Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Four Things Meme

Gadzooks, forsooth, zounds, and other assorted expressions of surprise! I have been tagged for a meme by Carrie whose timing couldn't have been better as I was rather wondering what I could post quickly so that I could spend time with Jamie on her last evening in Connecticut before she goes back to Florida.

Without further ado, I bring you The Four Things Meme - quick, easy, and relatively painless!

Four jobs I've had

1. Radio repair technician in the United States Air Force
2. Professional radio disc jockey
3. Tire and battery installer at Sears Automotive
4. 911 Emergency Dispatcher (Police, Fire, and EMS)

Four movies I can watch over and over

1. Somewhere in Time
2. For Love of the Game
3. Moulin Rouge
4. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Four places I've lived

1. Tucson, Arizona
2. Stockton, California
3. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
4. Tampa, Florida

Four TV shows I love

1. Boston Legal
2. The Closer
3. reruns of Quantum Leap
4. Jeopardy!

Four places I've vacationed

1. Lake Tahoe
2. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
3. Williamsburg, Virginia
4. Las Vegas

Four of my favorite dishes

1. My "Death Eating a Cracker" coffee mug
2. My Cancun Mexican restaurant coffee mug that MizCyn bought me while I was in Stockton last
3. My Maxine coffee mug that says "It's my body, I'll have pie if I want to!"
4. My Jiminy Cricket coffee mug

Four sites I visit daily


Four places I would rather be right now

1. Cancun Mexican Restaurant in Stockton with my good buddy MizCyn!
2. At lottery headquarters cashing in a winning Powerball ticket
3. Nova Scotia watching the tides change at the Bay of Fundy
4. At a movie theater watching "Mama Mia!" and drooling over Colin Firth!

Four bloggers I am tagging

1. Jamie
2. Patti
3. Ralph
4.. Ivana

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I've Got a Question - You've Got an Answer

You know how sometimes when you sit down to write a blog post and you just have absolutely no clue what you're going to write about so you end up staring at the blinking (or not) cursor for a little while hoping that a light bulb will click on and a great post will come to you out of the blue? Maybe you check the clock on the wall or pull out your pocket watch and check the time wondering how much longer it's going to be before a brilliant idea hits you? Maybe you despair of a brilliant idea ever actually happening and think you're just going to have to give up completely and leave the same post up for several days in a row? Maybe sometimes a really terrific idea finally does materialize and other times ... well ... other times maybe you end up asking your 16-year old for help? Or is that all just me?

That was definitely just me as I sat in front of the computer for way too long trying to think of a good question for this post and kept coming up blank! Apparently my mind has gone into creative shut-down or took off on vacation without me or something so I asked Amanda what she thought a good question might be. She thought about it for a couple of minutes, seemed to mentally toss out a question or two, and finally suggested -

Are you prepared for a zombie outbreak or are you just going to wing it?

I looked at her like she had completely lost her mind but she insisted that she wanted to know what people's answer to that question would be. "Come on, Mom! There are people who read your blog that have a sense of humor, right?" Uhm, sure, yes, absolutely! Alright ...

She tells me that the question is posted over on LiveJournal so apparently other people want to know this very same thing. Really know? Would'a thunk it? I never really thought we were in danger of a zombie outbreak but what do I know? I don't watch the news very often unless I want to catch the weather!

Personally I think I'm just going to wing it myself as I'm not sure what one does to prepare for a zombie outbreak but no doubt Amanda could tell me exactly what it is we would need. That's how she rolls. Strange on all four tires!

Now how about you guys? Inquiring teenage minds wanna know!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Creative Photography Contest - Up in the Air

I've decided to once again give Roger's Creative Photography Contest another go this week as I'm nothing if not stubborn! Well, no, that's not exactly the reason - though it does play into things a bit! I really enjoy Roger's weekly contest as it gives me a great chance to check out photography by other bloggers who participate in the contest - like last week's contest winner, Bond, from The Big Leather Couch, who submitted this great photo of fireworks that he took. I've been trying to get some decent fireworks shots but haven't had much success at all but Bond took a beautiful shot and definitely deserved to capture last week's win!

I was up in the air for what I wanted to submit for this week's entry but then it dawned on me that I had taken some rather interesting shots while I actually was up in the air on my trip to California this past May and that perhaps one of those might be usable.

I've chosen this shot that was taken from the window of my Frontier Airlines flight from Denver, Colorado to Sacramento, California; I believe we were somewhere over Utah at the time. I was sitting by the bulkhead for this leg of the trip so this picture is looking back towards the engine and catches just the tip of the wing of the plane. Even though I'm not too keen on flying, I do love the view of the earth from 36,000 feet!

Good luck to everyone who participates in this week's contest! If you'd like to view more of the contest entries then be sure to click on over to Roger's Creative Photography Contest blog and check out the linkies!

A Walk to Remember

My grandmother was one of those women of which it could be said that "she enjoyed ill health". Whenever I would go over to visit and ask Granny how she was there was always a good chance that she would answer back with "I don't feel a bit good" and then she would expound on one various ailment or another. All things considered, she was actually in pretty good health most of her life but towards the end she ended up living in a nursing home because she just couldn't take care of herself any longer. After being admitted to the nursing home, Granny began to gradually lose herself completely and forgot who everyone around her was. It was very sad to see a woman who used to be as sharp as a tack gradually slip away to just being a shell of the person she used to be.

