Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Sun Sets On 2015

Saguaro National Monument at Gate's Pass in Tucson, Arizona
The year has come to a close, which means it's time to tackle the Year-End Meme. I found this one to be a little harder this year and had to really reach for a few answers. Some things didn't change (like my truck "wardrobe"), but I'm hoping the rest is semi-entertaining.

Wherever you may be in the world, I hope you've had a good year and I wish you an even better 2016! Thank you for your readership, your comments, your emails, etc.  It's nice to know the things I write about and photograph make some people happy.

See you on the road in 2016!  Here we go...

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
We went on a 32-day cruise! Through the Panama Canal. Went to Cedar Point Amusement Park, which made Ed very happy. Ate at The Tamale Place (which I've been wanting to do since I saw it on Guy Fieri's show). Photographed and witnessed an ocean rescue mission. Went to an ocean race event in Newport, RI.  Had a Twitter spat with a major trucking carrier. And went four-wheeling in Moab, Utah.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? 
I didn't make any last year and I haven't decided yet about this year. 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes!  My cousin Michelle gave birth in November to the most gorgeous little boy ever!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes.  My old friend Greg died suddenly and unexpectedly. I am still finding it hard to believe he's gone. We drifted apart over the years but he's part of so many of my memories, he will never be forgotten.

And another person (not close to us but who was one of our favorite agents) - Shirley Anhalt - died the week before Christmas. Ed's been working with her for over 14 years and we did a regular run for her four times a year which took us to Newport, Rhode Island, one of our favorite places. She should be an example to all agents - she truly cared about who we were and what we do for a living.  She was fair and always on our side. And she always remembered who we were when we called her office - she knew our names and even our voices, often saying "How you doing, Ed?" before he even identified himself. She will be missed.

5. What countries did you visit?
Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and Columbia.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015? 
More time with my best friend Vicki. I'd love for us to do a week-long vacation somewhere. I keep wishing for it but it just doesn't pan out as I'd like. It's definitely on my to-do list, I just hope I can make it happen this year. 

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Our friends coming for Christmas and then staying into the new year.  Definitely the time on our cruise.  I loved Hawaii, but was also very intrigued by Antigua, Guatemala and Cartagena, Columbia.  I'd go back to both place for sure. My Twitter spat with a major trucking company because their training program for new drivers puts all our lives in danger. Our impromptu dinner party, trucker style. Our four-wheeling adventure in Moab.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Driving over 500,000 miles without hitting anything. And maybe writing this wildly popular post - my numbers went through the roof on this one.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Allowing a wedge to come between me and someone I love.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? 
No actual illnesses or injuries.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
This jacket for the snow vacation that we haven't gone on yet.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The Supreme Court for their ruling in favor of same-sex marriage rights nationwide. I have a lot of very happy friends because of this!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? 
Oh, this one is easy. Donald Trump, hands down.  Not depressing, just appalling. Not out of character for him, but appalling for a human being.

14. Where did most of your money go? 
Well, other than regular expenses, I suppose we spent most of our other money this year on vacation clothing, accessories, a new iPhone, and food.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Again, I don't get three "really exciteds" about anything, but let's see...what makes me super happy? Well, one simple answer is my mother's cat Maezy. She's super cute and just begs for smooches. And I get excited about delicious food - like this, and this, and this, and this.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
"Unsteady" by X Ambassadors. I was turned on to it by one of my readers and I've been listening to it and singing it since. Every once in a while I just blurt out the opening of the song, "Hooooold. Hold on. Hold on to me."

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?
I'm at about the same level of happiness, 12 pounds lighter (my earrings are loose), and due to Ed's meticulous planning and investing, I have a bit more in my piggy bank.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Swimming and water activities.  Even though we went on the cruise, we really didn't have a lot of ocean time.  We went snorkeling only once, and the rest of the year didn't have any opportunities to hit a pool or the ocean.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

20. How did you spend Christmas? 
At home in Arizona, with my mother, brother, sister-in-law, and three nephews. It was low-key, relaxing, and fun. And we kept the menu very simple - Chicken with a White Wine Lemon Butter Herb sauce, Roasted Green Beans, and Oven Roasted Rosemary Potatoes for dinner and then coffee with several homemade treats for dessert.

