Monday, December 31, 2007
So, here is my last year in 25 words or less:
got a promotion
bought a gps
Cubs are NL Central champs
my Dad died
serious family issues
had a breakdown
first vacation with Ron
There was definitely some good in 2007 but unfortunately, the bad WAY outweighed it. Here's hoping we make it through 2008.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Aside from joy of being around family, the accommodations were first rate. This picture above is the view out of our bedroom window which was a guest room at my sister's house. What a view to wake up to! It even made up for having to listen to the coyotes howling at night and the roosters crowing in the morning. The view outside of my bedroom window here in Ohio is nothing like this.
I am not a good house guest in return, that's for sure. Poor Cathie's household was in an uproar the entire time I was there. First of all, I recently found out that I am allergic to cats. Cathie and Dan have two cats. They did their absolute best to keep a couple of rooms cat free for me. Poor cats were locked out of a few rooms and for that I'm sorry. I'm sure now that I'm gone, they don't miss me in the least! As for the allergy problem, I did well the entire time there, except for Christmas Eve night. After dinner, we all gathered in the dining room to exchange presents and for some reason, Cathie and Phil exchanged gifts of stuffed cats that looked like they were sleeping in cute little cat beds. I did check the tags on these cats and there was no real cat fur used in these fake pets. It was all man made material. However, after playing with the fake cats, my eyes swelled almost shut. Go figure! Cathie hurried Benedryl into me and I went and shut myself in my room for the rest of the night. By morning, I was fine. So, the real cats didn't get me but the fake ones did. That's what I call realistic!
Another uproar in the Feeney household because of me was poor Franky. Franky is the family dog that thank heavens is an outside dog. However, his chain had to be shortened up so that the dog couldn't reach the steps meaning I could get in and out of the house without coming in contact with Franky. I tried the entire time I was there to gather up my courage to go and pet Franky but it was a no go. Ron, however, became Franky's new best friend! Ron played with him every time he went outside for a cigarette. In case anyone was wondering, I was not the one taking the picture of the dog. I couldn't get this close even with a zoom lens! Picture is courtesy of Cathie. The picture doesn't do him justice though. He is a beautiful dog, but he is also well over 100 pounds.
We did have a great time while we were there. There was a little sight seeing but mostly just family time. As evidenced by the rest of the photos here.
Christmas eve had all of us together enjoying the California tradition of potato pancakes for dinner. Here are Philip and Ron doing spud duty, Philip grating and Ron peeling. Ron, Cathie and I then took turns on the frying of the potato pancakes so that everyone could have a turn eating a warm dinner.
Life doesn't get much better than this! It was because of good cooks, even though we had a bunch of them stirring the pot.
I have a few pictures of interest to go along with this story.
It may be out of season, but here is a pomegranate tree! I've posted before that Cathie picks me a bunch of pomegranates when they are in season and ships them out to us. Who knew they didn't just come from the produce section at Giant Eagle! What a concept.
You can see the old pomegranates still hanging off of the tree on the right. These trees line the whole drive way up from the main road. I'm guessing there are about 10 of these trees. That's a lot of pomegranates!
Aside from pomegranates, there is also a lemon tree in the yard! I picked a few lemons off of the tree and that was a first for me.
I actually saw a lot of new sights in California. I saw cilantro fields. Again, the only place I've seen cilantro is in a Mexican restaurant. Who knew they came from field in California?!
There are also these windmill contraptions that run on electricity (I didn't get pictures) that are in the orange tree orchards. For some reason, when the temperature drops, and there is danger of frost, these windmills turn on and somehow, instead of cooling the crop, they actually warm the crop a few degrees and can help prevent damage from frost. Only in California does this makes sense. But, it works, so what do I know.
The last picture I have to post here are the cypress trees at Cathie's house. These are gorgeous trees that have to be every bit of 40 feet high. The only bad thing was that during the Santa Ana winds the one night, I was seriously wondering if these trees were going to bend straight over and onto the roof over my head or even all the way to the ground! Santa Ana winds aside, the trees are beautiful.
Now all I have are stories about the flight home.
Cathie and Philip both took us to the Oxnard airport. Gotta love small town life, especially when it extends to small town airports. You were to show up one hour before your flight, not the two to three that bigger airports recommend. Just before we were summoned to board, Ron and I went through security and into a glass room while Cathie and Philip walked beside us and ended up in another room on the other side of the glass. I am an emotional wreck, especially at good byes and basically stood there hand to hand with Cathie with the glass between us and crying. Some jerk on my side of the glass thought this was a funny sight that I was a crying wreck and proceeded to tell whomever he was talking to on his cell phone about me as if I couldn't hear. Oh well. It takes all kinds.
We got on our little puddle jumper with propellers to head to LA. The ride into Oxnard was actually very pleasant, especially since the scenery was so spectacular. However, the trip back to LA was more than a little bumpy. Ok, it was extremely bumpy. I have to admit that this was the longest 15 minute flight you can imagine. I was white knuckling it all the way, hoping that we wouldn't plummet to the ground from our lofty height of 5,000 feet. Somehow, we made it into LA still in one piece.
This time, we caught an electric cart ride the 10 miles from our incoming gate over to our outgoing gate heading to Chicago. That was much better than the run through the airport on our last trip. We found our gate, and headed to the closest food court, just around the corner. We grabbed a fast sandwich and then on to the plane.
This plane was actually pretty cool. I don't know what the plane was but it had two seats, an aisle, three seats, and aisle and two seats. We had the right two seats, way in the back of the plane. The best part is that the seat in front of you had a screen on the back of their seats. We could watch a myriad of programming once in the air. One option was one of about three or four in flight movies, or some programming from the A & E Network, a handful of music channels and my favorite, the map channel.
The map channel (obviously as I call it) showed a map of the USA with a little plane icon showing where we are at any given moment. We had a slide show presentation during the entire flight. The screens showed our height, speed, outside air temperature, miles traveled, miles to go, time in flight, and estimated time of arrival. Couple that with being able to listen in to the flight deck, it was an enlightening flight. I gave up on the flight deck talk, but did enjoy watching us cross the United States. One map would be a total overview, then the next map would be of one or two states on the screen, so it was much more detailed. I thought it was a fascinating and entertaining way to spend the flight in between my naps.
We did get delayed in Chicago for longer than we anticipated. There was severe weather in Denver that had us all delayed. Our plane that was to take us from Chicago to Cleveland originated in Denver then it went on to Dallas before coming to Chicago. So, we sat. And sat. And sat. By the way, if anyone out there has ever had to spend a long stretch of time with a smoker than can't smoke, it's no fun! (HI, Ron!!) Luckily, as soon as we finally got to Cleveland after 1:00 am, I sent him directly outside while I went to baggage claim before one of us killed the other one. Five minutes later, he was back to his old self. Thank goodness!
We got home very late, and once home, we woke the fish and counted them to make sure everyone was still there. We did have someone come in to feed the fish a couple of times while we were gone, but unfortunately, no one noticed that seafood pizza on the counter. Yeah, that was still waiting for us when we got back.
I seem to be having a few issues with the time change on this side as well, but once I get that licked, I should be ok. Actually, I was talking to my sister in law Friday afternoon and she thought I was absolutely out of my mind! She wanted to talk to Ron to find out what happened to me.
But, that will be a story for the next blog.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
The most important part of this vacation was to see some of my family, as I have a brother and a sister living out there.
I also have a niece buried in California. We stopped at the cemetery to pay our respects and to let her know she may be gone but she is not forgotten.
I come from a family of cemetery visitors. Our visits consist of prayers or heart to heart talks with those that have gone, some flowers, and maybe a little manicuring of the grass or plants around the head stone.
In the cemetery where my niece is, there were many graves that families have visited with a lot more than we ever did.
Granted, we were there two days before Christmas, but I have never seen this many Christmas decorations in one place, let alone in a cemetery. Ron grabbed a picture of one grave shown here.
So many of these graves are lined in tinsel, with flowers and/or gifts all over the grave. We have seen crystal figurines to full Nativity sets, to children's toys. I am not sure what the significance of this grave decorating is, but it was a sight to see.
Our Mary didn't get tinsel, or a Christmas tree, or a stuffed horse that was bigger than I am, but she did get a bouquet of pink lilies, and a long heart to heart talk filling her in on all that has been going on with the family.
From what I hear, Christmas isn't the only holiday that warrants a giant makeover at the cemetery. I know we all grieve in our own way and we all deal with the aftermath our own way. I don't know the whys of the decorating, but the result was beautiful.
Monday, December 24, 2007
But in this day and age, he's modernizing away from the cold sleigh and him and his reindeer are traveling mini van style!
