Thursday, December 31, 2009

I Did It In 24 Words

I stole, I mean borrowed, this an idea from my nephew Michael a few years ago. I thought I'd revisit it again this year.

So, here is my year in 25 words or less:

i was fired via fedex
crocheted a lot
cubs' season sucked
learned to cook
cathie visited
found acupuncture again
finally pain free
still unemployed

Ok, not a stellar year, but nothing catastrophic for me. Then again, that pain free part is worth the world to me. And, I'm hopeful that 2010 will be a winner! A new beginning and I am full of hope.

As a side note, today would have been my sister Barbara's birthday. Happy birthday, my sister. After all of these years, I still miss you terribly.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Please Explain: Red Lobster

We enjoyed some Christmas booty gift card goodness tonight!

One of our presents this year was a Darden gift certificate. In our area, this is good at Red Lobster, Bahama Breeze (one of our FAVORITE places, but it's way on the other side of Cleveland), Olive Garden and LongHorn Steak House.

Ron and I decided to go out to dinner tonight but we didn't want to drive too far. Hence, Red Lobster.

If you've never been to a Red Lobster, let me give you the run down. It's a national chain with decent food. Is it exceptional food? No. Is it good food? Yes. I think it's a little high priced as I've had better seafood for less money, but it's ok once in awhile. Or, when you're enjoying Christmas booty gift cards!!

But, back to the restaurant. What I can't understand is that this restaurant is packed; all of the time! No matter when you drive by Red Lobster, the parking lot is packed. If you do find a place to park, the restaurant always has a line of customers waiting for a table.

I don't get it. Overpriced, albeit decent food but a constant line to get in? The high point of going to a Red Lobster has to be their service. We've been there twice now in the last month and I'm telling you, they have some of the best servers in the business. Each server made sure that our dining experience was the best it could be. She educated us on the choices available, made a few suggestions to help our decision making process and even scored us some extra rolls.

Ok, Red Lobster cheddar biscuits, rolls or whatever they are, are absolutely some of the best things I've ever had! We had a couple left over after dinner and Alicia, our server, suggested a bag to take the biscuits home. When she brought the to go bag for us, she even threw in a couple of extra biscuits for us! C'mon now, that's a SCORE!

So there you go. It was a very nice dinner, a great evening out with my honey. So, location was a deciding factor for us going to Red Lobster, but what about the other 50 people waiting in line to get a table? On a Wednesday night? I don't get it. Tavern on the Green is closing tomorrow but Red Lobster in Elyria Ohio is raking it in hand over fist.

It has to be the servers.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Sight Rarely Seen


Yes, it's true. Phil shoveling snow!

If you didn't see it, you might not believe it. But, yesterday we couldn't get the riding lawn mower/plow started. The battery finally died to the point that it couldn't even be charged with our battery charger.

Yes, I know it's December and we do live in Ohio. But, that first good snow fall still comes as a bit of a shock. I took the second picture when it wasn't even snowing at its worst yesterday! Just after this picture, it did get so bad outside that I couldn't see this fence across the street. Luckily it didn't last too long like that, but long enough to have to get the snow off of the driveway.

So, I grabbed a shovel and started the job by hand. If anyone has seen our driveway, it's a good long one, plus the parking pad behind the house.

You know my back is feeling better when my happy ass is out there shoveling! So, I did part and then Phil came home and took over the shoveling duties.

Phil even suggested the picture of him shoveling to commemorate the occasion! Great job, my brother!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Winner Winner Turkey Dinner!

Anyone who is as addicted to the Food Network like I am can tell I watch Guy Fieri with that title! Is he the bomb or what?! But, I digress.

The turkey came out great! Here is the turkey still in the pan before carving. It was a beauty to behold.


The three of us macked on a dinner of roasted turkey, stuffing, home made gravy made from pan drippings (a FIRST for me!), mashed sweet potatoes and creamed spinach. It was a great meal.


I'll tell you one thing, the triptophan from this turkey really hit me between the eyes. I picked up the kitchen, and pretty much just put the carcase in the fridge. I usually clean off the carcase the night I make the turkey but I was just too tired.

Ron and I came upstairs and I tried to play Pogo and I tried to watch TV but I couldn't even keep my eyes open. I ended up laying down for a 15 minute power nap. Man, that helped like no one's business!

So now I look around my house and what do I see? It desperately needs cleaned, top to bottom! Is it going to get done today? Oh heck no. That's what Mondays are for. Today, I am going to relax, and crochet my heart out while watching trash TV. Now that's what holiday weekends are all about.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Santa Was Here!

In case any one out there doesn't know it, Santa lives here in the off season! The heck with the cold of the North Pole. In truth, Santa loves Lorain! Here he is coming out of his room last night, on his way to Bay Village to spread the Christmas joy!

For Christmas Eve dinner last night, we went all out. With no family left, all of the old traditions are lost forever and some times I miss that. So, since I didn't have the traditional Slovak Christmas Eve dinner of babulki and sweet rice last night do you wanna know what we had? Pizza! Yes, pizza!

Unfortunately, we weren't thinking too clearly about a need for pizza on Christmas Eve. We started with one of our new favorite places in town, Selenti's Pizza. They closed at five o'clock. That sucked at 5:30 when I was trying to call for pizza! Plan "B" was to just go grab a couple of $5.00 pizzas from Little Caesar's Pizza. Wrong. They were closed already as well. What the heck! Luckily Ron was thinking and came up with Plan "C"! We headed over to Georgio's for the $3.99 pizzas! In a pinch, they were just fine.

After dinner, Santa headed out on his present delivering mission. When Santa got home last night from delivering all of the toys, we had our Christmas. If I do say so myself, I made out pretty darn good!


From the dutch oven that I wanted to fru fru girl stuff to my Wrigley Field sign and "bear hug" night shirt! Hey, a girl should ALWAYS know which direction to Wrigley Field. This could be our year! But, I digress.

So there you go. It's finally Christmas Day, the turkey is roasting in the oven and we're all still in jammies playing on our computers. I feel the love here, huh?

Brother Jim will come to town on Sunday for a few days of laughing, arguing and family time. I'm saving the turkey pot pie dinner for him! And for the record, I make a darn good pot pie!

So that's all the news worth printing here from Ohio. May we all find peace and happiness in this Blessed season, and throughout the New Year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Another Good Visit

My friend from when I was in diapers, Maura, and her husband John, come up almost every year from Florida at Christmas time.

It's usually a stop to see his family in Virginia, her family in Erie and a stop to see me in Ohio on their way home! What a trip, huh? Especially for Floridians in the winter time!

Well, this year, the huge storm that hit the east coast has put their trip in peril. They tried to make it to Virginia as planned, but Virginia was virtually closed. His family told them to turn around, there was no way they were making it in the weather. So a last minute change of plans turned out to be good for me. They headed westward, missed some of the horrible weather and they were able to make it to Ohio instead.

We had a few days of giggles (no matter how old we are, Maura and I ALWAYS giggle!), lots of catching up, cooking and bread making. I'm telling you, it was a good visit!

I even had Maura go with me to my acupuncture appointment. All I had to worry about was her charming Frank, my acupuncturist, into letting HER put in the needles! Yeah, I didn't think about that until I was on the table already! Fortunately for me, Frank kept control of the needles and all was good in my world.

So, after forty six years of friendship, we actually found a few things to do together that we've never done before, namely, the acupuncture. And they've said it couldn't be done!

So, that's been my week. I've been having fun with visitors and celebrating the Season. What else can a girl ask for?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Public Service Announcement

This is just a public service announcement. This is free of charge and meant only to educate my readers so that you don't have to find this out on your own.

If you bake potatoes in the oven, when you use a pot holder to take a potato OUT of the oven, please make sure you place said spud on the counter securely. That is my advice to you.

I happen to know from experience that if that potato is NOT on the counter securely and it happens to roll off of the counter and on to the floor, it will freakin' EXPLODE when it hits the floor.

Now, Ron was nice enough to point out that at least that meant that the potato was done, that didn't help with the clean up which by the way was a good six foot radius from the point of impact. Have you ever tried to clean up hot baked potato from your floor? Yeah. Not pretty.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Need A Salon


I have been talking about needing a haircut for a couple of months now. It's just not something that was important enough to be put into my budget.

However, it's been a year since my last hair cut, my ends were so dry and yucky, I just had to bite the bullet and go for a cut.

