Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A-Z April Challenge Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

Whew! I made it to the end of the A-Z April Challenge.  

And now it's time to 

Reflections on Reflection day.

Monday, April 29, 2013

A-Z April Challenge Y is for Memory Bytes

24,026.  That’s how many yesterday’s I have lived.  That is 34,597,440 minutes.

I wonder what it would be like to remember every minute of all of my yesterday’s.

Is every one of my yesterday memories stored somewhere in my brain?

I wonder what it would be like, if it were possible, to have my memory dumped right before my final shutdown.

How many flash drives would be needed to store all of my yesterday memories?  Would there be gigabytes, terabytes, or maybe even petabytes worth of data?*

Can my yesterday's memories be restored vividly crisp and relevant?  Or will these copies be dulled by short circuited minutes of needless fretful worry and mindless clutter?

I wonder if I would be okay with having others wander through my yesterday memories after I am but a faded yesterday memory.

*Processor or Virtual Storage

Disk Storage

· 1 Bit = Binary Digit
· 8 Bits = 1 Byte
· 1024 Bytes = 1 Kilobyte
· 1024 Kilobytes = 1 Megabyte
· 1024 Megabytes = 1 Gigabyte
· 1024 Gigabytes = 1 Terabyte
· 1024 Terabytes = 1 Petabyte
· 1024 Petabytes = 1 Exabyte
· 1024 Exabytes = 1 Zettabyte
· 1024 Zettabytes = 1 Yottabyte
· 1024 Yottabytes = 1 Brontobyte
· 1024 Brontobytes = 1 Geopbyte
· 1 Bit = Binary Digit
· 8 Bits = 1 Byte
· 1000 Bytes = 1 Kilobyte
· 1000 Kilobytes = 1 Megabyte
· 1000 Megabytes = 1 Gigabyte
· 1000 Gigabytes = 1 Terabyte
· 1000 Terabytes = 1 Petabyte
· 1000 Petabytes = 1 Exabyte
· 1000 Exabytes = 1 Zettabyte
· 1000 Zettabytes = 1 Yottabyte
· 1000 Yottabytes = 1 Brontobyte
· 1000 Brontobytes = 1 Geopbyte 

I am participating in the A-Z April Challenge.
Today’s letter is Y for Yesterday’s memory bytes.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A-Z Challenge X is for “Dude You Don’t Need Her!”

The two are inseparable.  She is the quiet one.  He is the one everyone hears.  I’m not sure how they met.  There is probably a not so exciting story about how and why they have stuck together after all of these years.

Oh, occasionally you will see him out and about without her, but it is rare.  In fact in some circles he is completely ignored, as if he didn’t exist.

You know what, I say drop her.  She’s not necessary.  She gets enough exposure on her own.

My advice to him, “Come on dude, you can do it!”

“Stand alone for once in your life!"

“You have your own voice, use it!"

This post was xtremely difficult to write.  But I imagine it was xactly the same for the rest of those who, at this point in the challenge, are trying to xamine their motives for over xercising  their writing muscles to the point of xhaustion.

I am participating in the A-Z April challenge.
Today’s letter is X for Drop the E.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A-Z April Challenge W is for It's Only a Mirage

Ross and I live in an "active" adult community.  The full name of it is "The Four Seasons at Mirage".

The sign at the entrance has a symbol of the four seasons.

You can see it there in the photo in the corner.    There is a sun for summer, a leaf for fall,  spring flowers and a snowflake for winer. 

I imagine when the marketers thought up the title for our community, they meant to have it conjure up images of a full active life style all throughout the year.

There are approximately 2000 people living here. I would guess that the average age of the population  well past 65.  

I'm not sure how many of us are still active enough to be spring into any kind of action.  

That sign may have initially enticed me into believing that that I had enough pepper left in me to weather another lifetime of seasoning, but my wizened years of experience have taught me that just ain't so. 

To further justify my opinion I only have to eavesdrop on a conversation of folks at poolside.
The talk isn't about dancing the night away, at last nights "'50's  Sock Hop" dance.  
But it is more likely to be about which knee replacement surgeon is the best or worst and where they preferred to go for physical therapy. 

Now that I have lived here a while, I see the irony of the sign and perhaps a little bit of sarcasm too.

To believe that we have another full four seasons of active life is only just a  Mirage.

Because you see "Winter is Here."

And by the way, that scene from last Sunday's Game of Thrones, the scene with Daenerys Tagraryen was WOW!

I am participating the A-Z April Challenge.
Today's letter is W for Winter and Wow.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A-Z April Challenge V is You Can Hear Me Now

When I first began my blog, a little over two years ago,  I had two followers.   Of course that would be me and Ross.
Each time I wrote something, Ross would eagerly read it.  I would watch his face as he read my words.
If and when I saw him react with of any sort of emotion, I would feel a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.
My reaction would be a nodding of my head.  I would say to myself, "Yes, he gets it.  He understands.  He hears me."

