Thursday, November 30, 2006

If You Can't Make It To France

Consider Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas; its a teeny tiny replica smack in the middle of the Strip. Tres gauche.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dress Code

Today we went to buy our tickets to go see "O" tomorrow night, the spectacular Cirque du Soleil production at the Bellagio.

While at the ticket counter, I inquired about the dress code for the showroom. Knowing that Las Vegas isn't what it used to be and that you no longer have to be super dressed up to do anything, I just wanted to make sure that my jeans and blazer ensemble would be appropriate.

The girl at the desk said, "Dressy casual. No swimsuits. No lingerie."

I guess since you're bound to see anything in Las Vegas, from drag queens to beauty queens, it is best to be specific; saying "Appropriate Dress" could leave too much room for interpretation.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Forced Happiness

The best way to keep a smile on your face. Carved totems, Wickenburg, Arizona

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wanderlust Officially Approved

I've been working on getting my passport for over a year now. The delay? Taking a decent picture. I mean, who wants to be stuck with a horrible picture for ten years? Not moi, thank you very much.

In Ed's opinion, anytime is a good time to take a picture. I can't tell you how many time he has said, "Let's go take it right now."


"But you look beautiful."

Great. I'm thrilled that he thinks I look great with bad hair, or a zit on my cheek, or in an old t-shirt, when my lipgloss is on its last leg, or God forbid, on a "fat day." Yeah, yeah, I'm blessed to have a guy who thinks I'm gorgeous no matter what. Blah, blah, blah.

But women know better. We know when a picture is gorgeous, we know when it's decent and we know when it's a picture that will go into the "eh, no one will see it" category.

I'm not going with gorgeous and I'm not going with the "eh" category, but I think this one is decent enough to grace my passport:

Virtually untouched with the exception of a change to the background color and a little doctoring of the "do," the most amazing thing about this picture is that it's from my driver's license. Oh, how the magic of Photoshop made it possible for me to travel the globe.

Bon Voyage!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Life Giver vs. Indian Giver

I was in my mother's office this morning putting on my makeup, getting ready to go out. Ed was on the computer just behind me and my mother was floating in and out of the room, adding her two cents when the mood struck her.

As I was going through her makeup to see if there was anything I wanted to try, I found a few things I liked; which wasn't a surprise since I realized she was using makeup I had given her.

"Ma, do you use this?" I asked, using some of the tinted moisturizer I found in her makeup drawer.

"Sometimes, why?" she said.

"Because I like it and think I want it back."

"You didn't give me that."

"Yes I did."

"No you didn't."

"Yeah, I did, Mom. This is the stuff I used to use."

"No. I'm sure I bought that when I was shopping with Joan; it's the same kind she uses."

"Well, I gave you this," I said, picking up an elegant eyeshadow brush.

"And this," fingering some cream blush.

"Oh, and this." spying some lavender eyeshadow.

"Yeah? Well, I gave you life." she said.

"Can't top that, Salena." Ed pipes in.

OK, well that may be true; but I still want that creamy tinted moisturizer.

Friday, November 24, 2006

What Boys (And One Girl) Do On Thanksgiving

In an effort to work up a respectable appetite, the boys took to the dirt track in my brother's yard. My brother, my three nephews, Eddie (of course)...

and the one girl rider of the bunch, my cousin Deana:

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Crouching Poultry, Hidden Turkey

Creation courtesy of Mina.

The object was to "disguise" the Turkey so it would not be found and wind up on the dining table. Notice the strategic placement of the Hawaiin grass skirt, M&M bra and fancy dangle earrings!

There's no way this one will be lying next to the cranberry jelly. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

When You Can't See The View Because The Hooters Are In The Way

Today I saw a billboard on I-635 in Garland, TX for a new restaurant called Twin Peaks.

Please tell me they're kidding.

The tag line is "Eats. Drinks. Scenic Views."

Since Texas, being a relatively flat state, has no peaks to speak of, we know the "eats and drinks" aren't the draw here. The concept is about as pathetic as a guy trying to tell you with a straight face that he goes to Hooter's for the wings. Uh huh.

On second hand, maybe I should get in on this dining establishment phenomenon; except mine will have a twist.

