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Monday, June 30, 2008

Jon and Kate Plus Eight

Tonight I finally remembered that JON & KATE PLUS EIGHT was on. I missed the first half hour, but the rest of the show was very enjoyable.

Kate took all the girls to ceramics. As is typical of four year olds, the younger girls created works of art that only a mother could love - multi colored horse, yellow dog. The older girls were more particular with their pieces they wanted to be artistic. The cutest part was a bowl that was covered inside and out with the girls' handprints.

While the girls were painting, Jon took the boys to the gym where they went through an obstacle course and played with very light weights.

It's so nice that Jon and Kate treat all the children as individuals, not as members of the group of two or six. Each child is different and the parents appreciate that difference.

It's so refreshing to see a family that gets along and one where everyone loves everyone else. There are no insults traded, no name calling.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Old Friends

Today I went to a luncheon with a group of 12 old friends. We went to grammar school eons ago. After graduation we all went our separate ways and about eight years ago we reconnected through classmates.com. It's so good to reconnect with the boys and girls (now men and women) we spent eight years with and see how our lives have turned out and what we have accomplished.

We met at Tesoro's Restaurant in Westbury and the food was delicious and plentiful. There was a good selection, something for every taste - pasta, fish, chicken, steak. And the dessert wasn't bad either.

We have one friend who doesn't live in the area, so I tried calling her on my cell. Unfortunately, the other people in the restaurant were very noisy, so it was very hard to speak with her. I think some of us were able to though.

I can't wait until we do it again.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A DEADLY PARADISE

I've just finished reading A DEADLY PARADISE written by an old friend Grace Brophy. This is her second book featuring Commissario Cenni.

This time he solves the murder and mutilation of an elderly German woman who was a retired cultural attache and still has diplomatic ties. His superiors want him to finish the case quickly and arrest an African woman who was a friend of the German. He doesn't believe in the guilt of this African woman and delves further in the life of the German woman. In the course of his investigation he uncovers a murder about 50 years earlier and a couple of suspicious deaths and possible conterfeiting during the war. The deaths point to the responsibility of one person and the inspector follows leads to Venice.

While in Venice he sees a woman he believes is his lover who was kidnapped 20 years earlier. It was her kidnapping that led to Cenni's becoming a policeman. He hoped he could investigate and find his love. He learns the woman's name, but loses her in the city.

It is only in the last few pages that we learn who the murderer is. However, Commissario Cenni has not found and contacted his love, Chiara. Maybe they will reunite in the next book.

I've never been to Italy, but reading about Venice, I felt that I was there. I also felt that I was in Paradiso in Umbria when they were investigating the murder and interviewing witnesses. I was there at the end of the story when they captured the murderer.

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to more of Commissario Cenni and hopefully he will reunite with Chiara.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Saving Money

Earlier this week a friend told me that our local supermarket was having a sale on blueberries - 99 cents/pint with a limit of two pints. She had bought some in the morning and was going back in the afternoon and a couple of times each day during the week. She can actually go into the store and buy two pints of berries and leave.

Even though I had done my food shopping last week and really didn't need anything I went to buy my "bargain" blueberries. About $100 later I had my blueberries and just a few other things. I did find that I could save $1.00 for a case of water and the strawberries looked good. I just went merrily among the aisles picking up this and that.

Today I was checking a recipe I wanted to try and discovered that it called for white balsamic vinegar and I only have red. So I went to the store for the vinegar, while I was there I decided to get more blueberries and strawberries, and of course save $1.00 on the water. I got the vinegar, tried the recipe (nectarine and spinach salad) and it was very good.

So far, my bargain blueberries have cost me about $150.00, but my shelves are well stocked, my freezer is full and I have enough water to last through the summer. But I saved about $10.00. Isn't it amazing how much we spend to save a few dollars.

The blueberries are delicious.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Driving

Last night some friends and I were discussing driving. I truly enjoy getting behind the wheel of my car, while, sadly, most of them just drive if they have to.