Is it Santa? Or is it my brother, Philip?
Brother Philip has all of his reindeer up on his dash leading his way through town. I had to get a picture of him driving down the road because I thought unless you see it, you wouldn't believe it.
Y'all better be good for goodness sakes! You never know where you're going to run into Santa!
The first glitch was the Friday night for dinner we had a seafood pizza. We didn’t finish the pizza and since we were leaving town, I figured I’d just throw out the leftovers into the garbage can outside. When we were half way to the airport, I realized that I left the pizza box right on the counter. Ugh. Do you have any idea how that is going to smell when we get home? If anyone out there that has a key to my house feels like going over there and throwing out that box, we’d appreciate it!
We had three legs of travel. Cleveland to Chicago was first. Aside from being delayed out of Cleveland, we still arrived in Chicago with enough time to grab a fast bite to eat and then get on our plane to LA.
The Chicago to LA leg was a little more uncomfortable. Just because I had the middle seat and I was afraid to move through most of the flight. Bad news is they had a sucky movie playing, so I opted to sleep most of this leg. I guess that’s not such bad news after all!
The final leg of this trip was LA straight to Oxnard. On the ground, this is a 60 mile trip, or about an hour drive. Fighting LA traffic. Since we’re on vacation, we decided alleviate as much stress as we could. We ended up opting for this third flight, so it would be an easy drive from Oxnard to Ojai, where Cathie lives and little to no traffic.
This flight kind of scared me in theory. It was a turbo prop plane (yes, this means propellers) and nothing that archaic should be getting off of the ground, especially with my big butt in it. The plane was even scarier when I saw it in person. Maybe 10 rows of seats not including Skippy, our 12 year old pilot and that was it. The plane bounced like crazy down the runway to the point that I wasn’t sure it was going to hold together.
I came close to breaking Ron’s hand, I was holding on so tightly, but once we got a little altitude, this was the most gorgeous flight I’ve ever been on. We followed the coast line of the Pacific Ocean the 60 miles or so to the north. Just seeing the view from the plane was worth the price of the ticket. It was such a shame that the flight only lasted a total of 15 minutes. I’m telling you, it was breathtaking. The only bad side to this leg of the trip is that our luggage didn’t make it across the airport as quickly as we did. Our bags, we were told, did not make this flight but would be on the next flight, about four hours later.
Brother Philip was nice enough to pick us up at the airport and with no luggage to be had at the moment, we just left and met up with Cathie for dinner. We had a great leisurely dinner with Cathie filled with lots of laughs and lots of memories.
Philip was gracious enough to offer to pick our bags up at the airport when the later flight came in. Luckily, we had the foresight to pack an emergency carry on bag with extra underwear and a clean shirt. All we needed to stop for on the way to the house was a new toothbrush. Philip hung on to our bags and we were reunited on Sunday with our bags.
It was a great day today. I forgot to take my camera with me today, but luckily, Philip was not as scatter brained as I was. I used his camera to take a bunch of pictures and hopefully, once I get them from him I will be posting some of them here.
Keep watching for our California fun filled vacation.
For all of you in snowy Ohio and Pennsylvania, the weather here was absolutely perfect today. Mid seventies with the sun shining! Aah. This is the life!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Our flight out of Chicago is scheduled for just after 4:00 in the afternoon. Since we leave so early, we usually don’t stop working for a “lunch” break and end up stopping for some kind of fast food on our way to the airport.
Last Friday, someone got a wild hair and decided that Wendy’s wasn’t good enough for him this Friday and wanted something different. We pulled into the plaza that Wendy’s was in, and he looked around and saw what he thought was a Chinese restaurant in the plaza and said let’s go there. Well, I’m here to tell you, Korean food is nothing like Chinese food!
It started with the fact that the three of us were the only non-Oriental looking people in the place as well as the only three that spoke any English. Being in an adventurous mood, we decided to stay anyway.
The menus again were only subtitled in English, and this time I had my reading glasses on me. I picked something that said beef with various vegetables. How can that be a bad thing? I should have been able to eat that. One of the guys ended up ordering the same thing and one of the guys again just pointed at something.
The server brought us each out two water glasses, one of which was filled with ice water and the other was filled with a warm amber colored (ok, it looked like pee!) liquid. The water was mighty tasty. No, I didn’t taste the other.
Lunch was served and this is where the confusion really began. I’m sure it was good food to anyone that knows anything about Korean food. But, being a hick from the United States, I didn’t have a clue what the hell was served, and neither did anyone else at our table.
First, I had my bowl of food. What I think was the beef in this dish we were guessing was actually pickled beef and it was cold. The veggies (not swearing to that) were julienned and absolutely nothing was recognizable. There was white stuff, yellow stuff, brown stuff, red stuff. As I usually do better tasting new things when I don’t know what they are, I tried them all. Yuck is the most family friendly word I can come up with now.
Aside from my big bowl of food, it came with a smaller bowl, of soup looking stuff. I recognized a few mushrooms in there as well as two little pieces of tofu. I ate the mushrooms and tofu. It was my suggestion that this soup mixture should maybe go into the big bowl as the stuff in the big bowl was kinda dry, even with the gummy rice. So we did that.
Also on our table, the server laid down six small bowls in the middle of the table that had absolutely nothing recognizable on any of them! Well, one bowl sort of looked like a really small piece of lasagna, but from what I heard from one person that was brave enough to try it, it was nothing like lasagna. I don’t have a clue! We tried to ask the server what to do with these bowls, but she just looked at us and smiled and backed away.
Needless to say, two of our lunches went uneaten. It’s not just that I couldn’t recognize anything, but it all really tasted bad! VERY bad! Sort of like poop on a platter. It was so bad, it made the McDonald’s I bought at the airport taste good. You know if anything makes McDonald’s taste good, it has to be bad in comparison!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
It was a cool game, but the best memory of this game is the back story that goes with it. Brothers Michael and Jim put my game together that year before Christmas to “test” it out before I got it, to make sure it worked. A couple of evenings, the boys were in the attic playing with my game and all we could hear in the kitchen is that dang ball bearing zooming up and down the plastic lanes. My parents probably knew exactly what was going on upstairs, but I didn’t. And, they wouldn’t let me upstairs to look, so it was driving me crazy! Come Christmas Eve, I get my game, Jim knows how to play it really well as he’s been practicing, and kicks my ass on every round. So not fair! The joke that year was that my game even came pre-tested!
Saturday, Ron and I were doing some Christmas shopping for the little kids in his family. And what did I see on the shelf? Rebound! Yeah, I talked him right into buying it for one of the kids. I was hoping to “test” the game Sunday evening but unfortunately, time got away from me. Don’t be surprised by the time that gift is presented at the Christmas party that it’s not a fully tested version of Rebound.
One of my problems is that my eyes have really turned to crap. I think it’s time for me to finally talk to the eye doctor about that dreaded “B” word. (That’s bifocals to any younguns reading this.) I have reading glasses that I have to wear at work when I have my contacts in because I can’t read our data books without them. I could blame it on the 2400 pages of fine print per book, with anywhere from 6 to 20 books per audit that are analyzed line per line. That’s a lot of reading of fine print. The fact that I used to be able to do it with no trouble shouldn’t scare me in the least.
But, back to my dinner.
The restaurant was dimly lit (yes, still making excuses for myself.) and the menu was all in Spanish. There were very few words I could understand. There seemed to be English subtitles to the menu, but between the lighting and my bad eyes, I couldn’t read a damn thing. For once, I was grateful I took two years of high school Spanish way back in the stone ages. I saw an entry called Pasta Con Pollo. Yep, that high school Spanish kicked in and I ordered it. The Pasta with Chicken was passable for supper and it was loads better than the snails on toast points that someone at my table ended up with for dinner. That will teach him to just point and not ask the waiter.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
One of the things I miss about Houston was some of the restaurants - in particular, Pappadeaux. This is my absolute favorite restaurant in the world. Of course it ain’t cheap, but if you ever run across one, open up the wallet a little and enjoy.
In the fours years I’ve done this audit, I didn’t know Pappadeaux was in Chicago. I always assumed it was a southern thing. Well, Tuesday night we all went to Pappadeaux for dinner. This is the restaurant that started my love of crawfish.
I couldn’t talk the guys into my favorite appetizer of crawfish and shrimp fondeaux. This stuff is the absolute bomb! I gave in though and we ended up ordering the fried alligator as an appetizer. Now, I’m not usually very out of the box when it comes to eating, but if they were willing to try alligator, I had to at least get one bite in my mouth to say I’ve tried it. Surprise, surprise, I liked it! I didn’t care for the spicy cocktail sauce that came with it as it was too spicy for my tastes, but the fried alligator was actually very good. And, yes, it tasted like chicken.
