Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I'm Baaack!

Taa Daa! Did y'all miss me?!!

I've wrestled back and forth with myself over how to explain my need for the hiatus. I'm still wrestling. Not that it's a big state secret, it's just something that's hard to put into words.

Every holiday is hard. I have none of the great traditions that I grew up with. That's ok, as I thought by this time of my life I'd have my own traditions to pass along. That's the part that really came up and smacked me right in the face this year. There will NEVER be anyone to pass anything along to.

Most of this was personal choice. When you're 20, it's ok to be selfish and worry just about yourself. There's always time to tie yourself down later. 30 came and went and I still wasn't ready. Bad men in my life, not quite settled with a career, there's still time. 40 came and went and I thought any day now, I'll get right on that. Suddenly, at almost 50, you look up and suddenly you realize it's too late. When that fact, that's always been in the back of your mind, comes to the front and smacks you in the face, it's paralyzing. It's too late. I lost my chance. Now, I think of all of my back problems, my foot problems, the diabetes and I can't help but have thoughts of "who will take care of me" come into play and the only answer left is "me". That sucks!

A side story here. Years and YEARS ago, my friend and I were probably in our late 20s or so. Faced with being single at that old age, we figured we had better plan for our futures. Just in case, our back up plan was that we were going to be the two old crazy ladies that lived at the end of the street with 20 cats and a gold fish who's bowl we'd put in our red Radio Flyer wagon and walk around the block. You know, the old ladies that all of the neighborhood kids were afraid of! Well, more on this story in a bit, but this was our long range plans.

The holidays this year were excruciating. I vowed to avoid them like the plague. If I didn't acknowledge them, they wouldn't happen, and thereby lessen the pain. Ok, three Christmases planned and I was boycotting all of them. Guess how that worked out!

Just before Christmas, the Patriarch of Ron's family, Uncle Paul, passed away after a lengthy illness. Out of respect for Uncle Paul, I was there with the family, coming together as a family, celebrating the Season and remembering Uncle Paul. It was the right thing to do and I'm glad I did it.

Then, Christmas dinner with our friends. I wasn't gonna do it, next thing I knew, we were packing up food to take to a dinner I wasn't going to. Of course, it was a great night!

Tomorrow, another dinner I wasn't planning on going to. We'll be there, and we're taking side dishes! And, I'm sure a great time will be had. So much for boycotts!!

If you've ever believed in Christmas miracles, then listen up. I believe I'm in the middle of one. I have had a savior in all of this though and you are never going to believe who it was. A stray kitten that we saved from certain death.

The day after Thanksgiving, I was sitting upstairs in the office, crocheting and watching TV. Suddenly, I hear tires screeching. Looking out of the window, I see a little black fur ball in the middle of our street. I'm not an animal lover but the thought of this poor creature out in the cold, in the middle of the street, hit by a car, just tore at my heart strings. Keep in mind, it was 25 degrees out that day and I grabbed Ron and the both of us ran out of the house with no coats on, worrying about this little ball of fur. Have I ever mentioned that I am NOT a pet person? Ok, I have my fish and a few dust bunnies, but that is it.

As I got closer to the kitten, he got up and ran across the street. At least he wasn't hit by a car. He ran across the street and was up against a fence, meowing to beat the band. I got right up next to him and I was terrified to pick him up. His face was all matted, not with blood, but his eyes were all matted shut, there was goop coming out of his poor nose, he was pathetic. I did the first thing I thought of, I called my sister Cathie in California!

By now, I am crying, not knowing what to do, freezing my ass off. Over the phone, she could hear the poor guy crying. She said to pick him up and get him in where's it warm! Easier said than done! Again, I was terrified of the little guy and by the time I gathered my courage to lift him up, he took off again. He didn't go far, but he got himself into the weeds and bushes.

Heaven love Ron as he now has a crying, near hysterical girl friend and a stray cat meowing. He followed the kitten into the weeds and bushes and scooped it up! Go Ron!! We took him home, and thought we could clean up his matted up face in the kitchen sink. Who knew that cats didn't like water? For real! The little guy gathered all the strength he had in his little body and did everything he could to get out of the sink. What do you do with a sick little kitten who is scared to death?

I did a quick internet search for veterinary services in Lorain Ohio and came up with the Pet-Med Clinic on Cooper Foster Road. Within 20 minutes of picking up the stray kitten, we were in Dr. Denise Pancari's capable hands.

