Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Milo's Babysitter Reports In

Fran had agreed to stop by and check on Milo while Mary was in New York this weekend.

Whenever I've come into Mary's house when she wasn't there, Milo comes out, looks at me, and walks away bored.

Here's Fran's report:

Mr Milo is shown here licking his chops after dinner and eyeing my lap for a landing.

Not a peep or hiss out of him. He greeted me at the door, followed me into kitchen and waited silently till I had filled his bowls. He ate, followed me back into living room, where we now sit on "our" side chair. I'm reading while massaging his temples. What a life.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Decluttering Email

I took advantage of the slow pace of today and went through a bunch of email and unsubbed from about 15 lists. You know how it happens. You buy one thing at a site and end up getting emails from them every day. Same with political sites, charitable sites and all the miscellaneous ones you pick up along the way.  
This isn't the first time I've done this, of course, and I always think of the process as a starfish. The starfish can lose one of its arms and it will grow back -- and so do commercial/political emails -- they just come back again in a few weeks' time. There are stores/sites that I would like an occasional email from, but I remind myself I can always go to that site.

 As I was unsubbing I wondered about how I put up with some of these emails for as long as I did -- I think it's just too easy to delete so there's not much effort involved. I do pay attention when I'm at a new site to check off that I DON'T want to receive perky periodic updates from them and their always so-called valued partners.

Happy Birthday to Mary's Sister, Judy!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Judy's Birthday Party

Mary and her sister Judy and my friend Stephanie had a lovely dinner birthday party tonight at my place. Mary took the train. Judy took the bus. Stephanie walked and I didn't have to do anything!

In true New York style, I ordered in dinner (oh wait, does putting Pepperidge Farm goldfish in a bowl count as "serving hors d'ouevres'?). We had a smorgasbord of food from an Italian place called Delizia 92 located at 92nd and Second Avenue of various pastas, stuffed mushrooms, sauteed broccoli, salad, garlicky rolls. We dug in!

Then Stephanie brought this lovely little cake from Little Red Hen which was chocolate mousse with deep chocolate cake and I got some Ben & Jerry's vanilla for the top. Mary and I had a cup of great coffee with it and it was the perfect complement.

We had party favors, presents, lots of talk and a good time was had by all. Here are Judy and Mary with Judy's birthday cake:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Melissa's Day

Melissa was telling me yesterday how she has joined a group which helps people who are living under highway over passes and under bridges where she lives in Texas by bringing food, clothes, etc. She said one time when she was there with the people, someone drove by cursing them out and yelling that those people should get an "effing" job, but he didn't say effing. We couldn't understand being that heartless -- there but for the grace of God -- I have never been close to being homeless, but I know "normal" people who have been a thread away from it.

I was telling her about three homeless guys sitting on the steps of my building one day a few weeks back and when I came outside I sat with them for a while and talked, and I was really struck (again) just like I was with the crackhead who helped me with my mouse how very "normal" these people are. If I was sitting next to these guys in an airplane gate or at a restaurant, I wouldn't wonder what they were doing there.

Anyway, Melissa visited these people today and gave me permission to share this with you:

Hope you are having a relaxing weekend. We went to visit our ‘Friends without Homes’ this morning… took them breakfast tacos and we had three tables of clothes, food and toiletries….. we gave them plastic bags and let them pick whatever they wanted. There were three women and probably ten men… they were so grateful… we joked about it being like Wal-mart. One guy from a church brought a guitar and played three songs (including Amazing Grace)… and a female pastor gave a short message of hope and offered communion… it was really amazing… every single one of them went forward (and there was literally zero pressure to do so). Then we even fed some bread to the ducks in the river. It was pretty cool.. and really not what I would consider a ‘religious’ event. They were just so laid back… one guy who has been one of the main ones has even found a job and he still lives under the bridge, but he says he is getting back on his feet. It was a good experience and I came away thinking… that regardless of what I personally believe or do not believe, whatever it is that gives someone hope is a good thing.

Pat again: I've read the last thought about hope a dozen times, and it kept resonating with me -- and then I just now realized that it reminds me of the end of Shawshank Redemption -- there's some line about hope in there that I love.

I checked Google and found it.

