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Friday, December 31, 2010

Greetings

As my new years resolution, I will try to stop complaining about our politicians and the state of the country. Let's see how long I last.

Now, I wish you all a very Happy and Safe New Year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities/Mayors

Here's my last complaint about a politician this year.

I'm sure you've all heard about the blizzard we on the East Coast had on Sunday. Even though the plow missed my house and I was snowed in for two days, I thought it was beautiful.

Unfortunately, the mayor of New York City dropped the ball. If you lived in Manhattan everything was fine. The other boroughs didn't fare too well. Mayor Bloomberg has done a worse job of clearing the snow than Mayor Lindsey did back in 1969. Back then, Mayor Lindsey only neglected the people and streets of Queens, Mayor Bloomberg managed to ignore Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx.

On Monday evening he actually suggested that New Yorkers should carry on as usual, maybe even take in a Broadway show. The only problem with that is that only those living in Manhattan would have been able to get to a show. The buses and subway were barely operating. He seemed to have no idea of the problems of the outer boroughs.

Ambulances couldn't get through. In some cases, the EMT's left their ambulance and walked to their patient. In spite of the efforts of the EMT's, two people died.

There was no reason for these problems. The mayor was aware there would be a storm, he should have been better prepared. When he saw the snow on Sunday, he should have declared a state of emergency immediately. Instead, he stood aside and claimed that everything was OK even though a train with passengers was stalled on frozen tracks for several hours.

Only now is he starting to take responsibility for the problems in the outer boroughs.

Contrast that with Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, NJ. Granted, Newark is smaller than NYC, but Mr. Booker has gotten involved with the clean-up. He is using Twitter to find areas or people who need help. He has helped dig out a stuck car. He even brought diapers to new parents who couldn't get out. If someone tweeted him about an unplowed street, he either sent the plows or went himself to shovel some snow.

I really don't expect the mayor to actually shovel the snow or dig out stalled cars, but it is nice to know that he got personally involved in getting his city working.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas. My son is visiting for a week so we went visiting relatives on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It's so great having him here. Unfortunately, I usually wait until the last minute, so he was out there in the snow covering my patio table and chairs.

If I had thought of it Thursday or Friday, it would have been much easier. Instead, here is the Son of Procrastination. My philosophy seems to be, never do today what you can put off till tomorrow.

By the way, we're under a blizzard warning and they expect up to 20 inches of snow before the storm ends. It's hard to tell how much we have since there is so much drifting. There are dry patches on the ground and a few feet away, there seems to be 8 to 10 inches.

By the way, today is the 53rd anniversary of the famous blizzard of '47 in the New York area. At the time, there was a prediction of snow flurries, we got 28" of flurries. We kids had a wonderful time that year, no school and lots of snow for sledding and snowball fights. Wonder if I'll have as much fun this time.

I was invited to a Blizzard Party, but couldn't make it. I'm sure there will be more.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Presents

Every time I see someone on a TV show shaking a present, I want to scream at them. That shaking may be the biggest mistake they can make.

When I was about 12 years old all the presents were under the tree for several days before Christmas. I was overtaken by curiosity and shook a present meant for me. It made a little noise and for days I shook it trying to guess. What was it. It was a small, square box.

Finally, the big day arrived and I opened my presents. There in the box that I had been checking out for many days was a watch. This was a very nice Swiss watch, gold in color, just what a young girl would want. My joy was short lived though.

About two days after Christmas my beautiful new watch stopped working. I had to give it up so it would be repaired. After the repair I had many years of faithful service from this watch.

But, I will never know if my curiosity caused the problem or if it would have stopped anyway. I do know that I have never, and will never again, take a chance. I don't shake Christmas presents, I'm content to wait until the Big Day, Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Good Boss

Today I read an article in The Wall Street Journal by Ralph Gardner, Jr. He was talking about the movie "A Christmas Story" which always appears this time of year.

Mr. Gardner was a fan of Jean Shepherd who wrote the movie about Christmas in the '40s. My husband introduced me to Jean Shepherd's radio show. We used to listen every night.

In the mid '60s I worked for a patent lawyer who, one day, told me about this great humorist he had heard on the radio. We talked about this show for a while and I told him how much I enjoyed it. One Monday I came to work and there was a tape and dictaphone on my desk. Since he rarely used this method of dictation, I questioned him. He told me that I was probably busy on Saturday night and hadn't heard the show. Len had taped it for me.

Everyone thought I was very busy that Monday and for many Mondays after. What they didn't know was that I was actually listening to a recorded radio show.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

City Lights

This has been my most socially busy Christmas season in a very long time. I'm so glad I moved to this community, I've met a wonderful group of friends.

Last week we had a bus trip into the City. Our first stop was for a delicious lunch in Little Italy. Then we got back on the bus for a look at the windows of Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue. They were very nice, the theme was Christmas past and my favorite Christmases.

Then we went to Bryant Park which is just behind the NY Public Library. They had kiosks selling all kinds of things like jewelry, scarves, pictures, etc. I was very good and didn't buy anything. Then I was surprised to find out that they now have an ice skating rink set up in the middle of the park, which is very small. It was a cold night, but there were many skaters.

There was even a tree in the park.



Bryant Park is the size of a city block, right in the heart of the City. It was strange to see the skating rink completely surrounded by skyscrapers. That's New York!

We drove around past the Rockefeller Center tree, but because of the traffic and crush of people, we couldn't stop. We did, however, stop at the Time Warner Building near Central Park. They had about 24 stars hanging from the ceiling which was three stories high. These stars were lighted and synchronized to Christmas Carols. They changed color in time with the music.

Because I was shooting from inside the building, some of the stars were reflected in the glass front of the building. It made for some interesting photos. Here's just a sample of all the pictures I took of them. Enjoy! I wish I had taken my other camera then I could have gotten a video of the show.




















