Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Traveling With Your Cat

Eddie is never crude. Ever. It never occurs to him to speak in that manner, even if someone else does it or even if the situation might allow him to get away with it. He just doesn't do it.

So the other night when he came back to the truck, after I sat there wondering what the hell was taking him so long since I thought it was a bathroom run but it actually turned into a tall glass of milk and hot apple pie run, and told me of an interaction he had while sitting at the counter in the truck stop, I was caught off guard with the surprise ending.

He sat down next to another driver, a big black guy, and they started to talk about the nature of their work, their lives, etc. He listened as the guy proceeded to explain to Ed that he had just gone through a divorce, was having trouble with his ex regarding his kids, wasn't getting paid enough, could barely keep up with his bills, hated his dispatcher and all the other stuff Ed has heard a million times from drivers out here on the road.

When the conversation turned back to him and the guy asked about his situation, Ed told him that his girlfriend (me!) traveled with him on the road and that I was actually a driver too. He explained how we do a lot of sightseeing, how he enjoys my company and how it's just not as lonely as being out here on your own.

To that, the guy responded with an all knowing wink, sly smile and slow continuous head nod as if he understood the "not being lonely part" and said, "Ohhhh, I get it, brotha. So you take your pussy with you."

At that moment, the one where you're not sure what to say because you really don't think it's the time or the place to educate someone about appropriate conversation, yet you don't want to look totally un-cool, Ed said, "Yep. That's right."

Then he finished up his pie right quick and hurried on out to the truck to pet me goodnight...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mercury Dropping

It's twenty two degrees, and I'm in heaven. Not the real heaven of course, but close enough. I'm in upstate New York.

I have no winter coat to speak of, my flip-flops are breaking lose from their hiding place behind the seat begging to be worn and there is a Dunkin' Donuts in the parking lot. Sheer bliss. Just the thought of waking up to a Dunkin' Donuts iced latte and Boston Kreme donut is going to keep me from getting the proper amount of sleep I need.

Unfortunately, there is no snow to speak of; a few lone piles left over from the last plowing, but most of the fields and hillsides have only small patches here and there. I saw a few semi-frozen ponds in the area, but nothing worth getting all skate happy about.

We will have the weekend off in Boston, so I'm hoping to get some good pictures in the next few days, here and once we get there. I'm hoping for sun and no warmth...just the nice winter chill.

Why ruin a good thing?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Girl Crush

Ever have a girl crush?

You know, a girl that you like a little more than you should? Not in the romantic way, or maybe it is in the romantic way, I don't know....but certainly someone that when you're in their company, you just want to be in it more?

Or maybe it's a crush on someone you don't really know but see often; the beautiful barista that makes your latte or the girl in the bank who always has on the cutest outfit or greatest jewelry.

Guys just don't get this concept....they think it's "gay" if they were to say they thought another guy was hot, or wished for abs like his or even commented on something as innocuous as a pair of jeans or shoes he was wearing. We know better. We get it.

I have had several girl crushes over the years and the latest one is on my dentist. And no, it's not in a romantic way, but I do have to say I love her! I don't really love going to the dentist, but I enjoy seeing her and that makes it all worth the trip. My whole family (who also go to her) feels the same way. At least I'm not alone in my crushing.

She's BEAUTIFUL. I mean, BEE-YOU-TEE-FULL! Great teeth (of course), beautiful hair, classy clothes, gentle little hands, gorgeous eyes with long lashes (since when I'm staring up in the chair, her eyes are all I see), great shoes, magnetic personality and charming disposition. She asks about the family, remembers names of boyfriends and nephews, asks about the last trip you said you were going on or how your holidays were. I aspire to be like her. It'll never happen, but I can dream.

Sometimes, I feel like a dental recruiter when I talk about her. "Oh, you have to go see Dr. C - she's the best. You'll love her." Even my step-father, who is eighty-six, gets all googly when he talks about her. She's just a gem. The epitome of femininity and grace.

