Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Ten Christmas's

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Ten Christmas's from now
you won't remember how many lights you put up,
how many cards you got back,
or how many parties you were invited to.
It won't matter if it snowed on Christmas Eve,
or if anyone came late for Christmas dinner.
No one will recall how much time and money you spent shopping,
or how nicely you wrapped the gifts.
It won't be important anymore that your house
wasn't always neat and tidy
when company stopped by to visit.
Ten Christmas's from now
you'll only remember baking cookies with the kids, 
drinking hot chocolate after Christmas Mass,
and stealing kisses under the mistletoe
with the one you love.
You'll still remember visiting old friends,
reading Christmas Stories to the children,
and calling your grandmother to tell her 
how much you loved the afghan she crocheted for you.
When you close your eyes ten Christmas's from now
you'll still be smiling when you remember the looks on their faces
when your children woke up
on Christmas morning
and discovered that Santa had eaten all the cookies 
they left out for him.
Ten Christmas's from now the only memories you'll cherish
will be the ones you hold in your heart.
The smiles, the laughter, the joy, the singing,
and the hugs.

Christmas is love.  
Fill your heart with it.

Happy Holidays to all my friends and Readers.
Here's hoping that 2005 will be a great year for all of us!
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Thursday, November 18, 2004

With a little luck ...

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Throughout my entire life people have come to the conclusion
that I walk around with a 'black cloud' over my head. 
Some even think that if it weren't for bad luck,
I’d have no luck at all.
So I recently decided to look into this thing called luck,
and see if there was any way to get more of it
or simply enhance my own.
 
It seems that everyone has heard of luck,
believes in luck, always hopes for better luck,
routinely measures and places a value on their own luck,
has determined the amount of luck everyone else has,
engages in rituals to improve their luck,
can advise others how they can improve theirs,
but no one has ever been able to prove that luck really even exists.
 
Why do we need luck?  
It's what gives us hope when the outcome is bleak and dismal. 
It provides us with an acceptable reason when we're unfairly cheated
out of a particular reward and helps us explain away
any embarassing failures. 
Luck is what justifies the undeserved successes of our rivals.
 
Apparently there are degrees of luck,
and some kinds are better or worse than others. 
There's good luck, bad luck, potluck, blind luck,
sheer luck and no luck at all.
 
It can bring us love, success, fame and fortune,
or take it all away. 
It can help us narrowly escape death, injury,
and disaster or cause permanent pain,
suffering and devastating loss.  
It can assist us in getting away with a crime,
or lock us up for one we never committed. 
It can get us into or thrown out of schools,
pass or flunk exams, be diagnosed just in time
or way too late, land a job or lose one,
meet the love of our lives or leave us lonely,
and it just might be what gets us picked for a game of dodge ball
in the 5th grade or keep us on the side lines forever.
    
I've always believed that luck is closely related to fate,
as fate seems to be determined by how much and what kind of luck you have.
 
Some people say that we make our own luck.
That we are the “masters of our own destinies”. 
If that were true, we'd all be living in the lap of luxury,
surrounded by wealth, beauty and privilege. 
Who in their right mind would volunteer to be a passenger
on a flight doomed to crash? 
Or be selected for jury duty or audited by the IRS?
 
No … we are not masters of out own destinies.
Fate is a cab driver and we are just the helpless passengers
in the back seat who have to pay the fare when the ride is over.
 
I’ll tell you what I have learned so far…  
Some people are just ‘born lucky’
or always seem to have 'beginners luck’. 
Occasionally it's easy to see just how lucky
you are as in ‘sheer luck’,
but sometimes you can't see it at all
as in ‘blind luck’. 
There's the macho brand as in ‘hard luck’
and ‘tough luck’, or the directional kind
as in ‘down on his luck’. 
There's artistic luck, like ‘luck of the draw’
or the culinary variety as in ‘pot luck’. 
Some people enjoy action luck,
where you ‘press your luck’, or ‘push your luck’,
or have sportsman's luck like a ‘run of bad luck’ or a ‘stroke of luck’. 
There's present tense luck as in “this is your lucky day” and future tense luck as in “better luck tomorrow”. 
There's possessive luck like ‘my luck’,
‘your luck’ and ‘our luck’.
 
It’s been speculated that luck may have a will of it's own... 
"as luck would have it", or “if luck is on my side”. 
You may have even used reverse psychology
and told an actor to "break a leg." 
Many times luck is viewed as a character
such as ‘lady luck’, ‘lucky devil’, ‘lucky dog’
or ‘lucky duck’.
If you're curious, you can always ‘try your luck’,
and if no one believes you deserve your good fortune
they will say you have ‘dumb luck’ or ‘pure luck’.
 
Don't get too confident though. 
You may have been born lucky but there may come a time
when you ‘run out of luck’.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to boost your luck. 
Just ‘cross your fingers’, ‘knock on wood’,
or give a ‘kiss for luck’. 
Many people carry it around with them in the form of a rabbit's foot,
a horseshoe or a four-leaf clover. 
Who doesn't have a lucky number?
 
Just to be on the safe side you should try to avoid breaking mirrors,
walking under ladders or letting a black cat cross your path.  
If it's already too late and you knocked over the saltshaker,
you have a chance to negate the imminent bad luck coming your way
by immediately tossing a pinch of it over your left shoulder.
 