Here are Red's words at the end of the movie. I have seen and heard this probably two dozen times, and I never get tired of it. In fact, when I see that the movie is on, I don't watch the whole thing, but I do make note of the end and turn in five minutes before so I can see this scene again where Red narrates:

I find I'm so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

Friday, May 27, 2011


My Good Laugh

I had a good laugh today -- the first in really a long time, and I forgot how good your body feels after laughing.

I had ordered groceries on line and they are always delivered by one of a group of young Sudanese men who are uniformly polite and appreciative of a tip. Today the fellow put the bags on the kitchen floor as I directed and I asked him if there was a second trip -- whether there were more bags outside because it didn't look like enough.

He said no, that was it, and I looked at this measly collection of grocery bags and asked in this pleading voice, "How can this be $127 worth of groceries?" He started to laugh, and I hammed it up saying, "It's impossible, you've hidden the rest of my groceries. Go find them!"

He continued to laugh and had this lilting accent, almost like the islands, like Jamaica, and kept saying, "I'm so sorry, Miss... Oh Miss, I know how you feel." I continued to ham it up, which wasn't too hard because I really did look at these bags and marvel at how little there was -- and it's not like I had a bag full of filet mignons and lobster tails.

We were both laughing hard, and when he left, and I was putting away the groceries (and wondering how a damn jar of pickles could cost $4 and a box of crackers nearly $5 and lemons are a dollar a piece) I realized I was smiling and felt differently. I don't remember the chemcials that are released when we laugh (and when we cry, too), but it felt good to have a good old-fashioned belly laugh.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mary's Flowers

Mary's housekeeper, Eneida, makes incredible arrangements all year long from the flowers, trees, etc in her yard. This is her latest with Mary's mountain laurel:

My housekeeper, Ana, rearranges my furniture and mixes and matches sheets to make really nice looks. This has always made me wonder about what these women might have been had they been born in different places and different circumstances. It's also a reminder of the wonderful talents that live in all of us.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sister, can you spare a bra?

Got a receipt for some donated bras today that I sent to an organization called Support 1000 -- they collect new and like new bras and donate them to women's shelters, women getting out of prison who only have a "prison bra" and other organizations. Bras are the only thing they collect.

It made it so easy to go through my bra drawer, knowing that the bras would be used and appreciated. The slogan for this organization is "providing the dignity associated with a quality, well-fitting bra."

Considering the cost of a new bra (which still gives me sticker shock), you can imagine how out of reach a new bra might be for some women.

You can read more about the organization, including where to send your bras, at http://www.support1000.org/

On the way home from the dentist today

The only good thing about going to the dentist (and periodontist in the same building) is that they are on Central Park South so I'm flung into the midst of the tourist region -- many buses, vendors, and the infamous horse-drawn carriages through Central Park:

and these are the benches where Pavarotti used to sit in Central Park:

Amy's in Berlin

I think it's Berlin, and I don't remember the name of the hotel, but Amy is in a fancy hotel cum aquarium so the view out of her room is actually a 6-story aquarium.

Amy apologizes for the unmade beds:

and the bathroom:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Road Trip: day six and a half... HOME!

Made it safely home in good time; no traffic to speak of; no problems with the rental car; got the kind of cab I liked home... all is well in my little world.

A client sent me this along with a list of stuff we have to do... this is to keep us calm, and it made me laugh...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Road Trip: day six -- Almost Home

Today was a bit of a struggle for me, and I had to laugh at myself that I feel as if a pyschologist has given me an assignment -- which is to take it easy and add an extra day to get home. Of course I could have made it home today -- right now I'm about two hours from NYC, but I am trying to do this the easy way, and have a little bit of a vacation too. It's hard to turn off that go-go-go button.

 So I'm in another Red Roof Inn -- this one in Allentown, PA. I stopped driving around 6. Part of the decision was thinking I could avoid Sunday night traffic and really preferring to not arrive at night. I'll get home soon enough tomorrow.

