Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Back to work...

I can't believe I'm here at work. It is inconceivable that I am not still at home lazing around doing nothing. However, I am at work lazing around and doing nothing so that is the next best thing.

I have to say I really did have a stress-less Christmas despite having 13 people over for dinner. It was my mom and aunt, my husband's parents, and the rest were all of our good friends (including our friends' two kids, who are great kids that I actually enjoy seeing and talking to).

I made a boneless rib roast of beef, plain ol' green beans and carrots, mashed potatoes (the easy kind, the redskinned potatoes that you don't peel and you just mash 'em all up and leave them lumpy, which is apparently the latest trend at the restaurants I've been to). It all turned out great, we borrowed an extra table and chairs to seat everybody, and a good time was had by all.

My friend's daughter and I had put up my collection of trolls, which festoon the piano and all available surfaces of the living room every year, the previous weekend, so they were all there looking festive. People keep giving me more of them and now I have about 150! And, I hate to confess, they all have names. And the scary thing is I remember most of their names without looking on my cheat sheet!

I do admit the Christmas tree, which was sitting in that bucket two weeks ago when I wrote the last entry, sat in said bucket until the Saturday before Christmas, because we had to finish painting the walls of the alcove it was going to sit in before putting it up. But at least it was up a whole two days before the Big Day and it was still very fresh since it had been sitting in water and drinking the whole time.

So, here we are in Holiday Limbo, those few days between Christmas and New Year's. It's too soon to really concentrate on my job so I am not doing too much of that. We still have a party on Friday night and a New Year's celebration to go to on Sunday.

So to all of you out there, happy holidays, and may 2007 be a wonderful year for everyone!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

It's only December 10th but I think I'm actually ahead of the game for once. I did 90% of my Christmas shopping on line at work on Thursday evening at about 6 p.m. I figure by then it's OK to be doing my personal business. OK, yes, I have also done shopping during the real work day. I was trying to sound virtuous.

I have printed out labels for my Christmas cards and have written The Christmas Letter. Now I just have to send the cards. Amazing, it's over 2 weeks before Christmas. I used to hand write all the envelopes and the notes inside the cards. But I had to write basically the same thing on any card that I was sending to any person I hadn't talked to all year. So I decided last year to give in to the wonders of automation and word processors and write a Christmas Letter. Holiday Letter, I suppose I should say to be politically correct. And since my handwriting is so godawful I really didn't see that it was such a bad thing to type up a mailing list and use printed labels either. Better people should get the cards and get them on time than not get them at all due to my horrible handwriting, or my procrastination.

And then today a whole bunch of us went to cut down our own Christmas trees. Our friend Sally (we'll call her) down the street has two adorable kids who are now 11 (daughter) and 14 (son), and our other friend we'll call Angela, has two equally adorable children, a daugher of 11 and son of 18. 18-year-old son is way too cool to go chop down a Christmas tree with his mom and her oh-so-not-cool friends (actually he's a great kid and puts up with us very good-naturedly on many occasions but must have had better things to do today). Anyway, Sally, Angela, and we decided to all go en masse and cut down Christmas trees in Lafayette, New Jersey. So we went in two vans and arrived at about 1 p.m. on a beautiful 55 degree day in December. Amazing weather for this time of year - global warming is fine with me.

DH and I found a perfect little tree, a blue Spruce (very prickly but so pretty) and decided on that one relatively quickly, got it all tied up and done with in about half an hour. Naturally the rest of the group took longer since children were involved. But eventually all three trees were chosen, chopped, and tied to the roofs of the vans, and we took off for the burger place next door for lunch, along with all the other people who had just gotten their Christmas trees. Every single vehicle parked at this place had a tree tied on top.

After we got home we had to take our other friend to the train station and on our way back we got a frantic call from Sally who said she was having a Christmas tree crisis. We were about to go past her house when she reached us on the cell phone so we veered left and pulled into her driveway. Like the Ghost Busters, we were on call to save the day. Who ya gonna call? Tree Busters?

We arrived in her living room to find her desperately holding up a leaning Christmas tree. "It's crooked! I bought a crooked tree! It's no good!" she declared. DH took a closer look at the base and realized there was a branch in the way which was making the tree lopsided. After he chopped that off with the saw, the tree settled properly in the stand and all was well. Our friend then offered us beverages, which we gladly accepted, and we ended up staying and helping her and her daughter decorate the entire tree, while The Nutcracker Suite played sweetly in the background, an idyllic evening!

Of course when we got home it was too late to put up our own tree so it's still sitting in a bucket of water on the back porch. But at least we HAVE it. And it's only December 10th! Maybe this will be the first non-stressful Christmas ever! (I shouldn't say things like that, it will only jinx me...)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"The Olives," or, "Differences in Male-Female Communication Styles"

This is actually an event that happened a little over a year ago but it has lived in infamy ever since (OK, maybe that was poor taste given it is December 7th and the 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbor...but I digress.)

One night, DH, our good friend E (I'll call her Estelle for the purposes of this blog), and I decided to go out for pizza at a local pizza place that we hadn't gone to lately. DH had gone there for lunch one day and said the pizza was darn good so we might as well go there for a change instead of our favorite Star Tavern.