  
Yes ... Luck has always been a politically correct,
equal opportunity, all occasion greeting. 
We wish other people “good luck” when they give birth or adopt a child, go on a blind date or get married,
get sent to prison or go off to college,
get fired or get promoted,
land a new job or finally retire,
move away or move in,
buy a lottery ticket or a bingo card,
go off to war or try white water rafting,
enter a convent or get placed in a nursing home,
try out for High School track
or attempt to break a record
on the US Olympic Team.
 
It doesn't matter whether you are coming up to bat in Little League Baseball or The World Series …
we all wish you “Good luck!”  
  
So …
in the celebratory words of Clint Eastwood…

“Are you feeling … lucky?”
 
 

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

My friend ... Joyce

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I met her in Nursing School.


Most of the students were in their late twenties or early thirties.  Many were housewives who had been teenage mothers and were getting a bit of a late start.  I was a little afraid to talk to Joyce at first, because she was loud, large and boisterous.  She seemed friendly to only two other women.  Ones who smoked, cursed and frequently fell asleep in class.  They all wore expressions that were hard and tough.
I imagined they all had tattoos and were members of a motorcycle club.


During a break one morning I noticed that one of the women wore an EMT jacket from an ambulance squad close to my home.  I took a deep breath and walked over toward her.  "Excuse me... but do you live in Lindenwold?"  They stopped talking and turned to look at me.
The bleached blonde in the EMT jacket took a drag from her brown-papered cigarette and narrowed her eyes.
"What's it to you?", she asked.  I was almost trembling.  I remember thinking that it had been a mistake to approach them at all.  I hated driving on the highways so much that I was willing to talk to anyone who could possibly car pool with me in the morning.


And so it began.  Pat introduced me to Joyce and Lee.
I didn't know it yet, but they were the three women who I can honestly say that I never would have made it through Nursing School without. 

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Joyce was very heavy. Too big to fit into the standard desk and chairs around her.   She had to sit on the floor of the classroom for almost a week before the school was able to provide her with a desk that wasn't attached to the seat. 
It would have been so easy for her to just quit.  But she stayed and she kept coming back.  
She worked midnight shifts as a nurse's aide before coming to school every day in order to support her 3 small daughters. 
She was exhausted most of the time but she dreamed of a better life for herself and the kids and she was willing to work hard for it.

  
Listening to Joyce's stories, I wondered if she had ever had an easy time in her entire life.
It was surprising that she always had an easy smile and a ready laugh.   Her large size made many nursing tasks difficult, but Joyce never faltered.  She never asked for help or expected any kind of special treatment.   And she never once complained of anything so much as a backache.  She never let her weight stop her from doing anything. 
Joyce was sexy, fun loving and adventurous, and she made no apologies or excuses.
It wasn't necessary.

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It had been many years since any of us had been in school and we all doubted our academic abilities.  We formed a study group and the four of helped each other through many exams. 
We devised ingenious games to help us memorize diseases, formulas and medications.


For one year we shared the memories that had shaped us into the women we were, and wondered aloud if we could ever become the women that we wanted to be.   These three strangers became my sisters.  We each knew when one needed to be pushed, dragged or carried.  We screamed the loudest and clapped the longest when any of us triumphed. 

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It was a year that seemed to last a lifetime. 
And when it was over
we promised each other that we would never lose contact.
No matter what, we would always be friends.

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But life got busy as it usually does, and before long, years were rushing by with only a phone call here, and an E-mail there.  Our kids grew up and married.  There were promotions, divorces and new houses. 
Then there were the grandchildren.
Lives much too busy for re-unions. 
I never forgot those girls.
And I never will.
They will live in my heart forever.


Joyce died two weeks ago.


I had a chance to see her recently,
but I didn't take it. 
I could have told her just how much her friendship meant to me, and that I would never forget her.  She had a Web Site filled with beautiful, sometimes dark poetry.  I could have told her how wonderful they were.
How talented she was.


I didn't go to her funeral.
It was over before I even knew she had died.
  
I haven't seen Joyce in more than seven years, but I will miss her terribly. 
I regret missing the times I could have shared with her. 
I always thought that there would be a lot more time.  A better time.  But there won't be.

  
Not now.
Not ever.

  
Goodbye, Joyce.  My dear, dear friend.
I'm so sorry...


Tuesday, July 27, 2004

1000 words...

A picture is worth a thousand words... I'm hanging up my dancing shoes...  I no longer have the desire to do much of anything, let alone write.  What used to inspire and excite me now brings me only pain and sorrow.  I sometimes wonder if I'll ever recover...  Only time will tell...  Some will think that I am a poor loser.  Sad, cause that's SO far from the truth.  Some have speculated that I cheated somehow in order to win an award.  How could you possibly be proud of an award you won by cheating?  But by far, the heart break of this entire experience, is knowing that the people in J-Land that I love the most, the ones that I truly called 'friends' are the ones who felt I was cheating.  I thought they knew me better than that.  And they didn't even believe in me enough to ask me.  For some reason they just assumed the worst.  I could have taken it if others had called me a cheater.  But not my J-Land friends.  They have broken my heart forever.  Writing will never be the same for me again.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

And the winner is...




      Picture from Hometown                                             Picture from Hometown

The long awaited results are in! The Winner’s in the 2004 People’s Choice Awards are:

THE KING/QUEEN OF J-LAND
Gregg
"Golden Child, Superstar!"