And at least she's local and I actually know her. My other chica I have to crush on from afar. Unrequited.

Sadly, she doesn't even know I exist.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

On Tour And Collecting Paper As We Go

One of my "jobs" on the road is to do our paperwork. Which means scanning EVERY SINGLE RECEIPT we get. Every single one.

If you had any idea how many receipts we collect in a day, you'd understand the daunting task it is. It becomes even more overwhelming when you get someone I know (me).

The good news is, I'm almost done with 2007. Yes, I know it's 2008, but I'm only a little behind and I do have to get my ass in gear before 2008 starts piling up. We're going back on the road and this has to be done before we leave.

So, wish me luck and may the force be with me as the receipt collecting tour of 2008 begins!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Teaching Them Young

This is the shirt I bought my nephew for Christmas. He's fascinated with everything trucking, so we thought we'd teach him the important stuff first: SAY NO TO CHEAP FREIGHT

Hopefully, he will apply this to any job he gets. Don't work for less than you're worth and don't lower the standards for others in your field. Do what you do well and get paid accordingly for it.

Great lesson for anyone.

Friday, January 25, 2008

How A Four Year Old Can Make You Feel Like Crap For Trying To Get Out Of Doing Yard Work

As I mentioned yesterday, I have been working in the yard with my nephews; against my will, of course.

Yesterday, the youngest came running up to me, jumped in my lap, threw his hands around my neck, scooched his face close to mine and asked, "Aunt Salena, will you come outside and play with me?"

"Sure," I said. "What are we going to do?"



"Yeah, dig. I'll even let you wear my glubs." Gloves. OK, this game is not sounding fun already. I have to wear gloves? And dig? Nuh uh.

We went outside, he handed me a rake and then proceeded to tell me where my "area" was and what I was supposed to rake. I did as I was told, but the whole time I was thinking, he tricked me. He told me we were going to play, yet this is suspiciously similar to yardwork. And I don't do yardwork.

I watched him go back and forth, raking the leaves into piles and then shoveling the piles into the wheelbarrow. I said, "You like doing this?"

He answered, "I LOVE doing this."

"Really? Why?"

"Because it helps Nana."

I had no response. A four year old who likes doing yardwork to help his Nana?

Can't get a better answer than that.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

You Can Get Them At Home Depot??

While working in the yard with my two nephews, one using the hoe and the other using the rake, an argument broke out. The one using the rake wanted to use the hoe; this happens all the time, one wants what the other has. Didn't know it existed until someone else started to use it, but now they absolutely must have that particular tool.

I said to my mother, "Why don't you have two of everything, Ma? I mean, wouldn't that just make it easier??"

She shrugged as if saying, what can you do?

Ed was at Home Depot, picking up some stuff he needed for the shelving unit he's building, so I said to my mother, "Do you want me to have Ed pick up a cheap hoe for the boys?"

Laughing, my mother said, "This better be the only time I hear that kind of question."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Long ago, before Starbucks took over every other corner in a city, people got their coffee fix in a different way. Mine was at the local AM/PM mini-mart.

I used to stop every single morning, at this little convenience store on the corner, a block from the construction company I worked at. And every morning (and sometimes in the afternoon), I would buy a large "Italian Cappuccino" from one of those machines where you push the button and it hisses and clicks before it sprays a tasty, steaming concoction into your cup. I paid something like $1.10 a cup (oh, the bargain!) for this dreamy drink.

Until one day, when I was approaching the machine and saw the girl filling the chamber with a powdered drink mix. On the pouch she was pouring from, I saw a label that said, General Foods International. General Foods International??? Why, I could buy that in the grocery store!!!

So I did. And that was the beginning of the addiction. At one point, when I was working for a large resort hotel, I made a connection with guy who supplied our coffee and got myself a sweet deal on the product in bulk. I had bags of this stuff lying around; I could have been an Italian Cappuccino dealer.