I'm going to call it Johnson's. "The place to go for great food, cold drinks and a HARD time."

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Department Of Mindless Vegetables

Is there a federal mandate that requires The Department of Motor Vehicle to staff their offices with lifeless, rude, incompetent people?

I imagine the hiring process to be one where applicants are given a series of tasks to complete and the one who finishes last and with the most errors, gets the job. Oh, and if they have an expression of disgust on their face the whole time, they get extra pay or something. The key is to show the interviewer how they are able to appear as if they are so absolutely horrified should a customer actually expect them to do their job; and if their body language indicates that they have better things to do than their job and that you are a mere interruption keeping them from taking their lunch break, I am sure that particular person will be hired on right away; probably as a supervisor.

This details my most recent experience with DMV:

After waiting two hours for my test and paperwork to be processed, I was told that the photo processing machine wasn't working and I would have to either wait, come back or go to another office, just ten miles away, to have them print my license. OK, a little inconvenient, but not horrible.

When I got to the other office, their first response was "Sorry, we can't do that here." I had the absolute balls to question the woman who gave me that response. And when I asked why, she told me "Cause my supervisor said so." (neck roll) OK, great. Let me speak to your Supervisor. (eye roll and big sigh)

Well, when they realized they actually could do it; (but really didn't want to), I was told I would have to take a number, fill out another form (identical to the one I was holding in my hand) and wait. Possibly another two hours. "Sorry, that's policy." she said, with a bwah ha ha ha ha, I hold all the power tone.

Being told that I had to wait again to have them push the "print" button was like being told you can't get breakfast at McDonald's because it's 11:02 am and they stop serving breakfast at 11. I stood at the counter watching the woman print out everyone else's license knowing she could do the same with mine. The information was in the computer, she just had to bring my face up on the screen and print it. But noooooo. I needed a number for that.

The rude supervisor, who I was apparently inconveniencing, contacted the first office telling them, "I doan know whah y'all be sending dem people over here, we done got enough people waitin' here, linin' the walls and sitting everywhere up in here already." as if I wasn't even standing there. I guess I should have felt bad for her that after having waited two hours at the other office, I had the absolute nerve to come over to her office and bother her to do her job.

She learned during her phone call that the original office had their machine up and running, so I went back there to have them print out my license. Good God. By now, my ordeal was going into its fourth hour. FOUR. Although I have never in my life been to a motor vehicle office that was both friendly and efficient, these two offices in Memphis, TN had to be the worst by far.

I think comparing them to vegetables might be insulting.

To the vegetable, of course.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Aten HUT!!

Someone is very good at their job. Aligning garbage pails like this is surely evidence that said person must have been in the military; I'm sure you could bounce a quarter off their sheets, too. Hoo-rah!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Don't We All?

* Picture of Happy Bunny backpack taken at the Five Below store in Wilmington, DE with my trusty little camera phone.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Text Me

Text messages I have sent and received:

Can you fall in love with someone you never met?

Undernourished camels do not have humps.

No. Bring me some toilet paper so I can make a turban and some hand towels with red lipstick smeared all over them so I can make my Osama costume.

Sex offenders not allowed costumes, no candy giving, no yard displays.

Yeah, but the ambassador to the restroom construction/remodel told me that the woman’s is being re-done. Whew! I can die now!

OK you loon, when you get here.

This room has lots of table space and a circular desk.

It really struck me how much I miss chatting every other hour.

Bitch ola.

That was fast! Your check is filled out and ready to go.

I was. Now I am done. They don’t have any Hostess products.

Why don’t you come in here when you get up after you greet the day.


Pahtootie!! What are you doing?

Ewwww – Assmunchausen syndrome.

Dance you fool!!

Meet me at the showers.

Is she Kuntry?

I hate when the door crack is so big people can see in.

Maybe. I will loon when I get there.

Two grape sodas with a big cup of ice please!

No, dork. But I knew this guy who always blamed Sprites.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Not Falling For Winter Yet

There are still some brave ones out there, hanging on till the very last minute.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Fine Cargo Of Experiences And Memories

"A man's age is something impressive, it sums up his life: maturity reached slowly and against many obstacles, illnesses cured, griefs and despairs overcome, and unconscious risks taken; maturity formed through so many desires, hopes, regrets, forgotten things, loves. A man's age represents a fine cargo of experiences and memories." ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Wartime Writings 1939-1944, translated from French by Norah Purcell)

Today my step-father turned eighty-five. Happy 85th Franchi!

