Monday, May 31, 2010

The Power Of Liberty

It was hard to get a picture of this ding dang bell without people around it, as on this very busy holiday weekend, Philadelphia was crammed with people and families touring all the sites and taking Duck tours of the area. This was the best I could do.

The Liberty Bell is made of 70 percent copper, 25 percent tin and traces of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold and silver and is suspended from what is believed to be its original yoke, made of American elm. It weighs a little over a ton, coming in at 2,080 pounds.

The inscription on the bell reads, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof.”

ALL the inhabitants of the land. Wouldn't that be nice??

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A Day At The Park
A Body Temperature Of 98.6 – The Only Requirement To Work At McDonald’s
Laughter Is The Best Medicine
Take Note
5 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post on this day.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Not That He's Insensitive Or Anything

Ed just informed me that Gary Coleman died on Friday.

"Little Gary Coleman? From Different Strokes??" I said.


"What did he die from?" I asked.

"Well, it says here that he died from a fall in his Salt Lake City home..."

I didn't respond, thinking he was preparing to read me the rest of the article.

Then he said, "That's weird. How far could he have fallen??? He's only like three feet off the ground."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Ode To Milk
Eddie On The Rocks Friday
The Unintentional Beating Of A Red State Child
Homeless Shelter
5 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post on this day.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Diet Coke With A Squeeze Of iPod, Please

Yesterday I dropped my FOUR HUNDRED DOLLAR iPod iTouch into a cup of Diet Coke.

Yes, I'm a moron. And no, it's not working yet.

It was only in there for an instant; I fished it out so quickly I think I saw a flash of lightening come from my hand. I pulled it quickly from its case and tried to dry it off, shaking all the liquid from the bottom area where the charger plugs in.

After looking around online and going to the Apple Store, I got the same advice. Put the iPod in a bag of rice for 24-48 hours. So that's where my iPod currently is; in a bag of rice in my pantry.

I hope it works but if it doesn't, I'll be shopping for a new one. I was contemplating the iPhone because I'm really intrigued by it, but I love Verizon so much I don't think I can leave them. Their coverage is just outstanding and AT&T just can't compete in that area. So I guess I'll just be getting a new iTouch, but this time I think I'll go for the 64GB one so I can store tons of songs, videos, movies and info.

And I suppose I'll also have to take Ed's suggestion and drink my Diet Coke from a spill-proof sippy cup.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Eddie In The Creepy Sailor Mask Friday
No Wonder Sailors Came Up With A Special Knot
Bridge To The Gate Of Heaven
Summer Staples
5 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post on this day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

You Won't See These Giant Feet In A Museum

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this on the blog in the past, but in case you didn't read it the first time, I'll say it again:

I have GIANT feet.

I wear a women's size eleven or twelve; or anything in between, depending on the shoe. This has caused me lifelong trauma. YEARS before there were Payless stores and years before I knew about Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack, I would travel over an hour to New Jersey to a special store to buy shoes. I think was called The Amazon, Yeti &
Sasquatch Shoe Superstore.

In the early years, it meant spending a lot of money on shoes; or wearing men's shoes, which was fine when it came to sneakers or snowboots. But anything else in a decent price range and in my size usually meant either an orthopaedic soled shoe in black, white or navy or a short heeled metallic
grandma sandal.

Those years are behind me for the most part but I still face a challenge when shopping for shoes for a specific occassion. Most stores don't carry my size, so I can't try things on in person and places like, although they offer a great return policy, don't always work either because I need to be home to try them on. And well, as you know...I'm not.

Yet that time is upon me again. I need shoes for Italy. I REFUSE to wear sneakers and I REFUSE to dress like the typical American tourist (not that you'd ever catch me in a baseball cap, a NASCAR t-shirt or a fanny pack anyway). I want to fit in as much as I can and be simply, but casually dressed, in an elegant but inexpensively chic way. Is that even possible??

And you know what, the clothing part isn't even the problem. It's really the shoes. I need shoes that will GO with those outfits and in my mind, I do not see anything that fits the bill. These are my choices in size twelve. Are you telling me the only choices are sneakers, shoes with soles that look like rocking chairs or tree-hugger Birkenstocks??

I'm going to a country with a museum dedicated to famous footwear designer, Salvatore Ferragamo, a guy who made his first pair of shoes at age nine. And I might be doing it in flip-flops.

I'm doomed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Semantically Speaking
He Fought The Ed And The Ed Won
Electric Fence
You’re Such A Pansy!!
5 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post on this day.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

See You At The Curb

Have you ever been lying in bed, in the wee hours of the morning, when all of a sudden you hear the rumble of the garbage truck as it barrels down your street? And in the next instant, your only thought is "Shit! I forgot to take out the garbage."

Or, you're happily tinkering at your workbench in the basement or your little corner of the garage, when you hear your wife nagging asking you for the fifth time whether or not you took the garbage to the street yet because "...tomorrow the garbage man comes." As if you haven't lived in the same house with her for the past fifteen years.

Or maybe you just dislike that chore. Maybe the wheels on the garbage can catch every pebble on the way down the driveway. Or maybe the can has a broken handle and you've ripped your "good t-shirt" more than once on it.

