Friday, July 31, 2009

An Open Letter to the Bathroom Fiends

Dear Unhygenic Dwellers of the Ladies' Room:

What in the hell is wrong with you? Seriously.

Maybe I'm happy that you didn't "clean up" the disgusting mess you left on the seat because at best, you'd have simply wiped it up with a wad of t.p. and your unsanitary germs would still be lingering on the seat, invisible to the naked eye (or butt.) At least this way, I visually know to avoid your stall (such an appropriate word choice in this case), supressing a gag while holding my breath and finding a better bathroom in which to pee.

No seat liner in the world can protect against your funk. Not even the two seat liners that I regularly use, even when employing "hover mode."

If I could go the entire day without peeing, I would. Believe me. But since I can't, do you think you could:
  • stop wiping yourself with the toilet seat?

  • flush?

  • look back at the toilet bowl to make sure that everything that should have gone away, actually did?

  • pick up the toilet paper you used and then discarded on the floor?

  • light a match?

  • stop making those strange grunting noises?

  • avoid using your cell phone while you're going to the bathroom?

  • wash your hands? (this includes using soap)

  • stop leaving puddles of mystery water on the sink surfaces?

  • pick up your paper towels off the floor after using them?
I know you're probably chanting, "OCD! OCD!" right now. But this isn't about obsession. It's about manners. You can totally live like a pig at home, but please pretend to have some class when you use the bathroom at work.

And that, my Bathroom Fiends, is all I have to say to you at this time.


Friday, Celebrations, Velcro

Good morning and Happy Friday, Party People!

It's been a busy week. I'm welcoming this weekend with very open arms...

I've been to see my Grandma three times this week, stopped in to check on Virginia twice, done a zillion loads of laundry, helped my Mom ready her place for company, cleaned up the house a little...full evenings.

Packed expertly and felt so put-together because, despite my busyness, I was actually on the couch by 8:15 last night, with a "hillbilly pour" (that is what the barmaid at our local calls a very full glass of wine), ready to watch some mindless television. Which I did. (Ashamed that it was the recap of the Not-So-Real Housewives of Hotlanta and the first episode of the new season...couldn't help it. Good gosh...anyway!)

This morning, I get aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall the way to work and realize that I have no cell phone. I need my cell phone. Not that I ever use it. But just in case. Especially with all the stuff going on with Grandma. And I'm commuting to Steinvic's right after work and stopping by our house in 5:00 Friday traffic would be The Suck.

So I got to my desk, made over all the birthday decorations and flowers from my co-workers (such sweeties) and grabbed my keys and drove aaaaaaaaaaaaaaall the way home and then aaaaaaaaaaaall the way back to work. This would normally take more than an hour. But someone up there wanted me to get here quickly, so the round trip took only 40 minutes (and no, I wasn't speeding...I learned my lesson.) I think I'm going to start velcroing that stinking phone to my leg or something. You know, just to avoid the extra trip home the next time.

And now here I am. Yes, my birthday is Sunday. I'll be.......well, closer to the end of my thirties, but not too close. Okay, I'll be 38 Sunday. And I'm fine with it. I haven't accomplished all the things I wanted to accomplish by this point, but I have a great life. I have Steinvic, his son and family, my Grandma, awesome folks, good friends, a nice home, a great job, the Mighty Echo, my health...and no wrinkles (which I honestly admire and find very charming, intriguing and quite attractive on others, but I'm fascinated that I've avoided them thus far.)

I have a lot to be thankful for. (Thanks!)

One second here on the Real Housewives of Atlanta. The only one worth watching is Dwight. (Oh, I know he isn't a wife! But he'd sure like to be!) He is a trip. AND it's fun to see Kim not be able to sing and lie, lie, lie. Other than those aspects, the show is kind of trash. But watch it for the trash element! Go ahead! Keep your expectations very low and you will be entertained.

Okay! That's it from here. I'm headed north tonight to spend the weekend with Steinvic, his son, and wonderful family. We've got lots of fun family times planned and I'm totally looking forward to it... So, until we meet again, be good...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Beautiful Shoes!

Growing up, my family didn't have a ton of money. Mom is a social worker and my father was a school teacher, so money was always tight. We never went hungry or anything like that - my parents were resourceful. I just remember that we didn't have a lot of extras...we had what we needed and that was it. As I got into high school, the funds just started to loosen up to the point that if there was something special we reeeeeeeeeeeeeally wanted, my folks would do their best to make it happen. (And then my father left us. Cue being broke again. But we made it work.)

Mom and I window shopped a lot. When I was in the tenth grade, we spotted a pair of paisley Zodiac ankle boots at a department store and drooled over them every few weeks when we'd walk through the mall. They were close to $300. In 1986, that was unheard of, even for the age-of-excess-80s. And especially for a family like ours, who cut coupons for just about everything.

Over the months, the boots got marked down. And down. And down some more, but they were still about $120. And then one day, we didn't see them there. So, as you do with things that just aren't going to happen, I eventually forgot about the boots.

That is, until Christmas Eve. We were on our way to our Fellowship for the candle light service and Mom always allowed my sister and me to open one present before church. She handed me a box she selected and as I tore open the paper and saw the Zodiac logo, I thought, "No way......"

