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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Disturbed Cats

Crash and Burn are going through a very difficult period.

It has been almost two weeks since the furniture was picked up to be reupholstered. Two very long weeks without a couch to sit on. They are so used to sitting on either side of me when we watch TV. Now, there's no place for them. I sit in my desk chair. Crash is so desperate to be close to me that she lets me pick her up and hold her. Burnie just wanders aimlessly around the house meowing and trying to find his sofa.

They are so disturbed that they aren't getting along. Burnie just wants to play and Crash just wants to growl and hiss. As soon as I go into the kitchen, even if I've just fed them, they want more food. I guess they are a lot like me - eating while stressed.

I think it's going to get worse. I hope to put the tree and all my decorations up this week. I just hope they don't decide to climb the tree.

I really feel sorry for them, but there's nothing I can do. They just don't understand. I hope for their sake the furniture comes back soon.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dress Code

I am a alumna (Class of 1957) of a Catholic girls' high school in Brooklyn, NY. I was going through some old mail and found the following note in our alumna newsletter.

This was a letter sent in June 1956 by the faculty to the parents of all the students. They were setting the standards of good grooming and correct attire for school.

1. Hats are to be worn, no kerchiefs. In bad weather, woolen scarves may be used.

2. Shoes are to have a heel at least one inch high. Flats, ballerinas or open toes or heels of shoes will not be permitted.

3. Stockings are to be worn at all times. No socks.

4. Light colored blouses are recommended; no sleeveless, transparent or black blouses will be permitted.

5. Pleated and full skirts are good. Straight skirts are permitted if they are not too tight.

6. Make-up is restricted to lipstick and natural or light nail polish.

7. Eyebrow pencil is not permitted except on seniors who are blonde or red=haired and then, in moderation.

8. Hair should be neat at all times and then in moderation; pony tails are for sportswear, not for school. Only seniors may wear hair in a bun.

9. Penalties attached to these violations may include detention and absence from the School Ring Ceremony and commencement exercises.

They end, "Knowing that you too are interested in upholding the high standards of Memorial, we look forward to seeing your daughter in September, consistently well-groomed and in correct school attire".

At the time I felt these rules were too restrictive, but looking back, I can see they gave me the foundation for proper dress in an office - the Corporate look. Now I also know why, when I told people that I graduated from Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School, they were impressed, especially on job interviews.

Even after all these years, I'm still reluctant to wear a black blouse or sweater. I never did it, but some of the girls did use eyebrow pencil. They used it to draw a seam up the back of their legs to give the appearance of wearing stockings.

But, I wonder if any school could get away with these rules and regulations.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I just want to wish everyone a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.
I live in a very generous community. We have an ongoing collection for the local food pantry. For Veterans Day we had a collection for various personal items for our armed forces. Now, for Christmas, we have a collection for Toys for Tots.

Today I went shopping and thought I'd pick up a toy or two. While shopping and piling toys and books into my shopping cart, I realized (and this is not a nag to a certain relative who may be reading this) that I would be a wonderful grandmother. It would be great to hold and love a child, spoil him, give him everything and then send him home to his parents. I just love shopping for children whether it's clothes or toys.

I'm at that stage of my life where I don't have to worry about being laid off from a job or saving for an education. I have no responsibilities, just myself. It's good not to have those worries, it's too bad I wasn't so worry-free when I was raising my children.

Of the four children between my brother and me, there is only one grandchild. My niece thinks that probably her daughter will be the only one. So, I have decided that she is my "pretend grandchild". I wonder what she would like Santa to bring her.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lidia's New Book

Today I got a new cookbook to add to my collection, Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy by Lidia Bastianich. I had met her briefly at Cooking by the Book where I used to go for cooking lessons and to meet cookbook authors and chefs. I always enjoyed myself there, but I digress. I also met Lidia at her restaurant Felidia. She is a charming woman who took the time to stop at each table and speak with the diners.

Back to the book. She includes recipes from 12 regions of Italy. She also talks about each region adding some personal notes about her travels there. I was just skimming through the book tonight and some of the recipes look so good. There is one from Trention which I'm very anxious to try. It's a combination I would never have thought of, not that I'm an imaginative cook. She combines tomatoes and apples in sauce to be served with spaghetti. I'm very anxious to try this one, even though this is the time of year for thinking about turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pies, etc.

