Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Unexpected Post-Birthday Celebration

As I wrote earlier, our GM and friend, Linda (the Irish Lass) planned to take me out for dinner on my birthday last week - and we know how that turned out. And over this weekend she suggested we try one more time and planned for last night (Monday) after work at the Henlopen City Oyster House a few blocks away.  I agreed to the idea and looked forward to yet another Happy Hour, and another new venue while in her charge.

But, it wasn't meant to be.  Seems the LocosGuys had other ideas. Without knowing of her plan, they dragged Linda into the office and lamented the fact that no one could have bought a drink for me on my birthday, because I was so sick, and how awful that was to miss out on my special day, and blah, blah, blah.  They wanted to make up for it, but had family coming to dine at the restaurant last evening, so would Linda mind taking me out for drinks & dinner.  It would be on them.  How nice (convenient) is that?

So, the bosses shooed us out the door as our shifts ended, and sent us to OUTBACK for a no-holds-barred dinner evening.  But first, we stopped at the Oyster House for Happy Hour and boiled shrimp. A glass of Pinot Grigio, a half-pound of spicy boiled shrimp later we're relaxed, laughing and joking with the bartender - who promptly bought another round in celebration of my birth. When he learned the reason for the late timing, he almost bought us a full bottle.  Seems he had stones in his past, too.  We talked him out of that, hit the road for my first visit to an Outback Steak House.

Our server happened to be the girlfriend of one of our DL servers (small world!) who took very good care of us. After a surprisingly good meal (and yes, a bottle of wine!) a troop of servers popped up at our table with a huge slab of cheesecake slathered in raspberry sauce. A lit candle was on top and they sang a rather bawdy rendition  of "Happy Birthday" to me then smothered me with kisses and hugs. (See the embarassing image above and notice I am alone.  Linda dislikes photos of herself even in frames with one as dazzling as myself.)

Having totally demolished the wine, a bloomin' onion, filet, lobster, and baked sweet potato, I could do little damage to the cheesecake.  Still we did our best. I haven't a clue to the total cost - I wasn't allowed to see anything.

Linda was tipsy.  She twice missed the turns while driving me home.  Maybe I was too excited; having visited 2 new places in one evening and enjoying both the company and the meal.  I didn't begin to feel a buzz until I was out of work drag and in shorts and tee shirt.

So, what was I supposed to do?  Go to bed at 8 o'clock? Nah!  Phooey on that! I made myself a festive Bombay Sapphire martini with 2 olives, listened to James Taylor, and smiled at the way things turned out.   Having today off was just another treat and I've made the most of it.

Only 5 more weeks and it's all over. Actually, 4 weeks and 6 days...but who is counting?

And so it goes.

One Hand Washes The Other

Over the years I have shopped and purchased items from many categories at Amazon-dot-com, and over the years I have received good service, nice perks, special offers, coupons, and free shipping from that company.

Same is true of Staples and JCPenney to some extent.  Working long hours - 6 or 7 days -that I do, it's difficult to find the time to shop in stores.  In the summer season it's impossible with the tourists out and about, clogging the roadways and parking lots of all venues. (I do my grocery shopping in the early morning on a day off, or before going to work - usually at about 7 or 7:30 am.)

So, I find it more convenient to shop online.  No hassles, free-shipping and occasionally a coupon or two.
Recent purchases at L.L. Bean and Jockey resulted in 40% savings, and today I received an additional 15% savings when I ordered work slacks from JCP.

With my new Kindle Fire came a free 1 month membership to Amazon Prime which, I decided to join after considering the advantages and perks. Free books & streaming of movies. Free 2-day shipping on purchases (really a savings of time as well as money) and all for $79. annual fee.

I bring this up because, as most know, JCP chose Ellen as their spokesperson and announced their support of LGBT issues and families. 

Not so well known is what Jeff Bezos, along with his wife did just last week.  This is from Box Turtle Bulletin:
Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, and his wife, MacKenzie, have joined the list of prominent Washington businesses and CEO’s that have come out in support of marriage equality in that state. And all because former employee Jennifer Cast – one of the company’s first – asked.

On Sunday Cast emailed Bezos asking for a contribution to the campaign in support of Referendum 74. “We need help from straight people. To be very frank, we need help from wealthy straight people who care about us and who want to help us win.” Bezos’ reply:

    Jen, this is right for so many reasons. We’re in for $2.5 million. Jeff & MacKenzie.

I’m sorry. I should have given you a tissue warning.

Oddly enough, NOM’s blog site seems not to have gotten the news. They’re still talking about chicken.

Don't get me wrong here.  I still shop for the best deals I can find, it's just that most of them happen to be at online sites rather than brick & mortar stores.  I feel good as an Amazon frequent shopper knowing that my money is going to support causes I believe in.

The deciding factor in choosing the Smartphone and service at Virgin Mobile over CREDO was Sir Richard's video PSA in support of marriage equality.  That Virgin offered the best deal (with no contracts) was icing on the cake. I always love a win-win, don't you?

And so it goes.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dog Days Surprises

The barking and sniffing around these here parts has little to do with the dog-days of summer and a lot to do with our tourist equivalent of O.M.G.!  Can't say it hasn't been fun at times...

1. Came upon a rather obese family of 5 on the walk to work. They had in tow: 2 carts of beach accessories, 3 large coolers on wheels (you know the kind) and 1 cart of umbrellas.  We meet at a fork in the road where my street dead-ends into a street that will (depending on your direction) lead to the ocean or out of town.

The clan leader, huffing, puffing and short of breath asks if he is heading in the direction of the ocean/beach.  I tell him,  "yes, it's only 5 blocks away." I thought he was going to faint.
HE: "I was told the beach was within walking distance of where we're staying. We've already walked 6 blocks and I still don't see the ocean."
ME: "I don't know where you're staying, but all those living in town consider the ocean within walking distance."

