Sunday, December 31, 2006

12/31 I'm a clumsy dork

Yesterday I stepped into a hole in the parking lot at the mall and down I went. Landed on my left kneecap. Yowwwww! It swelled up right away. I kept ice on it all night and took some pain pills, so it wasn't as painful as it could have been. Today it's a bit better.

A bunch of us went to Friday's last night and in the process I lost a movie we'd rented from Blockbuster. Don't ask me how, but I guess it falls into my dorky clumsiness. We went to Blockbuster today and tried to pay for it. But someone had picked it up in Friday's parking lot and returned it to Blockbuster for us. Hooray for Quincy. Love it.

Tomorrow is our big game day. We'll start with a visit to the cemetary where we'll have a beer with Mom and Dad. Then we'll return to our old home and play games the rest of the day (after eating copious amounts of food). My game tomorrow will be poker...Rob advises me to play tight. We'll see how it goes. He and Beata are playing poker with Tom and Janae tonight. They're the ones who own the pregnant yellow lab. Yay again.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

12/30 Presents, presents, and more presents

My secret Santa was my nephew Cody. He is a funny guy and bought me huge oversized sunglasses (at least 10x too big) and ugly fake teeth. Then he also got me a very nice gift certificate to Bath and Body Works. Yay.

At Jane and Pete's we opened presents last night. Sarah gave me a beautiful purple chunky necklace and bracelet that I just love, a breast cancer angel pin, and a breast cancer coffee mug. She is such a sweetie.

My godson Jordan gave me an attachment that turns my iPod into a radio also. Jan and Tim gave me some gorgeous and comfy pajamas. Jane and Pete gave me pajamas, a beautiful shirt/sweater, and a book.

Then Jane and I watched her favorite movie--Simon Birch. I love it too. It's based on the John Irving book, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and I keep meaning to read it, but haven't yet.

This morning I got up at 6:45 AM, after a great eight hours sleep. Everyone else slept in. Really slept in. Finally Jordan woke up and I took him out for breakfast. I enjoyed having some time with him.

Today I have to fax something to the Red Cross, and also buy the food for the minestrone I'll make for New Year's Day. There will be tons of food there, but I wanted to make sure there was a vegetarian soup. Soup is a perfect dish to have on a cold winter day of games and silliness. (Hope it gets a little cold. I haven't even worn a jacket yet.) Every year I salivate at the chili Joe and Cindy make, so this year decided to do something about it. And this soup is good enough that carnivores will like it too. At least Rob and Beata did, and Rob hates soup.

It's nice to be around my family, except poor Sarah is sick. I really miss Jan and Tim. They will return tomorrow night from their trip.

Guess that's enough for now. Nothing exciting, just feeling good to be in Quincy.

Friday, December 29, 2006

12/29 More from Quincy

Jane's family and Kris went to Gem City Pizza and Mexican last night. It's one of those places everyone returns to when they visit their home town. Yum. Besides fantastic cheese pizza, I had three margaritas. Yeah, me. Went to bed at 9 (would have been 10 in NC, doesn't make it sound so early), and woke up at 7:30 AM, so I sure can't say I didn't have enough sleep.

Today I'm going shopping for a new suit for the interview. Yes, I didn't expect I'd need dressy business clothes, so they are packed up with my "stuff" in Milwaukee. I also need to buy a few more Christmas presents. I'd left my list here in Quincy, in the box with presents. That's what happens when my Christmas gifts and moving happen at the same time. I did well though and just have three more things to get. Unfortunately one of them is for someone in this house, so we couldn't open presents here last night. :)

My allergies are bothering me this morning. Don't know why it only happens at certain places--Jane's and Kris's, but not at Jan's or Rob/Beata's. All have pets. But there's something here that's killing me. I'll need to leave soon so I can start breathing. :) Okay, it's not that bad. And I do love both the pets here. Sunshine is a calico cat that is so wonderful, well-behaved, and cool--in other words she thinks she's a dog. Those kind of cats are my favorite. Baily is the dog and she's a chow-rotweiler mix and is a sweetheart. Didn't even bark when I came in the house.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

12/28 Quincy

Just arrived in Quincy a little while ago. My niece Sarah helped me unload the presents from my car. Can't wait to give them out.

I drove through St. Louis earlier today and had lunch with my friend Faye. She and I were roommates when I lived and worked in St. Louis. It was fun, we hadn't seen each other in quite a while.

While I was driving I got a call from Betsy in Austin. I'm flying there on January 7 and will come home on January 9. The closer it gets, the more excited I am about it. She also emailed a copy of the job description. That will help me as I formulate my questions for the executive team.

I have a few more presents to wrap, but before I close I must say that this drive was so wonderful. Other than the two hour delay in the mountains, I enjoyed it so much. Even that wasn't all bad. The weather was good and the view was superb--not a bad way to spend a few hours when you're not in a hurry.

Tonight I think we're going out to dinner with my niece Kris. More later.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

12/27 On the road again...

I'm at a Holiday Inn Express in Indiana. Left NC about 8:15 this morning. Other than a two hour traffic jam in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the drive was excellent. Even that problem gave me time to catch up on my email.

The day was gorgeous. I absolutely love driving through the mountains. The view was superb today.

Now I'm catching up on computer "stuff" and will finish the drive to Quincy tomorrow.

Oh, I got a call from the agency in Austin and will go there January 7th for an interview on the 8th. Am looking forward to it.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

12/26 Fun with Beata

Beata and I did our "day after Christmas" shopping. I usually do this with my sisters Jane and Jan, but B took their places for me. We had fun and really enjoyed our time together. Went out for lunch, then came home and played poker with Rob. Tonight we watched Office Space, which always guarantees some laughs.

Tomorrow I head to Quincy. Will stop at a motel tomorrow night....

Oh, did I tell you I'm going to buy a yellow lab? Should be born in March.

Monday, December 25, 2006

12/25 A wet Christmas

It's raining buckets and buckets here in mid NC. That's the closest thing to snow that Beata will get.

Last night was so much fun. R and B gave me a gorgeous pink scarf and hat that I'll wear in Quincy. It's so soft! I'm wearing my new pink house slippers with a pink ribbon insignia on the side, a symbol of the fight against breast cancer. That also adorns some new socks and a coffee mug. So sweet and thoughtful. Beautiful necklace and earrings (that I'll wear today), plus another set of earrings in my stocking. I received some purple house socks and some athletic socks (no cotton) for my Avon Breast Cancer Walk. Rob gave me a poncho liner. I'm so very grateful because the one I have is very old and the loft is gone. I'm keeping the old one to take when I'm deployed--lightweight and dries so fast. The new one is different insofar as the camouflage pattern is digital. So cool. Then Rob printed some great photos and put them in a triple frame for me. I love the pictures and the frame. My fav pic is one of me on the couch with two or three dogs on me.

Then of course the gifts I received earlier--a holiday coffee mug, necklace and earrings (from St. Nicolai), and of course this portable computer desk. I am so very very grateful. Rob and Beata not only gave me tons of presents (and more in my stocking), they also have made me feel so very welcomed--almost as if they'll be sad when I move to Quincy.

Last night's dinner (Wigilia) was a superb as I knew it would be. All day long these delicious smells wafted through the house...and when we finally ate, it was worth the wait. Beata will have to talk about the dishes...I just know they were scrumptious.

Right before the meal they have a symbolic communion--I forgot the Polish name for it. But you share pieces of a wafer, similar to a communion wafer. You tell people around you what they mean to you and what you wish for them in the future. It was beautiful.

We called Quincy and talked a bunch of the family, and also called Jill's house and spoke to them. We'll call them again today to find out what Santa Claus brought to Kayla and Hunter. Last night Kayla said she was happy and exhausted. :)

Love to all. More later. We're preparing for company for dinner at 2. I made Grandma's Holiday Salad and a sweet potato casserole.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

12/24 No cussing on Christmas Eve

That was our plan. Beata said in Poland everyone is nice on Christmas Eve. It's called something special in Polish, but I can't write it. So we decided not to cuss all day. Rob lasted until a little before noon, but that's because he got up at 11. Beata cursed three times in five minutes, but she was cooking all day long, so we understood. I made it until 12:15 and lost it when Rob beat me playing Racko.

I did win at the "no cussing" game, and even though we all messed up we still tried for the rest of the day. I just heard Rob cussing in the office with the door closed, and he yelled, "Sorry." I think I like this idea.

We're just about to eat the glorious meal that Beata made with such love. Rob and I helped with the pirogi, but that's it. She did everything else herself.

We'll eat very soon; then we'll open some presents and play games or something. Tomorrow Tom, Kathryn, and Judy will come over at 2 for dinner. So in the morning we'll have a special breakfast and open a few more presents and our stockings. Should be wonderful.

But I do miss those of you in Quincy who are gathering now for dinner. God bless us every one.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

12/23 A fun night

After the excitement of yesterday afternoon, it was wonderful to host a party. We played poker with friends here at the house, and it was such fun. Again, the Dufresnes were the last ones standing. Rob, Beata, and I were going strong. But I made a fatal error--went all in when Rob had a higher kicker than I did. Tough move. It's cool though that we're keeping the money in the family. :) Our friends don't care for it much. Mike suggested we move the poker party from house to house. That's what we've been hoping would happen. It's work setting things up, although we love it. But it would be great to rotate homes every now and then. I'd love to set up a game weekly, or every two weeks.

We also did a little Secret Santa thing. Everyone brought a wrapped gift--a $5 to $10 value. The first person out got to choose first. That just added to the fun.

And the rule is that whoever knocks out the person who won last time, gets ten dollars from the pot. Pretty cool, because Rob beat me and got to keep the money.