Soon, Ross encouraged me to let other people in, to let other listeners hear my words. I slowly began to tell a few members of my family about my blog.  I found that it was important to me to be able to talk to them  in a way that I hadn't been able to before.   I wanted them to hear, to understand, to get me.

Little by little I started to put myself out into the blogosphere.  I joined a blogging group on Ravelry, a knitting website community.   That led me to sites such as BlogHer and Midlife Bloggers.
I found blogging events to participate in, such as this one, The A-Z April Challenge.

Writing my blog has been an important journey of self discovery.

My following has grown, not by leaps and bounds, but one by one.

I have been touched by the kindness, encouragement and support of our virtual community.

I have been brought to tears by beautiful passages written so eloquently by the many talented writers I have discovered and now follow.
You tell me stories I can relate to.  You make me giggle.  You teach me.  You show me how.

We each have a voice.  We all want to be heard.   Everyone wants to be acknowledged.

I have found my voice through writing.

I am participating in the A-Z April Challenge.
Today's letter is V for Voice.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A-Z April Challenge U is for Under a Sad Umbrella

I am participating in the April A-Z challenge.
Today’s letter is U.

The first word that comes to mind when I hear the letter U is umbrella.

I have written about his before, but it is such a powerful memory that the letter U immediately brings this day back so vividly.   I believe it is worth repeating.
So this is a newly written post about a haunting memory.

She was very ornery that day.   Unfortunately so was I.
It was a cold, and dreary April morning.   The drenching rain made driving nearly impossible.  The traffic was heavier than normal which added an extra 20 minutes on to our trip.
She was waiting for us and complained that we were late.  She told us that she had been sitting too long and she didn’t want to go.  She said she wasn’t feeling well and wanted to get back into her bed.
I told her she had to go.   We argued for a few minutes.   Ross was finally able to convince her to get her rain coat on.  We walked out to the car, side by side, huddled under the umbrella.  I helped her into the car. I folded up the walker and loaded it into the trunk.  She whimpered like a little child the entire way there.  My patience was waning.
We pulled into the circular drive way in front of the door.  She said she wasn’t going to get out of the car.  I told her we had to hurry because they were waiting for her.
I got the walker out of the trunk, opened her door and placed the walker in front of her.   I popped open the umbrella and guided her towards the walker.  As we again slowly, side by side, made our way towards the doors, I put my arm around her back and told her we must hurry.

As I said ,that day is one I will always remember.   It was about three weeks into her daily radiation treatments.  She had another three weeks to go.

The sad image of my mother and me under an umbrella on a cold and rainy day, will forever be etched in my memory.

My regret is that I lost my patience and understanding.

My consolation, is that I lovingly cared for her in our home during the last months of her life.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A-Z Challenge T for Rosario and Lola

Ross and I met way back then.    Me, a small town girl from central Joisey, he a city dweller.  And by city I mean The city.  NYC to be exact.

Actually, Ross is also from a small town.  But his small town was only a near bridge or tunnel away from New York City.   And at some point, during one of his many lives, he lived in the city.

Ross introduced me to New York.  I have quite a few memories of some of the more colorful places he took me to.

On one of our first dates, we went to a movie theater called the Angelika, which is at the corner of Houston St. and Mercer St. in Greenwich Village.
From Wiki: "The original Angelika Film Center & Café opened in New York City’s Soho district in 1989.
The Angelika New York has been a hub for high-budget independent cinema since it opened. It does not screen underground or "no budget" films. It has six screens, all of which are below ground level, and its ground floor lobby houses a fully operational cafe accessible by people who do not hold tickets.”
The film we saw that night was “The Tango Lesson.” 

From Wiki: Plot
"The film tells of Sally, a filmmaker and screenwriter who is suffering from writer's block. She is also dissatisfied with her film project, a murder mystery called Rage, which focuses on the fashion industry. She takes a break and travels to Paris, where she sees the dancer Pablo (Pablo Verón) performing tango.
She becomes obsessed with the dance and offers Pablo a part in her film in exchange for dance lessons. The two become deeply involved as dancers and as lovers, and their emotional intimacy threatens the success of their dancing together.
The film explores the conflict between the woman dancer accepting the man's lead in the dance, while the man must accept the woman's lead in the film. It is also a love story, as well as a showcase for Verón's dancing.”

That night Ross and I fell in love…with Tango.   We became obsessed with the music and dance of the Tango.   

The film mentioned a social event called which is called a “Milonga”.  Milongas are tango dance parties. People who dance at milongas are known as milongueros. When a group of people go tango dancing, they go to a milonga. People come as individuals or with a partner. Music is usually played in tandas, or sets, with 3 or 4 songs in a tanda. In betwen tandas there will be a cortina, a short music interlude (30 sec or so long) of non-tango music. This is the customary time to change partners or take a break if you want to. Most milongas are held on a regular basis (usually weekly).

Ross researched, via the internet and found that there were many Milongas taking place throughout the city.  

