Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Well, because Vicki did a top ten favorites in her blog, I felt obligated to do one in mine. These are some of my all time favorites:
1. Hanging out, laughing, talking or even IM-ing with my best friend, Vicki (yes, she IS that goofy!!) 2. Dinner and a Movie (or just dinner, or just a movie -I'm easy)
4. Mina5. Napping
6. The Wandering Hand
7. Air Conditioning and cold weather - the colder, the better
8. Technology - My cell phone, computer, scanner/printer/copier combo and my digital camera
9. A bookstore and a latte - preferably in the same place
10. Frozen Devil Dogs
Monday, June 27, 2005
I usually order by calling them "mootz-a-dell" sticks, pronouncing mozzarella the way my Italian family members pronounced it as I was growing up. But when I'm met with a blank stare by the waitress, which is usually always, I'm forced to say "Uh, cheese sticks. Just bring us some cheese sticks, please." I won't even try saying "marinara" the right way. I'll just stick to the "American" pronunciation of "mare-in-nara".
We order them at almost every restaurant we go to, which probably has quite a bit to do with why my waistband is expanding out here on the road. I should be ordering celery sticks, not cheese sticks. But who, I ask, can pass up fried cheese??
The following are our results, with comments, number of sticks per order and cheese stretchability rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the stretchiest.
# of pieces: 6
Comments: Sticks were flat, 1"x3" pcs. Flavorful coating and a nice, tasty marinara.
# of pieces: 8
Comments: Flavorful coating, watery marinara.
# of pieces: 6
Comments: Nice, long, cheesy stretch!
# of pieces: 8
Comments: No stretch, had to cut the sticks.
# of pieces: 4
Comments: Although there were only 4 pcs, they were large slabs. The coating was hearty and crunchy, like fresh breadcrumbs and they were sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese. The marinara was spicy and had lots of tomato chunks in it. Excellent.
Bertucci's Brick Oven Pizzaria
# of pieces: 3
Comments: Three half circle shape pieces of cheese, basic coating but served with a nice marinara that contained fresh basil.
# of pieces: 9
Comments: Standard coating, basic marinara.
And the winner is.............
Well, Ed and I have decided that Johnny Carino's has the honor of serving the best Mozzarella Sticks in all our travels. In addition to the fabulous "Italian Countryside" decor of the restaurant, the mozzarella was fresh, the coating tasted as if they had just crumbled up a crusty loaf of Italian bread and the marinara had tasty tomatoes chunked up in it to give it a fresh, hearty taste. Sprinkling these slabs of heaven with freshy grated parmesan put them in the top echelon of all the sticks reviewed.
Not everyone has a Johnny Carino's in their area, so for those of you who don't, our second pick was Denny's.
Believe it or not, on the same menu as the famous "Moon Over My Hammy" is a great order of mozzarella sticks just waiting to be stretched!
Sunday, June 26, 2005
I was not in San Francisco long enough to see these, the Fisherman's Wharf OR the cable cars that roll around town bestowing everyone with Rice-A-Roni.
What I DID see (from the Interstate as we were driving by) was the TransAmerica building (the pointy one in the skyline behind the ladies), the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, "The Rock."
I would love to come back here to see the city close up. I have heard so many good things about it that I just HAVE to come back.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Friday, June 24, 2005
Thursday, June 23, 2005
We finally reached Oregon and drove right into the weather that refreshes my soul. I can't even tell you the 180 degree spin I do once I'm in cooler weather, although I'm sure Ed can. I am a complete ranting bitch in the heat. I do not fare well AT all. He, of course, should have a Saint named after him since all he does is let me rant and then throws his arm around my shoulder and kisses the top of my sweaty head. What a guy. Must be that Southern way of life...everything just rolls off his back.
Now that I've gotten the rant out of my system, I was able to enjoy the scenery of Eastern Oregon. See all those trees? CHRISTMAS TREES, people! And I have to say that after being in Arizona for 10+ years and seeing every street corner and Target parking lot filled with tents lit by strings of Christmas lights, I am convinced that Arizona is responsible for half of the Christmas Tree (yes, that's the official name of the tree) depletion of Oregon. I think everyone should buy a fake tree from this point forward. They make them so authentic these days, you can barely tell the difference. C'mon, do your part to save nature.