I honestly hope someone else wins next time so they don't think we cheat. :)

Most of the people we play with are new, like we are. But Rob said it's well worth the time teaching people because we're building a cadre of players, and he's right. Last night it was the first game for Jason, Mickey, and Mike. Everyone did okay, but Mickey really caught on fast. She's a smart cookie anyway, but has a good card sense. And as an accountant, she counted the chips quickly when someone went all in. :) It's a good skill to have.

All in all, a great evening. Can't wait for the next time.

And today will be fun too. Going with Tom and Katherine to Judy's house for the dessert party. Which reminds me, I better get ready. We're leaving in a half hour.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

12/22 I love my son

Here's how things change. The boy who, as a teenager, made me want to check out the exchange policy on adopted kids, well, he almost saved my life.

I was choking--not because anything was in my throat, but because my esophagus was going into a major paroxysm. This happens to me at night in bed normally, and I know to stay calm and that shortly I'll be able to breathe again. But this time I was standing and talking and I put a piece of chocolate into my mouth without thinking. Chocolate is the one thing that can make my esophagus tighten up immediately. Yet, I've learned to stay calm and know I'm just seconds away from breathing. (Yes, I know I could give up chocolate, and I almost have--but damn, it's hard at this time of year.)

Anyway, I was wheezing and choking and suddenly that stopped because no air was able to get through. I put my arms up in the air--nothing. Rob said, "Are you okay?" and I shook my head no. He jumped up from his chair and did the Heimlich on me. Even though there was nothing blocking my airway but my own closed esophagus, the maneuver shocked my bod enough that I could breathe immediately.

I looked at him later and said, "You would have done a tracheotomy if you'd have had to, right?" He said, "Yep." I knew I was with the right person.

I think I would have been okay after a while, but I was absolutely panic-stricken. That's so unlike me. I'm still a little shaken.

All I know is I couldn't breathe, and after Rob helped me, I could.

God, I love my son.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

12/21 Today

I'm at home with the zoo today. Rob and Beata are on post and also running errands. Just made reservations to go to Los Angeles in January. Hope it doesn't conflict with the Austin trip. But I had to make reservations because it's been so long since I've seen Kayla and Hunter, they must have grown a foot. It'll be a belated Christmas, but Christmas nonetheless.

Today I have more presents to wrap. I'm bummed because I made a Christmas list and can't find it. There are still a few more presents I need to buy for Quincy, and I'm bummed. Maybe I'll just buy some lotto tickets and give them to folks I didn't buy for. Wish I knew who they were. Ah, the joys of aging. :)

Spoke to my friend Gerri again yesterday. She sounds just like she did in college. Hope we can get together sometime soon.

Also, a high school chum (JC) lives in Charlotte and we'll see each other after New Year's. That'll be fun.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

12/20 The phone call....

I talked to the Senior VP of Disaster Response in Austin. He explained the specifications of the job, and it's a lot larger than I realized. It sounds so very interesting--even more so after our conversation. If everything goes as planned, I'll go to Austin in January for an interview. The only thing that will stop it is if the Red Cross position suddenly becomes more lucrative.

As I always say, "We'll see."

I made twice-baked potatoes for dinner, and for dessert we ate cookies and fudge that Katherine made for us. Yum.

Tonight Rob finished his voice-over work; but first he watched An Affair to Remember with us. It stars Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr and is one of my favorite romantic movies. Rob seemed to enjoy it as much as we women.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

12/19 It's looking like Christmas

uner the tree. Yep...more and more presents keep arriving. Yesterday a big package came from Jim and Karen, and we had instructions to open it today. Beata had no problem with that. :) I'll let her tell what the presents are. Jill and Todd's gift to R and B arrived today too. And so did a present from Rob's dad and step-mom.

And tonight R and B had me open one of my gifts. It's a really cute coffee mug--all white with a red fir tree on it. I love it.

Today I received a call from the Senior VP of the company in Austin. Unfortunately I couldn't get to my cell phone in time, but he left a message. I called him back and left a message too. :) He'll call tomorrow to speak to me and see if I'm interested enough to go to Austin for an interview. I still don't know how I feel about it all.

More tomorrow.

Monday, December 18, 2006

12/18 Broadway, here we come!

Linda made a fantastic brunch for us and we all ate too much. Plus we got to bring some extra food home with us. Yay.

The funny thing is that Linda lives in a small town called Broadway, NC which is about 8 miles from Rob and Beata's home. She has a nice condo there--really an attached home--like a duplex. A lovely place. There are five more being built and we drove by them. They are on Cats Street in Broadway, NC. How cool is that--Cats on Broadway!

Then while watching the Survivor Finale, Rob made a snack/dinner. We wanted just a snack but he made so many that it was dinner. He made awesome nachos with the addition of homemade guacamole. Then he presented us with strawberry shortcake. I don't think I'll be able to eat anything at all today.

Yeah, right.

I've got tons of stuff to do for the Red Cross. Here's hoping I get it done.

Rob is on leave and we're all working on a project together. He and Beata are goin on errands today, while I work at home.

Lots of fun things coming up...on the 22nd there's poker here, on the 23rd a lunch at Judy's (another of Tom's sisers), the 24th our own little Christmas Eve party with a traditional Polish feast (can't wait), and the 25th we're having Tom, Katherine, and Judy over for dinner. A few days after that I'll be heading to Quincy for New Years with the extended family. I'm really looking forward to all this.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

12/17 It was fun

Last night was fun at Rob and Beata's friends' house. Jason and Mickey are nice. Jason reminded me that we'd met before--at Ft. Lewis, Washington. There were a lot of guys there that Rob served with at Ft. Lewis, went through Special Forces training together, were in Okinawa together, and are now here at Ft. Bragg. Even though they don't all work together now, it's still cool they can visit.

Rob is inviting some of the guys over on Dec. 22 for poker. Should be fun. Rob said that Beatka and I are legends now, and the word is all over the place that we're good at poker. I don't know if that's true or not...just know that I've been really lucky lately.

Right now we're getting ready to go for brunch at Linda's house. She's Tom's sister. Tom and Katherine are picking us up in a few minutes. Gotta run. Hope your weather is as perfect as it is here.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

12/16 Off for fun...

Rob and I ran errands today and it was fun for me to talk philosophy with him, in between listening to a book on CD in his truck. Beata stayed home and earned money on eBay. She's good at it.

We're leaving in a few minutes to go to their friends' house--Jason and Mickey. Mickey just graduated from college and Jason is throwing a party for her. They're about 45 minutes away--good thing Rob doesn't drink, he's always a great designated driver.

More later.

Friday, December 15, 2006

12/15 Still lazy...

I'm really looking forward to working regularly. This sleeping in every day and staying up late every night is getting to me. I know. This sounds crazy. But I enjoy working.

I'm hoping that the Red Cross calls me in to work in the DOC as soon as possible. Since my boss is gone after the end of January, I could go there as early as February 1.

The Red Cross job is the one I want. I really don't want to move to Mississippi.

(Rob, Bea, and I played poker tonight and I won. We only played for one dollar this time, but it doesn't matter...I love to play. Beata is getting bored with the game now. Maybe she's losing her street cred as a Bozarth boy.)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

12/14 What to do...

Today I had a conference call with the other Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Managers. It was interesting, and I was told my boss would contact me soon about coming in and working in the DOC for a while. That will be cool.

But I emailed my colleague about the other job, told her I was only a little interested since I'd just joined the Red Cross. And as everyone who reads this blog knows, I love the Red Cross job except for the fact that it's not full time, and I don't get benefits. Anyway, my friend said I should come to Austin for an interview anyway, and see what I think after I talk to a bunch of people.

I'm in a quandary. I'll sleep on it, I think. (Yeah, a brother will be sure to make fun of those sentences.)

So I'll email my friend tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

12/13 Lots of birthdays

December is filled with family birthdays. Have a great one, Cindy and Sarah. Joe wrote eloquently on his blog, so I won't try to replicate, but I love you both tons....

Today was fun. Beata and I went to town for her to get her eyes checked. She's as blind as a Bozarth boy. I told her that her uncles would love her even more. She's at -6.50 with both nystagmus and astigmatism. She said she's proud to be a Bozarth.

I got a very interesting email tonight. A business acquaintance from Texas invited me to apply for the job of Disaster Services Coordinator for the state of Mississippi. (She's with a huge not-for-profit that encompasses several states.) The offer is certainly tempting, although it doesn't bring me any closer to Quincy. It would allow me to pay my bills however. I'll have to think about this for a bit.

Beata and I started watching Breakfast at Tiffany's tonight when we got home. We quit for a few minutes so she could make pancakes for Rob. He just got home, and she's making some comfort food for him. He does feel a lot better today though.

He said he had one of the best jumps ever. Everything was perfect. He jumped with some German paratroopers and they gave him some German jump wings. Pretty cool.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

12/12 Hell froze over

Hell must have frozen over because I cooked another dish with meat in it. Since Rob has a cold I made homemade chicken noodle soup. R and B seemed to like it. I also made a pot of vegetarian noodle soup for me, and it was good too. Rob and Beata think I'm going to stop being a vegetarian any time now. Bea said I'll probably run into a Burger King screaming for a burger.

Today was also a day for running errands. All three of us had to go into town, but to different places, so off we went in three separate vehicles. Seems silly, but it's the only way to do it. We're far from town, and everything is so spread out.

Monday, December 11, 2006

12/11 The laziest day ever

I could get used to this. Worked on my computer and also caught up on everything I'd recorded while in DC. Lazy.