One of the places, which held a weekly Milonga, was called La Belle Epoque. It was a restaurant in Greenwich Village.  On Friday nights, they offered beginner Tango lessons which would take place before the Milonga began. 

The restaurant was enchanting.  The architecture of the building was what I imagined early 20th century Paris or New Orleans to look like.  Plants hung from an iron railing balcony. We would enter La Belle Epoque through the white door on the left and up one flight, 

The inside had exposed brick walls and a painted tile floor. 

During the week we would practice the Tango steps we had learned at our Friday Milongas at La Belle Epoque.  

One of the regular dancers was Angel Garcia.  Ross and I took a couple of private lessons from him at an out of the way studio somewhere in the village.     

Angel Garcia Performing

We were too cool, way back then.   I think we each had illusions delusions of us as the stars of our own Tango Lesson.  Rosario and Lola.

Le Belle Epoque has since closed its doors, and now our Tango dancing is but a fond memory.

But, we still love the music of Tango and the images it evokes of the suave Rosario and the beautiful,  Lola.

The wonderful Google can direct you to Milongas in your area.

Or if you are in the NYC area,


I am participating in the April A-Z Challenge.
Today’s letter is T for Tango.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sixto's Songs Brought Back The Music

I am participating in the April A-Z Challenge
Today's letter is S
Sixto Rodriquez

I was given a wonderful gift a couple of days ago by Graciewilde from "In Search of A Title".
Her well written R post on Saturday, which was simply titled "Rodriquez", intrigued me tremendously.

The subject of her post was the academy award winning documentary called "Searching for Sugar Man".  The film is about a musician named Sixto Rodriquez, a 1970's American musician .   To add additional interest, Gracie inserted a piece of his music along with a video into her post.

After listening to the song that she had placed in her post, titled "I Wonder", I was hooked.  I wanted to hear more of his music and find out who this man was.

I won't repeat Gracie's post.  She did the best job of describing the film and enticing the reader.  Please read her post here.

Today, my post is about Sixto's songs and how they make me feel.

I have several means of listening to music.  In addition to the old stand-by radio, I also have more than one MP3 device.  I have an iPod, iPad, iPhone, desktop computer, laptop computer and I am probably leaving a device or two out.

But my iTunes library has no music.

I can't remember when I stopped listening to music.  Well, perhaps I can.  But, that's for another post.

On a recent trip to that evil, filled with too much tempting nerd stuff, Apple Store, I was forced into purchasing a new iPod.  Don't ask me how I justified such a purchase, it's too convoluted.  Let's just say my new iPod is so cute and it's red.

I think Gracie's post was a sign.  Her post re-introduced me to music.

Music that I actually could zone out to, tap my foot to and fill my new, cute, red iPod Nano with.

Rodriquez's poetic emotional lyrics move me and touch me with their familiarity.
From his song "Climb Up On My Music":

Have you ever been in darkness,
And your mind could find no peace,
When you woke up after midnight,
Found your swans have turned to geese.

  His preceptive views of how the "goings on in this world", seem to continue, without lessons learned, sadden me.   Lyrics from the song "I Wonder":

I wonder about the tears in children's eyes
And I wonder about the soldier that dies
I wonder will this hatred ever end
I wonder and worry my friend
I wonder I wonder wonder don't you?

Funny sarcastic lyrics like these taken from the song "Like Janis" make me giggle.

'Cos emotionally you're the same basic trip
And you know that I know of the times that you've slipped
So don't try to impress me, you're just pins and paint
And don't try to charm me with things that you ain't.
And don't try to enchant me with your manner of dress
'Cos a monkey in silk is a monkey no less

After hearing the music of Sixto, I realized that for me, the relatable factor was missing in the music of today. 
The current pop songs are for the young who have so much life yet to live. 
These are the song lyrics which are filled with romantic tales of hopeful love, new love, lost love, and lover's revenge.  
Yes, it's true, Rodriquez explores those subject too.  Yet, his songs are complexly simple.  The musical arrangement are soft, but powerful.  His voice is clear and his enunciation is precise.   

But most of all, the reason I want to "climb up on his music" is because of Sixto. 
The life story of this legendary man far surpassed my expectations. 

You were right, Gracie, I believe he has inspired me to re-consider life's music.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A-Z April Challenge R is for My Secret Fantasy

What do you want to be when you grow up?  
Like all kids, when asked that question, I probably answered many different ways.  But growing up in the late 1950's and early 1960's, I'm sure my answer was NOT policeman, fireman, doctor or lawyer.  
During that era, I most likely would have chosen teacher, "MAD Men" executive secretary or Mommy.
But, I did have a secret fantasy.  Perhaps, because of my affinity with story telling, I was drawn to the glamourous world of newspaper reporting.  
Okay, I admit it.  It had nothing to do with my made up "once upon a time" stories.  It was her.  It was Brenda Starr Reporter.  She was my inspiration.

Typically, young women of my generation, would most likely marry our high school sweet heart, after he finished college or completed his stint in the armed forces.

