Sunday, August 31, 2008

E Vac You A She Own!!

It's 1:38 am central standard time and Eddie and I are packing and getting ready to hightail it outta Sliiiiiidell, Loooosiana. We don't really have a choice, as they've issued a mandatory evacuation of our Parish.

We got our truck back from the Hillbilly Trio and although it's STILL not fixed, we will be making our way a few hours north to have them repair what Cletus, Bubba, Enos and the wife with no teeth "couldn't done figger out."

We will be joining the thousands of others in the evacuation process so we won't be here when the winds, flooding and possible tornadoes hit. Did I hear someone say something about locusts?? Fire and brimstone? I mean, really, what else could happen?

When we hit higher ground, I'll post again. In the meantime, keep your eyes on Gustav and we'll keep our eyes on the road.

There's a reason why the most famous drink in the Big Easy is called
The Hurricane.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Old Blue Eyes Was Right When He Said It Was A Very Good Year

This was the most fun I've had in ages!! First, I have to say, I think I'm totally cute in all of these pictures. Second, since I couldn't decide which ones I liked best, I'm posting them all! Third, the most fun while doing this came when I saw the strong resemblance to my mother and my aunts in several of these eras.

To start it all off, here we have a glimpse of how I might have looked in 1952. I love the soft waves of this hairstyle and can imagine how I would look wearing adorable day dresses with little collars, a string of pearls and full skirts. And I'd definitely don a coordinating apron to compliment my dress while making home baked goods for my husband.

Next, we're on to 1958. This look reminds me of the Italian ladies I'd see in pictures with my grandmother; for some reason, they were always standing in front of webbed lawn chairs on the sidewalk in the Bronx.
This shot of me, ala 1960 just cracks me up!! I used a different photo than the other ones because it worked best with this hair and eyeglasses, and it so reminds me of one of my aunts around this same time. To me, it epitomizes the "secretary" look of all the girls of this era who learned how to type and take steno in hopes of snagging a job with a dreamy boss.

This shot of me in 1964 reminds me of every other picture I saw in my mother's yearbook. I absolutely LOVE the cat eye glasses with the little decorative corners and I think I look kinda hot in them!
This shot, reminiscent of 1968 (the year after I was born) looks JUST like my mother. If you could see a picture of her from that time, you would think we were twins. And not only did she have this hairstyle, but so did her two of her sisters. This style was also known as the "beauty queen flip".
I am really loving 1974! Look at this sleek style. I can see myself as Valeria Bertinelli's older, blonder sister (instead of homely Mackenzie Phillips) on One Day at a Time and of course, I'd be wearing Love's Baby Soft perfume and Bonne Belle lipgloss.

Now 1978 was a wild year for me, huh? I was totally rockin' the fro! And since I'm a huge fan of Disco, you can be sure I was doing the Hustle and listening to one of my favorite songs, "Got To Be Real" by Cheryl Lynn.
Every girl in 1990 that had this style, created these "wings" with a can of Aqua Net and a blowdryer. My sister-in-law had the biggest, most perfect wings I've ever seen. We used to tease her, saying it looked like she drove in on a motorcycle, hairspray in hand to style her hair. This hair was pretty much a staple in the 90's and I actually have proof that I rocked this style too.
This 1992 style reminds me of a lot of girls in my high school. The more I look at it, the more I think I'm staring at a picture of Donna Lamendola.

Now this one, a 1996 style I really like. I've NEVER in my life considered going blond, but I have always wanted a beautiful bob like this. My natural hair would never lay this straight, but I am definitely liking the blond look with my dark eyes; I just don't think I could stand keeping up with my roots!
And finally, we come to the year 2000. I'm not too sure about this one. Also blond, I think I like the soft waves cascading over my shoulders, but I'm not sure I understand those bangs. They are a teeny bit poofy for me.

This was so much fun that I've also created photo "yearbooks" for Ed, my brother and my youngest nephew. I'll be doing the other two nephews next - it's kinda cool to see what their faces look like in grown up bodies.

I know you're dying to do one of your own, so click here and get started! Yearbook Yourself offers a range of years from 1950 to 2000. I think you'll definitely find something you'll love!

