dminmem

dminmem

29 December 2007

It's Good to Be Home

It's 7:26 A.M. I just treated Cameron to "princess valet". That's how he and his fellow flight attendants refer to having their spouses drop them off at the airport. He's flying a 2-day DTW, LAX, MEM turn. I know he's tired. He's fighting the early signs of bronchitis. Poor baby.

When I last posted, it was Christmas Eve morning and I was at my long-time friend Thom's house. I left fairly early that morning for St. Matthews, a suburb of Louisville, to finish Christmas shopping I was unable to do while in SoCal.

Christmas Day was a lovely experience. I wrapped gifts early in the morning. Thom and Reese had planned a Christmas Day brunch. It was a small affair with the usual suspects and it was quite nice. The weather was fantastic that day for Southern Indiana in December. The sun was out, the temps were in the low 50s. We were able to mill about both inside and out. The food was delightful. And it was nice seeing old friends and meeting one new, Jerry. At one point I called my mother to finalize plans for the day.

Apparently all of my family had been under the same spell of "too much to do." When I spoke to my mother before going to her house, she told me that my brother, Christopher, and I would be decorating her tree. Up to this point, there were only two things on the tree: one string of lights and the antique metal and glass star that she'd received as a little girl. Christopher was already there when I arrived. I was greeted at the door by him, his Boxers, Maggie and Scout, and my mother's Boxer, Lily. My girls stayed with Thom since Doris has been under the weather, so to speak.

We spent the afternoon catching up, decorating the tree, looking at the commercials I'd wrapped up on December 21. My bonus Dad, Dave, videotaped us sharing gifts, at times putting the camera on a tripod so he could unwrap gifts, too. My little sister, Tina, my niece, Kayla, and nephew, Andrew, arrived a bit later. I wouldn't see my other nephew, Matthew, this year. He was working at the I.C.U. unit at Floyd County Hospital and would later be leaving for a flight to Portland, Seattle and finally Redmond, CO. Lisa, my other sister, was unable to be there this year due to her lack of vacation at her new job and recent house purchase. Her closing was yesterday.

Around 9:45 P.M., I got a call from Cameron, who'd just arrived at SDF (Louisville International Airport) after landing in Memphis from Amsterdam. His flight was early. So, that means I was late. Luckily, it took me less than 15 minutes to get from Sellersburg to the terminal in Louisville to pick him up. (Thank you little traffic and trusty radar detector.) So, we got to spend some of Christmas together after all. That night back at Thom's house, we visited with friends, staying up too late, and generally doing what we do.

Tuesday morning, I gathered Doris and drove to Tina's house. She and I took Doris to Shively Animal Hospital. Because all of my family have seen "Dr. Joe" over the years there was enough love and trust among them to convince me to get a second opinion on her condition from him. It seems, though, that many people in Kentuckiana feel the same way. Tina and my mother both warned me, "there would be a long wait." We arrived at the hospital around 11:00 A.M. Sometime between 2 and 2:30 we were called in. Dr. Joe was great. He spent a little over an hour with us. He'd gone over records faxed in from our vet. He thinks Dr. McCutcheon and Dr. Cochran are dead-on with their diagnoses -- with one exception -- which I'm not sure would make a hill of beans in her treatment thus far. But, among all of Doris' other troubles, he says she has a cervical disk problem in her neck. She's now on Valium, Robaxin and "strictly limited activity" for ten days. That evening, Cameron and I decided to stay in at Thom's and monitor Doris. We ordered carry-out from Kingfish. I made calls throughout the evening planning for the next day's visits to those I hadn't seen so far.

Cameron and I met my Dad at his house at 9:30, Wednesday morning. The gal he's been dating for a bit more than two years, Michelle, was there. It was good to see them both. We shared some coffee and caught up. I brought my dad a jar full of state quarters that I had collected for him thinking we were going to exchange ones we hadn't been able to find. He is always getting quarters from the Philadelphia mint and has a hard time finding ones minted in Denver. For me, the reverse is true. But, he'd been to the bank the previous week to purchase brand new ones to complete his collection through the 2007 issues. We drove to Caesar's casino in Harrison County for brunch. I ate all I could at the buffet.

From there, we went back to Daddy's house to say our goodbyes, then to Thom's to check on Doris and give her her midday dose of Robaxin. After, we met my sister and neice at my mother and Dave's. We had a nice visit there for a few hours. Then, we headed into Louisville to meet Danna and another grade school friend, Annette, for a drink and some appetizers at Chili's.

The next morning we got up at 6:30 A.M. and within 2.5 hours were on the road home. Considering that it was a rainy, nerve-wrecking drive I was surprised that we made it home in under six hours.

It's good to be home, whether it's dusty or not.

24 December 2007

Christmas Eve

Just a quick update in case you wanted to know.

Virtually a tornado since I got home from L.A. at 7:00 PM, Friday, I went Christmas shopping on Saturday, which included buying a new set of Michelins for the Passat. $550. Ugh. But necessary for the trip home to Louisville. While I was out I picked up a Hormel Cure 81 spiral sliced ham, a box of Target's Market Pantry 3-cheese potatoes au gratin, baby romaine and mixed gourmet tomatoes and some asparagus for dinner. Cameron, Cleo and I celebrated Christmas that evening. But, as her bedtime comes early, she left before dinner.

Yesterday, I spent the morning going through some paperwork, decided to bring the luggage that I still hadn't unpacked from L.A. (yes, I brought laundry with me to Thom's house), rounding up gifts purchased so far, collecting dog stuff (food, bed, laser thing for Doris’ eye, medications, water bucket, food, leashes, harnesses and pillows), packed it all into the Passat, drove to Petco for some cookies and headed toward Kentucky.

We made one stop just east of Jackson for gas and a #2 at McDonalds (sacrilege) for me. Setting a new record, we made it to Louisville in 5 hours and 26 minutes.

Thom’s house looked great with some of the renovations he'd been doing completed. And, he'd decorated a bit for the holidays. Friends were here to welcome us: Thom’s roommate Reese, Danna (my friend from 3rd grade), Michael and Anthony.

Later in the evening, Danna and I drove to Kroger so he could pick up some gift cards. I impluse bought a 2-liter bottle of Big Red and some anchovy stuffed olives. Next, it was a trip to White Castle, then back to Thom’s.

This morning, it's finishing up Christmas shopping and making my way back here to wrap and prepare for tomorrow. If I don't post again, I hope you have a Merry Christmas.

20 December 2007

Two Stars. Three and a half. Five. Five.

We've been staying at Hotel Carmel in Santa Monica. My travel partners have been here longer than I, so I understand their lack of enthusiasm about this 2-star hotel. There is no restaurant, so no room service. The rooms are very small and remind me of the room at the Breakwater on South Beach in which Cameron and I stayed over New Year's Eve a few years ago. All of the furniture is Mission, which I like.



Santa Monica is great though. I can see the beach from my smoking room on the fourth floor. It's been raining since I arrived Monday evening. It looks like we're going to have a sunny day today.

Dinners here have been nothing less that what I expected. Monday night we ate at Sushi Roku. After a little research online, I learned that it's part of a chain of restaurants. The reviews I read were mixed, but I enjoyed it. We walked back to the hotel and opted to have a nightcap or three in the bar/restaurant next door, Chloe.

Tuesday evening, we went to Chloe for a drink then to Wolfgang Puck's Chinois on Main. The food was great, the service was good. Too many martinis. My head really was pounding Wednesday morning.



Last night, we went to Craft, Tom Colicchio's restaurant in Century City. What an experience. The food is served family style. We had an assortment of oysters, two salads, one arugula with pine nuts and another with Romaine and crispy anchovies, and a curried pork belly appetizer. For dinner, we ordered a 45-day dry aged Porterhouse, roasted chicken, spare ribs, potato gratin, sweet corn, roasted brussels sprouts with bacon. For dessert one of us ordered pear sorbet, another ordered banana pudding, another butter pecan ice cream. A couple of the guys ordered White Russians. I ordered Gingerbread with egg nog ice cream and ginger sorbet and an espresso.

Today is the last day of pulling these commercials together. We're supposed to be at Jigsaw at 9. So, I need to jump in the shower and make my way down to The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for some java.

17 December 2007

I Need More Coffee

The alarm sounded at 5:30 A.M. Ugh. Too early. Doris and Billie stayed in their bed. Cameron was half asleep and in bed. I jumped in the shower, knowing that if I didn't I would dawdle. And there was no time for that. I had an 8:30 flight to catch.

Its 9:15 A.M. and I am en route to Los Angeles.

Since Cameron was flying out today as well, departing in about 12 minutes, Cleo arrived at the house around 6:45 to go over the extraordinary things she may have to do to care for Doris. When she's not traveling with us, Cleo house and dog sits for us, but with Doris' trials of late, she needs extra care.

There are the two types of eye drops, the laser eye treatments and an antibiotic twice a day. There are vitamins, glucosamine and chondroitin and Hyaflex twice a day. And, since Edith has been on a diet, there were instructions on that, too. Plus, the refresher course on the alarm system and the remotes for the entertainment system.

