total would be off, and I knew it was off by a lot, not just a dollar or two.

I gave up, came back the next day and the same thing happened. I went to Budget's site thinking I could simply make the reservation there, but the price was even higher. I noticed a customer (dis)service number and called that to see what's up.

I went through the requisite phone tree...with voice recognition... finally am told I'll be connected to a representative. And waited. And waited. And waited.

And waited.

Finally I get this guy, explained the problem, and he said he could just make the reservation for me. Fine. But when he did, he had the same problem. Analyzed it as a "glitch." Said that price isn't available, but he did find me a better price via another company. Fine, but when I told him the Budget number should be fixed, he was like oh yeah, I guess I should... like it was no big deal.

I have to say I was tempted to "accept" that reservation until I realized I would no doubt have no leg to stand on, having agreed to "pay this amount due." Plus, it's crazy to have such wild variance in rental car prices, making one stupid to be loyal to one company.

Phone Tree Round Two: When I was in Ohio, I got a slip for a package which I sort of ignored since I couldn't remember ordering anything. Then I got the second notice and figured I should do something about it. I hate to go pick up a package because where I go is outside my neighborhood (ok, by a few blocks) but it's somewhere that my normal travels never take me.

Then I remembered that my helper will be here this week and thought she can go pick it up. The date said I had until September 26th which seemed (and still seems) like a long way away. Marilyn is coming on Wednesday and the package deadline is Wednesday. Hmmmmmm.

Of course, I could go tomorrow, but why? So I called the 800-number on the slip and this is customer service for the entire postal system... another phone tree with voice recognition and it seems like none of the prompts are appropriate for my particular situation. Finally get routed to a rep, hold, hold, hold, hold... with those friendly reminders that I could go to the website... hold hold hold... a woman comes on and she's clearly managing this call, does not want me to speak unless spoken to.... all I wanted to know is "Is the date the day the package is returned or the last day to pick it up?"

She goes round and round, asking my address, the routing number on the salmon colored slip (it was left blank), told her the orginal date and the return date and here's her answer:

You need to take photo ID to the post office along with the slip to retrieve your package.

Oh really? Wow. Why didn't I think of that? I was going to... oh never mind.

I said to her dryly, "I knew that when I placed this call."

She didn't know if I were being bitchy (I was) since I said it in a neutral voice. I then said (and by now five minutes has gone by), "Can I come on Wednesday to pick up the package or will it have been sent back?"

She then replied that the packages are returned AFTER close of business on that day.

Thanks. That's all I needed to know.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mary's Garden

Mary sent these along with these explanations:

Here are the cyclamen behind my pot of white begonias


I love these cyclamen. They grow in the shade by my deck and they have the sweetest blossom in the dreary earth. Next comes the pretty variegated foliage.


I planted these 12 pansies today, along with 6 irises and 53 tulips. I love fall, it's full of promise for the spring.


This is a lovely fountain by the DC courthouses. I passed when the subway was practically shut down the other day and I got off one stop early and walked. Luckily it was a beautiful morning. I love stumbling upon pretty things in familiar neighborhoods.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Still a Bit of Summer

My garden is in the last throes of blooming. Here are the morning glories, and this time of year, they stay open all day rather than just blooming in the morning.

I have them growing up some sort of pipe.

...past the birdhouse, and sometimes connecting with the fire escape and going up as high as three stories.

I need to enjoy the greenery while it's here. The first frost and these all die.

Here's a close up of a multi bloom.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Catching Up on Wednesday

Today is the first day where I might possibly close the windows. Chilly morning. The good news is no more air conditioning for now which saves on the electric bill. I have a confession to make. I took the photo below on Monday -- it's where my suitcase sat for 24 hours after I got home on Sunday. I hate unpacking. I don't know why, but I do. So here's the confession: My suitcase is still sitting there, unopened today. Unfortunately (well, or fortunately), I have duplicates of everything -- toothbrush, etc. so there's no pressing need to get at anything.

I have a client who is obsessed with unpacking the second she walks in her home -- no matter what. I went round and round with her finally escalating it to "If your flight were hours late, and you felt like crap, and you got home at 2 am, you'd unpack??" And she said yes. Hmmmm. I am not so inclined.

Will today be the day this suitcase gets opened? I remember reading something on Craig's list where a woman wanted to hire someone to unpack a suitcase that's been lying in her bedroom for six months. Really. It fascinated me, wondering why she couldn't do it. I give her credit, however, for throwing in the towel and trying to hire someone to do it. Baby steps. I'll open my suitcase today and take out the laundry.

Here's a week's worth of mail dumped. The cardboard box to the left is a box I use for shredding stuff. I used to shred just credit card and that sort of sensitive thing but now I find myself shredding everything with my name and address on it. I may not have unpacked, but I have cleaned all this up since Monday.

Met Barbara for lunch yesterday at 85th and Columbus. I was headed toward the building with the blue surrounding it. Am not sure what that is and why it's put up. 

I left too much time thinking I'd have trouble getting a cab so I sat at this empty sidewalk cafe for about 15 minutes.

After lunch, going home in my favorite cab -- the Crown Vic -- where you can see here the difference in legroom. These TVs are in the back of every cab, and they are so annoying.

I think this is new for my neighborhood. I haven't been in a Brookstone in years. This used to be a Petsmart.

Second Avenue Subwaay mess a block from me.

More Second Avenue Subway mess. This is right in front of the grocery store I go to.

The leaves are just beginning to turn on my block.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Home Again

Years ago, I had a woman boss who would say, "The laziest people in the world are the most efficient people in the world as they will figure out the easiest way to get something done." I've reminded myself of that through the years, and this morning was a good example.