This second picture was taken as we got further into Oregon, through the hilly area. I took it out of Ed's window while we were driving, which is why you can see guardrail. Sorry - didn't feel like cropping that out. But, I just loved the way the hills rolled like fabric. The entire hillside looked as if it was a bunch of green velvet thrown in a heap. I wanted to dive right in!
Just past these rolling hills, we stopped at a viewing area and took this picture. We were overlooking this ENTIRE valley. The land was cut up into chunks, plots designated by color. Brown, green, beige...it looked like a country quilt that went on for miles under the setting sun.
Here is a shot of Eddie with the quilt in the background. The sun was coming from the side, so you can only see half his cute little face. I couldn't get him to do any tricks, but I thought his smile was enough. It's really just a little sugar for all you Eddie fans.
And then you have me....gazing over the landscape, wrapped in luxurious cashmere from Italy. My friend Lisa bought this for me in Firenze. Florence. Italy?? She also bought me a GORGEOUS red leather messenger bag. I will take a picture of it soon so you can all bask in its glory. I am the fanciest "Lady In Red" at any given truck stop. I hear whispers as I stroll by with the bag. People ask to smell the leather. They just want to touch their nose to something Italian. The bag, you perverts! The BAG, not me. Anyway....here I am in all my Italian glory.
Eddie thinks I look like a secret operative in some Al Quada plot waiting for word from Osama to take out the closest oil tanker. Of course we all know that is SOOOO not true since you all know how much I hate the heat. What the HELL would I be doing in the desert of the Middle East?? C'mon now, I'm wearing Italian Cashmere for goodness sake!
Fino a domani. Ciao!
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
I have yet to see any potatoes but I know they are here somewhere. The landscape is pretty plain so far and I haven't seen anything that I found picture worthy so I thought these Spuds on a picnic would keep you satisfied until I find something.
I am coughing like crazy and am convinced I will soon have a lung to take a picture of for you. I'm sure I'm going to hack it up any moment. Last night I slept with a Vick's Vaporizer going. Between my coughing and the medicinal smell of the Vick's, the truck sounded and smelled like a nursing home.
One good thing though - it is CONSIDERABLY cooler up here in Idaho. The sun is shining and the sky is clear. As we get further north in the state, it looks a bit like upstate New York. Lots of farms and trees. Not as many mountains though.
We will be out of Idaho today and up into Eastern Oregon. Sorry this post is so blah. Maybe Ed will do a trick or something so I'll have a good picture for you later in the day. We can only hope!!
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Although it is still desert like, it is much prettier than where I was earlier this week. As you can see from the pictures, the rocks just jut out of the landscape. We had lunch in a lovely little place called "The Peace Cafe" in Monticello, Utah. It was a crunchy little granola like place, very "hippie" in its decor. The lunch was very good and the weather was beautiful. Since the elevation of Monticello is 7,066 feet above sea level, at 85 degrees it was sunny and pleasant. Next stop, Moab. The following pictures were taken on the way to Moab, Utah.
The rocks were really beautiful and the edges of them were smooth from years of the winds blowing past them. There were dots of greenery in the landscape, but the plateaus were the real focal point. Each one was majestic and made you wonder just how many years they had been there, as you can see the layers of different colored dirt, like rings of an oak tree.
Moab was a cute little town with lots of hiking places, little shops and cafes. There were more than a few jeep tour companies and even a ski lift at the end of town which looked as if it just took people up for the view. Moab is at about 4,000 feet above sea level so it was a little warmer, around 100 degrees, than where we had just come from. Once we got through town, the scenery got a little dreary for a bit but in the distance there are still tons of mountains, all flat top tables looking as if their peaks had been sheared off by a machete.
We are now headed up through Provo to Salt Lake City. I know we're heading deep into Mormon territory and I'm kind of worried that I won't be able to find Diet Coke or Coffee since they don't "do" caffeine. How will I know who the Mormons are?? I don't think you can spot them by just looking, since they don't have any distinguishing markings.
