Sunday, August 31, 2014

In the Middle of the Storm

What is so pleasing about a thunderstorm? I am enjoying the heck out of this one -- the garden door is open, thunder is crashing and there's that ozone (?) smell in the air. Of course, I'm happy that this means I don't have to water, but there's something about a summer storm that I find so pleasing.

More on Neighbors

I'd say I've been fairly lucky over the years to have considerate neighbors. I understand the reality of urban life, that we are all going to hear each other at some point. (As an aside, I always chuckle when I'm reading consumer hotel reviews and people complain about being able to hear footsteps above them or the TV from the next room.)

I believe some new people have moved into the apartment that has the garden next to mine. Last night, they were having a cookout -- probably no more than eight people, but they were so loud, communicating by yelling, like excited yelling, each trying to outyell the other that I finally went out there around 8:30 pm to ask them if they could hold it down just a bit. What prompted it is that I had my TV up to the highest volume and literally could not hear it.

I was shouting at the top of my lungs and they didn't hear or notice me... finally one guy did, never apologized, but shushed everyone temporarily which I knew would not last. The noise eventually built itself back up, and then around 11 pm, they start playing music on top of it. Yelling and loud music. I asked again and nothing, no response. I really considered calling the police but didn't.

So eventually around midnight, I closed the garden door and turned on the air conditioner which I didn't want to do, but it was my only choice to block the sound.

I kept thinking that I don't believe we were ever that rude when we were younger -- these were guys in their early 20s, but they were truly oblivious to the noise they made.

I may have told this story before, but when I lived on York Avenue, there was a party going on that shook the building, it was so loud. When I got up Sunday morning to go get the newspapers, it was stone silent in the building and I rarely, rarely do something like this, but I laid into their buzzer. Then I saw a popsicle stick on the floor, and I was able to wedge the popsicle stick into the buzzer so it was endless buzzing and happily walked out to get the papers and bagels. By the time I got back, the stick was gone, but I felt as if I had anonymously made my point, and it gave me great pleasure.

Friday, August 29, 2014


I've been stewing all day about something Mary told me this morning. Seems as if someone has been stealing her newspaper before she can get it. How she knows it's stolen and not just undelivered is that the thief has the balls to leave the plastic bag it comes in and just leaves the bag like trash in Mary's yard. Mary is determined to catch the guy -- am glad she doesn't have a gun.

Dr. Phil always says, "What do you have to tell yourself to make this ok?" We know this thief isn't a complete idiot if he/she wants a newspaper, so it's not like someone is stealing food and you could at least tell yourself a person is hungry. I really would like to know what that person's thought process is.

I told Mary I'd keep a paper and pen by the door to write down the thief's driver's license and call the police. Mary thinks it may be a commuter who parks in her neighborhood and then takes the subway. I hope Mary catches the guy.

In the meantime, I am increasingly grateful for the video capabilities of smartphones. Saw a local news report about a Parks Dept employee who works at a certain NYC beach and is a horrid, mean guy. He runs his 4-wheeler over people's blankets, curses at people, yells at them... and finally someone filmed him and his behavior and posted it to YouTube.

The news guy interviewed people on the beach who all had had run ins with this guy -- and you know that over the years people complained and it fell on deaf ears or "yes, yes, we'll look into it but all our employees are trained to be respectful blah blah blah" -- well, here's the evidence and they could no longer deny it. He's now been suspended-- at least for this weekend, and I really do love the value of these videos to make a case.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

What I Read, What I'm Reading Now

Finished the book below which I didn't really enjoy that much. It takes place in England during World War I and it features a married couple where the man goes off to war and the woman stays home to manage the farm and they exchange letters, each one creating the impression that all is well when it wasn't.

And now I'm a few chapters into the Orphan Train which comes to me highly recommended by several people. This is a novel based on actual historical events where orphans were put on trains in New York and sent West where people could claim a kid and take them into their home. Of course, the children's experience differed from kind, loving homes to being treated like a servant. This is a New York Times Best Seller and it seems every "reader" I talk to asks me if I've read it.

