Thursday, December 21, 2006
My colleague and I went for lunch at a fast food restaurant. We are wearing our stick on badges that say “visitor” along with our names, our company names, and the person’s name that authorized us to be in the building. We get them printed every morning and have to wear them through out the day. If you take them off at lunch, they will not restick, so we just wear them out to lunch.
We are at the counter ordering our lunch and one of the ladies behind the counter seemed to be fascinated by our badges. She kept staring at mine, and then at my colleague’s. Finally, she couldn’t take it anymore and had to ask.
She asked why we wore badges and if they were for the hospital. I looked her dead in the eye and told her that no, we were not with the hospital. We were in the Witness Protection Program and we were here visiting to see if this is the area we wanted to be our new home. She looked at me wide-eyed and just said wow!
My partner thought that was pretty funny and to be honest, I think he almost peed his pants over that. This poor woman probably went home and told her family that she just met two people in the Witness Protection Program!
Ok, that got me through the afternoon.
Then last night, I went for dinner. I was at a steak place, Uno Chicago Grill. What goes good with steak? A nice cold beer! I ordered a beer with dinner and this guy actually carded me. ME. I am WELL over the age of 21. And I thought I was a good liar.
Oh well. Anyone that can shovel crap as well as he did deserved that huge tip I left him.
It definitely was an interesting day.
Now I want to add an addendum to yesterday’s post about compliments and complaints.
I believe in tips also. When I go into a restaurant, I go in with the idea that I’m tipping 20% for the meal. The tip will go up or down from there, depending on the service for the meal. I’ve been known to tip more than the meal was worth, and I’ve also been known to leave a dime. But usually, I’m good for at least 20%. Hence, why the guy last night got a whopping tip for lying to me about my age!
Another place I always tip is at the hotel. To be honest, I always tip, and again, it goes up and down depending on how the room is when I get back. Sometimes I leave a tip for the housekeeper every morning, sometimes at the end of the stay and sometimes here and there throughout the stay. It really depends on what kind of cash I have on me at the time.
I know I didn’t leave a tip Tuesday morning, nor did I leave one Wednesday morning, just because all I had was a $20. So, this morning when I left, I now had smaller money in my wallet. I left a nice tip for her, as she really does an excellent job here every day.
Here was a first for me – when I got back to my room tonight, she left me a thank you note! WOW! I didn’t think the tip was THAT good, but she felt that she wanted to thank me. Now that left me speechless.
You can bet on my way out of here in the morning, I will ask to speak to the manager when I check out and let him know that Sandra has done a fabulous job with my room every day. And, she made my day. That ain’t always easy to do.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I just believe that service should mean just that. Service. I have e-mailed a manager to compliment the greeter at Sam’s Club, who is a little retired lady that always hugs me and Ron when we walk in. She is just too cute and has a smile for everyone. A genuine smile. I’ve written a complimentary comment card on a lady who used to work at the deli counter at Giant Eagle for graciously putting up with me and helping me with my choices when I didn’t know what the heck I wanted. And, I’ve personally called the manager at a restaurant to tell them how impressed I was with one of their waiters who had waited on us the night before. I had been so impressed with not only his professionalism but also his quick wit and personality in dealing with us all night. This list could go on and on.
Those are my favorite calls. Sometimes, the unheralded masses among us go about doing their jobs day in and day out with little reward or praise. A call or an e-mail to a manager most times makes it back to the employee. At least then they know that someone appreciates their talent for service.
On the other hand, I’m also quick to jab when I feel something is terribly amiss. This list also is too long to mention them all. Like I said in the beginning, I do love to complain.
When I was home last weekend, I picked up the last gift I needed to get for Christmas. It was a gift card to a restaurant. I don’t want to mention which restaurant, just because the receiver hasn’t received the present yet, and if I mention what restaurant, it may spoil the surprise!
Anyway, Ron and I stopped into the restaurant on Friday night well after any dinner rush hour. I said I wanted a gift certificate. The gentleman behind the counter basically told me to just go away as he couldn’t help me. They just got new gift cards and he didn’t have any idea how to work them. Of course, I asked for a manager, who perhaps would know more than he does. Then he dropped the bomb that indeed, he was the manager. I made a comment I shouldn’t have about the quality of people they are hiring that would tell a customer to just leave since they don’t know how to do their job. He said oh well, and basically don’t let the door hit me in the ass on the way out.
In case any body missed it, I was also born with a temper. I’m pissed. I am in no mood to go traipsing through town looking for another branch of this restaurant, nor am I in a mood to come up with a back up plan on a gift, so I basically said to Ron to just take me home.
Saturday coming home from the Christmas party, I decided to be brave and try again. We did find another branch of this restaurant and went in for the gift card. This time, a young lady was the victim, I mean employee, that I had to deal with.
When I told her that I wanted a gift card, this time I got an explanation. She said that corporate had just changed the way they did gift cards, and that no one had been trained on the new procedure yet. Oh, great. But, she added that if I could hang in there, she’d give it a shot and try to figure it out. Hello? Is this service I see? She wasn’t even a manager, just an employee. I told her about the manager at the other location, so if she was willing to give it a try, she could take her time and I would wait patiently.
She tried a bunch of things but so far nothing. Then she actually picked up a phone and called someone (I think another employee based on the way she was talking) and that person actually talked her through the process. The gift card was purchased, and I thanked her profusely for digging in and getting it done.
When I got home, I went to the restaurant’s website and found the magical button that says “contact us” and away I went.
I explained how one manager told me to “go away” and one employee said “I don’t know but I’ll try to figure it out”. Even if I never heard another word about it, sometimes just the writing of the e-mail can make me feel better about it.
I just received a phone call from the Regional Manager of the chain. He thanked me for writing and said that the “go away” manager will be given a talking to. I’m jiggy with that. I reminded him that the second part of the e-mail stated that he had also had an employee with a get it done attitude and she should be commended. He assured me that he would also be talking to her.
Two hits with one e-mail – awesome!
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Some blogs just write themselves. Others, I have to work out in my head awhile because all I have going is a few catch phrases to work with. Other times, I have a lot of ideas, but none of them fit to print. And, other days I have nothing to write about but just feel like writing. Who knew that it could be this tough? I really don’t think I have anything to say, so I’m just going to start rambling about nothing.
Let’s talk about yesterday. I checked into my hotel after work, all set for an evening of watching the finale of Survivor that was originally broadcast on Sunday night on Innertube. I don’t know that I can explain Innertube for the one or two people that might not know about it. All I know is that I can watch the full episodes of Survivor that I’ve missed, and see them with very, very few commercials. Instead of 20 minutes worth of commercials in an hour time slot, I see maybe two minutes worth. That isn’t bad.
Anyway, I had planned last night to order a pizza and sit back and catch up on the finale that I missed. So far, so good. Pizza was the best pizza around, a Donato’s pepperoni pizza on a thin crust and to wash it down, a glass of cool refreshing diet Pepsi. It can’t get much better than this.
Then it happened. I lost the internet connection. AARGH. My room happens to have a router right in there, so I did what I know how to do best. First I made sure the lights on the router were lit, then I called the front desk. That’s the extent of my expertise. I was hoping that the front desk would say that the internet mysteriously went down for a bit, but that they were working on it and would get back to me. No such luck. She ended up calling tech support and patching me through to them. Bad idea. I talked to David in tech support, who probably by the end of the conversation, wished he’d called in sick last night.
Some people know what they are doing on a computer. I’m not one of them. Poor David found that out in a hurry.
David: What kind of a lap top do you have?
Me: The kind you use for work.
David: Well, that’s good, but what KIND is it?
That gives you a little hint as to how this conversation was going.
After making me do things I didn’t want to do (for the record, I should never be allowed to click any option that says “advanced”), in his infinite wisdom my wireless card either shut itself off for some reason or it broke completely.
After all that, he eventually told me that he could not help me any more, that I’d have to contact my own IT department. Unfortunately, that was not something I could do at 7:30 pm on a Monday night. Ron offered to talk me through what he could, but by this time I was too frazzled to listen. I needed an easier option.
The front desk ended up calling me to see if tech support was able to get me up and running. After some quick thinking, I said to her, hey look, I have a ton of work to do here and I need to get back on line. What are my options? She didn’t need to know I was having a Survivor-attack!
One option was an external wireless card. I’ve had to use those before and sometimes I get them to work, and sometimes I don’t. With the way things were going, I was betting this wasn’t going to be a successful alternative.
My other option was to change rooms, to one that is hard wired for the internet. Since one was available, I chose this option. Only bad part was that I had to repack by suitcase, grab the left over pizza as well as the rest of my soda from the refrigerator and get a move on. The front desk was nice enough to bring my new key along with a rolling luggage cart to me so I packed my laptop, my suitcase and my pizza and I was off, moving up to the next higher floor.
After hanging my clothes up once again, I was back in search of Survivor. I was able to finish the show with relative ease. That’s a lot of self-created angst just to watch a stupid show. Especially when my personal favorite survivor is not the one that walked away with the $1 million prize.
