Friday, August 31, 2012

There's Room At This Inn - For Dancing And Gambling

Silhouette of the Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The stacks are part of the defunct Bethlehem Steel plant, which is now where the Sands Resort and Casino now stand. It's interesting, because as you drive around the property, the casino/hotel building is surrounded by the abandoned steel plant buildings. Kinda of eerie-cool.

SteelStacks, an event area in the shadow of the old steel plant, many events are held (the blast furnaces even light up at night - it's very cool) and at the Levitt Pavilion, they host free outdoor concerts throughout the summer. I'd love to be at one of those events!

At least they're making use of a little piece of American history.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Later, Fishies!
2010: It’s In The Details
2009: Plenty Of Places To Roam, No Place To Park It
2008: E Vac You A She Own!!
2007: Eddie Steals A Bite Friday
2006: Steal-A-Meme
2005: The Day In Pictures

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chow Fun And Coconut Bliss

Last time we were in New York with Marlaina and Greg, they took us to Sammy’s Noodle Shop and Grill for dinner. I fell in love. 

So when Ed and I were there for the radio show, I decided I had to have it.  We took a subway and a bus and walked several blocks before finally arriving at the place where Chow Fun reigns supreme.

Last time Marlaina and Greg ordered all their favorites for us. And we scarfed. This time we ordered some of our favorites, one of them being the Cantonese Wonton Soup. Oh my, it was delicious. Extremely flavorful, with wontons that had bite to them - al dente, if you will. The broth was delicious.
Then, I had to have an eggroll. I've been so disgusted with the egg rolls I've gotten at places around the country, that I'd forgotten what a real NY egg roll is like. Sammy's brought my childhood back to me when the giant egg rolls were delivered to the table. Scalding hot, fresh from the fryer, a beautiful golden brown, with tiny little bubbles all over the wonton wrapper. I cut into it and heaven steamed up under my nose. I should have ordered two.The prices at Sammy's are affordable, their menu pretty extensive, and the portions abundant; we had plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day. They wrapped them up nicely for me when I told the waiter we'd be walking a bit more that evening. I know there are plenty of Chinese food restaurants in the city, and of course, there's Chinatown to conquer, but since I know where this is, it's my new place to go when in the area.

Another plus? It's only a few block from another place Marlaina and Greg took us to -
Sundaes and Cones - a true ice cream paradise.

I don't know if Marlaina is evil, or an angel sent from heaven, for turning me on to their Coconut Ice Cream, but I've never had anything so amazing in my life. Creamy rich coconut flavor, with shredded coconut and toasted coconut folded in. Since we went a month or so ago, I've been craving it. I've even looked for it in a few grocery stores, but haven't found anything I'd even be interested in trying. I think I'm now spoiled.

Next time, I'm buying a quart of that stuff to take home with me. I don't care if I have to throw away chicken breasts and frozen spinach in my freezer to make room for it!

And I'm ordering extra egg rolls to go.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waiting Out Our Mistake

Here's a photo of a girl waiting for the train at the Newark Station in New Jersey - where we wound up when we missed our stop.

What would have been an eight minute ride back to where our truck was parked, turned out to be closer to thirty minutes. At midnight.

Can you say "long day"?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Entertaining The Masses

OK, maybe not masses. And maybe not even all that entertaining, but yesterday Ed and I hit the airwaves! First time ever in a radio studio, first time ever on the air, first time ever sending my voice into the ears of people other than my friends and family - who are probably so tired of listening to me, they tune me out instead of in anyway!

Ed and I had the pleasure of being guests on the Orthopedics Show on Sirius XM's Doctor Radio. The show was hosted by Dr. Claudette Lajam, who is the one who invited me to come on as a guest, so Ed and I grabbed a load to the east coast so we could do the interview in studio.

The studio is located right in the lobby of the NYU Langone Medical Center in midtown Manhattan, on the east side at the corner of 34th Street and 1st Avenue. We weren't exactly sure if we'd make it, since we're not very familiar with the train and bus system, which is what we were using to get into the city. I was more concerned with the fact that it was a bazillion degrees and that I was going to melt into the hot New York asphalt.

We took the train from New Jersey, into Penn Station in New York, and from there had to take a bus to the medical center on 1st Avenue. But we couldn't figure out where to catch the bus, and the guy at the information window in Penn Station was less than helpful. Big surprise. By the time we got to the kiosk where they sold the bus tickets, we were more than exasperated. There were two machines - one that took a MetroCard, and another that took coins. What?? I didn't have either. We didn't buy a MetroCard for the train, since we paid that fare with a credit card, and I didn't have coins. Who has $4.50 in coins?! Standing there like idiots, looking at both machines, I finally asked a guy nearby, but he wasn't sure what to do because he always just used his MetroCard.