They were two sizes too big, but with the pointy toes, the oversize was easily remedied with a small wad of tissue paper. "Do you love them?" she asked. I looked at her and said, "YES, but they were too much! This is too much..." She told me how much she paid to ease my mind - $90. She got them too big because they were the only ones left, but she knew with the lace up, I could make them work. To me, $90 was still extravagant for a pair of boots, but I can tell you that I adored them and wore them for years. I wore them out. I still have them, though, and as tattered as they are, on a cool, dry evening, you might still see me wearing them once or twice a year.

They're sentimental shoes. I got them 23 years ago.

Fast forward to last night. With my Grandma's condition, we haven't even thought about birthdays - mine and my sister's are both next week. Plus, Steinvic and I are in Columbus this weekend for a variety of fun things that I really, really didn't want to miss. I was at my Mom's to help her with some housework (more people coming to see Grandma this weekend) when she realized out loud, "Your birthday is Sunday!" I told her not to worry about it...not like we haven't had a ton of stuff going on.

"We have to give you one of your presents now, " my Mom insisted. My S-Dad seconded that and added, "Wait...which one?" They whispered to each other and then Mom ran upstairs.

It tickles me that I'm a grown woman and my folks get so excited about these different than if it were my first Christmas or some landmark birthday.

She returned with a bag. My S-Dad grabbed the camera. I opened it and there were the second coolest pair of shoes I've ever seen. A pair of special, handmade, colorful, ridiculously funky shoes. Shoes that they'd bought for me at an arts festival ages ago and that they've been dying to give me:

What do you think?
I think they're awesome and I totally dig them. I know I'll wear them a ton and each time I get a comment or compliment, I'll let my folks know. They're not practical. They're expensive. And I love them! This is a real treat.
If you dig them and want your own, you can visit this site to get information about ordering. Like I mentioned, not cheap, but made very well, extremely comfortable and by true artists.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The World Keeps Spinning...

I went to see my Grandma last evening after my dentist appointment. The staff knew I was coming and had her dinner ready, piping hot, just minutes after I arrived. As I cut her food into small bites, I could feel this immense sadness way off in the distance...could almost make out it's form, like a kite that is flying so high, you can't see what color it is. If I so much as blink, it disappears. Intangible. I just can't go there right now.

We visited, played beauty shop (she was in desperate need of a hair style, which always makes her feel so much better) and when I left, she was smiling and comfy in her bed with her remote control and her pillows and her puzzle books. And it was Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune time. A good time for me to go.

During our visit, she said so matter-of-factly, "Now, my next wish is to die in my sleep."

She said it with clarity and certainty. She wasn't sad or pitiful. This is what she wants and I guess she figured I could handle though making her wish heard might help make it come true.

I find that she brings things like this up at random and I guess in some ways, it's good that I am in this very neutral, detatched state, because normally, these words would crush me.

I know she is wrapping things up. I know that she hopes when she says things like, "Do you know how proud I am of you? So very proud..." that these words will be part of our last conversation.

But I can't wrap up anything. I can't say goodbye to her.

I just give her one kiss and hug from me, then one kiss and hug from Steinvic, tell her I love her and that I'll talk to her tomorrow.

I ask, "Do you want your door open or shut?" and she says, "Both." I start closing it slowly, slowly, slowly and she watches me carefully. Finally, she says, "There! That's good."

I tell her to have a good night through the small opening in the doorway. I listen as the sound of her television fades from my ears as I walk down that long corridor.

I release a giant sigh as I walk through those big heavy doors that lead into the parking lot. Just like always.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Baby We Were Born to Run..........

...and that is just what Steinvic and I did this weekend. We had a blast. We laughed and I needed laughing.

Thursday night, we had drinks. Carry out pizza from Tammy's. I zonked on the couch until 2 before crawling into bed, but still, a good evening. On Friday morning, we woke up, packed up and dropped off some art I'd made for his sister (after a detour filled journey, but it was worth it because she loved the art). We got back on the highway and headed for Cleveland.

We made great time, despite our detour. When you speed, you make great time. Which I did. And for my efforts, I earned a ticket (Thanks, Linndale!) but even that couldn't stop us from having fun. We walked to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and saw the Bruce Springsteen Exhibit, and plenty of other awesome memorabilia. You should go. Really. If you love music a lot, like we do, and history, go. Worth it! Oh! We also got to check out Johnny Cash's tour bus, which was very, very cool.

Soon into our adventure, I realized that the shoes I selected were a poor choice. Now, don't judge...I was not traipsing around in stilettos. These are funky, low-heeled, pink leather sandals. They just...kind of suck if you're going to walk very far and somewhat briskly in the heat, and I have the top-of-foot blisters to prove it. We'd planned to go back to the hotel and change before dinner and drinks, but it just didn't work out that way. We were on a roll, and after about three glasses of wine, I stopped thinking about my poor feet. We found dinner. We went shopping. We talked with nice and interesting people.