The last place I went to for a cut was a salon in the area. The girl that did my hair was wonderful, and listened to what I said and cut my hair exactly like I wanted it! I just love it.

She called me a few months later and told me that she had left the salon and gave me the number of her next salon. I actually gave her a call there about a month ago, and came to find out she's no longer at THAT salon either. Grrr.

Since I've moved to Ohio, I've just gone to a Best Cuts or something similar for a hair cut. But, you get what you pay for. These places mostly seem to employ people right out of school and not all that sure what to do with their scissors. I actually broke down on the last hair cut, paid a few extra dollars and loved the results.

Since I couldn't find my stylist again, I decided to give that salon another try.

I found their phone number on the Internet and called them last Friday hoping to get in sometime in the week before Christmas for a hair cut only. I couldn't believe the rigmarole I had to go through to get a freakin' haircut! The way she was talking, I am assuming that I was talking to the owner.

Owner: Can I help you?
Me: Yes, I'd like to make an appointment for next week to come in for a hair cut.
Owner: Um, well, which stylist do you normally go to?
Me: I don't have a particular stylist in mind. Are you accepting new clients?
Owner: Well, yes, but you'd have to call the individual stylist on their cell phones to make an appointment.

* * * * * * * * silence * * * * * * * *

Me: Is there someone you recommend?
Owner: Well, I guess you could call (unintelligible). Hang on while I find her number.
Me: Could you spell her name for me?
Owner: (with disgust) It's C - L - Y
Me: Thank you. (duh, why couldn't I figure that out?)

So, I wait and wait, not understanding why I can't make an appointment just calling the main line to the salon.

Owner: The number is xxx-xxxx.

Click.

Damn! Maybe I've just been watching too many episodes of Tabatha's Salon Takeover (don't you just LOVE that show?????) but this is piss poor customer service.

I hung up with what I am assuming was the owner and decided to just go back to Best Cuts. Ugh, my second mistake.

I finally went for my cut on Thursday.

The girl that did my hair was very perky and personable and a pleasure to chat with for the 10 minutes I was in her chair. She told me that she's been working in this Best Cuts for six years now and was very happy there. I thought that was a darn good sign that she wasn't just out of school and has at least six years experience! I wanted a basic cut. I wanted about five inches chopped off, a few layers put in and long bangs. I hate having to trim bangs every two weeks to keep them out of they eyes or to prevent them from flipping. Not for me.

So, my glasses are in my hands so I can't see a thing, she's cutting away and chatting and I have no idea what she's doing. At the end, she asks me what I think so I put my glasses on and give it a quick once over. The length is right where I wanted it, a few layers in there, eh, it looked ok to me.

Friday night we go to dinner with our friends, so I thought I'd get a little dolled up. I had a little product in my hair and thought I'd go all out and even run the curling brush through it. That's like a curling iron, but it's a brush instead of just an iron. It saves me on having any burnt ear lobes!

The first section of hair I grabbed at the crown of my head, I couldn't believe how uneven this was! It was a good inch higher on one side than the other. What the hell! I know little to nothing about hair cuts, but even I could tell that something was wrong! It's funny because when I came home on Thursday, even Ron mentioned that the haircut didn't look straight. I kinda brushed that comment off thinking it's cold out, some of my hair is probably inside of my jacket, he's just not looking at it right. Man, he sure ended up knowing what he was talking about.

Each section of my hair seemed to be off. I had a heck of a time rolling any of the sections around that damn brush! Oh well.

Now that I have a little curl, a little hair spray, it doesn't look horrible, but I know it's a crap haircut. I know I should go back and make her fix it, but I'm kinda afraid to go back there again and let her at my hair! She may be nice, but she sucked at cutting my hair!

So . . . where do you go to get a decent hair cut? I don't do color, or extensions or foils or any of that other magic. I just want a decent hair cut. Am I asking too much?

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Laws Of Physics Did Not Apply


Yesterday, I had a hankering for supper to have some comfort food.

There are a handful of things I make for comfort food (remember my orange spaghetti stories!) and one of the things on my list is our potato pancakes.

Now this is a relatively simple dish, but it is time consuming. First of all, you need the perfect grater, which is shown to the left. This grater has to have the exactly right sized holes and not all graters do.

Some have said that I should move up to the food processor age and do my pancakes that way. But, i say nay to that. I don't think the food processors grate the potatoes to the correct consistency. You have to have THIS grater.

Along with the correct grater, you need the perfect potatoes. You can't just decide right now that you want to have potato pancakes. You have to decide you're going to have them about three to four weeks from now. You really need old Idaho potatoes - the more eyes on them the better! New potatoes just don't work right, just ask my sister Cathie. She had an entire batch she had to throw out because new potatoes suck in pancakes.

It's a simple recipe. Grate as many potatoes as you're going to eat, then do a few more because these are great to munch on each time you walk through the kitchen after dinner.

Add an egg or two, some salt and pepper to taste and then flour. You add enough flour so that when you put a spoon full of the mixture into the hot Crisco, it doesn't spatter from too much water in the batter. That's it. Really easy. The hard part is frying all of the pancakes in the hot oil. There's nary a pancake dinner that goes by that I don't have at least one burn from the grease. But, it's so worth it.

Now with three of us here, I make a lot more pancakes than I used to. The best pan to fry these pancakes in is a cast iron skillet. I have one cast iron skillet that is 10" big and I fit four pancakes at a time. That's just too slow to feed three of us.

So, I grab my 10" stainless steel fry pan and put four more pancakes in there. They do fry up ok in the stainless steel, but it's a lot slower. I will get two batches made in the cast iron skillet in the time it takes to do one batch in the stainless steel skillet. Well, a little help using the stainless steel is better than nothing.

I can't tell you how many batches I've made this way in my years of cooking. Piece of cake, I could do it in my sleep.

Well, yesterday I was like in the twilight zone or something as something just wasn't right.

The potatoes are regular Idaho potatoes from Sam's Club. I thought they were at least three weeks old, but maybe they weren't. They felt ok as I was peeling them but when I went to grate them, they were softer than I expected. Usually your arm gets pretty damn sore grating through all of them spuds so I end up calling on Ron and Phil to come down and take turns grating. This time, I did the entire batch by myself. The potatoes almost felt like they wanted to melt right through the grater. It was strange.

Anyway, I got all of the ingredients in the bowl, it's all mixed up well, a good quarter inch of molten grease is hot in both of my pans and I'm ready to start. I place four spoons of mix into the stainless steel pan, and flatten them into thin cakes with the spoon. Check. I repeated this process in the cast iron pan. Check.

To keep the frying even, I will turn them about 180 degrees in the pan during the frying since with a gas stove they tend to cook faster towards the middle of the pan than on the outsides of the pan. I went to check the stainless steel pan and the bottoms of all of the cakes were very browned. Not burnt, but definitely ready to turn over in the pan! What? I don't even have one batch done yet in the cast iron skillet! From the hot oil, the pancakes go onto a plate with paper towels to get off some of the grease them I put them in a cake pan in a warm oven just so they don't get cold while I wait for all of them to be done and we can all eat together.

Both pans were frying these pancakes faster than I have ever fried them before. I figured it would be well over an hour of frying with the amount of batter I made and I was DONE in 35 minutes.

It has to be some freaky ass spuds that I was using. This pancakes should be nice and flat and crispy and golden brown on both sides. I had the brown part down flat but these damn cakes were not crispy.

It was just down right weird. I have never had my potato pancakes fry up like this. Now, don't think we wasted all of these sub par patties. They all got slathered in Log Cabin syrup and devoured and all of the extras seemed to disappear through the night as well. They were ok, but they weren't really good. I did not feel comforted.

I am disappointed. I just bought a new bag of spuds from Sam's Club on Tuesday. Maybe I should just get another new bag to use in our day to day cooking and leave the ones from Tuesday alone and make pancakes for my birthday dinner on January 16th (hint, hint!). Hmm, that's not a bad idea! They better come out a lot better than this batch did.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Face Is Worth A Thousand Words

While I have been known to be technologically challenged I gotta tell you I am a HUGE fan of video chatting. This technology just blows my mind.

I don't have very many friends or family near me any longer, so this is the best (and cheaper than a plane ticket!) way of staying in touch.

I'm old enough to remember that the way I used to have contact with my sister Cathie was via snail mail. Once a week, I'd write a letter to her. There was no spell check, and sometimes I couldn't remember what I told her in my last letter and would repeat it in the next one.