And if not, you might just get something out of it after all. Here's a hint: If the picture you create looks exactly like you do today, then it's time to make a trip to the nearest salon and change your look!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Maybe We Should Sell Our Truck And Buy An Airboat

Well, it's been 22 days now since our truck broke down and we're still in Louisiana. It all started with our transmission basically "falling" out of the truck (while Ed was driving thank God). Between the truck repair, car rental, hotel room and dining out, we have spent $23,649.19 and that's just the beginning. The truck repair has been a big chunk of that figure as you might imagine ($18,936.08), but we've only been here three weeks and I think that's a record even for us.

The truck is still not fixed and I think tomorrow I might have to go into bitch mode; up until now, believe it or not, I've stayed pretty quiet. It seems as if Cletus, Bubba, Enos and the wife with no teeth "ain't never seen nuthin' like this before" and they're having a hell of a time figuring out what to do. I sort of feel as if I'm one soo-eee away from Deliverance.

Now, Gustav is on his way. It's only Thursday and the line of traffic leaving town has been growing. Home Depot is selling sheets of plywood, people are stocking up on water and canned food and the surrounding Parishes, including the city of New Orleans, have been broadcasing their evacuation plans on the local news. Greaaat.

Ed and I watched the local news tonight and on the break I looked over at him and said, "We should probably get some stuff tomorrow."

He said, "Yeah, it's not looking too good, huh?"

"Well, we have a half a gallon of water, a few Diet Cokes, a bag of Oreo cookies and a box of Fruit Loops. I think we should probably get some other stuff if we're going to ride out the storm."

So tomorrow it looks like we'll be buying another box of Fruit Loops and some other necessities. The hotel we're staying in is only five months old, so I'm assuming it's been built to a more stringent code and can withstand high winds, but I'm guessing I'll have to buy a flashlight and some batteries too since I found out today that the building not only doesn't have a basement, but it's not equipped with generators either.

By Tuesday, I might be a lot closer to swampland than I'd ever imagined.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Skulls And Hot Chocolate In The French Quarter

I took this picture in honor of my cousin, who likes both skulls and hot chocolate. You know who you are.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Second Only To Feet

This is the second best way to see the French Quarter; and doesn't require finding a parking spot.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Where Pretty Resides

After having lunch in the French Quarter, Ed and I took a stroll one block over to take a look at the residence of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Yes, you heard right!!! This is the home that Brad Pitt bought, at 521 Governor Nicholls Street in New Orleans.

They were not at home but from what our waiter said, they often walk around the Quarter and one time, he even had pizza in the same place as Angelina and one of her kids. Apparently, the residents don't bother them much and they seem to be able to exist very "normally" in the town.

Here is the actual real estate listing for the house. Sounds like a nice place, and the realtor's picture of the home with the windows open and the lights on make it look much more inviting!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Almost Too Beautiful To Eat On

I picked up these plates while here in Louisiana. I don't really know what the hell I'm going to do with them, but I couldn't pass them up.

They are hand made in Portugal and I love the shape. This picture shows a bit more detail:

They didn't have many left, so I bought every piece they had. Now all I need to do is have a dinner party!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Devil Horse In The Louisiana Wetlands

Ed does almost everything I want to do. He's a great boyfriend that way. I like going to bookstores, and he goes. I like going to movies, he goes. I like visiting my family and friends, he goes.

For the last couple of days, he's been wanting me to do something he wants to do. My first reaction is to say no. My second reaction, after I've given it some thought, is also to say no. But since we've been here for over two weeks now, today I agreed to go for a "nature walk" with him at the Northlake Nature Center in Mandeville, Louisiana.

BIG mistake. It was probably the second worst day of my life, this was the first and reminded me of why I usually don't agree to do the things Ed likes to do.

In his defense, he did try to dissuade me. He told me I wouldn't enjoy it and that he actually didn't really want me to go. He said I was going to bitch and complain and he wasn't going to be able to enjoy his walk with me doing that. I was all, "No, no, no. C'mon, you do all the things I like to do. The least I can do is something you want to do."

WTF was I thinking??
Not very much apparently, because five hundred feet into the first trail, we saw this:
Holy Mother Nature!! This thing was almost three inches long and as thick as an adult man's thumb! Based on what I found online, we believe this to be a Southeast Lubber Grasshopper (also known as the Devil Horse). Here is some information I came across:

Scientific name: Romalea microptera
Details: If insects could do steroids, this would be the result, according to some people; a 3-inch, yellow monstrosity with red and black racing stripes. Surprisingly, they can't fly, since their wings are so short.

