Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Should Auld Acquaintance..........

To leave the old with a burst of song;
To recall the right and forgive the wrong;
To forget the things that bind you fast
To the vain regret of the year that's past.
To have the strength to let go your hold
Of the not worthwhile of the days grown old.
To dare go forth with a purpose true
To the unknown tasks of the year that's new.
To help your brother along the road,
To help when needed and lift his load.
To add your gift to the world's good cheer
Is to have and wish a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

If New Year's Eve...

is only 2 days away, could baseball season be far behind?
Well, yes, I guess it is still a way off, but it's still on my mind.
For the last 2 years, the LSH & I have gone to Mets Spring Training. I already was pretty much decided that we would skip it this year, maybe make it an every other year thing. If I had any doubts about my decision, the powers that be of the WBC, World Baseball Classic, have helped me feel good about my decision.
Why in the world is it held during our Spring Training? As of right now, only one Met, my boy, David Wright, is officially playing. Now, I'm sure DW is thrilled to have the chance to wear the Team USA jersey and play for his country and I'm happy for him. However, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Pedro Feliciano have made it known that they want to play for Puerto Rico, Johann Santana and Francisco Rodriguez want to play for Venezuela and Jose Reyes for the Dominican Republic and if any of those countries doesn't invite them, they are plain crazy. That means the Mets will be without 2 starting pitchers (including their ace), one reliever, the first and third basemen and the shortstop for at least part, if not all, of spring training.
The Mets are probably going to tell Santana to sit this one out, as he's rehabbing from surgery. But I'm really surprised that nothing was said to David. Is it really worth taking the chance of injury to play in this competition? David is an all-out competitor and I don't expect him to really rein it in here. I'll be holding my breath every time he takes the field.
On another note...One of my co-workers and fellow Mets fan, learned that the NJ Sportswriter's Association is holding an awards ceremony at the end of next month to honor some professional athletes who are either from NJ or play for a NJ area (that includes NY :) team. It just so happens that my boy, David, is being presented with the Sports Humanitarian of the Year award due to his dedication and charitable efforts through the David Wright Foundation. Anyway, the banquet hall it's being held at isn't very far from us (in fact, my wedding reception for my first marriage was there!) and the price isn't too bad as these things go. So we've been trying to get a group together to go. Now, this is just the type of thing that falls into my "Que Sera Sera" beliefs (see post from Dec 28). If you have ever tried to get a group together to do ANYTHING, you know exactly how it goes. When the plan is first mentioned, EVERYBODY is enthusiastic and climbs right on board....until the time comes to "show me the money." And then, the group starts falling apart like the Jets 2008 season (alright, I know some of you are thinking I could have said the METS season, but, hey, get your own blog!) So, as we understand that tables will be assigned, we made the deadline for payment tomorrow. So, we shall see tomorrow who will be joining us for some witty repartee and lots of laughs. I know the LSH has promised to escort me, no matter what happens. Thanks, sweetie. You're the best!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunrise - Sunset Meme

Just found this great site to share your sunrise/sunset photos. Here's my contribution - a couple of sunsets I took during our recent Caribbean cruise:

Que Sera, Sera

My brother called us on Christmas Eve Eve to wish us a Merry Christmas; we're seeing my family this Saturday. I don't remember why this came up but, suddenly he asks "You ARE having your party Memorial Day weekend?" Now, he & Joan have a lot of friends, but I didn't think their social calendar booked up so quickly. I let him know that it was WAY too early for me to even think about it.
I tend to live my life following the mantra of AA - One day at a time. Thinking much beyond tomorrow just doesn't work well for me; it usually just stresses me out. It doesn't matter whether the future holds something to look forward to, like a vacation or something not so great, like a colonoscopy.
Bobby Burns said "The best laid schemes o' mice an men, gang aft agley," or, if you're not from Scotland "the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray." Another interpretation is "When man makes plans, God laughs." Now, I admit, most of the plans I've made throughout my life have gone off as planned. But I've learned to try not to stress about things beyond my control. So, if I must make plans, I'll do it and move on.
The pretty lady above (10 points if you remember her; you'll also be giving your approximate age away) sang a song "Que Sera Sera" which pretty much sums up my outlook on life:

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

And, yes, Tom, we will probably have our annual Memorial Day party this year (God willing).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Quick Rant

Stopped at the local grocery today to pick up a few things and what do I see? The aisle that just 2 days ago was filled with Christmas stuff is now filled with.............


Belated Christmas Wishes!

