Monday, December 29, 2008

Onto New Years!

Wow! Christmas comes so fast then boom it is over! We still have all decorations up and probably won't take them down until after New Years. The holidays were good but I ate way too much junk! Now it is time for some serious exercise so I have made a promise to myself to walk the dogs at least 4 days a week for an hour. They are loving it! I took some pictures of the spoiled brats at Christmas. Of course we got them some toys and chews. I bought Rusty a cool duck that quacked that he really got into. After about 3 hours I looked and he had eaten the feet of the duck-crazy dog! Maggie got a new basket for a bed and seemed comfy and happy.

I collect snow globes and Lisa bought me an unusual one for Christmas that lights up,blows snow, and plays music as the animals rotate at the bottom. The top is dented to hold a candle. Pretty neat! We got some cool stuff this year.
I am hoping the weather will hold out through New Year's Eve so we can celebrate it down at the Harbor with fireworks. This is the first year that I can really say that I can not wait until it is over. I am certain that 2009 will be much more promising than last year. I also interview for another position soon with just the right hours to continue business at full force. I am keeping my fingers crossed and hopes at bay for now.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas magic

Oh no I woke up yesterday with the worst cold which is unusual for me. That awful runny nose and watering eyes, cough, and achy muscle stuff. Damn I look into the medicine cabinet and to my surprise there is nothing for this. No NyQuil, Alika seltzer, theraflu , just nada, but a few aspirin. I guess that is a good indication that we haven't had colds for awhile. So I figure just wait it out, get some rest and watch TV.

I have watched more TV in two days than I care to think about. I watched the Christmas story the Polar Express. Very good story and the writer had quite an imagination. It was so odd because as I was watching it I thought of how we tend to lose the magic of Christmas as we get older. Then at the end of the story there was that same message about loosing the magic.

It made me ponder for the rest of the evening about the magic of Christmas and how that changes as we get older. Then I wandered into my past and thought about the changes that have transpired over the years. I still believe that Christmas is very magical and in that alone the spirit comes alive. In this particular story a small bell off Santa's sleigh held that Christmas magic because of a small boy's belief. So I hope for everyone they can find that belief and enjoy a little Christmas magic!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Soap box time!

I know it is the holiday season but after a night of doom and gloom on TV things didn't seem to be to festive for many people. I watched dateline which provided a glimpse of the collapsing home mortgage market. It was sad to watch as people were forced out of their homes due to foreclosure. Most of this could have been avoided as far as I am concerned. We all know that some mortgages had been given to people that really did not qualify, and mortgages with all types of fluctuating rates that should have never happened. Many people could afford to pay for their homes if it weren't for these ungodly rates that the banks are forcing them to pay. What good is an empty house to a bank in a collapsing market? This is where the government needs to step in and say enough is enough and force the banks to refinance at an acceptable rate to keep these people in their homes. If everyone thinks that is happening than someone is blowing smoke up their ass. Why isn't their a national lending audit to see who is charging what. I am so frustrated by this. I wonder if these CEO's sleep well at night-crooks!

It was so unnerving that I started to doubt exactly what we had done when we refinanced, even though I was pretty comfortable with everything. So I poured over all of our paperwork and let out a big sigh of relief that everything was in order. How many of you have actually sat down and looked over your mortgage papers since you have purchased your home? Take a good look at your payment plan and it can be staggering. The interest that you pay even with a good rate can be sickening when you realize how much of your money actually goes to principle. Yes I think the banking industry should be shot! I can remember a time when I was small that banks wanted your business and would do anything to get it. There were free lollipops, dog biscuits at the drive in window, free savings books, and you could open up a savings account with as little as ten dollars. The bank personnel greeted you with a smile as you carried in that giant bucket of change that you had been saving for something special and then gave you your grand total after counting it for free.

There is not a bank that I know that does that anymore. They don't take loose change or if some do they charge you to count it. You pay to withdraw your own money from your account, you must have a certain amount of money to open up a checking or savings, you must keep a certain amount of money in there or they will charge you, not enough funds you will be charged, use an out of network ATM machine you will be charged, need checks you will be charged, and the list goes on. Now when you call the bank to check on something they will tell you that you can do all that on line. Well what am I paying them for? Then there may be that one day when you go to the bank and they don't have your money, god help you if you are smart enough to get ahead but choose the wrong bank to put more than what the federal government insures.

