Monday, March 28, 2016

Impending trip?

Ana left today when I didn't think she was finished... then I thought maybe she was taking out trash. She returned in a few minutes with a (unasked for) Powerball ticket. She gave it to me with the condition that, if I win, I got to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Sure, that was an easy promise to make. Drawing is on Wednesday night.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

After the Easter Egg Hunt

This is Mary's various grand-nieces and nephews.

My Easter

I went to my sister and brother in law's house... they had a bunh of people, including me, so here are the photos.

Waiting for the car, I noticed the crane from a brand new building... I also thought it was warmer at Christmas than it was today.
This brick building across the street used to have a wisteria vine from the ground up. It appears to be gone, but I hope it's just cut back.

This is what I brought... the triscuits with spreadable cheese and also a cervelat (sausage) from this German butcher near me.

And Scott made these... the dreaded salmon which everyone loved except me.

Charlie with his Easter bow.

Sister Mary Elizabeth

Louisa made this cheese and fruit tray for appetizers.

Scott resting after cooking.
Charlotte made these place cards. I admired the typeface which she said she go from Google docs... who knew they had typefaces? Not me.

Flowers on the table
Charlotte may have the opportunity to do a summer internship in oceanographuy at Chincoteague... did I spell that right? The one bad part is that the "housing" which they call "shelter" has no air conditioning and they keep saying how hot it is and don't come if you can't "handle" the heat and to bring "multiple fans." Hasn't deterred her yet.
Pensive Charlotte
Clark who is so sweet; all three kids are sweet and good, but he is especially so.
Out of order, and I can't fix it, but this was dessert -- I think Scott called it a Pavlova... it was baked meringue, with chocolate mousse on top, a dab of whipped cream and rasberries. Really good.
It was one of the guest's birthday's today -- Nancy from Brooklyn who went to high school with Scott and they've remained friends.
Nancy blowing out the candles.

We had lamb, roasted potatoes, corn pudding, peas and snap peas... and asparagus, another thing everyone loves except me... I'll eat it, but I didn't take nay. Save it for everyone else.


Delaney's Easter Outfit

This is Mary's great niece... the flip flops weren't part of the original outfit, but came from the Easter bunny.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


These twins' parents are friends of Mary's nephew... whew! and Fran has a tie to them because as a hospital volunteer she helped them check out when they went home after being born. They are Ben and Bella.

Getting Ready for Easter

Cookie time! Mary is going to her sister's house in Pennsylvania and made cookies. She notes that we may not be able to tell, but they are blue butterflies and yellow tulips.

I am also going to my sister's house... have brought cheese, crackers and this little smoked sausage plus a pound of cookies from my local old-fashioned bakery. Marilyn bought the cookies on Saturday and I must pat myself on the back for not "testing" the cookies since then. I have to say that they are wrapped in a cardboard box with string so it would be hard to rewrap. Had they been in a bag, I hate to say that there would be fewer cookies today, but so far so good.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

More from Japan

Amy writes:

Relaxing in Yudanaka after a 4 hour trip from southern Nagano prefecture. Heading out in the morning to see the snow monkeys. Typically we should expect spring weather, however, tomorrow temps are expected to max out at oh 30 F. I did not bring a hat or gloves. Gonna be an interesting hike!
Note the missing beds in this room. Futons are rolled out later with big fluffy down comforters. I'll take another pic for you then.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

No Spring Yet for Two Friends

My friend David who lives in Denver wrote:

Yesterday it was 70, and the deck was clear when I went to bed.

Today, this is what it looked like - 26 inches in all.

I'm tired of shoveling, and going to sit down and watch Dr. Phil.

Where's the Advil?

Meanwhile in Oshkosh, a blizzard was happening...  this was about an hour before the blizzard was officially declared.

As for NYC, mild temps in the low 60s, but no sunshine to speak of.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spring - Kyoto Style

Al I know is that Amy is in Japan on vacation (I think), and she sent these Japanese-style spring photos from Kyoto.

Sunday Afternoon

Semi-lazy day. Slept late. Finished my laundry. Did some work-work. Did a bit of decluttering. No snow, but it's a dreary day.

