Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How To Get Kids To Eat Vegetables

Can't get your kids to eat spinach? Encase it in hot, cheesy goodness!! OK, so maybe it's a little on the fattening side; send them out to play a few extra times that week. Ed and I love to get hot spinach and artichoke dip wherever we can. It’s usually served with tortilla chips, but I prefer the plain pita chips – like the "Simply Naked" ones that Stacy’s makes.

Ooooh, and by the way, they have fantastic Cinnamon Sugar ones too....oh, I wish I had one of those right now. Crispy. Cinnamony. Sugary. DEEElicious. Oh my, they're just the BEST. As my friend Gi-Gi would say, "Nom Nom Nom".

OK, so back to the recipe…this is the dip I made as my contribution to the Thanksgiving appetizer line-up and it was a big hit. Thankfully, I made two dishes so we’d have a second opportunity to indulge. It couldn’t have been easier. Try it out for yourself.


1 10oz. package of frozen chopped spinach
15 oz. artichoke hearts, chopped (I bought two cans of whole hearts and chopped them myself)
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese, ¼ cup (or less) set aside to sprinkle on finished product
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 package (8oz) Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup of mayo (I only use Hellman’s!)
Cayenne Pepper, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste

1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Thaw spinach and drain the liquid from it. I just squished it against the colander with a big wooden spoon to get all the water out.

3. Combine spinach, artichokes and garlic in a bowl and set aside.

4. In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sour cream, parmesan cheese (remember to set aside ¼ cup), mayonnaise, cayenne and black pepper. Cream together.

5. Add spinach to the cream cheese mixture and mix well.

6. Put mixture into a baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes.

7. Take foil off, sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese and bake uncovered for another 15-20 minutes until the top gets golden brown and the cheese melts. I like getting it a little crispy on top, which ensures it’s nice and hot.

8. Serve with tortilla chips (I prefer the white corn ones), pita chips or even toasted slices of baguette.

9. Enjoy!!

Click HERE to get the recipe to print out.

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Back In The Saddle
2 YEARS AGO: Logging Lots Of Miles
3 YEARS AGO: Apples, Fudge And Homemade Jam
4 YEARS AGO: Eddie Hick Runs Deep Friday
5 YEARS AGO: If You Can’t Make It To France
6 YEARS AGO: I’m Sleeping With Someone New

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

UPSide Down

This was taken a few months ago, while shopping at IKEA (my hair is still brown here!). Ed captured me from above as I was testing out their mattresses. Upside down is what life is going to be like for the next three weeks on our UPS run, so I thought it'd be a perfect fit.

We're currently watching a movie about the
Donner Party - we'll actually be crossing the Sierra Nevada's on this run, so I'm taking notes in case we get stuck in a blizzard and have to eat people - I'm thinking I'll be the first to be cannibalized since I'm the plumpest and juiciest of the two of us. Let's keep our fingers crossed that that doesn't happen. Crossing Donner is hairy enough in the winter, we don't need any complications!

I'm hoping to be able to keep up with the blog, I get behind on regular days, but with a run like this, where nothing but driving and sleeping is going on, I don't usually have too much to say. So keep checking back - there will eventually be something to read (or look at!).

Here we go, folks!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Gucci, Gucci, Gu
Big Trucks + TV = Big Truck TV
Insane In The Holiday Brain
Dress Code
And It Begins…

Monday, November 28, 2011

Red Hair At Night, Truckers Delight. Red Hair At Morning, Truckers Warning.

I might not have been able to cross off everything on my list, but I did get around to coloring my hair last night. I wanted to go super-cherry red, but this is the closest I got.

Ed didn't notice because in the house it just looks dark, but wait until the sun hits the top of my luscious locks - I'll be like a moving candy apple! Even more irresistible than I already am. It's a very bright, cheery Christmas season color. We'll see how it works for the next few weeks - if I like it, I might go brighter. Or pink. We'll see.

In the meantime, I'll just rock the cherry hue. I got some feisty saved up to go along with the new flaming coiffure.

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1 YEAR AGO: Rok New York
2 YEARS AGO: South Dakota Sky
3 YEARS AGO: Nutty Friday
4 YEARS AGO: It’s Not So Much Fun To Roll Out Your Best Sales Schpiel On A Mute
5 YEARS AGO: Forced Happiness
6 YEARS AGO: Firestarter

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Last Full Day Of Freedom

Today is our last day at home before we head out to Phoenix for our UPS run. I didn't get everything done that I needed to, but some of the things can wait until we get home next month, I suppose. The only thing I have left to do, is stock the truck tomorrow.
The photo about is our route - it's different this year, one that takes us to Kansas, Houston, Nashville, Georgia. The last runs we've done for UPS have taken us to the Northwest quite a bit but this time it's all between I-10 and I-80 - no real northern areas and not one Seattle drop in the bunch (click picture to enlarge). We'll cover 17,913 miles in 21 days, which is not really that bad if you break it down. The longest leg of the trip is Salt Lake City to Atlanta, about 1,800 miles.

We didn't have time to sort through the shed for our Christmas decorations, so we'll just have to buy new ones - I like the truck to be decked out with red garland, snowmen, candy canes and lights. If I have to deliver presents to those all over the country, I want to be festive while doing it! It's the last thing I'll do before we hit the road.