In the course of our conversation I confessed that I have a tendency to exceed the speed limit. My reason (or excuse) is that it's important to keep up with the traffic but I don't weave in and out of lanes or pass on the right. What I found really sad about our conversation is that they warned me that the police are looking for speeders and will ticket them. There was no concern about my welfare, or even the welfare of the other drivers on the road. Just that I would be caught and given a ticket.



It made me think that most people, it seems, believe the police are just laying in wait to "catch" poor innocent people. The opposite is true. If you speed or otherwise call attention to yourself, you will be tickted. I've been very lucky because I have not gotten a speeding ticket, but if I were stopped, I would deserve it.




There are too many people who feel sorry for those who bend the law. When my sons were in elementary school, we had a huge problem with double parkers especially on a rainy day. It seems some parents simply don't want their children to get a little wet, yet they don't care about anyone else who has to get around their double parked car to cross a busy six lane avenue. When the principal, the wife of a judge, asked for solutions, I suggested that she could simply have the police ticket each and every double parker. She said that wouldn't be nice or fair to those poor parents, and so the problem continued.

My feeling is that you should be prepared to take the consequences for your actions whether it's speeding or double parking.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tea at the Goulds

There's a small University in Lakewood, NJ called Georgian Court. This school was build on the grounds of the Jay Gould family estate called Georgian Court. Jay Gould was a railroad tycoon. The estate was sold to the Sisters of Mercy on the condition that the name stay the same.
There's a good mix of architecture on the grounds, the original mansion, some more modern buildings and a beautiful garden with many statues.

Last Sunday a group of us went to a Tea at the school. The premise is that we are all guests of Mrs. Gould and we meet her, her maid and a special guest. At Christmas we had tea with Mrs. Gould and her sister. This past Sunday, the guest was Cole Porter.

He and Mrs. Gould gave us some of his background and of course they sang some of his songs. There were so many - "Night and Day", "It's DeLovely", "Anything Goes", "I Get a Kick Out of You" and others that I can't remember. The actors stay in character through the whole afternoon, they even stop at each table and visit with us.

Of course, the tea itself was wonderul. We had cucumber sandwiches (which are really quite good), chicken salad sandwiches, tuna sandwiches and of course dessert - an assortment of Italian pastries.

I always enjoy going to tea, and having a show like this made the day more enjoyable.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin

This morning I heard the news that George Carlin had died yesterday. I've always liked him and thought that he was very clever. But, he certainly was irreverent and raunchy. I never did learn the seven words you can't say on television.



Early on in his career he would do a routine questioning various everyday items. I don't remember any but his discussion of a paper clip, asking how did it get its name - it's neither paper nor a clip.



He also had a great routine about stuff. The gist was that we accumulate stuff, then it takes over our house, then we buy organizational stuff which consolidates our stuff so we have more room in the house, so we buy more stuff. It's a neverending cycle.



I've read two of his books, but I was embarrassed to admit to friends that I did. He will be missed.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cooking

About a month ago I wrote about this book I found, THE PERFECT RECIPE FOR LOSING WEIGHT AND EATING GREAT by Pam Anderson.

I haven't lost any weight and it's not the fault of the book. I have been cooking and eating some of the best food. There is a recipe for a smoked salmon and trimmings salad, so good I've had it at least three times. Then there are the various sauces for pan seared chicken. I've made a red wine pan sauce with garlic olives and oregano, and an orange dijon sauce. They were all so good, they're definitely on the list to be made over and over.

I've found that if the meal is appetizing and different, there is no need of between meal snacking on cookies or cake, no matter how good and sweet they are. My problem, it seems, is portion control.

I've got a vacation coming up in August and I've got to lose some weight and get some exercise so I'll be better able to tour and enjoy the trip. So, I guess it's back to weighing and measuring. But I'll still be making some of those delicious sauces, but I'll eat less of them at one sitting.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ducks

This has been a troubling week for ducks.