Well, one thing I CAN be sure of - they won't be knocking on my door trying to hand me a pamphlet.
Monday, June 20, 2005
The two hour ride from the barren little town of Carlsbad, NM to Roswell, NM was horrible, but I was happy to be closer to leaving the state. If it weren't for shops in Roswell selling alien t-shirts and souveniers, it would just be another sad little broken down town along the highway. What I didn't know, was that the next four and a half hours to Albuquerque were going to be worse.
For the majority of the ride, this is what we saw:
Do you see it? You're probably thinking, "I don't see anything." EXACTLY. There was NOTHING. I have never in my life seen so many miles of nothing. Although, that's sort of a lie since I have been to West Texas.
After driving for about two and a half hours from Roswell, we came across this little town called Vaughn. I cannot bring my mind to the point of understanding WHY anyone would choose to live there. From what I saw, there was NOTHING for two and a half hours North or South of them and looking at the map, I couldn't imagine what could be to the East or West. The town itself was pathetic. Every single business that I could see had a sign that looked like it had been there for 150 years and there was not one single sign of life. No life. No movement. No people. Nothing.
At one point during the drive, I talked to my Aunt Ronni. She asked me if I was a little cranky. How can I not be? I've been in the ugliest place on earth since Friday, it's been somewhere between 107 to 116 degrees and I have not seen anything pleasing to my eye. She told me I was like my Aunt Joya, who couldn't even work in a place that wasn't visually appealing to her. I am exactly that way...and I cannot WAIT to get out of this state.
I have four and a half MORE hours in New Mexico and then we'll be in Colorado. By that time it should be dark and I won't have to see any more desert until we get to Utah. I've heard Utah is beautiful, but I'm not betting too much on it. My mood will be shattered until I see some greenery.
To wrap up my thoughts on New Mexico, I have to say it was best said by Ed. As we were driving into New Mexico on Saturday, he said:
"If people can live here, they can live on Mars."
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Friday, June 17, 2005
I have just spent the entire day in West Texas. Yesterday we drove across Texas, which is a horror in itself, but today we spent the majority of the day in El Paso. You have not seen the face of death until you have been to West Texas and El Paso.
Not only is it hot, but it's the ugliest place I've ever seen and the only thing that fills the air other than desperation, is dust. Why bother to shower, wash your car or sweep your porch when in just moments it will be covered with a new layer of dirt?
Here is a picture of El Paso. In case you can't get the full effect from this visual, imagine it as described below:
If you are in a "residential" area, be sure to add a few mud looking huts with corrugated steel siding and cardboard over where the windows used to be. A few broken down appliances, a car on blocks and some dusty, disgusting kids toys in the yard complete the picture.
To really get the FULL effect, I suggest the following. With the image above in your mind, set your oven to 400 degrees and when the timer goes off, get really close and open the door. The rush of stifling heat that takes your breath away is what the air in Texas feels like.
I can't imagine having to wake up everyday in this hot, bleak wasteland. Seriously, if there were a blade to slit my wrists, I think today would have been the day. Thank God we only carry plastic utensils in the truck.
Tonight I am in Odessa, TX. Not much better, I tell you. Equally as ugly and barren, and the only thing that dots the landscape are oil refineries. Even if I were a rich oil baroness, I would not EVER live here. I would own my oil fields from a place far, far away and have my underlings running things here in the depths of hell.
Tomorrow we are heading to Carlsbad, NM (which should be the second highest suicide rate state) for the weekend and then off to the Northwest. Ahhhhh. I can't wait to get to the Pacific Northwest and see some REAL scenery.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
I definitely have more than ten, I just couldn't think of them at the moment. I'm too busy being sick and hacking up a lung. Look for more Top Ten lists in the future. I am annoyed daily by things that will eventually make it on a list.
1. Talking in the movies by ANYONE and people who bring children to the movies.
2. Taking the stall RIGHT NEXT to me in a public restroom when others are available.
3. Low, slow talkers. Don’t you GET it when someone has to say “What??” after every other one of your sentences??
4. People who stand in line for 20 minutes and STILL do not know what to order when it is their turn.
5. People who say the word "height" with a “th” sound on the end….like, “hyth” instead of pronouncing it “hite” as it's supposed to be.
