Tuesday, June 30, 2009

the perfect contest....

I finally found a contest that I could possibly win.
I hate contests.

They always seem like the perfect set-up to swallowing another dose of failure of some sort. But this one? I think I can win this one...

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain. Hard rain. The kind that makes your sub-conscious listen intently for the click and whir of the sump pump. Once heard, usually you are able to drift back off to sleep. That is until your above mentioned sub-conscious remembers that you left the sunroof open on your car, the beach towels strewn to dry on the deck railings, yard equipment not in it's proper place and the west facing windows on the house are all wide open...

So it then becomes a mad dash to 'fix' all these problems before the hard stuff starts to come down. Which it already is....drats.

Towels? They can dry again tomorrow.
Sunroof? Where are the damn keys...okay, got it. It would figures that Boo's Nintendo DS is in the cup holder, directly under the opening, getting drenched. It'll be okay. Good thing I bought that case for it. Next...?
Windows? The kitchen counter is already soaked. Landing; soaked. Playroom; Hamster cage soaked. Boo's bedroom; no worries She closed that last night before bed. The remainder are tucked away under roof lines and such. All good.
Lawnmower, Leafblower and WeedWacker? Fuck. I had more yard work to complete this morning, I left them out in order to DO it!
When the weatherman says, "30% chance of showers in the morning" Who really believes him? They can't tell yesterday's weather let alone what is to come. And no one said it would torrential downpours...at 3:00am.
C'mon. We've already gotten a 1/2" of rain already! THAT, my friends, is not 30% chance of showers...

A change of pajama's and now wide awake, I try to decide if I should just stay up or try to get some more rest.

I opt for the rest, but it won't come. So I make a pot of coffee and turn on the computer to browse what has happened overnight whilst I slumbered.

Another plane crash. Check. Another train crash. check. More Michael Jackson bullshit coverage. Check. Contest with the winners listed. Check.

Hey now, wait....let's see more about this contest. That looks interesting! And to think I've got a whole year to work diligently on my bad prose! I'm sure that MY name posted as the winner next year will get me that book deal! Then I can buy an island right next to Johnny Depp's and borrow sugar. Perfect!

The contest is the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

The winner of the bad writing contest can win $250. Not enough for the island, but a start nonetheless. The contest is a parody of prose, invites entrants to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. It is named after Victorian writer Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, who opened his 1830 novel "Paul Clifford" with the much quoted , "It was a dark and stormy night..."

The winner in the detective category won with this ditty:

"She walked into my office on legs as long as one of those long-legged birds that you see in Florida the pink ones, not the white ones except that she was standing on both of them, not just one of them, like those birds, the pink ones, and she wasn't wearing pink, but I knew right away that she was trouble, which those birds usually aren't."

Isn't that brilliant?!
I love it!

The overall winner won with this fantastic sentence:

"Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin' off Nantucket Sound from the nor' east and the dogs are howlin' for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the "Ellie May," a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin' and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests."

Pretty cool.
I've always wanted to win a contest. I've dreamed of winning something...any contest will do, any lottery...just something. Just once.

And with my eyes being now open to the possibility of this one next year, I now understand that there is hope for me yet.

So what will keep me up tonight? I would gamble that it won't be rain...
It'll be the pitter patter of large, run-on, seemingly never ending sentences filling the over clogged, never cleaned gutter rain pipes in the deep recesses in my sub-conscious mind.

Oh, this is going to be fun....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ode to the best dog ever....

My friend Theresa, over at An Officer and a Garbage Can, just posted a blog about a recent trauma experienced by her dog, which landed poor puppy in a cone of shame.

And it got me thinking and remembering some of my own memories of being the caretaker of a dog dealing with the same indignities of said cone.

Cameron 'Wideload' McDonnell had a thing for tennis balls. It didn't matter his age, whether he was 6 months old or 16 years, that dog loved his balls. Tennis balls, that is. He had no others after that six month mark.

He'd sleep with them, carry three or more in his mouth at any given time to make sure he always had 'backup' in case one fell. He could catch the damn things even if you threw them at lightning speed like you were at the fair trying to knock down milk jugs. This dog lived for his tennis balls. (and the occasional long rub of the underbelly)

Lard butt, I mean, Cameron blew his knee out in his 10th year of life. Getting older for a big dog.; 120 pounds in his prime. He would've been retired if in the big leagues, but this dog knew no boundaries that pertained to him. Balls. Water. THEY were there in existence for him.

It was an afternoon like all afternoons for the golden dog on Summit. Plate of wet food, walk in the morning, scratch of the once there testicles...all is one with the world of Cameron. And then he zigged for the extra inch in order to catch the ball in the backyard and Cameron's Glory days came to a screeching halt.

The first of the surgeries was successful. We brought home a tired but 'happy to be here' puppy brained dog' with the highest tech device to keep Cammy from getting around to his knee to disturb the healing wound. It was a navy blue, slick microfiber type air cast of sorts that wrapped around Cam's midsection. It would allow him the mobility to get around but keep him from contorting himself into a position to get at said wound. It allowed him the dignity to walk through doorways without the resounding 'thump' of traditional cones.

And for 6 hours this worked.

I awoke to come down to check on the baby (dog) in the living room as he was too heavy to carry up 3 flight of stairs and couldn't handle that trek yet on his own. I was shocked to see him licking his way into the suture with exuberance. Midnight call to the doctor and Cameron was back at the Animal Hospital to have his suture restitched and the wound completely cleaned out. This time they sent him home with the traditional CONE, which for a dog of Cameron's size was the size of tuba flared bell. He couldn't make it through any doorways in the house and as such was completely confined to the living and dining rooms. He hated it.

And as such, he managed within 4 hours to get out of this contraption which now landed him back at the Animal Hospital for the third try at fixing his tennis knee.

