Wednesday, September 9, 2009

PorkChop

Wow it is hard to believe that I have not posted for such a long period of time. I've been wondering where the time has gone. I have been super busy with the business and work that I figure there will be plenty of time when winter rolls around. I've learned alot this summer about life in general. It boils down to not sweating the small stuff, enjoy the simple things in life while you can, take time out for family, and the fact that you come into this world without anything and you leave it without anything so enjoy what you have and what you can.

I love this time of year when the weather starts to cool down and you get that drift of crispness in the night air. Football season is about to start which creates a new buzz and something to look forward to. That of course could be due to my bad habit of betting on the games. Of course we started a little early gambling on the preseason games just for fun. It is kind of cool at the restaurant because we are Ravens fans, the restaurant across the street is Pittsburgh fans, and the one behind us are Eagle fans. This makes things pretty interesting.

The restaurant has been on a steady increase since opening and we are hoping that winter won't be too rough on us. I must say that I am tired of cooking seafood. How this has come about is strange but here we are an Irish pub and restaurant that sells more seafood and tenderloin than anything Irish. Someone please give me a pork chop!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Whirlwind

Well I have started a new job as head chef at a small Irish Pub located on the water in an up and coming resort town. This has been a challenge trying to run a business and start up a new kitchen. The good thing is that the owners have agreed to a set schedule. This is not as glamorous as people think, nor as cool as it is depicted on TV in shows like top chef and hells kitchen. Well maybe Hell's kitchen. The great thing is that the restaurant/pub is small. The kitchen of course is hot as hell!

In the matter of three days we created new menus, changed up kitchen equipment, hired staff, created recipes, ordered the food which arrived at 3:00pm and opened the doors at 5:00pm. That was fun! I didn't sleep for three nights with constant thoughts of menu items and food preparation on my mind. It is not a glamorous job at all, but one in which a person can use their artistic and creative talents.

The best part of the job is the view. The restaurant sits right on the river and we get a good view of the sun setting on the water which is priceless to me. I have noticed that throughout my life I always seem to look for nature and calm surroundings. Lisa has had to help me more with business and lawn care which she despises. She actually has callous hands for the first time in 25 years. It has been a good thing for her to help out, that way she has more of an appreciation for blue collar workers and the jobs they perform. I think more people should experience this and get a better understanding of what it takes to keep the world turning.

So today has been my first day off to do nothing at all. I feel lazy but unproductive which is making it hard to rel axe. We did watch a new movie with Clint Eastwood called Grand Torino. I thought it was good. So life has been crazy recently like a whirlwind.

Friday, June 12, 2009

a good picnic

We are having our community picnic tomorrow. We have never been in the ten years that we have lived here. We normally get a quarterly newsletter regarding information about what is going on in the community, some local news, and other tidbits. Then they get to the part about how they spend our money from the annual dues that are collected. This is the part that drew my attention. Last year they spent $700.00 on the community picnic-What! Okay, it is bring a dish but then they had a soft ice cream truck come in for the day, plus a pit barbecue cooker. Now we have decided to go and check this out this year. Lisa is wondering if she could manage to eat 10 years of paying for barbecue in one year. I really don't think that will happen.
Business took a hard hit this week losing three customers due to lack of funds and layoffs. We were told that the statistic for our area of foreclosure rate is getting higher. On the good side of things is that we will be getting a casino in the county and open by the end of 2010 which will bring 4500 jobs. That is great and badly needed.
I have found it really hard to write lately and even harder to find the positive in things. I have dealt with so many people that are struggling, irritable, unhappy, and curt. Still trying to maintain a pleasant attitude is hard. The other day I went to get supplies at home depot and the traffic was heavy and I thought I would be nice and let someone else go first at the stop sign. This guy is beeping his horn behind me shouting "come on, move it". I just wanted to stop right in the middle of all that traffic and punch him in the mouth! What is the hurry? What is 45 seconds to get in a store? There for a moment I visualized Kathy Bates in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes ramming her car into another. Finally I got a grip and went about my business.
So to get some peace I am going fishing this Sunday. I always found it really relaxing to sit and listen to mother nature and just let the time pass by. So tonight my thoughts will be that of a big fish and a good picnic.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Maryland tradition

I thought this weekend that I would just take the time to chill and not think about much of anything. We decided that we would get some crabs on Saturday since the weather was so nice. Nothing better than that old Maryland tradition of eating steamed crabs and cold beer on a nice day. So we spread the newspaper out, poured a couple of cold ones and dug into the pile of crabs in the center, chatting away idly.
Well you know me and the mind started to wonder. Who actually discovered the crab and first ate one. Of course they would have gotten really sick if they ate it raw first. I wouldn't want to think about that. If you really look at crabs they are ugly as sin. Who would have thought they were even edible. Crabs being scavengers will eat anything and I am surprised that this does not deter people from eating them, I try not to think about it myself.
This brought back memories of when I was a teenager working at a local crab house. Myself and two other boys were the crab steamers on the weekends. The delivery of about 50 bushel crab would come and we would stock them in the refrigerated truck by the steamer room. We had three huge steamers that were about four feet tall and 3 ft in diameter that were fueled by a propane line. Each came with 4 steamer baskets that you could layer on top of each other. Then we had the chiller. A mammoth steel vat with a flat screen on the bottom that was attached to a center rod and pulley system. First we turned the drain cocks off, then started filling the chiller with water, we had to add about 300 pounds of ice to the water then we were ready to start adding the crabs. For those of you that have never steamed crabs before they can become very lively and fast to get away while guarding themselves with their claws open and ready to chomp down on anyone that touches them. Once you experience a really bad pinch you don't want to again. The cold air in the refrigerated truck subdues them enough to get the lid off and dump them onto the steel table. This is done to check for dead crabs before they get into the chiller. However you can not take to long to sort because they become very agitated quickly. We had to be fast and accurate picking them up and whizzing them into the chiller. We have chased many escapees all the way out to the parking lot. We had a rule that if they made it to the outside steamer door they were spared the fate of the steamer pot.
Once this is done they go into the chiller which will put them into a long hypnotic state. The crabs stayed in the chiller for about 20 minutes, then we would use the pulley system to lift the crabs slowly out of the ice water. This allowed us the time to fold the legs and claws in, arrange them in the baskets, season them , and get them into the steaming pots without getting pinched. The crabs will come out in that position also which is more presentable on the tray and it keeps the claws and legs from coming off.
This was a really popular crab house and we would spend hours steaming crabs. It was a really fun job and we had a good boss to work for. The surprising thing is that I have never steamed my own crabs since then. When we were packed the boss would come down and ask us to put on some extra salt or add some hot pepper flakes to the seasoning so the patrons would drink more beer.
Eating crabs has to be the most popular Maryland tradition.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Just Sick of IT!

I have been busy working my tail off only to come home and hear on the news that things are getting better. Come on look around who are they trying to kid! The job market is not changing much, the car companies are still struggling, unemployment is high and people are out of work, homes are still being foreclosed on, gas prices are rising, and the banks are still trying to rip off the public.

I am really pissed about this. In one week I received two notices from credit card companies stating that they were going to raise their rates in June. Did we not give bail out money to the banks so they could in turn loan money to the public. I was furious over this. It is simply the principle of the matter that it is wrong. They want you to spend money to help the economy and once you do they want to make you pay extra for doing so. I say screw'em! I am paying off the one card and cancelling, then I will transfer the balance of the other to another bank. I do not intend to use anymore credit cards to purchase even a gallon of gas. This came after I looked at a bank statement and found a few small charges on my business checking account that is supposed to be free. Once I investigated it they were charges applied to my account by the bank just to include a copy of checks that were cashed. I never asked for this but was told that when one bank merged with another it was their policy, they had sent a letter. Not having that either. You want my account put that money back in it and keep that extra piece of paper that you are trying to charge me six dollars for. Then they were charging people a fee if they were on unemployment and were using a state debit card. Now that is just not right.

Cable bill came in and they raised that by two more dollars. This is the third time in one year. This stuff is what I call nickle and diming the public to make up for lost revenue. So now I cut back on our premium cable stations to just basic. I really believe we have entered a world of pure insanity. I remember when TV was free, when you only had one telephone and one car, life insurance was cheap, doctors made house calls, and you spent quality time instead of quantity time with your family.

