Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'll Get You My Pretty

I hate all cigarette smokers.

Well, unless you are my friends (Hags) or family (you know who you are).

Being a non-smoker all of my life, I find cigarette smoke to be very offensive. I know smokers will say to stay away from places with smokers, and for the most part I do. I don't like to go to bars, you will rarely find me in a pool hall, and if I have to be in a casino, I'm in the non-smokers room if they have one. If they don't, I shower Silkwood Style as soon as I get back to my hotel room.

But now they have electronic cigarettes. You heard me right. Electronic.

Boy, they're determined to get people smoking no matter how they do it, aren't they? Granted it doesn't produce the second hand smoke, which I like, and they claim it doesn't have the harmful tars and carcinogens of traditional cigarettes, but oddly, it still has the nicotine. Which is the highly addictive substance cigarettes contain.

Since I'm not a smoker, I'm not sure if this is going to be appealing. I mean, that's like me licking a plastic replica of a donut that tastes like my favorite Boston Cream donut from Dunkin', but doesn't deliver all the calories.

I'm not really sure that's gonna cut it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

No Need To Do Anything Drastic; There Will Always Be Re-Runs

In all its fifteen years, I've only seen a few episode of ER, but you'd have to be living under a rock to not know the series is coming to an end. Everyone knows the major players, even if they aren't weekly watchers.

For weeks now, I've been seeing the commercials advertising its final episode, and every time I see one, I'm on the verge of tears. I find myself saying, I didn't have a chance to watch! Wait! I don't want it to end! I don't want these people to go away! Tell me it isn't sooooooooooooooo. And I'm not even a fan!

Yet, it's happening. I can only imagine the many wrists that are going to be slit when that show ends. I have a feeling the ER's across America might be busy that night. That's kinda weird, huh?

I really hope these people have lined up something else to fill their Thursday nights.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

If The Life Expectancy Of A White Male Is Over Seventy Five Years, You Have Plenty Of Time When You're Ten

Tonight Ed and I are sitting in Buttonwillow, California waiting to deliver our load tomorrow morning. He's working on our taxes, I'm doing something less "work" related...

Every month, I write a newsletter for my oldest nephew, who is ten years old. It's typically five pages and I include a "Place of The Month" category where I take a whole page to describe a place we've been in detail, along with any interesting facts or information about it. I always include pictures I've taken if I have them. Another category is called "Side Trip" which is just a column where I highlight something small about another place we've been - for instance, last month I did Venice Beach, California. One of the things I knew my nephew would be interested in was the fact that it was the place where Carroll Shelby opened his first Shelby manufacturing plant in 1964. It was at this location that he converted a stock Ford Mustang into a "gutsy, incredibly fast street-legal race car".

I have a column that highlights events of the month like holidays and birthdays, a column with trivia and jokes and a column titled "Ed Says" where Ed and I collaborate on a topic of the month. So far we've done "saving money", "practicing to improve your skills" and "being organized".

As I was working on this month's newsletter, I asked Ed for a topic idea for his column. He said, "How about cleanliness?" I was like, "Uh, NO. My sister-in-law is the cleanest person I know. You could smish food into her carpet and eat it; I don't think my nephews need ANY tips on how to stay clean."

So then he said, "Well, how about 'Life is Short'?"

I said, "Life is short? Baby, he's ten. Life is not short when you're ten."

In the spirit of extending life, I'd like to wish a very Happy Birthday to my dear friend Nikki, who turned 34 today! Please visit her new blog to read about her and her amazing search and rescue dog, TBAA.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Eddie My Little Ex-Marine Friday

We hauled some freight over to Edwards Air Force Base in California and Ed was like a little kid looking at all the planes and equipment - he even went to the museum!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Peek Behind The Sacred Pantry Door

I was inspired to do this post by the Highway Hags five part Truckin Cribs tour. Of course, they showed you a whole lot more of their truck (which I might do in the future), but for right now I'm giving you a quick tour of my fabulous pantry. I know, who really gives shit, right? Well, too bad - this is what you get today.

