Monday, June 30, 2008

If My Feet Ain't Happy, I'm Not Happy



The above picture shows the reason why I haven't taken a hacksaw to my foot. When I'm not working (and soon while I am), I am wearing my Crocs. Are they ugly? Sure are. Do they keep me from screaming in agony from foot pain? Sure do.

There's another pair not pictured that I keep at work for before hours and break time if I have to walk. The Ariats are great, but the Crocs have more springiness, which I need.

Today, I ventured over to the mall, because my employer says I can wear Crocs-just not the backless ones you see here. Well, no, you don't-the black ones are at work (the ones without holes in the top). My mission? To see if the Alice style will rub against the wound site on My Stupid Leg (trademark pending).

The good news? They have the appropriate amount of springiness and they don't rub against my wound .

My feet are getting happy just thinking about it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

Today is more of a soundtrack of someone else. My Dad. Today would have been his 80th birthday. If I had to say one person influenced my love of music, it would be Dad. Was he a musician? No. However, he loved listening to music and fostered Giggles and I in taking music instruction.

We spent a lot of time in his car together, going to lessons, the mall, out to eat, on vacations. He'd get his news fixes, sure (I think that also fostered how Giggles and I became news junkies), but most of the time in the car, we had music. What was cool is that we girls would get to choose what we listened to as well. As different as our tastes might be, we somehow listened to it all. His big band, swing and golden oldies, my new wave, Giggle's top 40-it all got air time in the Dad mobile.

I think he got a kick out of my love for Jazz. I made a tape for his car of Basia's Time and Tide after I'd moved to Maryland and Giggles griped that she was subjected to that tape over and over. My first listen of that album told me that Dad would love it. He did.

Many times, he'd hear something and pick up the record for me. I've got quite a few 45's in the milk crates that Dad 'just happened to find while shopping'. Mind you, the visits to Record World and Sam Goody's were always at my insistence when we hit the mall-he'd make trips on his own to do this. One that stands out is Boney M's "By the Rivers of Babylon".

The shared love of music drove him to pay for lessons for both daughters. When my Papa found a piano in the Pennysaver for 300 dollars, he split the cost with Mom. The piano sits in my living room. She paid for the piano lessons, but when Mr. Thayer suggested voice lessons, I got them. Giggles got clarinet lessons.

Dan Fogelberg's "Leader of the Band" was written about his Dad, but the sentiments expressed in it sum up many similar things.

I thank you for the music
And your stories of the road
I thank you for the freedom
When it came my time to go --
I thank you for the kindness
And the times when you got tough
And, pap, I dont think i
Said i love you near enough --

I love you, Dad. Thanks for sharing the love of music.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

More Humor from Chef Junior

Living with Chef, you're guaranteed several laughs a day. The kid is funny. He just is, and at nearly 9, he knows how to work the room.

He was playing the Wii recently, and had acquired a needed object in Legend of Zelda. (He's since conquered the game) All he kept saying about it was "My Precious," sounding exactly like Gollum in LoTR. My nut job.

I mentioned the Zapps the other day. I got an email from a friend on Wednesday asking about them. Of course, this put them in my head and I had to go open one of the bags Ed brought home. Salt and Vinegar, to be exact.

Chef sees the handful of chips in my hand and asks for some. I gave him half of what I had. A few minutes pass and I hear the sound of the bag being picked up in the kitchen. I look over to the doorway and there he is with the bag in hand. Now, we don't deny the kids food, but they have to ask before taking it. I asked him exactly what he was doing.

Next thing I know, the child is trying to do a Jedi Mind Push on me! He waves his hand and says "You did not see this. This did not happen. Nothing to see here, " as he backtracks and puts the bag back on the counter.

Five minutes later, he was sitting next to me with the bag.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Six Minutes to Spare

Once again, it's payday. Yes, right now, I get paid (bi)weakly. I'm hoping that the way traffic was today bodes well for the future prosperity in my wallet! :) Not many customers, but a lot of quality time with each one.

As we did a few weeks ago, a few of us ventured to a nearby restaurant. It was a spur of the moment thing, otherwise, we would have had more companionship.

The lack of bodies did not mean a lack of laughter. Once again, warped minds flock together. Two of us ganged up on a third when the bread was but a small morsel, both thinking "Please Sir, may I have some more?" from Oliver. (The fourth dining companion realized we're twisted when we started singing "Thank you very much" from the same.)

It's good for the mental health to get out and de-stress about the jobs with your colleagues. I think we have to just put up a sign that we're going out on payday to get more takers.

Lessons learned for the evening:
We didn't get 'the talk' from our RM, so we must be doing okay (even if our paychecks seem otherwise)
Adding wasabi powder to a sauce made with wasabi powder doesn't make it hotter-it makes it bitter
Drinks made with vodka, cranberry, cucumber and other fruit juices taste really good
Even if you shield the lemons while squeezing them into your tea, you're still going to get it into the person next to you's eye (and she wears glasses-figure that one out!)
Clove cigarettes smell like ham (okay, that one's not new-but my memory has been refreshed)

And the lesson for the day: Just because a credit union has an ATM that is in your credit union's network and takes your deposits, doesn't mean that credit union co-ops with yours and takes your deposits. Expired ATM cards suck.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A to Z Meme

I'm borrowing from the always witty, sometimes sarcastic (frequently both) Mandy. (Donna, if you don't have Mandy in your read list, you should!)

The A-Z Meme


Attached or Single: attached
Best Friend: Donna
Cake or Pie: Pie (pecan, please)
Day of Choice: Wednesday (my Saturday)
Essential Item: My laptop
Favorite Color: Blue
Greatest Accomplishment: Two kids
Hometown: North Merrick, NY
Indulgences: wine, cake, cheese, chocolate
January or July: July. My birthday month!
Kids: 2: Gameboy 12, and Chef almost 9
Life is incomplete without: Family, good food, wine, chocolate, books, friends
Marriage Date: August 31st
Number of Siblings: Eight: Legacy, Liar, Pete, Lori, Peg, Socrates, Lyndie, and Giggles. (The first three nicknames are bad, the last is good)
Oranges or Apples: Depends on the day. Apples aren't nearly as good here, though
Phobias or Fears: Bees (not sure if I'm allergic), blood clots
Quotes: Voltaire "I disagree with what you say, but I defend to the death your right to say it." Alton Brown "The only two words to fear in the english language are "Inoperable" and "Indicted". The rest is small potatoes."
Reason to Smile: coming home and having Chef run up and hug me.
Season: Now? Winter.
Tag Five Friends: Tag. You're it
Unknown Fact About Me: I have a radiotelephone operator's permit from the FCC, granted October 12, 1984. You don't even need them to be on air radio talent anymore.
Very Favorite Store: Williams Sonoma
Worst Habit: Procrastination
X-ray or Ultrasound: Ultrasound. Saved my life.
Your Favorite Food: Depends on the day.
Zodiac Sign: Leo. (30 shopping days till my birthday!)

Glamorous Jobs

There are those jobs that we all think "Wow, that would be SO cool to do that!" For each of us, they're different. Donna has one of those jobs that people think is awesome. She's a travel agent.

Granted, it does have some awesome qualities. She gets to immerse herself in going other places. However, its for other people, not her. Kind of a drag sometimes. She has to keep on top of what the hot destinations are, where it isn't safe to travel, where company XYZ is having their annual convention and basically keep track of a lot of stuff like all of us do in our jobs. However, there's a lot of information she's got to keep on top of that isn't as great. When's the rainy season in Europe? Is there a drought in Greek Isles? What's the conversion rate versus the dollar, anyway?

Still, sometimes, if you're lucky, there are some nice perks. She finally has an employer who believes that their agents should have first hand experience with the packages and tours they book. They have 'Familiarization Trips' and each TA gets to go on one each year. She's spent about 10 years in the business and this is the first employer that has sent her on trips. The previous employers all thought that reading about destinations was good enough.

Last fall, she spent a few days in Napa as her first employer provided trip. Was I wishing I was in her luggage? You betcha! Wine country, villas, pampering-sounds like my kind of vacation. She loved it. I got perks from it-she brought us some wine, woohoo! The pictures and the stories? To me, it just gave Donna more to fuel her passion for her job.

She called me the other day, very excited. She got approved for another trip, this time to Europe! She'll be spending six days in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki. I'm so excited for her-that passport is finally getting some activity!

For 49 weeks of the year, she works at a desk-and one week, she gets to experience what all her clients do. She'll see someplace new and different that she's never been before. It's cool that her employer provides it and understands that it's easier to sell a vacation when you've experienced it yourself.

It's a bummer that those luggage weight limits are 50 pounds for European flights, otherwise, I'd be squeezing my butt into her bag. Just take lots of pictures for me, pretty please?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What's For Dinner Wednesday

A coworker's mention of Lasagna had that on my brain. Since I had the frozen pasta sheets, I decided it was time to make some again. Seriously, if you've never used these:

they take the cumbersome task of making lasagna into the realm of "Quick and Easy".