Now I know Michelle over at Bleeding Espresso is thinking, "Feh! What does she know about real cappuccino???" Well, girl, I know it's not real cappuccino. It's not even close. It's not frothy and foamy and it doesn't even smell like coffee, let alone espresso! But I jones for this particular taste. It's a little Italian monkey on my back. My dirty little secret.

Well, it was my dirty little secret.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Is It Really SO Hard??

I should start a "Pet Peeve" category because I have SO many of them.

Today I went to renew my membership at Blockbuster. It's not really something I use often, as Ed and I see so many movies in the theater, that we rarely need to rent anything, but since we are in town, I wanted to be able to get some new releases that I might have missed.

I gave my driver's license and credit card to the guy behind the counter. While he was entering my information in the computer, I browsed the store and made my selections.

When I got back up to the counter, he processed my movies and handed me my membership cards. I thanked him and left the store.

When I got home, I fished the cards out of my wallet and handed Ed his. As I did, I noticed the guy spelled my name wrong. And here's where the peeve part comes in...

I GAVE HIM MY DRIVER'S LICENSE AND CREDIT CARD! All he had to do was COPY my name as it was written.

Is it really SO hard to do something the right way the first time? It's just sloppy, lazy and inefficient in my opinion. I don't understand how people hold jobs they can't seem to do. I know it's a minor indescretion, but the point is just that.

If you can't handle the little things, and do them right, how can you ever be trusted with anything else??

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Sympathy Train Stopped Dead In Its Tracks

Today while driving downtown, I was making a left into one of the busiest intersections in the city, where in the median Ed and I saw a man with a sign:


Typical scene these days, a homeless man on the corner with a sign; especially here where it's warm in the winter time and the homeless seem to come out of the woodwork and become more diligent in their coverage of the street corners.

What bothered me about this particular "homeless" person was the fact that while walking back and forth with his sign, limping as he went, head hanging down looking all vulnerable, he was talking on a cell phone.

A cell phone??? You are homeless, yet you have money for a cell phone? And I'm supposed to believe this?

Maybe he should back the person he was talking to and see if they can put him up for the night.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Lighting To Do Laundry By

I won't have a suitable place for this glittering crystal orb of a chandelier in the public area of my new house since it won't go with my general decor, but I might be able to find a little spot to hang it in my massive laundry room. Then my whites will really sparkle!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Who Do You Know?

Sometimes I think about who I know and what their professions are; in addition to thinking about how they arrived at that profession, if they're happy in it and if they ever think of doing something else, but that's another post. Sometimes knowing someone in a certain field can help you out in certain ways, whether it's actual help or just an answer to a question. There can also be a bit of bartering if you play your cards right. One hand washes the other and all that.

So I got to thinking of all the people I currently know or have known in my life and who might be called on to come to my aid if needed. This is what I came up with (starting with the most obvious and their connection to me):

My boyfriend is a truck driver; he's moved my stuff cross country once already - in addition to helping other family and friends with their trucking needs.

My brother is a tile contractor; I plan on using him quite a bit for the new house!

My mother is a drug and alcohol abuse counselor; I haven't needed her for those issues, but that doesn't stop her from dispensing "advice".

My father worked at the post office, was a bartender and before he died, owned a hot dog truck; hence, I never bought a stamp growing up, I learned how to make some of the most difficult mixed drinks ever and I had the best place on earth to go for a hot dog whenever I was in the area.

My step-father used to own a restaurant; where I learned soooo many skills that to this day, they still help me.

My sister-in-law, step-sister and cousin's wife are school teachers; elementary level, but they have come in handy many times.

My sister-in-law's father was a physics teacher; I still call him with questions like "Which boils faster, cold water from the tap or hot water from the tap?"

My sister-in-law's mother and my best friend Alan are nurses; they get all the weirdo symptom phone calls and assure me I'm not dying from the ant bite I got in the woods of West Virginia.

My cousin is a jeweler; anything I want, anytime I want, he can find it and get it for me at the "family" discount.

That same cousin's wife is from Columbia; she's a great source when I need Spanish translation.

My step-niece is an architect; guess who I'm having draw up the addition for our house?