This was followed with my main course of the crawfish platter! Ok, I always order the crawfish platter when at Pappadeaux. I can’t help myself. I thought I’d try something different, but it may be another six years until I can get to another Pappadeaux, so I thought I had better get my crawfish fix while I can.
Picture this: a huge plate full of crawfish etouffee, some dirty rice and a pile of fried crawfish. Holy cow. I honestly did my best to finish my dinner, but I couldn’t get through it all. My taste buds were so happy, even my toes were tapping under the table while I was eating. The etouffee was a bit on the spicy side so my nose was running too, but I guess you didn’t need to know that part. Why oh why can’t I cook like that?
I paid the price for this great meal though. Like I said, I ate too much. And, we ate late. It was after 9:00 last night when we got back to the hotel and all I wanted to do was to crawl into bed and sleep. With a belly full, that wasn’t going to happen. So, I walked up and down my room, just trying to get the digestion process going. I thought that whoever was below me might not appreciate all of the walking, so I took my show on the road. I went into the hallway and walked up and down the hallway. Then, I went down to the lobby and walked around the lobby. Finally, about 11:30 pm I couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer so I had to get to bed. I wasn’t happy with myself when my alarm went off at 5:00 am.
It was worth it though. I had my crawfish fix and while I could have wished for better company to eat with, there was absolutely no complaints about the food or the service. And, I even got to try alligator!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Last Friday, when I was checking out of the hotel, I did not do a stellar job grabbing my stuff before leaving. I usually am pretty systematic about going through the room making sure I have everything. I remember taking a second look in the bathroom but it seems I missed a second glance at the work desk in the room.
Unfortunately, I didn’t remember that until I was back on the audit site after check out when I realized that I didn’t pick up either of my cell phone chargers. My personal cell phone, a Motorola Razor is a piece of crap that drops calls at my house with such consistency that you wouldn’t believe it. That coupled with the fact that the battery can go from full to zero in a day really makes it a piece of crap phone. This phone I was at least able to charge a little bit in the car on Sunday while Ron and I ran some errands (aka Christmas shopping). However, my work phone was soon to be dead in the water.
As soon as I realized what I did, I called the hotel, told them that I had just checked out from Room 913 and left two phone chargers on my desk. I asked that they hold them until Monday as I was due back in town. She assured me that she would inform housekeeping about my blunder and they would hold the phones at the front desk.
Not trusting other people, I called the hotel again Sunday evening to verify they did indeed have my phone chargers. I was left on hold for a long time, even hung up on. I still called back and waited again until the girl came back on the phone and assured me that the phone chargers were indeed at the front desk and I only had to ask for them when I checked in on Monday. Yeah, I really should have made her repeat her name as I didn’t catch it the two times I called.
Believe it or not, I checked in Monday night, when through this story of being assured my chargers would be there on Friday and again on Sunday being told they were there, and yet, when I got there, no phone chargers. Now I’m wondering if their employees are trained to lie to customers on the phone just to get them off of the phone, or if that just an isolated incident. Yes, I know, it was MY mistake for leaving the chargers there, but I tried to do the prudent thing and inform the hotel before my room even got cleaned and try to verify on Sunday before I got there. Yeah, this was an expensive lesson learned in not taking my time on Fridays and checking out too quickly. I of all people should know better.
Since I was still pissed at myself last night, and not able to concentrate so well, Ron was nice enough to order me two phone chargers last night which hopefully should be at home when I get there on Friday. The only up side to this is that my boss and I both have the exact same work phone. Lucky for me, he had his phone charger on him Tuesday morning. My work phone will be fully charged for the week, but my personal phone is dead.
So, here is where the story was supposed to end. However, this morning at 6:00 am before we left for work, I spoke to another desk clerk, Analiza. She was a lot more capable than the rest. I told her my story, she said that the housekeeping manager starts at 6:30 am and she would talk to the housekeeping manager about it. I got back to the hotel tonight just after 9:00 pm and on my desk were my chargers!!! Analiza also left me a message on the room phone at 6:45 am stating that they have found the chargers and they would leave them in my room for me. Oh happy day.
I went back downstairs to see if a manager was in the building. I spoke with him and told him my story and wanted to give a pat on the back to Analiza. I said she, unlike the rest, went above and beyond and actually got results. I wanted to thank her for that. So, hopefully, her boss will make sure she realizes how much I appreciated all of her help.
I'm almost afraid to see what Wednesday will bring. It's been a heck of a week.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Last Friday, my plane came in about 7:00 pm. By now, both of us are hungry but are still having that never ending argument “I don’t know, where do YOU want to go?” Finally, I made an executive decision to go to Applebee’s. I know that’s not one of Ron’s favorite places to go but I happen to love it here. I should learn to never choose Applebee’s again when Ron is with me. Something invariably happens and it’s never good.
This time, Ron and I both ordered steaks. They are Applebee’s featured special at the moment. I went for medium and Ron chose medium rare. When our steaks arrived, mine was cooked as ordered, but poor Ron’s was way over done. It leaned a lot closer to medium well than medium rare. He did send his steak back to be done again and the poor guy waited. I guess I’m not a good girlfriend, as I ate my steak in front of me while he watched. Until . . .
The sounds of regurgitation were coming from the table across the aisle and one more back behind Ron. Come to find out, when the girl across the aisle started to cut into her steak and saw all of the blood, she lost it, and I mean that literally. Her boyfriend was a stand up guy and immediately got up to shield her as best he could from the rest of the restaurant while keeping a comforting hand on her shoulder and telling her to catch her breath. All well and good for her, but it did nothing for our appetites watching her throw up over her dinner. Or actually on her dinner. Blech.
After a couple of trips to the ladies room, she finally got herself under control. During one of those trips, when the waitress went to their table to see what was wrong, luckily the heaving girl was in the bathroom. Her date showed the server just how bloody that steak was, and that looking at it made his date sick. Like I said, it didn’t do much for me, either.
In the end, I think what happened is that she ended up with Ron’s steak and he had the one intended for her. Either way, if I was that squeamish about blood, I don’t think I’d be ordering steak any time soon. At least they comped Ron’s meal. Maybe I should have thrown up too and we could have had an entire dinner on the house.
And on the table.
And on the carpet.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Thursday afternoon on the audit site, I was talking to two employees. One of the employees has only been with my client a few months. The other employee we have joked with previously that she had been there so long that they built the building up around her.
I asked her just how many years she has been there. She said she started here in 1980. Giving away the fact that I’m no spring chicken, I said that geez, I was still in high school in 1980! I thought that was funny until the new employee said “wow! I wasn’t even BORN yet”.
Yeah, this almost made the “That’s Just Wrong” book.
On Wednesday, we had about eight inches of snow by where we are. It was cold and blustery and slippery and just plain miserable all day long. I wasn’t smart enough to pack some snow boots and I found out that my left shoe has a hole in it. One day my left toes will thaw out.
We have the problem again of too many auditors for one car. It’s not that four of us don’t fit into a car, but find a car that will fit luggage and lap top bags for four people. Enterprise never seems to have the “right” sized vehicle in stock so once again we’re in a bus. Well, Ford Expedition actually, but it might as well be a bus! I don’t care so much this year though, since I’m not the one that has to park it. My boss is here, so he has to do all of the driving.
This vehicle is so big, it has its own atmosphere inside, or so it seems. Like I said, Wednesday we had eight inches of snow and cold and blustery. We left the audit site, went to dinner and then drove the three miles to the hotel where we hunkered down for the night.
Thursday morning, according to the news, it was eight degrees outside. I don’t care where you are, when it registers only single digits, it is cold. We all jumped up into the Expedition shivering. We got the heat blowing awhile and the driver got out to scrape the ice off of the windows. Then we realized that there was more ice on the inside of the windows than the outside. In all my years of growing up in snow country, I’ve never had to scrape the entire inside part of the windows along with the outside of the windows.
Yeah, that’s cold.
I have always had issues with news agencies sticking cameras in grieving family’s faces asking them how they feel about losing their loved ones. Report the news. Don’t show me a grieving mother who is not ready to come to terms with the fact that her child has died a horrible and unnatural death. Just report the news.
Wednesday night, I was flipping through channels at the hotel and came across news anchor Anderson Cooper talking about the shooting at the Omaha mall. This was the first I had heard about it. Anderson Cooper was interviewing a woman that was in the mall when the shooting started and was hiding in a clothes rack with her Mom as they waited for help to arrive.
