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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


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

Saturday, November 20, 2010


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


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.


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.