This time they were taking no chances. Drug Mart mop bucket, price tag still on the side was placed on his head after the bottom was cut out. Holes on the sides tied with surgical gauze connected this bucket to his collar. There was no way out. There was no way to move this. He was stuck with this for the entire summer.

For the next 7 weeks Cameron lived as a Bucket Head. He never barked, he didn't growl, he didn't whine. NO sound came from the poor bastard, at all, for the entire 7 weeks.

He DID try to bark at the mailman the first day, but gave that up due to the brain trauma from the reverberation of his barks inside the bucket. My ex felt that it was too loud for him to bark. I thought he didn't bark because he didn't want to bring any undue attention to his condition because he had a mop bucket tied to his head....

Either way, it was the quietest summer this neighborhood of dogs has ever had.

To eat, we got a smaller bowl so he could just rest the bucket on the ground and chomp to his hearts content within the bucket zone. That was a strange sound coming from his bucket when he ate. He started peeing like a girl dog and squatting, because he couldn't balance this bucket head with his normally high range of spray.

By the time his leg was healed and we received the bill for the 3 surgeries needed, we could have bought 3 Cameron's...but he stayed with us and brought us joy for another 6 years. He finally was put to rest in the Fall of 2007. He was one of the best dogs....ever.

Cameron 'Wideload' McDonnell, aka: FatBoy, LardButt, SweetPea has a special story with everyone who met him. Happy 'till his last breath, I only wish I could approach life with the 'caution to the wind' joy that he did. The love until it hurts thought process. We have much to learn from dogs. It doesn't all have to be high tech, dissect every thought, analyze every emotion and action. There is a simplistic way a dog goes through life and finds happiness in the mere basics.
I want to come back as my own dog in another life. Is that possible? Maybe. If time travel can happen. And if possible, wouldn't that just be grand.....
Although I'd probably end up with one of those owners that dresses up their dogs. I'd have to find a way to cut my doggy life short, strangle myself with the cone.
And that...would just suck.

Monday, June 22, 2009

the 5 why's...

A guy I know is enrolled in the Master's program at Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio. His professor gave an assignment to use the 5 Why's. Basically stated; If you pose a question, the root answer he problem can be found by asking "Why?" like a child, 5 times. Hard problems might take 6 or 7. Sometimes even more. Sometimes less. But always the answer will be revealed.

My friend asked me to look at the problem he was working on to see what I thought of it. It wasn't bad, but I wanted use my own question and see where it went. So I gave it a shot. I decided to use a family values social problem...

Problem: The Decline of the American Family.
Why? - Americans have become a disposable society.
Why? - People want to take the easy road. Rather than fix it, replace it.
Why? - Americans have become lazy and want everything handed to them.
Why? - People have deluded themselves into thinking they deserve it, rather than working for it.
Why? - Lacking discipline in all factors of society.
Why?- Loss of family values and moral decline.
Why? - Too many single parent home, broken homes or no homes.

Hmmm. Not bad. I like it. And he liked this one better than the one he wrote, so he used it for his homework assignment.

I find it very interesting to see how the question asked makes it's way around, and gives you food for thought in the process.

How would the 5 why's work on other questions? Maybe on a political level?

Problem: All politicians are double talking hand shakers.
Why? - Because they are mouthpieces elected into office and too afraid to go against popular views.
Why? - If they shake the tree too much they won't get any votes for the next election.
Why? - Because although the majority of the American people want change, they still are followers, not doers.
Why? - Politicians are people pleasers. And want to be popular in an opinion poll.
Why? - Politicians like the limelight, are mainly ego driven.

Okay. That makes sense (at least to me) as well. As you can tell, I'm not overly fond of any politicians.

How about using the 5 why's on a relationship level?

Problem: I've been dating a self-centered asshole for the last 5 1/2 years.
Why? - Because being involved with self centered selfish asshole seemed a better choice at the time than being alone.
Why? - Because having a companion, even if not perfect, made me feel as if I wasn't insignificant.
Why? - My prolonged association with such a selfish, unthoughtful man has lowered my own self worth.
Why? - Because I had deluded myself into thinking that if I did enough for him, he would love and respect me.
Why? - He has proven time and again with his actions that he obviously doesn't think about how I feel.
Why? - Because he doesn't feel by his actions that he has done anything wrong.
Why? - Because he feels justified that it is his right to ask a co-student at 2am "how her vagina is".
Why? - Because he's really an asshole that seemingly doesn't respect himself, let alone others.
Why? - Because good people don't do things that they know would hurt their partner, whom they claim to love.
Why? - Because that is what good people who love each other do...always be there for them. Respect them. Care for them. And love them unconditionally.
And why can't he? - Because he's a self centered asshole who obviously doesn't give a shit about anyone but himself.

Well now! That took a little longer than 5 why's to get to the root, but there it is! The root of the problem. Lets try this again and see, shall we?

Problem: Why can't said boyfriend seem to be faithful and not have inappropriate dialogue with the opposite sex while in a relationship?
Why? - Because he has a mental issues mixed with low self esteem so he takes it out on his treatment and view of women.
Why? - Because he is a piece of shit.
Why? - He has no soul.

Now that one got to the root right away! That only took 3 'Why's'! Fact is, you could really just jump to the root of that one in 2, but it's nice to see "He is a piece of shit" in writing. Fact is, I might write it one more time just to make sure I get it ingrained into my head. "He is a piece of shit." I need to remember this when and if I ever run into him...which I hope I don't. (Or get the urge to forgive him....again.)

I could take these WHY questions even further and expose more, but I won't. However just seeing all this here in print is definitely worth at least 6 months of therapy....

When I was in high school my family ran into a stretch where we were all having a hard time communicating. My Dad was a scientist well versed in element charts, but not so much in normal communication. My mom was a teacher, sugar sweet. My brother in college and me in high school. My grandfather went blind and was living with us....so there was a little stress building in within the family unit. So we went to a family therapist for a stint. I remember Dr. Nausbaum always asking, "And how did that make you feel....?" (while rubbing his chin for effect.) It has stayed with me, through the years. When things bother me, I ask myself Dr. Nausbaum's question.