I did do a little work--researched some classes I have to take for the Red Cross, and looked around for other job possibilities for when I'm not deployed. But Rob was at work all day and Beata left for several hours to run errands, so somebody had to hold Chilli. I swear that dog is the most spoiled animal I've ever met. But he's a cutie.

I have taught him one thing. I won't pet any of the dogs unless they sit. The two big ones (Bobby and Bella) don't need to be reminded. They come up to me and sit, and they know they'll get an enthusiastic head scratch and lots of "good doggy." The dachsund isn't quite there yet. He gets really excited and his bottom wags with his tail. But he finally gets the message and will sit. As soon as I start scratching he starts dancing again.

He's learning though.

I cooked dinner. One of my specialities--grilled cheese and cream of tomato soup. Beata is so impressed with the way Rob makes grilled cheese. I don't think I lived up to his cooking, but they both said they enjoyed it. I'm a real gourmet cook.

And tomorrow--I'm working all day.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

12/10 A good Sunday

Katherine and Tom, Rob and Beata's neighbors, invited us over for a wonderful dinner today. Pork roast, homemade mac and cheese, peas, and a super vegetable salad that everyone wanted the recipe for. Additionally, Katherine made a pecan pie. It was so good. And that little kupka, Beata, ate two pieces.

Earlier today my friend Gerri called me from Georgia, and it was great to reminisce. We had to cut it short because I was late for dinner, but we'll talk again later this week.

I have SO MUCH WORK to do for the Red Cross. Will write more about that tomorrow.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

12/9 Poker and more

I saw Senator John Edwards at the Raleigh Airport. Couldn't believe it at first. He's quite good looking in person. And nice.

Rob and Beatka picked me up and we went to a great Thai restaurant for lunch. Omigod, we ate way too much, but it was so delicious.

When we got to the house, Bea reminded me that St. Nicholas had left something under my pillow. It is a beautiful necklace and earring set with lavendar tones in it. It's hard to describe, but I wore a lavendar shirt tonight and the new jewelry went great with it. (Thanks, St. Nick--aka Beata and Rob.)

Poker tonight was so much fun...especially because I won again. Yep. I can't believe it myself. It came ddodwn to Beata and I, and I finally won. There were 12 of us, so I ended up with $120. Bea said if I keep winning they will start charging me rent. :)

I know there's more but I'm tired. More tomorrow. (Oh, happy birthday to my brother Jay, son-in-law Todd P., and ex-hubby John D.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

12/8 I'm tired and...

happy birthday to Joey, another one of my great little brothers. Check out his blog for some cute pictures.

I'm beat, and have overdosed on information. There's so much for me to read, and classes for me to take. I hardly know where to begin. But I'm still very excited about everything, and look forward to serving on my next DRO.

Tonight I'm staying in and relaxing. I'll leave tomorrow morning for NC, and I look forward to that too. More tomorrow.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

12/7 Another interesting day and...

Happy birthday to my brother John. I won't go into detail because our brother Joe did it so well on his blog, but I'll just say, I love you, John, and hope you have many more happy birthdays.

Today at work I went into information overload. I have so many hundreds and hundreds of pages to read, plus classes to take online. Luckily it's so interesting to me that it won't be a horrible chore.

Also the presenters today were very talented and held my attention. Plus the subject matter today and tomorrow is totally in the field I'm in. The first three days were more generic, and today we broke into smaller groups. I learned a lot.

Tonight our activity lead took us out to dinner. The name of the place was Oceanum (or something close). It's a upscale seafood place. I had a salad and some sides...sauteed spinach, green beans almondine, and potatoes augratin. Delicious. Then we all split two huge desserts--baked alaska and creme brulee. The alaska wasn't so good, but the creme brulee was fantastic.

Tony Blair went to the White House this morning and traffic was horrible. Tonight they lit the White House Christmas tree and traffic was horrible. See a pattern here?

Lots more to talk about, but right now I'm tired.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

12/6 Another day in the DOC

Went to bed at 10 and woke up at 4:30, couldn't get back to sleep. So I worked on the computer awhile but by 6:45 was ready to go to work. I walked again and it felt good. This time I took a different route and was only two blocks from the White House. Also, last night I noticed that on the corner of the block of my hotel sits the Peace Corps building. Cool.

I do love this part of Washington. There's an electric quality to downtown.

Got to work at 7:15. Training didn't start until 8:30 today so I walked across the street to Starbucks for coffee, and then had breakfast in the Red Cross cafeteria. There were some people I knew, so that was nice.

Today there was a huge sale in the staff gift shop, so I bought myself a few items using my poker winnings. Yay, poker!

We all learned how to sneeze correctly yesterday, and I realized that the strange thing Beata and Rob have been doing--sneezing into their elbows--is absolutely the right thing to do. It's to stop the spread of erms and to keep our hands away from our faces. I admit it looks funny, but our staff health lead said we should do it, so I will. We'll see how many articles of clothing I ruin.

The bad news is that a factory had a major explosion in Milwaukee. My friend Tony emailed me about it, and I saw it on CNN in the DOC. If I were still a volunteer in Milwaukee I'd be called in to work there, but as a staff member, I still need to finish my training.

Something was pretty cool. We got a tour of the DOC and there are so many technological marvels that my jaw dropped. One room looks straight out of James Bond. But to run an operation this huge, you have to be technologically advanced.

I'm loving this.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

12/05 National Headquarters

National Headquarters (NHQ) is so beautiful. And huge. It's near the Mall, and no I don't mean the kind you shop at. So that makes it near the White House and the State Department. And Starbucks. :)

The Quincy Hotel is about three blocks from Faragut Park where we can catch a free shuttle to NHQ. Or we can walk 10-12 blocks. Yesterday I took the shuttle to and from work.

Today I walked both directions and it was super. Very cold, of course, but sunny (this morning) and lovely. I walked through parts of George Washington University. Ended up walking with Maria from Puerto Rico. Delightful and interesting woman.

Last night I went to dinner at Luigi's with three mental health Managers (a step above my supervisor role). Judy, Jim, and Bob have many years experience with ARC and are so helpful in passing information to me. Susan Hamilton is a national staffer who is our "group leader" aka my boss. She said I should find a mentor because I have a steep learning curve. Judy agreed to mentor me and I'm so glad. She's energetic and fun, as well as being very experienced with a good reputation. Susan said I chose wisely.

This morning Susan said she thought I'd do a good job and would soon get a promotion to manager. She's going to bring me to work for a week or so to the DOC (disaster operation center). I'm eager to do that. The DOC is where I sat as I wrote this. The place is hard to describe, but it's a warren of cubicles, many of them quiet at the moment since there's not a major disaster going on. Throughout the area are TVs turned to various cable news channels and the Weather Channel. At one end is a large room that is two stories high to accommodate huge video screens. There's a very large oval table configuration. On it are computer screens and microphones. This is the DOC's heart during disaster operations.

Am I surprised at the level of sophistication? You bet. I know I shouldn't be because the Red Cross is the largest provider of disaster services in the world. I'm proud to be working here. And a little awed.

Tonight I went to dinner with Judy, Jim, and Peggy. We ate at a great Indian restaurant. I ate so much that I was grateful I've been walking a lot. Just got home a little while ago, and am incredibly tired. It was a really long day. More tomorrow.

Monday, December 04, 2006

12/4 So much to write about

The biggest news is that my best friend from college emailed me. She found me on Google. I can't believe it, because just recently I tried to get ahold of her too, but wasn't able to find her anywhere. She lives in Georgia and works as a real estate agent. I called her right away and we chatted for a little while when I was on break. It wasn't nearly long enough though. I told her I'd email sometime tonight, and will.

Again, I just can't believe it. Her name is Gerri and mine is Jeri, so we were known as the Jerrys. (I just spelled it in a generic way since we spell it differently.) Gerri and I were so close that after I got married and moved away she lived with my family for one school year.

We had so much fun together and I have such fond memories. I'll post some of them later. Yay!

In the meantime I am meeting some Red Cross folks for dinner soon. Will post later about my work experience today. It was cool.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

12/3 In DC

Again, the flight was uneventful, my favorite kind.

The Quincy is a neat hotel in downtown DC. The desk agent told me that the manager said all the Red Cross people were to get the best rooms. We have newly redecorated ones. How thoughtful. Each room is a mini-suite, with a kitchenette. But the guy have me one with a full kitchen. It's a very nice, small suite, which is really nice since I'll be here for a week.

The location is good too. There are plenty of places to walk, but not much time to do so. I could have walked today but took a nap instead. Didn't get enough sleep before I left NC.

While waiting for my room to be ready I spoke to a few other Red Cross Mental Health folks who were also waiting. Jim and Judy live in different parts of the country but have worked togehter many times over the years. It looks like not everyone will be new like me. I guess all disaster reserve staff have to go through orientation together because new rules and guidelines have been implemented. I'm looking forward to it.

Only bad news is that I'm going to miss the South Landing Christmas party with Rob and Beata. I thought it was Saturday night, but it's on Friday night and I don't get home until Saturday. Ah, well...

When Beata called I told her we can play poker on Saturday night then. :)

12/3 Off to DC with new money

Yeah, I won at poker last night. Hooray! Now I have a little bit of money for my trip; that's always a good thing.

Need to check the weather and if there's a flight delay. If all goes well, we'll leave here at 8, so I need to get busy. I'm really looking forward to this trip, and am so excited about finally beginning my new career.

I'll write more after checking in at The Quincy.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

12/2 A Christmas Carol and more....

Last night we drove to Fayetteville to watch Tina perform in A Christmas Carol. She did a really good job. When she was on stage I watched her and listened to her, and enjoyed her performance. However throughout the rest of the show I became a judge--yes, judging people's British accents, or lack thereof. I found it entertaining.