This is not a fancy place. It has one of those white boards that you can put letters up one at a time on, and change the postings from time to time. It has formica tables and you order at the counter and sit down and wait till they bring your order.

So, DH, Estelle and I stared up at the board that shows the varieties of pizza and sub sandwiches they offer. Estelle and I latched on to the second entry from the top which said: "Veggie Pizza" and on the next line, "mushrooms onions peppers broccoli."

Estelle and I always make a vague effort to feel healthy when we eat fattening greasy food. So we decided "Veggie Pizza" sounded like a good compromise. We said we'd have that.

DH looked dubious and said "Why don't we just order the broccoli pizza? I had that the other day for lunch and it was really good." Estelle and I were adamant. "Oh no," we said. "We want ALL the veggies."

So, DH obediently ordered said pizza with no further comment. We all sat down and were chatting amiably for about 15 minutes, and then the waitress brought over the pizza. A huge pizza. Covered, literally crawling with, BLACK OLIVES.

Let me explain. Estelle and I do not like olives on our pizza. Estelle HATES olives in every way, shape or form. I hate them on anything like pizza or salad, although plain, really really good olives by themselves, I'll eat.

Estelle and I looked at this pizza with horrified eyes and said, in unison - couldn't have been more perfectly timed if we'd rehearsed it - "WE DIDN'T ORDER THAT!"

As the waitress looked perplexed, DH said "Oh, yes, you did." We did not believe this. We had to get up and go look at the board again. Sure enough, after the line that said "mushrooms onions peppers broccoli," there was another line. With a space between it and that line. In the middle. By itself. It said "olives."

We had ordered a veggie pizza COVERED in black olives. And they weren't even the kind of black olives I was talking about (those "really good" black olives that are OK to eat plain). They were those yucky canned type black olives.

Estelle and I had no other choice. We had ordered the pizza with the olives. We had to eat the pizza with the olives.

So we sat there picking off olives until we were able to stomach the remaining pizza and got through it without starving.

Of course DH did not escape without our wrath. We asked him over and over, "WHY didn't you TELL us it had olives on it? You KNOW we hate olives!"

DH's response was that he figured we knew what we were doing, it was obvious there were olives on the pizza, and that he just figured we'd come to our senses, changed our minds and LIKED olives now.

We have not let him live this down since, and every once in awhile the subject comes up again and we have to discuss it all over again. If a new person is in our midst and has not heard The Story of the Olives, we have to repeat it to him or her and ask whose side they are on. It has become a legend.

So, whose side are YOU on?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Hello from San Francisco

This will be a short entry since I am sitting at a computer in a cybercafe for which I am being charged $2 per 15 minutes. But just wanted to check in.

The picture to your left is of the Caffe Trieste, one of our favorite coffee shops in San Francisco. However, it is not the cybercafe, which is called Cup 'o Joe.

We had a great Thanksgiving dinner at our house. Our good friends E and M (names abbreviated to protect their innocence) came for dinner along with my mom and aunt, and DH's parents. I actually managed to get enough ready ahead of time that I got all the food ready simultaneously, and the turkey was done at the time I thought it would be done. That doesn't always happen for me.

E made homemade cranberry sauce and M made his signature dish, pot au feu (a type of French pudding or moussey thing) but with a Thanksgiving twist - it was pumpkin pie flavored. It was really good.

DH did a yeoman's job cleaning up the rest of the dining room (yes, we did most of it last Sunday and then he finished it up on Wednesday, which he took off). He also set the table and prepared hors d'ouevres and went to pick up my aunt and mother. He is a great husband.

Everyone left with a "care" package of turkey, stuffing, green beans, sweet potato casserole, and mashed potatoes, and E took home the carcass of the turkey to make soup at a later date. We did three loads of dishes and then got up the next day, packed, and took off for San Francisco.

Since arriving we have been enjoying our usual pursuits, walking around North Beach, going to the Saloon to hear our favorite band, Johnny Nitro and the Doorslammers, and generally eating a lot and drinking lots of latte and cappuccino. So far we still consider Caffe Trieste to have the best, although Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Restaurant is a close second.

Today, sadly, it is raining, but we have managed to have a great time anyway. There's no such thing as a bad time in San Francisco. We took the F train to the Castro and had a great brunch at a little restaurant we'd eaten at before called "Welcome Home." Then we went to the Ferry Building and poked around the markets there all day before arriving here for afternoon beer (for DH) and tea for me.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! More soon....

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Back to the grind

Monday we were supposed to get a new front storm/security door and of course when they finally showed up to install it after we waited for 6 weeks, it was backward. Yes, backward. The hinges were on the wrong side and the handle was on the other, equally wrong, side. DH had to send them away with instructions to reverse the door and bring back a new one. Lord knows how long this will take...

Yesterday I worked from 5 p.m. to midnight working on a "deck." A deck, for the uninitiated, is Big Corporation-speak for a Powerpoint presentation full of charts and commentary. I had to finish said deck by end of day so that it could be e-mailed out to LA in time for copies to be made for a meeting taking place on Wednesday.

I felt pretty good about it by the time it was done but exhausted. I am way too old for this kind of thing. "Why," you may ask, "were you working on it at the last minute?" I have an easy answer for that. Because it is mentally impossible for me to focus on any big project until I absolutely, positively, have to get it done. If there is even a day to spare, it is too much. I know I have "a whole day" to work on it. So I don't.