Alzheimer's is a disease that robs us of our loved ones while they're still right here with us. It takes the very essence of a person and melts it away until not only do they not know who you are but they don't even know themselves. It's beyond sad and it's tragic to watch someone slowly slip away while there is nothing you can do to stop it.

There is something you can do to help raise awareness and the funds to help fight this insidious disease, though, and that's to join the Alzheimer's Memory Walk. Held on a weekend morning in the fall, a typical walk is 2-3 miles and they are held in more than 600 communities around the country. Join or form a team, volunteer to help out, or sponsor someone else - all great ways to help to move a nation towards fighting Alzheimer's and keeping our loved ones with us in both mind and body for as long as we can.

Sponsored by Alzheimer's Walk

Monday, July 28, 2008

Joking Around With "The Dark Knight"

A Joker painting by Amanda

As I mentioned in Saturday's post, going to see "The Dark Knight" this weekend as part of Jamie's birthday activities was on the agenda and, even though I wasn't exactly chomping at the bit to see it myself like the girls were, they talked me into going with them. The thought had really occurred to me to drop them off and pick them up later for several reasons - the first of which was Hollywood itself.

Unfortunately Hollywood has been beating to death all of the hype about Heath Ledger's final performance as the very disturbing villain The Joker and even though I've always been a Heath Ledger fan, I was half-tempted not to go see the film simply because it seemed like they were using his tragic death to promote it. Would everyone have been raving over his performance if he hadn't died shortly after the movie was made or was this a great way to sell a film that might be so-so? Those were the things that gave me pause - that and the fact that the movie is over 2-1/2 hours long and I wasn't sure how sitting in a movie theater for that amount of time was going to affect my ever fickle lower back.

As it turned out, I'm glad I acquiesced and went to the movie after all as it really was much better than I thought it was going to be. In addition to Heath Ledger's amazing portrayal of The Joker (parts of which reminded me of Jack Nicholson's performance of the same character in the 1989 version of Batman), there were fabulous performances by Michael Caine, Gary Oldham, and Morgan Freeman - excellent actors all. I also have to admit that Christian Bale makes for one very hot Bruce Wayne! Oh - and he does a good job as Batman, too, though I find his voice to be rather disturbing.

Both Amanda and Jamie really liked the movie and Amanda is ready to go back again, though hopefully not wearing full Joker make-up like she decided to try putting on the other day! Maybe I should be a bit nervous that my oldest daughter has no trouble in looking like a Super-Villain but I'm going to hope that this was a one-time deal strictly for MySpace pictures . . . and to terrorize her sister a little bit!

Sigh ... I don't know why those two can never seem to get along!

Amanda, put down that knife and leave your sister alone! Wipe that silly grin off of your face and clean up your room while you're at it! And stop asking me, "Why so serious?"! Kids ...

Anyhow, for what my opinion is worth (and I'm thinking that's not much!), I would definitely recommend "The Dark Knight" be seen as it's DC Comics on the big screen at its very best even though I still can't figure out why the fools who live in Gotham want to think that the Batman is a bad guy! Hello? People? He fights crime ... yeesh!

Happy Birthday To You, Our Sweet Maggie Moo!

One of the very nicest people not only in the Blogosphere and on the East Coast of the United States but in the entire world is having a birthday today so I thought I'd bake her a cake in honor of the occasion!

personalized greetings

A very happy birthday, Ms. Maggie Moo, and best wishes for many, many more! May today be as special as you are! I just wish I lived closer so we could go out for a drink or two but we'll just have to make arrangements to do that another time, right?!?

If anyone would like to go over and leave her some birthday wishes, I'm sure Mags would be tickled to pieces so what are you waiting for? Click here and go forth and comment!

Pardom Me While I Rant For Just a Moment ..

Lately it seems that every time I watch a news program (which isn't all that often to be honest), someone is talking about how the Federal Government should be bailing people out on their mortgages due to the current state of the economy and the amount of foreclosures, etc., etc.

Nothing for nothing but I'm not real sympathetic here towards people who managed to get themselves into this sort of predicament to begin with. People don't want to buy nice little houses anymore, they want to buy these big huge honkin' houses with more space than they really need with mortgage payments that are big enough to choke a horse - heck, an entire team of horses it seems! Rather then thinking about what they can realistically afford, they sign on with mortgage lenders who convince them that they can afford something that they can't and, worse yet, they get a variable rate mortgage. Honestly, what are these people thinking?

I rather doubt that any variable rate mortgage has ever gone down so of course mortgage payments are going to escalate and before you know it, people can't afford to make their house payments and are sitting on the edge of foreclosure. Is this the government's fault? No, it isn't. Should the government bail people out? In my opinion, no - they shouldn't. People need to be more aware of what they are getting into when they take out a mortgage and ask themselves a lot of 'what if's' before signing any documents committing them to a mortgage for thirty years. A lot can change in thirty years - especially when it comes to the economy - and if you've bitten off more than you can chew right off the bat, how do you think you're going to be able to handle it as time goes on?