From there we went to email. A little faster and even better, I had a record of what I had written about.

Then, on to cell phones. At least I didn't have to worry about my long distance bill any longer! If the written word was good, the phone call was even better. But now . . . . we . . . . have . . . . VIDEO CHAT!!

I have video chatted, in real time, with my sister Cathie in Ojai California, with my best friend in Kissimmee Florida, with my niece and her family in Rochester New York, and thanks to a sleepless night for my brother, a great video chat from China! Talk about reaching out to touch some one. Way awesome.

Now let's talk about my good friends, David and Edna who have now moved to San Diego California. Again, numerous emails go back and forth as well as phone calls. I finally talked them into a trip to their local Best Buy for a video camera. Too bad we didn't tape ME trying to be THEIR technical support to get them hooked up. Yes, we had to call Ron in for an assist! With Ron's help, we got the two of them up and running and videoing.

It's been a blast to get rid of those 2500 miles, give or take, and be able to hold a real conversation with the four of us. So now who could we convert next?

Edna's parents, Nick and Sally, live here in Ohio. While Nick does do some things on the computer, he's even less savvy with it than I am. I thought with David and Edna now so far away, her parents might appreciate being able to see their baby face to face as well.

Ron just set up Nick's brand new computer recently, so I knew they were set with hardware, other than the camera. When David provided the camera, we headed over to Nick and Sally's. Ron was installation of hardware and I was software support.

Now, I have to tell you something about these people. They are absolutely the bomb! I didn't think when we made plans to head over to set them up for video chatting that they were providing dinner. You all know how I feel about free food! I am ALL for it!

We sat down to dinner, and Nick said that Sally wanted to cook American food for us, but he thought we could have American food any time. So, Sally cooked their Arabic food for us. I gotta tell you, one dish was better than the next! I am glad Nick got to overrule Sally on that one!

I'm not going to pretend I knew the name of any of the dishes or every thing that was in each dish, but in layman's terms, we had some sort of stuffed squash, stuffed eggplant, a rice dish and a sauce with tomatoes that went over ALL of it! There was also a side dish of these spicy pickled veggies with carrots, celery, pepperoncini and I don't know what else. Just hearing that was spicy, I didn't taste that one, but Ron loved it!

So, we had a great dinner, complete with some good wine! I tried to be a good guest and got up to start doing to dishes. Nick would have none of it. Ok, fine. At least I can stack the dishes for him. NOT! According to Nick, if you stack the dirty dishes, then you have to wash BOTH sides of the dish instead of just the side you used. C'mon now, is this man GENIUS or what?!?!?

So after dinner, we got to work.

Well, Ron got to work, I watched. He got the hardware all set up and then I went in and wrote out step by step instructions for Nick on how to get into Gmail and then how to start a video chat. (By the way, sorry Nick. I seem to have stolen your pen after writing them directions! Not to worry, I'll take good care of it!)

Now all we had to do was wait for the California people to get home from work. Darn that time difference! Finally, a few phone calls to help everyone get on the same page and we were up and running!

As soon as both ends were set up and everyone could see everyone, there wasn't many a dry eye in the place.

Ron and I excused ourselves and let the family catch up face to face.

Video chatting - a face really is worth a thousand words.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Is It Christmas Already?


Can you believe it's that time of year again?

Yesterday we celebrated Ron's family Christmas gathering.

We went to the Sand Run Metro Park and had rented the Shady Hollow Pavilion which is a beautiful log cabin complete with kitchen facilities, inside bathrooms, wood burning heater, tables, chairs and what a view. The place was perfect for this gathering.

A park ranger even stopped in every few hours to add more wood to the fire for us. What service! With a fire roaring, plus 30 or so people in the cabin, it got pretty toasty in there.

As you can see, even Phil went in costume! Sammie and Caleb were thrilled to see Santa, but nothing like little McKenna who thought this was her best day ever with her new best friend Santa! She has her head laying over on Santa's hand and I wish I had a picture where Santa went for a walk with the kids and McKenna was holding on to him as if her life depended on it! Way too cute!

We all ate our fill (of course, Ron took his famous Ranch Beans!), had a great time with family. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that one of the brightest spots here is seeing Ron's cousin Tom and his wife Margie. I've mentioned before that Tom was made for picking on! And, boy did he fulfill his duty yesterday! Anyway, the kids all enjoyed opening their presents, as did the adults.

For this gathering, each couple has to make a home made gift for each other couple. I crocheted a little present for everyone, someone else made home made salsa (YUM!), someone else made home made note cards from photos and drawings. This packet even included pens and stamps! Way cool. There was a tortilla soup mixture to make your own cup of soup, complete with a Christmas cup! My personal favorite (sorry but it's true!) is Sarah Beth's home made buckeye candy! I tell her every year that if she quits making that candy, I'm not going to any more parties! They are absolutely the bomb!! So you get an idea of home made gifts.

It's a great idea on a gift exchange. It's something personal from everyone and it comes from the heart.

After the gift exchange, we had our second annual white elephant gift exchange. Every adult brings in something small and we pick numbers to see the order we pick presents. The best part is that if someone before you picked a great prize, you can steal their prize instead of picking a new present from the stack. This year everyone was way too nice. There was minimal stealing. Last year, presents were flying back and forth all over the room! Oh well. There is always next year.

So there you go. Like it or not, Christmas time is indeed here.

If anyone else making buckeyes, please invite me! I travel for candy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I Almost Made Dad Proud

I gotta tell you, I was SOOOO close to a freakin' perfect day. One that would have made my Dad proud!

Awhile ago, we had to get a new riser on our gas meter; a replacement pipe that went from the ground up into the meter.

Here is a picture of our meter after the riser was replaced. When our driveway was poured, they left about a one foot square of dirt around the meter. When the gas company came to replace the riser, they cut away part of the driveway and made the square of dirt into a rectangle of dirt. The guys that cut it away told me that another crew of guys would be around to fill in with new cement, probably in the spring.


The cement guys came today! I heard the ruckus so I went outside to see what was happening. I went inside and about 15 minutes later or so I see the truck pulling out of the driveway. I went out onto the front porch to look at their work.

From the porch, it looked like they filled in the entire rectangle with cement! Ok, I panicked. In my mind, once that cement set, I was worried that any time the cement would expand or contract with the weather, the pipe was in danger of getting crushed or cut or bent and the next thing you know . . . BAM! My house would blow up!

What to do? Ron thought it was ok the way it was done. I guess I should have listened to him but I didn't want to believe him. (Sorry, honey!) I really wanted to call my Dad and ask him. Obviously, that wouldn't work. I did the next best thing - I called my brother Michael!

Michael agreed with my assessment that if the cement was against the pipe, that wouldn't be a good thing. He gave me great step by step instructions on how to correct this problem. I gathered:

* an apple juice plastic bottle that I cut the top and bottom off of, to place around the pipe as a guide
* my little spade I use when I pull weeds from the flower beds
* a box to hold what cement I dig out
* plastic gloves to make sure my hands don't touch the cement
* my camera to make sure I immortalize this momentous occasion!

This IS my first time being allowed to play with cement! Remember, Ron locks up all of the power tools and doesn't let me play with any of the fun stuff. He probably is correct in doing that, but still . . .

I am so excited, I can't even tell you. My whole body is vibrating! I am playing with WET cement! Then I get outside and what do I see?


These guys were smarter than I gave them credit for! They put a plastic piece of pipe around the riser to keep the cement away from the riser! DAMN! I was crushed! When am I ever going to get the opportunity to play with wet cement again?

I truly am so disappointed. I am happy Michael gave me great step by step instructions but I am just beside myself that my golden opportunity has been taken away from me.

I put my stuff away and I started to walk dejectedly back into the house when it hit me. I may NEVER have this opportunity again. I'm going to play in wet cement! Dad would have been so proud of me.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ghost Stories

We have had "strange" occurrences in this house ever since we moved in. This isn't news, I've written about this before.

We have had things moved in the house. We've heard footsteps walk across the kitchen floor while Ron and I were in the basement and no one else was here. We've heard the door bell ring and we have no door bell. We have wires coming out of the kitchen wall where our door bell used to be, but no bell is hooked up. I've had the locked power windows in my locked car in my locked garage opened. Little stuff here and there.

It's not just us. The people that lived here before us (Larry and Linda) have also experienced strange things when they lived here.

