Saturday, January 31, 2009

If Only I Could Fit All Of This Information On A Bumper Sticker...

** NOTE:  This post is for the truck we owned from 2009 to 2020.  For information on our new truck, see this post. **

These are most of the questions we asked when shopping for our truck and the ones most people ask when they see someone driving something like it:

1. What kind of truck is that and how big is your sleeper?
Our truck is a Freightliner Coronado and it has a 132” sleeper on it. In the trucking industry, sleeper sizes are measured in inches. So for those who are math challenged - 132” translates into 11 feet of sleeper space. Our old truck had a 48” sleeper! You can say we sort of feel like we’ve purchased a “McMansion”.

2. What kind of engine do you have in that thing?
This truck has a Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine – a DDEC V – which we just call a “D-Deck 5”. The engine has 515 horsepower, is the biggest one in its class, and is specifically made to haul heavy loads and take hills without any problems. It’s a pretty powerful engine!!

3. How many gears/speeds does it have?
This truck has 13 speeds – our old truck had 10. It has a different shifting pattern with a low and high range in every gear over fourth gear. I thought it was going to be difficult to master, but it’s ten times easier than the other truck and I’m already a pro! OK, so I’m semi-pro.

4. What kind of fuel mileage do you get and do you use more fuel since it’s heavier?
We’re getting around 6 miles to the gallon and no, we don’t use more fuel. Our weight in this truck with the trailer is the same as our old one.

5. What’s inside the sleeper?
In the sleeper, we have the following comforts of home:  Toilet/Shower combination, Refrigerator/Freezer, Convection Microwave, Extra-deep sink, medicine cabinet, 32” flat panel TV, DVD player, surround sound, bed/dinette table, faux wood floors, a Fantastic Fan, roof A/C, two hanging clothes closets (one of which Ed made into a pantry by adding shelves – awesome!), tinted windows, a back door that has a screen door included for those balmy summer nights, and a “porch light” over the back door with a grab handle that lights up at night.

These photos were taken from the ARI Legacy Sleepers brochure (the people who made our sleeper!) but it’s exactly what our truck looks like inside except that our walls are a taupe color instead of the lighter color in this photo.

6. How much water do your tanks hold for showers, etc.?
We have a 40 gallon water tank to use for showers and the kitchen sink. We have a 7 gallon tank to flush the toilet. Once we use up both of those water supplies, we have to go to a truck stop or RV park to fill up with more fresh water and to dump the wastewater tank. In addition, we carry two 5-gallon jugs of bottled water which connect to a spigot on our sink so we always have fresh drinking water.

7. How do all of those electronics and appliances get power?
We have a 7,500 watt Onan generator. It runs everything in the truck. The only thing I was worried about was the air conditioning, but so far, so good. We’ll have to see how it works when it really gets hot out though.

8. Can I see inside?
We had this question asked on the first day we moved our stuff in – I guess we’ll have to get used to it - but I don’t mind, so c’mon in!

9. How heavy is your truck?
The tractor alone, with ¼ tank of fuel weighs 24,580 lbs. The tractor and trailer, with ¼ tank fuel weighs 35,400 lbs. Our old truck and trailer weighed 33,500 lbs. – so even though our truck is now much larger, we didn’t put on too much weight.

10. How much can you scale?
Legally, we can still only go up to 80,000 GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) total without permits. The heaviest load we can haul right now is 45,000 lbs. which leaves our options pretty open. Most of the loads we haul are much less than that weight anyway, so it shouldn't prevent us from taking the loads we really want.

11. What do you haul?
We can haul everything
we’ve hauled before.

12. How long is your truck?
Our total length now is 75’ long. Before buying this sleeper, we were only 65’ long.

13. Can you still go everywhere you used to go?
So far, no problems. We’ve asked other drivers we’ve seen with these big sleepers if they’ve had any trouble getting in and out of places and they’ve all said “None at all”. We’ve been told it takes a little getting used to and although this truck is bigger, it has a tighter turning radius than our other truck, which will helps with getting in and out of places.

14. How long is your wheelbase?
This truck has a 316” wheelbase. Our old truck had 218” wheelbase.

15. What about going to Canada?
Due to Canadian wheelbase restrictions, we can no longer go to Canada. This is probably the only thing that upsets me about the new truck. But, since we spend 95% of our time in the states, we couldn't allow that to affect our decision. What this means now, is that we’ll just have to vacation in Canada!!

16. How much did it cost?
The price of this truck was $225,000.00 but we got a few rebates that brought the final sale price down around $200,000.00. Add the price of the trailer to that and you come up with a grand total of $260,000.00.

17. Are you saving money having this truck over your old truck?
Absolutely! Last year, we spent over $35,000 between dining out and hotels. We will be drastically cutting that figure since I can feed us for a few dollars a day. This brochure will give you an idea of what kind of savings one can expect with a big sleeper truck.