Monday, December 13, 2010

The Trouble with Cats...

Black cats that is.

This just happened and I'm laughing so hard, it's hard to type. I just came into my office to check on a test email I recently sent. I guess I should add that my chair is black.

I backed into the chair and tried to sit down. I felt something on the seat, there wasn't room enough for me and the chair which is on wheels started rolling backwards. I couldn't stop myself or the chair and down I went. Fortunately it was a soft landing and I didn't get hurt.

I looked at the chair and there was Burnie shaking his head and trying to figure out what had happened to him. He was sleeping in the chair so peacefully when suddenly he went for a ride. I was sitting on the floor laughing hysterically.

I finally got up and Burnie realized what happened and went to find a safer place to sleep.

I got a good laugh out of it and I hope you did too.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pearl Harbor

I'm ashamed, I let myself get too busy and I didn't pay much attention to the dates this week.

This year I've been signing up for anything going on in the community. Tuesday, I was shocked to realize that on Wednesday I would be taking a trip into the City for the various store windows and lights. I planned a family party for Saturday, forgetting that our Wine Club's Christmas party is Friday night. I've been rushing around all week decorating, cleaning, planning Saturday's menu and shopping. I really have to enter dates in my calendar and then, I have to look at the calendar.

Next week looks just as busy.

Because I was so busy thinking about myself, I neglected to make any mention of December 7, the day of infamy - Pearl Harbor. There was a little mention of it on the TV, but I never made the connection. I didn't hear about any ceremony at Pearl Harbor itself. Since 9/11 I have a better appreciation of what those people went through. December 7 is a day we should never forget.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Decorating with Memories

Shortly after I moved into this house five years ago I spend a few days with my cousin who was very artistic and a wonderful decorator. While she had a lot of furniture and knick knacks around the house, it didn't look cluttered or "busy". How I wish I could achieve that look. Her sister once said that Rita could hang a branch on a wall and everyone would say it looked lovely, she would do the same thing and those same people would wonder what she was thinking. Art and decorating seemed to come naturally to Rita.

We were talking about Christmas and she suggested that that since I was starting new in a new house I should get a new tree and decorate in only two colors. That seemed like a great idea, so I went out and bought deep red and silver balls and ribbon for hanging. I mixed the red balls with silver ribbon and vice versa. I was really into this new look. I even bought candles and wreaths in this new color scheme.

Then it became time to set everything up. The candles came first, they looked great. Then I opened the boxes of my old ornaments. As I looked at them, the memories came flooding back. There were the plaster ornaments that the boys painted one year, the Hummel types that were a Christening give for my younger son, the ornaments my husband and I bought for our first Christmas, the ones my parents gave us for our first Christmas, even the ones that had hung on Christmas trees from my childhood. And all the other decorations and ornaments collected through the years.

How could I possibly leave all those memories packed away in a box for the sake of a fancy two-color schemed Christmas tree. I couldn't. I still have those red and silver balls and they are on my tree (and the ones in the bedrooms), but they share the space with all my memories of Christmas' and people gone by.

Here's my tree from last year.


It's not fancy, it's a hodge podge, but it's my hodge podge full of my memories.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Lights

As I've said before, Christmas is my favorite season. I sometimes go overboard with decorating and baking and shopping.

I usually try to do something different each year. This year I decided to change from multi-color window lights to white. Sunday I bought four boxes of white lights, 70 lights in each box. I naively thought that would be enough for two double and two single windows. Well, I guessed wrong.

I started at the single window in the kitchen and got 3/4 of the way through with the first string when it was time to start the second string. I realized then that I needed more lights. I stopped everything and went out and bought many more.

I finally finished the kitchen lights, a double window and a single window. It took three sets of lights. It wasn't easy, the tape kept curling around my finger. The best part was that Burnie slept through my work, he didn't try to help.

Tonight I decided to do the dining room windows. They went a little easier, but of course I had trouble with the tape.

After all the lights were up, it was time to set the timers. First I had to find them. I thought they were in the box with the garlands, but no. I finally found two timers. Everything looks pretty good.

Every year I struggle with the lights, the tape doesn't hold or it sticks to my hand or the curtains get in my way or the phone rings when I'm on the ladder. Every year I vow that this is the last year for lights, but once they're finished I really enjoy them and give them another year.

Guess I'm just a Christmas fanatic.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pet Peeve

I have a new Pet Peeve and maybe, just maybe, it borders on discrimination.

My problem is with the machine, I don't know what you would call it, that you swipe your credit card and then sign. I'm lefthanded and these machines are set up for righthanded people. Whenever I try to turn it to make it easier to write, I usually separate the top from the base. It's not set up to turn.

These machines used to be more flexible, I could turn them to make it easier for me. My signature is bad enough, but having to write in the odd position makes it 100 times worse.

Do you think this is lefthanded discrimination?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Cat

Christmas is coming! This season is my favorite time of year. I love everything about it. The cold, the decorations, the shopping. I'm making all sorts of plans for the month of December, and I'm sure I'll regret it.

Today we had our annual tree lighting at the clubhouse, so before that, I decided to start decorating. I brought a few boxes in from the garage to check them out. There are a few pieces from last year that I can't find. Hopefully they'll show up soon.

As soon as I opened a box of garlands, Burnie woke up and jumped in. He looked so cute, I couldn't chase him.


As cute as he is, there are times when he can be very annoying, especially when he thinks I should get up at 5:00 AM. He really is so cute and has much more of a personality than Crash. She's much more of princess.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving

To all my friends out there in blogland, I just hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Printing

Today my printer gave up its last copy. I have another printer that I've been using with a memory card for photos but it wasn't installed on my computer.

I needed to do a lot of printing today so I was forced to try to install the printer. I don't have room on my desk for this printer so I had to do a wireless installation. Surprise! I was able to do it. All I had to do was read the manual and follow the step by step directions. It worked.

