Monday, February 28, 2011

A public service announcement

Last Friday, I had an ominous message on my machine at home: "This is the doctor's office, please call as soon as possible." Well, since I WORK during the day I didn't pick up the message until after they were closed on Friday evening. Of course, I then spent all weekend with that message niggling (yes, that's a word) around in my brain.

When I got in the car to go to work this morning, I called the doctor's office (hands free - I'm not a scofflaw) knowing full well that I would be put on hold. Monday mornings, first thing, they always put you on hold. I understand that it's a particularly bad time to call  and I was  prepared for the wait. In fact, the wait allowed me to ruminate even more on what the urgency could possibly be. I placated myself by reasoning that if it were really serious, my doctor would have called me on the weekend. He's my uncle, after all!

Anyway, they just wanted to give me the results of my blood test. All was well except my Vitamin D levels (click this link to WebMD and a slideshow of the benefits of Vitamin D)  were a little on the low side. This despite the fact that I drink a lot of milk (fortified with Vitamin D), am not a  vegetarian, eat salmon at least once a week, have yogurt for breakfast almost every day, and love eggs.

Now, my doctor, has been harping to Bill about Vitamin D for quite some time.  And Bill thinks that Tom (our doctor) is really clever and relies on his expertise. Bill has been taking 2000 IUs  of Vitamin D3 supplements for quite a while. And now, I, too must start the regimen. I've been taking haphazardly, i.e. whenever Bill reminds me that it's probably a good idea. But, until  I heard it directly from Tom, I wasn't going to make it part of my routine. Tom is the doctor, Bill is not.

Part of the Vitamin D problem, and I hesitate to say 'problem' because you know how much I love Buffalo, but, part of the problem is that we live in Buffalo. I don't even want to look up the percentages, but we spend a lot of days with cloud cover. Today, we saw some blue sky but, as I mentioned above,  I WORK during the day, so I couldn't take advantage of it and get that jolt of Vitamin D.

So Bill and I will be warding off cancer and heart disease and weight gain together by popping mega doses of Vitamin D. And, I'll try to figure out how to spend more time in the sun.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Get me to the church on time

Bill and I had the great pleasure of attending a wedding yesterday. We had a fabulous time - it was perfectly orchestrated, and everyone at the reception had a ball. A great party. I was even allowed to take our table's centerpiece home - and you know how much I love cut flowers!

We also attended the ceremony at the church. Nowadays people often skip this, the most important part of the day. I love going to the church part. I like to check out churches: the architecture, the windows, the varying levels of ornamentation, the organ and how well the acoustics work. When we travel, churches are a major part of our tours: Notre Dame and the Vatican, of course, La Sagrada Família,Westminster Abbey, Doi Suthep are just a few of the hundreds of places of worship we've seen. However, we've never participated in a service in any of them. So, seeing a church in 'action' is fun.

I also love to go to Roman Catholic weddings because there is always a mass which includes communion. As I sit back and watch the pious accept the body and blood of Christ, I also do a quick check of the non-Catholics in the pews. The ratios vary, but at a Buffalo wedding, the percentage of non-Catholics is pretty small. And when the Catholics circle back to their seats, I don't think I've ever felt strange about it. It's just one of those exclusive things. I also "finish" the Lord's Prayer  under my breath when we all recite it: For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

The best part of going to a wedding ceremony with your spouse is when you can hold his hand or squeeze his shoulder when the minister/priest/leader says something particularly witty or sage about marriage. Exchanging a knowing look or even reliving your own vows is good for the two of you. It's almost like getting married again. Which is why I think I don't miss the ceremony part. I always get the look or the squeeze from him. He knows.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Twelve Angry Men

I held my breath each morning this week as I checked http://www.eriejury.com/ to see if my number for jury duty had been called. It's the first time that I had received the notice since I became a citizen a few years ago. I was simultaneously angry and excited about the prospect of performing a civic duty. For, although I didn't have anything pressing this week, I worried that if I were chosen for a long trial, it would wreak havoc at work.  I had practiced a few inflammatory statements (just in case). However, I also think that when push came to shove, I would have actually TRIED to be chosen.  I don't like to lose... at anything. But, in the end, my number wasn't needed - so I didn't have to go to the court house. Worry for nothing.

Bill has never served on a jury... and I don't believe he ever will. Lawyers are not exempt from serving, but I think most lawyers wouldn't like an attorney on their jury -especially one as persuasive as Bill. He would definitely get bounced.

That's a whole dimension of the trial that the writers of Law and Order don't explore. Perhaps I should write Dick Wolf and suggest a new spin off: Law and Order -  Jury Selection. Bumb BUMB. It is a fascinating part of the trial. If I were picking a jury, I would insist that everyone be given a DISC profile or, at the very least, an IQ test. Not having had to go through the process,  I'm not exactly sure how far the voir dire goes, but I think most lawyers just ask a few cursory questions - they're anxious to move the thing along.


I have a not-so-secret addiction to Law and Order - which is very easy to do in the 716 area code. The show is on ALL THE TIME :  A&E, TNT, NBC, Oxygen, AMC, USA. Good Lord!  The addiction is easy to feed. Emma says that the difference between Toronto and Buffalo is that in Buffalo you can watch Law and Order 24/7; in Toronto it's Friends. That kind of sums it up, doesn't it?

Bill has accepted my addiction and, although he is not a fan of  the show or any of the spin offs (Criminal Intent, SVU, Law and Order UK, Los Angeles), he tells me he can see why I'm hooked.  But, I can tell he gets annoyed on Sundays when it's on for most of the afternoon. Perhaps he was hoping that a stint as a real juror might have cured me.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Strange Soup

Tonight, was poker night. For me. As you have surmised, Bill and I have traded places in what would be considered "traditional" roles. The ladies with whom I play are very civilized about the game. We all arrive at 6:30 p.m. at the home of our host. There are about 12 women who participate, so the duty to host occurs about once a year. When you are the host you provide the space, the appetizers, the drinks and dinner. If you are not the host, all you have to do is show up, drink, eat and play. And the food is always top notch.  At 10:00 p.m. we all get up and go home. The host does all the clean up. We play during the week and we all have jobs, so it's a good plan. 

Since I was wining and dining with my poker pals, Bill had to eat alone. When I got home, I noticed the unmistakable smell of "strange soup" as soon as I opened the door.  Bill has a penchant for making this soup. Even though it has varying ingredients every time he makes it, somehow it always smells the same. The base, however, is canned Manhattan Clam Chowder. Always. The kids know the smell and refuse to eat it. That may be the reason that Bill makes it - he knows he gets it all to himself. He can have it.

He loves Manhattan clam chowder. If we are at a restaurant and they have chowder as a starter he will ask the waiter: "Manhattan  or New England?"  If they answer "New England" he turns up his nose. And, when he orders Manhattan, they must also bring extra hot sauce- Frank's if they have it. 