Another guy walked over and jumped in to help us out. He told us how each of the machines worked, but I told him we didn't have any coins, and the machine didn't take cash or credit. Then I had an idea - would he buy us our bus tickets and I'd give him the money? He said yes and proceeded to buy us two tickets with his MetroCard, handing them to us and saying, "Don't worry about it." when I tried to give him money. I insisted he take our money and pushed the five dollar bill in his hand. I'm glad he took it, because I really didn't want to have a sparring match with him on the corner, it was entirely too hot. He then told us exactly which bus to take and where to get off. He was so incredibly helpful, and eased a little of my stress because the clock was ticking and the heat was building in my head, threatening a sweat-fest.

We made it to NYU by 4:45pm, just in time for me to hit the ladies room and for Ed to get a snack in the cafeteria. We hadn't eaten since breakfast and if Ed didn't get something in his belly, it could turn ugly fast. He gets very cranky without food and I couldn't have a cranky co-guest! After we ate, we sat in the lobby and people watched for about an hour before walking over to the studio. Minutes after we arrived, the producer came up and we all introduced ourselves. She showed us to the studio and pointed out where we'd be seated and explained how the console in front of us worked. These were our two seats:
We each had a headset, and as the producer explained, the microphone was to go where we went. If we turned our heads yet were still talking, it was to turn with us. If we raised or lowered our seats, we were to raise and lower our mic with us. And if we had to cough or sneeze, there was a button labeled "cough" that we were to push to mute our microphone, cutting off the noise to the rest of the world. Here's Ed, with his mic and headphones ready for action.
And here's me in front of my mic. Of course, the headset crushed the top of my spiky 'do, but I insisted Ed take several photos and this was the best of the bunch. I guess it doesn't matter if your hair isn't perfectly coiffed when you're on radio. And Ed loves my fat little cheeks, as long as I'm happy and smiling.
Dr. Lajam breezed in shortly before the show started, giving me a HUGE hug and giving Ed and equally big squeeze. She was effervescent, friendly, down-to-earth and extremely welcoming. She wore a cute black and white dress, her thick, wavy hair bounced as she spoke, and she was never without a smile. I didn't feel at all like I was in the presence of a surgeon. Who, from what a lot of people hear, act like they're God. She did not have one iota of that air about her.

I should probably note again that I intially met Dr. Lajam via the internet. When we were in the studio, we sort of came to the realization that it had been about eight years - I met her just when I began dating Ed - I was thrilled to finally get to meet her in person. Here's a picture of her (in the corner), on air, after our segment:
Doing the show was just a lot of fun. I was smiling the entire time. We had several callers, and we also had a certified personal trainer, who co-authored the book The 7-Minute Back Pain Solution, join us on the air by phone. Dr. Lajam was a great host, keeping the conversation moving and natural, and threw several questions our way so we were able to give our views freely.

We even got a call from RuthAnn, our trucker friend!! We thought a guy named Brad was calling in, but when she came on the phone instead and started talking in her West Virginia drawl, I turned to Ed, eyes wide, and mouthed
Oh my God. It's RuthAnn!!

Turns out in addition to Brad and RuthAnn listening, GiGi Roxx was also listening (and gave us a shout-out on Facebook!), Ed's parents were listening, and Marlaina and Greg were listening. From what they've said, we didn't so sound bad. I've requested a copy of the show so we can hear it ourselves, but I have to say, I was happy to hear that I didn't sound like I was underwater with a clothespin on my nose!
It's been suggested (even prior to this little stint) that I should do a show - TV, radio, Internet - so maybe I have another career to consider when the trucking thing goes belly up. Our friends suggested that Ed and I should do a podcast. Lord knows what we'd talk about, but if people line up to watch the Kardshians and listen to Rush Limbaugh, I'm sure we can find a few people who have nothing better to do, and will decide to use their free time to listen to us.

Look out world!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Crossing The Mighty Hudson For Our Radio Debut

I took this photo of the mighty Hudson River - the river that flows in two directions - as we crossed the George Washington Bridge on our way to New York City.

Tonight we're going to be guests on SiriusXM's Orthopaedics Show on Doctor Radio, which is broadcast live from NYU Langone Medical Center.

This is something completely different for us and we're really looking forward to it.
I'll write more about our experience tomorrow - hopefully with photos!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
All-Inclusive Social Butterflies
2010: The $7 Date Night
2009: Them’s Fighting Words!
2008: Skulls And Hot Chocolate In The French Quarter
2007: Once As High As An Elephant’s Eye
2006: Trouser Snakes On A Plane
2005: Big Honkin’ Truck Makeover

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Clouds Over The Whitestone

Every time we drive I-95 through New York, we see this movie theater from the Interstate. It's the Whitestone Cinema on Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Room And Board
2010: Filler And Fluff
2009: Ghost Town
2008: Second Only To Feet
2007: I’ve Been Everywhere Sunday
2006: Heading South With One Wayward Goose
2005: Red Texas Sunrise

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Cue The Flying Monkeys

We drove right into this storm on our way to pick up a load of copper. It was like something out of The Wizard of Oz. As we entered the cloud, the rain was so fierce, we had to slow to a crawl and there was barely any visibility.