THE LADY OF THE BLOG
Slow Motion Life ~ "A Life in Slow Motion"

LORD OF THE BLOG
Screamin Remo 303 ~ "Screaming Remo"

MOST LOL MOMENTS
Jeff Comedy ~ "What the Hell"

BEST USE OF ANIMATION
Vivian SulliNwank ~ "Viv's E-Thoughts"

BEST GRAPHICS
Gregg "Golden Child, Superstar!"

THE SUTTERBUG AWARD
Son en Smilin Mon ~ "Backroads of Life"

MOST THOUGHT-PROVOKING
Read Me Read You ~ "Life As I See it"

ROOTIE TOOTIE FRESH 'N FRUTIE
Danielle D1 ~ "Everybody Knows"

BEST THEME-BASED JOURNAL
Sekirley ~ "Stories From My Ambulance"

BEST USE OF MASKED VULGARITIES
Muse N LA ~ "Amused"

BEST USE OF GRANDIOSE BEHAVIOR (a tie)
Floralilia ~ "Freely Floralilia" LA Move 04 ~ "Albert's Artsy World of Fun"

BEST J-BRAT ON THE BLOCK
JB Coupe ~ "My Frog Journal"

THE J-TEEN SUPREME
Svenska Girl ~ "Emily's Life"

THE MAD HATTER AWARD
Karen Sull 12 ~ "Jukebox Woman"

I'S GOT GOOD GRAMMAR
Read Me Read You ~ "Life As I See It"

MOST ORIGINAL/CREATIVE JOURNAL
Haiku Like ~ "Interactive Haikus"

THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
Bare Bytes ~ "Community Story Book"

MOST HEART-WARMING JOURNAL ENTRY
MKG Ninja ~ "Happy Anniversary Baby"

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN AWARD
Dave the Sod ~ "World of the Sod"

SIR BLOGS-A-LOT
Dave the Sod ~ "World of the Sod"

THE J-QUEEN OF ENGLAND
Agathas Place ~ "Damn, Blast, Bollox"


Picture from Hometown

Please join me in congratulating these exceptional writers!  Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote.  A special thanks to those who voted for me... without your support and encouragement,
I wouldn't be the person I am today. 

To my guy Ray ... thanks for sharing me so often with the computer.  For never complaining, picking up my slack, holding me when I'm scared and pushing me when I need it.  And for having an incredible amount of faith in me.  I love you, honey!

To my kids, Lisa, Tina, Joe and Bonnie ... thanks guys!  For making everything worth it.  For believing in me when no one else did.  And for clapping long after everyone else stopped.  I love you guys!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Polls close at midnight tonight!

Picture from Hometown

 

Just in case you've been too busy to vote
in The People's Choice Awards this past week, the deadline
has been extended until 12 midnight tonight (Pacific time).
Thanks to 'Lynda's Lullaby' 
 here is a complete list of the categories, the nominees and links to every Journal.  Try to make the time to explore each one when you have the chance.
Every Journal has it's own unique style, subject and flavor.
The authors are talented and creative people from all walks of life, and I guarantee you'll have a great time visiting them all.
As for me... I'm very proud to have been nominated in the following categories:

1) King/Queen of J-Land:  As honored as I am to receive this nomination, I really don't deserve it.  Gregg, of Golden Child and
Vivian of
Viv's E-Thoughts are the only true choices.  Both have done so much to make J-Land what it is today.  And neither one of them,
as overwhelmed as they must be, are ever, EVER too busy to stop what they're doing and help a fellow blogger who has a question or a problem.  PLEASE vote for either of them.  I wish they could both win. The Nominees in this category are:

THE KING/QUEEN OF J-LAND
Donah42 - 'Hippies in Yuppie Land'
Golden Child NC - 'Golden Child, Superstar!'
On Mi Own Now 2 - 'The Occupant'
Slow Motion Life - 'A Life In Slow Motion'
Vivian SulliNwank - 'Viv's E-Thoughts'
 

2) Lady Of The Blog - Best Female Journal:  To be honest... I was shocked speechless when I was nominated for this one!
(a condition that rarely affects me).  Some people have said that the nomination is thrilling, but there's nothing like actually winning.
I'm not sure I feel the same way.  I am so proud to be nominated for this Award.  To make it even more exciting, I am up there with all majorly talented people!  For the rest of my life, I can tell everyone I meet, that I was once nominated for BEST FEMALE JOURNAL
(I definitely want this nomination mentioned in my eventual eulogy).  Thanks to everyone who voted for me!  You all made one girl happy for eternity!  The nominees in this category are:

LADY OF THE BLOG (Best Female Journal)
FREEE PEACE - 'Journeyto Peace'
JC Georgia Peach - 'The Peach Pages'
Karen Sull 12 - 'Jukebox Woman'
On Mi Own Now 2 - 'The Occupant'
Slow Motion Life - 'A Life in Slow Motion'

3) Most LOL Moments In One Journal:  (That means funniest, Mom.  She doesn't talk PC).  This was such an honor!  I'm too shy to pursue a career in Stand-Up Comedy, so writing is the next best thing.
It's what I do.  What I am.  What I want to be.  To get an Award for it, would be a dream come true.  Thanks.  From the bottom of my heart.  The nominees in this category are:

MOST LOL MOMENTS IN ONE JOURNAL
Jeff Comedy - 'What the Hell?'
LA Move 04 - 'Albert's Artsy World of Fun'
On Mi Own Now 2 - ' The Occupant'
Screamin Remo - 'Screamin' Remo'
Yakvette - 'Do I Amuse You?'