As I decided to crawl back in bed this morning after a trip to the bathroom, I thought of Mary and joked to myself that Mary had already read for the blind people, gone to brunch and weeded her yard and I'm going back to sleep. Wasn't too far off.

Mary writes:

 I took these today at lunch down by the waterfront and thought I'd share them with you. I'd never been down there, although I've been close. In general, we're looking at the Potomac. The National stadium is to the right, out of sight.  The old Navy Yard and its ships are to the left aways.  It's a very pleasant area, kind of tucked behind construction sites, parking lots and office buildings.  The restaurant is Osteria Morini and the food was wonderful. We even shared a bottle of prosecco which came with two small bottles of juice (we picked orange and cranberry.)

PS from Pat... this looks like a great place to be on a warm sunny day... today, not so much.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday Night

Not much to report. I've been swamped with work and just grinding it out all week. Today I had my monthly Gracie's lunch with Barbara and I was sorry when she was leaving. This time it seemed the time went by too fast. Like with most of my friends, we never, ever run out of things to talk about -- just keep talking about every imaginable topic. She came at 1230 and she left just at 2 and it didn't seem long enough.

Oh well... let's see. My other Barbara -- this one is Barb -- called me all excited that she had been interviewed in Central Park by the local news station asking her her opinion of Sunday being the first day of Spring and also a snow day. We're supposed to have "spring snow" on Sunday. Glad I'm not going anywhere. I instantly turned on ABC for the local news, but we missed it. I even hung out past the 5 pm news to the 6 pm local news with no such luck.

I'm going to my sister's house for Easter day, and I just made the car reservation yesterday. Easter snuck up on me this year. I've yet to figure out how it's determined which day Easter falls each year.

So that's it for now. Hope all are doing well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What I'm (about to start) Reading

Two weeks ago I was talking to Lane who was about to fly to Thailand. I asked her if she had good reading material for the flight and she mentioned she had a new Fannie Flagg book and how much she loves her writing. That surprised me... so I asked her which of her books she likes the best and she told me the one below. I went to Amazon and bought it for a penny... and it arrived while I was gone and I was sort of sad to see I got an autographed copy for a penny... so I'll plunge in and start my Fannie jounrey.

Amazon says:

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! is the funny, serious, and compelling new novel by Fannie Flagg, author of the beloved Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (and prize-winning co-writer of the classic movie).

Once again, Flagg's humor and respect and affection for her characters shine forth. Many inhabit small-town or suburban America. But this time, her heroine is urban: a brainy, beautiful, and ambitious rising star of 1970s television. Dena Nordstrom, pride of the network, is a woman whose future is full of promise, her present rich with complications, and her past marked by mystery.

Home Again

Marilyn met me... she carried my stuff in while I returned the car... we unpacked, went through mail, she went out on errands, I started laundry and started getting organized about the work I had put off while I was gone. As always, it's great to be home.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Almost Home

Two hours from NYC so I am asking the universe for an uneventful trip home in the morning. Marilyn is meeting me at 12 noon and she'll take my luggage in and we'll go through all the mail, unpack, start laundry etc.

This morning was a bit scary. It was so foggy that you could only see about 10 car lengths in front of you. I don't remember the last time I drove in such fog. But as the morning went on, it got better... but it was totally overcast and misty all day... the sort of rain where you don't need the wipers even on intermittent but you do need them. I'd have them on intermittent and then realize there was no misty rain and turn them off and then of course I'd enter another mist zone.

On the entire drive there and back, I was looking for a Culver's, but no such luck. Some of the women I worked with this week are from Oshkosh where there are multi-Culver's and they told me Culver's started in Wisconsin. So I did stop at a Dairy Queen as a consolation prize and got a Butterfinger Blizzard. Not as good as Culver's, but I enjoyed it.

I've been gone more than a week and it will be good to be home!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Escape from Opryland

Man, I made my getaway. I had called the concierge about precise directions to the lobby, which I repeated back to her in my teutonic way. Oh yes.... well, it was Oh no. She had me on two elevators, two levels.. when it was three elevators, three levels... went two long hallways out of my way which didn't please me, but I had this really nice bellman waiting for me in the lobby -- also held the door so I didn't have to do the revolving door even though it was one of those big ones, but it scared me.