Monday, November 13, 2006

It's All In The Cards

I got a lovely email the other day from a reader in Canada (oh, how I love Canada and the Canadians!!), who sent this picture saying "every time I sit and play this children's game with my five year old daughter this card reminds me totally of you."

She likened it to my profile pic and noticed the similarity in an illustrated, cartoony sort of way. I just love it, although I don't know if I look as cool as Carmen does in her sunglasses and flippy hair, but we are both sporting cute little barrettes.

When I was younger and all my friends were getting married, I used to joke that they were going to put my picture on the cards they use for the game of Old Maid.

I don't know what this game is, but I'm thinking it's way better than Old Maid!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Saturday, November 11, 2006

We Would All Go Down Together

At the end of this post you'll fing the lyrics for "Goodnight Saigon," a song by Billy Joel. Every time I hear this song, I think of our soldiers and I picture a slideshow of faces; the faces of the fallen. I am most disturbed by the young ones.

Although this song was written for the soldiers of Vietnam, the music is haunting and it makes me feel like crying when I hear it, knowing that people are dying for me.

In honor of Veteran's Day, I'd like to thank all of our very brave (former and present) members of the Armed Forces who keep our country safe. I hope our administration does the right thing and brings you home soon.

The original video I posted was disabled by Sony so click to here to listen to "Goodnight Saigon" and follow along with the lyrics:

We met as soul mates
On Parris Island
We left as inmates
From an asylum
And we were sharp
As sharp as knives
And we were so gung ho
To lay down our lives
We came in spastic
Like tameless horses
We left in plastic
As numbered corpses
And we learned fast
To travel light
Our arms were heavy
But our bellies were tight
We had no home front
We had no soft soap
They sent us Playboy
They gave us Bob Hope
We dug in deep
And shot on sight
And prayed to Jesus Christ
With all our might
We had no cameras
To shoot the landscape
We passed the hash pipe
And played our Doors tapes
And it was dark
So dark at night
And we held on to each other
Like brother to brother
We promised our mothers we'd write
And we would all go down together
We said we'd all go down together
Remember Charlie
Remember Baker
They left their childhood
On every acre
And who was wrong?
And who was right?
It didn't matter in the thick of the fight
We held the day
In the palm
Of our hand
They ruled the night
And the night
Seemed to last as long as six weeks
On Parris Island
We held the coastline
They held the highlands
And they were sharp
As sharp as knives
They heard the hum of our motors
They counted the rotors
And waited for us to arrive
And we would all go down together
We said we'd all go down together
Yes we would all go down together

Friday, November 10, 2006

Dining In Lancaster County

This is a diner in Lancaster County, PA that Eddie and I sometimes frequent. Click on photo to see the picture in full.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Italian Death March

I come from an extremely social background. I have tons of friends and an intensely gregarious family who are prone to large gatherings; an invite to dinner can mean several hours set aside for eating alone. Being embraced by the family is a goal all of us children have had for our significant others and/or friends. My stepfather is the hardest nut to crack; so if he likes you, you're in. And he just LOOOOOVVVEEES Eddie.

Ditto for my three nephews; the way they came flying out of the house and soaring into his lap the day we visited, was all the evidence I needed. My mother said that my youngest nephew, who is three and a half, factors Ed into all of his play scenarios. "Nana. I'm going to play outside and dig. When I'm digging up all the dirt, Eddie is going to run the backhoe, okay?" or "Nana. Next time we make pastini do you think we can make some more extra for Eddie?" or "Nana. When is Aunt Sleen coming home? Is Eddie coming too?" and "When Eddie gets here, can he play on the compooter with me?"

Eddie doesn't come from a very social family, so this is all new to him. Like my sister-in-law when she finally settled in to the family, he's gotten past the deer in the headlights look. He now knows that when aunts, uncles, cousins, my closest friends or my Mom kiss him the minute he walks in the door, it's a good thing. And when he gets a kiss and hug goodbye, sometimes several since it usually takes at least an hour to actually say goodbye, that's also a good thing. Now he's not stiff when the arms fly around him for a big hug; he actually hugs back. Every once in a while, when departing from a family visit, I hear him say "love you too!" in response to whoever last professed their love to him.