And, I really appreciate her coming at that early hour, because she may not have to stay after all. Cameron is working reserves this month, and was called out for a one-day trip. He should be home around 5:30 this evening. But, if Northwest pulls some of the shenanigans they've been, he may get tagged to continue flying after he lands back at MEM. So, Cleo is sort of on-call, too.

With the myriad things happening at home, and trying to prepare for Christmas I just wasn't ready for this trip. But it's going to be a good one. I'm actually flying out west to finish editing some television commercials we've been working on. And, so far the spots are turning out great. I'll try to ignore the reports I'm getting on the hotel. Phrases like, tiny, stinky, erratic WiFi come to mind. Apparently there are great shopping opportunities within walking distance and the beach at Santa Monica is a block away.

I'll arrive at LAX around 10:30 A.M. PDT. Go to Hertz, find my name on the Gold Canopy, hop into my Ford Focus and head up the 405. If I keep up with posting this week, which I suspect I will to some degree, I'll be "dminlax."

In the meantime, I just finished reading an article in Northwest’s in-flight magazine ”NWA World Traveler” where author Tom Sietsema’s article "Seattle Gems" recounts his latest visit to Seattle and some of the great dining opportunities afforded him. The last of the three restaurants featured is headed by Kevin Davis, called Steelhead Diner. There is a quote in the article, "to miss 'a slice of Caviar pie' is to bypass a house signature. Glistening with five shades of fish roe, the rich wedge of sour cream, cream cheese, egg and onion is a cocktail party in every bite."

The part about glistening with five shades of fish roe caught my attention. The recipe below is one my friend Thom's ex shared with me at least as many years ago as Cameron and I have been together. Originally written on a slip of paper, I believed it was something his family created and shared over the years. Later, I found the recipe on a box of Romanoff Black Lumpfish caviar. I now make it every year. It's a tradition that could use some updating, though, I think.

Each year I try something new when decorating the pie with the caviar. The one Cameron and I took to John and David's this past Saturday looked like doo doo to me.



I wasn't happy with the results of the caviar arrangement, especially when you consider the one I took to Cleo's a few years back that looked like a big red ornament with the letters J-O-Y spelled out in chopped scallions.

If I can locate the print (since this was before I bought my digital camera) I'll post it when I get back to MEM.

I'm going to explore other kinds of caviar with this. I can see all manner of possibilities.


This is the image from the box.

Caviar Pie

Recipe By: Romanoff
Serving Size: 0

Ingredients:

2 jars Romanoff Caviar, rinsed, drained
6 eggs, hard-cooked, chopped
1/3 cup onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons Hellmann's mayonnaise
8 ounces Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
2/3 cup sour cream

Directions:

Spread onion on paper towel and drain about 30 minutes. Lightly butter bottom and sides of an 8-ince springform pan. (I use Pam nonstick cooking spray). Chop eggs, mix with mayonnaise. Spread in bottom of pan. Sprinkle with drained onion. Beat cream cheese and sour cream together until smooth or use food processor. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto onion layer, gently spread and smooth with back of spoon. Cover and chill for 3 hours or overnight. Just before serving, gently rinse each jar of caviar separately with cold water, drain in strainer, then on paper towel. Spoon ontocheese layer in decorative pattern. Accentuate with minced scallions if desired. Makes 10 servings.

02 December 2007

Beginning to Feel a Bit Like Christmas

I got this quiz in e-mail from my friend, Eric. So here are my answers:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Egg Nog
2. Does Santa wrap the presents or just sit them under the tree? Wrap
3. Colored or white lights? White lights
4. Do you hang mistletoe? Yes
5. When do you put your decorations up? The weekend after Thanksgiving
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Cured Virginia Ham and Scalloped Potatoes
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child. Asking "is it time yet?" when we were kids
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? What truth?
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Not as children, but Cameron and I do now.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? lights, ornaments (lots of Shiny Brites), tinsel
11. Snow: Love it or hate it? Love it only on Christmas
12. Can you ice skate? Not really. I can skate in a straight line. Can't make the turns.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Lincoln Logs
14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Family
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Christmas Cookies and Egg Nog
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Buying our Christmas Tree the day after Thanksgiving, and marking the stump with the appropriate anniversary
17. What is on top of your tree? a lighted antique metal star
18. Which do you like best giving or receiving? Giving
19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Mele Kalikimaka (Bing Crosby)
20. Do you like candy canes? Not Really
21. What's your favorite Christmas movie? Mixed Nuts (particularly the scene with Madeline Kahn stuck in the elevator).

24 November 2007

Perfect Results

Since it's still Thanksgiving weekend and I just finished entering the two dressing recipes I cooked this year into MacGourmet, I've decided to post them. This is the first year that I was pleased with the results -- both of the dressings turned out perfectly.

===============
Oyster Dressing
from the kitchen of dminmem

INGREDIENTS:
- 1 package Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup celery, thinly sliced
- 1 cup onion, finely diced
- 2 cans chicken broth
- 2 1/2 pints oysters, strained, cleaned, sorted

METHOD:
Preheat oven at 350° F. Strain oysters over a bowl. Reserve liquor. Rinse and inspect each oyster for shells. Pour stuffing into large bowl. Pour in chicken broth and oyster liquor. Add celery and onion. Pour egg over ingredients. Pour in melted butter. Add oysters. Fold all ingredients together until well combined. Spray 8 x 11 x 2 casserole with non-stick spray. Pour mixture into casserole and gently pat until slightly packed and even. Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes.
SERVINGS: 12
===============

===============
Cornbread Dressing
from the kitchen of dminmem

INGREDIENTS:
- 1 package Pepperidge Farm Cornbread Stuffing
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup celery, thinly sliced
- 1 cup onion, finely diced
- 2 cans chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon rubbed sage

METHOD:
Preheat oven at 350° F. Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Gently fold together until evenly moist. Spray 8 x 11 x 2 casserole with non-stick spray. Pour mixture into casserole and gently pat until slightly packed and even. Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes.
SERVINGS: 12
===============

If you try these, I feel sure you'll like them.

Yesterday...

...all my troubles seemed so far away...

Just kidding. I didn't do too much around here yesterday. With Cameron leaving the house at 7:30 for a 4-day trip, I was feeling a little blue. We ordinarily buy our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, but I won't buy it without him. So, early in the morning I finished cleaning the kitchen and sorted through some e-mail. I ended up doing some work at home rather than going into the office. I ate a piece of mincemeat pie for breakfast while watching CNN.

Later, a small bowl of oyster dressing for lunch was good while watching 1994's "It Runs in the Family" (also known as "My Summer Story"), the second movie based upon Jean Shepards's semi-autobiographical stories of growing up in Hammond, Indiana. To me, this movie wasn't as good as the 1983 release of his first one, "A Christmas Story," based upon a story that first appeared in the December 1965 issue of Playboy, "Red Ryder Nails the Hammond Kid", .

Next, I watched "Hustle and Flow." Because I previously had the attitude that I didn't want to see "gansta" life on the big screen I avoided seeing it when it was released. The fact that I actually liked the movie surprised me. There were aspects of it that I found very disturbing, while at other times I felt empathy for the characters in the story. Plus, I saw bits and pieces of Memphis in the film that were familiar to me which is always fun.

Next was "One Last Thing" with Cynthia Nixon and Gina Gershon. This was the second time I've watched the movie in the last couple of weeks. It's a great movie about a teen's final wish after he learns he's been diagnosed with terminal cancer and what he does to make that wish come true. Grab the Kleenex, especially for the end where he's reunited with his father.

Since it was around 4 P.M., I got up and fed the dogs, made a small plate of turkey, asparagus, mashed potatoes and gravy and oyster dressing for myself and watched the local news, which was riddled with "breaking news," including the third, fourth or fifth story of robberies, domestic violence and shootings I'd seen in the three days I've been home. Very uplifting.

Knowing that the Christmas season is officially upon us, I pulled the remaining Franciscan Desert Rose from the china cabinet and stacked it with the pieces we used for Thanksgiving which were already on the dining room table, making ready for the Lenox Holiday china that Cameron bought me for Christmas 5 years ago. I'll go into the attic today and pull down the large "dishes" box we bought at U-Haul a few years ago and put our Pier 1 red, green and blue striped champagne flutes, martini and wine stems in the cabinet as well, allowing me to store our usual cabinet inhabitants and get the dining room table cleared off. Then, I'll take out the leaves and remove the pads and Thanksgiving will be officially done.

Maybe then I'll listen to some Christmas music. I'm sure, by then, I'll be more in the spirit of the season.

Around 9 P.M., I was channel surfing and ended up watching "Indie Sex: Extremes" on IFC (the Independent Film Channel). It's a four-part series -- this was part four." I haven't seen the other three.



It was a documentary featuring Dita Von Teese that looked at sex in film throughout history with commentary from writers, actors, producers, directors and film critics about whether it's art or porn, whether they're pushing the envelope for the sake of pushing the envelope, depicting life as it actually is, whether specific examples of sex added to the story or were simply gratuitous, and whether simulated sex can tell the story as well as something more explicit. Specific examples were mentioned, including "Caligula," "Shortbus," "Myra Breckinridge," "Lolita," and "9 Songs." It was interesting to listen to each of the viewpoints.

