First of all, a big “HI!” to you guys who stuck around waiting to see what’s going on here in my little crazy corner of the world.  I hate when I follow a blogger for years and they suddenly disappear and I keep checking back to see what’s what and they never, ever show up again in Blogland.  I’m so curious as to why they disappeared and so disappointed that I never find out.

That’s why I told you what’s what.  Thanks for the welcome back, and your kind expressions of concern.  You’re sweet- both of you.

So, I’ve been having weird cravings lately and it’s not all food-related.

I’m craving air.  I’ve had this upper respiratory infection for a few days and all I do is cough and whine then cough some more because talking (and whining) brings on an attack.  It’s all I can do to drag my butt to work and by the time I get there I’m wheezing and gasping for breath then I cough.  What I’m NOT craving are cough drops… those things are disgusting and I’ve probably gained three pounds sucking on a mountain of them.

Now I know how Zombiegirl felt during an asthma attack.  Yes, I do need to see a doctor, thanks for the recommendation.

Cravings are weird feelings.  They’re all possessing and all consuming and sometimes you can’t function because you keep thinking about the object of your desire and won’t be satisfied until you eat/see/do/f*ck the thing(s) you want.

Foremost in my craving?  Waffles.  I. Do. Not. Know. Why.  I’m not even a big waffle eater but I am craving  those big, Belgium waffles, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, dripping with warm blueberry syrup.  And whipped cream.  Do not forget the whipped cream.

Another craving that fills my thoughts is butterscotch pudding.  One of my co-workers got it yesterday afternoon in the cafeteria and now it’s all I can do to keep myself from going downstairs and buying the biggest freaking cup of butterscotch pudding.  I’m going to have to make it this weekend just like my mom did…with a smiley face of M & M’s on top.  The M & M’s would get cold from the refrigerator and the colors would start to leech into the surrounding pudding.  Oh, and leave the pudding skin on, please.  That’s the best part.

I’m craving a party.  I scheduled our 2nd Annual Superfantastic,Totally Blinged-Out Awesome Sparkletini party for this past Saturday night and the response was lukewarm at best.  Throw in me getting sick and Blizzard Nemo (when did they start naming storms?  And Nemo?  The  little orange clownfish doesn’t bring images of snowstorms to mind…) and I realized this party wasn’t happening. I was looking forward to making all-pink martinis and serving Valentine’s Day sweets and getting together with some friends to drool over Eileen’s jewelry.  I’ll reschedule for the spring.  I need a party with some awesome people and lots of alcohol.

I’m craving my mom.  With the onset of my (un)menopause and all the girlie trouble I’ve been going through, I miss talking to my mother.  Dad’s been great, but I really don’t want to discuss blood clots and birth control with him.  I’m sure he doesn’t want me to, either.  Planning Beena’s wedding, going dress shopping with her (SHE SAID “YES” TO A DRESS!)- these are all things I would have gotten on the phone with her to dish about.  This month especially since we just passed her 75th birthday and the anniversary of her passing, I really feel a hole in my heart because I can’t call her or talk to her or wish her a Happy Birthday.  Sigh.  As much as we fought or couldn’t stand each other sometimes, a girl needs her mom.

I’m craving a vacation.  I’m working on our passports because I want to be ready at the drop of a dime to go somewhere.  Turkey is the current destination of choice right now but I’d settle for the motel down the street at this point.

I’m craving pineapple.  Fresh, juicy pineapple.  Again, I have no idea why, I’ve just been obsessing over chunks of pineapple.  Maybe I have scurvy.

I’m craving angry, loud, obnoxious music to drown out some of the depression that this time of year usually brings.  Metallica, Slayer, Pantera…it’s all queued up on my Pandora station.  Probably not the best type of music to listen to when you’re depressed, but my precious Zydeco and show tunes stations make me want to throw the phone through the window right now.

I’m craving salt.  (Maybe I should see a doctor.  There is  probably have some kind of deficiency going on.)  I put salt on practically everything lately.  This morning I salted the butter on my bagel.  Hypertension, here I come!

I’m craving companionship.  A night out with a friend.  A date with my husband.  A little time spent with one of the kids.  I feel like I’ve been stuck in a rut (on the couch) and not doing anything (sitting on the couch) and not socializing (I LOVE my couch!) at all.  The wintery weather, me being sick and the world too busy to do anything has left me feeling lonely and craving human contact.  I’ve left Facebook and the craziness it spews forth so now I feel that I don’t know what’s going on in the world. (Just the fact that I wrote that is pathetic, that I have to rely on a social network to socialize.)  I’m going to try to get back to the old fashioned way of being friends- phone calls and a bottle of wine to gossip with.