Obviously I'm not a homeowner and unfortunately I don't think I ever will be because I know I can't afford to own a home. Sure, I'd love to own a nice house with more room and closets and all that good stuff but realistically I know I can't afford it and I'm not going to commit to something and then expect other people to bail me out if I put myself into that sort of position. Where do these people think the Federal Government is going to get this money to bail them out? You can't just fire up the printing press and produce more money without something to back it up so instead our taxes will go up and we'll be the ones bailing out other people.

Nothing for nothing but somehow that doesn't seem right. At least not to me.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What America Means to Me - An Essay

Awhile back I mentioned that the company I work at was having an essay contest on "What America Means to Me" and I asked my readers what America meant to them to see if I could find some inspiration as I wasn't sure in what direction I wanted the essay to go. People left a lot of good responses that helped me to finally write the post below that I submitted for my entry.

American Flag flying over Norwich, Connecticut
I'm not a historian but if given the chance to become one rather than a dispatcher, I'm sure I would jump at it. When the question is asked, "What does America mean to you?" my thoughts invariably go to the history of this great country of ours. Compared to other countries, we are still but a babe in the woods at 232 years old but in that time the United States of America has grown from a fledgling upstart nation of only 13 colonies who dared to defy the most powerful king in the world to a country made up of 50 states and 6 major territories throughout the world who bow before no king.

When the Second Continental Congress of the United States convened in Philadelphia in May of 1775, following the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts, the 56 delegates from the 13 colonies were charged with the task of directing the nation in its goal to become an independent country free from the rule of the British Empire. It was a daunting task that no doubt seemed impossible given the power and wealth of England but the Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed, a Continental Army was formed, and a patriotic fire burned in the hearts of thousands. In spite of the overwhelming odds and the loss of 25,700 patriot lives, America emerged a free nation dedicated to the proposition "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Still, happy endings don't come easy and from 1861 to 1865, our country fought its biggest battle on our own native soil with 623,026 American lives lost in the War Between the States. Even though it is popularly believed that the war was fought over the question of slavery, the real issue was States' rights versus the preservation of the Union. America has always been a nation filled with men with strong ideas and beliefs when it comes to independence and individual rights and having fought the British - not once but twice - to maintain that freedom, it became imperative to keep the nation united as one and not split into two separate countries.

In his first inaugural address on March 4th, 1861 the newly elected President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, implored "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

Eventually those better angels persevered and the war ended but not before profoundly changing our country forever. What began as a bitter dispute over Union and States' Rights, ended as a struggle over the meaning of freedom in America. One needs only to step onto the hallowed grounds of one of the great battlefields like Gettysburg or Antietam or Shiloh to understand how important that freedom was to both sides. That the United States of America stayed as one country and eventually became the most powerful nation in the world is a testament to those men who fought and died for what they believed in.

These days it's way too easy for people to complain about America, especially those of us who live here, but it's still the country that more immigrants want to call home than any other. Yes we have problems with health insurance, yes our gas prices have gotten out of hand (though not as badly as the rest of the world it seems), yes we have political turmoil and our fare share of strife but we're still a republic that was founded on individual freedoms and rights and we have the right to complain about all of those things without fear of being thrown in prison. We have the right to not only want a better life but to pursue it; we have the right to question our leaders and replace them with better ones; we have the right to reach for the ideal, maybe fall short, and find another way to achieve it. We have more rights than most citizens of most other countries and yet we take those rights for granted and fail to appreciate them and the brave men and women who have died protecting those rights.

In spite of the troubles facing our country I am proud to be an American and a patriot. Maybe this country isn't perfect and maybe we don't always see eye-to-eye but when disaster strikes - as it all too often does - we forget all that and rally around the flag and become that "one Nation under God" that our forefathers dreamed of and fought for. I just wish that more people would remember that without having to have two towers fall and thousands of lives be lost but I, for one, still love this country and all that it stands for. We may not be perfect as a country but if you knock us down, we'll get back up again and be stronger for the experience. That's what America means to me.
A big thank you to all of you who gave me your input on what America means to you - it really helped in shaping this essay and getting me inspired. I don't know if I actually won or not but it certainly gave me the chance to climb up on my patriotic soapbox and spout off a little bit. Plus I got to work in a tiny bit of history and for me that's always a plus even though it tends to bore a lot of people to tears.

*The flag picture above was taken here in Norwich on a beautiful June day not too long ago. I knew it would come in handy at some point!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Happy Birthday to Jamie!

Fifteen years ago today I was spending some time at the William W. Backus Hospital here in Norwich giving birth to my youngest child - Jamie as a baby the only one not born on the West Coast (Michael was born in Riverside, California and Amanda was born in Long Beach). Jamie was also my easiest birth as I had gone in for an amniocentesis to see if her lungs were developed enough for them to induce labor in a few days (I had gestational diabetes with both she and Amanda) but instead they ended up doing a C-section just hours later as there wasn't enough amniotic fluid for them to do the test. Ut-oh!
Shortly after my friend Carol arrived (Jamie's father was out to sea somewhere in the Pacific at the time), they rolled me into the Operating Room and before I knew it they were handing me a little blue sausage of a baby - at least that's what she looked like to me! Even though I had been injecting insulin for several months, Jamie wasn't a classic oversized diabetic baby as she weighed100_0632 in at only 6 pounds, 6 ounces and 19 inches long. Compared to my other two she seemed downright miniature and is still the smallest of my three.
She's also probably the most adaptable of the three and has always been a bit of an imp (well, okay, not just a bit!). She likes classic rock and roll with AC/DC being her number one band, loves horror movies (especially the Friday the 13th series), likes to draw almost as much as Amanda does, and talks - a lot - which Mags could certainly attest to after our weekend at her place in Boston last week!
To celebrate her birthday today we're going to have lunch with my mother and then go to the movies to see "The Dark Knight" with a friend she met on her plane ride up from Florida earlier in the month (who just happens to live the next town over). I also need to get her an ice cream cake, which is her favorite and something she looks forward to every year. 100_0730
Happy birthday, kiddo, and may the next year be a wonderful one for you filled with all of the things that make 15-year olds happy - acne not being one of them!