I had some fresh red peppers from the farm stand, so I made homemade marinara as a base for this today. Two peppers and one large onion diced up and sauteed in olive oil. I did something different for me: my marinara doesn't have salt in it. Many things I cook don't, because I use a lot of other spices. When I made baked ziti for work, I was told something was missing. As a result, I figured a little salt wouldn't hurt. Kosher, of course.

This is the ready for the oven dinner:
That part of the meal done, onto the bread. French bread. From scratch. Hank and Willie has a very simple recipe to make French Bread.
Here's the dough after the first rise:Today's dough made the Kitchenaid work very hard. If it's very humid out, sometimes it's a good idea to skip a dough like this. Too late for me, though!

After kneading, I've got two loaves, ready for proofing, then the oven. See?

Soon after kneading and forming loaves, the lasagna was finished, and the baking would begin.
Ed arrived home for dinner while the bread was baking. He's gotten used to me using jarred sauces for lasagna and my marinara is different from those. I still think it turned out really good.

Shortly afterwards, we had bread. Nice, yeasty, bread. I cut into it before taking pictures.

I have plans for the rest of those loaves. There's some french toast and sausage calling me. As is some Rocco's Italian Ices. Alas, no money or gas-we'll have to go see Rocco another day.

The Latest in Premium Car Services...

No offense to the blondes I know, but this is so funny that I had to share it!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Zapp's

We hit it lucky last month. WalMart locally started carrying Zapp's potato chips. Yummy, crunchy, flavorful potato chips.

By the time I could get around to it, they only had Salt and No Salt. Salt works for me, they've got more flavor than any other brand on the market.

Tonight, Ed walked in the door with the motherlode. He found that WalMart got them back in: Tabasco and Tomato, Salt and Vinegar and Hot and Spicy. The only ones that they didn't get that we want to have (again, in my case) Crawtaters.

I hope this is a sign that we'll have them around for a while. Crunch!

Rewind

In tagging posts tonight, I found this blast from the past and thought I'd bring it back. At the time, I think I'd had Sitemeter for two months and a readership of 10 to 15.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007
The Archaeological Dig, Otherwise Known As 'Cleaning The Kid's Bedrooms'


Today, I had a glorious plan in mind. In it, the boy's rooms would have floors you can SEE, rather than ponder their existence. What color is the carpet in them? If I didn't remember that the builder made me choose the same color carpeting for the entire house, I'd be hard pressed to tell you.

It started at 10am, this wonderful idea of mine. Of course, the boys thought that they'd just *pretend* to be cleaning (Chef Jr) or outright complain that cleaning was boring (Gameboy). They probably figured Mom would tire of telling them that there would be no TV, games or out of the house travails until and unless the rooms were clean. Ha ha ha ha....WRONG!

The stalling tactics, of course, are many. Hunger, bathroom, need to get dressed (like that's ever stopped these two before), hunger again. Round about 11:40, I venture in to see their efforts after Chef Jr has appealed to me several times for some help. If they'd made a dent, I sure couldn't tell.

I start helping Chef Jr, while giving Gameboy guidance from the hallway. See, younger child has this thing about Mom coming and tucking him in and giving him a kiss goodnight, which I have not been able to do in weeks (months?), due to the detrius littering his floor. Gameboy could care less. I start lobbing lego into one bin, cars into another, and making noticeable headway. The mess in his room easily falls into several toy categories, so sorting into various Ikea and Rubbermaid bins is moving along. Ed wakes up and observes that Gameboy really needs more help: Chef Jr is capable at cleaning his room, and has proven this on many occasions.

This so aptly stated, my attention is turned then to Gameboy's room. He has a smaller room, as he is more likely to accumulate STUFF. Random stuff. Unidentifiable stuff. The stuff that archaologists would ponder if our house was left intact for several generations unmolested. Let's take a tour, shall we?
1. Under the bed. Items found: Ritz Cracker sleeve wrappers (4) and box (all empty); Hannaford Hamburger Bun plastic package (empty); the wrappers that once contained Tootsie Roll midgies and Super Bubble Bubble gum (also known as the gum that is harder to chew than I'd imagine a tire would be); various Pokemon cards; the partial remains of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (chapters 1-4 still in binding, rest of the contents MIA); several pages from various gaming strategy guides; and various other unexplained toy parts, some partially chewed.

Archeological interpretation: Carb loading reader of eclectic media with indiscriminating palate. Jaws of steel, as evidenced by gum and toy consumption choices (it should be noted the child does NOT take after his mother on the TMD front). Not a person who is likely to keep anything together, as noted by partial book, card collection and pages from strategy guides.

Continuing onward, Gameboy is asked to collect all possessions from under and behind the nightstand, the floor the right of his bed and from under his dresser. We then find:
Many Lite Brite pieces (which have never been actually used by either child in the aforementioned Lite Brite, but have provided them hours of enjoyment in ways such as: lining them up on the floor in various color combinations, leaving them strewn all over the house, and finally, watching mom and dad step on them and scream in pain); more Pokemon Cards; Magic Wand made at Harry Potter release party; more disemboweled books and game guides; papers from school (last year); various coupons from swag bag from his 5th grade banquet (most now expired); socks; underwear; two more empty sleeves from Ritz Cracker packages and several more unidentified toys.

Interpretation: Child has eaten more Ritz Crackers in one room than mother has eaten in the last three presidential administrations, has a fascination for pointy plastic pieces that are meant to be arranged in a black plastic field that has not been unearthed in this room, and shows propensity for saving objects that have shown no purpose to examiner or anyone other than resident of room. He has an alarmingly large collection of child's meal toys from the early part of the new millenium, especially since parents hardly cave on purchasing the meals for him(note: mother will purchase herself McD's Happy Meals now that they have apple slices and milk as meal choices). Apparetly, child discovers the toys under mother's car seat where she attempts to hide them in vain attempt to save them to use for trick or treaters this Halloween.

SIDE NOTE: Okay, I have to wonder after looking at all of this stuff: what the heck are they thinking with half of these happy meal/kid meal toys, anyway? We had some scary looking chicken/human hybrid (multiples of this thing, even), wearing some weird Hula skirt and posed in a most awkward position that would cause any of us to spend MONTHS in the care of a chiropractor. No idea what marketing tie in THAT was, but whatever it came from, it must have gone direct to video(Do not pass go, do not spend two months at the cheap movie theatre, either.)

Next, we focused our energies on the closet. More of the items listed above, and then some rope; baby toys(what is up with THAT?); various lunchboxes; more dirty clothing; several stray Capsela pieces*; a Phonics bus*; and plush characters from Pokemon and Sea World.

Interpretation: Child does not let go of any toy, especially toys that were purchased by uncle and aunt that are childless and do not understand the concept of "child is more intelligent than the average kid his age" doesn't mean you buy him a toy designed for a kid five years older, because said child will blow a gasket when he can't get the toy to WORK properly because he lacks the emotional maturity of that age, his own age or even a kid five years younger. This means the 80 dollar science toy that would have been perfect for him right about now is )four years after purchase) reduced to several pieces that child chews on.

NOTE: Yes, that is a huge bone of contention for me. The disadvantage to living hundreds of miles from family is that they had no clue of the meltdowns we endured in the name of 'but, he's so SMART'. Nor did they get the concept of 'call to check sizes' before telling one whole side of the family that my kid wears clothing 4 sizes larger than he actually did, though only one person (if you must know, the smart one, Giggles) bothered to check because those sizes didn't *sound* quite right.

Net result of today's exercise? Two kids who spent over six hours in their rooms, three bags of garbage and the discovery of medium gray carpet underneath it all. I later reward one child with time playing the Game Cube, his brother asks to watch.

They later undo any goodwill I might have had for their efforts by doing their best to ignore my call to bed by saying "but he's not able to save right now" I was in the midst of reading an interesting blog and didn't catch the time until I found that an hour had passed and they still 'hadn't reached a saving point' on the blasted game.

When I notice my oversight and go into my room, I find that he'd passed THREE opportunities to save and decided not to, figuring that I wouldn't notice. Ahhh, but I did and called him on it. Not only did they do a chore they despise and spend a good chunk of the day doing it, but they succeeded in lying about whether he'd arrived at a point where the game could be shut off. No games for lying, thanks.

Monday, June 23, 2008

My Stupid Leg (trademark pending)

Yes, my leg is still stupid. Just because I'm not writing about it all the time, doesn't mean I have changed my mind about taking a hacksaw to it.

So, what's new with it? Not much. I was using the DuoDERMs, but I've run out of them. Once things get rolling at work, I'll be contacting the woman I bought them from on eBay. It's much better to get them at 2.00 a dressing, as opposed to what they go for in a medical supply.