It just might be better to keep your money at home under the mattress these days to get a good nights sleep. Remember that old saying a penny found is a penny earned. Or is it a penny earned is a penny saved? I am not quite sure why pennies are still in circulation. It is not uncommon to find pennies nowadays. People don't want them so you will find many in those loose change trays that are in store for those people that need a penny or so. What can you buy with a penny? Now that is a real brain teaser!

Then I had to sit through another debate on gay marriage, religion, the Bible, and Rick Warren.

It was time to get a drink by now. Oh my the debate of what a union is, how the church sees it, and it goes on. Time for another drink. I think there are more important things to address right now in this country.

The next segment is on the new doll baby on the market. I think it is called Little Mommy Doll. It appears that some of the dolls that were manufactured have a phrase that they whisper, "Islam is the light". There seemed to be a discrepancy about this before they hit the market and evidently someone does not want to loose a dollar and went ahead with distribution. Why not be honest and stamp this on the box. More Crooks!
They are going to try to get rid of the death penalty in the state of Maryland. Well as a taxpayer I don't want to pay for more violent REPEATING criminals to live the rest of their life in prison. Our prisons are already too crowded. So now we are going to release these petty thieves with drug habits to annoy the public by breaking and entering, stealing, and taking up police and court time. In the mean time we can watch our insurance premiums go up as we pay out of pocket for these petty theft damages to fuel their drug habits. I want to say to all the bleeding hearts out there when you look at the statistics there are very few that are innocent that get put to death. Let's not forget the innocent that have been murdered that have no appeal.

I did get to catch shoes being thrown at President Bush. I am not happy with the way things have turned out, however I do have enough respect for the leader of our country to restrain from such a display of ignorance. I am finding I have less tolerance for other countries acts of dislike for Americans. This is fine , than stay in your own country and reap what you sow. It would also be nice if these countries would stop depending on foreign government help from the United States.

Then I watched a segment on how Mexican workers are returning home back across the border due to the lack of work in the United States. Hmmm! There were probably many good workers and I feel for them, but I also have something to say on this issue. I was born and raised in the United States. I have been working since I was 16 and have paid taxes. I found it to be absurd when I applied for a managers position at TGI Fridays for them to want me to learn Spanish so I could communicate with the kitchen staff. Um the last time I looked we were an ENGLISH SPEAKING country. I am still in the states and didn't apply for this job in Mexico. After doing my research there are TGI Friday locations that are independently owned and the owners will get their kitchen staff from Mexico on green cards. Guess what I have never eaten at any TGI Friday's since. It had nothing to due with the fact that they had a Mexican staff. It was all about the fact the number one they were green card workers that were taking away jobs from American citizens at less pay, and that they should speak English if they want to work here. It was a slap in the face as an American! It is the principle of it all. I am tired of being abused in my own country.

Well on a lighter note after 3 glasses of wine I mellowed out and put a movie in. Thought I would share a nice choice of appetizer or dessert wine for you to try as I get a little soap box time!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Year

Everyone usually has a special ball and this is one of ours. This has been in our family for about 55 years. It used to be my grandmothers which was passed onto my mother and then to me. I don't know the story behind the ball just what it represents. Every year my family will visit and see this one particluar ball and it just seems to flood them with Christmas memories. Now that is a treasure!

It's been a little crazy here and I have finally found time to do a post. Last night we took a drive to the Herr's Potato Chip Plant in Nottingham PA. It is just a short jaunt for us and they decorate the grounds for Christmas so that you can drive through and look at all the lights. We did take some pictures but you know me and technology. Most did not turn out. The plant is even open for day tours to show how they make their chips. Let me tell you it smells really good in that area when your driving by with the scent of fried potatoes in the air.