You can see the light from the sun, which was coming from the east, where the skies were blue and clear. The darkness of the sky to the north was so ominous, it covered the entire ridge of the mountain and stretched across the horizon as far as the eye could see in either direction. It was heading right for us.

Once through the rain, the skies cleared up again and we headed down into the mining town of
Morenci, Arizona, to the Freeport-McMoRan copper mine - the largest copper mining operation in North America and one of the largest copper mines in the world.

These loads are fairly valuable - copper is currently at $3.40 a pound - and although not specifically instructed to keep an eye on this freight, we do. It's not really something you want to leave unattended because it's the kind of material someone would be apt to steal.

It's bound for Connecticut, and the sooner we get it off the truck, the better. We're going to team it over there so we can make it to New York City for the
Doctor Radio show.

See you on the air!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2011: Project Island Life
2010: Be Italian
2009: I’m Not Just In The Granny Lane Anymore
2008: Where Pretty Resides
2007: The Sweet Sight Of Summer
2006: You Oughta Be In Pictures
2005: Oh, Brother!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Exemplary Exemplar Prints

I went to get fingerprinted for my background check yesterday. I don't know why some of these people are there being printed, but I've gotta say, I felt like I was in the processing room of a police station.

The people in the waiting room were some of the scariest, scuzziest, thug-like people I've ever been in the company of. It was like everyone from the local halfway house was let out at the same time and decided to spend their lunch hour at the fingerprint processing center.

I made it out alive and thankfully, won't have to go back for another five years. And I don't have to worry about any of those people following me home since most of them didn't have cars. Whew!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Hurricane? What Hurricane?
2010: The Summer Of 1947
2009: From Pablo Neruda To Mother Goose
2008: Almost Two Beautiful To Eat On
2007: Sweatin’ Eddie Friday
2006: Steel City Glow
2005: Bravo, Bravo

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I Can Haul Yer Explosives And Stuff

Yesterday I went to renew my CDL; it expires next month on my birthday. Thankfully, I didn't have to take the driving part of the test, I only had to take the test for the endorsements. I have to get HazMat, but might also renew my doubles/triples endorsement, and get a tanker endorsement too. Oh, and I'm going to have to get fingerprinted again too. What a pain in the ass.

To prepare myself - the last time I got my endorsements was in 2006 - I did the
online practice tests several times. I took all of them just for fun, but then concentrated on HazMat, taking that one at least ten different times over the past two days. A few times in a row, then a break. Then a few times the next morning, then a break. Then once again before I went to take the test.

I passed with flying colors, missing only three questions, even though they allow you to miss six. Thing is, it's kind of ridiculous that they allow people to transport Hazardous Materials just because they were able to pass a twenty-question test. Anyone taking the practice test enough times should be able to do it. There's no real "way" to study - the book the state DOT gives you barely covers what you need to know - so I don't know how they expect a person to pass the test with such incomplete information.

A person really needs to take it upon themselves to make sure they're well-versed on the information available for the endorsements. Just because I take a tanker test, doesn't mean I know how to drive a tanker. And although I currently have my doubles/triples endorsement, I've never driven one. Just seeing them on the road wigs me out a little; they're all over the place.

Well, the important thing is that I passed, so I can still drive. Tomorrow, I'll be off to get my digits scanned!

I guess that means no more cat burgling.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
That Bitch Irene Is Trying To Ruin My Vacation
2010: Licking Our Chops
2009: I’ll Start Working On That Sarcasm Font Right Away
2008: False Security
2007: Protecting The Posies
2006: Asking Too Much
2005: Slotsa Money

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Trust Me, I'm A Truck Driver

So I've got some very exciting news to share with The Daily Rant readers...

We're going to radio! Satellite radio, my friends!!

OK, so it's not like our own show or anything, but you will be able to hear our voices coming out of a box. Although, I don't know if that's going to be cool or not because the last time I heard my own voice played back to me, I wanted to crawl under a rock.

Anyway...this all came about because of my love of reading magazines. Let me fill you in. About seven years ago, I met a woman online through our shared interest in a blog we used to read. I can't remember the specifics, but I think either I liked one of her comments or she liked one of mine, and we began to sporadically communicate through email. It was fun while it lasted (and informative, as she helped me with a few questions pertaining to her specific field), but as the years passed, we lost touch.

Then recently, I was reading an
article about yin yoga in the June issue of O, The Oprah Magazine when I came across her name. She was quoted in the article! See? I knew someday all the time I've spent in Barnes & Noble would pay off. Anyway, she was quoted because she's an orthopedic surgeon. Mid-sentence I blurted out to Ed, "I know her!!" He replied, "Who is she?"

She is
Dr. Claudette Lajam, the first female surgeon in the WORLD to perform robot-assisted partial knee replacement. OK, so what, you say? You don't need a knee? Well, whatever. It's still pretty awesome.