There are several other recipes that look interesting, like Honey Orange Crumb Cookies, Chunky Apple-Apricot Bread Pudding, Sweet Ricotta Dumplings with Strawberry Sauce. There are also some savory meals to like Skillet Braised Chicken Bundles, Chicken with Olives and Pine Nuts and Beef Braised in Beer (now that looks interesting).

The hardest part of following these recipes is halving them. I don't mind eating the same meal twice in one week, but I really hate eating the same thing night after night after night. And, I certainly won't invite any friends to dinner unless I take a test drive of the recipe.

I can't wait until I have the time to really sit down and plan some dinners using this book. Unfortunately, I'll probably have to wait until after the New Year since this is the time of year for more traditional (to me) foods.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Photography

Today we had our Second Annual Arts & Crafts Show. There were quite a few exhibitors, mostly artists in oil, watercolor, pastels, etc. I decided to enter some of my photography.

I've really just started to think I might get some good shots and really don't do much in the way of fixing the pictures. I must admit I did have some good shots - skies, cats, travel sites, etc. And this one.


I was chatting with one of the women there and I commented that I like pictures of roads that just go on somewhere. She agreed and then said she liked the above picture and would I be interested in selling it. I said sure and suggested a price which she agreed to right away. So, I made my first sale. Does that make me a professional photographer? I'm just so excited.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Crash Speaks


Let me tell you about the week I have had. Really, it has been a terrible month.

Mom had a cold. I wasn't worried because I knew I wouldn't catch it, because she didn't throw it. But, she had this cough, and she would cough for what seemed like hours. It would wake me up from a very sound sleep. She even coughed in the middle of the night and would wake me up and keep me awake. How rude! Doesn't she know I need my sleep. After all, cats need to sleep at least 20 hours a day.

Then when the cold was over, she hurt her back and couldn't bend. Instead of gently putting my food dish on the floor, she tried throwing it down and it made so much noise I was afraid of what was in the dish. Burnie tried it out and he was OK so I decided to eat. It was better than going hungry.

Then on Monday, she locked Burnie and me in the guest room for a very long time. When she finally decided to let us out, I discovered there was no furniture in the living room. She said it was going to be reupholstered, whatever that means. I hope when it comes back, it will still be good for stretching and scratching.

Yesterday she tricked me with some treats in the guest room and locked us up again and there was a lot of noise and people walking in the attic. We were there all day. I didn't see anything different when she finally let us out.

Today, I'm ashamed to say I fell for her trick with the treats again. She locked us up again. There was still a lot of noise. Mom said we're getting a new water heater and there will be more room in the laundry room and the water would get hot real quick.

I really don't know why she keeps locking us up. I'd really like to supervise these workers to make sure they're doing a good job. Burnie could help out too, he likes to climb the ladder and would go into the attic to check things out.

Well, that's my tale of woe. I hope I don't get locked up anytime soon. I really hate being stuck in the same room as Burnie. He's such a whiner, all he does is cry, like that's going to help.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hot Water

I've decided to take the plunge. Because of the way my house is laid out and the fact that I have no basement, it takes forever for hot water to reach my kitchen and bathroom. I waste so much water and time just waiting for it to heat up.

I've been talking about getting a tankless water heater for some time now. When I was living in the "money pit", the only good thing was that I had instant hot water, there was no water heater, just a coil on my heater. I've been spoiled.

Today the plumber is installing a new gas line for the unit and tomorrow the final installation of the water heater.

I could sound very noble and say I'm making this change in order to save the environment, but that wouldn't be true. I will be saving water and the gas needed to heat 75 gallons of water, but in fact I don't have a good record with water heaters.

I lived in Queens for about 39 years and I must have replaced 5 or 6 water heaters. Believe me, it's no fun turning on the shower in the morning and having only cold water, or going down to the basement to investigate that strange noise and finding three inches of water along the length of the house. After cleaning up and throwing out ruined boxes of stuff, I switched to plastic storage bins, but they didn't stop the floods.

