Sunday, November 30, 2008

Evil Genes

Last night when I was up pondering the meaning of life in the wee hours, I stumbled across a radio talk show. The topic, a book, Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend by Barbara Oakley.

The premise of the book, or so it seemed at 3 AM, is that there is a genetic coding that causes individuals to be evil. From what I gathered it's written from a personal point of view, part memior due to her own sister's behavior, part scientific study. Interesting, yes? To me it is so this morning I hopped on Amazon and ordered it. Yes, I know. I'm fascinated by the oddest things.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Just Not the Same

I love eggnog. It's one of the few things I enjoy about the holidays. I even have a recipe that's to die for. However it makes way too much for just me so I these days I usually settle for a small carton from the grocery store. Much too thick to drink straight so I resolve that dilemma be adding some rum. Okay, a lot of rum. And I grate fresh nutmeg on it too. Not as good as homemade but it'll do.

I meant to grab some while I was at the store this morning. Don't know how I managed to forget it since that was one of the main reasons I was there but I did. Darn!

I was out and about later and actually considered stopping to pick up a carton. Only problem is I hate to shop. I avoid it whenever possible and not even eggnog could convince me otherwise. I had resigned myself to drinking plain old water this evening, not as tasty but much healthier. But then I was stopped at the traffic light at McDonald's on my way home. I looked over and there in big bold lettering was a sign proclaiming eggnog milkshakes are back for the holidays.

Yes, I know what you're thinking. Ew, right? That's what I thought at first too but then I remembered how easy it is to make mudslides with Arby's jamocha shakes so I thought oh what the hell, why not give it a try?

I had to drink an inch or so of the shake in order to make room for the rum. If you've never had a McDonald's eggnog shake I wouldn't recommend one. Borderline nasty and that's being extremely generous. I added my rum and nutmeg but it was almost as bad. So I gulped down another inch or so and added more rum and nutmeg. It's not nearly as disgusting now but I suspect that's the rum kicking in. Heck by the time I finish I'll probably be telling you how wonderful it was. Nah, probably not. Need to add more rum for that.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I made my holiday pilgrimage to visit my great aunt along with my mother and brother today. The woman is amazing. Ninety-two and sharp as can be. Yes, her body’s slowing down but she’s still living on her own. She gets out and about and does what she wants, when she wants. As I said, amazing.

I am worried about her however. She informed us of several more friend deaths bringing the total to nine this year. There’s only one left in her main group and she’s off to Florida for the winter, possibly for good. My aunt does have subgroups that she socializes with but they were never her first choice when it came to people to hang out with. Also I’m really not sure how many of them are left at this point either.

As she was telling us about this there was a sadness about her I hadn’t noticed before. On the way home I was pondering it and I can understand why. It must be extremely difficult to lose everyone you’ve been close to forever. Yes, some of the people who died this year were left over from her childhood. Can you imagine 85 years worth of memories with someone?

Of course this is not a subject that was discussed in the car on the way home beyond the fact that there is still nothing wrong with my aunt’s mind and that the state required she take a driver’s test about two years ago in order to retain her license.

Actually there was very little discussion in the car either direction. I had my laptop which tends to annoy my family. It prevents them from talking about me when I pretend to sleep which is my other option for these car trips. I was pleased even if they weren’t. I managed to get some work done for a change, something I’ve been having some trouble with lately so in my opinion it was a fairly decent day all around even though I am a little sad now.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give Thanks

I'm thankful for my friends, both two legged and four. Throughout my life, I've found myself with the very best of both. Whether you celebrate this holiday or not, be safe.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Is It Possible?

I watched The Christmas Card on the Hallmark channel the other night. The basic plot is a woman sends handmade cards to soldiers, one is so touched he comes to find her when he gets home, her family invites him to stay giving him a job in exchange for room and board, she gets engaged to her longtime boyfriend who only proposes because he now has competition, the soldier starts to leave because it breaks his heart since he’s fallen in love with her, she ditches the boyfriend because she realizes she’s really in love with the soldier. On Christmas of course. The perfect sappy story.

But it got me thinking. Is it really possible to impact someone that much, just with a few short sentences? Can you be so drawn to someone you’ve never actually met that you’re half in love by the time you do meet them?

As a romance writer I feel compelled to answer yes. After all, isn’t that the whole idea of these books? A happily ever after in unlikely circumstances. It’s a great fantasy, isn’t it?