18. What do you like most about your sleeper?
Having a toilet is the biggest convenience – now we don’t have to stop every time I have to pee (which, by the way, is crazy a lot). But the shower, being able to brush my teeth without having to trek inside, cooking a real meal, being able to catch my favorite show, watching a movie, having a snack or cold drink from the fridge….I like it all!

19. Would you ever consider going back to a smaller sleeper?
Never!! And Ed will have to find a new girlfriend if he even thinks about it!

20. And last, but not least, one guy asked Ed "How many women can you fit in that thing?"
Ed looked at him like he was crazy, the thought in his head being, Why the hell would anyone want to cart around more than one woman at a time?? One is more than enough.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Eddie Polishing His Chrome Friday

Eddie was outside polishing the chrome when I caught him peeking over the hood of the truck.

The hood ornament, when seated inside the truck, kinda reminds me of a longhorn. Great for Ed since he's from Texas (and as you can see, was doing his polishing in Texas - see the road sign in the background?) but annoying to me because I'm constantly reminded of longhorns, which in turn makes me think of Texas, which in turn reminds me how much I dislike the Lonestar State.

Ed is pretty lucky that I think he's the cutest thing out of Texas; if I didn't, I'd have unbolted that hood ornament on day two!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Meals On Wheels

Since having the new truck (it’s been 11 days now), we’ve already saved hundreds of dollars on eating out; literally hundreds. I am back in the kitchen eliciting oohs and ahs from my audience of one. It’s been years since I’ve cooked on a regular basis and I’m really enjoying getting back to it.

Breakfast is always something simple for me; yogurt, cottage cheese and fruit, cereal or instant oatmeal. Ed will do oatmeal, but he’d rather have something more substantial for his first meal of the day so I’ve made him a cheese omelet with a side of bacon with wheat toast or a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich for something a little more portable. And always a pot of fresh coffee. He’s really liking the fresh coffee.

Lunch consists of grilled cheese sandwiches with a side of chips and a pickle, turkey and swiss sandwiches on wheat toast, beef barley soup with a half sandwich and my personal favorite, homemade chicken salad on toast with lettuce and tomato. Yum!

Dinner allows me to be a little more creative and I’ve started to make some of my old favorites. I go to the grocery store every couple of days since our fridge is small, but I don’t mind since everything is fresh and it allows me to come up with a new idea for dinner.
So far, some of the dinners I’ve made are as follows:

...Roast Chicken with mashed baby red potatoes, corn and a salad tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

...Angel hair pasta in a homemade marinara sauce (I never, ever, ever do sauce from a jar) with garlic toast and a side salad.

...Grilled Porterhouse steaks with garlic mashed potatoes, peas and a salad with chunky blue cheese dressing.

...Penne alla vodka with chicken breasts sautéed in garlic and olive oil.

And one of my favorites, a staple when I was growing up; a simple dish we just called “Broccoli and Macaroni”.

We never said “pasta” in my house. All “pasta” fell under the Italian word, maccheroni. I don’t know what they do in Italy, but to this day we don’t say pasta. Whenever we have a meal that includes what you all know as pasta, my mother and other family members will say they are making macaroni. The response is always, “What kind?” That’s where you get more specific; penne, rigatoni, farfalle, linguini, fettucine, spaghetti, capellini, orrechiette, acini di pepe, etc.

So for the first time ever, I’m going to post my family recipe for Broccoli & Macaroni. Enjoy!

Broccoli e Maccheroni (Broccoli and Macaroni)

1 head of broccoli, cleaned and cut. (You can use just the florets or the florets and stalks – your choice.)
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 lb. box of Penne (I also like Rigatoni, Gemelli, or Rotini)
Olive Oil

1. In your macaroni pot, put your water on to boil. Add a little salt to the water. Let it boil. Don’t look at it!! Haven’t you heard the old wives tale of a watched pot never boiling? Sheesh!

2. OK, now in a deep saucepan or frying pan, put your olive oil. I can’t give you an amount because I’ve never measured. Just coat the bottom of your pan with olive oil; try to eyeball it so you have enough to coat the broccoli and the macaroni once you’re done. You’re going to toss it so if you think you need more, just add it.

3. Add your garlic and sauté. Try not to burn it. It can happen quickly, so watch it!

4. Once you think the garlic is nice and soft and sautéed, add the broccoli and stir until the broccoli is coated with the olive oil and the garlic pieces. At this point add your salt and pepper (to taste) and a little water; you’re going to cover the broccoli so it steams and gets infused with the garlic flavor. I like my broccoli a little on the hard side, as mushy broccoli in my opinion doesn’t work all that well. But you do what you want – you have to eat it.

5. If your pasta water is boiling, throw in your roni’s (that’s short for macaroni). Time it or cook till al dente, whichever way you prefer.

6. Just before your roni’s are done, take a little of the macaroni water and put it in with your broccoli. A ladle or two should be enough. It makes the meal nice when it has a little broth in the bottom to swish around in.