4) The Mad Hatter Award:  The description included with this Award says that it is "daily ranting taken to a new level".  I'm hoping that it means, "complaining about things in an entertaining way".
But I'm not sure...  None of the other Journalers seemed very pleased that they were nominated for this Award.  Maybe they know something that I don't.  Some of them are angry.  One was practically outraged.  Another is suspected of hiring a private detective to track down the person who nominated her.  I've heard murmurings of hired hit men...  But I sit here unfazed.  What does that say about me?
Am I having a really long 'blonde moment'?  Hmmm...  But thanks!
I think...  The nominees in this category are:

THE MAD HATTER AWARD
Karen Sull 12 - 'Jukebox Woman'
Lucy Lou Lady Bug- 'On the Tip of My Wings'
Redhd Ka - 'A Brand New Day'
On Mi Own Now 2 - 'The Occupant'
Scremin Remo 303 - 'Screamin' Remo'

No matter what happens, no matter who wins, I think we all had a great time.  I'd like to thank all the J-Land Community Members for creating and maintaining Journals that entertain, educate,
inspire and make us look at the world in a new way.
For sharing themselves, their families
and their lives with us.
I'd like to thank all the people in the community who  tirelessly worked to make both the Awards and Our First Anniversary not only possible, but special and memorable.  I'd like to thank all the Readers who faithfully come by and leave comments in our Journals, who encourage us to keep writing.  And I'd like to thank all the people that took the time out of their busy days to vote in both the Nominations and The Final Phase of The People's Choice Awards.
Thanks!  From all of us! 

                                              http://pub49.bravenet.com/vote/vote.php?usernum=4145820577&cpv=2


     Picture from Hometown  

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Last day to vote!

Picture from Hometown

            

                I NEED YOUR VOTE!

                                         Picture from Hometown

The voting polls will be closing at 12 midnight tonight! 
There's not much time and the race is really close! 
PLEASE!
Get out there and vote, America!
                                 

                                Picture from Hometown         http://pub49.bravenet.com/vote/vote.php?usernum=4145820577&cpv=2

Normally... I'd go on to say that my fellow candidates
are extremely talented and more than deserving
of their nominations.  I'd probably suggest that you
take the time to check out their Journals,
as they are all exceptional in their own way.
Depending on my hormonal influx at the moment,
I may even tell you to hold your vote
until you had the opportunity tobrowse through
the other Journals... and then vote
for the one you felt was best.

                  But time is short,
           so I'm not gonna do that!
                 Just vote for me!

                       HURRY!

           It only takes a minute!

                      Picture from Hometown  http://pub49.bravenet.com/vote/vote.php?usernum=4145820577&cpv=2                       

 

                     C'mon America!! 
(I can say that cause I'm not up for the Good Grammar Award!)

             A vote for me is a vote for America! 
                For your mother!  Your sister! 
                    Your best girl friend!
          The nurse that gave you pain meds! 

I represent all the middle-aged women
who can't afford cosmetic  surgery!
All the women who rarely have a good hair day!
All the people who have phobias!  All the divorced women!
All the Empty Nesters that miss their kids terribly,
but light a candle in church every week
praying that they don't come back!
All the kids who had their hands whacked with a ruler
by their Catholic School Nuns.  All the chocoholics in the world!
All the people who need to lose weight!  All the women over 40
who wonder if they'll ever get married again!
All the people whose spouses are pack rats!
All the mothers whose daughters exclusively date losers!
All the people who were royally ripped off at the car dealership.
All the people with pacemakers!  All the cat lovers!
All the Parrot Heads!
All the people who have had to battle city hall
for a construction permit!
All the people with slipped discs!
All the people who work midnights!
All the people who love Christmas decorations!
(even the cheap and gaudy ones)
All the people who can't read html!
All the people who live in a dwelling
that should be burnt to the ground.
All the people who live in New Jersey! 
All the people with leaky basements!
All the people with high cholesterol!
All the people who have had sun poisoning this summer!
All the people who can't ski!
All the people who hate going to the dentist!

And all the people who didn’t fall into any
of the aforementioned categories!

                         VOTE NOW!

  VOTE THE OCCUPANT 

             Do it cause you know it's the right thing to do.

 

                                              Picture from Hometown        http://pub49.bravenet.com/vote/vote.php?usernum=4145820577&cpv=2

                                     

                                                  Picture from Hometown 

  Picture from Hometown                                                                            Picture from Hometown

          Picture from Hometown

 

Monday, July 19, 2004

Get out there and vote!

To see my Journal up there with some of the best and most talented people in J-land is ... truly humbling.  I'm honored and excited.  I'd like to thank all the people who voted for me in the nominations phase, and wish all of the candidates good luck.

Before you make your final decision, let me take this opportunity to show you who I really am... 
 
Each highlighted word is a link that will take you to an entry that I feel best describes my personality and convictions that may qualify me for the titles of ‘Lady Of The Blog or Best Female Journal,' ‘Most LOL Moments in One Blog’ and ‘The Mad Hatter Award’.  These are the entries that I feel are my best work.  If you put them altogether they add up to my Finest Hour!