Anyway, it's been quiet, ghost story wise, around here lately. Nothing strange going on at all.

A few weeks ago when Ron's boss was here from California, he came to our house for dinner one night. After dinner, we started rehashing the ghost stories. Hey, trust me, this made for great entertainment that evening!

I think we woke up something in the house.

That night, I got up during the night to pee. (too much info??) This picture is of my upstairs hallway. Our room is just to my left, down a small hallway and the bathroom is there on the left. As I'm walking down this hallway, I was suddenly shivering, I was so cold. I could feel a cold wind blowing. I even walked down those few steps to see if that hallway window was open. No windows open, I used the bathroom, and went back to bed.


I didn't think too much about it as part of me thought I was dreaming. The next day however, Phil was wrapped in a blanket a good part of the day while he was in his room. From the above picture, his room is directly to my right from where I'm standing. He felt a coldness in his room most of the day that did pass by the next day. Strange, but nothing I can prove one way or another as to what happened.

Then we had a good one Friday night.

Again with the bathroom! I grew up in a family of bathroom readers. If you ever come unprepared to our house, not to worry. There is a stack of books in the bathroom as well as a few sudoku hand held games to occupy yourself. But I digress.

Friday evening, we were all upstairs; Phil in his room and Ron and I in the computer room. I was the last one in the bathroom and per this picture, the Dilbert book was on the step in front of the toilet.


Maybe an hour or so later, I was the next one in that room and that Dilbert book was now on the floor to the side, as shown in this reenacted picture!


Neither of the guys were in the bathroom since my last bathroom visit and none of us would have put this book on the floor. As you can see, you have to step OVER the book to get away from the toilet. That just wouldn't happen. If the book "fell" off of the step, it wouldn't land like this on its own.

I walked into the bathroom, saw the book on the floor and immediately called Ron over to verify. Unfortunately, my camera batteries were dead, hence the reenactment! C'mon now, this is a weird story.

Who moved the dang book? One more to add to the list of stories.

Friday, November 27, 2009

This Is How You Do Acupuncture

I'm going to warn you right now - there will be pictures here that might offend some people. Please proceed at your own risk.

***********************************************************

As I've posted previously, I've started acupuncture treatments to deal with my back pain.

I am no stranger to back pain. For 10 years I had dealt with lower back pain before finally having surgery in 2002. Acupuncture helped me for five years live relatively pain free during that time. Then, on September 19th, 2008, I was in a car accident and suddenly, I am all too acquainted with back pain once again; this time in my mid back.

I've done the drugs, the therapies, the MRIs, blah blah blah. A year later, still the constant pain. I've had enough.

Ron was nice enough to do the research and found me an acupuncturist in this area. I called and made my first appointment with Caruso Acupuncture. So far, I've had four treatments, and last Wednesday, Ron even went with me. Of course, we had a camera in hand as I thought this was going to make a heck of a blog.

One more warning - pictures of me in treatment will be posted here. Use your own judgement if you want to see this or not.

While I've been through acupuncture while living in Houston, my practitioner didn't speak much English. So, he did what treatment he thought appropriate and I didn't argue. Now, I'm learning a lot from Frank. Ok, I'm making that up. I still don't know why he does what he does or what he's trying to accomplish. All I can tell you is that it works. Four treatments later, I AM a different person. Am I perfect? Not yet. But I will tell you that for the last two mornings, I got out of bed because I WANTED to get out of bed, not because I just couldn't lay there any longer. I've had company in all week long and I should have spent about a week on the couch recovering, but other than a lazy nap, I'm jiggy. Un-freakin'-believable.

So I'm not going to pretend to talk like I know about releasing the Chi or placing a needle at the Du 20. (Ok, I heard these terms but for real, I'm clueless.) I go in, strip, lay down, take a nap, get dressed, pay the man and then go on my way feeling better. That's all I need to know - I am feeling better.

Each time I go for acupuncture, the needles will be placed a little differently each time. But I will try to show you most of the ones from last Wednesday.

We start with the Du 20 (I just learned that one!). This is the one in the top of my head. I tried to draw a circle around it because it kind of gets lost in my hair.

Heading down, the next picture is what Ron called my Frankenstein look! I have a needle coming out of each side of my neck and one on the top of each shoulder. Good look, huh?


I lifted my right hand so that Ron could get this picture. The needle is kind of in the webbing between my thumb and fore finger.


This next picture goes right up my back. It's kind of hard to see in the picture, but the top of the needle is a lot thicker but the part of the needle that is actually inserted is very very fine. What this picture doesn't show is that a few of the needles on my right side were hooked up so something similar to the TENS unit that emits small electrical pulses. It's not terrible; I can still nap while being zapped so how bad can it be?


Lastly, we gotta do a few my the feet. Here you can see the needles coming out of each ankle.


Again, I don't know why it works. I really don't care why it works. All I can tell you is that it DOES work. And I am living proof. I think I'm one or two treatments away from being normal again. Whatever that is.

I strongly suggest if you're in constant pain, go for acupuncture. It truly is a painless procedure that is absolutely nothing like getting a flu shot or tetanus shot or even giving blood. I feel his fingers placing the needle and sometimes I feel the needle but it's so light I can't even call it a pinch. This technology has been around for thousands of years for a reason.

And I am living proof that it works.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Phht On Being Traditional

Thank you to brother Jim for coming all of the way to Lorain to celebrate Thanksgiving with us.

Since I like to be out of the box is oh so many ways anymore, we decided to celebrate Wednesday instead of Thursday. Yesterday evening, we had our big dinner of . . . . pork roast, fried sauerkraut with raisins and craisins and halushki. It was absolutely wonderful!


Screw traditionalism. I dance to the beat of my own drummer!

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

Vacationing In Lorain

Who knew? We were one of the vacation destinations for my niece JoBeth and her two boys, Isaiah and Noah. We had to steal some one's fun this week because we just had waaaay too much fun together!

They came in on Monday evening. Now, I'm not around kids very much so I really don't know much about them. Before they arrived, I was worried that we didn't have many toys here and how would we occupy them and keep them entertained? Ron assured me that first of all, JoBeth was probably not coming unprepared. And, second, kids don't need much to entertain themselves. Seeing as how he's raised his family already, I had to hope he knew what he was talking about.

Sure enough, feeding the fish and whooshing on the air mattress were more than enough entertainment!

Feeding the fish needs no explanation. As for whooshing the air mattress, well . . . let me tell you. We have an aero bed. It plugs in, and a motor fills it up with air in about 30 seconds, even with two little boys laying on it! Once inflated, there is a whoosh valve at the top of the bed that will empty the bed of air in seconds, hence the "whoosh". Yes, even with two little boys on the bed! That was most definitely the fun part! My poor thumb gave out eventually though hitting the whoosh button, so JoBeth took over the whooshing. Whew. Good thing I had backup.

Then, with a garden tub, the boys got to swim in the tub as well. I dare say, that was a huge success! Being the great guests they are, they even cleaned my tub while they were in there! I'm telling you, I couldn't ask for more!

We all stayed up late giggling, then when Jo started to get the kids settled down for camping out on our living room floor, I headed upstairs.

Young Noah is not a morning person. In the mornings, while we were waiting for him to wake up, Isaiah and I had our little time together. I'd drink my coffee, he'd drink his juice and we'd sit together at the dining room table and color together. Here are some of the fruits of our labor!



Once Noah was up and the boys fed the fish, Uncle Phil took us all out for breakfast. We about ate Eat 'n Park out of their breakfast buffet!


After breakfast, Ron and Phil headed back home while the rest of us headed out for adventures. We started at a park by us on the Black River. We were close to where the Black River empties into Lake Erie, right by the singing bridge that opens to let big boats through. I was SOOOO hoping we'd get a chance to see the bridge go up and watch a boat go through, but our timing wasn't good. No boats today. So, Isaiah took over the camera duty for awhile and snapped a picture of Noah and I squeezing poor JoBeth in the middle!


I make a perfect shoe tying stand, don't I?


One of the best finds of the day: Noah found a lady bug on a fallen leaf!



We took a break and went home for a bit so I could pee AND so we could warm up a bit. The morning was a little chilly, at least for us older people. After a little break, the sun came back out so we headed out to another park. This park was right down on the beach.

Isaiah and I were working hard scouring the beach looking for seashells.



Here was a good start in his bucket!



Aside from looking for shells, there was sand to be dug in and explored.