7. When the macaroni is done, transfer to a colander and drain.

8. Put the macaroni back in the pot, add the entire saucepan of broccoli and toss with the macaroni until everything is coated. You can serve right from the pot or transfer to a serving dish, but do it quick ‘cause you’re gonna want to eat it and you don’t want it to get cold!

9. Now all that’s left to do is mangiare! (eat!)

Click HERE for a copy to print out.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Two Worlds Collide

Facebook, meet Blogger. Blogger, I'd like to introduce Facebook.

Seems this list of 25 is going around on Facebook, so I thought I'd post it here too for all you NFBs (Non-Facebookers) to read. If you want to participate, please either do it on your own blog and let me know so I can come read, or post your 25 in the comments!

25 Things About Me

1. I have two small, but prominent scars on my face. One on my left cheek from shaving when I was four years old; I was emulating my father, picked up the razor, and cut my left cheek. And the other is on my lower lip from when my brother tried to rescue me after I fell while ice skating; instead, he fell and kicked me in the lip with the zig-zag toe of the ice skate.

2. I have an unhealthy attraction to doing these list things: memes, 25 things about me, 7 weird facts about me, 100 things you don’t know about me…whatever you call them, I LOVE them and I love reading them when others fill them out – even if they are strangers!

3. I hate local news. Anywhere, any station. It’s like the mall cop of television.

4. I have never done any illegal drugs in my life. No pot, no pills, no coke, no nothing. I have never smoked and I don’t drink. Yes, really.

5. I can count the number of times I’ve been drunk in my entire 41 years of life on one hand. Yes, really.

6. The only thing I like about Christmas are the lights, the decorations, and the snow if I’m lucky enough to be where this is any. Everything else pretty much sucks – especially the stress-filled shopping, the extreme commercialism, and the forced gaiety.

7. I wear size 11 or 12 shoes. It’s haunted me my entire life, making it near impossible when I was younger to find shoes. My brother always said I should throw away the shoes and wear the boxes. Now that I actually CAN find shoes, I live in flip-flops most of the year.

8. I broke my collarbone in a school bus accident on September 6, 1979. It was the second day of school and I was 11 years old, in the 6th grade. The bus flipped on its side (the side I was sitting on, which cause the people on the other side to fall on me) and slid down the road before it came to a stop. The older kids opened the back emergency door and helped the younger kids get out. My brother was also on the same bus but didn’t get hurt. Turns out I was the only one with a serious injury, everyone else just had bumps and bruises.

9. I don’t think soul mates have to be only of a romantic nature. Hence, my soul mate is my best friend Vicki. The bond was strong and immediate and hasn’t waned since the day we met.

10. I am not loyal to any hairdresser, any nail tech, or any medical professional. I will go wherever I can to get whatever I need and it never occurs to me that someone should be offended by it.

11. In addition, I am not loyal to any brand. I have preferences, but generally, I will buy whatever brand is available for the item I want. Off the top of my head, the only item that I will never waver on is Hellman’s Mayonnaise. Who eats that Miracle Whip crap anyway???

12. I’ve always been intrigued by office supplies. I will find myself wandering the pen/paper/envelope aisle in WalMart or Target, figuring out which pen I must have or justifying why I need Sharpies in every color. I have many blank journal books, folders of all colors, post-it notes in all sizes, spiral notebooks, fine point pens, etc., and can’t ever seem to get out of Office Max or Staples without dropping a minimum of $20.

13. When I was young, my father was a mailman. He had a leather mailbag, walked a route, and delivered letters by hand to individual houses. When I was in grade school, he worked in a small-town post office in upstate New York. I would often go to work with him, where I was allowed to sell postage, sort mail, and use the ink stamps (“Return To Sender”, “Fragile”, “Extra Postage Required” ) on everything I could get my hands on. I was also allowed to use as much twine as I wanted and often, went home with a roll of it. I didn’t need twine, but I always took a roll anyway. Perhaps all the handling of mail, paper, stamps, and postage started my obsession with office products.

14. I abhor all sports of any kind. I think way too much emphasis is put on sports in general, too much money is spent on sports programs (especially at the high school and college level) and too many kids are deluded into thinking they’re going to be millionaires like the people they see on TV just for throwing a ball. I just don’t get the appeal. And people who yell at the TV during a game? Morons.

15. I met my boyfriend Ed online. Since he was driving a truck at the time, we made arrangements for him to come through Tucson to visit me and our first date was in June 2004. After a few more dates and time spent together, I quit my job in November 2004 to go on the road with him. We’ve been together ever since. Spending 24/7 in a truck with your boyfriend? Now that’s love!

16. I often prefer certain foods cold (as leftovers) over hot: cheese ravioli, lasagna, pizza, penne alla vodka, spaghetti, heck – most pasta. Also, I LOVE cold Chinese food, especially crab rangoons and fried rice!

17. I speak loud and fast almost all of the time. When I was younger, my mother would constantly repeat “lower and slower” to me. It didn’t work.

18. Twelve years ago I went to L.A. to pursue plus-sized modeling. I didn’t stick with it and it’s one of my life’s biggest regrets.

