Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irene Oxymorons

Hopefully, friends you are not among the many that are cleaning up from Irene.  We escaped unscathed, luckily, but I have been keeping up with the struggles of others through the newspaper and Internet.  Some things have struck me:

1.  Schenectady has a marina. (It must really be in Scotia.)
2.  Floods are only covered by flood insurance and you have to live in a flood plain to get it. (People that choose to live in a flood plain agree to take their chances.)
3.  Vermont is a land-locked state with widespread flooding. (Where will all that water go?)
4.  To clean up after a flood, you need more water. (Doesn't seem fair.)
5.  FEMA is out of money, but the government did manage to "loose" 60 BILLION dollars in Afghanistan.  (That is just moronic.)

I Didn't Leave a Tip

Today is my sister's birthday.  Happy 32nd C!  In keeping with tradition, we had our girls' lunch.  Bucking tradition, we had our lunch on the honoree's birthday.

We decided on Holmes and Watson in Troy.  We should have walked right out the door as soon as we walked in and the music stopped so the four patrons at the bar could turn and stare at us.  "Can I help you?" asked the bartender.  Well, it's 12:30 on a Wednesday... "Are you serving lunch?"  Maybe it was the baby in my arms.

We sat ourselves at an outdoor table and opened the umbrella to shield C and the baby from what became a very hot sun.  As anyone sitting in direct sunlight for 90 minutes would agree.  Twenty minutes later our menus arrived. "Sorry for the wait." Twenty minutes after that our drinks.  No explanation.  When our food finally landed on the table we had been sitting for almost an hour and were out of baby snacks.   I immediately asked for our bill.  He never checked back.

The food was decent except for my cole slaw which was wilted and rancid.  We gave up though after fighting off the bees.  Our bill was $39.60.  We left two twenty dollar bills and headed to Snowman.  I have never left a restaurant so sweaty and thirsty.  And don't hope to again.

Dancing With the 'Stars''

The last season that I watched of "Dancing With the Stars" featured some of the most diverse and entertaining stars on television and in sports.  Erin Andrews, Pam Anderson, Chad Ochocinco, Evan Lysacek, and Shannon Doherty.  Nicole Scherzinger stole the show and was deservingly crowned with a mirror ball.  Granted Buzz Aldrin and Kate Gosselin were ridiculous but they always need the token old timer and Kate was happily promoting her minus John phase.

The next season a bunch of B listers signed on and I tuned out.  Which was just fine because the judges were beginning to get on my nerves.   Really how many times can Bruno jump on the scorer's table and gyrate to some open chested celebrity dancing?  Or Bruno admonish a couple for too much acting and for using props?  And Carrie Ann... can they just do some lifts, please?  It makes the show so much more exciting!

I couldn't tell you any of the stars that were on last season.  Though I seem to recall that Sarah Palin's daughter made it quite far thanks to all of you Tea Partiers.  I guess that not only do you not have to have any dancing talent, you also don't need a personality or any celebrity status of your own.

The most recent cast was just announced.  If it wasn't for Hope Solo, the "Stars" should be completely removed from the title.  David Arquette?  Star of Scream (that came out in the 90s) and formerly starring as Courtney Cox's husband.  Chaz Bono?  Former star daughter of Sonny and Cher, now a 300 lb "man" with facial hair.  Nancy Grace and Ron Artest?  They could star in a boxing match and be more entertaining.  Ricki Lake and China Philips?  Has been stars that most ABC viewers in the coveted 18-30 category won't remember.  And the token reality stars:  Rob Kardashian and Kristen Cavallari.  I guess the sisters were still recovering from Kim's wedding.  Maybe George Clooney's ex can dance.  At least she will look good in the barely there costumes.  And don't forget Carsen Kressley.  He will tell her if she doesn't.  Ugh... 

Hopefully, Hope doesn't get voted off the first week... or hopefully she does!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Big Mean Irene


In 2003, my husband and I were on vacation in Daytona Beach, Florida.  There was a hurricane speeding toward us and the only indication was the enormous waves and the caution flags that dotted the beach.  People were not in a hurry to evacuate, there was not constant coverage on the TV, and most beach goers seemed pretty unconcerned.  In fact, the greatest cause for alarm was the small shark that was circling through the serf.  Even he didn't cause most swimmers to leave the ocean.  (We were not most, we ran for the safety of our hotel room.)