But, do you know how you have that one teacher, the one who sees something in you that no one else has seen before?

That teacher for me was Clarence Jolly, Jr.
Mr. Jolly was my high school English teacher.

When I shyly answered his question of what I wanted to do after high school, he told me that I absolutely should pursue a career in the field of my choice because I had the skills to do it.
My father had other plans for me, though.  College was not an option.  "Besides, he said, you got such good grades in Typing and Stenography."
"You should become a secretary."
Also, of course,  there was Larry, my high school sweetheart.   Our plans included waiting for him to finish college, serve his mandatory time in the military and then we would marry.

Well,  newspaper journalism was not in the cards for me, but, neither was Larry.

My memories of reading the daily comic strip have faded along with my Brenda Starr Reporter fantasies.  But, she did capture my imagination and filled, this then young girl, with dreams of  maybes and what ifs.

And I will never forget Mr. Clarence Jolly, Junior.

The following excerpt was taken from Wikipedia

Characters and final storylines

Brenda has always been a modern woman, noted for her exotic adventures and steamy romances. Dale Messick and later artists concentrated on keeping Brenda contemporary in clothing and hairstyles. Before Messick retired, Brenda finally married the mysterious Basil St. John, whose eye patch and black orchid serum have been a regular plot element Shortly thereafter, Brenda had Basil's baby, a girl named Starr Twinkle St. John. Brenda and Basil divorced, and sparks flew when they met again. During one of Basil's reappearances, Brenda discovered Basil had a son, named Sage, with the talk show host, Wanda Fonda. That marriage also ended in divorce. Brenda and Wanda became good friends. Eventually, Brenda was promoted from reporter to editor.

I am participating in the A-Z April Challenge.
Today's letter is R.
Lynda Starr Reporter

Friday, April 19, 2013

A-Z April Challenge Q is for "Hello, Will You Hear Me Now?"

When I think of the letter Q, the first word that comes to my mind is "quiet".  That is because it is what defines who I am.  It is my identity.  I am quiet.

I imagine that most people like the word quiet.  It may bring thoughts of calm moments and peaceful times. It probably conjurers up images of lone beaches, morning forests, first snows and mountain top clouds.

Through introspection, I have come to realize how important my quietness is.

I probably didn't understand that I was a little different from the other kids because of my quietness until my first grade teacher alerted my mother to this fact by noting it in a comment on my report card.
 To paraphrase, "Lynda is doing well, but she is so quiet."

Personality traits such as quiet, shy, or introvert are generally not positive descriptors, but instead have a  negative connotation.

Life reflection has brought me an understanding of my quietness.

From early on in my life, quiet was what I learned to do when frightening thunderous screaming night noises wakened me.

After all, if I were quiet, I wasn't really there, now was I?

My son was quiet.  His childhood experiences were quite different from mine.   His father is also a quiet person.

Nurture or nature?  The experts say both contribute to our personality development.

But we quiet ones, most of us, we are peaceful and gentle souls.  We may not know how to start a conversation, or have any idea about ice breakers, but we have thoughts and ideas and opinions.

We may not like to participate in a group discussion for fear that we won't be heard, but if you take a moment to listen closely, you may be surprised by what we have to say.

We probably will know much more about you, than you will know about us.  But that is only because we are the observers, the askers of the questions, you have our undivided attention.

I would like to be able to say that at this point in my life I have become comfortable with my quiet being.  Wouldn't that make a good ending to this post?

Let's just say that I continue to work on that.

So, what did you do today?

In a post, the day after my son passed away, I wrote a tribute to his quietness.  If you please, take a moment to read it.

Quiet Treasures

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A-Z April Challenge P is for Checking out the Hudson

In an earlier post this month I wrote about how Ross has expanded my vocabulary horizons in a most colorful way.

Early on in our new relationship, during one of our first conversations,  Ross he asked me what my day was like.  After I told him what I had done that day,  I asked him the same question.

He said, "Oh, I just phumphered around."

I thought to myself,  "How strange."  I never heard anyone use that word before and wondered if it was one he made up.

The interesting thing about that word is I knew exactly what he meant.  It is an imagery word.
So, that day when Ross told me he spent the day phumphering, I immediately, conjured up a whole scenario.
I imagined Ross shuffling papers around on his desk, reading the NY times, doing the cross word puzzle, dunking his heavily buttered bagel in his coffee,  walking out on his balcony to check out what the Hudson was up to, waving hi to his neighbor,  driving into town to have a chat with Al, his antique dealer friend, coming home to shuffle more desk papers, driving back into town to have "a bite to eat," then, after coming home to watch a little TV, crawling into bed where he would phone me to ask me what my day was like.

verb to fumfer A Yiddish word meaning to "mumble", most often used to mean to be evasive; can also mean to putter aimlessly or to waste time.
  1. to stammer; to mutter nervously or confusedly;
Some common spellings: 'phumpher' and 'fumpher', to a lesser extent 'pfumpher' and 'pfumpfer', and very rarely, 'pfumfer'. Never 'phumfer'. The most common is 'phumpher', followed closely by 'fumfer'.