After all that drama, the rest of my evening was spent harmlessly watching Miami Ink. Look out . . . THIS show may be the cause of a blog with pictures one of these days . . .
Update: I got to the hotel tonight and now the wireless is working perfectly. Go figure!
Monday, December 18, 2006
One thing I really like about their Christmas gathering is that every year it’s different. I know, that is a far cry from my own past. Every year, we would have the same food, the same people, sitting in the same place. As much as I love bubulki, when you are forced to leave the old traditions behind, sometimes even seeing a hint of what used to be can be painful. That’s what makes his family’s parties so awesome. There is no such thing as tradition!
Every year, someone else will host the Christmas party. Who ever hosts, decides on a theme for that year. The year we hosted, we chose comfort food as our theme. So, our Christmas dinner was all that food that gives you warm fuzzies. We had meatloaf, cabbage and noodles, spaghetti and meatballs, just to name a few. An eclectic mix, but I thought it was awesome.
This year was a western theme. The hosts, Ron’s cousin Sara Beth and her husband Raoul, provided the brisket and the smoked turkey. C’mon, with a start like this, how can the meal not be fantastic? In previous years, we’ve had Christmas around the world, where everyone chose a food from different countries (of course, I chose Czechoslovakia and made halupki!), and last year was an old fashioned Christmas theme.
Regardless of the theme, when families that love each other come together for good food and good cheer, then all is right with the world.
As with my family, the little ones of the family seem to have shot up like weeds in the few months since we’ve seen everyone. I think they all made out with great hauls from the family Santas.
One of the best stories from Saturday was with Ron and his great-niece McKenna. She is 20 months old, and just as cute as cute can be with her huge eyes and ringlet curls. She got a pop up book for Christmas that also had buttons on the side that when pushed would play a corresponding tune to go with the page you were on.
After she opened her book, she brought it to Uncle Ron to read it to her. She climbed up on his lap, put a thumb in her mouth, her head back against Ron’s shoulder and she was ready. He read to her, and showed her how to press the buttons to make the little songs play. Then, he sang softly to her along with the one song. That was it. She was hooked! As soon as the song finished, she pressed the button for one more time. That happened quite a few more times before she’d let Ron off the hook from singing. It was so cute to see the two of them snuggled up like that.
It was a great day. I ate too much, laughed a lot, and got to get hugs from everyone. The best part of all that is we get to do it all over again this Saturday when we join my family at Mike and Jenny’s for another Christmas feast!
I’ll make a prediction: The kids will have grown since I’ve seen them last, they’ll haul in some great Christmas booty, I’ll eat too much, laugh a lot and get a lot of hugs. I could get used to these kinds of Saturdays.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
They roll around a 55 gallon drum like contraption that is full of water and fill their watering cans from that. I was talking to the plant lady last night while she was watering and I was packing up my stuff for the night. They really do a great job with the upkeep as the plants are all gorgeous.
After a brief chat, she went her way and I continued packing up. When I made my way towards the front door, I saw the same lady picking up the huge poinsettia plants from the lobby and packing them up on a cart. Jokingly I said to her “aha! That’s how you keep them all looking so great! You just keep bringing fresh ones in!”
Wrong I was. She was packing them up as requested because this company decided they didn’t want them in the lobby. So the plant lady asked me if I wanted one. What the heck, free is my favorite price so I said sure! She handed me a gorgeous red poinsettia plant which I carried right out the door to my car. Bonus.
Right now, my bonus prize is sitting on the coffee table in my hotel room. Here’s hoping that I remember to put it in my car tomorrow or else the cleaning lady will be going home with my poinsettia.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
If I get my test done today, it is in the state’s system by tomorrow, and I can go ahead and renew my plate online and receive the appropriate sticker in the mail in about a week. That’s when all works according to plan.
With traveling, this is one thing I have kinda let slip by. Being gone Monday through Friday makes it tough sometimes to get things done. Well, silly me, I figured I’m still in the state of Ohio, so I’ll just find a local emissions testing facility down here and have it done here.
Yesterday, I left work a little early to go have this done. Since I only know how to get to the job site and from there to the hotel and back, I had to ask the receptionist here for directions to the closest emissions testing facility. She looked at me as if I’d asked her how to find Martians.
I went through the spiel of testing done before license plate renewals. She looked like she had a spark of recognition and directed me to a place that sounded like it was only 6 or 7 blocks away. Not only didn’t I find an emissions testing facility, I couldn’t find my way back to the main road that would take me to the freeway to the hotel! I was screwed.
I wasted a lot of gas in neighborhoods I shouldn’t have been in by myself after dark when finally I spotted a familiar site. I finally knew where I was. Then my phone rang; my boss was calling.
I pulled over into a parking lot to talk to him. He asked me what was happening, if anything was going on over where I was. I told him the whole story of leaving early, trying to find the testing place and having just gotten myself un-lost. He did laugh a little, and then informed me that the emission testing is only done in the Cleveland area. NOT in the Columbus area or anywhere else in this state. What?? That’s a stupid rule. Why should only one small area of the entire state have to subject themselves to this testing? As far as the receptionist was concerned, I was asking for Martians. No wonder she gave me such a look. And, in case anyone was wondering, she gave me directions to the license renewal office. That’s why I didn’t find it, since that is not what I was looking for.
The funny thing is this morning when I went in, the first thing the receptionist asked me was if I found the place I was looking for. So, I had to tell her the story of getting lost, of talking to my boss only to find out there is no such creature in the Columbus area. Ok, we both got a good laugh out of it. But it’s still a stupid rule.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
However, there are certain things that I will not do.
I used to take my car to one of those oil change places where there is a crew in a pit in the basement of the business. You drive your car over a hole in the floor, and the crew below is able to drain your oil without putting the car up on a lift. I refused to drive it in over that pit. I would get out of my car, and trust one of the kids at the facility to drive my car over the hole. Hey, if my car is going down, I’m not going down with it.
Some BP gas stations have a good car wash. The one by my house that I go to, you get your code when you pay for the car wash, drive up to the door, enter the code and the bay door opens. You drive in until a red light in front of you says stop. From there, put your car in park, let the machine do its thing and when the red light turns green, I drive out the other end with a cleaner car than I drove in with. It’s not perfect but it’s better than doing it by hand. It’s so simple even I can do it.
Due to the weather at home last weekend, my car has been filthy with the salt from the road. Every time I get in or out of the car wearing dark pants, I get that salt residue on the back of my pants. One of the things that I wanted to do over the weekend was to get my car washed. Unfortunately, that cycle of nap/watch TV/nap/watch TV took over my body on Sunday and I accomplished nothing. So, I drove down here in a filthy car, continuing to get my pants dirty every time I get in and out of the car.
There is a BP station right down the street from where I am working. I figured that after work, I’d gas up and get a car wash on the way to the hotel. That sounds easy, right? At first it was. I gassed up, chose the car wash I wanted right from the pump, received my access code and drove over to the gate. I punched in my code and then that’s when I saw it. There in front of me to the left was a track that is supposed to grab your wheel and pull you through the damn car wash. Who of you that can read this really believes that “I” can do this?
They have a nice round mirror outside pointed at the entrance to the track that your tire is to drive into. Unfortunately, my side view mirror is pretty much obstructing the entire mirror. I tried as hard as I could, but with it being dark outside and the placement of my mirror, I couldn’t see a damn thing.
When the left front side of my car actually started to go up into the air, I figured I just missed that channel and was driving up onto the edge of it. Ok, I can fix that. I backed up until I was level, moved what I thought was just a little bit over to the left, and then I heard the SCCCRRRAAAAAPPPPPPEEEEEE. Hmm. That can’t be good. In hindsight this morning, I should have gotten out of my car and looked for myself just where I was in relation to where I needed to be. Nah. That would be the easy way out. I jiggled the wheel until I could feel it inside of the track and that awful scraping sound quit. Then, I put the shift in neutral and was pulled through the carwash all the while wondering what the heck my wheel would look like when I got through to the other side.
At the end, you finally come to a red light that tells you not to move as you finish up with their version of a blow dryer. When the green light finally came on, I pulled up and out of the way of the doors and machinery and got out to look at my wheel. Again, it was dark outside, so I really couldn’t see any problems. I had a tire and a hubcap. It looked good to me.
In the light of day this morning, I do see that the hubcap is bent a little, with a nice scrape around about half of it. At least I had the good sense God gave a slug to stop as soon as I could when I heard the scrape and not let the car go all the way through that way.
C’mon BP! Let’s try a bigger mirror! Or maybe a little light there so I could see better. Or please at least have some kid directing me from outside “a little to the left, a little to the right”. Don’t make me do this on my own! Oh well. That’s the last time I go to that BP station for a car wash. They really should warn people that morons should not use this equipment.
Monday, December 11, 2006
I actually got an extra day at home last week, so that helped. I came back to town Thursday night so that I could have a day in my local office to catch up on administrative duties. I needed that break.
