My Chocolate Lab

When our Lola dies, I want to string her up and slit open her belly, just like a great white shark.  I’m curious to see what comes spilling out.

From the minute we brought her home, Lola has been eating things other than her kibble.  She chewed (and swallowed) the normal puppy things- shoes, squeeky toys, bones, Zombiegirl’s stuffies, books, remote controls- you know, normal stuff.  But as she grew, she set her sights on loftier goals.  Specifically, anything on the dining room table, counter and hutch.

Lola was a rebound pet.  When our beloved Lexi passed away at 12 weeks, we went back to Northshore Animal League bereft and pissed off.  Armed with the vet’s report, we brought Zombiegirl with us looking for answers. Or a refund.  Or another dog.

We should have just cut our losses.

Lola was the most active in the bunch of newly-fixed black lab puppies.  All the rest of them were moping around, flopping over each other.  MR stuck his fingers in the cage and of course, true to form, Lola started nibbling his fingers.  He was hooked.

We should have run the other way.

(Why does North Shore specialize in these black labs?  I’ve run into this dog so many times around the Island and the owners all say they got them at North Shore.  And they’re all mostly crazy.)

Puppy life was normal for Lola.  Zombiegirl became her best friend and oftentimes the two of them would be found sound asleep together on the couch.  Lola still sleeps in either Z-girl’s or Beena’s bed.  Or on the couch.  She chewed through many a dog toy, finding the stuffed dog toys especially tasty.  Natural progression led her to seek out Z-girl’s stuffed animals.  I can’t tell you how many times we would come home to find the house strewn with stuffing or worse, those little styrofoam ball thingys.

When she was about a year old, Lola found she could stand on her back legs and reach things on the counter.  A few weeks before Christmas that year, I received a gift basket at work from one of my vendors.  I brought all the boxes home- Italian cookies, chocolate covered pretzels, boxes and boxes of candies, chocolate covered nuts- really nice packaged treats I was planning on setting out for my annual Cookie Exchange party.  I put them all on our dining room hutch, way in the back, and went about my business.

I don’t remember where we went, but I remember coming home a few nights later with the family to what I could only describe as a gluttonous disaster.  Cookie boxes, cellophane, dented tins and candy cups covered every inch of the living room floor.  And our dear Lola, sitting in the middle of it all, tail wagging and belly two sizes too big.  We estimated she ate approximately eight pounds of chocolaty things.

Yes…I know chocolate can be deadly to dogs.  It contains a caffeine related substance called theobromine which can sicken or kill a dog.  Chocolate is more likely to give a dog a bad stomach ache than kill them, but if the dog ingests high enough levels, it can be fatal.

What, eight pounds wasn’t enough?

Our dear Lola didn’t die, she was just hyperactive for days.

We learned that night to keep everything up and out of her way.  Sometimes, though, we would forget and come home to find a loaf of bread missing (pieces of the wrapper left behind) or a pack of gum chewed to pieces (I often wondered if she farted, would she blow bubbles?)  Every time she caused an infraction, she would be sent to the bathroom as punishment.  We needed her out of the way so we could clean up the mess and wait for the urge to kill her to go away.  One night, after she got into a whole bag of hamburger buns I needed for dinner that night, we left her in the bathroom until after we ate.  When we let her out, we saw the destruction on the bathroom floor.

She ate one of MR’s disposable razors.

I’ll let that one sink in…

The plastic was chewed to pieces and (mostly) spit out.  The razor blade itself was a tangled, chewed mess on the floor.  MR pointed out that it was a double razor blade.  We looked all over for that second blade, but came to the conclusion in was consumed.  We debated whether to take her to the vet, but since it was such a small piece of metal and she had all those rolls in her stomach, we decided to watch for blood and then take action.

No blood.  The damn dog was fine.  Perky even. 

Over the years, she’s gotten hold of a few more razors (all blades afterwards accounted for) even though MR puts them up high where we think she can’t reach.  If you’ve seen this dog jump, you’ll understand why nothing really is safe unless it’s behind locked cabinet doors.  The crime is usually committed the MINUTE we shut the front door.  We’ve walked to the car then turned back remembering something we’ve forgotten and she’s already started on the appetizer course.  She’s eaten steel wool, balloons, countless baseballs (ingesting the leather first, then the wool strings then chewing (into bits and bits and bits) the cork center), soccer balls, ice cubes, garbage, plastic containers (which was used to store food then put in the refrigerator), aluminum foil, peanut butter jars, potato chip bags (with the potato chips still in them) and,  grossest of all, used feminine hygiene products and dirty undies out of the hamper.