I am participating in the A-Z April Challenge.
Today's letter is P:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A-Z April Challenge O is for Princess Lynda Scheherazade

I am participating in the A-Z April Challenge
Today’s letter is O for:
Once upon a time…

I have been telling stories to kids since I was a kid.  There is something about starting a tale with “Once upon a time” that inspires my creativity.  Those four familiar words entice my imagination to freely wander with abandon through the magical world of make believe.

It has been my experience that whenever I begin a “Once upon a time” tale,  my listeners are immediately engaged.    As I look into their eyes, bright with wonder,  I intuitively sense that they are  seeing, so clearly,  the word pictures I am painting for them.

Of course they are free, as they often do, to contribute their own texture and color to what eventually becomes a collaborative mural of memories.

My joy is complete when I hear the words, “Tell me a story…
"Once upon a time in a land far, far, away there lived a little girl and little boy, who looked just like you.
"And what do you think their names were?”

"Once upon a time" is a stock phrase that has been used in some form since at least 1380 (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) in storytelling in the English language, and seems to have become a widely accepted convention for opening oral narratives by around 1600. These stories often then end with "and they all lived happily ever after," or, originally, “happily until their deaths."

But I am Princess Lynda Scheherazade, my stories never end, because there is always another “Once upon a time…

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A-Z April Challenge N is for Shhh

Did you ever want to block out the noise that is constantly around you?

For instance, the TV, which, even though it has its own built in speakers, must be enhanced with four additional surround sound speakers and those said speakers have to be ramped up to LOUD, you know, to get the full effect of the gory battle scenes in Game of Thrones.  And even though you are in another room trying to listen to a book and knit, you are bass vibrating.

What about the cars whizzing by on Mirage Blvd doing 40 when the "strictly enforced" speed limit is 25?  Or those Harley's that are driven by the old men who live in an unnamed senior community who are afraid to take their bikes outside of the gates so they just ride around and around the block?

Then there is that dog who wakes you up at 3:00 a.m, then again at 5:00, then finally at 6:00 a.m. with his incessant barking and whining.  It only becomes "finally" at 6:00 because that's when you can't take his barking anymore and you get up. That's when he smiles,  knowingly laughs to himself at you and then lays down beside you and goes to sleep.

Of course, let's not forget about the phone calls from your many friends, especially those who have 800 numbers.  The 800er's are my favorites.   They are such tricksters, calling you and then hanging up.  How cute is that?

Not to mention the noise that is continual in your head.  The voices of the past, present and future.  Their monotonous shoulda, coulda, and whatif mantras have become quite pesky and frankly I'm bored with them.

Well, I, for one am ready to stand up and say, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

So I decided to "google shop" for head phones.

What I found out is there are devices which can cancel noise.  That's right they can actually cancel the noises you don't want to hear and only let in what you want to listen to.

When I googled "How do noise canceling head phones work?",
I found the following information from the website:  "How Stuff Works"

Basically, there are two types of noise canceling headphones,  active and passive.

"The best passive noise-canceling headphones, however, are circum-aural types that are specially constructed to maximize noise-filtering properties. That means they are packed with layers of high-density foam or other sound-absorbing material, which makes them heavier than normal headphones. The tradeoff of all that extra weight is a reduction in noise of about 15 to 20 decibels (dB). But considering jet engines create 75 to 80 dB of noise inside the aircraft cabin, passive models have some serious limitations". 

"Active noise-canceling headphones can do everything that passive ones can do -- their very structure creates a barrier that blocks high-frequency sound waves. They also add an extra level of noise reduction by actively erasing lower-frequency sound waves. How do noise-canceling headphones accomplish this? They actually create their own sound waves that mimic the incoming noise in every respect except one: the headphone's sound waves are 180 degrees out of phase with the intruding waves."

"If you look at the illustration below, you can see how this works. Notice that the two waves -- the one coming from the noise-canceling headphone and the one associated with the ambient noise -- have the same amplitude and frequency, but their crests and troughs (compressions and rarefactions) are arranged so that the crests (compressions) of one wave line up with the troughs (rarefactions) of the other wave and vice versa. In essence, the two waves cancel each other out, a phenomenon known as destructive interference. The result: the listener can focus on the sounds he wants to hear."

Makes sense, right?  Okay maybe not, completely.  But I what I got out of this is Actives are more effective than Passives.

I then went "goggle comparison shopping" to see which pair I should buy.

Cnet  rated PSB M4U 2, Harman Kardon NC, Bose Quiet Comfort 15, Bose QuietComfort 3 and Soul By Ludacris SL300 as excellent.

Those range in price from $140 - $400.

Ross and I took a trip to the Apple store.  They had the Bose and the Harman Kardons for $299.00.

I had to stop and think about that.  Did I really need to cancel $300 worth of noise?