6. Not knowing how to use their/there/they're.....you're/your....know/no....didn't these people go to school?
7. Blowing your nose in a restaurant – I don’t want to hear snot leaving your nose when I am eating.
8. Stupid Questions. For example: people who say “Do you have Diet Root Beer?” when the waitress just recited the list of what she DID have: Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite and Ginger Ale. It happened ALL the time when I was a waitress. I always wanted to say “Did you fucking HEAR me say Root Beer??”
9. Scratching of balls in public. WHY?
10. Tardiness. If you're not bleeding, there is no excuse.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Einstein: Hi, may I help you?
Ed: Um, yeah....I'm looking to get a mudflap.
Einstein: Well you know, if you buy eight new drive tires you can get a mudflap for free.
Ed: You expect me to spend $3,000 to get a free mudflap?
Einstein: Well, I can throw in another mudflap if you want.
Ed: No, that's okay. Thanks.
Mudflaps are $20. Idiots are free.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Monday, June 13, 2005
The HOT Wedding
My cousin Eric got married to his longtime girlfriend Shawna, on Friday. She was an incredibly GORGEOUS bride, despite the heat that could have melted the wax off of every figure at Madame Tussaud’s . Her dress was gorgeous, her body was drop dead and her face was one of a flawless, beautiful creature.
As soon as the wedding was over, the skies opened up and dropped some rain on us….not the cool air making type of rain but the muggy air making type of rain. Oh, joy. Finally, we made it to the reception hall. I found a seat in the bar directly under the air conditioning vent and was trying to think up ways for them to rearrange the reception hall around my seat so I could stay there. No such luck. I had to join the masses in the extremely hot, extremely crowded, cattle car shaped “cocktail hour” staging area. Had it been December, it would have been fine. But the body heat from the crowd was melting the ice sculpture and making my getting to the cold fresh fruit a serious problem.
All that aside, my word for this entire wedding is: PHENOMENAL
Despite the stifling heat, I managed to squeeze through the cattle in the cocktail hour to get to the food. Shrimp on ice, caviar, Orecchiette pasta with a mushroom cream sauce and pancetta, Portabello mushrooms stuffed with spinach and goat cheese, baked Brie with raspberry sauce, chicken satay with peanut sauce, fresh fruit, a plethora of cheese choices, stir fry, carved meat, fried catfish, fresh bread, vegetable crudite, mozzarella and tomato with basil….need I go on?? So, obviously you now know that the food at the cocktail hour was just as I said: PHENOMENAL.
The reception menu was just as outrageous. The meal started with a hot appetizer of Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with red wine and carmelized shallot tomato coulis. Then, a classic Caesar salad. For the Intermezzo, a Lemon sorbet served on a slice of orange. The entrée choices were; Sliced Chateaubriand with a Port Wine Demi Glace, Chicken Sorrentino or Grilled Salmon with a Dill Bechamel sauce. I had the Chateaubriand, of course. It was served with fresh asparagus, baby carrots, rosemary potatoes and a dollop of spaghetti squash. The plate was a work of art, but the taste was the true masterpiece. OMG….the beef tenderloin just melted on my tongue. I don’t even recall chewing.
Dessert was next. We all know how wedding cake sucks, right? It’s usually dry, with crappy icing and nothing worth writing home about. Most people don't even eat it. Half the time I don’t even know why the bride and groom take home that stupid topper – what, so they can have crappy wedding cake once again on their first anniversary? Woo Hoo! Not so at the Bonito wedding! This wedding cake was the perfect way to top off this meal. A moist white cake with a thin sliver of raspberry filling, then a thick layer of cream (canoli, I think), another thin raspberry layer and then another piece of cake. All covered in fresh whipped cream. Just so light and delicious!!! Each table was also graced with a tray of fresh Italian pastries and we were served espresso and cappuccino – cappuccino that blows Starbucks out of the water!