Now newspapers are going out of business. Many read the paper online and pay a subscription fee. How many times has one newspaper been left at a diner or doctors office for not one but many people to read. I think the news went further. You can't compare sitting in front of a computer reading the days events to sitting in one of your favorite spots with something concrete in your hand that you can pass on to someone else and share. We are putting ourselves in the position of being ruled by those that create and possess the technology. Little by little it robs one of social skills and basic interaction with other human beings. Now we don't go to clubs, dances, church socials, or sporting events to meet someone, we just go online to look for love. By the way you have to pay for that too!


I am not a cheap person and enjoy the luxuries that life has to offer, but one that just does not like being pushed or taken advantage of. The world has become to money oriented and I for one and Just Sick of It!

Monday, May 25, 2009

America's Favorite Angel

I have had so many things on my mind lately that I have found it hard to concentrate on one thing. Something that I found very moving was the documentary the Farrah Fawcett Story following her battle with cancer. An icon from the 70's and one of the most famous angels proved to the world that she was more than just hair and a big smile with her best acting to come in the eighties. The Burning Bed and Extremites proved she actually had the talent to act. I think these roles rose her popularity even more with the female population that could identify with her characters that were suffering spousal abuse in private. I don't think there was a young girl that didn't want to look like Farrah Fawcett or want one of the cool cars that she drove. The white cobra mustang with stripes. Of course there was the famous red swimsuit poster that every young boy in America probably had pinned on there wall. So it seems she has had a loyal following of fans through the years and once again she has given the world something to behold. A journey into the life of a struggling woman's battle with cancer.

Her story however has many exposures of just what types of things needed to change and should be changed. It was not just about her, but others, and for those to come. Due to her high profile and many others she was a victim of a breach of confidentiality of hospital records and information regarding her health care. Farrah exposed the hospital and the Star magazine of this breach and had taken her case to court to gain a huge victory for all of us in getting the laws changed to protect our privacy. Go Farrah! I have always believed that the stars pay a big price for fame and fortune and this was just more proof of that. Can you imagine someone snapping a picture of your mother right after she has had chemo treatments coming out of the hospital bearing the news of months to live. Just tasteless!

So following her story Farrah travels to Germany for laser knife treatment to remove lesions that have not yet been approved in the states. That particular part of the treatment did work by the way. Her take on this was the fact that there are types of treatments out there that work, why not make them available in the states. What is taking so long when this could potentially save lives? I think we lose sight that these people are just that "people". Yes they provide entertainment, but that is only their job. They struggle with life just as everyone else does, maybe just on a different level. It was rather sad to see her struggle and brought back flooding memories of my mothers struggle with cancer. That once vibrant young woman with the big hair and white flashing smile now frail and riddled with cancer bedridden in the end still full of hope for one more ounce of life. Farrah might just have been one of America's favorite angles as she has brought joy, protection, and maybe even hope for a cancer cure. What more can an Angel Do?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

winning ticket

Finally have some time to myself.
These are just some pictures of one of the jobs we did. I am too tired to mess with this computer to put things in order. What a weeding job this was. Actually we shoveled 2 yards of mulch out and 5 yards of mulch in, taking 1 yard of mulch to another location. What a back buster that can be.






So hopefully things will get back on course but I have learned a couple of things this year. No one is exempt from a recession and how to live with less. You get caught up in things and desires for stuff that you really don't need but just want. I am learning to shop better, save more, and enjoy what I have. I really don't miss much except for taking our big trip once a year. I have had a great deal of my friends wonder why I have chosen to do this type of work (really labor intensive). I must say that I enjoy hard work and sleep better with less on my mind. I like instant gratification in what I can do. Most of all there is no office Politics! Plus it helps keep me in shape and I get to meet more people in our community. I wish I had more equipment sometimes but wonder how other companies do it with the high cost of some of it. Most people pay anywhere from $5,500-$11,000 for a commercial mower and they will get two. Now that is alot of grass to cut to get that back plus labor, taxes, gas, license, and repairs. I bought mine used and they are still doing good knock on wood.

I did put flowers on my mothers grave for Mother's day than we went to Lisa mom's for a cookout and crabs. It turned out to be a nice day for everyone with really good weather. I miss going out and shopping for my mom. It used to be a challenge to come up with some cool ideals for the holidays and I always loved seeing the surprise on her face.

I put the dogs on a new food regimen about 3 months ago to help with the yeast in their ears. Golden retrievers are prone to this and it can be on going and unpleasant and itchy for them. After ear treatment and cleaning the vet recommended a new food which was an outrageous cost. More of a fish, potato, rice, fruit and vegetable blend of food. So being a chef I researched the ingredients and have been cooking their meals to add to a cut back portion of their dog food. Well let me tell you this has done wonders. Yeast has been gone, dogs have lost some weight, not as much waste in the yard, cheaper on the wallet, larger portions for the dog, and everyone is happy.

Well I missed the Kentucky Derby and didn't get to place a bet due to work. It is a good thing because I would have lost. Lisa however always plays the long shots. Next is the Preakness which I am looking forward to. I will be glued to the tv as they come out of the gate gripping onto what may be the winning ticket.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

trees

I am truly starting to believe we live in Seattle. Seriously it has rained for a week straight. These lawns are totally out of control and people are inquiring if we cut grass in the rain. Not! Soon I will have to accessorise the mowers with paddles. This wet grass just dulls the the blades in no time, not to mention that it takes twice as long to cut it. It has just been a really bomb of a week here. Damn grass growing almost 10 inches high on some lawns due to the fact of broken mowers and waiting to long to call for service. Then they want it cut short. It just doesn't work that way.



Today I went on a murdering rampage (not of my own control). On the way to a job of course a squirrel has to jut out in front of the truck. Before I could even hit the brakes I heard a small thud under the tire. I wished someone would invent a silent squirrel siren to place on your vehicle. Then I was only a mile down the road when 2 birds came down in front of the windshield then pow! One slammed directly into it! Scared the crap out of me at first. Then I had the great treat of picking half a bird wing off the windshield wiper-yuck! What a nasty start of a day. I knew it wasn't going to be any better. More wet, tall, unkept grass to mow-yuck!

I did check out the new owner of a small garage that just opened which has good prices.
I cut a deal with him to change the blades on the mowers at half the price the mower places charge. The best part of this is that he does it all on the same day. Hardly no waiting. I think he could pick up a great deal of business in this department he advertises it. These dealerships charge you and arm and a leg to do this type of work.

I really hate this much rain. Everything is wet and muddy to the point that I am even starting to spot snails. We never have snails!

I learned another hard lesson this week. Old friends can pick up very bad habits and may not be the same person you thought they were. Yes I knew better then to mix business and friendship, so actually I tried to keep things on the professional side while doing landscaping for a friend. I however did give her a better price since we have been friends for awhile. After the job was almost completed I gave her the invoice and said we would be back tomorrow to finish. The next day we finished the job and to my surprise she failed to give me a check. Well I thought she'll just drop it in the mail. Nine days later, no check. After an email inquiring about my payment she tells me that this month is tough and wondered if I can wait for payment. You have got to be kidding me. Who hires someone, then after they do a job tell them they don't have the money.

I was actually furious over this. I have equipment expenses, dump fees, payroll, and business expenses to pay. I am suppose to wait for my money while her no good lazy son rapes her of every dime she has for his drug habit. He should have had his butt out there doing it to help her so she didn't have to hire anyone in the first place. What are people thinking. He's 44 years old.

To me friends don't do this and would not dream of doing that. This is not the same person I knew years ago. Basically it comes down to this. I do a job for you , you pay me when it is done. I called her and told her I am sorry for her misfortune and I have a business to run, I need her to pay the invoice asap. It's not personal, but business. I am really kind of hurt and pissed off at the whole situation. Never again!


I am asking everyone that can help about our Leeland cypress trees. Accidentally sprayed with volck oil, which is causing them to turn brown. If anyone has a cure please let me know. I would really hate to lose all of these trees.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Inevitable

We knew it was coming but just not how soon. They laid Lisa off last Friday and closed the Pennsylvania office. This week we took all the jobs that the weather allowed and worked until 9:30 one night with lights. The good thing is we knew it was coming so have tried to prepare, I have work lined up for the next month to keep us really busy.