I could almost hear his mind weighing the options.  Turn around and return to their rental, or walk the additional distance, enjoy a day at the beach, then struggle on the walk back.

Turns out, they were staying at a health spa - and victims of a cruel joke. Sometimes I hate humans!

2.  Three elderly women are laughing it up (after enjoying lunch at the restaurant and wolfing down 2 pitchers of sangria), taking pictures on the avenue, sitting on the back of street-side benches, when one of them decides to have a "hey, watch this" moment.  This is when she stands on top of the bench and promptly falls, ass-first, into the trash can conveniently located behind the bench. Head is just about kissing knees (yeah, you had to be there and unfortunately, I watched the whole thing happen.  Without sound, of course.) 

Two tipsy old broads storm the doors demanding assistance extricating the hapless dame from her predicament.  After getting the pickled old broad unplugged (as it were) from the can and plastic bag, I became the center of abuse as the entire incident was blamed on ME - the restaurant came in a close second.

Pick your battles carefully, as my grandfather used to say, and there was no win on this one.  I made up for it by getting the old bitch cleaned up, giving them another round of sangria on the house and made a promise never to tell anyone what happened...Well, of course not!

3. This happens all too often. Family/party of 14 arrive. 4 baby strollers - all twins.  Do the math, that meant 8 babies/toddlers and 6 adults;  they insist there is "no way" they are leaving strollers outside.  "You WILL accommodate us and the strollers will remain inside."  (2 babies asleep - great excuse, right?  Wrong.)
ME: We will do our best to make sure you receive the best dining experience we can offer, however, the strollers WILL remain outside the building.  Now, if you would prefer to wait until those currently napping are awake, that's fine, just give me a name and we'll prepare a seating arrangement for you at whatever time you choose.
HE: You. Don't. Understand.  We are here NOW and are staying and you WILL serve us.
ME: If you don't mind leaving those who are sleeping in their strollers outside the building, I have no problem with taking care of your dining needs.
HE: Tell me, do you want us to eat here, or not?
ME: ( I felt like saying that I hope you fall into a very deep pit and die, but...) That sir, is up to you.  These are our house rules and those of the fire department.
HE: What if we all just sit down and demand service? (Is this a Woolworth's counter in 1960?)
Me: You may remain until the police arrive to ask you to leave, as well.

(The GM arrives on the scene, takes in the situation)
SHE: Is there a problem here?
HE: (All ruffled feathers) We have 2 sleeping babies and he won't allow us to bring their strollers into the building.
SHE:  (In her lilting Irish accent) Right he is, you take those babies home and let them sleep in peace, then come back and enjoy food and drink. We'll take good care of you!
HE: Slack jaw.  "I demand to speak to the manager, NOW!"
SHE: That's me.  What? Is there a problem?
HE is defeated and knows it.  They have lost.  They leave quietly and quickly. 
After they leave: I am about to burst!
SHE: Did I miss somethin'?
ME: I love you!

4. Young Gay couple arrive looking a bit apprehensive and quietly ask for a booth in back of the dining room. There is one popular with couples getting together and/or about to end the relationship. I seat them there and they smile at each other and then at me. That they are happy and grateful for the privacy and intimate space is clear.  I leave them alone and head back to my duties.

During their meal I visit a few times to make sure the food and service has been good. They smile a shy smile and nod that all is going well.

Toward the end of their time with us their server nervously informs me that they would like to talk with me.  The server is afraid he's done something wrong.  When I arrive at their booth, they are holding hands, I notice plain gold bands on their ring fingers, and I guess I almost ripped my face from jaw to jaw because it came to me that they had just made the ultimate commitment. 

They had been together for 4 years. Decided to take the plunge. Their families didn't know. They took their vows on the beach at dawn, witnessed by the waves, a few seagulls, and the officiant. No family.

They asked that I join them and sit a while, but I couldn't; we were too busy. So, they drop a bomb. 

It was I who introduced them 4 years ago as they sat enjoying Happy Hour at the bar Hi-Tops.  Seems they were with different groups of friends.  One straight, the other gay. Of course, I didn't remember, or know that at the time.  I pay no attention to those things anymore. Somehow, they exchanged information and the rest is history.

They thanked me and we shed a few tears, because they also knew (from the gay group at the time, I don't know how) that I had been in a long-term relationship that ended on an ugly note. Somehow they felt  stronger for knowing that information.  Don't ask.

They invited me to Happy Hour, or dinner when they return to the beach after Labor Day.

Sweet, Young, Love!  May they happily grow old together and find comfort in each others arms.

FIVE more weeks of summer, but who is counting?

And so it goes.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Caturday Beauty Tips

 I prefurrs natural beauty, myself

More later.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Colored Only": Will This Raise its Ugly Head Again?

I remember when this was the law of the land. My memories go back to the mid-fifties and through the early sixties before I fled NOLA for New York.

I remember the "whites only" and "colored only" drinking fountains everywhere.  Not happy memories.

 I remember trying to hail one of these in NOLA during a heavy, summer rainstorm so I couldn't make out the lettering, and the driver yelling as he drove by, "man, you lookin' to get me lynched!"  honest to G*d, that's what I remember him yelling in a very fearful voice.

I later learned that there were KKK "sting operations" trying to nab black cabbies who had the nerve to pickup white folks as a fare, just so they could have a little fun on a boring Saturday night. Of course, nothing happened to the white folks.  They were told that a mistake had been made and a proper cab would arrive shortly to take them to their destination. The untold story is what happened to the hapless black cabbie caught in this "crime" against white people. Gotta keep'em in their place.

I remember being shaken and appalled for what could have happened to that poor man if I was spotted in the back seat of his cab.