Am I stunned? Yes.
Am I hurt? Sure thing.
Am I bitter? You bet. Because he knows better. We've been down this road before.
Am I angry? Oh yeah. But really more at myself. I should have known. I'm a much smarter person than this. And I'm better than this. I deserve more than this...

We broke up over the last episode of texting infidelities. (see past post here) Then we started seeing each other again. I know. I'm weak...and I loved him. So I forgave him. I honestly thought that he loved me back and wouldn't do anything to directly hurt me. And now 6 months later, I'm back to where I was in January. Same problem, different girl.

So boyfriend, ex-boyfriend...ex-friend. Good luck with all that. Hope everything works out for you. I would suggest you have someone else to call if you need anything. The entire friendship that we had is now gone. Friendship is built on trust. For me, there is no upside to having friends such as yourself. You threw it away. You didn't think of the ramifications. I hope that your needing to know how Donna's vagina was at 2:33 am was well worth your loss.

I no longer have your back. I'm not being mean, just realistic.

You had your chance. Fact is you had about 8 chances and you blew them all. Good riddance. I can't get my time invested back. I'm presently bitter because of that. But it'll be alright. I'll be alright. Fact is, I feel better already.

I should have realized what an ass he was years ago. That this relationship did nothing but bring me down. I think I did, but didn't believe it. I always saw the good in him. I tried to make him see it as well, to be a better person because of what I saw. But I no longer see the good now, only the bad, and the hurt...so I'm looking forward, not back. No going back. Not this time...

It took me awhile to finally put him behind me, but I honestly can say that now I have. It's changing time for Nancy.
I'm anxious to see what my future holds...

I'm going to need my sunglasses. Because the future sure does look bright. Tomorrow is a whole new day...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

fathers day tora tora...

Today is fathers' day. Everyone in America knows this...or at least should.

In Cleveland Saturday started out rainy (very) and windy (wow) and humid (extremely). There was a great show from Mother Nature in the sky starting at 3am for those of us still up. But by late afternoon, the humidity was gone, as were the clouds and wind. Well, there still remainded a nice gentle wind for those people who own sailboats (bah)...Saturday turned into a perfect day.

The parks were all filled with families. The smell of charcoal grills filled the air. Fathers' Day was upon us and the populace was out celebrating. I, of course, was doing yard work. (hey, the Jone's live next door, what can I say!)

I am making the trek to Toledo, Ohio today to pick up my dad and drive him to my brothers house up on a lake north of Detroit. I look forward to spending time with the male members of my family hopefully on a day like it was yesterday, minus the severe thunderstorms.

If you would indulge me, I would like to share with you a Fathers' Day story...

I remember many many years ago my mother asking my dad to take me and my older brother of 4 years to the movies. I was 8. We didn't GO to the movie theaters all that often, so I was excited.This was a big deal. We came home 2 hours later and my mother asked us how the movie was. I was completely in shock and immobile from staring at the movie screen.

You see, most of the movie was in subtitles....

Now before you say, "Wow, how cool. She started seeing Independent Films at 8", the movie my dad took us to see was "Tora Tora Tora" about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Tinker Bell it wasn't. And it didn't have anything to do with Davy Crockett either, so my brother was disappointed as well.

2 years ago I was at Wal-Mart going through the big stainless steel bin they have of older movies for $2. I found a copy of said 1970 American-Japanese film of Tora Tora Tora. I bought it for my dad for his birthday....I thought he might get a kick out of it, considering the history we had with the movie as a family. Aparently it made a bigger impression on me than it did him. He didn't even remember taking us kids to see that movie while The Aristocats, King of the Grizzlies and Pippy Longstocking played in the theater next door.

Ah, the fond memories of childhood...
I love my dad.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Twitter? Facebook? why?...

I guess I don't quite get the Twitter and Facebook thing.

I'm tech savvy. I network. But I don't get it...

It all started with a friend of mine in New York setting up a MySpace page. "Do it, Nancy! Make a page!"
"Uh, okay....why?"
"Because it's a great way to keep in touch with friends!"

So I did. On her constant urging. I did what was expected of me. Got a cool 'skin', I posted photos, I updated my profile, I wrote an "about me", blahblahblah. I immediately started getting 'friend' requests from people I don't know, people I don't want to know really...I mean why would I?

The whole idea freaked me out.

Fast forward now to Facebook. I got an 'invite' from a past co-worker. "Be my friend! See the party photos!" In order to see her photos, I had to sign up and make an account. Okay, so if I'm going to go through all that, then I should go ahead and put up a profile, post some photos, write an "about me", blahblahblah. But again, I'm getting friend requests from people I don't know, not sure I want to know, or knew about a hundred years ago. Does it matter? Do I need this? Do I really need to know that one friend 'is hungover', another 'is going to the gym' and one 'brewing coffee'? Will this complete my day? Will it fulfill my life?

How much information do I want to share with people that aren't in my immediate circle....?

But I've been playing along with it. I've been checking in. If I see too many people online, I sign off immediately. It's odd to me to get e-mail notifications notifying me that I've got a message on Facebook. Everyone I know that would send me messages already has my e-mail address; so why not just send me an e-mail? Why send the message through Facebook? Why don't you text me? Or better yet, just pick up the phone and call?

What about when someone posts something on your 'wall'. Do I really want all my contacts on Facebook knowing what's going on in my life? Not really. I guess I don't actually care if you do know, I'm not secretive, but the whole process just seems....odd to me.

What bothers me the most is the 'invites' I get via Facebook. What 80's rock star are you? How many children will you have? What are your 5 favorite beverages? Or one of the best that I saw today, What Saved By the Bell Character are you?

Are you kidding me? Do I need that information? I never even watched the show let alone stay up at night wondering which character I would be!