But they can leap a few feet, which is what you might see them doing this time of year in Florida. They reach maturity between June and November, often on the sides of roads, in pinelands, and in semi-dry marshes or disturbed areas where they can survive. But their favorite habitats are beds of lilies or amaryllis, and they'll also invade orange groves or other citrus.

When threatened or disturbed, the lubber can hiss impressively and secrete a putrid-smelling liquid that offends most interested parties, including humans. (Some sources say the stuff can kill some birds, and cause opossums to vomit, which is impressive, considering what opossums are capable of consuming without so much as a belch.) Lubbers also have sharp spines on their bows or hind ends, to the dismay of those who may seize them.

t did not hop on me, it didn't hiss and thank God, it did not secrete anything. And by NO means did I ever consider "seizing" it.

That cricket, a few turtles, and another HUGE black, scary cricket were the only critters I saw on the walk. It was actually more like a death march. It was a million degrees, with 400% humidity, the trails were overgrown and the signage for them was non-existent. The signs they did have were washed out or faded from the sun.

It was not at all an enjoyable day. But I'm glad I went and I'm glad I did something Ed wanted to do because just like that day at the amusement park, I can now check it off my list FOREVER.

A pretty shitty process of elimination, but an elimination nonetheless.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

They Have A MAGAZINE???

Found this today at a Barnes and Noble here in Louisiana. I was afraid to be caught reading it, being a Yankee and all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

After All

Lacombe, Louisiana.
This looked like the entrance to a cemetery or plantation type house. I couldn't drive through because the entrance was blocked off by a law firm sign between the two pillars . It was getting dark and it had just rained, so I didn't have time to investigate - I might go back this week to check it out. I thought the wrought iron on the sign was pretty and the name interesting.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Another Day, Another 32 Things About Me

1. Name one person who made you laugh last night? My mother – telling me a story about my youngest nephew – who has a natural ability to be funny even though he doesn’t try.

2. What were you doing at 0800? Sleeping.

3. What happened to you in 2006?
The odometer on our truck hit one million miles.
We spent the New Year on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
My father died.
I was in the Blizzard of 2006 in New York when they got over 2 feet of snow.
I cut off all my hair, going from shoulder length to about 2” off my head.
I went to trucking school and got my CDL.
Ed and I almost broke up, but he fought for me and won.
Won $2500 at a casino because I had to stop to pee.
My best friend and I did a photo event and made hundreds of dollars selling our prints!
Spent a week in Mobile, AL working with friends at the America’s Junior Miss pageant.
I went to Six Flags Over Texas in Dallas and almost murdered my boyfriend for taking me there.
Went to see “Wicked” in New York City for my birthday.
Drooled over Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Departed”
Went to see the Cirque du Soleil production, “O” at The Bellagio in Las Vegas.
Spent almost two months at home – a nice vacation from being on the road.

4. How many beverages did you have today? Tea, Diet Coke, Iced Coffee, Hot Coffee and I’m gettin’ ready to have another cup of tea!

5. What color is your hairbrush? Black and silver.

6. Where were you last night?
In a hotel room in Louisiana – where I’ve been for two weeks!

7.What color is your front door? White with a stained glass insert that my step-father made.

8. Where do you keep your change? In a mesh zipper pouch in my purse.

9. What’s the weather like today? Hot and humid. We’re in the South, y’all.

10. What’s the best ice cream flavor? My favorite is plain ‘ol chocolate with pieces of Bavarian pretzels broken up into it. My second fave is coffee.

11. What excites you? Taking a great picture, talking with my best friend, reading a good book and looking forward to a great meal!

12. Do you want to cut your hair? I kind of want to, but I’m trying to grow it long – Eddie and I have sworn that we both wouldn’t cut our hair, so I can’t.

