Friday, July 31, 2015

Lazy Day

Just reporting in that I have nothing to report. I was lazy today, had to put forth a real effort to work, That's what a summer Friday can do.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What I'm Reading

the summary: The delicious, New York Times–bestselling book of the summer: an irresistible, deftly observed novel about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of an American family’s Mediterranean holiday.

This book is actually from last summer, and I'm about halfway through. I think I may have had my fill of dysfunctional families, and I can't say there's any character whom I particularly like, but this is very light reading. 

Anybody read Sherlock Holmes?

When I was driving, I heard an NPR interview with a murder mystery writer. The host was talking about murder mysteries (which I love) and said something like "Of course, I cut my teeth on Sherlock Holmes." I have never read any SH, and asked around and most people hadn't. Lane said she read Hounds of the Baskervilles in high school, but doesn't remember it.

I went to Amazon and for one cent, plus $3.99 shipping, I bought Volume one of the complete works... which includes short stories and three novels. So I guess I'll see what all the hoo-hah is about. The stories have survived for decades so there has to be something there.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Latest Annoyance

Today I had an appointment with my nurse-practitioner who comes to my apartment. At the end of the visit, I pay via credit card. My card, which I knew was current, was declined three times. Finally I gave him my Anex and that was fine.

When he left, I went on line and I had planned to look into my credit card situation later, but I had an email from Citibank which said there was suspicious activity... fraud alert! on my account. And it was the charge the NP was trying to make. (Somehow he uses his smartphone for accepting payment.) As I'm digesting the email, the phone rings and it's a recording saying there has been fraudulent use suspected of my card and the account was closed until it got cleared up. So I followed the instructions (press one if you are Patricia) sort of thing... and pressed that it was a valid charge.

What's irritating is that tonight was probably the fourth or fifth time I'd charged his fee on this card. So after the phone call, I went back to the email and there was a link to press if it were a valid charge so I did that too and got the message that my account was now available to use and how I should ask the "merchant" to put it through again. Too bad, he was long gone.

Part of me appreciates that Citibank is being vigilant, but, as I said, this was NOT the first time I'd used this card for this fee. Having said that, it's embarrassing to have your credit card declined. I forwarded the fraud email to the NP to show him what had happened. He replied something like these days he assumes it's some electronic glitch. Which is true, but it still irritates me.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Not Much to Report

First day back, laundry getting done, catching up with work, and that's about it.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

"But it's for your protection..," yeah, right!

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

I made it! I met Marilyn at my apartment and proceded to West 58th Street. This time the security check of the car was a thorough one... if you recall, this parking garage is in the CNN Building... and they had those mirror things that they stick under the car, check the backseats, the trunk, etc. Of course, 5 minutes later, I come hobbling up this ramp, cane in hand, not exactly a terrorist, but I understand.

The retnal car guy annoyed me. This rental car place is really deep underground, a ramp which is probably a block long and steep. So the guy comes up to my car and asks me if I want a printed receipt or an email receipt and I said, "whichever is quicker" as the amount of time I'm standing and sturdy and walking up that ramp is limited... so instead of choosing, he repeats, "Mam, this is your decision. Do you want an email receipt or a printed receipt?" And so I just said "email" and he said, "then you can go." Why the hell couldn't he have just said that?

So I make it up the ramp, but there's no way I could have done it with my luggage, but I didn't stopto rest, did it all at once (Ok, this is important to me that I have built up endurance) and got out on the street and then watched the cabs. My beloved Crown Vics are a rare commodity, it seems... and I was checking out the rear doors to see how difficult it would be for me to get in. Then the sky started getting dark and I thought that I better get my butt in any cab before the skies opened up. So I hailed one... it was a Camry... I have to see what the front looks like (so I can hail one coming down the street) because I didn't have a hard time entering or exiting. I had a very nice driver who kept telling me to take my time...but I really just did it.

The best part was that Marilyn was in my apartment and we unpacked ALL of my bags and went through ALL of my mail and recycled and shredded and put the suitcase away. What a treat. Really, when you live alone and are used to doing everything yourself, I so appreciate the help. I hate unpacking and it was done in about 15 minutes.