Lately, we’ve been really diligient in keeping everything off the counter.  Food in plastic is not safe as is anything packaged in aluminum.  Last week, after a shopping trip, I had cans of tomatos and boxes of mac and cheese on the counter, waiting to be put downstairs on the storage shelves.  Since they never go downstairs immediately, they sat on the counter for a few days.

Lola must have felt the pull.  Who would have thought a dog could smell artificial processed cheese through the package and the cardboard box.

Our living room was a nice powdered orange when we got home.  At least she didn’t eat the elbow macaroni.  Much.

The last straw was Tuesday night.  I bought six boxes of devil’s food cake mix for this weekend- Halloween ghost and pumpkin cake pops for the soccer teams, birthday cupcakes for Beena and owl cupcakes for MR’s soccer team (the WH Owls) and for Kansas to bring to work.  I have a lot of baking to do this weekend.  I don’t need grief.

Grief is Lola’s middle name.  Thanks, Lola.  I could understand eating a BAKED cake, but the dry cake mix itself?  Right out of the box? Then the box itself?  She left chocolate dust everywhere downstairs and then took the party upstairs to Beena’s room.  I found chocolate pawprints in the hallway, for crumb’s sake. 

If she wasn’t such a good watchdog, she’d be living in the bathroom permanently.  I’m looking for a crate.  A solid steel crate,

because I know she’ll chew through anything else.

Surrogate Friendships

Last week, the stars aligned.  The message was received and I understood perfectly what needs to be done.

MR and I were discussing movies.  He ususally watches those freaky Chiller movies downstairs after I go to bed, the ones with a giant shark-topus or montrous killer snakes, but because Halloween is coming, he’s been watching them upstairs, trying to get us to watch them with him.  We were watching  Phantasm, this really bad 1979 movie (okay, they’re ALL really bad) and he asked me if I’d seen Surrogates.  Since I hadn’t, I imdb’d it and found out somehow I’d missed this Bruce Willis movie.  I loves me a good Bruce Willis movie.

According to Touchstone Pictures;

People are living their lives remotely from the safety of their own homes via robotic surrogates — sexy, physically perfect mechanical representations of themselves. It’s an ideal world where crime, pain, fear and consequences don’t exist. When the first murder in years jolts this utopia, FBI agent Greer discovers a vast conspiracy behind the surrogate phenomenon and must abandon his own surrogate, risking his life to unravel the mystery.

MR didn’t want to go into the plot and ruin it for me, but he did say it reminded him of the Facebook situation.  Watch it, he said.  You’ll see.

Since I’d given up our Blockbuster membership and I don’t have Netflix, I figured I’d have to wait until it came on cable again to check it out.  Two days later, I went to the library to pick up some books I’d reserved.  The way I walk, you have to pass half the library to get to the front door, and the half I pass happens to be the DVD section.  From the sidewalk, I glanced at the shelves and what jumps out at me?

Bruce Willis. Surrogates.  Star number one moves into place.

That night, while MR and Rob are downstairs watching their freaky, scary movies and after Zombiegirl goes to bed, I curl up on the couch with my cup of tea and watch Surrogates.

Whoa.  MR hit the nail on the head, when he said it’s just like Facebook.  At least like my Facebook situation.  Star number two slides to the left.

The next day, my friend Eileen and I went back to the ‘hood to go to my old church’s Rummage Sale a week ago.  (Ei shares my love of thrift sales and she’s just an awesome person to hang out with.  Hi Ei!  Mwah!)   One of my Facebook friends had mentioned the sale was that week, and another had mentioned that I should come.  Since I needed a few things (flannel shirts or sheets, spoons and silk flowers- don’t ask.) I told the girls, invited Eileen and informed Dad I was going.

The Rummage Sale was totally my mom’s thing.  I have literally gone to every Rummage Sale since I was born, with the exception of the last few years.  Mom and the other church ladies would work all weekend sorting through clothes, shoes, bags, glasses, home decor, toys and jewelry, pricing them and putting them out on tables.  When I got old enough to help, I would organize the books and the toys.  We would put stuff aside we wanted and at the end of the day, Mom would settle up with Liz, the church secretary.  I remember leaving school at 3:00 with my brother Robbie and walking the block to the church to meet Mom and get a snack- usually a brownie or the oh-so-coveted jelly apple, which Mom made hundreds of but still had to put two aside since they always sold out within hours.