13. Are you over the age of 25? Unfortunately, yes I am.

14. Do you talk a lot? Yes, usually I do.

15. Do you watch The OC? No – not interested.

16. Do you make up your own words? Yes – especially with my best friend and often within my family.

17. Are you a jealous person? No, not so much.

18. Name a friend whose name starts with an ‘A’? Alan

19. Name a friend whose name starts with a ‘K’? Kim

20. Who’s the first person on your received call list? My mother.

21. What does the last text message you received say? Yinty, where are you??

22. Do you chew on a straw? No.

23. Where’s the next place you are going? Houston.

24. Who’s the rudest person in your life? Too many lately to mention.

25. What was the last thing you ate? Wood Grilled Chicken with Yams (Seasoned and wood grilled chicken breast over a mound of mashed sweet potatoes, garnished with roasted pecan pieces and caramelized onions. Drizzled with our homemade Worcestershire sauce and served with onion strings) at Copeland's. Doesn't that sound delish??

26. Will you get married in the future? You never know!

27. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the last 2 weeks? “Over Her Dead Body”

28. When was the last time you did dishes? Maybe 6 months ago, not sure – I never do dishes.

29. Are you currently depressed? I don’t think so.

30. Did you cry today? No.

31. What was the last thing you said aloud? "Who is that guy?"

32. What car do you drive and what bumper sticker(s) do you have on it? I drive an 18-wheeler, and although I don't have any bumper stickers on it, I have an Obama '08 sticker on my visor!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My Story

Hair coiffed and perfume spritzed? Check.
Manicure done and toes polished? Check.
Eyeliner straight and lip gloss shining? Check.
Flip-flops and matching purse ready to go? Check.
Silver hoop earrings in place? Check.
Cleavage gently heaving? Check Check.

Give or take a few items (but never the lip gloss), this is my daily checklist. It’s what I do to get ready for my work day. For some of you, this may be run-of-the-mill. For others, it may be over the top. For me, it’s my oxygen. My atypical girlie checklist makes me an anomaly in my industry, because where I make my living takes place behind the wheel of a big rig.

Let me share a quick statistic with you: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over three million truck drivers in the United States. 4.5 percent of them are women.

I am one of those women.

this is what I drive:
This is the truck I started my driving career in.  To see our second truck, click here
To see the one I drive now, click here.  

In addition to my personally imposed checklist, I am required by the Department of Transportation, adhering to a federal standard, to conduct a real pre-trip inspection.

Before heading out on the road, I have to check fluid levels, belts, hoses, tire pressure, brakes, air pressure, lights, exhaust system, trailer integrity, etc. I have to make sure everything is in excellent working order before taking to the highway.

In my blog,
The Daily Rant, I have documented my lifestyle by keeping a daily account of where I’ve been, what I do, and what I think. The latter can range from my praise of all things Dunkin' to my biggest pet peeve, poor customer service. That’s where the rant part comes in.

I have written more than 1,500 blog posts, with over 800 of them including photographs. I have traveled in 49 U.S. states (I've also been to Hawaii, but obviously not in the truck!) and 11 of the 13 Canadian Provinces and Territories. I have been to every major city in America, most of the major cities in Canada, and countless small towns in between. I have traversed the peaks of the American and Canadian Rockies, had my feet in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, driven the ALCAN Highway to
Alaska, and snorkeled in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I have seen the majestic beauty of the Siskiyou Mountains in the Northwest and the indigo haze of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Southeast.

I knew before I even hit the road that I would love to drive, but my boyfriend Ed (of my blog's "
Eddie Friday" posts) suggested I join him as a passenger first since life on the road is not for everyone. He wanted to make sure I liked it before I spent the money and time to go to school for my license. So he gave me a job being his load dispatcher/secretary/bookkeeper/Girl Friday and I stayed out on the road with him for two years before I went to school to get my very own CDL (commercial driver’s license). I’ve had my CDL for over three years and now we drive as a team.

We are on the road over 300 days of the year, driving over 150,000 miles during that time and covering the United States and Canada extensively. I’ve learned a lot from Ed as he shares his knowledge and experience of over thirteen years and 1,500,000 miles behind the wheel. I know I have many years to go before I hit the million-mile mark but by the time I get there, I’ll be an old pro with all the tips and tricks he’s passed on to me!

Upon hearing how many hours a day we drive, one of the first things most people seem to want to know is, “How can you sit for that long??” Valid question, I suppose, but what they don’t realize is that in this job, I get up and move more than I did at the desk job I had the year before I went on the road. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the sitting around part, as I am the
Queen of doing nothing; which the size of my ass confirms every time I buy a new pair of Capri pants.