I guess the manual really is important. Guess I'd better read the manual for my car which is now two years old. Who knows what I'll find?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chants

I don't know what this means, if anything.

Before the election, I was watching the president campaigning for someone, I don't remember who. The president was being heckled about AIDS funding. Of course, the president passed a comment to the effect that this should be taken up with the other side since he, Obama, gave more money to AIDS research than his predecessor. At this point, his supporters started chanting, "OBAMA, OBAMA, OBAMA, etc." to drown out the protestors.

Later that day I saw a republican campaigning. Again, I don't remember who it was. As the speech went on, at one point, the crowd started chanting, "USA, USA, USA, etc.". I was struck by the difference in chants.

Like I said earlier, I really don't know what this means. My own take, as a conservative republican is that the democrats think only of Obama while the republican think of our country first. What do you think?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Read the Signs

Read the signs. That was my mother's mantra when I was growing up. We didn't have a car, so had to take the subway whenever we went into the city. I was trained from a very early age to read the signs. As a result, riding the subway was very easy for me on those days when there was a problem and we had to change trains. I can navigate my way around the city, and now on the roads when driving.

That's why, I could have kicked myself the other day. I had to buy a shower cap and travelled up and down the aisles looking for one. I finally found them and had quite a few to choose from. I bought a very pretty blue one. I was so disappointed when I got home and discovered that I hadn't read the package properly. I had actually bought a sheer lace cap for wearing to bed. It will never keep my hair dry in the shower.

Now I have to go and buy a real shower cap.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Small World

Today, although I knew it was Veteran's Day, I decided to go to the bank. This bank is about 50 miles away. I thought it was strange that the parking lot was empty, then I realized that today is a holiday and the bank is closed. So I headed back home.

On the way I decided to console myself by stopping in Lord & Taylor to get my free gift, which of course needed another purchase. I made my purchase and decided to check out their clothes. Naturally, I bought something.

While I was signing the charge slip, the saleswoman commented that I was a lefty (handed, not communist), then she added that I must have been taught by nuns. I said yes to both and that I was taught by nuns for 12 years. She said that she was also. Then I asked where she was from. She said Brooklyn, Cobble Hill section. I said that I went to high school in Brooklyn, Bishop McDonnell. She laughed and said that she also went there. I graduated in 1957, the last January class; she graduated in 1971, the last class before the school closed.

We compared notes on the various nuns and the five different orders. All this while other customers patiently waited. I think they got a kick out of it all. Who would have thought that two "girls" from a school in Brooklyn would meet in a store in New Jersey.

It really is a small world after all.

Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day. Previously it was known as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World Ward I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. It was nice to see a moment of silence observed this morning before the opening of the New York Stock Exchange.

Before the day gets too late, I just want to express my thanks to all veterans, whether they served in a war, or in peace.

THANK YOU

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Marines

Today is the 235th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. This is a tradition that they have to celebrate there birthday.

It starts with a reading of the Commandant's message to the Corps. Then the cake is sliced and the first piece is given to the oldest member of the Corps. This member then serves the second piece to the youngest member of the Corps. This tradition is followed by all marines wherever they are on this day.

Thank you all marines, past, present and future.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

So Many Books, So Little Time

On Tuesday, our community will have its quarterly bulk pick-up. I decided today to check out all the boxes, label the contents and consolidate as much as possible. The extra boxes will be broken down and tied up.

While I was checking out the boxes in my office and because I have a short attention span I saw some books that I know I will never read and decided to sort them out for donation to a school or charity. Unfortunately, I decided to look at each book. There were classics leftover from my sons' school days. I've never read Tom Sawyer, The Scarlet Letter, Shakespeare Plays, The Hound of the Baskervilles, etc. I plan to read them some day.

Now I have a new problem; should I donate these books to an organization that can either sell or use them, or do I keep them in the hope that one of these days, I'll sit down and read them and all the other books on the list, "To Be Read". If I ever catch up on my reading, I can always go out and buy the classics, but I just hate to let go of things.

I have a stack of recent bestseller hardcovers ready for the clubhouse library. I know many people have more serious problems than a plethora of books, but that's my problem du jour.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rhine Cruise

Today I was feeling very unambitious, so I started looking at my pictures from my recent cruise. Then I realized that I hadn't shared the ones from our one day of cruising. So, here they are.
We saw many vineyards and castles along the way. It was a chilly overcast day so some of the shots are a little washed out.


Some of the trees were starting to change colors. Probably by the next week, they were in full color.


We also heard that most of the cathedrals and churches were not damaged during the war. They escaped bombing, not so much because they were religious symbols or by divine design. They were spared because they were used as landmarks and navigation tools. Remember, there was no GPS system then.


This picture below is not a castle. It didn't take the naziis long to realize that the various castles were not bombed, so they built railroad tunnel entrances to look like castles. Pretty good camouflage.I've always been fascinated by castles. Maybe one of these years I'll take a geographical exploration and spend some time in a castle. Preferably a non-haunted one.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Book Review - The Book Thief

If you're interested in historical fiction told with the most beautifully descriptive words, you will certainly enjoy this book.

It's the story of a nine year old girl named Liesel Memminger who is brought by her mother, along with her younger brother, to a foster home in Germany in the '30s. Unfortunately, during the train ride, her brother dies. At the funeral of her brother, our book thief finds her first book, The Gravedigger's Handbook. Even though she cannot read, she keeps this book.

After the funeral, she's taken to the home of Hans and Rosa Hubermann, her foster parents. Rosa Hubermann is described as having a squat shape which made her look like a small wardrobe with a coat thrown over it. Rosa's face was like creased up cardboard and annoyed. Her husband was very tall, walked straight and smoked cigarettes which he rolled himself. Hans also played the accordion.