Wanted to leave a brief "Merry Christmas" here on Wed, but I wound up coming home from work early and going straight to bed. One of my little chronic ailments decided to rear its ugly head on Christmas Eve.
Gratefully, I woke up feeling much better Christmas morning.
The LSH gave me a Zune. I know I'm a little late coming to the party on these things, but here I am. I had no idea these things do so much. I'm going to have to have one of my young nieces come over and show me what to do.
We do a secret Santa with all the adults in Mike's family. Names are drawn on Thanksgiving. You can either go in as a individual or as a couple; Mike & I always do the couple thing. Then the sis-in-law who oversees all this asks everyone to send her their wishlist and she will get it to their Secret Santa.
Mike & I didn't submit a wishlist, so a few days before Christmas, our Secret Santa called desperately looking for some idea of what she should get us. Mike was on the phone with her and he's asking me what we want; I shrugged my shoulders because I really couldn't think of anything. I finally said to tell her to take whatever she was going to spend and donate it to one of our favorite charities.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm as materialistic as any red-blooded American. But, the things I would have on my wishlist, my Secret Santa couldn't afford. For instance,

- a new car (with no car payments). My car is almost 8 years old. I love my car (dubbed the "Putt-Putt" by the LSH) and it's been very reliable so far, but it's showing its age (much like its owner). We've been trying to only have one car payment at a time. So we have about 2 1/2 more years left on Mike's car; once his is paid off, then it's my turn. So far, this plan has worked. Hope it continues.
- a new, larger house (with no mortgage payments). Again, we are very fortunate that we own (along with the bank) our own home. It's small, but big enough for the LSH, the dog and me. But it's old. Over the years, previous owners have changed and updated it, so it's actually kind of cute. It's a very casual house. Being as we live at The Shore, we have a beach theme pretty much throughout.
So now I'm going to sound very greedy, but I've never had a brand new house. So, if I were to make a true wishlist, a new house (preferably with a wrap-around porch) would be on it.

So, you can see I am not altruistic at all. I just thought donating to a charity would be better than just going out and buying something for the sake of buying. As it turned out, Secret Santa went to the charity's website to donate and they've taken down the area where you used to be able to donate online. I don't quite understand why. So, she got us a gift card for the restaurant where we were married.
That was thoughtful and we will definitely be using it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Here's To The Ladies Who Lunch

This time of year sometimes makes me melancholy, remembering old friends and the good times we had. I have a few friends I've been friends with since kindergarten and grammar school. In fact, I still see the girl who taught me how to tie my shoes in kindergarten. But the friends I've been thinking of are the ones who played a part in my life for awhile, a few years maybe and then, for whatever reason, drifted away.
You never know when or where you're going to make a friend, in school, moving to a new city/neighborhood, or at work. I've been at the company I work for for 5 years. There are about 150-200 people at this location. I know most of them, but only a few I would describe as friends. A few I've become friends with simply because we usually have lunch around the same time and just started sitting together. We're a diverse, little group - various ages, backgrounds, religions, and interests. I was writing out Christmas cards to them this past weekend and got an idea to write a little poem about us.

The Lunch Bunch

Monday-Friday ‘round 1PM
Six ladies gather
And I’m one of them.

As you can figure, it’s time for lunch.
That’s why I call them
The (Company) Lunch Bunch.

There’s Rita
Who always has needles in hand
You should see gifts she knits,
They’re really quite grand.

Then there’s Henny
Who joins in the talk
But it’s usually after
She goes for her walk.

Camille is another
Who sits at our table.
Sometimes she can’t make it
But comes if she’s able.

Kathleen’s into gardens
It’s her earthly delight.
She’s also an expert
On Frank Lloyd Wright.

Blonde, blue-eyed Karen
Has a reputation for fun,
She adores the man in her life
James, her lovable son.

A bit about me.
Winter’s tough for a reason,
I’m not really happy
‘til it’s baseball season.

So that’s a glimpse
Of the (Company) Lunch Bunch.
If you’re free around one,
Come join us for lunch.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

As Luck Would Have It......

I gave myself a surprise Christmas gift yesterday.
I was going crazy yesterday looking for something. I never did find what I was looking for, but I came upon a giftcard for a wonderful spa in the area. The card had no date or amount on it, so I called them. It turned out the card had expired 2 days earlier, but they extended for me until 6/09. Now that's a business that understands good customer service.
So now I can finally confess to my father-in-law that I never got to use it because I misplaced it. He had asked me what I had spent it on and I told him I had a wonderful massage; I hated to fib (alright, lie), but I didn't want to let him know he wasted $100 on me because of my own carelessness.
So, thanks, Pop. Your Christmas gift from 2 years ago, is still bringing pleasure!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Very Random Thoughts