However as someone who hasn’t had the best personal experiences with love, I’m not so sure. I admit it. I’m a bit cynical. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just improbable. I have tremendous doubts that real life can ever work out like that.

Since it’s the beginning of the holiday season I’d like any of you with a fairy tale of your own to prove me wrong. Share it please, either here or in a private email if you prefer. What do you receive for being so generous? Nothing other than helping to restore some hope for me, something I could really use right about now. In the movie, a handmade Christmas card made a difference. In reality, your own story could.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Today's News

Reading dropped to 63rd place on the list of most dangerous cities with population over 75,000, down from 32nd last year. However, Philadelphia is 22nd, Pittsburgh ranked 61st and Allentown, 89th. Seems to me Pennsylvania cities are attractive to criminals. I wonder why that is?

The timing of this article is interesting. Just yesterday as I was getting into my car someone ran by me in the parking lot. Not unusual considering I park in a busy area. What was out of the ordinary were the slew of police cars with flashing lights that followed almost instantly, blocking the street I normally use to leave.

The officer that ran towards me only had her hand on her gun. The one behind her had his drawn already. Wanting to make it very obvious I didn’t do whatever it was, I opened my window and waited. When asked if I’d seen a guy in a tan jacket I pointed to where he went and yep, you guessed it. I got to say, “He went that way.” How many of you have gotten to do that? Made me chuckle all the way home. I checked the paper today and there wasn’t anything in it so I can’t tell you what he was being chased for.

In other news, and I know you’ve all been waiting on the edges of your seats for this one, the men whose company sold the Whizzinator plead guilty and are awaiting sentencing in February. What’s a Wizzinator you ask? Why it’s a prosthetic penis in several living flesh tones that came complete with a heating element and fake urine of course. What else would it be?

Professional athletes used this device mainly to get around stricter drug testing standards. I remember first hearing about it a year or so ago on the radio when one of them was discovered going through airport security. Yeah, imagine explaining that. Sorry, no sympathy here. Or for the guys who invented it. Their possible punishment is only a half-million dollar fine or up to eight years in prison or both. Sounds like they’re getting off easy to me. But I suspect that’s why they plead guilty instead of facing a trial. Just my opinion but this is my blog after all and I’m entitled. You’re welcome to share yours on the subject if you care to.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Best Forgotten

When I was a growing up we always had Thanksgiving dinner at my dad’s parents. It wasn’t much fun for a kid because theirs was the stuffy house. Plastic runners on the floor, a plastic sofa cover, chairs I wasn’t allowed to sit in, things I wasn’t permitted to touch. Actually there was very little in that house I was allowed to touch, including the toys that were technically mine.

My grandmother cooked differently than I was used to so dinner wasn’t much to look forward to either. To begin with, I don’t like turkey. I don’t care who makes it, I don’t like it. My grandmother never believed this so there were at times big dramatic scenes with the whole accusation of me thinking her food wasn’t good enough. But that wasn’t reserved for holidays. That was just my grandmother. My dad and grandfather would take me aside before dinner and remind me to eat some of everything just to appease her when they thought of it.

Anybody else ever have potato filling made with saffron to make it yellow instead of butter and eggs to give it real flavor? Dried corn at her house was, well, dry as in powdery. This was the same grandmother who thought the best way to prepare hamburgers was to boil them in parsley water. Need I say more?

Anyway enough about the food. One thing that always amazed me about Thanksgiving dinner was Aunt Violet. The woman was 127 years old if she was a day and always turned up in a hat. I have no idea where she came from or where she was the rest of the year. She only appeared at Thanksgiving. For all I know she’s still showing up for dinner with the people who bought the house after my grandparents died. She was one of those little old ladies you see with the porcelain papery skin that smelled of that powdery perfume you can’t quite identify but recognize as old. She talked all the time to no one in particular and everyone just sort of ignored her until it was time to see her home. For some reason I was never allowed to go along even when my dad took her. It made me think there was some big mystery to her, like she wasn’t really alive or something and they didn’t want me to discover the secret. Hm, perhaps I’ll go lurk in that block Thursday evening around the time we used to eat, just to see if she’s still there.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I Found It!

The tavern was originally established in 1823 by Jacob Hartman who was blinded in an accident as a child, thus the name Blind Hartman. Located at the bottom of a hill, it was not only a spot for travellers to seek refuge before venturing on, there was also a mountain spring with a trough for watering their horses. Clever man that Blind Hartman, wasn't he? [Note: If you're not local I should tell you the hill beyond this location is very, very steep. I can't imagine tackling it on a horse. It's bad enough in a car.]