Anderson actually asked her: “So tell me, with all of the mall shootings that have happened this year, how did it feel to actually be there instead of watching it on television?”
Um, hello? What do you think, Coop? I say we staple him to a paper target at a firing range during their busiest hour and ask HIM how he feels being there live instead of watching it in a movie.
That was just wrong.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I sure did get me some love here at the audit in Chicago. We do this audit every year, and this is the fourth year in a row I’ve been here. The staff loves me here! And I don’t think it ALL has to do with the fact that I buy them donuts every Friday that I’m here!
The four of us auditors pulled up on site Monday morning about 10:00 a.m. Walking in the door was like a homecoming for me. Half of the staff got in line to hug me as I came through the department. The rest of the auditors got nods hello, but no hugs. That earned me a few comments from the other auditors along the lines of WTF.
The best part though, came at lunch. We went to a Greek diner for lunch that I’ve been to many times on my previous trips to Chicago. As soon as we all walked in, the one waitress ran right up to me and hugged me and said she was happy to see I made it back into town and came to the restaurant again! Yeah, being a good tipper helps too.
The guys better watch out. I have friends in town! Who’d have thought?
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Friday I was having an attitude day. You know, one of those days when almost anything can bother you? There I was, blowing off a little steam with a favorite website while at work. Thanks go to my nephew, Michael, for that one. Like I need help goofing off! But, I digress.
I followed a link on Fark to an article. You know, one of those Christmas/dead soldier stories. It could have been a good sappy story for the holiday, but all I could see were two typos. Considering this article came from a "News" agency, KUTV out of Utah, I thought it was horrific that the typos were there. And, not one typo but two typos. It's not a blog from a nobody, it's not an e-mail or a letter from friend to friend, it's a news report. Call me stupid, but I think that they should be typo-free.
Did I mention that I was having a snarky day? The guy had his e-mail address as part of his article, so I took advantage of it. Here is my e-mail to him, in its entirety less our names:
After reading your article, only one thing remains in my mind. You really need to hire a proof reader.
I thought I was being as nice as I could be, letting him know that he screwed up without telling him in a way that I really wanted to use! Here was his response, again in its entirety, less our names:
Thank you for the message and for pointing out the two grammatical errors contained within the copy.
Next time, however, I hope you will use more tact with your criticism.
I was going to link his article to this blog, but I just went and reread his article and he FIXED the typos. There went my fun. Since he said I was tactless, I am not giving him any publicity here.
As a side note, anyone that knows me, knows my e-mail to him WAS tactful. He should have seen the first five drafts of the e-mail. Good thing I proof read before I hit the send button, not only for typos but for decorum as well. Yeah, buddy. This was the cleaned up version.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Ok, yes, my phone is almost always on vibrate but to the best of my recollection, it's never been by my left boob.
I've been hearing things on the radio and on the news this past week about people having phantom feelings regarding their phones. For example, you don't even have your phone on you but you feel it vibrate in your pocket or you hear it ring even when it's not ringing?
I never thought I was that attached to my phone (after all, I have been known to leave it in my car all night when I don't want to talk to anyone!) but what else could it be?
Either that or someone really wants to talk to my boob. C'mon now. I feel ya calling.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
12 years ago today, I left my hometown of Erie Pennsylvania for what I thought was greener pastures in Houston Texas. I've been thinking a lot about this today.
I was trying to remember back that far. We all have defining moments in our lives, this was definitely one of mine.
I hardly remember the girl that left Erie all of those years ago. I know I left with a dream based on a promise. Both were broken, but that helped make me who I am today.
So here we are, 12 years later. I am no longer in Texas, I am now in Ohio. I am working on new dreams with no empty promises attached. I am smarter now, a little stronger, and a little less naive. I'm scared of what tomorrow will bring, but hopefully I will be strong enough to face it.
That girl that left 12 years ago is definitely gone. Here's to the new and improved (?) model.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Last Friday morning, I showered in the morning and was running late so I had to blow my hair dry. There I was, half dressed in the bathroom, bent over from the waist, my hair hanging down in front of me, blow dryer in hand.
Suddenly, the blow drying was coming to a screeching stop and something was tugging at my hair. Somehow, my hair got sucked into the back of the blow dryer. I was so stuck.
The blow dryers are mounted to the walls in the hotel. I can’t reach my cell phone in the other room nor can I reach the door to the hallway. Then again, I’m only half dressed, so who the heck am I going to call to help me? I did start to panic and then just started ripping. Some hair was ripped from my head and some hair was ripped from the dryer. A little hair was left in both places!
Ok, I chalked it up to just a bad morning. I was safe, I was able to escape the evil blow dryer, I was ok.
Then, Wednesday night, I took a shower and didn’t want to go to bed with a wet head. Again, I started up the blow dryer. Again, bent over from the waist and my hair all in front of me when suddenly, I hear a grinding sound and smell smoke. Yeah, that was ME smoking! Well, my hair at least.
Somehow, out of all of that on Wednesday, I had the best hair day I’ve had in a long time on Thursday. Everything went right where I wanted it to! Ok, I couldn’t see the back of my head so well, so I may really have a huge hole back there from ripping my hair out, but from the front, my hair looked good!
We went to see him Monday night and the tube was still there. Tuesday they finally took it out again as well as his drainage tube and his IV. He did look a lot better Monday night in spite of the tube up his nose. And, he was joking around and worrying about work. Those are both good signs of recovery!
Things finally went well for him. He was released on Wednesday evening and got home Wednesday night. I talked to him today and he really sounded good.
This is one trip he will never forget.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I bring with me only two pair of slacks, plus a sweater or blouse for each day. Add in some underwear, pantyhose and a toiletry bag and I’m out the door. The two pairs of slacks that I pack are usually picked so that both will go with one pair of shoes. I don’t pack anything extra. Usually I go with black and blue slacks one week or black and gray to go with black shoes and the next week will be brown and tan to go with the brown shoes. Hey, in my world, this makes sense.
My only problem with this is that I’m color blind. Some days it’s more evident than others. I can’t tell any difference between my black slacks and my blue ones. Ask poor Ron how many times I’ve woken him up in the morning to ask him which slacks are in my hand! It’s sad when your man has to help you get dressed in the morning! When I’m on my black and blue week, I’m careful not to get them mixed up. If I start the week with black slacks on, when I get to the hotel and hang up my clothes (yes, I always hang up my clothes at the hotel) I will hang the blue slacks right in front and when I undress for the night, the black ones will hang in the back so I can tell them apart in the morning.
I don’t know what I was thinking last night when I got ready for bed, but when I was getting dressed this morning, both pairs of pants were hung right next to each other. I am in big trouble here. I can’t remember which ones I hung in front.
I turned on every light in the room and I still see no difference. I closed my eyes and picked one and hoped for the best.
So, if anyone out there sees me and notices that I have blue slacks on with my orange blouse, please tell me!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Last week, I knew one of the things I wanted to cook this past weekend was sauerkraut. What goes with sauerkraut? Pork. What a winning combination. I knew I had a pork loin in the freezer which is one of my favorite cuts of meat. I’ve made pork loin numerous times and it’s not often it comes out good. That’s a shame since it’s an expensive cut of meat. The meat is not the problem, it’s just that I’m a terrible cook, especially when it comes to pork.
Sunday afternoon I was scouring the internet looking for a good recipe for the pork loin. I found what I thought was a winner and it looked easy to do, as well as the fact that the ingredients were common, as in what I carry in my kitchen.
It called for an easy glaze with honey, orange juice and EVOO, then some broth in the baking pan and let it go. The bad part came in with the fact that I was to baste “often” over the hour cooking time. How often is often? I threw caution to the wind and set my timer for every 10 minutes. Hey, any time I have to get off my butt and “do” something every 10 minutes, to me that was pretty damn often.
The first two basting sessions went well. The third try, however, turned out to be disastrous. I opened the oven, pot holder in hand, I went to tilt the pan to bring all the juices to the corner and suddenly, the darn pork loin shifted. It was actually in two pieces! Yeah, who knew? Top part fell off the bottom part, splashed in the liquid, I jumped, yada yada yada. End result? All of the liquid from in the roasting pan was now on the bottom of my oven.
If you can picture this; between the honey and the EVOO, spilled all over the bottom of my oven. Yeah, what a winner. It immediately started to burn and of course, smoke. And I do mean smoke. Shortly thereafter, all of our smoke alarms were going off. Each of us with only two arms was not enough to fan the smoke away from all of the alarms. So, before the neighbors called the fire department, I turned off the furnace and Ron and I ran to open all of the doors and windows. Once the smoke billowed out of the house and no sirens came racing in, I thought we had the battle won. Wrong. I can’t believe how much smoke came out of that oven. The last recourse was to take all of the batteries out of the smoke alarms. I know, not a good idea. But that incessant alarm going off until the meat was done was just not bearable.
