Monday, April 25, 2011

Hello, My Name Is........

When I got married for the first time 36 years ago I thought it would be cool to hyphenate my maiden and married names. That lasted about 6 months, the name not the marriage, that lasted a little longer.

Since each name had three syllables and eight letters, it became cumbersome fast, so I opted to just go with the married name. I was 19, and wanted everyone to know I was married so I was fine with that.

I have known a few women who hyphenated their names. It seems less common now as more women opt to just keep their maiden names which makes more sense to me. Even those who use both names give their children their husband's surname rather than the hyphenated combination. I always wondered about that.

I finally saw what I worried about in the wedding announcements in Sunday's paper. Yvonne Hines-Bruce married Carl McCarthy and is now Yvonne Hines-Bruce McCarthy. I don't think that's going to fit on too many magazine subscription forms.

And what happens when their daughter, Jennifer Hines-Bruce McCarthy marries Joseph Jones-Smith Parker? Does she become Jennfer Hines-Bruce McCarthy Jones-Smith Parker? The kid's not going to be able to remember her name until she's 18. And imagine the monogram on the towels.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sad News

Here is a link to a post I wrote in July of 2009 about my friend Joe, aka Santa. When I wrote that post we didn't expect to see Joe again since his doctors had given him only months to live.

But Joe did things his way. He was back to volunteer that December with us when his 'boys', members of his motorcycle club, brought him in his motorized wheelchair to volunteer a few hours one night. Joe sat at a table and checked gifts out as the families picked them up. He called out the family numbers loud and strong, but at the end of the evening he was exhausted.

Last fall I got a call from Joe saying he planned to make an appearance during Distribution Week in December and would help as much as he could. Tuesday of that week in the middle of all the craziness of getting Christmas gifts to more than 2,000 needy kids I got a call on my cell from Joe. I found a quiet corner to sit and talk.

We had never talked often but I noticed a big difference in his voice. He was worn down and tired. He told me he was all done and couldn't fight any longer. He was calling in hospice.

We talked for a while, and for the first time he told me what brought him to help us originally. When his daughter was going through some tough times years earlier, she applied to Adopt-a-Family and we provided gifts for her two children. Things eventually improved for her and her kids, now grown and on their own, but she never forgot about us and neither did he.

At the end of our chat he said his daughter was coming to cover the time he had volunteered to work. I said it wasn't necessary but he said she wanted to and would be there.

I'll keep my last few words to Joe to myself. After we hung up I went into the bathroom and cried.

His daughter Kelley came by that evening and helped us. It was my first time meeting her and we talked about her dad and she confirmed the story he had told me. At the end of the evening I hugged her and asked her to keep us informed.

That was last December. We didn't hear anything from the family until yesterday afternoon when Frank, one of Joe's 'boys' from the bike club, called to tell me Santa had passed away that morning. Incredibly he had kept going two years longer than the doctors said he would.

As I said to Frank, he did it his way. As a group the Adopt-a-Family Board of Directors will be going to the services to pay our respects to our friend "Santa." And as I promised Joe, Paul and I will be riding in the memorial ride that will be held in his honor. It's the least I can do for such a loyal friend.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Should Know Better

Last night as we were heading upstairs to bed I happened to think that we haven't tested nor accidentally set off the smoke alarms in the house in a very long time.

I walked over and pushed the test button on the one in the upstairs hallway. I could see a red light inside but the alarm didn't go off. Our house is new enough so that the alarms are hardwired which means if one sounds, they all do. It didn't go off and none of the others did either.

I went back downstairs and pressed the test button on that one; nothing. We have been living in a house without smoke alarms!

As a real estate agent it's partly my job to have a property being conveyed to a new owner inspected prior to the sale by the city or town fire marshal. At the closing we have to have a certificate saying the house has been inspected within the last 60 days and the alarms (both smoke and carbon monoxide) are no older than ten years, working and properly placed . No certificate, no closing. It's state law.

And here we are, living in a house, for who knows how long, without functioning alarms. Our house is nearly 30 years old. So the detectors should have been changed long ago but since they had been working (I thought) I wasn't concerned.

I send post cards twice a year to clients reminding them to change their clocks because of daylight savings time AND to change the batteries in their smoke detectors. Talk about not following your own advice.

Shame on me, shame on us, mainly because I know better and because we have been living in a house WITHOUT smoke alarms. That's scary.

Have you checked your detectors lately?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Isn't That Special

I have been trying to decide whether to purchase an iPad. A couple months ago I posted a comment on Facebook asking "Who has an iPad. Why? What do you use it for? Do you like it?" I got such a variety of answers they didn't really help.

This week I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy one. At nearly $1,000 for the 3G model, it's an investment. But I've debated it for so long it's not an impulsive purchase. Yesterday I went online and ordered it.

I just got an email telling me that my iPad was shipped.....from China. I guess I shouldn't be surprised but can't we find something made in America? Not an iPad, I guess.