I hope we never return to that climate, but the rhetoric of the GOP candidates seems to point in that direction. The fear of black people is again being instilled in the minds of Americans who, by this time, ought to know better.

Surely, it couldn't be Fox News induced, or internalized racism in this day and age, could it? (wink, wink, nod, nod.)

Just a little brain cramp from my past.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Smart Phones

I know the feeling and frustration. My neck hurts.

I'm doing better. Even know how to end a voice call now.

And so it goes.

200 Year Old Shipwreck Found off Gulf Coast

Oh how I love stories like this.  The information that the ship may have had some involvement in the War of 1812 or the Mexican - American War, are especially interesting to me.

From Discovery:
Ocean researchers exploring the depths of the Gulf of Mexico have discovered a wooden shipwreck laden with anchors, navigational instruments, glass bottles, ceramic plates, cannons and boxes of muskets.

Resting on the sea bottom in about 4,000 feet of water, some 200 miles offs the northern Gulf Coast shore, the wooden-hulled vessel "is believed to have sunk as long as 200 years ago," the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a statement.

"Artifacts in and around the wreck and the hull's copper sheathing may date the vessel to the early to mid-19th century," said Jack Irion, a maritime archaeologist with the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Originally identified as an "unknown sonar contact" during a 2011 oil and gas survey for Shell Oil Company, the shipwreck site was fully investigated in a recent NOAA-funded 56-day expedition in little known regions of the Gulf.

Scientists on board the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer used a state-of-the-art multibeam mapping sonar and a remote-controlled underwater explorer, Little Hercules, that is equipped with lights and high definition cameras. They were able to view a variety of artifacts inside the ship's hull.
"Some of the more datable objects include what appears to be a type of ceramic plate that was popular between 1800 and 1830, and a wide variety of glass bottles. A rare ship's stove on the site is one of only a handful of surviving examples in the world and the second one found on a shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico," Irion said.

Historic events in the Gulf of Mexico that may have been responsible for the sinking include the War of 1812, events leading to the Texas Revolution, and the Mexican-American War.

"We explored four shipwrecks during this expedition and I believe this wreck was by far the most interesting and historic," said Frank Cantelas, a maritime archaeologist with NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

Maybe this is part of what draws me to the ocean. Who knows.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Can I Get a "Do-Over"?

I mean, if one is forced to sleep through most of their birthday, do they get, or apply for a "do-over" later? Or, do I skip a year?

Although yesterday was to be a celebration of my birth, I was most grateful that it was the birth-date of the most recent kidney stone, instead. I was simply the happy host-mother, exhausted and weeping with joy (not) that the little darling was finally out in the world. If I had the energy I would have slapped the sh*t out of the little bugger.

Of course, I saved the little darling wrapped in swaddling clothes  in a plastic bag, to be sent by the doctor for analysis.

But I really wanted to know if I get a 'do-over' a second crack, if you will, at a celebration of my own birth?  Well, apparently, I do.  I was just informed that I will be guest for a dinner evening with (no names 'cause I ain't been told) at the Henlopen City Oyster House next Monday evening. I also learned that it was to have been a surprise  last evening, but the kidney stone birth took precedence and the surprise fizzled.

I'll not complain, since I will be in great form by next Monday with not a trace of pain, soreness, or discomfort of the past 2 weeks. Oh, Oysters Rockefeller, you shall be mine!

Oh, and while I was recuperating, the birthday fairy stopped by last evening and left a bottle of Bombay Sapphire on my doorstep. That fairy is no slouch, believe me!

Ready to put the Mary-Jane's on and get back to work tomorrow and into the rhythm of the season.

And so it goes.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Relief, Reflection, and Rest.

Note (this is what the aftermath of passing a kidney stone looks like. It isn't pretty. Like death warmed over, eh? I want to remember it and tape a copy to the bathroom mirror as a reminder.)
I've spent most of today in bed (no, didn't work) resting and nodding off whenever I felt like it, without pain. Called the GM early and asked for the day off.  She said she'd cover my shift, that I just rest. Easy advice to take, believe me. I didn't move a muscle for 3 hours and when I did, the soreness spread throughout the body. I slowly drifted off to sleep, again.

The stone took the longest time to pass, by far, than any others.  Eleven Days!!! That the body is ravaged and weakened by pain, soreness, and blood loss, and that I lost 5 pounds (the hard way - I don't recommend) over the 11 day period, I awoke hungry. Very hungry.

Don't feel up to cooking anything right now and there is no comfort food in the freezer that would fill the bill. I had a cup of chicken soup with crackers and a hot cup of green tea as I checked email and began typing this post. Much better now.

There is a small salmon steak in the freezer and leftover brussel sprouts that sound more tasty by the minute.

I hope to get tomorrow (my regular day) off too. I've not done laundry or other chores in 2 weeks and I need another day to rest, get grocery shopping done. I also need to pick up some new undies to replace a couple of pair ruined by all the blood. No going "commando" at work for me these days.

I'll be re-evaluating my diet, as well.  Found a few sites containing info on kidney stones and how to reduce the chances of getting another one.  However, if one is prone to them (as I must be, having had 5) there isn't much else to do. Already drink plenty of water - all day - ever since I gave birth to the first stone, years ago. It's just a habit now.

With the exception of Tonic & Cola (as in Gin & Tonic or Rum & Cola) I hardly drink carbonated beverages. As far as I can tell, Gin doesn't cause the formation of stones.  Thank G*d for that, at least. Wine is OK, too, but beer can be problematic in some cases.

While I don't ingest lots of sugar or salt (even on margaritas), I do eat too much animal protein and not enough fish.  If I had my druthers I'd eat crab, lobster, salmon, flounder, and Ahi every other day, but they are expensive, certainly not in the budget.

I love veggies that are otherwise healthy choices, but are known for forming stones.  Like spinach and chard - 2 of my favorites - of course.