The tavern has had many owners over the years. My earliest memories are of it as Les & Josie's. At that time it was very dimly lit inside so I can't tell you much about how it looked. I don't remember much about the food either other than it was a dress up place we went rarely when I was a small child. I do remember having Shirley Temples with dinner.

Many years ago I was there as a stop on a hayride. Don't remember the name but at the time it had become a true dive. The group I was with was hay covered and dusty but I think we were better than the regulars. Of course that was one of the last stops and much alcohol had been consumed, strictly for the purpose of staying warm, so perhaps I'm not remembering it correctly.

I was there once more recently, about ten years ago when it was then called Jack and Snook's and, putting it nicely, it was awful. The food was bad and the decor was, um, musty?

So when remodeling began again last spring I was skepical at best. It took a long time. The outside renovations were extensive and, I have to admit, impressive. A few weeks ago, when Riley and family suggested we try Blind Hartman's I thought okay, why not? Once won't hurt, right? We walked in and wow! The inside is completely redone. From the side we parked on you enter through the bar. It's gorgeous! High ceiling, well-lit but soft, not bright. Warm and friendly. The staff greeted us as soon as we were inside and gave us the choice of bar or dining room, either of which would have been fine.

The dining room is again wide-open, bright and warm with a floor to ceiling operating fireplace which made it so cozy. When I was there Friday with my mom I discovered that the Skip Moyer Jazz Trio performs on Wednesday evenings. If you're not familiar with them let me tell you they're a local treat you won't want to miss. We also learned that the attached barn is being renovated into a banquet hall and will be available for private parties. I'm sure it will be just as inviting as the rest of the tavern once it is finished.

I can't tell you what a pleasant surprise Blind Hartman's Tavern is. The place itself is pretty, with an area for everyone. Oh, there's also a patio out back which will be extremely nice on spring and fall evenings. The waitstaff is friendly, courteous, and efficint. And the food, well the food is absolutely yummy! Full entrees, sandwiches including bar-carved prime rib or ham, and a variety of salads. My only complaint when we were there for dinner was that there was no red salad dressing. You know, no thousand island, french, russain, that sort of thing. I ask Friday and it's already been added. How's that for service? Sorry, can't tell you about dessert other than they have them on the menu. We were all too full to sample anything.

I think the best thing of all is that this is the kind of place I can wander off to alone if I decide to go out on the spur of the moment. There aren't a lot of places around here I can say that about that are more than diners and I really like that, especially now that I know there's excellet jazz on Wednesday nights.

If you're in the area and looking for a place to eat I highly recommend Blind Hartman's Tavern. It's located on Rt 12 heading towards Pricetown on the left not far after the bypass ends. Of course you can always give me a call. I'd be happy to join you.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oh Well

I meant to tell you all about the cool place I had lunch yesterday, Blind Hartman's Tavern. Unfortunately I've temporarily misplaced the menu I was given which had the bit of history I want to include so that will have to wait until tomorrow after I find it.

Instead you get to hear how Harry and I finally watched the Shrek trilogy. Yes, I know it's been around for years. We're a little behind the times at my house. I can't tell you which character it was that drew Harry but he curled up with me all for all three movies which is not his norm so it must have been something he heard that inspired him.

Lucky for me that I have friends with kids who only laugh a little when I ask to borrow their movies. Overall, I enjoyed watching them although I'm not sure they're really kids' movies. I suppose these are like many Disney movies with cute things for kids and then lots of stuff that adults get and kids don't without realizing it until they watch them again years later. Have you noticed that? Or haven't you ever gone back and watched movies you saw as a kid only to discover they were completely different from an adult perspective?

Yeah, I'm rambling about nothing and doing in very badly so I'll spare you any further nonsense. Perhaps I should have had the sangria I intend later before writing this. Or maybe you should have had it. Oh I know, we all should have, then this would seem brilliantly clever. It's all in the perception of the moment...

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Did It!

But first, my deepest apologies to my empathic friends. I should have warned you of today's plans in advance. I'm sorry for worrying you and I sure hope you could shield yourselves from the wave upon wave of pure terror that were radiating from me all afternoon.

Why? I spent hours wandering around the preliminary day for the Philadelphia Kennel Club dog show which is being held at the Reading Expo Center this weekend. I can hear you all asking huh? There's one little detail I left out. You see, I'm absolutely petrified of dogs. There are a few exceptions but those are ones I've gotten to know slowly in very controlled circumstances.