We were out very late but managed to get up, grab lunch and get on the road by 1:00 Saturday, and we headed back to his sister's to help her prepare for her baby boy's annual birthday bash. He's five now, and this party is always great fun, lots of people, lots of kids, lots of celebrating. Steinvic's sister constructed a lovely cake in the fashion of an Irish Flag, so after Nephew-cake-singing, there was Steinvic-cake-singing. I think Steinvic had a good time. His son came to the party and brought Steinvic a Celtics' jersey and hung around most of the evening...I happen to know that time with his son was the greatest part of Steinvic's weekend. Makes me smile...

As the evening wound down, we just sat and visited. I had wine. I held a baby - our new Great Niece - and fed her and changed her and sang to her and rocked her and that is always a wonderful way to spend an hour.

And yesterday - nada. Home. Grocery shopped. Cooked dinner. Watched Walter Cronkite Remembers. And Columbo. Sewed some felt pouches for no real reason.

Meanwhile, my Grandma spent the weekend getting lots of visits and love from people in from out of town. People she hasn't seen in a few years. People who just wanted to be close to her, just once more. I talked to her every day this weekend and kept updated by my Mom. I'll see her this afternoon. I'm glad she was so surrounded by people who care. Now that they're all gone, I'm right back in to keep her company. And we have a dinner date, just the two of us.

So, that's all excellent weekend. As I said to's a good think we're back at work this morning so we can relax a little! Happy Monday, y'all...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Happy Birthday to Steinvic...

Happy Birthday to Steinvic -'s not today. It's on Saturday. But on Saturday, we'll be coming home from an overnight and heading to a party for our nephew. Steinvic, your birthday is not just a special day for you, it's a special day for me! And for everyone who knows you. It marks the day a genuine, talented, intelligent, decent, kind and extremely handsome man was born. A day when your most interesting life, full of twists and turns and accomplishments began. The day when your path began curving gently toward mine, (even though mine hadn't officially started yet.) How lucky I am to know you and love you, Steinvic...So thankful on this day and always!

Note: Even though Steinvic and I both offered to postpone our mini-trip to celebrate his birthday, we were asked to keep our plans. Now that things seem to be improving/stable with my Grandma, that seems even more reasonable to take this time where she is feeling better and go celebrate life. So, until well.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

You Can Say Anything, But Don't Say Goodnight Tonight...

Yeah, I know I posted earlier, but let's throw the Blog Rules out the window and post twice in one day.

I thought you might like to know that I just visited my Grandma. The one who is supposed to be in hospice, which in my mind means withering peacefully. The one who yesterday didn't "want to be here anymore" and was so sick they finally agreed to give her her wish. The one who I love.

She was bright eyed and - in her charmingly bossy way - giving orders about what should go where in her room. Her color is back. She asked to go off morphine. She ate beef barley soup for lunch. She wanted her phone turned around so she could answer it herself.

I told her that one of the gladioli I'd planted was blooming on the patio, just out of her range of sight. It was purple. She said she'd never seen a purple one. So I went outside, cut it for her and put it in a vase. She was pleased.

I know that at this point, this situation could go on for a long time or a short time. I go about doing things while feeling that I'm doing nothing. When I'm not at the nursing home, I want to be there and once I get there, deep down I feel restless and soon want to leave.

I can feel the edges of relief and joy just beyond my reach. I want to get happy and forget the fear and sadness of the past week.

It's only been a week.

But I know I should just be thankful for today. She's having a good day. I hope she has as many of them as she wishes.

Clean House - Who the Eff?

I haven't seen all of this week's episode yet, but if you follow Clean House on the Style Network, you know that early on Wednesday mornings, you can see the new episode of the week instead of waiting to see it during it's "premiere" at 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. So this morning, I half-tuned in as I got ready for work.

I thought last week's fill-in cast was temporary, but here they were again this week. The only "regular" cast member was Matt, aka "The Go To Guy." Lisa Arch filled in for Niecy this week, but suspiciously didn't say "filling in for Niecy Nash" when she introduced herself at the beginning of last week's show. There is some dude named Rain (sp?) doing the organizing and the yard sale planning and a chick named Kristen doing the design work.

In other words, no Mark, no Trish and no Niecy.

Now, I'm not one of the occasional freaks on the Clean House Message Board (yeah, I read it sometimes) who has a fit every time someone fills in for a regular cast member. I don't think that Lisa or Debbie or Kim are the devil just because Niecy needs some time off to do this or that. But when the cast is 75% not the usual bunch, why bother taping?

It's not that it's a bad still have all the ingredients - clutter bugs who know they gotta change, but who are also reluctant to give up the goods, talented rehabbers, and a great, inspirational reveal. The only thing missing is the chemistry between the cast members...because when you have that many new people, the chemistry just doesn't appear to be there.

So, it makes me wonder, where in the eff are the regulars and why has Clean House dropped from a priority on their schedules to a "if I happen to be in town, I'll film" this season?

And then it occurred to me...It was hosting the Messiest Home in the Country III! That episode sent them all over the edge, except Matt, of course, because he lost his marbles a long time ago (and I mean that in a nice way, of course!)

Poor Niecy, Mark and Trish are probably all in a padded cell somewhere, trying to be brought back to a clutterless, miceless, attitudeless reality, one Clorox Wipe at a time...

