Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rudeness Should Equal Reprimand

UConn Huskies athletic logoImage via Wikipedia

Being as how I have no great interest in sports whatsoever, I generally don't blog about them in any way, shape, or form however there has been a story in the news here in Connecticut recently that I just have to weigh my two cents in on as the whole thing just frosts my pumpkin to no end for the simple reason that it shows just how completely and totally screwed up our priorities are becoming in this country of ours.

The controversy centers around some comments made at a press conference last Saturday by University of Connecticut head basketball coach Jim Calhoun when questioned about his salary by a freelance journalist and political activist. Ken Krayeske questioned Coach Calhoun at a news conference following UConn's win over South Florida and asked why the coach of a public university collects a salary of $1.6 million when the state has a budget deficit of more than $1 billion this fiscal year and up to $8.7 billion over the next two fiscal years.

It's been reported that initially Calhoun replied with a joke but then got quite agitated and laid into Krayeske when he continued to question him. "My best advice to you is, shut up," Calhoun said. "Quite frankly, we bring in $12 million to the university, nothing to do with state funds," Calhoun continued. "We make $12 million a year for this university. Get some facts and come back and see me ... Don't throw out salaries and other things." There was apparently a lot more said (or was that shouted?) but that's the main gist of the thing.

Since then, Governor M. Jodi Rell has called Calhoun's tirade an "embarrassing display" and two other Connecticut lawmakers, who head up the Connecticut General Assembly's higher education committee, have called for him to be reprimanded. Even though they say they are proud of his achievements as head coach at UConn, Senator Mary Ann Handley, D-Manchester, and Representative Roberta Willis, D-Lakeville, said that Calhoun's outburst does not reflect well on him or the University of Connecticut. In a letter to UConn President Michael J. Hogan, they wrote -
"His recent behavior was unacceptable and we request that the university take appropriate disciplinary action to reinforce the high ethical standards we have come to expect from our flagship institution; ... with increased success and recognition comes increased responsibility. Coach Calhoun's actions were not in keeping with the high ethical standards that we expect from a representative of the University of Connecticut."
Honestly ... I've got to agree with them. As I said, I don't follow sports and I don't give a rat's behind whether the UConn Huskies have a winning season or not as it's not going to matter one iota in my life but I do care whether or not someone who is supposed to represent a state institution can handle himself appropriately and with decorum; especially when that person is the highest paid state employee in the entirety of Connecticut.

Personally I think that most sports figures are paid entirely way too much and find it very sad that someone who can catch a football or hit a baseball makes more money than a brain surgeon or cancer specialist or someone of that ilk. Just because you have some athletic prowess does not make you a god or goddess or someone who is going to change the world and there's certainly no need to act like you're better than everyone else. That's not to say that all professional athletes do but there are an awful lot that do fall into that mold and are certainly not the type of role models I would choose for my children or grandchildren.

As someone who is quite frequently in the spotlight and asked tough questions, Coach Calhoun should by now be quite adept at sidestepping questions he doesn't want to answer. Instead of telling Krayeske to "shut up" he could have simply chosen to ignore him or perhaps have replied by telling him that the current setting was not one appropriate to that line of questioning and suggesting that they speak at a later date.

It is never ever acceptable for someone of Calhoun's position to act like he did but judging by some of the comments left in the story chat portion of the Norwich Bulletin's article on the situation, it appears that a lot of people think that what he did was perfectly fine and he should be making more than 1.6 million dollars a year coaching the Huskies because they have a great winning record and they're currently Number 2 in the nation.

Yeah? So? And that gives Calhoun the right to be rude? That gives him the go-ahead as the highest paid employee in the state to shout at someone who is asking questions he doesn't like? If the man wants to be an arrogant jackass on the basketball court that's fine - there are a lot of coaches who have adapted that particular style and even throw a chair or two when things don't go their way - but when you're standing in front of the press with cameras rolling, microphones recording, and people writing down everything you say then you have the responsibility of being a good representative of not only the University of Connecticut but the entire State of Connecticut. End of story.

I'm not exactly sure when it started but people have become ruder and ruder with each other and it's getting out of hand. You ought to see some of the comments in The Bulletin's story chat sections where people do nothing but throw insults at each other without thinking twice about what they're saying or who they are saying it, too. It's sad, it's pathetic, and it's a sorry society that our children are being raised in but it seems to be quite alright with a lot of people as long as their teams continue to win games or their opinions get expressed no matter whom they offend or possibly hurt.

The right thing for Coach Jim Calhoun to do would be to apologize and then watch his temper at future press conferences but I'd be willing to bet that doesn't happen. Worse yet, I'd be willing to bet that if you were to take a poll, the majority of people in Connecticut would say he did nothing wrong because he wins games for the University. To which again I say big deal as I think manners and simple respect between people is more important than how many basketball games a team wins. I guess I'm a bit old-fashioned in that respect.
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday

Lookingatthesky

Block Island sky

In honor of my upcoming trip out to Block Island in June that I wrote about the other day, I thought that I would look through my archives and find a sky picture or two from my trip out to The Block last September to use for this week's edition of Tisha's Looking at the Sky on Friday. I'm psyching myself up for some of the beautiful sky views that I'm sure I'm going to see while I'm enjoying my 3-day respite on a beautiful island out in the Atlantic Ocean!

These two shots were both taken from the deck of the ferry that we took from Point Judith out to Block Island, which is considered to be a part of the State of Rhode Island and sits 12 miles off of its coast. The sky was definitely doing some interesting things as we made our back to the mainland and there was even a small rainbow greeting us as we pulled into the docks!


Block Island rainbow

When I go out in June, I will be taking the high-speed ferry from New London, Connecticut so the trip will be a bit longer even though it will be a lot faster. It takes about an hour to get from New London out to The Block but if I'm lucky we might pass an interesting lighthouse or two along the way and that will make the trip more than worthwhile!

For more beautiful sky shots, be sure to go over to Tisha's and check out the linkies to see who else has joined in her popular new meme this week. Matter of fact, why not join in and play along, too? I bet you've got a beautiful shot or two of the sky yourself, don't you?!?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

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

Lately a lot has been written and talked about when it comes to President Obama's economic stimulus package and how it's going to bring our country back from that brink of financial disaster that we have been teetering on. Personally, I think there's a lot of stuff in there that could have been cut but I'm just your average Joe Citizen so what do I know? The folks in Washington are never going to listen to me so I might as well stop shouting at the television set and save my voice!

While the government has been handing out money left, right, and center, though, it would have been really nice had they decided to hand some my way as I'm more than sure that I could have done my civic duty and put it right back into the stressed-out economy with a fair amount of ease. After all, it doesn't do any business any good for the government to give them money to help shore them up if people still aren't going to be able to afford to buy their goods as once the money runs out they're going to be right back where they were to begin with. Rather than forking over trillions of dollars to banks, auto companies, and every other Tom, Dick, and Harry company that was ready to go under, the federal government should have given each and every taxpaying American a check and then told us to go forth and spend. Buy a home! Buy a car! Go on a vacation! Buy some new living room furniture! Just go buy!

I've no doubt that we Americans would have rallied to the cause and then gone out and sunk that money into any number of products made by American businesses and then those same businesses could stay in business and not lay off their workers because people were buying and there was work to be had! But again, what do I know?