I almost made a damn fool out of myself. They had my car keys; they used it to open the back and put my luggage in and then handed them to me (and I was sitting in the driver's seat).  My car key was a key, and what they handed me was one of those key fobs or so I thought. I tooted my horn to no avail. I thought they gave me the wrong keys.  In my defense, I rented from Budget, but these keys had a "buy Avis" used car tag on it... and I thought it opened my trunk because so many of the keys are interchangeable. But what I realized is that the key comes out of the fob thing, like a swiss army knife... and away I went... giving the finger to the Opryland (really) as I drove off.

Now I'm in VA, headed tomorrow to Allentown PA and then home in two hours on Tues morning. I always think I should have driven straight through until I am thrilled to be able to stop in Allentown and get organized and rested.

Spring in DC-- Fran Style

Fran says:

Rainy cozy day here...along Fessenden Street, lots of bloomin' going on. Beautiful magnolia trees, and my Buddha admiring a pot of crocus. Along Connecticut, pansy faces laugh in the rain..


Friday, March 11, 2016

Spring in Texas... Melissa Style

She says: Along with the storms come the blue bonnets...its spring in Texas!

Thursday, March 10, 2016


All went well today and I still hate Opryland.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

First Day at Work

So I continue to hate Opryland, but to have a bit of a better attitude, I have been trying to list the good things about this place. So far, I have;

1. Incredibly soft toilet paper
2. Excellent WiFi -- all five bars, no silly password. You put in your name and room #.

It took me 35 minutes to get from my room to the press room. Of course, I had to stop and rest a few times. I really can't describe how huge this place is. As I got to the end of one hallway, what do I see but a flight of steps. I didn't know what to do. No one in sight. I decided to get myself up the steps and then wait. So I climb the steps, turn around and there are three women carrying my stuff up. I said they were three guardian angels. Everything is on weird levels, with certain elevators going to certain floors... and sometimes you have to go up one elevator to a certain floor, then walk, then go on a different elevator. Coming back to my room (which seemed shorter than this morning's trip), a woman I know arrived at the flight of stairs the same time I did. Another guardian angel.

I found that being "disabled" brings out other people's stories...from people here with their spouse who can't walk far, somebody with Parkinson's etc. and the bad thing about this place is that there are literally no chairs to rest. If I didn't have my walker/rollator, there's no way I could have done it today.

So all is well. When I got back to my room, I told myself I'm proud of myself. I may be slow, but I'm doing it.

This man I know told me that another man had asked if I were here, then asked him how I was. He reported that I had dropped ten f-bombs in the space of 10 minutes and the second fellow said, "Oh yeah, Pat's back."

Left over from yesterday... I had read that Burger King now sells hot dogs... sorry, but my food taste does lend itself to hot dogs, and no, I'm not interested in knowing what they are made of... so I stopped at BK for lunch... and here it is... quite good, although I'd hold the raw onions next time which I picked out this time.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Arrived at Opryland

Just as Scarlet vowed she'd never go hungry again, I have made a solemn promise that I will never darken the doorway of Opryland again. God, I hate this place. I remember once being in this really busy restaurant and I was with someone who had been a chef, and he said "this isn't a restaurant; it's a food processing plant." I never forgot that because this restaurant was just slamming out the food tray after tray. And this place is like a human being processing plant. It's not a hotel. It's just set up to process people. Everything is fake from the crappy ye old shoppes to the landscaping to the fake waterfall and river, and it's all under this biosphere dome so the "fresh air" isn't really fresh and the outside is actually inside. There are people who appear to be here on their own free will and all I can say, in my most snobbiest, is they must never have gone anywhere to see anything real.

In the elevator, I rode with these two young women holding these 5-inch binders  and all sorts of materials. I looked at it and said, "Oh, that looks boring..." then I looked at them and said, "And they make you dress alike too." They chuckled, but it's like send 500 people for training at Opryland. It's like a corporate re-education camp where everyone is wearing a nametag.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Driving from Knoxville to Nashville, you know your in Jesus-land. Lots of billboards with the 10 commandments, saw a big Confederate flag, and then when I stopped for lunch... this was my view:

It's sad that God Bless America rubs me the wrong way, but it has taken on a meaning different than the original. Plus, as a former smoker (Barbara schooled me that I'm not an ex-smoker as I still think about it) I am stunned by the prices for a carton of cigarettes. And this, evidently are advertising-worthy prices. I think the last carton I bought was $7 or $8.