Saturday started off slowly. Ron made us breakfast, and it was pretty much Pogo and DVR time. That’s always a good start to a Saturday. Saturday afternoon, Ron scored great boyfriend points in willingly going with me to finish my Christmas shopping. Even though our day was filled with necessary stops, we were able to fit in a few bonus stops as well.
The highlight of Saturday for me was that since we were over by Great Northern Mall shopping, we had lunch at one of my favorite places! Chipotles! I swear if it was closer to our house, I’d eat there four times a week at least. You can’t beat their chicken fajita burrito in my honest opinion. It’s all you need to sustain life, wrapped in a fresh flour tortilla. Mmm.
Between the awesome lunch and the new sneakers I bought myself at Payless Shoes it was a bearable day fighting the lunatics on the road by the mall.
After the shopping excursion, Ron and I hunkered down and got to the wrapping end of gift buying. We had a great system set up with Ron on one side of the table and me on the other side.
I measured and cut the wrapping paper for each present and then handed it over to Ron who worked his magic with it and made it all beautiful and wrapped. By the time we went to bed, we were exhausted. It was a long but very successful day.
Sunday was a total relaxation day to recover from Saturday’s shopping! Again, it started off with breakfast ala Ron. From there, I stretched out on the recliner and Ron took over the couch. The TV was tuned to the Comedy Channel. The entire day was spent napping for 15 minutes, watching whatever was on for 15 minutes. This repeated itself throughout the day; nap, watch TV, nap, watch TV, etc. For as much sleep as I got Sunday afternoon and evening, I can’t believe that I actually fell asleep last night and even stayed asleep most of the night! I must have needed that battery recharging.
So now, we are as ready for Christmas as we can be. This coming Saturday we will celebrate with Ron’s family. The following Saturday with be with my family. Then a few well deserved vacation days for me. Unless you want to hear about more napping and watching TV, don’t expect great blogs that week! Because that’s exactly how I am planning on spending my vacation. Only 11 more days to go.
Friday, December 08, 2006
The hotel I was staying at has their lobby on the 7th floor of the building. The first six floors are the parking lot for the hotel. So, from the parking garage, you take the elevator up to the 7th floor, cross the lobby and take that bank of elevators up to the next ten floors where the rooms are.
As I was leaving the hotel for the day, I was waiting on my floor for the elevator to take me down to the lobby. The doors opened, and an elderly gentleman who was struggling on crutches started to walk out of the elevator. I know how it is when you’re daydreaming in an elevator. As soon as it stops, you assume you’re in the lobby and start to leave. I had a feeling that’s what happened with this gentleman. I asked him if he was looking for the lobby, because if he was, this wasn’t it. He laughed at his oversight and said indeed, he had been daydreaming and assumed this was his floor.
He backed up into the elevator and I stepped on as well. We chatted about the fact that both of us had done that same thing at one time or another in the past. Then, this gentleman said to me, “do you ever notice that people just don’t talk to each other in an elevator anymore?” I replied that of course I noticed that, but as you can tell, I’m not one of those people! So we chatted a bit more on the way to the lobby about the book I was carrying in my hand.
When we got to the lobby, I let him get out first and together, we made our way across the lobby to the next bank of elevators that would take us to the parking garage. He pushed the down button and said “are you ready sweetheart?” Silly me, I assumed he was still talking to me! So I said something like I was as ready as I was going to be. As I walked closer to the elevator, I finally saw his wife who was standing behind a pillar waiting for him! Ok, I had to laugh.
I told him that I was actually arrogant enough to believe that he was calling ME sweetheart! I have a feeling that this guy has spent his lifetime talking to ladies because he and his wife got a chuckle out of that. Then he said to me that his wife would always be his sweetheart, but if it was ok with me, I would be his honey. Hey, we can never have too many honeys in our lives, so I readily agreed to it.
The three of us ambled into the elevator where they got off of the elevator first. In unison, the both of them turned to look at me before the doors closed and they said “bye honey! Have a nice day!”
Dang it, that made my day. And, Ron better watch out! There is a 75 year old honey down here that has his eyes on me!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Two instances have happened recently.
During the week, I am traveling for work. I eat many meals alone. When you are dining alone, it is not uncommon to be placed in a booth in a bar room, rather than take up an entire table in a dining room. I’m usually ok with that.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a BBQ place just around the corner from the job site. I was given a booth in the bar room. Bellying up to the bar were three young “ladies”, one of whom was holding a very small child. I am guessing a couple of months old at best. This young mom had left the diaper bag behind her at one of the empty booths. She jumped off of her bar stool long enough to go to the diaper bag for a bottle for the baby. I watched as she sat at the bar, feeding the baby a bottle while she sucked down a few margaritas.
As much of a fan of margaritas as I am (just look at the title of this blog!) I had trouble with this scene. I don’t know anything about having or raising children, so for all I know, a few margaritas is a necessity in getting through a day. Heaven knows I’ve felt that way even without having kids. I watched her in disbelief and hoped this behavior was just a fluke. .
Last night, I went to a steak place. Again, sitting in a booth in the bar room, I was astounded to see a young couple walk in with a baby in one of them carrying kind of car seats. Well, I wasn’t surprised to see them walk into a restaurant with the baby, but I was surprised at what they DID with the baby.
I was assuming they were going to one of the open booths in the area. I assumed wrong. They chose a couple of bar stools at the bar. Where did the baby go? The baby was placed on the floor in between them of course. After a minute, mom gets off of her bar stool, brings the baby carrier up and placed it on that bar stool. Aha! Mom just put the baby down a minute to get herself situated. That can’t be a bad thing. I am starting to feel better about it. I watch as mom loosens the baby’s snow suit, coos at her for a bit, then . . . . you guessed it . . . . she put baby and car seat back on the floor between the bar stools. Hello??? Mom and I am assuming Dad, then planted their butts on the bar stools and had a beer.
Which is the proper etiquette? Do you hold the baby in your arms at the bar and feed it while you drink? Or do you leave it on the floor, hopefully out of the way while you throw back a few brews? No, sorry. That’s just wrong.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
The game plan was that we were going over to Larry and Linda’s for a quiet dinner and some games. The truth was that about 20 people or so was showing up to celebrate Larry’s birthday that was a few days before. Now, the issue became how to get him out of the house.
That was Ron’s job. He and I threw around a few ideas on Saturday morning of what would motivate Larry to spend the afternoon with Ron. That’s not usually a difficult thing to do, but it had to be believable from the get go and something Larry couldn’t back out of. Larry is all about coming over to help Ron with projects on the house, but I was afraid that a last minute “project” could be postponed by Larry for another weekend. No, it had to be something he couldn’t refuse. What could it be?
Harley shopping. Simple, but effective! The only problem with that was unbeknownst to the guys, the local Harley shop closed at 4:00 p.m. That left them with very little time to drool, I mean shop. Since we couldn’t let Larry go home until around 6:00 p.m., Ron had to try to kill two hours with him before they could come back all without making him suspicious. Somehow, he talked Larry into Christmas shopping. The bad part about that is that Ron beat me getting all of his shopping done. I should have given him my list too!
So, the two guys spent the afternoon Christmas shopping. Ron tried to stall as long as he could but guys can only shop for so long if there isn’t a Harley involved. At the end, Larry got home before everyone was able to get to his house, but that was ok. The look on his face every time someone else came to the party made the surprise part of this party last a lot longer.
It turned out to be a great party. No police were called; I guess that just means we are all getting older and quieter. No injuries, no police. And we still called it a party! Anytime that good friends and good food show up at the same place, it’s definitely a party.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
As a kid, my job was always to keep cranking. Mom and/or Aunt Mary would do all of the working with the dough. They would take the small dough packages and put them through the noodle maker, each pass making dough into a longer and thinner strip. I cranked, and was allowed to adjust the machine to thin the dough with each pass through. Finally, when it was the right size, Mom would cut the long strips across into inch or inch and a half wide pieces. These pieces would be fed through one by one to cut the individual noodles. Again, I was tending the crank, but at this part, I would also be allowed to feed the pieces of dough into the machine, as long as I would put them in straight.
Funny what we remember as we get older. It must be a good 20 years or so since I’ve helped with this task. Even as I got older, my position in the noodle making process never changed. I cranked, adjusted the machine and got to cut the final pieces into noodles. And, of course, sprinkle the cut noodles onto a sheet that was placed on all of the beds to give the noodles a place to dry.
This process is not something I have ever done on my own. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve thought much about it in the last 20 years. But, last night in my dream, I was the noodle maker. Mom was there, telling me what to do. Unfortunately, what she was telling me did not end up being done as she told me. In my dream, I was the one trying to feed the dough into the machine to make the long thin strips. What came out was just about everything but. Mom couldn’t figure out how in the heck I was going to get noodles out of the mess I was making!
The sounds and the smells all came back in the dream. If I think about it hard enough right now, I can still smell the flour. Or taste what the raw dough tastes like. C’mon now, we’ve all snitched a few pieces of the raw dough. That was half the fun of helping. I remember the little pan that caught the cut noodles. I can feel the noodles in my hand as I take them and spread them out on the beds for drying.