After the credits for Indie Sex there was a spot for the IFC Friday series "Grind House" and "The Henry Rollins Show." I like Henry Rollins, so I decided to hang out and watch his show.

He opened with this episode's "Teeing Off," a commentary on musicians and bands "selling out" and being able to distinguish between bands getting paid twenty years after they recorded the music they wanted to record and bands who actually do "sell out," recording what they're told to record. His celebrity guest was Gene Simmons of KISS fame and his musical guests were Queens of the Stone Age. I enjoyed the interview with Simmons as well as the music of the guest band.

The animated series "Samurai 7" followed Rollins' show. Me: completely disinterested. Because I wanted to watch tonight's Grind House feature, "Bully", I kept an eye on the clock while I surfed for a half-hour between Logo, Showtime, Flix, and the XM lineup for the holidays.

"Bully" is a good, but distrubing, movie based on actual events that happened in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1993, among a group of high school friends and acquaintances ending up in the murder of Bobby Kent, the "bully." He had emotionally, physically and sexually abused his best friend Marty all of thier lives. He raped a friend of Marty's girlfriend, Lisa. The parents were oblivious to what was happening with their children everyday, let alone what was brewing among them to retaliate against Bobby.

My heart hurt for the abused. It's a story where you wish the teens had been mature enough to deal with the tormentor in a different way. But, they didn't deal with any of their lives in a mature way. Unprotected sex resulted in Marty's unintended girlfriend becoming pregnant, they smoked pot, dropped acid. Where's the guidance? Where's the parental involvement?

At the end of the movie, each of the seven were shown along with their sentences. Most involved got 10 or more years in prison. Lisa, the mastermind, got 40 years. According to this site, she's already been released, as have two others. One remains on probation. Two others were sentenced to life. Marty, according to the movie, was sentenced to death by electric chair.

It's a sad, sad story. But, I think it's definitely worth watching.

22 November 2007

Three Loads Down, One to Go

Well, once again we've given the KitchenAid a workout for Thanksgiving. The third load of dishes is now washed and waiting to be put away. Another load in the morning should take care of the dishes used for Thanksgiving 2007.

Cameron has an early departure and is in bed. I want to keep the noise down, so I decided to post more photos from today's preparations.


The curried, deviled eggs.


Real banana pudding made with homemade vanilla pudding from scratch. (Boxed banana pudding tastes like a Laffy Taffy and just will not do).


Cameron's Caviar Pie


Clockwise from lower left: Mashed Potatoes, Giblet Gravy, Yeast Rolls, Cornbread Dressing, Steamed Lemon Asparagus, Caviar Pie, Cranberry Sauce (yes, from a can -- forgot fresh cranberries* for the chutney I usually make), John's ham, Turkey, Oyster Dressing and Deviled Eggs. Not pictured, Mincemeat Pie, Pumpkin Pie and Banana Pudding.

Although I did eat a bit too much, I didn't overeat like I have in the past. Before he went to bed, I asked Cameron, "do you have indigestion?" He said he did, but declined a Gaviscon. His sleeping pill should put him out of that misery in due time. I think I may have one myself.

I am thankful to have spent another Thanksgiving with people I love. I wish I could spend the holiday with all my loved ones, and I pray that they had as nice a holiday as I have. May we all be blessed with the realization of how blessed we are, and may we be grateful for this everyday.

And again, Happy Thanksgiving!

*Mentioning that I forgot cranberries reminds me of one of my favorite Christmas songs, "Christmas Wrapping" by the Waitresses. I guess, the holiday season is officially here. And in case you didn't know it, just watch the myriad commercials for the retailers who are torturing their employees with 4, 5 and 6 A.M. openings tomorrow. And, God Bless the poor folks who worked for K-mart and any other retailer who felt it necessary to be open today.

The Heat is On

It's 10:17 A.M., Thanksgiving morning. Here are a few shots starting from around 8:30:


Hurry!


You ready, old gal?


Thank Goodness!


Before.


Let's get it started....


I'm ready to be oiled and spiced.

So far, I've talked to Cleo and Danna. I have more calls to make. But, right now, it's time to cook. Happy Thanksgiving! And as my friend Ken used to say, "more later."

Let the Festivities Begin

It's Wednesday night, well, actually it's Thanksgiving morning. My man and I are home together after a very hectic week.

In the past I've started cooking on Tuesday, but not this year. I got home from work too late to start anything then. So, tonight we're baking pies and doing prep work, like chopping onions and celery, for tomorrow.

Here are some snaps of works in progress:


My favorite mixer with pumpkin pie filling in the bowl.


Ready for the oven.


And now, we wait.


Future deviled eggs.

There will be more work in progress posted as we go. The camera's battery has died and I'm waiting for mincemeat pie filling to cool. Yippie! It's Thanksgiving.

12 November 2007

Not so awful to me

I was looking for the new Taco Bell commercials because one of the actors we recently viewed while casting for some spots we're working on is in them. While poking around I found awfulcommercials.com. Along the right side of the site are myriad links to spots. I clicked Taco Bell and didn't find what I was looking for. Then, I spotted Cadillac.

It may be true, in some opinions, that the song here was ruined by being commercialized. But, I still love the spot. Must be because I love old Cadillacs.



Regardless, check out awfulcommercials.com.

09 November 2007

Guess it wasn't meant to be...



...or, perhaps, we dodged that bullet. The house we had a contract on in Hernando is no longer available to us. The builder has a contract on it, and we have 48 hours to take our contingency off of our contract.

If we don't remove the contingency he'll accept the other contract.

We won't delete it because we haven't sold our house. And, until we know what's going on with the rumored Delta and Northwest merger, which is thought will be announced in January, we need to stay put.

So, there you have it. Our house is still listed but with the slow market we're really not expecting to sell, although an agent just left with a client only minutes ago.

08 November 2007

Thursday 8 November

Gosh, can't believe it's November. HATE IT. Except I do love Thanksgiving and all the preparations for it.

Not much to report. The house showed yesterday. Got a fantastic survey response from the agent, who is bringing a client by tomorrow. Mixed emotions about that. Too much to tell so I'm putting that off.

So, here is an erratic Luncheonette post for today.



While I was toiling away on a project that's about 89% finished and due today, John David stuck his head in my office and offered to pick something up for me at Arbys. So, I said "yes."

Two regular roast beef, a regular order of curly fries and a large glass of ice water. We watched SpongeBob Squarepants in the diner.

03 November 2007

Love Martha



Sean Jean, PDiddy, Puff Daddy, whatever, not so much. And, Jessica Simpson? No, not really.

31 October 2007

Trick or Treat

I'm disappointed. (Is this a recurring theme with most of my posts? I hope not).

It's 8:25. Ordinarily we get anywhere from 25 to 50 trick-or-treaters each year. I've been sitting here for over two hours and we've had five kids and five parents. Three of the kids were in costume. Is this the year I decide that we're turning off all of the lights for good?

Cameron's absence may make me a bit less enthused about participating in Halloween festivities for the evening -- I've done it for several years without him. I've gotten used to it. But, dammit, I don't even have a freaking Jack O'Lantern this year. Usually, I do two. One for me and one for him -- because when he's home we each carve one. Maybe I've just been too busy. In fact, I think that's the problem. Anyhow...

I usually shut everything down around 8 P.M. because I really don't care to interact with all the much-too-old-to-be-trick-or-treating-pillowcase-toting thugs that come out looking for treats later into the evening. I don't mind their age, so much. I mind that they make absolutely no effort to participate except for trolling for handouts. As much as I'd like to hand out rocks for those don't dress, I won't. Usually a question such as, "and who are you this evening" will suffice to get my point across. Poor Charlie Brown.

One second. It's 8:28. I'm shutting off the neon house number, landscape lighting, security lights and drawing the blinds. The Cameron and David Candy Shoppe is officially closed for Halloween 2007.

Boo.

Hope you've all had a Happy Hallowe'en. All five of you. ;)

28 October 2007

Sunday, 28 October

I started this post several days ago. It was originally titled, "I'll be Watching Closely" with the following line of text:

This is where I am, presently, on the next presidential election.

I don't feel like elaborating on that right now. So, I'm not.

Last night was Hollyweird. I donated my time to create the invitation, posters, and advertising for the event. I was happy to give my time to Friends for Life. This party is the wrap-up for satellite parties that were hosted for over two months. (The organization hosts a "prequel" party to recruit hosts for fundraising parties in their homes, and around Halloween the people who attended any of these satellite parties are invited to attend the final event.)



I didn't think I was going to the wrap-up party because Cameron and I had been invited to four other parties but missed them. We were either out of town or needed to go to bed unusually early (so he could get up at 4 or 5 a.m. to leave on one of the myriad Sundays he's been having to work these last few months.

Since I didn't attend any satellite party (thereby not getting a wristband for admission to Hollyweird) I'd pay $35 at the door. I planned on not going. Truthfully, it wasn't the money. I'm simply not that big on crowds, especially ones where I barely know anyone and am in costume.

Plus, Cameron had to be up at 5 A.M., so if I went I'd be going stag. FFL sent me two wristbands for entry on Monday. At that point, I felt that I had to go. Besides, the board wanted to meet "the guy who created the art."