In case you’re wondering, and even if you’re not, being a truck driver is not responsible for my generous proportions. I’ve always been what my grandfather would call “a big girl”. That said, I would not be seen out in public wearing big 'ol prairie skirts and baggy clothing ala Kirstie Alley in her pre-Jenny Craig days. I assure you I have not fallen into the sweatpants and wrinkled t-shirt trap you see a lot of the women out here dressed in, and I most certainly do not subscribe to the “I’ll never see these people again, who cares what I’m wearing” philosophy.

From those previously mentioned manicures and pedicures to the lip gloss and trademark silver hoops, I have maintained every aspect of my femininity, and the best compliment I can ever receive after telling someone what I do for a living is for them to say “You don’t look like a truck driver.”

For those of you wondering what I do look like, here is a little collage representing several versions of me on the road - and no, there are not any that depict the actual size of my ass, but you can see a full-length picture of me
here and I won’t even make you read through all of my archives to find it!In this job, the stops are so numerous, I often feel as if I’m on a tour of all the bathrooms and bookstores in North America. We stop so many times for me to take a pee break, I fear Ed is going to make me start wearing a diaper just so we can get some work done. We generally stop (and get out of the truck) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in addition to taking breaks for a frosty beverage, a hot latte, or an afternoon in Barnes and Noble. I've even been known to be persuaded (and by that, I mean dragged kicking, and screaming) to go on a walk with Ed. I have been to malls in every state and several Canadian Provinces, including the largest mall in the United States; the Mall of America in Minneapolis, MN, and the largest mall in North America; the West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

The type of freight we haul varies daily and we never know what we’re going to get. Some days it’s lumber, steel, and pipe; other days it might be military equipment for our troops at home and abroad.

More specifically, some of the items we have hauled are: nuclear submarine parts, spy plane components, million dollar jet engines (one was worth $4.7 million dollars and went up to Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada for their
Maple Flag 40 exercise), radioactive medical machinery, steel plating for armoring military vehicles and the actual armored vehicles, gardening supplies such as mulch and peat moss, commercial air conditioning units (to Newfoundland, Canada of all places!), auto parts out of Detroit, assembly line equipment for an evaporated milk factory, submarines from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, satellite components for NASA, shipping containers filled with various items (like thousands of pencils from China), mobile office units, accessories for military housing in Alaska, aluminum fabricating machinery, equipment to measure underwater earthquakes, construction equipment like Bobcats and scissor lifts, fencing for the Mexican border, and provisions for major disaster relief efforts like Hurricane Katrina and the Minneapolis bridge collapse. We’ve even hauled live honey bees used to pollinate our crops, from California to Florida!

I’ve done a lot of jobs in my life, from my first one bussing and waiting tables in my
family restaurant, to managing a movie theater, being an operator for the deaf, working at a four-star resort, masquerading as an "admin assistant" in an office, making people beautiful selling Estee Lauder cosmetics and hawking Sabrett's from my very own hot dog cart; but driving a truck has been by far the best job I’ve ever had, for a variety of reasons.

The very first thing that struck me about this job was the absolute freedom of it. I don’t punch a time clock, and I don’t have to be at a job on any specific day at any specific time for any specific set of hours. That’s not to say I don’t have a responsibility to be somewhere, but from the time I leave the shipper to the time I arrive at the receiver is up to me, as is the in-between time. I sleep when I want, drive when I want, eat when I want, dawdle for as long as I want, and do pretty much everything else on my very own schedule. No one looking over my shoulder or breathing down my neck. Although, I do sometimes feel Ed’s
eye wandering in my direction now and again, the freedom of being self-employed is like nothing I’ve ever known. I’ve always worked for someone else and had to play by their rules, which is so not my style.

The second noticeable difference from any other job I’ve held is the money. As self-employed owner-operators, we make more in one month than I used to make in one year. And it’s not even hard. At first, I was shocked it was even possible, but now I challenge myself to find loads that will maximize our revenue and minimize our work. I will load our trailer from end to end, using every inch of it, to get the most pay for the least amount of effort. It’s sort of like that old Marine Corps adage, “Work smarter, not harder.”