So what the hell was I doing there in this ginormous wide-open space in the midst of hundreds of all sorts of canines just waiting for the opportunity to maul me? It was the other half of my mom's birthday present. Somehow she's failed to grasp the very real fact of my fear over the years although today may have finally convinced her.

I was okay while we were watching the agility demonstration. I'm not sure who was more athletic, the dogs or the girl throwing the frisbies for them. That was entertaining and we were seated up, out of reach in the draped in arena that will be featured in tomorrow's benched show which will be shown on TV on Thanksgiving day following the Macy's parade. I could handle watching that part and they were amazing so I forgot to be afraid.

Then we wandered around and looked at the dogs. Lots of deep breathing and internal chanting going on to stave off the blackness that was encroaching on the edges of my vision. I came across a golden retriever who had the eyes of a very old soul. He was sitting on his grooming table without a lead but with him it was obvious he wasn't going anywhere. He'd already seen it all. When his eyes met mine we stayed still, gazing at each other for a bit. He had a calming effect on me which was a very welcomed thing. Too bad he had to go so soon.

We ended up sitting at the main ring for the day watching the group judging. I'm not real up on how it all works but it seemed to be the best of each individual breed competing against others within their class. The kennel club has distinctions, working, sporting, terrier, toy, and various others. To me it was small scary, scary, big scary and gigantic scary. I really don't see how they can judge such a mixture all at once but they do. The people around me who understood such things were all abuzz over some over some of the choices, concurred with some others so I guess it was okay overall.

At one point there was a red and white husky beside me whose owner was speaking with someone and ignoring the dog. Every time I checked, she was watching me with a mm, you look tasty expression on her face. My mom was chatting with a woman on the other side of her who had a french bulldog. I guess I was too much to resist. The bulldog had to nibble on me. Well that made the husky jealous so she had to chew on the other hand. And all her owner said was not to jump up. I was very proud of myself. I didn't pass out. I didn't even cry.

I'm home now, in one piece, yay! And my mom gets that I'm honestly afraid. She's going back tomorrow and my presence is no longer required. If you're at all interested this is one of the five or six benched national shows to be televised this year, on NBC next Thursday at noon EST. Or if you're close by it concludes on Sunday but you'll have to go without me. Give me a call however, I'd be happy to meet you for lunch.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's Always Something

I had to run out for something at lunch today. Things in my life however, never seem to go as planned. Halfway to where I was going I went around a corner and heard the telltale thunk thunk thunk. I got out to investigate just to make sure. Wishful thinking. Yep, the tire was flat all right.

As I was standing there, cursing the universal powers for choosing me for their games yet again I looked up and low and behold a tow truck happened to be passing. So okay, I took back half of what I said. Should have taken back all of it because the spare was flat too. Yes, I know. My fault. I’ve had the car for over a year now and no, I’ve never checked it. I was just happy to see I actually had a spare, not that it did me any good.

Dave, the wonderful rescuing tow truck man, loaded both me and my wounded car up in his truck and toted us off to Mikey’s place. He did ask first if I had any other destination I preferred. Nope. My only requirement was somewhere fast that wouldn’t soak me.

Mikey’s turned out to be a garage not far from my house, complete with dad Jason to keep me company while I waited. He was quite charming, white-haired and dapper in his uniform. I don’t think he’s used to having females in his little waiting area because he went out of his way to make sure I was comfortable.

As it turned out both tires only had slow leaks and were easily fixed. I never did get my errand accomplished but I’m only out $18 and an extra half hour lunch time but as I see it the entertainment value far outweighs that. Life’s an adventure no matter where you find it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When I Grow Up

When I was a little girl, before I started school, my parents’ friends would ask if I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. That’s what they all were. Uh, no. Even then I already knew I’d never have the patience for it. After all, why would I want to when all they did was complain?

So what did I tell them? I wanted to be a translator for the UN. Swedish to be specific. You should have seen the looks I got the first time I announced that one. I don’t remember how I came up with it but it sounded like an awesome idea to me. It lasted for years, right up until the time I could start taking languages in school.

That’s when the dream ended. Although my school didn’t offer Swedish it was still painfully obvious translator was not among my capabilities, not spoken anyway. Yes, I was very adept at languages. I picked them up with relative ease. I could write out most anything. It’s the pronunciation that I sucked at. The truth is there are a lot of days I have trouble speaking clearly in English. But that’s me. Most days talking to people is too tiring to bother with so I don’t.