At any rate, to get to the question in this post ... hypothetically speaking (of course), the federal government decides that they are going to stimulate the economy the best way they know how and put money into the hands of the people; to that end, a check for $10,000 lands in your mailbox with the proviso that you have to go out and spend that $10,000. You can't save it for a rainy day or invest it or any of that stuff - you have to go spend it ... so ...

What do you spend your $10,000 on?

My answer is pretty easy being that I really don't like to shop so wouldn't want to spend any time in the mall doling out my windfall. Instead, I would go on several vacations with the kids - definitely a cruise and definitely a trip out to California to visit my friends and family out there as well as invest in a lot of food at my two favorite Mexican restaurants! California needs some help paying for those new octuplets they're footing the bill for so I think it would be good to spend some of my money out there and help them out with that!

I'd finally get Amanda that synthesizer she's been wanting, buy a new bedroom set (none of that discount furniture but a really nice bedroom set!), and if there was enough left over maybe I'd buy a new laptop. Not that $10,000 goes as far as it used to, mind you, but I bet I could have a good time making it go somewhere!

So what about you? How would you spend your money?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sailing Away to Block Island ... Eventually!

Last year I was fortunate enough to be able to take some time to visit friends and family in California in May and then spend a week at a beach house in Rhode Island with some of the best bloggers ever in September. Two vacations in one year is pretty unprecedented for me and most definitely won't be happening this year; however, I have decided that I have earned a few days to myself and as such, have booked a room at The Inn at Block Island for three nights in early June.

Those of you who are regular readers might recall my post from last September when we all boarded the Block Island ferry and made the 12-mile trek off of the coast of Rhode Island to spend the day on an island that I found simply enchanting. As we were taking the ferry back to the mainland I promised myself that I was going to go back out to the island and spend more time there sometime in the future even if it meant going by myself.

innatblockisland-md While recovering from my recent back problems and lying in bed with lots of time to think, the thought occurred to me that if I was going to keep that promise to myself and go this year I might want to get with the program and see about booking a room somewhere before they were all taken. Originally I was thinking of staying at one of the Island's Victorian hotels but they were a little pricier than what I wanted to pay and after doing some looking around online, I came across the place that looked absolutely perfect for my purposes. porch1-lg

The Inn is a house that was built in 1900 for a sea captain and his family that was converted to a bed & breakfast in the 1980's; it has nine guest rooms and a beautiful wraparound porch where guests can either sit in rockers and relax or partake of the hearty breakfast they serve as well as afternoon refreshments.

porch2-lgFrom the pictures on their web site (where all of these pictures of the Inn came from), the house appeared to be exactly like the type of place I was looking for and when I found out that they were offering a "book two nights, get the third night free" deal for late May/early June (definitely a best buy on the island!). I decided it was more than perfect and promptly got in touch with the innkeeper to make my reservation for June 9th to the 11th.

bayberry The room I booked is called The Bayberry and it is situated on the second floor with an ocean view, queen-size bed, and private bath. There is a deck that is shared with another room but that's just fine by me as even though I'm going on this journey by myself that doesn't mean I plan on being a hermit for the entire 3 days! Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky and there will be a handsomem single gentleman in the room next door who decided he needed a 3-day getaway, too, though I'm not going to hold my breath on that of course!

While on Block Island I'm hoping to spend some time exploring the island via both foot and moped, taking lots of pictures, and just relaxing - perhaps with a good book - perhaps not. The Inn has wireless Internet and satellite TV but I'm already thinking that my laptop will be staying home on this trip though my Nikon is definitely going along for the adventure!

Southern bluffs I don't know what it was about Block Island that I found so enchanting when I was out there for that one day last September but I plan on giving myself ample time to see if I find it to be so again while I explore the two lighthouses, great salt pond, and rolling hills of a place that looks like something out of a Jane Austen novel. And even though some might think it strange, I'm really looking forward to going by myself for what I hope will be just the right amount of rest and relaxation.

Now if I can just learn to be patient until June gets here!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Painting Myself Into a Corner

Well, sort of ... not really ... but it sounded like a good title! Now that my back is no longer giving me grief and I've managed to recover from my bout of the flu that left me feeling like the equivalent of a wrung-out dishrag, I've had the chance to start working on the paint in Amanda's room again. Even though it is one pain-in-the-behind paint job, I think that when it's finally done it's going to look pretty cool.

the corner

This shot is of one of the corners of the room and as you can see, I've got both the black and white stripes done in this section. There's only partial red on one of the windows because I was checking the color to see if it was going to work and how many coats it's going to take being that red is a very tricky color to work with. I was kind of hoping that perhaps Amanda would decide that she liked the current gray trim just fine but she's quite taken with the red. I do have to admit that it looks pretty good against the stark black & white but unfortunately it's going to take about three coats to get the color right.

wallFrom this angle, you can see one of the closet doors and the third window as well as the rickety ladder that Amanda is afraid to stand on. I know it looks like the wall is bent but that's just an optical illusion from the stripes. Actually trying to take pictures in the room is pretty tricky overall as everything comes out looking like an optical illusion! I think, though, that when it's all done and finished, it's really going to be quite an awesome room.

Of course, being done and finished is still going to take some time. I completed taping off the stuff I need to paint but didn't have time to actually start painting again as it was getting late last night by the time I finished and today I'm off to my other job at Mohegan Tribal Dispatch (I haven't been down there since before Christmas and I've probably forgotten more than I remember at this point). Wednesday is, of course, a double shift at American but I'm hoping to at least be able to get one coat of black paint rolled onto the remaining 13 stripes before I have to go into work Thursday afternoon and then get a second coat on Friday before work. With any luck I'll have all of the striping done by Saturday - woohoo!

Once the stripes are finally completed then Amanda and I will start on the red paint for the trim. I may have to spend some time showing her just how to hold a paintbrush and not be quite so heavy-handed but one way or another, the kid who came up with this great idea is going to help out as there is no way I'm going to crawl around on the floor painting baseboards. We all know what happens with me and baseboards, don't we?! Exactly! I don't need any more trips to the Emergency Room! Besides, if the kid really wants to be an artist someday, this will be really good practice for her when it comes to the "struggling" part!

Monday, February 23, 2009

I Would Like to Thank the Bl-Academy ...


Imagine my surprise and delight to find that I am the recipient of one of this year's Bl-Oscars awarded by none other than The Sanni-Camedy! I was awarded the Bl-Oscar for Achievement in Blog Design and even though I would like to take credit for this award myself, I really need to pass this award on to Se7en of Blogs Gone Wild! who designed my blog for me a few years ago.

The problem is, though, I haven't been able to find Se7en. He hasn't posted an update on his website since December of 2007 and the last post on his personal blog, Evil Se7en, was over a year ago. To put it simply, I'm worried about the guy as I know that he had some medical problems in the past as well as trying to recover from Hurricane Katrinia and it seems strange that he has just disappeared off the face of the Blogosphere. If anyone knows where Se7en might be, please let me know and in the meantime I'll accept this lovely award from Sanni and hang onto it for him.

If you'd like to see who else won a Bl-Oscar, be sure to pop over to It's Sanni-licious to see the entire list. I promise there are no boring actors or actresses opening envelopes and most of the acceptance speeches are short ... well, except maybe for Maggie May from Misty's Musings who got a little carried away but as a dog, perhaps she didn't know that shorter is better when it comes to acceptance speeches!

