Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mary is now officially retired!!!

Today was Mary's last day at work -- she's already had a full complement of parties, receptions, presents, etc. so the event was topped off with dinner with Fran. I don't know what I'm more jealous of -- being retired or Mary's lobster.

Fran writes:
Here's Mary with her retirement lobster and Fran with parmesan-encrusted trout . We are at Clyde's having dinner celebrating Mary's last day at Amtrak.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Delaney and Logan's Birthday

From Great Aunt Mary:

Meanwhile, back to Portugal

Amy writes: We are in Tarifa, as far as you can go south on the Iberian peninsula. Finally got a sunset worth sending to you.

It looks so peaceful. I want to be sitting there with a drink in my hand thinking about nothing.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Senior Discounts

Tonight I was looking through a stack of receipts from when Marilyn was here earlier in the week. I just look at them out of curiosity, and I noticed on the grocery receipt that I got a 10 percent senior discount. Wasn't buying a lot, but it was just under $5 off. It does sort of take me aback... what me? a senior discount? But sure, I decided I need to be more vigilant in asking/searching out these discounts. I love a good deal, and I was pleased with five dollars off.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

All technology working...

I don't want to tempt the gods by saying that. As it turns out, my "new" Time Warner box was defective, the replacement box was defective... so figure all the "fixes" they tried to do with me over the phone on two defective boxes... and today the guy showed up an hour early, brought a third box and now (KNOCK ON WOOD), everything is working right.

Hair bows circa 2014

Barbara also sent this along -- her 6-month old great niece to show that hair bows are still a popular accessory for little girls almost 100 years later!

And now Barbara is on vacation...

Where in the world is Barbara? She's in Maine at Acadia National Park. Here it is on a map:

The captions are Barbara's descriptions via email...

Greetings from Acadia National Park!  We’ve been enjoying our week of perfect weather:  mid-60s and sunshine. 

This morning’s hike was on the Beachcroft Trail, which boasts 1,500 granite steps (which you would not have liked), but it is worth it for the view from Hugenot Head.  [Pat adds: she's being kind by saying I would not have "liked" the steps. I would be the one at the bottom offering to hold everyone's sweaters while they did the steps.]

We had lunch at a wonderful place called Seafood Ketch in Bass Harbor, the so-called “quiet side” of Mount Desert island (much less touristy than the Bar Harbor side).

This is the view from the restaurant table.

I’ve attached a picture of the outdoor tables overlooking the first time I have ever taken a picture of my own lunch, and it was only because I was thinking of you and knew you’d like to see it!  The fresh seafood sandwich is a combination of crabmeat, haddock, and shrimp – and surprisingly had a single slice of American cheese underneath the fish – and was just delicious.  The waitress had asked, “Would you like Ketch fries or regular fries?”  “What’s the difference?” I asked in return.  “The Ketch fries are homemade – they are sliced from real potatoes and then deep fried.  The regular fries come from a bag.”  Um…  are there actually people out there who would order the ones that come from a bag????  I think you can tell from the picture that they were scrumptious.  Even the cole slaw was good.

Pat says: The photo makes my mouth water... those ketch fries look wonderful!

Home is a cute little motel called Isleview – our room is on the end.  It is really clean and pleasant, although the wifi connection is a little dicey.  I’m just hoping it will be strong enough so that I will be able to send these pictures to you!

Lois McComb - circa 1918

This is Mary's mother on the far right along with her cousins. They surely did love their hair bows back then!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Technology Fail

I was wondering why no one was calling me until I finally figured out that my phone(s) were not ringing. Had voice mail, had a dial tone, could make outgoing calls -- but the ringer would not sound. Called Verizon, set up an appointment for Thursday and then the Verizon guy showed up about an hour later saying he had a slow day and remembered me from a few months back.

This is George, Old School George, who tried everything and was stumped. He worked on it for about 30 minutes and decided it had to be the phones. Neither of us quite believed that, but we ran out of solutions.

Marilyn was here and went out and bought a phone -- in the meantime, George left and said he'd check back. When Marilyn plugged in the new phone (she only bought one) and it rang, I was so thrilled. But it's bizarre. What this means is that the ringer on two different phones, bought at two different times, failed simultaneously. Too hard to believe, too much of a coincidence but that's what it was. At least, the new phone solved it. I'll have to buy one more new phone. George called back and even he was surprised it was the phone -- said in 40 years, he's never seen anything like it. So the phone is back in business.

On to cable. Over the weekend, I lost audio on some channels, had others turn on their own from English to Spanish... just frustrating. Called Time Warner and after being annoyed of what they wanted me to do --- plug this, unplug this, do this, unhook that... no go. So I have an appointment tomorrow from noon to 1 pm.