19. While in L.A. for a photo shoot, the valet at the hotel I was staying at was convinced I was Ricki Lake. Even after I said, “Sorry. I’m not Ricki Lake,” he sidled up to me and whispered, “C’mon, I promise I won’t tell anyone. You’re Ricki Lake, right?”

20. I am often told I look like Kathy Najimy. When people say, “Do you know who you look like?” I usually respond in a joking tone with, “If you say the fat nun from Sister Act….” They always laugh because that’s exactly what they were thinking, but once they see I’m not offended, they admit it and say “Uh, yeah.”

21. I always sleep with my feet out of the covers. Being “tucked in” especially at the feet, makes me a little crazy and a lot crabby. I could never handle a sleeping bag.

22. I went to the Lilith Fair concert in Phoenix in 1999 and LOVED it. I found it odd though, that there were more women in attendance than men, and a lot of them looked like they were “together”. Then the friend I went with informed me that they were all lesbians. I had no idea. I guess I had undeveloped gaydar back then.

23. My boyfriend just spent $200,000.00 on a new truck but when people admire it, he acts like he’s driving around in a 10-year-old Jeep. I'm surprised I haven't heard him say, “This old schmata?” (Well, I'm not really surprised since he's from Texas and probably never even heard Yiddish, but still - he's so modest, he acts like it's just some old thing he threw on and decided to drive around town in it.)

24. I’m very diligent about returning phone calls, emails, text messages, etc. I’m extremely annoyed when I hear that someone “forgot” to call back or doesn’t “have time” to return an email. How fucking busy can you be? People run countries and have time to return calls. What the hell are you doing that’s so all-consuming?

25. Since being in the new truck, I’ve fallen and scraped my knee, twisted my ankle, and sliced my thumb while cooking. I guess I’m not used to being in a moving vehicle where I can actually get up, walk around and do stuff. I’ve either become very clumsy or the truck is possessed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Frozen Kentucky Home

I love Kentucky, but boy did they have a wicked ice storm this past week. All the way from Ohio to Texas, we hit torrential rain and serious ice. These are some pictures I snapped from the truck while cruising through Kentucky.

I wish it were sunnier so the ice would be twinklier, but cloudy and gray was what I had to work with. Once again, it's the best I could do from the window of a moving vehicle.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I Even Have Time To Go On Strike

Seems people are busy these days. The economy is in the tank, lots of people are out of work (if they even have a job) and even if they aren’t out of work, they don’t seem to have enough money to spend on any extra activites, so they stay home. Makes me wonder why it’s so hard for them to find the time to keep in touch; to make or return phone calls or respond to an email or a text message.

I’ve written about this before, how people never seem to have the time to keep in touch. I always keep in touch. ALWAYS. I write, email, call. I send things in the mail. I text. I shop for presents and mail them from the road. I send thank you cards. I call. I check in. I always let people know I’m thinking about them or calling to see what they’ve been up to.

I think it’s important to maintain relationships. To be in touch with those who matter. That’s why I constantly call and email. The only conclusion I can draw when someone doesn’t get back to you or make time for you is that they aren’t interested in you. They don’t care. They truly don’t make time for you because they don’t want to.

I know several people who call me when they need something, but when you can’t do anything for them, they drop you like a hot potato. My step-father calls this the “what have you done for me lately?” syndrome. If you can’t do anything for them, they’re not interested in keeping in touch. Oh, they know how to pop up out of the blue with flowery hello’s, how have you been’s and I’ve been meaning to call’s when they can benefit from something you have, but if they don’t need you, all you hear are crickets.

I always acknowledge someone even if I don’t have time at the moment to get back to them. How hard is it to say, “I got your call/text/email but don’t have time to respond right now – I’ll catch up with you later in the week.”

Not hard, in my opinion.

So I’m going on strike. I’m not calling, writing or texting you. If you don’t hear from me, it’s not because I don’t care about you or because I don’t love you, it’s because I’m tired of being the one who always initiates the contact.

There is not one person in my family or circle of friends who does anything SO important, they don’t have time to return a call or an email. You all drive to work and have time to make a quick call in the car, you all sit at your computers at least once a day if not more and almost all of you know how to text. But if technology fails you, I know you all went to school and learned how to write, so send a card through the mail if you have to.

I give of myself unconditionally. I've cooked for you, I've done favors because you were in a bind and I wanted to help, I have gone out of my way to pick up vacation guides for your upcoming trip, I have watched your dog, I have watered your plants, I have picked up your kid, I have paid for your movie when I knew you were short on cash, I have bought your kids gifts, picked up your husband’s favorite salsa, purchased regional wines for your pseudo wine connoisseur of a wife and sent picture phone photos of places I’ve been I thought would interest you.

I have a life too, you know. I drive sometimes more than twelve hours a day, span several time zones over the course of a week, am awake in the wee hours of the morning when you are fast asleep and often have been up driving for hours before you even leave the house for work. I don’t have “set” work hours – I am on the job 24 hours a day. I don’t do the 9 to 5 thing. I don’t have weekends off. Sometimes I start driving at four in the morning, sometimes I start at ten at night. I’m not complaining at all, I love it. But my day doesn’t begin and start at any set time and I don’t have a weekend that starts on a Friday.