All that said, I may not get much done tomorrow, either.  Depends on my strength and how sore I may be.  Eleven days of pain and nausea - not to mention decreased food consumption have taken their toll.  And I am not getting any younger.

And so it goes.

Update:  Called the restaurant and was greeted by a rousing (off-key) chorus of "Happy Birthday" instigated by the locosguys and sung by half the kitchen & floor staff.  Cheered me up a lot. Made me laugh. Tuesday off is OK, so I am going to make lists as I prepare the salmon, then go back to bed after a hot shower.  G'night.

Bubbles in Space & The Rock

The rock has finally left the building body and I am finally able to see properly. I watched this while in the passing process to take my mind off the pain and nausea. Watching it again gives me great joy as a film buff.

Michael Andrews - Bubbles In Space from Josh Hassin on Vimeo.

What happens when you give 100 teenagers art supplies, a general frame-by-frame outline for a story, and strict instructions to express their own personal style in their drawings? The chaotic-yet-wistful, colorful and absolutely unique music video for musician Michael Andrew's new single, "Bubbles in Space," which you can watch above. The artists come from San Diego’s High Tech High International’s class of 2013, and together they drew the video's 3000+ individual frames, according to VisualNews.com.

Now for much needed rest and healing.  May not work tomorrow.  Very sore and shaky, and there is still blood.

And so it goes.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Movies at Midnight?

Question:  WTF were 3-month, 3 year, 6-year, and 11-year olds doing in a PG-13 rated movie at MIDNIGHT?
This from the official website of the film:
"Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community. I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families."
-Christopher Nolan
Who (in their right mind) takes babies, toddlers, and young children out in public at midnight? I don't presume to know anything about the parenting skills of the parents of those children shot or killed in the massacre, but I have my own opinions of them. Let's just say, they're not good ones.

And so it goes.

Caturday Confession

Not a biggie as cat confessions go, but at least he's honest. That's admirable, isn't it?

And so it goes.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Not Much to Report

It's been quite a week; an exhausting one at that. Of course, there has been no social life to speak of and none on the horizon.  Which is OK by me.

No stone yet.  Most pain and blood have subsided.  It is in there somewhere, but not causing any damage at present. Only stinging during urination remains - excruciating.

Rains have come (finally!) and work has been overwhelmingly busy, though it takes my mind off the stone and its travels.

After work, I come home, take a shower, have a cocktail and a light supper and hit the sheets.  Some nights even too tired to read.  Just turn off the lights and drift off.  The sound of the rain helps in that department.

Saturday and Sunday are long work days, and I dread what may happen if the damned stone starts to move south during that time. There is nothing I can do about it.  It is what it is - or will be.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Martinis in Hell!

Yes, yes, yes! Oh! (Ahem.)

Speaking of Hell, (as I did in the earlier post) it's close to 100' F today and my neighbor - who's in construction - was home for the day at 1 pm. Forecast calls for a high of 108'F tomorrow, which means it's likely to be in the mid-80s for my walk to work.  Oh. I. Am. So. Thrilled!

Kept to the apartment all day, no venturing outside, no desire to deal with the heat and humidity. I need new slacks to replace those ruined by salt stains from sweating all day.  Sorry, that's not a lovely image, but a good reason I wear shirts loosely, outside the slacks. That purchase will wait for another time. I am coping with enough discomfort as it is and don't need any extra right now, thank you very much.

I'm out of bed again (nothing new to report, damn it!) and about to prepare a festive cocktail as I wrap my throbbing skull around ideas for the evening meal. A Bombay Sapphire Martini is likely the best bet for relaxation, so that's where I'm heading. And yes, maybe more than two.

If I can muster up the energy there may be a chicken Stir Fry for supper tonight - quick and easy - if not, maybe a simple salad. I am still kind of weak.  That may be due to the lack of food intake, but one doesn't feel hungry while coping with vile pain and nausea, if you get my drift.

Back to work tomorrow and the heat/drought/humidity will likely take their toll on my already weakened self. I plan to get to the restaurant earlier than usual, turn down the AC to 72'F and pray the locoguys don't open the front doors.  They would be crazy to do so, but that's why they're the "loco" guys!

Cocktail time!  For that which I am about to receive...Thank you, Jeebus!

And so it goes.

Kidney Stone Soup* & Blueberry Ice Cream.

Thanking the Gods for this day off to rest and catch up on sleep lost battling the kidney stone, making the final journey out of my body and into a coffee filter, if I am lucky. Don't ask.

Slept in and rested, though the soreness hasn't lessened. Struggled with a cup of chicken soup in place of a coffee this morning. It was worth the effort. Very satisfying, calming.

The stinging remains when I urinate, though no blood detected at present. Everything seems to be in limbo.  Hoping for some movement, but nothing seems to be happening. Can't tell if the back pain is from the kidney or something else.  I seem to ache everywhere.

In a foggy, semi-awake state, memories came back from my previous life when I made fresh ice cream; experimenting with many different fruits not normally associated with the dessert. I made ice cream using cantaloupe, pear, kiwi, and honey dew melon - to name a few.  The results were good, but the cantaloupe concoction as I remember, was a real crowd-pleaser in the summer.

That life is gone and with it went the Donvier ice cream maker and all recipes. So, I've been on line hunting up appliances and recipes for ice creams and sorbets.  Found a Cuisinart (well, of course, I did! Refurbished and inexpensive.) and an enticing recipe for a thick, rich, blueberry ice cream that sounds like sheer heaven.

The recipe calls for a wine that I've not heard of in a very long time: a Moscato d'Asti, rather sweet and full of fruity fragrances. I don't know much about the wine, never having occasion to try it, but I came across this definition at About.com.  Sounds like a "must try" wine, and not only for dessert recipes.

