Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Welcome To My World

Every day, at least twice a day, I have to survey my world. It's part of my OCD! Every night before getting into bed, I walk by my bedroom window and I have to open the blinds, look outside and make sure all is right with my world. The first thing I do when I get out of bed in the morning, is open those same blinds and once again look outside and make sure all is right with my world.

We had snow last night. A lot of snow. This picture is what I saw out of my bedroom window this morning.

Say what you will about the snow, it may be cold, it may make driving horrendous, but it is beautiful to look at, especially through a window. The view above is a view from the back of the house, straight back out of my window. You can see a little bit of Ron's snow covered van parked right in front of our plum trees in the bottom left and our garage on the bottom right.

The view above is out my window looking to the left. You can see the side street up towards the top left as well as our neighbor's house and again, our plum trees on the bottom right. I am hoping to get those plum trees out of there this year and replace them with maybe some kind of fir trees, but that's a story for another post.

So, now I am fully awake and very aware of the snow situation. That does something in helping you get your butt out of bed and into gear. The snow didn't look so deep that I was afraid to get out of the garage and down the driveway, but as anyone who has lived in snow country before knows, the hard part is the bottom of the driveway mess!

Our street is an emergency route as there is a long stretch of nine blocks with no stop signs or lights. That means that the ambulances, police cars and fire trucks all love to zoom up and down our street as well as a lot of other traffic trying to avoid all the stops on the main streets running parallel with our street. The good part of that is our street is always well plowed. The bad part of that is that our street is always well plowed, right into our driveway.

Whatever the plow is moving off of the road, goes by design to the right. That means a lot of that crap all piles into the bottom of the driveways. If you can get out there quickly to remove it, it's sometimes not too bad. But, the longer you leave it in your driveway, the harder it is to remove since it all seems to turn to ice. This morning, the bottom of my driveway was my concern. Sometimes that stuff is too laden with chunks of ice to power through with my Honda.

I'm cleaned up, dressed and getting ready to head out the door. I'm in the kitchen getting my cup of coffee ready to go with me when I hear a rumble. Lo and behold, our friend Larry was backing up our driveway with the plow on his truck! Go Larry!! In less than a minute, he not only had our driveway down to the cement, but he had all of the crap from the bottom of the driveway out of there too! Thanks, Larry! That was a HUGE help!

With no excuse left to not go to work, I grabbed my coffee and my laptop and out the door I went. It was still a harrowing drive at times since some of the roads were slippery. Luckily though, since I go in a little later, I can avoid some of the traffic of rush hour and have a quieter drive. Below is a picture of how the turnpike looked on my way to work this morning. Visibility was down, but the turnpike was well plowed and salted. Here's hoping I can make it home with no problems.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Family Tag Team

Sunday was the first Mass to be said for my Dad at his Church since his passing. I may not know what I believe in anymore, but I do know this would have been important to my Dad. I knew that brother Jim would attend, and I felt compelled to join him in Church.

Unfortunately, the Mass was in my hometown of Erie PA at the ungodly hour of 8:30 am. That may not be ungodly when you live in Erie, but to get there from Cleveland on time would be close to a miracle.

I happened to be talking to brother Philip (who lives in California) Saturday evening. I was telling him about how at 9:00 in the evening on Saturday, my plan to attend the Mass for Dad on Sunday morning was a good idea. However, I had a feeling that come 5:00 am on Sunday that idea might not be burning so brightly. Here came Philip to the rescue! He offered to call me in the morning to make sure I was awake. I thought that would be half the battle. As long as I could wake up on time I figured the trip would be a no brainer. So, thanks to Philip, who stayed awake until 2:30 am California time, just to make sure I got up in time for Church! That's what big brothers are for!

Since I was now awake, I did the kind deed of waking Ron up to go play with me. Why should I make the trip myself? Luckily, Ron was jiggy with the day trip, and he got up with no trouble.