When Beena and Kansas were little, Mom still worked the sale, and would bring home bags of clothes for the girls.  They would try them on and if they liked them, Mom would settle up.  If not, back to the tables they went.  I rarely had to buy clothes for the kids when they were small.

So coming back after all these years was a little hard.  There were a few hard feelings held against those so-called friends of Mom’s who never visited her or contacted her when she got sick.  Or those friends who never kept in touch with me after I had moved.  And all those memories-  I wasn’t sure how I would react.  But I did have Eileen at my side, and besides- I’m friends with a lot of these people on Facebook.  We’ve kept in virtual touch and surely, they’d dispel and uneasiness and uncertanty.

Pfft.  Yeah, right.  The minute I stepped in the hall, I was flooded with memories.  They came at me full force.  But wait- there’s a Facebook friend!  We comment on each other’s statuses.  Hi! How are you?

Facebook friend looks at me, turns around and walks away.

Hmpf.  Okay, go a little further…another Facebook friend.  This one had surgery- we’ve heard all about it.  I’ve sent good luck and get well messages to her.  I greet her with an enthusiastic HI!  How are you feeling?  How’s it going?

I get a blank stare and a small hello.

Hmmm.  I’m expecting a little more here.  After all- we’re Facebook friends because we’ve touched each other’s lives, right?  We’ve been friends for a long time, now we’re keeping in touch in the virtual neighborhood of Facebook, right?

Okay, continue on.  Shop, shop, shop.  I run into old church ladies who show us pictures of their new grandchildren, tell us about their hairdressers on Long Island and ask about Dad.  Down the next aisle, I hear a distinctive voice- another friend I’ve kept in touch with through Facebook.  I turn around, we recognize each other and… she holds a nice catch-up conversation with me.  We compare ages of the kids, and I leave feeling FINALLY! A Facebook friend who actually ACTS like a real friend.

After about an hour of jostling through the crowd, I manage to snare a flannel sheet, some spoons, a dog toy and a few shirts for Z-girl.  Eileen makes out with some pretty, sparkly Christmas ornaments, some vintage elves and an old Nativity set.  I run into two more Facebook friends, one of which doesn’t make eye contact (she’s the one who invited me) and one who gives me a half-hearted greeting.  We talk a little about Mom’s jelly apples (which they don’t sell anymore since she stopped making them).  At this point I don’t even want to talk to anyone anymore.  Maybe I was too anxious to make the connection, and maybe they were all tired of working the sale all day, but I went away from the Rummage Sale a little disappointed.  Star number three slips into place.

(What does all this have to do with the movie?  Move it along, girl!  I’m getting there, trust me.)

In the movie, the characters all interacted with each other through robotic versions of themselves.  They created an image, oftentimes prettier, or sexier than what they really looked like, and they controlled these robots from their homes, sitting in their pajamas, unwashed and pale.  Through these versions, however, they got to act anyway they wanted.  The face they put on in public was much different than the one they really had.

I’m finding that the faces my friends put on Facebook is much different than the ones I meet at Stop n Shop.  Certainly different than the ones I encountered at the Rummage Sale that night.  I’m guilty of it too.  I post clever (or what I think of as clever) statuses all the time.  I post pictures of vacations, or Z-girl, or things I made.  I’m looking for a reaction, a validation.  And I apologize to my friends for doing so, because I know how annoying it is when I read some of my friends self-important statuses. 

Facebook friend, I know all about your job, your kids and your drinking habits but when I meet you on the street we act like we don’t know each other.  

Facebook friend, I’ve known you for years and years.  I know your kids and their likes and fears but the picture you paint of them online totally doesn’t jive with what I know as the truth. 

Facebook friend, we didn’t talk in high school but you seem to think I need to know everything about you now.

Facebook friend, you tell me you saw I had a headache the other day on Facebook.  If we talked to each other more often, you would have known that without having to read  it online.