I'm looking forward to again having instant hot water and not worrying about any strange noises coming from the area of the water heater.

Why Vote?

I just read an editorial in The Wall Street Journal which made me wonder, "Why Vote?" It seems that there is a judge, Louis Butler, in Wisconsin who ran for a place on the Wisconsin Supreme Court twice and was rejected by the voters twice.

After he was defeated by the voters in 2000, the governor appointed him to a seat vacated by Justice Diane Sykes in 2004. After four years of his being on the bench, the voters again rejected him making him the first sitting justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in four decades to lose a retention election last year.

Here are two of his cases. In Ferdon v. Wisconsin Partners, he dismantled the state's limit on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, the kind of tort reform that had worked well for the state (taxpayers). In Thomas v. Mallet his decision allowed "collective liability" in lead paint cases, making any company a potential target regardless of whether or not they made the paint in question. His nickname when he was a public defender was "Loophole Louis" since he was considered to be soft on crime.

Mr. Butler's nomination is a slap in the face to Wisconsin voters. They will be stuck with Mr. Butler for life.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Statistical Errors

I just heard on the news this morning that some of the job statistics that the government has said are wrong. According to recovery.gov, thirteen different congressional districts in the state reported receiving stimulus funds as of September 30. Montana has only one federal congressional district.

The recovery.gov site was set up in February, 2009, with a budget of $84 million to operate for two-and-a-half years, according to Ed Pound, director of communications for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board which oversees the site.

Mr. Pound said his organization is accurately reporting the information that recipients provide. He said in some cases it appears recipients are entering the wrong congressional districts in their reports. The independent organization's mission statement reads, in part, "To promote accountability by coordinating and conducting oversight of  Recovery funds to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse and to foster transparency on Recovery spending  by providing the public with accurate, user-friendly information..."

As soon as I heard this report, I thought about a movie from the forties. This movie, An Apartment for Peggy starred Jeanne Crain (remember her?). She played a young (19) wife whose husband is attending college on the GI Bill. Miss Crain's character was very fond of quoting statistics, unfortunately her statistics had no basis in fact. She said that most people don't question them or you and it made her sound intelligent.

This also brings to mind something the good Sisters said way back in grammar school. They told us, "Remember, figures don't lie, but liars do figure". Just something to keep in mind when we are given statistics.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Cats & Furniture

Poor Crash and Burn!

I decided that my furniture was looking a bit ragged. The upholstery is a loose weave which didn't matter too much when I had Midnight, a declawed cat. After Midnight died, I inherited Crash and Burn. Unfortunately, they still had their claws and were about 3 and 4 so they were too old to be declawed.

I was very permissive with them in the beginning because they had been through so much, being taken from one home to my home in NY and then the long ride to my new home in NJ. As a result, they scratched the furniture. They kept scratching until I bought an outdoor mat and put it in the house. Now, they scratch the mat, Burnie sometimes uses his scratching post.

When I lived in NY, I had a white sofa bed in the guest room. Here I have a real bed in the guest room so the white sofa bed has been in the living room, along with the aqua couch. A white couch doesn't belong in a living room, especially when you have two cats, one of which is black. I decided to make everything in the same color family and was about to get slipcovers. I hadn't realized that slipcovers cost more than reupholstery so I went for the reupholstery.

They came to take everything away today. Naturally the cats had to be locked up so they wouldn't get in the way or go outside. They were so confused when I let them out. Crash looked at this little piece of paper as if thinking, "Did the couch shrink?"

Burnie was just confused. He looked all over for his favorite couch, but it was nowhere to be seen.


Burnie had to check out the mattress, then got his claws caught and had to be helped.



They're still very confused. I moved my office chair into the living room. We still have the ottoman for one of them. I also moved a kitchen chair for the other to sit on while watching TV. It will be at least 3 weeks before I have my furniture back, I hope they adjust, and don't start scratching the new pieces when they get here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Civil Trial for 9/11 Mastermind

I'm sure by now you've heard about the latest slap in the face by the administration to citizens of this once great country. While the president is conveniently out of the country yet again, the attorney general has announced that the mastermind of the 9/11 ATTACKS in New York City, along with others at Guantanimo, is going to get a civil criminal trial in New York, just blocks away from Ground Zero.