The only bad part of this day was the crazy woman who was standing in the middle of I-90 just past I-271. She was standing over a dog that I am assuming was hit by a car. Keep in mind, this is 6:30 in the morning, the sun is not quite up yet, so she is almost invisible in the morning twilight. Sorry honey, but if it was me, I'm not putting my life on the line to save an injured dog in the middle of the freeway! Some people.

With this little fright moment aside, the trip went well and we even made it to Church on time.

After Church, we offered free breakfast to brother Jim and to Aunt Mary too. Aunt Mary cited a better offer from her great-grandkids so she didn't join us. That didn't stop the three of us from going without her! We had a great breakfast, great conversation, a little family gossip and lots of laughs. Not necessarily in that order.

I did go in and look at the old homestead for awhile. It's really strange. The house is the same, but it isn't. The furniture is moved around a bit or not there at all. And, like the rest of us, it's showing its age. Every room I went into, the memories came flooding back to me. It was good, it was bad, it was surreal. The only thing I don't understand is how my old bedroom could have gotten so much smaller? For real, I remember having a LOT more room in there! Even with all of the same dressers and bed in there, where did the rest of the space disappear to? It's not that Jim has anything stored in that room that doesn't belong there, it just still looks so dang small. Weird.

Since Jim had to eventually head to work, Ron and I opted for heading home. The day didn't finish there though, as we stopped at brother Michael's on the way home to scarf up a free meal from them! Mary Jane's meatloaf IS one of my favorite meals in life so who am I to say no? Again, great dinner, great conversation, a little family gossip and lots of laughs. Not necessarily in that order.

All in all, a darn good day. We finally had a decent weather day, and the trip was mostly uneventful coming and going.

As for me being in Church, just like the old days, here is the bulletin as proof! And, no I didn't run into St. John's just for the bulletin like Cathie used to make me do as kids. Honest, I really did go this time!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Laundry Emergency

I know, I can find trouble in places most people wouldn't imagine.

Last week when we had a lot of snow, Ron went to power up the plow to clear the driveway. The first thing to do is to add the gasoline. It was so cold out, the plastic spout of the gas can cracked when Ron went to bend it into shape. Unfortunately, he didn't notice it until he was trying to fill up the plow and the gas spilled all over his gloved hands.

When I got home from work, Ron told me that he got gasoline all over his gloves. I told him to just throw the gloves down to the basement, and I'd wash them with a load of clothes.

Yeah, as I've told people this story, most people stop me right there and ask if I'm nuts. Well, even those of you scratching your head now . . . where were you when I needed you?? It made perfect sense to me to put those smelly nasty gloves in with our clothes.

As most of you can probably imagine, I did not end up with clean gloves. Instead I ended up with an entire load of clothes that smelled like gasoline. I thought if once was good twice had to be better. I ended up washing that load of clothes five times before I accepted the fact that I was in the midst of a true laundry emergency.

I called Mary Jane, my sister in law. And, of course, she had the answer. I was to put a container of baking soda and run it through again. It's a good thing the new washer only uses 16 gallons of water per load instead of the older machines that use 45 gallons per load. I still had to use a lot of darn water, but I guess it could have been worse.

The clothes still smell a little like gasoline, but not as much as they did before. They may not be our good clothes anymore (as if they ever were) but we could save them as lounging clothes.

So, I had a laundry emergency. I learned that next time, I just buy Ron new gloves and call it a day.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Yeah, right. Whatever.

I have never been a believer in Valentine's Day or Sweetest Day or any other made up holiday. If you want to buy me flowers, buy me flowers. If you want to buy me candy, buy me candy (Reese's Cups, please!). But don't buy me flowers or candy just because of a media blitz from Hallmark tells you that you have to buy the women in your life all of this stuff. To me, that's just ridiculous.

So, yesterday, Ron and I were discussing what to do for dinner. Neither of us felt like cooking so there went that idea. I didn't really want to go out since places would be busy due to Valentine's Day. Ron them came up with the winning idea! Our Friday night date place!

Yes, Popeye's Chicken on the Turnpike!

We are wild and crazy people, aren't we? Well, we had a great dinner, "our" table was open and waiting for us and it was just a very nice evening.