Rosa was an impatient woman given to swearing. Hans was the opposite. Every night Liesel would have a nightmare about her brother's death. Every night, Hans would come into her room and just sit there, giving assurance to Liesel that she was not alone. In this family, Rosa was the disciplinarian, Hans the quiet, gentle man.

When Hans discovered the book that Leisel had stolen, instead of chastising her, he began to teach her to read. At one time, Hans and Rosa hid a Jew, Max Vandenberg, from the Nazis. Max' father and Hans had been friends during World War 1.

This book covers Leisel's adventures in school, her friends, her reading, the books she has stolen. It tells the story of Germany in the '30s and '40s. It talks about the poverty and starvation the people endured, their survival during the bombing.

This is a story of people. We see the other side of the war, the generosity of the people.

What I enjoyed about this stoey is the wonderful use of words. Max Vandenberg is said to have rustling hair and cold slippery fingers. Outside a mountain of cold November air was waiting at the front door each time Leisel left the house. Drizzle came own in spades. Dead leaves were slumped on the road. Can't you just feel the cold and see the rain and leaves?

Can you see the results of a bombing and plane crash? The limbs of trees were scattered in the dark. There were twigs and needles littered around the plane like fire fuel. To their left, three gashes were burned into the earth. Describing the pilot, the narrator says the eyes were like coffee stains and gashes were ruled across his cheeks and chin.

Oh, this story has a narrator and is told from his viewpoint. The narrator is Death.

If you want a story that will keep your interest and is told in a way that brings you into the lives of Hans, Rosa, Leisel and their friends, read this book. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Party

Yesterday was Halloween. A friend of a friend has a party every year. Her apartment overlooks the route of the Greenwich Village Halloween parade. This was my third time. It's quite an event.

Of course, we don't drive into the city. The adventure starts with the subway. Along the way we are joined by those going to the parade. Of course there are ghosts, Dracula, skeletons, etc. Yesterday we were late getting there and had to take the long way around, there were so many streets closed. The police do a wonderful job of keeping order.

Now for the parade. There were some wonderful bands. The stilt walkers are fantastic. I don't know how they manage that. One of my favorite costumes were the "Walk" and "Don't Walk" signs that are all over intersections. Another group that I liked wore black bodysuits with neon outlines, making them look like stick figures.

We left a little early before the parade ended to avoid more closed streets. Once on the subway back to Queens, we saw two men. One of them was dressed as, I guess, Sheena Queen of the Jungle. A seat became available but he was reluctant to sit since his dress was very short and he obviously wasn't used to wearing a skirt. Eventually he found a way and sat down. I got a little chuckle about his dilemma.

Oh, the party was fun too. Lots of snacks and adult beverages. Lots of very interesting people. There was one woman there for the first time. She did just what I did my first time. She spent the whole night at the window enjoying the parade.

It's a fun experience, especially when you're watching it indoors in the comfort of a warm party with friends.

I must add that the mood of all those on the street, whether in the parade or on the sidelines was happy. Everyone was there to have a good time. They were all orderly and no one gave the police a hard time about closing the streets, they followed instructions willingly. There were no fights or arguments that I could see, the same as in previous years.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Restaurans

The other day a friend and I were trying to decide on a restaurant for lunch for another friend. As we went through the list I was surprised and disappointed to learn that my favorite restaurant has closed.

They served very good German food which is something that is very hard to find. All the other restaurants that had closed were Italian. That's not too surprising because there are way too many Italian restaurants in the area. At one intersection, there are three Italian restaurants.

Most of my friends don't understand why I'd rather cook than go out to eat at some of the places here. I know I've been spoiled because when I was working we would go to the top NYC restaurants during Restaurant Week when we could get a great bargain even though I don't mind paying for a really good meal. We don't have many good restaurants down here so some of them will be missed.

I guess the next time I want good German food and don't want to make it myself, I'll have to drive back to Queens, Ridgewood to be exact. There's one place left, at least I think it's still there. Hmm, good excuse for a road trip.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Friends

Through the course of our lives, we have many different types of friendships. There are the friends from kindergarten or the early grades of school, then there are the friends from high school or college. Then there are the friends from our various jobs. Some of them are lifetime friends, and others are there for a short time.

I've been very fortunate. On most of my jobs I had good friends, most of them are still my friends. On one job I had a good friend. We seemed to have a lot in common. She was there for me in the good times and also, and the most important, for the bad times. I like to think that I was there for her too.

About five years ago, she stopped returning my e-mails and phone calls. Thinking that I may have inadvertently offended her, I apologized. Still no replies. I guess you could say I'm very possessive. When I have a good friend, I hate to let go even when it seems evident that my friendship was one sided. I finally decided to write this friend off as a friend from work that you keep in touch with for a little while, but then you go your separate ways. That was the case with this friend.

Imagine my surprise and joy when I opened my email last week and saw an email from her. She has made the decision to retire. We caught up on family matters. Hopefully, we can continue renewing our friendship.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Men Have it so Easy

Today when I was getting into the shower I realized that I envy men. Maybe not all men, but men of my generation.

Whenever we were going out, my husband would shower about 15 minutes before we were supposed to leave. Then, he would just reach into his closet and pick a shirt and pair of slacks.

When I plan on going out now, I need at least three hours to get ready. First, I have to shower, wash my hair, condition my hair, wash my face with special cleanser. Then comes the moisturizer, first for my body, then for my face. Then it's time to style my hair and do my make-up and make sure my manicure is still good.

Then, I have to pick an outfit. Jewelry is next - do I wear silver or gold. Which necklace, bracelet, or should I just wear earrings. Then there's the decision about shoes - heels, flats, black or matching my outfit?

By the time I'm thoroughly put together I'm tired and thinking about cancelling. Having fun is so much work.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Free Speech?

Today I wished that I were a contributor to NPR.