I mention the money to illustrate how this profession provides more than just the freedom of an unstructured workday. There are many reasons to choose a particular career, but in this one, money isn’t the only goal for me. It’s not about the money itself but what the money represents, which is far more valuable to me. And what I value at this point in my life is time; the more money I make, the more time I have. And with that time comes my third and perhaps favorite reason for loving this job. Travel.

Even after being on the road for four years, I am still amazed at how much this country has to offer. The people, although the same in their humanness, vary widely in their personalities, characteristics, and even appearance based on where you are in the country. It’s amazing to me when I can look at someone and say, “You look like you’re from Minnesota,” and not only be close but sometimes, right on the money.

Being a native New Yorker, my
accent, although not strong, is very recognizable in many of the places I travel. I stand out like a sore thumb in the South, but I get just as many people from other areas of the country asking me where I’m from. I love seeing how and where people live. I enjoy talking to the locals and many times, have exchanged e-mail addresses or phone numbers with people I meet on the road. Ed doesn’t understand it, but I’ve had complete strangers hand me their telephone numbers and say, “You must call me next time you’re in the area!”

I most enjoy traveling the rural roads, which we don’t do very often as it’s not as expedient or as safe as the interstates, but there are so many gorgeous little places off the beaten path that sometimes I resort to begging so Ed will acquiesce. In these places, I’ve found sights that range from the
smallest church in America and the largest cow in the country to the ice cream capital of the world.

Instead of just talking about places I want to go to, I visit them. I don't have to save money for an annual vacation, put in my request to get the time off, and keep my fingers crossed hoping that no one else in my office asked for the same block of time. I go where I want when I want. I don't have to wonder what the people of North Dakota are like, I get to meet them. And when I'm itching to get a little grease on my fingers because I'm yearning for the taste of a real Philly Cheesesteak sandwich, I can go to

Instead of watching the History Channel to experience historical sites, I am able to immerse myself in them. I’ve walked the halls of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate on the Potomac River, seen the faces of our Presidents carved into
Mount Rushmore, strolled in the garden of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home perched on the banks of New York's Hudson River, stood on the grounds of countless military forts, and wandered the streets of numerous Civil War cities; and as with most of the places I go, I take pictures.

Here is a sampling:
You can see all of the pictures I have taken by delving into my blog archives, or you can see a collection of my favorites on my Flickr site. Just click here.

This job is more to me than just supporting the infrastructure of a nation; that’s the bigger part of what I do. I’m a small cog in the wheel of getting goods delivered. The American Trucking Association has a slogan:
Good Stuff. Trucks Bring It. I am one of those three million drivers that bring the good stuff. And that makes me proud.

It’s that pride that makes me thrilled to talk about what I do, and this post has allowed me to do just that. If you read my blog, you will gain some insight into the days when Ed is making me
laugh or driving me crazy, when I want to strangle the cashier in Target or how I’m plotting to disable the sun because I can't stand the heat it projects, but for the most part, the good outweighs the bad and I hope that comes across in this post.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This post was originally written on August 15, 2008, when Michelle of Bleeding asked me to be a guest blogger. You can see the original version on her site by clicking here

I thank Michelle for allowing me to share my world with some of the people in hers. Reading her blog and many of the ones she’s turned me on to has opened my eyes to the world of people living their dreams. Whether it be in the hills of Calabria or the cab of an 18-wheeler, I think the best thing you can do is pursue the things that make you feel alive and give you joy. Be open to new adventures, mingle with different people, date someone who isn’t your type, try a new food and listen as Michelle has said in one of her posts, to your core.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you have to be all woo-woo and Zen-like, but it is important to balance the have-to’s with the want-to’s.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Come Visit Me In Italy!

Today, over at Bleeding Espresso, I'm featured as a guest blogger!!! I'm so excited, I don't think there are words, but let me try and find some to tell you a little about where exactly in Italy I’ll be!

Bleeding Espresso is a blog written by a lovely little "barista" named Michelle Fabio. I've been reading her for quite some time now and have been lucky enough to strike up an e-mail friendship with her. Lucky, as in, look who I found in this world whom I can call friend! No really, look at her:

A Duke University educated lawyer, born and raised in Pennsylvania's coal country, Michelle is now a freelance writer living in Badolato, Italy. Badolato sits in the region of Calabria, in the "toe of the boot". From the balcony of her apartment, in this gorgeous hillside village, she has a view of the Ionian Sea. How absolutely exotic does that sound??