But the show itself was fun. I dearly love community theater. There's an energy and commitment entirely different from a professional performance. We even smile at mistakes--if they're made by our Aunt Jo or cousin Jonathan.

And the ride home was even more fun. I discovered that I can take a voice recording and make it my ringtone on my phone. So when someone calls me, my phone now says, "Don't be crabby, it's Christmas." I'm sure I'll change it today, because I recorded it in the car on the highway (no, I wasn't driving). There's a lot of background noise.

Then I figured out how to do the above, but assign it to different phone numbers. So a call from Beata has her voice saying, "Mom, pick up. It's me. Beata. Pick up the phone." And Rob's is similar. We had a fun trip making this happen. When I go to LA in January I'll have the kids record their ringtone.

This morning Rob and I are going shopping. I need a few more pair of slacks for next week in DC. Can't wear jeans to National Headquarters. Then we'll come home to clean because tonight we're having friends over for poker. Can't wait.

Friday, December 01, 2006

12/1 Lunch with friends

Tom and Catherine (Rob and Beata's neighbors) invited us out to lunch today, along with Linda, Tom's sister. We went to Renaud's in Sanford. It was a delightful restaurant with tons of different sandwich offerings. Mine was a grilled sandwich with pimento cheese spread on pumpernickel and rye swirl bread. Delicious. Rob had a bologna, cheese, and tomato sandwich that was also grilled. He loved it. But the best was when Beata said, "I love my crap soup. It's so full of crap."

Okay, it was crab bisque, but sure sounded like crap when she said it. We all laughed at it. Then people ordered dessert. I wasn't going to have anything but Beatka ordered Bread Pudding for me because she wanted to try it. In fact she tried everyone's dessert but Tom's--and only because he wisely kept it out of her sight.

Now she's going to decorate the tree. It's a beautiful tree that Rob got last night. But I've never been in a home where tree decorating was a solitary endeavor. It's always been a family thing--when there's family there. So I'm going to stay in my room and sulk, I think.

(All her life Bea has been the only one available to decorate the tree, so now that's a habit. And it would be a hard one to break. I do understand it. It's just difficult for me. And I can't see me watching someone else decorate a tree. So I'll just stay in my room and catch up on either sleep or recorded TV shows...or maybe both.)

Lunch was a wonderful treat for all of us. Next time we'll take them out! And tonight we're going to Fayetteville to watch Tina perform in A Christmas Carol. Should be fun.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Rob and Beata are going out to run errands. I'm staying in to do some work on my computer. The dogs, cats, and I will have a quiet day.

I talked to Jill a while via IM. That always makes me smile.

We had pancakes last night for dinner. One of Rob's favorite meals. Tonight, I'm cooking. And I'm making meat loaf--it used to be something Rob loved, but don't know how he feels about it now. I just know that Beata loves it, so I'm making meat loaf, mashed potatoes, peas, and salad. Should be good. Of course, the side dishes will be enough for me. :)

I leave Sunday for DC. And on Saturday night we're going to try to play poker with some of Rob's buddies. Should be fun.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

11/29 Beans and more....

Beata met me at the airport and the drive home was lovely. It was around 72 degrees and sunny--can't beat that.

For dinner Bea made black-eyed peas and corn bread. We put raw onions on top of the beans. Oh my it was delicious. But being Europoean, Bea puts butter in everything. And trust me, everything tastes wonderful. But it adds about one million calories to each dish. I'm not complaining, because WOW--dishes taste superb.

Just wanted you to know why I haven't lost weight yet. Yes, I'm blaming my charming daughter-in-law. Couldn't possibly be the fact that I ate three helpings of the dish. Nope. It's all Beatka's fault.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

11/28 Twenty-six years ago

Twenty-six years ago today my Mom died. She was a beautiful woman who taught me to laugh--especially during tough times. I still miss her. I thought about Mom a lot during Katy's funeral.

Everything was beautiful, and after the burial yesterday some people came over to the house. When I went to bed around 10:30 there was only one person left, and he (Trevor) was sitting at the table talking to Frank, Jim, and Karen. They were sharing some wonderful memories.

I got up at 5 AM (with no headache, despite the full glass of straight vodka) and Jim took me over to Chris's house where I met up with Susan and Phil to share a limo ride to the airport. I tried to pay for 1/3 of it, but Chris had already taken care of it. How sweet.

I'm looking forward to getting back to my (temporary) home in NC.

Monday, November 27, 2006

11/27 Lots to share

Katy's funeral was beautiful. And last night at the visitation there were nearly 600 people. Unbelievable. She is so loved. Today the priest told some neat stories about Katy, and after the funeral we all went back to the funeral home for a catered lunch. My brother, Jim, and friend Chris sang a song to the tune of MTA. It celebrated Katy's life and also showed our sadness at our loss. Everyone loved it.

There was tons of food left and we brought it home. Some folks came over and we ate and drank. Some are still eating dinner, but I decided to retire to the office and get online.

I may have mentioned at one point about the bar here at the house. They have more liquor than most public bars, plus a storage room with hundreds of extra bottles. Most of the time, Jim, Frank, or a trusted friend are the only ones to bartend, because people tend to go overboard with "free" liquor. Someone from out of town went behind the bar and asked what I wanted. I said, "Grey Goose vodka straight up," expecting a shot or two. Instead he gave me a 20 oz glass that was filled to about 16 ounces. Then some ice was added. I said, "This is why they don't let just anyone bartend."

I mean, come on. That was freakin' ridiculous. But what could I do but drink it, right? Normally, I'm a beer drinker and have one or two if I drink at all. So I'm a little looped at the moment. As I said to Jimmy, just roll me into my room...I've already set my alarm because I have to get up at 5. Am sharing a limo with Susan and Phil who are flying too--Susan to Florida and Phil to NYC. It'll be nice to spend a little more time with them; they're great.

I'm looking forward to going back to NC tomorrow. It's been nice here, but grieving is exhausting. I can only imagine how tired Jim, Karen, and Frank are. I hope people go home fairly early tonight so they can get to bed at a decent time.

Everyone here feels the loss of beautiful Katy. And I know the family will be even more sad once they are totally alone in a home still filled with her things...but it's the only way healing can happen. To go through the crap and the pain and the sadness and finally to get to the other side--where memories and love lie.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

11/26 From Raleigh to Aurora

Rob and Beata drove me to the airport in Raleigh. I had them use my car since it had been sitting for two weeks. The ride was relaxing and enjoyable.

The trip to Chicago was uneventful which is about the best thing you can say. I did Sudoku and also read, so the time passed fairly quickly. When I arrived I took a limo to Aurora. Jim said it was about the cheapest way to get there, because no one was available to pick me up after all.

They sure had a good excuse. Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Jim, Karen, Frank, and Katy had a tree trimming party. They live in a HUGE house and each year the number of trees grows. Some of them are very small and some are large. The biggest is in the living room which has a high ceiling—15 feet or so. This year there are 34 trees. Because this was one of Katy’s favorite days, Frank insisted they have the tree trimming party. Jim and Karen thought it might not be a good idea, but of course went along with it. And they are so happy they did.

It turned into a celebration of Katy—a pre-wake, as it were. About 40 people helped decorate, and also ate and drank. It was a great party…lots of work, lots of fun, and lots of crying.

Later, only two friends remained. Ray and Ginger sat at the kitchen table with Frank, Jim, Karen, and me. The reminiscing and the smiles/tears continued. Karen read the obituary, which took up an entire column in the newspaper. I learned some things about Katy, but none of them surprised me. She’s so loved. Even Dennis Hastert, who was the Speaker of the House, counts her as a friend. Whenever he was at an event that Katy was at he’d be sure to make a beeline for her.

I figured something out last night. Katie was a teacher for 38 years and had approximately 150 students per year. That means she taught about 5700 kids, not even counting those she touched in the hallways and cafeteria. Wow.

The visitation is today—from 2-9. The extended hours are because they know there’s going to be a crowd.

I’m writing from the kitchen table, and everyone else is still asleep. I went to bed around midnight and left the rest of them still talking. Soon I’ll go up to Panera Bread (thankfully, it’s close), and upload the blog.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

11/25 A nice visit

Beata's friends from Denmark came by the house yesterday--Anne, Kim, Lars, Vicky, and Stefan. It was such a pleasant visit. We really laughed a lot. Kim is the guy who worked with Beata at the Copenhagen airport. His wife, Anne, is from NC. Vicky also worked with Beata. Her partner Lars is a firefighter in Denmark. Stefan is their son. Everyone was pleasant with good senses of humor, but Anne and Kim were especially funny and I certainly enjoyed their company.

Woke up at 4:45 AM--a combination of thinking about flying to Chicago for Katie's funeral and finances. Funerals and finances, an interesting combination.

Friday, November 24, 2006

11/24 Post-gluttony

We didn't tell our guests about the loss in our family, so we did manage to have a good time. Beata and I cooked for a cast of thousands and ultimately only two guys showed up. This is a new phenomenon for Rob and Beata as they usually have a houseful. Anyway, Steve and Troy were both good eaters and the feast was superb.

After our meal (at least the first round), we played poker. Because neither one of the guys had ever played before, naturally they got lucky and were the last players with Rob. Rob ended up winning the entire pot, so that was good. At least we kept it in the family. :)

Today the sun is shining, the air is crisp, and it's such a beautiful morning. I'll need to get my laundry done today. Rob and Beata will take me to the Raleigh airport tomorrow afternoon for my trip to Chicago.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

11/23 A sad way to note Thanksgiving

Last night we received a call from my brother Joe. He and Cindy had gotten a phone call from our brother Jim in Aurora. Katie, his m-i-l, died about an hour earlier. He and Karen were absolutely devestated of course. Katie's husband, Frank, must be in a state of shock.