Why did I post that status anyway?  Why do my friends care if I have a headahce?  There’s a lot of stuff my friends post that I think I should be blissfully unaware of.  It would probably make me like them more if I didn’t know EVERYTHING about them.  So I’ve decided to disconnect and reconnect.  I’m keeping my Facebook active for a little while after I clean house.  Just because we’ve crossed paths doesn’t mean you’ve touched my life or I’ve touched yours.  It means we’ve crossed paths somehow and ended up on each other’s friend list.  I have your email address in case we ever have to get in touch. Buh-bye, no offense.

The stars align.  Disconnect.  And I will reconnect.  I don’t want to keep in touch with those that matter to me through Facebook or email.  I want to sit with Eileen more often and drink coffee or cry with each other at church.  I’m going to get together with Jeannie and relive when the kids were little.   I’m going to eat lunch with Vivian more often.  Why are the happiest people I know NOT on Facebook?  Star number four nudges into the line.

I took the first step last week after watching Surrogates.  I took the Facebook app off my phone.  The weekend went by and the only time I visited Facebook was to read a message from one friend to check on another friend because that friend un-friended the first friend.  Okay, really?  Disconnect. 

I’m taking my surrogate offline.  I’ve seen the stars align and they’re going to make me happy.


450 of 1001

I finished The House by the Medlar Tree awhile ago.  My Goodreads review:

Also known as I, Malavoglia.

Whatever it’s known as, I didn’t like this at all.  Yes, I get the family’s struggle with poverty, war and disgrace.  Yes, I get the small village mentality (I think the Village should be a character in itself) where everyone knows everyone else.  All that is well and good in a book.

As I read, however, I felt like I was leaning over the back fence chatting with my neighbors.  It was almost embarrassing at times, seeing into other people’s lives as the author creates the story narrated by villager after villager- in dialogue, no less.

It was hard to get through.  It was slow and repetitive.  I guess I can see why it’s on the 1001 books to read before one dies, but I would absolutely save this one for last.

The last two books were so disappointing.  I was expecting something fantastic, something so deep and enthralling I couldn’t die until I’ve read them.

Meh.  I’m beginning to question who made up this list…

Ah well, onto the next one.  Zombiegirl picks number 450, which is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark.  Okay, I’ve heard of this one.  Or was it the movie I’m thinking of?  Either way, it received good reviews on Goodreads, so I’m (semi) excited to start it.

We’ll see.

Don’t Let The Bedbugs Bite. Whatever They Are.

I’m sitting in my little cube farm at work trying not to openly scratch.  I lean my head down to below the partition to surreptitiously run my nails through my hair.  I squirm to and fro on my chair, scratching the backs of my thighs.  I slide my old-fashioned wooden ruler down my back under my shirt to provide delicious relief.

I know it’s all in my head.  IN my head, not ON my head.  All because I read the headlines in today’s Newsday:


Oh, ew.  Now I’ve been itchy for hours.

I ‘ve had this terrifying fear of bedbugs since I first heard about the epidemic in NY.  Now I not only have to worry about touching anything on the subway, I have to watch who I stand next to.  How far can bedbugs jump? 

The minute I get home from work, I strip and throw all my clothes in the laundry basket.  My work clothes are taking a beating being worn and washed constantly.  I just can’t stand the feeling that I’m bringing home bugs (or germs) from the great unwashed masses on mass transit.  If I could make my home a shoe-free zone, I would.  Unfortunately, stepping in dog drool in your stocking feet is grosser than the thought of trekking in all those city germs.

This fear reached epic proportions a few weekends ago as I spent an hour on my knees scrutinizing my mattress, then the girl’s mattresses and the couches for anything round, brown and moving.  Thankfully, only dustbunnies live where I sleep.  The thought of these little homewreckers gives me more creeps than the scariest Halloween thriller.  If I see you scratching, I’m running the other way.

And lice?  Crap, not again.  Our school was hit a few years ago with an outbreak that infected all of Z-girl’s friends.  Thankfully, she was spared the nit-picking.  The day my mother died, one of my soccer mom’s called and asked me to help pick through her daughter’s really long lice-infested hair. 

(I think she wanted to take my mind off of what was going on.  A nice thought, but I could think of 50 other things that could have distracted me AND not grossed me out.)

There we were, Soccer Mom, the kids grandma and I going through this mess of hair with three separate nit combs.  I got so fed up (yeah, I was upset to begin with) I asked for permission to cut the kid’s hair.  If she wasn’t so tired of us pulling and poking her scalp, I don’t think she would have let me take my electric razor to her.  I cut around eight inches off, giving her a really cute cut, and that made it so much easier for us to see and pick. ( I felt so guilty afterwards I took her to Walgreen’s and spent a fortune in headbands and clips.)  The mom and I took turns checking each other out.  Friendships can’t never be broken when you’ve picked through each other’s hair looking for bugs…

God, now even my eyebrows are itchy.