Now it's time to get some sleep. See you around...wave if you see us!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO: Keyed Up
2 YEARS AGO: The Ultimate Mrs.
3 YEARS AGO: Happy Thanksgiving
4 YEARS AGO: The Kind Of Contraction That Produces A Laugh, Not A Baby
5 YEARS AGO: Wanderlust Officially Approved
6 YEARS AGO: The Eye Of The Beholder

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday Slow Down

How did we spend the day after Thanksgiving? Well, it didn't involve any turkey. Crazy, right??

Ed and his dad went golfing at
Omni Tucson National Resort - one of Golf Digest's "75 Best Golf Resorts in North America". This resort also has been the host of countless PGA events and is home to the prestigious Chrysler Classic of Tucson. They really enjoyed the course and Ed said everything was high class and fancy-schmancy - even the clubs they rented were in the thousands of dollars range.

This resort is only five miles from the house, and has always had a wonderful reputation - especially among golfers. Years ago, when I was working at another resort, I got tickets to one of the golf events being held at Tucson National. I gave the tickets to a friend at work and he wound up inviting me to go with him. I saw many golf greats but realized being on the course, following the game as it moved down the fairway, that it wasn't a place for me. Why, you ask? They have actual signs that they hold up to tell you to stop talking. I think they might actually say "Shhhh". Nope, definitely not for me.

While the boys played golf, us women stayed home and did nothing. Just lounged around watching TV, reading magazines and napping. When the men got home, we put dinner on - leftover chicken soup that my mother had made and leftover sausage and peppers that I had made; not the traditional next-day-turkey-sandwich. After dinner, it was dessert and several games of Scrabble.

There you have it - the entire itinerary for a Saturday night with the over-65 crowd.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Let The Crazy Begin
For Everything Thy Goodness Sends
A Look On The Inside
Free! Gratuito! Gratis! Ummm…No Charge!
Life Giver vs. Indian Giver
The Spaghetti Thanks You

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Master Carver

Here's a picture of my brother's father-in-law carving the turkey. It loooks a little different than the traditional cutting of the bird, whereas you slice right into the bird itself - reason being, this one was cooking in a plastic cooking bag and all the juices stayed inside

It was THE MOISTEST bird I've ever tasted. It literally fell off the bone. I was trying to salvage the big pieces so at least he'd have something to cook. The aroma was amazing. The skin was crispy and delicious. I was helping, photographing and picking at the small pieces as we went along.

The day's menu was as follows:

Turkey (of course)
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes with butter and brown sugar
Mushroom and Thyme Stuffing
Sweet and Hot Sausage Stuffing
Zucchini Squares (sort of like a zucchini casserole)
Sauteed Squash and Onions
Cranberry Jelly
Homemade Turkey Gravy

Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Hickory Nut Bread

After dessert, half of the group played Farkle, the other half Scrabble. Ed's parents are great game players and his mother is a master wordsmith; must be where Ed gets it from. After the games ended, we said our goodbyes. We had a long day, were stuffed and exhausted and needed to get into clothing with elastic. The day was a great success!

Today, Ed and his dad will go golfing and us girls will hang at the house. My plan to "get things done" has completely evaporated. Looks like we'll be eating leftovers and maybe squeezing in another game of Scrabble. I know, I'm ninety.

Hope all of you are also enjoying your holiday weekend! See you tomorrow!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nuts About Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite food holiday, not because of the large amounts of food (because we have tons of food at all family gatherings), but because of the type of food. Turkey is not something I ever make. Sometimes I'll have it at a restaurant if I have the urge, but I would never make a whole one like one does at Thanksgiving.

We spend the day at my brother's house and his mother-in-law does all the cooking. She's a fabulous cook and she always makes something new. It's definitely a meal I look forward to it.

My hot spinach and artichoke dish was a huge hit and I also made use of my
monkey pod dish - we used it for the nuts! Ed made me take it out of the truck about a month ago since he thought it was "cluttering" up the counter and I was sad to see it go - I fought hard for it but lost.

Overall, a wonderful Thanksgiving was had!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shit Eating Grins. And Giggles. And Shits And Giggles.

Today Ed's parents arrived in Tucson to join us for Thanksgiving. I made dinner for us and I also made a hot spinach and artichoke dip to take to my brother's house tomorrow - my contribution to the appetizer portion of the day.

During dinner, the conversation turned to dogs. Ed's mom has two - a jackapoo and a min-pin - that she brought with her. She used to have a chihuahua too, but gave her away. When my mother asked why, the following conversatin ensued.

"Well, Chico had a real problem with shedding. There was hair everywhere. And she just didn't get along with the other dogs." Ed's mother said.

"Ohhhh." my mother said.

Ed's father was sitting back with a grin on his face, listening to the story. Then he said, "Well, that's not the real reason."

"Well, true...." said Ed's mom. "We found out that she was a Chih-weenie."

"Nooo. A Chih-weenie?" I said.

"A Chih-weenie??" said my mother, confused.

"Part Chihuahua, part weenie dog." I explained.

"You got rid of her because she was a Chih-weenie?" Ed said.

"You're a dog racist!" I gasped. Everyone laughed.

"No, I'm not." Ed's mother said, sounding seriously offended.

"You know, I thought she looked a little long." I said, narrowing my eyes suspiciously.
"Yeah, she was long." Ed nodded in agreement.
"And a Chih-weenie. Who'd want a Chih-weenie?" I said.