I spotted this cool looking white pair of "Skullcandy Supreme Sound Navigator's".
I don't know if they were active or passive, but they were cute and they blocked out quite a bit of the noisy noises in the "always crazy with people", Apple store.

When I told the very nice "Blue shirt Apple Nerd" young woman which ones I had decided to buy, she said, Oh you went for the pretty ones."

Yep, that's what I did.  I went for the pretty and cheap ones.

My Skullcandy earphones cancel out $99.00 worth of noise.  But I look good wearing them.

I am participating in the A-Z April Challenge
Today's Letter is N for Noise(Canceling).

Monday, April 15, 2013

A-Z April Challenge M for Melancholy Memories of Sunday Morning Meatballs

I am participating in the A-Z April Challenge.
Today's letter is M:

Melancholy Memories of Sunday Morning Meatballs

My siblings and I went to church every sunday.  Even though my parents did not go to Mass, they made sure we all went.  As I write this, I just had a thought.  It may have been the only bit of time that Romeo and Priscilla had to themselves. Hmmm.

Anyway, while we were at church, following the rituals of Sunday Mass, my mother would begin the Sunday morning ritual of making "the gravy," (or pasta sauce as others may call it. )

We attended St. Matthews church.  It was one street over and down the block from where we lived.  It was a short 10 minute walk.

Generally, every Sunday, we would receive Communion.  At that time, one had to fast before receiving Communion.  That meant that by the time Mass was over we were starving.

When we reached our street, we could smell the sweet aroma of garlic, onions, basil, and crushed Italian plum tomatoes from all the way down the block.

The back door of our house opened into the kitchen. The first thing we did when we got inside was grab a hunk of Italian bread and dunk it in the gravy.

mmm, mmm, mmm.  I can smell it and taste it right now.

My mother would be at the stove, tending to the meatballs which were sizzling in a black cast iron frying pan, next to the big pot of gently bubbling gravy.

She had a strict order of things when making the gravy.   The browned sausage and pork neck bone would go into the pot only after the tomatoes had come to a frothy boil, and then had finally calmed down to a simmer.

The meatballs would be the last to go into the pot, after the pork meats had cooked in the gravy for an hour.

I'm sure the recipe for the meatballs, that my mother used to make,  was passed down from generation to generation.  By the way, I use the word recipe very loosely here,  because there were no exact ingredient measurements.
To learn how to make these meatballs, I had to watch my mother make them, just as I am sure she watched my grandmother make them.

Which is why, even though everyone in the family used the same ingredients:
ground beef, chopped garlic cloves, fresh chopped Italian parsley, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, eggs (the number of which varies according to the amount of meat) and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, no one's meatballs came out tasting exactly like another's.

Which is also why my brother, Ray preferred my Aunt Nancy's meatballs over my mother's and I liked my mother's meatballs better than my own.  Jen says she would rather eat my meatballs instead of the ones she makes.  Or actually Jen says the same thing to me that I said to my mother.  "Why don't my meatballs come out like yours?"

One Sunday morning as we headed down the church block to go home,  one of our friends came running up to us yelling, "Your house is on fire!  Your house is on fire!"

We all started running.  When we got to the top of our street we could smell it.  It was not the comforting aroma of the familiar, but rather a rude, pungent, stifling odor of black smoke.

Thanks to the quick thinking of my father and the speed of the fire department, most of the destruction to the house was limited to smoke damage.

That particular Sunday was the most vivid memory I have of those Sunday morning rituals.

After the firetrucks left, my mother put on the pot of water for the macaroni and cleaned off the kitchen table.  Then we sat down, as we always did, to our Sunday afternoon meal of macaroni and meatballs.

It was a couple of weeks, maybe even a month before we could move back into the house. My mother and father stayed during the clean-up.  We were farmed out to family and neighbors.  But, we always came home for our Sunday macaroni and meatballs.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A-Z April Challenge L is for "The Rest of The Story"

Yesterday Ross celebrated a milestone birthday.   Like I told him, it's not easy to say good bye to 39. :)

We didn't have anything special planned, or I should say I was negligent and didn't have anything special planned.  No excuses, but there are excuses.

The first thing we did on our unplanned day was go for breakfast at the no-Pizza Pizza and bagel shop.  Yeah, they originally planned on it being a pizza and bagel place, then decided not to go the pizza route, but they decided to keep the original name.

It's a cool little place, right next to the post office.  The old men gather there in the morning and solve the world's problems. 

After we finished our breakfast and were lingering on a second cupa,  I received the following e-mail: (I changed the name to protect the probably not so innocent) 

Hello my name is Sarah Jones...I think I have something that belongs to you! Please call us we are in Toms River, 732-xxx-xxxx. If we aren't here just leave a message and a number where we can reach you. :)  Speak to me or Sasha, have a good day.

I must note here that I wrote chapter one to this true story in yesterday's post.  
I will give a brief synopsis here in case you missed it.

Basically, I had my iPad stolen out of my knitting bag at an auction we attended on Thursday night.  The knitting bag was turned in, but the iPad was gone.   How's that for brief?

