Sunday, February 28, 2016

Hint of Spring

It's 59 degrees now, and going on 5. Still light out. So glad spring is coming.

To DC, too. Mary writes:

I just took a short walk in the neighborhood on this beautiful day. Now I'm sitting on my deck looking at the sky.  And it isn't getting dark yet!

Friday, February 26, 2016

More on Abe

Jeffrey Goldberg, who writes for The Atlantic, has tweeted today:
Am in Springfield today and decided to visit Lincoln's grave. Somewhat surprised I didn't hear spinning.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Field Trip Report

Mary says:

Fran and I enjoyed our visit to President Lincoln's cottage today. It's on the grounds of the Old Soldier's Home, not far from Children's Hospital and the VA Hospital.  It's a big campus with quite a few buildings of the Home, a cemetery, and the cottage. I could easily live in the "cottage" which was originally owned by some rich person. My only complaint of the visit is that it was COLD and windy as you can see from our pictures with the statue of Lincoln.  The building to the right of the cottage was a lovely gazebo.  The house had beautiful views of the city - and the graveyard and battles during the war.
What? No gift shop? No souvenirs?

Is Abe life sized?

Fran and Abe both look annoyed... but maybe Fran is just cold.

A few hours later... Post Script --- Mary did *too* buy souvenirs -- she says one serious and one not so. I had seen the Lincoln coffee quote before and always liked it:


Mary and Fran's field trip

Today Mary and Fran went to see Lincoln's cottage which is (I believe) the place where Abe often went in the summer to cool off. Fran says Mary is sending more photos but here's one of Abe and his horse that Fran sent.

Mary's Celebratory Lunch

As some of you know, Mary's sister (and my good old friend) Judy has been facing a serious medical situation. On Monday, Judy was scheduled to receive a status report of whether the treatment was working. We all held our breath for the verdict on February 22. It turns out that it was very good news, the situation is improving, and the doctors were all pleased.

So a number of family members who had accompanied Judy went out for a celebratory lunch, and here's Mary's.

Mary says: This was what we had in Philly celebrating Judy's good news. It's brisket with a little mozzarella, grilled onions, and a horseradish cream sauce. It was delicious.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What I'm Reading

I've been reading this for a few days now, and it's an odd combination. It was a New York Times bestseller so I expected a bit of sophistication, but it's really just a soap opera... and, as most soap operas, fairly addictive. It's a novel about an American heiress who goes to England with her mother in search of a titled person to marry for prestige and she finds a duke and now she's married and pregnant... that's what's happened so far.

I bought this used from Amazon for a penny (plus $3.99 shipping) so I'm definitely getting my money's worth.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Nurse Angelina

Fran is feeling under the weather so Angelina is taking care...

Friday, February 19, 2016

One Upmanship

Mary and Michelle called me tonight to remind me that in 2017, we will celebrate 50 years of friendship!

Yes, it was 1967 at American University in Washington DC and I was 16 years old (a child prodigy!) and Mary was 18 and we were freshman and Michelle was a sophisticated sophomore.

We were assigned rooms in the dorm, and we all had different roommates, but our rooms were three in a row. Talking to Michelle tonight, I said it doesn't seem that long... but then I don't even know what 50 years is... a hell of a long time that goes by so fast.

But we will do something to celebrate in September 2017... no matter what.

Friday Night Dinner

Mary, Tom, and Michelle report in:

We met Clark for dinner tonight at BonChon. It's a Korean wings place at the Navy yard and it was yummy. Some spicy and some garlicky. We also had bulgogi and fried rice.
Pat says: So what's bulgogi?


Barbara and I Celebrate 35 Years of Friendship

Recently Barbara and I realized that this year was the 35th anniversary of our friendship. Yes, it was 35 years ago that a young (22 years old) Barbara interviewed for a job as Pat's (30 years old) assistant and we've been friends ever since. Through thick and thin. Good times and bad. The whole schmear.