I write a blog, I pay bills, I do paperwork, I cook, I clean my truck, I shop for groceries, I call the IRS, the DMV or the DOT when needed and during their business hours, I read, watch TV, spend time with my boyfriend and even have hobbies that I make time for. I’d say I’m pretty busy too.

The only thing I don’t have that you might, are kids. But I don’t buy that as an excuse either. If you are so far up your kid’s asses that you don’t have time for anything else in your life, you need to step back and get some perspective. I have friends with kids. And they find time to call me. I have a cousin with three children under the age of two, one of them a special needs child, and she makes time to touch base with me. I have a friend who often watches up to four children in addition to her own two, and she finds time to call. I’m not accepting the “I have kids” excuse as a reason for not having time. You’re not special. You’re not the only one. You’re not exempt. Everyone has something in their life that is important.

I’ve discussed this with several people and there doesn’t seem to be a real clear reason for why people don’t keep up their end of a relationship. I guess there are people who call and people who don’t. But I have realized that too much is the tit for tat, the “I called them last” bullshit. No one can really put a finger on the exact reason for why some people stay in touch and others don’t. Some people just do. It’s who they are.

My nature is to forgive and forget, to keep calling and writing and texting and mailing and sending and doing even when it’s not reciprocated. I always blow it off and let it roll off my back, thinking the relationships and the friendships and the family are more important than my fleeting hurt feelings. It’s not that I don’t already know how these people are and that they are known for exactly how they are; their reputations are well known among the family members or in the circle of friends. It’s like that old adage about the snake….”well, you knew I was a snake”. True. I do know. I guess I’ll just have to keep that in mind if I find myself slipping back to my natural inclination.

But if you’re one of those people who fall off the face of the earth, one who always claims to be so busy, or you find yourself uttering phrases like “I’m not really good with email” or “I hate to talk on the phone”, you need to step up to the plate once in a while.

I’ll be waiting for your call but I won’t be holding my breath.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I got this duck from a good friend of my Aunt. He rode with us in the old truck as a mascot of sorts; now he adorns my kitchen counter.

And in case you were wondering....

Yes, he is a yellow duck Democrat.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Out With The Old, In With The New

We are finally in the new truck. Yay!  In the photo above, Ed stands between the new 2007 Freightliner Coronado, and our old 1997 Freightliner FLD.  It's an incredible difference.

Eventually, I'll try to make a little video to give you a tour of the inside. It's been a little bleak here in Ohio, but we're headed to warmer climes so I'll try to do it then so I can video from the outside in and you can see all the cool stuff.

I will also put together a Q & A post for all who are interested in the questions we've asked over the years about these sleepers and some of the ones that are asked of us (we haven't had too many yet - but a couple of people at the truck stops we've been at have already pitched a few our way).

And if anyone has any suggestions for a truck name, send them my way!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bought And Paid For

Well, sort of.

All the necessary paperwork is complete.  All the financial stuff has been done.  All of our stuff is organized and ready to go.

All that's left is to check out of the hotel and pick up our new truck.

Tomorrow's the big day!!

I'm SO incredibly excited, I can't contain myself!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chihuly In The Trees

This photo was taken at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to The Orchid Forest exhibit, they also had several Dale Chihuly installations throughout the facility.

It took incredible restraint to not go crazy dropping cash in the gift shop. Ed kept saying, "Are you ready to go?" and kept responding, "One more minute..."

I was becoming one with Chihuly. This takes time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pecking Order

My mother was talking to my five-year old nephew this week, asking him if he was excited about seeing our new truck.

"I've already seen it, Nana." he said.

"What do you mean, you already saw it??" she said.

"On the laptop. Aunt Salena showed me. Don't you remember?" he said.

"Ohhhh, I didn't know she showed it to you on the laptop." she answered.

"Yeah, she did. See, that's why I need a laptop. Maybe you can get one for me; it's only $211.00 and I really need it." (Helloooo....I want to know where to get a $211 laptop!!)

"Why do you need a laptop?" my mother asked.

"Because, Nana. I'm not good at pecking and stuff." he said.

"And how do you think the laptop will help?" she said.

"If I have my own laptop, I'll be able to practice and I'll learn how to peck faster!"

I just know my mother is going to be banging her head against the wall trying to find him a $211.00 laptop; I guess I should warn her now that they don't exist.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Marking This Day In History With A Vibrant Spot Of Color

This weekend, Ed and I went to the Franklin Park Conservatory for a few hours to check out the main show they were featuring called The Orchid Forest. Although the town is blanketed in a thick layer of the fluffy white stuff outside, there was no hiding the vibrant color among the greenery inside.