Whatever the reason, I'm certainly not boycotting the show or anything. I just hope the "real cast" - or at least most of it - returns soon.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Peaches & Pot Roast

Peaches and pot roast with gravy. No, I haven't ditched the vegetarianism...that is what my Grandma wanted for dinner last night. And I fed her as many bites as I could convince her to take...which was like four bites of pot roast and all of the sliced peaches. I told her as I was feeding her, "I think you've done this very thing for me a few times..." and she agreed.

My Mom just called and around midnight, they moved my Grandma to ICU. This is just to get her blood pressure up a bit so they can give her more pain medication. Apparently, everything else is stable right now...

Thanks for staying tuned during this time. I know I'm not giving you my normal light, bouncy banter. I realize I am giving this play-by-play of what's going on with my Grandma and my insides and I also get that it might be boring for some. But this page is a glimpse inside my brain and for now, this is where my brain is at.

So...thank you for your patience...

UPDATE - 4:00 p.m. - My Grandma is being moved to Hospice. She actually gets to return to her room at the nursing home to receive the care she needs...Hospice will come to her. So, she gets her wish to return to her very own space, with all of her things and photos and comforts... I'm off to see her.

Monday, July 20, 2009

One Moment at a Time...

It's Monday again and the minutes are just ticking by in slow motion. I can almost hear each one shuffling past...

Steinvic and I went to see my Grandma yesterday. It was a good visit - my Aunt and Uncle arrived shortly after we got there - but I kept having these little flickers of thought as everyone talked.

I don't think that she is going to ever leave here.

She looks so pale.

I don't want her to die here...her husband died here...I wonder if she is thinking about that...

Her spirits were up. I tried to keep things light. As we left, though, she called after Steinvic, "Take care of my girl!"

And with those words, my "job mode" began to disintegrate.

We got a phone call about two hours after getting home that they'd put my Grandma on Morphine as the chest pain had returned and it was so severe she couldn't bear it. The attack actually started after we left, but while my Aunt and Uncle and some other visitors were there. She didn't tell anyone she was hurting because she didn't want to interrupt her visits. So like her...

Still, she didn't want us to come back to the hospital. She asked for the phone to tell me how much she loved me. She said if this was her time, then it was. And that she didn't want me on the highway (she always says that any time after 7:00 p.m. I am perpetually 17 in her mind, even though she knows better.) Mom told me later that my Grandma was actually pretty excited because she thought she was going to see my Grandpa very, very soon. End job mode.

When we got off the phone, that's when I lost it. Let me add here that Steinvic is a very, very good man. I hadn't really cried since this all started, so I guess I was overdue.

I just called her. She made it through the night and she's on Morphine and nitro right now. She sounds pretty out of it but she knew it was me and said she loved me and I told her I'd be there soon. There is no other place I want to be right now.

I know this could go on for days or it could be over in minutes. I am a bit of a control freak and the lack of process and the trickle of information and definites makes me feel a little nauseous.

But this isn't about me. It's about my Grandma and her wonderfulness and her contributions and her life and her (please, G*d) graceful, painless exit from it.

Until then, we wait...

Friday, July 17, 2009

And Now, Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program...

Hi. I'm sorry I've been away most of the week. Recently, I've been very good about posting regularly and loving it. I think when I tell you what's been going on, you'll understand.

My Grandma had a heart attack Wednesday evening. She was playing Scrabble and started feeling pain and nausea and her nose began running (I didn't know sudden nose running was a sign of a heart attack...did you?) and one of the guys in her Scrabble group smartly got some help.*

She ended up leaving the nursing home and going to the hospital and she's still there. She's lucid, joking, eating and not having any pain or discomfort. Essentially, she's "fine." They are doing more tests today and after that will know how much damage has been done to her heart and what the next step should be.

Steinvic is coming home tonight (Thank G*d) and my Aunt is on her way into town and we will all take our turns loving on my Grandma this weekend, as we always do.

There, see, Self? That wasn't so hard to sum up into a nice, neat package for your readers, was it?

Oh, there is so much more to say. So many thoughts and feelings. But, this is one of the occasions in my life where I switch into "job mode."

Do you have a job mode? It's where you put your own feelings, wants, whims, urges and needs aside and kick into auto-pilot, only job mode is even better than auto-pilot because it only allows you to do exactly the precisely right thing that a perfect being would do in a terrible situation.

So, if someone told me to fly to California and back to hand pick a special berry that my Grandma liked and return within the day, I'd be like, "Okay!" and go to it, no complaints, no sleep, and execute it perfectly.

That is where I've job mode. I know it can't last. I know that eventually, I'm going to cry. I know this because yesterday, I was trying hard to concentrate at work and suddenly, big, stupid tears of self-pity would well up in my eyes.

Self pity because I truly love my Grandma and I don't want her to die. We have a very close relationship. A million memories, from her giving me licorice bits to nibble and Highlights magazines to read when I had to stay home from grade school, to her taking a swig of Rondec (foul tasting cough suppressant) right from the bottle to try and convince me that it tasted good, to trying desperately to teach me piano (I sucked), to driving me to college and back three times a week because I couldn't afford a car Freshman year, to getting on that damn carousel at the mall to make me laugh during one of my very dark periods... She is my friend.