There's no place like home.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Home Tomorrow

The plan calls for me to be back home around 3 pm tomorrow. I have four hours of driving, according to the directions, so I counted on 5 and Marilyn had volunteered to come meet me at my apartment so I'll give her my luggage and then return the car. It will be nice to have her and unpack the bags which is a task I hate to do. I pick and choose and cannibalize what I need.

So this little place was right near the hotel I stayed. I thought how these sort of places used to be more common, but sadly are disappearing from the US landscape. Was too early to try any... and also I will now note I had no Culver's today. I don't think they have them in Pennsylvania.

One of my secret passions is to have some sort of antique car... I know nothing about cars, but this one was cherry red and looked as if it were from the 1930s.

This is one of life's cheap thrills, when the back up for miles is on the other side of the road.

Pennsylvania has such neat rest stops along route 80. A building with vending machines and restrooms (small building) and then these shady (in the best sense of the word) picnic areas. Can't remember the last time I had a picnic, but this makes me want to have one. 

My lunch was Taco Bell and nachos...

This was wonderful. It's basically a non-alcholic Sangria slushee. It really tasted like sangria, so much so that I started worrying for a minute if there were actual alchol in it. Really good, icy, tasty. 

This is the view outside of my room. I'm on the third floor and overlook rural countryside and the empty parking lot.

Dinner was this chef's salad which was good, very fresh, but I mistook the yellow peppers at the bottom left -- thought they were banana peppers but they were jalapenos... way too hot for me. 
Wish you could smell this bread which came with the salad... it was definitely homemade, yeasty, chewy, warm. 

And my drink.

One sad thing that happened today was I came upon a horrendous accident, when the police had just arrived, ambulances weren't there yet... and I was about the fifth car back... didn't see the accident, but as I drove by, in one second, I saw a mangled... and that's the only word I could use... a mangled car with people hanging out of it... a body hangingn out of the driver's seat.  I wish I hadn't seen it. I found myself doing something I never do which was I blessed myself... made the sign of the cross on myself... it was that frightening. Of course, it makes you think of how that could have been you if I didn't stop there, or go to an ATM, or get gas, or went a tiny bit faster. I wish those people well, but I don't know how they could have survived. So terrible.

Anyway, that's it for now. Hopefully I will be home in my next installment!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Eastward Bound on Friday

This morning I had one of those invisible signs around my neck that says, "Please tell me your life story." Mary might be thinking, "Yes, but you encourage that" but this morning I didn't. When I lay in bed a minute before getting up, I sighed at the path in front of me... showering, dressing, finishing packing, lugging luggage out, checking out, getting fuel and then a very long drive. But I did it. I asked for help with my luggage and this woman who works in the office said she'd help me. I went out to my car and stood by the open trunk. My goal was to get on the road by 8:30 and it was about 8:10 so I was feeling good.

The woman comes out and says to me, apropos of nothing, "Why are some men as useless as tits on a bull?"


She then launches into the saga of her 71-year old boyfriend who is lazy and she does all the work and he plays computer games and they're moving and so she works all day and then packs at night and he does nothing other than one day he wiped out the empty kitchen cabinets.

I just stood there nodding and she proceeded to give me her employment history, what was wrong with this current hotel, all the politics an I could hear the clock in my mind ticking by... and I would try to say things like "Oh well, thanks for the help..." or "Well, I better get going" and those things didn't phase her. Finally she stopped and I then went to fuel up, got some breakfast and was on my way.

I got temporarily lost (well, not lost, but on the wrong highway) around Chicago where I mistook highway 290 for highway 294 but it only took about 30 minutes to get back on track. Soon it was time for lunch... early on in Indiana and I got off the first exit, and I must have been divinely guided because what was the only place in sight? Yes, Culver's! Yay, my habit continues.

Going through drive-thru:

this location had the flavor of the day on the drive-thru tv screen; CHOCOLATE ALMOND SALTED CARMEL. Oh my.,

and here it is.... goeey carmel with sliced almonds in chocolate custard

Now I'm in a Red Roof Inn in Clyde, Ohio and here is the view from my room.