Earlier this week I heard about a family of ducklings that had fallen into a storm drain and had to be rescued while the mother duck paced frantically. Eventually they were all rescued and reunited with their mother. I don't know where this was, but the town officials are thinking of putting some sort of netting over the storm drain so it doesn't happen again.

Last night I heard that the same thing happened just outside my community. This time animal rescue had to capture the mother duck and put her in a cage before they could try to remove the ducklings from the storm drain. Eventually they did. They also put the ducklings in a cage and will turn them loose somewhere else.

Then this morning I read in the NEW YORK POST that a mother duck led her ducklings from Central Park to 67th & Park Ave. They had a hard time crossing Park Avenue, but a New York City taxi driver, Sergio Castillo, stopped to help the babies. They had walked under his taxi. While the other drivers yelled at him and honked, he took each duckling from under his taxi and reunited them with their mother who jumped up and down and quacked ecstatically. Then it took a park ranger and several volunteers three hours to catch the family and return it to the park.

Fortunately, all the ducks are well. I hope they'll all be more careful where they walk and don't try to cross major streets again. Are the ducks going to be following the bears in wandering all over our neighborhoods?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Furniture

Last week when I visited my cousin we went to a local antique shop "just to look" I'm not into antiques, but I do love stained glass. I had two beautiful old stained glass windows in Woodhaven and I miss them. I saw this lamp and fell in love. I know it's not Tiffany, but I simply had to have to have it. My cousin asked if I had a place for it, of course I said yes. I have a fiber optics lamp that had stopped working so I decided to put the new lamp there. The other day I saw that the fiber optics lamp had started working so I had to find another place for my new lamp. I couldn't think of a single place where it would fit.

Then I thought about my entry, which I felt had been bare lately. Yesterday I went out looking for a small table or chest. I saw a drop leaf table (unfinished), but couldn't get any sales help, so I left the store. At the next store I saw a TV stand with a shelf and two small compartments with doors where I could hide "stuff". So I decided to buy it.

Unfortunately, as is standard procedure with most reasonably priced furniture these days, it had to be assembled. Worse, I had to get it off the store's shelf, into my car, then into the house so I could put it together. I've assembled furniture several times (and vowed never to do it again), but I have the routine down pat. The box was so heavy that workers were warned not to pick it up alone, but as a team. They did not warn the customers.


Here's hint for moving heavy furniture or boxes. If you have hardwood or tile floors, put the box on a blanket or sheet and pull it to the desired spot. Once you have the furniture together, you can pull it to the desired spot in the house. One time, I had to assemble three six foot bookcases and used the blanket system andf pulled the bookcases up to the wall and lifted the blanket to lift the bookcase. But I digress.

I only made one mistake, and it's a very minor. The back of the unit is simple cardboard and I attached it upside down. Since I don't expect to put anything heavy on this unit, it won't matter. Here's the finished product.


The most surprising thing about this whole project is that I didn't get any help. Except for a little fight about the blanket, the cats stayed away from me the whole time. Neither of them even tried to settle into one of the little sections. And I didn't even break a nail or ruin my manicure.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One Life to Live

Back in 1971 when I stopped working to await the birth of my long dreamed first child, little did I know that I would become hooked on a Soap. But I did.


Late in the afternoon, each day I would turn the TV on and watched One Life to Live. At first, I just watched for the fashions and hair styles, but slowly but surely, I became involved in the lives of Vicki, Karen, Larry, etc who lived in the town of Llanview, PA.


As the years went on and I got more busy with my boys and their school activities it became harder to watch. It came on at 2:00 PM, I could watch for 1/2 hour then it was time to pick the boys up from school. I missed a few shows, but could still follow the story.


Then came the magic of videotape. Of course I quickly learned to program the VCR, so I could tape my show and watch later that night when the house was quiet. On a busy week, the shows would build up and I'd spend Sunday watching five shows while ironing.