She is the Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, and after seeing her name in the article, I reconnected with her via Facebook, and we briefly caught up on what we'd been up to since we last talked. Mostly, I was still driving a truck and it seems she's using robots to help replace body parts. As you can tell, we're both totally making excellent use of our time.

Oh, and she's also one of the hosts on the Orthopedics show on
Doctor Radio.

In one of the emails she asked if I would like to join her on the show to talk about staying healthy on the road. Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech! (That was me coming to a screeching halt.)

I promptly emailed back and said that although I would LOVE to be on the show, I wasn't so sure I'd be the greatest example of being "healthy" on the road, since most people don't think you're healthy if you're bigger than a size 7. Even though I have no medical issues, take no medication, eat very well (have you seen my recipes?) and recently lost 22 pounds, I had to come clean about latte drinking and scone eating being on the top of my "Favorite Things To Do" list; preferably while sitting on my ass reading a magazine. She said that was fine, we can talk about all aspects of being on the road, health being one of them. Hearing that, I asked if Ed could join us, since he actually exercises, plus he's been on the road for 17 years, and will likely be able to relate to a lot of the drivers. They said yes.

Since orthopaedics is the study of the human musculoskeletal system, which is the system that provides form, support, stability, and movement to the body, I figured we'd have plenty to talk about. Because anyone who drives a truck knows our musculoskeletal system gets the hell beat out of it behind the wheel of a big rig; vibration, miles and miles of sitting, pressure points on legs, wrists and elbows, back pain, muscles, joints. All of it, dammit! So after a few emails back and forth between Dr. Lajam and the show's producer, we came to the conclusion that we'd talk about the trucking lifestyle, trying to stay healthy on the road, and other related topics.

We're pretty excited. Our goal is to be in New York so we can do the show from their studio, but if we can't make it there on time (we don't have a load yet and it's set for next week), we'll just do it via phone. I'm a little nervous, but looking forward to it.

Soooo, if you have Sirius XM Satellite Radio, be sure to listen in!

WHEN: Monday, August 27th, 2012 at 6:00 PM Eastern Time
(Rebroadcasts Tuesdays 12 am, Saturdays 6 am, Sundays 12 am)

WHERE: Channel 81 on Sirius XM Satellite Radio

And if you're not a Sirius XM subscriber, you can listen online to a FREE 30 Day Trial of Sirius XM Radio by clicking HERE.

See you on the air!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Doesn’t A Gastropod Always Have A Helmet On?
2010: This Is How We Do It
2009: Storage In The Storm
2008: Devil Horse In The Louisiana Wetlands
2007: Not Sloppy. No Joe. Just Bob And His Loosemeats Residing In The Ice Cream Capital Of The World
2006: Playing With Your Money But Not Really SPENDING It
2005: Glamour Puss

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fat Lou Captured In Rare Photo

My mother recently added another cat to her household - a huge Maine Coon named Fat Louie. She only has two cats, so I don't think there's any danger of her being labeled a "cat lady". Yet.

Her current cat, Lily, isn't very happy about the new addition, although she's not reacting as violently as she did when my mother decided she wanted a dog. That didn't last long, as my mother realized she wasn't a dog person after about a week of yapping and having to go out for daily walks.

Fat Louie is a bit of a phantom; he doesn't come out much and is pretty much afraid of everything. This doesn't mesh too well with Lily, who's also afraid of everything. If it weren't for the rodent-sized hair tufts scattered about the house, you wouldn't even know Louie was there. Although Lily must know he's around, because I suspect some of that hair is evidence of them either playing or fighting.

Tonight they were both in the room at the same time, but once they faced off and realized they were both in the same room, they took off in opposite directions. We all wondered aloud what the hell was wrong with them. They certainly didn't act like cats we had known at other times in our life, the kind that sit in your lap and enjoy having their coats stroked and ears rubbed.

Then my mother said, "I wonder if Louie is touching her."

"Touching her? You mean inappropriately??" I said.

I can't even tell you the firestorm of laughter that that set off. No really, I can't tell you. The humor just wouldn't translate.

Just know it involved a lot of Muttley, not a lot of breathing, and a shitload of tasteless comments.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Oceanfront Property At Lot 61003/94
2010: Monkey Pod Treasure
2009: Eddie Embraces The Rules Friday
2008: They Have A MAGAZINE???
2007: Planting The Sun
2006: Training Day
2005: Cannonball Run

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fire Hazard

Hay bales in Gila Bend, Arizona. Honestly, in the 115 degree temperature, I don't know how they didn't burst into flames.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Where The Chisled Form Of David Accompanies You In The Restroom

Today is our last day in Las Vegas. Every time I'm here, I wonder the same thing - why people come. For me, it has everything that makes a place miserable - gambling, drinking, drunks, oppressive heat, people walking in groups like cattle, children, no escape from cigarette smoke, and over-priced crap from China. Oh, and the chance to lose money in the blink of an eye.