I've told Ron from the beginning that I think he's lucky since I don't fall for the commercialism of Valentine's Day or Sweetest Day. However, y'all know how I feel about my birthday! He's not off the hook on this holiday. I've warned him that if he forgets my birthday, it's not going to be pretty!

Friday, February 08, 2008

At Least It's Not Broken

Sometimes the best laid plans just go awry.

Yesterday I started an exercise program. Today I was at the hospital for x-rays. I suck.

Let's go back to the beginning. The girl I work with found out that the rec center in the town where our office is located would let us use the facilities for a nominal cost. So, we decided that we would at least go walking at lunch time as they had an indoor track. We started on this new plan yesterday.

We went to the rec center, put on our tennis shoes and went walking. The track is small as it's over the basketball court. It takes 16 laps to go a mile! We decided that we weren't going to count laps, we were just going by time. We were going to do a good 30 minutes and then call it a day.

You'd think that 30 minutes of walking would be an easy start to an exercise program, wouldn't you? Well, keep in mind that this is ME we're talking about. We did our 30 minutes, I bought a bottle of juice and we headed back to work.

I sat at my desk doing what is supposed to be passing for work for a couple of hours. When I did try to get up, suddenly, my right foot wouldn't let me put any weight on it. What the heck is up with that? I hobbled around the office a bit, eventually my foot started to feel a little better but it still hurt every time I tried to put any weight on it.

I sat back down and tried to forget about it. Eventually, I hobbled to the car, drove home and hobbled through the evening. I took a long hot shower last night and I thought that helped as well. My foot did seem better than it did so I really didn't think too much about it.

Then I tried to get out of bed this morning. Big mistake. My foot would bear absolutely no weight whatsoever. Getting to the bathroom first thing this morning was a freak show to say the least! I am definitely not graceful on two feet, let alone one.

I was able to garner a doctor's appointment at 2:20 since I really was worried about what could be wrong with my foot. She examined me and decided it was either a stress fracture or just a ligament strain. She sent me off with orders for an x-ray just to be sure as well as a prescription for anti-inflammatories and directions for applying ice packs, soaking my foot in warm water as well as some range of motion exercises. I am to stay off of my foot as much as possible, keep it elevated for the next few days and follow the directions I just mentioned.

So, Ron and I headed right to the hospital for the x-ray. Surprisingly, we got in and were sent within five minutes to x-ray. We sat down long enough there just to take my jacket off and get comfy when I was called back. Flo was taking care of me today and trust me, she was a hoot! I even got stickers because I was a good girl. Go me! Anyway, Flo took three pictures of my foot and then returned with another person in a lab coat named Diana. Diana asked me what my doctor told me about when the results would be available. I said that I was told that the results would be ready by Monday. Diana looked at me very seriously and said that she would suggest I wait back in the waiting room while she got the radiologist to read this x-ray and call my doctor. She said it would only take about 10 to 15 minutes. She said that would be better than my leaving and then having to turn around and come back once the doctor was told my results.

Now she had me scared. Why was she concerned that I not leave the hospital until the radiologist talked to my doctor? Just what in the heck did she see in my x-ray?

Ten or fifteen minutes later, Flo did come back to the waiting room to tell us that the radiologist has read the film and the x-ray was negative. He had also talked to my doctor and my doctor said to carry on with the instructions she gave me in the office and I was free to go. What the heck was that all about? She had me nervous as all get out for that 10 to 15 minutes for nothing! Grr. At least my foot isn't broken, and it's just a ligament strain. This is a perfect example of why NOT to ask the technicians what they see and wait for the radiologist to review the pictures.

I got my prescription filled, and I'm back home with my foot up. I guess the good news is that my foot isn't broken. The bad news is that my butt will remain as big as it is for now. I hurt myself when I try to do anything about it. So, if y'all will excuse me, I'm going to the freezer to get my bag of frozen peas. I need to ice my foot.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Good The Bad And Brother Michael

As soon as I received the title to my car in the mail last week, I was waiting for the shoe to drop.