The Franklin Conservatory, located in Columbus, Ohio was a beautiful way to spend the afternoon. Their web site says, "Set within the 88 acres of Franklin Park, the Conservatory houses 400 species of plants from a variety of global climate zones and features the historic John F. Wolfe Palm House where more than 45 species of palms are represented amongst more than 120 individual specimens." We even saw a bonsai tree that was over 100 years old!

The Conservatory also featured pieces by my favorite glass artist, Dale Chihuly, which was a special treat for me to see. I think Ed may have gotten even better shots than I did, which I will definitely be stealing to
feature on the blog (yes, dear, you will get full recognition for your photos. Sheesh!).

Now enough about I will be spending the day watching my new President get sworn in. Pass the tissues, please!

Monday, January 19, 2009

He Had A Dream. Tomorrow We See It Come True.

I Have A Dream

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Marley & Me

Well, sort of me....but since I'm taking the picture, you're only going to see Marley & Ed.

Tonight at The Funny Bone Comedy Club, we saw one of our favorite comedians, Bob Marley.

Marley is from Portland, Maine and usually does a lot of "Maine" humor in his act, so if you know anything about that part of the country, you will find his local references extremely funny. Tonight though, he did a lot of new stuff that we hadn't heard before and had us gasping for breath as we laughed through every minute of his show.

His style of humor is right up my alley. His use of his parents as a source of material is hysterical and he's completely dead on with the "I'm-married-I-don't-even-know-where-my-own-socks-are-I-need-my-wife-to-tell-me" bit. I think the message of that subject might just have seeped into Ed's brain enough to where he's understanding more and more that it's better (and easier) for him to just say, "Yes, Dear."

Laughter heals all kinds of ills, doesn't it??

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Map Schmap

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from Schmap!! requesting the use of this Pike Place Market photo that I took back in 2005, for their newly released sixth edition of their Schmap Seattle Guide:
Of course I said yes and just two days ago, they informed me that it was actually selected to be in the guide. Cool!

It's a site that offers guides for 200 worldwide destinations and my submission has been included in the Seattle Neighborhood Guide - go check it out!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Eddie Out Of Control Friday

Ed's curls are just out of control, but just like I said; RINGLETS!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Welcome To Snowhio

We came from Florida this week (which, by the way, was NOT sunny and warm) all the way up to Ohio where the temperatures are below zero. As some of you may know, I love the snow and cold weather.

But holy wind chill! It's FREEZING here. I actually put the heat on in the hotel room. I NEVER put the heat on in a hotel room. EVER. Even in the winter. Ask Ed - he's frozen through four winters with me so far. So for me to put heat on, I must have gotten a chill. This does not mean I'm taking back my love of winter - I would still rather be cold if given the choice.

We're here for a good reason though - we bought our NEW TRUCK today!!! If you look at the brochure, you'll get a better idea of what the interior looks like - ours looks just like the first interior picture with the light walls and the cherry wood cabinetry.

We'll probably be around for the weekend, so more truck stuff to come in the next few days...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Over 140 Million Years In The Making

The following was taken from the sign in front of the arch:

"Wilson Arch was named after Joe Wilson, A local pioneer who had a cabin nearby in Dry Valley. This formation is known as Entrada Sandstone. Over time, the superficial cracks, joints and folds of these layers were saturated with water. Ice formed in the fissures, melted under extreme desert heat, and winds cleaned out the loose particles. A series of free standing fins remained. Wind and water attacked these fins until, in some, the cementing material gave way and chunks of rock tumbled out. Many damaged fins collapsed like the one to the right of Wilson Arch. Others, with the right degree of hardness survived despite their missing middle like Wilson Arch."

** Do you see Eddie waving in this picture? Enlarge it if you can't find him.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Looking Grand At The Grand Canyon

Here's a picture of me at the Grand Canyon in the summer of 1993. I don't know what I was thinking with that huge Kentucky Derby hat I was wearing, but I was looking so stylish standing there on the rim of that hole in the earth, even other tourists were taking pictures of me!

Monday, January 12, 2009

This One Contains A Young Rider

As usual, Bleeding Espresso is a source of inspiration (read: great place to steal ideas) and once again, her meme has inspired me to do yet another one. I love these things! Read on...

1. My uncle once: gave me a nickname (Cie) and the perfume to go with it.

2. Never in my life: have I tried any kind of illegal drugs.

3. When I was five: I was the star of the family and the apple of my grandfather's eye.

4. High school was: a necessary evil.

5. I will never forget: the first time I saw my (first) newborn baby nephew. I still can't believe my brother and his wife made him!

6. Once I met: Josh Brolin (at Old Tucson Studios while he was filming The Young Riders. That's me on the left (well, half of me), Josh Brolin, and his son. This is what happens when you have a 70 year old man take the picture!)
7. There’s this girl I know: who was once involved in a very systematic organized crime operation in Nashville.

8. Once, at a bar: an employee called the police and then threw us out when my cousin tried to pull a Corvette mirror off the wall to give to me because I mentioned I liked it.