Meanwhile my phone rings and it's "Advanced Technical Support" via India who says she can fix it and then I won't have to have an appointment. So I did what she wanted, then it got stuck rebooting... oh it was just a cluster you-know-what... but she takes me from a semi-working tv to a totally non-working TV... yeah, Great Advanced Technical Support!! Thanks for being worse than useless.

So I call back in the US and got my TV restored, another reboot, another screw/unscrew/count to 45, but at least I have something... but two hours later and I am where I was -- some stations with no audio.

Just this second got another annoying call from India from a supervisor all happy that my problem was fixed and he's checking in that I'm a happy Time Warner camper.. oh dear, that was like waving a red flag in front of a bull and I am the bull. Gave him an earfull. So we'll see what happens tomorrow.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Gotta Say Something...

Haven't posted in a while because I have nothing much to say. The weather has turned cool. I just finished eating the leftovers from last week's meeting. At the last minute I had decided to get all the sandwiches the same and was doing turkey and swiss on a sesame bagel... Marilyn picked smoked turkey and that was so good I'll have to do it again.

Somebody was killed by a black bear in New Jersey today.

Ana came and cleaned and I love that soapy clean smell that lasts about 30 minutes. She uses Murphy's Oil Soap on the floors and I love that smell.

I remain grateful for having a washer and dryer in my apartment. Years lugging stuff to a laundromat left scars on my psyche. Ok, I'm exaggerating, but I never use my washer/dryer without thinking how glad I am that I can do it at home.

I am not a Gatorade fan or a particular Derek Jeter/Yankee fan, but it's worth googling this Gatorade commercial of Derek... makes me misty eyed every time!

I'm down to six bills in my "manage my claims" in health insurance. I continue to take people's advice and ignore them. I have paid every bill where I had a paper bill from someone, but these have none so I just watch them and slowly a bunch just go away.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

This has bugged me for years....

When my Time Warner  Cable was first installed, the guy did a really sloppy job stapling the cable to the wall -- even with a big loop in it when he stapled wrong... and he left a few feet of cable and I asked him not to leave that much and he said that I could move it if I had a long cord, but there's nowhere to move it to...

So today, the Time Warner guy was coming to bring me a cable box so I have cable upstairs and downstairs and I asked him if he could shorten the cable -- and he did. He unlooped the crappy job, made it just the perfect length. I was always trying to shove that cable cord behind a dresser and now it looks so neat and precise... I'm a happy woman! He did a terrific job.

He did the same thing upstairs in my living room, made it much shorter so it makes a huge difference. This should not be making me this happy, but it does!

As Fran continues to recover...

Valentino is playing the role of Night Nurse, and Fran says:

Valentino takes 40 winks on the night nurse shift. Let's give thanks he's not a night watchman.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Park Avenue Selfie

Kelly was here for the magazine meeting yesterday -- which, by the way, all went well from folding chairs to lunch (really delicious smoked turkey and swiss on sesame bagels all around) to  business accomplishments. She has never been to New York, had some trepidation, but made the most of her spare time seeing everything from the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island, NY Stock Exchange, Met Museum, Gugenheim, Ground Zero, Broadway play etc.

She walked around this morning and felt, I think, quite pleased with herself and her NY independence and found herself on the real Park Avenue. I told her that I still sometimes get a thrill being on Park Avenue... just like when I lived in DC and I'd get a thrill passing the White House or the Supreme Court.

So yes, you can take a bit of Oshkosh out of the girl and turn her into a New Yorker!

And I got a beautiful bouquet of flowers whose timing couldn't have been better, just as the meeting was breaking up -- couldn't have timed it better as a hostess gift!

Back to Portugal

Amy says:

Picture it with only the sound of the wind and the clanging of cow bells.

Barry thinks we may be a little too far off the beaten path. I don't know. Between you and me, I really like the idea of settling in for a few days of village life. Tomorrow I'm planning on taking him for a walk up the mountain to where there is a section of the original Roman Camino Real.
Pat again: I like totally off the beaten path. I think that's why I liked Montana so much -- that it is the polar opposite of Manhattan... totally different.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Television Tip

In case of desperation, try this:

I had to unplug my TV and cable to move it as I was putting my living room back in order. Of course, I couldn't get the cable back, rebooted 3 or 4 times, and I knew there was some combination of things I had to do in the correct order to restore service. Well, everything I tried failed...and out of nothing left to try, I pulled out the various cables connecting things to the TV and cable box and plugged them back in -- lo and behold that worked. Don't know why, but it did.

Fran's Sunflowers

Mary (about whom I contest is a good and loyal sickbed helper!) brought these to Fran, followed by a kitty

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Milo's Favorite Summer Food

Togetherness in Portugal

Good thing Amy and Barry weren't having a fight-- this is a "togetherness" bed!