Oh, and if you think I'm not feeling even older knowing that my youngest is now 15 - think again!
... now where did I put that Geritol??

Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy 2nd Blogaversary to Me!

It's true what they say about time flying by while you're having fun as I find it extremely hard to believe that it was two years ago today that I sat down and wrote my very first post - "How I Got Here and Where I'm Going - Maybe!" - that began my journey of Are We There Yet??

Since then I've gone through several template changes; learned that there was a huge Blogosphere out there made up of some truly wonderful people; had the opportunity to meet some of those truly wonderful people in real life who turned out to be even more wonderful off of the page; subscribed to 75 fantastic blogs in my Google Reader; improved my photography skills; and shared the ups and downs of my life with people who have given me hope, encouragement, support, love, and laughter. And those things are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impact blogging has had on my life.

This post is #1,111 for me and even though I had mentioned to Mags this past weekend that I hoped that for my blogaversary this post would be that number, it wasn't intentional that it turned out that way. Instead, it was because of yet another very sad Line of Duty Death in Florida that it turned out to be that number. Even though those posts get sadder to write each time, I feel I owe it to those fallen officers and their families to acknowledge their sacrifices. It's the least I can do given the circumstances. Since I began doing them at the beginning of the year, I have written 23 posts honoring 59 brave men and women who have lost their lives in the line of duty as law enforcement officers - 23 posts that I would rather never have had the chance to write. Had this been post #1,088 rather than #1,111 I think I would have been happier but alas, such was not the case.

Anyway, enough sadness for now. This is a celebration and there's cake to be had for what's a party without a cake?!?

In closing, I'd just like to say to the 85,556 visitors (at the time of this post) to my blog - thank you for stopping by and for being a part of my blogging experience; it's been a great two years and I'm looking forward to the next two as I continue to ask Are We There Yet??

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Peaceful Painting

It seems like I've been busier than a one-armed paperhanger the past few days and have barely had a chance to sit down and catch my breath since starting out on my adventure to Boston last Friday with Jamie. Between that whirlwind tour of a good part of Beantown and coming back home to working a couple of extra shifts, I haven't had much time to do anything other than feel overwhelmed. Perhaps I need some good diet pills to give me a little boost of extra energy? It would be an added bonus if they actually curbed my appetite, too!

This evening I finally decided to sit down for a minute, take a breather, and just relax for a few moments. One of the best ways I know how to do that is to park myself on the couch and gaze at my very favorite painting that hangs in the living room -

Even though it's your generic run-of-the-mill mountain landscape that can be bought at any starving artist sale or flea market (I did, in fact, buy this at the Roseville Flea Market outside of Sacramento, California in 1984), I really like it as it's just so peaceful and relaxing. If I look at it long enough I can almost smell the scent of pine and hear the wind as it quietly rustles through the trees and it never fails to relax me and calm me down.

What about you? Do you have a favorite painting or picture that you like to look at - one that helps you to unwind or de-stress?

Congratulations to a Co-Worker!

Before I get caught up on the Web reading diet pill reviews in regards to the post above, I wanted to take a moment to give a shout-out to one of the guys I work with at American Ambulance who received his medical control today and is now cleared to work as a Paramedic with the company.

A big congratulations to Rob and I'm sure you'll do just great! Just remember, though, that new medics tend to get a lot of distance calls in the beginning so don't take it personally when all you hear is 19 Code 3 ... rather than 24 Code 1, Paramedic Intercept to the town of ... !

Way to go! Now get out there and save some lives!

Florida Loses Third Officer in Line of Duty Death

Deputy Sheriff Anthony ForgioneThe State of Florida lost yet another Law Enforcement Officer in a line of duty death incident on Tuesday, July 22nd when an Okaloosa County sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed in a shootout with a man who had been ordered by a court to undergo a mental evaluation and who had twice left a hospital before barricading himself in a home.

Deputy Sheriff Anthony Forgione, a member of the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Department Special Response Team, was shot and killed Tuesday morning as he tried to apprehend a man who had escaped from the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center following an incident where the suspect had kicked out the window of a patrol car.. Deputies had received word that the suspect had returned to and barricaded himself inside his childhood home. Negotiators attempted to talk him out of the home but when that failed family members provided deputies with a key to the home and the SRT team entered the house. At that time the situation turned deadly when the suspect opened fire killing Deputy Forgione. Other deputies inside the home returned fire and killed the suspect.

Deputy Forgione, age 33, would have celebrated his three-year anniversary with the Sheriff's Office on Thursday, July 24th; previously he had worked for the Fort Walton Beach Police Department.