Mind you, since I hadn't planned to go, my costume wasn't going to be that elaborate.

I figured I could be a sunburned tourist from sometime between 1940 to 1950. Red skin, white eyes, blue plaid shirt buttoned all the way up, khaki-colored Burmudas, tan belt and matching buckle loafers with black socks, tan alligator banded tank watch, vintage Argus seventy-five camera around my neck, and some props. I'd done some Google searches and saved images of Photoplay and Movies magazines, star photos, matchbooks, a menu from the Brown Derby and maps. From those images, I created fan mags, an 8" X 10" glossy of Carmen Miranda (complete with and inscription in Portuguese), and some matchbooks from Fred Hayman at Union Station. Add to that a vintage map of California from Union 76, and I was ready to roll.

Funny, I never seem to think about photographing myself in costume until it's all over. So, at least, here are the props:





And because these two hams kept trying to stick their faces in the photo above, I figured I'd oblige:



If we dress up at work, I'll do an encore. Maybe then there will be photos. Until then, I'm vacuuming. Happy Sunday!

22 October 2007

Tears Dry on Their Own - Amy Winehouse


LOVE THIS.

UPDATE: See the video here. Don't know why it keeps saying it's no longer available.

19 October 2007

What Have I Done to Deserve This?

It's been a pretty awful week.

Rewind to Saturday, what started out as a nice "date" evening for us ended in an argument over money and the new house. I'm not getting into detail here, but it wasn't pretty. Sunday, I got up and posted a Craigslist entry to sell the Grand Prix. Cameron and I talked very little, but made up to some degree later. But we still have a lot to work out.

That evening, we suspected that one of our teammates and good friends had been drugged at our weekly league bowling. He'd had one Salty Dog and one shot of vodka (that I purchased and brought to the table. Within thirty minutes he was a blithering, barely conscious idiot. One cocktail and one shot does not do this. By the time we got him to his apartment he was barely conscious. We called 911 for an ambulance, and while we waited for its arrival I went to his apartment to let his dogs out. He'd given me the wrong alarm code on three different occasions, so now the police were on there way as well. Long story short, we were home three hours later than normal, around midnight.

Early Monday morning, 5:30 or so, the doorbell rings. It's our friend's mother, there to pick up his keys. She'd picked him up from the hospital and had him in the passenger seat and his grandmother in the backseat of her car. After a few minutes discussion and hugs of gratitude, we tried going back to sleep, but I couldn't. Later that morning Cameron left for Florida to take care family business that has him exhausted and driving back and forth from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale several times over the next few days. I had to drop the Passat off at Gossett Volkswagen for two recall repairs and for them to check a leak at the right front wheel that was slinging an oily substance on the inner fender well. A few hours later I get a call that the right CV joint boot is broken. It'll be nearly $300 to repair. Later still, when they were pulling the wheels to do the bi-annual brake fluid flush, they found that the left CV boot has a one-inch crack and should be replaced as well.

Nice. With the exorbitant price for an oil and filter change and the brake fluid flush, we're up to $817. The car may be five years old, but it only has 39,000 miles on it. The CV boot repairs aren't covered under the 5/50 powertrain warranty. How convenient.

Tuesday, I had a video shoot for a commercial that we had less than one day to plan. The coordination involved a lot of scrambling on our Production Manager's part, (meaning that the artist, copywriter, Creative Director and myself were interrupted many times during the day, Monday, with questions or pertinent information). The shoot started out at the wrong location. Even with having to make arrangements to get access to another building before we could get started, and waiting for the dean in the lobby (while he waited for us in his third floor office) for 30 minutes, we stayed on schedule and I left the shoot in the artist and copywriter's hands at 1:30 so I could get back to the office for a 4:30 review of the work we were presenting to another client the following day.

At home that evening, I got a call from our bowling teammate who told me that his doctor had run more extensive tests than the hospital, and he was in fact slipped the date rape drug, Rohypnol. Blood and urine tests within the 72-hour window confirmed it. Who the hell would do this? We know everybody on the league on some level. We're still perplexed.

Wednesday was hectic at work trying to finish preparing for the presentation that afternoon. I'd been able to devote most of the time I had not working on the commercial from yesterday to this, another series of commercials for another client, that I'd been working on since last Friday. I began the day scouting for some specific locations in West Memphis, only to get lost, not find what I was looking for, finding a lot I didn't want to, and finally getting to the office around 10:45. The trip netted two snapshots I could use in the storyboard. I got a call from Gossett that my car is ready. I called John to make arrangements to pick it up after work. But, since the client was late, our 4:30 meeting started at 5 and was over around 6:45. I couldn't pick up the car then, because the cashier closes at 7. All that said, the highlight of the week, so far, was the presentation. This client is awesome and has loved everything we've presented to him.

So, one positive blip.

Arriving home late from work, I got a message from our real estate agent saying that the couple who'd come to look at the house last Thursday night (without either agent) were finalizing financing options and that she expected us to get an offer in the next day or so.

Tentative positive blip two.

But, finding Doris moving slowly that evening, I was unsure if I'd hurt her when I had tried to perform a canine version of the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge a mouthful of too-quickly-eaten food from her throat that morning or if this was a sign of something else. So I figured I'd monitor her closely for the night and see how she was in the morning.

Thursday morning, the edit of footage from Tuesday's shoot was taking place. As I rushed out of the house to get there, I was worried that Doris was getting worse but with Cameron gone there wasn't much I could do at the moment. I got to the edit and liked what the team had done so far and was told it could take over an hour to render the spot, so I left for the office to get caught up on some things. Once there, I received and aggravating phone call in which the account manager apologetically informed me that he'd been sitting on a couple of small projects for two weeks and that they needed to be done by noon, Friday. Adding insult to injury, he told me that it would only take me five minutes to do these things, and continued on about how I should design them. Bullshit. I have to revise an agenda that was already layed-out and design a pocket folder that even if I follow the lame design cues I was given would take over two hours.

When I was leaving for the edit, the artist who was still there called requesting I make a change to the Photoshop file that she designed because the client still "doesn't like the typeface." I made the change, rendered the two layers and sent them to the editor. I told the artist I'd wait to hear back from her before I left to ensure what I sent was working. I'd planned on being back at the edit at 1:00 to meet the same A.E. and the client. But, because of this delay I passed the two as I was walking in. Ugh.

Back at the office after my second trip to the edit I worked on a few projects and started packing up at 5:00 to meet John at my house at 5:30. As I was walking out, the traffic manager brought me 4 job jackets, two of which were for the materials that had been sat upon for two weeks. Reviewing them, I figured if all went well I'd have plenty of time to meet the likely bullshit noon deadline. We picked up the Passat, where I reluctantly put the $817 on my credit card. After another long day I arrived home around 6:30 to find Doris in worse condition.

So, rather than getting to work as planned this morning, the apparent benefits Doris had from the last round of Previcox had worn off. She has arthritis in her back, and this morning she was shaking and couldn't stand. I had to carry her outside. I started calling the animal hospital at 7:30. When the vet's office phones finally stopped rolling over to the Emergency Animal hospital, I spoke with Sissy about my girl. She told me she'd call me back if the doctor wanted to see her. Otherwise, I could pick up a new round of Previcox after 3:00. I called my boss around 8:05 and told her that I needed to take Doris to the vet. At around 8:45, Sissy called back and explained that the doctor didn't need to see Doris and that I could pick up the prescription now. However, Dr. Jo would like to see Doris in three months to make sure that the drug isn't causing liver damage. I picked up the medicine, drove back to the house and gave some to Doris and made it to work around 10.

Once settled, I found that I hadn't been given all of the information needed to complete the two sat-upon jobs in question. I finished the pocket folder at 11:20, and the agenda insert around 12:05. I put the second PDF proof on the server around 12:15, only to have the account coordinator call to tell me the e-mail wasn't working. I had to downsize the PDF of the folder. I believe she got them to the client around 12:30.

I went to Bhan Thai for a nice lunch alfresco with Amy and Michelle. When we returned I was able to make some progress with some other jobs, later to get a report while passing in the hall that Tuesday's shoot was a disaster because "we started at Ball Hall. Oh, nobody's blaming you," he said. Bullshit. I'm the one who identified that building as where the biology labs were as we were scrambling to pull together a shooting schedule on Monday.

After everyone else in the office was gone for the day, the head of the creative department, my friend Eric, and I sat and talked for a bit. It was actually nice to talk like the friends we are, rather than talking about work stuff or making light of the myriad aggravations we're faced with everyday. We'd considered going for a drink, but decided against it because we both wanted to get obliterated.

Instead, I came home to find Doris in much, much better condition. Positive blip 3.

Still no word on the couple interested in making an offer on the house. Rather than scrounging in the refrigerator for dinner I ordered delivery from Pizza Slut. Papa John's made me violently ill last time.

The delivery guy showed up 10 minutes ago with two boxes. When I chased him down the driveway to let him know something was wrong, he checked the other thermal pack and said, "it's their mistake. You can keep it if you want." What I didn't realize, when I kept this box of awful hot wings accompanied by a foil-lidded container of high-fructose corn syrup laden ranch dressing, was that the pizza was wrong, too. A doughy pan-pizza with italian sausage is no substitute for a medium, thin-crust pizza with normal sauce and cheese, pepperoni, italian sausage, mushrooms, onions and anchovies.