I checked the recycle bin - and saw a heavy dose of clams that must have been used in tonight's soup. And the bottle of wine we were drinking last night is finished and tossed in there as well. I'm not sure if the wine went directly into the soup or directly into Bill.

Regardless, it's nights like this that I wished we slept in different rooms. The smell will linger for at least another 24 hours.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

He's making a list...

We had car issues this morning. I'm not going to go into the details since it will just upset our sweet Emma, but when we have car issues I usually end up car pooling with Bill. I prefer to drive (and drop off Bill first) even though it makes me a bit late. I really don't like being the passenger when Bill drives.

For one thing, he multi tasks when he drives. He phones, he talks into his Dictaphone, he fiddles with the radio all while having a running commentary of his fellow drivers, the passing scene and the news of the day. For another, I am a control freak and prefer to behind the wheel (unless Erin Delisanti is driving... she's a great driver.)

Today, I put on Jazz FM 91.1, settled in and told him we weren't changing the station. We passed right by the Tim Hortons on Kensington, (we were running a bit behind schedule and I didn't want to pull into the office late), so I didn't get a chance to get my large coffee with double cream. Bill's Blackberry isn't working properly - it is not sending or receiving emails and he had left his Dictaphone in his car. So, he was reduced to writing notes on a large piece of cardboard.

Now, these large pieces of cardboard play a pretty big part in Bill's life. He gets them from his laundered shirts from Corvette Cleaners. They're about the size of a legal pad so he's used to the configuration. It accommodates his large scrawl and they are readily available. He uses them the most when he designs his grocery store attack. He turns the board so that the longest side is on the bottom. He then draws out the aisles and lists the items by location. He also uses them to leave me messages in the bathroom. "Don't wake me" is a common one.

Last night, Bill got up in the middle of the night, pulled out a shirt board from the closet and began a list. Not a list of groceries, that's a Saturday task, but rather a list of "things to do" that had obviously awoken him. Today, when he got in the car, he had his shirt board with him... and a blue flair pen. He worked furiously on the list and was (relatively) quiet on the drive in.

Fast forward to tonight at 6:30 when I picked him up. He was in a chipper mood. He'd accomplished  a lot today. He said he had checked items off his list all day long. It made him feel organized and fabulous. When I suggested the old fashioned method of list making may work for him he looked at me quizzically. Then, he left a message for the IT guys at his law firm to make sure they could get his Blackberry fixed in the morning.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rrrrrrrrolll up the rim

Hurray! Tim Horton's has started it's Rrroll up the Rim to WIN campaign. I already go to Tim Horton's a LOT. More so since the lovely ladies with whom I work bought me a Tim Horton's debit card with a LOAD of money on it.

When I pulled up to the speaker this morning and saw the familiar Rrroll up the Rim advertisement, I got really excited. And, when I reached for my large coffee with double cream I noticed that all the servers had white t-shirts proclaiming "Rrrroll up to win" has begun. I told them I was stoked. One of the guys (who wasn't even servicing the drive-through window) poked his head through the window and hit what looked like an "EASY" button from Staples because of my excitement. He then told me if I won something, he would hit it again. I believe I loved my coffee even MORE today. I didn't win, but I DON'T CARE. I'm playing again tomorrow. (PS - do you know that you get an App on your IPhone which can pinpoint the closest Tim Horton's to your current location!?)

My fellow blogger was lamenting the price increase at Tim Horton's, but I DON'T CARE - Horton's has to pay for those Toyota Matrix's and grills and millions of free cups of coffee somehow! And, they have to send those kids to camp!


I don't care about cars - but Bill will like
this picture of a De Tomaso Pantera
 Tim Horton's has a special place in my heart. It's headquarters is in my hometown of  Oakville, Ontario. Tim Horton, a Toronto Maple Leaf AND a Buffalo Sabre was a folk hero to many of us growing up. And, he died on the QEW, in a Pantera that Punch Imlach - a crazed hockey nut who coached both the Sabres and the Leafs- had given him; a route I've taken a billion times because it connects Toronto and Buffalo. And, Tim was driving from Toronto to Buffalo when he died. Gruesome, but true.

Bill hates donuts, can't drink coffee but understands my love of Tim Horton's.  Sometimes we walk to the closest Tim Horton's just because it's a good destination. While I inhale my large coffee with double cream he will sip a small black decaf.

For me, Tim Horton's is a small bit of Canada that has taken root in Buffalo - just as I have.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tupperware

I have so many pieces of Tupperware - or more accurately plastic-ware. Actually, I don't think I own any "Tupperware".  Every so often I'll go through my drawer of containers and "sort it". I'll make sure they all have lids and then nestle them - one inside the other. The order makes me feel better even though the order is short lived.  The Scot in me, however, has been known to hustle the orphaned containers into a plastic bag and hide them in the basement. Crazy - I know. But, I'm not going to get away with that hoarding, cheapskate behavior - not tonight. Emma is home and Emma doesn't put up with that nonsense.


So, into the recycle bin they go.

When I first met Bill, he had TONS of plastic ware. I had no idea why a single man would have so much. The first night I went to his house for dinner I had to go into the freezer for some ice. And when I opened the door, I saw neatly stacked plastic packages of pre-made dinners. I had assumed that his mother had made them for him. He laughed out loud when I asked him if it were true. NO! He had concocted individual dinners for himself. They were mostly riced based dishes so they would last a while longer in the freezer. He had a big childish scrawl on the outside so that he could identify the contents. He told me that he worked late so often that it was easier for him to devote a Sunday to making a bunch of meals. He would then divvy them up for use during the week. (PS: he didn't have me at 'hello' - he had me at "devote a Sunday to making a bunch of meals".

I have to go through the plastic ware on nights when he isn't home. He has a fit if I throw any out : "That's a great size for a just a few left over olives", or  "I use that one specifically for curried dishes - that's why it's got orange stains on the bottom",  or " that one seals really well". He's taken to keeping and reusing plastic ware that upscale restaurants use as doggy bags. We have a few that have lids AND compartments. He loves to take leftovers from dinner and transform them into luncheon extravaganzas for me. They make a big splash at work. And when I am enjoying his delectable lunches I actually feel a bit guilty about throwing out his favorite plastic. Until I get home and try to close the Tupperware drawer. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Frank

I love Sundays. Especially when one of the kids is home. Emma came home for Reading Week yesterday. So, when I woke up this morning, I was able to tiptoe into her bedroom and give her a big kiss. I don't care that she is 21. She's still my wee girl.