I can't say enough about Dr. Pancari and her staff. Here I am, crying in their office over a STRAY kitten! I started making phone calls to everyone I knew that had a cat, asking if they could foster one. Remember, it's Friday afternoon at 5:00 on a holiday weekend. I couldn't get him into a shelter at this time and Ron and I are both allergic to cats. Besides, what do I know about taking care of a freakin' kitten? I never had a pet, let alone a cat. Plus, it's a SICK cat. All one pound, eleven ounces of him. Him with his upper respiratory infection, two eye infections that were so bad he had ulcers on both of his eyes, a little herpes virus, ring worms and tape worms. We left Dr. Pancari's office with a hand full of meds and instructions on how to administer eye gel as well as everything else.

We took this little guy home, not knowing the first thing about taking care of this sick kitten. We did our best, and thanks to the help of the staff at Pet-Med our kitten grew stronger and stronger. That first week, the office had called us three times just to check in if we had any questions and to find out how the kitten was doing. I had to have specific instructions on how litter works, what to feed a kitten, where they should sleep, etc. They answered all of my questions, no matter how small or stupid, and never made me fell like an idiot. They took their job of educating me as a pet owner seriously. They were dedicated to getting him through this.

It took us a week with him, but we finally named him. Big mistake! Once you name them, they are your pet. We tried a few names on him but nothing stuck. Ron tried really REALLY hard to get the name Speed-Bump to stick. Ha! Over my dead body! Finally, he was officially named. Benny! That's short for the Benadryl that Ron and I take in order to function with a cat in the house! What fun, huh?

Each day that went by, I kept calling people and talking to people about taking care of this kitten. I even offered to continue paying the medical bills until he was healthy if I could find him a good home. Every day that went by, I made phone calls while actually falling more and more in love with this little guy.

Then, one day our friend Laura called me. She told me about the Friendship APL a local shelter with a no-kill policy. They will find foster homes for your pet for a small donation until that pet can be adopted. That was really good information, but in spite of all of the phone calls I was making to find a home for this guy, Laura's phone call just hit home. I thanked her for the information, then broke down sobbing. Ron and I had a heart to heart and in spite of the allergies, Benny wasn't going anywhere. He was already home.

Well, Benny went from one pound eleven ounces to three pounds three ounces at our last visit. I'm sure now that the tape worm is gone, he's even more than that! We're off most of the meds but still put the eye gel in twice a day and still a little cream for those nasty ring worms. And, in spite of it all, I love him with all of my heart.

For someone who is NOT a pet person and did NOT want an animal in the house, I can't imagine my life without him. I have turned into one of those people that I have always made fun of. You know, the ones that talk TO their pets and then do nothing but talk ABOUT them when they're not by their pets. Yeah, that's me.

Hopefully Margareetaville won't turn into Bennyville but no promises! My little guy is so much fun and the cause of so many stories! I have one of the few cats that actually plays fetch! Yes, you throw the paper ball into the other room, he runs after it, picks it up and brings it back to your feet for you to throw it again! I'm working on getting that on video! He's a hoot!

Here are a few pictures of my new baby.

This was tiny Benny, a few days after we found him. He wanted nothing more than to cuddle up. Since his eyes were crusted shut, he couldn't see anything and wanted to be on one of us at all times. Benny and Ron, watching Sunday football!

Benny, sleeping in his bed! A box that his Uncle Phil cut down for him with a nice fluffy towel in it.

Playing with one of his favorite toys, a rag with a knot tied in the middle of it!

By the way, his other favorite toys are empty toilet paper rolls and the plastic caps from the toilet that cover the bolts into the floor!

Hanging out, playing with the Christmas toy he got from Evan and Grady!

Posing with the Christmas hat he got from Mike and Mary Jane! Yeah, this hat didn't stay on long! We had to snap the picture fast! Benny was NOT happy with his Santa hat!

And, lastly, four weeks after we got him. You can see how much bigger he is! It's hard to get him to stay still long enough to take a picture!

He's happy, he's healthier, he's home.

And, he saved me. He pulled me a good way out of my funk with his unconditional love. Oh my gosh, I AM one of those pet people now! And, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Now I am well on my way to being that crazy old lady at the end of the block. As I wait to grow old with my Benny, I am back! And I have stories already just waiting to be written. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

On Hiatus

I am taking a needed break from my blog.

May everyone have a safe and happy holiday season. Hopefully I'll see you next year!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Uh Oh

This story is epic in my family!