The school nurse told me the outbreaks of lice occur mostly after the holidays when kids go to their native countries for visits.  They bring back souvenirs, pictures and dirty buggies.  Do the airlines fumigate after every flight?  How can one not notice if your kid is constantly scratching his or her head? 

In the Newsday article, they quoted Kathy Zappulla, the owner of DeLiceful in Hauppauge.  She’s a professional nit-picker.  She probably makes a fortune examining and treating lice-infested kids.  Honestly, it’s a brilliant idea.  Wish I would’ve thought of it. 

(scratch, scratch)

On second thought, I don’t think that profession is right for me.  I would never sleep again if I had to deal with buggies day in and day out.  I’ll leave that to DeLiceFul.

I’m on a full-out assault to prevent the invasion of bedbugs.  No one is trying on clothes in stores, no one is borrowing anything made of fabric from anyone else and sorry to say, Z-girl won’t be having any sleepovers for awhile.  I want to disinfect Beena when she comes home since she works in a retail clothing store.  AND student teaches.  I feel we’ve been asking for it since our good-night mantra to Zombiegirl since she’s been tiny has been “Sweet dreambles.  Don’t let the Bedbugs bite” and she would reply, “Whatever they are…”

I need one of those bug-sniffing dogs.

Rose Colored Glasses

One of my Web Pals, Here in Franklin, posted this to her blog.  If she lived in NY, I would’ve hunted her down and kissed her.  I’ve been wanting to post my feelings about this since October 1st and she gave me the courage and the focus.  Plus said it so much more succintly than I ever could…

I am truly sick to death of the color pink. 

I have two separate ranting trains of thought regarding Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  First, there’s that damn color pink.  Several of my friends made their Facebook profiles pink, and they’ve been posting cutsey status updates using paranthesis and periods.  I’ve seen pink ribbon sweatshirts on too many flabby tourists these past few weeks.  Every website I visit has a pink ribbon banner or button on it . Last Sunday’s comics looked like they got washed with one of Zombiegirl’s red soccer socks.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, schedule your mammogram.  Do a self-squeeze.  Save the tatas.  Buy a ribbon, and wear it if you must. 

Just spare me the triteness, okay? 

MR and I went to that new wine store on Hempstead Avenue to get a bottle of wine to take with us to dinner at Frankly Thai.  (If you haven’t eaten in this Franklin Square restaurant yet, get over there now.  Say hi to Frank the owner for us.)  We didn’t know what to get (MR likes red, red gives me migraines) so we roamed the aisles looking for something to catch our eye.  We find a display of Fat Bastard Chardonnay.  C’mon.  Who can resist a Fat Bastard? lol!  I’ve bought this wine for my brother-in-law, who is neither fat nor a bastard, and I’ve been wanting to try it myself.  The selling point for this wine was not only the $10 price (I am a cheap date) but also the hang tag around the bottle neck with a pink pin on it.  Great.  They’re going to make a donation to breast cancer research.  We buy it, and when I get in the car I put the pin on and read the hang tag.

They’re going to donate 25 cents for each bottle sold.

I am underwhelmed.  It doesn’t seem like a lot.  Their website states “by the end of this year’s campaign, Fat bastard wines will have raised over $500,000 for Breast Cancer awareness and research.” 

I can understand the research part, but giving money to awareness?  I want to know which PR firm has breast cancer as a client, because if you aren’t aware that you NEED to check your boobies for early detection, then you must be living under a rock.  What we NEED is more research and a cure.  Not more silly, useless, ineffective pink gestures.

Yes, breast cancer sucks.  ALL cancer sucks.

Which leads me to my second ranting train of thought- why all the hype about breast cancer?  I must admit, my anger as Pink October comes around stems in part from jealousy.  Why is breast cancer getting all the hype?  Why not skin cancer?  Mom passed away from squamous cell cancer, which metastasized from basal cell skin cancer.  My brother Robbie did not survive  synovial sarcoma- it took him at the tender age of 25.  Where is all the “early awareness” hoopla for these types of cancer and the boycotting of tanning salons?  When does skin cancer get it’s own month?  When we got our tattoo, there wasn’t even a good color for a squamous cell cancer ribbon- we opted for purple, since that was Mom’s  birthstone color. 