Without the DuoDERMs, there's a constant road rash/burning sensation on the wound site. The pruritus is also driving me insane. I'm finding some small measure of relief if I slather Aquaphor onto the wound, but it doesn't get rid of the itching completely. Sometimes, it's such a pain to be allergic to all the things you'd use to combat the itching.

The RSD is tolerable. Now that I keep the compression stocking on 24/7, Vern Troyer isn't stabbing my leg as often. He still sneaks in every once in a while. The pressure of the stocking leaves the leg with a constant pins and needles sensation and heavy feel. I'll take that over the more severe RSD issue of the past, though. I still want to pursue the nerve blocks, but that will have to wait.

One of the downsides of work being slow is that I'm not walking around as much as I need to, so the Plantar Faciitis is acting up. I'm icing the heel whenever possible, anxious for the business to pick up and keep me constantly moving and out of pain.

So, is it where I want it to be? No, not by a long shot. I hate being in pain all the time, but if you look at where I was 18 months ago, it's a huge improvement.

Proof that I made the right move: I'm allowed to wear Crocs. There wasn't an issue-I just need to get a pair that cover my heel because we've got a working warehouse. That's fine with me. In the meantime, the Ariats are worth every penny I paid for them. They do look a little strange-one is a snug fit and one looks like I'm playing dress up with a too big shoe.

And that's the latest on My Stupid Leg (trademark pending).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

Hometown Musicians. We've all got them, those artists that you heard on local radio or saw in the clubs before they hit it big. Growing up on Long Island, we had plenty of talent that did hit it big.

The first that I can remember is the Good Rats. Mainly because my sister and her husband, by virtue of managing My Father's Place, knew Pepi Marchello and the gang. I remember being in a pizza parlor and bugging Mom for quarters for the jukebox (as I always did.) I was so excited when I saw "Tasty" on that juke!

The next one that hit it big was Billy Joel. I was pretty young when I heard the first song on radio, "Captain Jack". I think it was on WLIR in '73 or '74. Thus began the local radio's love affair with the Piano Man.

If you want to see him in concert in the NYC metro area, prepare to have fast fingers, stand in a long line or pay a scalper way more than face value on the ticket, because the man is well loved and puts on an incredible show. So I've been told, I've never been lucky enough to see him. I've been thinking that I might have better luck getting tickets down here in Florida.

In the 80's, along came MTV and another crop of hometown musicians who hit it big. Pat Benetar, Twisted Sister, Blue Oyster Cult, Taylor Dayne, honorary LI band Zebra and Debbie (Deborah) Gibson. They had the added benefit of getting video airplay with those local disc jockeys breaking them to national attention.

Sometimes, you're lucky and you see one of those artists work their butt off to make it and years later, you're still buying those discs as they come out.

It's interesting to move to a new area and discover what the local music scene is all about. When I moved to Maryland, everyone raved about Kix, but that was about it. It was a change from LI, mainly because Long Island boasts 7 million people and Western Maryland? Less than ten percent of that.

Still the local music scene had plenty to offer with less clubs to hear live music. I've mentioned seeing Tim Eyermann, but there was a local guy that was great to see (as long as I didn't hear him play Billy Joel!), Ted Raschka. I wonder if he's still doing gigs?

If you've got some local music, enjoy it. You never know when the local talent will hit it big!

In the Other Room, Ed Was Laughing

While I sat here reading blogs. I asked what was so funny and he describes a site of Photobombing on it. Some of it is NSFW, but all of it is hilarious.

Somehow, I can totally see some of my family and friends doing this. You know who you are!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dumb Sales Calls

Grandy shared once again "Things You'd Hear at My Desk", an amusing look at the things that she has to say that prove common sense is optional with some people.

I tend to block out the worst interactions I have in the work arena, but I can tell you plenty when I'm the customer, especially if it's a phone conversation. The following rates as the dumbest sales call I've ever had.

The scenario: I was an authorized user on my Dad's Montgomery Ward card. When he passed away, the account became mine, but apparently, all of his information carried over. I was 24 at the time. Note this, it's important.

Montgomery Ward had a program called the YES club. It was offered to people over 50 years old. For a small membership fee, members saved 10% every Tuesday. I was well acquainted with the program and its benefits, having been a Montgomery Ward employee.

One morning, about six months after Dad passed away, I got a phone call, inviting me to join the YES Club, probably because Dad was 61 when he died and eligible to join.I told the telemarketer politely "Oh, I'm sorry, I don't qualify for the program, I'm his daughter. He passed back in January."

The telemarketer replies "Sweetie, why would you pass up a way to save 10% every Tuesday?"

Me: "I am not old enough to qualify for the program. It's for people over 50, and I am not."

This telemarketer is persistent, I'll give her that. I've already said I am NOT OLD ENOUGH TO QUALIFY. She says "Why not get it for your children, then?"

Me: "I don't have children. Besides, If I'm not old enough to qualify for this program, if I had children, they wouldn't be old enough, either"

Now for the head scratching statement of my life. Telemarketer: "Then get it for your grandchildren! They'll love you for it!"

Me: "How can I have grandkids if I just told you I don't have children? Besides, I'm 24, I have 26 years before I am eligible for your program!"

She didn't understand me on that one, and insisted I should get it for my kids and non existent grandkids. I have to say, I got off the phone and did that cartoon "eye yi yi eye yi yi" head shake.

The funny part is in the retelling. There are people who I'd tell the story to that couldn't see what the problem was with the scenario! It just didn't connect that at 24, I didn't qualify for the program and if I had GRANDKIDS at 24, then there was something seriously wrong! I think that might have given me as many giggles as the original phone call.

The Kindness of Coworkers

Recently, I blogged a small list of movies that I haven't seen. The list is far greater than what was written, but the full list would rival the phone book. Among the ones that I haven't seen: Jurassic Park. C felt that I was a horrible parent for not seen it yet, considering I have two boys (said completely tongue in cheek, btw)

One of my other coworkers said something a few days ago and I laughed. Apparently, it was a line from Brother, Where Art Thou?. Again, my lack of seeing a movie was met with surprise.

This morning, I opened my drawer at work to find the movie. Rather, the movies. C feels I need to remedy the fact that I haven't seen these two ASAP.

Check the popcorn stores, I think the next couple of days will include some movie watching...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Songs

Here in Florida, the first day of summer isn't the celebration that it was growing up in the north. The temperatures have been well above 80 degrees for what seems like eons. Growing up, 80 meant summer was here. Now, 95 is that sign.

Summer to me means having the radio cranking, American Top 40 or whatever radio station played the most songs without commercial interruption. Today, some of the songs that will always remind me of summer. Note that some of them have nothing to do with summer, it's just that they came out during that time frame.

I've been meaning to put these into an iPod playlist, but I haven't gotten around to it yet...

Summer Breeze-Seals and Crofts
I Can See Clearly Now-Johnny Nash (came out in the summer)
Cruel Summer-Bananarama
Saturday in the Park and If You Leave me Now-Chicago (the second came out in the summer)
Walking on Sunshine-Katrina and the Waves
Beach Baby-First Class
In the Summertime-Mungo Jerry
Moonlight Feels Right-Starbuck
Ariel Dean-Freedman
Love Will Find A Way-Pablo Cruise
Sealed With A Kiss-Brian Hyland
Fun In the Sun-Steve Harwell (of Smashmouth)
Summer in the City-Lovin Spoonful
Summer Song-Chad and Jeremy
Suddenly, Last Summer-Motels
Lido Shuffle-Boz Scaggs
Hot Fun in the Summertime-Sly and the Family Stone
Clair-Gilbert O'Sullivan
Soak Up the Sun-Sheryl Crow
Circle in the Sand-Belinda Carlisle
Brown Eyed Girl-Van Morrison
Kokomo-Beach Boys
Under the Boardwalk-The Drifters
In the Summertime-Mungo Jerry
Hello, It's Me-Todd Rundgren
Send My Heart-Adventures
Wild Wild West-Escape Club
Take It To the Limit-Eagles
Build Me Up, Buttercup-Foundations
Hope you enjoy the trip down memory lane through summers past and songs that take you back to laying on the beach, hanging at a barbeque, sitting on a towel by the pool and other fun times. Feel free to share yours!

Happy Summer!

You Can All Bow to My Lucky Nature

At work, we've got a Pepsi vending machine. My preferred soda in that machine is Dr. Pepper, since I'm not a Pepsi fan and Mountain Dew is the drink of last resort.

Over the past month, I've consumed 9 Dr. Peppahs. Currently, they've all got codes to win fabulous prizes, all because Indiana Jones is in theatres. One in six wins. By that measure, I should have one and a half prizes, right?

I entered eight caps and got the "You were SO close, Suzanne." You know, like if my horseshoe was in the next county? Number nine was the big winner. Are you just the slightest bit jealous? I mean, I WON. I actually WON.

Oh, you want to know what it is? What is my fantabulous prize?