I don’t know if I’ll ever run out and buy a noodle making machine and make my own home made noodles. But at least for a little while in my dream, I was back to when life was easier, spending an afternoon with Mom making noodles. And that ain’t a bad way to dream the night away.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
My job is a strange job some days.
There are three of us on this audit. At some places we audit, we are given private offices. Other places will set aside a conference room for us. And, still other places will just put us wherever they have an empty cubicle. Any of the scenarios work for me.
Where we are now, we are in three empty cubicles. We are all spaced pretty far apart, in with three separate groups of people. Since only two of the cubicles have computers to get into our client’s systems, we end up playing musical chairs since all three of us will need access throughout the audit.
While sitting in the various cubicles, here are some of the conversations I’ve had to listen to from the people around me with the thoughts that went through my head when I heard them:
---> “C’mon honey, please fold the towels in the dryer for me. I know, but I bet you can do it. Just go to the dryer, take them out and fold them. That’s all you need to do. Ok, ok, never mind. I’ll do it. No, I won’t tell Dad that you didn’t do them.” (Hmm. Take out fold the towels and insert any other chore and it’s about the same conversation. I’ve heard it about homework, picking up her room, etc. Very interesting! Me thinks someone has Mom wrapped tightly around her finger!)
---> “I’m going to meet him at the club tonight. I’ll just start humping his leg while we’re dancing and see if he gets the hint that I want to get laid.” (Is this how you pick up men now a days?)
--->“You think you’re delivery was bad, I went out for dinner before going to the hospital so that by the time I got to the hospital, there wasn’t time to do an enema! You should have seen the mess I made! Ewww!!” (There is absolutely nothing I want to add to this one!)
---> “My divorce was so bad; I actually threw a party when it was finalized! What a crazy night that was! I can’t believe how drunk I was!” (I guess any reason to party.)
---> “Hey, I can’t find something in the phone book. Is the U.S. Post Office under government?” (Um, last I looked, that U.S. part stood for United States. Yeah, I’d look under government.)
This is just a sampling! Please, if you’re sitting in a cubicle, remember the people around you hear your phone conversations as well as your conversations with your coworkers. Keep in mind, you never know when someone else is listening. That someone else could be me! And trust me, I don’t want to hear the stories of how it would have been easier if you had that enema before delivering your child. Yeah, that’s a story I could have lived the rest of my life without ever hearing. Ewww.
Monday, November 27, 2006
I got back to town on Wednesday afternoon and pretty much did nothing the rest of that day. Then, Thursday morning was spent making sure the house was presentable for company. Mostly, I just had to get rid of all of the mail that has accumulated on the table. I made three piles for the mail. One pile was the bills that had to be paid, one pile was for Ron’s stuff and one pile was for stuff to be thrown out. This worked in theory.
Last night, I sat down to pay all of the bills that were stacked in pile one. Ron was going through pile two to look for his expense check that was on the table so he could get a deposit ready to go into the bank. Poor guy looked and looked and looked. Guess what? No check.
So I helped him look. And we looked. And then we looked some more. His check wasn’t in my pile, it wasn’t in his pile and it wasn’t left on the dining room table. Only other option was that it was pile three – the pile that was thrown out.
Hey, when I pick up the table, I pick up the table.
Sorry, honey. My bad.
I had to travel to the audit site by myself last week. My other two associates decided against the trip for the short week for one reason or another. Other than getting lost heading to the hotel, there wasn’t much to note.
For the record, if the picture on the internet of the hotel is shown from one side of the road, that’s where it should be when I’m driving up to it. The internet showed my hotel to be on the right side of the street. However, when I was driving up and down, I was looking on that side, only to find out later, through a phone call to the hotel nonetheless, that the hotel was actually on the other side of the street. That’s a hard one to admit. And, it’s not like it was a dinky building, either. It was a 20 story high-rise in the middle of downtown (my room was on the 18th floor, thank you very much!) but somehow I still missed it. I shouldn’t be allowed out alone.
The work week went by quickly as I was only away for three days. Then the fun began!
Dad and Jim were nice enough to brave the crazy people and the traffic to head to our house on Thursday. Since they did all of that, I made sure they didn’t have to eat turkey. I know neither of the guys appreciates the delicate tastes of one of my favorite meals, so I decided to make one of their favorite meals. I got a half of a ham and cooked it up. It honestly turned out to be one of the best hams I ever made. A bottle of Bud Lite in with the ham was all it took. And, since we all know how good cabbage goes with ham, as a side dish, we had another family favorite, fried cabbage and noodles. Good eats at our house this holiday for sure.
Friday, Ron and I headed to Erie and had a day of visiting. Maura was in town with her husband for a fast weekend trip so we met up together at one of our old hangouts and had a nice lunch. I’m telling you, a lunch was not enough time to spend with my good friend. I miss her to death and the hug good bye was definitely difficult. But, at least a lunch visit was better than nothing.
After lunch, Ron and I even got to stop in and chit chat with Aunt Mary! She is still cute as the dickens for sure. Aunt Mary hugs are some of the best you can get. Unfortunately, we had just come from lunch with Maura so we had to decline the offer of pie. That’s just wrong on a lot of levels. No one should ever say no to pie. So, I took extra hugs instead and all was well with my world.
After a nice visit with Aunt Mary, we headed to see Dad before we left town. After spending more quality time with Dad and Jim, we finally hit the road home. I’m glad Ron was driving, since I not only hate to drive on good days, but with the holiday traffic mixed in, it would have made me a bit crazy. It was much better to just sit back and try to enjoy the scenery.
Saturday we had the chance to catch up with Mike, Mary Jane and their whole family. I’m telling you, even a month or so goes by in between seeing the kids and I can’t believe how many changes in them all. Evan and Isaiah are getting so big! Poor Isaiah though, had a heck of a cold and sure wasn’t up to par. Grady and Noah were the happy little babies mostly content in just watching all that was going on with everyone else. I even tried to pinch the little ones to get a little commotion going on, but they couldn’t be bothered. Life was good, no use in fussing.
Sunday was spent trying to relax and forget about the world for one day before I headed back to reality.
So it was a very busy weekend. It was great to see all of the family that I don’t get to see very often. That’s the best part of any holiday.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Ron at this very moment is cooking us lunch. I'm upstairs watching my DVR and playing on the computer. What do I hear?? The smoke alarm right in the hallway outside of this room! Blaring for all it's worth. This is not a test. This is the real thing!
Ron yells up the steps and says "oops! Lunch is almost ready!" I reached up to the smoke alarm up here and took out the battery and said "I gotta blog about this!" So, here we are.
(Another smoke alarm just started going off! This is a TWO alarm lunch!)
Hey, it's not an unusual thing for a smoke alarm to go off while I'm cooking. Trust me, that's how I usually know the meal is ready to eat. But, in 3-1/2 years that Ron and I have lived together, this is the first time that HE set off the smoke alarms! Way to go honey!
I knew if he hung around me long enough I'd rub off on him. Welcome to my world honey! I'm proud of you!!
p.s. Lunch was turkey mignon, pierogis and corn. It was delicious!! Great job honey!
Friday, November 17, 2006
When the last Harry Potter book came out, I was able to pre order the book through Amazon.com. That way, the day the book was released, it was delivered right to my door! It’s hard to beat a deal like that. The only bad thing about that was I was the first person I knew to read that book. There were a lot of exciting things happening in that book. As soon as I finished the book, all I wanted to do was talk about what happened in the book with someone. Anyone! That was hard. But, it was still worth the kick to have the book fresh off the presses without having to wait in any horrible lines.
There are few books I am that passionate about. Another one happens to be a series by Dean Koontz. The first book was named after the title character in the book; Odd Thomas. Yes, the guy’s name was Odd Thomas. The book really took me on a roller coaster ride. I remembered breaking down into absolute sobs at the end of the book. It was gut wrenching. That’s not always a good thing, but I thought the book was just so awesome, it was worth the cry.
Then came the follow up book, Forever Odd. Ron was nice enough to supply me with this one. It didn’t make me cry like the first, but I still thought it was an awesome book. Last night, I just found out that book number three, Brother Odd is due out on November 28th. How could I not know this???
I immediately pointed my browser to Amazon.com and once again pre-ordered the book. I know, I could have put it on my wish list and hoped someone bought it for me. I mean, after all, there is Christmas and my birthday coming up. But why take the chance that everyone would pass up this gem of a gift? No, I couldn’t leave it to chance. I dusted off my credit card and bought it myself. Now to only count the days until November 28th!
So as not to worry anyone, I still have a lot of other items listed on my Amazon Wish List. Please feel free to buy me that plasma flat screen television I have on there, another gem of a gift. I promise to act surprised and not to be disappointed!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
There is a really nice cafeteria here on site. Breakfast (bagel and orange juice) can be had for about $1.50 and our lunches run around $3.00 each. And, they’re not bad. There are different areas that you go to for different sorts of items. It just so happened that the bagel I got for breakfast yesterday came from the same station from which I picked up my turkey and swiss sandwich for lunch.