In a statement released by the Florida State Attorney General's Office, Attorney General Bill McCollum said: “I wish to offer my deepest sympathy to the family, friends and colleagues of Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputy Forgione, who was killed this morning as he protected his community during a standoff with an armed suspect. Deputy Forgione’s death follows Friday’s shooting death of Fort Myers Police Officer Andrew Widman. My heart goes out to Florida’s law enforcement community as its members grieve the loss of another one of their own.”

Deputy Forgione leaves behind his wife and two daughters, ages 5 and 10; he is the department's first officer to be killed during the line of duty, a very sad distinction.

Linda & Jamie's Excellent Adventure!

Even though I've been back from Boston since Sunday night, I'm still a bit worn out from the terrific weekend that Jamie and I had visiting Ms. Maggie Moo and the wonderful city she now calls home since moving there from her former place of residence in Connecticut. This was my second time going up to Boston since Mags moved up there - I first went in May when it rained on us and this time it was hotter than I would have preferred but Jamie and I still really enjoyed our weekend.

We started our journey on Friday by heading north to Shirley, Massachusetts where my cousin lives. My cousin's husband is my former brother-in-law which makes their two daughters Jamie's cousins so it also gave her a chance to see them. As a matter of fact, she stayed there on Sunday to visit for a few days while I came back to Connecticut to return to work. Amanda and I will be going up later in the week to pick Jamie back up and give Amanda a chance to visit her cousins for a bit.

Anyhow, I digress ... in Shirley we caught the commuter train into Boston which brought us into North Station and a hop, skip, and a jump to the "T" to then head out to Mags' apartment. We arrived there just a little before 6:00 with just enough time to hop back on the "T" and head up to Tasca, the tapas restaurant that Mags and I went to on my first visit to see her. I had really enjoyed it then plus they had graciously sent me a $14 coupon as they were celebrating their 14th anniversary in July. Who knew I would actually have the chance to use it?!? Woohoo! Mags and I ordered a small pitcher of Sangria and thought it rather odd that the waitress asked Jamie if she would be having some, too. Uh ... hello? Does she really look that old? Jamie ordered a ginger ale instead, more in keeping with her age of 14!

We ordered several different dishes to try and even though Jamie took a taste of everything her very favorite was the Albóndigas, which are tenderloin meatballs in a green peppercorn sauce. Surprisingly, she seemed to like the sauce the best. Her other choice of Gambas al ajillo, sizzling shrimp in garlic, turned out to be not as good as she thought so she graciously gave the rest to Mags. After dinner we walked back down the hill to Mags' apartment where we watched a little TV along with a fantastic lightning show out the windows before calling it a night.

Saturday morning had us up and heading off on the "T" into Boston for breakfast at the Omni Parker House Hotel, which is the oldest continuous running luxury hotel in the country having opened in 1855. Parker's Restaurant is the birthplace to Parker House Rolls and Boston Cream Pie and ever since learning that fact while overhearing a tour guide on my last trip to Boston, I've wanted to go check it out. The dining room was elegance at its best with a very courteous waitstaff and beautiful surroundings. When he learned that it was our first time there, our waiter was kind enough to bring us an entire plate of just-out-of-the-oven rolls with our own individual dishes of butter, Even if that was all there had been for breakfast, I would have been a very happy woman! They were absolutely delicious and the best I've ever had - bar none!

In addition to their breakfast dishes, Jamie and Mags had both ordered Boston Cream Pie (yes, it's on the breakfast menu!) but I figured I would just sample some of Jamie's which she didn't mind and it turned out to be fantastic. They prepare it unlike any other Boston Cream Pie I've ever seen before but I figure if they invented it to begin with, they can dress it up any way they want! All in all, it was a very nice breakfast and I really enjoyed the ambiance of the dining room - as well as my breakfast company! My next goal for the Omni Parker House is to actually be able to spend the night there as rumor has it the third floor is haunted and that totally intrigues me!

After breakfast we made a quick stop at Haymarket so that Mags could pick up some fruit and vegetables. The prices there just astound me and Mags walked away with a bag full of goodies - including strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries - for $7! I tell you, Haymarket alone is enough to make a girl want to move to Boston - never mind all the other great stuff there!

From there it was back to Mags' where we hopped into her car and headed out to Revere Beach and the annual Sand Sculpting Competition that they have there. After driving around lost through the streets of East Boston for awhile, we were finally able to find the place and miraculously a parking spot opened up right before us. At that point it was getting hotter than a June bride on a featherbed (I love that saying!) and being by the shore didn't make one bit of difference as there was no breeze helping to cool things off.

As we walked down to the area of the beach where the sand sculptures were, I was beginning to understand why the place is referred to as Freakin' Revere (or worse!). The traffic was terrible, there were people all over the place, and a good majority of those people had absolutely no business being out in public wearing what they had on. No offense to Boston but holy cats, there were some truly ugly people on that beach - or at least close to the beach because most of them were parked in lounge chairs and the like on the sidewalk which was nowhere near the water! I just didn't get it ...