This is how I have always functioned and I've managed to make it to 53 without becoming a colossal failure, so it is unlikely I am ever going to change.

I spent my high school years ensconced in my little den typing up lab reports and research papers on my old manual typewriter at 2 a.m.

I spent my college years during the last week of the whole semester, pulling all-nighters and pounding out English papers directly onto the typewriter from my notes.

I even had devised a clever color-coding system for organizing my papers. I took the scribbly notes that I had taken when I did whatever research I had managed to do (how on earth did anyone do research before the Internet???) and I'd circle various sections of notes in different colors which signified whether it was the beginning, the middle, or the end, or if I was feeling more adventurous, different colors pertaining to different topics. It was my way of doing an outline, which of course was way too much planning for me.

Of course now it's all I can do to read my own writing, so when I take notes for the neighborhood association meetings or the park conservancy, or the Historic District Review Board (I'm on that too, did I mention that?) I take my laptop computer with me and take notes that way. Not only can I read them afterward but they're already typed up.

When I was cleaning out our old house, I found a lot of my notebooks from high school and college, and was amazed at how large, loopy and flow-y my handwriting was. You could actually read it. Years of typing into computers have totally atrophied my handwriting abilities. Now I make these illegible scribbles that are impossible to decipher even five minutes later.

Speaking of our old house, my mother has reported that the man from her church whom we had been working with to clean out the house had gone over there and finally removed the rest of the detritus that was strewn about, and gotten rid of any remaining unwanted furniture. He had even managed to sell my father's piano for $400, which he applied to the cost of the cleanout, bringing it down to a very manageable figure. Bless him, I never could have finished cleaning the place out myself.

I feel a little sad that my father's piano is going to strangers. I had hoped a friend would take it so I could visit it occasionally. We have our own piano and neither of us actually play it anyway so it didn't make sense for me to take it. But the piano always reminds me of my father since every night when I was growing up, after the news and the Johnny Carson monologue were over, he would sit down for about 15 minutes and just ramble through old songs he knew. He was an excellent pianist, but despite his early training in classical music, he really preferred to play old pop songs like "My Funny Valentine," "It Had to Be You," "My Restless Heart," or anything by Noel Coward. I hope the piano will find a good home and someone to appreciate it.

Now our last step is to turn the keys over to the bank and be done with it. It only took us 5 months to clear it out! A friend of mine at work's father passed away in April and somehow she and her sisters managed to clear out the entire house and sell it by June. I don't know they managed that but of course having 3 siblings helping probably made a difference. Large families do have their advantages, I guess. But I remind myself, I had my own room the whole time I grew up, so being raised as an only child also has its perks!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

We won!

"How sweet it is" as Jackie Gleason used to say. For once all the pre-election hype and the polls weren't wrong. People really ARE sick of this administration and really did throw the Republicans out. It doesn't get any better than this (except maybe if the Democrats won the Presidency).

Of course, now comes the hard part: Actually coming up with a plan to get out of Iraq and an agenda to really push. Most of the Democrats who won, simply won on the basis of Bush backlash. I haven't seen a clear plan presented by my party as to what they would do instead. But at least I know they will be supportive of choice, stem cell research, the environment, the middle class, and all the other things I support. So that's the main thing.

Having just one party in power in the House, Senate and Presidency is just too much power in one place, and as the old adage goes, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Now the system of checks and balances will be back in place where it belongs.

We had a good time last night watching the election returns with my mother. Yes, I'm a politics junkie. I'm not as bad as my 88-year-old mother though; she's the one who invited us over to watch the returns with her in the first place. She has C-Span or CNN on all day in her senior citizen apartment even on a normal day. So I picked up some Indian food at our favorite Indian restaurant and we chowed down on that while we watched CNN. It was pretty exciting to see the blue piling up inexorably until the House was taken.

And then to wake up this morning and hear that the Senate may have also gone to the Democrats was a pleasant surprise, followed by the even more pleasant news about Rumsfeld resigning. I think the tide is turning...

Hope you don't mind me going political on you but it's part of who I am! I am open to either party if the right person is running -- but the Republicans haven't been running anybody I could vote for for a very long time.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Alice's Picture

I had trouble posting her picture to the previous post so had to make it a separate post. Here is our girl in the park that last night.

Sunday Afternoon with Alice

It's been a quiet Sunday overall. We had a nice time having dinner at our friends' house last night and went to bed at our usual time and soon fell into dreamless sleep. Around 4:30 a.m. Dear Husband woke up, wide awake, due to the fact it was 7 p.m. in Adelaide. He reached out to me and started talking as if it was noon...Diva snored beneath the covers, the cat purred at my side, and I grumpily said "Go. Away. Now. It is 4:30 in the morning. I am not waking up right now."

He decided to vacate the bed and go downstairs. Diva and I went back to sleep until the respectable hour of 9 a.m. and our Sunday morning routine (newspapers, funnies, breakfast/coffee) began.

Now it is Sunday afternoon and it has gotten dark.

Sunday afternoons have always been a bit depressing to me, even back when I was a kid, when it meant school was the next day and whatever homework I had procrastinated about doing all weekend now had to be faced. I still feel that way now that I'm a grownup of 53 years old. I know work looms ahead of me the next morning and the fleeting minutes of the weekend are fleeting ever faster as dark approaches.