To return her friendship, I've made myself available to her for just about any task/errand/name it over my adult life. And in the course of those hair washings and perms, grocery shopping, caring for her decrepit Chloe (who has since moved on to the Final Catnip Patch) and taking her for secret drives (don't tell my Mom...she didn't even have a license anymore, but it was an abandoned parking lot and my Grandma got such a rush from getting to drive), we became even closer. I wasn't a needy kid any longer, counting on her...I became a dear friend who she could count on and confide in.

So, if one more person says, "You're lucky you still have a grandma" or "Yeah, but she's have to expect this sort of thing," I'm going to forcibly insert 91 pins into that person's armpit. This is my Grandma. If they knew her, they'd understand that 91 years isn't enough. A million years is not enough time with a person like her. I'm greedy. I'm selfish. I want to have my Grandma here forever, so long as she is comfortable and has quality of life. (I'm not a completely selfish @sshole, after all.)

Yeah, I know my wants are ridiculous. That is why I'm in job mode.

So, here I am. It's a strange place and I'm turning around and around in this long grass, trying to tramp down a nest and get comfortable. Because I know this isn't over yet.

*in another post, I'll let you know why the person supposed to help my Grandma needs to be (and hopefully will, with our help) removed from the medical profession.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Why Our Neigbors Suck, Part III

If you've been tuned to this channel for very long, you know that we have neighbor issues.

Monday nights after a weekend at Steinvic's are always a combination of minor chaos and feeling a mixture of loneliness (miss Steinvic!) and settling in (nice to be in our actual home). I'm totally not complaining! It's all worth very worth it. But all I'm sayin' is that when I get home, I'm busy. And after I'm busy, it's good to unwind. I unpack everything, begin doing our laundry and start putting things away. (I could make life a lot simpler by buying duplicate things to leave there, but I don't wanna. That might send a message to G*d and the Universe that this living in two different cities business is permanent, and it's not!)

So, I did all that and got into comfy clothes, opened the mail, got settled and then decided to work on the paintings I am making for Steinvic's sister. I worked away on that until 8:00 and realized I hadn't eaten. I put a tortilla pizza in the oven (whole wheat tortilla + homemade sauce+ sprinking of lowfat cheese, bake at 375 until crisp) and poured a small glass of wine. I kept working until the pizza was finished and then sat down to enjoy my snack. No sooner had I finished when the pounding began.

It's 9:15 p.m. What. The. Eff???

I could tell it was coming from the Neighbor-From-Hell side and not the Virginia side. I could be quite sure of this because the NFH side was shaking and it sounded like whoever was banging was getting ready to come through the wall.

I peeked outside and saw rolls of carpet.'s 9:15 and you're just now starting on this project?

At 9:30, the pounding was almost intolerable. I could hardly hear the TV unless I cranked it.

At 9:45, I went into my planner to retreive the owner's number I'd found online.
At 9:50, I left a message for the owners. "I live at 8253 and I believe you own the property at 8251. There are carpet layers there and they began working at 9:15. It's almost 10:00 and I feel like this is too late to be working. I wonder if you could please call them and ask them to stop. Thanks..."

At 10:05, I called Steinvic and asked him to stay on the phone while I went next door to ask these guys to cool it. (Steinvic later made the brilliant point - "Not sure what I could do from 90 miles away" - but it felt better to have him on the phone in my pocket. Because I'm paranoid like that.)

The guys were very nice. " much longer are you all going to be working? It's after 10:00," I asked.

"Oh is it that late? Okay. Sorry. We were told to keep working until someone complained. So, since you're here, we'll stop."

"Thanks, I appreciate it. Sorry to spoil your fun."

And that was it. The pounding stopped. At 10:10, the Homeowner called me back.

"Um, I don't think we own the property at 8251. Are you sure you have the right house number?"

"I'm sure. It's the one that the tenants abandoned a month and a half ago, where you all left the mattress outside for three weeks, and had to replace then repaint the front door. I looked you up on the Internet."

"Oh...ha're right. Okay. Well, we don't have anyone working there. My husband is doing all the work himself and he's right in the next room. So, I don't know what you mean."

"You've got a house full of men working on the carpets and floors. I just talked to them and asked them to stop because it's after 10:00. They were very nice. "

"Really? I don't know how that could be. (aside) Honey? Do we have someone working on 8251? Carpets? Really? Okay. (back to me.) Well, I'll have to call the carpet contractors tomorrow and see." Uh...didn't she just say her husband was doing all the work personally? Huh...

"At least the contractors are less annoying than the tenants you rented to. I don't even feel like we live in a house at this's like an apartment or a stopover."

"Well, thanks for your call." Click. Yeah, I'm sure she didn't want to hear my thoughts on her slum-lordiness.
I e-mailed the HOA (they must love me) this morning to let them know what happened. I want these people to get fined into acting right or into selling. Seriously. This lady is a ding dong and she is going to learn that if I'm inconvenienced, she will be inconvenienced with a phone call. I'm not going to be inappropriate, of course, but I'm also not going to feel uncomfortable in our house that we've worked so hard for without letting them know what is going on over there!

