Thursday, January 31, 2008

Uncle Charlie strikes again

Our family has some friendly ghosts. If you don't believe, you can skip today's post, because I not only believe, I embrace it.

Our ghosts started when my great Uncle Charlie passed away when I was in first or second grade. A few months after he'd passed, my mom was home alone, preparing dinner (one of Charlie's favorites-Marinara and Meatballs). She heard someone at the door and said "Come on in!", as mom was always glad for company.

She looked out into the living room from the kitchen and the front door was open. On the floor was a gray fedora with a jaunty little white and red feather in it. charlie's hat, and it was his custom to throw his hat in the door to see if he was welcome. She said, "It's okay, Charlie, you're welcome in" before realizing he was no longer with us.

After that day, from time to time, Charlie would bless various members of the family with his presence. The smell of coffee in the car, music where none was playing but Charlie's usual MO was the same as he'd had in life: prankster. He'd continued to hide stuff from people even after he had crossed over. This most frequently occurred with food, but if it was something you needed, Charlie would take it.

I grew up with this, and with the understanding that you had to tell Charlie it wasn't funny anymore-any one of us would say "Okay, Charlie, GIVE IT UP!" Less than a minute later, the item you desired would be in plain sight where it hadn't been moments before. Now, none of it materialized in front of you, but if you had nothing on the dash of your car and looked away, there would be the parking lot pass you'd sworn you had put in the visor and couldn't find.

I was very fortunate that I married into a family that understood and had their own ghosts that would come to visit. We've seen Nancy several times and my Dad likes to play with the toys-especially if they don't have batteries or are sitting off by themselves.

Recently, I went into the bathroom to color my hair. The gray is quite noticeable on shorter hair. Thanks to one of my sisters, I've made it a habit to buy two packages of my Wella color at a time, which I'd done the last time I visited the beauty supply. Now that the hair is short, I only need a half bottle per coloring. When not in use, the bottles of color and Grey Magic go in the vanity drawer and the rest of the coloring supplies under the sink.

I found my developer, gloves, brush and comb, but no color. I tore that drawer apart, looked all over the counter and could not find either the half full or unopened bottle. Over the next two weeks, I half heartedly looked and thought I was imagining that I'd only used one application or that I'd purchased two bottles.

Yesterday, I stopped at the beauty supply on the way home and picked up two more bottles of coloring. They've got a frequent shopper card and I renewed it the last time after letting it expire. I looked at that sticker, confused. I *knew* I'd purchased coloring while I was on leave and that I hadn't colored since. Hmmmm.

Tonight, I walked into the bathroom with the bag containing two bottles of Wella (a different shade, so no confusion there) and a bottle of Grey Magic. I put them down on the counter:RIGHT NEXT TO THE BOTTLE THAT WASN'T THERE WHEN I BRUSHED MY TEETH THIS MORNING! It was the half opened bottle and then in the drawer was the unopened package.

It's not funny, Uncle Charlie!

Owww, again

I told Nurse M to wrap the boot tighter than last time. She didn't want to, worried that I'd have an RSD flare. My thinking was that I'd rather have the RSD flare than scratch the skin and slow down any healing that might occur.

It's frustrating that I have to decide which I'd rather do, have an RSD flare or scratch myself into further injury.

Did I choose well? I don't think so, but then, I'd probably be saying the same thing if I was here scratching this damn leg.

This sucks.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chef Junior Rocks the Recipes

Now that Chef is a Master Chef, things are a little different at cooking school. Good different. For instance, Miss Amy hired an additional instructor to work with her Master Chefs. The original thought was that the Master Chefs would be a separate class, instead there is a second instructor layered into the classes to give the Master Chefs more advanced instructions.

Yesterday, we got to see this in action. The class was called upon to make their own recipes using the baking base mix they made (similar to bisquick). They could either make a muffin recipe or a pancake recipe. Chef came up with a pancake recipe. He wanted to make pancakes topped with caramelized onions, pears and a cheese sauce.

When he told them this last week, they allowed him to choose which type of pear (Bosc) and which type of cheese (Asiago-though I'd have thought he would have gone with Parmegiano-Reggiano, his favorite).

We walked in yesterday and the kitchen smelled heavenly before the class had started, mainly because they were caramelizing those onions. Ed and I didn't know of his recipe idea last week. Miss Amy mentioned to Chef in passing that as a Master, he was now eligible for recipe competitions. He turned to me and told me he was going to modify my Nana's coffee cake recipe, which was modified from my mom's recipe. Little did I know...

When his instructor came out to tell the secretary what Chef's recipe included, she, Ed and I all were amazed. She was told "You need to make a full batch of that!".

The pears were roasted using salt and olive oil, the cheese sauce was made using the white sauce recipe chef learned this month and the onions were at the ready. Chef did a lot more hands on than he'd done before. (and as a parent, it is amazing to look through the window and see your child so comfident in their cooking preparations!)

The first plate came out to the secretary with Chef and his teacher. She told Chef she wanted to lick her plate. Plates came out to me and Ed and we looked at each other-this was amazing. He's totally nailed the sweet and savory.

Funny thing is-he came up with this one 100% on his own. Ed and I don't like pears, but Chef and Gameboy do. They ask for canned pears all the time(which isn't the same as those Bosc and Anjous, I know). He's recently come around to his parent's love of onions raw and cooked.

He's grown up avidly watching Food Network and it's a toss up which show is his favorite, "Good Eats" or "Iron Chef America". I think those two shows have really made him think about unusual combinations in food. Not to mention that many a night, part of our dinner table conversation is "if you made this meal, what would you do differently?"

It makes you wonder what is down the road. I'm looking forward to culinary adventures with Chef, that's for sure!

Five Things

Saffa Chick has a meme that I'm tagged, because well, I liked the concept.


What are five things in your life now that you would never have thought would be in your life when you were 25?

1. I didn't think I'd be divorced and remarried. At 25, I'd been married just over a year and I thought things were hunky dory. Silly me, I didn't see many warning signs that he was all wrong for me. Thankfully, someone who was part of my life at 25 is still part of it-and the father of my two kids. :)

2. Extreme vigilance over aspects of my health. At 25, I'd had one wrist surgery and been officially diagnosed with asthma and allergies. I had no clue that I'd have a DVT right after having a baby and several other blood clots.

3. I never thought I'd want to move off the mountain that I'd just bought the house on. Since then, I've lived in two other Maryland towns and moved to Florida. You never know, I might even move again (if family members move off Long Island, that is...)

4. I'd have had such a good relationship with my mom until she passed. We'd had a rough patch there for a while, though at 25, we were just mending those fences. She gave my bedroom in her house to my sister and brother in law-without talking to me. She didn't attend my wedding to my first husband. Then, my dad passed away six months later. We both realized that life is too short. Heck, I moved to Florida in part to be closer to Mom!

5. I'd have two great kids. I'd wanted kids, but wasn't ready right at 25. My plan was to have two, just two and be done by 30. Well, Gameboy arrived three months before I turned 30 and Chef 6 days before 33. Two of the best things I've ever created!

I'm not tagging you, but if you want to tag yourself, go right ahead. Just let me know so I can read your responses!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ways to confuse your kid, part one

The night before last, I picked up some kitty litter on the way home. It was picked up so that Ed could drop it off elsewhere. When I got home, I left it in the car because I thought he was heading right out in my car (since his has 'issues'). He didn't.

Yesterday, Ed took the bucket o' kitty litter out of my car since he couldn't drop me at work (I thought I was seeing Nurse M). He would bring it over in his car, if needed. That call never came.

When Chef Junior got home from school, he sees the bucket o' kitty litter and asks Ed excitedly "Do we have a cat?" Poor kid!

No, no cats for us. Gameboy and I both are severely allergic.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Out of the boot and into the

Diaper Rash Cream. I cut the boot off last night. Nurse M told me that I should if it gets unbearable, which it did last night. The red raw spot on my ankle is the size of my fist. Following her instructions, I called in for an appointment this morning to get another boot put on.