Thank you again, Sanni - I am honored to have been included!

Remembering My Dad

Throughout our lives there are dates that become etched into our memories - dates of birthdays, dates of anniversaries, dates of high school or college Dad & Igraduations, dates of weddings, dates of deaths ...

Today marks a date that will forever remain etched in my memory as it was six years ago today that my father passed away.  Six years.  Yet I still remember it like it was last week and I think that I always will, it's not one of those dates that one is likely to forget.  I guess it's one of the reasons that I dislike February as much as I do.  I was never a big fan of the month to begin with and having the anniversary date of my father's death on the 23rd doesn't help its case.

Winter this year, much like 2003 was, has been horrible and I'm pretty sure that if my Dad were still alive, he would have had quite more than enough of it by now.  I believe I've mentioned in the past how much my Dad didn't like the cold of winter and how he, like so many of us, couldn't wait for it to be over and warmer weather come back around.  After he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (a result of his exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam), he liked winters even less as he just couldn't seem to get warm. 

So many times my Dad used to talk about moving to Arizona after he retired from his second career in maintenance at Day Kimball Hospital so that he could enjoy his later years in relative warmth but he never got the chance to do that as cancer robbed him of the opportunity to enjoy his retirement years like he should have. After being diagnosed with a cancer that was treatable but not curable, I think my father lost all desire to move elsewhere as Connecticut really was his home in spite of the nasty winters that we can get here.

I've thought about my Dad a lot this winter as the weather has  reminded me so much of 2003 and I've thought about how much he would have hated the bitter cold and the snow that we've had this year.  Perhaps my dislike of the weather this year and the desire to see the cold weather end is just me being more and more like my father; though I'd like to think we had more in common than a dislike of cold temperatures!

At any rate, I'm not sure exactly where I'm going with this post other than to say "Dad, I miss you and even though you wouldn't have liked the nasty cold we've had this year, I think you'd have been glad to see that I finally moved off the side of those ridiculous hills I lived on!"  Somehow, though, I think he knows ... or at least I like to think he does.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Scenery

sundayscenerybutton_lg

Stockton Palm Trees

No, no ... I've not been transported away to some warm paradise where palm trees sway in the breezes and fruity drinks come with tiny umbrellas ... I'm just wishing that I had been as I am heartily sick of this cold New England weather that we've had this winter. I know it's only February but enough already!!!

Anyhow, all carping about the weather aside, for Lee's Sunday Scenery meme I chose the above picture that I took while I was on vacation out in California last May. I came across it the other day while looking for some other pictures and it reminded me of what a good time I had out in Stockton even if it is the most miserable city in America!

Part of the good time was because of another picture I came across ...

100_0763

So now I'm not only missing some warmer weather but hankering a big ole' plate of Mexican food, too! Sadly, I don't think I'm going to get either anytime soon ...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday

Lookingatthesky

Normally I might be sitting here asking myself "where did the week go?" but I'm pretty sure I know that most of this week went by while I was lying in bed recovering from the double whammy of back issues and the flu. Ah well, at least February is going by fast which is fine by me as it's about near my least favorite month and I'll be happy to see it be gone in a just a little over a week. I've got my fingers crossed that it takes this nasty winter weather we've been having with it and maybe we'll start seeing the promise of Spring!

In the meantime, it's Friday again and that means it's time for Tisha's Looking at the Sky on Friday meme. Unfortunately, even though we had some beautiful sunny days earlier in the week (albeit cold ones) I haven't had a chance to get outside with my camera and take any pictures in awhile but as I was leaving to go to work today the sky caught my eye as I walked out the door and I snapped a few pictures with my cell phone camera. Yeah, yeah, I know, I know - I've got a perfectly good Nikon sitting in the house just begging to be used and I'm taking pictures with my cell phone!

Thursday sky 3

Thursday sky 2

Thursday sky 1

As you can see, it was definitely a mixed bag of clouds that we had overhead in Norwich yesterday and even though when I left for work at 2:45 it was fairly warm, all that changed sometime during the evening and at one point it was so windy that the snow that had started falling was blowing sideways across the roads and past the windows at work! By the time I left at 11:00, it was downright cold again. Ah well, I believe I've heard a time or two that in New England if you don't like the weather - wait a minute!

Hope everyone has beautiful skies overhead for your Friday!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Birthday Pie For My Favorite Guy!

It's pretty much been shouted from every blooftop (that's blog + roof for those not familiar with blog speak) that today is the birthday of one of the Blogosphere's nicest guys but considering that I have had the pleasure of spending quite a bit of time in real life with the gentleman in question and I consider him to be one of my dearest friends, I would be horribly remiss not to join in wishing Morgen (aka Not the Mama) a very happy 42nd birthday!

There are just not the words to explain to you what a truly phenomenal guy Mo is because if you think he's virtually fantastic, you really need to meet him in the flesh. He's funny, he's warm, he's intelligent, he's caring, .... there just aren't enough adjectives to describe what type of person he is but I can tell you that I am beyond proud and honored to be called his friend.

Now, Mo is more of a pie guy than he is cake and even though pecan pie is his very favorite, I thought I'd serve up a nice apple custard pie. Unfortunately, I'm out of vanilla ice cream so you're just going to have to settle for it plain but I think you'll find it quite tasty nonetheless. So grab a slice, tune up your vocal chords, and then go over to It's a Blog Eat Blog World and sing a chorus of Happy Birthday to my good friend, Mo.

Mo - I wish you nothing but happiness on this birthday and the many more to come. I know that life has been pretty confusing and messed up lately, especially when you're trying to make some very hard decisions but if 42 is truly the answer to the Ultimate Question then you have nowhere to go but up and I have no doubt that the universe is going to start lining itself up properly for you very soon. If it doesn't, I'm just going to have to start taking names and kicking some cosmic behind.

Happy Birthday, my friend - I love you!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Photo Meme & A Grand Award

Recently I was tagged for a Photo Meme by both Tisha of CrAzY Working Mom and Ralph at Idaho Photo. Luckily the meme requires that I go back into some old photo files and that's a good thing as I haven't been able to take my camera out for any new pictures in way too long. I'll spare you the litany of excuses as to why that is!

Anyhow, like any meme does, this one comes along with a short list of rules so here they be and then I'll dig up that 6th Folder/6th Picture for ya ...

***Rules***
1. Go to your Picture Folder on your computer or wherever you store your pictures.
2. Go to the 6th Folder and then pick the 6th Picture.
3. Post it on your blog and tell the story that goes with the picture.
4. Tag 5 other glorious peoples to do the same thing and leave a comment on their blog tellin’ them ’bout it.

Turns out that the 6th folder in my pictures file is one dated 07212008 which is the date that Jamie flew back to Tampa last summer after her visit. Wouldn't it just figure that picture #6 is of clouds as that was the summer that I was taking cloud pictures by the score it seemed. These beauties were visible overhead at T.F. Green Airport where Jamie was catching her flight and it was just shortly after her flight took off that the heavens opened up and rain came down in torrents. Kind of matched my mood at the time, truth be told.