Now, whether out of sheer boredom, pain, lack of sleep, or all of the above, I believe another Cuisinart appliance (ice cream maker) is in my future.  Call it a birthday present to myself.  Hell, it's close enough.

*Punctuation is everything, so they say, and I left out the comma between 'Stone' and 'Soup' on purpose, just because. I am a big fan of the "Stone Soup" tale of greed and overcoming differences.

And so it goes

Low Water Levels On The Mississippi A Major Threat To Commerce

Middle America and this entire country is in deep trouble.  Climate Change? What climate change? Really!
From TPM:
Companies operating along the Mississippi River are seeing a drastic cut in business as severe drought lowers water levels and makes shipping increasingly difficult.
The drought, which now covers more than 1,000 counties across the US, has dropped water levels 50 feet below last year’s levels in some places. Last winter’s lack of snow, the absence of any major tropical storms from the Gulf of Mexico, sweltering temperatures, and the lack of rain this spring and summer are to blame for the shallow water.
The Mississippi is a major trade conduit through the central U.S. Barges, which are often cheaper to operate than trains or trucks, carry goods such as grain, corn, soybeans, steel, rubber, coffee, fertilizer, coal, and petroleum products in and out of the interior of the country.
As the water levels fall, barges have run aground near Vicksburg, Mississippi, where the water is already less than 5 feet deep, and shipping companies have been forced to curtail their business. The Wall Street Journal reports:
‘It’s causing headaches all up and down the river system right now,’ said Martin Hettel, senior manager of bulk sales for AEP River Operations, a St. Louis-based barge company.
Mark Fletcher, owner of Ceres Barge Line of East St. Louis, Ill., said about 70% of his 220 barges aren’t being used now. First, the drought cut crops, reducing demand for shipping. Now, low water levels are making it more costly to ship.
‘It’s not good if you are in the barge business right now,’ he said. ‘In the last 60 days, you’ve watched a whole lot of money go out the window.’
Some river ports have been forced to close temporarily or shut down parts of their operations because of the low water levels. At the port of Rosedale in the Mississippi Delta, port director Robert Maxwell Jr. said water levels are about 50 feet below what they were last year, when flooding shut down the port. If the water falls any lower, there was a ‘high likelihood’ he would have to close, he said. One of the port’s public loading docks is inoperable, with equipment normally in the water now hanging the air. The Army Corps of Engineers is supposed to come this week to dredge, where heavy equipment is used to dig out sediment from waterways to make them passable for shipping.
‘This is absolutely not normal,’ Mr. Maxwell said.
In response to the dramatically low water levels, companies have decreased the number of barges in operation. Without some steady rain soon, “the vast majority of commerce would have to stop,” says P.B. Shah, president of Ingram Barge Co., the largest barge company operating on the Mississippi river. 

More later.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Farmers Market Etiquette.

As you know if you read this space, I {heart} the local farmers market that suddenly materializes on Tuesdays from noon to 4 pm, May to October.  Ours is relatively small, boasting about 20 vendors, but offering some of the freshest and most interesting products over and above the usual farm fare.Just found this and thought it worthy to post.

The only things I would add:  bring along your own reusable bags and an insulated one (with a "freez-pak' also known as blue ice) for those purchases that must remain cold, such as meat, cheeses, etc. AND, leave the kids in strollers at home.  There is no room to navigate and your screaming kids are not that special.  So here you are:
Because the Accidental Locavore was on vacation last week, and since it's getting to be peak Farmers' Market season, I thought it was a good time to re-run my farmers' favorite posting.
During the taping of a new cooking show, the Accidental Locavore was talking to a couple of farmers who have been at the various Greenmarkets in New York City for years. As you can imagine, they've witnessed a lot -- from drunks, dogs and kids all run amuck, to women with cigarettes demanding to know if the produce is organic, they've seen it all. Some of their stories may surprise you and if you recognize yourself...
1. For example, the Locavore never realized that if you pick up a tomato to see how ripe it is, put it down, someone else picks it up, etc., etc., by the end of the day it's essentially a tomato water balloon. Not good.
2. Usually farmers are happy to let you taste berries. However, if you taste a berry and like it, take the box you picked the berry from. Don't get a new box and don't add more berries to the box you have.
3. The Locavore's pet peeve at any market: shucking corn. It makes a huge mess and nothing else. If you take it home shucked, it loses moisture and flavor (and you've got nothing to grill it in, one of the best and easiest ways to cook corn). The way to see if an ear of corn is going to be good is to look at it. It should look fresh and moist, not dried out. If you are a corn shucker, try picking one or two ears that look good to you, take them home un-shucked and see how they compare to the ones you made a mess with. My history shows a 98 percent success rate just going for the good-looking ones.
4. One of the charms of any farmers' market is the pace. Give yourself time to wander through and see what's available. Talk with the farmers -- they welcome your appreciation of their hard work. In return, they will be happy to help you pick out the best stuff, find something that may not have been put out yet, take special orders, or save you something if you can't get there early, and often give you tips on how to prepare it.
The other 5 tips are HERE.  Visit and enjoy your local Farmers Market when you can.  You won't be sorry.

And so it goes.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

R.I.P. Celeste Holm : She Never Said, No!