First a bit of reality:

And here's the novel:
As a side note, the Children's Aid Society -- or where it used to be -- is about three blocks from where I live. I see the old sign embedded in the building, but I don't know what the building is used for now.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

God, do I love a bargain!

Whether by necessity or desire, I really do enjoy shopping for the best price. In my work, I have for years kept a spiral notebook on my desk for notes, phone numbers, etc. I saw an ad on TV for Staples where spiral notebooks were on sale for 17 cents. Marilyn was here today and I asked her to buy ten notebooks, if the price was really 17 cents.

As it was, the price was 17 cents, but the limit was six, but the clerk let her ring it up in two separate orders -- so I got 10 spiral notebooks for under two dollars, and I keep admiring the receipts!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

What I'm Reading

This is a weird one, even for me. This is a non-fiction book about the man who devised the Beaufort Scale of wind strengths. I confess that the first time I saw this scale (1 to 10 with examples and speeds) was in Girl Scouts and I was fascinated by it. I had picked up this book, then forgot about it, until this week when I was going through all my books. So far, I'm enjoying it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Weird, Expensive Day

When my buzzer rang today, I was surprised that my slipcover had already arrived. Got to the front door and was unable to open it as the deadbolt lock appeared broken. The lock would turn, but the door wouldn't open. I jiggled and jiggle and finally the door opened. In the meantime I had asked the delivery guy, through the door, to just leave the box.

Closed the door and tried it again with no luck. After about five minutes of jiggling, I could open the door. It worried me that I couldn't get out in case of fire and put procrastination aside and called a locksmith. I found one on line, who had wonderful Yelp reviews and was a few blocks away.

Called them, the guy shows up about 15 minutes later and he was a good guy. He told me I was right to call right away and I said I was afraid of fire and he said that the lock would only get worse and had I waited the bill could be as high at $800 since I have no-drill locks.

I liked this guy; he really did seem honest and after my Yelp discount, my pay cash discount, the bill was $210 and I have a brand new deadbolt, but still the same keys.

I was not expecting to spend $210 today and hate how cash just slips out of your hand this way but am grateful to have it to spend.

Barbara's Construction Project - Connecticut Edition

She reports:

Here's two pictures that show how my dreary kitchen is being transformed by turning a solid wall into a window.  The first picture shows the preliminary exploration of the wall (which I've been living with since May),

the second picture shows the new window installed.  Today the workmen are finishing the details -- plaster, woodwork and trim.

Meanwhile A.J. and Beanster have been relegated to the screen porch to keep them out of the way.  Normally they love it there, because they can come in and out as they please -- but today with the access window closed, they are complaining like two little jail-bird cats.

Pat channels the musical Hair and sings, "Let the sunshine in!"

Barbara's Garden

She writes: Not much is happening in the late summer garden.  In the background, you can see pretty yellow flowers on the ligularia. In the foreground are the stubborn anemones that I told you about, which have lots of buds but are still refusing to bloom.  (I'm sure the neighbors will enjoy them very much after we go back to NYC next week.)  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Barbara came by to return my keys tonight, and by way of apology, which was NOT necessary, she brought me a piece of cheesecake. The day she was here for dinner last week I had read that one of the top cheesecakes in New York is from a bakery two blocks from here. I either told her the wrong block, or she went to the wrong block, but no cheesecake for us last week.

But tonight, she returned to the correct block and came bearing gifts:

Here's the pretty box.

Here's how it was packaged -- the empty paper cup made it not slide around inside the box. Very clever.

The crust was crispy, not just mashed graham crackers, the filling was light and airy and the cherries tasted like cherries and not red goo as it usually does.

I'd give this cheesecake an A!

Overcoming Procrastination

Mary wrote me an email yesterday about not yet learning the lesson of "just do it" and procrastinating about buying a dishwasher. I could have substituted the word "microwave" and written the same email. I can't tell you how many times I've looked at microwaves (mine is a built in, not a countertop) on line. I think what I'm afraid of is that I don't measure right. The place I would buy it from also installs for free and takes the old one away, but some sick repitilian part of my brain thinks, "yes, but do they really?" (And, yes, Mary did buy a new dishwasher finally yesterday.)