Now let's see ... Who to tag? Who to tag? Hmmm ... well, in celebration of her blog being back up and running in our Readers I tag Amazing Gracie at Echoes of Grace; because she just had a birthday I shall tag Carrie of Asara's Mental Meanderings; because he has a birthday coming up I'll tag Morgen of It's a Blog Eat Blog World; because I'm sure she's got something interesting up her sleeve I'll tag Jamie of Duward Discussion; and because she has to suffer through that which is the state of the State of California lately, I will tag Carol of A Letter to Me ...

Following the tag for the Photo Meme, I inadvertently managed to step into an award/tag of sorts when Ivana decided that she was going to pass along the award that she had gotten onto the first five people to leave a comment on her post. Well, as it turned out I was the first person to leave a comment and it seemed rude not to accept the award and the rules that came along with it (good grief, people, do you think it would be possible to develop an award that doesn't require rules that go along with it?!?).

Anyhow, the Life is Grand Award says you must list five reasons why you think life is grand and then pass it along to five other bloggers. Yeah, yeah, yeah ... well, I'm bending the rules a bit this time and NOT passing it along to five other bloggers (unless you really want it in which case feel free to grab it & go!). After all, I'm sure I've already got five other bloggers grumbling about the tag I hit them with above but if they've any complaints they can register them with the Queen of Memes and see if there are any vacancies in the dungeon at Bloggingham!

Anyhow, enough of that ... on to the five reasons that I think life is grand - and it's a good thing I'm writing this now rather than two days ago as I probably couldn't have thought of one reason life was grand - never mind five!
  1. I have managed to get the flu that has been making the rounds so I can cross it off the list of things to worry about in the future!
  2. I live close to Backus Hospital now so when I need to go to the Emergency Room to be lectured by crabby Triage nurses about stupid reasons people call for ambulances instead of getting treated for whatever reason I came in, I can almost walk to get there!
  3. In this day and age where people are losing their jobs left, right, and center I have job security as, unfortunately, there will always be sick and injured people who require an ambulance for one reason or another. It's sad but it's true.
  4. I now live in an apartment that has no stairs as opposed to the last place which had two sets of stairs that were more like glorified ladders (I am still amazed that in the nine years time I lived there I never fell down either of them once!).
  5. Spring will soon be here and I'll be able to take walks around my new neighborhood and hopefully strengthen up my back muscles so that episodes like the one I just went through will be fewer and farther between.
And there you have it - five reasons why, this week, life is grand. Were you to ask me to list five reasons next week, they'd probably be different but that's one of the great things about life - it's always changing and evolving and that's what really makes life grand!

Everyone have themselves a grand Wednesday no matter what it finds you doing! I shall hopefully be able to last my entire 16-hour shift at work this time around as I think that the worst has passed and I'm getting my strength back (though I still feel a little weird around the edges for lack of a better way to put it!).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sense and Sensibility and Sores

Cover of "Sense & Sensibility (Special Ed...Cover via Amazon

While spending pretty much an entire day in bed again yesterday (I felt better but not quite well enough to go out dancing), I got to thinking about how completely and totally uncomfortable one's bed can become when one is confined to it for long periods of time. After almost three full days of "bed confinement", I can fully empathize with patients who suffer from bed sores and the like as I doubt there's too many places on me that aren't heartily sick of contact with a mattress or pillow.

For some reason, this then got me to thinking of the part in Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" where Marianne Dashwood comes down with a nasty case of what I guess was putrid fever (typhus) after becoming horribly depressed and standing in the rain while staring longingly at the home of the man she loved who abandoned her for Miss Grey, a woman of money and title.

"Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds. Or bends with the remover to remove. Oh no! It is an ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken. Willoughby. Willoughby. Willoughby."
Poor Miss Marianne is quite overcome and takes to bed for quite a long period of time while Colonel Brandon (admirably played in the movie by Alan Rickman) is beside himself with worry as he is quite taken with Miss Marieann himself. The doctor is called in for some "bloodletting", a rather common medical practice at the time that was thought to help purify the blood from whatever disease was attacking it and heal the patient. I could get into a whole discussion here about how it was bloodletting that first determined the difference between surgeons and physicians and the origin of barber's poles but perhaps I'll save that for another day!

Suffice it to say that after an extended period of time, Marianne comes around from her illness (with apparently no mention of bed sores!) and finds that her affections have now turned towards the very kindly Colonel Brandon who, though not as dashing as young Willoughby, loves Marianne beyond reason and what woman could resist that in a good man?

In addition to that happy ending in the book, we also get to cheer when Elinor and Edward are finally united after a series of happenstances that make one think that the love they have for each other is overwhelmingly doomed. All in all, "Sense and Sensibility" is one of my favorite Jane Austen novels but that's probably because it appeals to the incurable romantic in me.

Now, if you're wondering how on earth this post started talking about the aches and pains of being in bed for way too many days into a short review of a Jane Austen novel just bear in mind that I have had way too much time on my hands to think and not do much else! Just be glad I'm not posting any of the strange dreams I've been having lately where I'm panicking because I have one more room to pack up and move before the evil landlord takes over the house! Trust me, I'd rather be thinking about Alan Rickman or even Hugh Grant!

As an addendum to this post - Jamie had left a link in her comment to take a quiz to see what "Sense and Sensibility" character I might be. It sounded like fun so I gave it a go and lo and behold -
"You're Marianne Dashwood of Sense & Sensibility! More dramatic and emotional than your sister Elinor, you have no trouble saying what you think and showing people how you feel about them. However, you usually know when to keep your mouth shut."
Well, I'll be - who knew?? Though I'm pretty sure there are those at work who would argue with the part about knowing when to keep my mouth shut! If you'd like to take the quiz yourself, check it out here and a big thank you to Jamie on the West Coast! Now if my Colonel Brandon would just show up and sweep me off my feet!
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Human Again

I think perhaps I am finally starting to feel marginally human again ...

Following my trip to the Emergency Department at Backus Hospital on Saturday, I thought I felt well enough to go into work yesterday morning even though I was seriously debating whether or not that was a really good idea. Getting paid for 16 hours or not getting paid for 16 hours is a pretty strong incentive, though, so I opted to suck it up and limp my way into work. Getting my uniform on was rather amusing but I somehow managed and made it to work without incident.

It was supposed to be my day to be on the ambulance side of the console but I felt that considering I could barely move, it might be best if Jen took over that side. She agreed even though she had almost no voice due to the upper respiratory illness she'd had going on for about a week or so. I'm not sure if we were in a dispatch center or an infirmary but at least we were there and doing our best. Jen kept coughing and I kept cringing but we were getting the job done.

Several hours into the shift, I started to feel really bad and it wasn't just my back at that point but my head and a nasty case of the chills. With each subsequent phone call my voice wa

Cover of "The Duchess"Cover of The Duchess

s getting worse and worse and finally Jen looked at me and asked if I was going to make it. I honestly had to answer 'no' as it was getting to the point where I couldn't even keep my eyes open and even though it was Chick Flick Sunday and we were watching "Nights in Rodanthe", I couldn't keep my head up enough to even watch the screen. I know the second movie we watched was "The Duchess" but try as I might, I can't for the life of me remember what the first movie we watched was! Now how bad is that?? The main thing I remember about "The Duchess" is that it was kind of depressing and that Ralph Fiennes' character, the Duke of Devonshire, was a total jerk but other than that ... heh ...