The "reasoning" behind this idea is that it was an attack on civilians, not military and they deserve justice according to our constitution. Why won't the leaders in Washington accept that it was AN ACT OF WAR, not a criminal act (although it was a crime against humanity). They don't deserve the rights of our constitution, they should get a military trial, the same as any soldier. This way, they will get what they want, a chance to air their propaganda and hatred of the United States. Why won't the administration accept the fact that some muslims are at war with us.

It may seem farfetched, and I hope I'm wrong, but I fear that declaring the 9/11 attacks as a civil crime, not the act of war that it was, along with the attack on the USS Cole will pave the way for a pull-out of Iraq and Afghanistan on the basis that there was no justification for our being there. After all, the members of Al Quaeda and Bin Laden are just poor misunderstood people and we shouldn't pick on them.

As a result of this move, we will see more attacks on our country. We saw one just last week at Fort Hood by a self-proclaimed soldier of allah. Of course, there are some who think that person is just a nut and not a terrorist.

While these attackers don't wear uniforms, they ARE enemy combatants or freelance soldiers intent on destroying us and our way of life and our freedoms.

I can't wait for November 2012 when I can vote that person out of our White House.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Question

I have a question that has been bothering me for some time now. In all the discussions about the cost of the democrats socialized medicine bill I have heard that most of the cost would be taken care of by weeding out the waste and fraud in Medicare.

My question is this. If you know about waste and fraud why haven't you looked into and stopped this before? Why aren't you doing something about it now? Why wait until the bill is passed?

I really wish someone could give me a good answer to these questions.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Arnistice/Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day. It's a day to remember the veterans of all the wars. It used to be called Armistice Day.

Armistice Day was a reminder of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. It was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. I remember being in a department store with my mother on that day because there was no school. One of the sales people came over to us asking us to observe a minute of silence to remember the events of that day and those who were killed in the war. It is still observed as Armistice Day in France.

How times have changed. Now, it has become Veterans Day, but unfortunately to many people, it's just a day for sales. There are some though who show their appreciation. I heard on TV that Appleby's and Outback are offering to let veterans and active duty military have free meals. What a nice way to show appreciation for all that they have done.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I FOUND IT!

The cough medicine, that is. I can't believe it. There it was, at eye level, in my pantry. I opened the door last night to get a can of cat food which I have done twice a day for the past year, and staring me in the face was the cough medicine.

I knew it would turn up in a very obvious place, but I really don't know how I missed it. Could those rascally cats have been trying to trick me? Did they hide it for a few days, then bring it out last night? I've been in that closet every day, sometimes more than once and it was just at eye level! This is something out of The Twilight Zone. Could the ghost of Rod Serling be playing tricks on me?

Most of my severe coughing fits are over, but I still need it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Wall

Today is a very important anniversary. This is the day, just two years after our President Reagan made his famous speech, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!". that in 1989 travel restrictions were lifted between East and West Germany, paving the way for a reunited Germany. The people were so happy that the restrictions had been lifted that they went to the various border crossings and demanded that the border be opened.

I don't know why, but I do remember that I was in my car, alone when I heard the news. I surprised myself because I cried. I didn't cry when Kennedy was shot, or later when the Twin Towers were attacked, but I did cry that day in 1989. Maybe they were happy tears for the people who could now visit relatives in the East or West; but they were also sad tears for the 192 people who were killed trying to escape conditions in East Germany.

A few years later, while visiting the Intrepid I again surprised myself because this normally calm and nondemonstrative person was so excited to see a large panel from the wall. It's a wonderful symbol of a people's imprisonment in their own country and their ultimate freedom.

Our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is going to represent our country at services in Berlin. It's a shame that the leader of the greatest country in the world is too "busy" to attend these services and celebrate the freedom of the German people.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Two Presidents

Yesterday I heard that on Friday night, President and Laura Bush secretly visited and consoled those wounded in the Fort Hood massacre. They wanted no publicity and spent considerable time with the wounded personnel at the Post. I'm sure that if you watch any other channel except Fox News, you will not hear about this visit.