For those people that think the economy is getting better I have news for you, it is not! I work in several different types of communities doing lawn care and landscaping only to find people at home laid off. Some of the most prized communities have stopped lawn services altogether. We both have been applying for jobs. I have applied at factories for night shift so I can work during the day. Lisa has applied for a job listed in the city as a Cat Scan Technologist on the p.m. shift. During this interview she had been told that 7 other people applied and that 3 lived out of state. One will relocate from Wisconsin if she gets the job. Now tell me the economy is getting better.

I myself am dumbfounded at how people are doing the interview process. I am educated, have vast supervisory experience, culinary degree, great references, and can't even get a job working a night shift in the TastyKake factory. I guess that is a good thing because I would get fat eating all that good stuff. Oh well I will just have to move on. I do want to mention that I have noticed all the banks still have companies come in to basic clean, wash windows, lawn care, and to carpet clean. I guess they can afford it with the bail out money. As I sit and listen to the car commercials announcing what they will give you, I find that once again they are copying and competing with each others market campaign. GM needs a new marketing campaign and strategy. What are they doing with the bailout money?

Maybe I should write to congress and ask for a loan to bail us out. Now that is really walking around with your head in the clouds.

I had an interview with a restaurant corporation and was so totally amazed at how over the top the district manager was. I actually called the corporate office and spoke to human resources. Mind you this is a salary position. The man actually had the nerve to say there could be some 100 hour weeks involved. Is this even possible? I laughed as his face remained serious. He then proceeded to tell me what a prick people thought he was and that he could be. Okay now I never have had an interview go this way. His concern was that I had my own business and that I would not invest all my energy into management of their business. He was a retired cop trying to tell me about my field. Come on with this is not what you know but who you know politics. Okay let's get it over with, let me slice my wrist right now and give you blood. After all that is what your looking for. I proceeded to call HR and give them the lowdown of why the position was still vacant and how I felt this interview went. Of course I did not want the job either. I also did the math for her which would put one that worked that many hours better off at a local convenience store. Are they crazy!

So now we are trudging along like many others after the inevitable.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hoy Award

Among many of my talents I have to admit that computers are not one of them. I think it is my inability to sit still for long periods of time or that need for instant gratification that I don't get from the computer.

In reading post today I want to thank Lucy for passing on the Hoy Award from http://spikeandmarleene.blogspot.com/to to me . Very cool tag by the way! I have been reading many blogs for awhile and find that many offer a taste of life and experience that is entirely different from my own. I enjoy many and find it difficult to choose a couple to post. So I encourage everyone to surf and sample a taste of all that is to be had and enjoy what others bring to the table.

As you read blogs after awhile you start to identify with some of the writers. When I hear of Nebraska on the news Lucy, Joe, and Spunky come to mind and I will wonder how they are doing. As I am watching crafts being done on TV, Janie will come to my mind in Kansas (of course that is along with the mention of the Wizard of Oz). Sunny California brings pictures of Betty and Koda to mind, along with Claudia's description of surgical procedures performed in PA., Jacks adventures across country, and the Pioneer Womans life on a ranch. So excuse my neglect of links on this page which is basically due to a severe time crunch at the moment.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Opinion

It was a long day yesterday and as we were traveling home the guys started talking about current topics. Cloning, Bush, the Presidents new dog, taxes, and other current news. I was really surprised by the different opinions and thought processes. They brought up some good points.

Most of them hate the fact that when they go to read the instruction manual on new products they have to flip through at least three different languages before finding the English version. Now one version was why has this changed so much, and is it making the cost of products go up? The States was originally integrated with several different nationalities years ago, but the main language was English. So why change it?

Obama's dog! Why are so many people interested in the dog that is going to live in the White House when so many are living in shelters. Some thought it was a foo foo dog. Others just didn't give a hoot.

The lady with so many babies and the doctor that implanted the embryo's. Can you believe we didn't even remember her name. I think it's Nadia. This one got a little vulgar so I won't repeat.

Dead beat Dads. Seems like most of them had solid childhoods with good dads and to my surprise the older guys even admitted how much they missed their Dad, even though they had passed on several years ago. Many of them made admission of physical correction by their fathers that seemed to have an impact on their memory. They felt that their upbringing had made them stand up men with dignity and honor and that they thought that was lacking in young men. There seems to be a code with guys. Your always there for your buddy, never hit a woman, man up to any debt, stand your ground, have good intention to do the right thing, take care of yours, and to have fun. Actually that all sounded pretty good to me.

What a dollar used to buy. Movies were .25 cents and you could watch it twice. A huge bag of popcorn, a draft beer, a shoe shine, and soft pretzels at the carnival were all .25 cents. Carnival rides were .10 cents and if your were nice to the carnies you got an extra ride. Gas was .65 cents a gallon. A dollar could buy you a couple soda pops, some candy, and you would still have a quarter left. TV was free and you had one that everybody watched.

The changing times. Most expressed happier days gone by and wished their children could have experienced some of what they had. Drive in movies, to play safely outside getting away from all of the computer garbage, fishing, and Sunday picnics and football games with friends. Most thought that children today are spoiled and lazy. Interesting, and some included their own in this category. They think kids today have too much. They grew up with minimal and more imagination compared to the excess that kids have today.

As I drove I just listened to all of this and wondered why men seemed more free to discuss their difference of opinion than women. To me women have more of a tendency to agree and be more diplomatic. I have read many other blogs that were based on current political news and opinion. Most all comments seemed to agree with their writers and I wondered why? Do people that have a different view feel inhibited to express this? Are they afraid someone will think less of them if they don't agree? Really now we all have one, we see the world from many different views, and we have the right to express them. Opinions are a very important tool. Presidential campaigns run on them. Yes it all is a matter of opinion.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

grease monkey

First I have to tell you about a new product experience. I normally buy those bleach tablets that you put in the toilet tank. In the past when I have run out I have used some regular bleach in that tank. So I went shopping and bought the new Clorox Plus Splashless. Ran out of tablets and poured some of this bleach in the back tank, did a flush and was not really paying attention as the tank filled. Came back into the bathroom only to discover and enormous amount of suds spewing out of the back of the tank. I grabbed a cup and start transferring the suds to the sink. Before I knew it the sink was full of suds. What the hell? Seems like fast running water just helped to create more suds. I guess the Plus meant more suds!

Where did all this heat come from? Who let the sun out? It is hard to believe these skyrocketing temperatures from one day to the next. Yes Al, I know it is part of global warming. I just can't keep up with things since spring hit. Everyone wants their grass cut and they wanted it yesterday. Why in the hell did I decide to call our business On Demand Services! That's what people expect too! Call in the morning and want that grass cut today! I am not really complaining, just amused at how people think.

I actually acquired a new client that is amazed that we have women mowing grass. He even had mentioned in a round about way if we mow in bikini tops. I was torn over how I felt about this and of course that wasn't happening. In one sense I understood that there was a whole new avenue of business there. Can you imagine seeing that ad in the help wanted section:

Wanted big busted, trim young women that can handle warm temperatures,
operate lawn equipment while wearing a bikini, and being oggled by
a few needy souls. Work for ON DEMAND SERVICES
(only mowing no other services are needed)
And here all this time I thought pay per view solved this problem!


I have hit upon a huge target clientele which is divorced and widowed women. They actually create to do list for us. Ranging from changing light bulbs, mulching flowerbeds, to waterproofing basements. I think it is time to expand but still fear the economy and am holding back from doing so. I would love to have a small tractor with a front end loader. It would make some of these jobs so much easier and less time consuming. I guess I will just have to put it on the wish list. I found something new to rent however. It is called the dingo and is a powered walk behind front end loader, post hole digger, trench digger, and raker. Relatively small for those small areas you need to work in. I want one. Guess I'll put that on my wish list too. I am learning that it is not hard to operate alot of the large equipment, it just takes practice.

I have been cutting corners everywhere to save money towards one ( a tractor) . Today it was trying to tune up the mower myself, change the truck oil, and flush the anti freeze. Well I went to the local parts store with all the info I thought that I would need for all this stuff and boy was I disappointed. Get home, get all the stuff out, ready to roll and change the truck oil first ( I have done this in the past on my other vehicles). Oh my God! I thought I was going to blow a big hernia across the driveway. There was no way that drain plug was moving. Three coats of WD-40 and a 3 foot extension pipe and 45 minutes later that thing was not budging. I really don't think men should be allowed to use air guns! They just put shit on entirely too tight! I moved on to other services, lawnmowers. Two down with oil changes, spark plugs, and new air filters. The last one was manufactured by the devil himself. I read the the damn manual front to back and it took me 1 hour to get the damn oil out. Now believe me I do not relish baking in the sun, sweating like a pig, breaking a nail, and getting my hands greasy. It is simply because I am cheap when it comes to certain things. I just can't get over the hump of a lawn mower mechanic getting sixty dollars and hour to change oil and install spark plugs. Then that brutal determination set in that I was getting this done come hell or high water. Well dusk came and I am still at it. For the life of me how can you take a model and serial number plus the owners manual into a parts store and they still give you the wrong air filter! Bummer!