After all that, our house smelled like crap because of the remnants burning in the oven. And, now the last of what was in the pan is just burning to the bottom of the pan. At least Ron had the presence of mind to put some water in the baking pan to help alleviate that part of the problem. To top this fiasco off, the sauerkraut I bought said “Polish style”. Yeah, that was a new one on me. Too bad I didn’t notice that at the store before I bought it. Come to find out, “Polish style” means with little caraway seeds. Yeah, I could have done without that. So, the sauerkraut wasn’t perfect. The mashed potatoes came out good though! And the applesauce was yummy, especially when mixed with the mashed potatoes!
Actually, the pork came out better than I’ve done in a long time. It was still tasty, and moist, even if the glaze ended up on the bottom of the oven. So, it wasn’t what it was supposed to be, but it was good as what it was, whatever that was. We ate half of it and the other half is safely packed in the freezer. Perhaps I’ll make a nice gravy to warm it up in this weekend.
Oh, who am I kidding? After the trauma of that fiasco, I think this weekend is going to be calling the delivery guy to bring us pizza. The neighborhoods will definitely appreciate the peace and quiet.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I can't just "look". I have to really go over the tank. I judge how dirty or clean, I count the fish to make sure Ron didn't have to flush any while I was gone and just take awhile and relax and study.
Last night, Ron and I were both studying. One of our female gouramis looks really fat. We did some research on getting baby gouramis and that just looked like too much work. The fish tank is only there for fun and relaxation, not work! So, we decided that we weren't going to make the habitat special for breeding the gouramis which would include taking out all but six inches of water from the tank. It's a 65 gallon tank for crying out loud. No, too much work. So, our fat gourami is either eating too much or she might be full of eggs. I don't think we'll be able to bring the eggs to baby fish, but that's ok. It's all about letting nature take its course with this tank. What will be will be.
So that's what I look at and study. One of our platys looks pregnant as well. Ron and I were talking last night that it's time to take the tank apart and give it a good cleaning. That means taking out all of the stuff in the tank like the plants and the slate, we clean the glass inside and out, vacuum all the poop out of the rocks, clean the filter and take out 1/3 of the water, build new hiding places with the plants and slate and then fill it back up with clean water. That's the most work we do with the tank. We thought before these fish have more babies, if they are pregnant, we'll clean the tank. That way, there is no way of putting the babies in danger by taking out all of the hiding places to clean the tank.
Then I saw it!
Yes, there is a baby platy in there. At first I saw the one, about 1/2 inch long. I was so excited! The more I looked, I thought I saw another, smaller one in the same space. Sure enough, here he came. Almost totally translucent, and about half the size of the first one I saw. Teeny tiny baby! Two confirmed babies, and here's hoping there are more under that rock that I just can't see yet.
So, we'll still clean part of the tank this weekend. I won't touch the area that is hiding the babies but at least it will be better than nothing.
Yeah, that was a great welcome home present on Friday night.
Friday, November 09, 2007
To update you on my computer issue, my corporate IT department was not able to save my laptop. They were no more successful getting it to boot up than I was. So, the good news there is I finally have a brand new laptop; my first brand new one during my tenure with this company. The good and the bad of all that is this is my fourth laptop in 4-1/2 years and each laptop is coming with less Ghz and less Ram, whatever those are. All I know is each piece of crap is slower than the one before it. That sucks.
But, at least I’m up and running. And, they were able to switch hard drives (I type like I know what I’m talking about, huh? Actually, Ron will explain all of this to me when I get home!) and in switching hard drives, it has been the easiest transition to a new laptop yet. I don’t have to install all of my printers again, or set everything up again just like I like it. It’s all done for me. After what I had to go through trying to work without a laptop, I’m happy to have even this POS to get me back in service.
As much as I complain about the two dufuses that I am forced to work with, something has happened that even I wouldn’t wish on them.
One of the dufuses is actually in a local hospital here recovering from an emergency appendectomy. His appendix burst, so unfortunately his recovery will not be as easy as it could have been had the appendix stayed together.
We did put a care package together for him the other night and found our way to the hospital to bug him. The magazines we picked up for him will probably be enjoyed. Not today . . . but some time during his recovery. Unfortunately, the candy and the cookies were probably not a welcome sight as he was busy enjoying his dinner through a tube in his nose.
We’ve definitely had better weeks.
As an update on dufus, he's still in the hospital and probably will be for the rest of the weekend at least. He has had the feeding tube taken out today so that's at least a step in the right direction.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
To start with, as soon as I got to the audit site, I tried to boot up my laptop. No go. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
I did the best troubleshooting I know how. I called Ron and woke him up! Over the phone, he talked me through a few things. I took the battery out, left it out for a little bit and then tried to boot up again. Nothing. Then I switched power cords with one of the other laptops and tried to boot up. Nothing. Lastly, I switched batteries with another laptop. Nothing. Finally, Ron said that without seeing it, he really couldn't talk me through any more over the phone. Time to call my Corporate IT department.
That call was less than productive. When I told IT all that I had tried already, he told me that's what HE was going to tell me to do! I said, ok, I've done that, so what's next? He said to ship my laptop back to him. What? How does that help me? I need my laptop. I am on a travel audit. It's not like I can go to plan "B". All my plans are on that damn laptop. Grr. Talk about lost. IT told me to find a Kinko's, ship the laptop back rush delivery, and as soon as he gets it, he'll work on it. What choice do I have?
So that's how my day started. One of the guys remembered a Kinko's over by where we had lunch last week. I headed over that way, hoping I could find it again. That was the easy part.
I filled out the paperwork at Kinko's, watched them box up my work life line and walked out the door. Here's where the fun began!
Kinko's is in a small strip plaza. When I walked out the door I saw that the business next to it was a bank. Sort of. It was called S&T Bank. Wouldn't you think that was a bank? I've been carrying around a $50 bill on me, and I've been wanting to break it. I don't spend enough money to pay with a $50! It won't work for a tip for housekeeping, it won't buy me a soda from the machine. I don't want to give a $50 to the toll booth operator on the PA Turnpike where I need to pay a $1.50 toll. So, how fortuitous that a bank is right next door to where I am. I will just walk over and break the $50 and head back to the audit site.
I walk in. There, in the vestibule is an armed security guard. Hmm. I walk in the door only to find this looks nothing like a bank I've ever seen before. There is a greeter inside of the door and then nothing but offices and one window which on the other side was a woman at a desk.
The greeter asked me if she could help me. She asked this as I was trying to quietly back my stupid ass out of the door. I tried to explain that I was mistaken and that I thought this establishment was a bank. The greeter said it IS a bank. Well, it may be a bank but it was obvious that I didn't belong there.
So, with my exit route blocked by security and the greeter standing in front of me like a female marine, I explained that I was from out of town and that I was just here to break a $50. First she asked if I had an account at that bank. I again explained that no, I didn't have an account since I was from out of town. She then asked if she could see the $50. What was I supposed to do? I handed it over! She in turn handed it to the lady behind the desk who proceeded to grab one of those counterfeit detecting pens and swiped the pen right across my $50. Once the $50 was verified to be real, the woman behind the desk left with MY $50! A minute later, the lady was back with my change.
I apologized for interrupting their day and thanked them for their assistance and quietly and innocently as I could, left the premises.
What a way to do some banking! Makes me happy for the 5/3 Bank I belong to! At least they LOOK like a bank!
Thursday, November 01, 2007
I was going to post this yesterday but I figured being Halloween and all, no one would believe me!
Let me first start by telling y’all that I am sick this week; I have one heck of a cold. I found a Rite Aid here and I stocked up on Puffs Plus (with lotion!), Sudafed PE for day time and Tylenol Cold and Flu for night time. All I needed was some chicken soup.
Anyway, I didn’t make it to work on Tuesday. I stayed in bed at the hotel all day long. I kept hearing the toilet flush. It is not like it is continuous or even once every hour. But, the toilet would flush and I wouldn’t be in the bathroom, so what’s that about? Then I thought maybe it’s just that some hotels have thinner walls than others. Sometimes you hear your neighbor flush, or hear the shower running. I started to think that perhaps this was the cause of my hearing the toilet flush.
Then, on Tuesday, I was out of bed and actually heading towards the bathroom when I heard the toilet flush. I rushed as much as I could rush across my 15’ long room and into the bathroom. While I might not have seen the actual flush, I did watch the toilet bowl fill back up with water. Strange, huh?