This year, One Life is celebrating 40 years on air. There have been some new characters, some evil, some good and some just for comedy effect. I still manage to sit down at 2:00 every afternoon (or 9:00 PM when I have a busy day) to watch the goings on in Llanview.


Vicki, played by Erika Slezak, is still there. She is the matriarch of the Lord Family. She has a brother and sister. Some of the other actors who have been on the show for a long time are Robert S. Woods, Robin Strasser and Kristen Alderson. These actors have given wonderful performances over the years, but I have to single out Kristen Alderson who is only 16 years old. I hope the writers keep giving her story lines that show off her ability as an actress.


To celebrate the show's 40th anniversary, the writers have had some of the characters return. Vicki's sister Tina (played by Andrea Evans) is back and Marty Saybrooke (played by Susan Haskell) has returned from the dead, although this is not unusual in the world of soaps. I've heard rumors of others returning.

There are several stars who appeared on OLTL when they were starting out. They are Judith Light, Tom Berenger, Laurence Fishburne, Blair Underwood, Phylicia Rashad, Roma Downey, Yasmin Bleeth, Marcia Cross and Tommy Lee Jones.

In this age of instantly successful shows and instantly failing shows, it's nice to see a show continue for so long.



Congratulations to the actors, writers and directors of One Life to Live. Here's to another 40 years.

Monday, June 16, 2008

End the Flooding

I've been watching the news footage of the floods in Iowa and Wisconsin. There is talk now that soon the states and cities further south will share the same fate. It's made me wonder if there is something that could be done to prevent this problem.

Iowa and Wisconsin are under water while California is burning because of a draught, I think Florida has the same problem. I know this is an expensive idea, but why not build a series of tunnels, like a pipeline from the flood prone rivers. These tunnels could go underground to the areas of the country prone to draughts and/or wildfires. There could be a series of gates, similar to the locks used to equalize the water level, that could be opened whenever a particular area gets too much rain. This extra water could then be funneled to a drier part of the country. These tunnels could also be used to irrigate farms or even the desert to open up more farmland to ease food shortages. Just think of the jobs that would be created in the construction and agriculture industries.

I know this would be a very expensive project, but would it be more expensive than the payouts from the various insurance companies and the resultant increase in rates for everyone. It just might mean that there would fewer lost lives, lost livelihoods and memories.

Maybe I should send this idea to my favorite presidential candidate.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Channel 11

Yesterday WPIX, Channel 11 in New York celebrated its 60th birthday. It's hard to believe that a TV station has been around that long, but it has been.

They had a special program that showed the highlights of some of their best shows. I was a little disappointed because, in my opinion, they didn't spend enough time on the Yankees, particularly their winning streak of five consecutive World Series'.

They did mention a number of firsts. They introduced the Telepix Newsreel to TV watchers, the covered the 1948 Democratic and Republican Conventions including a live interview with Gov. Tom Dewey. They introduced the first instant replay in 1965, the Subway Series of 1956.

They originated a number of children's shows, among them The Little Rascals Clubhouse, Merry Mailman, Officer Bolton, Shari Lewis with Lambchop and the Magic Garden.

They also produced the first music video - the Yule Log. I remember many Christmas Eves when I insisted on putting out all the living room lights except for the Christmas Tree and watching the Yule Log on the TV and pretending it was our fireplace. For many years they brought us the St. Patrick's Day Parade and still give us the Midnight Mass from St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.

They also listed a number of syndicated shows such as The Honeymooners, The Odd Couple, Happy Days, and Friends. They originated some shows such as Dawson's Creek, Seventh Heaven and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

They were one of the first TV stations to bring us movies. When they mentioned Night Owl Theater, I was reminded of the time I stayed up very late on the Friday after Thanksgiving so that I could have some leftover turkey when it was officially Saturday. Way back then, we couldn't eat meat on Friday. I remember struggling to stay awake, but I made it.