What the hell is going on? I don't remember shitting in someone's Wheaties. Dammit. Tomorrow is Saturday. Surely things will be better.

Damn.

There is so much going on right now, between work and home, that I can't even think about anything worth blogging about. I will say that Doris seems back to normal (after two and a half days of looking very unstable) with a dose of Previcox. Thank God for that. More on that later.

So much is happening, most of which I have no control over, that I feel like I'm losing my mind. So, while jotting around on some blogs, I found this on GB's "fablogulous" links to "Debonair Debacles".

While I found her answers amusing, I thought I'd have to answer myself, and paint a picture of how thankful I am it's Friday.

10 Expenses

This was originally posted on msn.com and is a story by bankrate.com.

It's easy to fritter away money on little daily expenses. If you fall into these money traps, learn to avoid them and pocket the savings.

Coffee: According to the National Coffee Association, the average price for a cup of brewed coffee is $1.38. There are roughly 260 weekdays per year, so buying one coffee every weekday morning costs almost $360 per year.
I get Starbucks rarely (unless you count the beans I buy on sale from the grocery). A trip to the local Starbucks outlet is VERY rare for me.

Cigarettes: The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reports that the average price for a pack of cigarettes in the United States is $4.54. Pack-a-day smokers fork out $1,650 a year. Weekend smoker? Buying a pack once a week adds up, too: $236.
Can we not talk about this right now?

Alcohol: Drink prices vary based on the location. But assuming an average of $5 per beer including tip, buying two beers per day adds up to $3,650 per year. Figure twice that for two mixed drinks a day at the local bar. That's not chump change.
I drink at home.

Bottled water from convenience stores: A 20-ounce bottle of Aquafina bottled water costs about $1. One bottle of water per day costs $365 per year. It costs the environment plenty, too.
I do buy bottled water when I'm going to work out. Otherwise, the tap's fine (with a buttload of ice).

Manicures: The Day Spa Magazine Price Survey of 2004 found that the average cost of a manicure is $20.53. A weekly manicure sets you back about $1,068 per year.
Um, you haven't seen my cuticles. It's not horrible since I've been moisturizing every day, but my sister Lisa has lectured me enough. Leave me alone.


Car washes: The average cost for a basic auto detailing package is $58, according to Costhelper.com. The tab for getting your car detailed every two months: $348 per year.
Wow. Used to do this, lots. Now, not so much. I drove around MEM with bugs from the one-way four hour drive to Huntsville on my front bumper for two weeks. If I hadn't taken the Passat in for $817 worth of service this week, I'd still have all manner of exoskeletons exploded on the chrome smile that should be. And, for the record, I didn't have it detailed, but I paid roughly $12 to $15 every week to run it through Mr. Pride. Damn.

Weekday lunches out: $9 will generally cover a decent lunch most workdays. If you buy, rather than pack, a lunch five days a week for one year, you shell out about $2,340 a year.
Where the hell is MSN eating for $9 for a decent lunch?

Vending-machines snacks: The average vending machine snack costs $1. Buy a pack of cookies every afternoon at work and pay $260 per year.
I put a refrigerator in my office over a year ago for two reasons: A) see the last entry; B) I don't have to put my good food into a giant incubator for science projects. Apparently, lots of people I work with are fascinated with the rate at which mold grows.

Interest charges on credit card bills: According to a survey released at the end of May, the median amount of credit card debt carried by Americans is $6,600. The average interest rate on a standard card is about 13%. Making the minimum payment each month, it will take 250 months (almost 21 years) to pay off the debt and cost $4,868 in interest. Ouch!
Thankfully, I negotiated a 1.9% interest rate with my only credit card company when I transferred my last balance. This is for the duration of the transferred balance, which ordinarily might make me lax in paying it off, but, not so much.

Unused gym memberships: Costhelper.com reports that the monthly service fee at gyms averages between $35 and $40. At $40 per month, an unused gym membership runs $480 per year.
I might only be using it once a week for the last two, but, knowing that it's there helps make me go. So be it.

Make no mistake. I know that there is still room for improvement. But, as the book's title said many years ago, "I'm dancing as fast as I can."

16 October 2007

Ass is spelled: D-A-V-I-D

Alex called me tonight. I always love hearing from him. Since he moved back to Atlanta, seven years ago, we might talk two or three times a month. More often, of course, if there is something worth discussing. (Read: gossip, I guess. I hate calling it that. If it's the truth, is it gossip? No. Not really.)

Tonight, however, I got a call from him for yet my second breach of kinship. It's the Grand Prix, again. You see, when I bought the car in 1999, I didn't tell him anything about it. I didn't do this intentionally -- I just didn't think about it. I was too obsessed with finding the Holy Grail of cars for me. OK, I have many Holy Grails when it comes to cars. But I love the body style of 1967 and 1968 full-size Pontiacs. This is my second, and hopefully not my last. Nevertheless, my kindred spirit regarding all things automobilia, for a number of years, didn't even know I was buying the car until he saw me driving past his house, down the street, to mine.

Fast forward seven years, and I didn't tell him I'd listed the Grand Prix on Craigslist this past Sunday. We had talked the day before, but I wasn't stricken with the illness to get rid of the rare convertible until Sunday morning. He found out by checking my blog, as he does every Monday.

The rub is, Alex is not only my friend, but he is as much (if not more) an autohead than I am. I love mid-fifties and late sixties Pontiacs and Cadillacs (colored with a few Lincolns and DeSotos along the way, plus Ford Country Squires -- especially LTD Country Squires, circa 1970). Alex LOVES station wagons and Buicks of most kinds. Except for, perhaps, something like the hideous reintroduced Skylark.



He's looking for a 1970 Electra 225 convertible (I think) as we speak. Here is where I fall down on the car thing. He knows whether the Electra was offered as a convertible for 1970. I don't. I have to do a Google search to know such things. I have SO focused on what I like for so many years that I've pretty much forgotten or dismissed anything else -- regardless of its rarity or collectibility. (Blogger's spell check is making me question my usage and the spelling of "collectibility." I just did a search using my Dashboard and Oxford American Dictionary. Apparently, I've done well.)

Anyway, long story short, I have "dissed" Alex, yet again. Sometimes I wonder why he still talks to me. He always makes big fun of catching me in these breaches. I love him for that.

As an example, several years after he’d bought me diner-styled Coca-Cola china (to match our early 1950s diner-styled kitchen, where I've always used restaurant Guest Checks for notepads to extend "the brand"), I referred to the dinnerware as "these tacky dishes" one evening when Cameron asked me which plates I'd have liked to set the table. Mind you, I really didn't think the dishes were tacky. I was just bored with them because we used them everyday, for ALL occasions, for a many years. And, I suppose I thought dinner deserved to be elevated from diner to dining room. I don't know. As soon as the comment came out of my mouth I was mortified. Alex was standing right there in the kitchen with us. He'd heard every word, and the look on his face is one I'll never forget.

I've been accused of being "uppity and grand" at times -- mostly from Alex's long-time ex. Regardless, it upsets me to be thought of this way. Usually I'd get these "accusations" when I was trying to make things nice. I might be trying to elevate certain situations for a number of reasons. It could be that I have spent an extraordinary amount of time in the kitchen, or I found a new recipe, or that I just wanted things to be different than the boring norm. Sometimes the finest china and exquisite crystal become tiresome when it's "everyday."

I just pray he knows how much I value him not only as a car nut, but as a friend.

14 October 2007

It's Time to Say Goodbye, Sadly



I have realized that it's time for me to let go of the Grand Prix. While it saddens me, I have to be grateful for the seven years that I've had the privilege to enjoy it. I pray that whomever buys it is someone who wants to preserve it as an example of great American automotive history.

The car is listed on Craigslist. Find more information about the car, the repairs I've made to it, NADA pricing guideline results and the Craigslist post, here.

I need to grab a Kleenex.

13 October 2007

We Should All Give a Damn

I realize that for the most part this blog is nothing more than a diary, and I don't really see it becoming anything else in the immediate future. I've intentionally kept it void of commentary from what's happening in many private aspects of my life. Some things are meant to be dealt with privately. If the happenings are worth blogging about afterwards, I do. Again, it's not much but a diary.

But, with that said, I am somewhat aware of and very interested in what's happening in our country and in this world.

I, like most people, have my opinions. Right now I think this country has already crossed the line at disaster, with the Ringmaster Bush and his clowns in Washington making a mockery of America and how we're viewed across the globe, U.S. CEOs running corporations like bandits (sending our jobs offshore and extorting billions from the U.S. rank and file to pad their own pockets), and news media parroting Rupert Murdoch's words of the day while calling what Paris Hilton is doing "news," I think it's necessary for me to look for other commentary and opinion if I want to know what's really going on.

While my thoughts and opinions may sometimes change based upon how much I decide research certain topics, I find many outlets for my information and have decided to post my favorites in a new list to the right called "What's Really Happening?".