9. By noon, I’m usually: still sleeping, since I typically drive at night.

10. Last night: I listened to my iPod while driving till the wee hours of the morning.

11. If only I had: uninterrupted free time - I'd get SO much done!

12. Next time I go to church: it will probably burn to the ground the minute I cross the threshold.

13. What worries me most: nothing, really.

14. When I turn my head left I see: the right side of Ed's head.

15. When I turn my head right I see: scenery out of my window.

16. You know I’m lying when: I don't lie often enough to have a tell-tale sign.

17. What I miss most about the Eighties is: my voluminous hair and my perfect skin.

18. If I were a character in Shakespeare I’d be: sadly, I don't think I've read enough Shakespeare to pick a character.

19. By this time next year: I will have been without a boss (self-employed) for over 5 years and hopefully, still going strong!

20. A better name for me would be: I have never wanted to change my name, even though people have trouble spelling it . And, it's just different enough to be remembered.

21. I have a hard time understanding: the mass epidemic of incompetence.

22. If I ever go back to school, I’ll: learn a foreign language till I'm fluent in it, take Latin (which would help with the language) and study English literature.

23. You know I like you if: I make time to be in your company.

24. If I ever won an award, the first person I would thank would be: my mother, for telling me I could do anything.

25. Take my advice, never: joke with a TSA agent if you're late for your flight. They're just self-important enough to hold you up to search your bags for NOTHING.

26. My ideal breakfast is: French toast (alone - no sides) or cottage cheese and cantaloupe.

27. A song I love but do not have is: Waiting For A Star To Fall by Boy Meets Girl. Watch the video here:

28. If you visit my hometown, I suggest you: go to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It's a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, all in one place!

29. Why won’t people: work on having manners - especially in public.

30. If you spend a night at my house: plan on having a great meal, watching a movie, playing Scrabble and staying up till the wee hours laughing and talking.

31. I’d stop my wedding for: a death of an immediate member of the family.

32. The world could do without: racism.

33. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: eat anything "exotic" containing blood.

34. My favorite blond(s) is/are: I'm not a big fan of blonds, so I don't really have a favorite.

35. Paper clips are more useful than: most items when trying to "MacGyver" something.

36. If I do anything well it’s: making people feel comfortable.

37. And by the way: I wouldn't have minded if this list had 37 more things on it. Send me memes!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Giant Dirty Bird Goes Sailing In The Four Corners

Because the truck was moving and night was falling, this isn't the best picture of the monument known as Shiprock, but I sort of like the silhouette. While searching online, I found this information on Shiprock, which I'm sure my mother will like since she likes to think she descended from the Navajo Indians and not the Europeans:

"Known today most commonly by the name Shiprock, the nearly 1800-foot eroded volcanic plume is sacred to the Navajos as Tse Bi dahi, or the Rock with Wings. This name comes from an ancient folk myth that tells how the rock was once a great bird that transported the ancestral people of the Navajos to their lands in what is now northwestern New Mexico. The Navajo ancestors had crossed a narrow sea far to the northwest (the Bering Strait?) and were fleeing from a warlike tribe. Tribal shamans prayed to the great spirit for help. Suddenly the ground rose from beneath their feet to become an enormous bird. For an entire day and night the bird flew south, finally settling at sundown where Shiprock now stands. Geologists tell us the rock was formed 12 million years ago during the Pliocene Era. The legend of the rock seems more likely to be a metaphor hinting of the site's magical power to lift the human soul above the problems of daily existence into an awareness of the great spirit. From ancient times to the more recent past, Tse Bi dahi was indeed a pilgrimage place of major importance, the destination of young men engaged in the rigors of solitary vision quests."

OK. Flying through the air on a giant dirt bird? No disrespect to the Navajos, but really? And if you could fly through the air on a giant dirt bird, why would you land in the middle of nowhere? And why did the bird turn into a ship? In a place that has no water?? I don't get it.

Maybe my mother is Navajo; some of her stories are just as bizarre.

For more information on Shiprock, click here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

One Thousand Four Hundred Forty Minutes A Day

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife

In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

While I was driving the other night I was thinking of different events in my life and when they happened. Some people are able to remember the exact date something happened; when they started the second grade, the exact month, day and year they started their first job, the date they received their first paycheck or the time (down to the moment) they broke up with their first boyfriend.

I’m not good at that. I’m not one to remember the year or the exact date of things that happened in my life. I can probably tell you what I was wearing when I broke up with my boyfriend, what was playing on the radio when I was driving to meet that guy I had a crush on for lunch, what the weather was like the day I buried my grandfather or what state I was in when I got the news of my father’s death, but most often, I remember events by other things that were going on at the time.

For instance, my first kiss happened in the summer of 1983. I was fifteen going on sixteen, working at the family restaurant. I had a HUGE crush on one of our chefs but he was three years older than me and figured he wouldn't even give me a second glance, let alone kiss me! But then he did. I don’t know what day it was or even what month it was, but I know it happened that summer. And even though it never went further than a kiss, the flirtation and friendship went on for years and wound up turning into some really great memories for me.