So that's it. I'm so tough, huh? ;o)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wonderful Weekend & Wine

It's a beautiful day here in sunny Ohio and yesterday was gorgeous, too. It's a good thing, as we (Steinvic, his son, and his sister and her husband and his sister) all headed to the North Market for a wine festival and artisan show. (I'd link to it, but apparently the North Market is VERY proactive about updating its Web site and the information is already down this morning!)

We had major storms on Saturday. This started, of course, while I was at the grocery. Props to Steinvic for somehow knowing the exact second I'd pull up and meeting me with a jacket and a helping hand with the bags! A tornado touched down not too far from us and our power was out for a few hours - but by yesterday, the sun was shining and the wine was flowing at the festival. (By the way, the power being out was kind of nice. We opened the windows and just know? Quiet and calm existence. Steinvic read and I finished my shower by candle light.)

So, for $20 a couple, we received two wine glasses for tasting and ten tickets. Each ticket could be exchanged for a taste (about one to two ounces, depending on the pourer) of a variety of wines, many from Ohio. We love pinot grigio, but in most cases, at each booth we visited, I opted for a blush and Steinvic got the pinot grigio so that we could try each other's.

We planned to buy a bottle to take home to enjoy with the pasta and sauce I'd prepared the day before, but we were pretty wined-out by the time we left. Not tipsy, mind you...we made sure to eat a good snack (I felt the Manhattan Chowder was outstanding! Yes, I sometimes eat seafood. Just not mammals or birds, save for the bad news I received last week... ) and paced ourselves. But neither of us wanted any more wine so that was that.

Aside from the festival, we stayed in on Saturday night and watched Donnie Brasco. Friday night was spent at our local and ended with a pizza at one of our favorite spots. Wow, I'm dizzy from working my way backward through the weekend!

Let me take that one step further back to Thursday... I did stop in to see Virginia because it occurred to me that she had my old phone number and not a current one...I'd given her my number years ago, when I first moved in. So, I stopped in to do that. She was so grateful - I think it let her know that I really meant it about looking in on her and being there if she needed a hand.

Virginia told me that her monthly prescriptions - medicine for her heart, diabetes, blood pressure and cancer - cost more than $800 per month. She told me this because she was really happy that a kind soul at the pharmacy offered to get online for her to find information from several different drug companies who offered assistance programs. I was glad to hear this, but what horrified me is that the reason the pharmacist was helping her is because Virginia couldn't afford her insulin...she went to pick up the prescription and simply didn't have enough for all the meds she was picking up, so she had to pick and choose.

As I drove back into town this morning, it got me thinking. I did some searching at the end of last week for senior programs and was amazed at how hard it was to find resources. While I'm not the savviest of online users, I'm very good with Google. But what if I were a senior and not familiar with the Internet?

My point is, if I have some computer skills and can't find the information, how could someone with no computer skills find it? Further, what if you're like Virginia, and can't afford prescriptions...are you likely to have a computer or Internet access?

So, I'm thinking...what if there was a community outreach program that provided something as simple as putting essential information on fliers and distributing them to the doors of area homes? I'm thinking phone numbers for Meals on Wheels, any local or city senior programs, and phone numbers and addresses to pharmaceutical companies that offered discounted prescriptions. Is that tacky? Cheesy? Would it work?

I mean, for some seniors, the biggest thing they do each day is make it to the mailbox. But would it be helpful for someone to open his door and find information that could enhance his existence right there, waiting for him?

I could easily see myself investing a few hours of research online, putting this information on a simple Word document with large font, printing off a few hundred copies and going door-to-door. I don't like how fliers can junk up neighborhoods, but what if this made a difference for one person?

If you feel compelled to comment, I'm interested in your thoughts! At any rate, Happy Monday and enjoy the day!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What Really Matters

I dig days when I think I've got everything together: I got up on time, my outfit looks great, the hair is rocking, I remembered the lunch I packed last night and traffic was minimal...

I look down as I'm locking the door before crossing the parking lot into work, and I see this strange, colorful line across the car seat. I immediately recognize the color - It's #40 Spice lip liner. And if it is on the car seat, it's also on my cream colored slacks. Oh, yes. And, indeed, it is on there.

I could take this opportunity to plug the Oxy Clean Stain Fighting Pen, but maybe I'll do that in one of my endorsement posts another time. But until then, all hail the Oxy Pen! Because it gracefully, quickly and effectively undid the small glitch threatening to bruise my morning.

So, when hiccups like that attempt to ruin your day, blow them off. Why? Because your day is good. It's better than you know. After all, you could be dealing with all the stuff our dear neighbor, Virginia, is handling.

Virginia is 80 and still rocks a short, amber hair-do. She introduced herself to me right away when I moved into our townhouse and was so friendly and encouraging. I'd see her walking her chihuahua (who looks like a miniature deer because of his uncharacteristically looooooong legs) and visit with her. I made her cookies once, and I'd have done it again, but she very politely confided that she is a diabetic. "I'll find a good home for the cookies, though," she'd assured me, beaming.