What I love about Nurse M is that she called back rather quickly asking when my lunch break was and tells me 'come on in.' She looked at her schedule and called back a few minutes later to apolgize that she had been booked to the gills. Now I'm seeing her on Tuesday afternoon. In the interim, the ankle is slathered in diaper rash cream to keep the itching at bay. I smell oh-so nice. Blech.

The RSD spikes got bad, so I took a Vicodin at work. I thought I'd be fine, I'd been nibbling on breakfast off and on, so I had food in the belly. What I hadn't realized is that 1.I took a full tablet-during the day I'd been taking half tabs because the pain hadn't been so bad (today it was) and 2.Those tabs weren't the 5-500's we'd left off with, but 7.5-750.

I was helping some very nice customers and all of a sudden, I was weak, dizzy and getting the shakes as if I was going into sugar shock. WTF?!?! It was very scary and I worried about what might have caused it. (I am NOT adding diabetes to my list of crap to deal with, thankyouverymuch)

Twenty minutes later, while sitting in the office with my boss, I looked down in my bag and saw the pill bottle. O I C ! Those are the old dosage from the worst of the leg pain. Guess Nurse M figures if I'd called for pain meds, I'm really hurting and should get the heavy duty crap. At least it'll be good for a laugh tomorrow.

So I've been doing some research online lately. Trying to find out more about that valve transplant and what exactly is causing this crap. I found that all of my issues are classified under the umbrella of Post Thrombotic Syndrome.

Definition of Post-thrombotic syndrome

Post-thrombotic syndrome: The complications that may follow deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The complications after DVT may include persistent edema (swelling), pain, purpura (bleeding into the skin), increased skin pigmentation, eczematoid (eczema-like) dermatitis, pruritus (itchiness), ulceration, and cellulitis (bacterial infection just below the skin). All of these complications result from the impaired return of blood through the veins of the lower leg to the heart. Also called the postphlebitic syndrome.

The bolded items are the things I have or have had. I've got all but two, and the jury is out on one of those! Here's another thing with those all important small percentages.

Post Thrombotic Syndrome, a late complication of DVT is the most common—occurring in up to two-thirds of patients. Possible signs and symptoms are pain, edema (accumulation of fluid), hyperpigmentation (increase in skin color), and skin ulceration. Severe manifestations and ulceration occur in 7–23% and 4–6%, respectively, of people with DVT.

Hi? Remember me, the 2% girl? The person who has to be in the small group of freaks% At least now I've graduated to being a 4% girl, but of that 4%, I may be in the 2% who needs a valve graft. (Quick-what's 2% of that 4%, because for a moment I was happy to be a 4% girl, only to realize I'm .08% girl. Shit.)

It frustrates me to no end that I can't find an easy solution to this crap, that I take off the boot and it's not healed. Then again, I'm seeking answers, I am not sitting here, giving up on living like others I see with easier to treat health issues.

Yes, it's late, I'm fried and I'm rambling. I figured I'm learning a lot in the journey towards healing, I might as well share.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday: Novelties


Today, we take a field trip to some novelty songs that I've enjoyed over the years. First up, Joe Dolce. It's a nice, cute little song. You can't help but sing along, and that's the mark of a good novelty song. Even better, one that puts you in a good mood when you hear it. This one scores on both counts.


This one is a nice little song from the late 80's. Strangely enough, in the MTV age, I cannot find a video for it. I have to say that this video I found on You Tube serves the purpose well. It has good audio and the actor displays appropriate bewilderment at the story!



Dr. Demento is a treasure trove of novelty songs. One of the all time best was this one. The difference between T Bone's song and the previous two is that if you weren't an affecianado of Dr. Demento, odds were good that you never heard this gem. Today's your lucky day-you get to hear it now!



I hope you've enjoyed the field trip today.

School's In

Sometimes, I mention things in the blog that show how much obscure (or even popular) stuff I can tell you about from when I was very small.

1973 was a good year for many things, but some of my readers either were born in that year (hooray!) or weren't even born yet. Kinda like a date I had and he asked me where I was when Kennedy was assasinated. Uh, not born yet.

My warped idea of what is funny was probably shaped in part by Wacky Packages. What are they?
Stickers of modified real products of the day.




The best part of searching the net sometimes is that you find these images as part of a press release. The press release is appealing to the baby baby boomers-because Wacky Pack Flashback is going to hit the stores next month. Happy Happy, Joy Joy. Oh wait, wrong decade. Groovy, Far Out, and Dynomite!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

No Authority

I joined Technorati this week. It's pretty cool, all the blogs I have in my bookmark folder can be stored on there and it compiles posts for you. One stop reading, you can't beat it. However, I still click in the old way, but now I know when you all are writing.

One thing strikes me as funny. When I joined, I found someone already has me on their favorites list (thank you, Anna). It also give you an 'authority' ranking. For now, it is telling me I have no authority.

I guess they don't know me very well, No authority? Hmph-the nerve! Though every time I read "No Authority" I hear Cartman saying it.

Give me time, I'll crush them with my authoritay!

Ed's Philosophy on Life, theorem one

It can be difficult living with a person who's view on life is so different from yours. I am an optimist/realist/pollyanna. Ed? He's a worrier/cynic/pessimist. We're both sarcastic and funny, so at least we agree on that front. :)

Anyway, his view on life is "No good deed goes unpunished." For a long time, I'd argue the point with him. Good deeds are rewarded, right? I'd offer proof, and he'd tell me they aren't.

Lately, I tend to think that maybe he's right. He'd done some good deeds that impacted his availability at work, and ultimately, they cut his hours down to one day a week. Never mind the explanation of why he wasn't going to be there.

The kids had bugged me back over the summer to buy a movie. I dragged my feet, because I didn't like the movie choice. Chef made a deal to get the movie, did his part and then I took them down to Wal Mart against my wishes because I had to do my good deed. On the way out, they asked for some Sonic slushies, and we rolled through the drive through.

When I made a left turn out of the parking lot, I nailed the median curb HARD. I rarely visited this Wal Mart or Sonic, and I didn't realize that there was this huge curb. I got a flat tire. The twenty dollar movie ultimately cost me 100 bucks when you factor in that tire. Which I still haven't put on the car-the spare is full size.

The other day, Ed had to do another good deed (yes, he does this a lot). On his way home, a rock his the windshield of the Jeep. It cracked. The crack is spreading-and spreading-and spreading. This was the icing on top of one party being bitchy to him (again) and one party feeling horrible for having to ask the favor (again). Once again, he's right. Doing something nice for someone else is going to cost us a new windshield. Cripes.

It won't stop me from doing good for others (nor him), but it sure makes us pissed when we keep doing good and it makes us spend money we don't have!

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Rock Star Meme

Thanks to daysgoby for this one:

The ROCK STAR meme...

1. Click here.
The first article title on this page is your band name.

2. Click here.
The very last four words of the last quotation are your album title.

3. Click here.
The third picture, no matter what it is, is your album cover.

Add your name and album title to the picture and post!

(Oh, and I am too friggin lazy to make it look like an album cover. Maybe I'll fix this later, maybe I won't) Here's my album:



Comana River
And Therefore Imminent Downfall




I think I could have done worse. Those words came from Frank Lloyd Wright and three quotes up was Jack Handy. I would have been soooo screwed. However, when I went back to step one, I got Paradise Syndrome. How's that for a band name?

Guest blogger

Friday's entry comes to you courtesy Chef Junior. Yes, my first guest blogger is my eight year old son.

Apparently, he has to write paragraphs at school. Many of them center on his love of cooking and love of eating seafood. Here's today's-it is too adorable to not share it! (Spelling is Chef's)


What if I was the best chef in the world?

If I was the best chef in the World with my Mom, I would...

go to iron chef America and complete the tasete to be a true chef as a sue chef, for my Mom and onlley be eight!!!!! I would make crab cakes, octipos and more and it all with my Mom.

He's been all too happy to help out in the kitchen and even took on the sharpest knife the other night. I was making Caprese bruchetta. The plum tomatoes had to be sliced and Chef, decked out in his jacket, said he'd do it. Somehow, that jacket has calmed his fear of the knives. He was steady and methodical and did a great job.