Finally at 4:00 I told Jen that I hated to abandon her but that I really needed to go home. I didn't just feel like Death Eating a Cracker, I felt like Death Scarfing an Entire Sleeve of Saltines! Somehow I managed to drive myself home where I popped some Valium and Vicodin and put my shivering self back to bed. I woke up long enough at 10:00 to take a second dose and then again at about 1:00 but beyond that, I don't remember much of anything except feeling really, really bad. Leave it to me to not just have back issues but to come down with a flu of sorts at the same time! Oh well, as they say, "in for a penny, in for a pound"! Speaking of pounds, one advantage to being sick for the past few days has meant I don't need to worry about buying any weight loss products to lose a few extra pounds - just not eating at all has done that!

I'm feeling marginally better today and the back pain has almost subsided completely though getting around is still kind of tricky. My head has stopped pounding and my throat isn't burning so I'm going to hope this all means that I have turned a corner and am heading down the Road to Recovery rather than the Path of More Illness! At least I don't have to worry about missing more work as I'm off today and tomorrow and with any luck, I'll feel quite human again by the time I go back in for my double-shift on Wednesday. That's the plan at least! In the meantime, I'm just going to take it easy and not worry about the fact that this new place is still just one big pile of boxes. I'll get to it eventually ...
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Retirement Planning - Or Lack Thereof

I don't know why but one of the things I was thinking about this morning when I woke up (or should that read "arose from my drug-induced state?") was my finances and the very good chance that I am never ever going to be able to retire. I'm pretty sure those thoughts were brought on by the fact that due to my back issues and the flu that I managed to catch at the same time, I just missed three days of unpaid time at work and that's really going to hurt next paycheck.

The thing is, it's not only really going to hurt next paycheck but it's going to hurt overall because the amount of money I'm able to contribute to my retirement plan at work is so very minimal to begin with, that missing time at work makes it even less. Things like this make me start to wonder whether or not I should consider looking at online trading or even stock trading in general.

I was looking at FirstTrade.com, which is an online broker, and they have a section on retirement planning that I was reading over that basically talks about no-fee IRAs and how easy it is to save for retirement. Of course, the example they give is for a 20-year old depositing just $500 a month into an IRA and being able to retire at age 62 with close to $300,000 in the bank and I'm afraid I'm way past age 20 so I'm not really sure what sort of options there are for me out there. They talk about compounding and about how important it is to start early. But what if you're starting late, what then?

Like everyone else, my retirement account has taken quite a hit with the current economic crisis and I doubt that there are any easy answers when it comes to the question of any sort of secure financial future but maybe I should seriously consider looking into some other options at this point or else I'll still be dispatching ambulances when I'm 75 ... provided my back hasn't totally given out by then.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

VD Spent in the ED - Or Something Like That!

I had all good intentions of getting back into Lee's new Sunday Scenery meme this week but as they say, "the best laid plans of mice and men oft times go astray". In this case, the best laid plans of mice and men were laid astray by my ongoing back issues that got bad enough Saturday afternoon that I finally decided a trip to the local Emergency Department was in order.

To be honest, I hate going to the ED when it's something so simple as back pain but when it gets to the point that you can't walk, can't sit, and can barely lie down then it's probably time to do something. Besides, I figure that if it gets to the point where it's bad enough to make me cry then it's bad enough to go seek medical help.

Luckily I live about two-three blocks away from Backus Hospital so after carefully getting dressed, I told Amanda to come along in case I wrecked the car or something, and we drove the short distance over. The place was nowhere near crowded as I limped in and I was hoping that meant I wasn't going to sit in triage long but after watching one person after another who came in after me being called in, I finally sent Amanda over to inquire as to my status being that I was in quite a bit of pain. The not-incredibly pleasant nurse behind the desk told her that I was next and within a few minutes she called my name then looked on as I struggled to my feet. Sitting in one spot for 50 minutes had not been a good thing.

As she took my vitals and asked what the problem was, Amanda said something about maybe I should have gone via ambulance as I would have been seen sooner and the not-incredibly pleasant nurse told her that my situation certainly didn't warrant the abuse of calling an ambulance. I told her no kidding, that I dispatched ambulances and saw people use them for stupider things on a regular basis so I wasn't about to call one just because I had 7 out of 10 back pain and could barely ambulate. The not-incredibly pleasant nurse than sent me in the direction of Convenient Care so I shuffled down the hall and was greeted by a much nicer staff.

Amanda found it incredibly amusing that one of the nurses looked at me and said "Hey, you work at American Ambulance, don't you? I see you on a lot of people's Facebook pages!" Ah, notoriety! They immediately showed me into an examination room where I waited rather uncomfortably for probably about another 30 minutes before a Physician's Assistant came in and checked me out. I really didn't expect that there was much of anything that could be done in an ER setting but she gave me prescriptions for Vicodin and Valium and told me that should at least get me some rest until I could get back on my feet and in to see my ortho doctor. After warning me to not to drive after taking the Vx2 combo, she wished me well and sent me on my achy way.

Luckily, the closest CVS is not far at all so I carefully drove over there and had my pills in less than ten minutes. I grabbed some orange juice and a box of Puffs to help with the cold I've got on top of the backache and then came home to climb into bed after drugging myself up and hoping for a relaxing sleep and better day to follow. Actually, I'm rather impressed at my typing abilities here what with the combination of drugs coursing through my system!

So, it turns out that the only scenery I saw this weekend, other than the ceiling in my bedroom, was that out of the room I was in at Convenient Care which is depicted above. I'm actually surprised I had the foresight to grab my cell phone and take the shot considering I was really just hoping someone would come in and put a bullet in me at that point but I had a feeling it could be used in a blog post!

For now, I am going to roll over, turn out the light, and see where the drugs take me. With any luck I'll be able to be back at work tomorrow for my Sunday double as I really can't afford to miss two more days of pay but if not, at least I'll be able to rest comfortably here at home and should be comfortably numb enough not to worry about the money - for now!

Hope everyone else had a better Valentine's Day than I did! Oh, and a big THANK YOU to everyone on Facebook who left me such nice messages - it's really great to know that there are folks out there who care about me!
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Stockton Rising ... Well, Not Exactly ...

Stockton RisingLast year I was fortunate enough to go on vacation out to California to visit friends and people whom I still consider family in the city of Stockton. While I was there I took a lot of pictures - to say the least - and posted a good deal of them but there were some that I took that I never got around to working into a post as I wasn't quite sure how to do so. Well, with the recent announcement of Stockton rising to the number one spot as the most miserable city in America according to Forbes.com, the time has finally come when I can use those pictures!

The pictures in question were of a sculpture that graces the Stockton waterfront by the Stockton Arena which is aptly titled "Stockton Rising". The sculpture was designed as public art by Scott Donahue, a Bay Area artist who has created more than a dozen sculptures, to represent Stockton as a city on the move, pulling itself up from its humble beginnings as a town that once solely existed to serve the needs of the California Gold Rush. In his 1852 book, Life in California, James H. Carson wrote of Stockton, ""A rush and whirl of noisy human beings were continually before the eye. The magic wand of gold had been shaken over a desolate place, and on it a vast city had arisen at the bidding." Bear in mind the man was in Stockton attempting to recuperate from rheumatism so perhaps his view was a little jaded when he wrote that! Either way, it served as Donahue's inspiration for his artwork.