Don't get me wrong, I don't support the organization, but if I had been a contributor, I would have cancelled future contributions or asked for my money back.

Their firing of Juan Williams for expressing his personal opinion on Bill O'Reilly's show on the Fox Network was wrong, wrong, wrong. Had he expressed a similar opinion about the Tea Party, I'm sure he would still have a job.

I've seen Juan Williams many times on the Fox Network, some of those times I've strongly disagreed with him, but I never would expect Fox to stop having him on any show.

Last year, there was a discussion about something on O'Reilly's show and the other guest said something to Juan Williams that is a racial slur. Mr. Williams said nothing, he didn't yell or scream. Bill O'Reilly commented and said how wrong it was.

Then, to add insult to injury, the head of NPR inferred that Mr. Williams had a psychiatrist. I've heard that she has apologized, however, that remark was totally uncalled for and cannot be taken back.

The powers that be at NPR should look at some of their other commentators. I just heard one seemingly wish or, or suggest, that Jesse Helms or one of his grandchildren get AIDS from a transfusion. Why is that OK?

As far as Mr. Williams' opinion that he gets a little nervous if he sees Muslims in full Muslim attire at an airport, don't we all? I also seem to remember someone commenting that his grandmother gets nervous and even crosses the street when she sees a black man coming in the opposite direction. That person wasn't fired, in fact he was elected president.

Juan Williams is my hero for speaking out about his feelings and for being so vocal about his firing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fussy Eaters

I think I'll give you a respite from my vacation pictures and stories.

Today I realized that I was running low on my supply of dry cat food. Feeling that a rebellion was imminent, I decided that I'd better buy more. So I drove to the local PETCO, grabbed a shopping cart and started wandering through the aisles.

Everywhere I looked my thoughts went to, "They don't like this, they don't like that, etc." They are such picky eaters. I wonder how they got that way. Could I have possibly spoiled them?

Then, I was reminded of one of my mother-in-law's favorite sayings (probably because she was not a good cook), "Hunger is a good sauce". Maybe, if I cut back on Crash and Burn's treats, they won't be so fussy and will then appreciate whatever I give them.

Let's see who gives in first - them or me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

HEIDELBERG

At last, we arrived at the destination I most wanted to visit - Heidelberg. It was everything I expected, except there was no Student Prince and we didn't "Drink, Drink, Drink"

I did finally see a castle up close, even though it was in ruins, the result of the various wars over the centuries. During the 30 years war, many battles were fought in the area, but in 1689 and 1693, the French attacked the town and left the castle in ruins.

The view from the castle was fantastic.
Although the castle is in ruins, it is still very impressive.


There is a huge vat which was designed to hold over 58,000 gallons of wine. Unfortunately, the wood slats didn't always fit together and it leaked. It was very impressive though.

The original university was founded in 1386 although the current buildings date back to the early 19th century when it was re-founded and rebuilt. While students come from all over the world, all classes are conducted in German.

After our tour, we decided that, while the food on the boat was wonderful, we really wanted some authentic German food, so our guide suggested the Hotel Ritter.

This hotel was built in 1592 and is listed as a landmark building. The restaurant was very comfortable and very German. The food lived up to our guide's recommendation. We were not disappointed.

I really enjoyed Heidelberg castle and looked forward to seeing more on the rest of the trip. I don't understand my fascination with castles. I must have been a princess in a past life and there are people who believe that I think I am now.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Black Forest

Before we left Strasbourg, we took a side trip to the Black Forest in Germany. It's a beautiful area, the forest is very dense. Of course, we made a stop at a shop for the obligatory Black Forest souvenir - a cuckoo clock. There were some very intricate and beautiful ones. Of course, I succumbed and bought one. It's not as elaborate as I would have liked, but I couldn't see paying a lot of money on something that I may soon tire of.



While at the cuckoo clock shop, I had a piece of Black Forest Cherry Cake. It was soooo good. They gave us a copy of the recipe, I can't wait for a reason to bake it.

After our shopping and cake, we made a visit to a farm museum. There were several houses. We had a presentation at the oldest house. Honestly, I don't know how those people survived. They probably only lived to their mid 30's. There was no chimney so the smoke from the fire went throughout the house. This helped preserve the wood and retained the heat, but it didn't do much for the health of the residents. They also probably believed that the lack of a chimney would prevent fires. We could still smell the smoke in the house. The barn was also part of the home which didn't do much for the health of the occupants.

There were several disagreements between the Catholics and Protestants at the time. This is not a church. It is a Catholic house. I guess the people really wanted to show everyone what their faith was. The second house belonged to a Protestant family.


It was a wonderful day that was capped off with another wonderful meal. I had French Onion Soup (what else), Roasted Duck a la Orange followed by Mint Creme with Raspberries. Of course, there was unlimited wine, every time I took two sips, the waiter refilled my glass.

That night we set sail for Heidelberg, which for some reason, I was very excited to see.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Basle to Strasbourg

Our cruise got better each day. The first night in Basle we met the crew and then had our Welcome Dinner.

It started with "Amuse Bouche" which I thought meant appetizer. Little did I know it meant more than appetizer. We started with a green leaf salad with walnuts and cheese followed by beef consomme or smoked salmon. Then came pan fried scampis with champagne risotto and orange sorbet with campari.

That would have been enough, but the entree was next - roasted veal loin with mushroom sauce or fillet of halibut on mustard sauce. Of course there was room for dessert of yogurt berries, rhubarb ragout with ice cream or cheese plate or fresh sliced fruits.

I must have been very tired that night because even though I know the food was terrific, I don't remember what I ate, probably the roasted veal loin and the rhubarb ragout with ice cream.

The next day we were in Strasbourg and I awoke to the news of terror threats in Europe. Strasbourg is the home of the World Peace Oranization and many UNESCO sites. I couldn't wait to get out of the city.