She writes: The double bed is a little bit of a problem but we worked it out. This hotel was drop dead gorgeous. In a tiny valley with wine grapes all around.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Mission Accomplished!

My sofa was executed and carted out. The super literally had a metal cutter. Then he and his helper took the bed downstairs so I'll be sleeping there for the first time in months. My living room will be transformed into a conference center, but the big stuff is now done. Thanks to all for the help.

Cat Therapy

Fran says:

Convalescing with Valentino...very comforting. I only wish I could have a belly rub on demand.
Fran adds:
This is what cats do all day:

Barbara Comes Through!

Barbara was a woman on a mission this morning. She was at Bed, Bath and Beyond first thing this morning and bought three chairs. I could have sworn they were $39, but she only paid $29 and they are very nice. I know I don't look at a folding chair like a 124 lb woman does -- and so many of them looked rickety to me, but with these so-called "oversized" chairs, they look and feel very sturdy.

I called the super and he is going to come at 4 pm to break the sofa. Barbara went downstairs because I wasn't sure if there were sheets on it. There wasn't, but there was a mattress pad which she rescued from execution.

Barbara and I had an early lunch -- chicken noodle soup and a BLT on rye toast for her; minestrone and a BLT on white toast for me. She did a bunch of little things for me, and now is off and I should be doing some work.

I am way calmer today than yesterday!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Happy Birthday, Marilyn!

Friday is Marilyn's birthday and I just have to say how tremendously grateful I am for her. She is my helper, my confidante, my friend and she always leaves me and my life better than how she found me. She is simply the best!

Stressful Day

I had made arrangements today for a moving company to come and put my furniture back in place. The two guys arrived on time, but after much struggling and pushing and pulling, they could not get my sofabed up the stairs. When it went downstairs, the stair railings had been removed when the paramedics carried me out of my bedroom way back when and it was a multi-thousand dollar repair job. My bed isn't a problem as it dismantles and I have what's called a split box spring -- a queen size box spring in two pieces.

I feel as if the moving guys genuinely tried, but it damn near killed me to have to pay them even though the job wasn't done. They did move the smaller pieces of furniture. Marilyn was here to put knick knacks back in place.

Meanwhile I had called the super who didn't respond, and then Marilyn left... but the idea had been planted by the movers, by Marilyn, that it may be cheaper to kill the sofa than to destroy the railings again. When the super showed up, he examined everything and said, "how much do you like your sofa?" but by then I had just about decided to sacrifice the sofa over the stairs.

But looming on the horizon is a business meeting held here with five people plus me on Tuesday and so I set about trying to get a new sofa delivered by then. I gave it my all, and I even had one woman from Jennifer sofabeds really trying to help. The store didn't have expedited delivery, but she said I could hire a private service to go to the warehouse in NJ and she had someone in mind and she tried and then he couldn't do it and was trying to find someone else and this little flag starts to wave in my mind that says, "this is getting too crazy." Add to it that for some reason I couldn't pay for the sofa by phone, that I or someone would have to bring the actual credit card into the store and Barbara is in town but she had to teach today and I had a 4 pm conference call that I had to do and I finally just said "enough!"

My back up plan is folding chairs. So tomorrow what is supposed to happen is that the super Jeffrey comes back, kills my old sofa, hauls it away and moves my bed downstairs. Barbara is going to go folding chair shopping for me and what's funny is that we both went on line and independently came up with this one same chair as the best possibility. The chairs are "oversized" folding chairs with cushion, great reviews and $39 each.

Once I gave up the manic struggle to replace the sofa by Tuesday, it was a relief. So hopefully tomorrow things will fall into place and I can leisurely buy a new sofa and wait a week or two for delivery!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Boat People in Portugal

Amy and Barry rented a sailboat -- and she writes:  It's just after sunset and we are still sitting on deck enjoying the way the evening breeze cools everything. Nice day sailing after a long day provisioning and such.

I know they only rented one boat so one of these must be theirs.

Here's Barry who I have had a crush on for a long time, but it's OK because Amy knows.


Send good healing thoughts Fran's way today as this is the day of her hip replacement surgery. Mary is with her -- Fran is in surgery right now.

2pm update: Mary spoke with the doctor and said everything went well... in fact, he actually used the word perfect! She's in recovery for a while, then Mary will go visit her and see how she is.

5:30 pm update: Mary saw Fran who is in her room. Said Fran was groggy and a bit nauseous but otherwise OK. Fran is spending two nights in the hospital.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mary's Brush with History --- well, Sunny's Brush with History

Background: Mary grew up in State College, PA, home of Penn State... home of the Nittany Lions.