Then I made the maximum amount of coffee that the coffee maker could make and waited for her to get up. I had consumed 3 cups by the time she did get up, but then we sat in front of the fire and I consumed another. Bill rarely drinks coffee, so making a whole pot always seems silly. I usually end up drinking tea. So, the overdose of coffee on a Sunday was delicious.

Emma and I sat around and looked at old photographs. They were mostly photos of my life before Bill. We were still in our pajamas and not in a rush for the day to start. Sundays are great for not worrying about the time and idling away the hours. I didn't feel guilty because any time with Emma is precious; I don't care how we spend it.

Looking through the old photos, Emma remarked how my mother still looked the same - some of these pictures were over thirty years old. I think it helps that she has basically the same hair-do and really good skin. Plus, she spent most of her life smiling. Having your face in that position helps wrinkle placement, I believe.

Frank T. Savino aka Papa
Feeling nostalgic, when I went to get dressed, I put on a pair of earrings that Bill's dad had given to me a long time ago. Frank could always be counted on to give real quality gifts; you could tell that he gave his gifts a lot of thought. It's as hard for me to picture him going into a jewelry store picking out something for me as it is of Bill going into Victoria's Secret. For though he wanted the world to think he was a tough guy (he lived in the FALLS)  he was NOT IN THE LEAST. Despite his years of wartime service, he was a cream puff - a real sweetheart.  He never said a harsh word to me - never judged me or made suggestions on how to do something better. He did our taxes until the year before he died! The man couldn't do enough for us.

Tonight at dinner, I was playing with the earrings (PS - they are the easiest earrings I have to put in and take out. Love, love, love the hook/clasp). Emma asked me where I got them and I told her they came from Papa (that's what she called him). We were eating at Santasieros at a table for two. I looked at her, and she looked at me, and we both missed him at the same time.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Liz Lemon - can't let it go

For those of you who watch 30 Rock, you know that Liz Lemon, the character that Tina Fey plays, is a stubborn woman. Some people believe I share more than just this one characteristic with Liz Lemon. In fact, my son, Will told me that he has a hard time watching this show because the similarities are a bit too much for him - it 'creeps' him out.

Today, I really wanted to quell that stubborn streak. But, a very loud "AHA!!- I was RIGHT" was out of my mouth and into the empty air of my kitchen before I could stop myself. Luckily, Bill was at work. It took all my strength not to call him on the phone and tell him that I was, once again, correct. I was right, and he was wrong.
Remember that $700 dishwasher I ordered 3 weeks ago? It was finally delivered today. After the installers left, I opened up the manual to read the instructions. And, what did my eyes catch? A small item under the caption "Dishwasher Use" :
ALWAYS PLACE SHARP ITEMS POINTING DOWN. ALWAYS! That's pretty unequivocal.

Remember, this is the SUPERBA KitchenAid. I think that someone who manufacturers a dishwasher and gives it such a lofty name, just might know a thing or two about the proper loading of dishware. So, rather than tell Bill about this published detail, I believe I will just let him read it here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Surround yourself with people you love

My son, Will, has 5 tenets that he follows. He says that they are his keys to happiness. They are:
1.  Always give everyone the benefit of the doubt – you don’t know what they’re going through.  Curiously, I just saw a very corny but moving video on youtube that illustrated this point really well. 

2.  Keep busy

3.  Approach everything you do with enthusiasm

4.   Make sure you always have something to look forward to during the day.

5.  Surround yourself with people you like – because these are the people who will lift your spirits.

For those of you who know Will, you know that he came up with these 5 keys in high school. Simple stuff? Yes - but he really tries to follow them. He won't give Bill credit, but I think he may have absorbed these tenets by observing his father.

Bill has got four out of the five down pat; I'm not sure he's completely embraced #1. But, who has?

He definitely is one of the busiest men alive. The man does not slow down until his head hits the pillow. He's a lawyer, a teacher, a bassist, a father, a husband and he takes care of all the household chores I choose not to do.

He is one of the most animated and enthusiastic people I know. If there is a job to do, he will do it and make it fun! I think some of his clients hire him for the sheer entertainment value.

He has always tried to plan things in advance. At dinner time he's already talking about the next night's meal plan. If we don't have an idea about our next vacation, we have a family meeting to decide. If we don't have plans for the weekend, he remedies it in short order.

And the thing that I love about Bill the most is that he has so many friends! He has kept friends from his childhood. He has a very strong loyalty to those people with whom he grew up, with his college pals, his law school buddies, his musical comrades. If he had to list the people he counts as real friends, it would be a big list.
I love this picture of Bruce and Bill on New Year's Eve
One of the best friendships I have seen, first hand, is his friendship with our pal, Bruce. Now, Bruce came into Bill's life because he married one of Bill's oldest and dearest friends, Barbara. Barbara chose well - not only for her life partner but also as a trusted companion for Bill. Bruce and Bill do a lot of things together including going to EVERY Bill's home game and even one the Superbowl games that the Buffalo Bill's were lucky enough to play in. They are both lawyers and have had some overlap in the type of law that they practice. They have a lot in common and I think they really enjoy each other's company. We have spent almost every New Year's Eve with Barbara and Bruce since we were married. There's no one else we'd rather spend it with!

Maybe it's because Bill did not have any siblings growing up; he learned the value of having and maintaining good friends. And, he has successfully surrounded himself with a bevy of them. And the really close ones, like Bruce, truly do lift his spirits.   

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Faa'a Tahiti

When I was pregnant with Emma, Bill and I planned a little getaway. Bill had been doing a lot of travelling for work and had accumulated quite a few 'frequent flier' miles. And, he wanted to cash them in. We chose the furthest place we could get to at the time and we booked a trip to Tahiti.

My doctor was reluctant to let me go since I was experiencing some issues with the pregnancy. However, he had been to Tahiti before and told me it was the most beautiful place on earth - he wasn't going to stand in my way. So, he endorsed the trip as long as I didn't exert myself. That included no scuba diving. UGH! I promised I wouldn't do anything strenuous and we were on our way.

We were still learning how to be savvy travellers. When we arrived at Faa'a Airport (yes, that is the actual name of airport in the capital city of Papeete)  we found the hotel shuttle and jumped in with a honeymooning couple.  I hadn't taken any time to really check out our hotel ahead of time.  But, when the shuttle pulled up to the entrance we weren't disappointed. The disappointment didn't set in until we realized that we had to hike down to the beach over volcanic rock. And the beach was black sand; no one appeared to be going to that beach because it was too damn hot - they all stayed at the pool. I looked at Bill: "Are you kidding? We could be in Las Vegas, for crying out loud. I didn't fly for 13 hours just to spend my vacation by a pool in fricking TAHITI!"  And, I couldn't do the  hike down to the beach nor did I want to roast my bottom once I got there.  I was pretty ticked. I was also in my first trimester and a little crabbier than usual. (OK - I was a bitch).  I felt really spoiled and ridiculous for being so dissatisfied. We were in TAHITI for crying out loud.