Then he brushed them with the balsamic, sliced the mozzerella and assembled the brushetta for broiling and shook the basil on top afterwards. If you were wondering, when the kid prepares the food, he eats it-even if it contains something he doesn't like. He's decided that tomatoes are yummy.

My next project is a variation on Pasta Primavera-he's curious about asparagus, since Ed and I both profess our love of it...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Full Moon Fever and the requisite leg update

If you don't subscribe to the theory that wacky people get a little nuttier during the full moon, I offer you these tidbits:

1. Phone rings at the store "Is Maria there?" We have no Maria working for us. When told no, "Okay, I guess her name *is* C." What the heck? So, someone calls you with a latin accent, then they must be named Maria?

The woman then goes on to ask why C called her. Didn't she leave a detailed message? "Yeah, but I want to know WHY?" Doesn't her message explain why she's calling? "But I never spoke to her before in my life and I've never been in your store."

I call C at home and she tells me what the message was and that yes, the woman had been in the store earlier that day. I call the woman back, and she insists she's never been in our store and to stop the charges on the items C called her about. I said "Ma'am, she didn't charge you for any items, she just told you how we could get the items you'd inquired about." So now this woman is insisting an identity thief has been in our store and that we should take every customer's driver's license with credit cards so that we don't take her card from the identity thief.

I explain that we don't take credit card numbers without the cards being in the store-that perhaps she should check her wallet to see if her cards are missing and if they are, she should contact the credit card companies and CANCEL the cards. No, she tells me I need to check ID on everyone who shops in my store. Riiiiiiight. She has no clue how many people shop in my store every day!

2. Phone rings. "Can I speak to Jessica?" Uh, there's no one here by that name. "Well she called me from there a few minutes ago." I'm very sorry, I don't have anyone by that name on my staff. "So, is this 111-1111?" No. "Why would she leave me that number?" Maybe she'd like you to call her back at that number (NOTE: It is in no way close to our phone number or our sister store across town's number).

"What's your other location's number?" I give it to her. "Is there a Jessica there?" I'm sorry, I don't know if there is, why don't you call them? "Would they tell me what that number is?" How bout you call them and find out, okay?

Yeah, I've had quite a few weird phone calls like those. Not as weird as Grandy's post, but definitely stuff to make you scratch your head!

Oh, I'm in an "Unna Boot Lite" as Nurse M called it. No compression, zinc oxide and itchy as all get out. The ulcer is closed, but we both agree that the fact that this is an incision site from the vein stripping in '05, I'll probably be dealing with this repeatedly.

To make things amusing, Nurse M says, "what about the pink wrap?" when Nurse D and I were going through my spa treatment ;). Nurse D was quite comical in saying no no! NO NOOOOOO! We are NOT putting that anywhere near her leg! It's funny (and sad) that we go through the laundry list of things that I can't use that would probably make me more comfortable.

I go back on Thursday and we'll re assess how it is looking. Part of me wants to cut this thing off now and start with a new one tomorrow. I'll be good and leave it on.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

False Advertising

I work in a part of Tampa that is ripe with free WiFi. It's great, I can head over to Panera on my break and log in. There's a great restaurant, The Wine Exchange, that also has WiFi (but you have to ask them). The combination of great food and surfing the web while dining solo can't be beat.

Then, of course, there is Indigo. I've spent many a break blogging and surfing while enjoying a cup of Indigo Indulgence. The only thing that had been lacking is something more than sweet nibbles. I wasn't a fan of their wraps because they used that disgusting Miracle Whip. (I've been corrected, though, they now have a new supplier).

A new place opened a few doors down, JJ Smoothy Cafe. I was excited, because they had wraps and salads. They also advertised "Free WiFi" on the window. Cool, sign me up.

The first time I went in, I got a really large, pretty enjoyable Southwest Wrap-and no signal. I kept pinging and pinging, but no routers came up except for secured ones. The owner suggested I switch seats in the place and still, no signal. I got the excuse "oh, the router's acting strange". Meanwhile, I thought to myself that if you're advertising having something, damn it, make sure it's working.

A couple of weeks later, I tried again. I got the same four or five secured routers and the person working gave me another lame excuse. That day, I hadn't plunked down nine bucks for a meal (that usually feeds me twice), so I wasn't as irritated, but I walked over to Indigo and got myself a Vitamin Water-and the bandwidth they promise and always deliver.

Today, I gave it a third shot. I went over to JJ Smoothy because I wanted a sandwich. I ordered and sat down and fired up the laptop. FIVE minutes of refreshing the network list came up with one unsecured network (Pancho, two bars) and three to five secured routers. I asked the young guy behind the counter what the name of their router was-because I wasn't finding it.

He came over and asked what I was coming up with . This is a bad sign- you don't know the name of your router? He said the signal was better at some seats three tables away (whaaaa?), so I moved over. In fact, I got less signal there than I'd been getting at the first seat-all secured.
In an open room, ten feet is not going to make that much of a difference.

The young man went outside to ask the owner about the router and comes to find THEY HAVE NO ROUTER!!!! Apparently, they seem to think that people will keep coming back and think their router is down.

My laptop travels everywhere. I even have a neat way of hijacking bandwidth that Ed found on youtube (take an ethernet cable and wrap it tightly around your cell phone-two more bars!). The thing with using WiFi any and every place you go is that you know what to look for. You know to ask what the router name is. I'm not a fool-if you don't know your router name, you don't have a damn router.

Nope, not going back to JJ Smoothy. I got the sandwich to go and headed back over to Indigo for a Vitamin Water. I don't care how badly I am hankering for a wrap or a salad-I'll drive my car somewhere else long before I walk through THAT door again. So, be warned, if you're in South Tampa and need a WiFi signal, JJ Smoothy promises one, but doesn't deliver.




ETA: Apparently, Peter, a student at University of Tampa and probably an employee at the JJ Smoothy in question does not like the blog entry I've written. Peter, I guess the truth hurts so much that you have to question my sexual orientation AND threaten me with performing sexual acts on you. That's okay, I'll drop by JJ Smoothy and UT. It shouldn't be too hard to track you down-your IP address IS logged with Sitemeter, even if you don't see it.

Then again, maybe I should open up my sitemeter so everyone can see your IP address? Your comment is being left up so all can see it(for now, anyway).
The email notifying me of each of your comments are saved. It's going to be a lot of fun explaining that to UT and your boss! You DID sign a code of conduct when you enrolled in UT, right? It's not too difficult to go to the IT department with the IP address and have them locate you, Peter.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

1973

VH-1 has a bunch of Nostalgia shows: I love the 80's, I love the 70's and the like. They've come to the realization that loving a decade doesn't go into enough depth, so now it's about specific years. Give them time, and it'll be "I love March, 1973."

Anyway, it's pretty funny to see artists around your age riff on stuff you lived through. However, I've got to wonder. They say if you can remember the 70's, you're too young. Be that as it may, I remember the 70's, but I do NOT remember celebrity bowling. That looks like the biggest waste of air time. Your opinion?

Oh, and they did touch on the fact that American Grafitti is a who's who of blockbuster movie stars of the 80's. If you've never seen it, rent it so you can say "look how young Richard Dreyfuss is!" "Holy moly, look at Harrison Ford" etc.

What gets me is that they didn't even mention Wacky Packs! Come ON people, that was the highlight of 1973! LOL!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Beat

I don't get it, I had plenty of sleep, but I'm still wiped out. I guess it's this whole damn leg thing.

Tomorrow's lunch hour will be spent waiting to see Nurse M. Based on how itchy the thing was last night, it's a safe guess that things are still raw and tender. Odds are great that I'll be in a new Unna Boot tomorrow. Ugh.

I 've got nothing else. Yeah, I could pull stuff off the topic list, but I don't even have the energy for it. More tomorrow.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Gasparilla Children's Parade

Even though we've been here for almost four years, there are many local events that we haven't done yet. Gasparilla is one of those 'must do' events that the locals had told me about, but for whatever reason, it had been skipped over. This year, Chef Jr AND Gameboy wanted to skip camping with the scouts to go to the Children's parade.