You'll notice that "Huffington Post" is the first of hopefully many resources I plan to list here. You'll also notice that the "False prophets, Liars and Cheats" list has moved up in list position. During the next two years' Presidential Campaigns up until the election, I expect both lists to grow. And if there is anything significant about any new additions to either list, you can pretty much expect that I'll be on my soapbox with a post.

So, here's to the big debate. Have a great Saturday.

10 October 2007

Sickening, Part 2

I'm ready to vomit, and I don't even need my finger

I got home from work tonight ready to spend a relaxing evening at home with Cameron before he leaves on a two-day trip tomorrow. He had been at a union meeting today where he was coerced into voting the way the local president wanted him to by omission of critical information. When he returned home, he learned from another local president at another base that he should've voted the opposite way.

Apparently there are lots of secret little things going on both within AFA (Association of Flight Attendants) and Northwest Airlines.

Pinnacle Airlines, one of Northwest's regional suppliers, now has gate agents wearing Delta uniforms. Pinnacle is merging/being acquired by Delta.

It seems that there is a "big announcement" coming sometime in November. Perhaps all of the rumors surrounding an NWA and Delta merger may be coming to fruition. There are many scenarios that could end up screwing Cameron over, yet again.

This video was on the SFO local's website. It's sickening, and it's happening every day in many major corporations in America.



Please pass the Pepto. And, if I were a mercenary or some other assassin, I'd say, pass me a gun.

05 October 2007

I Hope this House Sells Soon

Sitting here last night listening to King Willie say he "knows who is for him and who is against him" sickened me. What he doesn't know, is that I, Whitey, voted for him in all four previous elections.

I began to lose faith in him after he started acting as if he didn't have to respect his office or his constituents. He mentioned two occasions during his last term where the "90% white audience 'booed" him". One was when he awarded the key to the city to DeAngelo Williams, an extremely gifted University of Memphis quarterback. This was during a Memphis Grizzlies game. The other was when he was on the Today show with Justin Timberlake shortly thereafter.

As I recall, both of these events took place within mere days of Herenton doing something that fell nothing short of giving Whitey the finger. I remember being appalled at the conduct of those "booing" him, but I also remember thinking that he deserved it.

It's sad. I never thought I'd be one of the "white-flight" folks. But, I suppose, now, I pray, I will be. Soon.

Herenton is not my leader. He's made it clear to me that I can be damned because I am white.

I am sick to death of picking up hot fries bags, dirty diapers, hair weaves, parts that fall off of junk cars that land in the park across the street or blow into my yard. I'm sick of listening to $4 boom boxes "roll" up and down Jackson Avenue with $4,000 rims and tires with expired tags, and doubtless, no insurance. I'm sick of the attitude. Many of the people I see in my immediate vicinity have no pride in themselves, their jobs, their homes.

Why, then, would they could give a shit about this city. Herenton is leading the way with his rhetoric. As far as I'm concered, he can have it.

04 October 2007

Let's Hear Your Voice

The Mayoral election here is a hot topic of discussion that will finally be decided today.

I find it incredible that W.W. Herenton still has the support that he does after his comments and conduct during his latest term -- his fourth. He's made racially divisive comments. He's demonstrated his xenophobic side. He's been suspected of foul play. He's made a mess of Memphis Light, Gas and Water. He's stopped funding of critical city services that affect our health and well-being as a city, such as vector control. He called to end Early Voting due to suspicions surrounding so-called faulty voting machines. I see this as a political ploy. And, if he loses, I suspect he'll cause a big stink about those very machines, race, or any other flimsy straw at which he can grab.

I voted on September 14, the first day of early voting. Today, I am praying that everyone who is eligible to vote does. And, may we, the people make the best choice for this city.

01 October 2007

12 Games. Three Days. Sore Fingertips.

Cameron and I are sitting in the back yard, under the paper lantern, near the pond. Doris and Billie are on the couch with him. I'm in a chair next to him. All of the new outdoor lighting is on. It's beautiful out here, and we're all home, finally relaxing after a quick trip to Huntsville this weekend. Doris and Billie spent the weekend boarded at Berryhill since our realtor was hosting an open house here yesterday. After being gone all week, Cameron got home from work Friday. We drove for four hours to participate in the Huntsville Invitational Classic bowling tournament.

We booked a room at America's Best Inns & Suites for three days. It wasn't my first choice, but by the time I got all the information I needed for our tournament entries we'd missed the host hotel deadline, and this was the only room I could find. Big Spring Jam (a three-day music festival featuring somewhere around 30 bands) and Homecoming at Alabama A&M University were both taking place in Huntsville this weekend.

The poorly updated old motel sucked. While we booked a smoking room, we expected it to at least smell like someone had sprayed an air neutralizer. They did not. We ended up stopping at Wal-Mart for Glade and a candle after we'd been to the host hotel hospitality suite. It's amazing the difference a tiny bit of effort can make. There were pillbugs in the bathroom. So far, the only thing good about this place is that it was a half-mile away from Starbucks.

Saturday, I got up with bed head and P.J.s and went for a triple venti Caramel Macchiato and a Grande Caramel Macchiato, extra hot to get us going. We showered and left our towels in the floor (as instructed) so we'd get fresh towels upon our return. We left for AMF Parkway Lanes, registered since we misssed registration the night before, and started bowling. First was singles, followed by doubles competition. I bowled above my average overall, but had two dismal games: 150 and 135. My other games were respectable: 172, 232, 195 and 194. We finished bowling and went back to the motel to clean up and go to dinner.

We walked into the room and it still smelled good from our Neutralizer treatment. We walked into the bathroom. More pillbugs in the bathtub. The bathmat had a brown stain on it the size of a grapefruit. The facecloths smelled of mildew. The handtowels looked as if they'd been twisted and just thrown over the rack. We decided then to see if we could get a room at the host hotel for the next night's stay.

Dinner at Rosie's Cantina was the perfect contrast to the hotel. The place was beautiful and the food was outstanding. Our server, whose name I can't recall right now was very attentive and beautiful. Cameron had a strawberry margarita and I had a top-shelf margarita, both made with fresh lime juice. They were delicious. We had chips with salsa and white queso. We each had a shot of Patron and split a third. And, for dinner, he had the Taco Salad and I had the Combo Enchilada Platter with one cheese, one beef and one chicken enchilada, served with rice and beans.

Afterward, we met some friends at the Radisson hotel bar where we witnessed a way-too-inebriated tournament participant dance on the bar, molest a bride and groom and attempt to give Ron an unwanted kiss, and me an unwanted lap dance. We decided to head back to the motel. We stopped at the front desk to tell the clerk at America's Worst Inn's & Suites that our plans had changed and that we'd like to check out Sunday morning. He informed me that we'd still have to pay for the night we weren't staying.

OK, then.

I called Citi and talked to them about disputing the last day's charges. The agent I spoke with told me that she understood (and didn't blame me for wanting to leave) and that she'd be happy to help me dispute the third day's charges once my card had actually been charged.

Cameron and I watched a movie ;). We got up Sunday morning, I made the trip to Starbucks, we packed, loaded up the car and checked out. We drove through McDonalds for a large orange juice (for me) and a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit, hash browns and a vanilla iced coffee for him. We arrived at the lanes shortly thereafter and prepared for bowling team event. During the third game, my strike pot ticket was pulled, one which I almost missed redeeming because I didn't realize it was my number being called. I rolled a nine. Poopie. My scores were good, though: 189, 216 and 201. For the weekend, I placed sixth in all-events with a score of 2022.

We attended the banquet that evening, stayed up way too late and got up today ("not now, Patrick. Your Auntie Mame is hung"), and made our way home. We stopped at Berryhill to pick up Doris and Billie. After hanging out here for a couple hours, we met our regular teammates at Winchester to post bowl for Sunday night's league bowling, and the tenth, eleventh and twelfth games we've bowled in a three-day period. My fingertips are sore.

Did I mention I'm glad to be home?

26 September 2007

Tuesday 25 September



Eric and I went to Tops Bar-B-Q for lunch, opting to have hamburgers with double fries rather than barbecue sandwiches with beans and slaw. I had a # 3, all the way with double fries. Eric had a #4 with mustard, all the way with double fries. A #3 is a hamburger, and #4 is a cheeseburger.

While we were there we had the pleasure of sharing the dining room with Beverly. (I read her name on her employer's name badge.) Eric named her Beverly Kaiser because of the mis-matched fake bun on the back of her head. He said it looked like an unseeded Kaiser roll.

I wonder to myself, do these people even have mirrors?



As a courtesy, I am applying the "Glamour Don't" box in this photo, in which you can get a glimpse of the bun a bit more clearly:

24 September 2007

Take Action against Hate Crimes

I sent messages to the two lame-ass senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and got patent responses that they would not support the legislation. Our third senator, Steve Cohen, supported the measure. Thank God.

Now is the Time That We Wait



This ad ran in yesterday's real estate section. I think Becca did a good job describing the place in such a limited space.

18 September 2007

The Love of My Life

It's a difficult thing to put into words how I feel about the last fifteen years. I never thought I'd meet him. I was done with relationships, content to read books in my worn out bathrobe on the front porch.

I never thought we'd last because no other relationship I'd had in the past did. Exes changed the landscape, creating open relationships or outright cheating.