And now, Mary says:

This picture was used for one of Penn State's most popular post cards.  The kitten was our cat Sunny.  My dad's cousin Francis was somehow involved with the building of the iconic lion statue and that's the connection that got Sunny famous.

Delaney Turns One -- Mary's Great Niece

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Market Day in Portugal

Amy says:  Flowers and fish for sale in Figueira da Fox on the Atlantic coast. Amazing beaches. Nice people. Staying in a little house a quarter mile from the ocean. I can lean out the second floor window and watch the goings ons below. About 70 degrees. Divine!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Travels with Amy

Amy and Barry are spending a month in Portugal (and I think Spain, too) and I told her to send some photos. I especially requested food photos, to which Amy told me she's too busy eating to be photographing her food. Maybe she'll change her mind.

First, the geography... where is Lisbon where they are now?

Amy writes: Your first of many glimpses of Portugal. Shot from a beautiful little park just under the castle of St. Jorge's.

Mini Lesson from Wikipedia: The Castle of São Jorge is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the Portuguese city of Lisbon and Tagus River. The strongly fortified citadel dates from medieval period of Portuguese history, and is one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon.

Post-script of Amy's day: We had a great day taking a free (well, pay what you want at the end) guided walking tour of Lisbon. The kid is working on his Master's degree in Social Economics and he was a delight. Born and raised in Lisbon, spoke perfect English and gave us great facts and some entertaining stories about the city and Portuguese history without ever dragging us into a tourist shop, a cafe or restaurant or museum. It was terrific and we paid him fair at the end (which was good because he gave us directions to walk back to where the good seafood restaurants were down by the water). Ate well, drank, kicked back, and then finally took the subway back to the hotel just before rush hour. Now we are done for the day. I like long, late lunches and no supper. 

Tomorrow we get the car and head north. I just booked us an apartment in a beach town through airbnb.com, a service I love. Well, if this works out I'll love it. I've used it in other cities and it has worked great. More to come! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What I'm Reading

I finished Orphan Train, and really enjoyed it -- decided to move on to true crime -- you can't go wrong with an Ann Rule book so this is it. Haven't started it yet:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Lunch with Judy

Judy is my longest duration friend. Believe it or not, we went to nursery school together. In those days, there were two years of kindergarten -- junior and senior, and we were in junior kindergarten together. I was three years old, turned four that October. Hmmmm... that was a while ago. I still remember my older sister taking my hand and bringing me to the junior kindergarten room, dropping my hand and there I was!

I couldn't decide which photo I preferred so here's both:

Spaetzle Night in Wisconsin

I follow Kelly on Twitter -- she's a friend and colleague and I tease her and call her Pioneer Woman as she is always canning, baking or sitting in a deer blind. Today I asked her what's for dinner, and she is celebrating a relative's 81st birthday at their home. She thought they'd have something German.

So here it is -- spaetzle making;

Wikipedia says: Spätzle are a kind of soft egg noodle or dumpling found in the cuisines of southern Germany and of Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Alsace and South Tyrol.
I haven't had it in a long time, but oh boy, slap some gravy on that and hand me a spoon! Here is a favorite image -- mushrooms, gravy and spaetzle:

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school for my two nieces and nephew and I talked to each of them last night to see what their expectations are for the year. Each was sad the summer was over, but also sorta kinda looked forward to getting back into the swing of things in school. They go to the same public high school I did... and can you believe it? Things have changed in 40 years.

For example, there is no homeroom. We started the day with a 10-minute or so homeroom. They still have the Pledge of Allegiance. No more study hall. In its place is something called Academic Laboratory which is a room with computers and a few teachers where you are supposed to do work. There is no dress code except for two things -- boys can't wear tank tops and girls shorts have to come down long enough so if you're standing up your fingertips touch your shorts. Plus, there was one more thing -- no "distracting" clothes -- that's open to interpretation.

We used to have "assemblies" which were (supposed to be) entertaining. They still have them, but my older niece (going into 10th grade) described it as "some old heroin addict talking about drugs" and then stuff on cyber bullying.

According to the kids, unconfirmed by their father, is a deal that if they each (and all?) make the high honor roll, they get something big. Charlotte wants a new phone. Clark wants an Xbox, and Louisa wants a kitten. The kitten is already named -- Lucy.

We had seven periods; they have nine. Clark and Louisa (twins) are in separate classes where they are given a choice to be together or be separate. They had gotten their schedules two weeks ago and what you do is post it to Instagram so your friends can see what classes you have.

Just checked back with all three to hear tales of the first day of school... this was a very hot day and the school isn't air conditioned so everyone was sweating. One day down. 180 to go.