Gasparilla is Tampa's Mardi Gras like event held on the last Saturday of January. The weekend before, the kids get their turn to get beads without having to deal with the public drunkenness. There are krewes and corporate sponsors with floats, scouts, the military and all sorts of groups, all throwing beads into the crowds.

Yes, beads. It is ALL about the beads. The kids really got into it and this first float got them more than a little excited, because it was a cub scout pack. Did the scouts give up some beads for fellow scouts? Uh, no.
Later, Red Baron Pizza came along with some beads with little biplanes on them. I scored a set of those beads. Here's the thing: Gameboy was upset early on because he hadn't caught any beads. The people we were standing near handed him some beads and he was happy-and gave them a very polite and excited Thanks! (yay for manners). By the time Red Baron came through, the kids had several strands each, but another boy next to them only had one strand. I had Chef give the boy the Red Baron beads. He later gave them back to us when some of his family members gave him another set of the red beads.

Below is one of the Krewe floats. They go all out for these. I can't tell you much about the Krewes other than they do a lot of fund raisers for charity. It's rather neat. In addition to Gasparilla, there are parades in Ybor and elsewhere throughout the year, so those floats get more than one use for all the work they put into them.

The net result? Chef looks like he's drunk on beads!
Gameboy is happy, he's got some beads, too.

Alas, the weather didn't cooperate. The parade was cancelled halfway through for tornado warnings. No sooner did we get back to where the car was parked that it started pouring. The fireworks were cancelled, though they're putting them on tonight.

We know for next year. Pack a cooler and picnic basket, bring a blanket and camp chairs and make a day of it. Maybe I should even hit up Oriental Trading before we go and have some backup beads. It couldn't hurt.

All I know is that we will stay FAR away from the adult event next week. From what I'm told, it rivals Mardi Gras in rowdiness. I'm past thinking that rowdy is fun!

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

This week, we experiment with the iPod. A lovely invention, it allows me to carry many of my favorite cds along with me where ever I travel without getting a hernia.

I love the playlist feature and use it often. This way, I get my disc jockey longings out of the system. (ahh, if only my career as a radio dj were more profitable, I'd still be doing it!)

The other night, when driving over to Orlando, I plugged the iPod in and listened to it in shuffle mode. For some people, that might mean a good mix of ska, prog, jazz, blues or show tunes. For me, it can mean all of those and more come out of the speakers-and it did.

Today, I will hit shuffle and tell you what comes forth. Come with me on a journey of the eclectic:

1.Alone-Wilson Phillips . I love their harmonies and songs. I won this one from the in store promo discs when I worked at The Wall. My coworkers weren't as enamored of it as I was. They all coveted the XTC Nonesuch and Concrete Blonde discs that I also won. Lesson learned for my coworkers-don't play music trivia against me!

2.My Cruel Ways-Basia. I have given up on hearing a new album from her. She and her collaborator, Danny White, are such perfectionists that it'd take three years to get a new album from them. It's a shame, because they produce some great uptempo, multilayered modern jazz.
This comes from her third album, The Sweetest Illusion, probably my favorite of all the discs.

3.Don't Ask Me Why
- Billy Joel. Of course, I have to have Billy on the iPod! I have most of his library on vinyl. Don't ask me why I haven't seen him in concert yet. Perhaps now that I no longer live in the NY metro area, I won't have to pay a scalper to get a ticket to a show.

4.Scenes from an Italian Restaurant- Billy Joel. Why does the iPod DO this? Two songs from the same artist back to back? Great song. No, she's not Brenda Ranetti! I know where the Village Green is, and the Parkway Diner, too. Billy's a Hicksville boy, but he hung out on the northern fringes of Levittown, apparently. The Nylon Curtain cover? It's northern Levittown.

Of course, it'd be pretty funny if the next song was one of Alexa's!

5.Talk Walk Drive- Julia Fordham. I tend to listen to Porcelain more often than Swept, but she could probably sing the phone book and I'd like it. She's got a reedy voice and goes for a large band sound with some latin rhythms.

6.Stand and Deliver- Adam Ant. I had to pick up Antics in the Forbidden Zone a few years back. No fan of the early days of MTV would blame me!

7. On the Case- Acoustic Alchemy. Jazz, any jazz is good in my book. Back on the Case was a staple of early 90's light jazz stations. Nice simple music, simply produced.

8. We Hep Cats- Joe Jackson. When I bought the Beetle, my CDs were back in Maryland with Ed. I was enjoying the XM, but I still needed to pick out a disc to pop in the player. Joe was the first to be played.

9. On the Road Down- Robert Cray. It's a good thing that you can't wear out CDs from frequent play like you can LPs, otherwise I've Been Warned would have been worn out long before it got uploaded to the iPod. Interesting fact, Robert plays in Otis Day and the Knight's band in Animal House.

10. Dance With My Father- Kellie Coffey. One of the mere dozen songs purchased from iTunes. My Disney friends will know Kellie as the vocalist of "We Go On" and "Promise" from IllumiNations at Epcot. She's become a successful country singer. This one is beautiful. I'd been pointed to another one of her songs by some friends. Why this one? Well, if you're missing your dad, you can relate. (Note to self-pick up the albums already!)

Wow, that didn't even hit up Carmina Burana or Carnival of the Animals. Both got hit up pretty heavily the other night.

Okay, song 11? Alexa Ray Joel's "Now It's Gone." Somehow, the iPod seems to pair father and daughter. You can hear dad's influence, but she's her own woman.

Hmmm, now what do I do for next week's Soundtrack Sunday? Discuss a favorite soundtrack?

Addendum: I'm sitting and listening in the buds. Three songs later, The Stranger. Then a Beauty and the Beast song and now, "Where's the Orchestra?" one of my favorites from the Nylon Curtain. It's interesting how out of roughly 200 discs uploaded so far, it will gravitate towards four or five by one artist.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

PSA for the day

How soon we forget...

Don't take painkillers on an empty stomach. You end up feeling queasy and woozy.

'Nuff said.

Blog Question

I asked you all to delurk and only a few did-not even my hubby commented on that one. Do I really scare you all that much? I see hits from Lakeland; New Jersey; Michigan; England and a bunch of other places on a regular basis but have never seen a comment! (I see Kissimmeee now, too and I think that's because Jill is reading from her boyfriends house-cool!)

A blatant request for comments hasn't worked, so now I ask about something blog related. I've mentioned several times that my goal is 50 hits a day then I can justify going to a pay site. I'll be bugging Jeff for some help on the URL front, since he does that for a living. The thing that I'm pondering is the name.

Yes, I thought (and still think) the blog name was good, but not practical for a pointer or URL. You don't want to type all that, do you? Suzanne Sez bothers me because of the typo (and I thought says was taken, but my blog twin proved me wrong!). I don't want to name the blog that because it's not me. It's plain vanilla when I want rocky road!

I came up with a name the other day, but I want to know if its dorky. Suztenance, a play on my name and sustenance. What do you think? You're the ones who read, you should have some input.

Maybe I'm over thinking this. I want something witty and easy to type. Is that too much to ask?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Caving In

Ever get diagnosed with something you think is unusual, only to find that you're surrounded by others with the same issue? It's happened to me several times. Vertigo and Plantar Faciitis seem to happen to a lot of people and they suffer in silence.

Recently, a coworker at our sister store came into my store with a splint on her hand. I asked J what had happened and she described some all to familiar issues. She had just been diagnosed with deQuervain's Disease. That one isn't all that common, but I was able to tell her what the normal protocols are and that her doctor seemed to be following them. His opinion was that she would probably need the surgery, since the cortisone shots weren't helping and she'd already been through the splint and anti inflammatories. That surgery is what earned me the 2% Girl moniker, since only 2% of deQuervain's sufferers have to have it. Now I know another 2%-er.