When we got the truck, we had two hanging clothes closets, but with all the room I have I decided I just didn't need them. I asked Ed to make one of them into a pantry. So he put two shelves in, creating three separate areas for me to pack with goodies. The very top shelf, which you can’t see, holds my pots and some miscellaneous items. The two main shelves hold the good stuff.

I’ve highlighted 10 items that we always have on hand, but in the background, were you to dig a little deeper, you’d find peanut butter, grape soda (childhood favorite!), canned veggies, oatmeal, tuna, salsa, Mint Milano cookies, sugar, crushed tomatoes, soup, spices....I could probably whip up anything in thirty minutes - if I don't have it, I'm never far from the store!

Now for the tour...

1. At least 14 boxes of Barilla pasta – I can never run low for fear of going into withdrawals. I think Ed is sick of having macaroni for dinner, but this is what I grew up on!

2. Bottle of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup – a necessity for late night chocolate milk but also good for a chocolate fix if there is nothing else available – a little squirt in the mouth is like an intravenous feed.

3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil or EVOO as Rachael Ray likes to say. Another staple – wouldn’t be able to run my kitchen without it.

4. Ed’s necessary bag of chips. I never grew up eating chips – but he’s a white boy and apparently, white people have chips on the side of their sandwich. The only side we might have with our sandwich would be another meatball.

5. Our instant coffee selections for when we don’t want to brew a pot of regular or use the espresso machine. Folgers for Ed (they really do have flavor crystals!) and my favorite, General Foods International Italian Cappuccino.

6. Balsamic Vinegar – a salad staple for me, but great for making a balsamic reduction for chicken or pork and excellent on strawberries.

7. Crystal Light – if I must to drink water (ICK) it has to have something in it. We’re into the Strawberry/Banana/Orange right now (which really just tastes like strawberry) but I have too many favorite flavors to name.

8. You can’t see the box, but it’s Pillsbury Devil’s Food Cake mix. For when I must have a freshly baked cake.

9. Potatoes (duh) that are actually FROM Idaho! Bet you couldn’t tell that by just looking at them, could you? And yes, they really DO taste better.

10. Drinking water. We fill up the tank in the truck but only use that for showers and dishwashing. For coffee and drink mixes, I use the bottled stuff. Refills are only .35 a gallon at Walmart. Can’t beat that. Well, if you're paying for water that is.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Bevy Of Pavo Cristatus

From what I found out via Google, Pavo Cristatus is the species name for this bird, commonly known as Indian Peafowl or the Blue Peafowl. What I didn't know is that only the males are actually called a Peacock. The female is a peahen and the babies are peachicks. A group of them are called a bevy.

Well yesterday at
Murray Family Farms in Mettler, California, I got to see a bevy of them. I don't think I've seen anything so gorgeous. His iridescence reminded me of the photo of a Drake I took last year, but the richness of his colors blew that duck right out of the water!

There were at least ten of these blue peafowl, along with a few peahens roaming around as well. None of them displayed their plumes in true peacock "fan" fashion, but I did get to see them spread behind one of them as he took a little rest from being all beautiful. It's a little hard to see him through the fencing, but his "train" of tailfeathers was at least three feet long!

Come closer my friends and get a better look:

Monday, March 23, 2009

First The Poultry, Now This

Here we have another interesting item. Sort of like yesterday's bird, only yellow:
I picked it up and smelled it; citrusy. Skin like a lemon. Fingers like a mutant. No real fruit in it, just a big lump of rind is what it looked like. I had no idea what it was until I asked the girl that worked there.

 "Buddha's Hand," she said as she walked past me.

"Budatan?" I said. ""Buddha's HAND." she enunciated. That's
the name of it.

 I won't say I think I know everything about cooking, but I was pretty sure I'd seen all there was to see in the regular grocery stores and farmer's markets of the United States.

I know other countries have exotic fruits, vegetables and food items that I don't know a thing about, but to see this at Murray Family Farms and be able to reach out and touch it without having to fly thousands of miles to China to do so, was kind of cool.

 Even if it did feel like I was holding hands with a mutant.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What The Hell Is This?