Wallpaper. Yep, I get to download Dr. Pepper/Indiana Jones wallpaper. It looks like Harrison and Shia aren't too pleased to be in the picture. You can see it in their faces "Some schmoe is supposed to be excited that they get to download this?"

Don't believe me? Take a look:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Air is Redolent of Garlic

While in the oven, a pepperoni roll bakes. I had to cut it in half, so there are two pepperoni rolls. Some coworkers and I are each bringing a lunch item to share tomorrow, as we've got a stretch (or as my company calls it, Bell to Bell).

I originally offered up making garlic knots, but realized we didn't have a lot of protein in the offerings. I figured the dough recipe could quickly be rolled up into one big roll, rather than a bunch of little ones. Serve it with some marinara for dipping and voila, it's like we're back up north.

Now the house smells like an Italian restaurant. That's good. However, it as eliminated all the yummy smells of dinner: Roast Beef with a red wine gravy and smashed taters. Oh well.

It seems that my days off are spent puttering in the kitchen. This one doesn't have a lot of counter space to work in when you like to cook, but I'm combating it by doing the dishes as I go.

I know Chef's enjoying all the food, because I have designs on leftovers when I come home from work some days only to find he's happily consumed ALL of the leftovers! :) He's especially happy when I make those pork chops. I half expect to come home tomorrow night and find the big bowl of mashed potatoes gone. He's channeling his Aunt Giggles, that boy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What's For Dinner Wednesday

Today, I had a vision for something to try. It required a cornmeal dough recipe, one that could be rolled out. Alas, I couldn't find one quickly, so I ventured to plan B.

Tonight's dinner was a Taco Tamale Bake. It involved browning taco beef, then making cornbread from scratch. This is what the finished result looked like:


It was a good start. My lessons for next time:
Add a little sugar to the cornmeal. A little sweetness is always needed to counterpoint the savory. (though honey would probably be better)
More meat and more cheese. Lots more.
Even if I end up with the roulade that I had envisioned, more meat and more cheese will work well.

What worked:
I have to give kudos to the person who recommended using creamed corn as the moisture. Wow, it really does keep things moist.
Quick rising cornmeal does not lie. I'm glad I tried it, instead of just using the semolina.
baking in the 13x9 pan. If the roulade doesn't come to fruition, I will make it this way again.

I'm thinking the rest of it will have some chili poured over the top of it and become lunches for us for the week.

Tomorrow's cooking includes making a Pepperoni roll to share with my coworkers on Friday. One coworker is bringing an antipasto and another a salad and I figured on making garlic knots or the roll. I got positive response to garlic knots, but outright drooling at the suggestion of pepperoni rolls.

Yesterday's post was a milestone. I exceeded any previous year's total posts in only 168 days. There are still almost 200 days left, and I wonder if at this rate, there might be 500 posts in one year.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Twenty Years Ago, part two

I would have thought you were crazy, if twenty years ago, you told me:

I'd eat chipped beef, fried green tomatoes, grits or gator-and like it all.

That I would like sweet tea that wasn't anything like Long Island Deli Tea. (there is a HUGE difference)

That I'd drink coffee.

That I'd find that I was allergic to even more stuff than I was back then.

What about you? What would have boggled your mind twenty years ago?

(forgive the lame post. My mind is percolating a new recipe for tomorrow's dinner. If it works, the pictures will be very pretty...)

Monday, June 16, 2008

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream

For Italian Ices.

A few weeks ago, when leaving my landlord's and stopping by Jill's to cat sit, I saw a sign that said "Coming Soon-Rita's Italian Ices." I think I even mentioned it here, because I was stoked. Since then, Chef and I drove down there and discovered the sign was gone. Pout, whimper, whine.

Last week, I had a customer come in and the conversation turned to the fact that it was his day off from his business. "What do you do?" I asked and boy, was I happy to hear he owned an Italian Ice Shop. Score!

We chatted about Rita's, Ralph's and the merits of various ices. His was more like Ralph's, there were over 70 flavors and I wanted some right away when he told me they made Cannoli cream ices.

Tonight, we finally made our way over to Rocco's Italian Gourmet Ices. It was definitely worth the trip. The shop is chock a block with freezers with frozen confections that for such a hot climate, we were woefully lacking. Until now.

Chef enjoying his Cotton Candy. It tasted to me like they used the cotton candy sugar in the mix, because it had that definitely cooked but not burned carmelization flavor that real cotton candy has. Too sweet for my liking, and hyped Chef up-so he was happy.

Gameboy and his Lemon ice. He adores lemonade, but most manufacturers of anything lemon feel the need to put yellow dye in their products, which means Chef can't consume it. He was adamant that he was having lemon, I figured I'd deal with the aftermath since it was close to bedtime. It is not colored at all, yippee. Based on Gameboy's rapid consumption of his, I think he won't bother with any other flavor-ever.

My cherry amaretto ice. Yes, it looks like NY italian ice, not the Philly style (like Rita's). This huge bowl was two bucks and very, very tasty.

There aren't any pictures of Ed and his bowl of Passion Fruit and Watermelon. I was worried that the carnage would be too scary. In actuality, though, the contented smile would have been great advertising for them!

I am so happy that Rocco stopped in at my store last week, because we'll be venturing to his store to beat the heat with some more ices. After all, I've got 65 more flavors to try!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

I'm setting the wayback machine for June, 1994 and a day at the Capitol Jazz Festival.

At the time, I was an avid listener of DC's Smooth Jazz station. One day, there was a commercial for the Capital Jazz Festival, a weekend affair in Manassas, a couple of hours away in Virginia. The Saturday lineup was enough to have me hyperventilating:
Craig T Cooper
Nelson Rangell
Pieces of a Dream
Yellowjackets
Ramsey Lewis
The Rippingtons

I owned three of the Rippington's CDs and one of the Yellowjackets. This event was right up my alley, since the rest of the lineup were in regular rotation on the station's playlist.

At work, we had a Ticketmaster outlet, so I went into Customer Service to see how much the tickets were. When I asked, I was handed the Events book, which had a flyer announcing the event. It would be held at Bull Run park, parking was 10 bucks, lawn seats were 35 bucks and reserved seats were 50 bucks each. Not bad for an all day event.

Then, the piece de resistance: A limited number of VIP tickets were available for 100 bucks. Free parking, unlimited backstage access, an event shirt or poster and food and beverage all day. Did I mention unlimited backstage access?

When you figure that 10 bucks for parking, the 30 or 40 bucks that would be spent on t shirts and the 30 or 40 bucks that would have been spent on food during a 10 hour day, that VIP pass sounded like a great deal. Sign me up.

The car loaded up with cabana chairs, sunscreen and a couple of books for the times when no one was playing, the drive down went quickly-until we got to Bull Run. I showed my receipt for the VIP tickets (that could only be picked up at Will Call), we were ushered to VIP parking right by the entrance. Sweet.

Inside the gate, we went to pick out the freebies. I picked out a shirt (and it's on the table next to me right now), ex picked out a poster and off we went to the VIP area.

The VIP area was right in front of the stage, just before the reserved folding chairs. We set up the cabana chairs and already, I was happy with the VIP decision, because my butt would have fallen asleep within a half hour in those chairs.

While waiting for Craig T. Cooper to take the stage, some event staff came around with take out boxes of cut up fresh fruit, cheese and crackers and bottled water. Oh, we were going to get pampered for the day? The first act hadn't even begun to play!

The show began and it was great to hear live jazz while enjoying the gorgeous weather. The whole day, even if I didn't own the artists CDs, many of the songs were familiar.

Behind a chain link fence that had a barricade in front of it (a mere 25 feet from our chairs), were hospitality tents. Fans were blowing, food was set up and most of the artists scheduled to perform were mixing and mingling with those of us who appreciated the music.

I'm not sure who I met first, but it was either Jeff Kashiwa or Steve Reid of the Ripps. All of the members of the band were very friendly and available to mingle, but these two really stood out as wanting to talk to the fans.

I recall having a long conversation with Jeff in which he told me a lot about the EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument) that features prominently in their albums with him. Very cool. Steve was definitely all drummer personality-the guy who is friend to everyone and passionate about the music. It was also cool to talk to Russ, but the man was pulled every which way all day for interviews. It kind of made me appreciate those interviews you hear on your favorite station, because your favorite artist usually does a dozen of them when they're in your town.

The Yellowjackets were equally approachable. Over the course of the day, I got to meet or talk with Russell Ferrante (also pulled away for interviewing), Jimmy Haslip and Bob Mintzer. Somewhere among all my pictures of the era, I've got pictures with all of these guys, as well as some great ones of them all performing.

Hearing the artists play after rubbing elbows all day was just mind blowing. You see all the preparations that go into putting on a huge show, from setting the stage, to warming up, to clothing changes, mics, etc. Then, hearing the songs you know from countless listens of the discs (and in some cases, stories about those songs from the artists themselves) is just mind boggling. It was a great day, and it was an event that I would gladly attend again.