Sure enough, last Friday on my way home from work, the car started to make noises like I've never heard before. It was a screeching, grinding, metal on metal sound. All I knew is that it couldn't be good, AND it sounded expensive.

So as not to ruin the weekend, I parked the car in the garage and decided to ignore it for the time being. We just used Ron's van all weekend!

Sunday, Ron was nice enough to pull my car out of the garage, pull the front wheels off and look at the front brakes. He thought that might be the culprit, but my brakes ended up looking just fine. As it was a damn cold day, that was the extent of the driveway car repairs. We finally decided that the car could still be driven, and the easiest solution was to drive myself to work on Monday, and try to get into a garage by the office that is used by some of my coworkers.

I was able to get an appointment to drop my car off on my way to work, so all that was left to do was go to my office and worry if I could pay for the needed repairs. The garage called me less than two hours later and said that all of my tires had been removed, and the all of the brakes have been inspected. All brakes looked just fine and were only down to 60% (whatever the hell that means) so that wasn't my problem. However, he did say that there was dirt in the back brakes. He blew the dirt out of the back brakes and my total was going to be "twenty three thirty five". I said TWENTY THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS???? To which he laughed and said NO! Twenty three DOLLARS and thirty five cents! Yes ladies and gentlemen, I have a new best friend!

So my day went from bad to good with that news. I picked my car up that day at lunch time and he's been running great ever since.

Monday evening, Ron and I were going to meet at a restuarant over by Sam's Club since we were planning on doing some shopping there that evening. I called Ron when I was less than 30 minutes away so he'd know when to leave the house. I'm driving along, almost got hit by a car, and then my phone rang. Ron was at the restaurant and checking on my progress. I was a half a block away (how's THAT for timing!), shaking like a leaf from the near collision and would be there soon.

I pulled into the lot and parked next to Ron. Ron came right over to me to hug me. In the middle of a great hug, I hear "oh shit". Trust me, not words a girl wants to hear, especially in a cheek to cheek moment. Ron just realized he locked his van and his keys were still in the ignition. Yes, his day is definitely going from good to bad.

The van was off, the keys were dangling and my set of keys to the van were at home, about seven miles away. I said the heck with dinner, the heck with shopping, I'll just go get his keys and be back shortly. Luckily, he came up with a much better plan B. We called my brother Michael and his wife, who live maybe a mile up the street. We said we're in the neighborhood, having a bad day, come help us salvage it. Believe it or not, they came to our rescue!

Before you knew it, the four of us were seated in the restaurant, enjoying the company and exchanging war stories of the day.

Then it happened. Michael is not called "The Perfect One" for nothing. Suddenly he says "hey, I have Triple A"!! Once again, he saved the day.

Triple A showed up pretty quickly, they broke into Ron's van, got his keys and all was right with our world. And, that all happened before the main course was served!

The day sure had its ups and downs. But thanks Michael and Mary Jane, for making it end on a high note!

After all that, I still need to get to Sam's Club!

Monday, February 04, 2008

I'm No Longer A Virgin

A Starbucks virgin that is!

Friday night, Ron and I had a date night. Don't laugh, but we went to the rest stop on the Ohio Turnpike for our date.

I happen to love Popeye's Chicken and the closest franchise to us is this rest stop on the Ohio Turnpike. Besides, we happen to know the back way into the rest stop, also known as the employee parking lot. From the lot, you walk through a man door in the fence and you are into the parking lot of the rest stop. The best part is, if Ron doesn't want Popeye Chicken, he has four other choices for dinner. None as good as Popeye's in my opinion, but there are other choices.

I enjoyed my favorite order of a three piece spicy chicken strip meal with a side of mashed potatoes and cajun gravy with a biscuit. They have the BEST biscuits, bar none.

Even on a Friday night, the rest stop is not packed with people, we can always find a table and of course, I love the food. After dinner, we enjoy a few rousing games of pinball in the arcade and then usually head home after all that fun!