OK, this is a pretty creepy picture. I know it's a close up, but it doesn't get any better looking if you take a step back. Colorful for sure. Unusual, yes. Uncomfortable looking, definitely.

Now I know there are a lot of country folk out there who probably know what this is. I'm thinking a rooster or chicken, which just seems obvious to me, but what kind? And why the red growths like that? Do all of this type of bird have those? Is it a disease? Is it the Elephant Bird?

I know the Hags probably know, because not only are they brilliant, but they are also country girls. Please help. Also, please let me know if you knew what it was from the first picture, before you Googled.

Here's another shot just in case you wanted to see more of him/her/it:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

They Gots Lots Of Soul

Today we passed a building in California that said UBF Soul Factory on the sign.

Ed said, "I wonder what they do at a soul factory?"

I snapped my fingers to show him that not only do I have rhythm, but I also have soul. I could work there.

Then he said, "Do you think there are a bunch of people standing around in there saying 'Hey hey my brotha. Heellll yeahhh.'?"

Friday, March 20, 2009

Eddie Is He Wearing Trousers?? Friday

It's been a while since I've done a Palm Sketch post, so here's one from when Eddie and I were playing hangman.

The stick figure with the pants on was a dead giveaway but Ed still couldn't figure it out! I'll cut him a break though since practically not a soul uses the word "trouser" anymore.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Truckers Are So Sensitive

This comic comes from my favorite cartoonist of all time, Hilary Price, of Rhymes With Orange. If you haven't checked out her site yet, please do so immediately.

I have spent hours combing through her archives and favorites and always find something to laugh at. She's just a genius.

And for the record, I'd haul Brie over I-beams any day of the week.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wishing You All A Happy Lá Fhéile Pádraig

Even though there has been no evidence of snakes even existing in Ireland, this still made me chuckle.

** Lá Fhéile Pádraig = St. Patrick's Day

Monday, March 16, 2009

Busy Week

Oh Lord, this has been a busy week. Two team loads have keep us driving and sleeping and I have to say, I don't like it one little bit!

So, nothing really interesting going on to post about but I'm hoping to get some pictures while we're in Florida since it's always so colorful and sunny down there. I dislike the sun and its heat immensely, but I do like what it does for photos, so I'll deal.

Tomorrow is St. Patty's day and although I've NEVER in my life worn green in celebration of it - I'm Italian, I don't do the St. Patrick's Day thing - I've decided to don my green and white striped top tomorrow since it's the only thing I have with that color in it.

And, since I don't have any juicy tidbits to share, tomorrow I'll be posting a cartoon I found on the Internet regarding St. Patrick. No, Greg, I did NOT know about the snake thing.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The First Bit Of Spring

Tree buds on Main Street in some little town in northeast Kansas. Spring is a comin'! Spring is a comin'!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Last Bit Of Winter

The "blizzard" aftermath in Fargo, North Dakota. I still don't know what all the fuss was about....a storm is a comin'! a storm is a comin'!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Eddie Monsignor Starbucks Friday

Eddie wearing my neck pillow on his head and Starbucks' newest (awesome!) invention, the Splash Stick, on his face. It's obvious that he gets great joy doing things that he knows will make me laugh. Even better, he holds the pose long enough for a photo!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Crossing Over To The White Side

I used to be able to say, "I've never used jarred sauce", as in Ragu, Prego, etc. Unfortunately, I can no longer utter those words.

Since being in the truck, I've made vodka sauce and marinara from scratch as I always have, but I've also resorted to buying a few pasta sauces in a jar. So far my favorites are from Bertolli. I've tried Tomato & Basil (fresh, slightly chunky and you can taste the basil as if you added it yourself), Mushroom Alfredo with Portobello Mushrooms (nice mushroom flavor and the cream was not too thick or cheesy), Italian Sausage, Garlic & Romano and the Five Cheese with Asiago and Fontina Cheeses (ohhhh, so delicious!). Barilla makes some also, which I thought I'd try because I always buy their pasta; the Three Cheese is the first one I tried and it wasn't too bad.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my sister-in-law ROCKS the
lasagna. Surprisingly, she does it using a jarred sauce. Tonight I called to tell her that I've found some decent jarred sauces and wanted to share the brand names with her. She was all, "Ohhhh, so you've finally crossed over to the white side, huh?" The "white side" being a reference to her being a white girl and not an Italian.