In my melancholy state I started to look at some pictures of our old dog Alice. She was a great dog. Because I didn't start this blog until well after her death, Diva is going to get all the attention and you'll never know about Alice if I don't tell you about her.

I first heard about Alice in 1995 from a neighbor who was good friends with a woman who ran the East Orange pound at the time. We had just lost our 20-year-old cat, Mathilda, in February of that year, and were bereft and pet-less. My neighbor told me about a dog that her friend had told her about. The dog had been found wandering the streets of East Orange, starving, with a broken pelvis. The East Orange Animal Control officer had picked her up and she had been taken to the vet and x-rayed and treated.

After a month of confinement in a cage to keep her from jumping around and lots of food and care, she was ready to find a home. The East Orange pound didn't actually adopt out dogs due to liability issues (they were too cheap to pay the insurance, I surmise) but some left through the "back door." So I told DH about this dog that needed a home. He was dubious about it but we had decided we might be better off getting a dog instead of a cat, since no cat could replace Mathilda, and both of us had had dogs when we were younger.

So we went to meet this dog. She was still very skinny, only 32 lbs., when we saw her, and still limped with one of her hind legs. When she saw us she came out of her cage wagging, and proceeded to roll on her back.

I had done my homework (not having had a dog since I was a kid I thought I'd better read up on it) and immediately recognized that she was showing her belly and being submissive. I was impressed. I will add that this was the one and only time she ever, ever, rolled on her back and showed us her belly in the 10 years we had her. I think she knew what she was doing.

We went home and thought about it and came back the next day and took her home. She smelled pretty bad so our first act was to stick her in the bathtub and give her a nice warm bath. Until the end of her life she always loved baths and we think it was because she associated a bath as being the first sign of being an owned dog. She also hated having her collar taken off, probably for the same reason - it meant she had a home.

The people at the pound had called her Ali, perhaps because she used her paws so much to ask for things. (She came knowing "paw" and "sit" so someone had owned her at one time). We wanted to name her something else but she seemed to know her name, so we came up with Alice, short for Alice Kramden.

In the ten years we had her, Alice learned over 100 words, she slept on our bed every night, and loved to go for walks or rides in the car. There are so many stories about her little habits that I actually wrote them all down after she died so I wouldn't forget them.

She would cock her head to one side whenever she thought she heard a word she understood. Once when we were watching TV and I said the word "scar" out loud she thought I said "car" and started jumping up and down so much that we had to go out in the rain and drive her around the block about 5 times before she was satisfied.

She loved our family and friends and was great with our friends' children. She defended us against anyone else, however, who wasn't invited into the house. She had a lifelong feud with the mailman, despite the fact that I repeatedly told her it was such a cliche' for a dog to hate the mailman!

Right before we realized she had cancer, we spent a week at Cape Cod with her and she had a really good time. But after we returned we noticed she was breathing too fast and hard. An X-ray showed the worst news possible...cancer throughout her lungs. She only lived 2 weeks after the diagnosis. Apparently it was a very aggressive form of cancer and the oncologist we took her to told us she probably only had it a couple of months.

The night before we had to take her to be put to sleep she had a wonderful time in her favorite park. She walked all the way around, barked at some dogs, and was happy. The next day she suddenly went downhill. But I was glad she had one last evening of enjoyment in her life. And although the suddenness of her illness was worse for us, at least she didn't linger long and suffer. I find comfort in knowing that she had a wonderful life after her sad beginning and that she was loved until the end.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Back to normal

Things have returned to normal. Diva and I drove to the airport bright and early (well not that early) to pick DH up. His plane actually came in 15 minutes early so by the time we got there I didn't have to park, I just had to go pick him up at the curb outside the luggage area. It's a beautiful crisp, cool autumn day - quite a difference from Adelaide, Australia, where it was starting to be summer and quite hot. But at least the sun is out. Diva was very glad to see her daddy and sat in his lap all the way home.

DH had a big surprise for me - he bought me opal earrings that match the opal ring we got for my birthday when we were in Australia in 1988. They are beautiful, and their fiery opalescence made me realize the ring's stone needs some polishing. I probably have been abusing it by washing my hands and wearing it every day for 18 years.

DH realized once he inspected the premises that I had been remiss in one area in his absence: I had not watered a single houseplant. I had looked at an African violet sitting on the windowsill above the sink for almost 3 weeks and it had not crossed my mind even once that it ought to be watered. I also ignored the ti plant in the cat's room upstairs, and the snake plant in the sunroom. This is why I do not have houseplants. My husband is the houseplant waterer. It was all I could do to keep the dog alive, let alone houseplants.

Now DH is taking an extended nap, since it is the middle of the night in Australia. Diva has been in and out and is now snoozing also. This was a good opportunity to work on my neighborhood association newsletter. I recently became the editor of the newsletter when my good friend and the former editor met the love of her life at age 54 and got married in July. She and her beloved (who happens to be my husband's best friend for 30 years, but that is another, longer story) have been in the process of selling their two houses and buying a house that belongs to "them" so they have been exceedingly busy. Thankfully they are still going to be living about 3 blocks away, just not technically in the same town anymore.