I hadn't seen her in a few weeks. She stopped by my store the other day to show me her wrist. She had the surgery. Apparently, her doctor told her some of the things to expect with post op, but she had some worries about things he hadn't told her. J figured she'd pop in and see me to find out if the numbness she was experiencing was normal. It was (but didn't happen for me). I was also able to give her the lowdown on how long the post op pain typically lasts, that the range of motion *does* come back and that she needs to get some shea butter on the incision as soon as it closes up.

That first hand information is a beautiful thing when what you are going through is nerve wracking. The doctors and nurses can give you anecdotal information but they haven't usually lived through what you are as a patient. If you're new to a doctor, there is that learning curve to deal with. That's what J is experiencing now.

For me, there's precious little info about the Unna Boot out there. I'm going on the info that Dr. J and Nurse M have given me. Or I have. One of my coworker's grandmother is also a patient of Dr. J. Her Grandma has also experienced the joy of the Unna Boot and since she's the one who takes Grandma to Dr J and Nurse M, she's got some information for me.

I should have known that some of my experiences with it are out of the ordinary. The first time I had one (in July of '05), Dr. J had asked if I needed a 'return to work' note when I had it removed. (That first one? Allergic reaction to it-we thought it was the hibbaclens, now I know it was the hydrocortisone cream). I said I'd been working. He let that go without comment. I went through those two applications of the boot without any medication.

The blog has been good for chronicling life with the boot, like the pain that happens the first day, the sensations, the sleep deprivation and the lethargy that takes over when I've got a boot. I just don't want to do squat when there's one on me. The several times where I cut the thing off, only to find seriously puckered skin or worse, a severe allergic reaction that made my leg balloon up, covered in hives. I thought this was typical. I also thought that it was common to work with the thing.

The sign that I'm treading down a different path came when Nurse M returned my call about getting a Vicodin refill Tuesday morning. When the boot was applied Monday morning, we talked about how the first day of the thing is torture. I said I was going home and taking a Vicodin, my first since early November.
My observation about the Unna Boot is that the flexion of the ankle just causes the wrap to rub against the tender skin and further inflame what is already irritated. Once I settle down that first night, the wrap can 'set', for lack of a better term. Not that I want to go out and party and be active after that first day, it just becomes a degree more tolerable.

Tuesday morning, she called to tell me my refill would be waiting for me at my pharmacy. My voice mail was that I had one pill left and I wouldn't use it until I'd heard from her because I definitely would need it to sleep. When she called, she expressed her wonderful bedside manner yet again-this woman is fantastic. She told me to take what I needed to get me through and that she understood that if I was asking, I needed it.

Later, in showing my coworkers the new fashion statement, the one whose grandmother also sees Nurse M and Dr. J tells me that her grandmother is ordered on bed rest with the darn thing. Nurse M tells her to move as little as she possibly can.

This makes the 'return to work' question crystal clear. Nurse M had told me on Monday that quite a few of the patients ask for work excuses as soon as they're getting the boot. Now that I'm hearing someone else's first hand (or second hand) account, it appears that the extreme discomfort and pain I'm going through is typical. What is not is that I try to maintain the status quo.

A couple of years ago, those Unna Boots without meds were tough to deal with. I used Aleve to get through and was pretty miserable, but it wasn't as bad as now. There were no open wounds then, just some flaky skin that seemed nasty then. My how times have changed, I'd love to just that trifling issue now.

After a almost a year of the Vicodin to take the edge off all the pain, especially with the Unna Boot applications, I thought I could handle this go round without painkillers. I thought the leg had improved, that I had regained a lot more strength. I have an extremely high threshold to pain, a point that Nurse M has affirmed on numerous occasions.

For those reasons, I thought this Vicodin refill would just be to help me sleep. I even said to Nurse M that I'd been asked if I could just get a scrip for a sleep aid. She pooh poohed that, saying I needed to manage the pain effectively and the only way to do that and function was to take the Vicodin.

Upon reflection, I should have recognized what she was saying-take the damn Vicodin. Instead, I did what I usually do-tried to live without it. Big. Ass. Mistake. I have become more and more lethargic and I see myself becoming bitchier as the week goes on. I'm thanking God that I am pretty much off until Tuesday morning, because I don't want to drag my ass to work.

I'm doing what I know how, and didn't have that input from others walking a mile in my shoes (or boot, in this case). Let's be honest-it's not a common issue, especially if I'm in the first ten hits on google when people search "unna boot". In a sense, I am flying blind. I'm thinking that the pain is something to just work through. Now I'm finding out that no, most people DON'T work through it, that they take those painkillers while they're off from work. Meanwhile, I was trying to do the opposite.

Yes, I am crazy. No, I'm not stupid anymore-I took the first Vicodin from that refill a half hour ago.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Like no time had passed at all...

The last time I saw Jenn was a few months after we'd moved to Florida. She was in town for a friend's wedding. We met over at Whispering Canyon and had a great time. The kids loved her (she is after all, an awesome aunt and was a Disney CM-kid at heart)

When she called late last week to tell me she would be in town, I crossed my fingers that my schedule would allow for an evening with her. The stars were in alignment (or I paid my karma bill this week) and I braved rush hour traffic to spend a few hours.

It's funny how life happens, things change in our lives, but some friendships can survive the intermittent contact as if no time had passed. The evening was full of tangents-we both had so much we wanted to talk about that sometimes we'd derail (me more than Jenn, I'm afraid).

Favorite authors, travel, jobs, family, life. Conversation kept going and going and going. As I expected, we laughed a LOT. She regaled me with stories of her recent cruise (yes, everyone on the planet but me and mine must have been on one!) and it was hilarious. She and the friends she traveled with will go on the next cruise as the Dumass family. (See? I told you she's funny)

Nights like these are few and far between, but I'll take them when they come up. Sometimes you need to spend a few hours with an old friend to recharge yourself.

Thanks, Jenn. I just hope that work brings you down here more often than every three years!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The two minute blog post

Speed posting today. I'll be heading over to Orlando after work and I'm not sure if I'll get back home in time to post before midnight.

That's right, Orlando. One of my former coworkers, Jenn, is in town for meetings and I haven't seen her in nearly four years. I have to go see my movie buddy, fellow Disney freak and finder of great authors! :) Not sure what's on tap except for a bunch of laughter-she's got a great sense of humor.

The leg still is driving me bonkers. At least now I've got Vicodin to help with the sleep issues. Try strapping a toddler to your ankle and walk around. Oh, and put clothing made of the itchy side of velcro on the kid so that your senses go into overload. That would be about what I'm dealing with right now. I thought Nurse M would give me a hard time and an "I told you so", but I think this would happen no matter how long I'd taken off from work.

Garlic Festival! Chef Jr really wants to get to the one in Gilroy California. I just found out there's one in Delray Beach in February. Interesting.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tagged!

I've been tagged for 7 Random and Weird Things About Me by Suzanne Says (hmmm, sounds familiar, eh?) I think I did this one before, but like my blog name twin says, there is plenty enough weird about me to keep doing this meme and not repeat myself.

These things have rules. Here's the rules for this one:

  1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
  2. Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
  3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
  4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
I have to thank Suzanne, because dude! I am hurting today and couldn't think of anything to blog about that wouldn't involve griping and whining.

1. I got an A in a class when I spent most of the time drunk and/or stoned. My freshman year of college, I took Geology. The lecture professor told the class about the summer course he taught, Field Laboratory Geology. It was a 10 day trip to Block Island, Rhode Island and counted for four credits of Lab Science. Travel? Hands on? Beach? Sign me up!

The class was awesome. Block Island is beautiful, a teardrop shaped island 13 miles off the coast of Long Island and 11 miles off the coast of Rhode Island. Twenty three students and a professor who kept a twin engine Cessna on the island. We would get up and have breakfast at our hotel, then ride our bikes to the day's lecture point (it was the preferred mode of travel there). We'd have class from 9am until noon, then the rest of the day was ours. To a bunch of college kids, this means PARTY!

Oh, and I really ticked off the prissy party pooper. I was drunk when we weren't in class and didn't study-I got the lone A. She'd spend hours studying in her room, didn't join the huge group partying and got a C. Ha ha!