Another life changing event for me was the day I met my best friend. I know it was winter because I just started a new job at a ski lodge, but I don’t remember the month and the year is pretty foggy. I remember the events of the day itself very vividly because we met while putting together informational packets for the ski-lift operators; sort, staple, stack. I remember an instant connection and later in the day, getting reprimanded by our boss for “goofing off” because we were laughing the entire time we did our task. I do remember it was in the neighborhood of twenty-three years ago, but I'd have to do actual research to come up with the year.

Another time, that same best friend and I did a drive-by of the house where a guy we knew lived. It's one of the best times I’ve ever had with her (and there are hundreds!). We swung by McDonald’s before we headed out there and when we stopped to eat, she made me laugh SO HARD, food came out of my mouth. Neither one of us remembers the month or the year, but I will always remember it as the night I spit lettuce on the steering wheel of my Chevy Monte Carlo.

These are just three examples of the many, many things that have happened in my forty-one years of life and when I drive late at night when there are no distractions, hundreds more fly through my head. The best thing about remembering one thing by associating it with another is the bonus of getting two memories for the price of one.

And like this song, I measure each year of my life in daylights, sunsets, midnights, cups of coffee, inches, miles, laughter and strife.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Speak Already!

I listen to a LOT of talk radio when I'm driving and there is one thing that irritates me more than anything (ok, I'm sure there is more than one thing but for the sake of this post, I'll stick with just one thing).

Why do people who call in to a radio show, waste their valuable air time by saying, Thank you for taking my call??

There are all sorts of versions off this: "It was so nice of you to take my call." or "Well, I have two things to say. First, I'd like to thank you for taking my call and second..." or "I really appreciate you taking my call and I just wanted to say..."

It's a CALL-IN RADIO SHOW people! They have a call-in segment because they want you to CALL IN! They are asking for your calls. They are telling you to call. They are soliciting your opinion. You don't have to thank them for taking your call. They are expecting it.

It's like going to a restaurant and after you pay your bill telling the manager that you really appreciate him letting you pay for your meal; "Thank you for taking my money."

So in the future, if you call a radio show: When they pick up the phone and say hello, you're likely on the air (or will be if you don't screw it up and say something stupid). Don't waste your air time by thanking them.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Mine. All Mine.

This is the road to the Kennecott Copper Mine in Bingham Canyon, Utah. We recently delivered some materials here and the surrounding scenery was just breathtaking. One can almost forget all that's going on miles beneath the surface.

It's the largest man-made excavation in the world. You can read more facts about it here and see pictures of the mine here.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!

First, I have to say I'm thrilled that people read my blog. People other than my mother, that is. And I'm thrilled they comment. But what I am really floored about is that people from other countries actually visit my little home on the web.

Here's a list of countries I've had visitors from:

Czech Republic
French Guiana
Saudi Arabia
Sri Lanka
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States (of course)

I'd be overjoyed if Romania would visit someday, but what I'd really love is to get more comments from these visitors. Even if you said a few words in your native tongue (and if possible, include the translation). I love learning about new countries, cultures, customs and people.

And from the bottom of my heart - thanks for visiting!!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Don't Look At Me Like That. No, Really. Don't. You're Making Me Melt.

This GORGEOUS creature, Anthony Natiello, is my step-brother's wife's nephew. He's an international model and from what I understand, does a lot of work for Gucci.

I don't know him, have never met him and technically he's not family.

Considering this information, is it wrong to make him my new imaginary man-mistress? Is there even such a thing? What is the male version of a mistress? A mantress? Well, whatever it is, I'm going to have an illicit imaginary affair with him.

See more of him in this video:

He looks a little moody though, doesn't he? Not at all like he paints happy little trees. Feh.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Free Advertising For Erectile Dysfunction

This isn't really a new phenomenon, but....

How bad do you need a pen that you have to steal it from the bank or post office?

Even when they are attached to the counter by a chain???

Yeah, stealing is wrong (blah, blah, blah) and sure, you probably shouldn't do it (blah, blah, blah) but can't you steal the pen from a place where it's NOT tied down? Like, oh I don't know, work? Or the doctor's office?

Doesn't everyone need a pen that says Levitra on it??

Friday, January 02, 2009

Ed Happy Little Trees Friday

It appears as if I'm now dating the reincarnation of Bob Ross; he's just as mellow and just as freakin' happy.

We're actually in a "hair growing" contest. Well, not really a contest, but Ed wanted me to grow my hair longer and I don't really want to, so he said if I grew mine, he'd grow his. He doesn't want to cut it till April. Argggggggggh.

Ed has naturally curly hair. Beautiful hair, actually. It's thick and has ringlets. Women tell him all the time about how they are jealous of his curls and the thickness. I'm jealous of his curls.

It's not this big on a regular day, it lays down nicely and gets a curly/wavy look to it. For this picture, I begged him to let me use a pick on it and create a huge fro.

Isn't he so accomodating? And so freaking happy! I am totally breaking up with him if he starts painting trees.