As you know, we've also had lunch once a month (with only a few misses) for the past 23 years. We say now we should have written a book about our lunches. Today's February lunch was designated as our 35th anniversary, and of course, we dined from Gracie's AND Little Red Hen.

Barbara had a BLT:
And I had grilled swiss and bacon:

And we shared our well-done fries which were particularly good today:

And then, the highlight... stuff from Two Little Red Hens:

A coconut cream mini-pie for me and a chocolate cupcake for B... and she bought the candles, and I led us in song to Happy Anniversary to Us and we blew out the candles.

In honor of our anniversary I told Barbara that when she and I were working together, man, we banged it out. There was no better team than she and I in terms of production, setting up systems... we were quite a team.

Barbara was also the first person I could truly write collaboratively with. Prior to her, I was always the better writer than anyone I was working with so I always did the bulk of the work. But when Barbara and I were writing something, it was truly collaborative... so much so that we'd forget which one of us came up with the terrific sub-title or perfect description.

At the conclusion of the party, I said "Here's to 35 more years." I said "I'll be 90 and you'll be 82" so I think we'll make it. Another characteristic in our relationship is that she was always (and is still) the numbers person... she corrected my faulty arithmetic to say I'd be 100 and she'd be 92. Hmmm... don't know if I 'll make it that long so I suggested we celebrate our 36th next year for now.

I sincerely count among my blessings the wonderful friends I have, and Barbara certainly is one of them.

Mary's Update -- Of course, it's worse than originally thought

Well here's some update. My wrist really hurts so I asked Tom to take me to the hospital. Looks like I either have a sprain or a crack /break. I'm dictating this since my right arm is in a splint. I'm supposed to see the orthopedist tomorrow. The doctor wanted the radiologist to look at the films since he wasn't sure whether there's a crack. At least with a splint and some Tylenol 3 I should be able to sleep tonight. As Lois would say bless Tom's heart for taking me to the hospital. I'll send a follow up note tomorrow after I talk to the radiologist or see the orthopedist. It's always something :-)

Pat says: Now we're all fighting over who gets to sign Mary's cast first!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mary's Half-Good, Half-Bad Day

I told Mary I was jealous after I read the first paragraph, and not so much after the second. I also said she is right: I would not have believed she got into a fight. (Michelle is visiting from Texas) Let's hope she heals fast!

She reports:

Michelle and I went to Union Market, near Gallaudet in a district of warehouses and found some great stuff. Lunch was a meat ball sandwich (Michelle) and a "porkstrami" sandwich with sauerkraut for me. We got this amazing brown butter bourbon bread pudding to go, some lovely jewelry from Columbia, some jalapeno cheese bread and some rabbit sausage.  Fran and I will have to go there soon. 

Then on the way home I dropped Michelle off to pick up sheet music at our local Cal music store and when I got out of the car I fell face first into the sidewalk.  I hav a swollen lip (I as going to say I got it in a fight but you'd never believe that), a bruised nose and a twisted wrist. At least I didn't break my glasses and I didn't lose any teeth. I think my lip will be impressive tomorrow.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I'm a Slow Learner

Just looked at caller ID and it said "Buffalo Philharmonic." There's no way they'd be calling me for money so I answered it. It was one of those scammy police association fundraisers. Hung up on the guy.

Spinning My Wheels

This is how time gets eaten up... I needed to make a car reservation for an upcoming trip. As I've written about, there's a rental place two doors down from where I live. I incorrectly remembered this rental car place as Dollar. So I go to Dollar to make a reservation and there's no location on my block. Look and look and wonder if it's just that there's no cars or if there's no location. So I call Dollar only to be told (after the annoying phone tree) that they "no longer have a location on East 87th St." So I get all upset and go back to see which other rental car company is the most convenient with the best rate etc and I'm taking notes...

Then it occurs to me that maybe it isn't Dollar, so I  check Budget, and there's my location. So I make that reservation on line, all relieved, but when the confirmation comes, it has my last name only as L...Patricia L....I try to "modify" the reservation but it won't change the name.