Before we left, we took a boat ride around the city. Even though I'd been there two years ago, I saw different parts of the city. After the boat, we walked around and, of course, visited the Cathedral and the astronomical clock. I am still in awe of the architecture of this church and the clock which were built centuries ago.



This was a memorial I hadn't seen before. It's not a good shot, but there is a face on each side. One is facing east and the other west symbolizing the fact that Strasbourg and Alsace Lorraine have been both French and German.
Later on I saw a small market and this dog. He looked so worried that I simply had to take his picture. He just calmly stood there and ignored the passing people.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Intermission

I'm taking time away from tales of my vacation to celebrate the rescue of the Chilean miners. I've spent the whole day watching and crying with the family members. What a wonderful story of survival and engineering.

Each man had his own story. One of the miners watched the birth of his child while trapped in the mine. Another proposed to his common law wife while another revealed to his wife and the world that he had a mistress.

The last man to leave was the one who organized his fellow miners. He rationed the food, the lights and seemed to be responsible for the wellbeing of the group.

Congratulations to all who worked so hard to make this possible. It just shows how much can be accomplished when the leader of a country is not too proud to ask for and accept help from other countries.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I'm Back

I'm back from my geographical exploration. Hope Crash and Burn kept you amused.

Now, for my trip. It started out terribly. Our flight was actually on time and went smoothly. The problem started in Zurich. We were going to be met by a representative of the tour company. After waiting around for a little while, we checked with the information desk where we learned that the rep from the tour company left word that we should take the hotel's bus.

When we got to the hotel and the room set up for us to wait for the bus to Basle there were more disappointments. We arrived at the hotel around 10:00 AM and would leave for Basle around 3:30 PM. We could wait in a room that had been reserved and set up for us. There was coffee, tea and water and no snacks, not even a cookie. There was a tour of Zurich, but unfortunately, it was filled. There weren't even any comfortable chairs, just the usual folding chairs.

After flying all night and being up since 5:30 AM the previous day, we weren't in a good mood. This did not auger well for a pleasant trip.

Eventually, the time came for us to leave for Basle and our ship/boat. Things got much better once we were on our ship.

To be continued...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Has Burnie been entertaining you? I hope he hasn't been complaining too much.

Dali's mom came today with good news. Mom will be home tomorrow. I can hardly wait. I missed her so much, I think I'll punish her though. When she comes in the door, I'll just ignore her and pretend to be asleep. That'll teach her to go away and abandon us.

I do have to admit thought that she did pick a very good cat sitter, although we really don't need anyone to sit with us. Except for opening the cat food cans, we can take care of ourselves.

Don't tell mom, but I'll be really glad to see her. Maybe she's bringing us presents from her trip. That's the least she can do.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I think mom has been away too long and I hope she comes home very soon. Crash is not being very nice to me. She doesn't want to play with me any more. It's just not fair.

The other day she was sitting on the coffee table and I wanted to play. Instead of just saying she didn't want to play, she just started swinging at me with her claws out.

Crash doesn't know it, but I've been keeping notes and I'm certainly going to tell mom that Crash hasn't been very nice. Then she'll be in trouble.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Burnie

Burnie here again. Mom is still away. I hope she comes home soon. I miss her, I have no one to wake up very early in the morning.

Dali's mom is still coming over to feed us, I'm so glad.

I just heard on the radio that there is a new coloring book for kids that covers the symbols of our country and explains some things about the Tea Party. There are some very dumb people in this country who have been sending death threats to the head of the publishing company that made this book. I'm sure this company would put out a coloring book that gives the other side especially since I've heard that the head of this company is a liberal.

What's wrong with letting little children color our flag, the Liberty Bell, or maybe even the Statue of Liberty.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Burnie

Burnie here. Crash finally let me use the computer. This is a new one. I like it better than the old one. That one was just black, not this fancy new color.

Anyway, since mom went off on her vacation, Dali's mom has been coming to make sure Crash and I have enough food. But, she came alone. She left Dali home. I was hoping she'd bring her so I could play with her. Maybe someday she'll take me home with her, then I can play with Dali.

I'm late for my 5:20 nap, so I'll probably see you tomorrow if Crash lets me type.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mom's Mutterings by Crash

Crash here. Dali's mom came over today and fed Burnie and me. She's very good to us and Burnie really likes her. I like her too, but I can't let her know.

Before mom left for vacation, she was muttering some things about the inmates running the institution.

It seems that some Mexican mayors are blaming us, the U.S., for the crime in Mexico. Their logic(?) is that we are deporting the illegals who have been arrested for violent crimes and sending them back to whence they came. These mayors admit that these people are violent criminals, but since they are in our country, we should keep them and not return them to their home country. Maybe these mayors are encouraging and helping these criminals to sneak into our country. Someone should look into that.

Then she was babbling about John Kerry's recent statement that the voting public are uninformed and jump onto a clever catch phrase. Although she disagrees with Sen. Kerry on most things, she does agree with him on this. After all, in 2008 didn't the voters jump onto the catch phrases, "Yes, we can" and "Hope and Change"?

Well, that's enough for now. Maybe, if he's good I'll let Burnie chat with you tomorrow.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Alone Again

Crash here. I've been abandoned, again. This morning, mom went off on another of her geographical explorations which is what she calls a vacation. She said that a retired person is always on vacation, so how can you take a vacation from a vacation?

Anyway, I've done everything I can to keep her home. As you can see, I even took a nap in her suitcase, but it didn't help, she went anyway.

She's gone to Germany to ride a boat. She could have stayed home and done that, I don't know why she had to go so far away.

I hope to entertain you while she's away and I promise not to give away too many family secrets. I'm sure Burnie will want a turn talking to you too.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Books, Books, Books

I have a problem. I buy books. I can't pass up a book.