If we must be here, I'm happier if we're up in the money department; like last time, when Ed left with almost $1,000.00 in his pocket. This weekend we got free room nights, but we still spent about $150 gambling. Not bad, considering we can make that back in a few hours sitting around collecting detention pay, but I'd rather not give it to the casinos. Who would? Ed is our money maker, usually doing pretty well at the blackjack tables, so there's still a chance he'll break even by the time we leave.

We spent most of the day on the strip, walking from hotel to hotel, checking out some of the places we've never been or I haven't been for years. Like the Mirage - I haven't been there in about fifteen years oh, we've walked past it a million times, but I just haven't gone in. I remember when the volcano out front was all the rage, years before the Bellagio had their fountain. And Treasure Island too, with their pirate show, right there on the strip. It still draws crowds like it did years ago, except now everyone is armed with a digital camera or cellphone.

We ate lunch at the Fashion Show Mall and watched the models walk the runway, had gelato at Caesar's Palace and watched the moving statues (see photo above to check out the doors on the bathroom stalls), sat and people watched for quite a while before meandering through Neiman Marcus to touch items I dream of buying, and walked for what felt like miles in the blazing sun. There's really no shade along the strip - oh, a tree here and there or a quick duck into a cool casino - but no real shade. I think my forehead has a tan.

Tomorrow we'll leave to deliver our load in Arizona and then we'll head home. Then we're going to try very hard to get to New York City to be part of something new for us. I'll let you all in on it this week, so stay tuned!

Until then, we'll be playing a few more hands of blackjack and spinning a few more reels on the slot machines. Fingers crossed!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Settled In And Planning Our Day
2010: Pork And Parking Served Up With Southern Charm
2009: They Should Put This Scent In A Candle. I’d Have One Lit In My House Every Night!
2008: After All
2007: I’ve Been Everywhere Sunday
2006: Who My Baby Daddy?
2005: South Siiiide Education

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Keeping Pace With The Seniors

Today we didn't do much; slept late, gambled a bit, ate lunch, took in two movies (they have a movie theater in the hotel), gambled a little more, ate an early dinner, took in another movie (this time in our room) and spent the rest of the night reading, watching TV and surfing the net. We're moving about as quickly as the geriatric crowd.

Technically, we're working since we're under a load, but it just doesn't feel like work. I should be studying for my CDL test, but I think the endorsement tests I need to take (HazMat, Doubles/Triples, Tanker) are easy enough and I should be able to gather enough info by just reading through the material a few times. I'm quite the slacker when it comes to studying for tests, and I don't see this being any different. It's all stuff I generally know.

Tomorrow will be another day of leisure, but I actually might try to hit the Sephora store - that's the only thing on my list so far. There's not really much to write because there's nothing really going on. Once things pick up a bit, I might have more to say.

I'm also hoping this heat will let up; when it does, I'll be a little less cranky.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Say It Loud! Say It Proud!

I was first introduced to this by Paul A., one of my Facebook friends. It came about because I used the word Schadenfreude in a status update. So Schadenfreude was the first one he sent me. But there are more, equally hilarious pronunciations. Check them out:

Haute Couture is one my favorites. The The correct French pronunciation is "oat- kuh- tyur", which I know because I've been a fan of fashion magazines since I was old enough to read. Americans never say it correctly, and since they don't know the difference, I think I might start pronouncing it the way they do in the video.

This one is perfect for my friend Kim, since at forty years old, she's still embarrassed by the word:

You may as well say it this one however you want, since no one seems to know what it is, and only certain smarties in your group of friends will even know what it means:

In the past, you may have shied away from this line of beauty and fragrance products because you don't know how to say it. Tip - don't walk up to the L'Occitane counter using this as your guide:

Others that tickled my fancy are: Porsche, the car so many people want but so many can't pronounce; if you're a scotch drinker this one might throw you for a loop; French designers always trip us up, and this one tops the list (although in the movie "Showgirls", the main character did have a problem with Italian designer Versace - she called him Ver-sase); people seem to have a harder time understanding what she says than how tosay her name; and I learned how to say this guy's name in the movie "Something About Mary" - it's "Fav-ruh", of course.

But the fun doesn't stop here, my friends, there are many, many more. Click
HERE to keep yourself busy for hours. And don't forget to work them into conversation as often as possible.

Hotty Cootarotty, people!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Stitch Me Up Something Fancy
2010: Hot Dogs Are The New Coitus
2009: Better Than A Five Dollar Foot Long
2008: Isn’t This Grate??
2007: Eddie Gives Me That Smoldering Look Friday
2006: Bringing The Good Stuff
2005: The Road To Sin City

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Betting On My Man To Show Me A Great Time

After two and a half weeks of down time, we're back on the road - to Utah, which is not much better than being stuck in Arizona. On the plus side, we did get to have lunch at our favorite wings restaurant, Winger’s.