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?
Since I'm in a long-term relationship, I never fall in love with anyone new. My Eddie is the only guy for me.  And although I've answered this in the past with other things I've fallen in love with, I can't think of anything at the moment.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Still into NashvilleScandalGrey's, and the last season of Downton Abbey. My new favorites are I Love Kellie Pickler and Married at First Sight.   

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? 

24. What was the best book you read? 
I didn't read one book this year.  Magazines, newspapers, articles online, yes. But not one book. 

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? 

26. What did you want and get?
To go to Hawaii.  We went to the islands of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai 

27. What did you want and not get?
I can't think of anything I wanted that I didn't get this year. I'll have to give this one more thought.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 48 years old in Indianapolis, Indiana.  We went to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, visited downtown Indy, and ate tamales.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I think I had a pretty satisfying year, but I think I would have liked to read more books.  Next year.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
Same answer as last year:  When you spend a majority of your day on the road, "fashion" becomes less important as time marches on.  In the truck, I like comfort, so yoga pants and tank tops or t-shirts.  When we go out to dinner, or shopping, or visiting, I have some easy flowy tops and capri pants with little leather ballerinas - black and silver are my staples.  

32. What kept you sane?
Carrot dogs.  No, I'm kidding, I haven't even tried them.  But I'm going to in 2016! I guess since I spend all my time with Ed, he has to be credited for me keeping my sanity.  Sometimes he's the one who drives me insane, but he always pulls me back!

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I think this year it would have to be Jon Stewart.  I've always been a fan but this year he was in the press a little more than normal because of his show ending.  Watching the last episode was a little on the sad side.  

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Guns.  Oh. My. God.  Enough with the guns already. I'm really tired of hearing about people dying every single day from gun violence. 

35. Who did you miss?
I've kinda been missing my grandparents, on both sides.  I've become more interested in the ancestry of our family over the years and I wish they were around to ask questions of.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Jonathan and Brooke East. Jonathan East and Brooke Cenicola East were performers in the shows on our cruise ship. We were able to spend some personal time with them and really loved the two of them. They were down to earth, easy-going, and extremely talented. They met at Dollywood in Sevierville, TN and after Jonathan's relentless pursuit, Brooke eventually agreed to a date, which ultimately led to their marriage. What a fantastic couple!  On the same cruise, we met and spent a lot of time with Stephen Crome, the owner of Laguna Tattoo.  He was a definitely plus to our nightly dining experience.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
That's it's finally time to start paying attention to my health. I've always been incredibly lucky when it comes to health. No ailments, no issues, no lactose-intolerance, no gluten problems, no migraines, nothing.  And as a 48-year-old non-exercising fat chick, I've always been proud of the fact that I've had perfect blood pressure, low cholesterol, normal blood sugar, good eyes, good hearing (although both of those are feeling strained lately), and that I take no medication other than Tylenol for the occasional headache. But a few months ago I had a swollen foot issue that kinda wigged me out. It turned out to be nothing, which the doctor later confirmed, but it did gave me pause. I realized that I really need to pay more attention to what I'm eating and must incorporate some sort of exercise into my life. I will be trying hard to work on both of those things in 2016, because without good health, pretty much everything else is going to suck.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Since this is the year Frank Sinatra would have been 100 years old, I will sum up my year with his lyrics...

Up there, where the air is rarefied!

And my slogan for the New Year...BLISS!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2014: Thanks, 2014. For Everything.
2013: I Am Gonna OWN You, 2014!
2012: Wrapping Up A Year Of Making My Own Sunshine
2011: Later, 2011!
2010: That’s A Wrap!
2009: Out With The Old
2008: Another Year, Another 365 Days
2007: All Good Things Come To An End
2006: The Symphony Of A Thousand Saws
2005: Suicidal Firewood

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I Hope You Feel Small When You Stand Beside The Ocean

This song came out over 15 years ago in March 2000.  It was a huge hit and everyone loved it.  Last night we watched a movie where the song was playing in one of the scenes and it just reminded me what a sweet song it is. It's a good song to start a New Year with.