I never imagined he'd love me like he does. Or, that I'd love him like I do. Especially after 15 years.

We've been faithful to each other both spiritually as well as physically. I know we're an odd bird in the mainstream gay community. But, it's just what works for us. It's what we want.

I believe our love is unconditional. I'm not sure that we always show it to one another, but I love Cameron, maybe more than he'll ever know, because I can be a selfish, hard-headed ass sometimes. Nevertheless, I found this quote several years ago and it hit a nerve. So...

To honor the passing of our fifteenth anniversary, 14 September 2007, I'm posting this:

What greater thing is there for two human souls
than to feel that they are joined for life —
to strengthen each other in all labor,
to rest on each other in all sorrow,
to minister to each other in all pain,
and to be with each other
in silent unspeakable memories.

— George Eliot

I love you, sweetheart.

Fresh Hell

Cameron and I are excited at the prospect of this:



Which makes life hell, because I love this:



And, there's so much more to it. I don't like to admit it, but I'm sentimental as hell, and I can't help it. The second photo is our first house together -- my first house. We've lived here twelve years, and during that time we transformed it from a virtually untouched, landscape overgrown, plumbing challenged, electrically underpowered rental home to our home. While we've done much of the work, we've had lots help and guidance from a few talented friends over the years. I suppose I'll post about that later, perhaps when we sell, because this post is already going to be too long.

Anyway, rewind to this spring. After several years of hemming and hawing about expanding or moving, looking for houses in Midtown that we could afford and never finding one that offered what we already had, or finding what we wanted well outside our price range, we decided to build in a new developement where our friends Becca and Petey built, in Hernando, MS. We worked on finding and then buying a lot. But, after a few months frustration we gave up on the idea of building our dream home because Perry Homes (the owner of all remaining lots) would not sell to us -- we wanted to use our own builder.

Back to square one, we resigned ourselves to adding a master suite to the home we already love -- next to the best neighbors in the world -- on our lovely street, knowing we'd basically be pissing away our half our equity to stay here. After a 900 s.f. addition, the house would be over 2,300 square feet. Most of the houses in our secluded neighborhood range between 1,400 and somewhere around 2,000 s.f. We could possibly get our investment back of it if we stayed here another ten years.

Labor Day weekend, however, we had five house guests. Seven people. One bathroom. I'm sure our guests were as miserable with the accommodations as we were. But, they're sweet and would never say that. We realized we were done.

Coincidentally, Becca (who is also our real estate agent), called on Labor Day and told us that INS had come in with a bus and arrested all of the illegal aliens working for Perry Homes, causing the builder of several incomplete homes in Deer Creek to go bankrupt. At least seven homes were in foreclosure and on the market for substantially less than appraisal. We made arrangements to go see what was available.

We looked at two of four unfinished homes. Two didn't even have brick yet so they were out of the question. The remaining two were further along in the building process. The first was over 3,000 s.f. and the second was 2,700. Inside, the first was only framed in. While it looked like it would be awesome upon completion, we really don't need a 4-bedroom, 3-bath house with a media room and smallish 2-car garage. The second, a 3 BR, 2 BA, was drywalled and needed counters, floor coverings (which for us would be scored, stained concrete -- so no covering at all), fixtures, siding on the eaves and gutters. This was the one, or so we thought.

After going through Petey's spreadsheet of the line item expenses from building her house, we figured it would be $30 to $35,000 to finish the house. Purchase price on the house we wanted was estimated at $185 to $195,000. So, a 2,700 square foot house for under $230K -- not bad at all. As we finished writing down the last line item Becca got a call saying the foreclosed houses had been sold at auction.

Dammit.

Over the next few days Becca and I made several calls to the uncooperative selling agents. They wouldn't return her calls. I finally got through to one of them. I realized, through our conversation, that the house, in fact, wasn't sold at auction. The bank had collected on the default insurance and had taken possession of the properties. So, we're on again -- until we started figuring out the process. We'd have to sell this house, put most of our belongings in storage, move into an apartment, get a construction loan, live in the apartment until the house was finished, then refinance the grand total, then move from the apartment and the storage space into the new house. Um, we really didn't want to move two or three times. But we were still considering it.

We drove back down to Hernando to look again before making an offer. We walked through two finished Perry Homes that I didn't like for several reasons, one of which was that I could hear traffic from I-55 while standing in the yard. A third finished home didn't have the features we liked architecturally, including arched doorways in the common areas even though it had a huge keeping room with a gas log fireplace, adjacent to the living room that also had a fireplace. I could have lived with the master bath's unimaginative glass-stall-next-to-tub layout. But, the laundry room was a disaster in bad planning. The Whirlpool Duets wouldn't fit because the cabinets were hung too low. And, even if the cabinets were raised the appliances would have had to sit at a 90° angle to one another, wasting at least 25% of the room's square footage. Then there was the .65 acre yard that went from level at the back door to almost as high as the house at the back. "What the hell do we do with that," I thought to myself for several minutes. Then I expressed my concerns to Cameron and Becca. She agreed that the back yard was an issue. Ultimately, we said "next."

Finally, we walked through a non-Perry home that was still available. It's the one pictured above. If we were going to do this I wanted a walk through shower. This house has it, with two shower heads and a bench. It has two very large walk-in closets between the master and the bath. The common areas are all open to each other and the guest rooms are on the opposite side of the house from the master. Everything is upgraded. Granite counters, stainless appliances, upgraded tile, hardwood floors. We're getting estimates to finish the expandable space which already includes plumbing accommodations for a third bath. The remaining space would be an office and a media room (with no windows). It'll be a perfect place to watch movies in surround sound without having to listen to idiots on their cell phones, or clueless fools rattling aluminum foil from the stash of hot wings they brought from home, or listening to loud conversations between patrons to one another during the show. When it's all said and done, the house is going to be around 2,600 square feet of very livable, peaceful space with a 2.5-car carriage load garage.

Here is where the hell begins.

We've been toiling diligently to get our house ready to show. The sign went out front on Thursday -- the day before Cameron's and my 15th Anniversary. We spent Friday evening with Becca, Petey, Petey's brother Danny, and his girlfriend, Patsy, at Memphis Botanic Garden's "Live at the Garden." Michael McDonald, who has always been one of my favorites, spent the evening doing more Motown covers than his own music. Great night, great weather there on "the Lawn" with my husband and friends. Awesome. Mr. McDonald's concert? Not so much.

The post honoring our commitment to each other is coming. Stay tuned...

Anyway, outside of the normal work for such an endeavor, like cleaning, cleaning, cleaning and decluttering, decluttering, decluttering, there are calls to the alarm monitors to establish a special password for agents, making accommodations for Doris, Billie and Edith, key copying, pruning, raking, weeding, abandoning the thought of a yard sale throughout this madness and making trips to Goodwill.

After two late nights in a row, painting, vacuuming and scrubbing, this morning started at 5:30. I let the dogs out and fed them, took out the trash, emptied the dishwasher, scrubbed the sink with Ajax, cleaned the toilet and sink. Cleaned Edith's cat box. By 6:00 I started outside, feeding the koi, quietly moving empty flower pots to the potting table and generally just picking up. Mowing started sometime around 7. Blowing followed. I cleaned the pool, added chlorine and reattached the fountain. Trimmed the taro in the pond. I called the office and told them that Becca was bringing her colleagues over around 11, that I was preparing the house and would be in around 9:30. I went back out, uprooted spent tomato plants, swept and weeded.

Then I came inside and started a load of whites. Put a tablecloth on the table and set it. Changed the water in the vase on the table. Threw away the spent flowers in the bathroom and cut a rose to replace them.

I suppose that until I look around and see that nothing needs to be done that this is what living in a house that's on the market will be like. It's sort of hell. Especially since Cameron is out of town. But, he gets home tomorrow. And, I suspect the first order of business will be spending time together, rather than working on the house. At least, that's what I want. And, I don't expect much resistance even though it will make Thursday a bit more hellish. Plus, I've taken tonight off to write this post.

Oh, and I forgot, Thursday is the day I have my second review at work.

I need another martini.

14 September 2007

I Disagree. Mostly.

So I'm on Blogthings this morning and find one called "What Does Your Pizza Say About You". On most points, I think I disagree with the assessment with a couple of exceptions. One of those being the freak part.

The quiz asked how many slices (or the whole thing) do you eat, what type of crust (I picked thin), favorite sauce (red), favorite vegetable topping (since we're only allowed one choice I chose onion but prefer both mushrooms and onion), favorite meat topping (I chose anchovies, knowing that I always order sausage and pepperoni, too). So, to me, the quiz is incomplete.

And, I guess anchovies make me a freak.

What Your Pizza Reveals

There are no limits to your eating. You often devour the scraps your friends can't finish.

You are a very picky pizza eater. Not any pizza will do. You fit in best in the Northeast part of the US.

You like food that's traditional and well crafted. You aren't impressed with "gourmet" foods.

You are dependable, loyal, and conservative with your choices.

You have many conflicting and complementary layers to your personality. You should consider traveling to Australia.

The stereotype that best fits you is freak. Obviously.