What about you? Was there something odd you wanted to be when you were a small child?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

By Definition

anticipate – verb - to give advance thought, discussion, or treatment to

anxious – adjective - characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency

boredom – noun - the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest

curious – adjective - marked by desire to investigate and learn

delusional – noun - a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self

exhaust – verb - to tire extremely or completely

fascinate – verb - to transfix and hold spellbound by an irresistible power

frustrate – transitive verb - to induce feelings of discouragement in

furtive – adjective - done by stealth

kind – adjective - of a sympathetic or helpful nature

nonjudgmental – adjective - avoiding judgments based on one's personal and especially moral standards

pensive – adjective - suggestive of sad thoughtfulness

prejudge – intransitive verb - to judge before hearing or before full and sufficient examination

thwart – transitive verb - to run counter to so as to effectively oppose or baffle

Monday, November 17, 2008

Local News

As I was getting dressed this morning I heard something interesting on the radio. Reading put a new law into place. Car owners will now be fined if their keys are left in their car ignitions with the doors unlocked and the cars unattended.

Oh. Okay. This brings up some questions. I didn’t have a chance to see today’s paper so I don’t know if it mentioned anything additional about leaving the keys in with the doors locked. You know. Say perhaps after an ice storm when the whole city starts their cars with the spare key and lets them melt instead of chipping away at the ice as we all do.

Also, what ramifications does this have in regard to insurance? If your car is stolen and your keys were in it, would your insurance company now not have to cover any damage after it’s found since you broke the law? Not that I make a habit of wandering off with my keys hanging in my ignition but I really don’t know if I would admit it if my car was stolen. Would you?

And what about the law enforcement aspect of this? The radio was unclear as to who exactly would be enforcing this new law, the police department or the parking authority. As I see it the city, doesn’t have the manpower in either area to do a highly effective job as I know they will strive to do. I’ve never seen any parking authority personnel in my neighborhood. If it’s to be the police officers well then just imagine all of the other crime that will go unchecked while they’re wandering the streets, peeking in car windows. Oh my, now doesn’t that just leave me with a renewed sense of security. I think I need to move. Or run for mayor.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

No Blog Today

I tried. Really I did. But no matter what I wrote I would have pissed off someone or other and I'm still too tired and self-absorbed to deal with it.

I'm going to finish my vacuuming and my laundry and go back to bed.

Hope your day is better.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's Confirmed

It's 70 degress outside today.

It's pouring.

I'm watching Christmas movies.

Yep, I've lost my mind.

Want to join me?

Friday, November 14, 2008


Agitate – verb – to excite and the mind and feelings of

Dejected – adjective – cast down in spirits

Discompose – transitive verb – to disturb the order of

Discontent – noun - a sense of grievance

Discourage – transitive verb – to deprive of courage or confidence

Dishearten – transitive verb – to cause to lose spirit or morale

Disquiet – verb – to take away the peace or tranquility of

Dissatisfied – noun – lack of contentment

Downcast – adjective – low in spirit

Overwhelm – transitive verb – to overpower in thought or feeling

Restless – adjective - characterized by or manifesting unrest especially of mind

Sad – adjective – affected with or expressive of grief or unhappiness

Subdue – transitive verb – to conquer and bring into subjection

Swage – verb – to disturb the poise of

Unease – noun – mental or spiritual discomfort; vague dissatisfaction

Unquiet – adjective - Physically, emotionally or mentally restless

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sooner or Later

I’m going to catch whoever it is that’s sneaking into my kitchen and leaving all that odd food in my cabinets. The latest is a package of instant microwave chickpea curry. The picture is not at all appealing so I have no idea why anyone would ever buy it. I like chick peas and I like curries so in theory it could be good. I know a man who loves to cook. I bet he could whip up some that would be amazing but instant? Um, I somehow don’t think so.

Right behind that there’s a box of kosher potato pancake mix. What the? Where the hell did that come from? Who in their right mind needs a mix for that?

The other day I found a jar of peanut butter. Peanut butter! And it was opened. I don’t eat peanut butter. I asked the cats just who they were letting into the house when I’m not home but of course I got that look only cats can give.

In the refrigerator there are nine different flavors of mustard, also all open. That’s okay, I like mustards. The only problem is I have no recollection of eating any of them, nor do I have anything that you might want to put mustard on.