The City of Stockton shelled out $125,000 for this ... er ... lovely sculpture in 2006 that Donahue describes on his resume as,

"The overall cylindrical form of this artwork is similar to the Arena itself, and the large figures are the athletic without personifying a particular sport. The smaller figures refer to the family, friends, community, and second thoughts. Stockton is a Delta city and the surrounding waterways define the area and life of this region."
Sure, Scott ... if you say so!

Stockton Rising 2 The then-mayor of Stockton and former Police Chief, Ed Chavez, proclaimed that the 12-foot-6-inch sculpture which depicts the Delta at its base and the city's skyline at its crown, "truly defines our city" but I think he might have been only one of a handful of folks who thought so.

In 2007 the city's Cultural Heritage Board first mocked and then rejected "Stockton Rising" as a winner of an annual award for artistic achievement. As a matter of fact, some of the board members thought some of the faces "looked a little scary" and thought it was neither subtle or abstract.

Truth be told, I am inclined to agree. That was by far one of the ugliest sculptures I have ever seen and my friend Cyndi, a Stockton native and lifelong resident, totally agreed with me. She was outraged that the City had shelled out $125,000 on a piece of art that looked like it was designed to scare small children and thought that the money really could have been better spent elsewhere.

Perhaps, though, Mr. Donahue was being prophetic as it turned out that Stockton truly has risen - right to the top of the America's Ten Most Miserable Cities. Last year I wrote a post about Stockton's ranking as the number two most miserable city in America when it was sandwiched between Detroit and Flint, Michigan. Apparently being second wasn't good enough, though, and Stockton rose right to the number one spot on the list beating out other such greats as Memphis, Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, Miami, and St. Louis. Flint and Detroit actually managed to work their way down the list this year and came in at #6 and #7 respectively; while Stockton Rising 4Modesto, which is a stone's throw from Stockton, came in at #5 this year, inching its way three spots up from it's #8 ranking of last year.

So what was it that made Stockton number one this year? According to Forbes, "Only 15% of Stockton adults have a college degree, which is one of the lowest rates in the U.S. Unemployment is expected to hit 15% in 2010, while housing prices should keep falling back to their mid-1990s level when the median home price was $130,000."

Stockton ranked in the bottom seven in four of the nine categories Forbes looked at: commute times, income tax rates, unemployment and violent crime. The city is also considered to be Ground Zero in the housing boom and subsequent bust with the country's highest foreclosure rate last year at 9.5% In 2008 housing prices dropped 39% and they are expected to fall another 36% this year. No doubt that's making for some truly miserable bankers and realtors as well as former homeowners. I rather doubt that commercial real estate is doing any better either.

Even though they're Number One and could be cashing in on t-shirts, coffee mugs, and bumper stickers, Stockton is apparently keeping their status rather quiet as when I called Cyndi this past Monday to congratulate her on living at the top, she hadn't even heard about it yet. I guess I'm not surprised, being at the top of being on the bottom is probably not something I'd be putting on billboards either.

Instead, according to the Stockton Record, the city is laying off 29 police officers and a trio of department heads in an effort to turn around its $30 million budget crisis. Nothing for nothing folks but when you're already that far in the hole and have crime rising at an alarming rate, do you really think that the $1.1 million dollars you're going to save via police layoffs is worth it?

Stockton Rising 3 Apparently myself and Cyndi aren't the only ones who seem to think that the city needs to find a better way to save some money. In a statement made by leaders of the Stockton Police Officers Association, the union that represents the department's rank-and-file, they concurred with us. "When we were at 440 officers we were barely treading water," said Officer Lon Hudson, a union official. "We have reached a point that it is unsafe for citizens and our officers."

I care deeply about some of those citizens Officer Hudson mentions and I still know some of the officers he refers to also; I would really hate to see the city leave any of them unprotected and unsafe in a town where more than misery is on the rise.

Back when I lived in Stockton, a very long time ago, it was touted as "Someplace Special" but now it seems more like "Someplace Scary" and I'm not just referring to that hideous sculpture that sits outside Stockton Arena. Maybe the city could put it on eBay and get a good enough price to help out with that $30 million deficit - there's got to be someone who appreciates "good art"! Maybe they could even get $1.1 million for it and leave the Police Department alone!

In the meantime, Cyndi - lock your doors and do me a big favor and check on Grandma Edith once in awhile; and John - just stay safe no matter what you're doing.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday

Being that I have missed the past couple of Fridays and Tisha's fun new meme, I thought it was about high-time I got back into the swing of things and posted a picture of the sky as seen from in front of my old house for what was most likely the very last time when I took this picture Thursday afternoon.

Looking at the Sky

Yesterday was very windy with clouds of all sorts marching across the skies but I thought that these were rather appropriate as in the midst of the dark clouds, a white cloud was shining through and I'm going to take that as a sign that things are going to go very well for Amanda and I in our new apartment. Granted, I managed to throw out my back while finishing up the cleaning at the old place yesterday when I bent down to clean off a baseboard but it just figures that I couldn't get out of there without one final backache considering that's the place I lived when I first started having back problems!

At any rate, the keys were left on the counter along with a final check for the old landlord (half-tempted as I was to not pay him at all due to the lack of hot water for several months) after I took lots and lots of pictures to show that there was no damage to the place and that it was left clean just in case he follows through with his threats and takes me to court. Suffice it to say, the guy was not happy when I called in the Building Inspector's Office and he got written up for quite a few code violations but I never would have called had he just fixed the hot water like I asked him to do. He even threatened to evict me if I weren't gone by the move-out date of February 15th that I gave him! Are you kidding me?? Oh well, I think that was just fate's way of telling me it was time to move on to a nicer place with a nicer landlady.

Once my back starts feeling better, the next step is to get my life unpacked from all of these boxes that are piled up in the new place and then start taking pictures of the sky over my new home. Maybe I'll get lucky sometime and capture a rainbow overhead!

Don't forget to pop by Looking at the Sky on Friday and check out some other beautiful views. I know for fact that one of the pictures you can see is of a gorgeous full moon over Georgia just by going here. Feel free to tell the blog owner that I'm jealous!

Speaking of blog owners, hop on over to Asara's Mental Meanderings and wish Carrie a happy birthday on this Friday the 13th! Hopefully she'll have a lucky day full of wonderful things as well as a fantastic year to follow! Happy Birthday, Carrie!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pictures From My Past

One of the advantages of moving (other than the chance to clear out a lot of clutter) is the possibility of finding things that you thought you were long gone - or better yet - things that you had completely forgotten existed to begin with! Such was the case while clearing out a back room at my old house and coming across a couple of photo albums whose existence had long since been erased from my memory banks. Funny thing is, what with one of them being an album of pictures from my wedding in 1991, you would think that I would have remembered it!

How those albums came to be in an unused, blocked off portion of the house (a room off of the back mud-room that my former landlord had always promised to turn into a second bathroom/laundry room but never did) is beyond me. I thought that the albums had gone with my ex-husband when he moved out in 2001 or had just been tossed and I honestly hadn't given a thought to them in years and years so it was quite a surprise to find them.