Back to the annoying phone tree and I call Budget and then I get the Indian lady named Chelsea. Sure, that's your name... who tells me that my last name *is* on the reservation, even though it doesn't show. Fine. I even confirmed the reservation number with her and so all appears to be well.

Meanwhile, I had received from my brokerage house this "you must reply" with the 12-page brochure in fine type about some offer and I have until February 25th to give my decision... but I MUST reply or else they come kill me or something. I tried to understand the offer (really) but finally called my broker who I guess took yesterday off as President's Day. As soon as I hung up with Budget, he called me. He didn't know anything about this offer. I read parts of it to him... He put me on hold for about five minutes, comes back and tells me to junk it as the offer has since been withdrawn. Nice waste of time.

I tell myself I should be happy that *my* rental car place is still there, and I can cross two things off my list, but, man, the hoops we have to jump through just to accomplish simple things!

Monday, February 15, 2016

More Winter in Texas

Melissa says:

Read about the cold in NYC and snow in DC.... Meanwhile, another week of winter in Texas. But I know you guys will get me back in August when we have the dog days of summer :).

Pat says: those temps and sunny skies look wonderful. I am definitely jealous. Tomorrow it's supposed to get up into the 50s so that's a nice break from single digits and icy slush rain.


Watching Jeopardy every night, I am aware of my lack of certain basic knowledge. So I'm thinking I may do some self-study so that I know:
  • Each president and vice president of the US in order
  • order of the planets from the sun
  • be able to fill in a map of Europe, Africa and the other continents... I used to be able to do that... now I can't even name all the countries!
  • amendments to the Constitution
Tonight one of the answers was "isthmus" and it reminded me of something I hadn't thought of in years. In 8th grade, my social studies teacher had a lisp and when we were learning various land formations/bodies of water. With his lisp, the definition of "isthmus" which is

An isthmus is a strip of land separated by two seas or oceans

came out as:

An ithmith ith a thrip of land theparated by two theas or otheans.

We would sit there mesmorized as he would say it repeatedly. The good news is I have never forgotten a definition of isthmus. I swear I can still hear him saying it!

My Other DC Stringer Reports in...

Fran says:

Side street of my apartment building. I went up the road to CVS and the snow is delightfully crunchy and easy to walk on. Right now. I fear what the freezing rain will do to the roads and sidewalks.
While walking, couldn't help but think of the Donner Party and what the people endured.(Last night I watched a film/doc about the Donner party.)
Pat Collins and his ruler were planted at his usual spot near the gas station. Pat, he's a broadcaster who literally measures each snowfall with a big blue ruler and interviews passersby trudging through the snow. He was setting up when I passed and said "Here we go again.'" He just smiled as snowflakes danced on his nose.

Wearther Report

We had a real bitterly cold weekend, single digit temps, and now it's warmed up to 22. No snow, however, and it's supposed to be in the 50s by tomorrow.

Mary, on the other hand, is experiencing snow in DC... here's from her morning walk:

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Caller ID

I never really used Caller ID because there isn't anyone I'm trying to avoid or don't want to talk to. But I bought a new phone a few weeks ago and decided to put in the batteries to activate Caller ID and now, of course, I look every time. I have yet to NOT take a call, but it is sort of fun knowing who is calling.

I just now had a call where Caller ID said PRIVATE CALLER. Turned out to be a scam Indian, I'm calling from Microsoft Help Desk, your computer is being hacked and we will fix it call. My question is: Do you answer if it's PRIVATE CALLER? I believe it means that the person has gone out of their way to block their name, so should these calls just be ignored?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hey, Big Spender...

So this is embarrassing. My cleaning woman makes quarterly trips to Costco to buy cleaning products and other stuff like laundry soap for me at a great discount. She just buys what she needs which is fine with me. Today she arrived and handed me a receipt... I glanced at it and saw $90 and change... so I gave her $100 in cash, thinking I was giving her an extra ten dollars just for her trouble and time (and her lugging all the stuff in...)