If you've experienced any one of these scenarios, you might consider looking into having The Trash Transit system installed at YOUR home!

Last month I told you about these guys when they made their first video. Well, they've done it again. This time, they actually had a FILM CREW from L.A. fly to Nashville to work with them. And they actually have people interested in turning this into a real TV show!

Let's hope Motorize This! gets picked up by a network. If it does, you can say you saw it here first. And wouldn't that be totally cool?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO: A Blaze Of Crotch Sniffing And Licky Kisses
Going To Market
Lazy Sunday
Can Someone Define Their Purpose??
5 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post on this day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Less Is More

Looking for a new phone is a nightmare. It's bad enough when you have to do it for yourself, but when someone else asks you to go phone shopping with them? Torture. My cousin Ro tortured me yesterday. She is looking into getting a new phone and has finally decided to join the 21st century by having a phone with a camera and texting capabilities and the internet. This is a big step for someone who, when told was going to receive a text message from me, screamed "Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!"

So just imagine taking Ed, the King of The Super-Geeky Gadget People and Me, the Mini-Gadget Geek along for the ride.

She had done her homework online and had an idea of what she wanted, but we had to make the pilgrimage to the actual store so we could see and feel the phones. I'll be honest, it was pretty stressful. It's hard enough to decide on what I like (she's with AT&T, so I would have totally gone for the iPhone) but to help her decide what she should like??
So many features, so many choices, so many colors, so many keyboards, so many button sizes, so many, so many, SO MANY!!!

I'm all for choices, but the phone thing is a bit ridiculous. Can't there be like, five models? Or can't you just sell one with ALL the features and if you don't want to use them you don't? There are just
too many choices. It's really overwhelming. I think we narrowed it down to three we really liked with one standing out of the group, but ultimately, she left the store empty handed.

The most dreadful part for me is that I have to do this very same thing myself next month because I'm due to get a new phone (and need one since my current one is sort of wonky with its battery life). I suppose I should start researching now.

I hope you'll oblige if I ask to fondle your phone.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A Look At An Oil Baron’s Lookout
Spring In The Maritimes
Envisioning A Huge BLT Sandwich
Eddie’s New Passion Friday
5 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post for this day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It Pays To Blog About Life On The Road

As I sit watching American Idol, I am writing another post for my new little writing gig over at Life On The Road. I posted my first one last week which you can see by clicking on the Life On The Road link and then look for my name in the "Authors" column on the right, or you can just click here to go directly to my posts (of which there is only one at this point).

The site has many writers from all walks of trucking life who contribute to its posts. From the website itself: "Life On The Road brings you stories, thoughts, and opinions on everything from stories of a professional trucker, to analysis of the latest trucking legislation and everything in between. Our writers come from all over the country and from all kinds of backgrounds, brought together by a passion for trucks and the people who drive them."

So come on over and check us out. And be sure to comment if you feel inclined!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Bringing A Little Tropical And Some Pretty In Pink To The Trucking World
My Kind Of Festival
Happy Memorial Day
Closing The Age Gap
5 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post for this day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

All Work, All Play

Because I really like what I'm doing, it doesn't feel so much like work; which could be a result of all the play time that gets laced into each work day. Like right now for instance. We've been hanging out in New York for the weekend waiting on a load to pop up that we want to take. Ed doesn't like to haul cheap freight; he'd rather sit until he finds something that pays well. He just said this weekend, "I've been doing this for fifteen years. I'd rather sit and do nothing than move my truck to haul a cheap load." So we sit.

I am not complaining because I don't mind sitting. I was able to visit with my cousin, go out to dinner, hit Nordstrom Rack and spend a few hours at Barnes and Noble with more Italy books for my trip research. We are still having fits with the electrical system of the truck and I'm at my wits end dealing with the people from the dealership. We might bring the truck in over here on Wednesday but if that doesn't pan out, we'll just keep working until we hear something more about the next step that we should take.

As of right now, it looks as if I'll have time to squeeze in a pedicure and maybe even get a haircut. Plus, I'll be able to watch the Dancing With The Stars finale, the NCIS finale and Glee!! Can't beat that.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Was My Mother Hot, Or What???
The Fiddleheads Of Maine
Fifteen Dollar. We Make Nail Nice. No Plobrem.
Road Testing The Girl
Ed Time

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Great Start To A Weekend In New York

After we delivered at JFK yesterday, I heard a familiar sound.

The music of the Mister Softee truck!! I haven't had ice cream from Mister Softee since I was probably five years old. After we moved out of the Bronx, up to the country where we had one neighbor, there was no ice cream truck playing music down our street.

As the truck drove past our truck, I gave the driver a quick wave and a toot of the air horn. I thought he didn't hear me until I saw the truck circle back around and stop right in front of us. Obviously we weren't the only fans, as you can see Ed talking to two other drivers as they wait in line for their creamy ice cream goodies.

What a great memory!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Sing Sing Singin’ The Incarceration Blues
Flame Sandwich
Every Eight To Twelve Seconds
5 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post for this day.