Driving through the Pennsylvania mountains -- I guess they are the Allegheny Montains?? -- is really beautiful. Some people would scoff at calling these mountains, but this is actually a ski area:

Fran may take lovely photos of flowers and cats, but I take the candid snap of a guy whose butt crack was showing. This is at a rest stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, where I had stopped to use the restroom, and when I got back in my car, the butt crack caught my eye. What I enjoyed about it is this guy was completely oblivious to it. I almost got a better shot as you can see the car directly in front of me was about to leave and I had a plan to pull up, put down the passenger side window and zoom in, but unfortunately, this fellow's traveling companion came and they both got in the car.

more heavy rain today....

And here's the view from my door:

Meanwhile, back in DC Part Two

Here are Fran's comments about her shots:

-- Views of the beautiful antique-yellow iris growing in Mary's garden

-- Spent the day Saturday with my friends David and Joe. The shots of the purple (shows up blue in photo) iris is one of a "field" of purple irises growing in the front garden of David and Joe's home. They were dubbed "Fran's Irises" because many years ago I helped separate and transplant the bulbs, which are now flourishing.

-- Peonies from David & Joe's garden -- and a Smiley Face peony bud alongside one of the peonies in full-bloom! Plus a shot of the vase holding the peonies refleted on the glass coffee table...

And a certain feline (Valentino) guarding, or waiting to eat, the peonies. ...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Road Trip: day five (headed east again)

I only drove four hours today because I could not leave my client until 3:30 or so. But here I am in a Red Roof Inn in St. Clairsville, Ohio and it's cheap, but clean and nice. I have to say I like the old-fashioned set up of parking your car right by your room. Here's the view from my door, and that's my car.

On the drive here today, I saw this decripit little truck that was actually charming. It had written on the windshield "BARN FIND" and it was $1200 so maybe these folks are taking it home and will give it a new life. It's from 1951.

You might not be able to read this sign, but Rally's is a hamburger fast food place -- don't think I've ever eaten at one, but the sign says, "Honk if Christ is for you." Wow. The funny thing is that this location was closed due to fire, so evidently they are not as heavenly protected as they may think.

My friend, Jody

I've mentioned to some of you how my friend Jody has to have jaw joint replacement, and it's a nightmare. To keep everyone informed, I suggested she and her husband do a blog and they didn't know how so I did and set it up for them.

Here's the URL:


and she has now just posted that insurance has turned down the whole thing, and now it's on appeal and she has the surgery date already for July so that might have to be changed.

It's really something everyone who needs medical work goes through, but no one should have to do this.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Road Trip: day four and all is well

Tomorrow (Saturday) is the big event at my client and all is well. Tonight was a pre-event dinner. Returning to the hotel, I thought I'd get clever now that I'd figured out right from left and where I should park to be close to my room.

Again, I'm balancing purse, computer tote, and I had stopped for a soda that I was holding... have my hotel key out, and these outer doors are typically kept locked and you use your room key to get in. I was all prepared, patting myself on the back for getting it right this time, and slid the key -- nothing but a red blinking light... did it again, red light, again, red light, again x 20 times, red light x 20. I wipe it, warm it, try the second key about 25 times and finally give up, really pissed off, and walk around the hotel to the front door.

The front desk clerk was all smiles... "you need your key recoded?" I wanted to say, "Yes, but I want to pinch your head off first..." His attitude was really easy come, easy go... volunteered that the problem could either be the door lock mechanism was broken, or the clerk when I checked in screwed up the date. When I am really angry, I tend to not say anything, not ask questions because I know I will just annoy myself more by engaging the person in a discussion.

And tomorrow I check out so it's all for naught. I can't leave until 3 pm tomorrow because of this event and so I don't want to drive that long, but I do want to be on my way, so I made a hotel reservation in St. Clairsville, Ohio which is 4 hours away.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Meanwhile, back in DC

Fran writes: Spotted this lovely iris in a little garden just off duPont Circle. It's a lovely oasis and sitting here under a tree surrounded by flowers and enjoying the birdies chattering.

Road Trip: day three...dyslexia gets the better of me

OK time at work; stayed there until about 7; stopped at a drive thru (Taco Bell) on the way home. My room is at one end of the hotel so I thought I'd be clever and park near the end of the hotel, rather than walk through the lobby.