To be continued../// work interferes!

Mary's Walk

Mary reports: It's been a gorgeous day today. I went to hear a talk today in Bethesda on playwriting and directing and I decided to walk home. It's about 2 miles and it was a perfect day for it. I was a little warm with a sweater on but I didn't want to get sunburned. I did stop at Starbucks for coffee and a scone.  Here are a couple pictures from my walk.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Now in Knoxville

I don't know what I was expecting with the scenery, but it's been dull, dull, dull. I guess almost any other month would be prettier. No signs of green. No signs of spring. Drove through, near, close to Blue Ridge Mountains, which aren't really mountainous, and all I could think of was the bad high school memory when we would have that one co-ed class in gym where we'd square dance. Yeah, in New York. I remember the gym teacher, Miss Hoyle, telling us how wonderful it will be as adults that we'll know how to square dance. Well, at age 65, I haven't used that particular skill as yet. Maybe in the old ladies home.

But what reminded me is that Miss Hoyle took the square dancing unit as her chance for show biz ad she was the caller... (the one who tells the dancers what to do) and of the songs that I can still hear in my head was her crooning..."In the blue ridge mountains of Virginia, on the trail of the lonesome pine."

They would match us up at random -- the boys and the girls -- which I guess was a good way to go, and I remember being tall, of course, 5'10" in high school (grew an inch more in college) and I got paired once with this guy who was like 5'2" but what was worse is that he had had polio (wow, talk about being ancient) so his one arm and hand was withered... and I had to hold that withered hand. Maybe it was more painful for him than for me, but it was a bit traumatic. There was one other girl, a year ahead of me, who had had polio, but hers affected her legs and she limped and was really a sad creature who would valiantly try out for cheerleading every year and every year get rejected because there were no "special" exceptions in those days.

So these were my thoughts as I drove through the uneventful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, listening to my Rhett Butler book. Scarlet and Rhett are now married, but she is still in love with Ashley and Rhett knows it. I think I have four more CDs.

Mary has seen more spring than I have... hence these crocuses... tomorrow is Opryland in Nashville.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

On the Road Again

I was off like a herd of turtles, like my mother used to say, and I was a bit disappointed. I was glad to be on new highways other than the NJ Turnpike and Route 80, but the scenery today was hum drum. I know it's a boring time of year, no snowy vistas (thank God) and no green or wildflowers out yet. Really saw no signs of spring. Nothing woth photographing.

So I'm taking the trip very slowly. All day (about 7 hours of driving) I listened to an audio book of "Rhett Butler's People." This is the official addition to Gone with The Wind, or rather the authorized sequel, to GWTW and it tells the story (including the backstory) from Rhett's point of view. It definitely held my attention... it's unabridged so I think I got through 6 CDs with 8 more to go. We're about to leave Atlanta where Rhett helps Scarlet get back to Tara.

Tomorrow: Tennessee.

Oh, I did have that childlike cheap thrill of going through a bunch of states today: NY, NY, PA, MD, WV, and Viriginia.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

My Twitter Friend Passes Over

I don't know how I started following this woman on Twitter... Muriel who was 97 years old, lived on the Upper West Side, was totally opinionated, liberal New Yorker whose mother was a suffragist and she was funny and wise, and I really grew to admire her. Never met her. Never heard her voice (at least the one that came from her body), I would often pass along some of her Tweets to friends.

So when I went on Twiter just now, my heart broke to read this:

Muriel B @QuiltingMuriel 3 hours ago
Hi, this is Muriel's Young Friend. I am heartbroken to say Muriel passed away yesterday. Peacefully, in her sleep

I thought she'd live forever... or at least make it to 100. I'm glad she didn't suffer, and was able to die in her own home, but I will really miss her. So sad.

