Monday, September 15, 2014

Sneaky

I've said it before, one secret to a happy domestic partnership is lying and manipulating when it comes to food.  I recognize that I have total power to steer the "choice" of what is for dinner.  And, when need be, I will rename a recipe or just flat out lie about what it is when I need to make sure it is eaten.

Like tonight.  We are having a middle-America, tex-mex-ish casserole.  Thing is, The Phenom is devotedly ANTI CASSEROLE.  He will preach to you the gospel of the anti-casserole-ites.

I've renamed the casserole a "pie" and who doesn't love pie?  Pie with your favorite ingredients in it . . . all those things we put in tacos.

Heh.  Score another one for the monkey.

Friday, September 12, 2014

No Excuse

Back when I was still sporting a wound vac, there were days that I would suck it up and decide that the need for some supply was worth becoming one of "the people of walmart."  You know, that web site that chronicles the scary, mismatched, wild "fashions" of the people who wander the aisles of the walmarts.

Yesterday, as I was removing a bowl of black bean soup from the microwave, I lost control of it as I tried to slip a hotpad under the bowl, and scalded my arm pretty badly.  After running it under cold water for a while and getting an ice pack from the freezer, I was able to consult with a friend of mine who is a family nurse practitioner.  She gave me a list of the supplies I'd need to treat the burn myself rather than fork over $150 for an emergency room visit.

I was able, in my pain, to put on underwear, pants and a shirt.

So, people of walmart, what's your excuse?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

All My Favorite Things

For the holiday, we're going to a friend's beach house this weekend.  YAY!  BEACH!!!  YAY! FRIENDS!!!!

And, our friends are not only two of the smartest people we know, but the most popular people we know.  Before they moved away, hanging out with them was like suddenly being welcome at the popular kids' table in the school caf.

But, it gets better.  One of this is a fabulous cook.  He doesn't go in for desserts and baking, so I've been assigned to bring the sweets.  To sweeten the pot, he has given me a theme.  You know I love a theme.

We are going to do a classic tailgate and watch college football.

I'm making mini choco cupcakes and topping them with a key lime frosting I invented.  And, I'm making margarita jello shots.  OH GOSH it feels good to be able to cook again . . . and FOR A THEME!!

Beach! Friends! Food! Football!

My little monkey brain is just pulsing!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Not Surprised.

I had this conversation last night with a friend.  The unrest and anger in Missouri were inevitable.  In the past few years. . . starting with 9/11 and continuing with Obama's election, open racism seems to be the norm.  Horrifyingly scary, threatening, and racist stuff gets posted from total nobodies and we all see it, hear it and react.  All too often, the racists find more than enough support from the imaginary peer group.  And, heaven help anyone who tries to point out that perhaps more polite discourse is called for? For calling out the racism, people are often treated to screams about 1st amendment rights and accusations of bullying.

Then, you have the talking heads on tv and radio who spew racist, vicious, classist, and threatening crap morning, noon, and night.  They just fuel the fire.  And, they give the nobodies a platform to both spew more hate and claim victimhood.

And, there are the 2nd amendment nuts.  The open carry wackos.  They are egged on by the talking heads and the powerful gun lobby.  They aren't victims because we don't want to look over in the baby section of mega-mart to see someone toting a weapon capable of killing everyone in the store.

Lastly, there are the elected officials who seem to chase the 24-hour news cycle with stupid statement followed by misinformed statement only to be compounded by hatefulness.

So, I'm not surprised that people have finally had enough.  I'm not surprised that people are standing up and demanding their rights be honored just as the wing nuts have been doing.

I am horrified that a whole section of our society seems to think that "public safety" waging warfare on American citizens is okay . . . so long as they are of color or poor.

I am surprised we haven't seen more uprisings.  The next civil war will be one over race and class.  And, I'm afraid there will be many more innocents lost to the nonsense the talking heads, wackos, elected officials/authorities, and gun nuts


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It doesn't get easier

I had already started the mental countdown to the anniversary of my friend's death.  The one year mark since he called me so he wouldn't be all alone in his decision.  The days of frantic phone calls and bargaining and begging.  The final, terrible, phone call.  Another call, a few days later from his father, in tears, wanted to know what to do next.  The box that arrived with his cook books and his art.  The endless days when not starting the day chatting with him reminded me of what is lost.