Years and years ago when I was a teenager and still living at home, I was doing dinner dishes one night. This is when Corelle was really big and the selling point to Corelle was that it didn't break. In typical teenage angst, I was doing the dishes with attitude. My Dad said to me something like "keep that up and you'll break the dishes".

Smart ass that I was back then (I know, and still am), I held up a clean dinner plate about five feet off the ground, looked my Dad right in the eye and said "don't worry, Corelle doesn't break" and then I dropped the dish to the floor to prove my point.

That point is still legendary. The dish didn't break, oh no. It freakin' shattered! There had to be at least 1,000 pieces all over the kitchen and all the way through the living room. We were picking up shards of Corelle for weeks! At least that ended our argument. Dad = 1, teenage daughter = 0.

In memory of that short argument, I give you this:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

PhotoPhun Challenge: Somewhere New

Kudos to Lisa for picking another great challenge! This week's challenge was to go somewhere new in Lorain County. Ok, being relatively new to the area (holy crap, I'm here almost NINE years now!) it was probably easier on me to find somewhere new in Lorain County than it was for Lisa and Mark to find somewhere new! Make sure you check them out though. I'm sure they dug deep and found some great new stuff!

I tried to find some new places that I've never been and truth be told, I found a ton of them. We narrowed it down to two adventures for this week though. The first was a suggestion from my brother Mike.

We headed out to LaGrange to the Carlisle Reservation to see the Raptor Center.

I really had mixed feelings about this Raptor Center. On one hand, I have NEVER been so close to a bald eagle before in my life! But to see this magnificent creature in a cage was hard to take. I know these raptors are at the center for a reason as none of them can survive in the wild for various reasons. It was awe inspiring to see these special birds up close and in person.

Let's start with my favorite, the bald eagle.

I have a feeling they are used to posing for pictures because that's exactly what some of these birds seemed to be doing! Left beak, right beak, straight on shots!

The turkey vulture posed for some still shots then spread his wings for us. The pictures don't do him justice. He was huge!

A couple of red tailed hawks, just hanging around, watching us watch them.

The great horned owl. He was so gorgeous, I just can't put it into words.

And then there was the Great Nest. This is an actual bald eagle's nest that was the largest nest known. In 1922 it measured 12 feet tall and 8-1/2 feet across. This nest was in a hickory tree 81 feet off of the ground! Now it's on display at the Raptor Center and it is home to a myriad of birds. The second picture I tried to show all of the birds hopping in and out all over the place. Look closely, you'll see them.

Our second adventure this week took us a little closer to home. The Ridge Hill Memorial Cemetery on North Ridge Road in Amherst, is somewhere we've driven by a thousand times but we never went in. This weekend, we went in!

There is something about a cemetery. While I don't want to be buried in one, I do love going to cemeteries. The landscaping is gorgeous, the peace and quiet is so calming and actually, I love looking at the architecture of some of the stones and monuments.

I guess I didn't do so well on this picture as you can't see the family name on this regular looking boulder. It's not the normal carved granite stone but a boulder that looks like they buried people around the existing boulder!

An unusually carved stone. Like I said, I could walk around and look all day long.

The geese also seem to love a cemetery. I posted recently about going to the cemetery in Erie and having the geese blocking the road. While they weren't in the road at this cemetery, you definitely had to watch where you were walking in the grass as there was goose poop everywhere! It was worth it. They are beautiful birds.

Lastly, I tried to capture the peaceful feeling in the cemetery. I can't help it, I love a good cemetery.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy "Making It Through Thursday" Day

I'm having a hard time with the upcoming holidays already. In a lot of ways, I'd like to climb into bed, pull the covers over my head and not come out again until January 1st. Since I can't do that in reality, I guess I'll just take one day at a time and try to get through to the end of the freakin' year.

While I may want to boycott the holidays this year, I was thinking about the Thanksgiving food goodness. Thanksgiving does have the best food out of any of the holidays, in my opinion. All week this week I've been thinking about Thanksgiving, particularly the stuffing.

I am also a non-traditionalist. Screw the holidays! Why do I need to wait until next week for some good food? Wednesday night after dinner, I stood in my kitchen doing all of the futzing to make a small batch of stuffing. Last night, we had stuffing!

Ok, a small batch of stuffing, but stuffing nonetheless. I have no intention of going through all of the work of a turkey, but I could easily throw together my version of chicken cordon bleu!

It was a great night to eat dinner at my house last night! Everything came out great, even the spinach salad and the green beans that went with this. You guys celebrate next week. In my world last night, we celebrated "Making It Through Thursday" Day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quiet Night/Bad Night

It's been a weird week, I think it's the rain.