She worked full-time, in a processing plant, up until about a year ago, when her health started to fail. As it turns out, she's got some cancerous tumors on vital organs and while the doctors want to operate, she isn't well enough to survive surgery.

Her son owns the townhouse she lives in, but does long-distance trucking and was happy to have his Mom live there. That arrangement worked well until he met a woman and married her earlier this year. The new couple moved into an apartment and everything was fine, but now, as Virginia told me last night, the new wife wants her to move out. "She told me I could live in subsidized housing because it's not that expensive," Virginia told me, as I balanced a shopping bag, the mail and my work gear.

So, here is this bright, kind, 80-year-old woman, with inoperable cancer, who is suddenly expected to leave the home she's enjoyed for over a decade and who is so overwhelmed...she could barely keep from crying as she told me her story.

I'm not a touchy-feely person. You could even say - in some situations - that I'm kind of reserved. But I couldn't help but put my bags on the sidewalk and hug Virginia, and as I did, I heard that staggered breath of someone ready to sob. I felt such compassion for this woman, this person who has raised her family and worked hard and now, literally, has nothing to show for it.

She said, "I told my son that I won't move. He got angry and said he'd sell the place, then I'd have to go. I never thought..."

And then she said that there were some treatment options for the cancer, but that it would just prolong the inevitable and that she felt like she didn't have any fight left. Wow. I

I told her that I'd be looking in on her...that I didn't realize that her son had married and wasn't there. I offered to bring in groceries or get prescriptions or walk her dog for her and she hugged me. And blessed me. And I know she really meant it. I really meant it, too.

I'm gonna look up some senior service programs and see if I can get some information to her about resources. I plan to look in on her each week.

If there is an elderly person in your world, could you make some time for them? I mean, you never know. Here I thought the old gal was fine in her routine and her own little world, right next door to us. The truth is that she has been sitting over there, fighting cancer, nursing a broken heart, feeling lonely and needing a friend. After all, if we have the means to reach out, we just kind of have to. That is why we're here, right?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Guess What? I'm Not Really a Vegetarian! (Bonus: An Update on Other Stuff)

Have you ever read something and learned something that you didn't want to know? Well, it just happened to me. I was on this amateur writing site, curious about features for my city, when I saw this column on vegetarian living. And then I saw this article.

I eat like, 50% of the things on that list. Not every day, because I don't eat a lot of processed foods. But a few of them are Sacred Foods to me, like Skittles. I love Skittles! I love them so much that I don't even buy them because I will eat them until I am fat. I eat them like, twice a year.

I mean, come on! Jiffy Mixes have MEAT ingredients? Four Cheese DiGiorno pizza? Doritos? Kraft Mac & Cheese? Give me a freakin' break!

So, that settles it...I've been eating meaty things without knowing or trying. This effing sucks! To all the cow stomachs in the world, I'm truly sorry. I didn't know you were in my food. I thought I was an informed vegetarian, but I guess for the last, oh...17 years or so, I've been posing. ARGH!

Thanks, Jessica-writer-for-the-Examiner! And quit grinning in that bio photo of yours. I'm just kidding. It's a well-written article and I'm grateful for the info...

Okay, so you might be wondering, what became of the weekend you've been hearing about for a month. Well, when you put something in writing, it's out there forever. So, allow me to be vague...

I will say this: I did a great job of readying our home. It looked beautiful. The side dishes I pre-prepared were wonderful. The bar was stocked, the linens were fresh, everything was shiny and beautiful (except the piano bench...thanks for catching that, Steinvic!) and we were ready for a great time.

I can also say that Steinvic is a peach. I see this more and more with every passing day. I know I brag on him here, but seriously, some of the things he puts up with, and the support which he offers me is HUGE. He was just wonderful this weekend (as always. Thank you. And thank you for the flowers if you're reading this...they're gorgeous. And for spending the extra evening in town - meant a lot to me and it was fun! Right up to the point where I fell asleep on the couch. ;o)

So, here is a hypothetical question for any reader who wishes to decloak and answer in the comments section: If someone was really intoxicated and broke something in your home, and didn't realize that they broke it, and it is expensive to fix or replace, do you mention it? Or do you make like the penguin in Fight Club and let it sliiiiiiiiiiiiide? This I don't know...

Anywho, that is what is going on here. I hope your long weekend was great and that your weekbeginning is even better. Make it a good one!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Clean House - Messiest Home in the Country 3 - OH MY!

So, last night was the night - Messiest Home in the Country 3 - on Clean House. I've been doing my own, two-week-long episode of Clean House in preparation for our friends coming into town tonight, so my goal was to be finished cleaning up our place and on the couch by 9 p.m. (with a glass of wine) so I could take in all the "mayhem and foolishness" in peace. (I was still doing things on the commercials, but's all done now!)

Steinvic knew I was excited about the show and he sent me a text just as the show began. He was watching a little, so I'm including some excerpts from our texting.

In the beginning, the Clean House Crew did the usual tour of the disaster area these two ladies called home. It's a mother and her daughter...the Mom is a police detective and the daughter is a 20 year-old college grad who just moved home.