The kid manning the counter at breakfast was talkative. That’s no big deal. I’m guessing he’s somewhere in the area of fresh out of high school. I ordered a bagel yesterday, toasted. While it’s toasting, we were chatting.
Every morning, the receptionist prints out name tags for us. She had our business cards, so our name tags have our name, then our company name, and the words “Audit Specialists” under our company name, which she got from our business cards. They are peal and stick labels that go right on our clothes.
While I’m waiting for my bagel to toast, the guy is reading my name tag. He commented that I’m an audit specialist (big whoop) and he kept saying my name over and over. Ok, I started to get a little freaked out. Finally, the bagel was ready, and I got to walk away.
Lunch time came and I wasn’t that hungry. All I wanted was a sandwich. Hence, why I got back in the same line at that counter, instead of one of the lines for some of the cooked food items. Big mistake. As soon as it was my turn and I got up to the counter, he said “hi, Ann Marie! I remember getting your breakfast for you this morning”! Ok, what do you say to that? It was the most perfectly toasted bagel I ever had, thank you??
While he was slapping together my turkey and swiss, he commented that he remembered my name because he had looked so carefully at my name tag that morning. After all, he can’t just look at a person’s face the whole time, he has to look other places. This guy actually said that! How was I supposed to take that? As an insult that he couldn’t look at my face for the two minutes it took to toast my bagel or as a compliment that he’d rather look at my boob for two minutes??
Either way, that was just wrong.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The movie was The Prestige. To be honest, this was not a movie I would have picked out, but majority ruled and that’s what we went to see. I am so glad we did! The movie was awesome! I wish I could write reviews more like other people, but I have no clue as to directors, producers, cinematography or anything like that. I know I enjoyed the movie from beginning to end. Besides, looking at Hugh Jackman for two and a half hours is just a good thing!
This movie did have its share of twists and turns. Usually, my mind needs a little help grasping things like that. I usually need someone explaining some of the twists and turns before I’m up to speed and able to understand a movie! Sad, but true. However, this time, I GOT IT! I can’t believe it! I never get it. I never guess who done it, and I can never see something obvious coming. But not so this time.
After the movie, Edna and I made a stop in the ladies’ room. We’re standing there, washing our hands, when two other ladies in the room were discussing the movie we just saw and they totally didn’t get it. I know I have a big mouth and generally speaking, can’t keep it shut. They were going back and forth asking each other “why this” or “what was that” and I actually KNEW! So, of course, I had to start spouting off.
The four of us stood in that ladies’ room for what seemed like a long time, rehashing the movie. We could have picked a better room, but it was still fun! I never get to be the one to explain anything! The ladies left the room totally getting the movie. I left the room doing a happy dance because I knew the answers to their questions. Edna? Well, she pretty much just shook her head that I’d stand there so long talking to total strangers! Hey, what can I say? I never learned that do not talk to strangers rule.
So, if anyone goes to see The Prestige with Michael Caine and of course, Hugh Jackman, and you have any questions, call me. I got it!!
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Today was an exception.
I was in a meeting this morning. When I returned to my desk, I saw my work cell phone had a voice mail. Crap. Who wants to argue with me now? So I listened to the voicemail. Here is about how that voicemail sounded that was left on my phone.
“Uh, hi, Ann Marie. My name is Mike and I’m from XYZ Company. I am returning your call from oh . . . about a month ago. I’m not really sure what it is you wanted from me, so maybe you could give me a call today and refresh my memory. I’m in California, where by the way our weather is really lousy right now. It’s cold and rainy. But I guess you don’t want to hear about that. So, um, I know you needed something from me, I just don’t remember what. Again, this is Mike from XYZ Company, phone number 555-555-5555. Give me a call.”
Interesting, huh? I definitely had to call Mike back! Here is kinda how that went.
Mike: This is Mike.
Me: Hi, Mike. This is Ann Marie with ABC Company.
Mike: Oh, HI! Thanks for calling me back! Some weather, huh?
Me: Laughing. Well, Mike, to be honest, when you tell me you’re from California, I really have a hard time getting my sympathy juices working for you when I’m sitting here in Ohio. You wanna talk weather, we can talk weather!
Mike: Laughing. Yeah, I guess it’s hard for you to care it’s not perfect here, huh?
Me: No, sorry.
Mike: Um, I remember you left me a message awhile ago . . . do you remember why?
Me: Hmm. Was it at least in 2006?
Mike: YEAH!! I’m not that far behind on returning phone calls!
Me: Excellent! Well, hang on then, I’ll look it up! I must have it right here if it’s that current!
(me typing some keys, trying to find his issue in my laptop)
Me: Yep, here it is. I sent you a couple of faxes. I need you to sign one of them and fax it over to me. That’s it.
Mike: Yeah, I got your two faxes, I just wasn’t sure what to do with them.
Me: Sign it and fax it. Simple.
Mike: Yeah, that’s good. I can do that.
Mike: So, you’re in Ohio, huh?
Me: Yes, right on Lake Erie.
Mike: So, what are lake effect snows? You ever get any of them?
Me: Oh yeah, we get them. (I tried to explain them, although to be honest, I know what the end effect of a lake effect snow is, but I’m not sure I know exactly what causes it. So, I blabbered a bit about snow.)
Mike: I love snow. From where I’m at, I can see snow up on the mountains. It looks really cool. So pretty and all. You like the snow?
Me: Well, from where I am at, it’s a lot closer than just looking at it on the mountains. I have to shovel it, plow it, and brush it off my car. When it comes to that, it ain’t so pretty anymore!
Mike: Well, I really liked talking with you! Thanks for returning my call and helping me out with your faxes.
Me: Mike, the pleasure was all mine. In fact, I enjoyed our conversation SO much, I’m keeping your number! The next time I’m depressed, I’m calling you for a laugh!
Mike: YEAH! Please do! We can talk about the weather or something!
Ok, neither one of us are rocket scientists, but I liked the guy anyway. I still don’t feel sorry for his “bad” weather in California, but hey, if he signs that paper and faxes it back to be, it’s money in the bank. It’s hard for me to not like anyone that in effect hands over money to me.
All my phone calls should be that easy.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
My skin seems to be dryer than normal when I stay in hotels. Whether it’s dirty air filters for all of the circulated air or just the ultra soft water in the showers, I have a hard time with my skin on the road.
One of my rituals before going to bed it taking the little bottle of complimentary body lotion and giving my hands, feet, arms and legs a good dose of some lotion. Last night, when I was done, I left the bottle of lotion on the night side table.
Remember, I have this terrible cold. I also put a lot of tissues on the night side table and some cough drops to get me through the night.
Here is what I saw in the morning on the night table in my hotel room before I left for work:
> Half empty bottle of hand lotion
> A ton of wadded up dirty tissues
Some things are just wrong to think about. The scenario going through my mind of what that could look like was just too much for me. I did not want housekeeping to say “ewww” or heaven forbid, booby trap my room in some way for leaving that “mess” for them. I definitely had to throw out my own tissues and put the lotion back in the bathroom before I left for work.
We did take a little ride around to look at a few other areas. We thought we were getting a good deal at the hotel we are staying at, but later found out about all of the hidden charges they forgot to mention when reservations were made.
You want to park a car? It’s going to cost $18.00 a day. We have two cars here.
You want high speed internet access? That will be another $9.95 per day.
You want the paper delivered in the morning? $0.75 per day. (Normally the USA Today is delivered for free when you’re a Hilton Honors member)
You want a warm cookie after work when you get back to the hotel? $1.00 per cookie. Again, most hotels offer this as a nice little perk, while supplies last, in the evenings.
Ok the cookie and the newspaper are little issues, but the parking and high speed internet is definitely adding up for two of us. I know it’s a company expense and not my expense, but the company is not exactly running in the black right now, so we are trying to do what we can to not cause the problem to get any worse.
Looks like next week it will be a new adventure of a new hotel. I have a feeling it’s not going to be anywhere near as awesome as this one. It was nice looking out the window and seeing the river across the street or just the hoopla of downtown activity. Then again, who needs those traffic problems early in the morning?
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
The road that wishes it were a two lane road was CR601. Any road that has country road, aka CR in the road name, I should have figured wasn’t going to be a thoroughfare. I am darn happy I found the road since it had the smallest of signs announcing it.
The best part of this road was I got to drive through when all of the local Amish children happened to be walking to school. The atrocities of the recent shootings in Pennsylvania fresh in my mind, I looked at these innocent beautiful children and just wanted to cry. Most of them seemed so happy to see someone on the road with them, and they waved good morning to me! Ok, that was pretty cool. They are a testament to the “life goes on” theory I guess. It gave me warm fuzzies in my heart for the rest of my drive.
Believe it or not, I found my way to the audit site with only one missed turn. For me, this is a darn good day.
Our hotel is right smack in the middle of downtown. Now I got to tell you, I’ve stayed in some nice hotel rooms before but this one definitely has to be the best of the bunch so far. This is what I love about traveling! All of the rooms in this hotel are suites, not just rooms. This suite I swear is larger than some apartments I’ve had. I could live in this suite with no problem.