And, to make someone else's pain all about me, the suicide of Robin Williams is making it a whole lot harder for me to keep these tears in check.  The talk about suicide.  The updates from friends and the media.  The others who are making another's pain their moment to make the 24-hour news cycle.

The fact is, suicide is the last option.  My friend tried everything.  He lived on borrowed time for years, knowing the pain his suicide would cause.  He wanted the pieces to fall into place so that he could banish the idea of death.  He was in agonizing pain.  He had been for most of his life.  And, every day I hope, as hard as one can hope for such, that he isn't anymore.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Unenthusiastic

I've been dumped by ESK.  She's moved on to greener pastures.  I understand, intellectually, why.  I knew the day would come.  But, now I have to find her replacement, and such does not exist.

I'm interviewing for a new ESK (evil side kick) this week. I sent all the people who applied a fact sheet about the job/program as well as a document that would introduce them to the thought process behind the program.

I decided to interview everyone who met the minimum requirements.  Even the ones I knew from their applications that they probably had no chance.  I did reject a person who applied who met the minimum requirements because she didn't complete the full application (only two pages) and did not follow the directions.

Yesterday, the interview process started.  And, I admit, I don't have the best attitude.  In the past, interviews have been more conversational.  These are much more cut and dry.  I haven't tried to chat much with the candidates.

But, from just the first two interviews, I've decided that our future interns, poor dears, will get an in-service training on interviewing for a job.  I will share some of our interview questions (as well as common other questions) with interns so that they can think about how they want to present themselves.  I think the mistake these folks are making is that they appeared for this interview completely unprepared.  As if simply walking into our office would be impression enough for us to hire them.

But, since lecturing my interns is several weeks off . . . lucky you people are gonna get the lecture.

a) if they send you a document with the application, assume they are going to expect that you read it, be familiar with it, and are willing to discuss it at the interview.

b) assume that, at some point, they will want you to describe yourself.  Put some thought into how you want people to think of you as a first impression.  Telling me "I'm just me" isn't enough for me to know what that means . . . since I'm just meeting you.

c) think about your future . . . where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?  It isn't an insult to the person interviewing you to hear that someday you want to run for congress or you'd like to start your own non-profit with _____________ mission.  I would suggest avoiding saying "I want your job" . . . some folks may find that a tad aggressive.

d) do some research about the organization.  How long have they existed? What services/programs/products do they offer?  Are they growing?  Telling me that you know nothing about what our organization does will not impress me or inspire me to want to hire you.

e) come up with questions of your own.  Ask if the position is a new one, or why the previous holder of the position left.  If they provided you with documents, read over them and ask some question that indicates you read them.

I'm sure I'll be adding to this list . . . as I have several more interviews to go.


Monday, August 04, 2014

The New Lotto

The lotto is such a fickle financial plan, I get why people are trying other get rich schemes.  Yes, crowd source funding is the new lotto.  Come up with something that catches attention, and you too can be raking in the moolah.

Of course, everyone knows about the dude who crowd funded his potato salad to the tune of thousands of dollars.  And, there was the bus monitor that was bullied . . .only her crowd fund was started by someone well meaning.  But, there are also those horrible grandparents whose dog mauled their grandchild, and they falsely claimed that employees of a over-salted brand of chicken publicly shamed the child in order to shill people.

Frankly, I'm more inclined to believe that most crowd funding pleas are the shilling sort rather than the bullied old lady sort.  (I don't trust humans much, do I?)

In the past week, two of my acquaintances have tried their hand at crowd funding.  One is raising funds for her vet bills.  She is a single mother, she has brought quite a few animals into her home, and can't afford to care for them properly.  (And, I say this with a tone of judgement in my voice knowing how many critters are in my household.)  I think her circle of friends may be more sympathetic to her financial woes if they a) had not spent the whole summer listening to her whine about the cost of child care (which is terrible, but don't be bringing in a new, sick kitty, if you can't take care of your existing bills), and b) if they didn't know that she makes a fairly decent income working in a law office and lives rent free in a house her parents own (oh, and that her boyfriend freeloads off of her too).  The other, a single mom, has lost all her teeth to a medical condition, and her government funded health coverage will only pay for replacement teeth every five years.  The teeth she received through her government funded health coverage (not medicaid or medicare, in case you were wondering) a couple of years ago didn't fit properly, but the dentist refused to waste his time fixing them when there was no money in it for him.  She is trying to raise roughly the same amount as the person seeking vet bills assistance.