He is really realizing how extremely important the social aspect is to me. To us. I couldn't survive without it. I love how we are all in each others business and how we love to know what's going on in each others lives. At any given moment, Eddie and I have a place to go for a meal - between my mother in Arizona, my best friend in Nashville and my three Aunts in New York, we can get a smokin' great meal at several points along the way. Same thing for a place to lay our heads, if needed.

There is not a day that passes that I don't talk to one of my friends or someone in my family. Eddie is so aware of the desperate need for us to connect that just the other day he said, "So I guess the worst thing you can do to an Italian is take away all of their friends, huh?"

I never thought of it that way, but yeah, it would be. I would probably consider it a fate worse than death.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Convexly Jackson

A country road in Jackson, Tennessee glistens in the rain.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Just When You Thought There Wasn't Another Ounce Of Fun To Be Had Or Another Drop Of Information To Be Remembered, It Doubles And Triples

Today I took a test to add the Doubles and Triples endorsement to my CDL. This means I will be qualified to drive the vehicles seen in the photos below. Well....qualified might be a little too strong of a word; let's just say licensed.

One website reported, "triple-trailer trucks can operate in 16 U.S. states (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana Toll Road, Kansas Turnpike, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio Turnpike, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, and Utah) and in Manitoba, Canada. In all these locations, triples share a common denominator: they have the best safety record of any vehicle on the highways. This is not the exception, but the rule, according to official state records. For example, after a thorough review of their experience with triples, the Oregon Public Utility Commission announced that triple-trailer trucks were three times safer than other vehicles on the road."

And more importantly, according the Big Dogs, the
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in their 2004 Large Truck Crash Overview report, "...doubles (truck tractors pulling a semi-trailer and a full trailer) were only 3% of trucks involved in both fatal and nonfatal crashes and triples (tractors pulling three trailers) accounted for less than 0.5% of all trucks involved."

Well. My mother will certainly be happy to hear that.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Hail To Our Beautiful Maine Coon Mascot

This is my mother's cat, Paydee. She is demonstrating, in fine form, exactly what Eddie and I have been doing for the last four days while visiting our parents in Arizona and New Mexico. "The Paidster," as the grandchildren call her, likes to eat and sleep; she spends most of her day trying to find a place to nap.

Hence the reason she is our mascot.

Ed's parents have a dog, a cute little Jack-A-Poo (Jack Russell/Poodle mix) named Mischa. Mischa has the boundless energy of a five year old with A.D.D. who has clearly missed several doses of Ritalin. If you don't pay close attention to her when she's not in her little doggy cage, you might catch her out of the corner of your eye, coming straight for your face like a flying squirrel with her tongue hanging out of her mouth and her little doggy claws ready to embrace your head while she licks the wax out of your ear.

Hence the reason she is not our mascot.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Working Man

Eddie, text messaging me while waiting for our train wheels to be unloaded.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

One Idiot At A Time

When I was a little girl, my Grandfather used to recite a saying in Italian that included the words "non parlate" (you don't speak) and "gallina" (hen).

Even though gallina means "hen," he always used the word "chicken" when translating it into English and in full, it roughly meant "don't talk until the chicken pees." Since chickens don't pee, he was essentially saying "keep your mouth shut, we don't want to hear from you."

When growing up, we learned a lot of Italian this way; by dissecting what the adults were saying when speaking it in front of us. They would often use Italian when they didn't want us to know what they were talking about or when wanting to curse or impart some sort of wisdom that they thought just sounded better than it did in English.

As far as their style of Italian, it was never the “formal” or "proper" Italian; they always used the local dialects from Bari or Naples, where the family comes from. Often, one side of the family wouldn't know what the other was saying and one word could cause a war if it didn’t come across right.

In instances like that, where a disagreement occurred or everyone started talking at once, my Grandfather would say, "One idiot at a time. I'll go first."

Going first is fine, I guess…

As long as you're not waiting for the chicken to pee before you begin speaking.