A boy with dirty hands is a happy boy!


A treasure trove of sea shells washed up on shore made this little boy happy!


Of course, even the big kids should play at the playground! With Isaiah hanging from her leg and Noah and I watching, JoBeth went zipping on the zip line! I can't tell you how many times the two of them went zipping!



We finally headed back home to get dinner started. In case any one was interested, we made orange spaghetti squash for dinner and it was the bomb! (That was spaghetti squash with orange spaghetti sauce on it.) I even learned there was an easier way to get the squash out of the shell and into the bowl. Who knew? I always seem to want to do things the hard way! Thanks for the easier tip, Jo! That will really come in handy for the next time!

More art time at the dining room table, this time, making posters for Papa! Papa (my brother Michael) came home from China yesterday, and Jo and the boys were going to meet up with him at the Erie airport.


So, Tuesday night, after swimming in the bathtub time, we hunkered down with some kettle corn popcorn for a nice movie night. But, it was a long day, we had a later dinner than we had originally planned, and the evening just got away from us. We had to cut the movie short since it was late, and boys need their sleep. Especially since Jo wanted to get on the road earlier so she could meet Papa at the airport on her way home to Rochester.


As a side note, if anyone knows what happens in the movie Charlotte's Web, after Wilbur gets to the fair, I'd really appreciate if you'd pass me that information! I'd like to know how the movie ended!

Wednesday morning, JoBeth packed up, hugs were passed around, and I had to watch them drive out of the driveway. We packed a lot of fun into those few days, and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit! Thanks again, Jo, for bringing your family's love all the way to Lorain! It was an awesome visit!

The fun has continued though. A few hours after JoBeth and the boys left, my brother Jim came to town from Erie for a visit! There will be another blog on that soon!

It's been a great week in my world!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Highs And Lows

I sure did a dumb ass move this week.

You know I can never tell a story quickly, I have to start with a little back ground. So, here we go.

The company that Ron works for is based out of California. One of the owners of his company is in town for training on some equipment that they maintain. Ron was invited to partake in this training as well. So, poor Ron has been busy all week, going to training all day long with the boss.

Most of what Ron does is done in the field at a client's location. His company has recently sprung for a couple polo shirts with "Field Services" stitched on them for all of the guys. They're nice shirts, nothing spectacular, but nice. They just came in a day or so before the boss did. Ron asked if I'd wash them one day so he could wear one of them to training.

That should have been an easy task, right? Well, I did mention that I had a dumb ass move this week and this was it.

I put the shirts in the washer along with enough other dirty clothes to make up a full load. I loaded the washer, turned it on and left the basement. Fifty four minutes later, I was back in the basement, threw all of the clothes in the dryer and was getting ready to put my comforter in the washer. Hey, as long as I was on a roll with the washer, why not, huh? Anyway, as soon as I turned from the dryer it hit me: I never put any soap in the washer when I washed that load! Aargh! I hate to waste!

There I was, comforter back out of the washer, wet clothes back in the washer and this time, I added the soap. Go me! I know this isn't the best story I ever had, but it was bad enough that I was kicking myself for it the rest of the day.

I got a pick me up later on that day though when modern technology stepped in. I know some of the technology out there but some of it still amazes me.

My brother Michael is in China right now and I got to video chat with him, live! That technology still just amazes me! Half way around the world and we were in a live chat. Thankfully he couldn't sleep that night as it was three in the morning in China, but it was great to see him!

I got to hear all kinds of stories about what is going on with his trip, most notably the braised bull penis on the menu. Hmm. That darn guy will eat anything! Yeah, my trips to Topeka or Buffalo seem so much better in hind sight!

Which brings me to today. We have invited Ron's boss over for dinner tonight. This is a guy that is another world traveler who grew up in a different culture than mine. We had a conversation the last time he was in town about some of the food he'd grown up on that would make Michael proud. What the heck can you cook for a guy like this?

My first thought was orange spaghetti! If you know our family, you know this was a staple that we grew up on. There are so many variations on this dish that it truly is a perfect dinner. Ok, maybe Ron doesn't agree with that, but I bet brother Phil and I could eat it every week with leftovers! You can make it with or without hamburger. Then, add mushrooms or not? See the possibilities? For sure there are onions and garlic in this dish and the sauce is made from Campbell's tomato soup. Don't laugh until you've tried it. We LOVE it!

So, Ron poo-poo'd that idea and we agreed on a more traditional meal. I'm making a new dish I've made a few times that we love. I am making a pork loin with orange glaze. It ain't no orange spaghetti but it will have to do.

I say the next time the boss comes to town - we get jiggy with him. Orange spaghetti or cabbage and noodles! He's eaten MUCH worse in his day this should be a cake walk.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Got Poked!

Yesterday was my big acupuncture appointment and yes, I lived through it!

As I've mentioned, I used to go for acupuncture when I lived in Houston. I was a bit nervous since this new guy here was not an authentic Chinese practitioner, but a westerner. I even told him that. He was very understanding and explained his background including his training in China. He had a very good and calming bed side manner, listened to everything I had to say about my injury and my concerns and still felt he could help me.

One thing I liked is while we were talking, he asked me about my previous experience with Dr. Huang. I told him the procedure we went through, especially the part of after the needles were put into the top of my head, Dr. Huang would look at me, pat me on the head and say "good girl"! Ok, I liked that part!

This guy said that his plan of action was similar to Dr. Huang's, so I shouldn't be in for any surprises. I told him I was trusting his expertise, and I didn't expect him to be the same as Dr. Huang, and I trusted him to do what he needed to do. He said that he wanted to make sure that he prepared me if Dr. Huang did things much differently than he did. I liked that; we were all on the same page.

There were few differences from what I remember from my last treatments. For one, this time I had to strip down to my panties! Dr. Huang just used to move my clothes aside, but hey, I was jiggy with it. Once stripped down (thankfully I had clean undies on!) I laid on the table and covered my butt with a towel that was provided.

He came in, poked and prodded a bit with his fingers to determine the circumference of my pain, then started inserting the needles.

This is nothing like a flu shot. I could feel him, but mostly I felt his fingers touching me, not the needles going in. These needles are as fine as a hair if not finer. I tried to count the needles and we ended up somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 needles. He started with the needle in the top of my head and for good measure then patted my shoulder and said "good girl"! I love a smart ass! I had a few needles in each arm, then down both legs, all over my mid back and one in my right butt cheek. I guess that one was for good measure!

I only felt one of them go in and I felt the same one coming out, and that was the needle in my biggest trouble spot in my back. I'm not sure if he hits a nerve or if it's because of the injury, but that one was a little uncomfortable going in and coming out.

Once all of the needles are in, he hooked the one in my bad spot up to something similar to a TENS unit. A TENS unit seems to emit a constant "buzz", but this unit is more intermittent. It reminded me of Morse code. I felt like dot-dot-dash-dash-dash-dash-dot-dash-dash-dot-dot-dot-dot-dot etc. He turns this sensation up to a level that is acceptable, but as high as you can tolerate it. This wasn't a terrible sensation; it was just there.

Once set up, I felt a lovely heat sensation. Since I'm pretty exposed on this table, he set up a heat lamp over me. C'mon now, can you imagine how awesome this felt? The lights are low, soft Oriental music is playing and a heat lamp is warming me up. Yeah, baby. Nap time. He leaves the room for awhile and I'm sure I dozed a bit. He came back a few times to check on me, but I was more than jiggy laying there. Finally, the timer went off and I was done.

Everything is now done in reverse, as all of the needles come out one at a time. Aside from that one, I really didn't feel much.

Now, the heat lamp is off, the needles are out and suddenly, BAM! He sprays me with this misting bottle and the crap was freakin' COLD! That was rude!! He did explain that this was a Chinese liniment whose name I couldn't repeat and once that cold wore off, it would get nice and warm.

Sure enough, on the way home, it did warm up and felt warm most of the afternoon. Not hot like a muscle rub, but nice and warm like a blanket. The smell was strong in my opinion, but not too offensive.

When I got home, I was really hurting. Almost like I had just been out there raking leaves again. I hurt. I think it was because of laying on my belly on the table for so long. At least that's what I'm hoping it was. And, the best part of acupuncture that I forgot about was that when you're done, you feel like you've been given a tranquilizer. For real! I sat here yesterday afternoon when I got home and tried to blog. I couldn't do it. I tried to crochet. I couldn't do that either. Even playing Pogo was beyond my capabilities at the time. I did google chat with my sister Cathie for a bit to let her know I was home and everything was fine, but that was all I could do. It really was nap time. I asked Phil to wake me in time to start dinner and I was out for the count.