The show brought back a lot of memories, all of them good even though they make me feel old.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Barn Quilts

I've just spent two wonderfully restful days visiting my cousin and her husband in Liberty, NY. Liberty is located in the Catskill Mountains area. It has been an economically depressed area for several years. They are starting to rebound, beginning with the Bethel Arts Center. Bethel is the area of New York where the Woodstock Festival was held in 1969.

They also are starting another arts exhibition - Barn Quilts. I had never heard of them before, but evidently they are more common in the middle of the country. They are eight foot square pieces of wood on which are painted various designs similar to those in fabric quilts. We took a ride around the area and saw about 20 Barn Quilts and they are quite nice.

They are actually a project in the town of Neversink, NY, but all the town around there are so close. Economic recovery in one town is sure to spill over into another. If you're in the area, it's worth a visit.

I guess if Pennsylvania can have its hexes, then New York can have its Barn Quilts.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Medical Update

Back in December I wrote about Alcides Moreno the windowwasher who fell 47 stories from an Upper East Side high-rise, AND survived.

This week I saw an article in THE NEW YORK POST. He is now home and walking. The only outward signs of this fall are a limp and long scar on his left calf. Unfortunately, his brother who was working with him on the same scaffold died in the fall.

Mr. Moreno astounded doctors who said that the fall was slowed by the flat scaffold platform's wind resistance and the possibility that it slammed into the ground corner first. He had serious injuries to his brain, chest and abdomen, several fractured ribs, a broken ar and both legs were smashed. The doctors and nurses at New York Hospital saved his life. He had 16 operations and several blook transfusions in the first three weeks.

On Christmas Day he spoke for the first time since the accident when he came out of a medically induced coma. He spent six weeks in the hospital, then went to a rehab center. He went home a few weeks ago and still goes to rehab three times a week.

It's a miracle that he not only survived but appears to be doing well.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Post Office

Today I had to go to the post office to send the paperwork and keys for my old car to the insurance company.

I packed everything securely in a padded envelope and attached a return address and mailing label. I stepped up to the counter and said that I wanted to send this envelope via registered mail. That was a mistake. It seems that times have changed, registered mail must be in either a plain envelope or a box. And, the addresses must be written on the envelope or box, not on a label which can be removed by some unscrupulous person who could then redirect the parcel.

While there I heard the man at the next position arguing that his envelope was not a parcel, that he had used this type of envelope forever and had never been questioned. He even required confirmation from the supervisor. It seemed that new regulations went into effect in May that stated that envelopes with clasps are now considered parcels. We never heard about these changes.

There was also the man who wanted to send a money order and had to be reminded two or three times to complete the money order before sealing the envelope.

And we wonder why employees go "postal"

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The End of a Streak

Last night at our weekly Canasta game, my partner and I lost for the first time in at least five weeks. We had been on a roll. We had been doing so well, I thought it would last much longer. I tried not to gloat, but at times it was hard. There were other times when I actually felt guilty when we scored so many points and our opponents had to give up so many.

We played two full and one shortened game last night. We won the first game by 1000 points, but in the second we made a few mistakes and we couldn't recover. Finally, the other team went out and put us out of our misery. After all, what can you do with only one card in your hand and no canasta on the board.

We also lost the third game, but at least we went down fighting in this one. Hopefully, we can do better next Friday.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Leaks

Tonight started out like any other night. I looked forward to relaxing with a phone call to an old friend. We chatted for a while.

Then it started to rain, not just rain, but a downpour. It seemed to be coming straight down. Suddenly the cats ran to the front of the house and I heard what seemed like water running. The first thing I checked was the water heater, since I've had several of them fail over the years and it's quite a mess. The heater was fine, then I discovered the cats looking into the guest bathroom. Water was pouring from the exhaust fan and into the toilet.