2. I drove a POS Malibu that was nicknamed the Lepermobile, thanks to the rust colored primer spots all over it. It developed some weird electrical problem that required me to have a volt meter on the front seat. I could not shut the thing off if I got a reading of less than 10 amps on the voltmeter.

The scariest ride of my life in it was with Ed. He'd won tickets (and backstage passes) to a David Bowie concert at Giant Stadium. He took me to it (he calls it our first date, 7 years before we started dating) and we took my car. In our haste to get to Will Call and backstage, Ed had me shut the car off at 8 volts.

We later came out to the car and it wouldn't start. Stadium security gave the car a jump, but wouldn't listen to me that I needed a couple of minutes hooked to their truck. It started, that's all they cared about. So, I had a car that ran, but the lights were dimmer than a 7 watt photography safelight and I drove it 50 miles home. It was the scariest drive of my life. You drive on the area's busiest roads at midnight with non functional lights and you'd be scared, too!

3. I am allergic to a lot of stuff to the point that my wonderful Nurse practitioner doesn't want to prescribe anything new! The Unna Boot? Normally, it begins with a layer of calamine soaked gauze. Problem? I am allergic to calamine, because it has iodine in it. Yep, allergic to iodine. Come to think of it, that may be why my doctors are willing to do some of those surgeries under local anethesia!

4. My left eye turns out. When I was very little, my brain shut off what images didn't match. This meant I had a huge blind spot. When I was younger, this resulted in 20/200 vision in that eye, but the right eye was 20/10. As I get older, the blind spot gets smaller and the vision is improving. If I read a regular eye chart, that eye is 20/80. If I'm allowed to read the chart one letter at a time, it's 20/30. Weird, huh?

5. When I switched to the major I'll be getting my degree in, I was the only female in the major and there were 20 of us in that program. My fourth semester, the only students left in the major from my year were me and the ex husband. Too much work for a lot of other people. Their loss.

6. Legacy and her husband managed a nightclub on Long Island when I was a kid. For a time, they lived at my mom's with Tracey and her brother (Tracey, we need to get you a nickname!). On paydays, sometimes they'd take Giggles, me and the kids up to the club with them so they could give out the checks.

Sometimes, there would be people on the stage doing soundchecks and practicing. One time, there was a guy with a piano, just noodling around. I'd just learned how to play some simple songs on a friend's piano and when the guy took a break, I asked if I could play the piano. (I was always drawn to other people's pianos when I was a kid). He said sure and asked if I played. I said I don't have one, but I just learned this cool song and started playing it.

And that is how I ended up playing "Heart and Soul" with Jonathan Edwards of "Sunshine" fame

7. I went to a job fair on a whim and had a company create a job for me. The local McDonald's franchise was hiring and I figured 'what the heck' and went to interview because I was making peanuts at the job I had at the time.

The owner of the franchise was really impressed by my resume and then my interviewing skills that he pitched a position for me: Personnel and Training Manager. Apparently, he'd wanted to create the position for years, but was waiting for the right person to walk through the door.

I went back to the other job and sat down with my boss and gave my notice. The two companies boosted my ego by getting into a bidding war! However, I left for McDonald's.

My first day on the job, who should show up but Ronald McDonald himself! That was really cool, and I've got a polaroid somewhere of me with him.

Okay, there's seven things...I don't think anyone can claim the same seven!

Hmmm, who to tag? I think I should help out my Blog 365 brethren, but I also think I need to tag Mandy (who should be in Blog 365, since she blogs every day, anyway!)

Tag, you're it! to:
Mandyland (this one should be fun!)
Mrs. Fussypants (proxy to Lotus, because I think Lotus would kill me if I tag her again!)
Lauren (who is one of my new favorite reads, need to add her to the linky thingy)
Mallory in the Middle (another new read!)
Born in a Zoo ( Bonnie, you've been a great read, too)
Functional Schmunctional (Grandy, you still have to do this cuz you're probably enjoying all the new reads!)
Imaginary Binky (this is a cheat, since Suzanne already tagged Sarah)

Now I've gotta go let everyone know that they're tagged. You can check on them later!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Making the Googlers happy

The sitemeter is a pretty nifty thing. I can see where people are coming from to read the blog, as well as how they were referred here. Donna shows as Phoenix and Jeff shows as Virginia's Eastern Shore, so it's not exact.

For instance, Mandy, Grandy and Lotus gave me linky love, so I see when people come here after visiting those fine ladies. Lately, there are a couple of hits a day from Blog 365. Several times a week, there are hits from Google.

It's strange to see what people are searching for that lead them to me. Some of the searches:
The Florida State Bird
Kenny Everett DIY Bee Gees Kit
Tripods Movie
Bob Pucci (someone's looking my high school's marketing teacher?)
Ikea Billy Bookcase DVD use
Raw patches around the corner of mouth
How to get him to call you when you don't talk
Unwrapped Hot Tamales are Mike and Ike rejects
and quite a few more, those are just in the past few weeks.

I get hits for a lot of things that include 'phone call' in the query (some just seem really sad, folks). Lately, though, I've found a lot of medical hits. That "Flick of the Wrist" entry recently has definitely drawn in quite a few people. I get hits for Venous Stasis Ulcer pictures. Be glad that those words are all in the blog, but no pictures.

Last week and the week before, I had hits for 'unna boot+picture'. Those two things are all over the blog, but no actual pictures. Until today, that is. I can finally provide what they're looking for, my pain is someone's gain.

The itchiness has reached a fever pitch. Last night, I soaked in the tub and reapplied some triple antibiotic ointment and a gauze pad. It didn't help much and I spent another night struggling to get some sleep. The RSD and itchy skin prevented me from getting shut eye.

This morning, I had to head into work early for a meeting. The leg was bad enough that I brought a paper towel to gently rub the leg, wick the moisture off the leg and not use my fingernails to further damage the skin. My fellow managers, who have seen this thing in bad and good, were all concerned at how bad it looks.

As I was leaving, one of our associates, a former nurse, asked about it and took a look. It was then that I noticed that the site of the smaller ulcer was starting to open again. I picked up the phone and called Nurse M. Monday is a clinic day and the offices are five minutes from work.

I decide to just head over there and the nice receptionist (rfkatgba) tells me the clinic hours start at 1pm (it's just before 11am). She gives me the numbers of the two department secretaries and I get through to one. She tells me to sit tight, they'll get a room ready. She calls back to rfkatgba and they set me up.

I had spoken to Nurse M last week about the issue. Now that I see this ulcer forming again, I don't want to fool around. She comes down to see me, and agrees. This is the beauty of not being overdramatic-if I am coming in, it's for good reason.

The end result is that I'm now in another Unna Boot. I'd asked what the criteria will be to decide on that valve surgery and now Nurse M is gathering information. If I'm going to have chronic ulcers, well, that is a good sign that I should have the surgery. Next week, I'll find out more on that front.

For now, I've got something for the googlers. A picture of the lovely and attractive Unna Boot:

(and someone looking for the Unna's Boot Pictures, but that was an abberation)

I suppose I should step up that SSDI application. Nurse M and rfkatgba both expressed their opinion about my career and health status. It sure seems like the points Nurse M made when I last saw her held true-that this leg may not cooperate, even if I am following her treatment guidelines.

No marathons for me anytime soon. I suppose I should cancel that appointment to meet up with the modeling agency, too. Bummer.

Did I Pick a Dud Book?

I found a book I'd wanted on eBay for a great price (Ain't Mythbehavin' by Katie MacAlister). The seller had another 90 or so books for sale at great prices (under 2.50 a paperback and cheap shipping). I decided to peruse the list. Scored one of the Mary Higgins Clarks that I'd borrowed from the library but never owned and then got The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. Tonight, to soothe the itchy leg, I went for a soak in the tub and brought the Shipping News for a read.

It is a tough read. She writes in an extremely disjointed style. It's almost as if someone wrote like Bill Shatner acts, in short,staccato sentences. I'm 50 pages in and *confused*. I am hoping it gets better, because it had darn good reviews when it came out, and then the movie had tons of raves, too.