After getting them back to the new place and looking through them a bit, I thought it might be fun to scan a few of the pictures and post them here to show you what I looked like almost 18 years ago when life seemed a lot simpler than it is now. Obviously, the years have not been good to me and it's rather dismaying to see how much I've changed over the years but I guess that's all part of the progression of time, isn't it? Honestly, though, I'm still trying to figure out where all those years went!

Me at the mirror in the morning

I'm afraid that the quality of these pictures is none too good being that they were sitting rather unprotected out in that back room (they all need to be taken out of their current album, cleaned up, and put in a new one) plus they lose a bit in the scanning process but hopefully they'll pass muster here. All of the wedding pictures were taken by Judy, my former roommate from California, who flew out for the occasion but whom I have lost touch with.

This first picture was taken on the morning of August 17th, 1991 at my grandmother's old house where Mike and I were living before I remarried. The mirror that I'm looking in was hers and I'm not sure if I was more worried about the necklace I was wearing or the butterflies that were gathering in my stomach but I guess you could say that I look rather contemplative. Or is that scared? getting in the limo

In this next shot I'm getting into the limo that had come to pick up myself and my bridesmaids to take us from my home in Canterbury to the church at the Naval Base in Groton. My ex-husband was a Navy man and we got married in the Chapel of the Sea (though it was nowhere near the sea!). Due to the massive amount of butterflies churning in my stomach that had increased exponentially since I was looking in the mirror, I told the limo driver to go to either New York or Boston instead of the chapel but he obviously thought I was joking and continued on to Groton! He had probably dealt with a lot of brides with a case of the nerves and I had a major case!

Once I got through the wedding service itself (I distinctly remember wondering if it would be really bad if I went and sat on the steps in front of the vestibule for awhile as I was starting to feel really sick at one point), I seemed to finally relax a little - as this next picture which was taken after the service shows ...

Me in the limo

Of course, what you don't see here is the champagne glass that was next to me on the roof of the limo! I don't think, though, that it was the champagne that had caused me to finally relax - it was just knowing that the stress of the whole wedding was over. When I got married the first time, it was in the reception area of a dentist's office in New Jersey (the guy was a Justice of the Peace) so there was no pomp and circumstance or ceremony but the second time I got married, I wanted to do it right - hence the white dress, et al. The dentist's office was much easier!

In looking at these pictures now, the main thing I keep thinking is - "wow, my hair looked kind of nice!" I showed a few of them to one of my co-workers when she was over on Tuesday helping paint Amanda's room and she told me what a really nice smile I had (considering she said "had", I've got to take it that means I don't smile all that much now which is not a good thing).

Getting back to my hair, this last picture was taken in the White Mountains of New Hampshire while we were on our honeymoon.Me in NH Feel free to tell me how very 90's my hair was as it's true but at least I had hair that wasn't flat and impossible to do anything with like it seems to have become 'lo these many years later! Just goes to show what ten years of marriage, giving birth to two more children, and going through a divorce will do to a person ... ah, if I only knew then what I know now ...

I hope you enjoyed this brief stroll down Memory Lane with me. Perhaps I'll get the chance to scan a few more pictures to share with you sometime in the future; I'm sure there is a lot more "undiscovered" stuff hiding in the boxes piled up around here - finding it can be one of the fun parts of moving!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Too Many Choices!

Sometimes I really think that there is such a thing as "too much of a good thing" as the picture above that I took awhile back serves to illustrate. It used to be that when you went to the store to get new shoes, for example, you had limited choices and didn't have to spend all day pondering which ones to get or finally pick out a pair only to go home and wish that maybe you had gotten the other ones instead. I can see why children are confused when it comes to making choices these days as things like this are confusing even to we adults.

Case in point - I stopped in at the local WalMart yesterday because I needed to pick up a couple of things for the new house as one invariably always needs when moving from one place to another. One of the things I was looking for was a silverware tray for the drawer as the one that I had previously was too big and didn't fit correctly. I figured I'd pop in, grab a new silverware tray and a couple other things, pop back out and continue my day. Wrong!

When I got to the aisle where the silverware trays were I stood there facing way too many choices - bamboo, silicone-lined, several different types of plastic, red, gray, black, clear ... augh! I found myself picking up and then putting down again not one or two but four different silverware trays before I finally decided on a mesh silver one as I hate it when you get crumbs in your silveware tray for whatever reason and I figured that with mesh, the crumbs would fall right through. Before making that decision I had actually put two other choices into the cart and started down the aisle before I backed up, changed my mind, and took them out again when something else caught my eye. Ridiculous. And that was just the silverware tray ... never mind the robe hooks, sink liners, and other things that I needed. Quick trip to WalMart my old Aunt Del!

Seriously, it would be so much easier with just a few less choices ... life is too short to spend any of it standing in WalMart trying to make up my mind! Which I guess is another reason I hate shopping - too many choices! Anyone else have this problem?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dinner and a Show

It has been said that "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" but I gotta tell you - it's not just Jack who suffers from such a calamity! Ever since I decided to move someplace that has hot water and a landlord that wasn't going to make me feel bad if I had the nerve to ask him to fix something, I've been using just about every available moment outside of work to get my worldly goods out of the old place and into the new. It's made for a stressful couple of weeks in more ways than one so when my son asked me if I wanted to go out to the Fuji Garden Japanese Steakhouse in Pawcatuck this past Saturday to celebrate his wife's birthday, I thought it sounded like fun and said "sure".

Amanda and I had joined Mike and Laura at the same restaurant two years ago and not only was it fun to sit at a hibachi table and enjoy the show that our chef put on but the food was also very tasty so I was definitely looking forward to the night out, especially considering I spent the entire rest of the day hauling things in and out of one house or another. A break was definitely needed! Before I went, though, I needed to stop and pick up a couple of birthday gifts for Laura though I was on my own as to what to get her as Mike had said the only thing she wanted was a night out.

After giving it a little bit of thought, I decided that it might be nice to get Laura some 'girly stuff' being that she lives with three guys - my son and two grandsons. To that end I bought her some coconut and lime soap and body lotion, a box of European chocolates, and a candle that not only looked exactly like a jar of maraschino cherries but smelled like it, too! The only thing missing was vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, and some whipped cream!

I ran home, quickly wrapped the gifts, and changed clothes before heading out to make the drive over to Pawcatuck, a small town near the Rhode Island border. Even though I hate to be late, I had a feeling I was going to be as traffic past Foxwoods Casino was its usual pain-in-the-driver's-seat no matter that their profits have plunged with the current economic status of the country. I guess people still figure they need to go out on a Saturday night and the casino is apparently as good a place as any.

Dinner was set for 6:00 and I got there at about 5 minutes past so met up with everyone else already sitting around the hibachi table. Joining us were Mike's friend and best man at his wedding, Bill (who also had helped Mike the week before in moving most of the furniture out of my old house - thanks, Bill!); Tom, an EB co-worker; and Beth and Eric, more co-workers. If it seemed strange to any of them that Mike's mom was joining them for dinner none of them acted like it and I didn't feel at all out of place around a table of young 30-somethings. Besides, isn't 50 the new 30? I think I read that somewhere and if that's the case, I fit right in!

hibachi

Our table was the one on the left and because I'm a dope lately and totally forgot to bring my camera, I got the above picture from the restaurant's web site. The other picture in this post was taken with my cell phone camera so it isn't of the best quality but I think you'll get the general idea!