The first thing I did was turn off the fan, then tried to get into the attic to check the heater. I could only get the ladder down halfway, I'm too short to pull the steps down. I called the company that services the heater and told them my problem. He said it was probably a roofing problem, but offered to come out and look at it, for a fee.

He was here and saw no problem with the heater, that was dry. He did say that the water probably came through the vent pipe on the roof, and I probably won't have a problem like that again. Tomorrow, when it's light I'll go outside and see if I can see any damage from the storm.

Maybe now I can relax and we won't have any more rain tonight.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Evolution of Typing

Today when I finished typing some lists for our Activities Director, I discovered that I had left something out. Then I complained that it bothered me because I'm such a perfectionist. She said she could handwrite the time. Then we got to talking about the early days of typing.

She's at least 20 years younger than I, but since she worked for various governments while I worked in private industries, her office equipment was very similar to mine.

I know this will be a giveaway to my age, but I must admit that when I first started working, my typing wasn't that good. On my first job, I used a manual typewriter and had to type proposals with up to five carbon copies. For those of you too young to know about it, carbon paper is used to make multiple copies instead of having the printer make those copies. The problem with carbon copies arises when you make a typo and each copy has to be corrected individually. We eventually upgraded to electric typewriters, but were still using carbon paper.

When I worked on Wall Street and had to send personalized letters to about 30 brokers, each letter had to be typed separately. At least correcting errors was easier, there was only one copy to correct, using Korectype which was a chalk covered sheet of paper which was placed between the ribbon and the paper, and you typed the error to fill in the spot. Then you could type the correct letter.

When I returned to work after being home for 15 years with my children, things had changed a little. We had a typewriter called, I think Memorywriter, on which you could type your letter, save it on memory, see it on a little screen and then press a key and it would type your letter. This was great if you had to do multiple copies of one letter. But, that machine was so noisy.

Finally, we graduated to computers. It was wonderful. One time I had to send about 100 letters, all personalized of course. That was when I discovered "mail merge", another wonderful invention of the 20th century. I could set everything up, press a key and walk away, answer the phone, go to lunch, or whatever I wanted to do.

Then there was e-mail. Another wonderful invention.

Now I can do all this in the comfort of my own home, type my blog, send it and just wait for you to read it. I love, love, love my comuter

Monday, June 2, 2008

Jon and Kate Plus Eight

Toight I caught one of my favorite shows, JON & KATE PLUS EIGHT. On this episode, they discussed all of the children with emphasis on their individuality. They don't lump the children together as the "twins" or the "sextuplets". In past shows they discussed having a special day for each child. They seemed to work out well and of course the children enjoyed the special attention. It's really important to have one-on-one, especially when there are so many children. You can get lost in the crowd.

Jon & Kate realize and appreciate all the help they've been given by friends and family. They take nothing for granted. The babies are now four so things have gotten a little easier, if you can call caring for eight children easy. Jon & Kate also are very grateful for the health of their children, they've mentioned how lucky they are that all the babies survived and have no major health problems.

They are a good team, and their love for each other and each of their children shows through every week.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

WITSEC

Tonight I watched a new TV show IN PLAIN SIGHT. It's about the Witness Protection Program, or WITSEC as it's also known. This show has as its main character a US Marshal who is responsible for those in the program. Tonight she picked up a Ukrainian woman who worked as a bookkeeper and was slated to testify against her boss. Then she had to deal with the murder of the son of a family in the program. Surprisingly, the murder wasn't solved in the hour, it took an hour and 15 minutes. There's even a little humor in this show, her family is a little strange.

This is beginning to look like a trend in entertainment. I just finished a book by Andrew Gross called THE BLUE ZONE which dealt with WITSEC and last year WITHOUT A TRACE dealt with a missing girl whose father was in WITSEC.

It is an interesting concept. People are given a chance to start over, start fresh. All they have to do is give up everything they know, their friends, family, roots. I doubt if I could do it.