Another of the best has left us. Lived to 95, a great career, good long life and a gentle lady. Just look at that face!
NEW YORK — Celeste Holm, a versatile, bright-eyed blonde who soared to Broadway fame in "Oklahoma!" and won an Oscar in "Gentleman's Agreement" but whose last years were filled with financial difficulty and estrangement from her sons, died Sunday, a relative said. She was 95.
Holm had been hospitalized about two weeks ago with dehydration. She asked her husband on Friday to bring her home and spent her final days with her husband, Frank Basile, and other relatives and close friends by her side, said Amy Phillips, a great-niece of Holm's.
Holm died around 3:30 a.m. at her longtime apartment on Central Park West, located in the same building where Robert De Niro lives and where a fire broke out last month, Phillips said.
"I think she wanted to be here, in her home, among her things, with people who loved her," she said.
In a career that spanned more than half a century, Holm played everyone from Ado Annie – the girl who just can't say no in "Oklahoma!"_ to a worldly theatrical agent in the 1991 comedy "I Hate Hamlet" to guest star turns on TV shows such as "Fantasy Island" and "Love Boat II" to Bette Davis' best friend in "All About Eve."
She won the Academy Award in 1947 for best supporting actress for her performance in "Gentleman's Agreement" and received Oscar nominations for "Come to the Stable" (1949) and "All About Eve" (1950).
Holm was also known for her untiring charity work – at one time she served on nine boards – and was a board member emeritus of the National Mental Health Association.
She was once president of the Creative Arts Rehabilitation Center, which treats emotionally disturbed people using arts therapies. Over the years, she raised $20,000 for UNICEF by charging 50 cents apiece for autographs.
President Ronald Reagan appointed her to a six-year term on the National Council on the Arts in 1982. In New York, she was active in the Save the Theatres Committee and was once arrested during a vigorous protest against the demolition of several theaters.
The full Huff-Po obit is HERE.

Of course, they left "Bloomer Girl" out of her credits.  A shame that, because it really helped define her as a stage actress in many ways.

And so it goes.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Caturday Drivers!

Probably runs a Driver's Education Clinic, too.

And so it goes.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday the 13th? Who Believes Such Nonsense?

A beautiful black cat crossed the street in front of me as I walked to work this morning.

I walked under a 24 ft. ladder spanning the entire sidewalk because there were trucks and cranes blocking every other path. Sign company putting up new signs for a business nearby.

Nine month old triplets (that's THREE in high-chairs!) screeched like harpies for about an hour as their parents dined oblivious of the noise.

Working on a stir-fry for supper, the entire wok - filled with vegetables, noodles, and chicken - slid off the stove and splattered all over the kitchen floor. I sat on the floor and cried, then cleaned up the mess. Not hungry anymore.

Oh, and just for good measure, I am in terrible pain with yet another Kidney Stone. The blood in urine started last night and was worse today.

I need relief and a few shots of 94 Proof Bombay Sapphire will help that situation. Maybe even help me sleep tonight. I have no appetite.

At least there is no brunch tomorrow, so I can rest up (unless I am writhing on all fours over night) before the Saturday lunch crowd descends upon us.

Oh yes, And so it goes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ancient 'NYC" of Canada Discovered

This is another one of those wonderful historic detective stories that I love so much. Here you go:
Today New York City is the Big Apple of the Northeast but new research reveals that 500 years ago, at a time when Europeans were just beginning to visit the New World, a settlement on the north shore of Lake Ontario, in Canada, was the biggest, most complex, cosmopolitan place in the region.
Occupied between roughly A.D. 1500 and 1530, the so-called Mantle site was settled by the Wendat (Huron). Excavations at the site, between 2003 and 2005, have uncovered its 98 longhouses, a palisade of three rows (a fence made of heavy wooden stakes and used for defense) and about 200,000 artifacts. Dozens of examples of art have been unearthed showing haunting human faces and depictions of animals, with analysis ongoing.
Now, a scholarly book detailing the discoveries is being prepared and a documentary about the site called "Curse of the Axe" aired this week on the History Channel in Canada.
"This is an Indiana Jones moment, this is huge," said Ron Williamson, an archaeologist who led dig efforts at the site, in the documentary shown in a premiere at the Royal Ontario Museum. "It just seems to be a game-changer in every way." [See Photos of the Mantle Site Artifacts]
Williamson is the founder of Archaeological Services Inc., a Canadian cultural resource management firm that excavated the site.
"It's the largest, most complex, cosmopolitan village of its time," said Williamson, also of the University of Toronto, in an interview with LiveScience.  "All of the archaeologists, basically, when they see Mantle, they're just utterly stunned."
The Mantle people
Scientists estimate between 1,500 and 1,800 individuals inhabited the site, whose fields encompassed a Manhattan-size area. To clothe themselves they would have needed 7,000 deer hides annually, something that would have required hunting about 26 miles (40 km) in every direction from the site, Williamson said.
"When you think about a site like Mantle, 2,000 people, massive stockade around a community, a better analogy is that of a medieval town," Jennifer Birch, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Georgia, said in the documentary. "While the cultures are very different, the societal form really isn't."
There is more HERE, including more images and commentary.

And so it goes.

Freebies & Good Fortune

Recently I wrote about receiving a seersucker shirt from LL Bean, a gift from friends. In today's mail I received a coupon worth $10. toward any item from that company - with free shipping thrown in for good measure. Another seersucker shirt may be in my future. Then again, maybe not. The shirt was made in China, but the price was the same as if it were made in the USA. Very tacky!

In the same mailing was a check from Staples 'frequent buyer rewards program' for $56. good toward anything at their site or in stores. I didn't think I purchased that much, but the network router, document shredder, stick-drives, and other smaller items added up, I suppose.  Now I have to figure out what to purchase with this windfall as the check is only good through 8/31/2012. I am sure I will think of something.

Checking email this evening, I found a 'special purchase' certificate (read - coupon) for buy-one-get-one-free at Van Heusen.  This is where I purchase most of my clothes for work and I can certainly use a new pair of slacks, or two!!! 

Also in email was a gift certificate from Sony for $25. off any purchase. I cannot think of anything I need from Sony these days. Absolutely nothing. Blu-ray, Blu-ray, everyone says I ought to buy a Blu-ray player.  Why? I am happy with the DVD player I have now. Unfortunately, these certificates are non-transferable, so it will go unused.