Today I stopped at the local Barnes & Noble. All I wanted to get was a small German/English dictionary for my trip next week. I have one, but it's so big I don't want to carry it. That was fine, on paper. Unfortunately I couldn't stop at one, I had to buy two.

Then I remembered a book I heard about last night Mao's Last Dancer, so I looked for and found it. Right next to it was Eat Pray Love. I'd heard it was a good book, so I bought it.

Then I headed over to the Cookbook section where I found The Pleasures of Cooking for One. While I was there I also picked up two small cookbooks, one on salads and the other on chicken.

I know I could use the library, but I get a certain sense of security when I see the books waiting to be read. I also can't predict what type of book I'll want to read next - mystery, romance, history, etc.

Am I a bookaholic?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Clutter

A couple of weeks ago, the weather was perfect. It was so good, pleasantly cool, slight breeze. I decided to air out the house and opened every window.

Since a neighbor complained/commented that she could see in my windows, I've kept the blinds in my sunroom drawn. This was the first time in about two years they were opened. As soon as I raised the blinds I discovered that the windowsill for the middle window was rotted. I immediately called a local handyman Mike who came right away. He suggested that I call the builder first and if I didn't get any satisfaction from him, then Mike would take care of it.

Well, the builder took a look, replacd the windowsill and sealed the siding in a few places. But, they couldn't find the source of the leak. Hopefully, the rain came in through the siding, if not, I'll be calling them again.

This repair let to another problem. I had to get some paint from the garage which is a bit cluttered since I do a lot of catalog and, yes, QVC shopping there are a lot of boxes in the garage. Since they go out there one at a time, it doesn't seem like there are too many. I discovered that there are a lot as I had to move some boxes, and some more boxes just to get to the paint. Now, I realize that I have got to clean the garage.

I've been meaning to do it for a while, but it's been too hot. Now that fall is here, I'm losing my excuse. We're going to have bulk pickup the second week in November so now I have a deadline.

As soon as I return from my next geographical exploration on a cruise on the Rhine in Germany in the beginning of October, I've really got to get busy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Training Cats

Cats can be trained.

Years ago when my boys were very young, we had a cat, Boots I think. She was seven years old when we got her, she lived to 14. In the morning, someone would hold her back and say "stay" while I put her food in her dish. She would be held back for a short while, then let go. Eventually, we didn't have to hold her, just say "stay" and she would until we said OK.

Now, Crash seems to be trained too. Every evening around 11:00, I say "bedtime, go" and she starts heading for the bedroom. Occasionally she needs a little more prompting and some nights, she heads right for the bedroom at 11:00 PM. Bernie usually has to be carried, protesting, into the bedroom.

Today I was having some work done and the cats were locked up in the bedroom. I had to get something from there and when I opened the door, I said "stay" and she did. When I left, I again said "stay" and she did. I was shocked. I never knew she recognized that word.

Her vocabulary is growing. She's also beginning to understand "bad cat" which I yell whenever she scratches the furniture and "good cat" when she uses the scratching post or rug.

Bernie knows what to do when he gets into trouble. After relaxing and sleeping most of the evening, Bernie seems to think that bedtime means playtime. The only problem is that Crash doesn't want to play and they fight. She hisses and growls, but that doesn't stop him. One night, I just got up and pointed to the bathroom. He walked in and sat down on the bathmat. Since then, whenever he gets in trouble at night, if I say his name or point, he just walks into the bathroom and sits on the mat for a little while. He takes his own time-out.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The President and Religion

According to a story in the paper this morning, the president has gotten religion. He and his family actually went to church yesterday. I wonder if his attendance along with secret service and the press disturbed the congregation like he predicted.

I may be cynical, but I question his motives for this attendance. Some say he went to dispel the rumors that he is a muslim. Yes, there are some people who believe he's muslim and parts of his background would give them reason to believe it.

My personal belief is that he is neither muslim nor christian. I believe that he worships at the altar of Barack Obama and expects everyone else to do so.

That's just one person's opinion.

Politicians are Children

I thought there was a minimum age requirement to run for the senate. But, recent events have made me think that our politicians are nothing but children who sulk when they lose.

After seeing the results of the Alaskan Senate Primary this past week, I'm convinced that she doesn't care what the people think. Lisa Murkowski is just the latest of the politicians who has decided that the voting public doesn't know what's best for them. Ms. Murkowski who comes from a political family has decided that even though she lost the recent republican senate primary, she wants to run a write-in campaign. She just cannot believe that the people don't want her to represent them in the senate.

She must have taken advice from Charlie Crist in Florida. Mr. Crist lost the republican primary for senate to Marco Rubio, but that doesn't really mean anything. Mr. Crist has also decided that the people of Florida don't know what they want or what is best for them. Since he lost the primary, Mr. Crist has decided to run for the senate as an independent in Florida. He's either sulking or giving the election to the democrat who is running.

All of this reminds me of the recent ramming through of the health care bill. The majority of the population doesn't want government run health care, but the president, speaker of the house and senate majority leader think they know better and have completely disregarded the will of the people.

Do our votes really count anymore?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Collections

I have a problem. It's not really such a big problem, but it is annoying. I'm a tiny bit too tall for petite and a tiny bit too short for a regular size. Petite sized pants end above my ankles and regular sized pants drag on the floor. But I buy regular sizes.

As a result, and because I hate to mend clothes I usually roll the waistband of my pants to shorten them. Today I decided to do something about it. I gathered my sewing supplies, dusted them off and set about shortening three pairs of pants. I took the lazy way out and just folded the hem up. Hopefully they won't be too long now.

While I was going through the supplies looking for a needle and thread, I saw a couple of plastic bags in my sewing kit. They were full of buttons, old buttons, very old buttons.

It made me think. Why do we save old buttons long after we've worn the clothes. I recognized some of them, others not so much. They're useless, I don't make my own clothes any more, Most of my clothes don't even have buttons.