Each time you take one of these surveys, you have to agree that now all your information and all the information of your friends is now public. Doesn't that worry anybody? It does me. I won't take any of those surveys...no matter how curious I may be about what character I am. Have you ever read the notice when you post a photo? That's how that family from Missouri had their Christmas photo ending up in Prague for a grocery store ad. Once posted, it's public fodder. I really would prefer not to see my image used in advertising...for anything.

I got a notice recently that someone bought one of my photos, that I'm now owned. What does that mean? I'm owned? And if so, where's my money?

But I'm most confused about Twitter. Why in the hell do I need to know what anyone out in the world is doing or thinking at any given moment? And in a 2 line text? I am not going to be peer pressured into 'twitting' my day away....

and yet, I reactivated my Twitter account today. And am now following Carlos. Hmmm.

And in a flash I got 3 'tweets' letting me know these people were now following me. Why? What connection do I have with them? None. Oh, and I like to call the people following me that I've no connection to "twits". I think it's fitting.

There are some people that I know that must seem to always have their computer on, and on their Facebook page. I can't seem to ever log on without seeing them there. What do they do with their days? I guess it's possible that I could just look at the backlogs and see...but I won't. I wish there was a way to sign on and remain 'invisible'.

What will be extremely interesting is that since my blog is linked to the Facebook page, this blog, once posted, will come across as a note to all those on Facebook. Watch. There is going to be a mass exodus on my 'friend' list. It'll be interesting to see how long it takes for me to get dropped as a friend. 46-45-44-43....0. Those friends of mine will think that I've called them out on their Facebook obsession. The only one's that will remain are the people that have a Facebook account but don't log on. By the time they do log on, this blog will have been long buried in the archives.

I've read that they are trying to get people to pay for the Facebook privilege. Privilege was the word used. In which case, I'm not going to have a page, so it will all be a moot point.

Checking the blogs I follow several times a day is a bad enough time usurper. I like to see if my blogger friends have posted anything new. With two computers running and 4 tabs open on each, my computer dependence is bordering on obsession. Add all these other computer/internet driven connection devices, and I may never leave the house.

But thank God I've got an iPhone...
That way I can receive Carlos's updates on Twitter.

Monday, June 15, 2009

roadtrip; momma needs a new pair of shoes...

I woke up early Sunday morning intermittently playing blackjack and repeating in my head, over and over like a mantra: red 36, red 36, red 36.

Yes, I was gambling while I slept. I was winning and winning big. It was beautiful. I should close my eyes and revisit the beauty for a few minutes longer...

Saturday in Cleveland started out a little dreary. Overcast skys with a slight rain. My friend and I, coffee in hand, took the dogs down to the metro parks to let them run and exercise off some of the excess treats. Suddenly the sun came out, so we headed down to the beach to read and soak up some rays.

As we were sitting on the beach listening to the sound of the waves, the music of children laughing, we started contemplating how to spend the rest of this wonderful day. How do you top it off? It's been grand up to this point, what to do come evening? Some of the typical, ordinary ideas bounced around in my head....and then it hit me. Roadtrip!

We quickly packed up, ran home and threw some belongings into an overnight bag. Gassed up the car, set the GPS for our destination and pointed the vehicle in the southwest direction. 117 miles later; we are crossing the rickety steel bridge into West Virginia.

Newell, West Virginia is home to the Mountaineer Casino and Racetrack. There's a sliver of West Virgina that juts up between the Ohio River and Ohio on the west and Pennsylvania on the east side. It's an area that doesn't have much...except for the casino. Fact is, once you cross the bridge the GPS doesn't even show a map any longer. It's 'uncharted' territory. In West Virginia...

The Mountaineer is a clean place. The rooms are well appointed. The staff friendly and polite. And the food, at least at Le Bonne Vie (the Good Life), is superb. But Monte Carlo it is not. Nor Vegas for that matter. No Dean Martin types or girls dressed to the nines, this is 'where you break your piggy bank and head to the slot machines' country. In a non-iron shirt and walking shorts, I was the best dressed person in the whole damn place.

There's some mighty fine people watching to be had at the Mountaineer. West Virginia is a state that does not have a law against smoking inside public buildings. It's an odd to see most of the areas catering to smokers. Even in the casual restaurants people were enjoying their smoke with their waffles. There are more cigarette machines than ATM's. But I do commend them on a fine job of ventilation. Although the air feels 'stagnant' it isn't like you are walking through clouds of putrid smoke. And I must admit, the fact that they do allow smoking seems to make the people watching all that much better.

The mental picture of the chinless, ashen gray skin tone, elderly woman with a Marlboro 100 hanging lit from her mouth while she methodically pulls the lever on her slot machine...yeah, that happens. About every 3 feet you see the same silhouette. Just slightly different dress and hair, but they could all be related. And perhaps maybe they all are.

Not to say that there aren't nice people to talk to while playing. My game of choice is blackjack. I'm pretty good at it, because I'm patient. I play by the rules. I know when to hit, when to stand, when to double down. I don't play impulsively (normally), so I can stay at a table for awhile. And if you are consistent, then your odds improve drastically.

I sat down at a table and since it was a Saturday night the minimum bids were a little higher. $15 and $25 tables were the norm. There's a high roller area, but I'm definitely not a high roller; it makes me anxious to place a bet too big. I like to have a number in my head of what I'm going to play with and if that number comes and goes, then I stop playing. If I'm winning, I take the chips won and put them away. That way I play with the casinos money and everything becomes that much more fun for me! Smart, I know.

Annette was the name of the lady sitting to my right and there was Juan in the first seat. Two gentlemen sat to my left. They both informed me when I sat down that if I got a Blackjack the rules at the table were I would have to remove my shirt. Nice. Thanks guys, I'll keep that in mind.