Then came the final part. I purchase my first grease gun. After scanning the instructions I get the thing out do a quick review to check out how it works and install the lube. Oooh this thick pink oozy stuff. Oh my it is really smelly and greasy. It smells just like the garage when you take your car in to be worked on. This was a new experience for me because I just never realized how they got the grease into those little nodules. After the a day of hard labor and an education of how things work I retired to the house like a whooped puppy with an unusual odor that lingered in the air. As I prepared to take a shower, a cold mug of beer in hand , I looked into the mirror with horror. Nail polish worn off, grass and other what not in my hair, and grease smudges everywhere I had realized at that moment that I had turned into a grease monkey for the day!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Just Stuff

On a good note we have been busy. We have had three days of rain right after Easter and lots of lawns to cut. Two landscaping jobs in progress and one painting job. Two estimates are out for pressure washing and deck sealing.
Now I know we are in a recession and that people don't have much money but to leave your grass get above 8 inches high and expect the same price is ridiculous! People just don't realize how hard this is on the blades and belts of really expensive mowers. I actually had to cut one lawn three times. I am going to post a picture of a job that is coming up just to show you what we face some days. If they are elderly I have no problem with this at all, but for a young healthy couple, or people that can afford it I am thinking about having them get another service to come in just to get a taste of those high rates.
I worked all weekend while the weather was good so we really didn't get to do much of anything interesting. We did order some crabs though. What a tease for the season. The weather was so nice here that I even got my first sunburn-whoopie!
As I was passing through town they had an early parade going on for the little league. Small but quaint. The kids seemed to be enjoying it. A client of mine had taken her niece to see the new Hanna Montanna movie and said it was really good. I think I will pass, but if you have kids I am sure they will like it.
I am ready for a little rain this week to get a day off so I can grocery shop. We had peas tonight with no butter-can you just imagine that?
I wished I would have had my camera with me the other day. As I was coming in to the neighborhood I saw a really bright colored beautiful pheasant. I stopped to watch as he strutted around oblivious to my presence. Then while mowing a yard I saw some movement in the grass ahead. Then a baby bunny popped up and was trying to run to the best of his ability. He was so young. So I stopped and to my surprise there were five babies running around only to make their way to the underneath of a row of cypress trees where the guys where hand mowing. I cut a big circle in the yard, got some gloves on and put them all back in their nest. They were so cute. Of course they would have been lunch for the dogs at my house.
Everyone seemed to be enjoying the weather this weekend. We went from wearing coats on one weekend to wearing shorts this weekend.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What are people thinking?

Ham, Ham, Ham, and more Ham. I think I got carried away and bought a ham that was a little large. I am doing the whole thing of ham salad, ham and eggs, beans and ham, and the list goes on. I saw a recipe on TV the other day for deep fried deviled eggs. I am gonna have to try that one. Right now I have been obsessed with making a Cuban sandwich with mojo pork, ham, cheese, and pickles which we will be having tomorrow.

I have been reading alot of information about construction products and equipment and keep coming across the phrase "big box stores". Not fully understanding the reference, I read on only to find out that it refers to large home outlet stores such as Lowes and Home Depot. I found it very interesting that neither of these stores sell one of the top rated paints called Benjamin Moore. I found this odd since these stores are widely shopped around the country. It reminded me of jewelry in a sense. Could you find a Rolex watch at Walmart? Why is this? Many people that shop at Walmart could afford one. Why not have layaway for a high end item like this? Now I have my curiosity aroused about this Benjamin Moore paint that is suppose to be so good at $56.00 a gallon, I am going to have to buy a gallon just to see for myself. At that price it should come with the professional painter to apply it. This should be interesting.

It has rained for days here and all work is on hold-what a bummer. TV has proved to be interesting. Re enactments of the Boston Tea Party due to taxes, States scrambling to come up with ideas to increase revenue by taxing the sinful goods ( I better get that good bottle of bourbon now), one state even mentioned a crack tax- does that mean plumbers or pipe? ( now that has to be the best by far), and of course property tax hikes. Now they are thinking about putting a Casino right in Baltimore City. Not such a good ideal at this point since it rates in the top ten for violent cities, has had numerous police chiefs over the years and is currently under investigation for being corrupt, there is not enough parking, heavy traffic, and poverty. What are they thinking? You can't even get into a ball game without being hassled by the homeless and addicts. So the thought of getting away seemed really appealing until they showed the segment on bed bugs that have invaded hotels, and hospitals. I think I will just stay home.

I had a dentist appointment for a cleaning on Monday. I have been going to the same super busy office for 15 years. This was an entirely different visit. The office was dirty and unkept, they had let the cleaning service go. Only two patients were there to be seen unlike the usual ten. I was seated in the chair waiting to see Val the Hygienist and to my surprise she was no longer there. A small petite woman came in to do the cleaning. I was shocked to learn that it was the actual owner of the dental office that I have not seen in the entire fifteen years that I had been there. Normally there are two to three dentist working and two hygienist. They are taking a huge hit with the recession. People just don't have the money for dentistry and those that have lost their jobs have also lost their insurance. As the snowball rolls it seems to keep growing larger swallowing businesses and jobs in its path.

My sister called from Washington State. Her and her husband were going on a mini vacation to Oregon to see an MBA game. It was her birthday so she decided to get a new dress and wanted her makeup done. She went into Saks Fifth Avenue and inquired if she bought from a line of products if she could have her makeup done. The product she wanted was $63.00. The manager told her she needed to spend $200.00 then she could get it done. Of course she wasn't going to pay that kind of money. Later she went into a Nordstroms store, inquired, and the cosmetic counter was happy to apply her makeup for a small sale. What a difference! My sister has stated that she would never buy from Saks again. What are people thinking?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

Well it is Saturday, Lisa and I are whipped. I gained a new client that wanted service asap, so we squeezed them in and were trying to beat the rain. They had 1 acre surrounded by Leeland cypress trees that needed mowing and trim. Lisa mowed between the cypress while I mowed and trimmed. Then they wanted 6 barberry bushes shaped, 3 dogwoods and 3 burning bushes cut way back, edging removed, weeds pulled, and some other what nots. This was after hanging wall border for someone. We now have a new man in our lives Ben Gay!

Is the economy getting better? I am busier because of the season, tax returns, and cutting prices. A friend of Lisa's just lost her job as an radiologic technologist in a Florida office. That indicates a big No to us. Lisa has applied for a cat scan position at a hospital in Baltimore. It is a 3pm-11pm position with on call once a week. A long drive to work but you do what you need to at this point.

This past year has really made me question the way we live. I am working and doing work that I enjoy but in reality how many years will I be able to do this type of work if the business doesn't grow enough to hire full time employees to lessen the physical load on myself. The house we live in takes up more time than both of us have and is more than what we use. We have to commute to get to work or enjoyable functions. The mileage and upkeep on our vehicles is high. So we have talked about moving. Lisa is thinking more of condo living and I am thinking small bungalow. I still want that privacy and small yard.

Of course this all comes after getting socked with a $320.00 truck shock bill and the need for $625.00 car struts. A hike in truck insurance, lack of work for Lisa, the leftover pangs of last years gas prices, and current electric hikes. I am a person that usually does not sit and wait until something forces my hand but, try to predict what might lie ahead and get a jump start on it. You enjoy different things at different stages of life and I think we are entering a new stage.

To me the things that should be simple are getting harder. I decided to give our riding mower a tuneup the other day to save money of course. Changed the oil, the gas filter, the air filter, replaced fuel line, and the spark plug all without a problem. By the way the cost of that was only $32.89 compared to $167.46 that was charged at the dealership. I noticed that the mechanics get $60.00 an hours to work on mowers. Went to change the blade and put on a sharpened one to no avail. King Kong himself must have put that blade one. I struggled for 2 hours trying to get it off. Then decided to take the whole mower deck off to make it easier. With each bolt and pin removed carefully writing down where everything went I finally got it off 1 hour into it. Not to bad I thought now I can remove the blade and really cleanup the underneath. Even with the deck off the bolt that held the blade was not budging. I had 4 feet of leverage and it was not budging. Several cuss words later, grease laden, and mad as hell I got the hammer out. A small sledge hammer will do wonders! I simply beat the hell out of it. Put the ratchet back on and it screwed right out. Now I am about 4 hours into this mower, did I save money-maybe. Did I get out all my frustration-yes and I won!