My other cousin is a bigwig at Verizon Wireless; he gets all the cell phone inquiries and my undying love for his company.

I have yet another cousin who is a priest; he married my cousin and his wife and also officiated at my father's funeral.

My best friend's husband is a custom cabinet maker; he's been consulted many times on building storage for the inside of our truck.

My step-brother owns a laundromat; when in Florida, I can get suds on the house!

My uncle is in construction; he lets me pick his brain freely when I need building advice.

I have a cousin who is a television producer in Hollywood; I'm ready for my close up...

My old friend in Tucson is in law enforcement; he's always willing to give me the scoop on what's happening in town.

My old co-worker is in the hospitality field at a very famous resort/day spa; he's always willing to give me a discount on spa services.

That's just a partial list but as you can see, I have no family or friends who are doctors, lawyers or indian chiefs and I guess I should be lucky I don't need one of those! I have made some internet friends though who fill the doctor and lawyer category and I've already hit them up for a few answers to which they've graciously obliged.

Who do you know?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Eddie Gets Handy Friday

My "handy" man, installing a new mailbox at my mother's house.

He also had an entourage since my nephews were here while he was working. They followed him around like puppies; apparently, carrying his tools to the work location was the desired position to have.

I don't think Ed has ever had such eager helpers. I just hope he doesn't get too used to it!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Willow Weeps In Arizona

I was told this is an African Weeping Willow, but I'm not sure if that is correct. I just know it's weeping outside my bedroom.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My Boyfriend Simon Is Back In Town

If you know anything at all, you know that the American Idol auditions started this week and as usual, they don't disappoint.

As usual, Simon is the purest form of genius and always calls it right on the money (well, except for that Jennifer Hudson flub in Season 3).

When I watch these early auditions, the one thing that always comes to mind when people say they were encouraged by their friends, family, mother, boyfriend, etc. and were told that they have a great voice is...WHO are these people???

How do you give someone that you love, or someone who is your friend, false hope? How do you let them stand in line for hours, possibly wind up on television and most likely humiliate themselves? I'm not talking about the freaks who show up in costume and clearly need mental evaluation, I'm talking about the people who honestly think they can sing.

I'm glad we have some professionals weeding through the cattle calls and I would never want to give up watching these atrocious auditions, but I can't wait until we get down to the nitty gritty.

Bring it on! Next week, San Diego!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

When Big Hair And Denim Were King

I believe this picture was taken in February of 1991, but it might have been 1990 - so I guess I would have been 23 here. I am wearing my favorite three-quarter length denim coat with multiple pockets and drawstrings, one of my many gold rope chains (my uncle is a jeweler!) and the big hair.

I love that hair. It wasn't "Long Island" big, but it was definitely "New York" big. I'm sure I thought I was totally bitchin'.

And I was, wasn't I??

Monday, January 14, 2008

If "G" Means Good, Then "I" Must Mean Incompetent

So as this whole house hunting process moves forward, there are things that we have to do and check and double check before actually buying a place.

One of those things is a trip to the various government agencies involved in our property; zoning, flood plain development, sanitation, permits and the beloved tax assessor.

I pulled teeth dealing with the guy in flood plain, had an argument with the lady in zoning, asked the permit woman to walk "to the back" one more time to make sure she checked correctly (since our information was conflicting) and got utterly exasperated with the girl in the tax assessor's office; who I'm sure wasn't too happy to see me either since she let out a big, annoyed sigh when she had to get up from her desk and greet me at the counter.

The reason I was at the tax assessor's office was to determine whether the addition on the house was being taxed incorrectly. Was it really living space or just a closed in garage that was put on the books in error? I asked her to pull the document with this information and she begrudgingly did so.

When I asked her to explain the notations on the document, she faltered and asked me to hold on a second. She walked to her desk, came back with the same puzzled look and proceeded to tell me what the coding in each column meant. I was listening, but not sold that she knew what she was talking about. When she said, about the column referring to the wall construction, that "G" meant good, I asked her if there was someone who knew what all the codes meant.