S: Who's got clean house?
Me: Woot!
S: Enjoy!
Me: Lordy...this might be worse than last year!
S: Cincy proud!
Me: WTF...these folks are effed!
S: It's a mess.
Me: I mean, therapy is needed...
S: But she doesn't seem to C a problem.
Me: And what the hell is that on the couch? A sh*t monster?
S: Don't know.
Me: Need more wine!
S: So did Niecy.

As you can see, these gals thought that they had no problem...they just needed to get rid of a few things. Um, NO. This place was floor to ceiling, basement to attic, room after room of piled up STUFF. You name it, they had it. And because food - that they "lost" in the rubble - was in some of the unpacked shopping bags that littered their home, they also had mice. Mice are gross for three reasons: they have lice, they carry diseases and they poop at random. Their washing machine was broken, so they did their laundry at a friend's house. Their dishwasher was busted and the sink leaked so the dishwasher and stove just served as glorified dish racks - they used cold water brought in from the bathroom to do the dishes (they had no hot water).

At some point, wouldn't you quit shopping and start saving up for a repair person? I'm just sayin'...

The basement had flooded at one point, so everything on the floor got wet, and they never did anything but let it drain out, so you know that was a major funk fest down there. So, during the yard sale - which, by the way, raised $17,000 for the Lymphoma Society:

Me: Right now I can't believe that people are going to buy this filth...
S: They did.
Me: Gross! Mice! Mold! Yuck!
S: Didn't C that. Saw some of the sale.
Me: Those btchz got to stay at The Cincinnatian!
Me: Ooo! Girl just got called an ungrateful ass by Niecy!

So, yeah. The daughter got mad at Niecy when she indicated that they couldn't possibly bring all the stuff in their "keep bins" back in the house. So, she stormed off and cursed at Niecy, saying "I don't have time for this bullsh*t right now." Seriously. After people have been cleaning up her crap for days, buying all new furnishings for their home, repairing the crack that had formed in their living room because of all the junk piled up in the attic, weeding through old food and mice, this chick is gonna curse and speed off. Niiiiiiiiiiiiice.

Like daughter like mother, Momma Mess got mad during the reveal when she couldn't see what had been done with her Grandmother's purses. I can understand that she was concerned, but she is so dramatic that she just storms off and leaves, with just her daughter there to see the rest of the reveal. More ungratefulness! (And, no matter what, do you really think that Clean House wants your mouse-poop-infested dusty old grandma purses, that I'm sure you didn't take care of? NO!)

All in all, it was worth watching, entertaining, and I'm sure I'll watch it again as it's replayed on Style. You should catch it if you can...and if the home in any way resembles your own, please...Call Niecy!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Another Endorsement (for which I will not be compensated) - SecureMeal

Occasionally, an infomercial catches my eye and, usually, I slap it across the face so that it will give my eye back.

But once in awhile, I'll stumble upon something that is actually worth buying. For example, I was one of the early fans of Oxy Clean and Orange Glow and bought a boat load of it for $19.99 and loved it (RIP, Billy Mays!) and I bought Stop Leak which actually kept my former basement from leaking - a problem that even a contractor hadn't been able to fix - for just $10.

And last week, I ordered the free month trial of SecureMeal. You pay $7.95 for shipping and you'll receive thirty packs of shake mix that is nutritionally balanced and just 70 calories. Use it for meal replacement once a day to help reduce your overall number of calories for the day.

If you're like me, you're going, "Yeah, right..." and:
  • I'll bet I'm now on auto-ship and will get more deliveries charged to my card for $150 a month
  • I'll bet it tastes like ass
But I got online and listened to the creator who basically says, 'how else will you know how good these shakes taste if you can't taste them, so here, have a month on me.'

Figuring all I had to lose is $8, I ordered them. I was pleased to see that they even had a note on the ordering portion of the site that said that auto ship wasn't available.
They arrived within four days. You get 30 packages of assorted flavors: chocolate, coffee, vanilla, mixed berry, pina colada and peanut butter. If you mix them with water, they're 70 calories. You can mix them with milk and in that case, just add the 70 calories to those in the milk and you've got your total. Even if you use reduced fat 2%, you're still looking at a meal under 200 calories, and it's pretty healthy.

Yesterday, I tried the mixed berry with 2% milk. Today, the pina colada with icy cold water. I have to say, they taste pretty good. There is still a slightly gritty quality, but if you used a real blender and ice cubes, you'd probably notice it less. I have a battery operated hand mixer thingy and it works just fine. The shakes do not have an artificial sugary taste to them, though they are sweet. I still have four flavors to try, but so far, I give SecureMeal a thumbs up. Plus, you gotta love a company that is powered by solar energy!

So, if you want to lob off some calories while making sure you're getting some good vitamins (one shake has 50% of most of the vitamins you need) and proteins, I'd say you can't go wrong with this product. Now, will I buy another box once this shipment runs out? Honestly, I think that will have to do with whether or not this becomes a habit after 30 days. I was on a big yogurt-for-breakfast kick for about a month, and now I have no interest in yogurt. So...we'll see!