Katie has had a tracheotomy for quite a while because of some major lung problems. She was always on oxygen, but when she slept or at other times when there were problems, the oxygen went directly into the trach. She's been in and out of ICU, but when at home you'd never know from her attitude that anything was wrong.

Karen's an only child (a far cry from Jim's experience), so I know this must be especially difficult for her. And Frank and Katie have been closer than ever since his retirement.

Jim will be profoundly affected too. He's the youngest of the nine of us, and our Mom died when he was 16. Katie took over the Mom role, and she and Jim had a beautiful relationship.

Death comes at inconvenient times. The day before Thanksgiving is a sucky time. Their holidays will be forever framed by this. Just as in our family--Mom died the day after Thanksgiving (1980) and Dad died New Year's Day (1986).

Katie is one of the kindest women I've ever met. Even when she just came home from the hospital she would always ensure that I was comfortable when visiting. So gracious and sweet.

I stayed at their home two weeks ago on my trek from Milwaukee. They live west of Chicago, so it was an easy stop. Katie was her usual beautiful self. Selfishly, I'm grateful that our last words to each other were "I love you." Those are the same last words I had with my own parents.

I'm going to do my best to fly to Chicago for the funeral. Hope to find out the details today so I can make the arrangements. The church will be packed. Katie retired as a teacher but she touched so many people, and they remember. She's a very loved woman.

'Bye, Katie. You made the world a better place.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

11/22 Friends from Denmark

At the PX I walked away from Beata for a moment. Upon my return she was staring at this guy and he was staring at her. Finally she said, "I'm sorry. You look like my friend." The guy replied in Danish. Turned out he was her old boss from Copenhagen, when she worked as an interpreter at the airport. Not only that, but he had two other former co-workers with him. They were all visiting his wife's family who live in Sanford--same town as Rob and Beata. Unbelievable coincidence, and such fun. They're all coming over to our place on Friday. So after a huge dinner on Thursday, we're having company on Friday.

I love it!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

11/21 Planning for Thanksgiving

It doesn't look like we'll have the number we thought. It's either going to be a smaller group or a much larger one. Beata and I are working on the shopping list this morning. This afternoon we'll go to the Commissary--but I sure hope we know ahead of time whether we're shopping for 5 or 50. This is going to be fun. I LOVE large gatherings for holidays. It reminds me of home. Now if I can only find a couple of guys to make fun of me all the time, I'll be set; and would NEVER be homesick for Quincy.

Joe, could you provide training for some young soldiers on how to make fun of me? There's a skill involved. They need to be able to needle me without completely damaging my psyche.

Oh, I won again at poker last night. So I'm 2 out of 3. Can't wait to take people's money on Thanksgiving. I'll sure be giving thanks.

Monday, November 20, 2006

11/20 Another good day, then a shock

I'm sitting in my little office niche in my bedroom. It is so cozy and comfortable. I borrowed Rob's portable laptop desk and it fits here perfectly. I have my speakers hooked up and I love it.

So I'm in my own little fantasy world, and Beata tells me that a friend of Rob's was killed in Afghanistan. What an awakening to reality. I'm living in the home of someone who works in Special Operations. Robbie just came home and said he loses friends several times a week, but that this one just shocked him. It was a guy he's known for 14 or 15 years and served on a team with. The memorial is Wednesday. If Beata and I can escape from cooking for a while that day we'll go to the service.

A sad reality.

I prefer my fantasy world.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

11/19 Video

One of BroadMinded's videos is posted on my MySpace page. Hope you like it.

Today Beata fixed a nice Sunday breakfast. And we've each been sitting with our own personal laptops for some of the day. :) I took both big dogs for a walk and stayed out for 45 minutes. The weather is absolutely perfect today. I'm in awe of this place.

Tomorrow my vacation is over and I begin work. There are several articles I need to write, and if they're accepted for publication I'll make a decent chunk of change.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

11/18 A fun day

We went out for breakfast with Rob's SF buddies from Okinawa. Ended up at a Starbucks because IHOP had an hour wait. But it was great. I got to see a little of Fayetteville for the first time, and we drove by Ft. Bragg. I'll go there next week to see the place and go to the PX.

We're planning a huge Thanksgiving here. Rob's team (that he's teaching) has 14 members. He figures about 7 or 8 will say "yes" to Thanksgiving. Bea and I will know Monday evening how many we're cooking for.

We sightseed (sightsaw?)--okay, did some sightseeing--in Sanford. There are some beautiful buildings in the historic district.

Then on the way home we stopped at the store and stocked up for an evening of games. :) You know I'm happy. We had breakfast but no lunch, so we're cooking dinner right now.(or linner as Rob would say). We'll have this combination of lunch and dinner in about 1/2 hour and later tonight will have some snacks instead of a meal. I just made a salad and Beata is working on a pasta dish. Yum.

Friday, November 17, 2006

11/17 I WON!

Played Texas Hold 'Em with Rob and Beata tonight. We each put in $5, and I won. It was so much fun. And now I have $15 set aside for when they invite friends over for poker night. Am looking forward to that.

Today Beata didn't feel well, so Rob and I went into Sanford to run errands. We also had lunch at La Dolce Vita. I enjoyed spending some alone time with my son. Bea and I are together throughout the day, so this was a little treat.

I love her passionately, yet being with Rob alone was fun. I'm so proud of him. He's doing well in his career and is in a stable and loving marrage. What more could a parent ask for?

I took the dogs for a walk for 35 minutes today. The weather was warm and sunny, and the area where they live (Carolina Trace) is freaking amazing.

Tomorrow we're going out for an early breakfast with Rob's company commander from Okinawa. Then at 11 we'll meet with someone else. Should be a fun day.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

11/16 I like this scene

Here's something I like--Beata and I are working on our computers and Rob is vacuuming. Love it.

Soon the dish network installer will be here to put a dvr in my room. I'm thrilled about it. Not that I don't want to spend time with Rob and Beata, far from it. I just enjoy TV at night before I fall asleep, plus I'll be working from that room as well, and I like noise while I work. Not conversation with othe people, but TV or music noise.

On a more serious note, it's really raining here, and nine people have died as a result of a tornado near Wilmington. That's an hour or so away. Normally I'd get a call from the Red Cross to work, but I'm thinking they are going to wait until after my orientation the first week in December.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

11/15 Quiet day and the zoo

I slept late today--8 AM. I thought it would feel good, but now I'm sluggish with no energy at all. Yuck.

Today I'm working with Beata on a project, and later will try to put my bathroom together. Tonight Rob has a night jump so won't be home until after 10. (He just called to say he'll be home for an hour or so this afternoon, and won't be home from the night jump until 2 or 3 AM.)

Beata and I will eat leftovers for dinner--last night's sumptious feast left us a lot to choose from.

The zoo are happy to have another human to pester. Bobby is the "leader of the pack." He's a golden retriver and is definitely Rob's dog. Bella is a mixed breed and definitely is Beata's dog. Chili was supposed to be Beata's, but he's crazy about Rob as well. Right now, this chili dog is sitting behind my in my chair as I type. He is adorable.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

11/14 More on Rob

I gave him many baby pictures and it was fun reliving those times with him. Also gave him a hoodie from Quincy Notre Dame and he loves it. I'll let Beata post about what her gifts were.

She made a scrumptious birthday dinner, complete with cake and ice cream. Afterward we played poker--Texas Hold 'Em. It was so much fun.

Right now I must clear off my bed. It's full of stuff I need to find a place for.

Today was good though, and such a pleasure to be with my son on his 35th birthday. Love you, Rob!!! (Jill and the kids called earlier. That was special too.)

11/14 Happy birthday to Rob

More about Rob later.

But I laughed so hard last night I almost fell over. I can't get into my bed--it's too high. We had to get a step-stool so I could climb up. Once I got there however, it was really comfy and so HUGE. I love this bed.

Some random things:

1. Driving from Milwaukee to Quincy I had lunch at a table next to some porn stars. How do I know? The conversation. Two men and three women. The men were in their 30s and the women looked like teenagers or early 20s. Interesting conversation.

2. What we got at the auction--I got a watercolor of Morning Glories. Delicate and lovely. Jane bought a picture that our nephew Adam did (the artist in NYC). She bid against two other women who are now going to buy direct from the source. Cool way to get business for Adam. Jan bought a $350 medical procedure for $35. No lie. People didn't know what it was so didn't bid on it. Since Jan is a nurse she knew the value.

3. Jan's hubby Tim went deer hunting with his friends. It reminded me of the time Rob was four years old and a friend brought a deer home and put it on his deck. We were at the house and Rob went outside. He came running back in and said, "Mommy, mommy, there's a donkey outside and it's going like this...." (Picture a cute little kid with his head cocked to the side and tongue hanging out.)

4. All throughout Missouri and Indiana I was surrounded by pickups on the interstate with dead deer in the back. At one point I had two in front of me, one on the side, and two behind. Plus there were dead deer all over the side of the road.

5. Stayed overnight east of Lexington KY and when I went to breakfast yesterday morning I heard two women talking at the next table. I finally had to say it, "Are you two from Wisconsin?" They had the distinctive accent. They were from Milwaukee too and it was fun chatting.

6. (Especially for DF) My Illinois I-Pass worked as an EZ-Pass in West Virginia and Virginia. I knew the EZ-Pass tolls were connected via computer but thought the I-Pass one was not. Well it is now, and that made my journey even more fun.

7. My sister Jan told me the West Virginia turnpike was so beautiful and she was right. Absolutely lovely. And it continued throughout Virginia and NC. Excellent views.