Believe me, she's held up pretty damn well in an Italian family. She was the first white girl in the family since my brother was the first one to marry a non-Italian. She bore the brunt hearing more times than one can count, "What? You use jarred sauce???"

She's since shut us up on many occassions by making macaroni and cheese so rich it'll land you in a hospital, linguini with white clam sauce that puts my stepfather under a spell and the aforementioned lasagna. She's pretty safe though; since she's not Italian, no one will be smacking her in the side of the head with a soppressata upon learning of her jarred sauce usage.

When I first told my brother about the sauces I've discovered, he said "The Italian Police don't care about some wayward Italian making a jarred sauce in her truck. It's not likely that they'll find you." He hesitated, then said, "But I wouldn't tell anyone about it if I were you."

I told my sister-in-law to keep it to herself, that I'd "come out" in due time. I've already come out to my mother and now that my brother knows I'll slowly tell others in the family as I come to trust they won't crucify me upon hearing it.

I never thought I'd say this, but thank God my father has already passed. His heart would have never been able to handle this revelation.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Finally...A Bib That Is Both Functional And Accurate

I don't think I've ever eaten a meal that hasn't found its way to my chest. I've tried everything; extending my neck further over the plate, watching the food on my fork depart my plate and travel to my mouth and have even tried to shake the culprits that jump on my shirt from the fork before they even have a chance to dance on my ample chest area. It never works.

Eddie always tells me I should be wearing a bib; I think I might have to agree. The problem is I want something stylish, that I can coordinate with my outfits, or maybe something clear that won't be obvious to fellow diners. But as you might imagine, there aren't many bibs available for adults.

Today we went to
Culver’s and Eddie saw this bib hanging near the condiments area and decided that I just had to have it. If you've never been to Culver's, you are truly missing out. The full name of the restaurant is Culver's ButterBurgers & Frozen Custard. I don't know if they actually put butter on their burgers, but whatever they do, it's the most delicious thing I've ever tasted. They only have locations in seventeen states, so if there is one near you, I suggest you get your Fatty McButterpants over there to try 'em out.

We were in South Dakota when we got "Culverized" and tomorrow we hit our very favorite ribs place in all the nation,
Space Aliens Grill and Bar in Fargo, North Dakota. We've been doing so well with making meals in the truck that Eddie thought it was time for a break and figured we'd hit two of our favorites while we were up here.

And the bib? I'm keeping it. How could I not wear something that says, "I'm as cute as a Butter Burger is delicious."

Because I am, you know.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

No Hothouse In Sight

Another orchid photo taken at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio.

This delicate orchid, which needs a nice warm, water drenched climate to thrive in, would never survive the below zero temperatures Eddie and I are basking in up in Fargo, North Dakota.

Currently it's 12 below zero, but with the wind chill they are saying it feels like 28 below; and it does. No worries though, it's supposed to warm up tomorrow morning. To 3.

Yes, 3 above zero.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Life's A Planet Beach

Since we've gotten the truck, we find ourselves watching whatever we're able to pick up with the digital antenna. We recently watched the Miss Planet Beach International Pageant. No, there wasn't anything else on.

We didn't have to sit through the whole pageant, but we did catch it in time to see the finalists and listen to their reasons for wanting to win the pageant, represent Planet Beach and have the opportunity to win a $100,000 modeling contract and a chance to run their own franchise.

Here are some of the reasons the girls gave for why they would be the best choice to represent Planet Beach:

I like to smile.

I use the product. You're entering a tanning booth spa contest and you tan? Nooooooooo.

When I heard about the contest, I entered it. That's a great place to start.

I like to go outside the box. This was our favorite.

Pretty girl? Modeling?? SO outside the box.