The only buzz kill to the day was that the organizers said it would end at 8pm. There were delays in stage setups all day long that pushed the Rippingtons set back from the original start of 7pm to almost 7:30. At 8pm, the power was cut-mid song. They kept playing as if there wasn't an interruption. Bravo, guys. It wasn't your fault the set started late.

If you ever have the opportunity to attend a music festival with VIP access, DO IT. You'll have unbelievable memories of the day.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Plentiful Ideas for Future Posts

All this idle time at work has given me time to come up with blog ideas. They're related to specific dates or Soundtrack Sundays, so you'll have to wait to see them. Sorry. Let's just say the well isn't running dry on the Blog 365 challenge. In three weeks, I'll be halfway through the year and at eight months of non stop blogging. Are you sick of me yet?

Work also has brought some interesting happenings. On Monday, I came up with an idea to help us out that wasn't taken too well by one of our ranks. However, once it was explained HOW it helps (and not by me), the person who'd been most likely to 'snake' sales went from complaining about the system. He has embraced it. He and I chatted many times over today and I think we're gaining some respect for each other's ideas. He stated that he thought the idea was horrible, but now likes it.

It's cool to be the 'answer lady' once again, and hey, a new nickname emerged. Nancy Drew. The person who called me that has NO idea how often I'd read those as a kid!

Had an interesting situation the first week that took me off guard. I thought I handled it well at the time, but now I'm not so sure. Your opinions would be appreciated.

Here's the situation:

One of the first nights working, it was slow and I was showing a couple of coworkers the pictures I have in my planner. They are mostly baby pictures of the boys, but there was a picture of me from Giggles wedding. One coworker commented how beautiful/sexy I look in the picture. He later says "You look so sexy in that picture, do you have any of you in a bikini in there?"

I was stunned. Honestly, what woman carries around a picture of themselves in a bikini? I was disgusted with the implication that he wanted to see more of me than is acceptable. It shocked me into not speaking up at the time.

Over the next couple of days, I avoided the coworker and did a slow burn. He noticed that I was avoiding him and complained to me about it. (couple the comment with the fact that this man is extremely lazy, which irritates the hell out of me). I calledhim on the comment and how much it offended me. Further, he's a married man, I'm a married woman and asking a coworker for something that private is deplorable. It's rude, it's wrong and I won't tolerate it. His excuse? "My English isn't so good."

At the time, I told him that he's on warning: anything of that nature said to me again gets him in serious trouble with the higher ups. A few days later, I told the GM what had happened, to kind of give a heads up to keep an eye on him. It's in his store file.

The more I think about it, the more I get steamed. One, he used a cop out about his language skills. Total BS. Two, he insulted my intelligence by thinking I'd buy it. Three, he disrespected his wife and marriage vows by attempting to hit on me. Most importantly, he hit on me, which disrespects me and my relationship.

At the time, I thought warning him and being quite firm about how it was unacceptable was the best scenario. Now, I see what a manipulator he is (trying to do as little work as possible, pulling the "I don't understand" card to get out of work when he clearly does understaind, etc). I think I should have said something when it happened and called the corporate hotline.

All I know is that I stay away from him at all costs. I barely say hello and it's obvious to him that I am NOT happy with him. Its only a matter of time before he complains that I talk to everyone but him.

If you had the same thing happen, how would you have handled it?

Questions

Over the past few months, I've had some of you bloggy buddies suggest Twittering. Ed Twitters now. The concept interests me, but I'm not sure if it's a good fit. Your opinions?

Been watching The Next Food Network Star more intently this season. I've got my culinary POV and I've got my arsenal of recipes. Even though I'm not formally trained, I feel comfortable auditioning and holding my own among professionals. As in my job , passion for what you're doing makes it easier to achieve your goals.

For those of you who have dined at Chef Suzanne's, what dish do you consider my 'signature'? What dish should be my audition piece? Or, is there something you think I could master and demonstrate well?

I've got more thoughts on the NFNS audition and cooking, but I'll save that for another post.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What’s For Dinner Thursday

Yesterday, I was going to give another go to Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. I got a mighty fine recipefor the dough that appeared to be spot on. Never having lived in Chicago, Uno's is my standard for deep dish-especially after working for them for a couple of years.

A few weeks ago, I tried the recipe and goofed royally. The recipe stated it was good for a 9 or a 10 inch pan. My Chicago Deep Dish pan is 16 inches around. I halved again the recipe. Big mistake. Messy mistake. I had a very TALL deep dish pizza. As a result, much of the sauce deposited itself on the bottom of the oven.

This time, I made the called for recipe and split it between two 9 inch pans. I also made one modification in flour. It now has 1.5 cups of semolina. This is before application of sauce.
I also learned from a pizza man that his pizza (real deal NY style) has not one bit of mozzarella. It's made with white cheddar, and folks, it tastes right. So, the cheese on these pies is a 50/50 blend of mozzarella and cheddar.
Chicago style is done with sauce on top, so as to not burn the cheese in the longer cooking process.

The fresh from the oven(cooling as I post this) pizza. The only thing that would make this better is some Leinenkugels. Since we don't have that, I think we'll be having the NY after pizza treat and heading over to Rocco's for some Italian Ices. The kids will be surprised!

Oh, it was supposed to be What's for Dinner Wednesday? Yeah, well, yesterday's dinner was a simple affair of fried chicken legs. Chef gave them the ultimate compliment and Gameboy concurred. They're better than the ones from Publix deli. LOL!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I Can Honestly Say the Kids Learned Something This Summer

We're working on allowing the boys some measure of independence. They can stay home by themselves for short periods of time. So far, so good.

Chef Jr, ever his father's son, worried about getting Gameboy to do things. Gameboy, on the other hand, probably was happy at the prospect of free reign, without Mom or Dad saying no to everything. Now that they've done this a couple of times, both are spreading their wings. Gameboy is showing more maturity than we expected.

I ran out to the market a little while ago. The pantry and fridge are bare, with not even enough to cobble together dinner. There wasn't even milk for breakfast or bread for sandwiches. Both boys were engrossed in some sort of game, and honestly, dragging them along shopping is an exercise in "buy me this, because I saw it on TV and it must be good" or begging for soda. Lots of soda. When I go alone, I can get in and out of the market in under thirty minutes and spend half what I do when anyone else goes with me.

While I was gone, the kids were thirsty. As I mentioned, the fridge was empty of milk and they didn't want to drink straight lemon juice. Gameboy wanted Kool Aid, because I've been making a couple of gallons of it a week. I know, you're wondering how I can make him something that's laden with dye. I'm not, because Kool Aid makes Invisible. See?
[The rarely seen in a supermarket flavor, Grape. However, Amazon offers it and will notify me when they get it. Score.]

For this reason, we have Kool Aid. Lots of it. See?That's about 25 packets of the stuff, topping our supply of artificial sweetener packets used for company.

Anyway, Gameboy said he wanted Kool Aid, Chef got the bright idea that he would make Kool Aid. It's easy, right?

Two packets, Kiwi for Chef and Cherry for Gameboy.

In 12 oz cups.

Without sugar.

As soon as I came home, they were happy to see me. Of course, that's because I came bearing FOOD. The first question I got was "Is there anything to drink?", as Chef unloads the Baja Breeze from me (the first Mountain Dew flavor I like-enough to go through the Taco Hell drive through for JUST a drink!)

They were quite happy to report that they made Kool Aid, "but it tasted bad.". My first question was to ask what they made it in, since the gallon pitcher I normally make it in was still in the sink with soapy water in it.

"We made it in cups." Cups?

I saw the sugar canister still atop the fridge, so I already knew the answer to the next question, "You know you're supposed to use sugar in it, right?"

"Ohhhhhh, that's why it tasted like lemon juice!"

What followed was a lesson in making Kool Aid. One I'm sure will stay with them long after this summer is over!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Woohoo!

Had a NICE sale today. They've been few and far between, so it was a nice ego boost. Tomorrow, I have a plan for a way to get some business. Cross your fingers.

I'm off for the next two days. I'm planning on doing some grocery shopping and cooking. You'll get to see pictures of tomorrow's meals.

It's Going to Be a Long Summer

It has begun. One week into summer vacation, and Gameboy is at his worst. Screaming, crying, yelling at the top of his lungs. Over the stupid, freaking video games. Imaging your two year old's tantrums multiplied by a factor of ten. That would be Gameboy, screaming that "They're Cheating!", "I don't want to lose", "I want the Wii", "NO FAIR!" and "I'm not done playing."

If this is what a week is like, Lord give me strength. I'm ready to commit the kid. Nothing is sinking in.

He's been lectured and warned that I will take the games away for the summer. I might even get that phone number for an institution.

Asperger's sucks. Royally.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Monday Meme Madness

Stole this from Jessa, who stole it from TX Poppet. This made the rounds originally as a list from a men's magazine, and people originally posted about their husbands, but now it's mutated into things I can do....