Juan turned out to be an impulsive player. Some bets he play the minimum, others he'd play a stack. You never knew if he was going to pull a card on 16 or double down on 8's. I became positive that he needed to leave the table. Annette kept pulling extra money in $5 increments out of her purse to keep buying chips. She would buy enough to just keep her in the game. I learned it was her birthday, so I gave her a couple chips so she could play one more hand. She didn't win, so she got up and left. Nice lady, over permed hair and all. The guy holding down the end of the table was the best player at the table. He was playing with higher stakes than the rest of us. He had a nice stack. And yes, I was looking...

But after about an hour I decided to move on. I was up, so it was all good.

Next table, Roulette. I don't understand this all that well. But it's fun to watch. I kept feeling green 0 or double 00's were going to come up. Or a red 36. Those never did. This little Filipino woman would put down about 40 or so chips with each roll. It was mesmerizing.

"No more bets", and away the ball would go. Round and round and round and round....

It seems to me that the best bet at the table is to bet either red or black. It pays double. But then you got to walk away. That table can and will take all your cash in a matter of moments. Which it did, so I was gone.

But if you ever go to the Mountaineer, make sure to stop and have dinner at Le Bonne Vie; and when you are there...that is exactly what it is. Eric is the manager and he's good. Really good. He calls you by name and makes you feel as if we just left a barbecue together and he's married to your sister. Kevin has been our waiter the last two times we've had the opportunity to imbibe...and he makes fine dining fun.

I ordered a rib-eye. For all you vegetarians, you may want to skip to the next paragraph. But this steak was the most beautiful thing I have ever laid eyes on. 1 1/2 inches thick, juicy, rare, fantastic. My mouth was watering as he set the plate down. There was no possible way to eat the whole thing, but I was going to give it a try. It truly was the most amazing piece of beef I have ever in my entire life eaten. It was incredible. And when I say it was an full inch and a half, it truly was all that. I know. I pulled out my measuring tape, just to make sure.

Nice bottle of wine, check. Huge ass steak, check. 12 dollar side potato, check. Check please, Kevin....holy shit!

It definitely isn't cheap, but it was well worth every penny. Now, back out to the tables. Maybe I'll go to the craps table, slide up to someone with a nice big stack of chips that knows the game. I'll just play the same bets as them, but in smaller amounts, I'm sure. Maybe I'll play just a little bit longer. The casino is open 24/7, you know. Why should I continue to play? Because I can.

And because momma needs a new pair of shoes...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

who is john galt?...

Last year a friend of mine invited me to join her book club. I had been hearing about this "book club" for years.

My mental impression of a book club was like those in the movies; up-tight over educated bookies that like to use mammoth $5 words to mentally 'one-up' you. People that like to hear themselves talk, impose on others their politics and ideals, impress others with their literary knowledge and extensive use of the English language.

This book club is different. The girls use it as an excuse to have a night out. It's the female version of poker night. Wine, cheese, conversation...with a little discussion about books thrown in for good measure.

So I joined in the fun. No fees. No applications. No rejections then either...
I've not made it to many of the meetings since my induction our literary circle, but I have either read, or at least bought all the books we were going to discuss so far. The rule is that if it's your turn to host, then you get to choose the book. Obviously there have been many different genres of book titles presented as book club fodder.

There was the popular murder/mystery that I deemed a nana-esque book. Too much fluff for me. One was too historical, even the title had me cringing, "The Wordy Shipmates". I'm sure it was a great book, but I didn't even buy it. Oops. Segue from the puritans into another book that I only read 24 pages of...and then promptly threw across the room. It was a complete narcissistic, misogynistic and pretentious diatribe in which the word c*nt was seemingly used every 6th word or so. The Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller.

Okay, whoa. Now before you get your literary panties all in a bunch, I understand that it's on many lists of 'books you must read before you die'. So be it, just kill me now, 'cause I ain't reading it.

I'm not a snob. I don't have a problem with pornography, or graphic depictions of sex. I just didn't like the 'tone' of the book, the whole 24 pages that I did manage to read. I even gave it a second shot thinking that perhaps the word c*nt during that period of time might be used as we would use f*ck today as an adjective, an expression, to give it emphasis....I've been known to drop the f-bomb, often. It gives some of my statements meaning.

There are those that say, "Millers work is the "most profound reading ever written". Personally, I think, and to quote the book itself, "bloated pages of ecstasy slimed with excrement"...yeah, no. I can do without that on my bookshelf. Even the gal who chose it didn't finish it all.

There were others on the reading list that just didn't quite make the cut for me either. Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund. They made a movie of it which was interesting. Modern music with historical costumes. My problem with historical fiction is how could you possibly write, in first person, about how these people were feeling? Could you really know how she felt or what she was thinking? It seems a gross manipulation of history. I think it extremely presumptuous, 560 pages of presumption, to be exact.

Which brings me to MY choice for the book club. Since these gals weren't afraid of large books, I chose my favorite book and favorite writer of all time, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

Those of you who haven't read it; should. Those of you who have read it; read it again...what is happening in today's world, today's economy; we are starting to live in Atlas Shrugged.

It's a mere 1398 pages. A veritable tome. It's timeless in it's position on dystopian government exploiting industrialists and businessmen for the 'general good' of the country. And largely forgotten until it became rumored that Angelina Jolie may sign on for the movie project and play Dagny Taggart. I'm not sure if they can make a movie from a 1400 page book, but that will remain to be seen.

It debuted on the New York Times bestseller list in 1957, and remained there for 21 weeks. In 1991 the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club deemed Atlas Shrugged 'the second most important book to make a difference in American readers' lives' second only to the Bible. Most recently Rush Limbaugh made a reference to Atlas on his radio program, and Supreme Court Justice Clarance Thomas listed it among his favorite novels. Amazingly enough the 52 year old novel is still #15 among Amazon's best selling books as of April 2009.

