Thursday, December 31, 2009

In My Life

One of my very favorite songs is "In My Life." This time of year always gets me thinking of the past, of "people, places and things that went before." So, I think the next few posts may be about some of those things. Today's post is about Dogs I Have Known and Loved.

1. Smokey - On the Christmas Eve that I was either 3 or 4, we lived in Valley Stream, NY and my dad worked for Coca-Cola in Long Island City. On that day's drive into work, he watched a car ahead of him slow down and toss a bundle out of the car. He stopped and found a black puppy inside the bundle. He brought it into work with him and, with the help of several co-workers, he got the dog bathed and presentable to bring home. That night, to our amazement, my dad came in with this little guy with a big red bow around his neck. We were all shocked, including my mom, who had no idea that my dad was bringing this new family member home. He was black as smoke, hence his name.

2. Laffy My aunt had gotten a miniature poodle she called Nappy, which was short for Napoleon. I loved that dog and couldn't wait to visit them so I could play with Nappy. Smokey had passed away, so we were dog-less. The breeder where my aunt had gotten Nappy was having another litter, so we adopted Laffy, the name I gave him, which, in keeping with the French General's theme, was short for Lafayette. Although he was a gift for me, he really became my mother's dog. After my mom died, Laffy became a different dog. He would lie on the bed on my mother's side all day and couldn't be budged without a fight.

3. Tinker This dog was part of the package when I married my first husband. Tinker was a Weimeraner. He was a great dog, very smart with a gentle disposition. However, the marriage didn't last very long and when it was "bye-bye hubby" time, it was "bye-bye Tinker" too.

4. Patrick - After Smokey died, I asked my parents if I could have an Old English Sheepdog. I had seen Disney's "The Shaggy Dog," (the original one, not the re-make, where they used a bearded collie instead of an OES; totally unacceptable. There is only one dog that can lay claim to being the Shaggy Dog and that is the OES). But, no way. They're too big, too slobber-y, too hairy. So, now, being an independent, self-sufficient woman, I finally got my first OES. Don't ask me why I named him Patrick. I just always said that, when I get my sheepdog, his name would be Patrick. And he was everything you expect a sheepdog to be, big, goofy, intelligent, friendly (sometimes to a fault). One thing about this breed, wherever you go with them, people smile. I tell you, if you're looking to meet people, find an Old English and take him out somewhere. They are a people magnet.

5. Chloe - I stopped by my local Petsmart for dog food for Patrick and they were having an Adopt-A-Pet Day for a local, no-kill shelter. I went for dog food and came home with Chloe, a 14 month old Briard.
At first she was very shy, but within a few months, she became the Princess and took over the position of alpha dog from Patrick. (Sheepdogs tend to be wussy, in the first place, and he was almost 14 years old, so he really didn't give a shit, at that point). Briards are very intelligent and can be quite domineering, even of their owners, if not trained. I discovered this first hand and hired a trainer for ME, so I could learn how to handle her. She turned out to be a wonderful pet and my best girlfriend.

6. Bailey - Patrick passed away about 6 months after Chloe joined us and she was the solo dog for about 6 months, when I saw an ad in the local paper about a litter of OES puppies for sale. How could I resist? So, that's when Bailey entered my life and is, as I write this, laying on his bed on the floor next to me, both of us very happy to be here to see the new year in together, along with the LSH.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Last Minute Shopping

I know I'm a day late and a dollar short, but I just found a shop on the web that has the most unique and quirky things. These are a few on my wishlist ( I wanted to just show the pix, but couldn't figure out how):

Dying to take a shower??? Then this is for you.

Where should I hang this?

I'm definitely getting this:

Send a message when that new guy (or girl) comes by to pick you up:

Now, THIS is for the guy who has everything:

I think Donna, True Heart Girl In Jersey, might like this:

For all you aspiring writers:

You have male:

They say this is their #2 best seller:

Hey, PITC, does he have this one?

This one's for Otin:

For your favorite teacher (or student):

A girl can never have too many shoes (and cheese):

And, finally, the "WTF" gift:

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Money Pit

I enjoyed this film when it was first released, mainly because of Tom Hanks. Watching he and Shelley Long (whatever happened to her?) attempt to "improve" their home was fun, but do you know what I've discovered? It's not quite as much fun in real life.