She resisted, and I insisted.

After she left, I looked at the receipt again, and yes $90 was on there, but it was a sub-total... with New York State 8.25% sales tax... the total was $98.26 cents... Yes, I was Lady Bountiful giving her $1.74 tip. Oh well, my heart was in the right place.

A Lesson I Haven't Quite Learned Yet

I need to print this out and read it a few times a day until it soaks in. Dr. Weiss is best known for his work in hypnotizing people and regressing them to past lives and see which events in past lives impact the person in this life.

As I was thinking about this, it reminded me of a conversation I had with someone I used to work with. We were talking about reincarnation and he was NOT a New Age-y type person at all, but he siad he had a recurring dream of being a Civil War soldier running through the woods and he knew in the dream he had been shot in the leg, and he said he has pains in this life where he was shot. I don't know what to bellieve... of course, I believed him, but whether it is "true" or just a coincidence, I don't know.

In any event,.. here's my still-to-be-learned lesson:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Just as I Un-crabbed myself

Got another call... with the Patricia? followed by "It's harder to get a hold of you than to get my kids to clean their room" followed by this hearty fake chuckle. She kept on talking "I'm with the Children's Cancer Network" or some such and I said, "STOP, STOP, STOP" and said I"ve heard all the jokes and I don't like them so please put me on your don't call list. To her credit, she dropped the mask, said she would, and apologized.

Winter in Texas

Melissa sent this along -- we've had slushy snow that melted, and now the temps are dropping... I don't think the groundhog was right, but here's what winter is where Melissa lives:

Monday, February 8, 2016

Getting Crabbier by the Minute...

I had an appointment for a guy to come here at 6 pm to sync my computer with my printer and wifi which I have been unable to do... so he's calling (big surprise) to say he's running late...will be here at 7 and I said "do you just want to come tomorrow?" and he got all excited that I was trying to postpone and I said, "here's what I don't want. I want to eat dinner. You say 7, but I see how 7 turns into 7:30 and you're late and then it's 8 and the next thing I know it's 9 and I've spent my evening waiting for you."
And that really is my experience. 
So he says something like "I'll be there as close to 7..." and then catches himself and says "I'll be there at 7" and I said "see you then" and hung up. I am so effing tired of holding up my end of the arrangement and others fa la la la at whatever is convenient for them and their schedule. 

I'm an old crabby lady!

LATER THAT SAME DAY UPDATE: The guy showed up at 6:45 and all is well, and I now have a working printer.

Telemarketers... bah humbug!

I was just really rude to a telemarketer, but she really teed me off. I answered the phone, and first that silence and then hear, "Patricia?" in this questioning voice (even though I answer my phone by saying my name...) And I said "yes." At this point, I thought it was a business call or something about personal business. And she said, "You're a hard woman to get a hold of." Which irritates the crap out of me because I am not. I am the one who returns phone calls, answers my phone, responds to emails, etc. And then she said, "You're harder to get a hold of than the last pickle in the pickle jar..." She went on to say "My name is Vanessa and I'm a professional fundraiser..." and I interrupted her and said, "I am not difficult to get ahold of, and I don't appreciate your saying I am." It's a pet peeve of mine when someone lies and says, "I left you a few voice mails..." No, impossible! But I think they are so used to using that line and having it be true.

So she tries to recoup and says, "I was just trying to give you a chuckle..." and I said, "Well, you didn't" and hung up.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Bernie Madoff

I watched the four hours of Bernie Madoff from the ABC show today, and it was quite good. Richard Dreyfuss really does an amazing job depicting him.

I was somewhat traumatized when this happened -- which sounds selfish -- of course not as traumatized as people who lost their life savings... but a week or so after Madoff was arrested, I read a piece on Huffington Post by a woman who had made her career in the magazine business and except for she became editor and I became ad director our stories were quite similar. Now she was facing retirement with a comfortable nest egg (or so she thought), a cleaning woman and other perks. Just like me. Now she is financially ruined... totally broke.