Now we have decorated our one tree outside three times with lights. We added extra and plugged it up and guess what. It lit up than bang half went out. So I go to the store and buy three more sets and put them on. I plugged it in then bam the bottom set went out. Yesterday I added the other set and so far this is what we have. I don't think I'll ever get a job setting up outside decorations and lighting.

I have taken a couple pictures of the tree we put up and our chrismas village. Abbey keeps trying to steal some of the people and a car underneath for some reason (crazy dog). The cat get's behind the village and sleeps. I laugh because it usually reminds me of that movie land of the giants. Still haven't finished my shopping and just started to wrap presents today. Time seems to be flying and before you know it we will be celebrating the New Year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Find Waldo

Click to enlarge

I opened our side door to take out the trash and was surprised to see six deer on the edge of the woods. Trying to be quiet I scrambled back in the house running upstairs to get my camera fearing they would be gone before I could get the picture. As I raced back outside I could still see them slowly making thier way into the woods. I thought I was going to get the greatest picture.

Trying to take the picture while some of them were running was impossible. Now this is where the old time camera worked better because you would be looking through the lens at the subject. Well hell I was trying to watch them and get them into view in the camera window while trying to zoom in. It was really like trying to find Waldo! Even after taking the pictures when you look at them it is like trying to find Waldo! Good Luck! I am curious if the pictures are actually enlarging for you when you click onto them. Please let me know .

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A special moment in time

It was a relaxing day and we decided to put up the tree. Now it takes hours to do this and our current tree is not that big. First we have to make a snack platter, find the right Christmas music, light some candles, and get all the stuff out.

We have went artificial for the past 10 years and needed to replace our tree last year. I picked out a gorgeous one about 7 feet tall with glistening dew that looked real. It was $475.00. But hey they last a long time. Well time got away from us and at the last minute Lisa decides just to buy a tree on her own. Believe me when I tell you she does not like to shop. She came home and was so proud of that tree that she got on sale for $40.00. I was afraid to look! She couldn't be serious, but she was.

It was a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree! I saw the gleam in her eyes as she put it up and I didn't have the heart to say it was skimpy looking because for some reason this little tree had some special meaning for her.

So this year we got out our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree and decorated it with great pride reminiscing over each ball that we placed, and for the first time decided to do a small garden underneath. We completed it all with great pride then hit the lights and watched the tree and village come alive in pure amazement as if we had seen this for the first time.

Of course having a cat and two large dogs with wicked tail strength becomes an issue with the tree. We were taking bets on which one would knock the balls off first or trample a house. It was different this year. They came in the room and I was really amazed and wished I had filmed it. They looked over the tree and sniffed around then laid down right in front of it and just looked at the village underneath like it was displayed just for them. You could actually see them checking it out and taking it all in. Could it be possible that Abbey was actually growing up!

Night fell and the chores were complete and we buttoned down the hatch to watch a movie. Candle lit the windows with angels peering outside, the scent of vanilla drifted through the air from lit candles, and the room had transformed into Christmas. We were all curled up in front of the tree, the cat was asleep on the chair next to the tree and the dogs were snuggled up next to us with our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree gleaming in the background. I was flooded with the feeling of that special moment in time.


I am writing this one for all of those people that think the drunk driving laws are too strict and for Marty.

Martin Luther Shuff the Third. What was my Aunt thinking? My cousin Marty short for Martin was one year younger than I and a very sweet soul. He would take so much razzing from us over this name as kids because it was the longest that we had heard of in our family. When I think of Marty I remember all the great times we had together over the holidays and summers. Marty always had the coolest race tracks to play with and high tech toys at the time. We would spend hours playing with robots, cars, and all the make believe stuff. Marty was an adventurer at heart and really enjoyed visiting us on the farm where his mind opened into a new world where he would become a different superhero or character everyday. He loved James Bond.

Let's see he was also accident prone. We were ice skating on the pond (of course where we weren't supposed to be) and he fell in. Not good! He cornered a mouse outside once and got bit in the finger. It was gross! He went canoeing with my sister and tipped the boat. Very wet! My Aunt used to always tell him to be careful! That was like telling a stone to roll over. We grew up very close and stayed in touch throughout the years. Marty grew up in the city and loved music and dirt bikes and excelled at both. One day in the car when he was about 16 he was singing the song Hotel California by the Eagles and I can still hear his voice like it was yesterday. It was great!