We checked out the sand sculptures, which were all pretty cool, and then decided to forget trying to find Kelly's Famous Roast Beef where we had hoped to have lunch and try to find our way out of there instead. Leaving turned out to be much easier than getting there was - thank goodness! - and we eventually ended up at Panera Bread in Brookline for lunch. It was no Kelly's but it was good and gave us time to go back to Mags' to rest up a bit before catching the "T" back into Boston for our Evening Harbor Cruise that we had booked. Mags has this fantastic couch and I had no trouble drifting off for a nice little nap while Jamie spent a little time watching TV.

Our 90-minute cruise around Boston Harbor gave us some wonderful views of the city as it took us out past some of the islands in Boston Harbor including Georges Island where Fort Warren was built in 1847. The fort served as a prison for Confederate soldiers and is reported to be haunted by a Confederate prisoner's wife who is said to have been sentenced to death for aiding in an escape and hanged in a black robe made from the fort's mess hall drapes. Yet another place I need to check out more up close and personal!

Continuing our cruise, we went past the U.S.S. Constitution, aka "Old Ironsides", where we got to witness the firing of the guns - which turned out to be one gun! - at sunset. It went off a little earlier than expected and surprised most of the people on board but it was still pretty neat. Seeing Boston from the harbor was wonderful and a great way to spend Saturday evening as it was a little cooler out on the water than it was in the city itself.

We rounded out the night with dinner at the Boston Hard Rock Cafe which Jamie was definitely into. When an AC/DC song came on the video monitors around the room she couldn't have been happier as that's "her" band. It was at the Hard Rock that yet again Jamie was asked if she wanted a beer or glass of wine so I don't know if she looks a lot older than she is or if people in Boston are just used to college students and assumed her to be one. I guess if you're underage and want to drink, perhaps Boston is the place to go? Good grief!

When we finally got back to Mags' apartment, it was after 11:00 and even though I would have liked nothing more than to collapse on that comfortable couch and call it a night, Jamie wanted to watch a scary movie so we ended up watching Stephen King's "Sleepwalkers". It really wasn't all that scary as for some reason most Stephen King stories don't seem to translate well to film but Jamie enjoyed it and we didn't turn off the TV until after 1:00 a.m. What a long day!

Suffice it to say it was after 10:00 when we finally managed to wake up on Sunday morning! You would think that sleeping on a couch would cause a person to wake up early but not if that couch is the one in Mags' apartment! That thing is wicked comfortable and I want one of my own!

Around mid-afternoon Jamie and I thanked Mags for a wonderful weekend, bid her good-bye, and climbed on board the "T" for one final trip into Boston and back to North Station to catch our commuter train back to Shirley. While waiting for the train, Boston was hit with one heck of a thunderstorm that rattled the walls of the building around us while dumping gallons of water on the waiting trains. Good thing we didn't have to wait outside in that weather!

The train ride back to Shirley was uneventful though a little warm as the storm had knocked something out in the train that left us without lights and/or air-conditioning. By the time we got to Shirley, it was starting to get a bit warm and stuffy so I was glad we were at the end of the line for our adventure.

After leaving Jamie happily ensconced with her cousins in Shirley, I made the hour and a half drive home to Connecticut exhausted but happy. I think that Jamie had a really good time visiting both Boston and Mags and she can't wait to go back so we can go on the "Ghost and Graveyards" night tour that she saw offered. Perhaps that's something to think about for next summer when maybe by then I'll finally be rested up!

A big thank you and a cyber-hug to Mags for a truly fantastic weekend - it really was wicked awesome and you freakin' rock! Can't wait to see you in September!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Creative Photography

Last week I entered Roger's Creative Photography Contest for the first time and had the chance to see some excellent entries posted by others in the contest. Last week's winner, Star 8278 from the blog "Life's a Dance You Learn as You Go" had a beautiful submission that definitely earned the award and left me longing for a few more creative talents - as well as a better camera!

Alas, I can't afford the type of camera I would really like to have so will continue to plug away with my little ole' Kodak EasyShare Z712 that takes passable pictures such as the moon shot that I took last week and have chosen for this week's entry -

Moonrise Over Norwich

What a pleasant surprise to see that my paramedic friend Dennis has entered the contest this week, too, with a picture that might be familiar to a few of you! If you'd like to check out more of the contest entries for this week then be sure to visit Roger's Creative Photography Contest blog.

Thanks again, Roger, for this fun contest!

Remembering a Fallen Florida Hero

Another senseless shooting has left one police officer dead and a family and department stunned and saddened over his loss while a community rallies around to help.

Police Officer Andrew Widman of the Fort Meyers Police Department was shot and killed on Friday, July 18th, at approximately 2:00 a.m. after responding with other officers to a report of a domestic disturbance at a downtown nightclub. Upon their arrival, the suspect and his girlfriend were involved in a violent dispute. When Officer Widman attempted to intervene he was shot point blank by the male half with a 9mm gun. Officer Widman never had a chance to pull his own weapon and died instantly. The suspect fled the scene and was pursued by other officers whom he engaged in gunfire before being shot and killed.

Officer Widman, age 30, joined the Fort Meyers Police Department in April of 2007 and was well-liked by his fellow officers on the midnight shift. "He became a part of the family very quick, very easy," said Lt. Dennis Eads, Widman's supervisor. Eads also described Officer Widman as "devoted, not only to the force, but to his family."

Before he became a police officer, Andrew Widman attended the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts where he received a Masters of Divinity degree. He was a licensed minister in Ohio where he worked as a college pastor and also taught at a seminary in Michigan before he pursued a career as a police officer.