You walk in and there is a counter to the left with a microwave, a wet bar and a refrigerator. After that there is a little stone topped table with two chairs. I guess this is the kitchen area. There is an over stuffed chair and ottoman, a sofa and coffee table, a desk and chair and a television. That’s just my living area! Go to the right through some French doors and there are two double beds, a dresser with another TV. Then on the other side of this room is a dressing room, a closet and the bathroom. On the wall next to the beds in the bedroom and on the wall by the desk in the living area are huge picture windows. Did I mention I’m on the 10th floor overlooking downtown? I’m telling you this is way too cool!
When we got to the hotel last night about 6:00 pm, I was standing in the window sort of giggling at even being there. Right across the street from me is an office building. While I was standing in my window looking out, some guy in an office across from me but a couple of floors down was at his window looking up at me. Hey! What’s that about? He kept looking so I finally gave him something to look at. That should cure him of peeping into the hotel across the street for sure. Poor guy probably needs therapy about now. What the heck, he’s never going to see me again and I doubt he could pick me out of a line up anyway!
The only down side of the evening was dinner last night. After I unpacked and relaxed a bit, my boss and I met up for dinner. We got a couple of suggestions from the front desk on where to go for dinner and started walking. We headed for an Italian restaurant about three blocks away.
Nice place, even though it was kind of dark in there. It was really hard to read the menu. But I finally decided on wild mushroom stuffed ravioli in a mushroom sauce. Doesn’t that sound good? It was so awful, it was inedible. It was so salty that even I couldn’t eat it, and I love salt. The waitress wanted to know if I wanted it boxed up and I explained that there is no way I could eat it whether I took it with me or forced it down at the restaurant.
She apologized and sent the manager over. The manager offered to have another meal prepared for me. I didn’t want to start eating now that my boss was done eating, nor did I want to take it back to the hotel. He offered me free dessert which is an offer I usually jump at, but with the bad taste left in my mouth from dinner I didn’t think I could eat that either. So, he did take the offensive meal off of the bill and we called it a night. Oh well, here’s hoping tonight’s fare will be better.
All in all, aside from dinner, it was a good day. I’m still coughing and hacking and blowing my nose which I’m sure all around me are thrilled about. I keep swigging on my cough medicine and hoping for the best.
So much for day one. I’ve been told that I will be traveling for at least the next three months straight. If nothing else, this should be good for the blog. I do love to tell a good story.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Yes, starting tomorrow, I am back on the road. Phht.
This time I am only heading about 2-1/2 hours to the south of me. I even get to stay in the same state, same time zone. The bad news is I have to drive all by myself. If anyone is going to start a pool on how many time I will get lost, I want in on it. I know I'll be lost at least once this week.
From my last post, I caught a bug. I've been trying my best to get as well as I can so that I can make this trip tomorrow. Ron has truly done his best to help out.
Yesterday is a blur as I spent most of it in bed. Ron woke me for lunch and then again for dinner. Yeah, exciting Saturday. The best part was lunch. Ron made some home made chicken noodle soup! I'm telling you, nothing sits better in your tummy when you're not feeling well than chicken noodle soup, especially home made. I know that played a huge part in my making any progress on my road to recovery.
Today he was nice enough to catch up on the laundry while I stayed wrapped up in blankets on the couch all day.
Now it's time to pack some clean clothes, and a bunch of tissues. I have a feeling there may be a few posts in the near future about my exciting life back on the road. Yeah, it could happen.
Stay tuned for the next post from wild and crazy Columbus!
Friday, November 03, 2006
I woke just before 2:00 a.m. and was just miserable. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't swallow, my body hurt, I was tired and now I'm awake. Instead of laying there tossing and turning and waking Ron, I went down to the living room and planted myself on the recliner, wrapped up in my comforter. This wasn't too bad. I could make it through the night here.
Picture this. I have all of the lights off downstairs. It's very quiet. It's 2:00 in the morning for crying out loud. Then I hear it. "Chirp!" Naw, it was my imagination. A minute later, another "chirp". The first thing I did was grabbed my phone to see if it was chirping that I have a missed call. Nope. No one had wanted to talk to me. So, back to my chair. Sure enough, again, a chirp. Now it's coming to me, it sounds like a battery going on a smoke alarm. Ok, I can fix this. I just need to figure out which smoke alarm.
I have a thing about fire. I do the best I can with preventing it from happening. I have smoke alarms and fire extinguishers on every floor of my house. At least one of each. Overkill is better than not enough. I even enlisted the consulting services of Jeff in New York, a real live hero, a fireman, to decide where to put all of the smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.
I started with looking at the alarm at the top of the basement steps. I grabbed the alarm, and pulled out the battery. I no sooner did that when I heard the chirp again. Crap. It sounded like it came from downstairs in the basement. The only smoke alarm down there, from what I was told when we got the house, was that alarm was powered by electricity. I didn't think there was even a battery in it.
Well here I am, freezing in my jammies standing barefoot in the basement in the middle of the night trying to figure out where the chirping is coming from. Now that I'm typing this, I really AM brave (or maybe stupid!) as I don't usually go in the basement alone after dark! Anyway, as I'm standing there, I hear the chirp and decide it really is coming from the smoke alarm that's supposedly electrically powered. I was able to figure out how to take it from the ceiling, and then I noticed a door on the back for a battery. It had a battery back up! That's the good news. The bad news is that since I didn't know it had a battery back up, this battery was never changed with the other smoke alarms. That battery had been in there since at least November 2003 when we moved into the house.
I brought the smoke alarm upstairs into the kitchen to try to figure out how to open the battery door. Using a trusty butter knife, I pried the door open and removed the battery.
Then it happened.
In my hand.
I had the battery in one hand, and the smoke alarm in the other, not hooked to anything and with NO battery installed. And it's still chirping at me. Ok, I did freak out a little bit. I pushed the reset button a couple of times and all that did was make it chirp again. The little red light on the front would flash every minute, which according to the directions on the back, meant it was powered on and working. In my hand, no electricity and no battery. Yet it had . . . power.
Was this something I should wake Ron for? I decided maybe this wasn't life threatening even if it was a ghostly encounter. I put the battery on the counter, then wrapped the smoke alarm in a couple of kitchen towels and then in my coat just for good measure. I was hoping it would at least muffle the sound and let me try to sleep.
So I turned on a few lights in the living room, turned the TV on and crawled back under my comforter where the rest of my night was a little quieter.
Monday, October 30, 2006
I was up for another free phone and kept procrastinating shopping for one. The closest Verizon Wireless store is perpetually understaffed. I will not wait for a half an hour to spend money in that store. Then I figured that I could pick out a phone ON line instead of waiting IN line at the store. The only downside to that was I didn't have an employee standing in front of me explaining all of the buttons.
I've said it before, I'll say it again. Anything with an O.N./O.F.F button, I can usually work that part. Anything beyond that and I'm lost. I didn't want a lot of bells and whistles so I took one of the easiest phones I could find. Or, so I thought.
One upgrade this phone has is a speaker phone. I did like that part. The night I got my phone, I called my good friend Maura to tell her all about it. I told her about the speaker phone feature and she wanted to hear how that sounded. I moved the phone from my ear and turned it this way and that, looking for the button that would make it happen. I couldn't find it. What did happen though was in turning the phone this way and that, I dropped the phone. Luckily, it fell on the dining room rug.
A surprising thing happened. The speaker phone was turned on during the fall! Go me! What a cool feature. So Maura and I finished our chat and I closed the flip part of the phone to hang it up. Life was good in my eyes.
A few hours later, brother Jim called me. I lifted the flip of the phone to answer the call only to find out the phone was still on speaker phone! Dang, that's not good! Do you have any idea how big the freakin' book is that came with the phone? I will never read through that big book, so I was hoping for user friendly.
I finished my conversation with Jim on speaker phone then handed it over to Ron to figure out how to shut that feature off. I think I have that part figured out now.
Every night I am transferring phone numbers over to the new phone. I didn't realize I knew that many people. It seems to be taking me forever. I'm hoping by the end of this week to have that task finished.
If anyone decides to call me in the near future, bear with me. I have answering the phone down pretty well. I can make a call if the number is programmed in ok, but anything else is not going so well. If you leave a voicemail and I don't call you back by the end of the day, you better call me again. There is probably some kind of technical difficulties on my end.
Can you hear me now?
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
I used to be a good speller. But with the invention of spell checker, I rarely have to worry about my spelling. As the saying goes, if you don't use it, you lose it.
Check out this website. I am ashamed to say I didn't do as well as I thought I would. I really expected to ace all of them! HA! I did better than the average, but I'm really disappointed in myself. I guess now I know why I didn't get to go to Washington D.C. for the National Spelling Bee!
Monday, October 23, 2006
Do you think I should know that after all these years?
I got up this morning, and took a hot shower. After my shower, I was running around; downstairs making coffee and then putting a lunch together to take with me to work. I ran back upstairs, stuffed myself into pantyhose, slacks and a sweater. Yes, I am warm. Even a little sweaty.