Friday, May 21, 2010

White's Bastard Cousin

Bruno Truck Sales in Brooklyn, NY. Photo taken from the Gowanus Expressway.

You can see that the sign says White on it - White Motor Company was a truck and car manufacturer that was started in 1900. It's rare to see a White tractor on the road today and if you do, they're pretty old. I've actually seen one! Also at one time under the
White umbrella, was Sterling-Western Star and Freightliner. So in essence, we're kinda driving the distant cousin of White.

If I were reeeally into trucks, I might say "Cool".

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I Might Have To Be Put In Restraints For Our Next Conversation
People Who Are Happy To Help You Drown In Debt
I, I, I
5 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post for this day.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Here's Your Sign

After we left the Freightliner shop, we had to drive over to get the tire fixed. Now call me critical, but are these really the people whose hands I want to put my life in? Do I really want these people to put the steer tire on my truck? Go on, look for it...

Squint. See it? Not yet?

OK, let me get you a little closer. Here you go:

Do you see it now?

This location actually wasn't the one who did the work, they sent us to their other location, but when we got there they had the same exact sign.
Hasn't anyone noticed this?? Why hasn't anyone said anything?

This is not the only place I've seen this word misused; Facebook, comments sections of blogs, emails. WTF? It's not a typo either because with some people, I see it over and over again.

So what do you do? If you know the person, do you correct them or mind your own business and let them look like a dumbshit all over the place? Or do you make them a sign?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A Mini And Me
Wild In Tennessee
Isn’t There A Third Evil?
What The Hell Is This??
5 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no post for this day.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Tank Full Of Freightliners

Well, here we are at the shop! Here in Lima, they have an upper level that houses the employee break room, training center, restrooms, a drivers lounge and a washer and dryer. The washer and dryer turned ou to be an unexpected surprise because I was able to get my laundry done while I'm waiting.

So instead of sitting in a hot laundromat in an uncomfortable plastic chair, I'm here lounging on the leather couch watching TV and reading magazines. I dislike doing laundry in general, but getting it done while doing something I enjoy makes the task more bearable.

This shop is different from any other I've been in; from the upper level, you can look down into the pit and see the mechanics working on your truck. The walkway runs the entire length of the shop and it's all open.

As usual, Ed had a unique observation. He said,
"It's like a huge fishtank. You can watch all the mechanics as they work."
"And like fish, they don't even know you're there." I responded.

I just hope they don't go belly up before they finish the work.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Sad, Sad Future Of Our Young People
Sighting The American Idiots
Orbiting Out Of Control
Passing Through Life
The Original Goldfish

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This Puss Doesn't Have Boots

Well, since I don't have much to write, I will share with you a picture of my mother's cat, Miss Lili Marlène; named after a German tune known as the Soldiers' Song of World War II. My step-father, having served in that war, knows all the words to this song. In German. Go figure.

Other than that needless bit of trivia, not much else is happenin' around the old homestead. Ed and I are currently in Lima, Ohio getting the deer damaged bumper repaired and sitting on our asses watching a lot of TV.

Today I wasted a few hours with an America's Next Top Model marathon (which makes Ed want to poke his eyes out), several episodes of Toddlers & Tiaras (yoo-hoo! Oh, pedophiles! TLC has pictures of two-year olds getting spray tans and five-year olds in bikinis!) which was a disturbing train-wreck of which I couldn't tear my eyes from, an episode of NCIS (who do I love more - Zeva, Tony, Gibbs, McGee or Abby? I'd never be able to give an answer to that question) a little bit of American Idol and then Glee!

I was all excited to come to Lima because Glee is set here and I was expecting a pretty midwestern town. Well, maybe it was the rain, maybe it was the gloom, but I have to say....Lima, OH is nothing to write home about. I was very disappointed. How can something so gleeful be set somewhere so dull?? Maybe that's the whole point of it being set in the Midwest. Even in the show, no one wants to be a LIMA Loser; LIMA being an acronym for Lost In Middle America.

Tomorrow will be a day of sitting around in the "driver lounge" rather than in our comfy truck since they'll be working on the truck; while they do that, they don't allow you to stay in it. So there you have it, the exciting life of trucking in a fur-covered nutshell.

Which should remind you of chestnuts. Unless of course, you're a degenerate.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Milling, Spinning And Bleating
What Happens When You Have Too Much Time To Think
Eddie Rides A Polar Bear Friday
Lite Brite, Making Things With Light
Texas Pride?

Monday, May 17, 2010


Taken a picture completely naked?
Not completely.

Made out with someone on your top eight?
Yes. But who has a top eight? I mean, top three or top ten, but eight?

Danced in front of your mirror naked?
No. I can barely stand in front of my mirror naked.

Told a lie?

Hell, yeah.

Had feelings for someone who didn’t have them back?
Way more than once.

Been arrested?

Made out with someone of the same sex?

Seen someone die?

Slept in until 5pm?
Like every other day.

Had sex at work?

Fallen asleep at work/school?

Held a snake?

Ran a red light?

Been suspended from school?


Totaled your car in an accident?

Pole danced?


Been fired from a job?

Sang karaoke?
Yes - Frank Sinatra's rubber tree plant song.

Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t?
All the time.