She said, "Well, I'd have to get someone from the back."

I tried not to strangle her over the counter and instead said in a calm voice, "Do you think you can do that, please?" I actually said please. Little did she know she was seriously trying my patience, of which I don't have much.

As she started to walk away, she said to me, "Well, she's really busy."

"Well, too bad. That's her job." I had lost my patience right there and I think the realtor skulked under the counter for a minute. Ed knew enough not to interfere so he stood by resolutely and thankfully, silent.

Too busy?? Too busy to do the job you are PAID to do? Paid by me, most likely, and my tax dollars. After all, we were in the tax assessor's office.

After Miss Too Busy To Do Her Job came out, we were fortunate enough to have the tax assessor who has been with the office for over 23 years come to her aid, taking over for her and her minions. I'm happy to report he was forthcoming with the information we needed, explained everything in full and sent us off with information that we never even knew existed.

As for Miss "G" Is For Good; that has become my new code word for incompetence. And as you might expect, I was able to use it several more times that day and even more in the following days. Now when I turn to Ed and say G is for good, he knows exactly what I mean.

See how often you can fit this little phrase into your work day. I know for sure that Greggie will be using it frequently. It's sort of like "The B & The C"....right, Greg?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Overshadowing Government

A palm tree dwarfs the mosaic tiled dome of one of the government building in downtown Tucson, Arizona.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Friday, January 11, 2008

Soft Core Porn

I have always been a fan of HGTV, but since the house hunting has started, I've been watching more obsessively.

What I want to know is this; are all the carpenters on this show former underwear models?? I have to tell you, there is not a bad looking one in the bunch.

In fact, I think they should re-name the network Hunk and Garden TV.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


These are found in abundance in what might soon be our new backyard.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

On The Hunt

Eddie and I are on a house hunt and as soon as I have more details, I'll be sure to spill 'em.

I mention this only because I have to tell y'all how shocked I am by the condition in which people live. The more houses I go into, the more amazed I am that people not only live the way they do, but when they are selling their house, they don't even bother to make the place neater for potential buyers!

Is it so hard to put your curling iron under the sink, not to hang your towel over the shower door or put your kids toys away? You know people are coming; you have your house listed FOR SALE.

In case you haven't been following what's going on with housing, it's a buyer's market. Which means WE are in a better position than YOU, the seller. My suggestion would be to make your house as attractive as possible or take your sign down till you're reeeeaaalllly ready to sell it.

I am on the hunt and there are thousands of choices. Try to make it a teensy bit easier on me, please!

Monday, January 07, 2008

When You Get One Like This, Don't Let Him Get Away

While in Arizona for the holidays, I went to visit a girl I used to work with. I knew I liked her when I first met her, but unfortunately wasn’t at the job long enough to really get a chance to get to know her. Since then, we’ve fostered more of a connection by e-mailing and since she also reads my blog regularly, I like her even more!

She has a son who just turned four, and to give you an idea of how long ago it’s been since I’ve been to her house, the last time I saw him was at his first birthday party! The day we had lunch together, he was quite the charmer; even when he politely told me not to talk with food in my mouth!

Later that evening, she had gone out with one of her friends, leaving him at her sister’s house while she was gone. On the way home, after she had picked him up, he kept trying to interrupt their conversation. She was ignoring him and he was getting more upset by the minute. He waited for a pause in the conversation and then told her that he was packing his bags and leaving their house because she wouldn’t talk to him.

She told him she was fine with that and then asked if he needed any help packing. He said no, but informed her that he was calling his dad to come pick him up. She gently reminded him that his father was out of state and he said, “That’s okay.”

“Fine.” she said. “You can leave tonight.”

She said he became very quiet and sat staring out the window. He then asked, “Would it be okay if I left in the morning? “ explaining that it was dark outside and he was scared. She said, “Sure.” and looked at her friend, both of them trying to contain their laughter.