Right now, I've been awake for a few hours already and I've had no Aleve this morning. That's a good sign! I'm afraid to say I'm better after one treatment, but right now I feel ok. That's a good sign I think.

I have three more appointments scheduled, one Friday, Monday and Wednesday. Hopefully this will put me back on track. What I can tell you is while he may not be Dr. Huang, I liked him very much. He instills confidence. Here's hoping I'm a good judge of character.

Of course, I will keep you posted. If nothing else, it was worth the $60 a visit for the buzz I got!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Who Is That Girl?

I am too damn cute!

Well, at least back when I graduated from Holy Family School in Erie, PA waaaaay back in 1977 I was cute! Here is the proof!

Lucky for me, Mom had me write all the names of the kids on the back of the photo. I actually remembered most of them, but I'm telling you, there area few names on there that I don't remember at all. The memories have come flooding back.

Who can forget Monsignor Meko? Recently, I just found my First Communion picture. There is Monsignor, standing in that exact same spot as are the rest of us, only we are a lot shorter. Wow.

Thanks to brother Jim for finding this gem!

Extra points to anyone that can pick me out of the line up!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Well, Poke Me With A Needle, Again And Again And Again

Let's go back in time.

I was still living in Erie when I hurt my lower back in the early 1990s. I did the usual treatments for back problems from therapy to traction to praying. Nothing worked and back then there were NO stories of successful back surgeries so that option was off the table.

Fast forward five years or so and I am living in Houston Texas. I was to the point with my back that I literally could not walk. Someone suggested an acupuncturist to me and having nothing to lose (and still refusing surgery) I agreed. It was one of the best decision of my life.

Let me talk a moment about Dr. Huang. He was the real deal. He was direct from China, barely spoke English, and nothing in his office, including his medical degree, was written in English. His English was good enough to understand my pain though. I was practically carried in to his office on a Monday, I had additional appointments the following Wednesday and Friday and my last appointment was the next Monday. That made four appointments in a week. On that second Monday, I literally danced out of his office. He was my miracle worker! Every few months, I'd go back for a booster treatment. One treatment was generally enough and for years, that was my routine. Dr. Huang really kept me living my life.

I moved to Ohio in December 2001, and now no more Dr. Huang, and I quickly got to the point where I could barely walk and I definitely could not sit in a chair. Call me racist, but I did NOT want a western doctor coming at me with any needles. I wanted authentic and in the Cleveland Ohio area I had no hope of finding someone I would be comfortable with.

I did however, end up hitting the jackpot in picking a surgeon to finally take care of the problem in 2002. I'd suffered 10 years with this and enough was enough. Dr. Roberts was truly a miracle worker and even waking up in the recovery room, the first words out of my mouth were "oh my God, it doesn't hurt any more!". That was something. Recovery wasn't a cake walk, but in a few weeks I was back to work and back to living life. I have always called Dr. Roberts a miracle worker.

Then along comes my freakin' car accident. This time, it's not my lower back but my mid back. Once again, I've done everything they've asked. I did the therapy, I did the tests, I did the pain blocks, I did the prayer. Nothing worked. I ran out of patience, I wouldn't go through the pain of further treatment nor did I have to money to pay for further treatment. And, my old miracle worker, Dr. Roberts, doesn't feel I am a candidate for surgery so that is not an option. I was done. I figured all I needed was to rest and let my body heal itself in its own time.

Well, it's now a year later. Am I better than I was a year ago? You betcha. Am I back to where I was before? Not by a long shot. There is still daily pain that most days is at least manageable. But don't for a minute think that it's ever gone. So now what.

I've actually talked to Ron about going back to Houston to find Dr. Huang again. If he worked a miracle on me before he can do it again. Ok, that wasn't feasible since there is no way I could travel that far, or afford the dang trip! But, Ron did his research and suggested an acupuncturist in the area, maybe 20 minutes from me.

Now, I'm not going to give out his name yet, but by looking at his website, to me he doesn't even look old enough to shave yet! He is not Chinese as I'd been hoping for, but he is licenced in the state of Ohio and a nationally certified acupuncturist. He has also been to China several times for training. He's not authentic, but I guess he's as close as I can find in BFOhio.

I am biting the bullet and even though he is not covered by insurance, I am going to try a few appointments. My first one is on Monday. It's going to be a LOT less painful that those damn pain blocks. Or at least it had better be!

So, I'm going to give this new guy a try. What have I got to lose?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Whew. At Least That's Over

Today was my anticipated first call in for an interview with a head hunter. Well, the call in wasn't what had me worried like the damn testing they wanted to do on me. This was not a stellar day in oh so many ways.

I didn't get much sleep last night, mostly due to my nerves. I ended up on the couch watching TV and finally napped there for awhile in the early morning hours. I was so tired today!

My appointment was originally scheduled at 11:00 am. A little side note here, Phil has been in Erie this past week. When Ron came home yesterday, he parked in the driveway to do a little work on his van. He ended up leaving the van right there in the driveway since Phil was gone and he thought no one else would need the drive way.

I went to leave this morning just after 10:00 am and I jumped into the van so I could move it to the back and guess what? The van had a battery that couldn't have been any deader! There was not one amp, ohm, spark or whatever in its body. My first thought was "shit". True story. That was my first thought. My second thought was that this was my out. I didn't want to go anyway. So there. Phht.

I came back in the house and upstairs to tell Ron about his van. Heaven love him, his first thought was maybe he could push the van out of my way so I could get out! For real? PUSH the van? While I appreciated his can-do attitude, I said to him that I am not meant to go to this appointment at this moment. I firmly believe something bad would have happened to me had I forced the issue and had him push the van or if I drove out over the yard instead of down the driveway, something bad would have happened. The worst part about this is I was really have a great hair day! Trust me, that doesn't happen often!

So, I call my contact and explain my unusual situation. I'm still thinking of just cancelling at this moment but instead just asked for an extension. I rescheduled for 2:00 pm and hoped like heck that Ron could get his van started and moved in that time. Sure enough, the second time was the charm.

I actually found my way there in plenty of time.

First order of business was filling out 27 gabillion forms. From an I-9 to a W-4 to a skills evaluation and my favorite, the repeat of everything on my resume. Once all that was filled out, I had to step into the computer room where a PC had been set up just for me with an accounts payable test and an excel test. Ok, I was as ready as I could be.

I started with the A/P test. I think there was like 37 questions, and I had 30 minutes to complete it. The good thing is that as soon as I submitted an answer, it told me immediately if I was right or wrong. That was kind of cool. I thought I breezed through ok, missing about five of them. More on that later!

The excel test was really easy until they got to the graphs and charts section. I got lucky on a couple of them as they were pure guesses and just flubbed the rest. Out of 50 questions, about 15 were about graphs and charts. I've never used them so I knew this would be my down fall.

After an hour of testing, I was called in for the face to face. He asked me how he thought I did and I told him that I missed a few in A/P that I didn't agree with their answers. I told him I think his questions are dated and in today's market, with all of the changes in A/P, some of those things just never happen. I've spent the last six years educating companies on Best Practices and trust me, some of their answers were no longer considered Best Practices.

So, I argued my point with him and I'm not sure I got brownie points for that or not. I did find out though that the national average on this test was a 68% and I scored an 84%. He was totally impressed with my score, but I feel that at least two questions I got wrong would really have made that number a lot better! Oh well.

As for Excel, that national average was 70% and I scored a 74%. He was happy about that as all the questions I missed were about the graphs and charts and I said I've never worked with them. He felt that few companies asked for this expert level on Excel and my intermediate level was more than adequate.

So, I guess I tested better than I thought I would. He felt confident that he could do something for me, but in this economy I still have my doubts. But, here's hoping.

So there. I lived through my first interview in a long time. Thanks to my good friend, Maura, I always thought I was pretty good at interviewing. Here's hoping I am ready and this little practice will make perfect on the interview that will really count; the one that lands me a job. A girl has to have a dream after all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's A Start

As most of you know, I have been out of work for awhile. Ok, a long while; just over a year. A long freakin' time.