Laughed until a drink came out your nose?
Yes - YooHoo of all things!

Caught a snowflake on your tongue?
Yes, I think so.

Kissed in the rain?

Sang in the shower?

Gave your private parts a nickname?
No. Isn't that a guy thing?

Ever gone out without underwear?
Yes. Went through a phase one summer when I was in my teens when I never wore underwear....I deemed it "too hot".

Sat on a roof top?

Played chicken?
No - that's just crazy.

Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes on?

Broken a bone?
Yes - my collarbone.

Mooned/flashed someone?

Mooned, no. Flashed, yes.

Shaved your head?

Slept naked?

Played a prank on someone?

Had a gym membership?
Yes. Well, more like my bank account had a gym membership.

Felt like killing someone?

Made your girlfriend/boyfriend cry?


Cried over someone you were in love with?


Had sex more than 10 times in one day?
Seriously?? NO.

Had Mexican jumping beans for pets?
Not for pets, but I did have them.

Been in a band?

Subscribed to Maxim?

Taken more than 10 shots of alcohol?
No. I've never actually "done" shots.

Shot a gun?

Had sex today?


Played strip poker?

Tripped on mushrooms?
No. Well, unless you count portabellos sauteed in butter.

Donated Blood?

Videotaped yourself having sex?
Hell to the no. (And by the way, who says hell to the no??)

Eaten alligator meat? frogs legs?

No to alligator, yes to froggie legs.

Ever jump out of an airplane?
No, but I would.

Have you been to more than 10 countries?

Ever wanted to have sex with a platonic friend?
Double yes!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
There’s Nothing Like The Humor Of A New Yorker
Anne’s Land And Beyond
Butter Me Up
Master Backer or Master Bater?
Not By The Hair Of My Chinny, Chin, Chin!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ed Prepares For The Italy Trip

We went to Barnes and Noble today to read magazines, drink coffee and to check out some books about Italy. While I was researching local festivals, towns for great picture taking and can't miss hot spots, Ed was preparing in his own way...

Talking with his hands.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Strolling Along The Atlantic
Eddie Chatting It Up Friday
The ABC’s Of Me
After The Storm
The Essence Of Me

Saturday, May 15, 2010

More "Holy Crap!" Than "Oh Dear"

This morning as I was enjoying the sun rising behind me, traveling west on I-80 in Ohio toward Toledo where we were to make our delivery, I had a little incident. I was listening to the morning news and as I scanned the road ahead, something caught my eye. At first, I didn't realize it was three-dimensional; I thought it was some sort of dirt spot in the road. I just saw a flash of brown.

But in that very same instant, I realized it was a deer and I knew I was going to hit it. I instinctively hit the brakes but it didn't do anything it seems except to make the deer stop and look my way. I gripped the wheel tighter and just held on until impact. Ed was sleeping but immediately woke up to ask, "What was that??"

"I just hit a deer." I said. You can see it happening here:

I just kept driving (sort of like when I was in trucking school and got hit by a dump truck) since there really wasn't a safe place to pull over. The shoulder was an option, but since I didn't see the deer on the road anywhere and there was no traffic, I kept going until I came to the rest area; I had seen a sign for it and knew it was only a few miles up the road. I didn't hear anything wonky with the truck, my steering was okay and no one was hurt.

I guess Eddie's video system finally payed off. We know exactly the time the accident happened thanks to the timestamp. Once we got to the rest area, we called the police to come out to file an incident report for the insurance company. Here's me trying to escape from the back of the police car:

Once the report was done, we were back on the road and believe it or not, made our delivery on time!

I was very surprised at how much damage was done to the bumper of the truck. I am glad it didn't do any damage to the fiberglass of the hood since we just had that fixed, but I can't believe how bent the bumper got. The fog light was completely destroyed and the bumper was bent so far back that it was a mere 1/2" away from the steer tire. I could've had a blowout!

Check out more pictures

I've always worried about hitting a deer (and a moose, and a donkey, and a cow...), my biggest concern being that it would "hop" the hood and come flying at the window. I've never hit a deer in my life, even when I lived in the rural backwoods of upstate New York. It was actually less scary than I thought it would be. I hope this doesn't mean that I'm going to become a deer magnet.

If so, I'll have to paint a little deer icon on the side of the truck and make hash marks next to it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Eddie So Hot He’s Cookin’ Like Guy Fieri Friday
Maybe She Should Hold Off On The Pet Ownership
It Must Be A Sign
Keeping Time With His Ticker
Yo! Yo! Yo!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The D'Angelo Bros. Outfit The Navy

Today we delivered flooring materials to the Urban Outfitters headquarters in Philadelphia, PA. The wood planks were picked up in North Charleston, SC and from what we were told, were reclaimed wood over 100 years old. Their offices are located in the old Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Read the architect's description of the restoration of the buildings HERE. The buildings are beautiful up close and the ones that are already restored look just as they probably did when they were new.

Here is a picture of the crew hauling materials in through a second floor window. Ed talked to the foreman on the site and was told that Urban Outfitters bought the buildings from the Navy for $1.00 apiece but that obviously need thousands of dollars worth of work to get them in habitable condition.