* If the rock group, Styx, opened for the Rolling Stones, they could call it "The Styx & Stones Tour."
* Speaking of Styx, one of my favorite songs of theirs was "Babe" until I recently heard someone on the radio talking about it and now, when I hear it, the first image that pops into my mind is a talking pig.
* When I'm copied on an email at work, please, if you're just responding to the sender to say thank you, don't hit the stupid "Reply to All" button! I get enough useless email at work as it is. When I got back from my week's vacation a few weeks ago, I had, no lie, 765 emails. Before I opened any, I read the subject lines and was able to delete enough to bring the total I had to open to 234.
* If I weren't married, I wouldn't be able to wear most of my necklaces and bracelets, as well as any dress I own with a zipper in the back.
* How come, if someone has birthday balloons in their cubicle at work, there's always at least one person who asks "So,is it your birthday?"
* Why did it take so long for OJ Simpson to go to jail?
* How come men, as long as they know their size, never have to be concerned if something will fit and the clothes in my closet have a range of 4 sizes and all of them fit?
* Flying home from our cruise a few weeks ago and listening to the flight attendant explain what to do if an emergency arises, I thought "why are there flotation devices under plane seats instead of parachutes?"
* And finally,if a cow laughed real hard, would milk come out her nose?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pamper Yourself

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got a bit carried away in the spa on the cruise.
I bought some of the products they used on me. I particularly love this. The minute I open the bottle and get a whiff, I'm instantly transported back to the islands. Great to use on your feet.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Timing Is Everything

At least, that's what some people say. Unfortunately, my timing was a bit off last night when I posted my rants about the Mets ticket program. Right after I sent it, I heard on the 11PM news that Fred Wilpon, the owner of the Mets, was one of the victims of scam artist extraordinaire, Bernard Madoff, who swindled what looks like could be billions of dollars from investors, some of which were non-profit charities.
It was mentioned on the news that Mr. Wilpon had already been asked if he would have to sell the Mets, to which he, at least at this point, emphatically said no.
I'm still not happy about the ticket plans; but, when you put it in perspective, it's not really a big deal.
I need to learn that when I get riled up about something, I should, if possible, let 24 hours pass and then revisit it. Usually things don't look so bad then.
One thing I won't change my mind about - I hope Madoff goes to prison for whatever life he has left and then, rots in hell!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Will I See Citifield This Year??

I thought I had gotten over this last month, but a conversation at work today brought my disappointment back and I need to vent my anger and disappointment with the Mets organization and the 2009 ticket plans. If you're not an avid baseball fan, you may as well skip this post because there is no way you will understand the way a long time fan feels.
The only partial plans being offered for the 09 season are 40 games and 15 games. Prior to the plans being announced, we were considering a Sunday plan. However, the "Sunday" plan is just 10 Sunday games and 5 WEEKDAY games. Hey, I wanted a weekend plan because I (like alot of other fans) work during the week. What am I going to do with weekday games? The best you can do is try to sell them, but then, the onus falls on you to try and unload them and recover some of your expense. On top of this, no playoff tickets guarantee; not even a pre-sale password. Post season rights are the main reason to pay for all these games anyway, otherwise there is no point in renewing as you can just pick the number and dates of the games convenient for you, not picked by them.
From reading various Mets online sites and speaking with many fans, there are a lot of very unhappy fans. I know a few couples who have been either season or partial ticket holders for over 10 years who are passing this year. As it is, the new stadium has over 10,000 less seats than Shea to make room for more deluxe boxes for corporations and the well-heeled. These tkt plans were developed when the business economy was still pretty good; we can only hope that they have a problem selling
the pkgs. and put together some better offerings. Hell, they'll be lucky if Citibank doesn't sell their naming rights to the stadium before it even opens to recoup some of their mortgage/investment losses.
I wonder what the cost would be to take the Citifield name off of everything and start from scratch re-marketing the whole thing?
Can you tell I'm just a wee bit bitter?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bah! Humbug!

I started and almost finished my Christmas shopping today. I've just counted and I was in 11 different stores today and bought something in each one. In not ONE of these stores, was I wished "Happy Holidays", let alone "Merry Christmas". Did I miss something? Was there a universal decision by all the retailers to direct their employees to not acknowledge the season this year? I remember last year, there was a definite backlash against saying "Happy Holidays" and many people greeted others with "Merry Christmas". I have non-Christian friends and none of them get offended if they're greeted with a Merry Christmas.
I know the retailers are hurting this year, just as most of us are. But does that mean their employees have to stop acknowledging the season?

On another note, I arrived at a children's store at 6PM and one of the salesgirls was locking the door. I couldn't believe it. 10 days before Christmas and you're closing at 6PM? Retailers are supposedly hurting big time and you're turning customers away?

I was in a Hallmark store, buying Christmas cards (of course). For years at this time of year, I have seen these cards that say "To My Secret Pal". Can anybody explain to me what that's about? Who are these secret pals? Could I have one and not know about them because it's a secret?
Another sign of the times, I noticed cards that said "Merry Christmas To My Mother (or Father) and Your Significant Other." I guess that's better than saying "and to your live-in lover, concubine, or gold-digging girlfriend."