What got me, however, beside our career similarities, is that she wrote about being so thrilled when she got to put her money in the Madoff fund because top execs at Conde Nast where she worked also had their money with him and she thought "oh boy, my money is in the same place as these bigwigs."

That was another similarity. In my 30s, I was "accepted" by this tax accounting firm which specialized in magazine execs and how I had to be recommended blah blah blah and they don't just take anyone and so they took me and I remember thinking the exact thing this woman did -- that my taxes were being done by the same people as the senior execs. I know with metaphysical certainty that I would have given my money to Madoff if the senior execs I worked with had made the offer. It scares the bejeezus out of me.

Well, luckily my tax guy, whom I still use, is a good guy and an honest guy and we've had a long relationship of trust, but the thought that this woman could have been me is terrifying.

My Winning Prize

Mary called me because she is reading the comics for the blind people tomorrow (as usual) and she didn't "get" one of the comics which involved a pun. We talked about various possibilities, and then I googled it and discovered, much to my self-satisfaction and delight, that it was a play on a Bruce Springsteen lyric. I declared myself the winner and then declared for my prize, I want Mary to bake me this recipe for Red Lobster's cheese biscuits which I had seen earlier today. I love those little crack cakes!

Expanding on my prize, I said I want them with corn chowder which we agreed would be a mighty tasty combination. Thanks, Google!

Friday, February 5, 2016

And the Peapod Beat Goes On...

Just received this (and the "weather conditions" are about 1/2 inch of snow)

Dear Valued Peapod Customer,

Due to winter weather conditions your Peapod order scheduled for today, Friday February 5th, may be delayed.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.


Your Friends at Peapod
Peapod, LLC

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Another Peapod Screw Up

I like the food. I like the freshness. I like the variety. I like the prices.

But Peapod, at least for me, has a delivery problem.

Today I was supposed to get my groceries between 11 am and 1 pm. They called at noon to say the driver was running late (again). I asked to be transferred to customer service because when they don't make the delivery window, I always ask for my $6.95 back. The reps were all busy and so you were given the opportunity to "press 1" and someone would call you back.

Didn't happen.

Then after 2 pm, I got a call that the driver had been to my house; no one answered my buzzer, and I said "impossible." The driver must be at the wrong address. She said he is going back to his truck and then would try again. We were still on the phone five minutes later, and I said, "He couldn't possible be taking this long to walk back to his truck."

Then my buzzer rang. I wasn't even going to ask the driver about the not answering my buzzer, but I couldn't stop myself. He said he had been "around the corner" at the wrong address.  So I got my groceries, started to unpack and put away and came upon a bag which made me go "Huh?"

This bag contained at least 15 pounds of potatoes, 4 huge yellow onions, red onions, grape tomatoes, regular tomatoes. Later I found a box of camomille tea which I didn't order. Then I realized I got no frozen items I had ordered, including my weekly allotment of one pint of Ben & Jerry's!

So I call back, now really frustrated, and I have to say the guy handled me well. He told me they couldn't pick up the food I had gotten by mistake due to health department regulations... and that my frozen food would be delivered tomorrow.

Bottom line is I got free delivery, coupon for other free delivery, another coupon for a discount and $10 off my order.

I emailed Marilyn and asked her if she wanted this food, which she did. There is enough potatoes to take me well into next year. She's going to come tomorrow to pick the stuff up.

Somewhere in NYC, someone is pissed about their potatoes. When I was talking to Fran, she wondered if the person was making potato salad for Super Bowl. Which is possible. I'm just glad the food is going to get used.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Milo's Bad Day

Milo spent the day at the animal hospital over a breathing issue which is being diagnosed now -- could be asthma, could be an allergy, could be something else, but the vet thinks it will be OK...had xrays, blood tests, the works. Now he is home and relaxing. I know the feeling!