Bill thought fast. Rather than being held hostage on the black beach he procured a car and we went for a drive. (This was all on the first day of our trip). It was a small car but there was only two of us and we took off at a good clip. By the end of the afternoon we had travelled the circumference of the entire island. 
Check: we had seen the entire island.

That night we booked a table at a hilltop restaurant the hotel had recommended for the view, aptly named the Belvedere. Trouble was, we got there when the sun had already set so all we could see was the true blackness of the sky.  Bill looked at me across the table and could see the disappointment in my eyes.  Strike two for TAHITI.

The next morning, Bill sprang  into action. He was on the phone and checking maps and brochures. As I came out of the bathroom he told me we were checking out of this dump! "FAA'A Tahiti". I laughed. He said we were going to take the ferry to Moorea - a nearby island. We could take the car and explore over there and see if we could find a place to stay. I was game.

But first, we had to buy supplies. We had seen a grocery store of sorts (a Euromarche) on our previous circumnavigation so we headed there and stocked up. I was having morning, noon and night sickness so he bought lots of bread and fruit. It was the only thing I could keep down.

Then we headed to the ferry and took off for Moorea. It was a fairly short boat ride and when we docked we drove the car off the back of the ferry and  were able to do a quick reconnaissance. We found a small thatched cottage with a kitchenette and we hunkered down. Bill cooked all of our meals  - save one. There was no sense going out since all I could manage was cereal and bread and rice.

I could wax on and on about how wonderful the rest of our vacation turned out.. The water and the air temperature were the same.  The beach, steps from our door, was deserted and clear and the sand was white as snow. The pace was slow and easy. It was truly the most beautiful place I'd ever been.  And Bill made it all happen.

Faa'a Tahiti!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

You look familiar

I was out and about a lot today: Out for breakfast, out for lunch and then I actually went to the grocery store. And, because Buffalo is such a small town, I saw someone I knew at each establishment... or at least I thought I knew. I'm not sure if it's because I'm 50, or if I'm just coming to grips with one of my many shortcomings, but I cannot remember people's names. Today was really bad  because at each place I was sure that I knew the person but, had absolutely NO idea of their name, the connection or if indeed there WAS a connection. 

However, the most heartening thing happened at lunch. A very nice gentlemen (by the way I recognized HIM to as a former Buffalo News writer - and I STILL can't remember his name) came up to our table and asked my friend Fred, "Excuse me, is your name 'Bob'?". Fred, because he, too is a gentleman,  answered in the kindest manner, "No, no it isn't". The man apologized and walked away. I loved that this happened!!  Here was a man who actually took the time (and risked embarrassment) in order to put a name to the face. But, did I learn from this?  No, I continued in my cowardly way to just ignore the person that I thought I might know from somewhere, maybe.

It's even worse when someone starts talking to you and obviously knows you, your family and some intimate details of your life - but you have NO CLUE who they are. This scene is played out in infinite encounters - I know it's not just me. But, good LORD, it's awkward.  They've talked to you long enough  for your brain to scan the entire alphabet searching for the first letter of their first name  - and you still can't come up with anything.

Unless.... unless you are married to BILL SAVINO and, he is by your side. He is a human computer when it comes to remembering names. His former students will tell you of their first day of class with Bill when he asks everyone to stand and say their name. By the end of the class, he has everyone's name memorized. We're talking about 30-40 students and he's been doing this for 30 years. No kidding. And, he remembers them years later.  He'll be at Orvilles's (PS- those beggars from Orville's haven't delivered that darn $700 dishwasher yet!) and a middle aged woman will say "Professor Savino!"  He will not skip a beat: "Miss Wojciechowski, how are you". I have seen this happen many times.

He tells me that he was trained from an early age by his father who, for a period of time, sold insurance. Frank Savino said that the sweetest thing a man can hear is the sound of his own name. Too true. And he taught Bill the power of memorization and recollection. Bill told me that when he would go on long car rides with his parents his dad would interrupt Bill's reverie in the back seat and say "Quick! Read that Ford truck's license plate aloud". Bill would dutifully reply. Three days later, Frank would ask "Quick! Recite that Ford license plate back to me". And, Bill would do it. Cruel? Perhaps. But, it re-wired Bill's brain to remember details that you and I just don't (care to) process.

So, when we are at functions, the airport,  or approaching someone in the aisles of Tops,  I will say to Bill, "Quick! Who is that guy and what's his wife's name". And he will dutifully reply.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Clean underwear

Twenty-five years ago this month I was traveling in South America with my friend Jacqueline Webster. She was my pal in university. (We lived across the hall from each other in first year and found that we shared the same birthday.) We ended up becoming good friends and kept up with each other after university ended.

We planned this trip to South America because she was working for an 'alternative' travel agency, and she could get some good deals. She was also very interested in communism and was bent on exploring more unconventional ways of living. Jacky was working for a co-operative travel agency that specialized in travel to Africa, Cuba, Latin and South America. You get the picture. I, on the other hand, was working for a chemical distributor selling industrial grade and laboratory chemicals to industries in  WNY and Northern Pennsylvania. Despite this rather large divide between our 'life choices', we got along famously. We were gone for a month, and we never fought once.

I had finished my Bachelor of Science in Biology and wanted to see the Galapagos Islands. That's all I really wanted out of the trip, but I was willing to indulge Jacky's desire to see the rest of Ecuador and Peru. We were naive and silly and stayed in some real hell holes. (I recall sharing one "bed" with a few pigs.) It was one of those life changing trips. And I have her to thank for planning the entire trip and for helping to shape my outlook on life.
 
My pal and travel agent taking a break atop
Machu Pichu, Peru
I had met Bill just a few weeks before we embarked on our trip. He thought we were insane to go alone. It was 1986, and the Shining Path had a major presence in Peru. Jacky and I had a few adventures just trying to stay out of their way. But, that is another story.

This was a time before cell phones and the Internet so we were really out of touch. I posted some airmail letters, but they didn't arrive until after I returned. Jacky and I had a rough schedule, but the only things set in stone were our flights. Bill therefore knew that we would be in Quito on Feb. 13th and 14th because we had a flight to Cuzco booked. I had promised my mother that we would call her when we got to Quito since it was about half way through the trip. Man, was she relieved to hear my voice. She had been talking to Bill quite a bit, and she expressed his worry as well. She told me that he had sent me something c/o the American Embassy in Quito. 