I Hope You Dance

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
GOD forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin',
Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin',
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin' out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone.)

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

Dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance..
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Palm Print
2013: Give Me Ten Minutes, I'll Give You A Year

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Swiss Grill Does It Up Alambre Style

Every time we're home we hit one of the Mexican restaurants I've been going to for over 20 years.

I don't know if it's the best in Tucson, and believe me I've tried most of them - Mi Nidito, Cafe Poca Cosa, El Charro Café , Casa Molina, Tucson Tamale Company, El Parador (out of business now), Mosaic Cafe, Guillermo's Double L, and a bunch of other little, lesser known places that have come and gone over the years - but this one is my favorite.

La Parrilla Suiza is always my first stop - they serve Mexico City cuisine and all of the restaurant's tacos, meat, and cheese dishes are cooked on charcoal or grilled.  Did you know that La Parrilla Suiza means "Swiss Grill" in Spanish?  I don't get the connection, but who cares, the food is good.

And in the 20-plus years I've been going, I always order the same thing - Alambre Tacos (beef) con Enchiladas Suizas. Alambre is grilled beef with chopped bacon, bell peppers, and onions.  The meat in their recipe is so incredibly tender and the bacon brings the flavor to a higher level.  I crave it, which is why I never try anything else.

Because I'm all like, "What if the world ended tonight and I didn't have the alambre tacos?"

And I just don't think it's necessary to have that conversation with myself. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Another Day Gone

2013: No Snow For Winter AND Stupid Syfy Movies
2012: Winter Rest 
2011: Happy 5005!
2010: It Really Doesn’t Need Any Help
2009: The Day The Music Lived
2008: It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas
2007: He Raises A Valid Point
2006: Eddie In Stripes Friday
2005: Customer Service Vigilante

Monday, December 28, 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015

Have A Very...

Wherever you may be, and whatever celebration you're taking part in, Ed and I wish you the Happiest and Merriest of the Season!

Be safe if you're on the road if you're out there, and if you're home with family, enjoy your day!

And if anyone has snow to spare, send it my way!  Thanks.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: The Christmas Table

2013: Wishes To The Whole World
2012: Merry Christmas!
2011: Who Says Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees? It’s Christmas!!
2010: Christmas Time Is Here
2009: Commanding Attention Once Again
2008: A Meal Of Delicious Cheesy Goodness And A Day Of Good Delicious Cheeriness
2007: The Merry. The Moments. The Memories.
2006: I Love Your Bawwwlls!!
2005: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2015

O Christmas Plant, O Christmas Plant

Every room in my mother's house is decorated for Christmas. Even the bathroom. But she didn't put up a tree this year.

Instead, she has a Christmas Plant.

One string of lights and a few snowmen ornaments. The epitome of simplicity.

The cat is so confused, she hasn't touched a thing on it.

Merry Christmas, my friends!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: In The Shadow Of Friends

2013: Christmas Eve Big Ass Surf And Turf
2012: This Sled Is Being Pulled By Rudolph The Bucking Red Nosed Reindeer 
2011: Call Me For A Good Time – I’m ALWAYS Happy
2010: Blue Plates And Books For Christmas Eve
2009: Holiday Theft Is On The Rise…Right In Your Own Neighborhood!!
2008: The Team Finally Takes A Rest
2007: The Night Before Christmas And All Through The House
2006: The Only Visible Flames Came From The Candles On The Altar
2005: Tonight’s The Night, People

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Pug Life

This is Riley. She's a Pug. She belongs to my friend Kim.

She's over 11 years old now. I started dating Ed around the time I met Riley. She was a puppy then, a tiny, smelly, obnoxious little puppy who used to take everything out of my purse with her stinky little snout.

Now she's got a bad hip, limps across the room, breathes like Darth Vader, most of the time her tongue just hangs out of her mouth as she pants, she sheds like a tree in Fall, and she's still as pugly as the first day I met her.