I didn't relish getting so dirty and thought it would be much nicer to have a small yard with a little cheap self propelled mower.

I have shopped around for truck shocks for over a month and priced them everywhere. Most were comparable in price so I bought locally. I wanted to put them on myself with the neighbors help but after the lawnmower incident I thought better of it. So I went to the garage in town and was told it would be a three hour wait after I made the appointment the day before. Just Great!
They get $70.00 an hour (they are really nice there though), which I really think this is outrageous pricing. I decided to walk to the bar and restaurant my friend owns in town for lunch.

During my walk I realized that I was the only person in town walking. I kind of felt like an alien from another planet. I wonder why people don't walk more, than realized because we live in a rural town everyone is used to driving. It was still strange. I had lunch and heard way too much of a conversation than I needed to between some men at the bar and the barmaid and decided to head back. On the way I stopped a small convenience store to buy lottery tickets and found two old friends sitting in there having a soda playing keno. Of course we are all gamblers and played awhile reminiscing about old times. We had fun but failed to win anything. Time was slipping by and I decided to walk up the side streets going back to the garage. This proved to be a good ideal.

As I was walking I noticed the homes that needed touch ups, grass mowed, mulch, minor paint jobs and other what nots. This would be a good target area for business and I already had an idea of what needed to be done. A couple residents were out on the porch enjoying the warm day as I stopped to exchange pleasantries. I continued my walk and realized just what a safe town this really is to live in. Oh my once again I am flooded with doubts about the possibility of relocating. Making it back to the garage I was still early but surprised that the mechanic had finished putting on the shocks. Yeah!

I have been dealing there for 10 years now and this is the first time they have asked me where I am from. They were under the impression that I am from the South. I have found this so amusing over the years that people ask me this. Even when I visited the parts of the South. Lisa even will bring up the way I pronounce different words such as bread, mask, sink, eggs, and such. This is what happens when you spend alot of time during formative years with Southern folk (as I have referred to in the past as my second family growing up). The blend of Baltimorian, Country Mason Dixon with West Virginian can make for a different vocabulary sometimes. When I work in Pennsylvania they think that I come from Tennessee. I often have to repeat myself or explain. It can be very strange sometimes.

Well tomorrow is Easter Sunday and supposed to be a sunny day. I miss the Easter egg hunts and Easter baskets. I guess it is still the child in me. My mother was still making me an Easter basket at the age of 32 so that is my excuse for not growing out of it. I gave the dogs their Easter gifts early and they are passed out on the floor like children with their toys next to them after a hard day of play. Lisa spent the day napping and trying to see how many episodes of UFC, the Bering sea fisherman, and survivor man she could watch. I spent the day making a pot of chili and chatting with my sister on the phone. No real big plans for Easter, just a quiet dinner here than going to the relatives for dessert. So on a last note I wish everyone a Happy Easter!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Forge On!


Talk about sleeping on your head!









Well I finished one clients job with a faux finish paint job which I thought turned out pretty good. I will tell you that this color definitely promotes a feeling of energy. So I thought I would share. This look was created with the a paint system called the Woolie. You get a brush, blender brush, dual rollers, a dual roller pan, and a DVD with techniques. Actually pretty cool with great demonstrations. We like testing out new products to see if they are time savers or simply just a better product.





Came across this dollar the other day. At the bottom front it reads : MAKE A NERD HAPPY! VISIT www.WHERESGEORGE.com and on the back instructions to update the bills location online. Of course I haven't visited the site yet but I just found it really unusual. It is like a note in a bottle set off to sea.
Two more offices closed at Lisa's job and they have taken away another day. Not that we didn't expect this. The crazy part of the employers psyche is that they actually had the nerve to send out an email that read something like: I know many of you are wondering what the future will hold since we have downsized from 21 offices to 5 after closing the West Chester and downtown offices. We know that with dedication and a busy schedule that we can keep the remaining five offices open for business and prosper.
Now this is after just locking their doors without warning or notice to their employees, after cutting hours, cutting off health care benefits, discontinuing life insurance and other benefits, scheduling with no allowance for lunch, and leaving one technician per office. Hey let's just wring the towel dry! It is just absurd and almost third world thinking and expectation. I do acknowledge that she still has a job but, at what expense.
This company actually scheduled MRI test for patients that were scheduled to have surgery knowing that they were going to close and just closed the doors without even calling the patients. How unethical is that? Elderly patients that had taken sedation medications were not even called prior to taking the meds. Lisa is just so disgusted at the whole situation but stuck there for now. We have been talking about moving closer to the city where she has more job opportunities since she will have to be on call. We live too far away from the Hospitals for her to be able to take the on call schedule required. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
We just stay positive and forge on.

























Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Abbey



I had grown up with dogs and always had one since I can remember. Dogs were always more to me than just a pet. When my sisters were off to play with their friends since they were six years older and I was left to my own devices, my new best friend and playmates became part of the dogs role. It is kind of strange, but they were always just there. In the middle of the night when you were frightened of a sound in the darkness I would reach down and know that I was protected by my furry guardian. Growing up I have had numerous conversations (of course one sided) about how life was going and stuff in general, they were always their to listen. During the times that I fell ill or were sad and needed company they were there for comfort. They have shared in the happiness and joy by my side throughout life.

Then when Lisa had told me she never had a dog of her own I felt that she really missed out. Since we have been together, we have had many dogs and then I realized that they were mainly my dogs. It was going to be her birthday soon and after so many years together it gets really hard to come up big surprises. Our husky had passed away and I had Rusty for about a year and he had gravitated more towards being my dog. It could have been the good food, crazy games, or just the simple fact that I was the one that brought him home. So that was the ideal! I would get Lisa a puppy to raise as her own dog.

I had been looking and asking around about breeders. Then one summer evening my boss came in and told me that she saw a sign that said Golden Retriever Puppies for sale. We had about an hour left of daylight and she said that she would take me there right after work.
What a sight to see! As we approached there seemed to be puppies running around everywhere, I couldn't wait to get out of the car. This was a first litter of puppies for the female that was on the premises that was AKC registered with papers. The owner had children that had interacted with the puppies since birth with made them even more social. I went in to meet the puppies mother who had really the lightest golden fur with the darkest eyes I had seen. Almost as if see was wearing eyeliner. She was beautiful,very friendly and really excited. The father was not on the premises but we could make an appointment to see him. I wanted to make sure it was going to be the right dog. Now it was out to see the puppies!

Still in my white chef's coat I knelt down to examine one of the puppies and then the next thing I knew I had eight of them all clamoring on top of me to get attention. Puppy Heaven! I wanted all of them at this point.

Some had already been taken and had a string of red yarn around their neck to signify this. I spied a puppy that I thought was interactive and adorable. Then it was gone, there were so many! My boss was laughing away at the mini circus scene that was taking place. Puppies and children running everywhere. When we thought we had the right one, it would squirm away and another would pop up. Where was that little female I was looking for? Then I realized I had been oblivious to the puppy laying underneath me the whole time. It was her!

After checking her out, I paid for her and made the plans to pick her up on the next day as my boss and I laughed at all the paw prints covering my white chef's jacket.

It wasn't quite Lisa's birthday which would make the surprise even better as I planned to orchestrate this big surprise since I was off the next day to take care of all the arrangements. Well I woke up to Lisa still home and not at work. She thought she would surprise me and took the day off so we could do something together. Crap! Now what! That changed the whole surprise. So I made up an excuse to get out of the house and went to get the puppy.

I picked up the furry bundle of joy and crated her for the ride home which was only about 20 minutes and figured she would cry all the way home. To my surprise she was alert, curious, and quiet the whole time. I was more excited than the dog! I pulled up in the driveway and went in the house and told Lisa to come outside I had a surprise for her. The look on her face was priceless when I handed her the puppy with her bow attached to her neck. Now she would have a first dog!

After half a day Lisa named her Abbey. An eight week old female golden retriever that would become her companion, protector, and confidante.