Being the highly resourceful man that he was, he had arranged for a FEDEX package (yes, FEDEX was around back then) to be delivered. He thought that was the cleverest spot since he had no idea where we would be staying. We had booked nothing in advance -hence the night with the pigs mentioned above. Jacky and I figured out where to go and introduced ourselves to the guard at the embassy. After a lot of discussion and a number of individuals making inquiries a FEDEX package was delivered into my hands. On February 14th!. And do you know what was in that package???? UNDERWEAR!!! The funny thing was that I had already cycled through my 14 pairs and was about to do some laundry in the sink of the hostel in which we were staying. Luckily, I didn't open the package in the embassy - we waited 'til we were on the street and out flew some choice items from Victoria's Secret. Yes, Victoria's Secret was around back then, too.

So, this year, on February 14th,  Bill personally delivered a pink striped Victoria's Secret package into my hands. And inside was UNDERWEAR!!! Just like 25 years ago. But, this time there were no street vendors in Quito eyeballing two young girls far from home.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Food is LOVE

I wish that you could be with me here as I write this. Bill is preparing a sumptuous dinner tonight. The smell of garlic permeates the air, my throat is presently being cooled by a smooth Bordeaux and Martin Bejerano's rendition of  Lover Man is playing in the background. Bill works best when he has an audience, but tonight he merely has an audience of one. But, I am a very appreciative audience.


Fajita night with Anthony, Tommy, Will and Jake.
Bill can be seen orchestrating.

Bill used to love cooking for Will and Emma's friends. He loves a party and just adores feeding a throng. And high school students were always appreciative of his talents. But, more than that, he loved talking to them and getting THEM to talk back. He would challenge them and make them laugh at his irreverence. This is a shout out to all of Emma and Will's friends from Nichols and beyond and especially to Tommy (our second son) and Jake and Dillon and Anthony. We LOVED having you here.  And, thank you to your parents for sharing you with us.

Bill's love of cooking goes back to before I was in the picture. He tells me that his mother was such a bad cook that he had to learn how to cook in order to survive. I'm not so sure she was that bad. She taught school for years and was probably too exhausted to put in too much effort. Bill jokes that she could burn a can of soup. I do remember having a pretty terrific Thanksgiving at their house (early in our marriage) so I knew she had it in her. I think she just made a conscious decision to not cook. Which is why Bill took it upon himself to excel at cooking.

Dinner club at the Savinos
He's not a pedestrian cook, either. He's a master at Italian cooking, but he's also pretty decent at Indian cooking. He blends his own garam masala and we have had more than one Indian food themed dinner party. I can remember before we were married he told me WE were hosting a dinner for 24. In his house. Never mind that the dining room table only sat 8 - we were going to triple that number. He'd cook and I could figure out the rest. He did  and I did and it was a great success. I remember people had to stay overnight - I think because they were paralyzed by the food.

So, tonight on Valentine's Day he is pulling out all the stops. Feeding me rapini (broccoli rabi) and chicken piccata. The master clock says there are 8 minutes left. Time enough for me to set a table for 2 and give him a big kiss.


 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I am sixteen going on seventeen

There is a 9 1/2 year difference between Bill and me. And, even though I'm the one with the gray hair, it's Bill who is older. I sprouted my first gray hair when I was 17;  Bill was 57. Most people think he dyes his hair. I know he doesn't. I dye my hair, he doesn't dye his. It really makes me mad when people guess that it's me who has the 9 1/2 year edge. For  the record : I AM YOUNGER. Do you HEAR???

Bill jokes that his secret to youthfulness is slow, steady weight gain. It smooths out the wrinkles. I think it may be his Italian heritage and his refusal to grow up.

Before we were married, the age difference was something I considered.  I thought it might matter. Bill hung with an "older crowd" and some of his cohorts even had me intimidated. The maturity level of a 25 year old versus a 35 year old is pretty significant. Now, I don't even think of it. But, apparently Bill does. He has done some analysis and has determined that even though I'm only 9 1/2 years younger,  statistically I will be alive for 17 years after his death.  He has factored in my sex, my genetics and my habits - he thinks he's a doctor AND a statistician. 

Tomorrow I go for my annual check up. I say "annual" even though I don't really remember the last time I had a check up. But, I'm 50, and I know from the billboards on Maple Road that I must have a colonoscopy this year. And, in order to have a colonoscopy you must first have a visit with your primary physician. At dinner tonight, I asked Bill if there was anything I should bring up with my doctor (who is also my uncle) that might be pertinent to my check up. Without missing a beat he said:  "Figure out a way that you can die 17 years earlier than I have projected ...that way I can do some serious invasion of principal."

But, who will arrange for the kazoo party??

Saturday, February 12, 2011

You complete me

It occurred to me while I was shoveling the front walk today that after 41 blog posts I must sound like the most pampered woman in Buffalo. What you may not understand is that Bill and I have switched the 'traditional' roles. You already know that Bill does the grocery shopping and the cooking. He also takes care of the dry-cleaning and takes out the garbage (when Will isn't home), figures out all the investments and helps tremendously with my mother.

I take care of the yard and the bills; I contract with any of the plumbers, electricians, gutter guys, roofers, plow guys, furnace guy, electricians - you get the idea. I hate to call any of these contractors for assistance - I would rather do this stuff myself. But, I know my limitations.

There are some things that Bill doesn't even KNOW I do. I bet he doesn't know that I oil the boiler 4 times a year or that I check the pressure levels. I bet he doesn't know that I replace the screens of our windows at ABC Hardware on Bailey (they re-wire them there) or that I cut the water to the outside taps in the fall. Little things, I know - but it's something he doesn't have to worry about. I don't think he knows where the water gauge is hidden in the basement. I also program the thermostats, reset the batteries in the alarm system when they die and re-caulk the bathtubs. I'm not sure he knows the difference between a wrench and a pair of pliers.

Growing up, my family expected us all to pull our weight. My brother, Kevin worked much harder than I did - a lot was expected of him. But, my dad was determined that I learn how to do everything, too. He used to say that he joined the women's liberation movement the day I was born. He made sure I knew how to sink a fence post, birth a lamb and plant a garden. 

I made sure to teach Emma that she needed to be able to do anything a man was expected to do. And she can. She drove home today to get her hair cut and asked me to join her. I overheard her conversation with the hairdresser when he was suggesting that she bat her eyelashes and get some man to do some menial task for her (I didn't hear what the task was). Emma didn't even let him finish. "My mother didn't raise me that way!".  

This afternoon as I made my way out to shovel the walk I stopped to admire the sky, the sun  and the crows that were roosting in the pine  I started to wonder what our neighbors think about our household. They only see me in the yard trimming trees or on the roof cleaning gutters or, today, shoveling snow. They must think that Bill is the laziest son-of-a-bitch. That made me laugh out loud.

If they only knew the charmed life I lead. I found someone who loves to do the stuff I hate and Bill found someone to take care of the stuff he hates.
How perfect!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Clothes make the man

It's been almost 8 years since my dad died. I miss him. A lot. I miss him most during my drive home from work. I used to call him from the car and talk about work and the kids and news of the world and what he was painting.  We were pretty tight.