My friend who inducted me into the book club was the only one of the group who read it, and then read it again....all the way through. All 1400 glorious pages of it. Fact is, she is so enamored with the book that I gave her the other Ayn Rand books to peruse. We've even talked about a trip out to San Francisco to go to the Ayn Rand Institute. She even bought me a "Who is John Galt?" bumper sticker. And I actually put it on my car! I've only once before defaced a car with a bumper sticker, so this is a big deal. I had my sticker on my car all of 8 minutes before I got the first comment.

As I was entering into a store a woman approached me and said, "I love your bumper sticker. It's nice to know there are those that still read!"

8 minutes.

And no one has mentioned it since. At least, no one that actually KNOWS who John Galt is, or what it refers to, that is. I was standing in Border's book store the other day. There was a salesman leading an older woman to find a book she asked for. I heard her exclaim, "My, that's a large book!" From where their voices were I knew exactly where they were, and what she was looking at. So I had to meander over to see if my speculation was correct. And it was. There she was holding a volume of Atlas Shrugged in her hand.

Maybe I should have just let her absorb it on her own. But I went forward and said, "Yes, it's big. But you'll love it. It's my favorite book." And there we stood in Border's talking about books and philosophy for the next half hour. We even exchanged e-mails so we could discuss it further when she finished. She was rather old, so I hope she finishes it so we CAN discuss it before she leaves our earthly confines!

The other gals in the book club? Only 3 showed up for the discussion. One said she didn't finish it. Another said she didn't even buy it. She had heard that is was "a capitalist right wing view on politics and business and she wouldn't waste her time reading nonsense". That's okay. I didn't read her choice of books either....

I guess when my turn comes around again to choose a book, I'll have to look further than my preferred reading list in order to please everyone. Maybe I should just choose a book on "How to choose a book for a book club", or one that comes with discussion questions already written in the back.

I just bought the latest title given to the club for us to read. Pattern Recognition by William Gibson. I've never read Gibson before...but when the Publisher's Weekly calls him the "patron saint of cyberpunk lit"....hmmm, I might go to the Cliff-Note section of the bookstore.

Literature is like art. Art is like life. Life IS an art, so literature is life. Sometimes it makes sense to you, and sometimes it doesn't. It's just one of those things that not everyone sees or feels the same way. But I'm going to continue to go to the girls night wine, cheese and book parties. I'll read the ones that I like and won't read the ones I don't. Life is too short to spend the time doing things you don't enjoy.

But I do enjoy reading. Most of the time. I usually am in various stages of 3 separate books at one time.

Now if I could just find the time to read outside the bathroom.
Does that mean that my life is in the toilet? Yikes, I've got to find a beach to read at instead...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

damn bastard midges...

I live a mere block from beautiful Lake Erie.

It's wonderful. I used to have a sailboat, but now am content to have neighbors that own both sail and power boats. We are a bike ride from the beach. We are walking distance to watch the sunset on the horizon. If you stand out in front of my house and look north, you can see the blue of the water.

I'd like to have the lake in my backyard and then I'd be on lakefront property, but I'm content where I am. Our part of the lake is a cliff anyway, so there's not all that much benefit of actually owning lakefront in my book. It's not like I can go out and sit on the pier and dangle my feet in the water. It's just a nice view. Plus where I am I don't have to worry about losing the house to erosion.

One major drawback of living in such close proximity to the water is the damn midges.

Some people call them Canadian Soldiers, some Mayflies. But most everyone around here call them Midges. Chironomus plumosus to be exact.

Midges are small bugs that are very light in weight and hover in large swarms. They look like mosquitoes, sound like mosquitoes, but they don't bite. At least ours don't. I've heard of some that do, but thanks be to God that ours aren't that variety. They have a life span of just a few days. They swarm, mate, lay eggs and die. All in a matter of a week. But overall, we have midges here for about two weeks and then they are gone.

Doesn't sound so bad? Two weeks? "Deal with it, Nancy", I'm sure you are saying to yourself. But if you live near any body of water and have experienced midges, you know how annoying they are.

If you try to mow the lawn, you get a mouthful of the damn things with each step. Want to trim the shrubs? Forget it, unless you are donning a complete bee keepers get-up. If you go out on the front porch to retrieve the mail...you come back in the house dragging hundreds in your wake. They buzz down your shirt and get into all open, available orifices. It's really gross.

I've tried spraying. It doesn't seem to affect them.
Bug bombs. Nope. That doesn't work either.
Electric bug zapper. Yes this works, but there are SO many it's not all that effective.

They are attracted to light and heat. This afternoon I grilled some burgers for lunch. Every time I opened the grill top they would swarm in and it was all I could do to keep them from landing on the meat. They don't want to land there, they just get sucked in by the heat waves. Yuck.

And last night one of the window screens was not fitting quite right so there was the smallest crack left unsealed. Pair that problem with my daughter coming down to get a midnight drink from the fridge and leaving the light on.

I came downstairs in the morning to find my entire ceiling covered in a light film on midges....

Double yuck.

They smash easily, but leave a mark. So the best is to vacuum them up....or just wait for the bastards to die.

There was a baseball game in Cleveland a couple years ago when the midges were so bad they had to postpone the game. They showed up in the eighth inning. The swarms were one of the largest ever. The Yankee pitcher threw two wild balls and walked too runners because he couldn't see through them. Professional baseball almost got cancelled due to these damn little bugs!

So, I live for two weeks with swarms of midges. I'm a week in and already fed up with the little buggers. There are dead midges everywhere...in the house, in the car, on the car, all over the pond...in the refrigerator. You just can't get away from them.

You hear them buzzing at night. It's a weird alien sound...

I hate the damn things. Buzzing little bastards. I want to kill them all. Forever. Wipe them from the face of the earth. I think that maybe I should move a few more blocks to the south of the lake. They don't travel that far inland....as of yet.

I'm sure they will if I choose to move. And trust me, if you've ever dealt with midges...you might want to move too. Just don't move to Scotland. Their midges bite...