She looks like a disgruntled old man. But my friend Kim loves her to death, so when I go over to visit, I just shoo her toward Kim and try not to look at those giant buggy eyes.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: The Capital Wheel Blur

2013: Shopping, Wrapping And Eating Is Exhausting
2012: This Space Available
2011: The Road To Laramie
2010: Muscling Christ Back Into Christmas
2009: Holiday Gift Suggestions
2008: Weighing In
2007: When You Need Maternity Clothes And You’re Not Pregnant, You Know It’s Time For A Diet
2006: It’s The Real Thing!
2005: Spiraling Out Of Control

Monday, December 21, 2015

Silver Level Safety

While on the road, my 9 Year Silver Level Safety Award came in the mail.  Every year, as long as I don't hit anything, I get little treats to commemorate my safe driving. I always get the standard pair of gloves, safety patch, number sticker, wallet card, and hat pin. This package included a small Victorinox Swiss Army knife and what looks like a charm for a necklace, which I would never wear as a necklace but which I will add to my key ring.

Along with the trinkets, there was a letter from the President and CEO.  The letter said,

Dear Landstar BCO:

Congratulations on the achievement of your 9th anniversary of safe driving with Landstar.  I would like to thank you for your dedication to providing safe, professional services day-in and day-out.  On behalf of our customers, agents, fellow BCOs and employees, we thank you for your commitment and recognize your efforts in reaching yet another impressive career milestone.

Thank you for always keeping safety in mind as you travel across America's roadways.


Jim Gattoni
President & CEO

Now isn't that nice?  

For those of you who don't know, a BCO is a "Business Capacity Owner". At Landstar, we are not employees, we are leased owner-operators. So although we have their name on our door, we are self-employed business owners.

Every year they send pretty useful stuff.  Tote bags, computer bags, jackets, small tool kits, etc.  I literally have enough jackets to last me the rest of my life.

This year I got this awesome duffel bag on wheels.  We already have one from one of Ed's past safety awards and we use it all the time. I will definitely make use of this regularly!

Next year for my 10-year Safety Award - providing I don't do anything to screw up my perfect record - I'll get a cruise.

So if you see me on the highway, stay far, far away.  I don't want anything screwing up my trip to the Bahamas!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Climbing Snoqualmie With Ease

2013: In Lieu Of Snow
2012: Money Vs. Meatballs
2011: A Window To The Past
2010: A Killer Rest Area
2009: The Barn Man
2008: Text Me
2007: Eddie Gets Impatient Friday
2006: If You Have A Note, Then It’s Perfectly Okay To Commit Credit Card Fraud
2005: Limo Scene

Friday, December 18, 2015

NSFW Takes On New Meaning

I just bought the January/February 2016 issue of Playboy magazine.

Why, you ask?

Because this is the last issue ever that will feature naked women.

What?? No naked women in Playboy?  Isn't that what they're known for??

Well, yes, they are.  But the magazine has decided, after 62 years, that they just can't compete with all the nakedness (and all the sex acts under the sun) that can be found on the internet. Getting a copy of a magazine with naked women in it mailed to your home, one that you hide from your wife and kids, just doesn't do it for people anymore.

The first issue of Playboy, published in 1953, featured Marilyn Monroe on the cover. This last issue features the magazine's most popular Playmate, Pamela Anderson. This will be the 14th time she's graced the cover. 

I remember reading Playboy early in life. My father and uncles always had a copy lying around somewhere. Next to the scotch and Sinatra records. We weren't very modest in our household.  Nudity was okay. Not nudist colony style nudity, but let's just say it wasn't unusual to see someone running from the bathroom to their room naked. Nudity wasn't sexualized, it just was.