Not for the lack of trying though. I do send out resumes daily, I just can't get anyone to want to talk to me. What's up with that? I'm mostly a very nice person! I can be nice. Once in awhile anyway.

I fall into a niche that is hard to place lately in this employers' market. I have tons and tons of experience, but no piece of paper that says I have a degree. For some reason, many companies (my last employer included) would rather have that piece of paper versus some one that actually knows what they are doing.

But, I digress.

So here I am, humping for a job. I'm still geographically challenged as in it's too difficult to be in a car for long, but the 401k has already been cashed in and I need a freakin' job.

Now for the good news/bad news.

I finally have an interview tomorrow. Before you get too excited, it's only with a head hunter. And, one I've worked with before and not all that thrilled with, but desperate times call for desperate measures. They are one of the largest placement agencies in the accounting industry.

Now on to my dilemma. I have a two hour interview scheduled for tomorrow as they insist on testing all applicants. C'mon now, for real? Just talk to me face to face. I used to be able to talk with anyone about almost anything. But testing?

Have I mentioned that I've been out of work for over a year? Some days I don't remember my own name let alone the things I need to remember. I am too rusty to be tested about about how to spell my own name, let alone anything important.

Um, "T" accounts anyone? I don't think I could do one to save my life right now. Does it go from WIP into inventory? Out of cash into WIP? What is the dollar cut off that determines if you wire payroll taxes in 24 hours versus three days? Can I even spell general ledger anymore let alone manage one? Due diligence? Best practices? Huh? Me?

O M G. I am literally shaking in my boots (ok, actually socks) over here. I've been away too long and I'm terrified to jump back in. But, I need to do something.

If you can keep a happy thought or say a prayer or call in a few favors for me; please do what you can. I feel I need all the help I can get. I'll update you after the interview. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 09, 2009

New Doesn't Mean Good

The other day, our faithful, old, Proctor Silex coffee pot bit the dust.

There was no warning; it just happened. Ron tried to make our morning pot of coffee and waited the appropriate ten minutes for it to complete the cycle and alas, only 1/3 of the pot was done and it was cold. Dang, this wasn't good. I believe Ron tried a little CPR or something but the old boy was finished.

Truth be told, I've had this coffee pot close to forever. It has to be at least 15 years old. It really did have a good life and has been a true and faithful companion/helper for all of that time. But when he blew, he blew.

Keep in mind, we are plain coffee drinkers. I don't do espresso or cappuccino or any of that. Plain old Maxwell House coffee in our plain old Proctor Silex coffee maker. No bells and whistles, just an on/off switch.

Ron headed to Target and came home with a lovely Mr. Coffee set up, no bells or whistles, just a nice pot to brew us some joe. Wow, were we wrong.

We have not had a good pot of coffee since we lost our old friend! I know seasoning has to have something to do with it but geez! I did clean the old pot often so it can't be that much seasoning in there! I run vinegar through the works now and again and the pot itself gets run through the dishwasher.

The new pot is the same size, a 12 cup pot, and it uses the same sized filters. I'm not sure what's up with the new contraption, but I miss my coffee. Waking up in the morning just isn't the same.

Just because it's new doesn't mean it's good. If anyone out there is making a good pot of coffee in the morning, please give us a call. We'll even bring our own mugs.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

That's Just Wrong, Page 20

Recently, Ron took me to dinner to one of our new regular places. We had a nice dinner and when the bill came, Ron took out his credit card.

Neither of us sign the backs of our credit cards as we want to be asked for ID. Ron even goes as far as to write on the back of his card "check ID". When Ron pulls out his credit card, he always pulls out his driver's license as well and submits them together.

The waitress brought the bill back with the credit card and driver's license on the tray and the bill to be signed on top of plastic. As Ron grabbed the bill to sign it, for some reason, I grabbed his license and his credit card. Don't ask me why, but I was just looking over his plastic while he figured out the tip and signed the bill.

One thing stood out on his driver's license. It lists his eyes as . . . . GREEN.

Hello?? How many times have I talked about Ron's baby blue eyes? I tell him all the time that all he has to do is bat those baby blues and he can have just about anything he wants. I pointed out that his license can't be correct stating that he had green eyes! How could he NOT have noticed this before?

Very calmly, Ron informed me that the reason the license stated green eyes was because he HAS green eyes. WTF?

Granted, I am color blind but I have lived with this man for over six years and knew him a few years before that! How could I NOT know what color his eyes were?

My second reaction after the initial shock wore off was to ask him why in the hell in the last six years he couldn't mention that I had his eye color wrong! He shrugged and just said "eh, it wasn't important".

I am at a loss. How can I not know the color of the eyes I look into every single day?

I am so sorry, honey. Color blind or not, that's just wrong.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Where Were Those Wild Things?

Where the Wild Things Are. It's a movie. It's one dumb ass movie.

Ron and I had date night tonight. We did an early movie, see link above, and then went to dinner.

The movie is supposedly adapted from a children's book. I thought I was a half way intelligent adult and I happen to enjoy quite a few "children's" movies. This should have been a slam dunk.

Can someone please explain this waste of celluloid to me? If you haven't seen it; don't. But in case you still want to, I won't say too much to give away any plot lines (as if there were any). I want you to be able to hate this movie on your own without too much influence from me.

For real. What did I get out of this movie? Here is what I saw:

When you have a fight with your Mom, run away from home and tell lies to everyone. That will make all in your world all right until you finally get back home and your Mom falls asleep on the kitchen table.

The freakin' end.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

No More Leaves For Me

Friday was an absolutely gorgeous day here in Ohio. Believe it or not, the temperature was in the low 70s. Fantastic, especially for the end of October!

I had the bright idea that I wanted to do something outside and that something was to rake leaves. Believe it or not, at my age, I have never raked leaves before. Until I moved into this house, I always had lived in an apartment, so there were no leaves that I had to rake. Since moving into this, my first house, I just never got around to raking. I always traveled a lot with work and when you're only home on the weekends, the last thing I wanted to do was yard work.

So, Friday was the day. I went into the garage and grabbed the broom and the rake. (By the way, Ron must have bought the rake because I never bought one!) I looked all over the rake for instructions, but believe it or not, there were none. I'm a half way intelligent person, I should be able to figure this out, right?

I started in the driveway. Keep in mind, on the side of the driveway is my neighbor's chestnut tree that is dropping leaves by the second. I started with the broom trying to brush all of the leaves towards the front lawn. For someone with a case of CDO, or obsessive compulsive disorder, but in alphabetical order, the way it should be, raking leaves when the wind is blowing is probably not a good idea.

I finally figured out that it's not like vacuuming. I can go over and over the same spot as many times as I want and it will NEVER be free of leaves. The damn things just keep coming and coming and if they are not freshly dropped from the trees, the freakin' wind is f*ing with me and just depositing them right back in my driveway from the piles I just swept together. This is just SO wrong.

Case is point is this little hole by the gas meter. It was a smaller hole, but the gas company enlarged it for free when they replaced our faulty riser just a few weeks ago. Supposedly they are to come back and replace the piece of concrete they cut out, but they said maybe in the spring. Yeah, right. But, I digress.

I worked hard at getting all of the leaves out of this little hole and believe me, there were a ton of them. Now look. WTF? Once I rake, it should stay raked, right??


Now, on to the front lawn.

In our area, it seems that people don't bag up their leaves. They create huge piles of leaves by the curb and a big truck comes by and has this huge hose and they suck the leaves up into the truck. Ok, remember, first time home owner. This is still all new to me, so if you've ever heard of this before, you have one up on me. I thought this was an awesome idea.

Anyway, that was my goal. I was going to rake all of my leaves into piles by the curb and hope the truck was going to come by my house one of these days to suck up all of my leaves. I was so proud of myself. I had four piles, all about knee high, over by the curb.

Then Friday night we really had a wind storm go through here. That can sure mess up the feng shui of your leaf piles. As of this morning, here is what is left. For real!


And, if you look to the right of the tree lawn to the front yard, there are more leaves on my grass! C'mon now! Again, this does not go well with my CDO.

So what was the outcome of all of this? I really over did it Friday and my back has definitely been protesting. I mean it protests no matter what I do but this was really over doing it. I have spent most of my time since raking laying on the couch trying not to move while pumping in the Aleve. I should have known better.

But to be honest, I did have fun Friday. It was great to be outside in the warm weather and it was great to get the feeling that I was actually accomplishing something in between my fits of redoing the same patch of driveway or grass over and over and over again. And, for a little while, I was really proud of what I accomplished.