"Well, she also had another problem." Ed's father said.

"What could be worse than being a very long Chih-weenie?" I said.

"Well.....she didn't only shed." he said. "She also liked to eat poop."

The entire table burst into laughter. As it was, we couldn't say the word "Chih-weenie" without breaking out in giggles.

"A shit-eating Chih-weenie!" I exclaimed.

"She ate poop??" Ed said.

"Oh my God. Not only is she a very long, hair losing Chih-weenie, but she eats poop??" I said. "Just her own poop?"

"No. Any poop." Ed's dad said.

I could not breathe at this point. My mother was laughing until she cried. Ed couldn't breathe. And his parents were both cracking up, barely able to continue with the story.

"So what did you do with her?" Ed finally said.

"Well, we gave her to your Dad's team partner." his mom said. Ed's dad also drives a truck as a team with a friend of his.
"Did you tell him that she was a Chih-weenie?" I said, emphasizing the word Chih-weenie with feigned disgust. "Or did you just pawn her off as a tiny cute dog?"


"Did you tell them about the poop eating?" Ed said.


"Well, funny thing...." Ed's dad began. "One day we were driving and my buddy said,out of the blue, 'You know that dog you gave me? He eats shit.'"

We couldn't breathe we were laughing so hard.

"Well, what did you say?" I asked.

"I just said that maybe that's his diet." Ed's dad said. "I didn't know what to say. And then, the dog ran away from him, and they called us because it has one of those chips in it."

"Oh my God. You can't even get rid of the shit-eating Chih-weenie. You're being haunted by her." I said.

"It doesn't matter who the dog belongs to, you'll never escape the poop-eating Chih-weenie now." Ed said.

We must have talked about that dog for the next ten minutes. Imagining all the scenarios in which they'd be contacted and asked if the dog was theirs, only to tell them it wasn't and then try to act like they don't know anything about his dining habits.

But we all know. We can't un-know that information.

And I let that dog lick my face.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Waiting It Out
My Life According To Sugarland
Eddie Full Of Turkey Friday
Crouching Poultry, Hidden Turkey
Is It Really A Sandwich?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Boneyard Of The 309th

Today we delivered old aircraft parts to the Airplane Graveyard at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, which is known as 309 AMARG - the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group.

According to the AMARG fact sheet, "Immediately after World War II, the Army's San Antonio Air Technical Service Command established a storage facility for B-29 and C-47 aircraft at Davis-Monthan AFB. Today, this facility is the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (309 AMARG), which has grown to include more than 4,400 aircraft and 13 aerospace vehicles from the Air Force, Navy-Marine Corps, Army, Coast Guard, and several federal agencies including NASA. With an original purchase price of more than $35 billion, this aerospace fleet provides a unique savings account from which military units throughout the world may withdraw parts and aircraft. The government earns additional income by selling aircraft to our allies."

This plane, the C-5 Galaxy, is one of the largest aircraft in the world. It's so large, one of the guys unloading our truck said you can drive four tractor-trailers into it!
The aircraft are lined up, wingtip to wingtip, in the shadow of the mountain ranges that ring Tucson. "The chief reasons for selecting Davis-Monthan as the site for this storage center were Tucson's meager rainfall, low humidity, and alkaline soil. These conditions make it possible to store aircraft indefinitely with a minimum of deterioration and corrosion. In addition, the soil (called caliche) is hard, making it possible to park aircraft in the desert without constructing concrete or steel parking ramps." Today, the facility has grown to include more than 4,400 aircraft and 13 aerospace vehicles from the Air Force, Navy-Marine Corps, Army, Coast Guard and several federal agencies including NASA.

According to Wikipedia, an aircraft going into storage undergoes the following treatments:

1. All guns, ejection seat charges, or classified hardware are removed.
2. The fuel system is protected by draining it, refilling it with lightweight oil, and then draining it again. This leaves a protective film.
3. The aircraft is sealed from dust, sunlight, and high temperatures. This is done using a variety of materials, ranging from a high tech vinyl plastic compound, called Spraylat, an opaque white colour sprayed on the aircraft, to simple garbage bags. The plane is then towed by a jeep to its designated "storage" position. You can see the storage techniques being used on these helicopters.

There are four categories of storage for planes at AMARG:
1. Long Term - Aircraft are kept intact for future use
2. Parts Reclamation - Aircraft are kept, picked apart and used for spare parts
3. Flying Hold - Aircraft are kept intact for shorter stays than Long Term
4. Excess of DOD (Department of Defense) needs - Aircraft are sold off in whole or in parts.

The 2,600 acre facility is adjacent to the base and employees 550 people, mostly civilians. For every $1 the federal government spends operating the facility, it saves or produces $11 from harvesting spare parts and selling off inventory. Congressional oversight determines what equipment may be sold to which customer.

I love this row of aircraft tails.

Here are some tiny Navy aircraft. They looked newer than some of the other planes that are at the facility.

I know there are lots of pictures, but there are lots of planes. Wikipedia also said that they annually in-process an undisclosed number of aircraft for storage and out-process a number of aircraft for return to the active service, either repainted and sold to friendly foreign goverments, recycled as target or remotely controlled drones or rebuilt as civilian cargo, transport, and/or utility planes.

Another helicopter...

Just sitting around with a view of the mountain...