Needless to say, with all this going on in her life, my friend didn't have time to do this newsletter anymore, so I took it over. It isn't that hard to do now that I've gotten the hang of Ventura. The main issue is getting people to call up businesses and ask them to buy ads in the newsletter, which helps cover the cost of printing it.

I am one of those people who has many good intentions and says "yes" a lot. So I am on the board of trustees and am secretary of the local park conservancy, which is an offshoot of the neighborhood association; I am the secretary and editor of the newsletter for the neighborhood association; and somehow I got roped into being president of my Toastmasters Club that meets at work. A friend who no longer works at the Big Corporation had snared me into Toastmasters about four years ago, and I've enjoyed it as it has helped immensely in my ability to speak "off the cuff" without saying "uh" and "er" a hundred times. But each year a new person has to be president; presidents are not allowed to have consecutive terms for some reason. So no one wanted to be president this year and the former president coerced me until I said yes. The problem with always saying "yes" is you end up not doing anything really well.

Speaking of not doing anything really well, I think I'll go clean the dining, I still haven't started it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Alone again, naturally...

Well, tonight was supposed to be the night my Dear Husband arrived home from his long business trip. Sadly, his plane from Australia was delayed by 4-1/2 hours (yes, 4-1/2) because it had a broken windshield!? (My mind immediately tries to imagine reasons a perfectly good airplane gets a broken hit a California Condor at 30,000 feet? Errant Pterodactyls? Meteorites?) Anyway, they fixed it and took off and made it to Los Angeles, where he originally had a 5-hour layover which he thought might be so long that he would be able to arrive early enough to get an earlier flight home. Ha! Of course not. Since it turned out to only be a half hour connection, he missed it because he had to go through customs and security all over again.

So, since he was flying First Class (the client was paying) the airline kindly put him up in a Hilton near the airport until he can catch his midnight flight out of LA, which has to go through Chicago, and he won't arrive home until 9:45 a.m. tomorrow. So, one more night on my own with the dog and cat...and my favorite TV station, Discovery Health. I think Mystery Diagnosis is on tonight...can't wait.

Today I did a good deed and took my 86-year-old aunt grocery shopping. I had taken a vacation day today just because I couldn't stand another day at the Big Corporation, plus I had a dentist appointment in the morning at 8:50 a.m. At least I thought I had. On my way to the dentist, late as always, I called to let them know I was running late, and the assistant told me she didn't have me down for an appointment! Luckily she was able to fit me in about an hour later so I just went then instead. So I had gotten up earlier than I had to on my day off, but no use crying over spilt milk.

After the dentist I headed over to my aunt's to take her shopping. She recently gave up driving her car because she had been having strange spells that her doctor decided must be TIA's (transient ischemic attacks - mini strokes that luckily have no permanent effects). This was very fortuitous in its own way (not the TIA's but her giving up driving) because my mother, who is nearly 88, had totaled her own car by running a red light about a month earlier and had no car. She received a payout from her insurance company and had been nagging me to take her to buy a new (used) car with it. I had been stalling because I wasn't so sure she should be driving at all, but she told me that she would stop driving "only when I pried the keys from her cold dead hand," so I kind of got the feeling that she would drive whether I wanted her to or not.

As it turned out, my aunt's stopping driving nicely dovetailed with my mother's situation so that my mother is now driving my aunt's car, and I don't have to take her car shopping, which "is a good thing," as Martha would say.

So my aunt and I headed off to the Clifton Mall to go to Staples (she wanted a file cabinet) and Stop 'n Shop. We arrived, parked in front of Staples, and went in and got the file cabinet she wanted. Of course it is heinously heavy and is in a knocked-down-flat state in a box, so I know DH has to come over to my aunt's and put it together for her, which he will be thrilled to do the day he gets back from Australia, I'm sure.

So we bring it out to the car and I manage to get it out of the cart and slide it into the trunk of the car, laying my keys down to do it, and talking to my aunt simultaneously (you see where this is going, don't you?). I then gave a sigh of relief once it was in the trunk, slammed down the trunk, and then we were about to go to the grocery store when I said to myself, "Hmmm, where did I put my keys?" After a few frantic moments I ascertained the keys were:

a) not in my hand
b) not in my pockets
c) not in my purse
d) not on the ground.

Nope, the keys were in the trunk of the car. I had managed to find the ONE WAY you can lock your keys in a Saab. You cannot leave them in the ignition and lock the doors. You have to lock the door with the key when you get out of the car. But, if you lay them down inside the trunk and close the trunk, it automatically locks. Now mind you, we could have this set so that it didn't automatically lock. But we don't.

I called Saab and asked them their advice. They said "Do you have Triple A?" I smiled proudly and said, "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do!" They said Triple A could help me. So I called AAA and they said they could indeed help me and they'd send somebody there in about half an hour.

So my aunt and I went into the Stop 'n Shop, did the shopping, and I came out just as she was finishing up and met the guy at the car and he managed to get into the car using a couple of wedgie things and something that looked like a really long coathanger that had been stretched out, and then we were able to get into the trunk from the inside of the car and get the keys.

So no harm was done, no vast expense was spent (I did tip the guy a hefty sum out of my gratitude but it was nothing compared to what it would have cost otherwise) and no cars were damaged in the process. All in all, a successful outing.