Am I weird?  What are you craving?

I started this post a week ago, so I’m breathing much better today.  I firmly believe all the upper respiratory problems I’m having stems from the mold and crap I cleaned up at Dad’s house after Superstorm Sandy.  Lovely.


The Best Christmas Gifts Ever

I looked over my blogs from last year and I can’t believe I didn’t write about my favorite Christmas gift of 2009 (Insert Interrobang here…ha!)  I loved all my gifts, but the one that I’ve used time and time again over the past year was the one Dad got me.

This beauty:

For about 70 cents, I can make a loaf of bread with ingredients I can pronounce.  Nothing artificial goes into our bread.  The bread flour I use isn’t bleached, not that it matters, most of the family likes whole wheat bread better.  Beena gave me this fantastic book for my birthday and I’ve been working my way through the recipes.  Our favorites?  Country White, Household Loaf, Honey Whole Wheat, Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns, pretzels and of course, the Thursday night staple- pizza dough.  I tried the Quinoa bread the other night and it was absolutely scrumptious. 

When I told people I got a bread maker for Christmas, 8 out of 10 people said something along the lines of “You’re going to gain so much weight eating all that fresh bread!”  WTH?  I know I have to cut down on my carbs and all but I’ve never, NEVER been tempted to eat a whole loaf of bread, freshly baked or not.  I shake my head sometimes at the stupidity.  Fine.  No bread for you!

Last year, prior to Christmas, I posted things I coveted in my “I’ll make buying me a gift easy for you” list at the left.  In no particular order of covetedness, they were:

(Okay, did you notice that the Silhouett Cutter was bold?  I guess there was an order of covetedness…)

My wonderful family reads my blog AND takes hints.  MR got me the Silhouette Cutter (more on that in an upcoming blog post), Zombiegirl got me fuzy warm slippers (ahhh, sigh), Beena and Kansas got me the fourth season of Dexter (yay!) and Dad got me the purple Leatherman (it’s so pretty!  I’ll never have to bother MR for a screwdriver again…), the Espresso Vodka (yumminess to the 10th degree!  Gets you drunk AND buzzed at the same time…) and the Hans Christian Anderson DVD (which was as good and cheesy as I remembered as a kid.  Unfortunately, none of my children wanted to watch this classic with me.  And when I went around the house singing “Hans Christian Anderson…Anderson, that’s me!”  they groaned and left the room.)

Pure awesomness.  The gifts AND the family.

It was definitely a boozy holiday.  From my Secret Santa (BIL Eric) I got Danny DeVito’s Limoncello and a beautiful ceramic decanter to serve it in as well as Bacardi Gold.  Cuba Libres for everyone!

So now that my wish list has been cut in half and my birthday is in less than two months, I’m revising said list with more stuff I covet.  In no particular order of covetedness (Yeah.  New word.):

My needs are simple.  In fact, I would forgo any of the above for a weekend away with my husband.  Here, here or here would be fine.  I would even settle for an overnight on the Appalachian trail.  Something, anything. We haven’t been away alone since our honeymoon.  And no, Beena.  I do NOT count Riverhead because there’s always Danny…

Thank you, family, for the wonderful gifts this past Christmas! See?  Wasn’t that easy?

Next up, what I gave for Christmas.  It IS better to give than receive…


I admit it, when the girls were small, we told them a few fibs.  We convinced them we had gone on vacation to Texas, that the trip to the miniature pony farm was really to drop them off at an orphanage and that there were two new characters in the alphabet.  Yes, they may need therapy someday because of it.  It runs in the family, however.  My parents convinced me once that spaghetti grew on trees.

Remember the old Ronzoni commercial of the Italian family picking pasta off the trees in the orchard?  My parents sent me out of the room before they showed the napkin that said “Spaghetti doesn’t really grow on trees” and subsequently convinced me over time that this is where spaghetti came from.

I’m impressionable.  And apparently, stupid.  And my parents definitely had a little bit of a mean streak…

So, MR and I had convinced the girls that there were two new letters in the alphabet- CH and PH (as in “Chuck” and “Phone”)  I even made up a symbol for them.  We had them going for a little while, but (as I’m sure they will agree) they are “smarter” than we are, and figured out it was all a lie.It was fun, though, writing out words with the new alphabet.

When I came across this punctuation mark, I thought someone was pulling my leg.  I read it on another blog and it seemed too good to be true.  So I Googled it and it seems it’s been around since 1962!  Where have you been all my life, Interrobang?! 