Is this one of those rare books where the movie is better?

I hate abandoning books. I'm giving this one another 50 pages to prove itself and catch my interest.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

Do you hear a song, and it takes you back to your past? A vivid picture of what you were doing when you heard the song? I've got hundreds, no, THOUSANDS of 'song pictures'. That might be why I felt so driven to be a disc jockey.

In that vein, I'm thinking of trying something new on the blog. Soundtrack Sundays, where it'll tell a story about the songs from my POV. Okay, it's self indulgent crap, but it's my blog. You don't like it, you can skip reading today!

To start off:

Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond(1969) and Cecelia, Simon and Garfunkel(1970). These are the first two songs I remember hearing, really hearing. I remember snippets of songs from before then, but these two stick out.

I can remember walking around the corner from my house in Rockville Centre onto Lakeview Avenue and it was a warm, sunny day and the neighbor was in their yard (though I couldn't see them through the 6 foot tall hedges) with a transistor radio blaring "Sweet Caroline". It was warm, the sky was a brilliant blue and the clouds looked like cotton candy.

Cecelia takes me back to the first friend I had, Narissa Grant. Her family lived in the other half of the big duplex we were renting. We were inseparable until my family bought the house in Merrick. She had a younger sister, Alison, the same age as Giggles-and we spent many hours back and forth between the two sides of that duplex. Her older sister had the Simon and Garfunkel 45 and we played the thing over and over and over and over...

Some songs take me back to being in the car with a sibling or three. Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" reminds me of driving back home from Long Beach in the pouring rain, the windshield wipers kept time with the song as we drove up Long Beach Avenue into Oceanside. "Hello, It's Me" by Todd Rundgren reminds me of being with Legacy and dropping my sister Chrissy off at LaGuardia to go back to Ohio.

Road trips and songs go together, too. The first real vacation my dad planned involved taking me, Giggles, Socrates and another sibling to Connecticut and upstate NY. We left very early in the morning to beat the rush hour traffic the week before school started. It was 1976, We traveled up Rt 7 in Connecticut and visited Kent Falls. I remember my dad stopping to take pictures of the "Town of Gaylordsville" sign and Walter Murphy's "A Fifth of Beethoven" was playing on the radio early that morning. Later that morning, we visited the Goshen fair.

That trip was great, but it was only 24 hours long. We were supposed to stay at a Ramada Inn, but Ramada snafued the reservation-putting us in Charlottesville Virginia, not NY. It was 4am, we were traveling on the NY Thruway to get back home and Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now" is the song I remember. Dad had the radio cranked (Harry Harrison, WABC) and the window halfway down to keep himself awake. We'd struck out at every hotel or motel we stopped at to find a room for the night. (The following year's trip fared much better-no Ramada reservations!)

There's the trip down memory lane for today! Now, how many of you want to go track down those songs? Anyone who doesn't recognize any of them?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Present for Paula

My friend Paula is celebrating a milestone birthday in style in April. She's taking a Carnival Cruise! Lucky for me, she'll be departing from Tampa, so I will get to see Paula and her husband when they're in town.

The ship she will set sail on ports late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, so when I head to work on Sunday mornings, I get to see the ship and drool. If there was a rich relative to leave me money, the family would drive the few miles and sail on Celebrity, Royal Carribean, Carnival or Holland America-they all sail from Tampa. Alas, I don't think I will get aboard one of those ships anytime soon-much as I'd like to. I've got to pay for four of us, I don't think I can leave the kids home alone...

Today, you get to see the ship Paula will be on the end of April!

This is the intersection of Channelside Boulevard. Yes, you drive by the terminal and see all the ships a stone's throw from downtown Tampa. This is a little different from Port Canaveral, where the ships are off a ways from town (and Port Canaveral isn't a big town.)
Yes, the pictures are backwards, I'm too lazy to fix the order. It looks like you're going to drive right onto the ship. That glass arch to the left of the ship is the Florida Aquarium. The last time Ed and I were there, Gameboy was 2 and there was nothing at all over this way. Now, the terminals and Channelside bring thousands down here every week.


This traffic jam in front of me was caused by a doofus PARKING their Lincoln in the middle of the ONE LANE just past the traffic circle when there are huge signs that say you can't do that. (You can see ding dong's open trunk just abobe the Scion's mirror). Morons. My lesson was learned, don't come down here past 8:30 am on Sunday. The vacation daze is in full force and people do dumb crap like that.On the right hand side leading up to the port are some luxury condos. What could be better than to be within walking distance of Hooters and a good coffee place and to look out your window and see the ships in port?

Paula, wanna see some fishies when you're here?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Arghhhhh

The friggin itchy leg again! I'm here scratching, or trying to, but it's still driving me batty. Nurse M's suggestion this week was to take Benedryl. I can't do that when working, because the stuff makes me sleepy.

Topical lotions and ointments haven't worked so far. I've tried benedryl (burns like you would not believe), neosporin, bacitracin, eucerin, shea butter and diaper rash ointment. Still scratching. I'd like to try Gold Bond, but I'm afraid to-thinking that it might be as wonderful as the cortisone.

I tried the acticoat squares. That helped to dry things out-then caused an RSD flare because things got too dry.

I'm out of ideas, other than taking sandpaper or a sander to the ankle.

Frankly, I'm getting worried. If this keeps up, will I have new ulcers soon?

Diet tips we can all use

This was sent to me by a friend and I found it way too funny to keep to myself. Yes, there will be another blog entry later.

I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?
A:
Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.


Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.


Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A:
No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!


Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A:
Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.


Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A:
Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain...Good!


Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A:
YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!! .... Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?


Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A:
Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.


Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A:
Are you crazy? HELLO Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!


Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A:
If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.


Q:
Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?

A:
Hey! 'Round' is a shape!


Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about
food and diets.

And remember:


"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO, What a Ride"

AND.....

For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat
and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat
and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine
and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine
and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

CONCLUSION

Eat and drink what you like.
Speaking English is apparently what kills you.



Thursday, January 10, 2008

I promise I won't bite...much

Two of my blogging must reads (Sangria Lover and Thirty before 30) both have stated that this is Delurking Week. So, those of you who read and never comment (and you know who you are), it is your turn to say something.

Audrey asked where readers would live, other than the US, if money were no object. Anna's question was to ask HER a question. Me? I want to know your favorite food and/or favorite drink. If not that, your favorite restaurant. Why? Because food is life, people!

So, come one, come all-share a little love and comment!

Oh, wait, you want me to go first? Fair enough. Favorite food? Prime Rib. Favorite Drink? Southern Comfort with ginger ale and pineapple juice. Favorite restaurant? That's going to be broken down into NY, Maryland and Florida. NY-The Maine Maid. Maryland-(tie) The Brown Pelican and Barley and Hops. Florida-'Ohana, followed closely by Mojitos.

Two down, 50 something to go...

Yesterday, Ed and I had the lunch of champions: Strawberry Shortcakes from Parkesdale Farm Market. It's not winter until you've had one of these scrumptious things.

Apparently, we weren't the only ones who thought it was a good idea to have them, we were in a huge line with a lot of senior citizens. I think everyone else had at least 20 years on us. What can I say, we're wise beyond our years, lol. The wait got us these two bowls:

One thing that's weird here is that you order your shortcakes, then you have to traverse the busy, busy farm market and all the other people to get to the 'Garden of Eatin'' tables on the other side of the building. It'd make more sense for the two to be right next to each other, but hey, I'm just the customer.

Here's my bowl by itself before digging in. Ed couldn't wait, he was already enjoying his.
Scratch one off the big list. Actually, scratch two off, because I bought a half flat of strawberries and I'm about to make the strawberry syrup. I even got mason jars for it this time. No half gallon jugs in the fridge for a few months. I'm thinking of using almond extract in this year's batch. Decadent.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Our Monarch of cooking

Chef Jr has achieved a milestone-he is one of the first four Master Chefs at his cooking school. Yesterday, he was the first awarded his Chef's Jacket. Pretty cool.