Is it mean of me that I'm kinda pleased that the friend needing teeth is "ahead" in the fundraising?

I wonder if I could crowd source fund NOT taking over the planet?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Incredibly Bad

One of my job duties is to hire for open positions in my office.  We are currently hiring.  This means I get resumes and applications daily.  I have to read through these applications and decide which applicants will get a job interview.

I try to be very fair about the process.  I have a streamlined system that allows everyone to start off on equal footing.  Then, those who meet the qualifications for the job will get an interview.  But, I admit, I'm biased by the time the interviews roll around.

My first inclination is to deny most applicants an interview in the first place.  I consider the application process a test, and if you can't follow simple instructions, I don't want to be forced to work with you.  Also, your tone and attitude can be a real turn off.  Also, applying for a job other than the one advertised will work against you.

One dude said he'd "graciously" accept the job since there are so few persons of his caliber doing this sort of work.

One lady described every professional job she's ever had with the exact same phrase and included it in her cover letter.  She applied for some job that isn't what we are hiring for.  But, the really impressively (bad) aspect of her application is that she, despite having multiple professional positions, listed her aunt, cousin, and father as her references.

One person didn't complete 3/4 of the application and instead of a cover letter, prepared a cover sheet (name, position, date) as one would submit with a paper in school.

This is how I know I'm getting old.  When I was younger, I would have found hiring an exciting process.  Now, it pretty much just triggers my bitch-face.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Conflated

I have the irrational tendency to blend painful events together, especially when they happen within a similar time frame.  I think it gives me something tangible to be angry/sad/frustrated over when I feel helpless about life.

For example, several years ago, a person I thought of as a dear friend proved herself, in terrific fashion, to be anything but a friend.  She revealed herself not just to be not at all the person I believed her to be, but also she was vicious and horrible.  Shortly after this event, the Old Woman got sick and started her spiral towards her last days.  It was easier to be even MORE angry with my ex-friend than to shake my fists at the skies because one of the people I love most in the world was suffering.

Now that I have, pretty much, fully recovered from my bizarro medical issue, I find that not only do I have some delayed trauma reactions, but I've also tied, in my mind, some of the pain to the loss of my dear friend who committed suicide about a year ago.

In the last six months, I've experienced:

5 emergency room visits
2 ambulance transfers to another hospital
3 surgeries
3 CTs
3 radiology guided procedures
2 blood transfusions
10 staples
6 weeks of home health care
7 weeks with a wound-vac
4 hospital admissions totaling 18 days
and more needles, blood draws, IVs than I can count.

And, as I start to think about just exactly how serious my condition was, I find myself thinking more and more about how much I miss my friend.  Allowing myself to be sad over his death seems to be protecting me from being too freaked out about thinking about my whole abdomen being opened up.

Damn I miss my friend.

Monday, July 14, 2014

I kinda asked for this.



This is the Pirate Jean Lafitte.  He is the only surviving kitten from a litter a stray dropped under one of our azalea bushes.  The Phenom has a thing for black and white cats.  When this one survived, I thought Phenom would have real difficulty not bringing it indoors.  As it turns out, I'm the weak link.  Saturday morning, as I was giving him his morning scritch, I decided I didn't want this little dude to end up like some of the other male cats that occasionally come to our back door for food . . . fights, injuries, etc.  So, to the vet we went.

I've named him the Pirate Jean Lafitte.  And, when you name a kitten after a pirate, you kinda get what you are asking for.  This little dude has some serious cat crazies.  He LOVES attacking my fingers as I type on the computer.  He thinks the computer mouse is his mortal enemy, and he must smack at the images on the computer screen.

He likes running at top speed around the bathroom/bedroom (he's in temporary isolation from the other cats).  He and Phenom play "hide and pounce."  He has a most impressive crab walk while playing with the Phenom.

While I was sick, I often thought it would be nice to have a kitten to keep me company/amused during those weeks in bed.  Now that I'm better, I've brought in a kitten.  Good thing, it would have been too much to have this crazy little critter around the wound vac or the other various tubes/pouches/medications.

A friend, who also loves black and white kitties, has expressed an interest in him.  On one hand, I'm happy to think he might end up in a really excellent household with just two other kitties . . . but already, Phenom is showing signs of deep attachment.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Damn You, Esquire!