Footnote: Yesterday Theresa at An Officer and a Garbage Can, recently bestowed upon me the Kreativ Bloggers award. Thanks Theresa!

"I'd like to thank Theresa and all those who believe in me for this wonderful Blogging award. It was just what I needed to get me over the hump since my disappointing rejection from that Humor website (read about that here) that shall remain unnamed. And also a lame excuse to allow myself to buy another pair of black shoes....thank you. Thank you. Thank you!"

By accepting this award I am to nominate 7 more bloggers that I deem Kreativ AND give you 7 tidbits of information that you don't really want or need to know about me.

1. Pearl, Why you little.... recently 'found', Pearl gives me a smile a day.
2. Irish Gumbo. This guy has a wonderful writing style...now if only he could find a desk.
3. Ann's Rants. Another recently found fellow female blogger with great witty outlook on life.
4. Mommy with a Penis. I've been following him for awhile. I've seen him go from 30 followers to over 170. Now how can I do that.....:-)
5. I don't even need a title. Bruce is a witty, funny young man blogger in California that has always proven it's worth a look see.
6. DigitalMCS. This guy is funny...'nuff said.

and finally;
7. The DPJ Weblog. Fantastic fictional short stories. Dark humor at it's best...

Now the tidbits. Hmmm.
1. I get my teeth cleaned four times a year.
2. I like to buy exercise equipment. I figure if I own it, then I can get it shape via osmosis....
3. I have just a few friends, but the ones I have are worth 20 each. Not dollars, 20 people...weirdo.
4. I usually have two computers running, each with 4 tabs open.
5. My eyes are dark blue if I'm hungover, green if I'm mad and gray-ish normally.
6. My entire wardrobe consists of black, gray, khaki and white. With just a few french blue shirts thrown in.
7. I'm a freelance visual window designer.

Now your life is complete...thanks again, Theresa for the award! I've just passed it on!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

delegating the 'to do' list...

I have a habit of making a 'To Do' list every morning while my coffee is brewing. It's my way of trying to engage my time management skills.

By the end of the day as I reassess my list, I can see what I have accomplished over the course of the day. And I can also see that once again, I have failed miserably at getting the majority of the items crossed off.

I'm pretty good most of the time in my ability to complete the task at hand. I'm good at prioritizing my day. The things that need to be completed by tomorrow will be done by tomorrow. Items that have no impending time limit may get pushed to a day when the list isn't quite as large. When running errands I am able to plan the route as to not double back and waste time in the process. But there are just some projects that seem to mysteriously reappear on my list day after day, week after week.

I admit that the items that stay on the list usually have to do with calling some company or another to dispute a problem. I suffer from slight phone phobia. It's gotten better over the years, but I just don't like talking to people on the phone.

My ex-husbands life is connected to the phone line. If he has Internet connection and a phone, he can conduct his business anywhere. I got so used to him making all the calls necessary that I never needed to! I got used to it. And many times when that item on my 'To Do' list is still there after 3 weeks? I'll call to get his help. He's just good at it. And I'm not.

For instance, we have a trampoline in the backyard. I'm the 'kool-aid' mom of the neighborhood. All the posse comes here to play during the summer. That damn contraption has paid for itself many times over. Now it's not just a trampoline...like the ones you see on all the Funniest Home Video shows where the people you know were immediately carted off to the emergency room to then be taking the funeral home. Ours is complete with a heavy duty pad over the springs, and netting to keep all the little kiddies inside. We have rules as well. NO FLIPS and only 20 on the trampoline at a time....

But after 3 years, the netting has gotten a little beaten up and the padding is wearing thin by the entrance/exit area. So I went to the JumpKing website to order replacement parts. Navigating the website is an arduous affair. And they give a warning/waiver before you submit your order.

Normally, this step send up little red flags. But I knew the exact measurements of my trampoline. Hell, I even knew the model number....so I KNEW that the parts I was ordering for my trampoline were the right ones. Other fools may order the wrong ones, but that wouldn't happen to me.
I proceed to wait patiently for my replacement parts to arrive. I'm hoping that they will get here before the really good weather starts. Finally last week a FedEx delivery truck pulls into my driveway...and I know what he's bringing me.

"Hey ma'am! I've got 5 large boxes for you! And they are heavy."
"I'll get the dolly! WooHoo!"

New springs (2 boxes: 128 springs in all), new pad, new netting, new roller wheels. We are going to rebuild our trampoline! So my daughter and her friends all come out to help with the project. We get off to a fine start, taking down the torn up net and removing the pad. We ball it up nicely and place it in a bag for trash day. We then start to carefully replace the springs. So no little hands get pinched, I have them hang the new springs on the hook and then I go around and replace them, dropping the old ones for them to pick up. We get through this without a hitch and look at our nice shiny new tight springs. They test it out for bounce and we are now off to the next box.

This box is huge and holds the new padding. Nice and thick, better than the original, pricey and pretty damn heavy too. As we start to spread this out, I can tell that it's too small. Instead of the 14 ft. it's supposed to measure, it only has a diameter of 12 ft. I double check the box. 14 ft. deluxe pad is written in bold letters across the box.

"There is no fucking way that's 14 feet!"
"Mommy, you said a bad word."
"Goddamn it!"

Many more expletives came out of my normally truck free mouth. How could they do this? I gave them the model number! I gave them the measurements!

I sullenly put the pad back in the box. Now we'll try to the netting. At least with the netting the girls could still use the trampoline while the new pad would be shipped. As we started to lace it on, guess what. Yeah. Too fucking small as well.

Normally cool and composed, I was now officially steaming.

I called the customer service line. The recording told me that they are only open from 12 noon to 4 pm M-F. This was Saturday....on a holiday weekend. So I would have to wait until Tuesday to call.