I can't see any reason why I should keep them but I can't bring myself to throw them out. Can someone please answer that? Why, why, why?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dinner Experiment

Yesterday my nephew stopped over for dinner. I've gotten bored with the regular fare I've been making lately. So I checked my cookbooks and found a recipe for roast chicken.

This isn't the usual chicken where you make some sort of stuffing, rub butter on the skin and pop it in the oven for an hour or so. This is from Pam Anderson's book The Perfect Recipe for Having People Over. It takes a little advance planning.

You start by sprinkling some kosher salt over and inside the chicken and letting it stand uncovered in the refrigerator anywhere from 4 hours to a couple of days. When you're ready to cook, sprinkle sugar, salt and pepper all over the outside of the chicken and put it in the oven breast side down. After about 1/2 hour turn the chicken so that it's breast side up. Then just leave it in the oven until it's done.

It was very easy and delicious. I even made a mushroom sauce/gravy to go with it. My nephew was very complimentary, not only with words but he came back for seconds. It was a success.

He also told me that anytime I feel like experimenting with cooking, I should call him and he'll come for dinner. NOW, that's a compliment!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Crash and Meals

Tonight I ate dinner earlier than usual and in front of the TV as usual.

Maybe I should give you some background. Crash sits at my feet and begs at every meal. If I ignore her, she taps my leg to let me know she's there. At dinner I break down and give her a little bit of meat. One of her other idiosyncrasies is that she likes to chase the light from a flashlight.

Back to my dinnertime tale. I made a very nice dinner of baked potato and broiled chicken breast and a glass of reisling. As usual, I cut a small piece of chicken into small pieces for Crash and put it on the floor for her. She ignored it, actually ignored it. I couldn't believe it.

Then I looked at her. It seems that the sun was coming in the window, through my glass of wine which was shaking in the glass and then onto the floor (the light not the wine). Crash was transfixed on the sparkling sunlight through the glass.

Maybe I've solved the problem of her begging. Now all I have to do is eat earlier and drink a glass of wine (poor me) and she won't beg for my dinner. What do I do about breakfast and lunch?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11

It's that time of year again. It's the 9th anniversary of the attack on our country by Al Quaeda. We all know where we were on that day and the memories and fears all come rushing back.

That morning, I was undecided about whether I should go to the book store in the World Trade Center or try to get a new pair of shoes. Fortunately, I opted to buy shoes in a store one block from the WTC when the first plane hit. Since I remembered the time the plane flew into the Empire State Building, I didn't think much of it. The manager of the store felt otherwise and closed the store. I then walked to my office.

I was in my office on the 21st floor on the other side of Manhattan Island when the second plane flew into the other tower. My building shook on impact. Then we knew we were under attack. Not knowing what would happen next, we walked down to the street and evacuated the building.

After milling around for a little while, I decided to walk up to my train at Grand Central Station in midtown. I was living in the country then and just wanted out of the city. Fortunately, I missed the collapse, I was about halfway to the train.

My son in Seattle called every number he had for me and my other son who was working on a construction site in Brooklyn where he was watching everything through binoculars. He was watching the "debris" fall from the building when he realized that what he thought was the "debris" was wearing a suit and tie and was a person jumping from the building. We were all fine.

We all finally got in touch with each other which was very reassuring. I spent the rest of the day calling everyone I knew to reassure that everyone was OK.

It was a horrific day, one which I will never forget, nor will I ever get over the fear and anxiety of that day. I thought it had gotten easier, but I was watching a show on the History Channel last night and had to take several breaks.

If I'm so bothered by it, I wonder how the workers who were in the towers that day have managed to go on.

NEVER FORGET

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

QVC

I usually don't like to give too much personal information about myself, but tonight I'm going to make an exception. I'm a proud mother.

This morning my son appeared on QVC to sell the product manufactured by his company. He did a wonderful job and I just want to let the world, or at least my small group of followers, know about my son, the TV star.

I hope he has many more chances to appear.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Technology and TV

I'm back from my trip. But more about that another day.

There's one thing I like about long holiday weekends. TV. It seems that many channels often devote time to marathons. Yesterday, I caught a "Who's the Boss" marathon and today I'm watching Angela Lansbury's "Murder She Wrote".

Watching Jessica Fletcher in action I realized how things have changed. In one episode, of course during a dark and stormy night, the phone wires were cut. People were trapped, they couldn't call for help. If only someone had had a cell phone. Of course, that would have ruined the plot.

I wonder how many other shows' plots would have been ruined by today's modern conveniences. Gilligan would never have stayed on that island so long if they had had a cell phone with a good service provider. Sgt. Friday certainly could have used the team at CSI. Even a show as recent as ER probably would have benefitted from the recent advances in medicine.

Can you think of any others?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Crash here. My mom has been away on another geographical exploration for a long time. Dali's mom told me that she'll be back tomorrow. I hope so. I miss her because she gives me treats and she didn't leave any treats for Dali's mom to give me. I have a lot to tell her about Burnie. He's so jealous of everything I have. If I'm looking out a window, even if all the other windows are free, he wants mine. Of course because I'm the better cat I let him have it. He's always taking my spot. I like to lay on a pillow which is what special cats do. Now, he's decided that he simply has to have that pillow. I guess he's just a mischieveous little brother - a pest.


Burnie here to tell my side of the story. I'm going to be waiting at the door for mom to come home so I can show her what a good cat I am. Then, she won't believe any of the stories that Crash has to tell about me. Dali's mom has been very good to us, but I wish Dali could have come we would have had a lot of fun. I hear she looks a lot like me, so she must be very beautiful. Girl cats are beautiful, boy cats are handsome like me. And, I could have used a little different company, Crash doesn't want to play much, she just likes to boss me around. Isn't that typical of a bossy big sister.