The Rules: Bold the things you can do and you leave in normal type the things you can’t. Sarcastic comments in parenthesis are encouraged.

1. Give advice that matters in one sentence. (Even used it this week "Don't shit where you eat", borrowed from Moonstruck, meaning don't find dating prospects at work!)
2. Tell if someone is lying. (Yep. Good at it. I poke holes in stories. Often.)
3. Take a photo. (Frequently found behind the camera. Be the subject of a photo? Hardly ever happens.)
4. Score a baseball game. (Now why would I want to do that? If you asked if I know how to score a swim meet, I'd be able to say yes. How many people can say THAT? I don't think you can!)
5. Name a book that matters. (Just one?)
6. Know at least one musical group as well as is possible. (Hmm, I devote one day a week on the blog to writing about music. I'm not obsessed. Uh uh, not me...)
7. Not monopolize the conversation. (I have to really think about this one to effectively do it. This stays in the unbolded column. What a surprise)
8. Write a letter. (Email. Written letters, I'm very good at writing, not so good at mailing.)
9. Swim three different strokes. (Now, I know the mechanics of Butterfly, but I can't get that darn second kick in, otherwise I could say four. Though technically, I know crawl, breast, back, side and elementary backstroke-so that's five)
10. Show respect without being a suck-up. (I don't do sucking up. I want to sucker punch those who feel the need to suck up to me)
11. Throw a punch. (Know how to do? Heck yeah. Want to ruin about 100k investment in various wrist surgeries? That's a resounding NO)
12. Make one drink, in large batches, very well. (What do you want? Sangria, Mojito, Pineapple Bombs, Bay Breezes, Bellini, Mimosa, etc?)
13. Speak a foreign language. (Can I count pig latin? Didn't think so...)
14. Argue with a European without getting xenophobic or insulting soccer. (Haven't had much exposure to any Europeans to even consider this skill as being one)
15. Be loyal. (Beyond what others feel is necessary)
16. Know his poison, without standing there, pondering like a dope. (Yep. That's a piece of cake. Knowing what to order in the fast food drive through? That's tough)
17. Cast a fishing rod without shrieking or sighing or otherwise admitting defeat. (I even fish snakes off my shoulder and out of the swimming pool!)
18. Play gin with an old guy. (I know how, but the opportunity has not presented itself. Unbolded.)
19. Play go fish with a kid. (Yep, though the game player grows bored with such games. He'll play board games with you instead)
20. Feign interest. (I have an Aspie. I think that's a requirement)
21. Make a bed. (Just because I can doesn't mean I do, though)
22. Describe a glass of wine in one sentence without using the terms nutty, fruity, oaky, finish, or kick. ( Well enough that I send people scrambling to write down the wines I suggest.)
23.Jump-start a car. Change a flat tire. Change the oil. (I think I should have a masters in 'keeping your shitbox car running' from my younger years.)
24. Make three different bets at a craps table. (All I know is snake eyes are bad, m'kay?)
25. Shuffle a deck of cards. (Oooh, ahhh, impressive...)
26. Tell a joke. (What did the blonde say when the doctor told her she was pregnant?)
27. Know when to split his cards in blackjack. (Something about parting with my money has made this a skill unlearned.)
28. Speak to an eight-year-old so he/she will hear. (I practice this every day)
29. Speak to a waiter so he will hear. (I speak in tip. Good tip. That says plenty)
30. Talk to a dog so it will hear. (Simple. Assign a word that you wouldn't ordinarily use to the treat of choice. For example "Goodie". Say assigned word. Dog will do whatever you command to get the treat. Brilliance, I say.)
31. Install: a disposal, an electronic thermostat, or a lighting fixture without asking for help. (That's what a techie husband is all about! I don't have to do that. Now, if you asked install a hard drive, modem, build furniture or something like that, I'm your woman)
32. Ask for help. (And directions, if I needed them.)
33. Break another man’s grip on my wrist.( If my wrists weren't so screwed up, I'd say yes.)
34. Tell a woman’s dress size. (23 years of retail, baby, I can even tell a man his waist and inseam!)
35. Recite one poem from memory. ( To see a world in a grain of sand..)
36. Remove a stain. (I have two boys. Nuff said.)
37. Say no. ( Ask Ed or the kids if you don't believe me...)
38. Fry an egg sunny-side up.(For someone else? Heck yeah. For me? I'd rather starve. Eggs are yucky)
39. Build a campfire. (start the campfire songs and s'mores preparations, too.)
40. Step into a job no one wants to do. (Its part of my job description, no matter where I go.)
41. Sometimes, kick some ass. (You can take the girl out of New York, but you can't take the New York out of the girl)
42. Break up a fight. (Thankfully, those days are over...)
43. Point to the North at any time. (Honestly, Tom Tom should have been named Sue Sue. It pisses Ed off. Royally)
44. Create a play-list in which ten seemingly random songs provide a secret message to one person. (Now theres a Soundtrack Sunday idea!)
45. Explain what a light-year is. (Um, its the guy from the Toy Story movies...)
46. Write a thank-you note. (Just because I can doesn't mean that I do))
47. Be brand loyal to at least one product. (Got allergies? Then you know how loyal one can be to cleansers that don't make you scratch!)
48. Find his/her way out of the woods if lost. (Remember, they should have named Tom Tom after me. Sue Sue. Mama Schweitzer was onto something!)
49. Tie a knot. (Okay, since this wasn't qualified by 'in a cherry stem with your tongue, then I definitely can do this!)
50. Shake hands. ( Part of the job, thank you!)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

If you asked Ed when we had our first date, he'd tell you the summer of '87. Huh? Is that right?

Kinda.

I haven't really gone into the "How We Met" story because for a long time, my blog was read by those who have known us IRL or from online. I won't go into the whole story, but we worked together at a gas station.

When you worked in the fish bowl, you couldn't have visitors. Either you were there with another employee (rare) or you were there by yourself. We listened to A LOT of radio, because we were by ourselves a lot.

Listening to radio that much, you ended up dialing in to hopefully be the 12th caller to win...well, you get the idea. In our tenure at the gas station, between us and my ex, we won:
*WNEW's musical jeopardy (I've got my WNEW mini locker around here somewhere)
*WBAB's grafitti sweatshirts, t shirts and various CDs (while another friend worked there, even)
*Pete Fornatele's Mixed Bag prizes at least five times that I can recall
*Four U2 CDs
*Tickets to several concerts, like Renaissance and David Bowie
*Tickets to Laser Rock

There were other things that were the rewards of having fast fingers and listening to the radio at hours that no one else was up, but I can't remember them all.

Earlier that summer, I won tickets to see one of Ed's favorite groups, Renaissance, play at Club Bene in New Jersey. Of course, I was going to take him to the show, and my ex and another friend also went. I'm glad we did, for it was their last live show ever.

A couple of months later, Ed was one of the grand prize winners of 2 David Bowie tickets from WNEW (Glass Spider Tour). The prize included backstage passes to meet Bowie. The announced opening act was Squeeze, one of my favorite bands. They later added another act that was a head scratcher to us, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. (Ron Delsner, WTF?) For Ed, there was no question of who was getting that second ticket-he asked me.

The concert was memorable for more than the events at the stadium. I had a POS car, a Malibu with electrical issues so bad that I had a voltmeter wired in and visible on the bench seat. I had it so that I did not shut the car off if the battery registered less than 10 amps-otherwise, it would not start back up.

Well, in our haste to get to will call to pick up our tickets, I shut that car off with the meter at eight amps. Also in our haste to get there, I brought my camera-but the film was left behind in the car. There is no record of what happened next.

We waited in a press room for about 45 minutes to meet with David Bowie, along with about 40 other winners of WNEW's contest. About ten feet away, with his packs of cigarettes and bottle of Jack was New York radio legend Scott Muni. Did I care about Scottso? No, I babbled to the jock next to him, Marty Martinez. Marty and Dave Herman were the ones I listened to daily.

You know how after the big Giants/Jets/your team here's football game, they have a press conference with the players who made the big play? You see a host of media types and the player behind a podium? That's where we waited.

Eventually, David came out. We each got to ask a question. What struck me was how SKINNY he was. He's 6 foot something and maybe 120 pounds! The other thing that was interesting is that he had one blue and one green eye. The meet and greet went on for nearly an hour, but it seemed like ten minutes.

Once they shuffled David off to get ready for the show, we hurried to the other side of the stadium to our seats. For a football game, they were phenomenal. For a concert, not so much. We were close to the 50 yard line, maybe 10 rows up from the field.

The whole time we were in the meet and greet, the other two bands played. So much for seeing Squeeze. That's okay, at that time, I think I'd seen them live six times already. I got over it pretty quick, while we looked at that huge spider that served as a canopy for the stage.