While those guys were busy hauling materials, the rest of the D'Angelo Bros. crew were busy taking a little break. It was early in the morning so it wasn't lunch, but they must have been exhausted being on the job for, oh I don't know, at least two hours. Read more about area this area in The Navy Yard Walking Tour & Visitor's Guide.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
One Day A Revered Indian Chief, The Next Day Wagon Train Eye Candy
Not Exactly The Best Way To Reach Out To Your Community
Carny At The Junction
Mother Superior
Great Expectations

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Might Even Give It An Academy Award

If you've ever watched the show Emeril Lagasse does in front of an audience, you know how excited they get over every little thing he makes.

He talks to them as if he needs their input; "More garlic?" A chorus of yeah's! emit from the audience. "How about an extra drizzle of olive oil?" Sure! "A little essence?" Pandemonium.

So today he was doing his thing, sprinkling fragrant parmesan cheese over the dish he was making and the audience was going wild.

Ed kept pffting and shaking his head.

Finally I said, "What??"

"I don't get it," he said. "I just can't see clapping for cheese."

Is he kidding? I would give cheese a standing ovation.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Two Poles, One Man, No Fish
When You Don’t Have Time To Make More Than One Trip
A Mother Of A Mother
Could You Love William Perry?
Herding The Blogger Sheep

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Competition Is Getting Fierce

How am I supposed to maintain my cuteness status when we've got THIS level of adorable coming into the trucking industry??

I hope she doesn't mind, but I totally pilfered this photo from her blog. Who is she, you ask? The Plum Trucker, of course!! If you don't know about her yet, click HERE to read how we met.

Today is a big day for Michelle and her fiancé of four years, Kendall. Today is the day they start trucking school. Today is the day they leave behind their old careers and embark on a new one. Today is the day they start planning for their future on the road. Together.

Today is the day!!

They are both very excited and I feel the same way for them. They've got a great support system at home and I will be here for them in any capacity they need. I also know my friends out there who know about this young couple will also support their venture into the wonderful world of trucking. That's one thing I really love about having this blog; the wonderful people I've met, especially the truckers (or truck passengers - hey

Be sure to check The Plum Trucker's blog for her updates from trucking school. I know I'll be looking forward to following their progress. Hope you will too.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO: A Little Smooch Makes Everything Taste Better
2 YEARS AGO: The Greatest Spectacle In Racing
3 YEARS AGO: Jalapenos Basking In The California Sunshine
4 YEARS AGO: Millions Of Miles Of Knowledge
5 YEARS AGO: Midnight Snack

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sharing A Moment

My mother and I sharing a moment when we were home for Mother's Day weekend. The Italian noses aren't too noticeable, are they??

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When Sunny Gets Blue
Putting The Friendly Back In The Skies
White Squall
Free As A Bird
The Heat Is On

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm A Researchin' Fool

It looks like this is going to be the year we go to Italy.

My cousin Ro and her boyfriend Brian are planning a trip there in October, to celebrate Brian's 50th (his birthday was in April). They've carved time out of their schedules to plan ten days in Italy and have extended the invite to anyone who's interested in going.

Ed and I think it might just be in the cards; so much so, that I've been helping Ro with researching which areas we'd be interested in seeing. First on the list is Fano, a town in Le Marche (the calf of the boot), where her mother has family. That part of the trip is a definite. It's the rest that's overwhelming!!

We really want to do a trip that's a little unconventional in a sense; no tour busses, no itineraries that can't be veered from, no standing in line. I'm not so much interested in the real "touristy" spots and since they've been to many of those places before, we're trying to plan something that allows us to visit more of the "real" Italy, so to speak. The small towns and villages that many people don't get to see or drive through (in additon to the ones that do see a lot of tourist traffic).

So far, these are the three regions we'd like to explore (we will just pick one of these to do in addition to Fano) and the towns within those areas:

San Gimignano
Cortona (of Under The Tuscan Sun fame)
Chianti region
Pienza & Val D’Orcia

Civita di Bagnoregio (this town looks pretty amazing - check out
this NY Times article from 2004)

Naples (the birthplace of pizza!!)

If we do the Southern part of Italy, I'd really like to make a trip to Badolato in Calabria to visit
Michelle. After reading her blog for so many years, I'd love to finally make a trip to her 700-year old village.

Obviously, we can't do everything and we have to cater to the desires of several people so we're trying to piece together something that'll be acceptable for everyone. Ed has indicated that we can stay longer than the ten days and do some of the major attractions on our own.

As for where we'll stay, I'm looking into some options that aren't regular 'ol hotels. Check these out:

Olive Garden cooking school; yes, it really does exist!

fabulous place in the Marche region.

castle in Umbria!

fantastic palazzo in Badolato, Calabria.

THIS spectacular place on the Amalfi Coast. Oh my God, I think this one is my favorite!

I know I have a lot of readers from all over, so if any of you have any must see suggestions, please let me know! I'm already drowning in information, what's another drop or two?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Closest I’ll Ever Come
Who Is He Kidding?
The Captain Of My Vessel
Baking Is Fun!
Sticks And Stones

Sunday, May 09, 2010

A Mother Of A Flood

While sending out greetings to the mothers in my life, I spoke with my best friend Vicki, in Nashville to send out some love on the day dedicated to her; you'd think I didn't talk to or text her everyday!

