Thursday, August 24, 2006

Quote of the Day

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.

- Dr. Seuss

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Cat Ate My Shower Cap

[Note to my friend Peggy: You don't want Simba looking over your shoulder when you read this entry - we don't want him picking up any more bad habits!]

My cat Martin has always suffered from the peculiar habit of eating plastic. I don’t know why he does this. His previous owner Tom thought that maybe the plastic satisfies a fiber craving. We'll never know. He won't touch fresh salmon, but sure enough he'll chow down on a Safeway bag. For years I’ve had to hide those plastic grocery bags from Martin when I get home from shopping. And if I store the bags in a kitchen cabinet, Martin will figure out a way to open the cabinet door to get to the plastic bags. So I have to rubber-band the cabinet knobs together so he can’t open that door.
When guests arrive, they'd better keep their suitcases closed because Martin will devour anything resembling a plastic bag tucked into their luggage. I have to hide bubble wrap when I'm packing to move (which is frequent). Any closet containing hanging dress bags is nailed shut. Even in the back yard I have to guard the bags of mulch, humus, and soil. It's been a constant battle for years.

A couple days ago after I finished brushing my teeth, I heard munching. Sure enough, I turned around and there was Martin, sitting in the bathtub, munching on the shower cap that I'd inadvertently hung there to dry the night before. By the time I could stop him, he’d left two gaping holes in the cap, which was then destined for the garbage can. I grabbed my camera, and Martin gave me that “What? I'm just sitting here" look.

At Wal-Mart yesterday I had to ask an employee where they keep the shower caps because, believe it or not, the cat ate mine.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Thanks to our Soldiers Overseas

An old neighbor of mine in Bellevue, Washington, sent me this link. I'd just like to take a moment to pass on this link, where you can select a free postcard to send to a deployed soldier. It's a nice way to thank someone in our U.S. military for his or her sacrifice, bravery, and commitment to the American way of life. The artwork for these cards was designed by various youngsters from all over the U.S.

If it wasn't for these men and women, I might not be sitting here at my own computer in my own home after driving home from a job I chose myself posting my personal opinion on an international medium for all the world to see. Even with all my bad luck, I still have it better than a lot of people on this earth. God bless our military and their families.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Grass is Always Greener. . .

. . . and the skies are always bluer in Seattle. I swear, it’s true. It was really hard for me to get off a plane at BWI and step out into the 100-degree heat wave here when I returned home. I cringed at the “Welcome to Maryland” sign in the airport. I seriously do not like this place. And I miss my friends in the Pacific Northwest.

When I went to Seattle on Thursday to see my surgeon, visit friends, and attend the annual Bellevue Art Fair, I had packed shorts, summer tops, and mostly cropped pants. Usually it’s in the 80’s there at this time of year. Was I in for a surprise. Temperatures never topped the upper 60’s my whole trip – and I loved every minute of it. That’s another thing I miss about Seattle – the wonderful sweatshirt weather. Too bad I didn't pack a sweatshirt!

On Friday my wonderful surgeon took X-rays and came back with a “it looks perfect” diagnosis. Each time I visit him, I am required to fill out a form describing my pain on a scale of zero to ten. For the first time in my life, I actually wrote down “0” on that form! So I’d have to say that my total disc replacement surgery of 11 months ago was a success. Oh, and on my way through security at SEA-TAC, the titanium plates in my spine set off the metal detector for the first time. After I explained about my artificial disc, the very friendly security guards let me through without a frisking or a body cavity search.

Friday night was one of the highlights of my trip. I met with three wonderful, old friends from my days at Aventail in the late 90’s – Deb, Other Deb, and Marc V. We had dinner at the new downtown Lincoln Towers in Bellevue, in a restaurant called Maggione’s. We were served some wonderful salads, pastas and desserts – all family style. The food and service were both superb. Our wonderful waiter Joven kept bringing out generous portions and we served ourselves. We over-tipped him big time – like 33% - (and that was my fault for doing the math wrong in my head and then rounding up – Oops! Sorry, guys!).

But it was well worth the service and fun we had and the wonderful surprise that Other Deb brought along - which was Marc, whom I hadn't seen in about seven years. We had a blast. I hadn’t laughed that hard in a long time. By the end of dinner, both Debs had convinced me to move back to Seattle. And, believe me, I’m tempted.

I went to the Bellevue Art Fair three days in a row and didn’t miss a single booth. I love that show. I go every year. God I miss living in Bellevue. I hate that I wasn't there when construction of the Lincoln Towers was finally restarted. Bellevue is really growing up. I still think of it as home.