I'm a 49 year old DWF from New Jersey.  I live with my other half Ray, in his home.  We found each other on-line two years ago and have been inseparable ever since.  True animal lovers, we have two cats, and a front lawn that is now a natural habitat for chipmunks, squirrels, gophers and a multitude of field mice.  We're in the middle of renovating Ray's house, which has proved to be quite a challenge since it's located directly above the gates of hell.  I am a nurse ... actually one of the Nursing Supervisor's at a large area hospital.  The one you call when you don't like your roommate, your TV doesn't work, or you hate green colored Jell-O.  I have three grown kids, and one small, but adorable grandbaby.  I've spent the past two years battling the Empty Nest Syndrome, menopause, quitting smoking, losing weight and learning to live with the Grand Poobah of all pack rats.  I am actively studying to be a Senior Citizen, and have been blogging since last October.  I also have a Web Site and I'm in the process of writing a book. 

    
VOTE FOR ME!
 
Why?  Because I'm just like
you.   Same values, same struggles, same goals.  A vote for me is a vote for you.

I'm a typical middle-aged, DWF from New Jersey, who hates diets, and has an addiction to  chocolate.  I'm a
do-it-yourselfer, and I can frequently be found enjoying the great outdoors from the safety of my computer screen.  Although I have days when all I can hope for is that I can reach the remote control to the TV if it falls under the bed, I know the secret to happiness! 

I know exactly what I want to do with
my life.  I know where I'm going.  But I’ll never forget where I’ve been. 

I have goals and nothing will get in my way.  I know the meaning of dedication... I’m more than willing to sacrifice my own well-being for the sake of others, or even that of Ray’s, if it comes to that.


I seem to know immediately what's important.

I'm not afraid to ask important questions.
 

Some people may wonder what kind of scruples I have.  Would I stoop to new levels of lowness to get what I want?  That depends entirely on how you define... low.  

I know how to be politically correct; and I strive to always keep an open mind.  My many years of scientific research have kept me sharp.

My enemies may accuse me of being hormonal.  But I know my limitations; and I know when to slow down.

I'm not afraid of a challenge.  I even have a cause...


But above all else … I'm American!

 

Now get out there and vote America!  Do it for the Gipper!
Do it for yourselves!  Do it for ME!  Just do it!

(This advertisement has been approved by The Occupant.  All opinions, viewpoints and deranged thoughts are solely that of said Occupant, and were never expected to be regarded as valid, rational or exact.)

 

http://pub49.bravenet.com/vote/vote.php?usernum=4145820577&cpv=2

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Envelope Please!

Not only are we celebrating the First Anniversary of AOL Journals this month, it's also Awards time in Journal Land!  Everyone is excited and raring to go.  There are so many talented and creative people, it will be hard to choose one winner.  There are many categories for the Awards, and you can vote for the nominees anytime this week up until midnight Thursday.  So come on in, relax, take a look around, and explore all of the Journals you can.  (There's a bunch of great ones in my sidebar).  You'll have a lot of fun, learn some amazing things, and get to meet some of the most wonderful people in Journal Land.  
Take the time to nominate your favorites, and then please come back to vote.  Show the bloggers just how much you enjoy their writing, and appreciate them sharing their stories and photos.
The easiest way to vote is to copy the url address of any Journal you find 'nomination worthy' and paste it into a blank E-mail.  Click on the voting button, and then repaste the url's you copied in the E-mail into the different categories.  It would be great if you nominated someone for every category, but it's not required. 
 
Just in case you want to nominate, let's just pick a random name out of the air to use as an example...  ummm... ME (I know... I am totally shameless)... here's the link from my Journal, all ready for you to copy and paste! 
http://journals.aol.com/onmiownnow2/TheOccupant/  

It would be thrilling just to be nominated!  OK... so I really want to
win.  There.  I feel so much better now. 

So... what are you waiting for? 
Do it!  Go make someone's day!       

                                                       

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Margaritaville

Ray has been a fan of Jimmy Buffett for many years.
A true 'Parrot Head,' he tries to attend every concert, every year.
This was my second Buffett concert, and it was just as much fun as the first.  You don't even have to BE a fan to have a good time.
Just make it to the 'Tail Gate Party' in the parking lot which usually starts in the early afternoon.
The concert is always sold out in the Philadelphia area.
I think it's so popular because Buffett concerts are a celebration of eternal summers, simple pleasures, and lost but not forgotten youth.
The fans may be eccentric, but they sure know how to have a good time.  The hats, the clothes, the kiddie wading pools, plastic palm trees, portable bar-b-ques, pirate flags, grass skirts, and inflatable sharks take you away from the everyday rat race.
The props may be cheap, flimsy, and fake,
but they're easy, affordable and most importantly ... possible.

 

I did behave myself this year, however.
I didn't even have one alcoholic beverage.  This was partly because, several weeks ago, while Ray's best friend was visiting us from Chicago, I ended up having a few too many Long Island Ice Tea's with lunch.  All I can remember is using a cloth napkin while dancing to Karaoke music on the dance floor.  At 2 o'clock in the afternoon.  I haven't been able to swallow anything even remotely alcoholic in nature ever since.  I'm not sure (I'll have to check with Ray), but now that I don't drink or smoke, I may not have any bad habits left.
Which would make me... practically perfect!   At least... temporarily!