Hey, if only I would receive notification that a check from the Social Security Administration has been deposited to my bank account, I would be thrilled beyond measure. Alas, 2 more weeks before I am "scheduled" to receive my first check.  Not holding my breath.

I. Make. Too. Much. Money. Or, so they tell me over and over and over...

And so it goes.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

110' in the Shade

And I ain't talking about the musical here.  Oh, look it up.

If you wanted to fry the perfect egg today, I could have given lessons: leave cast iron skillet in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes, drop in your choice of butter, or - - - -; before the butter burns quickly break the eggs neatly into the pan.  Do not leave the pan unattended.  Turn the eggs after 2 minutes and fry for an additional 2 minutes and remove from pan.  Don't worry about eating them right away, they will remain hot (and probably continue to cook) for a few minutes.

Of course I jest, but not too much.  Yes, it really is that hot here. It was already 85'F as I walked to work this morning at 7 AM with not a hint of wind.  The Atlantic was a sheet of glass and with this heat there is a warning of a jellyfish invasion on the coast. The heatwave has already been blamed for a mass fish-kill in a lake nearby and that isn't the worst of it. The fear is that there are more to come.

The restaurant was crowded all day but the air conditioning couldn't keep up with the flow of human heat or the doors opening every few minutes. We stopped taking reservations for today on Thursday, but people just kept coming.  At one point I had a half-hour wait for a table for lunch. Although the temps never fell below 80'F at least the air was dry and acceptable for dining.  Kids and the elderly were the most uncomfortable and we tried to make them as comfy as possible, not always successfully, I must admit.

The walk home was quite unpleasant, but as I arrived I found a small package on the porch. Drenched with perspiration I scooped it up, unlocked the door and entered the amazing coolness of the apartment. The thermostat was set at 78'F, though it felt much cooler as I chucked the package on the counter and shed the work drag.

Following a quick shower I made a cocktail and opened the package. It was from L.L. Bean, an early birthday gift from friends in NOLA.  A beautiful short-sleeve seersucker shirt!  Now, as I am from the deep south I used to wear seersucker shirts, shorts, trousers, and jackets many years ago. I had forgotten how comfortable seersucker is on hot, muggy days.  The shirt fits well, and will likely be worn to work tomorrow. It makes me feel like an old fashioned New Orleans Gentleman again. All I need is a straw hat, and a mint julep, or Sazerac cocktail to complete the mood.

As I write this I am knocking back a second martini (also the last) washing down a light supper and preparing to read in bed before sleep.

Tomorrow is to be the last weekend Brunch.  It hasn't taken off, losing money for the restaurant as well as servers working for tips with no customers to serve for those 3 hours.

And since tomorrow promises to be a weather duplicate of today, I doubt anyone will be stirring early in the morning - on a Sunday, no less. We shall see.

And so it goes,

A Caturday Dispute

Whatever, just keep the noise down!

More later.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

'Whites Only' - "Christian" Conference

Yes, you read that right. Stop rubbing your eyes. Alabama! where else? Believe it or not, this is real.
A controversial pastor's conference welcoming only "white Christians" is underway in Lamar County, Ala., upsetting residents of the nearby town of Winfield in the western part of the state.
Christian Identity Ministries is holding a three-day conference for so-called "white Christians" who contend they have been treated unfairly, the Rev. Mel Lewis told local TV station WSFA. Lewis, the organizer and keynote speaker, says they have the right, like any other Americans, to worship how they wish.
Ku Klux Klan flags and white supremacy slogans surround the conference, which will conclude with a cross being set on fire Friday night. Organizers say it's not a cross-burning, but rather sacred Christian cross lighting.
"We are not breaking any laws. We're not violating any ordinances. We're bringing the Word of God to people who want it, obviously, or they wouldn't be here," Lewis told the TV station.
Lewis said of the conference-goers: "They are part of the chosen race."
The mayor of nearby Winfield said residents are upset, and the event does not represent their town in any way.
"Business people are upset. The city is upset. The city of Winfield does not condone this," Winfield Mayor Wayne Silas told another local TV station, WECT.
"It's surprising to see something like that in our town," said Tyler Cantrell. "I know it's been here in the past."
Organizers say their ministry is not a hate group and that although there is a strong KKK presence, the Klan did not sponsor the event.
No, they are only Klan Krazies visiting a "Christian" Event complete with a Cross Burning 'er Lighting. Yeah, seems legit.

Jesus weeps.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day...

to all our dumb-ass, redneck countrymen - and their stoopid dogs. Yes, just try explaining this to your insurance company.

God Bless 'Merica!

And so it goes.  Year after year, after year...


Virgin Mobile? Smart Phones? Yes, Of Course

Week 3 since activation of the LG Optimus Elite Smartphone begins today and (thanks to tips and tricks offered by others) I am becoming more familiar of the way the phone works, and though I miss calls, text messages and their sub-directories are becoming a part of my core knowledge of the device.  Calls are from unknown sources anyway, so I'm not worried.  How they got the number is anyone's guess.  Robo-calling, most likely.

Turns out, no one remembers all the little shortcuts, and quick steps to many functions, so I don't feel bad.  Anyway...Text and Web were the primary reasons for the purchase and change of carrier.

Using the querty touch-keypad is still a challenge thanks to my fat fingers.  Even turning the phone to horizontal position my fat fingers hit the wrong, or multiple keys.  Very annoying, indeed.  I will get better at this. Also, the phone must be charged nightly because of the constant connectivity to the Web, email and messaging.  The old phone required charging once weekly, but had none of the functionality of the new phone. Stand-by mode was just that. 