Anyway, this is truly an excellent art show. The majority of the artwork on display at this fair is done by professionals. I had a talk with one of my favorite artists, Tim Wistrom, who does futuristic oil paintings – most of which have a Pacific Northwest theme. I own one of his prints featuring the King Dome partially submerged and Orcas frolicking in the water. Anyway, come to find out, Tim’s post-9/11 painting is going to be hung in the new World Trade Center Freedom Tower in NYC. It’s a wonderful painting that shows a partially submerged statue of liberty holding up a flag and facing the empty skyline of lower Manhattan. A reflection of the former towers can be seen in the Hudson’s waves. I could have stood there all day and admired his work.

Saturday was kind of a blah day because my plans to spend it with friends were changed at the last minute, so after the fair I pretty much spent the afternoon and evening watching TV in the motel that I shared with about a hundred 11-year-old soccer players. (Need I say more?)

But Sunday I enjoyed visiting several of my old friends – including Anat and Brenda from our former SMS doc team, and two of my closest friends, Paul and Janet (a.k.a., the Bickersons). Janet was kind enough, at my request, to cook me another one of her wonderful dinners - and Paul grilled the most perfect ribeye steak I've ever tasted.

Now Paul takes his steak grilling quite seriously. He has a strict rule that you must cut into your steak and take a bite no more than 60 seconds after it has been lifted from the grill, or you miss the best part of a good steak. Janet and I sat poised at the table, fork and steak knife in hand, as Paul finished up at the grill and served us. It's the same routine every time. And believe me, Paul will be extremely disappointed if you don't take that first bite in a timely manner! :) It's hysterical.

I always have fun visiting with them – partly because the bickering is a hoot, partly because the food is so wonderful, but mainly because the conversation is both intellectually stimulating and usually worth a number of laughs at the same time.

For these dinners, Paul - (who is one of the most analytical and intelligent people I know) - likes to pick a “topic of the day” ahead of time. Unfortunately, I became the subject of this visit’s topic, and he hounded me (as usual) about what exactly my plans are to find my true calling in life. We never did figure that out, did we Paul? I was hoping for more of a “what’s happening in the Middle East” topic, but now we’ll have to save that one for the next visit. Anyway, I adore both Paul and Janet and make it a point to spend lots of time with them whenever I’m in town.

The return trip across country was a small nightmare of course. The first plane, despite making good time, was forced to circle over Cleveland due to backups at JFK. [Reminder to self: Flying through JFK is just as bad as flying from JFK or to JFK. Never, ever go to or through or anywhere near JFK.]

It was bad enough that the inconsiderate French woman behind me talked non-stop for half the flight, and was not using her ‘inside voice’ for any of her endless tirade. Because of the delay in landing and then a longer delay taxiing to a gate, I barely made my second plane. (Twenty minutes is hardly enough to get from one gate to another at JFK.)

Not to mention, I had to use the bathroom and was dying of thirst. But every restroom I passed had a line out the door. At the last minute, I detoured to get a soda from a machine near the gate (in an overcrowded room without A/C), but the LCD display on the machine ticked off the words “Out of service.” It's never easy. I thought that when we boarded the small commuter flight we’d go straight out to the plane. But no, instead Delta herded us onto an un-airconditioned bus where we had to sit in the sweltering, unmoving heat. I was there just long enough to sweat through to my underwear before we were finally taken off the bus and onto the tiny plane. The Fugitive had better luck on his bus.

Unfortunately, we sat in the plane on the tarmac “waiting for paperwork” and then waiting behind a line of 15 other planes for an hour before finally taking off 1.25 hours late. The poor flight attendant looked like Rocky after three rounds - his entire head was dripping with sweat and remained that way for the duration of the trip.

I have the worst luck flying. As I repeatedly mumbled to myself, “It’s never easy.” On my first flight out to the west coast last week, the family with the three rambunctious toddlers inhabited the rows right behind me. I just knew it was going to be me they sat near. Plus, there was a sick infant screaming its head off and coughing for at least a couple hours.

I tell you what, everyone’s nerves were rattled by the time we disembarked in Salt Lake City. A three-year-old boy kicked the back of my seat for the entire 4-hour flight. The mother talked so loudly to them that I could hear every word through my ear plugs, and then she turned on a portable DVD player at top volume, subjecting the rest of us passengers to over an hour of cartoon chaos. I was ready to scream when we landed, as was the hunky guy from Walla Walla who walked with me to the next gate and said he was stuck right in front of half the noisy family on the other side of the aisle from me.

Uh. . . ever heard of head phones? Parents, ever heard of using your 'inside voice' on an airplane? (It never ceases to amaze me how adults fail to follow the same rules they try to enforce upon their young children.) Do people on airplanes not understand that they are in a small, confined environment that actually contains other people? Apparently. What ever happened to common sense?

Like the girl in Maine said, “People just aren’t courteous anymore.”

I'd like to say it's good to be home, but it's really not.