In a statement released by the Florida State Attorney General's Office, Attorney General Bill McClollum had this to say: "This is a difficult time for Florida's law enforcement community, as Officer Widman's death comes just weeks after the line-of-duty slaying of Tomoka Corrections Officer Donna Fitzgerald. Like Officer Fitzgerald, Officer Widman will always be remembered for his dedication to the safety of his community. I offer my prayers and support to the victims' families, friends and colleagues during this challenging time."

Officer Widman leaves behind his wife Susanna, three children, ages 4-years, 20-months and 5-months, and his parents Joseph and Martha Widman of Toledo, Ohio, his sisters Abby and Alyse and his brother Tony.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Barely Back from Boston!

Night falls over BostonJust a quick post to let you know that I have returned from Boston but it's late and I've got to work a 16-hour shift on Monday so I'm afraid I won't get to a post of any sort until Tuesday. Until then let me just say that Jamie and I had a fantastic time visiting Mags and not only does she have the nicest apartment in Boston but she's most definitely got the comfiest couch in Boston, too!

Be back Tuesday with details and pictures - lots and lots of pictures!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

On the Waterfront

While I'm off playing in Boston this weekend, I thought I would leave you with a few pictures of the American Wharf Marina on the Norwich Harbor that I took while I was out photographing the moon Thursday night. I was trying to get pictures of reflections on the water, which I think I succeeded at for the most part!

This last picture, which I really like, was taken at the Howard T. Brown Memorial Park where a lot of people go to launch their boats and fish. It's not normally somewhere I would hang around at night as we transport a lot of ETOH patients out of there on a regular basis but I felt safe enough while I was there. Of course, now I have to go back and get a picture of the other side of that historical marker - duh!

Hope everyone's having a great weekend!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Off For a Wicked Awesome Weekend!

A view of Boston CommonsHaving hauled Amanda, Darci, and Cate down to New York City a couple of weekends ago, it only seems fair that I take Jamie someplace special while she's here this summer and what could be more special than a visit to Boston to stay with Ms. Maggie Moo at what has been described as "the nicest apartment in Boston"? To answer my own question - not much I'm sure!

We'll be driving up to my cousin's house in Shirley, Massachusetts outside of Boston and after leaving my car there we will then take the commuter train into North Station where we'll switch over to the Green Line to head out to Allston and hang out with Mags until sometime Sunday when we'll reverse the process a little bit!

We've got some really fun stuff planned for the weekend but I don't want to give any of it away just yet in case something changes along the way. You never know, something unexpected may pop up that sounds even better than what we have on the agenda! Even though it's going to be hotter than the hubs of Hades due to the darned New England summer weather and those miserable three H's - hazy, hot, and humid - I still think we're going to have a really good time.

Boston is definitely one of my most favorite cities in the United States and I think Jamie will enjoy her time up there even if she isn't into history like her mother is! This might, however, be a good time for her to start though, right?

Fanueil Hall in Boston

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"There's a bad moon on the rise ..."

With an almost full moon rising over Norwich, I couldn't help but go out and try my hand at a few more pictures of it. This time I decided to head down to the Norwich Harbor and see what I could get from that location. I'll have some pictures to post of the harbor in a future post but in the meantime I hope you enjoy these shots of the moon rising up over Laurel Hill.

If I'm going to keep up all of this photography stuff I might want to consider buying another micro sd card for my camera and more batteries - lots more batteries!

Sharing Can Be a Good Thing

Since Jamie came up to visit, I've been having to share my laptop with her which has actually turned out to be a good thing as it's given me more time to do other things - like read an actual book! I haven't ordered any new ones from Amazon books or anything like that but at long last I'm finally getting into that book I've been chipping away at now for months.

Remember way back in the early part of June when I said I was reading Duma Key by Stephen King? Yeah ... I'm still reading it but I'm finally making some progress on it and I'm really enjoying it, too. Maybe having to share my computer is a good thing after all!

"When the moon hits your eye ..."

Taking my head out of the clouds for a little while I took some pictures of the almost-full moon last night instead ...

I played with them a little bit using the handy-dandy Picasa program I have on my computer but I kind of like the contrast between black & white and the moon glow. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I've Got a Question - You've Got an Answer

I'm looking for some inspiration today ... I want to write an essay to enter into the contest that they are having at work which ends on July 28th but even though I've been thinking about it for quite some time now, I'm not sure in which direction to go. It's a patriotic essay in honor of our recent 4th of July holiday and even though I can get up on my soap box and talk history and patriotism with no problem whatsoever, I don't think that's the angle I want to go with this.

So ... the thought occurred to me that perhaps I could get some inspiration and ideas from my blog readers were I to take an informal survey of sorts. Which leads us to today's question -

What does America mean to you?

Even if you don't live in this country I'm interested in knowing what you think of America and what it means to you - especially considering that our reputation in the world doesn't appear to be what it once was. All comments and opinions are appreciated no matter what your thoughts might be as, in my humble opinion, diversity and difference of opinion is a wonderful thing.

So whaddya say? Help a sister out and when I win the contest (fingers crossed!), I'll be sure to give you all credit!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Singing the Health Care Woes ... Yet Again!