Here's how it starts. The LSH & I agree that we need to replace ALL the windows, 12 in all, including two picture windows, plus a sliding glass door. We had some money left from a home equity loan we took out last year to replace the roof and there's a $1500 tax incentive to install energy efficient windows. We had a few contractors come over to give us their sales pitch and estimates. We picked our guy

and sat down to look at windows. After much discussion, we decided in some rooms to replace two windows with one larger and to move some windows. Well, here's where it begins. If we're doing all that, we may as well get all new siding. O-kay.

The day comes and the crew starts ripping off the old siding and what do they find??? Termites. Great. Now we need to get an exterminator in

Then, we needed to get an electrician in to move something or other; I forget what and why.

We left for vacation right in the middle of all this. We told the guys that we expected to find a bus in front of the house when we returned, so we could have that whole Extreme Makeover experience.

Unfortunately, it didn't quite happen that way. When we opened the door upon returning, I honestly just stood there, not prepared for what I was seeing.

I admit, they weren't done yet. The living room (where they had also repaired the cathedral ceiling) was torn apart, furniture draped in old sheets, dust EVERYWHERE, and my dog, lying in the middle of this, with a pile of dog s*** next to him, so happy to see us. AND, it was 1:45AM (as in the morning).

Now, I admit, I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to all this home improving. I suppose if I was, I would have realized that, with all the changes we made regarding the size and placement of the windows, new sheetrock had to be installed and EVERY room now needs to be painted.

Ok, time for a deep breath. I can handle this. Just think how nice it will look when it's all done.

So, the next morning, I'm having my coffee, gazing out of my brand new large kitchen window when I thought I'd go online to see what we will need to submit when we file our taxes to take advantage of the $1500 tax credit. I find the site, detailing the eligibility requirements, one of which was that the windows have a "Solar Heat Gain Coefficient" of 0.30 or less. Sounds good. I mean, we bought Andersen windows and the installer said all Andersen windows qualify. I look up at the window, which still has all its stickers on and see a "SHGC" of 0.32. WTF?? I jump up and, like a crazy lady with PMS

I run to all the other windows to find the same thing. The LSH called the guy immediately, who expressed disbelief at what he was being told. He said the Andersen people had said that all their windows meet the government standards. It turns out that that was true.....until June, when the government changed the standards. So, right now, we still owe one more payment and, if this can't be sorted out, that payment is going to be minus $1500.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tis The Season

A few posts back, I related a story about some diners in a Philadelphia restaurant picked up the tab for another table's meals and how it continued throughout the day. Well, I had an unexpected opportunity to do something similar the other day.
Thursday morning I stopped at the local Quik-Chek on my way to work to get a White Chocolate Mint cocoa. It's not something I do regularly, but, with the snow on the ground and the chill in the air, put me in the mood.
There was a man in line in front of me, buying a coffee and paper, paying with a credit or debit card. The cashier ran it through, but it came back declined. The guy started checking his pockets for cash, but came up empty. He started to head outside to see if he had any money in his car. I thought "oh, a perfect "Pay It Forward" opportunity" and told him I'd take care of it. Of course, he protested, saying it wasn't necessary. I said I knew that, but I wanted to and wished him a Merry Christmas.
It wasn't much, just a coffee and paper, but it was a good way to start the day. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Good Will Toward Men

True story.

Last Saturday, our flight home from Miami was cancelled. How one handles this news upon reaching the departure gate, I believe, reveals much about a person. Upon hearing the news from a fellow passenger, I responded as I usually do, when hearing news I don't like: "You're kidding, right?" Why a total stranger would suddenly decide to play with my head and lie about our flight status didn't occur to me. I was just hoping he had a cruel sense of humor. But, no. He was actually a very nice, honest guy just passing on the bad news. So I got in line with the rest of the airport's version of the cast of "Lost" to find another option home, while the LSH sat because of a recent leg injury.
I was talking with a few fellow strandees when we hear loud words coming from the head of the line. I turned to see a large man throw back his fist and punch out a woman, totally landing her flat out on the floor. Well, that got all the testosterone in the immediate area heated up, causing many of the males to descend on this guy, yelling "Hey, buddy! You can't hit a woman!" and such. Now there's more yelling and shoving and then, suddenly, the PA system comes on and, over all this mayhem, we hear:

I loved it.