And here is a retired Air Force One plane...

Getting on the base to deliver requires a background check (done while-u-wait after providing a social security number), and an escort to the unloading area.

Wikipedia again says that AMARG is a controlled-access site, and is off-limits to anyone not employed there without the proper clearance. The only access for non-cleared individuals is via a bus tour which is conducted by the nearby Pima Air & Space Museum. I guess we were pretty lucky being able to drive around (even with an escort) and get out to take pictures and look at the planes!

You can see a bunch of aerial views, which will give you an idea of how big the area is and how many planes there are, by clicking

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things
I’m Interested In Breasts
What Price Fun?
True Blue
The Borscht Belt

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stop And Smell The Turkey And Sweet Potatoes

Tomorrow we will be back home to take a break for about a week before we start our three week UPS run. We've done this run several years in a row with the exception of last year. It's harrowing and a lot of driving, not at all at our normal pace, but it's a nice chunk of money for the end of the year and it gets us home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Ed has nothing planned for the week, but I have plenty to do before we go on the road. I have a list that would require me to be very ambitious to get everything done and I'm hoping I can motivate myself rather than just visiting with my friends for lunch, or sleeping late. If everything goes as I'd like, I'll also have most of my Christmas shopping done.

OK, who am I kidding? I'll be getting no Christmas shopping done. I'll be doing it from the road, on my iPhone. Which reminds me, does anyone have any good gifts suggestions for boys? They're in the 9-13 age group.

Hit me up with ideas!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Like And Loathing In Las Vegas

Last night at the Venetian, we did a bit of walking around through the shops before heading off to see The Phantom. At one of the shops, I saw this rhinestone lion. I'm amazed at the things these shops sell; I mean, who needs a rhinestone lion?? There is such luxury in this town, all amid the skank and the homeless, just a few blocks in any direction off the strip.

It's definitely another world. When I first came to Vegas as a teenager, everyone seemed to dress up for everything and there were no kids anywhere. Now, during summers and school vacations, this place is swarming with families. Not now though, since school is in session; we hardly saw any children, which is great, but there were tons of people out and about once the weekend hit. The blackjack tables were crowded, and the girls were out in full force, decked out in VERY mini dresses (I saw a lot of ass cheeks) and 5-inch heels.

There's never a dull moment in Las Vegas, that's for sure. There is always a lot going on the tons of stuff to enjoy, but there are also a few things I don't like. Here's my list of my top five likes and dislikes regarding Las Vegas:


1. The people watching. You'll find some of the best people watching in Las Vegas - better than almost anywhere I've been, including New York. Also, the biggest slut parade you'll ever see takes place in Sin City - at all times of the day, but best at night of course. I'm amazed at the way girls dress. I saw more tube dresses last night than I did tube tops in all of the eighties combined. And they are so short, taking a breath could make a boob or an ass cheek pop out. There were a few cute babydoll dresses on the young girls, but still with the sky-high heels, and there were some older women dressed nicely, but the majority of women looked like they were attending a hooker convention.

2. The restaurants. Food of all types, in every price range. You'll never go hungry in this town. There's everything from McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts to buffets of every variety to restaurants where you'd have to win at Baccarat to have enough money to eat there.

3. The fun and money. You have the opportunity to have fun and make money at the same time, IF Lady Luck is on your side. Whenever Ed and I gamble, we try to make enough money to cover our everything we want to do; hotel, food, shows, etc., so that we at least get all our "entertainment" for free. Ed has gotten pretty good at blackjack, so we always cover the expenses. And this time, we left with a profit!

4. The activities. There's always something to do, for everyone. If you can't find something to do in this town, you're not trying hard enough. There are tons of free things to see; the water show at the Bellagio, the Freemont Street light show, the lions at the MGM Grand, the tigers at the Mirage, the erupting much to see, so little time.

5. The entertainment. World class. From comedy to music to Broadway style productions. They always have top name performers and when you put a Vegas twist on any type of show, it takes it over the top. And don't forget to check out the half-price ticket booths - they're SO worth it!


1. The crowds. All year round it's crowded, but more during school breaks and holidays. A sea of people, everywhere you go. Doesn't matter what time of day it is, there's always someone you'll have to bob and weave around. It's a constant barrage of people and noise. It's physically taxing and causes me a tiny bit of pedestrian rage when walking among the throngs of bodies.

2. The smoke. I wrote about
this the other day. It's absolutely overwhelming. I'd probably visit more often, spend more money, eat in more restaurants, and gamble more if the smoke wasn't so horribly stifling. They do have air filtration systems which makes it a smidge more bearable (although really not enough in my opinion), but it doesn't help when the person next to you is letting their cigarette burn while they gamble. No matter where I am, the smoke always finds MY nostrils.

3. The exorbitant prices. Even though I mentioned in my "like" section the affordable dining and show options (using the half-price ticket booths), shows and food are still expensive. Food used to be the cheapest thing you could get in town, and there are still some deals but they're not likely found in the heart of the strip. We don't mind spending the money on food because we like to eat out, but for the shows, unless you want to sit in a section waaaay in the back, the best tickets are going to be in the higher price range. Our tickets for Phantom were $135 each, and although Ed got a deal on them through American Express, it was still a little pricey.