Fins to the left!!

 


Sunday, July 4, 2004

Let freedom ring!

 

 

Picture from Hometown

On a lighter note...
Ray has been working very hard this past week to get me through the rough patch I'm having on the road to my eventual demise.  He had a new central air conditioning unit put in (when he realized that the one place you NEVER want to be is with a menopausal woman having a hot flash in the summer with no air conditioning).  He replaced the hot water heater which has significantly reduced the amount of flooding in the basement, and has promised to have it water-proofed in the next few weeks.  He helped me conduct several scientific experiments to determine exactly where the bathrooms were leaking, and removed all the old caulk so that my son can re-do it for us this week.  He emptied out that rancid refrigerator all by himself and washed it down with bleach, stopping only twice, but went right back to work after he regained consciousness.  He maintains a constant vigil of spraying room deodorizer throughout the entire house 2-3 times a day.  He personally over-nighted my check to the NJ Board of Nursing so I could renew my license.  He actually started going through old boxes and throwing stuff away.  THAT in itself, is a major step which may indicate the possibility of potential normalcy, giving hope to the Significant Others of pack rats everywhere.  He even fixed a few other problems that I didn't even mention.  When the TV in our bedroom stopped working (call me crazy, but do you see a trend here?), he lugged up another set, connected it to the satellite dish, and raised it up on two heavy gauge plastic storage bins so we can watch it at night.  He got the name of a contractor and promised to call him this week to get an estimate on repairing the leaks in the roof.
And not only has he been working on a way to try and retrieve all my files from my almost dead computer, Ray suprised me with a COPY OF MY MANUSCRIPT which he had put on his laptop a few months ago in case I wanted to work on my book while we were away on vacation!


I'm SO glad I didn't murder him now.


Happy Fourth Of July!!                        

 

                                                                      

                                                              Picture from Hometown

   

Saturday, July 3, 2004

The Money Pit

Everybody has a little bad luck from time to time.  I've always believed that the purpose of bad luck was to help you appreciate good luck when you have it.
I'm beginning to think that maybe the good luck is just a ploy to trick you into believing that all you have to do is just hang in there a little longer, and things will get better...
After I met Ray, fell in love, saw his house, got up enough courage to go inside, made a path through the middle so we could walk, plowed down the weeds, hired some guys to pull down the crumbling shingles, hauled away the collapsed porch and deck, replaced the windows, painted the entire inside, remodeled the master bathroom, finished the basement, re-sided the house, and landscaped the front lawn, I was still pretty optimistic.
After the pipe to the hose bib burst and flooded the downstairs living room, the tree man cut down the irreplaceable second story balcony for no apparent reason, the garbage disposal broke and the pipes under the kitchen sink rusted out and flooded the laundry room, I started getting a little concerned.
When we discovered that the house had an architectural flaw that made our brand new, custom made bow window impossible to install without major modifications, and we realized half way through that turning the attic into a walk in closet was a nightmare, I started to worry.  A lot. 
When I tried to peel off the wallpaper in the master bathroom so I could re-paper it, and the walls began to crumble, we brought home the wrong fixtures four times, the township refused to give us a permit to replace the front porch that we had just torn down, and the basement started to leak after we finished it, I realized that worrying was not the answer.  I started drinking.
Then ... when the master bathroom recently started leaking into the kitchen below, the central air conditioner died, the guest bathroom began to leak into the living room, the dishwasher needed repairs, my nursing license expired, the hot water heater rusted and needed to be replaced, the roof sprung a leak ruining the new paint in the master bedroom, and the refrigerator/freezer motor burnt out and all the food inside spoiled, allowing the smell of spoiled fish and fowl to permeate the entirehouse... I was getting damn close to ... panic.
But now ... my computer ... the one that has safely housed the unpublished manuscript that I have been writing for the PAST FIVE YEARS has crashed.  Self-destructed.
Most people would be numb by now.  But my pain ... has no relief.  I never did get around to copying my manuscript onto a floppy disk or CD, even though I had promised myself that I would do just that a thousand times.
Glancing over at MY blank computer screen, I am ... consoled by the fact that RAY'S computer is working just fine.  He still has all the scores from his skillions of FreeCell Games safely stored in his hard drive.  All the jokes from his Internet buddies are still intact, easily accessible and ready to be enjoyed again and again.
So as I sit here, grieving over all my lost files, breathing through my mouth so as not to assault my nostrils with the painfully slow fading scent of fish and fowl from the basement, mumbling to myself trying to remember how I started that first sentence of my manuscript back in 1999, I hear raindrops starting to fall on the roof.  The ones that will be leaking into the bedroom and the basement in just a few more minutes.  Not to be confused with the bathroom leaks in the kitchen and the living room, of course.  But ... at least I now have air conditioning.


And I realize ... no one would even notice the smell if I killed Ray...  