So, what do people always comment about? The food and the music, right? Well, we already covered the food, so that leaves the music. And we know what the word for the wedding is, right? That’s right. PHENOMENAL. The music choices were also PHENOMENAL. The introductory music to which they came walking in the room had a great vibe – I’m thinking I even heard a little bit of Metallica in there, not sure. The bride and groom dance, the father/daughter dance, and then one I haven’t seen before: Shawna’s mother chose to dance with her daughter – another great idea - to LeeAnn Womack’s song, “I Hope You Dance”. What beautiful words for a mother/daughter dance! BEST of all - they didn’t do the chicken dance song, they didn’t play the stupid “roof is on fire” song, they didn’t do the “hokey-pokey” and they didn’t throw the bouquet or garter. Such class. SUCH. CLASS. The last song they danced to as a couple was The Turtles classic, “Happy Together.” The words couldn’t fit better…”I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you for all my life. When you’re with me, baby the skies’ll be blue for all my life.”
The energy of this wedding was just PHENOMENAL. I am especially impressed with the song choices, the announcing of the wedding party, the joy of the family and friends and even the Steelers football helmet ice sculpture!
As a couple, they did a wonderful job of getting friends and family together and providing them with a wonderful time. But, I have to say, this wedding was the “essence” of Shawna. I felt her warmth and laughter, her down to earth persona and her love and humor shining through everything. In addition, her mother was fantastic - so warm and loving and making everyone feel welcome and comfortable. I can’t even tell you how many times she walked by and touched my face or my shoulder, making me feel like part of her family. And her sister, who shares her gorgeous looks and her laugh – the one that is welcoming, comforting and funny, was a true maid of honor. And although I only met her brother briefly, he was kind and had a huge smile on his face the entire time. I believe that a wedding event really shows you who the bride is. The way it makes you feel, is what she is about. This wedding did exactly that. As a bride and as a couple, they owned this wedding. It was as individual as their fingerprint, and a fantastic way to start their married life.
The HOT Pool Party
My brother and family were in town, so it was decided to hold an early Father’s Day party on Saturday so that we could all celebrate together. Of course, it was another HOT day. With my father’s house having no air conditioning, it was going to be rough. Thankfully, he does have a kick ass pool. My father pared down his usual cooking to hamburgers and hot dogs and his girlfriend had a few items catered in. Very smart on her part – Daddy shouldn’t have to cook for his own Father’s Day celebration. My brother was there with his wife and my three nephews, our cousins and Aunt and Uncle came up from the Bronx and my cousin Ro and her boyfriend Brian came up from Westchester County. Of course, Eddie was there too in case you were wondering. We spent the ENTIRE day, from noon to 10:30 at night eating, laughing, swimming, talking, eating, laughing, taking pictures and just enjoying each other’s company. It was a fantastic way to wind down from the fancy wedding…..just sitting around in shorts and having burgers on the grill. Did I mention it was hot?
Eddie and I spent Sunday at the Palisades Center – the HOTTEST mall in Nyack, NY. Either I am going through an early menopause or everyone has become cheap bastards and doesn’t want to run the air conditioning. I think they’re afraid of another grid overload like the Blackout of 2003….but I don’t care. People can die with no air. Helloooo?? Every single level of this 4 floor complex was a sweat box. Even the stores that were “cool” were hot….and not in the Paris Hilton way. We finally decided to go see “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” to get into a cool theater. It was better, but not the meat locker I was hoping for. After the movie, we met Ro and Brian for Mongolian BBQ – don’t ask – and had a great meal and dinner conversation with them. The night ended early since they had work the next day. Ed and I hit the sweaty Barnes and Noble steam bath spa for a while, then retreated to the truck to sleep. We had spent the entire weekend in a hotel and I have to say, I was so happy to get back into my mobile little air conditioned heaven. Sleep came quickly as would the morning when we have to get back on the road and go back to work. Until then, I will dream of the great weekend I had and count the icicles forming above my head as I go to sleep……
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
But we did not purchase anything made of denim and no t-shirts.
Slacks, shirt, tie, belt, socks.....clothes for him to wear to my cousin's wedding on Friday.
And guess what?
He. Is. A. HOTTIE!!!!