So, in my little world, there has been much discussion about the recent Esquire Mag. article about how some wanker has sent out the word to other wankers (and I use the term wanker as a noun and a verb) that "42 year old women" are now totally "boner worthy."

Yeah, it's offensive. These are the dudes who couldn't work up the courage to talk to a woman in their 20's, had crushes on totally out of their league women in their 30's, had some fairly unsatisfying trysts in their 40's, and now that they are balding, sporting a beer gut, and realizing they will probably die alone, have decided to do woman-kind the favor of expanding their definition of those worthy of their attentions.  Barf.

But, it annoys me for another, totally selfish, reason. If the creepers out there are now going to be turning their sights on persons in their 40's, I lose my invisibility.  DAMN IT.

When I was a teen monkey, and hit puberty, it was a weird mix of exciting and mortifying.  Then, by college, I'd kinda gotten use to it.  AND SHAZAM! in college the dudes appreciated me for being smart and cute.  So much different from high school where I was pretty much an undateable nerd.  It was fun.  There was some power in it.

When I settled down to being an adult with a real relationship and real job, I wanted to be taken seriously for my character and hard work, so I became very modest.  In my 30's, I decided that I was no longer in danger of not being taken seriously because of my age.  Then, I hit my 40's.  And I became invisible.  Men no longer looked at me like bait anymore.  Any flirting that happens is of the totally harmless sort.  And, I have the luxury of not giving a flip about what people think about how I dress or what I do, because I'm mostly invisible anyway.

Hopefully, the knuckle draggers around here are too busy wanking to read the manifesto in over rated men's mags to make my existence to difficult.  However, I think that the dudes who are likely to think they are doing 42 year old women a "favor" by hitting on them may find that our bullshit meters are very delicately tuned these days.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Food snob rant

It is nearing midnight an the yokels' firework supply seems to be endless.  I'm glad we took Chester to the vet to board for the weekend; he'd be a mess by now.

This petty, misanthropic annoyance may be to blame for me breaking my silence on one of those facebook facts of life that I've kept my mouth shut about, until now.  (And, the reason this rant is going on the blog and not facebook is because I don't wish to invoke the looting villagers wrath of those who know their sin.)

HOW EFFIN' LAZY DO YOU HAVE TO BE TO USE YOUR CROCK POT FOR FOODS THAT NEED NEVER SEE A CROCK POT?

First, it was an intern who told me that she sets up eggs in her crock pot at night so that her breakfast is ready to eat in the morning when she wakes up.  I cannot even begin to imagine how dried out or rubbery crock pot scrambled eggs must be like.  And, how lazy do you have to be to run an appliance over night for EGGS!  (Seriously, when I come in from the gym, I slug down a glass of kefir and then scramble two eggs for my breakfast while the cats have their breakfast.  It takes all of 5 minutes to pull eggs out of the fridge, heat some butter in a pan, whisk the eggs, cook them, and slide them on a plate.)

But then I saw, on facebook, people going ape-shit happy over some giant pancake in a crock pot recipe.  WHAT THE EFF?  I get the appeal must be something like putting peeps in the microwave to see them puff up, but really? I find that novelty foods rarely are foods you actually want to eat.

Tonight, someone posted a crock pot french toast recipe.  Really?  You would go to all the trouble of putting together the ingredients (milk, eggs, flavorings and bread) but then leave it for hours in a crock pot rather than spend 10 minutes at the stove?

You people are strange.  Crock pots are a crock.  There.  I said it.  Crock pots are a total waste of time and space.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

1st World Problems, again

I'm getting ever closer to no longer looking like a jr. high first aid class got hold of me.  Only one, small, bandage left!!!

In anticipation of having no more open wounds on my gut, I'm looking for a swimsuit so I can add lap swimming into my exercise routine.  OH DAMN am I having a hard time finding a swimsuit.

First, there is a difference between a swim and BATHING suit.  A bathing suit leaves plenty of open space for tanning, flimsy straps that you can move to avoid various tan lines.  A swim suit needs to be functional.  I need straps that will stay in place.  I need a suit that I won't be fighting to keep in place as I move.  I need it to hold up in a gym pool for several months, if not years.  I need it to be comfortable for exercise.