Time has passed and Abbey is approaching 4 years old now and is clearly Lisa's pride and joy. Very well trained and behaved (most of the time), with a really sensitive side. Always ready for a game of ball, a romp with her brother, or ready to snuggle up and watch TV, . Abbey has proven herself and of course fulfilled all those expectations that I knew she would. She has opened a door in Lisa's life that she had not experienced and lit a small candle of love that people carry for there furry best friends. It is a gift that keeps giving, it is Abbey!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Just stuff




Finishing up! I was quite proud of myself with the plumbing job at hand. Actually it wasn't too bad except for the fumes of the plumbers glue and primer. Wicked stuff! The job took about 20 minutes and that was because I was being careful with the glue. So here it is!

All that is left is too replace the metal stud, insulate, and replace wallboard. To be on the safe side we have decided to wait until winter and just buy a nice piece of paneling to attach in the meantime in case the plumbing job goes bad.
I did use H&R Blocks CD Tax Cut to do taxes this year instead of them and saved. It was relatively easy. If you can do your own taxes the old fashioned way, send them in, and wait for your money your getting the best savings. The program allowed for 5 federal returns and one state return. So to get the most out of the software plan ahead to utilize it with other people filing taxes to save money. You can purchase additional states for $19.95.
Today I made some Parmesan risotto with fresh basil,onion, and garlic. Finding the Arborio rice was the hardest, and it was $6.95 a pound to boot. I have been to 5 grocery stores and finally found it. If you watch Hell's Kitchen you will notice that this is one of their staples as an appetizer, however if you don't eat alot use it for main course with a fresh salad and bread sticks.



Lisa has been sick most of the week with a toothache. She needs to get a root canal and the doctor she goes to can't see her until the beginning of the week. So I have been trying to make soft foods for dinner. Last night we had cauliflower and cheddar soup-not my favorite but it worked for her. She kind of knew what was coming and started on some antibiotics that they gave her. When I got those filled I almost passed out at the price. With her prescription plan it was $60.00 for 20 pills. Without the plan it would have cost $327.12. Are these people insane? I told her to ask for something else comparable if she can, these drug companies don't need to be charging exorbitant prices like that.


My sister in Washington State got a dog from the SPCA two weeks ago. She hasn't had a dog for some time and was getting lonely since my nephew went off to college. She adopted a Papillon (spelled right?) that is a year old and it sounds like she has her hands full. I'm glad she finally got one after waiting for so many years. She had an Akita that she bought when she was in Japan and he lived until age 13. She was so crushed when he died.


Well my Aero Garden has produced herbs but I do believe that the potted method offers up much better results. The basil and marjoram did terrific but I was disappointed with the others.



I have been pondering many things lately for some reason about life in general. The changes that come about within yourself as you age. When you are young you crave experience and wisdom with untarnished youthful outlook and energy. As you get older and wiser you crave youthful energy, but want to retain the wisdom you have learned. I know that there has to be a balance in there somewhere. Lisa and I both feel that there is a level of age discrimination in the workforce. I told Lisa she would have to dress more provocative to interview-what a dirty look I got! She said they would be hiring her on her credentials not her assets. I had to take her back twenty years ago when we were the inexperienced with some looks. Soon I will be ready for a little nip/tuck and will have it done. She on the other hands wants to age gracefully. More power to her! Just give me the credit card-ha, ha!

Why people think that someone of the age of 25 works better and has more stamina then a person of 45 is beyond me. I have seen this first class and can tell you that in my field that is not always true. We had a lady that was 73 years old that worked in the kitchen part time. Now she could not lift really heavy stuff like a man, but it was amazing what she could lift! She had done this for so many years, she was so fluent in motion that she could have cooked in her sleep. Not only was she experienced but she there on time, willing to work, not hung over from partying, and a team player. Imagine that!

I have a client that her husband just passed away in December. She was married for 36 years. Can you imagine the changes in her life? I try to spend extra time with her listening to stories, and do small things at no charge. Changing light bulbs and taking out her trash make things a little easier on her. This week I finished with the painting in her house hanging pictures and paintings in all the locations she picked out. As I was placing these on the walls I noticed that they were all done by her husband as the decades progressed. She had surrounded herself in the home with visible memories throughout the years of her husband. It was just a reminder of how fast life can change as you once knew it.

Well tonight is Earth hour at 8:30pm. During one hour everyone is to shut off their lights. At the rate our electric bill keeps going up I am considering buying a couple of hamsters and one of those big wheels. Better yet put Abbey on there with Lucy's dog Spunky and a squirrel on the other side and I could power up the neighborhood.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

knee deep

Busy, Busy, Busy! I think I need another brain. Trying to remember so much can be overloading in itself. We have been really busy with painting jobs and in the meantime I am trying to get the mowers ready, get taxes done (doing them myself this year because I am cheap or smart, last year it cost $330.00 to have them done), paint our kitchen, mulching, and help Lisa job search. In the mean time the car and truck needs detailing, we get a great day, get everything out, turn on the water outside and nothing. Come back inside to a pool of water on the floor. Pipe burst in the wall! This is the second time! We had the one wall finished by a contractor that did not allow room for expansion and made the wall to snug pressing on the pipe. First time he fixed it, this time we were so furious I wanted to see what was going on. Shut the water off, tore the wall out only to find that his fix was a piece of wood that he had wedged into the wall to give the pipe room had slipped out. What a mess, now it is plumbing 101. Washing machine hose burst and started leaking-geesh what next. Light cover on stove broke and I have made 10 trips to home depot. I have discovered some really neat things during this time.

A new ultra light spackling compound made by red devil that requires no sanding. Yippie! It is so cool. You just apply with a spackling knife to fill holes and cracks and wait 30 minutes and it is completely dry and ready to paint. Does not shrink or crack. Great stuff

Plumbers make entirely too much money. Complete cost of supplies to fix busted pipe was $22.46. This included a ten foot section of PVC, 1 angle, 3 connectors, and primer. Time to disconnect old pipe was 15 minutes, time to tear out wall was 1 hour including cleanup, time to install new is to be seen.

Popcorn ceiling spray. For a couple of years now I have been wondering how to repair and area on a finished ceiling. Now I know. It comes in a spray can for only $12.97 and is so easy to use.

When fixing or replacing bathroom or kitchen plumbing cartridges the cheapest place to purchase is Home Depot and the prices really vary with the most expensive being online. If you have Moen it is guaranteed for life and they will replace it.

Well back to work, still knee deep in mulch water, and paint.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

ax women of the Northeast

I have spent the last couple of days trying to recoup from work. For small jobs that are close I usually take care of those myself and may ask Lisa for a hand if needed. Well we were still getting over the soreness of that 600 pound stump when the same client asked for a tree to be taken down. It was rotten and looked pretty small (remember objects are larger than they appear) so I said sure-of course. To me it was no big deal, but to Lisa, you would have thought that we were cutting down a California redwood. Half way through cutting it nervous Gerty had me rethinking the process. That women had more scenarios playing out in her mind than I could take in. The tree would kick back and fall on us, the tree would shatter, it was going to fall on me before I could finish the cut, and she even tried to push it over before I made the cut far enough in. Can you picture two women trying to push a 35 ft tree over? I wanted to strangle her! Finally she calmed down and listened, I finished cutting and the tree came down like it should have. When it was all over of course we laughed at ourselves and she made me swear to her that I wouldn't take anymore trees down. The phone rang later with a lady that has a small dogwood that needs to be removed-hmmm!

I can not wait for warm weather to start grilling outside and eating healthier meals. I bought a huge pork butt to make pork and sauerkraut. It was a good price but actually to big for us, so I cut a huge hunk off rub it with seasonings, some liquid smoke, then slow roasted it for pork barbecue. Damn, I had pork everywhere. Containers of barbecue to freeze, sliced pork for sandwiches, pork and sauerkraut, diced pork for the dogs, and I still have pork left. It is a pigs revenge! Rarely do I over eat but when it comes to a meal with mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, pork, and sauerkraut that will usually entice me. After dinner we were all crashed in the living room with our bellies sticking out like it had been thanksgiving. That's when I realized that I was turning into my parents-oh,no!