4. The walking. Holy mother of all things pedestrian! It's like a mini-marathon just to cross a casino floor, but walking from hotel to hotel, shop to shop and attraction to attraction is enough to make you wish your first stop was to buy new sneakers. Don't even think of taking a cab - they move like snails and cost a fortune. Walking is still the best way to see everything, so expect to be doing a lot of it.

5. The heat. Granted, it wasn't too hot this time of year, but it's typically like the surface of the sun the rest of the year. If you ever go to Las Vegas in the summer, prepare to meet Satan himself. He'll probably be on the sidewalks flipping
cards to sell you a girl-to-your-room-in-twenty-minutes. Seriously though, it's hot. "It's not just hot, it's Africa hot. Tarzan couldn't take this kind of hot." This place is only a couple of hours from Death Valley, but in the summer, you'll feel like you're standing right in the middle of the Mojave. The only difference here is, you can pop into an air-conditioned casino, sit for a spell at a slot machine and get a free cocktail. It's the only thing that makes the heat bearable.

If you've never been to Las Vegas, it's certainly an experience. Expect to spend a lot, and lose a lot of money. And there may be a a few things that happen that you will want to "leave in Las Vegas"...don't worry, no one will tell.

They'll probably be too drunk to remember anything.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Get Fresh With Me…Please!
In The Blink Of An Eye
Duck, Duck, Drake
The Lady And Sons
The Department Of Mindless Vegetables
Ooo Rah Johnny Cash!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Music Of The Night

Tonight we're going to see The Phantom of the Opera - The Las Vegas Spectacular. Ed just bought us seats in the prized golden circle. He got a smokin' deal using his American Express points. This will be the view from our seats:

The show is at The Venetian, a beautiful Italian themed luxury hotel and casino, complete with canals and gondola rides! The interesting thing (to me), is that this hotel was built on the very same spot where the Sands originally stood. The Sands was one of the first hotels in Las Vegas we visited when, at fifteen years old, my step-father Frank took our family here for the first time. He'd been going to Vegas for years, on "Junkets".

We were actually staying at the Dunes, but Frank had a friend who was the manager of the showroom at the Sands and we got to go see a show as his guests; I think it was Robert Goulet and Leslie Uggams. It was pretty fantastic. We also saw the comedian Gallagher on that trip and Frank's friend seated us in an area that we thought wasn't that great considering he said we were his "special guests". We had a good view, but it wasn't right up front where we really wanted to sit. We later found out why he didn't seat us up front in the "good seats" - one of Gallagher's skits was his presentation of the Sledge-O-Matic and Frank's friend did us a HUGE favor by seating us just outside the flying food area.

But tonight, we will pass on the flying food and settle in for a Vegas "Spectacular". According to, "the Venetion Resort spent $40 million to design a custom-built theater for this show, which closely resembles the Opera Garnier in Paris. There are plush red seats and curtains, gold statues and carvings, a hand-painted ceiling topped with an 80-foot-wide done and opera boxes lining the sides. The opera boxes are inhabited by seventy colorful mannequins, which were custom built in Belgium. No two are alike and each one is completely outfitted in an authentic period costume.

The centerpiece of the theater (and major plot point of the show) is the chandelier, which weighs 2,100 pounds and cost $4.5 milliont to create. The shimmering chandelier is comprised of 29,444 individual crystals that were hand strung.

In this version of "Phantom," the chandelier hangs in four pieces, which assemble in dramatic fashion during the beginning of the show. The spokes of the ceiling's dome support 32 cables that guide the chandelier into place and it takes 40 individual computers, complete with navigational software, to run the chandelier. During the show's climactic scene, the chandelier falls 45 feet in three seconds and stops only 10 feet above those seated beneath it - an effect that always causes a stir in the audience."

Now if that doesn't sound like an amazing way to spend an evening, I don't know what is! I'm super excited and looking forward to our "dinner and a show" date night. I even have a semi-dressy outfit in the truck for Ed and I so we don't look like two schleps, we'll actually blend right in.

Well, I've gotta run - time to get ready for The Music of the Night.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
There’s No Better Place On Earth
Getting Tanked In Al-Nahar
Bracing For A World Of Mouse Ears
At Least He’s Up Front About It
Aten HUT!!
Be The Player

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Franchophile's Paradise

The Chanel store might throw you for a loop, but once you see the fake Eiffel Tower in the middle of the Las Vegas desert, I'm pretty sure you'll catch on pretty quick that you're not in Paris.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Where There Is Smoke, There Is Not Always Fire

After delivering at Nellis Air Force Base just outside of Las Vegas this morning, we ran around town doing errands. We had to go to the bank, hit the post office, get the truck washed, have breakfast. Once all of that was done, we spent the rest of the morning looking for loads. The pickings are slim here, so we weren't feeling too confident that we'd get out of here today. We might even be stuck here for the weekend. Not my favorite place to be, but I suppose it could be worse; we could be in Alabama.

After we got the truck washed, we stopped at a nearby truckstop to air up the tires and Ed asked about truck parking at hotels near the strip. Turns out, there are three that offer truck parking closer to the strip than the casino we normally park at. We headed over and found plenty of room to park. We sat in the truck for a while, watching TV and taking care of some paperwork before deciding to go have dinner.

Since we couldn't decide what type of food we wanted, we did one of the buffets. This is rare for us since we usually hit a different restaurant when we're in town, never doing the buffets. I can't stand all the people, the shoving, the lines, the kids. It was okay, not a place I'd ever go back to, but I was hungry and it had a good selection as you'd imagine.