This Friday, while walking from our great table over to the arcade, we passed by Starbucks. While we were in California, I found out my sister almost lives on Starbucks White Mocha Chocolate Lattes, or something like that. It's Friday night and I want to stay up late, so I figured this was the time to try it.

I tried it. I don't get it.

It was $5. For a cup of COFFEE. Coming from someone who thinks a perfect cup of coffee is a cup of black Maxwell House coffee, this Starbucks was definitely not for me. It's sweet, it's sugary and did I mention it's $5 a cup? Paying for two cups of coffee almost came to what we paid for dinner!

I don't understand how these things are popping up on every corner. Well, I don't understand how there is enough business for them to be popping up on every corner. $5 for a cup of coffee? No refills are included! Wow.

Now at least I can say I've been there, done that. I don't see me doing it ever again. However, we WILL be back for Popeye's and pinball!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Another Milestone Reached

Have I mentioned lately that I'm getting old? Well, maybe not old, but definitely older. Try as I might to ignore that fact, it keeps coming up and hitting me in the face!

Case in point: Thursday night after work, I had to go to my eye doctor's to pick up my new glasses. Yes, my BIFOCAL glasses. The recommendation for my new glasses is to not wear my contacts or go back to my old glasses for two weeks. I am supposed to give the glasses a chance and work on getting used to the new glasses - for two weeks. It's been two days and I'm ready to flush them down the toilet!

First let me tell you something about my lenses. They are progressive lenses, so there is no line of demarkation between the regular prescription and the bifocal. It goes from the regular prescription on the top of the lens, the middle of the lens is a lighter bifocal and the bottom of the lens is the stronger bifocal. I kind of like that part, but you hold a book and I have to bob my head up and down until I find where the right spot is to read the print of the book. Unfortunatly, you sure do give up some clarity on the peripheral vision. No one warned me about that part. Well, my brother Jim complained about the same thing on his glasses, but who listens to him?! (I love you, brother!)

One thing I should not have done is drove to work on Friday without a back up plan. I am amazed, and very lucky, that I made it there and back safely.

If I just sit here, I'm fine. If I try to sit and read a book I'm fine. If there is any movement involved however, I am in a boatload of trouble. I can walk up the stairs ok, but walking downstairs I've found it much easier to just close my eyes and count the steps. I lose all vision looking down while going down the stairs and I've almost gone ass over tincups down the stairs once already. I'm woozy, dizzy and quite a bit nauseous. Yeah, good times.

Friday late morning, I had my annual review at work (which surprisingly I passed with flying colors, thank you very much!) and when I walked into my boss' office, he said he was surprised I looked so nervous for this. I told him I'm not nervous, I'm nauseous and proceeded to tell him about the new glasses. Ok, he may laugh now, but he's only a couple of months younger than I am so his day is coming soon.

So, now I have my new glasses. I'm trying to move as little as possible so I don't throw up. Then, Friday afternoon I took my glasses off for a minute to rest and rub my eyes. I am blind as a bat without my glasses, so without them on my face, I held them up close and was just getting a good look at them. I picked them out after my eyes were dilated, so I really wasn't sure what I picked! I was impressed with myself, that I chose so well while not being able to see! They are a purple, or maybe burgandy (did I mention I'm also color blind?) well, they are a lot darker color than my last pair. They have two very small fake gems on each earpiece and then I saw a little something on the piece that holds the lens in. I went to scrape if off with my fingernail when I noticed that it was actually the paint or enamel or whatever it is was peeling off of the frames! What the hell? After the arm and the leg that I had to pay for the dang things, how can this crap be peeling off already?

I immediately called the eye doctor's office and expressed my lack of satisfaction with these glasses. The answer I received was "well . . . that's unusual". I actually had to tell her that I expected her to replace the glasses. "Oh." Supposedly she is ordering me the new ones. Here's hoping that when they come in I am not so frustrated with the dang glasses.

I may be old and I may have bad vision, but I'm not blind! Here's hoping I can find no defects with the next pair. And that I'm no longer nauseous.