Anyway, the real story was that, after waiting what seemed to be forever, the daughter of the woman that was in front of this guy and his wife, invited about 6 other people to join them in line. The guy's wife started to say that they needed to wait in line and the DAUGHTER (maybe 20 years old), raised HER fist to punch the wife out, the husband saw this and got his punch in first. The cops came, took statements, nobody pressed any charges and that was that.

Of course, this show was hard to miss. A man waiting for another flight at the next gate came over and asked what was going on. When he heard the story, he asked "so, where's this flight heading anyway?" When he was told "Newark," he responded "Oh, Jersey. It figures." Thanks, TV Housewives and Guidos, for helping to keep the stereotype of Jersey alive and well to the rest of the world.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Catch-Up Time

I've been away awhile, so I thought this would be a good time to catch-up (ketchup/catch-up. Get it?? Ha-ha. Or, in deference to the season, should I say "Ho-Ho?").

Thanks to those of you inquiring about my health. After a slew of tests, the medical community can definitely say that I'm suffering from peripheral neuropathy. Idiopathic peripheral neuropathy, to be exact, which is the medical community's way of saying that they have no idea what is causing it, but if they use a fancy word like "idiopathic", they can still charge exorbitant fees. I have my own theory as to what's behind this which I may share with you in the future. But, for now, the best I can do is grin and bear it.

The cruise did not disappoint. We just chilled out in the Caribbean heat, doing only what we wanted to do or do nothing, which is what i wanted to do most of the time. I only disembarked (that's boat talk for "got off") the ship once, on Monday, when we were at Samana in the Dominican Republic to swim with the sea lions.

Now, I admit, this is not us. We have some pix on CD which I'm too lazy to find right now, but, you get the idea. Sea lions are very cool. I'd say they're kind of like an aquatic dog. It was a lot of fun. The beach there was also gorgeous. The LSH was approached by a local and asked if he wanted to score some ganja. Now, if you know him, you realize how truly funny this is. He was baffled and asked me several times why I thought this guy approached him. I had no idea, other than this bro had poor character judgment.

I did not disembark again until they made me on Saturday when we were back in Miami. At the pool, in the shade,there were some double width wicker chaises with soft pads and pillows. That's pretty much we I spent my cruise, armed with a good book, crossword puzzles, and a waiter who knew when it was time for a refill. However, if you want to get drunk while you're on a cruise, be sure to get a home equity loan before you go. Pina coladas $9.99. They had a drink called Cool Runnings, served in a pineapple. It was delish, but at $11.99 a pop, I had to limit my intake.

I played bingo once, lured by the chance to win a free cruise for two. I didn't win that, but I did walk out of there $200 richer. I-20 is now my favorite number.

Of course, a lot of time was spent eating. I'd been dreaming about these chocolate croissants they served at breakfast last year. And, thank God, they still had them. On the morning we returned to Miami, I managed to smuggle some extras out in a paper napkin. Tacky, I know. But, they were sooooo good!

We were returned back to reality a bit too abruptly, when we got to the gate for our 12:10PM departure flight and found out it was cancelled. We were re-booked on an 8:50PM flight and didn't walk into the house until 1:30AM. But I got a big, wet, warm welcome home from Bailey (affectionately known as "The B"), always the best part of coming home.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pay It Forward For Real

We're back, safe & fairly sound, from our cruise. It was as wonderful as we expected. Very relaxing and laid-back. I'll post more about it in the next few days, but, because I'm short on time tonight, I just wanted to share this story that caught my eye. I just love these kind of tales!

View more news videos at:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gone Sailing

I really wanted to post before we leave for the cruise, but I just don't have time. I may Tweet now and then, if I put down my pinacolada long enough to text. So, Bon Voyage, all.


PS. I also want to thank all of you who continue to stop by to see if I've posted. I appreciate your interest and will work on being a better blogger when I return from this much needed getaway!