After dinner, we hit the casino. As much as I like the people watching and getting lucky every once in a while, my experience is always ruined by the cigarette smoke. I can't stand the smell of smoke. It's so unpleasant that it eventually upsets my entire evening. I just got out of the shower and I still smell a faint scent of it on me, or somewhere around me, I can't really tell where it's coming from. I wrapped all my clothes and Ed's clothes in a plastic bags, three layers of plastic, in an effort to contain the smell.

The smoke in the casinos is disgustingly vile. It makes the visit so unpleasant, that I always have to leave early. I wish they had completely non-smoking casinos. Some offer non-smoking rooms, but they're off the main casino and hello people, smoke travels through AIR.

I honestly don't know why people smoke. First, unless you're brain dead (which you may be if you're smoking), you have got to be aware of the health risks. Not that I care so much about that, because I'm no twig and there's plenty of evidence that being overweight isn't good for one's health, but how disgusting is it to SUCK smoke into your mouth? I mean, it's SMOKE. And you're intentionally breathing it. I'm pretty sure if something were on fire, you'd cover your face and run away from it, right? So why do you pay exhorbitant prices to suck it?

Secondly, are you aware that you smell disgusting? Your hair smells, your clothes smell, your teeth are gross, your skin is sallow. Why would you want to reek of smoke everywhere you go? It's physically repulsive. If you're a woman, the disgusting factor multiplies.

Smoking irritates me no matter where it's taking place. Even outside. Especially if you're the kind of person who goes on your work break and stands RIGHT OUTSIDE OF THE DOOR that people are entering/exiting from. Go around the corner. Behind a tree. By the dumpster. Not where other people have to be subject to your second-hand, cancer causing smoke. I don't care if you're addicted; get a patch or something. Maybe it'd be better to put the patch over your mouth instead of on your arm, to keep the cigarettes out.

My grandparents smoked, which oddly is one of the smells that reminds me of them. But those are childhood memories that I have no control over. They're just there. I don't like the smell of smoke, but the smell from certain brands remind me of my grandmother and I like that memory. My parents smoked when I was younger too, but I don't remember much about it because they quit when we were pretty young. And what did they know back then? But parents who smoke now, in the presence of their kids, especially in a car with the windows up, when they know the damage that smoke does to the little pink lungs of children...those people should be strung up by their pinky toes.

And just because I have a fleeting memory of my grandparents when assaulted by the odor of cigarette smoke doesn't mean I want to stand next to you, walk behind you if you have a cigarette dangling from your fingers and your smoke is going right up my nose, be in a car with you, or hang out in a smoky club with you.

Thankfully, I'm only in casino environments a few times a year, because the only thing worse than smoke in Las Vegas casinos, is seeing Las Vegas itself by the light of day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

From The Island To The Desert

While we were waiting to back into the dock, we got a little snowed on. Ed backed in and started to prepare the trailer for loading...

Here he is, hard at work, diligently sweeping the snow off the trailer. Row by row, he swept. Like a chimney sweep. Except he was a snow sweep. Wet snow, falling off the side of the trailer in perfect little clumps. I'm going to have to get him to try this sweeping technique in the truck sometime. When he was done sweeping and prepping, he began the loading process. Racks that were going to a new BJ's Warehouse store in Virginia. Here he is, thirteen feet off the ground, climbing around on slippery steel like. Sometimes I get nervous, but he's been doing this for so long and is so careful, that I really don't have anything to worry about. But seriously, if he falls and gets hurt, who's going to back into docks??

The trip went off without a hitch and we got unloaded super-quick before turning right around and heading to Long Island to pick up a load going out to Las Vegas. Everything that day was timed down to the minute. Traffic on the bridge would have doomed us. I was not sure we were going to make it, but Ed was cheerleading the whole way and we totally made it! Right under the wire!

Cross-country cruisin' time!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Town I Was Dying To See
Gleaming Curve
Color Me Casual
Eddie Goes Running Friday
Forever Yours
Home Away From Home

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Men At Work

Yesterday I used this photo on my tribute post to my step-father; he's the one in the middle. When my mother read the post and saw the picture, she said "Look at him in those light colored shoes and black pants. What was he thinking?"

"Well, that was the style. Look at how they're all dressed." I said.

"They look so gay." she said. "I wonder if they were down-under men?"

"You mean you wonder if they were on the
down-low, or if they were from Australia?"

"What??" she said confused, in her uh-oh-I-must-have-said-the-wrong-thing-when-I-actually-meant-something-else voice.

"Mom. I'm pretty sure they were not on the down-low. First, they're not black. Second, everyone dressed like that back then."

Leave it to my mother to question the unmistakable virility of the man she'd spent the last thirty-one years with. I blame Law & Order.

Before that, she never even knew Australia existed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Everyone Is NOT A Winner
Text Me
Going The Way Of Astatine*
Picture Perfect Pilot
Not Falling For Winter Yet
I Miss You Already

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Final Curtain

I've written several times in the past about Frank, my step-father for more than 31 years. Since I just became a teenager when I met him, he didn’t have a lot to do with my formative years, but he still made an impact on me.Having been single for more than ten years when he met my mother, his house was the epitome of a bachelor pad when we first moved in; scattered about were playing cards and poker chips, Playboy magazines in the attic (dating back to the early sixties), a cozy wood stove (de rigueur in the Catskill Mountains) and a VCR player (we had never seen one before!). This was just the beginning of the cool things Frank would introduce me to.