There’s a box of fish sticks in the freezer. I didn’t eat them as a kid. I’m certainly not going to start now. Or maybe I have. Maybe I’ve lost my mind and have a whole other life I don’t know about that includes eating strange things or having an assortment of people into my home. Maybe, instead of setting up the video camera to see what the cats are getting up to during the day, I need it to watch myself.

Curiouser and curiouser…

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


This is not my week.

First, I received a letter in the mail informing me the doctor I oh so carefully chose is leaving the practice. I don't know why nor do I know where she is going.

Then today I turned on my phone only to discover that the woman who cuts my hair is leaving the salon I go to. Again, I chose her carefully and for a very specific reason.

What are these careful and specific reasons, you wonder? Other than the obvious qualifications, I went by location and age. I want convenience and I want someone who has good odds of being around longer than I am. Hey, I'm busy and I'm tired and I just don't feel like running all over the place any more. Is that so wrong?

I spoke with my hair lady. Her reason is very valid. She's opening a shop with her sister. All the way over on the other side of town. Not impossible but very user-friendly either. I asked about pricing. It's equivalent so not an issue. But I don't ever get to that part of Reading. She said she'd love to see me again but she'd understand if I switched to one of the other ladies in her former location. Hm, very likely I will since it's less than a quarter of a block from my house.

I will be calling my doctor to find out where she's going tomorrow. I had jury duty so I didn't have the chance to do that today. With my luck I'm sure she's relocating to East Timbuktu and I'll be forced to start the whole new doctor finding process all over again.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for change but sometimes it sure can be a damn nuisance.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wah Wah Wah

I swear today I must have been sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Either that or I suddenly quit speaking English without realizing it and everyone around me lost their translation filters or something. Whatever it was, nearly every word I uttered was met with a universal “Huh?”

I don’t know about you but personally, by the fourteenth time I find huh truly aggravating. I tried to maintain a sense of humor about it but it just wasn’t happening. My solution was to stop talking altogether. Then of course we were back to the whole “what’s wrong with Barb routine”.

Do you think I should have told them? How do you think they would have reacted if I’d responded, “Nothing. You’re just too damn annoying to continue attempting to converse with any further today”? I suspect not at all well. Then again, they probably would have thought I was joking. Sometimes I think they haven’t paid enough attention and don’t know me at all. On the other hand, I do see that as a plus for the most part.

Yes, I admit it. I’m selective about who I let into my life. Oh, I’ll talk to anyone. I just don’t reveal things to most that I wouldn’t hire a skywriter to blast across the sky on any given day.

As I seem to have lost whatever non-existent train of thought I never had to start with I suppose that’s enough for today.

One thing that is rather important. It is Veterans Day. If you encounter any in your travels be sure to say thank you. I did.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Opinion Please

My office mate and I were having a discussion today and don’t see eye to eye at all on this one…


I love them. She, on the other hand, absolutely abhors the breaking out into song in the middle of things. Which of course is now my mission in life to do just that on days when I wish to be as annoying as possible. I might even go so far as to invent my own songs, just for her.

Something I rarely admit to is that I did, at one point in my young life, have voice lessons so I actually can sing. Not that I’d choose to carry a tune while serenading her. What fun would that be?

Perhaps, I’ll go one step further and do a little jig for her too. Yes, I can see it now. Won’t that make our days at work just fly by? And no, I won’t tell you where we work so you can come peer in the windows.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Aren't friends the best?

I was supposed to have dinner with Riley and her husband on Friday night. They were swinging by to pick me up since they were already out and about. When I opened the car door, Riley announced she had a surprise for me. Neeley was with them! Yay!!! After last week it was exactly what I needed. Not that an evening with Riley and her husband alone wouldn't have been fun. They always are but having Neeley there too made it even more so. [A note just for that other child who reads this now and then - When are you coming home to see me? I need snickerdoodles before you're off on your big adventure! And I better hear from you while you're away.]

Then yesterday I spent much of the afternoon with Eva May and her family. It never fails to leave me smiling, hanging out with that crew. What a truly wonderful bunch of individuals they are!

Today I'm home, doing my weekend chores but that's okay. I'll be on-line in while I'm doing them. I'm sure to find my cyber friends at some point so I'll have company. Laundry's not so bad when you're catching up with what's going on around the world.

Yep, friends are the best and life is good.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


I'm reading.

That's right. You heard me correctly. I'm reading. A truly enthralling tale written by a master storyteller. Sadly it's not yet published so the rest of you will have to wait but I honestly believe it's only a matter of time.