Last April my family was vacationing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  The day we arrived a tornado warning was issued for the county in which we were located.  There were scrolls of updates streaming across the bottom of the TV screen and warning windows were popping up all over the Weather Channel maps.  Again, there was little indication of concern.  People were still strolling up and down the beach or sitting outside enjoying their dinner.  I was myself seated on a bar stool in an open air burger joint waiting for my order to be completed.  Until I asked, I didn't even know what county I was vacationing in so I was only mildly concerned.  The tornado actually touched down one county over and we went about our vacation completely oblivious.

Today I sit here bombarded by doomsday predictions of Hurricane Irene, a category 2 1 at last check.  The newspapers, radio stations, and television news programs talk of nothing else.  Every expert along the east coast is predicting the impending damage.  Even my Allstate agent sent my husband a preparedness email last night in case of disaster. 

Sporting events have been cancelled.  States of emergency have been issued.  The National Guard is organizing.  Kmart has taped up its windows.  People were wandering around Price Chopper last night adding random items to their carts.  We bought baked goods, fruit, bread, and applesauce.  All things that would sustain us in case of a power outage.  We also threw in beer, yogurt, cheese, ground beef, and Cheetos just in case all this prep is for naught.

I do not live on the coast.  I do not live in the Southeast.  The nearest body of water, besides my neighbor's pool, is the Hudson River.  Its massiveness could be easily conquered by an experienced swimmer who was willing to risk its pollution level.  Even still, the police chief of my small metropolis phoned residents last night to recommend that they pack a bag and plot a course to the nearest shelter.  Shelter is a pretty scary word.

Apparently, my street was one of the vulnerable roads that could be washed away if (what I thought was a mythical) damn gives way.  So like a good citizen, my family's bag is packed, my refrigerator is set to its highest level, our outdoor furniture is stowed and secure, and our important papers are safe.

However when we Northeasterners panic in the wake of a blizzard, it almost always manages to miss us with never a flake in sky.  But with Irene covering roughly the square mileage of Europe, will we be that lucky?

In case our Irish heritage doesn't fully shield us in the next 48 hours, here is some advice you might not think of: 
1.  Do all of your laundry, the power may be out for awhile. 
2.  Don't put all of your drinks in the fridge, see #1.
3.  Move your car to a spot that is not directly in line of a falling tree.
4.  Change your sheets, you might suddenly have a lot of spare time in the dark.

Stay safe friends!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

She Had Reading Material

I am not one to linger in the bathroom.  I do not have a stocked magazine rack next to my toilet.  I do not bring the paper with me.  I do not lock the door for some alone time.  I get in and get out.  The bathroom is a place for one thing, and it is not something that I like to think about or discuss in polite company.  And I am talking about my own bathroom.  A place that I clean.  A place where I know all of the people that use it. 

Public restrooms are another horror entirely.  Before I had a child I would avoid them at all costs.  Work was not problem.  My body was highly trained to retain all bodily fluids between the hours of 8 and 3.  I would use my own before I left the house so I couldn't tell you where they are located at the mall, most restaurants, or any grocery store.  I am a little more versed in their placement at local bars, but that was born of necessity.  And luckily a little effect of local bars is often selective blackout.  If I can't remember using a public restroom, did it really happen?

So imagine my disgust today when I walked into the locker room at my gym.  I found an available locker, secured my things and stepped on the scale.  Then I walked back to the sinks to wash my hands (gyms are a breeding ground for MRSA you know!) and I saw her.  She was coming from the bathroom stalls.  She was smiling from ear to ear.  She had reading material.

Who does that??????

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Foot Washing

There are a few blogs that I follow regularly and I often get ideas to comment upon from them.  It is kind of like teaching and Hollywood.  There are only so many original ideas.  We borrow things all the time.


Yesterday I saw a post with the sign above.  It was taken at the Saratoga Race Track.  The blogger wondered why on earth anyone would ever consider doing that at the Track.  People responded with some funny blurbs ( always want to wash your feet before you insert them in your mouth) and some practical ones ( does get muddy in the picnic area). It made me think about a wedding that I attended this summer. 