So after my parents got divorced and my mother remarried, we discovered that my step-father had boxes and boxes of old Playboy magazines stored in his attic. Old ones, from the fifties and sixties. My brother and I would sit up there for hours and pore over them, handing each other the ones we each just finished. I loved that the women were so beautiful - for me, it was about their clothing, their hair, their makeup, the setting they were photographed in, their centerfold questionnaire answers, and their vintage perfection. My brother may have had different interests! But I devoured everything from the advertisements, to the interviews (really, they were good), to ALL the comics.  Little Annie Fanny was my favorite.

Playboy has always been the classiest of men's magazines and plenty of famous women have graced its pages. I haven't read a complete issue in years, but every once in a while I do pick up a copy and thumb through it. And I have to say, I much prefer the older issues, definitely the ones before 2000 but mostly the issues from the 60s and 70s.  I have a few special issues saved - the one with Barbra Streisand on the cover (October 1977), Raquel Welch (December 1979), Cindy Crawford (July 1988), and Sherilyn Fenn (December 1990) to name just a few. I think someday they may be valuable. Or not. But I'm keeping them anyway.

If you're internet savvy you might know that NSFW means "Not Safe For Work".  This acronym is usually seen in the subject line of an email and it means that the contents of the communication are not safe to open at work for fear of someone looking over your shoulder and seeing....well, whatever it is that's not appropriate to view at work.  Typically it means  someone in a NSFW email is naked.

Well, NSFW can take on new meaning these days, at least when it comes to Playboy magazine...

Safe For Work.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Mirrors, Glass, And Anxiety

2013: Skip The Stockyards, Head To The Roadhouse
2012: One Week To A Delightfully Dazzling Christmas
2011: My, What A Long Truck You Have
2010: A Place For The Snow To Rest
2009: They’re Always Touching Their Hammers
2008: Raindrops On Roses And Whiskers On Kittens
2007: Love Hate Relationship
2006: Full Service
2005: Struffo-What??

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Taking My Faux Fur And Heading To Arizona

While in Florida, I was in short-sleeves and capri pants. Then we went north, my fingers crossed for cold weather. But there wasn't any.  I wore my winter coat (bought last year, never worn) for about 11 minutes.

What the hell is going on with the weather?  I'm in the mid-Atlantic, it's December-freaking-sixteenth, and there is no cold air to be seen.

I want to wear my winter coat! (stomping feet) But the only place cold enough to wear my faux fur hood - I wish it were real Royal Crown Russian Sable - is in my truck, where I have the A/C cranked down to 60. Or Minsk. Or, well, the west coast.  They're getting hammered.

My mother even said it's freezing in Southern Arizona. I guess I'll just bring my coat with me when I go home for Christmas.  That seems to be where the arctic air is.

And I want arctic air!  Arctic air!  Arctic air!

OK, that's all for now.  You'll get another weather rant from me when I'm freezing my ass off in the arctic air. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2010: The Frozen Tundra
2009: Your Tax Dollars Hard At Work
2008: What’s Next, Reporting Your Maid In The Middle Of Her Dusting The Living Room Tsochkes?
2007: Fashion Forwards
2006: Swimming Po
2005: Just Call Me Rosa

Monday, December 14, 2015

Represent Cuba

Dirty Dancing is one of my favorite movies, so when Dirty Dancing Havana Nights was coming out, I was thrilled.  Another dance movie with cute boys and good music?  It wasn't what I expected, but I still liked it.  Let'e just say garbage men could probably dance in a movie and I'd like it.

This weekend, I caught a replay of the movie. It's still cheesy, but I love the Cuban music and I love the dancing.  It doesn't get any hotter people who feel the music as they move to it.

Heather Headley, who I've liked for a long time, does this song from the movie. I wasn't a fan of hers when I saw the movie years ago and was happy to see her in it.

So listen to it, move to it, love it.

Represent! Represent!


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Where To Go For Pig And Eggs

2013: My Memory Goes Way Way Back

2012: Remember One, Remember All
2011: History Still Standing
2010: Stay Home: TV And Hot Chocolate Is The Only Way To Make It Through
2009: A Rainy Rainbow
2008: Be Wary Of Women Wearing Skull Panties
2007: Holiday Sparkle
2006: Arizona Sunset
2005: Before And After The Chops