After stopping at my aunt's for some tea, I headed home and walked and fed the dog. It was shortly thereafter that DH called to let me know about his new arrival time. Hmmm, maybe that means I still have some time to do one or two of the things I said I would do while he was gone. Like maybe clean the dining room.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Single Life?

I have been living as a single woman for over two weeks now. I do miss my husband and certainly miss his excellent abilities to take out the garbage, the recycling, and walk the dog in all kinds of weather. But the single life does have its rewards.

Although I had intended to do way more constructive things than I have actually done, I have nevertheless accomplished a few things in his absence.

We began fixing up our circa 1965 kitchen over two years ago. In February of 2004 my husband put up all new ceiling tiles, and painted the little thingies that hold them up. This inspired us. So we went and bought a new stove and dishwasher. (Nothing like instant gratification and not waiting until you truly deserve the reward.)

So now we had the new appliances and were very happy. Nothing further was accomplished on the kitchen till the following winter, when once again inspiration hit and my husband labored long and hard, priming the whole kitchen, both walls and cabinets, and then painted the wall parts yellow. (We're doing this kind of Provence theme - yellow and blue - the kind of thing where you want to put up Van Gogh pictures and cutesy sunflower decorations everywhere when you're done).

My job was now the woodwork and the cabinets. I valiantly began to paint those an electric shade of blue last winter and then they languished unfinished all through the summer. So last weekend I broke out the paint and finished the blue woodwork and cabinets. I was very proud.

Today I started painting the rest of the cabinets. We had decided the upper cabinets shouldn't be blue. Too much Smurf Blue is just too much. So we're doing them in the same yellow as the walls but in shiny paint. So today I did another section of cabinets. I find when I paint my arm gets tennis elbow after about 10 minutes. That's just from stirring the paint.

Once all this is done we will replace the floor and recover the countertop surfaces.

To be honest, I have to admit that we should have ripped out the whole thing and done it over. But I don't believe in spending our hard-earned money on new kitchens. I'd rather save it for a trip to Hawaii or some other experience. I also like to waste it constantly by sending away to for any new book that strikes my fancy. So I have a pile of books next to my bed instead of a brand new kitchen.

The Provence idea was inspired from watching shows like "Surprise by Design" (which I don't think is on TV anymore). It was one of those shows where someone plans to re-do an entire room in one day as a surprise to a family member or friend. And this gay guy and this woman come along to advise them what to do within the budget they have allotted. It amazed me to watch this and see dull boring kitchens that were badly in need of an update, suddenly become wild, crazy and funky (as opposed to totally redone for $50,000) on a budget of $500. Basically there was a lot of bright colored paint and some new furniture and add-ons. That was what inspired me to think, yellow and blue Provence decor would be a cheap way to re-do our kitchen. If we can't look elegant we might as well look funky. So that is where it stands.

I have been suriving pretty well for the past two weeks. I have discovered that despite my best intentions, the thing I most look forward to when I arrive home exhausted from my job at the Big Corporation is plopping myself in front of the TV with my meal of the evening and watching, in an obsessive manner, the Discovery Health channel. I watch it all..Mystery Diagnosis, Plastic Surgery Before & After, and Dr. G - Medical Examiner. I also discovered a really good show on Friday nights called The Ghost Whisperer. As you can guess, I'm usually not even home on Friday nights. I find this very relaxing, but rather disturbing that I am not reading any books. I thought I would indulge in an orgy of book-reading. Apparently I can only do that when I'm actually on vacation.

The dog is missing her daddy, especially the fact that her daddy took her for longer walks than Mommy does. I find taking her for walks after work, in the dark, kind of scary and rather dangerous. No, not for the reason you're thinking. She's a pitbull. I'm not really worried about anybody bothering me. What is dangerous is my own complete klutziness. Twice I have injured myself while walking her, both times by tripping on the sidewalk. The first time I just stubbed my toe so badly that I was limping the next day; the next time I actually fell, nearly crushing the dog, who immediately turned around in great concern and started licking my face. Luckily I wasn't gravely injured and I managed to get up without having anything to hang onto (a feat in itself given my aging knees).

Less than a week to go and I still haven't done the rest of the things that were on my list to accomplish while living alone:

- Clean out my closet and get rid of all the clothes and shoes I no longer wear.

- Clean up the dining room.

- Sort through all the memorabilia from my old house.

Well, at least I'm working on that kitchen...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

I am so excited!

I don't believe it! This is great, I actually got a comment on my blog! Suegee of Suegee's Meanderings posted under my last entry, because I had posted a comment on her blog! It is funny that we both have "Meanderings" but it is a total coincidence, I swear. My husband and I, what seems like millions of years ago now, once had an inspiration to write a travel newsletter back when people actually sold hard copy travel newsletters. We were going to do this to make money and be able to retire from our boring day jobs. Now everything is free on the internet so it's unlikely anyone would now be willing to pay for our old fashioned newsletter that we still haven't done, but that's where the idea started because we were going to call the newsletter "Marvelous Meanderings." I even wrote one issue of it, on San Francisco. We never actually finished it but the material was helpful to give to friends who were heading to The City By The Bay until the contents became obsolete. So when I decided to do a blog, I figured "Mauigirl's Meanderings" was nicely alliterative and similar to our old idea for the newsletter.