At Mallozzi's in Rotterdam.  The Magnet Man was there.  Open bar.  Fabulous cocktail hour.  As you can imagine, it was beautiful.  The food was very good and a great time was had by all.  Except my feet.

I searched and searched for the perfect dress and decided to purchase two and make a last minute decision. During my search, I went back to the same store twice and while trying on dresses I used the same pair of fabulous 3 inch heels.  I took that as a sign to buy the shoes as well and they looked great.  And they felt great during the 20 minutes or so I spent trying on dresses.  Five hours in the real world didn't work out so well.

So like many other revelers, I shed my shoes and took my bare feet to the dance floor.  I did my best to dodge the spilled beverages, vodka sauce, cake frosting, and various foot funk but finally gave up and marched myself to the bathroom.  Where I proceeded to wash my feet... in the sink.

Is that bad?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Instant Anxiety Attack

I just left Babies-R-Us and my head is spinning.  It seems like every expectant mother registers for the necessities there.  Why wouldn't you?  They carry everything you could possibly ever need to raise a child, except a partner of course.  And they have prime parking spaces marked with a cute little stork for Mom's to Be.  This will be easy right?

Wrong.  Just walking through their double doors is overwhelming to me and I have a small child.  I can't even imagine how it feels to a baby virgin.  You are immediately bombarded by boxes of 324 diapers (how many months will that last me?); 936 wipes (why can't they just match up hot dogs and buns?); racks and racks of clothes (should you really spend $29.99 on a newborn dress); and breast pumps, Diaper Genies, and video tracking devices monitors for your nursery.  There is so much stuff:  baby stuff, toddler stuff, travel stuff, bedding stuff, clothes, shoes, toys, food stuff, I could go on and on.

Did you know that there are strollers, joggers, travel systems, car seats, car seat bases, Snap and Go(s), Bundle Me(s), snack pods, stroller clips, and baby netting?  And that they are all interconnected and can be used together?  Did you know that there are pacifiers and Nuks and Soothies and teething rings and teething spoons and wipes to keep them all clean?  Not to mention wipe warmers, shopping cart protectors, end table bumpers, and a cup that keeps little guys from squirting you in the face as you are changing him.  Overwhelming!

Even more overwhelming are the aisles that do not follow numerically, the bedding that has been moved to the FAO Swartz display up front, and the items on the registry that are available in limited quantity.  That really means that they have been hidden away in an aisle of mish mash that does not have a number.  Just skip any stars on the registry and keep looking.

Registering for your  Retrieving items from said registry...add a bottle of Advil to your cart and immediately employ the help of the numerous associates that are walking the floor with you.  They are extremely helpful!  But maybe they wouldn't need so many if they just organized the store...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Summer Reading

I have actually finished four books this summer!  One I actually started before school ended but I am going to count it anyway.  Clearly I have more time on my hands since I am taking full advantage of that excellent teacher perk "summers off", and I have actually been staying up past my 10:00 bedtime.  It is summer you know.

The first three books were a trilogy:  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl that Played with Fire, and The Girl that Kicked the Hornet's Nest.  They were awesome!  The series was written by a Swede named Steig Larson so there are many IKEA and ...gatan references.  I found it very helpful to disguise all of the Swedish places with American pseudonyms.  It just makes for smoother reading.  But there are also places that you will be very familiar with like McDonald's (who knew it was so popular in Sweden), Starbucks (coffee is loved globally), Stockholm, Paris, Australia, and Philadelphia, PA.  I highly recommend the books about a kick-ass computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander if you like suspense, murder, governmental corruption, and kinky sex references.  (No romance novel slush here!) 

It is even being made into a movie.  Well actually... it was already produced in Sweden but since I don't often get to their cinemas, it is being made into a new movie.  For the life of me though, I can't imagine anyone else playing Lisbeth but Angelina Jolie.  And I Hate her...

Last night I finished The Help.  It has been a really long time since I finished a book in four days and turned the last page with tears running down my cheeks.  The setting is 1960s Mississippi.  It chronicles the lives of three families and the African American women they employ as their help.  The white attitudes toward their darker peers will anger you.  The love the "maids", as they are called, have for the young white babies they raise will melt your heart.  The treatment that is shown to some of the characters by their spouses, employers and mothers will turn your stomach.  But most importantly the struggle for equality that plays out in each chapter will open your eyes to things we have never experienced here in upstate New York.  The Help will have you thinking about why color once made such a difference.  And asking yourself if it still does?