She moved to Badolato, the ancestral village of her grandparents, in 2002. She came not knowing a soul or a word of Italian. She came, not for a job or a boy or for what others would deem a "good" reason; she came just because she wanted to. She has since fallen into a life that many people only read about - finding love and happiness in a foreign land.
In addition to living this charmed life with her handsome Calabrese fiancé Paolo (seen with her in the photo above) and their dogs, Luna and Stella, she now wiles away her time cooking, writing and taking pictures of the land where she feels she was meant to be. Her love of this village is displayed through her words and photos and it becomes very clear, the more you read, that the blood of her ancestors course through her veins every moment of every day.

She writes for several publications including, but not limited to, Transitions Abroad and International Living,, and recently, snagged a sweet job writing a weekly column in Italy Magazine!

Please stop by her blog, and read more about her and her life. She writes about various subjects, so I’m sure you’ll find something to like. And one of the biggest bonuses of becoming a regular reader (well, besides the recipes and occasional glimpses of the elusive Paolo), is that if you write to her, she’ll actually write back!

How great is that?

** All photos were taken by Michelle and stolen from her web site by me!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sun Setting Over Lake Pontchartrain

I caught this just as it was going down:

A minute later, it was gone:

New Orleans, Louisiana

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Shopping At WalMart Is The Closest Some Of Us Will Ever Get To China

This week has been all about the Olympics, and since we've been around a TV (which is rare for us) we've been watching on and off.

Ed was doing some stuff on his computer, wearing his headset so whatever he was listening to didn't disturb me, when I threw a pillow across the room to get his attention. When he looked up I said, "I usually don't care too much about sports stuff, Olympics or not, but this is kind of great. It must be so exciting for those who are not only there competing, but even for the people who are there seeing the Olympics in person."

And he replied, "Well, in honor of the Olympics, I'm wearing my headset; which was made in China."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Boys In Dresses

This past weekend we had lunch in New Orleans and had the special treat of being there for the 2008 New Orleans Red Dress Run. Thousands of people in red dresses - a good majority of them being men.

Being New Orleans, the sites are always some of the most outrageous you can see, but this couple was one of my favorites - a cowboy wearing a mini-dress and fishnet stockings. The boots and hat complete the outfit!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Forget Your Cholesterol. Get A Hearing Aid.

Ed and I were sitting in the hotel room watching the Olympics (an exciting men's swimming event was taking place) when I picked up the phone to dial my mother. I asked excitedly when she answered, "Are you watching the Olympics?!"

"No. Why? What??" she said.

"No, nothing. I just wanted to know if you were watching the Olympics." I said.

"Oh. You were talking so fast, I thought you were asking about my cholesterol." she said.

"Your cholesterol? What???" Now it was my turn to be confused.

"I thought you said 'Are you watching your lipids?'" she said.

"Ma, that is too funny. Why would you think I would be asking about your lipids?"

"I don't know. That's why it didn't make sense. Boy, I must be going deaf" she said, "just yesterday at the meeting, I said to Doris, 'Did you hear everything they were saying at the meeting' and she said to me, 'Yeah, didn't you??' and I had to tell her that I didn't hear most of what they said, that everything sounded all garbled."

"Well, you may be going deaf, but at least you have low cholesterol." We both laughed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Blond Bombshell Birthday

This part of the country is so different from Arizona and I'm totally loving it. While staying here in Louisiana, I've been listening to a great radio station that plays R & B hits from the 1970's. So keeping with the 70's mode, here's a flashback to 1974 in honor of my mother's 66th birthday today.

Here she is looking casual and shy hanging out in our rec room:

And in this one, looking glamorous at her sister's wedding:

She's not blond anymore but she's still as beautiful!!

Happy Birthday Mommy!!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Benefits Of Marriage Without The Hassle Of Dieting To Get Into The Dress

Eddie and I are stuck in Slidell, Louisiana waiting on our truck to be fixed. Since we're going to be here for the weekend, we decided to rent a car. The car rental place came to the hotel, picked Ed up, and brought him back to their office to complete the rental paperwork.