I guess I’m just vying for equal awareness rights.  Maybe we should start a “Cancer Sucks” movement?  Use the color orange (it’s my favorite).  Advocate eating right, exercising, getting regular checkups and stop doing all that bad shit to your body.  Lump (no pun intended) ALL the cancers into one huge awareness campaign and give all proceeds to medical research.

Cancer sucks.  So does the woman in the pink ribbon t-shirt I saw on 49th Street yesterday smoking a cigarette. 

Stepping off my soapbox now.

Soup is Good Food

Those who know me can attest that my cooking abilities leave so much to be desired.  The minute I walk into the kitchen, I develop ADD.  Cooking is combined with cleaning, roasting with rearranging.  Much of the food coming out of the kitchen is burned well-done which, thankfully, is how my family likes it.

And they WILL like it.

Occasionally, I’ll get lucky and stumble on a recipe so easy that even I can’t screw up.  One that rushes my family up to give a standing ovation and throw roses at my feet.  One that makes me tell all my soccer peeps and innocent bystanders how good it is.

The girlies in this family love Panera Bread.  Beena has been going there for years with her friends and now can go more often since she’s working in a shopping center that contains one.  Zombiegirl and I have date night occasionally, and we go to Panera for dinner.  It’s unanimous that their baked potato soup is the reining favorite.

A little Google search found the recipe here.  I tried it the first time and it got rave reviews at the dinner table.  I tweaked it the second time and it got even better.  Leftovers lasted exactly one day, so now I have to double the batch so I stand a fighting chance to take some into work for lunch. 

For those innocent bystanders I told the soup about, here’s my tweaked recipe:

6 large baking potatoes
5 slices low-sodium bacon
1/2 cup butter
1 large onion, diced into really, really small pieces
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups 2% milk
2 teaspoons coarse salt 
2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups (6-ounces) grated cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub potatoes well and prick several times with fork; bake until soft in microwave (I have a baked potato setting).  Remove from microwave and let cool. When cool, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out potato pulp; set aside. Throw skins into compost.

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving drippings, crumble, and set aside.

In a large soup pot over low heat, add reserved bacon dripping and butter. Add onion and saute approximately 4 to 5 minutes until soft. Stir in flour until well combined; cook for several minutes, but do not let brown. Gradually add milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add potato pulp, salt, pepper, crumbled bacon, and 1 cup cheese. Stir and cook until cheese is melted. Stir in sour cream. Add extra milk, if necessary, for desired thickness.

NOTE: At this point, soup may be refrigerated until ready to serve. When ready to serve, warm over low heat, stirring until hot. Remove from heat and serve in soup bowls. To reheat the next day, add a few teaspoons of water or milk before heating to thin.

To serve, serve in individual soup bowls garnished with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Additional crumbled bacon, sliced green onions, and/or chives may be served to sprinkle onto the top of the soup.

Yes, I know there’s bacon in it.  And yes, I have to take a Lactaid before I eat this soup.  I feel the bacon-to-soup ratio is so small my conscience really doesn’t realize I’m eating meat.

And I have yet to find free-range bacon.

The kids all agree that it tastes a lot like Panera’s.  Served with a side salad, it makes the perfect meal.

Now to perfect my bread bowls.

In 1492, Chrisoffa Corombo Sailed the Ocean Blue

Really, why do we celebrate this so-called holiday?

 Seventy-three years ago, President F. D. Roosevelt declared Columbus Day a federal holiday after the Knights of Columbus organization put a little squeeze on him.  (I can’t help humming the theme to the Godfather as I write this!)  And I can’t help laughing when I think about who they’ve picked to honor.

Chrisoffa Corombo (his real name before it was Anglicized) isn’t really a person we should look up to.  The fact that he discovered America? That little notion taught to us in school is a little skewed.  Backed by the Spanish monarchs, he did discover the “New World”- the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cuba- but he never set foot in North America.  That distinction belongs to the Amerigo Vespucci and the Vikings- the people I’m partially descended from.  Why don’t we see any Viking parades going down Fifth Avenue?