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Come Sail Away

Here's a few pix from our cruise:

Cozumel. That's our ship, the Pearl, in the background.

Sunset taken from our cabin balcony.

This is the pool area at night.

Therapy pool in the spa, where I indulged myself often and spent too much money!

This is the amazing way you can play Wii. The screen is 2 stories tall! Note the size of the people playing.

We bowled a couple of games on board. (No, I'm not telling you what I scored!)

This is our cabin.
Not really. It's part of one of the clubs on board called Bliss. Here are a few more pix from there:

That's my LSH tackling the rock-climbing wall. He succeeded making it to the top of the most difficult wall. My hero!

One of the kids'pools.

Pool area with bandstand. I can just hear the island music as I sip another pina colada. Ah!

My sentiments exactly (at least during that week.)

Family pool. They also have an adults' only pool which I loved, along with 4 hot tubs poolside.

Here we are parasailing. This was my second time, but it was just as thrilling as the first time.

Part of the sports deck.

These anti-bacterial soap dispensers are found ALL over the ship. The cruise lines are desperately afraid of passengers catching any germs that could be contagious. Passengers are instructed that if they come down with anything while on board to stay in their cabin and report it to the doctor. There are also crew standing in various places around the ship with spray bottles of soap. You cannot enter any restaurant until the maitre'd sees you wash your hands. I have to admit, at my first day back to work when I stepped off the elevator, I had my hands extended waiting for someone to give me a spritz!

And finally, I'll close with the first thing I look for upon arrival to any warm weather climates:

We're already saving our pennies for our next cruise!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Dolphin Experience

I can cross another thing off my "Bucket List"; We got to swim with the dolphins in Cozumel. I had booked this a few months ago and while we were waiting for our transportation, I said to the LSH "There's something I didn't mention about this Dolphin encounter. It's actually swimming with the MIAMI dolphins." Well, I thought it was funny.
This experience was better than I even imagined. This was more than just standing in 3 feet of water and petting them. The dolphin master taught us some signs and we would swim out individually and give a sign and she (our dolphin's name was Eva) would follow. For instance, she would swim behind you, turn and, when she got in front of you, she would roll over on her belly and you would grab her two fins and she would pull you in to shore. My favorite was the boogie board. You swim out on a boogie board, straighten your legs and flex your feet; she comes up behind and pushes you into shore. And these dolphins are fast! I actually was hydroplaning on the board. They are such beautiful, intelligent creatures. This video will give you an idea of what it was like.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm A Believer

I was going to blog about some of our experiences on the cruise, but I'm putting that
off for another day.
Did you ever have a dream that was so real that, for the first few moments you're awake, you think it really happened? I had one last night.
A little background. My mother passed away 39 years ago when I was a young girl. She had cancer and had been suffering from it for 7 years. With all her hospital stays, surgeries and treatments, it was hard for her to be the mom she wanted to be. This is something I only came to realize as I got older.
Well, in last night's dream, she "appeared" to me. I've forgotten parts of the dream, but I remember being in a room and feeling a presence. I asked "who's there" and got no verbal answer. Then I asked if it was my mom and if it was, pick up a shoe that was on the floor. The shoe lifted off the floor and hung in the air, so I knew it was my mom. I was, obviously, very emotional. Somehow, my mom, although I couldn't hear her speak, was able to convey that every year, at Christmas time, God selects certain souls to return to earth to be with their loved ones and that, finally, she got the call. But she would only be here until Christmas. I remember being so excited and couldn't wait to share my life with her.
Then I woke up and, in a few seconds, realized it was a dream. But, maybe it wasn't?
For the next couple of weeks until Christmas, I'm going to believe that my mom is right here beside me and share some of the things that have happened in my life, particularly the times I wished she had been there.
What a great Christmas season this is going to be!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Back To Reality (& Winter)

You know, sometimes you return from a trip and say "It was a great vacation, but it's good to be home." Well, you're not hearing that sentence from me. Other than being happy to see my dog, I'm not really happy to be home.
We returned from our cruise last night to bitter cold and a dusting of snow on the ground, bringing us back to the real world rather abruptly.
But we had a WONDERFUL time. The NCL Pearl
is a fabulous ship. It has made me a fan of cruising again. This was probably the most relaxing vacation I've ever had. Not that we didn't do things - we went parasailing, swam with the dolphins, gambled in the casino, went to the shows, went bowling (yes, there are 4 alleys on the ship).
There are 12 restaurants; we had dinner in five of them (we went to the Italian place & the steakhouse twice). They were all wonderful; you wouldn't know you were on a ship
unless you glanced out a window.
The ports were in Honduras and Belize, Cozumel and the cruiseline's private island. But, this was the first cruise I've experienced where I really just wanted to stay on the ship and chill.
There's so much to tell and I'll be blogging more about the cruise as the week progresses.
Meanwhile, it's back to work tomorrow.