He was one of those ' bigger than life' characters. When he died he left a pretty big void. In a strange way, though, Bill was able to help fill part of that void:

After dad died, we (the kids and Bill  and I) went to Florida so that we could all be together. We helped mum get all of dad's stuff packed up and organized.  My dad was a bit of a clothes-horse and he appreciated good quality clothes. We sorted out his one-of-a kind silk shirts that were handmade from old Japanese kimonos and boxed up his hand- tied bow ties. We all wanted one of the shirts but didn't know what to do with the bow ties. I still have most of them in a closet.

As we pulled out Dad's suits, Bill remarked on the quality and weight of the fabric. We all joked that he should try them on -  if he liked them so much. You have to understand, Dad was probably 3-4  inches taller than Bill and, he was heavier, so we knew they wouldn't fit. But, Bill tried them on anyway. Amazingly, the fit was pretty close. (I still don't understand how that worked). Bill tried on one after the other until we all started laughing at the creepiness of the whole thing.  The man was barely gone a month and we were rifling through his best clothes. Talk about macabre! And, my mum got the biggest charge out of it. I can still see her sitting on the edge of the bed urging Bill to try on the jackets and to hike up the pants. She hated to just send the clothes to Goodwill and was thrilled that Bill was willing to take them to the tailor to have the alterations done.

To this day, Bill still wears some of those suits. There is one in particular (a small checked houndstooth) that I adore and I just love seeing Bill in it. I probably have some deep rooted, Electra complex that will never be solved - but, I'm telling you:  it makes me feel at peace when I see Bill in those clothes.  And, my mum likes it too.

To illustrate Dad's eccentric tastes, here is a picture of Bill in a lovely silk jacket that both he and Dad were proud to wear on Florida's gulf coast and the north coast of Buffalo.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I grill for you

Tonight my blog is going to be short. I'm beat.
But, my sweetheart is grilling me a rare steak ... outside. He is aware that I am almost incoherent. He already opened up a bottle of Rhone (my favo(u)rite) and poured me a glass. Ooops, he just gave me a refill.  He believes that the wine and bloody steak will invigorate me. He's probably right.

Bill has always grilled outside -  whatever the weather. He refuses to let it stop him.

Tonight he is braving the 5 degrees of coldness and flipping the steak. He has on Will's old Hydro coat (it used to be mine - my brother bought it for me when he worked at Mark's WorkWearhouse) - and his crappy shoes.

Take a look to the right and please take my poll. Do you brave the cold, too? Is he nuts? I never seem to smell grilling meats in my neighbo(u)rhood in the winter. But maybe that's because I'm not the one grilling.

I'll publish the results tomorrow.

Cheers!

PS - I have included the Canadian spelling since I'm very interested in what my Canadian friends do. Hence the reference to the Hydro coat (only they will understand) .

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mattress Pad - Part Deux

FAIL! That stupid mattress pad!! No sooner did I open the box than this lovely little notification flew out:

Being an actual lawyer, I read the official court notice inserted by Sunbeam. Apparently, Plaintiffs Bobby Fay Grammer and Sheryl Larey ( it looks like they may both be from the great state of Arkansas) filed a class action suit against Sunbeam alleging wrongdoing. Something about the safety of the electrical coils and the electromagnetic field configuration. My first reaction: How clever of Sunbeam to use the actual names of the Plaintiffs  - I mean really? Bobby Fay? How could you take him/her seriously? And YOU try saying Sheryl Larey 10 times fast. It's difficult. 

Anyway, I read the entire notice and then had to determine if this particular mattress pad was part of the settlement. So, I got out the user manual. At first I was ticked off because it was written in Spanish... then I turned it upside down and realized my error. For the life of me I couldn't tell which model I had bought. Eventually, I figured out that it wasn't one of the fatal covers. But, there was a lot of other information that gave me pause,  including a particularly scary FAQ section:
Q: I have heard that some heated products have EMFs. What is this?
A:  EMF stands for Electomagnetic Field. Blahblahblah. EMFs have not been proven to be harmful. In any event, Sunbeam has reduced the strength of EMFS in its mattress pads to very low levels. 
!
IN ANY EVENT? Is that really how you want to start that next sentence?  And what the heck are very low levels? Who decides these levels and how can I trust them? Did I just purchase a nuclear bomb for my bed.

The other distressing thing was that I had three comments on Facebook about my mattress pad purchase. My friend, Karl, said that lying all night against electrical force fields ( he called them force fields which is even scarier) will screw with your brain and your heart. Now, granted Karl is a hairdresser, but he COULD have been a doctor if he had applied to medical school and done the work. The second comment was from my uncle Tom, who IS a doctor and he thought the gift wasn't romantic enough.  The third was from my daughter who figured out that the credit I had used at Amazon.com to help pay for the mattress pad was actually HERS. Ooops. I didn't get these messages until this morning, however. So, they didn't influence my decision to ... PUT THE DAMN THING ON THE BED ANYWAY.  I had to see if the thing was going to glow.  

I turned on Bill's side of the bed and crawled into mine. I moved my leg over to his side and could feel the warmth. No green glow -  just warmth.  By the time he got into bed his side was nice and toasty.

And do you know what he did? He shimmied over to my side and laid his cold body up against mine, anyway.

Maybe it wasn't about the temperature after all.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Amazon.com

I don't like to shop (except at Marshall's and occasionally Stein Mart).  I think I've been pretty clear about that. But, I still need things ...even covet things (I know it's a sin). So, for me, online shopping is like a gift from God. I don't need to leave my house, can search for hours for the best deal (appeals to the Scot in me) and can accumulate points from various merchants. LOVE it! The biggest pain (for most people) is the hassle of returning things. But, that doesn't really impact me since we have this great little mail room at my office. Cynthia (the mail services center queen) let's me use her space to pack up my returns and figure out the cheapest way to ship things back. Headache solved.

This weekend I was searching for a Valentine's gift for Bill. I had recently returned an item to Amazon.com and had a $27.00 credit. I had also purchased a Groupon coupon for $10 which got me $20 at Amazon. (If you don't know about  Groupon you need to educate yourself. So, I had $47.00 burning a hole in my virtual pocket.  I started scrolling through the 'aisles' of Amazon. Naturally I began with the book section but was uninspired.  I looked at all the Man Booker prize winners since 1990 (I had given Bill  Kiran  Desai's Inheritance of Loss recently and he really loved it), so I thought it was a good place to start. But, after looking at the titles I wasn't moved. And, after all this was supposed to be a Valentine's day gift ... it should be romantic.