I've been going to the same doctor for years and years now but when I first started going to Dr. Joe way back in the mid 1990's, I lived a lot closer to his office. When I moved to Norwich I moved a lot further away from his office which is located in Brooklyn which is about 30 miles north of where I currently live. Still, I really like Dr. Joe and didn't see the need to change to a doctor closer to home until recently when gas prices went through the proverbial roof.

Dr. JoeI didn't like Dr. Joe simply because he looked a lot like the actor Jon Lovitz and I continuously expected him to break out into a routine from Saturday Night Live but because he never talked down to me and didn't dismiss any of my concerns. I've been with the man for many years and many problems but now the high cost of gas has made me look for a doctor closer to home here in Norwich. Sigh ...

To that end, I had an appointment with a new doctor today who seemed more than qualified as she had held several doctor's jobs in San Francisco and had recently started her own practice here in Norwich. Though she seems nice enough, I'm not sure if I'm going to stick with her or haul myself the 30 miles to see "my" doctor as there just seemed to be something missing during the course of the appointment. Maybe my expectations were just too high or something. Well, that and I just couldn't picture her saying, "yeah, that's the ticket!"

At any rate, during the course of my physical I told her about my ongoing back issues and how I'm almost afraid to do anything these days for fear that I'm going to throw my back out again. After all, last time I was in pain for three days simply because I bent down to put yogurt containers in the refrigerator; something like that most definitely gives one pause and makes one overly cautious. Being able to tell the weather by how bad my leg aches is getting kind of old, too!

The new doc asked if I had ever tried lidocaine patches and I told her that I had heard of them but never tried them. She told me that some people have great success with them while they do absolutely nothing for other people but if I have chronic pain (which I do!) then perhaps they might be worth a shot. If you've never heard of a lidocaine patch, it's a form of topical anesthesia that you apply directly to your skin to stop the nerves from transmitting painful impulses to the brain. Considering that a lot of my current pain is due to residual nerve damage from when I had that pinched and mangled sciatic nerve, I figured that it wouldn't hurt to give the patches a try. With a glimmer of hope starting to spark, I went to the local CVS Pharmacy and ran smack into a brick wall ...

As the pharmacist typed the information into the computer for my insurance she stopped, looked up at me, and asked me if that was the only insurance I had - perhaps I had a secondary insurance that was better? Uhm, no ... I only have the one insurance but I could have sworn that I was told that our prescriptions were of the $5/$10/$2o deductible sort ... was it more than $20? Yep ... a lot more ... $166 more! Had I decided that I really wanted this prescription filled my co-pay for 30 days worth of the patches would be $186 ... that's just $14 shy of $200 if I'm doing my math correctly! Nothin' for nothin' but I'm a single working Mom and I just don't have that kind of money sitting around collecting dust. Plus to have to come up with it every 30 days ... nope, not happening!

Sigh ... so even though there seemed to be the possibility of a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel where my back pain was concerned it turns out that it was simply the headlight from yet another oncoming train set to flatten me if I didn't jump off of the tracks in time. I swear ... I need to either qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, marry a guy with a great insurance plan, or move to Canada because my health insurance is depressing the hell out of me!

The really sad thing is, I doubt I can afford the co-pay to go to a psychiatrist to talk about my depression!

Creative Photography

My friend and blog buddy Princess Patti from The Late Bloomer Boomer has taken to participating in the Creative Photography Contest, which is hosted weekly by Roger of the Idaho Daily Photo, and I thought I would give it a shot myself this week.

I don't know exactly how creative my photography is but I've really been enjoying trying to take better pictures and sharing them with you folks in the Blogosphere so this seems like a good way to expand my horizons a little bit.

Speaking of horizons, for my first entry I thought I would use this picture that I took at Eastern Point Beach the other night when we were there for the fireworks. I think this was probably my favorite one out of the batch that I took. It shows the moon reflecting over the water of the Long Island Sound with the Ledge Lighthouse in the distance that you can see much better if you enlarge the picture.

Moonlight over Long Island SoundI'm not planning on winning the contest (at least not yet!) but this definitely gives me the incentive to keep up with my photography! Thanks, Roger, for this contest!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Manic Monday - "Bug"

It's definitely the middle of summer and nothing says that better than the word "Bug" - which also happens to be the word of the week for Mo's Manic Monday Meme at It's a Blog Eat Blog World. Mo picked this word in conjunction with the first day of Doodle Week where the theme for Monday is "Doodle Bug". I've seen Doodle Week around but I tend to studiously avoid it because I doodle about as well as I sing ... which is badly ... but I know a lot of other people not only participate but do a grand job of it, too!

However, just because I don't draw or doodle doesn't mean that doodles are out of the question as I have daughters who love to draw. To that end, for this week's Manic Monday post I appealed to them for some help - after all, teenagers are experts when it comes to bugging people and certainly they know what a true pest looks like! Right?

Per my request (plea?), Jamie came up with this cute little guy here who most definitely qualifies as a Doodle Bug!

As for Amanda, she seems to know the true meaning of "pest" as her "buggy bug" is a bit more detailed and sinister looking which definitely qualifies in the overall bug department!

So there ya go, Mo, now you can say that you've been "bugged" by a couple of teenagers yourself!

If you want to see what's bugging other people on this Manic Monday then be sure to check out the linkies at Mo's Manic Monday Meme!