Monday, June 28, 2004

Puppet On A String

 

The last thing that tobacco companies need is any more bad publicity. The government requires them to place health warnings on all cigarette packages.  They're limited as to where they can advertise and the sale of their products is strictly regulated and monitored. Every year more areas become smoke-free and the number of designated smoking areas decrease in number.
Public pressure aside, manufacturers don't want smoking to become even more inconvenient than it already is.  Public awareness would banish the carefree days when smokers could light up and smoke, then simply flick the butt, walk away and forget about it.  A formerly enjoyable past time would now include a personal obligation.  Education would force smokers to obtain and carry a personal ashtray at all times, and police would be expected to enforce anti-littering laws.  Some organizations like PRWatchDog have suggested that tobacco companies may have found a way to hide these facts from the public for as long as possible.  How?
They contribute large sums of money to environmental organizations like 'Keep America Beautiful' who are then obligated to give back a little in return for that financial support.  Such as not printing articles divulging how much money it costs every year to clean up cigarette butts.  Keeping quiet about butts poisoning the environment and killing animals, fish and birds.  Omit photos of butts floating in lakes and washing up on beaches.  Tobacco companies want to leave the smokers in blissful ignorance, and not bring attention to cigarette litter.  Other products like soda and beer have messages printed on their bottles and cans to remind the consumer to dispose of them in trash containers.  They ask us to recycle and not to litter.  Cigarettes carry no such messages or advice.  In fact, cigarette papers are not made from any recycled materials at all, and the packages and cellophane that they are wrapped in will NEVER disintegrate.  Phillip Morris has recently agreed to put a public service message on a few "selected" brands, but only for a limited time.


Let's recap what we already know...
Cigarette manufacturers produce a product where they PROFIT at the expense of the health and the very lives of their consumers.
They make it even more addicting by adding other chemicals to help make sure that the consumer will not be able to stop using the product in the future.
They blatantly refuse to manufacture the product using recycled goods, and continue to package the product in materials that are known to harm the environment.
Then they do everything in their power to keep those facts from the consumer so that he or she cannot make an informed decision.
And even worse, those same companies become major financial contributors to any and all organizations designed to decrease or at least curtail the pollution caused by their products, in an effort to undermine any degree of success that might interfere with their profits.


How arrogant is THAT?


(I'm not  finished yet...)

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Dirty Little Secrets

In case you were aimlessly wandering around the Internet and suddenly found yourself lost in my Journal, let me bring you up to speed.  First let me assure you that you're safe.  Other people have been here before you, and most of them are still alive and well.  Some have even left comments to prove it.
Now... where was I?  Oh yes...  I recently noticed that although I'm almost 50 years old, I really haven't done anything so far to make the world a better place.  I decided to correct that, and have been spending lots of time searching for just the right cause.  Being a notorious slacker, I knew it had better be something that would excite me; otherwise I'd give it up in a minute for a good movie and a bowl of ice cream.
I've always been impressed with the
'Keep America Beautiful Campaign' but I haven't heard much about them in recent years.  I found their web site, looked at the old TV commercials, and was once again... inspired.
Searching even deeper, I discovered that cigarette butts are the number one littered item WORLD WIDE.  Being an ex-smoker, I knew immediately that this was…
MY CAUSE.  I spent over 30 years poisoning the environment with my own cigarette butts.  Maybe now I have a chance to make up for that by helping to educate other smokers on the hazards of cigarette litter.  I don't think smokers would continue to litter if they knew the butts took years to disintigrate and that they leaked the toxins that had accumulated in the filters into the enviornment as they slowly biodegraded.  I'm going to do what I can to bring that information to them.
Except for a few other commitments (3 grown kids, an adorable grandchild, my beloved Ray, my job, a few friends, a
Web Site, this Journal, a partially written Best Seller book, and renovating a house that would challange both Bob Villa and Martha Stewart), I am totally free to commit myself to this worthwhile endeavor.
Researching the information was fascinating at times.  I love uncovering a mystery.  If it's also shocking and scandalous… even better.  In this day and age, why are smokers so uninformed about cigarette butt litter?  I found one Site that pointed out that one of the MAIN CONTRIBUTORS to the Keep America Beautiful Campaign was none other than the Phillip Morris Tobacco Company
.  Were they trying to make up for some of the evil they caused... like me?
 
That's doubtful...
(stay tuned for more)

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Picture from Hometown    

                                    Another Father's Day.
                             I wish my Dad were still here.
  So I could send him a funny card.  Give him another shirt.
     Or take him out to dinner at a really great restaurant.
           I know he would spend most of the day golfing.
                   It's odd that my Dad loved that game.
                    He just wasn't the country club sort.
He went to a public course with a beat up set of used clubs,
            a pair of sneakers, and sporting a tweed derby.
                   I know he never, ever played under par,
                     but he loved the game
just the same.
             He was much older than all of my friends' Dads.
           I never realized that until I was in the eighth grade.
         A classmate asked me if "that old guy" was my father,
                    and when I looked at all the other Dads,
                                    I realized he WAS… old.
                                  He was 47 when I was born,
                      but there were 5 more to come after me.
 
      My youngest sister was born when he was 60 years old
                                    and my Mom was 40. 
             When I was a little girl we didn't have much money.
           There were many Father's Days when my sister and I
                            had no way of getting my Dad a gift.
               We'd look through his bureau for a pair of socks
              that had no holes,
then carefully wash and dry them.
      Then we would iron them so they'd be flat and have a crease,
                   and finally spray them with hairspray and cologne
                               so they'd be 'crisp' and smell 'new'.
  He would always act so surprised when he opened gifts like that,
                                       and he'd smile and rave
                  about how wonderful he thought the present was.
                               He never let on that he knew
    it was just a pair of socks
we had taken out of his drawer.
He made us feel special on the day that was supposed to be his.