So I called Mary, told her I hated her for shaming me about my own procrastination. I decided that when Marilyn is here next week, we will measure together and order me a new microwave.

In the meantime, however, I ordered slipcovers for this upholstered chair which I've also looked at a dozen times in the past year. I don't know what I think will be different. I see my chair is standard so there is no measuring. Today I finally took the plunge and ordered. I also googled for a promotional code for this company and got one that gave me a 10% discount so that was good.

I also made a dentist appointment. I love my periodontist, did not like my current dentist at all, but kept going thinking you don't have to like her, just get your damn teeth cleaned, but finally I decided to change. So I've made that appointment. I'm overdue for a cleaning.

Before I move my furniture back, I need to have grab bars installed in my downstairs bathroom. I checked Craigslist and found this guy who also repairs tiles. I have some broken tiles on my kitchen floor and in his ad he said, "It may not be necessary to replace the entire floor" and, of course, that's what I thought. So he's coming to do the grab bars (he buys them!) and look at the kitchen floor on Monday.

Mary and I talked about why we still somehow struggle with some of these things when if I had a stopwatch, all three actions probably took under 15 minutes.

So what are you procrastinating about?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cat Calls on the Street

There's a local news story today about a woman columnist for the New York Post who wrote an article about how she appreciates call calls on the street as it confirms that she looks good. Lots of outrage about it -- saying that cat calls are harrassment.

It reminded me of an incident back in the late 70s -- and I had read some feminist book saying you should confront men who yell out to you and the idea really appealed to me. I can say this: I am NOT going to make the joke that ha-ha I wish men were whistling and calling out to me now as I really love the invisibility that comes with being older.

So I was crossing Park Avenue going back to the office after lunch and there was a truck at the red light and the driver yelled out, "Nice tits!" -- I wasn't going to write that word, but that is what he said. I was crossing in the cross walk and I walked over to his open driver window and said, "Did you say something to me?"

And he started humm-a-nah, humm-a-nah sputtering, "No ma'am" -- that's all it took for him to call me Ma'am. I was very calm and said, "I could have sworn you just said something to me..." and again he denied it. Then I said, "In fact, I think you said 'nice tits'... is that what you said to me?"

I have to say I was really enjoying this.

He said it wasn't him, but, of course, it was... and I said, "Really? Are you sure it wasn't you?" as if I were puzzled. Meanwhile, he kept looking at the red light praying it would change. Then I said, "Because if it were you, that would make you a real asshole." All of this was said very calmly.

Again, it was so empowering and he kept saying, "no, it wasn't me"... well, then the light changed and he took off and I'm sure I was called every name in the book, but I did have my moment of power which I still relish.

Fran's Hibiscus

Fran writes: Giant (one foot across),hibiscus bloom on Connecticut Avenue near Calvert Woodley liquor store. So striking, several passersby stopped dead in their tracks to admire them. At first, didn't think they were real.

Pat says: I've never seen anything like this -- great thing about digital cameras/phone cameras -- so many lovely little details can be shared and seen and not just described.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hard to Believe...

Embedded image permalink      This menu is from the 1960s. It's hard to believe this was in most of our lifetimes. I do remember when soda was 5 cents for a small and 10 cents for a large --- then it went to 15 cents and 25 cents. I do NOT remember 20 cent milkshakes

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Poor Little Me

I injured myself twice this weekend. Yesterday, I jammed my toes against a door frame and now have one purple pinky toe. Today, and I'm not quite sure how I did this, but I cut my index finger on the ripping blade part of the aluminum foil box. Of the two, the paper cut like finger wound hurts more.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Key Chaos

Back in the 1980s, I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for my keys when I would leave for work in the morning. My frustration culminated one day where I turned my apartment upside down looking for my keys -- even taking the sheets off the bed, finally giving up and thinking I'd just have to get a locksmith when I got home.

When I opened the front door of my apartment to leave, there were my keys, still in the lock, and there they had been all night long. It gave me some security to know my apartment is a safe place.