I bought a pair of flip-flops a couple years ago that were made in Connecticut. When I saw that I just HAD to buy them. I try to find things to buy with the Made in America tag. It's nearly impossible. Even though the quality of American-made products has declined (if you can find one) I'd still rather buy something made right here in the good ol' US of A.

If anyone has one to recommend, let me know.

NOTE: My friend Anita mentioned a television show that talked about products still Made in the USA. I googled it and found this site.

Friday, April 15, 2011

There's a Blog For That

You really can find a blog about anything and everything. I haven't heard the stats recently but not that long ago I read that there are 50 million blogs out there. I guess that explains why I only have 11 readers.

Last summer the day before we left for our cruise on the Danube River I purchased a new piece of jewelry. I knew it should be insured but I didn't have time to get it on our home owner's policy, and I was really worried about going away without insurance. When the jeweler gave me the appraisal I needed to insure it I mentioned that I didn't have time. He gave me a brochure from the Jewelers' Mutual Insurance Co. and said you can get a policy in one day.

Sure enough I called them, faxed the appraisal, gave them a credit card (of course) and received a policy that day. The surprising part was that they were considerably cheaper than my homeowners insurance.

Anywho, I got an email today from Jewelers' Mutual with a link to their blog. Today's post is about what to do if a piece of jewelry goes down the drain. An additional suggestion I've heard is to put a piece of nylon stocking or cheesecloth over the vac hose so that it doesn't actually go into the vac but even if it does, it's a lot easier to retrieve it that way than taking the plumbing apart, assuming it's still in the trap.

Better yet, take it off before getting into the shower.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Calgon, Take Me Away

Reading about a blogger friend's trip to Turks and Caicos and looking at another friend's pictures from Jamaica and her daughter's destination wedding has me longing for a visit to Playa del Carmen, the Mexican Riviera. Not to mention this terrible winter that seems to be over.

My father died suddenly in November 2000 and Paul's father died the following January. To say that it was a difficult few months is an understatement. By the time February arrived we were exhausted, emotionally and physically. Beach vacations have never been a big draw for us. I'm a redhead so the sun is NOT my friend. The sun is not a problem for Paul with his Mediterranean heritage but he doesn't hold still very well and sitting on a beach has never interested him.

But that winter/spring we needed a vacation somewhere warm and mindless. I called our travel agent and said "Find us a place to go. It has to be warm. I want a pool and a beach. I want to be able to walk to the beach from my room. I don't want to take a a taxi, bus or donkey to get there, and I want to be able to walk back to my room if I want to use my own bathroom. The only decision I want to make is whether I want red wine or white wine with lunch. And I want top-shelf booze at the bars. I don't want to be drinking Jose's Vodka."

Bless her heart, Donna sent us to the all-inclusive Riu Palace in Playa del Carmen in Mexico, one of the best all-inclusive resorts in the area. It was paradise. There were palm trees close to the water so I could be in the shade and my easy-tanning husband could be in the sun.

Each morning I got up and sat on our balcony overlooking the beautiful resort and read. We would go to breakfast and head to the beach where I would read. After lunch and a little more time at the beach, I'd head back to our suite, get in the tub and read. It was wonderful.

Since our vacations typically include some sight-seeing, we took a day trip to Chichen Itza, a Mayan archaeological site. The day we visited coincidentally was the spring equinox which is one of two days in the year when the sun causes triangles to form on the main stairway of El Castillo pyramid. The sun creates a shadow that appears to be the body of a 120 foot long snake that creeps downwards until it joins a huge serpent's head at the bottom of the stairway. It's a day of pilgrimage for many locals, and we were lucky to be there on that particular day.

We went back to the resort every winter for a few years but it's probably six year since the last visit. So Julie's and Kathy's photos of beautiful beaches and sunshine have me thinking back to these wonderful vacations. Where's the telephone? I need to make a call to the travel agent.

In the meantime, here are some photos I stole from the resort's website. Even though this is basically advertising, this is really what it looks like. You can see why I want to get back there. Now.

Monday, April 4, 2011

It's Too Late, Baby

I remember when online shopping became available. I jumped on that right away. I love sitting in my sweats at 10 p.m. with a cup of tea or glass of wine ordering clothes, gifts, whatever. Although the wine can be a bad thing because it probably loosens the purse strings.

Because of my broken arm, last week I ordered our groceries through an online delivery service a local grocery chain offers. They deliver everything to your door. They charge $10 but I'm happy to give someone ten bucks to do my shopping, bring it to my door and put it on my kitchen island. I'd probably give them another ten bucks to put the stuff away. I think it actually saves me money because I stick to a list, no impulse buying.

I didn't get into online banking until a few years after the shopping but I pay all the bills I can online. I don't write 100 checks a year. However, I do check our accounts online several times a week to make sure nothing funny is going on. And we do business with a credit union that I know monitors members' credit card activity closely, and I have faith they would spot something before it got too far. But I know, things can happen and there are risks.

Before he got used to it, Paul would see me whip out my credit card to place an online order and ask "do you really think that's safe?" My answer was "it's all over, dear. The info is already out there." And I would remind him that when they swipe his credit card at a restaurant, the info is transferred by modem over the Internet.