We’re taught in school that those who opposed Corombo thought the Earth was flat, but that wasn’t the case at all.  Even in ancient times, sailors knew the Earth was round and scientists not only suspected it was a sphere, but were even able to estimate its size.  And speaking of sailors, it wasn’t even Corombo’s idea to sail west from Spain- it was his brother Bartholomew’s idea.  Arriving in the Carribean, Corombo and his crew forced natives into slavery, tortured and killed thousands while serving as their governor, and brought syphilis and gonorrhea and smallpox from Europe.  He was an opium addict and a womanizer.  He frequently hanged members of his crew for disobeying him. Hmmm.  Not a nice man at all.   Far  into his old age, Corombo was still convinced he had sailed the coast of Asia.  Confused much?

As a kid, I remember making little paper ships (I can still smell the paste) and naming the three ships of Columbus. The Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria- the schools didn’t even get that right.  The Nina was really the Santa Clara- it was nicknamed the Nina for it’s owner, Juan Nino of Moguer.  I guess it flowed better in the school poems we were taught calling it the Nina.  Corombo was not well-known or well-liked in his lifetime.  In fact, he was not revered until hundreds of years after his death by British colonists in the States who didn’t want to honor pioneer John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto), since that’s who the British government commisioned to explore the world.  Good work, guys.  Honor the drug addled killer…

So once again, I’m working on a day when most of the rest of America is home or apple-picking or on a Church retreat or in Vermont having a good time.  I’m in the city watching a parade of thousands of mis-informed Italian-Americans supposedly celebrating the life of a mediocre explorer, shaking my head at the lunacy of it.  Meh.  Another excuse to eat and drink too much and carry on in the subways.  At least my commute was quick and easy today.

Non- F*CK YOU Friday

My brain lately has been pretty calm.  In the midst of the worldwind of the busiest time of the quarter at work (allocations), I’ve not felt my friend Rage rear it’s ugly ass.  During the mile walk home after taking the wrong bus (have I told you how much I hate the N6?), my mind was calm and I listened for birdsong.  Not even the self-centered, arrogant and/or stupid people I deal with daily have risen the hackles on the back of my neck.  My disasterously wet commute last week was dealt with without extreme high blood pressure.  Yes, I was angry at the cars that splashed me, and the company that made my boots, but I reacted much calmer than usual.  Time wasn’t spent ranting and raving.  Well, not as much.  And the result of the crappy day I had yesterday was only a craving for a beer.

Usually, I would have wanted scotch.  And heads to roll.

Yes, the trail is smooth, dry and beautiful.  Was that a chipmunk?

I’ve found my equivalent of Xanax.  One 540 mg tablet a day of Black Cohosh takes my rage away.  I don’t feel the urge to smack, maim or eat my friends and family.  I don’t feel the build-up of angst or utter angriness when I’m stuck in traffic, stepped on while riding the bus (damn N6) or walking through Times Square.  I’m not a zombie- I still get angry at the damn tourists, but I don’t feel like pulling a gun on every stupid person in NYC.

Black Cohosh- I thank you.  You are a beautiful thing.


I can’t say enough about the customer service I received at Fishin’ Chix after I shot off a kind of nasty email about my broken boots.  I was wet and cold and out $54, so I told them what had happened and that I wasn’t happy.  Within MINUTES I got back this email:

Well Ms. Sue, I would hope you would give us a chance to make it right with you before you choose not to recommend us to anyone.  We like to pride ourselves on our high fashion and quality.  Unfortunately, we had about a 1% failure rate on that particular boot.  We have since gotten a new shipment in and are extremely satisfied with the testing we have done on it.  If you give me your information and the size you need I would be more than happy to send you another pair.  The new shipment we got in runs almost an entire size smaller than the ones we previously had so please keep that in mind when telling me your size.  I look forward to getting you another pair of Black circle boots and restoring your confidence in our products.

I did apologize in my reply for the terse email ( I WAS wet and cold…)  She replied it was no big deal, she’s had days like that.  Within three days, I received a new pair of boots. 

Wow.  I like these folks so much now, everyone is getting boots for Christmas!  Thanks, Fishin’ Chix!

Better Than Ebay

Going once, going twice- sold! to bidder number 36.

What a rush!  Before last Saturday, I’ve never been to a live auction, let alone bid in one.  I’ve been a member of eBay for over 10 years and I’ve experienced the adrenaline pumping joy of sniping something at the last minute and the agonizing defeat of losing a much-wanted item.  I’ve amassed most of my Vintage Fiesta pieces online, bidding out other collectors.  It’s a sweet win.