Tuesday at noon their time, I placed my first call. "All operators are busy, please hold." I held for 10 minutes. Then hung up. As the day progressed I didn't get the next call placed until their closing hours. Fuck. Now I have to wait until tomorrow.

I call on Wednesday. I make it through to the company but get a recording. "If you are calling to make a return or exchange we would be happy to accommodate you. A 30% restocking fee will apply."

30%? Are you kidding me?!

Are you telling me the items that I purchased, that are marked correctly but are obviously the wrong size you are going to charge me 30% of the purchase price to take them back, plus I have to pay for return shipping and the shipping of the new items? Ohhhhh noooooo they aren't.

Take into consideration that the new items are going to take another 3 weeks to arrive? 3 weeks of summer without the use of the tramp in the back for the neighborhood gang of kids?


Although I am very capable at this point to make this call and speak directly TO a real person, whoever would receive this call does not want to talk to me. I can guarantee that....

So, this is an item on my "To Do"list that I am passing onto my ex. He'll be able to handle the situation with finesse and perhaps get more from them than I would. He'll probably schmooze them into sending a whole new frame and uprights. I'm so angry right now, if I spoke with them they probably wouldn't even accept my return.

So with passing this information to M, I've managed to get that line crossed off my list...for now. Until the new set of packages come and we go through this all again......

I certainly hope not! If that happens we are taking our summer vacation cross country. I just may drive out to Texas where JumpKing is located with the boxes in back. And they do not want that to happen.....I can guarantee it.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

one fabulous birthday...

To those of you who don't know me, yesterday was my birthday.

I'm not that much of a 'birthday' person. I mean, who really cares...one more year tagged onto the growing number that equates how long I've 'been' on the planet. I take it all in stride. I don't need a party or a cake, it's just another day.

However, I must admit I am vain enough that I DO enjoy the occasional birthday wish. It makes me feel 'special'. And this year I got so many birthday wishes from friends (without prompting...wow). Many came through Facebook (thanks guys), a tenant left a card for me (with the rent check...thank you), some birthday cards came through snail mail (which shows they REALLY remembered in order to get it in the mail on time...double thank you) and a present sent from Chrissy complete with singing pig in a tutu card. I even got a hand signed with sentiment greeting from my investment broker (which was a first)!

My daughter and ex-husband bought me the coolest little ( I mean little but with a big ass lens) Sony video camera. That was totally unexpected...and absolutely fabulous!

But the way I spent my birthday celebration day was at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio riding roller coasters with my daughter until I just couldn't ride them anymore.

Have you ever been to Cedar Point? Heard of it? It's only 45 minutes from my home and we get season passes every year. It has been voted the best Amusement Park for the last 8 years straight. It's also the second oldest amusement park. Bunches of other 'awards' as well, highest roller coaster, steepest pitch coaster...blahblahblah.

This year was truly a monumental stepping stone for my daughter, Amelia. This year she is over 54" tall. It's a big deal. We've been waiting for this moment for years. That opens ALL the rides to her...and she was excited. We went to the Guest Services to get the 'Official Measurement'. They give you a wrist band that will override individual ride attendants with a measurement 'stick'. Just to be sure. Last year we were a 1/4" short at the end of the season. When she got her green wristband (over 54") everyone in the office clapped for her because she could not contain her joy in being able to now ride the Raptor, Mantis and Witches Wheel. The entire world of Cedar Point is now at her feet...she can ride ANYTHING without restriction.

I wish I could have bottled the look of joy on her face....

So after said Official Measurement celebration we then proceeded into the depths of the park. Cedar Point never fails in the ultimate in people watching, roller coasters and expensive junk food. I could write a book for them letting the first time or infrequent guests know where the best french fries are (Happy Fryer across from the once Aquarium), best slushy (Camp Snoopy by the boats), best frozen custard (Frontierland by the mine ride), best stuffed hot pretzel (in front of Magnum XL) and all the beer stands (4 in all...front of park by the Picnic area, Frontier Trail Red Garter Saloon, Palace Theatre and Joe Cool cafe). We know where all the bathrooms are, the water fountains and best souvenir shops. Best spinny ride (Tilt-a-Whirl), best thrill ride (MaxAir) and best roller coaster (new-Millennium; old wooden-Mean Streak).

Yeah. We know our park. We've been there just a few times and know it like the back of our hand. It's fun to watch people staring at their maps trying to figure it out...and we just KNOW where to go and the order in which to do it. Some of the stands don't get much business because they are kind of tucked away....unless you are us, or with us; then you too would know where they are.

Yesterday was a school day. Amelia did not go to school. (Cool mom...uh-huh) She went to ride spinny rides with me all day instead of doing math or spelling. On one ride we were the only people on it, so the attendant would just look at us at the end of the ride, give us the thumbs up and off we would go again...and again, and again, and again. 7 times in all until we thought we should perhaps get off before we threw up all the cotton candy and elephant ears.

The weather was not an ideal amusement park day...when we left. It was cool, overcast and raining. And it was still raining when we got there. But then, like magic; it wasn't and now there wasn't anyone there. I'm sure the weather was a huge factor in the attendance in the park. Although perhaps there weren't that many people there because responsible adults are working during the week and most kids are still in school. It was like I rented it out for a private days adventure. When we rode on MaxAir and SkyHawk, they DID make us get off....only to walk around and get right back on again. Perfect.

Today I am fasting. I ate enough calories yesterday to last me the week. But it was my birthday, so who really cares. Plus, I own stretch pants to last me through the end of the week. Awww hell, if I could be gauranteed more days like that...I'd buy a whole new wardrobe in a larger size.

What a great day. Thanks Amelia. Your the best kid ever....

And if anyone wants a copy of the best places to hit in Cedar Point during their visit...e-mail me. I'll send you a free copy. Signed, of course. I'm positive it's sure to become a collectors item.

Oh. And my friend Chrissy? Check out this post she put up yesterday...she's the best. Thank you Chrissy!