PS to Scam Report

Yes,  the new credit card arrived this morning. I was a bit surprised, and I was thinking that when things work, they just flat out work... and when they don't it's a big fat mess.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Yes, Tartufo is a "thing"

Mary and Fran's dinner report:

Fran and I had a delightful dinner tonight in one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants, a lovely little Italian place called Tartufo.  We had this yummy appetizer of crostini with blue cheese and peaches that was warm. Mmmm.  Then we each had pastas, mine was a pasta with peppers and artichokes and shrimp.  I forget what Fran's was but she said to the owner "I'm trying to decide between pasta A and pasta B" and he said "why don't we give you half and half?" or something like that so she got a sampler plate!  But this was the delightful part we shared for dessert - a Tartufo, a ball of ice cream, vanilla in the middle, chocolate around that, rolled in this hazelnut coating that was soooo good!  We went home very happy.
Before I saw this email, I was talking on the phone with Mary and when she got to dessert, I said, "Oh I love tartufo" and I could tell she was suprised. She said, "I didn't know tartufo was a thing" and I said yes. But the tartufo I've had has usually had a smooth coating of chocolate on the outside, then it's cut into four pieces and typically there is either a cherry or a pistachio nut in the center. Really good! Mary's looks really good too.

Confession: I got scammed

I feel stupid and embarrassed and don't want to write about this, but I will in case any of you find yourself in my shoes... so here goes.

I use my American Express card for most purchases. I go through that statement/bill with a fine tooth comb. I also go through my checking account statement with a fine tooth comb. Every month. Without fail. I also have a Citibank Mastercard that I use if I want to do a major purchase and not pay all at once. So I use it rarely and then just pay it off. So I don't look at that Mastercard statement since I don't use the card (much)

So today I'm getting my tax stuff ready and I had printed out the year-end statement for this credit card. I had paid for my Oshkosh hotel in advance with this card, bought some furniture, etc. so I did want to see what is tax-worthy on this credit card. I pick out the Oshkosh hotel and then start looking at the "merchandise" section and see 20 or more charges... and I can't figure out what they are... and I see they are all from Great Britain and I know I haven't done anything in or with Great Britain and it turns out they are bogus monthly charges... three separate companies, taking out monthly charges since last June. All of it fraudulent. All small amounts like $29.95.

Then I go to Citibank online and see that (of course) the charges have continued into 2016. I know that the number one rule is to look at your statements, and I blew it. That's why I feel so stupid. I called Citibank and I have to say their service exceeded my expectations. We went through all the charges one by one for the year and I said whether they were valid or not, and she credited me with the fraudulent ones.

Then she issued me a new card number (in order to stop the ongoing charges). She said she would "expedite" a new card and I said no because I am going on a trip and if it's sent by some service whereby you have to sign for it, I won't be here. She said they'd do Saturday delivery. I really don't need this card for my trip, but it will be nice to have a backup just in case (of what, I'm not sure).

All is well. The silver lining is I'm getting a $800 or so credit. I have to say I expected a slight amount of scolding from Citibank along the lines of "you really need to look at your monthly statement" but all I got was "this isn't your fault" and (really) "Citibank is on your side."  Couldn't have been nicer.

I'm older and wiser and will now look at that monthly statement too. I promise. Damn the scammers.

PS: I had told a friend about this and said I had googled these bogus website charges (didn't go to the website itself) and they are all clearly scammed. Saw that some people had been taken for huge amounts and said THAT I would have noticed. He said that it's a good thing I stopped because he'd heard the scammers do the small amounts and then when they feel confident, they'll do a big amount. I know this could have been a whole lot worse.

Winter's Last Gasp?

In New York City, we had a very light dusting of snow -- enough that you can see it, but zero accumulation. Since I'll be driving on Sunday, I've been watching the weather which has gone up and down from 609% chance of snow to 30% chance of rain to 20% chance of rain so I think it's good. Plus where I stop for the night - checked that weather too and it will be in the 50s.

Mary says:

In the tree in front it's very pretty because the snow is clinging to the buds on the tree even as it has melted on the branches. Please note how clear the sidewalk is already.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

More Spring from Mary

I've been swamped this week trying to get everything done since I'll be traveling next week, starting this Sunday so you can look forward to my fascinating photos of hotel rooms and toll booths.

In the meantime, Mary thinks spring is coming. She says:

Things are starting to open up.  I believe this is in order:
Lilac with unopened buds
2 different nandina plants with winter berries
Flowering quince - if you look hard, you'll see a few pink buds
Two Lenten roses, one pink/purple, one white
It's beautiful out but cold and very windy