8. Enough for now. Will write about Rob's birthday later today.

Monday, November 13, 2006

11/13 Here at last

I'll write more tomorrow. But I arrived at 3:30 and Rob greeted me at the gatehouse. He introduced me to the guard and they gave me a pass for my car. Carolina Trace is absolutely gorgeous. The lake is beautiful and the trees around the homes are old and stately. I love it here.

My room is beautiful. More later. For now, I'm just plain tired. (Oh, Beata made the BEST pasta salad for dinner. Can't wait to steal the recipe and impress folks back in Quincy.)

11/13 On the road again...

Am at a Holiday Inn Express east of Lexington, KY. Now getting ready to head out again. By tonight I'll be in Sanford with my sweet son and daughter-in-law. Oh, and their zoo too.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

11/12 Quick update from the road

On my way to NC, but not without some mini-adventures along the way. Friday night the slumber party was fun. There were five of us, only four old enough to drink. We had several blenders of frozen margaritas and danced to the music while watching the movies Annie Get Your Gun and Unsinkable Molly Brown. It's so fun to watch both Betty Hutton and Debbie Reynolds overact horribly and mug constantly for the camera. Jan made a super salad and homemade pizza, plus hummus and toasted pita chips for snacks. We had a great time.

Saturday we went shopping and I got my gift for Secret Santa. Then five of us sibs and two sis-in-laws--Cindy and Paulette--went to the QND extravaganza, a fund-raising event for our Catholic high school. It was called My Big Fat Greek Extravaganza and of course the food was Greek, and pretty good. You pay a fairly large fee to get in, but then have appetizers and dinner (and dessert), plus all the beer, wine and soft drinks you want. I told my sisters I would be the designated driver. It was music to their ears since both of them always have to be the dd. They definitely took advantage of the situation.

At one point (I was drinking Pepsi, by the way), Jan was drunk and Jane was drunk. I kept saying to Jan, "Give me the keys." I wanted to have them handy for when it was time to go. Jan gave them to me. Only problem was, Jane had driven and it was her car keys I needed. I sure got razzed about that--sober and I still couldn't remember which car we were in.

They had both silent auctions and live auctions and it was sure fun. Most of us got something in the silent auction. I'll post about that later. Right now, I have to boogie. Woke up at 6:30 (after going to bed after 1) and locked my keys in my SUV. It took the locksmith 2 1/2 hours to get there. Had to come from Iowa. Why? Everyone in Illinois and Missouri is out deer hunting. More about that later too.

I'm on my way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 10, 2006

11/10 Panera Bread in Quincy

Yeah, it just opened this month, so I can post easily from here while still enjoying my sister's company. It's so crowded though that I can't stay and sit and read everyone's blogs. Must hurry. But I'm so happy there's a Panera here now. It'll be handy when I move here.

Tonight sis Jan is hosting a slumber party. Jer, Jane, Jan, Jessica, Kristin, and Sarah will attend. Maybe more. We plan lots of eating, drinking, watching BroadMinded's dvd, and playing games. I'm excited...this is the kind of evening I miss.

Last night Jan and I just watched TV (Grey's Anatomy and ER). I woke up at 6:30 and her husband Tim snuck into the house. He's at a deer camp with friends but drove 50 miles to see me (and get rolls from Underbrink Bakery). Since I'm leaving on Sunday, I wouldn't have seen him otherwise.

Okay, Jan's coming back to the table with food so I need to go. Can you tell I'm happy?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

11/9 Time problems?

This morning I woke up at 6:30, showered, and waited in the kitchen for the others to wake up. Jim was at work already, but no one else was stirring. Then I noticed that I'd gotten up at 5:30 instead of 6:30. The clock in the guest room hadn't been reset for standard time. Should have looked at my watch. Well, it gave me plenty of time to read this morning.

It was great seeing Jim, Karen, Frank, and Katie. They're great and so hospitable. Now I'm happily ensconced at Panera up the road from their house. Bless high speed internet. :)

After I finish here I'll begin the drive to Quincy. Niece Sarah has a soccer game tonight, so it will be fun to attend that.

Three hours of driving down and 21 to go until I hit North Carolina.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

11/8 Megan and Tony and Rob and Randy and Anne and Patty and Nancy and Maria and Mark and...

Last night Megan and Tony came over and helped me complete the packing. They were so wonderful that we got done early and by 10 PM I was in bed watching TV. I woke up early this morning, walked to the corner restaurant for breakfast, and came back to finish loading up my car. Tony did most of it last night, but I had one suitcase to fit in the Sportage. That little SUV is full to the brim.

Rob and Randy came from Mayflower and finished up the truck loading in four hours, so that was a great relief. Rob was a little cutie and I had fun teasing him. As they were leaving I told a friend on the phone that Rob had a little boy crush on me.

While they were packing, Anne came over and visited for a few minutes. She dropped off the DVD of our sketch show from 10/13. All in all, it was good, but the sound wasn't too hot. It would have been awesome if we had been individually miked, but that would have been impossible to accomplish on our limited budget of $0.

On my way out of town I stopped at a McDonald's to check my email and meet up with my friend Nancy and her daughter Maria. Prior to that the realtor, Patty, stopped by Mickey D's so I could sign a paper to reduce the price of my condo. I wanted to do that because it's silly to keep it high when I'm paying the mortgage every month. I just want to sell it.

Had a nice visit with Nancy while Maria played on the playground. Unfortunately, my wireless didn't work at that McDonald's so had to wait until I got here to Jim and Karen's before I could check it. Of course I have been checking it all day with my phone but I don't like to write too many emails with it.

While driving to Aurora I called Mark, an old friend, to wish him a happy birthday. It was nice to surprise him.

I arrived in Aurora around 6, so we ordered dinner to be delivered while we watched the DVD of the show.

It was good to see Jim, Karen, Katie, Frank, and their friend Ann. Jim, Karen, and Ann are in the other room of the lower level setting up the snow village while I catch up here. Their snow village is unbelievable and so beautiful. Everyone gets to choose their house to "live in." I own the Starbucks and live upstairs from it. Yeah, and give myself coffee for free. :)

Tomorrow morning I'll go to Panera nearby to use the high-speed wireless. It's dial up here, and it's difficult to finish everything I need to do. No complaints as I appreciate the hospitality, but it will be easier to do other stuff from Panera.

Guess that's it for tonight. I'm so grateful that a major part of the move has been completed.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

11/7 It's really happening

The movers come tomorrow. It's amazing that one can feel such conflicting emotions--happiness and sadness--at the same time.

11/7 Another stupid test....

A writer friend posted this on our forum.... It's kind of a fun little test. My score was 42--very close to being a Loyal Friend.

The Lively Center of Attention

Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who's constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well-balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding; someone who'll always cheer them up and help them out.

Monday, November 06, 2006

11/6 Homeward bound...

In about an hour I'll take off for the airport and points west. I'm really ready to get this move finished.

Yesterday had elements of the sublime and hte ridiculous. Words weekend ended as it began--delightfully. I didn't get t o say goodbye to Glo, and that was the only bad thing. But I know I'll see her again soon.

The two hour drive from Mohonk to NYC took four hours. It was extremely frustrating, and we can blame it on a mistake on the Google map. First time I've experienced that. The traffic was horrendous because of the NY Marathon.

After we got back to the city everything got good again. My nephew Adam (Joe and Cindy's oldest) met us for dinner. We went to a nearby Chinese restaaurant, which provided excellent food. Then Adam came back to Dave's apartment and visited for a while. His job sounds great, and a wonderful oppportunity for him. It was really good to see him. While we walked back from the restaurant I called Cindy and said, "Guess who's walking with a handsome young man on the streets of New York?" I only wish I'd remembered my camera.

I was exhausted and went to bed around midnight Got up at 7--guess I'm just ready to get going.

My friend Nancy will join me at my condo this afternoon to help with packing. Right now all that's left is the bathroom and JUNK that's strewn throughout the place. All the easy stuff is done, now I must make difficult decisions about the junk...throw away, keep, store, take with.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

11/5 Winding down a little...

I played games until nearly 2 AM, and every moment was fun.

Today a man and his father approached me. It was their first year at Words, and they loved it. But the man said that he felt almost stupid during the presentation on crostic. And that yesterday when we had a puzzle challenge, the same thing.

I said, "I do understand. At home you're used to winning most games. Plus a lot of times you're the smartest person in the room. And when you come here, you feel like you're in kindergarten hanging out with graduate students." He smiled and nodded.

I told him that I feel the same way. At some of the games here I excel, but most of the time I'm merely comic relief. (I should remove the word merely, because they're certainly is value in it.)

Being surrounded by smart people really energizes me. I function on a small amount of sleep, and even thrive. Tonight I'll crash. But first, DF and I will go out to dinner in the city with my nephew, Adam. I'm really looking forward to it. Dave knows all the good restaurants.

For now, I just finished the scrumptious and sumptious brunch and will now play a final few games before we head down the mountain.

This place rocks. This weekend rocks. These people rock.

(More later about my friend, Gloria.)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

11/4 More at Mohonk

I slept well last night. Suz and I shared a king-sized bed, and didn't even know the other was there. She uses a c-pap machine to aid breathing, and her new one is absolutely silent. Amazing. But her new apparatus she puts on her head looks like a helmet one would wear while sitting in an electric chair.

Erin McKean spoke last night. She's a lexicographer and the senior editor at Oxford Dictionary, America.

Can I just get my geek stuff out of the way? I LOVE being around word enthusiasts--love it! Hearing nearly everyone respond the way I do to a catchy turn of phrase, a clever new use of a word, or even the surprise of knowing the meaning of a multisyllabic word makes me smile. Don't get me wrong...not everyone is a braniac, although many are. What we share is an intense love of language.