I've looked at several sites and am completely befuddled about sizes.  The most common issue I have is that I will look at the sizing chart for the particular brand I'm exploring and then find that the sizes on their sizing chart don't match the sizes listed on their web site.  WTF!?  (I showed this to the Phenom and he agreed it was strange.)

Additionally, I have a long torso, meaning I need either adjustable straps or a suit made for my freakish body.  I find that if I can match up my torso measurement to a size, the hip or chest measurement doesn't match.

It's damn frustrating.  I want something more substantial than what mega mart offers . . . but I might have to just buy two or three cheapo suits and hope they hang on until the next swimsuit season rolls around.  No one wants wardrobe failure in the gym pool.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summertime Riches

It was a good weekend for local produce.  (Or, as I declared to the Phenom, "I'm supporting local farmers.  That makes me a damn patriot!"  He then muttered something about me carrying a gun and disposing of half my brain.  Sad that the tea party extremists have given "patriot" such a negative image.)

Our local tailgate farmer's market was having a big ol' mid-summer celebration, so many demonstrations of groovy ways to use produce and more stuff on sale.  Then, I headed to my favorite local farmer's roadside stand.

Side note: the Old Woman would be pleased that I get so much produce directly from the farmer.  She had two or three road side stands she frequented.

I bought peaches, blackberries, corn, tomatoes, squash, roasted peanuts, eggplant, and potatoes. I've made four jars of blackberry vodka.  I've eaten tomato sandwiches until I'm happy.  And, I leaned over the sink to eat peaches at least 5 times today.

When we were recently in NOLA, I had maque choux with my BBQ shrimp one night.  I've read about it.  I've been curious.  So, I made some.  IT WAS YUMMY!!!  I have extra I will take to the office to feed the minions in the morning . . . and some shrimp I'll quickly cook up to add in.  They will sing my praises!

Cut the corn off the cobs, then use the back of the knife to scrape the "milk" from the cobs into another bowl.  I did it with 10 ears, but I was once again stood up by the Red Army.  3-5 ears should be plenty.

Dice up celery, red bell pepper, onion.  Chop 2-3 cloves of garlic.  Chop 3-4 green onions and chop up 1 cup worth of tomatoes.  (I had a few large cherry tomatoes that needed to be used, so I left the skin on them.)

Melt some bacon fat (you do keep your bacon fat in the freezer, right?  I have three types of bacon fat in my freezer, for this I used the Benton's bacon fat for it's smokey flavor.  I also have applewood smoked and maple smoked bacon.)  I melted enough to coat the bottom of a large skillet.  Then, saute the celery, onion, and pepper.  Add in about 1/2 tsp dry thyme.  Let the veggies get soft.  Add in the corn, corn "milk" (I added 2-3 tbs heavy cream and about the same amount of milk).  Cook for about 5 minutes, then add in the green onion, tomato and 1-2 tsp tony chachere's cajun seasoning (I always add salt and pepper to trinity while it's cooking.  But, do it to your taste.)  Cover and let cook 10-15 minutes.  Try to avoid eating it straight from the pan.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Thoughts on the Tattoo

There are some cathartic events that you know it, you feel it as it is happening.  Like getting married.  Or attending the funeral of a loved one.

The tattoo has been slower in developing meaning.

I'd joked about getting a tattoo for years.  A couple of years ago, there was a half-hearted attempt to acquire one.  Then, last winter, when it was decided that my Bestie would be joining us in NOLA in June, the conversation got serious.  We both agreed we were into the tattoo.  We found the place we wanted to do it, and worked on our designs.

I, originally, had asked my oldest friend in the world to design one for me.  But, then he killed himself.  I poured through his artwork to see if I could find something usable.  Nada.  Then, one night, at the end of yoga, I envisioned a lotus flower.  Later, the same evening, a friend asked me for a recipe.  I consulted the Southeast Asian cookbook I'd inherited from my friend.  Stuck in the book, which I know to have been his "go to" cookbook, was a drawing he was using as a bookmark.  In the center of his drawing was a lotus flower.

The tattoo place said they'd have to make it HUGE in order to insure the detail would come out properly.  Much too large for what I was looking for.  So, it seemed I might not get a tattoo after all.  Then, as I gathered my friend's letters for his father, who is working on a collection of writings/art in memory of his son, I found a letter with doodles in it.  And, that's how I settled on the design.