Today while I was outside taking pictures, I think I solved the mystery. The mystery of how my yard could go from piles of leaves to looking like this.



I think my leaves all blew across the street to this neighbor's. I hope they enjoy them as much as I did!


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Family Time

It has been a crazy week!

My sister Cathie flew in to Ohio last Sunday for a vacation. It's been a long time since all remaining siblings were in one place at one time. We had that opportunity this week for the first time since 1997. That's a long damn time.

Anyway, Cathie flew in last Sunday. I told her I'd pick her up at the airport and she wouldn't miss me, as I'd be the one crying. Hey, I can't help it. I'm an emotional kind of gal.

I got to the airport and stood at baggage claim next to the line of limo drivers. Sure enough, as soon as she texted me that she was on the ground, the crying started. I haven't seen her since Christmas 2007 and talking almost daily just isn't the same! The limo drivers were all giving me funny looks but who cares! I waited. And I waited. None of us are as young as we used to be but for crying out loud, if she walked any slower, she'd have been walking backwards! I swear!

We finally got our huge sister hug and the tears started to flow in earnest. Luckily, I had the foresight to put tissues in my pocket. We gathered ourselves up and got her bag and headed out.

As a side note, if you haven't been to the Cleveland airport in awhile, it's totally changed. There is a lot of construction going on both in and around the airport; what a mess. But, I digress.

From the airport, Mike, Mary Jane, Phil and Ron met us at a BBQ place not too far from the house for dinner, Moosehead. It was a great dinner. We laughed and giggled and hooted and hollered until they kicked us out to lock up the restaurant.

Monday Cathie and I spent the day being tourists in Lorain. From Lakeview Park to the Black River Landing and most of the places in between. Just about any place I've talked about going, I took Cathie to see. Even my local library!

We tried to go back in time for dinner. We bought the fixings to make City Chicken, hopefully like Mom used to do. The only problem was, we really weren't sure what it was that Mom did. We went to the meat department at Fligner's and picked up veal cubes, pork cubes and the wooden sticks to make the "legs". I trusted Cathie with a knife and she cut the cubes of meat to a more appropriate size while I jabbed at them with the sticks. After all was said and done, I have to admit, we were damn close to the way Mom used to make them! Way to go, Sissy! We make a great cooking team! Mom would have been proud.

Tuesday found us teaming up again in the kitchen as we had our friends Larry and Linda over for dinner. Again, lots of laughing, lots of joking and believe it or not, another great meal.

Then here is what happened on Wednesday:



Jim came from Erie, Michael came over and for the first time in a long time, we were all together. Good, bad or otherwise, we were all together. The old stories were told and retold. It's amazing that five of us have five different versions of some of our histories. That aside, I think a great time was had by all.

After all of the laughing and arguing and eating and story telling, Jim headed back to Erie with Cathie in tow. They had a whirlwind few days planned, touring New York and Pennsylvania. I can't wait to hear their stories when they return sometime Sunday evening.

Now after all of that, here is my public service announcement.

If anyone has an older brother, give him a good noogie. For real. Who'd have thought that at our ages, we'd still be pestering each other like this. Let me tell you though, that this simple act did me wonders. This has renewed my soul, just a little bit.

So follow my advice: if you have an older brother, give him a noogie. (Look out Phil, I'm not the only one that has you as an older brother!)


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

I'm A Snoop

I didn't realize how much fun, and how rewarding, snooping can be. I don't mean like snooping in someone else's medicine cabinet although I hear that can be its own kind of fun. I mean snooping in my own house.

I have issues with my basement. I can muster up some courage to go into the basement if it is during the day. But there are two rooms in the basement that I will NOT go into, day or night, alone. It has nothing to do with any ghosts that I believe live in this house but because of BUGS. Namely, spiders. Can you say EWW??

The first of these off limits rooms is a dry cellar that is directly under the front porch. It's called a dry cellar, but it's really not. When it rains, we get water in there. It normally is a little damp and dampness in my mind equates to bugs. There are some shelves in this dry cellar with some odds and ends on it and an oak barrel (it was there when we moved in!) and old sink (again, from when we moved in) and that's about it.

On the other side of the basement is the old coal room. Years ago, this house used to be heated by a coal furnace. The coal truck would back up the driveway, there is a little door on the side of the house that they'd open the door, put the slide in the door and the coal would empty from the truck, down the slide and into the coal room in the basement. From there, you would shovel out the coal and shovel it into the coal furnace. Sounds like a lot of work to me! This is a very dark room as there are no windows in it and the walls are cinder block. Damn scary to someone with arachnophobia! No way I'm going in there, with or without Ron!

So, Sunday afternoon, I was putzing in the basement. Ron happened to be in the basement having a cigarette, so I asked him to go into the dry cellar with me. I haven't been in there in a long time and I just wanted to look around. You wouldn't believe what I found in there!

I found a box that I packed up when I left Houston. All the breakables in the box were wrapped in pages from the Houston Chronicle dated October 14, 2001. It's sad I've never opened that box since then! I lived in an apartment here for a couple of years and never opened it at the apartment. Then, in this house for almost six years, and the box was in the basement. Right now, a few things have been thrown out, one thing was broken and the rest is in the dishwasher. Bonus for me.

Speaking of bonuses, I really hit the jackpot in the dry cellar while snooping. I found a box full of goodies! There have to be 20 balls of crochet thread! Plus, books and books of crocheted doily patterns as well as a home made book of favorite crocheted doily patterns!

For the life of me, I could not remember getting this box. I looked at the writing on some of the pages and couldn't recognize the writing. My first thought was that I got it from my sister in law, since both of us had crocheted doilies throughout the years. According to Mary Jane, they weren't from her. This was a mystery. When I saw my name written on the box, I was really stymied! My mind was just drawing a blank.

Finally, going through the books in the box, I saw a name written on one of the books. Lil! My friend Jeff's Mom! I have a huge box of goodies and I am ashamed to say that I don't really remember getting the box. And WHY did I put this in the dry cellar? I have no idea how long it's been there, but I'm telling you, it was like Christmas here yesterday afternoon!

Maybe for that reason, I put the box away when I got it, because it was meant to be found on a day that I needed to find something that happy. Then again, maybe it was Lil herself stopping by to say hello. I know she was on my mind all day yesterday. And now today my mind is filled with creating these beautiful doilies. Here's hoping my bifocals will allow me to crochet with the thread again!

So there you go. Start snooping in your own house. You never know what treasures you will find.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Where's George?

I have a little bit of CDO. That's Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but in alphabetical order, the way it should be.

I know I'm not as bad as most obsessive compulsives, but I definitely have my issues. One of the ways that this manifests is in my following of one of my favorite websites.

www.wheresgeorge.com

Where's George tracks currency. I know it sounds silly, but I am totally addicted to Where's George.

I suggest that everyone should start their own addiction to this website. Follow the link above and register for an account. Not to worry, it doesn't take but a minute. Then, start entering your one dollar bills.

You can enter any denomination, but I hold my addiction to just ones. You enter what year is on the bill. Then, you enter the serial number, complete with the alpha characters before and after the number. A box is provided for a note to go with the bill. Personally, I like to keep track of where I got the bill and I write that in. For example, I will write that I got the bill in change from the local post office in my city, or something similar. I am extremely anal about not spending a dollar bill before I can enter it into Where's George!

After I'm done entering my bills, I write on the bills. Please don't tell anyone because I'm not sure how the feds feel about me marking up their bills! I've seen some people purchase a stamp to promote this website, but I just like to take my favorite pen and write along the bottom margin of the bill, the website address of www.wheresgeorge.com.

Then I wait for the emails to come in. Where's George will automatically send an email when someone else enters your bill into their system. This was more common back when I was traveling and would spend my ones all over. But, now I still get excited that a bill I entered in Brunswick Ohio is in Portland Maine. Or how about my bill that I entered in Lorain Ohio that was last reported in Kenosha Wisconsin. Or, one of my favorites that I entered while staying in a hotel in Pittsburgh that later showed up in Erie Pennsylvania! See why I'm addicted? Where's George also writes statistics on your bills in more ways than I can ever explain in here. It is any anal retentives dream come true.

So, try it. Tell me if you like it. Just don't blame me if you get addicted too. And, if you see one of my bills with the writing across the bottom, please enter it into Where's George. I need some emails in my inbox!