Unfortunately, this time our experience wasn't so great. The wings were delicious as usual, but when our lunch came, I found two hairs in my meal and Ed found one in his. Ed got up and complained to the manager, who offered to remake our meal, but when Ed got back to the table we decided we weren't really all that hungry anymore and decided to cancel the order and just pay for the wings and drinks. When he asked for the bill, the waiter told us his manager said not to worry about it. I'm glad that was the outcome, because it was the right thing to do. If they made us pay, I might've had to complain. And you don't want me to complain.

After lunch, we hit the local Barnes & Noble for a few hours and then headed back to the truck for the rest of the night. Our next load will be taking us back to Arizona, where I will renew my CDL and then we'll hopefully head out to New York.

Before we hit Arizona though, we'll be going back to Las Vegas. We normally wouldn't stop again since we were just there for four days, but Ed was comped three room nights so we'll be staying for FREE. In addition, we got coupons for a free dinner at one of the restaurants, another food credit coupon good at any of the restaurants within the hotel chain properties, and $15 in free slot play. Yay!

And if Ed does as well at the blackjack table as he did last time, we'll be leaving with money in our pocket.

money's on him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Cut And Color
2010: X Marks The Imaginary Spot
2009: A Field That Looks Perfect For Wrasslin’…If It Weren’t For The Sign
2008: Come Visit Me In Italy!
2007: Asked And Answered
2006: L.E.A.P.
2005: Ed Visits His First Warehouse Store

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Forever In Bloom

I found this indestructible flower arrangement at Hacienda Interiors in Boulder City, Nevada. We were driving home from Las Vegas when I saw a garden of color and just had to stop. These floral sculptures are just one item among many that this business offered for sale.

They had all kinds of metal sculptures for the home and yard, and I bought a set of beautiful red flowers for my mother, which she loved. According to the proprietor, all of the painted items have a base coat, four coats of color, and then a clear top coat of paint. He said they will last outside in the sun indefinitely, and a spray of clear coat once a year should keep them in good shape.

This is one bouquet of flowers that will bring a smile long after the day of celebration has passed.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Zero Tolerance Zone

I almost lose the ability to speak when I see something like this.

It's rampant, completely out of control, and Facebook is the place I find the worst offenders. That's where I found this one. People post things like this - presumably because they agree with the statement, or it represents something they believe in - yet they don't care enough to look it over to make sure they don't look like idiots once it goes up with their name attached. And they don't think it even matters, because it's "only online" or "only on Facebook" or "only a text message".
This guy has the right idea - not hiring people who use poor grammar. I would expand that to punctuation and the ability to write coherent sentences. People in the comments section of the article had a lot to say, some defending the fact that the author is so nit-picky, others taking the side of those who can't spell. One commenter, a law professor, mentioned how young people today seem to have a collective inability to express themselves and communicate even on the most basic level. I couldn't agree more.

The author of the article makes an excellent point when he said this: "Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn't make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can't tell the difference between their, there, and they're."

I think that just about covers it. I'm done.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Flicker Of Hope…GONE
2010: Knee Deep In Training
2009: She Sells Seashells By The Seashore
2008: Shoping At WalMart Is The Closest Some Of Us Will Ever Get To China
2007: Giving Indians A Bad Name
2006: Six Flags Of Horror Fly Over Texas
2005: Snake River

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Frying Up Memories

I spent the entire weekend cooking for my mother's birthday. One of the meals I made began with life's most perfect food - the fried chicken cutlet. Not only do fried chicken cutlets bring me back to my childhood - as they've been made by everyone in my family - but there is nothing else I think I'd rather eat. They're irresistible.

Since I was cooking for a crowd, I had to make a lot of them. Let me tell you, it's backbreaking work. I know you're probably laughing at that, but until you've done it, you can't possibly know how long it takes and how involved it is.
First you must filet the chicken breasts, then you must pound them thinner (if you didn't filet thinly enough), then they first get dredges in flour (in one pan), coated in egg (in another pan), and dipped in breadcrumbs (in the final pan). This is done one by one before you drop them into the frying pan to start the beautification process.

Since there's only so much room in a frying pan, you can only do a few at a time. It takes forever, standing over a frying pan filled with hot oil and frying each one golden brown. As you can see, mine are far from golden. I don't have the patience to let them get that beautiful. I don't mind a little brown around the edges, and since these were going to become Chicken Parmigiana (with a side of Thin Spaghetti), I didn't think anyone would notice. And they didn't - the meal was amazing.

As I was cooking, I couldn't help but think of those who cooked before me; my father, my father's
Aunt Jennie, my Aunt Ronni, my grandmother. All of these people in my life cooked for large crowds of people and they all made it look effortless. It's really exhausting and they did it all the time, not just once in a while. I wonder if this every happened to them - a piece of chicken that looked like a fish.
Aunt Jennie and Grandma cooked this way every Sunday; we had courses at our meals. And after they served us all and we all ate, they cleaned the entire kitchen, doing all the dishes, and putting everything away. Where did they get the energy?? (Clean-up is my least favorite part, by the way.)