I will never forget that he came to visit us when my ninth grade dance was going on that weekend. He would be staying with us for the week. So I took him to the dance with me. Oh my God did I get razzed about that by my friends at school until they saw him. Then they all wanted dates with him. It was cute because he was very shy that he was out of his own element but started to loosen up when all the girls wanted to dance with him. We had a great time that night and didn't have to worry about impressing anyone, just having fun.

Marty later develop his own band and started to sing in clubs. He just had it all by the time he was 20. Good looks, a promising future, he was engaged, and was loving life. It was quite odd because at the time everyone seemed to be scattered across the states but yet we all bumped into each other in the time frame of three months. You know how you haven't seen someone for awhile but yet when you meet again you have that warm feeling like it was just yesterday that you were with that person. When we met for the last time it was in a club where his Mom worked and we were joking with each other about our childhood. He looked good, laughed alot and was happy. It was nice.

I was at Mom's when we got the call. Marty was in John's Hopkins on life support. He was brain dead. My Aunt wanted all of us to come to see him before she had him taken off of the life support.

Marty had been hit by a drunk driver not more than 5 blocks from where his mother was working. The driver had ran a red light and hit Marty's car going 50mph crushing the drivers side. Part of the car came through the window and severed his vocal cords and damaged his head. The driver had two previous DUI's and walked away with a broken arm. The irony of this is that my Aunt has been a tavern owner all her life serving booze. Her life changed forever when this happened. Marty was 21.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I have attempted to write this piece several times but it becomes very lenghty due to emotions.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday my sister and I spoke in length about two losses we have had due to drug and alcohol addiction. I will tell you from first hand experience that all of the programs that everyone thinks is out there is pure bullshit! The more money you have the better level of treatment you get and the better chances you have of staying clean longer. Of course all of this is just a step to nowhere unless the person that has the abuse problem wants to stop.

Let me start with my cousin Kim. Kim was raised by strict Catholic middle class working parents is the suburbs. We were very close when we were young visiting for holidays, summer vacations, and Sunday get together. Her life was at a faster speed then mine and we were the same age and first cousins. I never figured out why her life was so much faster paced, until I was older. It was just the simple fact of exposure. We lived on a farm in the country with limited exposure and a slower way of living.

Kim started out on marijuana that she would get from her older brothers friends and other cousins. This progressed to PCP. Now that was a trip in itself to see a room full of people out to lunch on PCP. As we grew older and started to get into the club scene (fake IDs of course) I noticed just how many drugs she was doing. Kim was now at the level of Quaalude, PCP, and acid. The atmosphere unnerved me and I started to distance myself more and more.
Kim became a groupie of popular eighties bands that would go on to become famous. She had access to whatever drugs she wanted and took full advantage of this. Of course eventually like everything else it spiraled out of control quickly. My Aunt and Uncle started with the usual stuff of grounding (but of course she had been doing this unnoticed for years and already had an addiction issue which they had no clue of). That's was the sad part for my Aunt and Uncle. While they were working to put their kids through private school the drug use had started and taken hold before they even noticed. Kim hid things well and was an expert that had many accomplices that were close. The next step of course was limiting the friends that she could be around, counseling, and getting a job. By the time Kim turned 21 she had been in two facilities for drug use, church, counseling, NA meetings, and I can't tell you how many more programs.

I have read so many pamphlets that I could be an expert on some of the topics. Come on, reading material isn't going to cut it. We need programs to bring us up to date and conquer this problem. Or maybe the money made off of drugs is just to damn good for the US to give up. Do I believe that alot of this is brushed under the rug? For sure!

I attended some of these programs as support with her. At the free cheap programs she scored drugs and connections to buy what she needed. Many were there because it was court mandated and did not want to stop. It was a waste of time and taxpayer money. Then we went to visit her in her first in patient rehabilitation program that the insurance paid for. It is not like what you see on TV! I could relate this to a second hand crack house on the corner. What I did notice about this type of treatment is that they do more group discussion to let the patient know they are not alone. If they find drugs your out and they do random urine testing to protect the patients trying to get well. They create a sense of regiment back into ones life. They try but need more funding for a higher level of intervention better doctors and copping methods.