He owned a restaurant, a popular one, famous even. Once called the
steak house to the stars. It’s the place I got my first job, or series of jobs I should say. I started out as the water girl, serving water to customers as they settled in to read the menu. Then I became the dessert girl, making desserts for those same people. That job was a lot harder than you’d think it would be; it’s uncanny how a dining room full of people suddenly all have dessert at the same time. I worked like a madwoman in that position.

From there, I graduated to bussing tables. It was a hard job, but I was good at it. I could fill an oval tray so strategically with glasses, plates and silverware from a party of eight, and lift it into the air with one swift move. I was a workhorse. I had so much strength, that I often carried the heaviest trays out of the kitchen when food needed to be served, and picked up the trays going back to the kitchen after they were full. I never leaned a tray on my shoulder, and I could weave through the tables like a gazelle. It was a skill I was extremely proud of.
Then I wanted to work in the kitchen, something my mother wasn’t too keen on because there were guys in there (duh!). And those guys used what could be called “kitchen language”, which apparently wasn’t suitable for a teenage girl to hear. But, since I grew up with a mother who used “kitchen language”, it wouldn’t be anything I hadn’t heard before and I certainly didn’t see myself repeating it. I hadn’t up to then, so why would I start?

So that summer, I started working in the kitchen. I didn’t do any of the actual cooking, but I did help with prep; peeling potatoes by the bagful (50 pound bags!), peeling hundreds of pounds of onions causing me to smell like them for days, deveining shrimp, unwrapping sticks of butter and cutting them into perfectly even pats to arrange in small monkey dishes. I also washed dishes. Yes, I was a dishwasher! After filling those positions, I became a waitress. And I was good. People loved me and I made great money. Oh, those were the days.
There were other things I considered fun in the restaurant that were mundane tasks to others. One of those things was grocery shopping. On weekend nights, which happened to be when the bulk of the dinners had been served, as things were winding down for the night, Frank would always have someone accompany him to the grocery store. Not too many people liked to do this, but I always rallied for it to be me. I always thought I got lucky when I was picked to go; it took me a while to realize it was because no one else wanted to. I didn't care, I loved it.

So around ten-thirty, we'd make our way up to Shop-Rite. We’d walk around with two carts, filling them to the brim. When we got to the check-out and unloaded 15 gallons of milk, 30 half-gallons of ice cream, 40 pounds of butter, 37 bottles of A-1 sauce, dozens of rolls of paper towels and more, the girl would always ask if we were having a party. I’d giggle and flippantly say “I wish”, acting like this was a regular shop for us.

Frank is the person who taught me how to shop; how to save money, how to decipher which was the better bargain (twenty years before they started putting the “per unit” price tags on the shelves), and how the store brand ice cream tasted better than name brand (people would NEVER believe us when we told them it was Shop-Rite chocolate ice cream).

He also taught me how to water-ski, took me to my first Broadway play, took me on my first airplane trip, let me drive for the first time (before I got my license), was the first person I drove cross-country with, gave my friends summer jobs at his restaurant, helped me buy my first car, listened to and implemented my ideas for restaurant operations, and always, always, introduced me as his daughter.
Today would have been his 90th birthday. I say “would have” because last month he died. And I’m sad. I was with him every day for the last three weeks of his life, and he died at home. Actually, it was Ed who found him. Just an hour after my mother gave him his medicine, Ed went in to check on him and he wasn’t breathing. We knew it was coming, as we watched him decline, but there was still that moment where you think you didn’t get to say your last “last” goodbye.

The thing that comforts me the most is that he knew how much I loved him. And I know how much he loved me. He may have been a curmudgeon at times, and I didn’t always like when he had to act the parent, but we had a connection. After my father died and Frank read the obituary I wrote for him, he asked me to write his. I did, and he read it during the time I was home with him. He loved it and gave it his stamp of approval. This is it:

Frank A. Porpora, Catskill Mountain Restaurateur
and World War II Soldier, Dies at age 89

Tucson, AZ

Frank A. Porpora, a native New Yorker and 30-year
Frank pictured with Ingrid Bergman, when his
platoon was assigned to her escort detail
during a WWII visit.
of Arizona, died on Wednesday, October 26, 2011, at his home in Tucson. He was 89 years old. Born in the Bronx, NY on November 14, 1921, to Antonio Porpora and Rosaria Catacchio Porpora, immigrants from Agerola and Barletta, Italy, he was the oldest of their five sons. Frank’s early life was seasoned by World War II, but his defining principle – loyalty and generosity to family, friends and country – took him around the world; he was even photographed with Ingrid Bergman in Germany when his troop was assigned to escort her during a wartime visit. After the war, he returned to the beauty of the Catskill Mountains where his true legacy began.