The show was good. It was the first time I'd seen a concert in such a large venue, and it left me wanting. Wanting good acoustics and no planes flying overhead. However, it was a good show, a long show. Worth every penny. Oh wait, I didn't pay for them, but I would have paid the going rate for them if it hadn't been sold out.

Bowie took the stage around 9pm and put on a show that lasted until well after 11pm. It was easy to see why the man is so skinny-he never stopped moving in that summer heat. Even well into a tour, his voice wasn't shredded, which meant the vocals sounded damn good.

After the show, we got out to my car, ready for the drive home. (Our voices were shredded from cheering so much). I turn the key in the ignition and found the dreaded voltmeter reading at 8. Oh, crap! My car will not even think of turning over.

We tried to get a jump from another concert goer, any concert goer. No luck. Eventually, we get Giants Stadium security to send one of their tow trucks out to give my car a jump. They don't listen to me that once they use my cables, I need them to sit for a good two minutes to bring my electrical system to 12 amps. As soon as my car started, the guy unhooked the jumper cables and drove off. The voltmeter was reading 10amps.

This began the scariest drive of my life. If a car has no juice, the first thing that suffers is the lights. I was driving some of the busiest roads in the world, at night, with headlights that were dimmer than a darkroom safe light.

I kept saying "We're gonna die" as I could see cars flying up behind me on the New Jersey Turnpike, then changing lanes at the last second once they saw my car in that right lane. At the toll plaza, the helpful toll taker informed me my lights were out. At the Goethals, the same thing happened.

Going over the Verrazano, I was thankful for no toll taker, but scared of going down the ramp on the other side if there wasn't someone right behind me to ward off the weekend crazies in a rush to get onto the Belt Parkway.

Obviously, we made it home in one piece. The Bowie concert was memorable-and for more than meeting the man himself.

BTW, I consider our first date to be one when Ed drove from Chicago to Maryland after we'd been dating long distance for six weeks about seven years after the Bowie concert. Not quite as memorable, though

I've Just Been Informed...

that I am evil. All because I went to tickle Chef's tummy.

That's okay. He ran away, then after telling me I'm evil, he came back and told me he loves me anyway. Then gave me a smooch.

Watching NFNS-Soundtrack Sunday after that's over. Taking pointers for my turn! ;)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Chef Jr Gets to Do Something Before Me

Right now, Chef is with AJ (Aunt Jane) at the drive in. Yep, lucky kid is getting to enjoy a drive in double feature tonight with his aunt!

Since there's only two of them, they're probably enjoying those movies from the front seat of the van. Oh, and when they called during intermission, he was so STOKED about being there.

This is way past bedtime for the kid who actually puts himself to bed, so I'm crossing my fingers that he lasts to see the whole "Indiana Jones" movie. If not, I suspect he'll be bugging me to go back to see it again this week.

Gameboy didn't want to go. Asperger's strikes again. You can't get the kid to try new things, but once you do, he realizes he likes the activity and will do it again. It looks like I'll have to twist his arm to go.

At least has the family movie buff with her. Every week, he'll ask to go see two or three of the movies in theaters, or to go buy the latest on DVD. He's definitely channeling his Gramps, the man who saw several movies a week.

Perhaps before the summer is over, I can scratch a drive in movie off the list of things I've never done. I suspect that Chef will be bugging me to go back...

Friday, June 06, 2008

Little Surprises

Good ones:

Showing up to work and finding that the 12 hour day you thought you had was really an 8 hour day. (that was monday)

Leaving the store for break to grab some bandwidth and saying 'the heck with it, I want a Moe's taco', thinking that I'd blog offline and upload later, then finding out that Moe's has WiFi. They don't advertise it because the building was constructed before the WiFi boom and only has one electrical outlet that can be used by customers.

The bad:
I spent nearly the entire break surfing the various boards, so I didn't do a full blog entry, anyway! :)

Did I scare you with that picture?

Oh, and give a Hooray. Giggles now has entered the world of the wireless with her new laptop. I'm expecting the phone call later to tell her how to get those DS's on the 'net to play against others. Meanwhile, I'm going to get a second router for the DS's, so they can use WEP-we're set for WMA and I'm not downgrading my encription for the kids to play games.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Man, I Need to Get the Tweezers Out!


Sweetney asked, Jessa complied, I'm copying! :)

Foreclosure, the Update

I realized that I haven't really updated on the foreclosure. In the past couple of weeks, I've had a bunch of hits to the blog from my post on BlogHer. I'll cross post this over there, but my readership is over here.

We're firmly in the rental house. We like the neighborhood and the house. We're unpacked enough to get by, but still have quite a bit left to do. Some of our stuff is still in our friend Bob's garage on the other end of town. We need to get cracking on it-he may be in contract to sell his house up north and will hopefully be parking his cars in that garage by the end of the summer. (Bob, school starts August 16th. No pressure, dude!)

On the job front: I found a new job and started the last week of April. It is still retail, and I'm getting those 40 hours I was so desperately trying to find. It's commission, and eventually will become management. I'm glad I made the switch-I feel much better about the job situation.

Ed has started a new job. It's a job, not a career. He's still looking for something else, but we'll take the paycheck, thank you!If he gets 30-35 hours a week, his salary alone will pay the rent. That leaves me to get everything else squared away.

Chef has made some friends in the neighborhood, a definite plus. Having Mom and Jane around the corner helps all around. Right now, it helps us because Ed and I have overlapping work schedules.

The school transition hasn't been as smooth, but that should be ironed out next week. We seem to find that the paraprofessionals don't get all the info about Gameboy and take it upon themselves to 'reward' good behavior and it backfires. I think we learned a lesson-we sit down with the Paras as well as the teachers. Giving this child computer time is like giving a beer to an alcoholic. Not a good idea.

Yes, the finances are more than tight, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

What's For Dinner Wednesday

Tonight's dinner was two italian favorites, Chicken and Eggplant Parmesan.

I fried up a bunch of eggplant and rather than make a casserole, I ended up with a napoleon inspired eggplant. This is the fried eggplant before assembly:

Next, a bunch of chicken was prepared. Doing it this way ensured that everyone got their chicken with or without the accoutrements of choice:
For instance, Gameboy went for naked fried cutlet, Chef Jr just wanted cheese and Ed and I went for the traditional. A few years back, I switched how I make Chicken Parm. Instead of preparing it like a casserole, I prepare it like one of our favorite LI restaurants, Borellis. The only thing I didn't do tonight was dredge in breadcrumbs. Instead, the yummy chicken breader was used.

Those of you who've dined with us, my apologies for torturing you with pictures of a meal you've probably enjoyed. Heck, the eggplant has been known to make some of you travel five hours to see me!

A delicious wine was enjoyed, too. Monastrell Jumilla, yet another of the lovely PRP wines. We're very low on wines here, so it's rare that I'll crack a bottle open these days. This spicy but sweet wine was a good complement for the Italian food.

Yum. The best part is that there are plenty of left overs!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

June 3, 1996

Seven weeks ago, I shared the story of Gameboy's arrival into the world. When he arrived, I thought that I'd gone through the roughest thing that having a baby could throw at me. Of course, I was wrong.

Gameboy was a colicky baby without a normal sleeping pattern. This was fine when I was on maternity leave, but I returned to work the Wednesday after Memorial Day. We were adjusting and starting to get into a routine. We had a friend nanny for the summer and I'd worked out a good set schedule with my assistant manager to keep Gameboy with me or Ed for all but 15 hours per week.

Since he was colicky, sometimes the best way to get him to sleep was beside me in bed. We'd catnap on the couch and that Monday night, we'd fallen asleep on the couch while he'd nursed. He slept a good 5 or so hours, then I got up and nursed him and got ready for work. I'd thought that I slept poorly on the couch, as my hip was in excruciating pain-like a constant muscle spasm. I probably put pressure on my hip and pressed into one of the metal bars of the sleeper frame underneath the couch cushions.

Walking around the apartment that morning, my left leg was in a lot of pain, but I figured that I could walk it off at work. I drove to the mall and made the decision to park on the lower level near the post office. I need to pick up the store mail before heading into work. I would take the escalator upstairs. The pain was still bad, but I was used to tuning out pain-this was going to be more of the same, right?

Once I got the mail, I walked (limped?) slowly to the escalator, but it was being serviced. Instead, I walked up the adjoining stairs and started getting lightheaded from the pain. At the top, I pretty much fell to my butt. If I were a cartoon, I would have had a ring of stars circling my head. One of the mall walkers stopped her morning constitutional, came over and asked me if I needed help. She stood next to me while I caught my breath (lamaze breathing works for more than giving birth) and helped me up. She offered to walk me to the store, but stubborn me declined.

The 100 feet or so from the stairwell to my store was more painful than the walk from the car or the one up the stairs. I sat on the floor next to my gate, again seeing stars. After a couple of minutes, I found it within myself to put the key in to open the gate (thankful that this store had an electric one) and lurched (a la Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein) back into the stockroom.