I've stayed at this Red Roof Inn in Allentown half a dozen times, so I have my routine down to a science. I came upon each of these elements by accident -- was not seeking them out. Ok, here's what I do: Check out and then go get gas in one of the few remaining full-service gas stations in the country. As I said, I was not seeking a full-service, just used this station since it's the one closest to the hotel. As I relax, gas is put in my car.
What luxury!

Next stop: a drive-thru ATM -- again, was just searching the area one time for an ATM, saw a Wells Fargo sign on a building, drove in, it looked closed and then I saw the drive-thru ATM. Get cash.

Next stop: Drive-thru Dunkin Donuts for coffee and donut (French cruller this morning) and I'm on my way.

A few pictures:

This is Manhattan, crossing the George Washington Bridge. You see this on one side, and the palisades of New Jersey on the other side. And typically, the Palisades part has nothing modern in it and I always think I am having the same view as someone did 200 years ago.

Lower level of the GW Bridge heading into Manhattan. The circular thing hanging in the middle is the dividing line between New Jersey and New York.

One wrong turn crossing the bridge, and you are screwed big time -- you're headed off to the Bronx or somewhere you don't want to go so I'm always obsessive about being in the right lane -- and there's a choice of about five different highways and you don't have the luxury of thinking "hmmmm... which one do I want?" Added to that, it's rare (unlike elsewhere in the country) for NY/NJ drivers to cut you a break and let you cut in to their lane.  So you better be on your toes.

Dropped off the car, and any port in a storm to get home so I got into one of the mini-SUV type cabs. This photo doesn't really do the lack of leg room justice, but I swear if you had really big feet, you'd have to sit sideways.

Headed down 86th Street in my cab. Nice driver whom I tipped to carry my suitcase up the steps of my building.  And now I'm doing nothing but relax for the rest of the day.

Happy Birthday, Meredith!

Just to keep all the players straight, Meredith is my friend and she's the daughter of Michelle (well, Tom's daughter too, but Moms count more.) Mary, Michelle and I all lived next door to each other way back in 1967 in the dorm. Mary and I were in Michelle's wedding playing the role of the young, blushing bridesmaids a (ahem) number of years ago, and then Mary and I were part of Meredith's wedding more recently playing the role of the dowager aunts. However, Mary and I each read the same selections as we read in Michelle's wedding all those years ago which was really a privilege for me. Both times.

Meredith is in Afghanistan, in the US compound, or whatever it's called, and we are counting the days until she comes home. She's been there for nearly a year, and we're in the last weeks of her stint there. Michelle has told herself all this time that Meredith is actually in Paris.

Now that that's all clear, on with the birthday...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Esconced in Allentown

I have gotten into the habit of staying at this particular Red Roof Inn in Allentown, PA, which is about 90 minutes to two hours out of NY. I arrived here at 6 pm, so I clearly could have continued home, but I remind myself that I will not be awarded the Distinguished Medal of Martyrdomly Service for pushing that hard. I'd been driving since 9:30 and I had a slight headache and my knees hurt from being in the same position for hours... so it's nice to stop, regroup, relax. It gives me a chance to clean out the car in a relaxed way.

I think Barbara and I had talked about how rental car companies are looking for any excuse to charge you more and she either did get charged, or knew someone who got charged for returning the car in a way that they felt needed clearning so whereas I used to just leave the garbage in the car, now I'm more careful.

It was a beautiful day today -- really cool air, hot sun. Just can't get over how beautiful the early fall colors are -- especially the gold, rusts, sages.

On with the show:

This in my room #200 from last night. It was a gorgeous morning. When I was putting my suitcase in the trunk, this hotel maid came over to me, asked me if I were checking out and I said yes, and then she went on to say how she hoped I had a good night, and safe trip, and come back. They are particularly friendly here.

You can see how old this place is, but it really is comfortable. I was thinking how some people complain about thin sheets and towels, but I actually love the softness of sheets that have been washed 1000 times. Just like nightgowns -- I prefer the old ones that have no life left in them and they're just soft.

I pushed the limit last night getting to the hotel. I just didn't feel like stopping for gas. I was always safe in that every exit had gas, but I typically won't do that. I also felt OK about it since the low-fuel light hadn't come on yet. But with a rental car, you never know how much time you have left.

This is leaving the hotel. It's on this old road with old trees. Sort of odd, but very pretty.

Leaving the hotel. This road leads to the main highway.

First stop was to get gas where it was Coffee Appreciation Day. I thought that was EVERY day.

I always get a kick out of this sign, as if it's put here just for me. This is still in Ohio so I feel closer to home.

This bush caught my eye as I was going through Taco Bell drive-thru.

...where I tried their highly-advertised new offering: "Cantina Bowl." It's a layer of white rice and beans with lettuce on top and diced tomatoes and onions and then a scoop of guacamole. Pluses: Really pretty good, good flavor, interesting textures put together. Minuses: I hate when salad lettuce has too many stems and ribs. Plus the rice and beans are hot so it wilted some of the lettuce and made it slimy. Overall, I'd give it a B-. Also I want a few taco chips with it to scoop the guacamole which is weird to eat just on its own.

Fall wildflowers along the road.
When I checked in, the woman said they were busy tonight and I asked how come, and she said "dog show" and here is the car of my neighbor. When I was getting my suitcase out of the trunk, my neighbor came by with this huge, and I mean huge, great dane whom he was walking. Haven't seen any others.

This is my car and the view from my Red Roof Inn room.

TV, bathroom, view from the bed.

Same view from my door. That's my car.

And finally, the hotel amenity that I would rate LAST on my list of priorities. The toilet paper edge is folded into a triangle with a little Red Roof Inn sticker to hold it down.