I let my mind wander. Finding a gift for Bill is always difficult. I can't buy him clothing and cars are too expensive. Other than that it's hard to get him excited about a gift. As my mind turned over different ideas, my mouse was clicking through the Home and Garden department, more specifically the Bedding and Bath area (I do love linens) and happened upon a mattress cover/warmer. The cover fits over your mattress, under your sheets and has hand held controls to set the temperature. This particular one had dual controls - one for each side of the bed. I got excited.

I usually crawl into bed earlier than Bill. So, by the time he comes to bed, my side of the bed is warm. Invariably he will hustle over to my side and lay his frigid body up against mine. In the summer, I don't mind the cooling off, but in the winter, my body stiffens and I usually end up giving him a good kick. Which wakes us both up - not a good start to the night. But, if I bought this mattress cover/warmer, I could simply turn the heat on his side of the bed when I crawl into my unheated side. PROBLEM solved.

When I saw the package at my door today, my heart skipped a beat. I love getting packages even when I know what they are. But, this one... this one was going to change everything. And it arrived on one of the coldest nights of the year.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Zone de Confusion

Before Bill and I met he took a trip to France. He told me that it was a trip of mixed emotions. I think a lot of the time he was miserable (he went alone). But, he brought back two important purchases: (1) he imported a Mercedes Benz - a car that he kept on the road for years after; and (2) a French traffic sign that he had purchased in a sign shop. This is precisely the kind of thing I would never buy while abroad because the shipping is so difficult. Bill said that he drove all around France with it (in his new Mercedes) and ended up shipping the sign out of England. I think the car was easier to bring back than the sign.

Bill was drawn to this particular sign. He had it hanging in his house when I met him.  It was unframed and steel - it's an honest to goodness, real Department of Transport (or whatever the French equivalent is) sign. He pointed out to me its authenticity and that it had called to him in the store. It had made him snicker at the French sensibilities: "Look at zee Gallic nose, zee suit coat with zee cinched in waist, and zee pointed chic shoes." Not only was this a warning sign, it was a fashion statement. And the heading: "Zone de Confusion" - how much more descriptive could you get? This was so much more than merely a 'Construction Zone' notice. Look what could happen if you wander into this zone. All Hell could break loose. Or Thor could throw his bolt.  Or your body could give off hot heat waves.  Mon Dieu! The possibilities were endless.

When Bill and the kids and I went to France he had talked so much about these 'Sign Shops' that we were determined to find one for ourselves. Will was especially keen to find a cool Gallic sign for his room. We looked everywhere in Paris for such a shop but, to no avail. "Cette boutique n'est pas ici" (Will was already speaking better French than his parents and the sarcasm was evident). In the end, Will had to settle for ripping a paper sign off the walls of the Metro. It's still hanging in his room.

I admired Bill for finding such a shop, spotting this wonderful sign and hauling it home. He had purchased it for the pure pleasure of having this constant reminder of the French mindset. The sign is now properly framed and hangs above my own confusion zone: my desk. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Viva Italia


Actual photo of Bill's family in Licata, Sicily circa 1950
When I was first dating Bill I had a bit of an issue: he was Italian. I know, I know - what a bigot!  But, 25 years ago I thought it was a fairly significant factor to consider - since he was a potential spouse.  And, up until then, my dates were pretty much exclusively WASPs. Ok, there was one Catholic in there, but he was non-practicing.

I didn't go out of my way to discriminate... it was the pool within which I was dating. I  was from a small town in north-central Ontario, for crying out loud. Once I moved to Buffalo the pool waters got much deeper, so to speak.


After a few weeks with Bill, the whole Italian thing turned out to be a non-issue (obviously). And, since he hadn't been inside a church since the Johnson administration, the Catholicsm thing didn't matter either.  So, we were good... until I met his parents.

It wasn't so much the Italian part that was an issue, because they were far from the  typical Italian- Americans I had envisioned. It was the noise. And by noise, I mean the decibel level of their conversations. Put Antionette (or Billy as she was more affectionaley called), Frank and Bill in a room and the place could go supersonic.


If you weren't following the conversation, or were in another room, or down the street...you would swear that they were arguing about an earth-shattering matter. But, if you cared to listen in (and it wasn't hard) you would find that they were talking about mundane things. This! This would be the hardest part of marrying an Italian, I thought.

The family that I came from is much more quiet. In public, we try to be unobtrusive. We do not raise our voices unless the situation calls for it. Yelling was for the barn when you couldn't hear above the tractor.


Years later, we visited Bill's relatives in Sicily. I braced myself. We went once alone and then, a few years later, we took the kids. I don't remember anyone speaking loudly.  Not even once. What I do remember is a unbelievably warm welcome with a lot of food and laughter and open arms and more food. It hit me in Agrigento just a few miles west of Licata, home of Bill's cousins.  After we had travelled all the way from Venice to Palermo and I had seen the beauty of the country, marvelled at the art, architecture, history and incredible intelligence of the Italian people I thought: How LUCKY that my kids are half Italian! 


Even a WASP can listen and learn.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Guilt

Today was an absolutely marvelous day... for someone who lives free from guilt. Imagine: Breakfast with two lovely friends followed by a spur of the moment manicure and pedicure (unhurried and relaxed), shopping at a stand-alone shop much like Marshall's (OK - it was Stein Mart - where the merchandise is not quite as discounted- but there was a red dot sale) then home to an empty house. I then put on the fire, set up the portable TV and popped in a video. I sat in front of the fire, as the snow fell outside the windows, and watched a Denzel Washington thriller.  Oh, and I made myself some hot chocolate with Ghiardelli chocolate. When the movie  was over, I pulled my newly purchased sweater closer and promptly fell asleep for 20 minutes. A day in heaven? You bet! But, my feeling of guilt was so great that when I awoke I quickly jumped into action and cleaned the kitchen. What a giant waste of time indulging myself!
When I was growing up, the majority of my childhood was spent on a farm. That is where my father taught us the mantra "when you wake up, get up - when you get up, do something." I'm plagued by those words. I have an incredibly difficult time enjoying doing nothing (which is what today equated to). It was easy to live by those words when the kids were little - there was precious little time for sleep, let alone relaxation. But, now I have "spare time"  - a rare and beautiful and cursed thing.

Like a lot of women, I married a man who is much like my father. Bill does not waste time. Even when he's watching TV, he's reading or playing his guitar. Last night he played a gig in Ellicotville, drove home after midnight, woke up around 8 a.m., worked out with his trainer and went to work for 6 hours.... It's Saturday! This is how he spends his Saturdays. Some Sundays, too. Bill would never spend a day like the way I spent it today (especially the mani/pedi). 

Comparing myself to others I know, I think I get a lot accomplished in a day. But, I am positively slothful when I compare my output to Bill's. We talk about the difference in our 'energy levels' and when I tell him how inadequate I feel, Bill always says: "Liz, it's ME who isn't normal". I'm crazy."