Speaking of San Francisco, we just booked a trip there for the 5 nights after Thanksgiving. I think I'm going to be stuck doing Thankgiving this year but I'm not going to make a big deal out of it. I'm going to go ahead and give in to the temptation and just order the whole darn thing at King's Supermarket. You can get the whole turkey and all the fixings, the squash, the mashed potatoes, everything - just order it ahead of time and go pick it up on the big day. Sounds like a plan to me! Then I will make my relatives take home all the leftovers and my Dear Husband and I will just head for the coast the next day.

We're going to stay at the York Hotel (which was featured in "Vertigo" lo these many years ago, although at the time it was called the "Empire."). It's a nice, relatively inexpensive hotel (we're getting our room for $79 a night), right on Sutter Street. One of its key benefits always was that it was about two doors up from our favorite bar, the Overflo. Sadly, last year when we were in San Francisco we discovered the owners had finally sold the old place (the old man had died a few years ago and I guess the sons didn't want to keep running it). It's still a bar but it has a new name and less charm. The old Overflo was a local bar, a neighborhood hangout. We'd go in there and end up having the most fascinating conversations (being in San Francisco, even the drunks are intelligent). And we'd never get out of there without someone buying us at least one round of beers. One time we played pool with the son of a doorman at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. The son was also a doorman at a somewhat lesser establishment, the Mark Twain. And one time the owner, Dale, gave us hats and mugs to take with us back to New Jersey, with the Overflo name emblazoned on them. Sometimes we'd have been out to dinner already and drunk a bottle of wine before we'd arrive at the Overflo, and by the time we bought one round of beers and two other people bought us rounds of beers, we ended up barely able to stagger back up the hill to the York.

Our dog will have to stay at the vet for the 5 nights we're gone; she already stayed there when we were away in the summer, and, Diva that she is, she was the belle of the ball there. Everyone loved her at the vet's and she got lots of extra attention. She didn't seem to be all that anxious to come home with us, in fact!

My DH has headed off on a business trip for 2-1/2 weeks - to Australia no less - and I am now officially on my own with Diva and our cat Baxter. I have recently been cleaning out my old family homestead, as my mother has moved into a senior citizen apartment down the street from me. It takes forever to clean out a house that has been lived in by the same family for 40 years. We've already gotten out everything we want and the place looks as if it is still occupied but has been ransacked. One of the perks of doing this is digging out all my old letters and memorabilia from my closet in my old bedroom. I now have brought home three large boxfuls of letters from when I was age 14 on. I spent this evening reading over old letters from my oldest friend that I've known since we were in grade school together. I haven't heard from her in a few years (she lives in New York state where I used to live until I was 14) so I decided to write her a letter out of the blue. I hope she'll write back; we go through these phases of being out of touch for awhile and then out of the blue one of us will write and touch base. I haven't seen her in 25 years. But some friends are friends for life.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I am such a newbie

That I can't even get my titles right. It keeps defaulting to Maugirl's Meanderings instead of what the subject of the blog of the day might be.

Let's see if this works!

Mauigirl's Meanderings


I'm so new to this I have no idea if anyone ever sees it. I was excited to find out my relatively new next-door neighbor has a blog, so I logged on and discovered not only does she have a blog but people actually read it. And comment back! They love her. And she writes really well with a nice sense of humor even when she's mad or sad. I read through past entries in some trepidation since she is, after all, my new neighbor. I was looking for any comments that said anything to the effect of "Our new house is great but man, the neighbors behind us suck!" Happily she did say she liked all her new neighbors, so that was good. Her blog entries get 100's of comments and she has other blog links on her blog so I suppose I would need to get my blog linked to some other blogs that people actually read before anyone will read mine.

I am also amazed there are so many other Mauigirls out there. I hope you realize I am not actually a resident of Maui, much as I would love to be. I live in northern New Jersey and was born and raised here. I still live in the same county I was born in - how sad is that? However, I do travel a lot so I make up for my provincial living habits. To be honest, there are not a lot of other places in the U.S. that I'd be willing to live. San Francisco, definitely. Boston or Massachusetts in general, fine. Maybe even Delaware or Pennsylvania. But that's about it. I'm not into most Southern states (too "red" for my liberal politics) and don't like overwhelming heat and humidity, much as I'd like warmer year-round weather, so Florida or Louisiana are out. The Midwest - too red again - and just too plain old nice for my sensibilities. I can't be nice like that all the time, it would require too much effort. Plus I need to be somewhat near the ocean. I have a half-sister who lived in Boulder, Colorado for awhile. It was very scenic but I felt very claustrophobic there. It was smack dab in the middle of the country - too far to get out easily. Not near enough to any major city (Denver was about 90 minutes away, as I recall). And it was a "blue" enclave in the middle of a red state. Now my poor sister has moved to South Carolina and is even more of a duck out of water. At least Boulder was "blue." She's been having trouble finding like-minded people. She's originally from Philadelphia (we had the same dad, different moms).

This is a quiet week here at the Big Corporation. First all the managers and above were out at an "off-site" - on the company's "Vision." Now my boss is on vacation till next week. Gives me some time to catch up on various things...