In addition to her full time culinary school, full time mothering duties, full time wifely duties and part-time banquet server duties, she's also been doing a whole hell of a lot of clean-up as a result of the flooding. Her husband owns a custom cabinet shop that was hit by the water, her home got some minor flooding in the laundry room and family room which meant they had to tear up carpet and dry out the place and her kids had been out of school for almost a week since they closed up most of the schools in the Metro school district. It's been pretty hairy.

This song is by Victoria Banks and I found the video while trying to find any pictures and videos of the flooding. When it first happened, I was watching TV trying to catch a glimpse of it on the news but it wasn't covered very extensively so the most I got was from the local Nashville news websites.

I lived in Nashville for a short while and LOVE the city. Many of the places depicted in these photos are places I know or have been to.
All the people I know who live there are in my everyday thoughts. I can keep tabs on most of them through Vicki, and have, so I know they're all okay. I just hope the city gets back on its feet soon.

Here are the lyrics to the song (written on May 5 by Victoria Banks) in the video:

City of Dreams

I’m poets and pirates and legends and lore
Honkeytonk angels and old troubadours
Lost souls and lovers with hearts on their sleeves
I am your city of dreams

I’m dirt road and fireflies and bright neon lights
High rises, doublewides, left wing and right
As big or as small as you want me to be
I am your city, I am your…

City of Dreams
My faith is just worn it’s just
Tattered and torn at the seams
But don’t you give up, don’t you give up
Don’t you give up on me

I’m teachers and research and farms bailing hay
Sports fans and symphonies, beer and champage
I’m black and I’m white and all shades in between
I am your city of dreams

I’m baptized in tears and a river of rain
The tears will run dry but the scars will remain
But I’m not as broken and I know I seem
‘Cause I am your city, I am your…

City of Dreams
My faith is just worn it’s just
Tattered and torn at the seams
But don’t you give up, don’t you give up
Don’t you give up on me
I’m strong and I’m scared
That sweet Southern grace it runs deep
So don’t you give up, don’t you give up
Don’t give up on me

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Hail To The Driver
Eddie Shows His Good Side Friday
Go Bananas!!
Shmuley Says

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Back On The Road And Sleeping Like A Baby

After three weeks in the Los Angeles area, we're finally back on the road. Taking a great load (light, no tarp, great pay) from California to Charleston, SC. We have plenty of time to get there and actually had time to stop in Tucson to see my Mom so I could give her her Mother's Day present in person. It was a short visit, but I was able to not just see her but my brother and nephews as well.

Getting back on the road after such a long time off always throws my clock out of wack. We don't ever have any kind of "schedule" but we do like to stay up late and had been doing that almost every night in LA. The worst part for me is not getting my sleeping back on track, but trying to stay awake while the truck is moving. The rumble of the engine and the vibration of the truck is enough to put me to sleep while standing. I'm like a baby in a car seat being driven around the block just so I can go to sleep.

We have plenty of time to get to Charleston, so we won't be busting our ass, but I'm glad we're on the move again as I get very antsy being in one place for so long. That's the update for now, so I'll let you go. Really, I have to go because Ed is driving...

and I'm getting sleepy.

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Peeping Ed Friday
It’s Obvious Where My Sense Of Style Comes From
End Of Season Snow
At Least She Isn’t In The Cubicle Next To YOU
Mother Lode

Friday, May 07, 2010

So This Is What A Niche Feels Like

I've always been a quick learner. I was a very advanced child. I walked earlier than the other children in my family, I read sooner than any of them, I understood things that were supposed to go over my head, I asked a million questions and I talked incessantly. Just ask my mother.

When I was in first grade, they wanted to put me in second grade because I was too smart for the class. I understood at a quick pace, felt the material that I was learning was too simple for me and needed to be challenged. I was bored and distracted. I was antsy and wanted to move on in my lessons when everyone else was still struggling with what they were learning. But I never did get to move a grade ahead. For whatever reason, my mother didn't want me to do that.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I did. Would I have graduated high school earlier and gone on to higher education that would have made me something other than I am today? As smart as I was in my lower grades in school, that didn't seem to translate to my higher grades in school. Not that I got less intelligent, I just lost interest. I often wonder why I didn't find school interesting enough to pick a subject or in my later years in high school, a career. I always felt like I hadn't "hit" on the one thing that gave me enough joy to want to continue. In high school, I did just enough to get decent enough grades to get me to graduation. I never even took the SAT's. In fact, I don't ever remember hearing about the SAT's and when they were being given until everyone was comparing SAT scores. What the hell?

I have always had a wide range of interests. Liked a lot of things. In fact, loved a lot of things. Growing up, my parents let us do everything. My grandmother taught me how to knit and type, my grandfather taught me how to use tools, my father taught me how to swim, mow the lawn, garden and cook, and my mother taught me just about everything else; how to paint, draw, crochet, bake, make macrame hanging planters, macaroni necklaces and ceramic christmas tree ornaments just to name a few. She also cheerleaded and encouraged everything I did; she wasn't too thrilled about that dalliance with Joey the hot chef at our family restaurant when I was fifteen, but that crush passed and she went back to encouraging my interests.