Lights turned on, I grabbed the stool I'd been allowed to use the last couple of weeks of pregnancy and dragged it onto the floor. For the first time in three years of working for Babbages, I was going to sit my butt behind the counter, instead of moving throughout the store.

My first order of business was calling Ed and letting him know that I was hurting. He's used to me hurting. In all the years we've known each other, I've had some issue or another. However, in all that time, he can count on one hand how many times I've said "As soon as Ray (my assistant) comes in, I'm coming home". I don't call out sick and don't leave sick.

We'd moved to Laurel the beginning of March. I was flying blind and needed to find a doctor. I'd called Ray and gave him the heads up that when he came in, I was going home. (He later told me that if I hadn't said this, he would have urged me to leave-I was looking very pale.) Part of the reason for calling Ray was to see if he had any suggestions on doctors in the area. He lived over in Rockville and had no advice on that front. I called a physician's referral service. They suggested a practice near my house, connected me and ensured I had the first available appointment. For a new patient, 10am the next morning was pretty good.

At 1:30, I left the store, lurching out to my car. It took three times as long to get to my car as it had to get from my car to the stairs in the morning, but at least I had a working escalator to use.

Once home, Ed saw how pale I was and offered to stay home. I said no, that I'd be okay, I was just going to veg on the loveseat with Gameboy. (thinking the couch caused a major muscle spasm). For all but three days of my maternity leave, I was stuck with two working tv channels, but now we had cable-I'd veg with my boy and watch TV.

When Gameboy went down for an evening nap, I decided that soaking in the tub would soothe my sore leg. Once in the tub, though, I noticed that my left leg looked like it was sunburned and swollen. It was strange-one pale, pasty white leg and one that looked like a solarcaine ad.

The night was a blur. I vaguely remember Gameboy sleeping very well and giving me very little trouble. I barely got up off that couch, just for potty breaks and food.
When Ed got home, we talked for a while, then he went to bed and I had a restless night. We both wondered if the muscle relaxants I'd surely be given for this would pass through breast milk.

In the morning, I got myself and Gameboy ready and went to the new doctor. I'd left Ed sleeping because he'd worked until 3am and got home at 4. This was no big deal and I was a big girl.

I checked in at the doctor's office, filled out the dozens of forms and had everyone oohing over my cherubic baby. Once ushered into the examining room, the nurse took my BP and it was not my normal 110/65. I described my symptoms, mentioning my red leg. She came back and took a look as soon as I'd changed into a gown.

Relatively quickly, I had Dr. C in the room. She had me lay back on the table, looking at both legs. She pressed on the inside of my left hip and I nearly passed out from the pressure, which really wasn't very hard at all. She seemed worried, but I didn't know her-was this her normal bedside manner?

She said she wanted me to see another doctor today, and asked me to wait while she called his office. She left the room, and the nurse told me to sit in one of the chairs and left with "Do NOT leave this seat". Uh, okay. Neither one had said why.

I sat in that chair, and sat in that chair. A good 25 minutes, I was still sitting in that chair (dressed, though-I was told to dress). I was bored to tears and had a sleeping child. I knew there were plenty of magazines (good ones, too) in the waiting room 5 steps away.

I ducked out the door and poked into the waiting room. The nurse came around a corner and saw me. She was mad when she said "Sweetie, I told you DON'T MOVE!" I protested that I was bored and wanted something to read. I should have gotten someone to grab one for me, she said. I thought that was weird.

A few minutes later, Dr. C comes back and asks if I am here by myself. I explained that my fiance was home sleeping. She says that I need him to bring me down to Holy Cross Hospital ASAP, do not pass go, do not collect $200. I was handed the office phone and call Ed, explaining that he needed to get to the doctor's office and that they say I need to go see a Dr. R, who's at Holy Cross and will see me as soon as he gets out of surgery.

Twenty minutes later, Ed has arrived and we're given some pretty stern orders. You will not stop for any reason. They're expecting you at the ER and will have a wheelchair for Suzanne-she must use it. Then they tell me that I probably have Phlebitis. I had no idea, but Ed did-his sister Nancy had previous bouts with it.

We drive down to the hospital, me in the back seat of the Saturn because Gameboy's car seat only worked with the front seat belt. Once at the hospital, Ed drops me at ER and I am loaded into a wheelchair and take Gameboy while Ed tries to find a parking space among all the construction.

I am checked in rather quickly and get to bypass the crowded ER into a curtained off room. A nurse is aware of the situation and I'm given a bolus of something. Ed, Gameboy and I are pretty much left alone and clueless as to what the heck is going on. Gameboy wakes up and cries, hungry. I start to nurse him, and the nurse that was attending to me happens to come in to the room and freaks out. "You can't nurse him, you just got a bolus of Heparin!"

I'm a nursing mom, I don't have anything to feed my 7 week old! Just like that, my nursing journey with Gameboy stopped. In the ER, while I waited for some answer to the confusion that was happening to me. I honestly have blocked out what happened regarding feeding Gameboy, but I do remember later on sending Ed to get a certain brand of powdered formula because I had coupons for it.

After being in the ER for an hour, a Ultrasound Tech came and took me for a Doppler study. Now, I'm well acquainted with them, but then, not so much. He spent a good 45 minutes to an hour rolling that transducer over my leg from knee to hip and back again. I asked a lot of questions and got the same general answer over and over. "You've got a clot. It's big. Your doctor will tell you more." The doctor I haven't even met yet?

I was wheeled back to the ER. I don't know how Ed dealt with the worry about me and the feeding of a small child without bottles or anything on hand. My head was swimming and I was in pain. Since childbirth was so recent in my mind, I was telling them that this hurt tons more than having a baby. It did. I never saw stars or passed out in labor, but that's where I was with the leg pain.

Maybe ten minutes after I was back in the ER, my doctor arrived, fresh from surgery. He was still suited up from it, booties on shoes and all. Dr. R was short and arrogant and very matter of fact. You have a deep vein thrombosis in your left leg, gave the measurement of it and said he was admitting me to the hospital.

He'd asked where we came from and when we said Laurel, he apologized that he wasn't doing surgery over there that day, that the luck of the draw put me at Holy Cross. Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out what to do about work, how was Ed going to care for Gameboy and how long was I stuck in a hospital bed. I'd survived 29 some years without being in a hospital bed, and here I was, about to go through my second stay in two months.

I called my District Manager and my former District Manager, Ed called his mom and I called mine, then we called Kristin. Work was squared away rapidly (my DM's girlfriend was a nurse and gave him the horror stories about DVTs. Thanks to that, he didn't rush me back to work.). Kristin headed over to take Gameboy and Ed's mom and sisters quickly headed down to Maryland.

It was an interesting nine days in the hospital. I was roomed with a nice young lady who'd just had her second tubal pregnancy and knew she'd never have children. She was sweet and asked to hold Gameboy one afternoon when Ed was there with him. We bonded over that. When she want home, I had a woman in end stage Alzheimer's for most of the time. She called out for the nurse at all hours. The last night, I had another younger woman who spent the night on the phone with everyone she knew.

When you're an active person, being stuck in a hospital bed is torture. I was tethered to a drip of heparin. My doctor wavered on whether I'd be there a week or ten days. He ran a lot of tests to try to figure out why I'd had the DVT. They're not uncommon in postpartum women, but not this late. When I was pregnant with Chef, my perinatologist told me that 99.5% of postpartum DVTs happen in the week after a C section.

For a long time, we wondered if it was the Pregnancy, the C section or the Depo Provera shot I'd gotten two weeks after having Gameboy. It wasn't until I became pregnant with Chef that the most likely culprit was discovered: I have Factor V Leiden, a clotting abnormality that 10% of the population has. Lucky me.

Nine days in the hospital wasn't the end of the road for me. For the next year, I'd live in a hip high compression stocking and I would take a daily dose of Coumadin. I went for weekly prothrombin times, a test to see how fast my blood was clotting. It varied wildly, and was a pain to regulate. (OTOH, the Heparin was much easier to dial in an accurate dosage)

Dr. R didn't have a lot of information about nursing mothers, only explaining that Heparin didn't pass through breast milk and I could give myself shots. This was after three days of pumping and dumping milk, so I opted to stop the nursing. If I'd known then that the shots weren't so bad, I would have done it. At least my perinatologist knew a lot about nursing moms and blood thinners and could answer those questions when I was pregnant with Chef.

The visits to Dr. R's office were a lesson in how damn lucky I really was. I'd sit in the waiting room, a fairly healthy woman with a baby. Others would show the signs of strokes and other vascular issues. If I hadn't gotten medical attention quickly, that could have been me, I'd think. Dr. R was not the most pleasant person to deal with (I had a shouting match with him on the phone at one point when he bitched me out for calling the office for a pain medication refill the day after getting home from the hospital), but he was good at what he did.

Thanks to some quick thinking doctors, I don't have to live with what might have been.

Monday, June 02, 2008