After that didn't work my Aunt and Uncle spent $20,000.00 of their savings for a private facility. Kim stayed there for nine months. When she came home she looked great and seemed to have a new look on life. Unfortunately this only lasted for about 8 months and she was not only back to drugs but much heavier substances. Time passed and I saw less and less of her. Then one day we got the phone call that she was in the operating room in a very critical condition. She had hit a telephone pole at 60 mph head on while under the influence of drugs. Kim had broken her jaw, fracture her clavicle, broken her arm, and torn her aortic artery.

She was lucky she made it to the hospital. The surgeons repaired her and she had a long road to recovery. During the process she had a stroke that paralyzed her arm and one side of her face. She was 28 at the time with a 2 year old son. Kim lived to be 35 and passed due to complications from the auto accident that left her with a heart condition.

When I think of her I remember the times when we were young and innocent running around the beach seeking out the best seashells we could find. The strong bond that we had like most first cousins do of the same age and of course that crooked smile and hearty laugh that came with ease.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Wow I can't believe I have not posted for this long. Thanksgiving went well and so did all the pies. I am a huge pie lover and will eat just about any kind of pie. That means pie for breakfast, snack, dinner, and of course dessert. I have eaten so much pumpkin pie that my skin is getting that slight golden pumpkin tone, the belly greets everyone first at the door, and I have a smidge of a new skin scent that kind of resembles nutmeg. Only kidding! I did tried a new stuffing recipe incorporating roasted chestnuts, cornbread, pumpernickel, reg bread cubes, onions, celery, seasonings, dried cherries and pecans. Turned out really good.

My sister spent about 5 days visiting and the time flew by. We watched some movies, worked, shopped, and reminisced, but this visit was some real quality time just talking about stuff. I will tell you that we used to be avid pinochle players until 10 years ago when our Mom passed. My God it was like dumb and dumber trying to get back to the basics of the game. For three days we tried to get through one game and of course it just wasn't happening. Now I am on the quest to get the game rules for the two player version (she has to see it in black and white or she thinks I am cheating-and I wonder why). She can be such a baby!

Well what I would like to share with everyone is what she brought with her. This made me even more thankful for what we had as compared to others during the holidays. Her friend is a truck driver and recently made a trip to Galveston Texas to deliver much needed food and supplies. This is one of the meals that get delivered during disaster situations for the victims when the world basically stops for these unfortunate people. So the next time when you think you don't have enough remember the meal someone else may be receiving and I think you will find yourself rather humbled. I did find the whole concept very fascinating and wondered why not make these meals available for the elderly that can't cook for themselves. I have never seen them in our area.
Everything is in the box for a complete meal. Napkins, spoon, knife, salt, pepper, instructions, 1 container of premixed spaghetti with meatballs in sauce, 1 dish that is lined with a chemical heat pad that gets activated with the pouch of salt water, and the box that is foiled lined to act as an oven. Basically you pour the salt water onto the heating pad, turn the spaghetti container over face down with lid on, put the dish into the box and the chemical heat pad activates creating steam. Heat for about 5 minutes and you have your meal.
Product is packaged for D&B Specialty Foods Inc in Deerfield, IL. Is 9 ounces and 260 calories 80 from fat. The box says no refrigeration and no preservatives. Also used for camping and the outdoors. As far as the flavor goes, you have to put yourself in the frame of mind that you have not had a hot meal for days-then the meal is great!

Thought I would also leave a neat diabetic or low carb meal we use that taste really good. The following items can be bought and used later in the week for pizza nite.
Some dreamfields low carb pasta, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, fresh basil, Roma or grape tomatoes, minced garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Cook pasta, sauteed chopped tomatoes in olive oil with minced garlic, add cooked pasta, add grated fresh Parmesan cheese, a small squirt of lemon with salt and pepper, Heat thoroughly then add some basil that has been thinly sliced. Top off with some Greek olives.