Couple that with the fact that I’ve had dreams about my Dad all week long. And, they haven’t been the good kind, either. Dad just died in September so on one hand, it was good to see him in my dreams, but on the other hand . . . it’s hard finding out now that Dad has been so disappointed in me all this time.
Separately, these incidents are no big deal. But together, they have great significance. You see, the toilet and my Dad are quite synonymous.
Anyone that knew my Dad knew that the toilet was his favorite seat in the house. But, that’s not the story of Dad and a toilet that I’m talking about now.
Shortly after moving to Ohio, I had a nice townhouse apartment. The bathroom upstairs used to baffle me though. When I’d leave for work in the morning, the bowl would be full of water. Since I have no pets to drink out of the bowl, one would expect the bowl to be full of water when I returned home from work. But, there were a lot of days that the bowl was almost empty of water! What the heck was happening?! Where was the water going?
My first line of defense was my brother Michael. He lived close by, and he thinks he knows almost everything. I told him of my toilet issue. He gave me some far off story about the wind blowing over the vent on the roof and that it was sucking the water right out of the toilet. Well, while Michael is indeed a smart man, he has been known to talk out of his ass now and again. Hard to know when he’s being serious and when he’s not!
On to line of defense # 2. Brother Jim. I told him of Michael’s story of the wind and the vent pipe and he whole heartedly agreed. Was this a conspiracy to mess with my head? How could this be true? I called shenanigans on the brother alliance against the baby sister and went right to the embodiment of knowledge of all things plumbing – my Dad!
I told him the story of the water missing from the toilet bowl and right there, in front of the two brother conspirators, my Dad came up with the same story of the wind over the vent pipe! Oh NO! They got to him too! Not to be mean here, but I don’t think Dad was smart enough to mess with my head that much. You almost had to believe him. So, it became the running joke about my toilet losing water through the vent pipe on the roof. Because to be honest, I still don't believe that story, even though it was "confirmed" by Dad, too.
I know, that was a long story to tell you that I think my Dad is flushing my toilet in the hotel room. Either that or I really need to lay off the Tylenol cold and flu medicine.
To top this story off, last night, I fell asleep with the tv on the USA channel. I’ve been sleeping a lot this week with the help of the meds but it hasn’t been solid sleep. I’m dozing a lot is more like it. Last night, one of the times I woke up during the night, I heard the program on television. It sounded like a Law and Order episode or a CSI or a show like that. All I heard them say was “It looks like the woman in room 502 was murdered”. Guess what MY room number is! That’s right! 502! I found the remote control right away and shut the damn tv off. Like I need help with my nightmares!
Since I figured out the Dad/toilet correlation he didn’t visit me in my dreams last night. Mom however, was a different story. Who knew that she was so angry with Aunt Annie? And over what? Wow. That was a surprise.
Yeah, I need to lay off the cold medicine. And, based on the premonition of my murder, perhaps sleep with one eye open.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Ron and I went out tonight with our friends, Larry and Linda. We went for a nice steak dinner. Well, three of us went out for a nice steak dinner. Larry actually ordered ribs and they were not a huge success. The first plate of ribs he got were stone cold. Not a little cold, stone cold. That plate was sent back.
Out came plate # 2 of ribs. Not stone cold, but no where near warm either. Since the rest of us were almost done now with dinner, he didn't want to send plate # 2 back and suffer the wrath of the chef on plate # 3. So, he ate what was in front of him and decided this was not a place he would want to go back to for dinner. Too bad. We'll miss him next time the rest of us are there.
After dinner we headed back to Larry and Linda's for a rousing game of Pokeno. I know, I sure do take the long way around to tell you a story about allergies, huh? Well, I'm getting to that.
Larry and Linda have three cats. I'm really not much of a pet person, aside from my fish. I'm less afraid of cats than I am of most household pets. I don't usually think of them one way or another as long as they are not hissing at me.
One of their cats was more friendly towards me than normal. Usually, I am tolerated or allowed to be in the house and that is it. Tonight, one of the cats tried to extend an olive branch of sorts. She was rubbing against my legs under the table and actually came up to me by the table wanting to be petted. So as not to appear rude to our hosts, I reached down and gave her a cursory little scratch behind her ears. It must have been satisfying because then she walked away.
Sure. Walk away! Now you know that you've infected me with Ick!
Based on how my right eye looks right now, we're assuming I rubbed my eye after petting the cat. A few hours of playing Pokeno and I was ready to rush home to remove my eye. No, not just my contact lens but my entire eyeball.
We did rush home and I popped out the contact lens and was really surprised to see what was left. My eye is red, swollen, weeping and there seems to be some kind of "bubble" under the cornea. It's not for the feint of heart to see. This has me so freaked out that I actually called a 24/7 nurst hotline associated with our medical coverage. She didn't have a clue what would be going on with my eye and suggested calling my primary care physican or if I coudn't reach him, going directly to the ER. Well, sa much as I'm freaking out about my eye, I'm not calling my primary care physician at midnight nor am I going to spend the dough to go to the ER. I guess if it's not better by the morning, I'll call the primary care doctor. Grrr. I don't know what to do.
So, Dr. Ron in all of his wisdom suggested taking a Benedryl. I've done that and it does actually feel like the weeping has lessened.
I've never been allergic to cats in the past. Allergies. At my age. Who'd have thought. At least that's what I hope this is going to turn out to be.
On the good side, Ron was the big winner at Pokeno and took home most of the nickles we were betting. Woo hoo! Good job baby! Next stop - Vegas!
This week the four of us came in two cars like usual, but two of our staff had to head back on Thursday night for family obligations or whatever. That meant that I was now taking someone different home. By different, I mean dufus #1.
Here’s what happened Friday morning.
We had agreed to meet up in the lobby at 7:45 am to leave for the audit site. Yes, I was running a few minutes late and actually got downstairs at 7:50. Dufus # 1 is indignant sitting there and informed me he was just about to call me to see if I was going to work today. Hello? Like I’m going to sit in a hotel all day and not work AND leave him stranded in the lobby. Well, I did the adult thing and apologized for being late and asked him if he was ready. Being told he was ready a long time ago, I kept my mouth shut, and turned to walk through the lobby and out of the door.
We get to my car where I proceed to open the trunk and load in my luggage and my laptop. To which dufus # 1 looks at me surprised, let out an expletive and said he’d be right back.
Work with me here. This isn’t the first time he’s traveled for this job. We do go home every Friday at the latest. Yes, sometimes we leave a day early so we can have a day in the office on Friday, but normally Friday is our going home day. Believe it or not, Dufus # 1 forgot to pack! Unbelievable.
So, I sat in the car, smiling like the cat that ate the canary, while he proceeded to run upstairs and pack up his bag and check out of the hotel. That so beat my being five minutes late because I sprayed hairspray in my eye and then had to pry my contact out to clean it. Yeah, I’m not quite up to dufus status just yet.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Did I mention that I'm in Pittsburgh? Nothing against the fine people of Pittsburgh (less the ones on the road that thought I should be burned at the stake for being on the PA roads with OH license plates). But forget about that for now. Let's go back to the beginning. That would be at 4:30 this morning when my freaking alarm clock started going off.
Yeah, 4:30. In the morning. Even the neighborhood punks aren't out at 4:30 in the morning. I got up, got ready, packed up my car and I was pulling out of the driveway at 5:30. I actually made it to my boss' house five minutes early! Yeah, he was surprised to see me. On time I mean. I told him to mark it down because it probably won't happen two weeks in a row.
Most of the drive to Pittsburgh was ok. At least until that pesky sun started coming up high enough to blind me. Geez. Yeah, can you tell I'm not a morning person? Then the construction hit. It was everywhere. We slowed to a stop about 1/2 hour before our final destination in Pittsburgh. That 1/2 hour ended up taking us over an hour. I guess that's not too bad but I was white knuckling it and holding my breath through most of it. In one construction zone, we actually went from FIVE lanes down to the ONE lane in the middle. Check my hair, baby. There are a lot more gray hairs in there than there were 10 hours ago. How do people live like this?
Then, after the news of the poor souls in Los Angeles with the fiery crash in the tunnel on Interstate 5, it occurred to me that Pittsburgh has almost no roads. There are bridges and there are tunnels. That's it. If you can't go under it, you must go over it. Did I mention that I hate bridges and I hate tunnels twice as much as that. I tried to close my eyes and put my hands over my eyes when we went through the tunnel but for some reason, my boss wouldn't go for it. What? Like he couldn't be a human being for two minutes and lean over and grab the steering wheel from me? After all, I did drive the rest of the way and fought all that traffic. C'mon now, help a girl out.