So back to the short attention span thing...

Because of my short attention span, I have gotten a bit of a reputation for "not sticking with anything". What's funny is that I see that as a positive, not a negative. I've always thought it was a good thing that I knew what I liked and didn't like. I'm not stuck in a job I hate for twenty years like some people I know. I'm not dating the wrong guy because if I were, he would have been gone long ago. And I'm doing with my life mostly what I want. It's not always sunshine and roses and most of the time, I'm annoyed by everything, but for the most part I like my life a lot. There is so much more I want to do, and will do, but there is only so much time and money in a day. I like that I discarded (for lack of a better word) people, jobs and things that didn't work for me. And because of the ability to do that, I sometimes think my actions or ways are misunderstood.

That said, I have found a few things I didn't know I would have liked so much; one of those things is this blog. I've always been a big reader (of all sorts of subject matter) and have been writing since I was a kid. Nothing big deal, nothing published in the school paper, just stuff; poetry, short stories, lists and journals.

I love doing this blog. I love thinking of new subjects to write about, I love coming up with the titles for my posts (none of which has ever been repeated) and I love posting pictures. I also love having readers; they've come from over 42 countries! I could use more comments people (hint-hint), but I'm happy with the fact that I even have readers.

Today marks the fifth anniversary of my writing this blog. It began six months after I went on the road with Ed. I have over 1,833 blog post and more than 1,000 photos (that I have taken!). I've driven through 49 states and have been to 11 of the 13 Canadian Provinces/Territories. And I've written about it all.

So I think I've found something can see myself sticking with. I would like to kick it up a bit, in some way, and I'd welcome any suggestions. Is there something you'd like to read about, see video of, hear about? Is there a new category I can add, a subject I can focus on or an angle I can take that would make things more interesting? Please let me know! If you don't want to leave suggestions in comments, email me directly at, and feel free to be candid!

Also, now that I've hit the five year mark, I'm able to add another line to access past posts - the "5 Years Ago" link!! Yay. Oh, and did you know that the traditional five year (wedding) anniversary gift is wood? Interesting.

So anyway, thanks to all the readers who have been here from the beginning and welcome to anyone who is new! And thanks for being here to celebrate my Blogiversary!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Sum Of Its Parts
Look At Me, I’m Three!!
A Trucking Style Birthday Celebration
A Perfectly Uninteresting Event
The Day The Blog Began

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Watt A Work Of Art - Part Three

This is the last of a three part series. To catch up and get the whole story, read Part One and Part Two first.

A Local Curiousity Becomes Local Identity
The Towers’ chain of ownership became complex after Rodia left. The recipient of Rodia’s gift, Louis Sauceda, sold the property to his neighbor, Joseph Montoya, for $500. Under Montoya’s indifferent stewardship the Towers were vandalized, and in 1956 Rodia’s house burned. In 1957 an order was issued to demolish the remains of the house and raze the Towers. Failure to locate Montoya over the next two years prevented the order from being executed.

In 1959 William Cartwright and Nicholas King discovered the Towers and became determined to preserve them. They located Montoya and bought the property from him for $20, with a promise to pay more. Hoping to improve the property, they applied for a permit to build a caretaker’s house on the site but were stopped by the earlier demolition order.

To save the Towers, Cartwright and King founded the “Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts,” with the initial goal of having the demolition order cancelled. To prove the Towers were stable, a stress test was devised that involved subjecting the tallest Tower to 10,000 pounds of pressure in an effort to topple it. It passed the test and the demolition order was withdrawn.

When a Private Vision Becoms a Public Legacy
In 1963 Watts Towers became the fifteenth Historic-Cultural Monument to be designated by the City of Los Angeles. The Towers are also on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Watts Towers passed from private to public ownership in 1975 when the “Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts” gave them to the City of Los Angeles.

In 1978 the City turned them over to California State Parks who then negotiated an operating agreement with the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs to manage the conservation and tour program. The property was officially designated:
Watts Towers of Simon Rodia State Historic Park

How Can It Possibly Keep Standing?
The inherent vulnerability of the materials used to create Watts Towers means that continual effort is necessary to maintain their current state of preservation. Much of the conservation falls into two categories; repair of cracks, and stabilizing and reattaching ornamentation.

Cracks are repaired by first carefully cleaning the fissures with small brushed, water and air pressure, then filling them with a custom-designed concrete mix to compliment the surrounding surfaces.

When ornamentation becomes detached, the location where it fell is documented and then it is cleaned with soft brushes. Using a photographic database of more than five thousand images taken between 1986 and 1991, conservators try to identify the fragment’s original location and reattach it using special epoxies. When a crack is repaired or a fragment is reattached, the entire process is photographed and becomes part of the permanent conservation database.
The preservation of Watts Towers is a complex and endless process. Starting with Rodia’s own efforts to repair cracks before his later works were even finished, there has been ongoing conservation effort aimed at stabilizing and preserving the structures.