When I arrived everyone was ordering sushi, something that I really haven't been able to get into even though two of my three kids just love it. Mike told me that he was going to give the sea urchin (Uni) a try as he'd heard it was supposed to be good. Yeah ... okay ...! Bill, who is apparently quite well-versed in the stuff, was having an assortment of sushi for dinner as opposed to a hibachi meal and when the platter arrived, I had to admit that it all looked and smelled good even though it isn't something I care for. It made me laugh, though, when Mike tried the Uni as his face was similar to that of a baby's when you give him or her some new food to try - somewhat quizzical and perplexed and not quite sure whether to swallow or spit! He said that the taste was okay but he didn't really care for the texture at all; either way I give him major points for being brave enough to try it!

Shortly afterwards our chef came out and fired up the hibachi grill - literally!

I love to watch these guys prepare the food as they flip their knives and spatulas, chop and dice at the speed of light, and crack jokes all at the same time. They are true artists at what they do and it's one of the most fun dining experiences ever! It's most definitely dinner and a show and well worth the extra charge that you pay to sit at a hibachi table. If you've never had the pleasure, may I suggest you try it sometime - I guarantee you won't be disappointed!

My steak and chicken was absolutely delicious as was the fried rice, noodles, and vegetables that I had on the side. Everyone agreed that the food was great and plentiful and there wasn't a single one of us who had room for dessert. Most everyone else was enjoying a bit of Sake with their meal but knowing that I'm a lightweight when it comes to alcohol, I opted to just have a diet soda. Because it was her birthday and Mike was driving, Laura was quite enjoying the Sake and the night out for her birthday and everyone really seemed to have a good time. It was a very nice way to spend a Saturday evening and I was really glad that I was asked to join in the celebration - it sure the heck beat staying home by myself and opening a can of soup to dine on amongst the packing boxes!

At the end of the evening, the leftover sushi was boxed up to be sent home with me for Amanda to have later (she was over at her friend Cate's for the night) and I headed for Norwich with a full stomach, the memory of a nice night out, and the knowledge that I seemed to have done a decent job in raising my son if his choice of wife and friends were any indication. Now I ask you, what more could a mother want?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

Enough, as they say, is enough and I think it's high-time that I stopped worrying so much about the boxes, bags, and big mess that is surrounding me here at the new humble abode and got back into blogging a bit. I believe that I am caught up enough that I can take a little time away from the total disarray and do something other than haul boxes in and out of houses.

That's not to say that I am completely done with the old house yet but there is light at the end of the tunnel and I don't think it's a train coming at me. I figure one more day of lugging stuff out of there to the local Goodwill, another day or so to clean and make sure that everything is in good condition, and then I can leave the key on the counter and call it done. I will be more than happy to close the door and leave that part of my life behind me in more ways than one.

In the meantime, it will be nice to get back to blogging and visiting all of the friends that I have missed over the past couple of weeks. With close to 800 unread posts in my Google Reader, I won't get to all of them but I do hope to at least stop by everyone's blog and say 'hi'. The only major distractions I might have now are the totally fantastic HOT SHOWERS that we have here at the new place which have been more than worth the pain of moving in the dead of winter in New England. It's sort of like staying at luxury hotel rooms every day - minus the cute little soaps & shampoos & conditioners that they give you! Well, that and we don't have a big ole jacuzzi but we do have hot water - something I will never ever take for granted again!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake at Their New Home

Taking another short break from the moving stuff (which is really becoming a bit of a redundant refrain I'm sure but no one will be happier to stop saying it/hearing it than I!) to do a quick blog post and send a big thank you and virtual hug to Lois for her friendship, thoughtfulness, and excellent taste in baked goods!

When I went up to the old place the other day to pile more of the 9-years worth of accumulated stuff into the car, there was a Priority Mail box waiting on the front porch that apparently the mailman had just dropped off. Looking at the familiar return address from Boston, I wondered what it could possibly be that Mags had sent me? I had ordered chocolate chip cookies from her Fleur de Lis Etsy shop earlier but those had already arrived and been eaten (and they were delicious I might add!) so I knew that couldn't be it which left me without a clue. I didn't want to open the box while in the middle of the morning's moving activities so I decided that the mystery could wait and added the box to the stuff in the car with plans to open it once I got back over to the new apartment.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I finally opened the box to find a delicious cake and a note inside saying "To Linda and Amanda - Welcome to your new home - A gift from Lois". Of course I had to take a picture before cutting into the cake - much to Amanda's chagrin though you would think she would be used to the whole picture-taking before eating blog-related stuff. Obviously I have been away from the Blogosphere too long if the kid can't remember the simpler rules of Blog Etiquette!

Now, nothing for nothing but I am apparently a complete and total dope when it comes to anything of an alcoholic nature as even though the cake was completely and totally delicious, it didn't even dawn on me that it was a rum cake until Amanda got her piece and said "this tastes like rum". Huh? "You're 16 - how do you know what rum tastes like?" "I tried some when I was in Puerto Rico at Christmas and we were visiting the Bacardi factory. Besides, can't you tell just from the smell?" Er ... no ... Of course, once she pointed it out, I was then able to tell that there was definitely some rum in the cake but I was more impressed with the pecans and the moistness of the cake and Lois' thoughtfulness in ordering it for us. I've never had a "Welcome to Your New Home" cake before but I think it's something I could definitely get used to! Not that I'm planning on moving again anytime soon once I get through the pain-in-the-everything that this move has been, though, even if there were another cake involved!

I really wish I could have all of you over for a slice and a cup of coffee (and to put you to work with some of the remaining stuff I have to do!) but alas, the cake is almost gone already and I've got to schlep over to the old house to load up the car yet again before heading into work this afternoon so I won't be here to put the coffee on. Darn! You'll be happy to know that I am making progress, though, and that the piles of boxes from the other day's pictures are not as high or intimidating or out of control. I'm getting there - slowly!

Hopefully things will return to what passes for normal soon and I'll be as green with happiness as Evra - or something like that! ... Hmm, speaking of happiness, I think I'll grab a piece of cake before heading out the door ... thank you again, Lois!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Green Lizard is a Happy Lizard

Thought I would come up for air for a couple of moments just to let everyone know that I am still alive though still up to my eyeballs in the whole moving business - literally.

As you can see by the picture of Evra here, he's adjusted quite nicely to the new digs and is a happy shade of lizard green. That, though, is probably partially due to the fact that nothing in his habitat changed - just the location of it!

I, on the other hand, am dealing with an apartment that looks like this ...

and this ...

partially because Amanda's room still looks like this ...

and we can't put anything in her room until it's done being painted which may not be until sometime next week at the rate she's going!

Ah well, at least my room came out nice with the painting and now looks like this ...
rather than the stark white that it was beforehand.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go tackle some of those boxes and bags and mounds of stuff and see if I can at least make a tiny dent in the disorder and chaos! I'd be heading over to the old place to get some more of the stuff still there except that it's snowing again today after a beautiful tease of a day in the low 50's yesterday! That's probably a good thing, though, as I really need to put some stuff away here before I add more to the mix!

I am hoping to return to the wonderful world of blogging on a regular basis sometime the end of this week but in the meantime, do know that I'm thinking of you all and missing having the chance to sit with a cup of coffee and catch up with everyone. This whole "change" stuff does have its disadvantages!