The writer in question was most generous in sharing a glimpse of his work with me and all I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart. As I've been reading I have journeyed along with his hero. His words paint such a vivid picture that I am lost.

Now you, my dear writer, you must either hurry up and get published or send me more because, as any of my friends will tell you, I haven't read anything in months but your words make me want to. No, with your words, I need to. Through you words, you've returned something very important to me and I will treasure that always.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Barb the Plumber

I have to replace the washer in the hot water faucet in my tub. No problem. I’ve done it before. Only it is a hassle this time. I’m out of washers. So now I have to venture out to Lowes first.

While I’m there I should investigate the filters for the in-line thingy the ex installed even though I told him not to. Although the filters do last for what seems like forever, about two years, I should have one on hand for when it’s time to change since it’s getting close to that now. I figure while I have the water off for the washer I may as well do that right away too. The thing is I don’t even know what the unit’s officially called. It has a clear tank and a blue cap which is the part that is attached to the water pipe.

I can picture the looks I’ll be getting now, can’t you? The filter fits into the tank. I suppose I should measure the tank before I go. Yes, that might help. As I recall the purpose of it was to make the water taste better. Dunno if it worked or not. The cats and I drank bottled water before it was on the line and we still did after he installed it, damn man. I told him repeatedly not to cut my brand new pipes apart but do you think he listened to me? No, of course not. Why would he respect my wishes about that when he never did about anything else either?

Sorry, I digress. Once I accomplish the locating of the replacement filter I then have to go about removing the tank. Guaranteed it’s screwed on way too tight for it to be easy. At least I understand the basic principle of that one. And yes, I do know to open the spigot in the kitchen, the nearest outlet to the tank, before I begin so all the water in the house doesn’t drain onto me.

Then all I have to do is make sure I get the tank aligned properly so it doesn’t leak when I screw it back together. Piece of cake.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Apparently I look like hell today. I didn’t realize it until I’d been at work for a few hours and various individuals began asking. The first wanted to know if I was feeling all right. The second wanted to know if there was something wrong. The third thought I was up to no good.

I went into the bathroom and checked. No, didn’t look any worse than I normally do to me so I asked my office mate. She agreed with me.

I don’t know quite what to make of this but I think a nap is in order.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Centralia, Pennsylvania

The town that no longer is.

It began in1841 when Johnathan Faust opened the Bull’s Head Tavern. Soon after a local coal mining company sent in their engineer to lay out streets and lots for development. The town was known as Centerville until 1865 when the post office was established and it then became Centralia.

The anthracite coal industry was the principle employer in the community as with most of that region of Pennsylvania. It lasted until the 1960’s when many of the legitimate mining companies went out of business although bootleg mining continued until the early 1980’s. Strip and open-pit mining are still active in the area today.

Why am I bothering you with this? Stick with me and you’ll find out. In its heyday, Centralia proper had over 2000 residents with another 600 or so scattered around the outskirts of town. There was a school district with an additional Catholic school, five hotels, two theaters, a bank, seven churches, fourteen stores, and twenty-seven saloons. And the post office.

Do you know what’s there now, where Centralia once was? Five houses and one church. The government razed everything that didn’t burn or collapse on its own, including the post office after the zip code was revoked in 2002 when they officially dissolved the borough.

So what happened? From what I could find there was a town dump located on the sight of an abandoned strip mine. Every year before the big Memorial day celebration the town’s volunteer fire company would burn it off. You know, to spruce it up a bit. Only it seems in 1962 it wasn’t fully extinguished. The fire continued to smolder in the bottom of the heap and it ignited the vein of coal running beneath the town.

There were a few mediocre attempts to douse it, all unsuccessful but it doesn’t appear that anyone was overly concerned with the fire until 1979 when a local gas station owner noticed the temperature of the gasoline in the underground storage tanks was alarmingly high. Statewide attention increased even further in 1981 after a boy nearly died when a sinkhole opened up under him. If his cousin hadn’t been right there to quickly haul him out of it, he would have been scalded to death be the steam, it was that hot.

After that, all sorts of things happened. Route 61, the main road through Centralia buckled and collapsed several times until eventually the state stopped repairing it. They rerouted the road instead since it really wasn’t safe to drive through the town anyway. I used to go snowmobiling in the early 80’s and I remember driving through there. It always fascinated me, seeing the steam rising out of the cracks in the ground. All the trees where dead around them, killed by the gases. They were white too, like ghost sentinels of what was. By then they’d started knocking down building which gave the town an eerie feel as if it were dying little by little. It was only I didn’t know it at the time.