I had my purse, a tote bag with my computer, dinner and a paper cup of lemonade...am trying to balance all of it, but thinking that once I am inside the hotel, my room will be right there. I had to use the hotel key to get in this entrance, and when I did, the first room was 130 and I'm in 105 and I realized that I am at the wrong end of the hotel.

So do I go back and move my car or just walk the distance? I decided to walk from one end of the hotel to the other... so much for right vs. left. It is minimal brain damage, and I have it. When I made it to my room, I tried to envision the route again -- how did I go wrong? -- and it took all of my concentration and imagining myself walking in the lobby, walking through the lobby, having the choice to go right or left (but I don't think of it in those terms as they have no meaning to me, really) and do I go *this* way or *that* way? '

You'd think with a 50/50 chance, I'd get it right more often than I do.

Did some research via Google on my rental car gasoline -- read all about E85 fuel and it is not readily available in most places... in fact, there are web sites that tell you where you can buy it -- and the closest to where I am now is 45 minutes away so I clearly made the right decision and I did confirm you don't damage the car with "normal" gas -- you just don't get as good gas mileage.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Yesterday's Photos

These are the cabs to avoid, unless you are five feet tall and weigh 95 pounds. By the way, this photo is taken on Second Avenue, future home of the Second Avenue Subway. 'That's what the construction is on the right side of the photo. Can you really imagine building a subway now? I don't get it. This construction was the impetus for my mouse invasion and Stephanie can speak to it as her building is on Second Avenue. I hope I live long enough to actually have a ride on this subway!

And below is a photo that sums up my driving from Tuesday -- all rain, all the time:

Road Trip: day two -- Three Disasters Averted

I got lucky today. First disaster was I couldn't find my Mobile WiFi stick and had searched the room, thought I might have left it in the car and last night used the hotel's WiFi. I looked again this morning, then went to the car and it wasn't there. I really looked under the seats... everywhere.

I was torn about what to do. Part of me just wanted to give up, but I had brought my hotel key with me in case I went back. I decided to go back, went to my old room, searched again... then I called the front desk to see if anyone had turned one in (figuring it might have fallen out of my computer bag somehow in the parking lot or hallway), but no.

I asked her to send a housekeeper to the room to help me look. This young woman came, and I asked her to search under the bed... I had only done that part half-heartedly -- never got down on my stomach, but she did, and she was crawling under the bed... and FOUND IT!

That saved me $160 for a replacement.

Next disaster averted is I went to my first order of business, which was getting gas. I pulled up, When I opened the little door to put the gas in, I saw this bright yellow gas cap and this warning that you can only use E83 fuel. I have no idea what that is. I sort of looked around thinking that maybe there's a whole new kind of fuel other than regular gas and diesel, but no.

I decided a few things-- if I couldn't put in "normal gas" -- I would have been warned by the rental car place. The yellow gas cap would also warn me what NOT to put in, and then the gas pump nozzle would probably be a different size (like diesel is) so you couldn't use it. Then I thought there's no way a rental car company would have as part of its fleet a car that required special gas.

I filled it up and hoped for the best.

After "regular gas" was in my tank, it occurred to me to look at the owner's manual, which I did, which made no mention of special fuel -- only to use premium fuel, which I don't ever do in a rental car.

#3 is I was getting off an exit, about to merge, and I hear this big WHOMP in the right side of the car as if I had hit something -- quickly looked and there was nothing to hit -- no fence, no sign, no other car, no nothing. I thought the car might have thrown up a stone or something -- when I stopped the next time, I held my breath as I went to look, but not a spec... I guess the rock (or whatever it was) hit the underside of the car.

In short, I had a lucky day... which included some sunshine... and this oddly beautiful storm system. The photo doesn't really do it justice, but it was these storm clouds with blue sky both above and below:

Most of the day, I was in sunshine. One thing that I miss living in a city is this big beautiful sky. We don't get to see this much sky ever, and I'm fascinated by how lovely the clouds are -- like something in a jigsaw puzzle.