But the rush of actually seeing who you’re bidding against while little beads of sweat start breaking out on your forehead hoping the price doesn’t go too high?  No online auction can beat that.

MR’s sister Lau and her husband Ick (actual nicknames used to protect the innocent) belong to the Peekskill German-American club– an adorable little Bavarian style club.  German eagles (made by MR, hisself) and the requisite “Das Boot” beer mug hangs over the bar.  Handlebar mustachioed men walk through the crowds holding foot-tall Franzikaner beers.

It’s all quite quaint.  I wish we belonged to a club like this closer to home.

So last Saturday, the club held an auction fundraiser with Ross Art House.   There was “sports” art, “music” art- an Eric Clapton signed album and a drum top signed by the members of Pink Floyd- as well as prints by Dali, Erte, Kinkaide and Chagall.  Quite a lot of the prints were signed and numbered by the artist.  There were a few original pieces as well as a few Disney Sericels…basically, something for everyone.

When we first walked in, my first impressions was, meh, these are all old lady paintings (no offense to anyone who likes Thomas Kinkaide.)  But as I roamed the tables, I saw more pieces I liked.

Such as this:

And this:

And this:

But we REALLY liked these:

These are by Graciela Rodo Boulanger, a Bolivian artist noted for her whimsical, child-like paintings.  The first one is called “A Koala Bear for Sandra” and the second is “A Puma for Josquin and Mathieu”.  They’re small prints, mounted in beautiful frames.  They remind me of Maurice Sendak illustrations.

I wanted them.  Zombiegirl and MR agreed.

We placed our cards in the frames, which indicated our interest in bidding.  When they came up for bid, the auctioneer said they were going to do things a little differently with these.  Give me a number, he said.

I called out $50!

Okaaaay, he said.  That IS a number.  (How rude!)

Bidding was fast with myself and two other people interested.  MR said there was a woman down in front that kept shooting me the stink eye since I was bidding against her.  I was exasperated at the man on the other side of the room outbidding me.  After another flurry of bids, I was the winner!  When the second piece came up, the woman in front was determined to have it.  I, on the other hand, had plans to put one each on either side of our wall unit.  (Always have a place to put your artwork before bidding or buying!  Otherwise it’ll end up in a closet and you’ll never enjoy it.)  The second piece went a little higher than the first, but I won that one too!

In your face, old German lady!

(Just kidding.  I don’t know if she was German or not, and besides, everyone was very nice at the club…)

I was high on the power of the paddle.  I needed to buy something else, but I knew I couldn’t afford anything- the starting bids on almost everything with the exception of the Boulangers were well over $100 each.  During intermission however, my sisters-in-law were talking of splitting the cost of one of the signed pieces my Mother-in-law had her eye on.  Since she’s SO hard to buy a gift for, I said MR and I would also like to go in on it, allowing us to bid a little higher.

Who’s going to bid, and what’s the cut-off?

Lau had to work the credit card machine, so she couldn’t participate, and Paula was afraid to raise her number.  So I graciously (laughing and cackling under my breath) offered to bid.

I started the bid with the asking price.  MR was behind me, and wasn’t aware that I was bidding on Mom’s piece.  When the price went up to $120, then $130, he started hissing at me to stop bidding- what, was I crazy?  I hissed back that it was for his mother, and I was actually able to get it for less than what we all agreed on.  Slap down!  I won again!  Mom is now the proud owner of John Bond’s “Long Lost Summer”- signed and numbered.

And Johanna, being the most awesome MIL ever, bought the Boulangers for US for Christmas!  Shweet!  Thanks, Mom!

Lau had her eye on this:

Marc Chagall’s “Ceiling of the Paris Opera”.  It’s pencil signed and #209 of 500.  It was a big piece, easily three foot square.  Bidding started with Ick opening the bid and continued fast and furious until it stalled at $650.  Going once, going twice- then Ick bids $700! He really loves Lau.  The gasps were audible in the audience (mainly from the front where Lau was sitting and amongst us, the family.)  When he won the piece, we speculated that when they got home, he was either going to have the worst or the best night of his life.

Turned out it was the best.

It was an exciting Saturday night.  I’ll post up better pictures of each of my little gems.  I’m hooked.  If you want to hire me to bid on something, you wouldn’t even have to pay me a comission.  I’ll do it for the thrill.