A few minutes ago I called the local Toyota dealership to schedule an appointment to fix a recall. No, not the stuck accelerator. I never thought that was anything other than operator error. This has to do with a master cylinder brake thingy.

The young lady in the service department asked when I wanted to bring the car in. I said Friday at 3 p.m. Fine, we'll see you then. Wait. She hadn't asked my name. Half expecting the answer, I asked "Do you know who I am?" "Yes, I see your caller ID and I looked you up in the computer. You're all set, Mrs. S."

See what I mean? It's all over, it's out there.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I've Had Better Weeks

You're familiar with Veni, Vidi, Vici. I came, I saw, I conquered.

Last week: I woke, I walked, I stumbled, I fell, I broke.

Sometime in the night when I got up for a trip to the bathroom, it became a trip to the floor, or the foot board of the bed, I'm not sure. I remember thinking my wrist hurt but when I got up I shook my hand and thought, nothing broken.

I went back to bed. After a few minutes I realized how much it hurt so I got up, took some ibuprofen and found an icepack. In the morning the first thing I said to Paul was "I broke my arm." He never heard me fall, and he thought I was overreacting.

Which reminds me of the time I fell skiing many, many years ago. As I sat on the slope I said "I broke my collarbone." "How do you know?" "Believe me I know." It was more than fractured, it was shattered but that's another post.

I don't think he believed me about my arm this time either, but I had a feeling. A very painful feeling. Paul went to work, I went to the walk in clinic. They took an ex-ray. The doctor said he didn't see any fractures and sent me away. Thirty minutes later I got a panicked call from the doctor telling me they had a radiologist look at the films who said I had a fracture. Come back immediately. He put a splint on it and told me to call an orthopedic specialist.

My biggest fear was a six-week cast which would have made life very difficult. As in "keep your cast out of the water," which would probably mean no showers. Monday afternoon, after a very painful weekend, I saw the ortho doc. Another set of ex-rays, and he confirmed I had a fracture of the radius.

Three of them separately poked and prodded my arm and wrist and kept asking "does this hurt?" Initially it didn't but when they were done it did, everywhere. When the doctor finally told me he thought I would be okay with the splint, no cast, I nearly kissed him on the lips.

Keep it on all the time but take it off to bathe. Just be careful he said, don't fall on it again. No kidding? I have to go back in two weeks for an ex-ray but in the meantime I'm being careful. It still hurts but it's better.

The week just kept getting better. Monday, after a few weeks of back pain and trips to the chiropractor who finally said he needed an MRI, Paul had to resort to walking with a cane. Of course we couldn't get a regular appointment for the MRI soon enough so on Tuesday I took him to the Emergency Room where an MRI showed a herniated disc between L4 and L5.

I've never seen him in so much pain or take so many heavy-duty drugs to control it. Yesterday he saw an orthopedic surgeon (not the one I saw on Monday) who confirmed the disc problem. Hopefully the recommended treatment will avoid surgery. Time will tell.

Between my big, black brace/splint on my arm and Paul's limp, or cane, we look like the walking wounded. Like I said, I've had better weeks.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Dan, My Friend and Hero

It seems the word hero is thrown around in the media pretty regularly lately. Often I don't think it really applies. I think I know what a hero is, and it's my friend, Dan

On September 11 as I sat watching the horrific scene in New York City on my computer, Dan walked by my office. I knew that he had been in the service during World War II but I didn't know where he served. When he stopped at my door, I asked, "Dan, where were you on December 7, 1941?" "Pearl Harbor" was his answer. Even as I sit here now, I get goose bumps when I write that as I did at that moment.

Before I could ask another question he said "I was a Navy flyer. It was my job to fly officers around and I wasn't on the ground when it happened." I was stunned. My mouth literally dropped open. To think that the man standing there, my friend Dan, had been at Pearl Harbor that day was unbelievable. Had I not asked that question, I'm certain he would never have told me.

A few weeks ago another friend sent me this link to a site about the 1940's. I thought he'd appreciate it so I sent it on to Dan. I got this back: "The PBY seaplane you see being towed out of the water during the attack is my squadron. I was only 19 at the time. The PBY is a patrol bomber, looks small now but at the time was a huge plane equal to the flying fortress. Most of our planes were on the ramp but we had 6 at anchor on alert. All were destroyed."

I never hear anything about Pearl Harbor without thinking of Dan telling me that he had been there. It’s still incredible to me that I know a man who was there. Now in his 80's and still dabbling in the business, real estate is Dan's third career. After the war he worked for the FAA testing the equipment used for instrumental landings until his eyes kept him from passing the necessary physical exams. He still gets together with some of his old flying buddies for lunch when I imagine they share stories about flying and aviation in general.

Years ago after a scary, bumpy airplane flight that I told him about, Dan said..."no plane ever crashes from turbulence." Now whenever we're on a flight and it gets bumpy and I'm digging my fingernails into Paul's leg, he always leans toward me and says "Remember what Dan said." I'm sure I'll always remember that and many other things my hero Dan told me.

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