Tuesday night was a normal quiet night at our house. After work, I emptied the refrigerator and made leftovers for dinner. It was an eclectic mix of some pork steak, some flank steak, a little meatloaf and whatever else I could find in there. It was actually a good dinner!

I did up the dishes, walked on the treadmill for awhile, then showered and hunkered down to watch TV and crochet. I put my crocheting down months ago and just haven't gotten around to it again. That's one of the bad things about having to work again for a living. My personal life and hobbies really suffer! But, I digress.

See? A quiet night. Nothing that should have induced the horrible dreams I had yet again. The big one this night had to do with my sister Cathie in California.

It was such a weird dream that I don't think I could even explain it in writing. Plus, the more time that goes by, the less vivid this dream gets. However, the point of the dream was that I caused Cathie to break both of her shin bones. Even in my dream, it was an accident. We both had to jump down from this walkway. Before you ask, I have no idea where we were or why we had to jump down. I jumped first. Once down on the ground, I went to raise this bar thingie up so that Cathie could hold on to it for her jump. Unfortunately, she had already started to jump when I lifted the bar, so the bar got her right across both shins. I can still see her with two broken legs, trying to stand up, telling me "I'm ok!" I guess I had a little Monty Python moment in my dream. You know, it was just a flesh wound.

Anyway, now that I'm typing it doesn't sound so bad, but at four o'clock in the morning when this wakes me up, and I can still HEAR her bones breaking in my head, ugh, that was not a good morning.

Even with the three hour time difference, it was still the middle of the night for her. I don't want phone calls in the middle of the night and since it wasn't technically an emergency, I didn't call her like I wanted to. No use in both of us losing sleep that night.

Finally, I ended up emailing her work email as her personal email goes right to her phone. Darn this technology some days! I emailed her at work, told her I had a terrible dream and to please call me as soon as she got to work so I knew she was ok. I know it was just a dream but man oh man, something in it felt real, like she was really going to get hurt.

Luck was on her side! She did contact me when she got to work and said everything was ok in her world. Just to be on the safe side, I said she should stay far away from me for the rest of the day, for her own safety!

I've been posting recently about some strange dreams I've been having. Lisa suggested that I get a book on dream interpretation or look it up on line. I took her advice.

Sometimes those interpretations get more and more confusing the more you read them. I think what it all boils down to is all dreams mean one of two things. It either has to do with a problem in your life that needs to be resolved or it has to do with sex.

That being said, I'm not EVEN going to tell y'all about the dream last night where the cat was eating the killer bug in my old bedroom at my parent's house, or the one where the black and white rabbit was stealing food from my fridge, or the one where I had to feed a hungry dog by hand and I was afraid to get my fingers too close to his teeth.

Hmm. Maybe last night's problem is just that celery and carrot sticks as a snack suck and I was hungry!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Another Saturday Adventure

It's been a long time since Ron and I had a day of adventure. With the weather near perfect on Saturday, we decided it was a perfect time to go on another Saturday adventure. We had a day jammed full of fun (c'mon now, shopping at Big Lots IS fun!).

We started our fun day with breakfast at Pete's. Ok, Beach Cliff Diner, but I hate that name so to me it will always be Pete's! From there to Big Lots. For someone who hates to shop, there is something about Big Lots that just gives me a thrill. I'm not there often, maybe only about four or five times a year, but when I go, look out! There is just something about Big Lots!

However, this trip, my mojo was off. I just wasn't feeling it. I bought some two liter bottles of Diet Pepsi ($0.97 each!) but that was it. What a wasted trip to Big Lots. Damn that mojo. I'll just have to go back and try again.

After lunch, we decided to go out for a walk. One of the best things about Ohio is their Metro Parks system. Each and every one is phenomenal in its own way. We always try to hit a different park hoping to get to most of them in the area. We're still working on that list!

This time we went to Day's Dam, which is on 31st Street by East River Road. I think that's still in Lorain. I drive past this park a lot of days on my way to work. I see that a walking/bike path crosses 31st Street, and I've recently heard my friend Linda talking about walking this path. Curiosity got me and I wanted to try it, too.

Well, the scenery wasn't all of the best once you crossed the road, but the walking path was in perfect shape! We had a beautiful walk, in spite of some of the scenery. Shortly after crossing the road, you came to a tunnel of sorts. For real, had I been alone, I probably would have turned around!

This first one is heading in.