Okay, back to chapter 2.   

I knew that this aka Sarah had my iPad.  My immediate reaction was to be somewhat suspicious.  Ross had another re-action, over reaction.

He told me about a well-known scam.  Your wallet gets stolen.  Someone calls and tells you that they have your wallet.  They agree to meet you in a public place to return your wallet.  You feel safe, after all it is a public place.  While you are waiting at the pre-determined location, they are at your house with a moving van.

I said pshaw.  I called the number.  A very nice Sarah answered the phone by saying, "I bet you're glad to hear from me."

We agreed to meet, in an hour, at a public place, a Super Shop Rite, two towns over.  She described the car she would be driving and what she would be wearing.  I told her nothing about our car, what we looked like or what we would be wearing. 

Ross was still not comfortable with the whole thing.  

I have to tell you that we live in a guarded, gated community.  To put his mind at ease,  Ross called the guard and told them not to let anyone in.  

We got there about 35 minutes early.  Ross parked in a prime location to provide for optimum, clandestine surveillance.  No kidding.  He did. 

About five minutes before the meeting time, Sarah called me.   She told me that she was running late and needed another 15 minutes.
She also tried to get me to tell her what I looked like.  She and her sister, Sasha, were, of course, also at the same auction.   Apparently, they had an altercation with a woman at the auction.  They wanted, I guess, to make sure I wasn't that woman.  
First she asked me if I was Russian.  I'm not.  Then she wanted to know if I was a skinny blond.  I didn't know how to answer that one.
Funny thing is, I witnessed the altercation.  I knew exactly who Sarah was, what she looked like and where she had been sitting in relation to where our seats were. 

I assured her that I was not the skinny Russian blond woman.

I asked her how she came to have my iPad.  The story that she told me was so unbelievable that I won't  even bother to re-tell it here.  It was ridiculous,  made absolutely no sense and was obviously a lie. 

The rest of the story is kind of boring.  Sarah and Sasha did show up.  I got out of our car, Sarah handed me my iPad.  I said thank-you.  They headed into the Shop Rite to do their weekly grocery shopping. 

One question that Sarah asked before we said good-bye, though, was pretty funny.  She asked me if my husband was the man at the auction who was wearing a pink shirt and eating the biggest piece of chocolate cake in the world.  

He was... wearing pink and eating a huge piece of chocolate cake.   
Everyone turned around when Ross came in with that cake.  Afterwards, one by one, about a dozen people got up to go over to the cafeteria for a piece of that cake. 

Anyway, here's the thing.  I have a question or two.  First how did Sarah get my e-mail address?  Second,  I really would like to know how come Sarah and Sasha had my iPad, but not my knitting bag?  

Theories anyone?

I am participating in the A-Z April Challenge.  
Today's letter is L for  LUCKY?

PS: When we got home all of our prized possessions (or as I like to call it junk stuff) were right where we messily left them.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A-Z April Challenge K is for "Stop Thief!"

Yesterday, I had to have an x-ray.  Generally, I am slightly uncomfortable in medical situations.
Anyone who knows me is laughing at that mildly understated description of my state when I have to go to the doctor, dentist, hospital, etc.
It is not an embellishment to say that I FA REEK out.

So back to the x-ray.  It wasn't just a plain ole x-ray.  The procedure I had done was called a Hida Scan with CCK Injection.

Here is the explanation of the test.

A hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid scan, also known as a HIDA scan or cholescintigraphy -- is a test that examines the passage of bile from the liver to the small intestine, specifically focusing on the gallbladder, the small organ through which the bile flows. A physician may order a HIDA scan when gallstones, gallbladder inflammation or other problems with the bile ducts or gallbladder are 
suspected. A HIDA scan can include a CCK (cholecystokinin) injection, as well, to test the ejection fraction of bile from the gallbladder. The entire test can take anywhere from one to four hours. A HIDA scan begins with an injection of a radioactive tracer. This tracer helps to highlight the liver, bile ducts and gallbladder in the pictures taken by a gamma camera. The camera photographs the abdomen for 60-90 minutes, and then the injection of CCK is administered. This naturally occurring polypeptide stimulates the gallbladder to contract, squeezing out the bile. The rate at which the bile leaves the gallbladder is used to calculate the ejection fraction. The camera continues to take pictures as the CCK causes the gallbladder contractions.A HIDA scan may indicate that the biliary tract is functioning normally, or it may indicate problems. If the flow of the radioactive tracer is inhibited at any point, it may indicate gallstones, which are hardened cholesterol formations that can lodge themselves in the bile duct or fill up a gallbladder. "Sludge" is another possibility, occurring when thick cholesterol sediments form in the gallbladder. If the radioactive material never shows up in the gallbladder, the test may indicate that the gallbladder is inflamed.During a HIDA scan that includes a CCK injection, the ejection fraction should demonstrate whether or not the gallbladder is effectively moving bile. An ejection fraction is represented by a percentage on a scale of 0 through 100, with fractions less than 30 percent indicating compromised functionality of the gallbladder and the possible need for surgical removal.