The tattoo was more painful than I expected.  I didn't jerk my arm or cry, but there were moments when I gritted my teeth and wondered if it were worth it.

It is nearly healed now, and settling into becoming a part of me.  Like the way my friend will always be a part of me.

Let's face it.  Since my 40th birthday, it's been a long, painful march through crappy situation after crappy situation.  I learned that a person I thought of as a dear friend was everything but a friend.  I've had to watch the Old Woman struggle with the end of her life.  I've experienced the death of two of the most important people in my life.  And, I've had this bizarro medical journey with multiple hospital stays and surgeries.  I need a bookend to these years of crap.  I hope that this tattoo will become symbolic of what I've survived, and that the pendulum will swing back to the quiet, drama free life I once knew.

That is a lot to pin on 30 minutes of gritted teeth and a bit of ink.  But, humans are kinda silly in what they put their faith in, no?


Saturday, June 21, 2014

In memory

Several years ago, when the Bestie and I first came to NOLA together, we decided to get tattoos.  At the time, we were a tad drunk and it was the middle of the night.  I couldn't find a design I liked in their catalog and she wanted custom work they wouldn't do on the fly.

Fast forward, and we still wanted tattoos on this trip.  Only, this time, I'd asked my dear friend to design something for me.  Sadly, my friend died last year before fulfilling this promise.  I went through pages and pages and pages of his art work, looking for something usable.  Then, I found a piece of a larger design that had some "it came from beyond" attachments to it.  But, the tattoo place we'd picked out said they could only do the design HUGE . . . like wrapped around my arm.

I was ready to forgo the tat, until I found a doodle in a letter he sent me about a year before he died.  (Yeah, we still wrote old fashioned letters to each other, we're cool like that.)

Here is my new tattoo:


(Notice the really excellent shave job on my arm?  Totally human like.)

Right now, it's in "recovery" but it will soon just be a part of me . . . like my friend.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Lagniappe

is a creole/cajun term for "a little bit extra" or "bonus."

I'm home, in New Orleans, with two other couples (ranging from my age to retired).  So far, I think everyone is having a good time (possibly even TOO good a time.)

We've also enjoyed some lagniappe.  At the first bar we visited (where we've become friends with the owner) the bartender refilled my glass with the extra of the drink she made for us.  She said that it was either me or her drinking it, because she wasn't going to waste good booze.

Yesterday, after a morning cup of coffee, we headed to my favorite jewelry store.  We picked out the perfect birthday gift for a friend.  Then, I found a really really really pretty diamond ring.  And, Phenom directed my attentions to the case of fleur dis lis jewelry.  I saw a pretty necklace.  He saw another.  I ended up with both.  But the chain on one wasn't the right length for me, so we looked to swap it for a longer one.  The store owner, of course, remembered us from our many previous purchases.  So, rather than charging us for the chain and the pendant, she gave us the replacement chain free.

Before dinner, we popped into the French 75 bar; a favorite.  And, for a time, we had the place to ourselves.  We talked with the bartender, who we've drunk with before.  I explained that we were "drinking the alphabet" and I had some hard to find letters.  He started thinking aloud about what sort of drink he could make and call it "Queen Victoria" for me.  Then my BFF and her husband joined us, and I ordered a "Queen Victoria."  She was disappointed she didn't have "Q" on her list.  After we left, he told her that the drink was our spontaneous invention.  hee hee.  Oh, and he comped us some gougeres and souffled potatoes.

Today, BFF and I are getting tattoos.  More about that later.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Shifting

We go on vacation tomorrow.  It will be interesting because we are joining two other couples on our usual June NOLA trip.  One couple, we've traveled with before and know we do well together, but the other couple we've never traveled WITH.  We've traveled to see them.  They've traveled to see us.  And, one member this couple has met one member of the other couple, but it was a very long time ago in a totally different context.  Everyone else knows us or are strangers.

But, it's NOLA!  How bad could it be?

I am a planner.  I normally like to have a rough outline of what restaurants/bars we plan to visit, but nothing else is planned out on NOLA trips.  But, since I'm the common denominator with all the couples, I felt that some structure was needed.  We were more specific in our restaurant planning . . . and there will be a side excursion that all or any can attend.