And, this was the view when we were heading out.

It seems that for a good part of this walk, only the actual pathway is part of the Metro Parks with private property on both sides of the pathway. Strange.

It was kinda desolate looking. I almost felt like I wasn't in Ohio any more!

You see the fence on the right keeping you out of that area. We were close to the steel mill and Ron thought that property was probably theirs. Especially with mounds of material stacked up we were guessing was used in the steel processing. To the left was a little strip and then down into the Black River. You couldn't see the water from the walkway, I'd have had to walk right to the edge. And, since there are private property, no trespassing signs over on that side, I didn't walk over there for the photo. I know, I'm boring!

Walking further along, this just reminded me of that movie, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Right? I kept looking for UFOs to come in for a landing!

Over active imagination aside, this really was a picture perfect day. This is my kind of weather.

No outing is complete without a little playing with my camera. And, yes, I still love that macro setting on my camera!

There was one bush full of these little red berries in the middle of nothing. Kinda awesome.

I really need to get a map of the Metro Parks as I have no idea where we were or where we were walking to, but we walked and walked. As afraid as I am of heights, there is something about walking over a bridge that I love! Here is one of the bridges we got to walk over.

That was enough of an adrenalin rush for me! I tried to take a bunch of pictures off of the bridges, but I messed up and none of them came out. I had to take pictures through the slats on the bridge since I wasn't tall enough to just take them over the top and I didn't put my camera far enough through the slats. The pictures were mainly of the slats and not much else! See? So much to learn!

Right after we came off of this bridge, we turned left and found a couple of benches looking out over a gorgeous view. We stopped here for a bit to rest my tired ass bones. The view was worth the walk, I'm telling you. This was from right in front of the benches.

And, another long arm shot! One bad thing about the long arm shots, I couldn't tell that Ron wasn't ready and wasn't looking at the camera! Sorry, honey!

I definitely want to try this park again. Next time though, I think we'll stay on the same side of the street where you park!

You'd think this would be enough fun for one day, huh? Well, you would be wrong. We finished the night with a real date type activity! Dinner and a movie! I won't go on too much about dinner since mine was really sub par. It's a good thing the company was good! After dinner though, we headed to The Lorain Palace Theater in downtown Lorain. Just because we were on a date, didn't mean I still couldn't be a cheap date!

C'mon now, where else can you go where the special is one movie ticket, one large popcorn, one large soda and one candy bar all for $9.00? Yes, NINE dollars. Add to that one more plain ticket to get in and our total movie cost complete with all of the junk food was $12.00. You can't beat that. Ron got the popcorn, I ate the M&M Peanut and we split the soda. Some days you gotta be bad!

That was an honest to goodness Adventure Saturday. I spent Sunday on my heating pad recuperating, but it was worth it. That's the last time walking in the Metro Parks that I try to see if I can remember how to skip. Yeah, that's better left for the 10 year olds, not me.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

PhotoPhun Challenge: Patterns

Way to go Mark with picking this week's challenge of patterns! Once again, I had way too much fun with this challenge. As always, please make sure you check out Lisa and Mark's blog and see where they found patterns.

For most of my patterns, I didn't have to go too far from home. First off is my only seasonal table cloth. Ok, I only own two table clothes and I happened to pull this one out for our family dinner last weekend. If this isn't a pattern, I don't know what is.

This is the side view of the blinds in my dining room. I love these blinds! I have the same sort of thing on my front door too. I've been taking pictures of this dang thing since I started with PhotoPhun and this is the first time I think it finally fits the challenge!

This is the brick that is over the chimney that runs through my kitchen. Definitely a pattern.

This is my front porch. I love the variety of patterns on my porch. Not only for this blog but I just have always loved how my front porch was built.

Saturday, Ron and I went for a walk in the Metro Parks. Again, I saw a ton of patterns here, between the wood of the walkway, the railings and the shadow. I really like this picture.

Lastly, I was grocery shopping this past week. Suddenly, when I looked in my basket, I knew this had to make the blog this week. Do you see the pattern here?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Diet Update

Ok, I had to share this one.

I had my quarterly check up with my doctor today. First and foremost, I lost 11 pounds since my visit in August. Yes, I know I've slowed way down on the weight loss but that's ok. Less 11 pounds is still better than gaining 11 pounds! This brings a total weight loss to 64 pounds. Go me!

Just for giggles, I had her take my height too. Still 5'7". Not shrinking yet. Go me!