Many of us are fiercely competitive as well. After Erin's talk, the large group broke into teams of seven and we played Scrabble Scramble. My team consisted of writer friends and family members--Dave Feldman, Suzanne Heatherington, Joanne Giulietti (Monk) and her husband Frank, and kids Steve and Theresa. Theresa is a freshman in college and Steve is a senior in college and a seminarian. They are a fun family and avid game-players (in a good way).

There were twelve teams. We had a hefty lead during the first two rounds, but lost in the last round to a team containing word guru extraordinaire, Richard Lederer. If you don't know who he is, shame on you...and google him to find out more.

After the official part of the evening ended about 15 of us hung out and played board games. One of my favorite parts of the weekend. Suzanne and I stopped playing around 12:30 AM. After four hours sleep the night before I needed some sack time. Plus I wanted to get up early today. I love mornings. I love nights too. It's the afternoons that I don't like. Let's institute siesta time in the US. That would work for me.

Breakfast was fun, sitting and talking to lots of folks. In a little while, Dave, Steve, Theresa, and I are going to Starbucks. It's 20 minutes each way so we have to time it well so we don't miss any of the talks. Richard is speaking at 10 and I don't want to miss it.

Tonight will be an all-nighter game-playing night. Wonder if I can last. We'll see.

Oh, yeah...and the scenery is just as breathtaking as last year. Wish I'd remembered my camera.

Love to all.

11/4 The handsome and talented...

Matt. He was the waiter at our table. Of course he's a very handsome young man (23 years old), but he also is good at his job. He allowed me to flirt with him without gagging--a sign of true maturity. And he was a good waiter, not happy until everyone was satisfied with their food. I gave him my room, I mean my blog address, and told him I was going to write about him. (Hi, Matt.)

Here you sit at large tables with members of your group. So we always are with people we know. That makes it lots of fun. But the food is extraordinary, reminding me of cruises I've taken. Lots of choices--even for oddballs like me.

Prior to dinner we had tea at 4, which I love. A gathering of everyone in the lower lounge, where there is a huge fireplace and a to-die-for view of the lake and the bluffs.

At dinner, Steve--Monk's son--had white wine with his steak. I told him I was going to write that as well. (Actually we convinced him it was okay. Now it's considered fine to have whichever wine you want with whatever food you want. Life is good.)

There's more to write--like all about the speaker and the game playing, but I'll fill that in later. It's breakfast time. And I want to roam around outside and enjoy the breathtaking vistas prior to the beginning of the program.

Friday, November 03, 2006

11/3 Mohonk Mountain

Last night Megan, Tony, and Mel did a great job of packing. I still have lots to do though, but am confident I'll get it done. We ate Chinese food around the cocktail table and had a super time. They all three made me laugh.

This morning I got up at 4:30 for my flight to NYC. Dave and Suzanne picked me up at LaGuardia, and we took off for the two hour drive to Mohonk. At New Palz we stopped for lunch at a restaurant/bar that had 400 different beers. I had one from Belgium--I've forgotten the name already, but it was similar to the Belgian white beer that I'm fond of.

We checked into the hotel on the mountain. Suzanne and I discovered that there's only one bed in our room. That's because originally her husband was coming with her. When he cancelled, then she and I decided to share again, like we did last year. Luckily the bed is king-sized, so we'll do fine.

At 4 PM is tea time, so we'll see more of our friends then. And dinner is at 6:30. Men must wear a jacket for dinner, and no one may wear athletic shoes. Etiquette from bygone days. :)

It's so beautiful here, it takes my breath away. Even though I can't really afford to be here (financially and time-wise), it's good that I came. It's Gloria's 25th (and last) year leading the Wonderful World of Words and I really wanted to be here to support her. And to have fun.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

11/2 Wednesday night

Okay, it's Thursday morning, I'm sitting at Panera Bread, listening to classical music, drinking coffee, and it's snowing. IT'S PERFECT!!!

Last night was perfect too. I am getting a little teary-eyed lately and last night was no exception. Tony and Megan came over to help me pack. Tony is a friend from CSz, writing group, and Red Cross. We've crossed paths many times. And Megan, of course, is from BroadMinded, although we met a few years back at CSz too. Tony and Megan hadn't met before, but they worked well together packing.

And they are both competitive, so it was great fun watching them compete for the best packing trophy. My favorite parts though were the signs Meg put on the boxes. All of the fragile ones held the word "fragile" of course but she also wrote things like: Do Not Juggle, Don't Even Think About Dropping This, UberFragile, The fragilest of all the fragile things. And more. So I'm looking forward to getting amused again tonight.

I ordered pizza and it was good too. Tonight will be Chinese food. Megan and Melissa will be here and Tony too, if he can make it.

I'm at the Panera Bread near my old job because I dropped off three more boxes for Shawn to sell. She told me that my 13 inch TV didn't even make it out of the office. Someone bought it for $15 as soon as I left. She is such a good friend to be doing this. I'm trying to make her keep a commission on what she sells, because she's doing all the work, but she keeps refusing. I'll have to get her a nice surprise later.

Am looking at the snow and reflecting on how lucky I am. These people helping me are dear to me. And they would have never come into my life if I hadn't taken risks. The risk of trying to be a comedian at age 55. The risk of moving to Milwaukee. They've enriched my life in ways I can't even describe. I don't want to get mushy (yet), so I'll just leave it with--I'm one lucky bug.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

11/1 Tuesday night

I need to start with the wonderful-ness of Tuesday night. It started with Open Improv which was so much more enjoyable because some of my BroadMinded friends were there. Then 11 of us went to the New Yorker. Part of the beauty of the New Yorker is that when we go on Tuesdays, we're usually the only people there. So we get to karaoke all the time. I sang five or six songs myself.

The eleven of us were: Maria, Megan, Mary Jo, Melissa (all from BroadMinded), Adam, Mel, Nick, Nick, Patrick, and Dennis. And me of course. Every time Nick F. got up to sing he'd say, "This goes out to a special lady...." And we'd all laugh. Because he's about 25 and dedicated all the songs to me. I had a ball and felt so special. These people (and others) mean so much to me. But because they're so much younger, they aren't the kind of friends who I "hang out" with--watching TV, going to the movies, shopping, etc. So even though I'm going to miss these beautiful, talented people terribly, I would still be lonely here if I stayed in Milwaukee.

We stayed there until about midnight or so. And I went home with a big grin on my face, feeling loved.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

10/31 It continues....

Got a lot of "sorting" done this morning. Have to fax some documents to DC, so while I'm out, thought I'd check my email.

Tonight is my night with some friends. My last Open Improv class, and last trip to the New Yorker for karaoke. Looking forward to it.

My contact with the moving company came by today. He dropped off some more boxes and some packing paper. So I have plenty of boxes for when friends come over Wednesday and Thursday to help.

Spoke to Hunter for a moment this morning, and Jill for a little longer than a moment. I've been very nostalgic. Don't know about the rest of you, but when I move I cannot stop myself from looking through things--photos, letters, cards, drawings from kids. And it makes me miss my family all the more.

Rob and Beata are trying to talk me into living in NC instead of just visiting for a few months. The offer is tempting, but NC takes me even further away from the rest of the family. Quincy is in between both my kids and should make traveling to them easier.

Who knows what will happen? Heck, Beata is even lining up men for me...thinking that if I fall in love then I'll stay in NC. She's a kupka, she is. But I sure love her. Have been talking to her a lot lately.

The movers are coming next Wednesday. I'll be out of town this Friday through Monday, so I really do have to get things done really quickly....

Monday, October 30, 2006

10/30 Starting to panic

I have so much to do and am way too lazy for my own good. Got some stuff thrown away this morning, and just finished having lunch with my friend Bill. I'm really going to miss him. But he travels so much that we're sure to meet somewhere along the way. The beauty of email is that you can always stay in touch so easily, no matter what.

Having some iced tea at Panera's and catching up on email, then home to get busy again.

Tomorrow morning Nancy is coming by to help me, and tomorrow night I have my last Open Improv, followed by karaoke at the New Yorker. That's a great memory for me to take with me. Comedians are pretty damn funny at karaoke.

I guess it was a rotten Open House on Sunday--not one person came through. Sigh. No comment on that. Of course, no one in Wisconsin would go to an Open House while the Packers were playing. Maybe we should only hold one when the Pack has a bye....

Sunday, October 29, 2006

10/29 Panera, anyone?

Just finished a wonderful cheese, egg, spinach, and artichoke breakfast souffle. It's superb and only $2.95. Can't believe how cheap it is. Coffee was $1.05 and I can keep filling it up, so I've had a bargain breakfast. Sure it would have been cheaper to eat peanut butter toast at home, but I worked hard on the condo, and didn't want to have to clean up anything else.

In a little while I'll go to my friend Nancy's house to visit while the Open House is going on.

Then to Barnes and Noble to finish some work. At 2 I'll be at CSz for the last time (this go-around anyway). My team has a bye but I'm going to support my friends who are performing. Some time this week I'll have to turn in my CSz keys, as I won't be able to work anymore before I leave.

I got up at 5:45 (felt like 6:45...). Watched Rocky Horror Picture Show (which I'd taped). Funny watching that while cleaning, but it really made the time go by quickly. Love that show.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

10/28 Back to working...

I've been at Panera for two hours so I guess it's time to go home and get busy. Will probably sign on later tonight a the McDonald's near my place.

I decided to go with the local Mayflower company for moving. He's coming by Tuesday with some extra boxes, and packing paper, and I'll sign the contract then. Then I'll move the following week.