More next time in case anyone is actually reading this.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Back Again...

Got back last week from vacation - we went to Cape Cod for a week with our dog, Diva. Diva had a great time chasing her ball into the lake and swimming back with it, running on the beach and digging up rocks and barking at the waves that hit her while she wasn't looking. We took lots of walks, ate lots of lobster and oysters and french fries and generally had a relaxing time.

Diva is an American Pitbull Terrier that we got from a rescue group that specializes only in APBTs. She is the sweetest dog - loves everyone. As her description on said, she even wags at passing cars, thinking they're coming to see her. Pitbull Terriers are wrongly maligned by many people and often, the media, when in reality they are excellent with children and people in general. There is debate about whether or not they have a genetic tendency to be aggressive to other dogs or whether it's all about how they are raised and socialized. I think there may be that tendency in some, but not all, of the pitbull breed. Our girl is good with other dogs if they're nice to her. But I have seen her get very nasty if they start something with her first. So we are very careful and do not take her to dog parks where she would be off leash, and we make sure she is always under our control.

We've had her about a year and she is a true joy. Our previous dog, Alice, was a wonderful dog too - part pitbull and part Lab (we think). But she was a little pickier about who she liked, so we had to be a little more careful with her. She was great with our families and our closest friends, including all their kids. But strangers, as she got older, were another story, and she was wary of some of them. We were heartbroken last summer when she died of a sudden, aggressive form of cancer. But after two months of grieving, we had to get another dog. Our cat, Baxter, did his best to make it up to us, but a cat is not a dog and a dog can't be replaced by a cat, and vice versa. Baxter is the epitome of a cat, he is very good at what he does, and he is affectionate. But he is not a dog.

I've been really busy at my job at the Big Corporation so haven't had much time to write lately. This was a busy weekend too. We had our annual block party yesterday, a good time was had by all. We also went to a football game. And the good thing is, neither were rained out as I'd feared.

I don't know whether anyone is reading this blog or whether they know how to comment back but if you're out there, please do write!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Mauigirl's Meanderings

Mauigirl's Meanderings

Here I am, the second day of this blog. I am not sure I know what I am doing yet so will publish a short blurb for today. I am working from home today, my favorite thing to do. I get more done here than I do at work and it's so much better to be sitting here in my own house working instead of being in that soulless office. I do enjoy the people I work with but after doing this job for so many years none of it is new anymore and most of it is aggravating.

I was a Communications major in college but after a brief stint working on a humane society magazine for a year and then for a get-rich-quick publication company, neither of which paid enough, I ended up in the corporate world. I do research on brands, and it was interesting for awhile but now I'd really like to get into doing something I enjoy and feel does some good in the world. I'd like to get back into working to help animals, or the environment, or historic preservation. Helping elderly people would also be up my alley. Two more years and I would have the option of retiring and collecting a pension, which may be enough to help me get into something that pays less but is more meaningful to me. I don't like to wish my life away but I am looking forward to that opportunity.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering 9/11/01

Monday, September 11, 2006

It doesn't seem like five years ago.

I was at an early morning meeting in my company's other office in Tarrytown, New York listening to presentations by vendors. The first meeting had just ended and another vendor was setting up when the first group came back and said they didn't want to be the bearer of bad tidings, but that a plane had struck one of the World Trade Center towers. We all got up and went into a central area where people were watching the television. My first thought was "what a terrible mistake the air traffic controller must have made." But when the second plane hit we knew something was terribly wrong.

We tried to continue with the second presentation (this being corporate America) but shortly into it someone came in and said "They're gone. Both towers are gone." We didn't understand how that could be but then we all went to watch the TV and saw that it was true. No further presentations took place and we all just watched as the coverage continued.My husband worked in the city at that time, not far from lower Manhattan, but I couldn't reach him by cell phone because by then the cell phone circuits were all overwhelmed. I checked my voicemail at work, and found to my relief that he had left me a message that he was OK.

By noon those of us from New Jersey decided to head back home. I was nervous going over the Tappan Zee bridge - looking above me for any planes coming out of the sky. I'll never forget how beautiful the weather was that day - to this day any time there is a crystal clear blue sky and a certain feel to the air, I think of 9/11. I'll never view a day like that again without a sense of forboding. Today, appropriately, was much like that day.

My husband was one of the lucky ones - he got out of Manhattan by about 3 p.m. and was able to let me know that he'd be taking a train from Penn Station to South Orange. I went to pick him up and on the way back had my only view of the towers burning - from a bridge with a view of Manhattan. My husband, however, had seen the second plane hit, people falling from the towers, and saw the towers collapse. It was from a distance but seeing something live is very different from seeing it on television. He wasn't himself for a long time.

The days after that are a blur - all I remember is it being very very quiet as no planes flew over except for the occasional fighter jet; the sky continued to be that almost supernaturally clear blue. We read account after account of people's experiences in the newspapers, unable to stop reading about it.

It feels odd to be working on this day, and going about our usual business. But today is also the anniversary of a friend of mine; children's birthdays are being celebrated; and meetings are taking place that had to be scheduled because it was the only time people were available.

I suppose people felt like this on December 7th for a very long time but now we don't think about it that much anymore. I guess eventually that will happen for September 11. But not to anyone who lost someone or remembers it personally.