12 September 2007

What Sucks, Part Two

Back in April I posted about my history with vacuum cleaners and the purchase of my new Kenmore.

I sold the Kenmore today. Not because it wasn't awesome -- it was. But, I found out last week that Hoover was manufacturing this again.



So, after an appointment with my friend Greg at Epic to have my hair cut I drove out to the Hoover store in Cordova and purchased a stainless steel model that follows me around the house on a cushion of air. It's fantastic and I LOVE IT.

04 September 2007

AAA (ATL. Alex. Awesome.)

This post is a week late.

After a rough Thursday night and questionable Friday morning, Cameron and I started our journey to Atlanta to celebrate Alex's 40th birthday. We got to MEM with no problem, I got my boarding pass at the e-ticket kiosk and met Cameron at the credit union. We went outside for one last smoke and made our way to gate B3. According to the gate agent, who was sporting a mustache similar to "Mythbusters" co-host Jamie's, we were delayed. A mechanical. An engine. "They've been working on it all night." This statement unnerves me because I still get nervous about air travel, albeit not as much as I used to. I realize, though, that if this flight is canceled we're screwed -- because all the passengers on this flight will by vying for the same open seats on the next flight -- just like us.

Anyway, after the "run-up" it's determined that the airliner is repaired and we were given my first class seat assignment. Cameron had booked the jumpseat. Once we took off, I was reading the latest issue of NWA. Cameron surprised me when he touched my sleeve -- he'd been moved up to a seat across the aisle and one row behind me. After arriving in ATL, we rode the undergound people mover to the ground transportation stop and walked to the Hertz counter where we were reminded that with a Hertz #1 Gold reservation we needn't stop but go straight to the shuttle. Once we arrived at the Hertz location we should look for our name on the tote board and walk directly to our awaiting car. Much to our surprise, we were in slot #1. We walked up to this:



We threw our luggage in the diminutive trunk, which was ample for our needs, and followed our AAA maps heading for Chamblee to meet our friend and my former (sorely missed) copywriter partner, Jacquie. After two or three phone conversations she instructed us to stay put at Peachtree and Chamblee-Tucker where she would meet us. While we waited I listened to the three voicemails I'd received from the office and was responding to the second when she arrived. It was so good to see her. Once we decided that we'd follow her to a lunch spot she got a call from the office. After she finished the call we headed into Buckhead. Friday lunch traffic around Lenox was hell. We got past that into Buckhead with constant construction-induced lane changes looking for a place to eat. Meanwhile, she was getting texted, called and voice-mailed to death. Finally, there was an emergency (Coca-Cola needed something right now, the guy who covers her when she's out was out sick) and she would have to ditch our loosely cobbled-together plans and return to work.

Getting turned around as we were, she headed back to her office in Chamblee and we started looking for places to eat. There was an Arby's right in front of us, but I just couldn't stomach the thought of fast food. We stopped at the next available place, La Fonda Latina, a locally owned authentic "chain" of Mexican restaurants with some Spanish and Mediterranean overtones. We chose Paella di Mare for two, which came to the table in a large, sizzling hot cast iron skillet loaded with shrimp, mussels, calamari, salmon, peppers with quartered limes. It was fantastic.

After lunch we headed back out on Peachtree toward Downtown hoping to find directions to the new Georgia Aquarium or the World of Coke. We passed the Margaret Mitchell house and Alex and Henry's church, St. Marks, just like we do every time we go to Atlanta. We passed Underground Atlanta and remnants of the 1996 Olympic Games. Detouring just past the underground our surroundings got very bleak, very suddenly. This was obviously a part of Atlanta that hasn't been included in the renaissance. Turning a couple of blocks left to head the other direction, we passed Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves and The Atlanta Civic Center. I used the Georgia Power building as a navigational aide to get us back on Peachtree.

We turned onto Peachtree Battle where we would end up at Alex's. We had a cocktail and waited for some of the other out-of-towners to arrive so we could go to Roxx for dinner. A big storm rolled in and gave the city some much needed rain. Alex had mentioned that there were restrictions on watering lawns/gardens: 9P to 4A, once a week. Power was out. Drinks were on the house and we were told just to take care of our waiters. We were later told that the owner is a young Greek man and his wife, and that the place started out as a "straight" restaurant. Apparently it wasn't doing so well. So the owners decided to hire a couple of gay staff, and shortly it has become what appears to be a very popular queer spot. We had some buffalo wings and Elvis pickles before dinner. I had a burger and Tavern chips for dinner. The homemade potato chips were fantastic.

Alex had previously made arrangements for us to stay at a friend's new house around the corner from his, but the furniture still hadn't arrived. Alternatively, he asked two other friends, Ed and Chris if we could stay with them. Both of them were out of town, so another friend of theirs, Jeff, met us at their house with a key. We had this house, currently on the market for $900,000, all to ourselves. Pool, hot tub, master as large as half of our house. Carpeted garage. Poolhouse. God love him, Cameron was ready to go swimming so I told him to go. I was beat. I went to bed.

I awoke at 6 A.M. and plodded downstairs to make coffee. I grabbed a cup and went outside to sit in the muggy, yet cooler, air by the pool and enjoyed the solitude. After a few minutes, though, I started to get bored and decided to return Thom's call from the previous day. He'd called when we were trying to make our way through the airport so we didn't answer then, and we were too busy until Saturday morning. When Cameron got up and came down, I finished my call with Thom so that Cameron and I could drink coffee and sit by the pool while he woke up. We both got in the pool for a bit and just relaxed until we needed to prepare to meet Alex, Lara, Mark, Terry and Bill at The Clubhouse at Lenox for lunch.

I thought leaving the house at 11:30 would be plenty of time to get to Lenox by noon, and ordinarily it would have, but I was in the wrong lane where Roswell Road splits off of Peachtree, (and if you've ever driven in Atlanta, you'll understand that I had no recourse but to follow the lane I was in). We ended up on Roswell for a mile or two, turning right on some street I was convinced would go through to Peachtree, passing Lenox Road then backtracking and weaving through various parking lots and such until we arrived at Macy's, and on the opposite side of the mall, The Clubhouse. Valet parking (for $6 at a mall, no less) saved us some time and aggravation. We ended up being 12 minutes late. But, mojitos were flowing when we walked in and I guess there were no worries.

Once we were seated the others who'd been there ordered another round of mojitos, Cameron ordered a soft drink and I ordered a bloody mary. It may be tired (according to last month's issue of Out), but I knew I couldn't go wrong.

When it came time to order, I followed Alex's lead and ordered The Clubhouse Garbage Salad: Grilled chicken, egg, cheddar cheese, Roma tomato, artichoke heart, green onion, bacon, green & black olives, with balsamic vinaigrette. Because it was enough salad to feed at least two, I suppose it was well worth the $14. At the very least, it was good and I ate every bite, save a leaf of lettuce and a dice of tomato. Somehow, I think Miss Manners means for me to leave more than that on my plate for good etiquette, but I was hungry. And, it was a salad -- I knew that I'd be hungry again sooner if I didn't stuff myself with the abundance of greens. Cameron, of course, was more sensible. He ordered Signature Turkey Club (for $12) which included roasted turkey, smokehouse bacon, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, lettuce, tomato and ranch vinaigrette on toasted wheat bread with bleu cheese fries (which were outstanding).

After lunch we shopped at Crate and Barrel, the two-story Target and Filene's Basement on the corner of Peachtree opposite Lenox, Borders a block away for a gift card and a new book, "Loving Frank". We then stopped back at Alex's to help with last minute party details. Later, we headed back to the house where we were staying, and were surprised by Ed who had returned home from his and Chris' cabin in eastern Georgia. We freshened up for the party. Met Judy, Chris' mother, who had arrived while we were changing clothes, then Chris after he returned home. Met Matt and Gary as they arrived, followed by Jeff.

We all left for the party and arrived there by 8. The cake Jim had custom made for Alex was was a 1967 Buick LeSabre convertible. Not a sheet cake cut into the shape of a car -- a 3-foot long three-dimensional convertible with a windshield, bench seat and wheels. A torrential downpour arrived as the party started winding down, and we headed back to Ed and Chris', where we stayed up chatting with some of the others who had been there before the party until well after 1 AM.

The next morning, we got up early to prepare for our trip home. We jumped on I-85 toward the airport but elected to exit at Peachtree to visit Starbucks. We later arrived at Hartsfield. Returned the Crossfire to Hertz and boarded the bus to the terminal. Checked in. Bag check, again. This time it was a belt buckle. We met our neighbor, Lara, who had also come to ATL for Alex's birthday, at Chili's to Go for lunch. Afterward, she made her way to her AirTran gate and we headed to gate D16. We were given First Class seats and had time to go for a quick smoke before boarding. The "smoking room" was a disgustingly yellowed watering hole that charged $8 for a glass of water and a diet Coke. When Cameron asked if I'd like to smoke a second cigarette, I said, "no" and downed my soda. I was ready to get out of there and be on our way.

After we boarded and pushed back, the captain announced that there was a guage malfunction and that we'd experience a slight delay. Forty minutes later we began to taxi out to the runway. The flight was pleasant with some slight turbulence upon decent into Memphis.

It was a great trip, but I'm glad to be home.