So yesterday was St Patricks day which we always celebrate with corned beef, cabbage, red potatoes, and green beer. I did buy a very small corned beef this time. We went to the movies to see Last House on the Left which was good. I had not been to the movies for some time and realized how much I missed going. That big screen effect with the sound just makes the movie so much better. At the beginning of the previews they were showing some of the new TV shows like roommates and we laughed as they previewed Ax Men-loggers in the northwest. Maybe that's our calling, Ax Women of the Northeast.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Windy Valley

Farm life during the summer seemed to be filled with endless hours of busying oneself. Help pick the beans, pick the cherries, wash the vegetables, gather the eggs, and other chores my mother gave me to keep busy. We were getting ready to go for a visit to Baltimore to see relatives and I could not get there soon enough. We always gathered a bunch of fresh goodies from the farm to take with us. At that age you can't appreciate having fresh produce for your taking when you want it, but I recall my grandmothers expression of joy when Mom would take in her box of homegrown pride.
The trip to the city was always a day long affair and the best part for me was a place called Windy Valley. This would become a tradition for us that would last for years until it closed. You could smell the burgers cooking a mile away before you arrived. It was a kid's dream place to stop at. A wooden building that looked like it was straight out of the series Gunsmoke. You could almost imagine Marshal Matt Dillion standing on the porch waiting for Miss Kitty to come across the street. A small corral off to the side with all types of ponies saddled up ready to go. A petting area that you could get up close to the ponies and pick the one that you wanted to ride. They even gave you a real cowboy hat to wear while you were riding. People gathered outside at picnic tables enjoying burgers, fries, and milkshakes while waiting for their turn on the pony rides. The best thing about the burgers is that they were fresh, hot, and small with tiny bits of chopped onion on them. The bun was warm, tucked inside of a wax paper pouch with a man riding a horse while lassoing a bull in red and gold print.
They carried a small array of western wear and toys and the thing that I really noticed was the sheriffs badge. It was like a shiny shield of honor that made you the boss. I would daydream of having one of those badges and being sheriff of our town (the farm). Someone had to keep law and order or those varmits would surely get out of control. I had wanted one of those for a really long time and of course my own pony that I was told that would happen when I was old enough.
Then one hot summer day it happened. It had been a long morning and I was a little under the weather. So we made all of our usual stops but missed Windy Valley. My mother had promised that we would stop to ride the ponies on our way home. It was late after visiting with the sun was starting to set when the familiar smell of burgers and horse drifted into the window as we approached. As we pulled into the parking lot I noticed the ponies were unsaddled and being cooled down for the day. We were too late for the ponies. I was so disappointed but took it in stride. There would be a next time. Mom and I ate our burgers outside at the picnic table and watched as the ponies were fed some hay and oats and put into their stalls for the day. We got into the car to began the rest of our journey home when she placed a small white box on my lap. I saw that familiar gleam when I lifted the lid off the box, it was the sheriffs badge! I took it out carefully and examined every inch of before proudly pinning it to my shirt. It had turned out to be a good day and my mind started to drift as the night air pulled through the window of the car. I drifted off to sleep with the dreams of a small town, a pony, Matt Dillion, and Windy Valley.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Job Markets are they Fair?

The economy is bad, jobs are scarce turning the job market into an employers world of feast. The employer now has the upper hand with mounds of applicants to choose from. I have noticed some things that are now transpiring.

Wages are coming down. Yes,for a fact one of the facilities I worked for as a manager and knew what the initial hiring rates were I have seen the job advertised at a lower starting salary. Older employees are being let go while the retention rate of younger mid term employees are being kept while young new hires are being brought in at a lesser rate of pay. Employers are sitting on resumes and positions sifting through picking the cream of the crop. They want it all! Youth, experience, education, motivation, and dedication. I refer to this as the Stepford Employee. Have you ever really noticed some of the biggest corporations immediate managers? Talk about mania, damn I almost wanted to offer one a Valium (not that I use Valium-but he needed it).
If you are a young 18-26 built, attractive young female than you probably have the best chance of getting your resume at the top of the pile. I can just envision a cartoon with a big fat pig sitting at the head of a corporate desk surrounded by fellow cronies smoking imported cigars and sipping cognac. Squealing at the delight of others misfortune while they sift through the mounds of potentials waiting to grind the corn.Below a dungeon of chained workers bound by heaping credit card bills and high mortgages sweating in the stye of conditions that never get reported bound by fear.

What is missing here? Sincerity, pleasantry, being truly genuine, a combination of traits that makes us human.

What happened to the days of valued employees that retired with the gold watch, pensions (that were actually there), and 25-30 years of appreciated loyal service with dignity and high regard for the company that you worked for. There used to be a sense of pride when someone spoke about GE, General Motors, the State of, Bell Atlantic, and the railroads. Now after several years of employment and a large part of your life that you have dedicated to the job is in jeopardy. How can this be? Very simple hard fact. Sorry Bud, but you have grown older and cost us too much money. You can be replaced by someone stronger, younger, and cheaper. P.S We hope you invested your money wisely. Don't take offense this is just part of company restructuring.

Now from my past experiences I can tell you the market in some areas is not fair and bias. On the level that most of you probably would not expect.

The thing I have encounter the most has been nepotism. This has affected the right people getting the job and the reason for other employees not getting the promotion first. Even when in black and white employee handbooks and human resource guidelines nepotism is rampant in the workforce. Husbands and wives working together, mother daughter/son, and siblings. What comes out of this is preferential treatment and low employee morale. I have been witness to scheduling liberties, actual permitted and accepted low work performance, wrongful promotions and awards, and unexplained and accepted tardiness. We are not talking about small companies either. We are talking about the State of Maryland, a large 14 facility senior retirement home specialist, and another large senior institution. Now mind you these are facilities that are not private owned businesses. These employers are suppose to have all of their guidelines t's crossed and i's dotted. NOT!

I was once an idealistic person that thought the workplace was one that if a person worked hard, did their job, followed the rules, was enthusiastic and motivated they would succeed and prosper with the company they worked for. Well throughout the years the layers of that young naive woman have been shed only to find that only some of that is true if you are willing to turn the other cheek and overlook the other atrocities that go on. Problem with that is I was born a Libra. Oh my how the scales of justice weigh for true Libras. It is true that balance is important, justice must prevail in life, along with fairness in the job market.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The morgue

Have you ever had a a room in your home that you just don't use to often? A room that becomes detached from the house sitting idle waiting to come to life.

We call ours the morgue. A back bedroom that seems colder than the Artic, darker than the night without moon and stars, almost as sterile as an operating room, and so quite that it seems to be removed from all sound. Last year I decided to give this room a makeover to give it better character. We use it for company so we ensure that the dogs and cat never have a chance to go in there and keep the door closed. I often laugh when I am cleaning and the dogs come to the doorway and peer in like they have never seen the inside before. They will just sit there, watch and look around-strange beasts. This room actually has no scent to it. It is really strange, no wafting of food, man, nor animal. I had taken out the comfortable queen sized bed (dummy me)and replaced it with a new twin to make the room spacious. I painted and put up new matching curtains and bedspread with subtle end stand table lighting. It looks nice, but I am telling you that bed is like sleeping on a slab, what a back breaker!

So between the cold and the slab you look like hell and death warmed over the next morning when you come out of that room. That is why we call it the morgue.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spring Fever



Such bums! They need to get a job! And their own bed!











I have been keeping myself busy to avoid that yearly uncontrollable urge that I get when this time of the year rolls around. I have never figured out why it happens to me, but it is the equivalent of a werewolf and full moon. To most it is called Spring Fever. Many will start cleaning, organizing, and changing the curtains to welcome the fresh arrival of flowers and warm air. For me it seems more primal, makes we want to do crazy and chancy things that kids do, but I have been good (so far). Well let's move on.


Of course the weather has been crazy here. March 1st it was cold and snowing, dumped 7 inches on the ground in 20 degree weather. March 7Th it is 73 degrees with the sun out. It was as if Houdini had been here. Now you see it and now you don't. I did get to use the snow blower and that was a trip in itself. Our driveway is not paved, it is gravel and on an incline. So as I start up the hill and there are rocks flying out of the shoot along with pine cones and small sticks. The neighbor looked horrified! So after about 2 hours the drive was cleared and we were able to get out. My horrified neighbor was shoveling her driveway which is just as bad as ours with the incline. Every time it has snowed her husband has been out of town. So I told her to use our snow blower and gave her a crash course on how it worked. I thought I would die laughing when she expressed concern that she did not want to break it! After all the rocks I mowed over. So all went well and we saved ourselves a great deal of back pain. The dogs were loving the snow and spent most of the day running around like wild banshees playing Frisbee. It is refreshing to me to get out when the weather is like this. I don't really mind snow and think it is beautiful to look at. That is of course until you have to drive in it. Fact: No two snow flakes are the same.