Here's the room. All very nice, very clean.

Here's something that would NEVER happen in New York. I ordered two iced teas for dinner and the guy brought four... he said he gave me two extra because the "cups are small" which they really aren't. Between four iced teas (which I haven't drunk) and water pills, I might as well sleep in the bathroom!

Here's my "side salad" -- really good, fresh.

I know they are frozen, but I got fried shrimp with the restaurant's homemade potato chips and cole slaw. All really good. 
So that's it for now. Tomorrow to Eastern Pennsylvania and then home on Sunday.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thursday -- Last Day in Oshkosh

I sent out my first Twitter with a photo, and this is it. I captioned it "Dining al fresco, Oshkosh style"

The blimp overhead.

This is the highway I take to and from the show. It's all rural farmland and takes about 20 minutes. 
I was officially finished with my duties yesterday so today instead of getting up at 530, I slept until 9. It was heavenly. Puttered around and then met Greg for lunch. We have an annual tradition -- going back a dozen years -- of having a bratwurst lunch together and so today was Bratfest 2015. The place we always go closed two years ago so we went to this old-fashioned drive in called Ardy & Ed's and it's really  a place which is half put on and half still real, if that makes sense. They didn't have brats, but they had brat meat in a hamburger patty and so we had that and french fries and onion rings and homemade root beer in mugs.

This is Ardy & Ed's where the carhops are on roller skates.

This is Greg, my Bratfest 2015 colleague. Years ago, on his first year out of college, he was my boss where he was editor of this small publication and I wrote marketing articles for it. We've been fast friends ever since. He is also a beautiful writer.

So Greg had to go interview someone and you know where I headed... decided yes on my first Culver's... didn't even check out the rest. I wondered what the volcano was....

This is it.... chocolate custard with big chunks of oreos and chocolate and frozen M&Ms. I'd say this was the best I've had so far. Good thing I'm leaving tomorrow. This is NOT a good habit to develop. My drug of choice is Culver's frozen custard.

Public Decluttering

Mark (photo from yesterday) and I have talked about decluttering over the years. I had mentioned to him the notion of the "free garage sale" and he and his wife have put stuff (old grill, for example) at the end of their driveway with a FREE sign and the stuff gets picked up quickly. Anyway, he sent me this photo from a public library near him. As for me, I have been sending Stancie some of my already-read books which she reads, passes along to her book club and then they go into a sale bin for the annual book sale. I love when stuff gets used, especially books, rather than just becoming dust collectors,. In case you can't read the sign, it says "Little Free Libary -- take a book leave a book"

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Had a big breakfast event this morning where I ran the silent auction. It was in a building where the sides went up and this was the view behind me. I wanted to leave and just go sit on one of the picnic tables and daydream. This was about 8 am.

After breakfast, I came back to the hotel and then went back to the show for a customer appreciation party that one of my clients was holding. My job was to count people and to make sure everyone got a raffle ticket for the prize drawing. Yes, I could handle that.

So my other client came over before the party started to see me and here they are:

This is Mark

This is John

And this is Perri, my client who was hosting the party, when it was over. All went really well.

No ice cream today... maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Today was my first day of actually being in attendance at the show. Got up at 5:30 to be on the field by 7. As I said to Fran, getting up early is easier now that my bathroom trips occur during the night -- no way to oversleep!

All went well, had some meetings... and saw a bunch of friends such as:

Nancy whom I worked with at Flying and now work with on another magazine.

Kelly who I also work with on a magazine.

Amy -- same deal as Nancy, worked with her at Flying, then at another magazine and now as colleagues, not as coworkers, but as friends.

David whom I've known for years and who is here with his son.

These are flowers going through the drive-thru. They look sort of like impatiens, but they're not. Really beautiful colors of blues and purples.

So I'm a cole slaw connoisseur and I love the cole slaw at Culver's. It's creamy and crunchy and fresh and cold and they put it in a separate bag from your hamburger so it stays cold.