After they got home, he went to bed and slept through the night; apparently he had a change of heart overnight because the next morning he asked his mother if it was alright if he stayed.

Of course she said yes; as would I. Why would you ever let a kid like that get away??

Sunday, January 06, 2008

No, You Can't Fly It

I know it looks like the cockpit of an airplane, but it's actually a Lowrey Stardust.
This Stardust belongs to my brother's mother-in-law; and she can actually play it! We were invited for dinner and not only is she one of the best cooks I know (doing a dinner party right by including several courses!) but she serenaded us with the songs she's learned over the last year.

This is how I like to do dinner and a show.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

High Flame Toni

So, my mother and I are sitting in her office talking about our day, Ed is in the family room talking to his mother on the phone and Frank (my step-father) is in the room adjacent to the kitchen, watching TV. Frank has a little bit of a cold and has been sporting a hoarse voice for the last few days.

All of a sudden, we hear him screaming for my mother. "Toni! Toni!" comes the barely audible voice from the kitchen. My mother jumps up and heads out of the room. "Toni!" I hear again, "Something is burning!" At this point, I decide not to get up because it's not uncommon for my mother to be burning something in the kitchen. It's one of the reasons my father dubbed her "High Flame Toni" when we were growing up.

Now, as she's gotten on in years, she's become forgetful and will walk out of the kitchen, get distracted by almost anything and by the time she comes back to the kitchen, she finds something sticking to the bottom of the pot. We're all used to it.

But this time, Frank's voice was so urgent and despondent and he was still shouting "Jesus Christ!" that I got up and went to the kitchen to see what happened. When I walked into the kitchen, I was met with a wall of acrid, white smoke; it was coming from the microwave. WTF? The smoke was stinging my eyes and lungs. I immediately ordered my parents out of the kitchen outside to the patio. I had to go out there myself just to get a breath of fresh air so I could return and investigate the problem.

When I had a sufficient gulp of fresh air, I headed back to the microwave, opened it, and found this inside:

You are looking at what used to be a rice cooker. It is sitting on the glass turntable that was in the microwave, which I picked up with oven mitts and hauled outside. The plastic was melted like lava and the rice inside was charred a crispy black. As you can see, it was still smoking.

With the exception of the time my mother almost burned my brother's new house down because she left a pot on the stove whose handle burst into flames when she walked away from it, this meltdown comes in a very close second. In my forty years of life, I've never seen a kitchen disaster like it.

It's been a while since we've had such a debacle; usually it's just a burnt grilled cheese sandwich or sauteed onions that hover on the edge of crispy. For a time, my mother had gotten away with pulling off some really spectacular meals. We've been graced with delicious pork loin, meatballs to die for and chicken soup that would cure anyone's soul.

But today? Today we can confidently say that High Flame Toni has come out of hiding and is alive and well, residing in a kitchen in Southern Arizona. If you are interested in dinner and a "show" be sure to call ahead for reservations!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Fresh Dreams. Clean Slate. High Hopes. New You.

Blog title courtesy of a Hallmark card; why do they say it so well??

As the first day of the New Year reared it's lovely head, I thought of resolutions. How I never really make them. I sorta say things, but I never really officially transition them into the actual act of resolving. And these days, when I use the word "resolution" it usually has to do with the sharpness of an image on my laptop screen.

That said, I did make a few resolutions. The first and most important one I made to another person, a person who has known me for a long time and whose opinion I value. That one I'll probably keep.

The other one is my standard "lose weight this year" resolution which went fairly well as I ended the day (today) at 1229 calories. Not bad, but let's see if I can keep that up for the next three hundred and sixty four days.

My last one is to be more productive with my time. Since I am like a person who works from home, I need to get my ass out of my "pajamas" so to speak and act like I have shit to do. It's very easy to drive a few hours a day and then spend the rest of the day reading magazines and surfing the net. I have to utilize my time more wisely.

So there you have it. Only three little resolutions. Easy to keep track of and easy to determine the success or failure rate.

Fresh dreams, clean slate, high hopes, new ME.