But I had learned my lesson -- I went out and bought a key holder which I have had ever since. The first thing I do when I open the front door -- back then and in this apartment -- is to hang up my keys and I am sure I have saved myself countless hours of searching.

When Marilyn was here on Tuesday, she emailed me later to say that she accidentally took my keys with her. No problem as I have another set hanging by the door.

When Barbara was here on Wednesday, she went out to get my mail. I paid no attention to my keys until she called me Thursday morning to say she accidentally took my keys with her.

So now I had no keys, really couldn't leave my apartment. Marilyn will return on Tuesday and Barbara is in Connecticut until Tuesday. 

It's a weird thought to be "locked in" your apartment. The only thing I really cared about is that I couldn't take out the garbage and I do have food garbage.

So then on Friday, I had a delivery and I saw my keys hanging by the front door. What?? So I called Barbara and she described keys to me which sounded like my second set. Maybe I had three sets of keys. Maybe Marilyn mistook my keys for someone else's.

Of course, during this I had to fight the impulse to scold myself that I should have *another* set of keys, but where does that stop?

Ok, so we'll see what Marilyn had -- and now I have to take out the garbage!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What I'm Reading

I just started this so I'll rely on Amazon for a thumbnail description:
Picasso Lane is twelve years old when her father, Oliver, is murdered at their summer beach house. Her mother, Diana, is the primary suspect—until the police discover his second wife, and then his third. The women say they have never met—but Picasso knows otherwise.

Monday, August 11, 2014

In Praise of Mary

Mary's been through a rough time and I haven't written about it, but today she had returned to the surgeon for a check up and all is incredibly well. I talked to her and when we hung up, I thought how proud I am of her. I think she has weathered this ordeal with such dignity and grace, always looking to the future. Yes, she will get to retire. Yes, she will get to South Africa. And yes, she will make me lobster macaroni and cheese, and the orange cake I sent her the recipe for during our Christmas celebrations. We will put this terrible, awful year behind us and just have fun.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Pastel Ass

When I was in Oshkosh, I was having trouble with my underwear -- the elastic waists were giving out one after another... so I ordered some new underwear on line which arrived. When I looked at the packing slip, I saw


and it took me aback. Then I realized the underpants were a pack of "assorted pastel" colors. You'd think they'd have a better abbreviation for ASSORTED.

Reminds me of an email Fran got years ago from Delta -- the subject line of the email was something like "Delta introduces signature cocktail" -- yeah, guess where the email program decided to cut off the words in the subject line?

Friday, August 8, 2014

What I'm Reading

This is light reading about a woman therapist in NY who has written this book called "You Should Have Known" and it's how women fool themselves about men -- and how the women know from the beginning of a relationship the bad points of a man and it doesn't get better and her whole thing is "You should have known..." he'd cheat, he'd gamble, he'd be selfish, etc.
Of course, she has to get her come-uppance and she is very secure with her husband, thinks she has this great marriage. I'm now about 100 pages into the book and she realizes her husband isn't what she thought -- and it goes on from there. I'm enjoying it.

Fran's Tomato

Fran says:

Discovered thus gem at the farmer's market near the office -- looks like a basket of baby tomatoes. Must have taken fertility drugs.;-) Hate to ruin it by eating it.

Mary said there's something "weird and cool" about it and it is an odd-looking thing.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Weird Happenings

I don't have a name for this syndrome, but for the past few days, I felt as if I had lost something, only to find it again in a place where I knew I already looked. The last thing was the mobile hotspot that Melissa bought me that I brought to Oshkosh. I had it in my purse and when I was finishing unpacking yesterday, it wasn't there. I couldn't close my purse due to my iPad and other stuff in there, and I was pissed off that I thought it must have fallen out on the seat of the rental car.

So this morning I go into that purse, which I had done everything but EMPTY looking for this thing yesterday -- it's a black box the size of a fist... and there it was. Plain as day. Huh? I know it was not in my purse yesterday, but it must have been. This is about the fourth or fifth time this has happened recently. Stress? Something else? I don't know.

On an unrelated note, I went into an unsubbing frenzy -- again -- today. So many emails from political groups.