I grabbed my laptop and headed out the door, down the driveway to the garage and off to work. No big deal. Part way to work, I hear the traffic report. It's snowing on the east side of town. (I am on the far west side.) There are numerous accidents on one freeway heading into downtown due to ice on the road. Hello? Cold in October? Who'd have thought. Where is my coat? On the hook in my hallway at home, where it belongs.
This afternoon, I watched the snow fall outside my office window, wondering just where the heck my brain was today. At least the weather-casters had good news for me for my way home. It did warm up to the low 40s today!
I am an idiot. Achoo!
Saturday, October 21, 2006
I wrote recently about the long drive to my last audit site. Most of this drive happened over long country roads. It was not uncommon to be in the middle of cornfields or fields of alpacas or cows or shetland ponies. In the daylight, it was really a nice drive.
Yesterday was my last day at this site. We finished a little early and called it a day. On my drive home I came across a road side stand that you actually had to pull in someone's driveway to get to it. The signs said "Pumpkins - $2.00" or "Mums - $2.00". How can anyone resist a deal like this?
The Mums were absolutely gorgeous. The picture at the top is the bunch I bought yesterday. The best part about this country road side stand? No one was manning it. There was a box on a bale of hay that said "please place money in here". Can you believe it? So I grabbed $2.00 out of my wallet, put it in the box and put the Mums in my car. I love country life!
Friday, October 20, 2006
Last Saturday, Ron and I spent the day playing with Susan and Georgia. We had a great time! We spent a part of the day at the Botanical Gardens. It was awesome!
They were having an herb fair at the Botanical Gardens that day, and Ron bought me some Marjoram. Don't ask. That may be another blog. We won absolutely nothing on the Chinese auction but I did buy a picture for the house. Hey, we've only been here three years next month and we finally bought a picture for the walls. Go us! The picture is now sitting on our dining room table as we can't decide on where to hang it, but at least we have one ready to go up. Life is good.
I do have to write about something serious that happened to us last Saturday. In my true hour of need, when strangers should come to your aid, I was left alone to fend for myself. I still can't believe it happened. What happened to compassion? To giving? To community? To saving my butt??
The four of us walked to the Hershey's Children's Garden, a part of the Botanical Gardens. Anyone with children should really check it out. The place was amazing and made me want to be a kid again. Very interactive and scaled to kids. A truly great place. Ron and I truly got into the spirit. We were reliving our childhoods. There were fountains aplenty as well as drinking fountains and even a pond. With all that water, all we could think of was to have a water fight! What else?
I admit, I got him with some water. Not a drenching, but I definitely drew first blood. He for some reason thought he should retaliate. As soon as I saw him go for a handful of water, I did what I had to do. I ran behind a couple that I never met before, figuring that they'd protect me in my hour of need. Do you want to know what they did? They looked at Ron, they looked at me, and realizing what was going to happen, they said "NO WAY" and moved quickly to their left. That left me in direct line of fire for Ron. Not good. Luckily I was wearing nothing that was dry clean only, so I was ok. A little damp, a little cold, but ok.
I can't believe those two strangers wouldn't protect me in my hour of need. What has this world come to?
I may be a lot of things, but I don’t think I’m superstitious. Black cats, broken mirrors, bring ‘em on. Friday should have been just another day, maybe a little better than some since it was a pay day. Other than that, it should have been no big deal.
My Friday the 13th started off with me getting almost all the way to work before realizing that I have neither one of my cell phones on me. I’m not as worried about my personal cell phone, but while at work, my work cell is utilized a lot. Let’s just say I’m happy I’m not paying that bill every month.
So that was my big faux pas. Was it Friday the 13th bad luck or was it just me not awake in the morning when I’m leaving for work. I think it was just me not awake yet.
Since I pretty much breezed through Friday, with only the phone incident, I should be set for the week, right? I wish. My horrible bad day came on Tuesday the 17th. It was a very bad day. I’m marking that day on the calendar from now on.
It started with a lot of rain. I was awakened many times during the night to the sound of the storm coming through. In the morning, it was still raining hard.
I have a long drive to work. I am literally in the middle of nowhere and to get here, I take a two lane Podunk road in the middle of nowhere to get to the middle of nowhere. This is a two lane blacktop road that hasn’t seen fresh paint on the lines at least since I was a little kid. At the side of the road is either a ditch or a bunch of trees. Absolutely no where to pull over if my life depended on it, and believe me, my life depended on it.
So, it’s raining cats and dogs, it’s dark and I can’t see where the road stops and the ditch begins. To top that off, there is so much water on the road, I’m hydroplaning on top of the water more than my tires are touching blacktop. And to make matters even worse, every time a semi truck drives in the opposite direction of me (I seem to be the only one heading south, the only other cars I encounter are northbound) it splashes so much water up on to my windshield that I am literally blinded for a few seconds while the wipers make a couple of swipes. It was absolutely terrifying.
It was just such a helpless feeling. I can’t see, I’m afraid to try to turn around as I’m not sure I can find a place to turn around, nor do I really know where I am in relationship to home. I know if I keep following this road, I end up where I need to be. But, I would have little to no hope of finding an alternate route home.
Then I had enough. I called my boss to complain about the road conditions and to state that we are both nuts. Him for making me drive this drive and me for driving it! It was one of those rare occasions that he actually agreed with me. He was faring no better on the road he was on than I was. So he decided that we should give up on our plan to head to the audit site and instead just head for our office. Good in theory. My problem was that I had little to no clue how to change my game plan of going from point “A” to now point “C”.
So, I called Ron. I was nice enough to wake him up and everything! I gave a crying version of my dilemma and asked him to look on a map on the internet and help me get to the office from where I am at. Of course, Ron asked me where I was. Me replying “I don’t know” was not helping him help me in the least! Finally, I found a cross road with a route number. As soon as I mentioned the route number, Ron knew sort of where I was. I was told to head left on that road, and I would come out somewhere that I would know. Good thing I believed him because sure enough, I came across a road that I did know and was able to take it right back to the office.
So there I was, stuck in the middle of nowhere in the rain, not wanting to drive any more.
If I ever win the lottery, the first thing I’m buying is a chauffer. Trust me, I would give up my driver’s license in a heartbeat if I could. And, pooh on Friday the 13th. Beware of Tuesday the 17th!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
However, since Steve is gone, I happen to have my very own hero living right here in this house!
This morning, I was in the bathroom doing whatever it is people do in the bathroom first thing in the morning. When I finished, I was standing at the sink washing my hands. As I was lathering up, I looked up into the mirror and what do I see? A HUGE spider on my face! Ok, he wasn't really "on" my face, but he was on my face that was in the mirror. I was not a happy camper.
I wasn't in charge of all of my faculties yet so I did what I do best. I screamed. Loudly.
Poor Ron came running and once his heartbeat slowed down when he figured out I wasn't dying at the moment, he took care of my hazardous situation. It may not have been a nine foot alligator, but it was just as life threatening in my mind. My hero saved me!
Friday, October 06, 2006
That's why I was quite surprised when brother Mike called about 9:30 tonight and asked if we were dressed! He said it was an emergency, and their whole gang was on their way over. Hey, who was I to argue! Ron and I got dressed, turned the outside lights on and we were ready. Sure enough, the whole gang comes over!
I thought my neighbors were nuts. Mike wins on the crazy neighbor contest. You know how your Mom always said "it's all fun and games until someone pokes an eye out". Well, for Mike's neighbor, it was all fun and games until he almost blew his arm off. So much for playing with explosives!
The ambulance came to take him away and the bomb squad came to secure the neighborhood. Mike's was just one of the houses that was evacuated while the bomb squad secured the neighbor's garage. So where did they pack up and go to? Our house!
Now really, how cool is this? Poor Grady decided to sleep through the whole party, but the rest of us hooted and hollered and sang along with Evan playing the piano. Then he found the treadmill!
First, he has to make sure Papa is right behind him, just in case.
Then, Papa had the bright idea to teach Evan how to push the buttons!
Then, it's time for Evan and Papa to go for a long walk!
I'm telling you, when you're this cute, you can get away with anything!
So, sorry that you guys were evacuated by the bomb squad, but I'm glad you decided to come be safe with us! The police captain did call an hour or so later to give the all clear and my group was back on the road.
Now this may be my true calling . . . emergency shelter!
As a side note to Jenny - no, my tree is not up and decorated already. It's just not been taken down from last year! So no Christmas pickle prize yet! :)
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
One of my new favorite shows is Dancing With The Stars. You take a dozen or so celebrities and pair them with real champion ballroom dancers and call it a show. The celebrities have to learn all of the ballroom dances from their partner and each week they dance. There are usually two different dances done each week, with half of the dancers doing one dance and the other half doing the other. A panel of three professional ballroom dance judges gives them scores from one to ten with a top possible score of thirty. That score combined with a public vote via cell phone or internet rates the dancers and the dance team with the lowest score goes home.