Frank was best known for his position at the helm of the iconic Dodge Inn Steak House in Rock Hill, NY. The restaurant, originally a boarding house, had been in the family since the early 1920’s. Originally run by his Uncle Charlie, the Dodge Inn was eventually handed over to Frank when he returned from serving his country in World War II. The Dodge Inn became a favorite dining spot not only for locals, but for celebrities who entertained in the Catskills; among them were Milton Berle, Don Rickles, Red Buttons, Lee J. Cobb, Frankie Lane, Pat Cooper, Sid Caesar, Alan King, Perry Como, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, boxers Rocky Marciano, Rocky Graziano and Michael Spinks, Tony Bennett, Buddy Hacket and singer Billy Eckstein.

“Big Frank” as he was known in the restaurant, wasn’t just a war veteran and successful business owner, he was also a father, a loyal friend and a much loved family member. He was a man of unbendable perseverance, he was reliable, had a deep-rooted belief in old world values, and could be trusted to hold a secret for life. He provided many people with their first jobs, and created a family atmosphere among the employees of the Dodge Inn. He was revered and feared, often simultaneously. He had a tough exterior but to those who really knew him, he also had a marshmallow heart.

He was trustworthy, hardworking, passionate about his business, and generous; he often gave silently, never looking for recognition for his actions. He was not only generous in deed, he was also generous with his time, teaching friends and family members how to snow ski at local resorts and how to waterski on Masten Lake, where he owned beachfront property which housed an old-fashioned “casino”. He even took all the kids in the family to one of the biggest waterparks in the tri-state area, joining them on the log flumes and rope swings. He was fearless.

Frank was certainly one of a kind and will be missed by many. He will be remembered for his larger than life presence, his colorful language, his creating a landmark restaurant in an area that dominated a bygone era, his love of Frank Sinatra, his helping others by dispensing with his money, time and always, always large amounts of food, his tireless work to provide for his families, his stubbornness, and his oft hidden gentle spirit.

And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I'll say it clear, I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.
I've lived a life that's full. I've traveled each and every highway.
And more, much more than this,
I did in my way.
~ Frank Sinatra,
My Way

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Personally Yours. But Not Mine.

Before it was possible to log onto the internet and order anything you wanted, with any name you could think of, people with unusual names were just shit out of luck.

Like me.

I remember, as a kid, walking into a store and seeing a display rack of oh, anything, and knowing, without even checking, that my name would not be among the ones displayed.

Whether it was a necklace, a zipper pull, a keychain, a coat rack for my bedroom, a baseball cap, a box to present the tooth fairy your tooth, or something as generic as a coffee mug. It wouldn't be there.

If you were a Jennifer or a Lisa or a Michelle, no problem. Those were generic, common names. Mark, Jason or Michael (like my brother)? No problem, you could buy anything you want. But not me. I used to look for my name among the Sheilas and Sues and Sarahs. Pushed aside the Sandys and Stephanies and Stacys to see if maybe, just maybe, someone had finally made something with my name on it.

I never found anything.

When I was sixteen, I went to my uncle's jewelry store and custom ordered a
nameplate necklace, fifteen years before Carrie Bradshaw made them popular on Sex and the City. It was beautiful - diamond-cut in real gold, attached to a gorgeous rope chain with a seed pearl on each end of the name. I still have it. And it's still the only thing I own with my name on it.

I've actually grown to like the fact that I can't find my name anywhere. I've always loved my name. Always loved that it was unique and always loved that I almost never ran into anyone with the same one. In school, there was one girl I knew with the same name but she spelled it entirely different, and only until Selena the Mexican singer became popular, did I hear my name said with any regularity in places other than by people who knew me.

It's still an unusual name and to this day, doesn't matter where I go, doesn't matter how cool the item is, doesn't matter how off beat or high falutin' the store is, they won't have anything displaying my name. And that's okay. Oh sure, I can go to Things Remembered in the mall and have them engrave my name onto a cheesy Christmas ornament. And I'd have to spell it five times and likely, write it down. And even after doing so, there's still a chance it'll come out wrong.

But today, if I really want a coffee cup with my name on it, instead of just an "S", I know where to go.

And I know how to spell it - it starts with www.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Sheltered Madonna And Child
Breaking A Leg Doesn’t Always Mean Good Luck
Showing Its True Colors, Even On The Cloudiest Day
It’s All In The Cards
A Blond Moment

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Life Is For Living

I just took the New York Times Personality Test. And boy, are they smart over there! The result? They said I'm a LIFE LOVER.

This is the description I got after I finished my test:

You are a bit of a dreamer and you are drawn to anything with a sense of mystique. Despite being a bit of a homebody, you love letting your mind wander off to far flung lands where anything can happen. You are an emotional spirit and you make really strong connections. Good friends and lots of laughs are the recipe for really happy days. And nights!

You’re creative and imaginative and like to be inspired. Home is where your heart is and you love nothing more than putting personal touches to your space. You’re laid-back and relaxed with a very healthy attitude to life. Naturally down-to-earth, you don’t believe in sweating the small stuff. Life’s for living, with minimum stress and maximum enjoyment and so fun with family and friends is top of the list as far as you’re concerned. Food is a definite passion too and you’re always up for tantalizing your taste buds. You’re a bit of a dreamer at heart. But there’s nothing wrong with that. Set your sights high and you’ll create the life you deserve.

Wow. That is SO me!

Want some random newspaper quiz to tell you who you are?

Take the test

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These Sure Would Look Snazzy On The Feet Of A Trucker
There’s No Whey In The Way Of This Delicious Treat
O Canada!
Ladies Night (And Day) Out
The Queen Is Bleak
Literacy In The South