Maybe he is.  But, if he is... we need a lot more crazies in this world to get shit done.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Recipe Box

Today at lunch a co-worker mentioned that she has a drawerful of recipes that she had printed from the web. She had every intention of organizing them, but somehow they just stay in the drawer strewn in a haphazard manner. She admits that it would be easy to just put them in some sort of a book, but instead she leafs through them every time she's looking for a specific recipe.

Another co-worker confessed that her sister had given her back a recipe box of family recipes that my co-worker had assembled for her as a wedding present. "I'll never use these," she said. Imagine!

We have one of those drawers that is chock-a-block full of recipes. We also have a couple of baskets full of pages downloaded from cooking.com and the food network as well as torn pages from individual magazines and newspapers. There is even a bordelaise recipe written on a butcher's receipt/bill from years ago. The butcher hand wrote it and gave it to Bill when he was picking up some beef for a dinner party. The butcher shop is no longer there. I don't think the butcher/chef is alive either. The collector of all of these recipes, for the most part, is Bill.

Bill loves to read recipes out loud and think about making the dishes. His collection methods have changed with the advent of the PC and printers. He no longer rips the NY Times Sunday magazine apart.  The bookcase full of cooking books largely goes untouched. He peruses Rachel Ray's site or Emeril LaGasse's. He'll even go to the website after a cooking show on TV has indicated that the recipe can be found on it's sister site.

I am much more traditional in my recipe habits. I like the old fashioned 3x5 cards. My most prize recipes are written on those white cards with blue lines - handwritten by my mum, my grandmother, my friend in Rochester, my friend in Peterborough, my friend in Pembroke, my friend in Vancouver, my mum's friend in Oakville, my dad's secretary etc. What I don't have is the recipe for the most sumptuous chocolate dessert I ever ate. It was made by a French woman who invited us to her house for dinner. When I innocently asked for the recipe she REFUSED, I mean REFUSED to give it to me. She said it was rude of me to ask : It was her signature dish! What do I know about French women?

With recipe cards I like looking at the handwriting of the chef. Some of them are even dated! Most of them have food stains on them. Part of the charm of actually following the recipe is thinking of the woman who wrote on the card. This recipe card thing is a tradition that I fear which will not last much longer.  It's so easy to go to web, type in the name of a dish, or some ingredients and voila : you have an instant recipe (yes, that was a slam against my French chocolatier). The downside is that you end up with a lot of information on 8x11 pieces of paper.

 I kind of like that all my tried and true recipes are in one easy, retrievable box of love.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A doll's house

Most people complain about the amount of darkness we have to endure in the winter. It is a burden. But, there are some benefits that I bet you hadn't thought about.

By the time I leave work, it is completely dark. I purposely take the city streets (remember I try to avoid the 33 - that is Bill's domain). I have devised a lovely route that takes me past Delaware Park and down some of the more tony streets of North Buffalo. The houses along Nottingham and Depew are some of the loveliest in the area. And the residents, very kindly, leave A LOT of their interior lights on. First, second and third floor! Because I am an impatient (read "fast") driver, I do not see details - but rather form impressions of the interiors. And the impressions they leave are of warmth and order and family and togetherness. I'm not so naive as to believe that this is what is ACTUALLY going on. I realize that HOLY HELL could be breaking loose in these abodes. But, at 40 mph, the illusion is wonderful.

As I drove home tonight,  I also recalled a doll house I had as a wee girl. I wasn't more than 7 because I distinctly remember NOT playing with dolls after that age.  My mum had given me an old doll house. It wasn't one of those plastic "Barbie" houses that kids get nowadays. It was a one-of-a-kind handmade house. My friends were envious. I remember whiling away the hours assembling 'scenes' in each of the rooms and trying to replicate our own lovely home. My parents were very good at creating a sanctuary for us.

One of the most harrowing experience of my childhood life was seeing that same doll house at a sidewalk sale in my home town. My mum (the one who tells me to pitch things on a regular basis) had whistled it out of the house once she realized I no longer played with it. I hadn't noticed. But, when I saw the "FOR SALE" sign on MY HOUSE I just about died!! But, that is another story.

Bill and I walk in our neighbourhood when we can, but mostly in the spring, summer and fall. I love to walk at night with him at dusk. It's hard to see into people's houses at that time, and that's probably a good thing, since I'm walking and not driving, and could therefore see details.

When we turn the bend to our house, I look from the sidewalk and into our own front windows. And even though I cannot see the details, I know that inside there is warmth and order and family and togetherness - a sanctuary. I wish that everyone could have the same.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Change Fees

Today I received a cheery note from JetBlue inviting me to go online and confirm my flight. I thought, "Wow, that's weird, usually they do that the DAY before the flight, not the MONTH before the flight." Then I looked at the itinerary -  I had mistakenly booked tickets to a conference in Ft. Lauderdale for Bill for February 3rd instead of March 3rd. Do you know that the change fee is $100 per ticket. That is almost 1/2 the price of a dishwasher ( if you don't  buy the "better" model ! HA!). My stomach fell. Then I noticed some red bold writing on the JetBlue site that said TRAVEL ALERT - Fee Waivers for Northeast and MidAtlantic flights. Since we were in the middle of th "storm of the century" they were allowing fliers to re-book without incurring any fees. They'd been cancelling flights all over the place. What a great time for me to make a mistake!! WOOT! Buffalo is in the northeast,  I can get the fee waived. But, Buffalo - city of snow and ice - was not on the list of permissible cities. Do you know why? Because we KNOW SNOW and our Airport ROCKS!  Buffalonians can handle snow - they can plow it, melt it, ski it, have fun with it,  move in, around and through it.

I called JetBlue anyway and tried to connive my way through. They weren't buying it:  "The Buffalo airport is not experiencing any delays".  Can you hear the voice of the nasal woman saying that?

So, I took a deep breath and paid the damn change fee plus the additional fee because apparently, traveling to Ft. Lauderdale in March is more expensive than traveling in February.

And while I was in the mood, I booked a trip to Florida to see my mum in April ... on Southwest which does NOT charge change fees. You KNOW I checked the date a half a dozen times to make sure I hadn't screwed up.

I had been looking at my empty 2011 calendar and lamenting the fact that I had ZERO trips planned. And, my son, Will has taught me me that 1 of the 5 keys to happiness ( his personal mantra)  is to ALWAYS have something to which you can look forward. And, I needed to feel happier because of my stupid mistake. So, that is what I did. And it worked. I felt happier immediately.

When I confessed my booking error to Bill he said : "...and the problem is...?  Can't you rebook?" I said:  "Yes, I can replicate the flight but it's going to cost you more" . He said " Jesus, I make mistakes all the time. Book it and RELAX".

And, that made me feel happier, too!