On another unrelated note, I was invited to a birthday party in a farm in Kentucky from someone I work with at a client. This is a man who gave me my first taste of moonshine. At first I had said no, thinking it would taste like battery acid, and he pushed me saying, "Come on, just have a taste -- when is this opportunity going to happen again?"

So I did -- and this stuff was smooooooooth -- wow, I didn't know a New York City liberal could enjoy moonshine.

Instead of calling himself a "hillbilly," which he characterizes as politically incorrect, he calls himself an Appalachian-American. Always makes me laugh.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Baby Sister's Birthday

Today is my younger sister's birthday -- when she was born I was going into seventh grade. I remember that we had somebody staying with us while my parents were at the hospital -- don't remember who and I was sent outside to the garden to pick lettuce because we were having BLTs for lunch. While I was out picking lettuce, the phone call came that my sister had been born.

One interesting sidenote is that she is the exact same age as President Obama, also born on August 4, 1961.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Home again, Home again, jiggety-jig

Did my usual evening in Allentown where rather than pushing those last two hours I stop and have a pleasant evening and get my bag organized and clean out the car. Didn't get going until 10:30, and was home by 1. Started laundry, ordered a Gracie's BLT, sorted through some mail.

I am proud of myself for making this trip and doing what was required of me. I have to say I feel tired, but "good tired" -- it will be nice to sleep tonight.

I really enjoyed having Sirius XM radio in the car... for a while I had on the 60s station and am always surprised by the junkyard which is my mind and how lyrics I hadn't thought of in years instantly come to the surface. One song that surprised me -- and I was touched by it -- was "Abraham, Martin and John." Hadn't heard that song in years, and it is a bittersweet song.

But then there was (and I had forgotten about this) "bumble gum music" with one song that I know you all know that starts "Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy..." Did anyone actually buy that record? OK, I had to check out the lyrics -- for the life of me, I couldn't think of the group that sang this song, but just now I see it's "The Ohio Express" -- here is the beginning:

Aaaaaa, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy
Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, babe
Always got a mouthful
Of such sweet things to say
Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy
Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, babe
Chewy's full of sugar
And I love her that way
Ooh, I love to kiss her
Love to hold her
Love to miss her
Love to scold her
Love to love her
Like I do

and it goes on.

And on.

And on.

Time to reboot the laundry. It's good to be home.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Two Hours from Home

Am in Allentown, PA, heading home in the morning. This has been a good trip, and although I wasn't operating at 100 percent, I did everything I was supposed to do and found ways to accomplish what I needed to do. Beautiful day today, long drive... so I'll be glad to be home tomorrow.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Long Day

I am in Elyria, Ohio, and this was a long leg -- seven hours according to the directions, but it was more like 12 hours. Lots of torrential rain, to the point that people were pulled over. I never did, since I felt my windshield wipers were keeping up, but I was slowed to about 20 mph. Rain would come and go.

Then about 90 minutes from the hotel, traffic just plain stopped. Some sort of weird accident, but we sat there, people getting out of their cars, for about 45 minutes. I had about 1/8 of a tank of gas and decided to not play the "gee, do I have enough to make it to the hotel?" game and stopped -- more time.

The hotel is one of those places where it's on the fringe of the parking lots of a huge shopping mall with construction and repaving and you can't get there from here. When I finally figured out how to get to the hotel, it is way bigger than I thought, had to park far from the front door... and then there was a line of about 20 people (no kidding) waiting to check in. I knew I couldn't stand that long, so I was sitting on a bench, thinking I'd just wait for the line to go down some.

This man ( a guest) took pity on me and said he would find someone to check me in. So this manager comes running over with a wheelchair, which I said I didn't need; I just needed to check in. He took my credit card and driver's license and came back with my key and paper to sign. I have to say I did feel slightly guilty -- I would have waited my turn in line, but there was no way after this week, after 12 hours in the car, I could have waited in that line. The man/guest who helped me was so nice -- he was a big guy with a tank top and said that if the manager didn't treat me right that he would make sure he did. OK. Is it Streetcar Named Desire with the line "I have always relied on the kindness of strangers" and I did!

Onward to Allentown, PA.