We went over the usual questions. I'm doing as well as I can be doing, all things considered. The big news is my A1C test. This is a test that tells you what your sugar has been running for the last three months. There is no cheating on this test as even if you fast for a week before you doctor appointment, it doesn't help. This test checks the average for the last 90 days! A diabetic should have an A1C of <=7. My first test I was over 10. Three months later, back in August, my A1C was down to 5.9 which is borderline between normal and diabetic. Today, my A1C is down to 5.7 which is in the normal range. GO ME!! Granted, it's in the normal range with taking medication, but still. I'm working on that whole medication thing. I still plan on being a "former" diabetic one of these days.

So, weight is down, sugar is doing very well. He poked, prodded and listened. Then came the bad news. More needles. I got a pneumonia vaccine which will now be good for the next seven years. That is a recommended vaccine for diabetics. Fine, got that. He also talked about a flu shot, but for the last 30 years I've heard if you have an egg sensitivity to not have a flu shot as the vaccine is cultured in egg. I told him my reluctance and he was jiggy with it. Good thing because I had no intention on getting a flu shot no matter what he thought!

I also had blood work done to check on everything else. If that's not bad enough, the girl in the lab also handed me a cup for a urine sample! For real? Women know this is barbaric. I just don't have the equipment necessary to aim my urine into something with an inch and a half wide target. I get more on my hands than in the damn cup. But, I digress. I was able to get enough into the cup on the first try. Sweet!

Aside from that, my back is worse. I have given up on most of my exercising because I just can't do it. Not only is my back hurting, I again have the pain that travels down my right leg. I spent too many years with this pain. Enough to know it's not going to just get better and go away on its own. We talked about this issue as well today. My doctor's advice here is to go back to a pain management doctor. Yeah, been there, done that. Over the years, I've been to two different pain specialists and have had four spinal blocks. Not one of them did me any damn good and the last one was so painful, I refuse to go through it again. See another pain specialist? Yeah, right. I'll take that advice under advisement.

That was my morning. I went to work and tried to work some sympathy out of Mike with the needle for the pneumonia shot, the blood work and the finger stick for the A1C. I thought that was worth the rest of the day off!

Mike's philosophy however is, if a bone's not sticking out, you're not hurt. Back to work!

I may have worked the rest of the day but I'm telling you, my mind wasn't in it. I am so excited and proud of how far I've come. I still have a long way to go before I'm done but I'm actually starting to believe I just might get myself healthy yet. It could happen! My sugar is definitely under better control than it's ever been, but this will be a lifelong struggle. Somedays I will win the battle and some days I won't. Here's hoping I can win more than I lose. I don't think I can ask for better than that.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Two Wrongs And A Right

I'm in a mood to bitch. Deal with it.

There are a few things around here that just irritate me. I thought I should share them with you.

Let's start with the radio. The only time I listen to the radio is in my car. Since I don't drive far, I sure as heck don't pay for satellite radio. I listen to the local channels and I am a channel flipper. I listen to this channel, if i don't like the song or the topic of conversation, I change to the next channel. I have six preset channels on my radio and I hit them all. When I'm not listening to a CD that is.

I know one of my six stations plays nothing but Christmas music from Thanksgiving day to Christmas. Hello? Are you for real? Fine, your station, your call. I have a choice to listen or not. I choose not. Now, Cleveland has added another station that seems to be off their rocker. I don't know when it started, but I noticed it earlier this week. Nothing but Christmas music on whatever station is on 106.5. Are you freakin' serious? It's early November! I hate to piss on your parade, but believe it or not, not everyone is jiggy with Christmas music to begin with, let alone almost two months early. Call me a scrooge, I don't care. Bah humbug, I am only listening to CDs now until after the first of the year.

Aah, now that's off of my chest. Let's move on.

I grew up and lived in Erie PA for the first 30 years of my life. It's a great town, Erie. And, it sure did some things right. Let's talk about garbage pick up.

Garbage pick up is a necessary evil and I give the men and women out there working a tough job serious kudos. They do the job that not many people are willing to do, and even better than the postal service, neither rain nor sleet nor snow will stop them. And, unlike the postal service, the garbage workers only get five holidays a year! Every other day, they are out there cleaning up after us.