Anyway surveys were done and options were evaluated. Solutions were proposed. Some were tried. Unsuccessfully. It was a situation of too little, too late. In the end it cost Pennsylvania around $42 million to relocate just about everyone back in 1984. In 1992, the state claimed eminent domain on all properties and condemned all the buildings within the borough although last year there were still a handful remaining with the diehards that refuse to leave. As you already know, as of 2002, according to the federal government, Centralia ceased to exist.

Oh, so you know, the alternative, putting out the fire, had an estimated cost of $663 million. I guess that justifies letting it burn itself out. However we don’t really know the long-term ramifications of this, do we? The article I read suggests it will take 250 years for the coal to be exhausted. The studies done on the deposits around the vent pipes that have been installed resemble those taken in areas of volcanic activity. We already know what this fire has done to the families that have been displaced but what is it doing to the environment?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tuesday Weirdness

Don’t know what’s up with people today but the majority of the ones I encounter on a regular basis were acting weird.

Come to think of it, the ones I met on the street who I don’t know were a touch odd too. Odder than normal that is. If there is such a thing. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. How can I tell, since everyone I come across tends to be a bit out there anyway? Trust me. Today they were just worse. And, as always, they all wanted to speak with me. I keep telling myself it’s all in the name of research.

Still, I think I’ll stay home until everyone’s over whatever it is.

Voting update – At 5:00 I was number 402 out of a possible 1024. That’s the highest I’ve ever been. In the twenty odd years I’ve lived here the closest I’ve come so far was a mayoral election when I waited until after 7:00 when I was #231. Maybe this year people finally get it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

We Interrupt...

…your regularly scheduled blog for a rant.

Health Insurance – Don’t you just hate it?

They can turn even the simplest of things into a major production. Have you noticed that lately? I swear it’s all a plot to avoid paying for anything. But what they don’t realize is that sooner or later it’s going to catch up to them.

What am I on about? Yes, it would be nice if I told you, wouldn’t it? Then you could share my outrage instead of just thinking I’ve lost my mind which I’m sure is going to happen long before this is sorted out.

I had my follow up appointment with my neurologist to discuss how the topamax was working to control my migraines. Sounds perfectly reasonable, doesn’t it? I thought so. Ha! Apparently not to the insurance industry. Nope, they saw it as seeking treatment for a pre-existing condition which is, for whatever reason that is only logical to those in their profession, a big no no. Dumbest damned thing I ever heard of.

So now I’ve forwarded all my paperwork to the parent company where I work for them to deal with the insurance company. In the meantime however, I am going to start getting past due notices from my doctor’s office which will really upset me. If it goes on long enough I will require therapy which, in the end is going to cost them a lot more than just paying the initial bill for my follow up visit would have.

Add on all the paper that’s flying around in a time when we’re supposed to be working towards living greener in any way we can and the insurance people are just not at all likeable right now.

We now resume your regular blog.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Just Do It

I know, I'm sick of all the election hype too. Tough. Get you butt out there and vote anyway. There are a lot of other offices being decided this Tuesday in addition to the president. It all matters, just like your one individual vote really does matter so no excuses.


Remember, if you don't, you forfeit your right to complain. Think very carefully. Do you know how many things are tied to the government? Yep, just about everything you encounter in your daily life. Do you honestly think you can keep your mouth shut for the next four years? No, I don't believe it either so go vote on Tuesday and then you won't have to.

According to the Dove Promise I just ate, happiness is the experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude. Hm, kind of deep for a chocolate.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Change Your Clocks

Daylight savings time ends tonight. To most of the country it's probably nothing more than a nuisance. To some, if the article I read yesterday is accurate, it could mean their life. Yes, there's a study that shows that turning the clock back and getting an extra hour of sleep causes fewer heart attacks. Conversely turning your clock ahead in the spring causes more so make sure you go to bed early then. I'll try to remind you.

Back to what I was rambling about. What does daylight savings time mean to me? The actual act of switching the time, nothing. It's the being reminded to do so that is what used to be important. You see from the time I moved into my house twenty-one years ago until the time he died my dad always called me on the evening of the time change. No matter what else was going on in either of our lives we always had that conversation twice a year. Hm, you might even say it occurred like clockwork.

It's been six years but a small part of me still expects that call later tonight. I'll have to remind myself not to be disappointed when the phone doesn't ring.