Anyway, I made it to the audit site, a little frazzled, but I made it. We are in a conference room in a warehouse where the documents are stored. We are not allowed anywhere in the building but this conference room and the bathroom. Trust me, it's hard to decide which of the two rooms smells worse than the other. Ugh.
So back to the grind. I'm trying to think positively but it's hard. There's not much nice to say about this whole experience.
To top that off, I noticed shortly after I got here that my right hand is swollen. From about two inches above my wrist down to the big knuckle where my fingers start. My fingers don't seem to be swollen, but the rest of my hand is twice the size it should be. Don't know what that's about.
To finish the lovely visual for you, let's talk about the hotel. It's a decent hotel, the chain we usually stay at, and it's one of the nicer versions of this chain. I give this trip a point for that. However, upon check in, with my bag, my laptop and my 12 pack of Sprite Zero, I take the elevator up to my assigned room, # 502. I open the door and start to walk in and what do I see? I see sheets all over the floor, I see water bottles on the tv stand. I was afraid to look any closer than that.
I took all of my stuff back down to the front desk. I did tell the nice lady that I hate to complain, but I really must insist on cleaner sheets for my room! She was so apologetic that the room wasn't ready, as in her system it showed the room had been cleaned today. Surprise! It wasn't.
No big deal, within a minute, I was given another key to another room just down the hall from the first one, this time it's room # 510. This room is very nice. A few amenities that I haven't seen before such as this work desk on wheels! When not in use, it almost goes into a wall to be out of the way. When I want to blog (or work) I can pull it out and face it to the TV or to look out of the window or to where ever my heart desires. That's cool.
Then it happened. I had to go to the bathroom. Just as soon as I sat down, what did I see in front of me? ME! There I was, in a full length mirror, in all my glory. Let me tell you, I watched me do stuff no one should ever have to watch another human being do, let alone watch themselves do. I may have to rinse my eyes out with Clorox before the night is over! Why would someone put a mirror there? Oh my goodness, I couldn't make myself look away.
I'm ready for Monday to be over and to get on to Tuesday. I'm going to soak my swollen hand in the ice bucket for awhile then I'm taking a shower and going to bed. Maybe tomorrow I'll go buy a hammer and a couple of nails and nail up a towel over that mirror in front of the toilet. Oh help me, I never want to see THAT again!
Sunday, October 14, 2007
It started out great, it just didn't end that way! Ron's oldest son, Alex, flew to town for a visit. We picked him up from the airport, had a great dinner then home for more catching up. Ron left his van in the driveway since we had no plans on anyone leaving for the rest of the evening instead of pulling it around the back of the house like he usually does. The only bad part about that is, he forgot to lock the doors after we all got out.
I bet most of y'all can guess what happened next, considering the neighborhood we live in. Yeah, someone went through the van and helped themselves.
Ron lost his GPS, a Garmin C550 (just like mine!), two packs of cigarettes, and a bunch of CDs that were in a holder on his visor. The CD holder was also holding one of our toll cards, which is a prepaid card to access the Ohio Turnpike without having to worry about carrying cash.
The kicker about the GPS is that it has a lock on it. Without the four digit code, you can't turn it on. It will be useless to anyone trying to use it. Small consolation since now Ron can't use it either.
He noticed the break in on Saturday, and of course, other than filling out a police report, we can't do anything else until Monday. I tried to contact my insurance company to file a claim on my home owner's insurance, but the office was closed. They gave numbers for emergencies, but I wasn't sure this qualified as an emergency. I couldn't contact the Ohio Turnpike to report a stolen card because they are not open either. Garmin is also closed, so we couldn't report the theft to them, either.
So in the meantime, we tried to be proactive. I know, sort of like locking the barn after the cow escaped. However, Ron went and bought some motion lights. Personally I opted for phasers set to pulverize, but he nixed that idea and just went for the motion lights.
We have just spent the last 45 minutes testing it! I know exactly how close you have to get to the house from all angles to set that puppy off. Now I just need to add a sign out there.
"I have PMS and a handgun. Go ahead, make my day."
Friday, October 12, 2007
One of the biggest reasons that I don't want to go back to work on Monday is that I have to immediately go back to traveling. I just don't relish being away from home right now. Call me a wuss, but I am not ready.
To add insult to injury, I talked to my boss this morning about the logistics of coming back to work. He explained some things about the new audit they are currently working. And, since we are heading east to Pittsburgh PA, and I am the farthest one west, I would be one of the drivers for the four of us. I am going to pick my boss up and then the other two auditors will ride in another car.
So far, I was on board with this plan. THEN he goes on to ask if I could pick him up at about 6:30 a.m. on Monday since Pittsburgh is another two hours beyond him yet! Are you kidding me? 6:30 a.m.??? I laughed at that! Hey, call it what you will a leave of absense or a vacation, but in the last three weeks or so, I haven't been out of bed before 8:00 a.m. Now he expects me on my first day back to leave my house at 5:30 a.m. to be at his house at 6:30 a.m.?? HA!
I told him I'd get back to him on that one. If I'm in his driveway at 6:30 a.m. then I was able to make it. If he doesn't see me there, he should expect I'll be late!
If anyone wants to make bets on this one, don't bet on me being on time. Some things never change and one of those things is, I am my Father's daughter. Like him, I will probably be late!
Friday, September 28, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
Anyway, Karen and I were sitting in a booth and I happened to look over her shoulder at the woman sitting in the booth behind her. There was something big and black on the lady's shoulder and I asked Karen to turn around and tell me what that was. (I've been wearing my glasses lately not my contacts and the vision isn't 20/20 anymore in my glasses!)
Karen turned to look then calmly turned to tell me that it was a bee. I can't believe there was not panic at my table, especially from me.
"A bee, huh?" I asked.
"Yes, a bee" she replied.
Both of us women, very calm. "Hmm. What should we do?"
When faced with a crisis such as this, it's best to discuss how to handle the situation without causing a riot and that's what we did. Personally, my choices were for Karen to turn around and smack the bee off of the nice, elderly lady. As my niece JoBeth taught me, it's better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission. Besides, it was Karen's side of the table so it was her hand swatting the bee, not mine. It was either that, or pretend the bee isn't there and let it be and hope for the best.
Karen, always the practical one, thought she should tap the lady on the opposite shoulder and tell her about the bee and ask her if she can swat the bee away. Personally, if that were me being told I had a bee on my shoulder, I'd start screaming and probably get stung in the process. However, since it was on Karen's side of the booth, she got to choose what to do about the bee.
Very calmly, Karen turned and tapped the lady on her shoulder and told her about the bee and asked if the lady would mind if she would swat at the bee.
The lady, a little less calmly, told Karen to go ahead and swat at the bee, thank you. Karen gave it quite a swat. Such a swat actually, that the bee ended up on the table across the aisle! Luckily, no one was sitting at that table.
The four of us watched the bee shake off the personal attack and then fly away, no harm no foul.
The lady thanked Karen for saving her life! Then I had to open my big mouth and tell her that my choices were to smack the lady and then tell her about the bee or to just leave the bee alone and hope for the best.
Yeah, a picture is worth a thousand words. I wish I'd had my camera on me. I'm thinking that lady was really happy she sat on THAT side of the booth instead of on my side.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
I'm nobody's baby girl anymore. I'm no ones daughter anymore. But everything is supposed to be back to normal tomorrow.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
However last night, I think I really had a doozy. Keep in mind, no drugs or alcohol were involved, but I did have pepperoni pizza for dinner.
I dreamed that Ron and I were laying naked on our couch. Also with us was George Lopez, who was in a thong, not naked. When I asked him in the dream why he was wearing a thong, he said it was because Ron was naked. Ok, in my dream that made perfect sense.
But, why George Lopez? I've never seen his sitcom, but I have enjoyed his stand up routine on HBO a long long time ago. I've seen him on Letterman or one of those talk shows and that is the extent of my knowledge of George Lopez.
I may not know exactly what my dream meant but I do know this:
Our couch is no way big enough for three mostly naked people to lay on.
I need to hurry home tonight and get to bed early. I need to see how THAT one came out.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
That was not the case when we got our house.
The previous owner of our house was Larry. Larry had bought this house after it had sat empty for about five years. He totally remodeled my house, knocking down walls, building new rooms, new electric, new siding, new furnace, new air conditioner, new windows upstairs, and new sheet rock. It’s barely recognizable from the before pictures we’ve seen. And, he did a great job.
When we went to view the house, Larry himself took us room by room explaining a lot of what he had done to each room. It was really like a living extension of him, this house. I’m not exactly sure why they sold it, but I think as soon as all of our points were negotiated and the papers were signed, he was regretting the sale. He was going to miss his house.