Dammit.  I can’t illustrate the beauty of this punctuation mark in the blog because I can’t figure out the HTML.  But it is wondrous.  A marriage of exclamation and question mark, it’s like discovering a new sound or the perfect word for a fleeting feeling.    The perfect punctuation for such phrases as:

  • “You’re seriously wearing that to meet my parents (Insert Interrobang here)”
  • “You need how much money for college (Insert Interrobang here)”
  • “The dog ate what (Insert Interrobang here)”
  • This isn’t toothpaste- what the f*ck is this (Insert Interrobang here)”

I’m trying it out in Microsoft Outlook.  I can totally use this in emails  to coworkers like:

  • “How many times do I actually have to go over this with you (Insert Interrobang here)”
  • “You’ve screwed up so many times, how it is you’re still employed here (Insert Interrobang here)”
  • You’re taking off again (Insert Interrobang here)”
  • “Did you actually read the whole email (Insert Interrobang here)”

Such a useful little punctuation mark.   What would you use it for?


I am heartbroken.  Remember this post– the one about the squirrels and my “584” tree?  I know some of you couldn’t see the numbers 5, 8 and 4 in the tree but I’ve been staring at that tree for 13 years.  It’s the only good thing about the winter- I can see the numbers and follow the squirrel’s crazy antics.

Then, a few weeks ago, I noticed this:

Half of the tree is missing!

My number 5, 4 and half the 8 is gone.  It’s now lying on Nassau property, blocking the way from our backyard gate to the stream.

Mother Nature, you are a cruel bitch.

New Sites, New Web Friends

I’ve been surfing and saving noteworthy websites in my Favorites again, so it’s time to clean out. Some of my Web pals are too busy with their real lives to update their blogs so I took them off my pals list and put them here. I’ll check back every so often. I’ve added a few awesome new blogs I’ve found. They make me laugh, cry and think. And want to travel. And paint my house purple. I’ll live vicariously through them:

  • I love Michelle at Just Eat It. Her bat-shit craziness and universally abundant ramblings poke my heart.  She hasn’t updated recently, so I’ll check in on her from time to time.
  • When I go to Austin, I’m booking a carriage ride with Brooke at Honest Hyperboles, the funniest, smartest buggy driver in Texas.
  • I don’t know who TYWKIWDBI is, but they always manage to find cool things on the Internets.
  • The Daily Smoke is American by birth, British by passport and living in Madrid. Her header is like her writing- wispy and ethereal.

I’m also adding a new page: People Craftier Than Me. I want to immortalize the websites I go to when I need inspiration or awesome tutorials. This will be added to often since there are some very talented people out there. TBU (To be updated…)

It’s Your Choice

I’ve spent the last hour or so going through my Inbox at my home email account. I forward everything to this account to organize, read or act on when I get home. What I’m starting to learn is that I almost never have any time to organize, read or act on anything at home. Things pile up and it takes hours to go through. The good thing is when things are months old, they don’t seem as important and I’m able to delete a lot of crap I deemed important the first time around.

One of my former work friends sent this to me and I thought it was a good life motto. It was a sweet story too. I’m putting it here so I can delete it from the Inbox:

John is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, ‘If I were any better, I would be twins!’

He was a natural motivator.

If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, ‘I don’t get it!’

‘You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?’

He replied, ‘Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or…you can choose to be in a bad mood .

I choose to be in a good mood.’

Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or….I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it.

Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or…I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life ..

‘Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,’ I protested.

‘Yes, it is,’ he said. ‘Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood.

You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live your life.’

I reflected on what he said. Soon hereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some
60 feet from a communications tower.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.

I saw him about six months after the accident.

When I asked him how he was, he replied, ‘If I were any better, I’d be twins…Wanna see my scars?’

I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.

‘The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter,’ he replied. ‘Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or…I could choose to die. I chose to live.’

‘Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?’ I asked.

He continued, ‘…the paramedics were great…

They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read ‘he’s a dead man’. I knew I needed to take action.’

‘What did you do?’ I asked.

‘Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,’ said John. ‘She asked if I was allergic to anything ‘Yes, I replied.’ The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Gravity”

Over their laughter, I told them, ‘I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.’
He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude…I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.

Attitude, after all, is everything.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’ Matthew 6:34.

After all today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

Things that make you go “hmmm”.


Okay, give up?  Want to know what 23 is? 

January 1, 2011, or 01/01/11, or 010111 is twenty-three in binary.

Wait, what?

I was introduced to the concept of counting in binary by my evil Facility Manager, Ducky.  She would flip me, her assistant Facility Manager, the secretary, the chair, the Xerox machine- anyone that pissed her off- the bird on a regular basis and yell “Fore!” when she did it.  Being that she was a golfer, I always assumed it had something to do with her game.