Contrast this with President Obama who addressed the nation the day of the massacre. Instead of directly addressing this attack, he spent two minutes recalling the conference he just attended, he thanked members of his staff for setting it up, he greeted members of his audience and relished the applause of those attending. Oh, by the way, he mentioned the massacre and offered his condolences to those wounded and the families of those killed.

It will not be until Tuesday when there will be a memorial service that he and Michelle Obama will travel to Fort Hood and have numerous photo ops. I guess he's too busy shoving the health care bill down the throats of 85% of the population who are happy with their care to make the trip to Texas without benefit of cameras.

My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this massacre.

Can you tell me which president has more class.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lost and Found

I love my house except for one thing. I simply don't have enough storage space. I'm always sticking things in unrelated little nooks and crannies around the house.

A few months ago I was looking for my compote so I could make a nice centerpiece. I looked all over the house. I didn't remember breaking it, but it wasn't in any of the usual places. I knew I hadn't brought it to anyone's house with a dessert. I just couldn't find it.

Today I was looking for a bottle of cough medicine which I bought a couple of weeks ago. I had bought two bottles, used one and put the other on the side. I've looked in all the closets, the medicine closet (the most obvious), even the laundry room. I just can't find it. I know I'll find it in an obvious spot just as soon as I'm over my cough or buy another bottle.

However, I did find my compote. It was in the kitchen (what a silly place for it) in a cabinet that I rarely use because I'm short and it's tall. My mother always said, "When you look for one thing, you find another".

Let's see what else should I look for so I can find my cough medicine.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cookbook

Our cookbooks are in and look pretty good if I must say so myself. Everyone is very impressed. I can honestly say it was easy, especially when compared with about 10 or 20 years ago.

The other day I was speaking with a woman in the clubhouse. She said that many years ago she had worked on a cookbook. Everything had to be typed a certain way, then printed, then they had to do the layout and send everything to the printer. All we had to do was type the recipes on a form, decide on certain designs, prepare our cover and e-mail our account to the company, they did the rest.

The first couple of days, we had a hard time keeping up with the customers, but it has slowed down lately. Last night, we didn't have any customers. I tried telling them that it was Volume II, but they didn't believe me. I really don't know why.

We'll be there today, then I think I'll take a week off before the next big sales pitch. We've sold half and at least will cover our costs. I haven't bought any yet because I keep thinking of people I want to give it to. Cheap gift.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Neighborhood

The other day when I was working at the clubhouse a woman wanted to check on the time of an event that her husband was attending. When she told me his name, something clicked. I mentioned that there was someone at my grammar school with the same name. She didn't think he was the same person since they came from a small, little known neighborhood - Cityline.

I said that was where I was talking about. I asked her where she lived, and found out she lived around the corner from me. She didn't recognize my name or my brother's name, but would talk to her husband.

It's so nice to meet someone from the neighborhood. I was feeling left out, there are so many native New Jerseyans and Staten Islanders here that I gave up on finding anyone from Woodhaven or Cityline.

It's a small world.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cancelled Plans

I am so disappointed.

Yesterday I was supposed to drive to my friend in Queens, then go to her friend's home in Manhattan, the Village to be exact. This is an annual event, a party to watch the Village Halloween Parade. Her apartment overlooks the route of the parade so no matter the weather and crowds we always have a great view.

The reason for my disappointment? This is my third cold this year, it's lasted two weeks and I'm getting fed up with being under the weather. Fortunately, I'm not very sick, just a horrible cough. When I get a coughing fit, I could empty an entire subway car in two seconds, it sounds that bad, especially with all the paranoia about the swine flu or H1N1 virus to be politically correct. We wouldn't want to insult all those pigs.

I was so looking forward to visiting with my friend. And the party at her friend's house is a lot of fun with lots of interesting people. And, of course, the subway ride into the city and the madhouse atmosphere returning home.

I know I sound strange, but there is a certain excitement about the city that I can't forget about. Living in the suburbs is different, and living in a gated community can be a little boring. You never see any strange people or stray dogs and cats wandering around.