                          It's been 16 years now since he died,
                 but he's still as vivid in my memories and my heart
                                              as he always was.
               
                                       Hardly a day passes by
             when I don't remember
something he said or did.
         I never make a cup of coffee or pass by Dunkin' Donuts
                                      without thinking of him.
                                        He loved jelly donuts.
                   I can see him trimming the Christmas tree,
                                shoveling coal into the heater, 
or 
walking the floor with one of my teething or colicky babies.
                           
I don't think he ever told me that he loved me… but he didn't have to.
                                    He showed me every day.
                                         I miss him so much.


                                     Happy Father's Day, Dad.
                                                    I love you.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

My Sin

I wanted to make a difference in the world.  To leave it better than when I found my way into it.
I think that everyone should have a 'cause'.  Believe in something and stand up for it.  Get passionate and even fight for it if you have to.

The No Butts About It Litter Campaign captured my attention, ignited a flame inside of me, and started my creative juices flowing.
It was there I learned that cigarette butts are the number one littered item… WORLD WIDE.  Contrary to popular belief, butts can take up to TEN YEARS or even more to biodegrade.  When I was a smoker I never hesitated before flicking my butt.
“What’s one tiny filter that will disintegrate in a few days?” I thought.  Unfortunately I wasn’t the only one who shared that misconception.  There are over 176,000,000 pounds of discarded butts in the United States each year.
I shudder to think how many of them were mine.  And it’s not just American smokers that are contaminating the environment.
An article in 
'Cigarette Litter' says “It is estimated that several trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide every year. That's billions of cigarettes flicked, one at a time, on our sidewalks, beaches, nature trails, gardens, and other public places every single day.  In fact, cigarettes are the most littered item in America and the world.  Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate tow, NOT COTTON, and they can take decades to degrade.  Not only does cigarette litter ruin even the most picturesque setting, but also the toxic residue in cigarette filters is damaging to the environment, and littered butts cause numerous fires every year, some of them fatal. CigaretteLitter.Org is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to running educational campaigns aimed at significantly reducing the amount of cigarette litter.  Most people who litter their cigarettes either don't fully understand the consequences of their actions or they have rationalized the behavior.  This web site and our other educational efforts are designed to get the facts out about cigarette litter to both smokers and non-smokers.  Once people know the truth, they will be much more hesitant to unthinkingly flick their cigarette butts on the ground.” 
The cigarette filters are designed to trap chemicals and carcinogens that would otherwise be inhaled into the lungs of the smoker.
But when these filters are discarded in the street, they ultimately find their way into the sewer systems, where these same chemicals will leak into the lakes, streams, rivers and oceans. 
‘ButtsOut’ 
reports "cigarette butts can leak chemicals such as cadmium, lead and arsenic into our marine environment within an HOUR of contact with water.”  Beyond pollution, ‘PRWatch.Org’ has learned that many fish, birds, whales and other marine life mistake the filters for food and ingest them.
Not only poisonous, the cigarettes butts can cause deadly blockages in the intestinal tracts of these creatures.
Filters have even been found in the stomachs of dogs, cats and squirrels!  Deer actually like the taste of filters and pose a threat to drivers when they wander onto the highway grazing for discarded butts.
Many smoking parents don’t realize that if their toddlers eat more than three butts from an ashtray it can be fatal. 
Littered cigarettes are also a leading cause of house and forest fires every year, costing many lives and billions of dollars.


Cigarette butts are POISONOUS.
We can't flick  them out into the world any longer without considering the serious consequences.  We can't be selfish and look away.

Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse.

Picture from Hometown

But what can I do...?

(stay tuned to find out)

Thursday, June 17, 2004

In Search Of...

Deciding to make the world a better place was the easy part.  Finding a WAY to do it was another story.
If you just walk outside and take a look around, you can see that there are plenty of things that need to be fixed, stopped or changed.  But where do you start?
I figured since I already live in New Jersey, I might as well start here.  Maybe I could even find a project that would allow me to make up for some of my past indiscretions.  But being a notorious slacker, I knew that I better choose a project I could get excited about, or I'd lose interest in no time and quit. 
It struck me on the way to work one day.  I noticed that there seemed to be more and more litter accumulating every year.  When I was a little girl it was pretty common to see bottles and trash all over the highways.  Then they started showing the 'Keep America Beautiful' TV commercials.  I loved those ads.  The ‘Crying Indian’ made us both proud and ashamed to be Americans at the same time.  Little ‘Suzy Spotless’ showed us that even children could make a difference.  There were signs, posters, catchy songs and phrases.  I knew one thing… I didn’t want to be a Litter Bug.  Their strategy worked.  America cleaned itself up.  The 'Keep America Beautiful Council' reported that by the end of their campaign, over 38 states had reduced litter by 88%, and environmental issues were brought to the attention of the American people for the first time.  I’m proud to say that as a result, my generation would never even THINK about throwing a bottle or can out of the car window to this very day.
But at some point in time, I’m not sure when, they stopped showing those commercials.  And America is once again being buried in its own trash.  I wondered if the
Keep America Beautiful’ Campaign still existed.  It does. They have an impressive web site, where you can even watch those old TV commercials.  Apparently you don’t need flashy ads and special effects to send a poignant message after all.  There were many links to other great pollution sites as well.


While browsing through one… I suddenly found… MY CAUSE...

(stay tuned to see what it is)