I finally asked her about it.

It wasn’t “Fore!” she yelled out viciously, it was “Four!”  Seems she was taught by someone in a bar somewhere how to count the binary on her fingers.  For those non-geeks out there, binary is the method of counting using only zeros and ones.  Each digit in a binary number system represents a power of two. The first digit on the right represents the 0th power, the second represents the 1st power, the third represents the 2nd power, and so on. So the number 1 in the decimal system is represented also as 1 in the binary system. The number 23, by contrast, is represented as 10111 (16+0+4+2+1).


Anyway, that someone in a bar somewhere taught this nut how to count to 31 on one hand using the binary system.  Since I’m just getting over being sick (and tired) and just not all that interested to put the time into explaining when there are much better sites out there to do so, look at this site.  It explains all…

Fun, huh?  Of course, Ducky never realized what she started when she taught me and then I went home and taught the girls.  Seems she didn’t know the true potential of finger counting binary- her limited sight let her see only to 31.  If she wasn’t too drunk, I’m sure she would have remembered her tutor mentioning that you could count to up to 1,023 both hands!  When I showed the girls, I transitioned to the other hand for 32 but got it all wrong, so I did a little internet research and found a website and a really nice man to explain the jump from one hand to another.  His email back to me:

Hey, Susan-

If you only made it to 59, you didn’t progress to 32 for the pinky of the left hand (if you’re right-handed). If these are fingers (palms facing you):

 |||||  |||||


this is the pinky of your left hand and its value is 32 (since the right hand starting from the thumb is 1 2 4 8 and 16. After you get to 31, all the fingers of the right hand make a fist (representing zero), and the pinky of the left hand comes up (just the pinky) and then you got through 1 to 31 again on the right hand.

 Here’s 32 with both hands

 —-|  —–

Notice the pinky of the left hand is the only one up.

Here’s 42:

—-|  -|-|-

which would be the 32 pinky and an 8 and a 2

Here’s 518:

|—-  –||-

which is 512 + 4 + 2

Here’s 1000:

|||||  -|—

512+256+128+64+32+8 = 1000

Hope this helps!


The girls caught on immediately and could go on and on counting.  My limited brain and I grasped the concept but couldn’t keep up with the lightning finger speed of my nine and eleven year old daughters.  They would quickly flip up the middle finger, giggle and yell “Four!” and race on to 31 and beyond. 

Thanks, Ducky.  You’ve given me binary, so every time I see a 0 or a 1 I think of you.  Whenever I flip someone off, I definitely think of you.  When I roll the dice, I often think of you, but that’s a story for another time.

But He Doesn’t Know The Territory.

Most of the singing was a little off.

The microphones cut out here and there.

The scenery looked like it would fall down any moment.

Some of the actors made sure they were front and center, even if they didn’t have any lines.

Friends in the audience yelling out the actor’s names was distracting and rude.

The play itself was old-fashioned and dated.


The costumes were imaginative and colorful.

The lead actors didn’t forget any of their lines- and they had a LOT of them.

It took a lot of guts for the actors to sing a capella, kiss believably and play parts outside their gender.

The “families” were multi-colored and no one thought it strange.

The ensemble looked like they were having tons of fun singing and dancing. 

The WH Middle School production of “The Music Man” kept me just as enthralled for an hour and a half as if I was sitting in the best Broadway play.  For that amount of time, we were enchanted and touched (who cries at “Shipoopi”?  Rob does…), we cheered and jeered and sang along with the cast.  The tunes were catchy.  We’ve been singing them around the house for months.

Grandma and Grandpa came in on Wednesday afternoon to go with MR to see the “preview”.  Pop-pop, Kansas, Kendles, MR and myself had the pleasure on Thursday.  Rob, Beena and I saw the final performance on Friday.  As the week went on, the show got better and better.  Zombiegirl said it was better the last day because Marian and Harold actually kissed (they’re in eighth grade and now the talk of the neighborhood.)  I think they just felt more and more comfortable each day.  By the last performance, the cast, crew and managers were all either crying or screaming with delight.  Jessica and Ashley did a great job organizing and directing these sixth, seventh and eighth graders.  I know the kids who decided not to try out definitely felt they were missing out on something.

Zombiegirl, you were a great River City kid (the son I never had) and a cute Won Ton Yee Indian.  You’re a ham by nature (look at your parents!) and I know each year you’ll get a bigger and better part.  Go for it, kid.  If you pile up enough tomorrows, you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.

This play was definitely worth remembering.

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.