The Betta still lives. Ernie Borgnine (from the Poseidon Adventure). This is the first betta that I have had and I must say that they can be interesting. Since they are Japanese fighting fish you can not have two males together and only introduce the female when she is ready to spawn. Some quick facts: They do have teeth, they have the equivalent bite ratio that equals that of a Great White for their size ratio, they do eat bits of raw carrot, broccoli, green beans, mosquito larvae, and brine shrimp. and that they have an organ that allows them to breathe oxygen from the waters surface. It kind of funny to have dinner with him sitting in the middle of the table staring at you while your eating. I don't really think the cat has noticed him-that is a good thing.
Lisa's new coffee pot. After all the bitching over my coffee pot that she just hated with a passion we got a new one. I must admit this is convenient and the coffee is really hot. Keurig: just pop a prepacked sealed container into the top and push the button, 20 seconds later it is done! You can buy your own filters to use any type of coffee you prefer. She is in heaven, so I guess that is all that matters. Of course you can't have coffee without a Ravens mug.

I have been watching the NFL free agent signings. We were holding our breath that Baltimore would keep Ray Lewis. He did stay and we are set for another season of good football. You know I just have to say it Hainesworth-100 million dollars! Oh my god what an insane amount of money. I truly did not think that Dallas was going to keep Terrell Owens. Even Jerry can't keep up that kind of spending without the big wins. This year Romo better take'em to the playoffs or he will be out next. I do miss the Sunday games and now we have decided to go to our first ice hockey game. We will probably go to see the Philadelphia flyers since that is closer than Washington. It should be fun. We are gearing up for the Kentucky Derby! I would like to go there one year and see it in person. Here we have the Preakness and this year it will be much different. The Preakness has been known for the inside field party and wild inebriated participants that usually don't even know the race has started. They are cutting off the bring your own keg ideal and strictly using vendors. So no more bring your own bottle will keep things more on the sober side and race oriented.
I have spent a great deal of extra time with family members lately. My sister that lives in Washington State has called more often since her husbands shift has changed and she is lonely. She is experiencing the empty nest syndrome since my nephew went to college. It has been nice to talk to her more often, I just wished she lived closer.
My friend Jackie has been having a hard time of it lately with her son and his abuse of drugs. I know she feels lonely and scared. Her other son died of an overdose only just last year. She just can not make heads or tails of why this is happening. Nor her or her ex husband have any vices and have tried to raise their children up well. Her son has been trying to put her on a major guilt trip and it is such a shame because she does not deserve that. Makes me so mad sometimes that I just want to slap him. He is 46 years old living at home, not working, not helping, in legal trouble due to traffic violations, behind in child support, and addicted to prescription pain medication. He just tried to overdose this weekend and she called in a panic. He suffers from diabetes and a back injury that his doctors have been treating with high amounts of morphine, xanax, percocet, wellbutrin, and other garbage. This has been going on for five years now. Now that he is severely addicted most of the pain medication is not effective and he is abusing it which has led to bouts of severe depression and near fatal doses of medication. What are these doctors thinking? They need to re-evaluate people that have been on heavy medications after a certain time period and introduce the need for surgery to correct the problem and lessen the amount of pain and need for drugs.
It is like she is setting on a time bomb just waiting for something to happen. I find this so selfish of children to inflict on their parents. They should be taking care of the parent! He actually told her that it was her fault because she won't give him 35,000.00 to go into a treatment facility in Arizona. Now that is her retirement savings and who is going to look after her? Can you imagine! The more a think of it, the angrier I get. I tried to keep myself removed from the thought and just be there for her, but damn he needs a major ass whooping and slap of reality that he got himself there, he needs to be the one to get himself started on the road to recovery.
I have also realized that I never really comment much on those of you that leave comments. I do enjoy hearing from everyone and I do stop by and read what you have been up to. I don't always leave comments, but like to know how your doing and what life is like in other parts of our world. So stay well, enjoy life, and get ready for that Spring Fever!



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just Stuff

Well, we finally heard from the hospital that Lisa applied to and she did not get the job. They hired a PRN that had been working there. Time to move on to the next one. Her company is still maintaining their offices in PA and she did get an increase in hours but, the monthly cost of insurance is outrageous. She had off yesterday and offered to help me out on a job.

My new motto is "Objects are heavier than what they appear". I had a client that needed a stump left from a tree that had blown over and was resting on top of the ground to be removed. Oh my god it must have weighed 600 pounds! Worse than wrestling a gator if you can muster that image. So we made our plans and got the thing up onto the trailer to take to the dump, you talk about being sore. Lisa now thinks that I have truly lost my mind and I am not quite sure that she isn't right. I need to use the word NO!

I did get a response from the Mayors office regarding the smoke shop. Interestingly enough it is a legal business that they can not discriminate against. Of course we knew that! However it is within the rights for the town commissioners to create laws that protect the citizens rights and keep them safe. They also noted that the devices that they sold were for use of legal tobacco products. I laughed at that! When was the last time you saw your mother or even grandmother smoking from a bong? Just envisioning that picture alone gave me the best laugh! Hmmmm sounds like there may be a possibility to create new zoning laws. The good thing is that our police department is keeping a watchful eye on them.

We also saw response from the SPCA regarding the man breeding the German Sheppard's. New housing has been provided for the dogs and a noticeable amount of exercise time. It's all a good thing.

We have lined up some new jobs seems like people are getting back tax money and wanting to spend on some extra things. I have really noticed a spending pattern with all of our clients. You almost can predict when they are going to call, just not what they will be requesting. Keeps it interesting. I still am not so sure of the recession and have applied for a couple full time positions to ensure that we survive the economy pitfalls. Scheduling the business flow will be challenging and we may have to say no to some things, but it is what it is.

We started to watch a new TV series on showtime that is called the United States of Tara. It is about a woman that has multiple personalities that transition when she becomes stressed or under pressure. It can be very funny!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Get On Board!

As I have been doing errands and passing through town I noticed a new small business located right in the middle of town. Now I really thought my eyes were lying to me, so I have made it a point to check this out in more detail.

Yes, I was seeing correctly. Water pipes in the windows (bongs), and other drug paraphernalia used to smoke pot and hash. Small mirrors and straws in kits for cocaine. Oh wait I did not use the proper terminology that is required to obtain a permit to open such a shop "Pipe and tobacco supplies". Bottom line is a head shop sells devices for the use of illegal drugs. What rock is our county officials living under?

Now this is a really small town with the local middle school within walking distance of the shop. The shop is located directly across from the town hall, police station, and our local county representatives office. Who gave them the permit? Have people lost their minds? Are they that removed that they do not know what problems this can create?

I am just flabbergasted and I don't have children! I am worried about doing the correct speed in town and then see this. I have made every effort to make sure everyone I come in contact with knows about this shop and from what I have heard it has made the papers. My next step is to contact the mayor and even get a petition up if need be to rid this small town of the last thing that is needed. Why even have this shop here because the demographics just don't match up unless it consists of young adults? Could it be that our own good ole boys club that seems to be running things are actually doobie kings from and era gone by? Maybe they are not making a good salary and have a little extra curricular import business they are involved in to support a lifestyle they yearn for.

Young adults are curious and will experiment and that is expected, but why dangle the temptation right in front of them. Why expose them to something that can lead to a life of drug abuse. I understand that this does not happen to all kids but do you want your child to be that one in five that becomes addicted, that one in ten that is killed in an accident from substance abuse, or that one in fifteen that will spend years in and out of prison? I don't actually know the numbers but I can bet they are astronomical.

The exposure our society has placed on young adults with the justification that they will make up their own minds fails to realize that children and young adults need to mature and develop their mind before the exposure happens. Lets just look at the numbers because they don't lie.

From 1970 compared to 2000 has the rate of teen pregnancy went up? Has teen drug use and addiction increased? Has the number of suicides, arrests, and deaths increased? I for one think that citizens need to become more involved in their communities to keep up on what is happening to keep their community safe. What disgust me is that the city would not put up a skate board ramp due to legal reasons if someone got hurt. The city could not afford the insurance. But of course a bong shop is okay. I hope they get their heads out of their butts (that's putting it nicely) and GET ON BOARD!!!