The basic philosophy for these efforts is simple...

Preserve the legacy of Simon Rodia.

More from me: When I first drove up to the site of the Towers, I expected them to be much larger than they were. Ed and I were driving around the neighborhood, relying on the GPS to get us to the exact spot. I kept saying to Ed "You'll see them once we're close," thinking they would be towering over the surrounding homes and buildings. I was wrong.

We parked and walked up to the gated structure when we were approached by a security guard who told us to go inside for the tour. It was seven dollars per person for the tour and at first I was like, "Eh. I don't want to pay seven dollars to see this. I'll just take a few pictures." But then as I glimpsed it through the gates, I thought about my brother who is a tile setter and thought I just had to get in there and see the work of this guy up close. If for no other reason than to get pictures for my brother. When I got in there,
I wished he was there to experience it with me. Not because it was tile work worthy of the Italian tile masters, but because of the amount of work put into it and the creativity of it all.

It took Simon Rodia 34 years to complete his project; I can't imagine my sister-in-law being okay with my brother building an homage to tile in their backyard for 34 years. Who would dump the garbage and grill steaks?? Funny thing is, my brother will be 42 this year, the same age Rodia was when began work on the towers.

So I guess if my brother gets started now...

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The Clouds And Trees Line Up For Bed
The Shimmer Of The Sea
Indian Gallery
Geography Test

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Watt A Work Of Art - Part Two

This is Part Two of the Watts Towers of Simon Rodia posts. See Part One HERE.

Traditional Methods Used with Ingenuity
The mosaic technique Rodia used is referred to as pique assiette; he undoubtebly saw examples of this mosaic technique in his native Italy. Pique Assiette are decorations applied by embedding carefully chosen shards and objects into the drying mortar during the building process.

Rodia built each tower by digging a shallow trench, filling it with cement and embedding four upright metal columns. When the mortar was set, he covered the upright steel with wire mesh and his cement mortar mixture. He used a variety of recycled materials to reinforce his constructions, working this metal using the railroad tracks near his property to bend it into the desired shape. For stability he built more than 150 flying buttresses. Flying Buttresses are support beams attached to the side of a structure that help distribute the weight evenly to the ground.

As the towers grew, Rodia made rungs encircling each set of support beams, attaching them with wire mesh and mortar to solidify the joints. When each rung had dried, he used it ladder-fashion to climb and attach another rung, each getting smaller in diameter towards the top. Rodia repeated this until the tower was finished at a narrow point.

Painstakingly Made of Society’s Leftovers
The Towers comprise seventeen structures decorated with approximately 100,000 ornamental fragments. Rodia used a variety of materials and objects for decorative purposes including approximately: 11,000 pottery shards...
10,000 seashells...
6,000 pieces of colored glass...
and 15,000 glazed tiles.
He used objects such as tools, faucet handles, heating grates, gears and metal molds to make decorative imprints on the walls and floors. He also recycled many different types of china fragments, broken mirror pieces, small china figurines, hundreds of rocks, and a variety of other materials. (My Note: He used his initials, SR, in many places throughout the structure as you can see in the next photo.)
Rodia’s creativity in using discarded and found objects for ornamentation is one of the Tower’s most remarkable aspects. (My Note: In the following three pictures, you'll see the imprints of some of the tools he used. These are my favorite pictures of the bunch - they remind me very much of my grandfather. He had several tools that would fit these very imprints.)

Art Achieved, Then Abandoned
“I had in my mind I’m gonna do something, something big.” When Rodia started his project he was forty-two. For the next thirty-four years he worked determinedly, ending his endeavor in 1954 at the age of seventy-five.

Without any apparent reason, Rodia left Watts forever in 1954, deeding the property to his neighbor, Louis Sauceda. The remaining years of his life were spent in a boarding house near his sister in Martinez, California, where he talked about his work to anyone who would listen. Simon Rodia died of a heart attack in 1965, without ever seeing the Towers again.
A Local Curiousity Becomes Local Identity
The Towers’ chain of ownership became complex after Rodia left. The recipient of Rodia’s gift, Louis Sauceda, sold the property to his neighbor, Joseph Montoya, for $500. Under Montoya’s indifferent stewardship the Towers were vandalized, and in 1956 Rodia’s house burned. In 1957 an order was issued to demolish the remains of the house and raze the Towers. Failure to locate Montoya over the next two years prevented the order from being executed.

In 1959 William Cartwright and Nicholas King discovered the Towers and became determined to preserve them. They located Montoya and bought the property from him for $20, with a promise to pay more. Hoping to improve the property, they applied for a permit to build a caretaker’s house on the site but were stopped by the earlier demolition order.

To save the Towers, Cartwright and King founded the “Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts,” with the initial goal of having the demolition order cancelled. To prove the Towers were stable, a stress test was devised that involved subjecting the tallest Tower to 10,000 pounds of pressure in an effort to topple it. It passed the test and the demolition order was withdrawn.
See the last installment of this series HERE.

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Stupid Should Be An Abomination
The Fine Line Between Compliments And Creepiness
The Antenna Ball Beneath My Wings
Mexico? Where In Tarnation Is That??