But, that isn't what this post is about.  THIS post is about how funny the behavior of our household shifts with little changes.  In preparation of our travels, half the critters have been taken for boarding.  The Old one, the one that pees if she doesn't get a fresh box every day, the one who bullies the other cats, and the one on a special diet are all unhappily at the vet's tonight.  This means the remaining cats are on one hand worried it's a matter of time before they get boxed up too, but on the other hand are enjoying less competition of our hands.  Also, since the one who pees isn't here, I can open the door to the bedroom.  (This winter, the one who pees claimed TWO pairs of my suede boots . . . little troll.)  Right now, as I write, two cats are on the bed and there might be one under the bed too.  (The last cat is hiding under the kitchen table, hoping that if more cats are boxed up, we will forget about her.)

Oscar the Bold (well, he was bold as a kitten, he's kinda a weenie now) is next to me on the bed.  He is waiting for any sort of gesture from me that might be more petting.  Pretty much, this is the happiest he's ever been.  ON THE BED!!! WITH THE MAMA!!!  TWO HAND AFFECTION!!!

Poor Oscar.  Maybe he could still be bold if he got this level of attention and loving everyday.  Or not.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Journey

I have a friend who is walking across America.  He's on the American Discovery Trail, which I didn't know existed until he took off.  He started in March on the east coast.  He camped in snow.  He has dealt with thunderstorms and freezing weather and heat.  Some nights, he stays in inexpensive hotels, others he camps.  He isn't wearing headphones, he has a phone and some form of computer with him, because he posts to a blog nightly.  He clearly is using apps to check weather and navigate.  (Which makes me wonder how people did it before smart phones.)  He had planned on taking 9 months to complete the trip, but personal circumstances have caused him to bump up his time line and attempt to finish in 7 months.

This week, he hit the "half way" point.  Although, as he nears the Rocky Mountains, I suspect his pace will slow quite a bit.  He has mentioned, in his blog, that the further west he goes, the more nights camping he will have.  I'm concerned about him getting enough food and water.  Carrying large quantities of water is difficult, as it adds tremendous weight to his pack.

Reading his blog, what I am most struck by (and he seems to be as well) is how tremendously kind and generous everyone is to him.  He is a vet, and isn't afraid to identify himself as such, which I think probably helps.  He's also older, mature . . . so not some hippie kid shirking their responsibilities on the bank of mom and dad.  He has an open and kind and calm demeanor.  All of which, I think, helps people respond in kind.

Nearly daily, someone pulls over on the road to offer him water or food or a place to rest.  He has had wonderful conversations with people from all walks of life: from folks hanging out in East St. Louis to elderly women tending their gardens.  He even had a homeless person give him $2 because the guy thought my friend was also homeless.  He tried to refuse it and the homeless guy told him to not question a person's freely offered generosity.  A great life lesson, to be sure.  He has asked to camp in people's yards and been greeted with dinner and hot coffee brought to his tent in the morning.  In fact, the only hassle he's faced is from the state troopers who stop him about once a week to check his ID and want to know his particulars.

In a time when we are bombarded with messages of how much danger lurks just beyond our finger tips, it is refreshing to see that someone could walk half way across America and have only good interactions with the people he encounters along the way.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Bestie

I have a friend who has been my friend, literally, forever.  It is rare that we go more than a few days without some form of communication (generally instant messaging since she's not a phone sort of human).  We live 3000 miles apart, but still manage to get together every couple of years.

The other night, she told me that she thinks of me as her sister. In fact, I nearly got to be her sister when the Grad Student was looking for a safe place to stash me.

The Bestie and I know all the intimate details of our lives.  We can complain and whine to each other.  We know when the other has a doctor's appointment or when to back off a touchy subject.  And, we can give each other shit like no one else.

Next week, Bestie and I are getting together in New Orleans.  We have a pre-arranged adventure I'll admit to later.  But, in a drunken text conversation last week, we set up the shit we are going to inflict upon each other next week.  At some point "hey, I have a nice ass.  Very kickable" got texted to me and "I will help you find your tongue" got texted to her.  Now, in an act of mutually assured humiliation, we are preparing t-shirts with those lovely sentiments on them.  heh heh.

Also, we like to play drinking games.  This trip, we're going to drink the alphabet.  There are prizes for the two people in our party who get the most letters checked off.  And, I need to remember to bring her the last liquor loaf.  She's that sort of friend . . . the one I'd give my last liquor loaf to.