BTW, so far, I am pleased with the Virgin Mobile no-contract pricing, customer service, SPRINT signal strength, and Virgin's response to FAQs.  While the younger 21 - 35 demographic is their target audience, I find their individual plans are just right for me.Their user Q&A message boards are equally helpful.

So far, no hidden charges detected. Maybe I can actually trust the company after all. We'll see. My renewal date comes up next week and if all remains the same, I may allow Virgin to deduct the monthly fees  automatically by credit card. A BIG step for me.

Evolving into a smart phone user - slowly but surely.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Taking My Own Advice

OK, I know I said I was hunkering down for the duration of the holiday  week, but  thought I would made a quick shopping run early (about 6:30)...then I walked outside.

Dew covered everything, dripping off tree leaves, cars, and buildings. The air was too thick to take a deep breath. Not a good omen.

Left the car parked where it was, decided against the trip, turned on my heels, headed back up the stairs.  Once inside, shed the street clothes, already feeling moist, made a coffee and set about clearing and cleaning the counter-tops in the kitchen.

Plugged in the Kindle, unplugged the cell phone, had a nice breakfast and decided my initial advice (to stick close to home) was the best.

Felt no rush, cleaned the bathroom, shredded old documents, rearranged the files in the cabinet, put the ironing board and iron away, tidied up the living room (though I don't know why, no one ever visits), and checked the freezer for dinner possibilities.  Leftovers and a salad will be the quickest, coolest option.  Don't want to use either oven - microwave use will be short and sweet.

Discovered that the V-tech cordless phone/answering device was fried by last weekend's storms (not that anyone calls or leaves messages), so plugged in the corded phone as a precaution until I purchase another similar unit. I cannot afford the Verizon voice-mail monthly fee; the answering machine works fine for my needs and adds only a few dollars to the total price.  A one-time cost. In any event, that will wait until next week.

It's well over 90' again, humidity is high, and dark clouds are rolling in, so there won't be any outdoor activities today.  No, not even laundry, which means only going out the door, down the stairs, and into the laundry room below the apartment.

Truth is, I am more tired than I thought.

Light lunch and a Sazerac will make the afternoon cool and comfortable. After that, it's all up for grabs. Cheers!

PS:  As I finished typing that last sentence, a torrential rainstorm hit the area.  Rain coming straight down - no thunder, no wind at all.

And so it goes.

A Captain's View of BP & Dolphin Health in the Gulf

It's been a while since there has been anything like this reported. This is long overdue, and I thought it was time for another update and to let you know that BP continues to lie about the cleanup and life in the Gulf.

Lori DeAngelis: Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

As a charter boat captain on the Alabama Gulf, I have seen a lot taking people on tours to see our magnificent federally protected dolphins. But hurricanes, red tides and algae blooms have not been nearly as devastating as the oil that's impacted these beautiful animals since the BP oil blowout more than two years ago.
Seeing is believing, and my eyes are not what they used to be after I've endured countless eye infections and other ailments since BP unleashed more than 200 million gallons of oil into our waters. Our air and water is still contaminated. For years I've watched the way the Gulf water ebbs and flows, her movement drifting like air through my lungs. But now the ocean moves differently, her beauty now blemished by an ugly brown foam and sudsy residues stirred up, evidence of each passing boat.
Life changed forever on April 20, 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon oil well blew up, creating the largest environmental catastrophe in US history and altering life forever for marine life and coastal residents alike. I've seen the impacts firsthand: a reduction in the number of dolphins in the Back Bays near my home of Orange Beach, Ala. Bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico are experiencing the longest running Unusual Mortally Event (UME) ever recorded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). According to scientists, if dolphins here were hospital patients, they would be in the Intensive Care Unit. Those that survive have to live in water day after day tainted by oil and Corexit, the toxic dispersant used to sink the oil.
Currently at least 749 cetaceans -- dolphins and whales -- have died, some held in freezers as evidence in the criminal investigation against BP. But these are just the tip of the iceberg. Scientists estimate that for every dead dolphin found there are many more that perish undetected -- perhaps as many as 50 die for each one discovered. That means there are thousands of dead dolphins unaccounted for, perhaps impacting the survival of dolphin pods in many areas of the Gulf.
BP says things are returning to normal, but that's not what the dolphins are telling me. My eyes don't deceive me, and from what I'm seeing this is far from over. BP needs to clean up its mess and continued oil pollution cannot be tolerated in our seas. After all, humans cannot live on profit alone. Our bodies need clean water as much as my beloved Alabama back-bay dolphins. They are our true canaries in the coal mine. And I fear we are all going to pay with our health and survival if we continue to ignore them.
More HERE and at the links above.
And so it goes.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wacko Holiday Week

Take a deep breath.
This is what to expect when the July Fourth Holiday falls in mid-week.

There are those who arrived last Friday, or Saturday and will remain through the holiday week enjoying all festivities - leaving either this Friday or Saturday as their weekly rentals end.

There are those who will arrive Tuesday, enjoy the festivities on Wednesday, and return home Thursday.  2-day (minimum stay required) by all lodgings during summer season.

Then there are those who own summer homes here and will likely stay for the first 2 weeks of July to be sure to get into as much fun, food/fireworks/picnics/concerts and family get-togethers as they can cram into that time.

Work long hours every day and stay away from the roads, beaches, liquor stores, and shopping venues. All food shopping ought to be done by Monday, July 1.

(NOTE: As if it isn't cheap enough, visitors from surrounding states flock to local WalMart stores because there is no sales tax in Delaware.  I. Am. Not. Joking.  Yes, they are that cheap.)

Stay close to home when not at work; attend a BBQ (if invited) and make sure there is plenty of food, wine, (and in my case) Olives, and gin on hand.

Ride this roller-coaster for the next week, conserving energy as much as possible for next Saturday and Sunday - the blow-out days! Take another deep breath.

That is all.  Fun, huh?

And so it goes.
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