Prep for the Test

Come on now I bet you'd be "slightly uncomfortable" too.

For the past week I have been looking forward to attending the "biggest and best auction around".  At least that's what I was told last weekend by an auctioneer friend of ours.  He told me I had to go.  He said it was unbelievable.   He also sad the magic words, "They have a whole room filled with jewelry."

Ross and I made plans to go.

I got the call on Tuesday morning from the surgeon's nurse that I needed to have this HIDA scan done.
She asked if Thursday would be okay.  The first thing I thought of was, "the biggest and best auction was Thursday."   I almost asked her to make it another day, but because of my slight inclination to FA REEK out with these things, I just wanted to get it over with.

I figured I could have the test done, and still get to the auction in time for the " whole room filled with jewelry" part.

One of the things I do to calm, distract, sooth, and comfort myself is knit.   Knitting has helped me cope through and basically survive so many difficult times.

My latest knitting project is called "The Wonderful Wallaby."  It is not an easy pattern to follow.  I have been working on it for months now.  I have had to rip it out many times and start over.
But, now I am almost finished.  I am proud of myself for sticking with it.

I carry my knitting with me where ever I go.  My knitting bag is an old vintage Vera Bradley, that coincidentally, I picked up at an auction.

Yesterday, as I started to say, way back at the top of this post, I had to have this x-ray done.  Afterwards we were going to go to the auction.

I packed up my necessities in my knitting bag.  In my bag were my old iPod(one of the original versions)  with an audio book to listen to while I had my 2 hour test done, my nearly done Wonderful Wallaby, to work on during the one hour car trip to the auction,  my iPad (also one of the original versions) to use for research while we were at the auction.
I also had a big old canvas bag to haul my winnings in and my purse, cause I never go anywhere without my purse.

The test was not as bad as I thought it was going to be.  Okay the drugs I took before I had the test probably helped.

Our auctioneer friend was right, the auction was the biggest and best I had ever been to.   It also is an all day and practically all night event.

I know the auction goes on into the night because, at 11:30 p.m., when we were getting ready to go to bed, and I went to get my iPad out of my knitting bag so that I could plug it into the charger and my heart sank when I couldn't find my Vera Bradley and I realized that I had left it at the auction hall and Ross called the auction and they were still there auctioning off stuff.

Shirley answered the phone.  As soon as Ross identified himself, she said, "Oh, you left a bag here."
As soon as I heard him say, "Oh, you have it?", I was relieved.  My first thought was "thank goodness they found my Wonderful Wallaby.

Of course Ross didn't ask about my knitting, he asked about the iPad.  (I had taken my iPod out of the bag during the X-ray, so it was in my purse.)

The iPad was gone.   So whoever turned in my bag, clearly wasn't a knitter.  I know this because if they would have discovered an almost completed Wonderful Wallaby, they surely would have had the get-a-way car running and absconded with it.

K is for Knitting...
PS:Thank you non-knitter thief for only taking my iPad and leaving my Wonderful Wallaby!

PPS: The photo of the Wonderful Wallaby is not my Wonderful Wallaby because mine is still in my vintage Vera Bradley Bag.

PPPS. The photo of the vintage Vera Bradley Bag is not my bag because it is still at the auction house waiting for us to pick it up.

And last but not least:

Happy Birthday, Ross.
I love you!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A-Z April Challenge J is for Vintage Costume JEWELRY

I shop at Estate auctions and sales.  I find vintage and pre-owned items quite interesting.  Most of the time I don't know what their origin is.   But I do know that there is a story behind each piece. 
As I wander, preview and browse around these sales, I can’t help but think about my own treasured belongings.  Will they be awarded to the highest bidder some day? 

My main interest is vintage costume Jewelry.   I like buying it, but I also like selling it.  I have been selling jewelry on eBay since 2002.  

I have learned a great deal about vintage costume jewelry.  It may surprise you that the right piece of costume jewelry can bring a higher piece than gold or silver. 

Check out your grandmother’s, mother’s or your own old jewelry boxes.  You may find a treasure. 

One tip, a piece is most valuable when you can identify the period it came from.  That’s where research is a must.  
Another thing to look for is a signature or mark on the jewelry.  Usually it is found on the back of the piece. 

For instance the eBay seller “stonegate-gallery”(not me) sold this earring and necklace set by designer Elsa Schiaparelli recently for $3500.00.

"This is a one of a Kind set in original box and perfect condition no missing stones or damage or rust.
1940's VERY EARLY Set Necklace and earings. This is from my private collection you will never see another set like this
for sale.  I have seen the necklace alone sell for $2,000.00 with no box or earings.
Dont miss your chance to buy this one of kind item.  This is a must own item for any Vintage Jewlery Collector.

There are many more Costume Jewelry designers from various eras.  If you are interested the Illusion Jewels website is a good resource. 

If you are interested in what I have been selling lately, check out my Pinterest Page.