I'm happy when the people I cook for enjoy what I've made, but it's always over so quickly! I always appreciate when people cook for me, especially an elaborate or labor intensive meal, because I know what goes into it. And I know why they do it. It really doesn't matter if it's for two or twenty people, I know I'll do it again in a heartbeat.

As long as there's someone around to eat.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Icy Beverages, Sun, And Sand
2010: Smalltopia And Rowdy Kittens
2009: Severely Disabled
2008: Boys In Dresses
2007: I’ve Been Everywhere Sunday
2006: When I’m Done Peeing, Do I Bang On The Pipes Or Just Yell When I Need Someone To Take Me Back To My Cell?
2005: The Emerald City

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Perfect Volunteer

On the threshold of seventy, my mother did what many other septuagenarians do; she became a volunteer.

She's taken two positions - one at the hospital, and one at Hospice. She was so impressed with the care Hospice gave my step-father in his last days, she wanted to be part of it and offer the same kindness to other people in the same position.

She went for training for a few hours at both places and just this week, had her first "shift" at the hospital. She left the house and thirty minutes later, I got a text from her.

"So far I hate it. It's in the basement. Hate no light. Girl I'm supposed to see is eating lunch, I told her to eat in peace I'll wait. She said she'd appreciate it. I'm ready to walk out. Have ringer off. Sure I'm not to be doing this but no one sees me."

She's not even there an hour, and she already hates it, wants to leave, and is texting on her iPhone. It's a good thing they're not paying her. Two minutes later, I get another text.

"I want the real hospital where people are. If it's about being in a quiet environment like this basement, I could have stayed home."

Ahhhh, the perfect volunteer.

I can't wait to hear what she has to say after her first Hospice shift.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Men Who Stare At Goats
2010: A Peek At A Working Team
2009: Alligators Are Not A Girl’s Best Friend
2008: Forget Your Cholesterol. Get A Hearing Aid.
2007: Sizzling Good Time
2006: Amarillo May Smell Like Cow Shit, But They Have Some Pretty Tasty Steaks
2005: List Of Fives

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Student Of Life

Today my mother turns 70 years old. That's quite a lot of living. One of her sisters sent her the most beautiful gift - a memory book with photos and 70 memories she had of her oldest sister. It inspired me to do something similar, so I've made a list of 70 things about my mother that makes her who she is and gives you a good idea why she's so loved by me.

1. She taught me how to macramé.

2. She once dropped a pan of birthday cake batter (for a cake she was making for my party) on the floor in our kitchen, scooped it all up, put it back in the pan and baked it.

3. She taught me how to crochet, and hung with pride, the hideous Christmas tree ornaments I made that year.

4. She put little love notes in my lunch box every day when I was a kid.

5. She always smells good. Shalimar was her signature scent when I was a kid and the one that most reminds me of her.

6. She's always been extremely beautiful and turned heads wherever she went.

7. She made my brother and I breakfast every morning before school, even when we were in high school.

8. She let me wear her crystal wedding crown for my first holy communion.

9. She always made me a “Vick’s Necklace” when I was sick – which was where she’d slather my neck and chest with Vick’s Vapo-Rub and then wrap a small hand towel around my neck to keep the "vapors" in, securing it with a baby diaper pin.

10. Her natural hair color is black and shiny, like an Indian, but she's been blonde, brunette, redhead, frosted, and now silver and she's rocked every single shade.

11. She's so so so funny and doesn’t even try.

12. She is always calm no matter what the situation may be. I remember the day I came walking across the snow on our front lawn, a trail of blood behind me because my brother just kicked me (accidentally) in the lip with the zigzag tip of his ice skate, and she didn’t freak out. She never freaks out.

13. She accompanied me to many doctor visits, even as an adult, and wrote down everything the doctor said, asking questions I didn’t think to ask; always taking care of me like I was her baby. (Which of course, I am.)

14. She welcomes all of my friends to her home and is always a fantastic host.

15. She wasn't a mother with a lot of ridiculous rules. We were allowed to get our socks dirty, we could sit on furniture in a wet bathing suit (ok, not the "good" furniture), we were allowed to be kids and play like kids, we did arts and crafts, she let us paint and use Play-Doh, we could help cook in the kitchen, work in the garden, decorate our own rooms and were not restricted from any area of our home.

16. She taught me how to watercolor, although I’ll never be as good as she is.

17. She has supported everything I’ve ever done and has always showered me with praise.

18. She thinks I’m a super-star.

19. She has helped me settle in to every place I’ve ever lived; arranging cabinets, making curtains, buying furniture, etc.

20. She made an entire wardrobe for my Barbie dolls and my life-sized baby doll – by hand.

21. She always made sure I had great hairstyle when I was little. Although, while making pigtails and ponytails, she would pull my hair so tight my eyes would squint.