And now for the important business: frozen custard. Where I had lunch, the flavor of the day was butter pecan, which is OK, but not a particular favorite. If you're gonna do the calories, it has to be the best. On to Culver's #2 where the flavor was Chocolate Cheesecake which held no appeal for me... so on to Culver's #3 and I found my choice.

And here it is -- Snickers Swirl which was chocolate ice cream with chunks of frozen Snickers throughout. Oh so good.

Monday, July 20, 2015


I didn't go to the show today because I took the opportunity to go to the cemetery where now both of my parents are buried. Over the years, I've probably gone two or three other times. The town is about an hour from here, but I had no idea, or memory, of how to get there.

I had some trouble yesterday getting on line because of a very weak signal, and couldn't get on line from my room. I moved to the lobby and still no luck. I tried everything. The hotel people even came over to help. Nothing.

To make a long story short, two hours into this process, I couldn't help but think there was some sort of firewall stopping the connection, but that didn't really make sense since I had been on the hotel's wifi yesterday.

Nonetheless, I went to Norton security settings and saw that an update had been made in the last 12 hours. I removed the firewall with dire warnings that I am now under threat of attack. I tried to connect ouswith the firewall turned off... and lo and behold, that was it.  It sounds like an obvious solution, but only after two hours of angst. Always something simple.

I got the directions, to the town, not to the cemetery and find myself on Main Street. Didn't know where to go so I went to a Hardee's drive thru and asked for directions -- the woman literally laughed at me... she thought looking for a cemetery was hilarious.  And she was older too --- not a teenager. She and the manager were useless... I have often wondered how people live in a town -- and this is NOT a huge city... and not know the whereabouts of a cemetery.

"Fourth Street" is a one-way street and I vaguely remembered that so I followed it... came to one cemetery (not mine) and I asked this caretaker who was weedwhacking. He was very nice and I was about two minutes away. Got there, and this is one of these really old cemeteries where the road through it was built for horse and buggies, or small cars or something... but I knew the gravesite was very close to one of the roads and I found it and had a solemn moment. That's all I can say. No big emotions.

By this time, it was mid-afternoon -- had some lunch, got gas (for the car, not from lunch) and came back to the hotel. Thanked the woman who was still behind the desk for helping me.

So tomorrow I have to get to the show really early for a media breakfast. One good thing about having to get up to (ahem) use the restroom is that it's almost impossible to oversleep. I am not going to tempt fate, and I will set the clock radio. I have to leave here no later than 6:30 a.m.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I've arrived!

No thunderstorms, and about a 4-hour drive here from Indiana... well, I did gain an hour when I left Indiana which does not observe daylight saving time so even though I was in Central time, it was the same as Eastern. All very confusing.

Took the rest of the Indiana turnpike to Chicago...

coming to chicago

big building is the Sears Tower
on to Wisconsin

my first stop in Oshkosh was to get my media credentials; this, of course, was next. Really Reeses turned out to be chocolate custard with peanut butter cup pieces which I found a bit too much chocolate, but I managed to get it down nonetheless.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Day Two

Now I'm midway through Indiana and arrive in Oshkosh tomorrow. The worst part of today was a severe thunderstorm that I drove through... it takes a lot to scare me driving, but I was heading toward scared... when the rain is so heavy, you literally can't see past the hood of your car. Cars were pulling over and to me that seemed more dangerous. I'm afraid of being hit on the side of the road... so I was going about 25 miles an hour and telling myself that it couldn't last forever. And then there were the jerks who didn't turn their headlights on...

Anyway, here are some pictures of the storm aproaching:

those aren't blue mountains in the distance -- that was the storm.

getting darker
heading toward the storm
very ominous
Here's the room... king size bed, refrigerator, microwave, table and chair and decent TV. Tomorrow it's on to Oshkosh.

Day One -- catch up

Here are the leftovers from yesterday. First the jerk with the confederate flag:

Driving through Pennsylvania

hmmmm.... the scenery doesn't change much. This is the part of Western PA called "the wilds" that even has a herd of elk.

this is my room with a photo mural of Pittsburgh (I think~)

the view from my window: the parking lot and a Pizza Hut