It was an amazing tale.  Even more amazing is the fact that the story is based loosely on the author's own childhood growing up with an African American maid and never realizing that she should have said thank you and joined her for a meal at the kitchen table.  It is powerful, poignant, and I can't wait to see the movie.  I just hope that Aibeleen chooses not to walk away from Mae Mobley at the end.  Or we will all be crying along with the toddler.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Can sometime please share with me the evolutionary, natural selective, ruin a perfectly relaxing summer night purpose of the mosquito?  We don't need them to pollinate our flowers.  They do not help to drop seeds for the next season.  Our meat would still rot without their disgusting spawn.  Why exactly are they here?  And how many can there possibly be in one backyard?

It seems that if you swat and get rid of one, two more come to take its place.  They are everywhere.  Buzzing in your ear, attacking your ankles, and leaving you scratching long after you have shut the door on their annoyance. 

Bug spray, not a deterrent.  A fire, no effect.  Standing still, dryer sheets, Avon Skin-So-Soft, so does not work.  Nothing does!  Until you break down and come inside.  Ugh...

Friday, August 5, 2011


Every time I get invited to a BBQ I get excited.  I love cook out food, cold beverages, and hot sun (especially when there is a body of water nearby!).  I love when they start a little later so that we will still be drinking relaxing when it starts to get dark.  And that means that a fire pit will be crackling nearby and S'mores will be on the menu.  Just more evidence to support that fact that summer is by far the best season.  Sorry Fall Lovers.

The only dilemma?  What to bring!  Hmmm... 1.  Do you bring what you like?  2.  Do you bring the expected?  3.  Do you try something new?  4.  Will there be something that my husband, 1 year old, condiment phobic brother will eat?

1.  Sure!  Don't expect that someone else will bring the deviled eggs and dessert.  You can always suggest as much but there is no guarantee. So bring your favorite.  Others will thank you for it.
2.  Not necessarily.  The reason why people love your cucumber dip is because it is not readily available.  And no matter how many times you have given out the recipe it just doesn't taste the same when someone else makes it.  Luckily.
3.  If you are a gambler, go for it!  What's the worst that could happen?  It gets thrown out with the fly ridden burgers and congealed dip.  What the best?  You have a new 'expected' dish. 
4.  Everyone eats chips and cookies so slip some in your bag when you pick up your tasty beverage of choice and no one goes home hungry.

No matter what you bring your hostess will be appreciative.  Just make sure that you bring something.  Nobody wants to be that guy.  His next invite might some how never arrive.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Time Flies!

Hi Friends!  Sorry that I haven't been in touch for awhile.  It seems that the past two weeks have come and gone and I lost track of time.

Isn't it strange that time doesn't always pass at the same speed?  Like when you were a co-ed and sitting through a lecture on the curve of a hyperbole and its inverse function; every second passed in excruciating fashion.  Or when you were a kid sitting in the 5th pew (for 18 years) and  had already read the entire bulletin, all of the readings in the Missilette, and every stained glass window but somehow it still wasn't time for Communion yet.  We won't even touch on the fact that the month of June is the longest18 days of the school year.

Then there are times when it seems that the earth spins a bit faster and we can hardly remember how the minutes passed so quickly.  You are on the massage table and close your eyes only to hear the therapist say, "Take your time getting ready, and remember to hydrate."  Already? Or you are on the bumper cars at the amusement park and just when you are ready to really ram that annoying boy, out of juice.  Darn!  And we have all stepped off the plane in ecstatic anticipation of that island vacation when suddenly we having repacking our suitcase and enjoying our last mango for breakfast.  Say it isn't Friday already...

I can't believe how time flies. Somehow a year ago I gave birth to my daughter and in a nanosecond she started to smile, talk, crawl, hug, kiss, and take control of our house.  For the past two weeks we have been celebrating our little miracle with friends and family; cake and mac-n-cheese; a bounce house and cotton candy machine; Hoffman's; Hair of the Dog; and lots of cheer. 

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!