Box, tanning booth; same difference.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

No Lifeguard On Duty

Lifeguard shacks overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Southern California.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

You Never Know When You Might Need It

Today we met some other truck drivers and sat around for a few hours talking when one husband and wife team began to talk about how they were packin'; both of them had handguns on their person.

I don't really care if someone owns a gun, I just don't really see the need for it. Like Ed said, he's been out here almost thirteen years, in all kinds of neigborhoods and situations, and never found himself in a scenario where a gun was needed.

Then the husband said, "Well, you never need a gun until you need one."

What the hell kind of stupid fucking response is that???

So I guess I should carry a parachute in a backpack, a pack of flares on my hip and a bottle of Cipro just in case I come across an envelope containing Anthrax?

THINK before you speak, people. THINK.

PS: Although, a gun may be pretty handy were I to come across a Komodo Dragon. I don't think the parachute would do me much good in that situation. Unless of course, I encountered it on a cliff....

Friday, March 06, 2009

Eddie Adds Culture To His Day

Ed in New York, on the street in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. August 2004.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Trucking Superhero And Sidekick

I took the Photoshop "colored pencil" tool to a picture of my cousin Ro and I, taken on the night we were in Nyack, NY having dinner with them. We kind of look like comic book characters.

Well, if there were comic books about truckers and their cousins. And what's with my Home Alone expression??

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Talk About Making Good Use Of Your Time

Ed decided to finally try and take a shower in the truck while it was moving. He's such a risk-taker! A man on the go! An efficiency trendsetter, if you will.

I was merrily driving along when I heard him shout, "Try and stay on the road! I don't want to have to tell the story about what happened from my hospital bed."

There I was, naked and blinded by the shampoo in my eyes, when all of a sudden...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I'll Get To It As Soon As I'm Done Churning The Butter, Dear.

While researching information for the oversized load we are hauling next week, I came across a section in the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation guidebook that said the following:

The Vehicle Code defines an “Implement of Husbandry” as farm equipment that meets all of the following criteria:

1. Is equipped with pneumatic tires except if prohibited by religious beliefs.
2. Is infrequently operated or moved upon highways.
3. Is used in agriculture for any of the following purposes: a) performance of agriculture production or harvesting activities for the farmer’s agricultural operations; or b) transportation of agricultural products or agricultural supplies for the benefit of the farmer’s agricultural operations.

The term also includes earthmoving equipment and any other vehicle determined by the department to be an implement of husbandry.

I know that "husbandry" is a term that dates back to the 14th century, but hearing it always makes me laugh; especially when it's the term animal husbandry. Though it's old fashioned and has nothing to do with people, it just sounds like a plan for a wild night of sex.

The archaic term reminds me of a conversation Ed and I have almost every single night about something equally archaic. Since I'm in charge of cooking all our meals and making sure he's well fed, he is often in charge of putting ice in our glasses and getting us something to drink. We keep the ice in a big Ziploc bag and sometimes it freezes into a big Ziploced block. When that happens, Ed yells at me for allowing it to freeze solid instead of periodically shaking the bag as it freezes to keep the pieces loose. I always tell him to bang the bag of ice either on the floor, the steps out the back door, or if it's really tough to break up, take it outside and drop it on the asphalt.

And every single night he says to me, "Well, we need an ice pick."

I ask you, my dear readers, WHO in the year or our Lord two thousand nine, has an ice pick?? Except maybe a person who plans on stabbing someone. Other than that, do you know anyone, anyone who needs or uses an ice pick???

Because if you do, will you please get it for me and send it to my house so I can satisfy my Medieval Man the next time he asks for one? I'm sure once he has one, he'll be even more excited to get on with his duties of animal husbandry.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Hags Hit The Big Time

My blog friends over at at Highway Hags are famous!

They were recently contacted by a radio show producer to be part of a segment on what kind of effect the states have on trucking - you know, crossing through them and abiding by their laws, etc.

Go on over there to hear Hedon's interview. She's in the first segment of the show. When you get to the page, just click on the red arrow below the photo of the states and start listening!