When we did the walk through after the closing (yeah, Ohio is weird about taking possession after the closing. The house isn’t mine until about three days AFTER the closing. Dumb.) Larry really went into detail about all he had done to the house and he gently touched every wall he put up in the house. He also told us about the next projects that he had planned to do, in case we wanted to follow through with them. What can I say, the man had a vision
He looked so sad at the walk through, that I told him he’d always be welcome to come back and visit any time. Who knew that would be the start of a great friendship? Larry in turn offered that any work we wanted to do on the house, he’d be glad to come over and work on it.
Now, almost four years later, he and his wife Linda are truly two of our closest friends. They are really great people. And, true to his word, Larry has been over and helped Ron with a lot of projects, like blowing the insulation into the attic floor and putting in the glass block windows in the basement. Larry also has plans for the back deck he thinks we should build! On the other hand, Ron is right there with his tool belt on any time Larry has a project at his house too; it works both ways.
They have been a blessing in our lives, for sure. The guys have become great friends themselves and like I said, the four of us have a lot of fun together. We are similar in a lot of ways, right down to our bat!
Larry called me last Friday afternoon and asked how our bat situation was working out. I told him that we decided to forego the Batman and Ron worked on plugging up all the holes himself. That seems to have helped as we haven’t seen any bats in a week or so. Larry told me he found my bat.
That morning, he heard his cats downstairs making a ruckus. He went down at oh-dark-thirty to check on them when he thought he felt something go by him. Sure enough, when he turned a light on, there was a bat in his living room. Hey, at least when the bat was in my house, he was only in the attic and basement! He tried to chase the bat and catch him but to no avail. The bat was too fast for him. Eventually, he realized that he no longer saw the bat anywhere and the cats had calmed down as well.
One of the cats was by the fireplace looking at it. Sure enough, Larry saw that the flue was open on the fireplace. Here’s hoping that’s not only how the bat got into the house but also how it got back out again as well.
Now I’m getting blamed for sending my bat to their house. What can I say? Better their house than ours!
Saturday, September 01, 2007
The nursing home had a hard time getting a reading on his blood pressure Saturday morning. After numerous attempts, a wrist cuff was brought out and it got a reading of 80/34. Since that is way lower than it should be, the ambulance was called, and then the family was called.
As soon as I hung up with Jim, I called my brother Michael who lives close by me. There was no hesitation; we were heading to Erie. After a fast shower, I was on the road to first pick Michael up then on to Erie. For the two hour drive, we spent part of the time on the “what if” discussion. What if this is it? What if Dad doesn’t make it? What if? What if?
Reality tells us that at 83 years young and in poor health that “what if” is soon to be a reality. I don’t care how old you are or what the circumstances, facing the loss of a parent is not easy.
We finally get to the ER and Dad’s face lights up when he sees me. I can’t lie – that is a memory I will keep with me forever. I know it’s just that he doesn’t see me every day, so it’s a surprise when my mug is in front of his face. But, in my version of the story, he is happy I’m there.
We find out from the Doctor that when EMS picked Dad up, they had no trouble getting a reading on his blood pressure. I was watching the heart monitor they had him on in the ER and his pressure is running steady at about 124/54. A ton better than what the nursing home had read. Doctor said she was ready to release Dad back to the home had it not been for the raging urinary tract infection he has. That seems to be a constant in his life.
The decision is made that the hospital will keep Dad a few days to watch him, under the guise of treating the urinary tract infection.
Once we realized that Dad was doing a little better than was first reported, and that this wasn't going to be the "what if" day, our moods lightened. We spent the day with Dad pretty much watching him sleep. Once he was put in his room, had some dinner, and was in for the night, Michael and I left.
We headed up to where our brother Jim works. It sucks that the poor guy has to work every weekend! The good thing is no one else is generally in the building with him, so we all had a nice family talk. We talked with Jim for quite awhile and then it was time for the two hour drive home.
Michael and I had a deal. I drove on the way to Erie and then he was going to drive us back home. That's only fair. Michael napped on the way in, I planned on sleeping in the way back!
Um, he did make it kind of difficult to catch a few winks. There is something about driving a car that's not yours. Can you believe that a grown man like my brother was actually screeching my tires in the parking lot while trying to do donuts? Dude! C'mon now! Well, that's it. Next time we drive to Erie together, we're taking his car. I always wanted to see if I could get a car up on two wheels and drive.
My drive to the current audit finds me on the turnpike every day. Some of the toll booths when exiting the turnpike are now equipped with automatic booths with no attendant. Personally, I like the face to face when I’m forced to pay money. Other days, the lines at the face to face booths can be quite long while the automatic booths are empty. I’m no dummy. I’ll take the short line.
The booths really are user friendly. If you’re too lazy to read the big screen that’s telling you what to do, just follow the huge numbers plastered on the front of the booth. Number one tells you to insert your ticket. Number two is payment. You can either put cash into the machine or a credit card or a toll card. Number three is to take your change and number four is an optional receipt. (Don’t get me started on this one! My employer won’t reimburse me without a receipt for a $.50 toll. Yeah, I’m gonna get rich quick bilking them for my tolls. But, I digress.)
Thursday morning, I was running late and by the time I got to the toll booths, it’s rush hour and the lines at the toll booths were pretty long. The automatic lane only had one car already at the machine so I pulled in behind her. I watched her at least 10 times try to put her dollar in the machine. The machine is not very sensitive. It will take raggedy old bills the same as it will take fresh new ones. However, this machine was not cooperating with her.
I’m sure she was getting nervous with me behind her, but I was enjoying the show. The machine would spit the bill back out to her, she’d turn it around and try again. Another spit out, another turn. I was almost ready to give her a dollar of mine seeing as how I was already late for work.
Then the light dawned on her. She inserted her toll ticket first. THEN the machine gladly took her money.
Yeah, I know honey. All those bells and whistles so early in the morning just suck - for you anyway. Thanks for the chuckle.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
A few weeks ago, JC Penney’s was running a great sale. We went crazy over there and bought window coverings for the living room as well as another new bed. As far as the bed goes, maybe the third time is the charm. Heaven knows we’ve had our issues with the two beds we’ve had previously!
Anyway, now it’s the bed shuffle. We had a double bed in the spare room and our room had a queen sized bed. Now we’re moving our bed to the spare room and we’ll put the double bed in storage in the attic in the hopes that someone can use it eventually. It’s a good bed and the only bed I own that even has a headboard! Anyway, the new bed was to be delivered this morning between 7 and 11. Yikes. That meant a lot of work to be done this morning.
I don’t think either Ron or I are great morning people, so luckily he had the great idea of getting everything moved last night. We took the double bed and propped it for now up against a wall until I can get protective covers for it before putting it in the attic. Our bed we moved to the spare room and had our room empty for the delivery of the new bed.
Now the fun begins. The queen sized bed in the spare room sure made me realize that the spare room really is smaller than our room. The bed fits ok, but there is not a lot of extra room around it anymore. You can now only get in and out on one side instead of both sides like you could with the smaller bed. The main problem with that is it just makes it harder to make the bed, but that’s ok, we’ll deal with that.
So last night, we slept in the spare room. That was just plain weird! I know, we’ve lived in this house almost four years now and I’ve never slept in that room. We got in bed and I ended up being by the wall. Part of me kinda like that part. I felt safe in my corner, like the closet monsters or the ghosts of the house or even the bats couldn’t get at me. Ron offered to switch sides with me since the night stand with the alarm clock was on his side of the bed, but that just seemed wrong to me. I have to sleep on MY side of the bed.
I did set the alarm on my phone to wake me up and I put the phone on the window sill. I spent the night hoping I didn’t knock it off of the window sill with my leg and have it end up unreachable under the bed! I was so worried about oversleeping this morning that I was up way before the alarm was ready to go off. Ron is extremely lucky. That phone alarm is really annoying.
It was a backwards night. Our heads were facing the opposite way in this bed. We usually have our heads pointed to the south. This time, we pointed to the north. The middle of the night bathroom break should be out the door and to the left. This time out the door and to the left had me into a wall. That’s very rude at three in the morning.
Even turned around with my head pointed the wrong way and having to crawl to the bottom of the bed to get out, I think I had the best night of sleep I’ve had in a long time.
Who knows? Maybe it’s not the bed and I’ve had it wrong this whole time. Maybe my head should be on the north wall instead of the south wall. Maybe our room should be on the east side of the house and not the west side. Maybe I’m just gonna switch rooms and the new bed in the master bedroom will now be the guest room. Maybe.
Naw. Getting lost on the way back from the bathroom once in my life is enough.