Hotter than he was the first night I met him and hotter than he is when he's covered in steer tire grease.
His blue eyes POP out of his head against the cornflower blue of the shirt and when he put on the sports jacket, I thought I was gonna die right there in the dressing room.
After this morning and my bitch rant directed ALL at him, I'm surprised he's still talking to me. But I'm glad he is, cause...
Did I mention he's a HOTTIE??
Monday, June 06, 2005
Friday, June 03, 2005
"You don't have a mortgage, so you dont' know what it's like."
"You don't have a husband, so you don't know what it's like."
"You don't run a business, so you don't know what it's like."
I have to tell you - I HATE hearing the words, "You don't know what it's like." I absolutely HATE being told that I don't know anything because I'm not in the same exact situation.
Just because I don't have a husband, does not mean I don't know how to be in a relationship. To consider someone's feelings. To discuss matters with them. To get annoyed with them. To have to listen to them. To act as part of a couple, not just a single person. To make sacrifices and take care of their wants and needs, if required.
Just because I don't have a mortgage does not mean that I don't know what it's like to have to pay for a place to live. To have money for rent. To make sure my bills are covered. To have responsibilities and a job and a back-up plan if something goes awry.
Just because I don't have children, does not mean I don't know what is good for them. How they should experience life. What is dangerous around them. How to protect them. How to look after them. How to make sure they are having fun. It does not mean I am incapable of taking care of them and being in charge and guarding them with my life if necessary.
I am TIRED of being told that because of my lifestyle I "don't know what it's like" because I don't have a career, a husband, 2.3 kids and a house with a picket fence.
I have a lot of what those people DO NOT have. I have the ability to be anywhere at any time. I travel the country. I wake up somewhere new every day. I can see the sunrise in New York and set in Ohio - IN THE SAME DAY. I do not have to worry about how I'm going to get the washing machine fixed or when the pool guy is coming or who is going to watch my kids so I can go to a movie like a normal person with a girlfriend in the middle of the afternoon IF I feel like it.
I look at people around me and see many of them having less of what I have, with more of what I have right at their fingertips. People who have lavish homes but can't enjoy them because they don't have time. People who can't go on vacations because they don't have the money. People who go to work everyday at a place they hate, but have to because they are imprisoned by their lifestyle and need to finance it. People who bitch about their jobs, yet can't leave because they don't know "what they'd do". I know people who have worked everyday of their lives, to not have a DIME in savings. No security for their old age. No health care. No 401K or IRA.
They are in no better position than I am. Yet, I hear about how much I "don't know" because I don't have what they do. I know a LOT. I have tons of friends and family members who have husbands, homes, kids, careers and money and I don't see them doing any better or knowing any more than I do because they have "experience".
Do we not value the advice of a pastor who may be unmarried and childless? Do we not listen to a child psychologist that may not have children of their own? Do we not attend marriage counseling with someone who may have never had a spouse? Do we not take financial advice from people who are not millionaires?
My mother is a good example - she counseled people with drug and alcohol problems. Yet, she never had a problem herself with either. So how I ask, can she possibly know what it's like to come off a high, or kick a heroin addiction if she hadn't experienced the feelings herself? How can she know what a person, who has spent the last week in a alcohol induced stupor, needs?
Just because you haven't DONE it, does not mean you don't know what you are talking about. Do not discount the advice or observations of someone who may have a clearer view of your situation than you might. It does not mean you have to follow their advice, but you might consider it. Many times we cannot see past our own prison wall. Or, we DO see the escape route but don't know how to get to it.
If someone cares enough to tell you something they observe as not being so "okay", maybe you shouldn't tell them that they "don't know what it's like".
As we all have heard as kids - you don't have to touch fire to know it's hot.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
We watch Friends at 10:00, 10:30 and 11:00 every night. I can't get enough. Ever. I think we know every episode, word for word. We laugh at the same spots at the same time - time after time. EVERY time. We know all the dialogue, mannerisms of the characters and nuances of each relationship.
It's been a long time since we've sat and done this and it's still the best time I can have here after 10pm. I will write again soon, but right now I have to get back to the fun.