When I've made these trips, I've discovered these great truck stops which I prefer since you can get gas, plus park right in front of the store (like a giant 711 with restroons). Plus, they are always located right at the exit. Anyway, I had to use the restoom, so I stopped at this place... hadn't really paid attention to the name, but I thought it was not exactly a Madison Avenue-approved name for a place -- but it was evidently a popular place as it was really crowded. In case it's too small, the name of the place is SHEETZ and the other words say "Fresh Food Made to Order."

and finally, here's the view from my hotel window. You can see I'm on the first floor and the building you see is a Holiday Inn -- so close you could throw a stone at it, but I'm in the Fairfield Inn.


This is one of my landmarks. When I see this sign, I'm about 45 minutes from my client.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Road Trip: day one

I left my camera in my car so I'll post the photos I took today tomorrow, but I was going to start out with the type of cab to avoid if you come to/live in NYC. I awoke to the media frenzy of flooding torrential rain, but when I left my apartment to go to the rental car place, it wasn't raining and I thanked God for small favors. I was trying to get a cab and they were scarce.

Typically I prefer the sedan-style cabs. Lately there's been a plethora of cabs that are like mini SUVs -- you'd think they'd be bigger inside, but they're smaller. I was standing at the corner and I felt the drops just as one of these mini-SUV cabs was coming and I thought "any port in a storm" -- Not only are they small inside, but they are hard to get into -- awkward I should say.

In fact, last week, coming home from the dentist, I let one pass me by, only to have this slight woman come running out to grab it and I watched her trying to get in and felt justified by her difficulties that this wasn't for me.

I got in the cab, barely, because there is an outside pretuberance/step, then a high door frame floor, then another step down and your feet go into this little well with a hump in the middle. I got in on the right side, and my right foot was still on the inside second step and I couldn't move it so I left it there, thinking it would be easier to get out  (it was).

During the ride, I looked at the space between the seat and the divider and imagining a 12-inch ruler, I would guess that it's about 9-10 inches.

Squished or not, I made it.

When I made this trip in January in the snow, I knew I'd be back mid-May and I imagined sunny skies, blue birds trailing my car, and me with sunglasses admiring the roadside wildflowers.

Not quite.

I went from misty rain to heavy rain to rain rain -- and there was a 10-minute period where I was truly afraid. It takes a lot for me to be physically afraid when I drive. I feel I'm a confident and calm driver, but I was in fog and then torrential rain started -- the kind where the windshield wipers can't keep up and visibility is about the end of the car. I considered stopping, but I didn't and eventually the rain let up.

Today was not as bad as my worst time -- which was driving from Chicago to Oshkosh and it was a summer thunderstormn and there was literally no visibility -- you couldn't see the front of your car; you couldn't see the road; you couldn't see anything. I still remember that, how horrible it was.

So now I'm in Somerset, PA. More tomorrow.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Grammar Question

When you've done as much proofreading as I have, even when I read for pleasure, part of my brain is proofreading still.

Tonight I was reading a book called "After the War" which is about what happens to various Civil War figures... well, you could probably guess... "after the war."

So I'm reading about Jefferson Davis and his daughter -- Daughter Winnie ended up engaged to a Northern lawyer whose father was an abolitionist and you can imagine how that went over. In fact, it went so badly and there was such a public outcry that the engagement was broken and Winnie never married and died at age 34 of a broken heart -- no, she actually died of malaria.

I am giving this long preface because Mary loves when I give a detailed preface for a simple question and go round and round and have parentheses inside parentheses... she believes it builds character to see how long she can go without screaming at me GET TO THE FRIGGING POINT!

Here's the point, frigging and otherwise:

One sentence read: Concerns about his health no doubt affected her's.

This was Winnie's bad health being affected by her father's bad health.

I stopped and looked at her's. Shouldn't that be hers? If you said, "This book is hers," it would be hers, not her's.

Am I right?

PS: And here is Winnie who had been dubbed The Daughter of the Confederacy because she would accompany her father on his speaking gigs and be introduced that way which made marrying a Northern son of an abolitionist nearly impossible. However Jefferson ended up liking the man, and eventually gave his consent to the marriage, but it never happened.

Here's the birthday girl

Here's Mary in her garden after having her day of beauty where she was cut, curled, colored, waxed, I think a mani/pedi...the works... Tonight it's out to dinner. Wish I were there!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mary!

You deserve all these and more! Hope you have a spectacularly wonderful day and a year full of good health, an abundance of good things and much happiness.

Love, Pat