That said, what Erie does right that Lorain County does wrong is schedule the time for the garbage pick up. In Erie, garbage (or at least it was when I lived there) is picked up on third shift. In Lorain County, garbage is picked up on first shift. Why is this bad? Because these huge ass trucks tie up traffic during rush hour! For real, who thought this was a good idea? Someone in charge needs to put on their thinking caps and realize that Erie is on the ball with this one. There is no need to tie up traffic to the degree that the garbage trucks do. Before you go to bed at night, you put out your garbage. You get up in the morning and you bring your cans back. Easy peasy. No putting garbage out before going to bed, and then leaving it out all day long until the truck comes after lunch. Oh please.

Damn, it feels good to vent! I could solve all of the world's problems right here on my blog! At least in my world.

Now let's look at something good. Well, it started bad but it ended good.

I blogged awhile ago about a credit card I used to have. We fought over the fact that while I signed up for an online account only, they felt it necessary to mail me statements. I told them (Capital One) to stop mailing me statements and I was told they'd try, but if they wanted to, they would mail them out again. I do not want my credit card information sitting in my mailbox. So, I canceled that card and opened a new one.

I did do some research but for real, for as little as I use my credit card, one credit card is pretty much like next. So, I closed my eyes and chose a card. I went with CitiCards. Everything has been fine in the six months or so that I've had this card. Then, yesterday I came home from work, and saw an envelope on the table from CitiCards.

The envelope had the side ripped open, which happens to be the way Ron opens his mail. I asked if he had opened it, as I myself have gotten carried away opening mail and opened up more than I should have. He said he didn't touch the envelope. That's not good. When I opened the envelope, what was inside was those insidious checks they send you to transfer balances to their credit card. And the envelope was open. My heart was beating in my chest so hard I thought it was going to come out.

It's like 5:30 in the evening, I still have my coat on and I'm on the phone with CitiCards. Poor Shawn was lucky enough to be the one to handle my call. I started our conversation with an apology to him. I told him I was sorry if I was going to yell at him but I was highly upset at the moment! Eh, he took it in stride. I told him my story and he immediately said his job was to make it all better.

The first thing he did was to stop the damn promotional checks. I told him I don't want them, don't need them and won't use them. Off of the mailing list, check.

Then, as a matter of safety, he immediately closed my account and reopened another one for me. Seriously, that fast.

I told him the last charges I made were at the grocery store the night before and that was the last I authorized. I couldn't tell how many checks started out in the envelope, but there were three left in there. Even if someone didn't take the actual check, they have the account number and routing number. That's all they need.

Shawn told me he'd send me fraud paperwork so that if at anytime, unauthorized charges show up on this card, I have to fill out this paperwork and CitiCards will cancel the charges.

Since my account was closed due to a safety concern, Shawn also said he'd expedite my new card. Keep in mind, this is 5:30 last night I'm on the phone with Shawn. I couldn't believe it, but UPS brought me my new card TODAY. I have no idea how they printed up a new card and got it in UPS's hands in time to get ME the card like 18 hours later. Unbelievable.

So, to Shawn in customer service at CitiCards: Again, I apologize for yelling. I was really upset. But, as promised, you did make it all better and then some. What a credit to that organization!

I just felt like I needed to bitch tonight, but I still wanted to give a shout out to Shawn. Aaah. Every once in awhile, you just gotta get it all off of your chest. Check!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Fish Tank

I've mentioned recently that my fish tank makes me happy. What doesn't make me happy is my inability to get a decent picture of the fish tank. Between the light in the tank and the fact that the back of the tank is a mirror, I just can't capture a good image. Remember, I'm still learning how to use a camera.

So, I thought I'd try to take a video! The video came out good but the sound sucks. I was hoping the gurgling of the tank would come through. Oh well, I guess I can't have everything!

Enjoy 18 seconds of peace.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I Ate What?

I may not be as adventurous at meal time as my brother Mike, but I am willing to try new things. Remember the kiwi berries? But, I digress. While Mike will eat fish eyes and mule, I prefer to stick with chicken and pork chops.

Anyway, last week when Mike was in Erie, he was at Wegman's and saw something different. This is Romanesco Cauliflower.

Like I said, I'm willing to try new stuff! Since he picked up a head for me, I knew if nothing else, this would make a great blog. This stuff is pretty awesome to look at! I finally made this last night in my happy steamer.

Mike had suggested just cutting it up and cooking it like you would regular cauliflower. I cut the florets off and threw them in the steamer.

The more you worked with this, the more you knew it was from the cauliflower family. Aside from being green and pointy, it looked, smelled, felt and cut just like cauliflower. After 18 minutes in the steamer, I put it in a bowl with some butter and salt.

Here is where Mike and I disagree! Tasting it, again, you know it's from the cauliflower family. I just think it had a funky taste mixed in with the cauliflower taste. It wasn't exactly bad, but it was a little funky.