There's a story involved. Apparently, our school was one of the first to begin the program, and as such, has minted the first Master Chefs. The real jackets are not ready, but this has been talked up for a year. Our center's director knows how big a deal this is for the kids and went to bat for them. Chef Jr (and the other students, I'd imagine) got temporary jackets to wear until the official ones arrive.
Chef with his cooking school director. She's awesome! We're so happy she decided that she needed to move closer to family and open a cooking school, because Chef loves going.


This is the jacket he'll be getting soon. It's got the fancy piping and french knot buttons. Pretty snazzy. He wore the jacket home yesterday and comes in the front door with an announcement, "I am he Monarch of cooking in this house." I should have told him to get in the kitchen and make dinner!

I'm jealous, I don't have any fancy cooking jackets.

Checking in

The pileup on I4 is about 30 miles east from us. I don't travel that part of the road daily, but I do often enough. Scary.

I only know of one person that travels that part of the road on a fairly regular basis, but she's out of town-and wouldn't be on the eastbound side that early (westbound, possibly)

I'll have a regular blog post later, but wanted to let those of you who might be concerned.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A blast from the past

Before I blogged, I used to write little essays on things that struck my fancy. Here's one that I wrote about coffee. Additional comments from today are in blue.

I'm a relatively convert to coffee. I survived 37 years without drinking the stuff. Here's the history:

I never liked coffee. Wouldn't touch the stuff, not even coffee ice cream. My brother once tried to make me a cappucino that was about 8 oz hershey's syrup and 1 oz coffee-no dice. Interestingly enough, I was the designated coffee brewer in the house as a kid. My mom would insist I make the coffee, even when others who drank the stuff were around. Apparently, I got the ratios perfect.

Despite hating the taste, I LOVED the smell of it. We kids would fight over the job of grinding the 8 O'Clock coffee when we went to the supermarket with mom. Ahh, the aroma of coffee-intoxicating. I couldn't understand why it didn't taste anywhere as good as it smelled.

About three years ago, one of my employees walked into work with a drink from the Barnie's next door, telling me I absolutely HAD to try this frozen concoction. I did, tasted the coffee but I LIKED IT! It took quite a bit of cajoling on Jason's part. The fact that he had TWO Santa's White Christmas Freezers in his hand was probably the only reason why I took the sip-I figured that he wouldn't miss it. When I said I liked it, I was given the one I'd sampled. His friends the baristas had made him two for free (the benefits of being a cute guy and friends with the baristas)

Over the course of the next few months, the baristas at Barneys, who'd known me as the lady who got a juice and a newspaper, indulged my coffee experimentation and told me when I was going 'too coffeeish' for my newly acquired taste for the roasted bean. By the time I moved to warmer climes, I was drinking mochas without a ton of other stuff in it. The day I got the double shot of espresso (to battle a migraine) was the talk of the whole staff-I got asked for about a week "did you *really* get a double shot?"

Okay, so I get to Florida, land of Barnie's. All is good. I settle on ONE drink, instead of terrorizing the baristas with a different drink du jour. I find another chain that makes MY drink the way I like it (btw, Indigo Coffee if you're ever in Tampa!), and I *gasp* get a regular coffee at Krispy Kreme. I like it. Today, Barnie's is *slowly* returning to the area after Starbucks bought the storefronts (boo hiss) and Indigo is the preferred straight up coffee for me.

I graduate to making coffee at home regularly. I try my sisters favorite French Vanilla iced coffee at Dunkin Donuts and I don't feel the need to put a pound of sugar in it to make it drinkable. Heck, there have been times where they forgot to put sugar in the darn thing and I've been miles down the road before I found out-I still drank those suckers.

I didn't consider myself a snob, more an apprentice of the school of java. I was learning what a macchiato was, why I might like an americano and that a mocha was really a latte with chocolate, but a latte didn't have chocolate. I've also learned that the more steps to ordering your coffee, the wimpier you look to the baristas! My peeps at Indigo love my concise Medio Indulgence, "with caramel" or "with almond" order.

THEN: I made the mistake. The other day, in a press for time, I go through the mickey D's drive through for breakfast on the way into work. I'm tight on cash, so I figure "I'll get the coffee today" I like coffee, it can't be bad, right?

WRONG!!!!!!!!

I took two sips of that bad boy and it was like I was drinking water that had been run through coffee grounds that had been used for four other pots. And filtered through sweat socks that had been worn to run a marathon.

YUCK!!!

One more sip convinced me that I should go get some water out of the fridge and have that with my breakfast. Said coffee got dumped, and I wondered why people would even drink that stuff.

So, I admit it. I am a coffee snob. I will gladly pay over two bucks (if I'm not at Krispy Krack, that is) for a cup of coffee that tastes good! I've paid four and felt it was worth every penny.

And yes, my sister was ROTFL at my diatribe about McD's coffee last night-me, the one who would NEVER drink the stuff three years ago! She is the original coffee achiever. I sometimes think that if you cut Giggles, she bleeds coffee.

So, bash me if you will, but make sure it's the good coffee you're serving me!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Guest topic

Donna provided today's topic. I want to poll the masses (all 20-30 of you) to see what your opinion is of this scenario:

An employer (Donna's) has extended their workday. The office now closes at 8pm to better serve their clients. As a result, the employer decided to hold a 'shift bid' for the fifteen employees in her department. The employer decided to factor seniority and quality rankings to determine employee's place in the ranking process.

Donna bid to retain her current shift, as did one of her coworkers. This coworker is a friend outside of work for whom Donna has been more then helpful when the situation has called for it. She's loaned her money when things get tight, taken the daughter to events, arranged a birthday gathering. Donna doesn't do these things because she wants payback, she does them because that's the kind of friend she is.

The coworker came to Donna several times to ask if she was *sure* she wanted that shift, implying that she should bid for the shift that begins an hour later. This coworker also stated SHE wanted to shift because 'she likes to drive her daughter to school in the winter'. One, the daughter is 16 and two, winter? In Florida-it's not even freezing!

Because Donna rocks at her job, she was number three of the fifteen. Coworker was lower in the ranking and got the shift that starts an hour later-which is 90 minutes later than when she arrives at work after dropping her daughter off at school.

The coworker pitched a hissy fit. She is complaining to anyone and everyone who will listen that Donna is selfish and should give up the shift to her, because she needs to drive her daughter to school. Coworker complained to the bosses and is now bragging about bosses making some sort of 'accommodation' for her. However, she's not talking to Donna and is telling all that she's mad at her for not giving up the shift. (BTW, this coworker was also annoyed that I got to go to that Jaguars game-she felt Donna should have taken her daughter)

What do YOU think? I'm of the mind that
1. Donna EARNED that slot through hard work
2. The daughter is 16 and can take a bus to school, but mom is hovering
3. The person throwing the hissy fit is the selfish one
4. Donna should not feel bad that she EARNED the high ranking through hard work and dedication.
5. Donna should not apologize or make appeasements to this person, because the coworker is the unreasonable person here.

Please help me reinforce to Donna that she didn't do anything wrong and she is NOT selfish!!!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

My wacky family

Tonight, while eating dinner, Chef Jr comes up with this pearl of wisdom:
"I'm weird, but I'm happy" Yep, that about sums all of us up. He was happy because he got clam chowder for dinner and got to enjoy my clam strips along with it.

On the way home, Ed did his spot on impression of Zorak from Space Ghost while we were all talking about something. The kids laughed the whole way back to the house. Once in the door, Chef was talking about houw his clam and chowder meal was great, the only thing that would be better would be more clams. Ed says so you want "clams, clams, clams, clams baked beans and clams?" and I chime in singing like the bloody vikings "Clams clams clams clams LOVELY CLAMS, wonderful clams, LOVELY CLAMS wonderful clams"

Child goes and gets ready for bed and Ed asks if I think Chef is ready for his first visit to a raw bar. Gameboy voices his funny bit "he's ready for a crowbar?"

Yep, we're nuts. At least we embrace it!

Things you don't expect to see...

when you live in Florida.
This was the view of my clock/thermostat in the Beetle Friday morning. Temperatures in the 30s? Brrrr!