While I was waiting in the hotel room, I received a text from him with the words "We're married!" in the subject line. This was in the body of his text:

"There is normally a $5.00 a day charge for an extra driver, but if you are married, you get to waive the $5 fee. Because we have different last names, she had to call the manager over to get approval. The manager looked at my ring finger and asked if I was married and I said yes. She waived the $5 dollar fee."

I love that my "husband" is so frugal. Not only did we file joint tax returns this year as a married couple, but now he's using me to get discounts on car rentals.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Eddie Flippin' Friday

I FINALLY got Eddie to wear flip-flops!! I'm also trying to get him to get him to wear my signature color (black); between the flippies and the black tee, I think he looks totally hot!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Shower Jam

Another day in the life of those who are happy and carefree. Oh, those were the days!

In the picture, my friend Vicki's two kids (Mina in the bikini and Michael in the very back) and two of their classmates.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

My First Time

It wasn't bad, but the jury is still out on delving into other menu items. Points for trying though!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Charmed Life

These kids don't know how lucky they are. My friend Vicki took her kids camping this week at a campground located 30 minutes from her house. She packed up the RV and the kids, left the husband at home, and lounged lakeside for seven days.

They ate like kings, played like children and inhaled country air. They built sandcastles on the beach near the water, rode their bikes with abandon and fished to their heart's content. She said she enjoyed herself so much, she's doing it again next year!

We should all be lucky enough to enjoy days that look like this:

Friday, August 01, 2008

First Friday Fill-In - Say THAT Five Times Fast!

I found this on the Friday Fill-Ins site, where they post a few statements each Friday, with spaces to fill in your own answers. The words in bold print are where blanks previously occupied the space and now are "filled in" with my answers.

I'm new to this particular meme, so I took all the fill-in’s from the entire month of June so I could catch up! And since I don’t have a traditional Monday thru Friday job, I left out the “As for the weekend..." fill-in. My week doesn't have a real Friday!

If I could travel back in time, I’d go to the 1940’s when the fashions were extremely female and the men were unquestionably male .

Give me a latte or give me a bookstore (or both…both at the same time would be ideal).

I am listening to 30 days of Coldplay on XM Radio.

Somewhere, someone is thinking, “who gives a shit??"

I’ll always be outspoken.

My idea of a good time includes food and friends.

I believe whatever doesn't kill you wasn't strong enough.

If you're good at something, move on to perfecting something else.

Why so many stupid people?

Something is out there, it's right behind you.

If my life were a sitcom, it would be titled Salena On Wheels.

Sitting on my back porch [if you don't have one, use your imagination] I see the sea.

If I could be a fly on the wall I would visit family and friends houses and stay high up on the walls, so they wouldn't swat me.

Jealousy is a big ‘ol waste of time.

When I see a shooting star my wish would be that I win an extremely large lottery.

I'd rather be fat than short any day!

Certain songs when I hear them, make me wanna become a songwriter.

If time were in a bottle I’d need a very big bottle.

Oh, I can't wait until I have another birthday.

Nothing is the first thing I see when I open my refrigerator.

I never leave home without my cell phone.

If I were a condiment, I would be A-1 Sauce because it has bite!.

Poor customer service is really high up on my list of pet peeves.

The last thing I thought of before I went to bed was is Ed EVER going to stop fidgeting???

Holidays in the summer are not real holidays, they are just another excuse to BBQ. Unless you mean “holiday” in the European sense, and if that’s the case, then holidays/vacations in the summer are annoying because it only adds more travelers to the road, which means crowded truck stops, rest areas and interstates.

Shrimp, Chicken and Pork Chops are my favorite things to grill.

My thoughts are constant; my mind never stops working.

New York is what I'm most looking forward to this weekend!

My favorite book so far this summer is Such A Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster.

Snow is the best way to begin a day.

Birthdays are my favorite occasions to celebrate.

Fall is my favorite season because that’s when it starts to get cold and it’s also when my birthday is.

I feel my best when I am not hot.

Gnocchi is my favorite food!

First impressions are extremely important.

The best piece of advice I ever received was ”Lower your expectations and you’ll have a better chance of having them met.” Great advice, although I still have high expectations.