22. She’s not a bullshitter and can spot one a mile away.

23. She’s a little OCD, but it works for her.

24. She always said I could tell her anything, and I did.

25. She’s an excellent dancer.

26. She’s a low-tech wizard. Although, she’s getting along quite nicely with her iPhone.

27. She watches a lot of Criminal Minds and as a result, thinks everyone is an unsub.

28. She is wary of
candy from strangers.

29. My friends love her.

30. Since I was a little girl, she has always allowed me to have an opinion and say what I want. Even if she doesn't like it.

31. She didn’t just do things for us, she taught us how to do for ourselves, which made my brother and I who we are today.

32. For most of our childhood, I think she believed mercurochrome took care of everything.

33. Although a good cook in her own right, she rocks the nickname ”High Flame Toni” for a very good reason.

34. She is a fantastic grandmother and her three grandchildren love being in her company. It seems her house is the best place on earth.

35. She taught me how to climb out of my crib when I was a toddler so I wouldn’t get hurt attempting it on my own.

36. She used to scotch-tape a bow to my head when I was an infant because I didn’t have any hair.

37. She loves to laugh and does it often and easily.

38. And, she loves to laugh at herself. Many people don’t do that, but it comes quite naturally to her.

39. She has covered more things with contact paper than one would think is humanly possible.

40. She also has a penchant for painting things white. Be afraid if you see a paintbrush in her hand.

41. She has amazing skin is just as beautiful without a stitch of makeup and unadorned, as she is tanned and dripping with gold.
42. When my father used to work at the post office, he would bring home old balls of twine they used to wrap packages. My mother crocheted a rug and curtains for our family room out of it. Don’t ask.

43. She has the vocabulary of a sailor and isn’t afraid to use it.

44. When she was younger and wore a bikini to the beach, if people asked about the scar on her abdomen (from having her appendix taken out), she would tell them she got it from being stabbed.

45. She is the oldest of four girls and acts like it. She's kind of bossy.

46. She’s also a typical older child, very responsible and taking care of everyone.

47. She would give anything, do anything and say anything to help her children.

48. In that same vein, she’d happily go to jail for murder if someone hurt her children.

49. She is known for not having a really great sense of direction – she once got lost in a parking lot.

50. She's very often
politically incorrect, without even comprehending what just came out of her mouth.

51. She has always had a fabulous green thumb. She can make anything grow and bring the dead (plants, that is) back to life.

52. She doesn’t know how to swim, but that never stopped her from being in the pool with us as kids, or with her grandchildren to this day. Of course, we didn’t (and they don’t) know that she’s afraid of the water.

53. She’s a cat lady from way back in the day.

54. She always said she’d never punish us for telling the truth, and she never did.

55. She always told me I was beautiful, and my brother that he was handsome.

56. She loves my Eddie almost as much as I do.

57. She really doesn’t give a fuck what you think about her.

58. She’s an excellent student and graduated college summa cum laude.

59. She is a great listener and a great giver of advice.

60. She’s easily confused. But in
the funny way.

61. She’s extremely generous.

62. You will always feel welcome in her home. She is a gracious host and fully expects you to embrace the phrase “make yourself at home”.

63. When my brother shoved watermelon pits up his nose when he was little, she reacted swiftly by sucking them out!

64. Because we were never sick as children, she would allow us something she called a "goof day" - where she'd let us have the day off from school for no reason at all.

65. She woke my brother and I for school every day with a sing-song "Riiiisssse and Shiiiinnnne!".

66. She didn't coddle us and she didn't let us get away with shit, and to this day, still doesn't.

67. She knows how to make a person feel comfortable in every situation. I believe that skill was passed to my brother and I and as a result, we know how to make people from all walks of life comfortable in our presence.

68. She is extremely loyal and reliable.

69. She looks cute in a muu-muu.

70. She is truly the best mother a child could ask for. I don't know too many people who've had the good fortune to have a mother who so completely and so passionately loves her children the way my mother does. Hell, who loves people the way my mother does. She has touched so many lives and made them better by just being in it. She is greatly admired, abundantly loved, sorely missed, immensely appreciated, and means more to those who know her than she can ever fathom.

I'd say I wish her another 70 years, but that'd kinda be ridiculous because really, who lives to be 140 years old? So I'll just say that I wish her the most joyous, relaxed, love filled days a person can have, for the rest of her time here on this earth. And I hope she gets back even half of what she has given.

I love you Mommy. You are my rock. And I know that as long as I live, I'll never know a love more pure and unconditional than yours.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
There Is No One Alive Who Is Youer Than You
2010: The Serious Bather
2009: There’s More To The Woman With The Mona Lisa Smile Than Meets The Eye
2008: Blond Bombshell Birthday
2007: Milestones And Yardsticks: How To Measure A Good Life
2006: The Roaring Twenties
2005: Escape