If you served it at dinner and I was there, I'd eat it. But I don't think I'd buy it. Then again, I don't love eating fish eyes!

So, this was part of my low carb dinner. Here is my dinner plate from last night: tortilla-less fajitas!

Flank steak, fried onions and peppers with a side of the Romanesco Cauliflower. Even if I would have added 1/4 cup of salsa, some cheddar cheese and sour cream, the grand total would have been around 15 grams of carbs. As far as I'm concerned that make a great low carb dinner. And, it was mighty tasty too!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Saturday Dinner

Saturday I had most of my family over for dinner. It started out as an easy dinner. I asked my brother Jim from Erie to come to visit. If he was willing to make the drive, I was making city chicken for supper! I know Jim doesn't like to turn down free grub, but city chicken? Even I'd drive two hours for that!

So what started out as a dinner for four quickly became a dinner for ten! It happened so fast, I'm really not sure WHAT happened! Then, before dinner time, it dwindled back down to dinner for six. I was jiggy with it, even though I tried to cook enough for ten!

You think I'm lying? Here is the tray of meat on skewers. And, of course, the meat is on the skewers in two rows of alphabetical pieces! Beef, pork, veal, beef, pork veal. Could I do this any other way?

That's a lotta meat! And, once it was cooked, it was awesome! Here is the platter of finished city chicken.

I out did myself to the point that I think even Mom would have been proud. The only thing I didn't do that Mom did was make a breading patty with the left over bread crumbs and egg mixture. That's only because there was no left over bread crumbs! Note to self: next time you make city chicken, check to make sure you have enough bread crumbs. I made this by the skin of my teeth. Whew!

Chicken out of the oven, it was time to eat. Going around the table starting on the left we have my brother Jim, his friend Debbie, Phil's friend Linda, brother Phil and of course Ron! If this isn't a party, I don't know what is!

My brother Mike along with his son Mike and his grandkids were able to to stop by after dinner for a nice visit.

Here is Mike with two of the loves of his life, his grandsons Grady who was being camera shy and Evan making silly faces for the camera. Aren't they cute?

My favorite nephew Mike, with his son Evan, mugging for the camera.

Jim, AKA UJ, and Grady who was finally warming up to the party.

And, last, father and son. They missed their calling as fashion models for Vogue. Talk about striking a pose!

So there you go. Another fun time in Lorain on a Saturday night!

Thanks to all for coming and playing our reindeer games with us. As great as it was to see everyone, the quiet after they all left was heavenly.

You know what they say . . . when it's too loud, that means you're too old. Yeah. Got it. I'm old! Next dinner? Halupki! (Slovak stuffed cabbage) Who's in?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

PhotoPhun Challenge: What Makes Me Happy!

'Tis the season. I can't be the only one dreading already the upcoming holiday season. Since I seem to be getting myself worked into a state about it already, I chose for this week's PhotoPhun challenge a look into what makes each of us happy! Make sure you check out Lisa and Mark's blog and see what makes them happy too!

Let's look at some of the things that make me happy. Large print books! For real people. Once you get into that bifocal stage of your life, large print books are a necessity! It's just so much easier than trying to figure out what part of your bifocal to look through!

The large print fiction and the large print mystery section at my local library make this one a no brainer. Every time my book has this symbol on it, I am happy!

Fifteen years ago I bought my rice and veggie steamer. You might think this is a silly thing to put on my "makes me happy" list but I love my steamer! Granted, I don't do much rice in there any more but most of my cooked veggies are done in here. These are the carrots from our family dinner last night. More on that later! I LOVE my steamer and yes, it makes me very happy. Some of the best $20 I ever spent.

As much as I bitch and complain about the cost of upkeep and the work of cleaning it, my fish tank makes me deliriously happy. Especially when it's sparkling clean like it is now. (thanks, Ron!) There are countless hours spent in front of this fish tank just getting lost in thought. I've never been able to get a great picture of it though since it's hard to get them little buggers to stand still long enough. But, my fish tank definitely makes me very happy, bad picture or not.

I blogged earlier in the week about Ron sending me flowers. Not just any flowers, but the best flower there is, gerber daisies. C'mon now, look at these things! You just can't be sad when there are gerber daisies by you. You can't. It's impossible. Gerber daisies make me happy.

And lastly, my family. Ok, they drive me nuts, but I don't know what I would do without them. I love you guys; and you definitely make me happy.