I’ve learned a whole lot of new terms watching this show. I know about holding your form, about staying on your toes, head back, the Tango, the Mamba, the Jive, The Waltz, etc. Yes, I love this show. It scares Ron because now I get a crazy idea that WE need to take dance lessons! I think he’s rather eat razor blades followed by drinking unsweetened lemonade before dancing, but a girl can hope.
One of the contestants is none other than talk show host Jerry Springer. He’s not the best hoofer out there, but he’s having a ball and that makes him fun to watch. When the show started, he said that he couldn’t dance. His goal was to last long enough on the show to learn the Waltz. His daughter is getting married soon, and he really wants to Waltz with her at her wedding.
Last night, was his chance. He ended up dancing a Waltz with his partner. Was it the best Waltz I’ve ever seen? No, but being a Daddy’s girl myself, watching him break from his dance partner at the end of the number and go right to his daughter and hug her for all he’s worth left me in tears. I wasn’t the only one left without a dry eye. His dance partner, his daughter, and half of the other dancers were also in tears, as well as a judge or two.
I am a sucker for a good cry.
Now for my prediction for tonight's show – Sarah Evans, you got to go, girl. Dancing is not your forte.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
As a side note, I TOLD my Mom years ago that spinach could kill a person. She didn’t believe me then and made me eat it. Finally, I get to say “I told you so”! Now if someone would just prove it about peas, I’d truly be vindicated.
Since he’s been back, I’ve been working an audit that is a long drive every day. It takes me about one hour and 15 minutes each way, and that’s with no accidents. I am out of the house by 6:30 in the morning and I’m happy if I’m back home by that time of the evening. This is too many hours in a car each day. Unfortunately, the next audit will be just as long if not longer. Bummer.
Last week was brother Michael’s birthday. He and Mary Jane bestowed on us the honor of celebrating with them. It’s tougher to celebrate once you hit that over 50 mark, huh, Mike? I know he said something about wishing this was happening on the weekend and not on a school night. He couldn’t handle his tequila as well on a Thursday night as he could have on a Friday night! And, the party pooper wouldn’t let me call the waiter for the customary birthday sombrero! C’mon now! What’s a birthday with out that?!! Happy birthday, my brother!
We went to a clam back this past Saturday. I learned something there. I learned that I don’t like clams. Nor do I care for mussels. Glad I paid to go to a clam bake, huh? Actually, Ron paid, but still! At least I had back up food. The cost of the ticket really did buy a bonanza. You started with a small salad, roll and butter, baked sweet potato, corn, then for the entrees - a steak, a chicken leg and thigh, then the dozen clams and dozen mussels. Even without the seafood, I was stuffed. The food was good and Ron got extra clams and mussels, so he’s not complaining!
See? A whole lotta nothing to report here.
I’m ready for the fall. I think this is my favorite time of year. I love the weather getting cooler even if it means my heating bills go higher. I did turn the furnace on for a few hours over the weekend. It was almost a necessity. It was a bit chilly here in the mornings, but once we got by that, it warmed up nicely. That puts me in the mood for fall food.
We went for groceries over the weekend, and I went nuts in the gourd aisle. I have an acorn squash that I’m not sure when I’m going to cook it. I got a spaghetti squash that will be baked and mixed with butter, onion and garlic tonight, with an added veal patty and we’re calling it dinner! Ron’s never had spaghetti squash before so I’m excited about making it for him. To top off my gourd excursion, I also have a butternut squash that I have the perfect recipe (I hope) for an awesome butternut squash roasted garlic bisque. Should be some interesting dinners this week at our house. Now if we don’t come down with e-coli or botulism or something fun like that after a week of my cooking, all will be right with the world.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Ron came back from California tonight. As is custom when he picks me up from the airport, tonight when I picked HIM up, he got to choose what he wanted for dinner. He had a hankering for Mexican food, so we settled on a restaurant close to home.
It was starting to not be one of our best dinner experiences. We were seated immediately, but we didn't see a waitress for quite awhile. We had chips and salsa, but with no drinks, we couldn't eat any of it.
There were some people but I didn't think it was too busy. But we weren't in a hurry so we did our best to be patient. Finally, the margaritas arrived and all was right with my world.
When we're almost finished with dinner, suddenly, the staff is all assembled coming through the dining room clapping and hooting and hollering. They were carrying a very large black sombrero complete with all of the sequins and glitter and all that good fluff. They placed the sombrero on a gentleman a few tables over and they all clapped and sang happy birthday in Spanish. You know I love birthdays! So we clapped and hooted and hollered along with them.
As the servers were leaving the area, the one girl stopped by our table and I said, "geez, had I known you went all out like this for birthdays, I'd have celebrated mine here! I'm definitely coming for my next birthday!"
We had a language barrier for sure. She understood "my birthday" and unfortunately, not a whole lot else! Or, fortunately. A few minutes later, the staff was once again assembled, carrying a PINK sombrero and headed straight at me! You know I eat this stuff up! They all clapped and hooted and hollered and sang happy birthday to me in Spanish and all was really good in my world.
The best part came when our waitress came to the table with a free shot of tequila for me, the birthday girl! Damn I love birthdays! Especially my own! I sure did make out today. Ron did try to capture my moment with his camera phone but unfortunately it was too dark for much to come out.
Again, happy belated birthday, Jenny! I sure did celebrate for you tonight!
Thursday, September 21, 2006
What are the store hours? Monday through Friday, 8 am to 3pm; Saturday 8 am to 2pm.
Think about it. How the hell am I supposed to pick something up by 5 pm?????
I wanted to get a picture of that today, but the shade of the afternoon was not cooperating. I'll try to add this later.
So, as of Monday afternoon, the ties are at the dry cleaners. (Did you know it costs $4.50 PER TIE to dry clean them?!? What the heck is up with THAT? It's a little piece of material for crying out loud.) He was told they'd be ready on Tuesday after 2 pm. Since we didn't know that they closed at 3, he was not able to pick them up since he didn't get there until close to 5.
I was off today, so I said I would pick them up for him. Too late to take on his trip, but at least now some of his ties are cleaned. I showed up at the dry cleaners around 11 am. I was told they are not ready! Can you believe it?? I asked why if they were supposed to be ready on Tuesday, how could I show up almost 48 hours late and they still not be ready?
I was told "one of the gray ones had a stain so he kept it out to work on it. We don't do anything on Wednesdays so I didn't go back to it until today." Can you believe it? I did turn around to look at the door to see if they were open on Wednesdays and they are. I can't explain what the heck is meant by "we don't do anything on Wednesdays". Once again, the magic hour of 2 pm was mentioned as a time the ties would now be ready. Smart aleck me asked on which 2 pm they'd be ready.
I got wild and headed back there at 2:30 this afternoon and sure enough they were ready. Lucky for them. I was in a mood. I haven't had anyone to argue with since Ron left yesterday morning! I didn't want to have to get dressed for nothing today.
Good advertising slogan though, huh? In by 10, out by 5. Just close early every day you're good to go. That's just wrong.
Well, I am anyway. Ron may be in California, but it is a work trip. He was called to the mother ship (aka the corporate office) for a few days. Since I had a few vacation days to use up, and we can't seem to go anywhere since he doesn't have any vacation days accrued yet, I decided to take these two days off to revel in peace and quiet at home.
Last night, I ordered my favorite pizza (Donato's thin crust pepperoni lovers), not a favorite of someone else I could name, and chowed down. Life is good! Tonight's fare will be fried cabbage and noodles. Fried cabbage is always best eaten alone, as the after effects could be quite noxious. Again, go me!
On to another subject, yesterday I stopped at Kohl's on my way home. Something about Kohl's, I love 90% of the stuff in there. I spent a long time walking up and down aisles I don't usually walk down, looking and touching and experiencing all kinds of fru fru stuff. I've never been a fru fru type person, but lately, I feel like I want to be.
If that doesn't make sense, here's what I'm talking about. I like the minimalist way. Maybe I've gone too far overboard with it though.
I have no pictures hanging on my walls. I think I want some. My problem is, what kind? What do I like? I looked at pictures at Kohl's. Didn't know which ones to buy so I didn't buy any.
On to table cloths. Some people keep table cloths on their tables all the time. I like that! I want one too! So I looked at table cloths. Couldn't decide what I wanted, so I didn't buy any. Why can't I be a fru fru kind of girl? Why is this so difficult for me? I really do think I'm challenged in this area. My DNA must be missing a few crucial strands. I need help here. Any shopping helper volunteers, please apply here. I also need window treatments, wall colors and well, just about everything else.
On to another shopping excursion I had. Well, sort of a shopping excursion. Ron dropped some ties off before he went on his trip to a local dry cleaners. This dry cleaner needs to be a blog unto themselves. And, I have a feeling they will be. Anyway, Ron's ties were supposed to be cleaned by 2:00 pm on Tuesday. Unfortunately, Ron got there to pick them up after they were closed, so I said I would take care of that errand on my vacation. I will have to post the results of that little piece of fun later today.
For now, I think I want lunch. I think it will be a bowl of cereal, eaten right over the sink! I love vacation!