Since I'll be gone November 3-6, that means I have to get everything done from Monday through Thursday of next week. Yikes. I've been throwing things away but can't really pack until after the open house tomorrow.

Okay, I need to get off this computer and work, instead of just talking about it. See ya!

Friday, October 27, 2006

10/27 Lake Forest

Lake Forest, IL is a beautiful town. About an hour and twenty minutes from where I live. And where I had to go to see a bank person face to face. Yep. I have Bank of America and there are no ATMs or banks in Milwaukee. There are two ATMs nearly an hour north of here, but they don't take deposits anyway.

And I didn't want to mail in my deposit because it's a big one--some of my 401 K. This bit of money is what I have to live on until I start getting a paycheck. Yes, it's stupid, but don't lecture me because I won't listen. I have my fingers in my ears--la la la la la la la la la la.

Are you done? Good.

I finished wrapping all the Christmas presents and will ship the ones to California this afternoon when I'm finished here. I still have about 8 more presents to buy, but it's no big deal. Everything is working out great. I have to get the place in tip-top shape again for the open house, but I'm getting used to that. Then Monday I start packing for real.

Quit nagging me--I said I know it's stupid to take money out of my 401K, okay? lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalal.....

Thursday, October 26, 2006

10/26 Spam is not only meat byproducts

I just got more than 160 spammed comments on my blog. So while I'm deleting them, I also had to finally turn on "word verification." When you write a comment you'll need to verify you're a human by typing a word that's listed. I know it will be hard for my brothers, but the rest of you shouldn't have a problem with it.

This stops the robot spammers from attacking. Many of my friends have word verification on their blog, and I hoped I wouldn't have to do it. Sorry.

10/26 What happened to yesterday?

Can't believe I didn't post. Was at Panera Bread and worked on the computer, but completely forgot about my blog.

Tuesday I had lunch with Nancy and it was awesome--like 10 years had absolutely disappeared. We were such close friends when I lived in Milwaukee in the 90s. Then she got married and they went to do missionary work in the Dominican Republic for two years. We stayed in touch sporadically. They've been back here for about three years or so. While in the DR they adopted a beautiful Dominican girl named Maria. She's five now. So Nancy is so busy with family and especially a young, vibrant child. We've just not gotten together. And Tuesday was magical. And I laughed so hard. Loved it. I'm going to go visit Nancy and Hank (and Maria) on Sunday while my open house is going on.

Tuesday night I went to Open Improv at Bucketworks. It was awesome. A new teacher (and pal of mine), Adam, really is giving us lots of new stuff to work on.

Yesterday I had lunch with Tony, and it was super too. He's a writer friend of mine, although we met in 2002 in a CSz class. We've stayed friends and have lunch every now and then. We were also in a writing group together for a while. Anyway, lunch brought a lot more laughter, and I dared him to visit me in NC. He's as thoughtful as I am impulsive. So we'll see if the dare takes root. Oh, he volunteers with the red cross too, so we have that in common. He's 20 years younger than I am, but we have such fun together. Nice guy.

Today I got my hair cut and am sad to be leaving Stacy. She's cut my hair for 10 years. And also listened to my stories. She knows my family as well as close friends do. I always tip her well for being such an attentive listener. :) And she always laughs at the right places. Great gal.

Got my car yesterday and instead of costing $1100 it cost $450. Boy, was that ever good news!

And I got another estimate from a moving company. Will make my decision this afternoon. Now I'm in Barnes and Noble enjoying a cup of decaf Americano. Will have to go home soon and get busy though. Am wrapping Christmas presents so I can ship some to LA, and leave the Quincy ones there when I drive through. Because there's an open house on Sunday I can't do too much regular packing anyway. Monday I begin SERIOUS packing! Wednesday and Thursday evenings Tony and Megan are coming to help me. Because of my back injury I asked Tony if he'd help lift some boxes for me. Can't afford to re-injure it.

So much going on and I still haven't done a lot of work. Too busy saying goodbye to friends, I guess. I'm really going to miss Milwaukee, but I can't wait to be with my family.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

10/24 Another open house

My realtor is scheduling another open house for Sunday. Last week's only brought one person out of the woodwork and he was a developer from out of town. I knew that one wasn't going to be productive--don't know why, I just knew. But I do feel better about this next one. We'll see.

I worked on throwing away junk and sorting stuff for Shawn's yard sale yesterday. Plus I finished the interview and sent it to my old boss. AND I talked to AT&T and got everything straightened out. So I'll be able to sign on from McDonald's which is just a mile from my house.

Right now I'm on AT&T WiFi at Barnes and Noble about 20 minutes from home. That's because I had to drop off my car near here. I'm in a rental--a really cheap one that doesn't have automatic locks or windows and I hate it. Well, I can tolerate it for a day and a half. My car will cost around a thousand dollars--worse case scenario. Best case will be around 400 or so.

Lots to do. I feel overwhelmed. Wish I had relatives nearby to help me. But at least some friends will do so. I'm going to force money on two of them, because I know they need it even more than I do.

Today my friend Nancy is going to meet me for coffee in a few hours, so I'll stay here and work until then. Or maybe browse the stacks to get some books for my trip. I love booksores...the smell, the excitement of finding a new author, the people... I spoke to a retired guy earlier who was fascinating. He was looking at an atlas, and it was opened to a map of Germany. I asked if he was going there, and he said no, although he'd been there many times. He was having a discussion with a friend, and was trying to settle an arguement. We then compared notes about places we've been, and it was a lovely conversation. I love these serendipitous moments of life.

Monday, October 23, 2006

10/23 Interesting day!

Today is Jim and Karen's 13th anniversary, Mom and Dad's anniversary (would be 60 years), and Grandma and Grandpa Kuhlman's anniversary (gosh, would have been about a million years I estimate). It's a great day for weddings, that's for sure. Happy anniversary, Jim and Karen! I still smile when I recall the reception. Wow, what a party! And Robbie looked so cute holding the bouquet outside your house.

I packed up some other stuff for my friend Shawn's yard sale. She's going to get a lot more stuff from me too. Wow, I accumulate a lot of stuff (euphemism for junk).

Talked to Mary Jo today. She wondered if I'd be interested in performing with BroadMinded one last time before I leave. I had to decline. There's so much going on right now that I need to take care of, that carving out rehearsal time would be difficult. Plus I plan to leave right after the movers do, just so I'll have another day in Quincy. Leaving on Saturday the 11th would cut short my weekend there.

Also, they gave me the perfect send off after we performed a few weeks ago. I still get teary-eyed thinking about it. It was such an awesome show, and the sentiments were heartfelt. I'll carry that with me.

The first mover came today and I'll get the estimate tomorrow. Then the second guy comes on Wednesday. I'll be glad to get this settled.

Talked to Tony today too, and we'll have lunch on Wednesday. It'll definitely be fun, but hard to say good-bye.

Enough boredom for now? Want to come help me pack?

(Editing to add: Today I'm officially an employee of the American Red Cross.)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

10/22 Let's get this done!

Seems like time is dragging. But I do have a few fun things to do prior to leaving. Lunch with Tony, coffee with Nancy, drinks with Maria (and maybe others), and of course my trip to NY the first weekend in November. Then I can move....

I'm writing from Bucketworks--free wireless for members. A very cool benefit.

I've been up since 7, straightening up the condo for the Open House. Today it was from 11-12:30 so should just be getting done. I'll call to find out how it went. I don't have high expectations. It'll sell at some point. It's not overpriced and is a great place.

Went to Alterra at 10 for coffee and to work on an interview I still owe my old job. It's an hour long and is taking me forever. I'll have to finish it tonight and email it tomorrow.

At 2 I have a rec league match at CSz with Brainstorm. Unless I can find a legal sub, however, we're going to forfeit. MJ and Stacy can't make it. This is our last match of the season.

Guess that's it for now. Tomorrow afternoon the first mover comes to give me an estimate.

Will sign on tomorrow from somewhere. And I hope to have the AT&T thing straightened out tomorrow too.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

10/21 Damn damn double damn

Just had an exhausting go-around with AT&T. I had my home phone disconnected as of 10/13 which automatically disconnected my DSL. Purchased dial-up so I could keep my email address active for the 2 months or so before I have a place of my own to have DSL again. I specifically asked if this would affect my AT&T WiFi. No, I was distinctly told. That's a separate service.

All I can say is, "Liar, liar, pants on fire."

Talked to 8 different people today because I went to a McDonald's where I was supposed to have free WiFi according to my plan, and it didn't work. "Authentication Failed," the screen rudely proclaimed.

1. Sorry, but you have no home phone. You must have a phone line to have WiFi. WHAT?

2. Sorry, you don't have DSL any longer, you can't have WiFi unless you have DSL. WHAT?

3. What do you want me to do? I can't do anything about it. WHAT?

4. Ma'am, I'm sorry for our error, but there's nothing I can do about it. Thanks for using AT&T. WHAT?

Finally, person number 7 in India was such a sweetie--Doni. She connected me with someone at dial-up who told me that normally I'd have to go to WiFi, but evidently I'd already been there and everywhere else. Wish I had her name, she was a sweetie too. She said a second level supervisor would make an exception for me, but unfortunately that office was only opened Monday through Friday. I'd gotten so angry with number 3 above and had started crying instead of calling her filthy names. Everyone else was nice, but I was so frustrated.

I'll call that office on Monday to get my Wi-Fi reinstated. In the meantime I drove 15 minutes to a new Panera Bread. It has free Wi-Fi for everyone. Everyone--go to Panera Bread and spend money. They're great PLUS the food is wonderful.

End of commercial.

So the class ended yesterday and I really enjoyed it, plus met some super Red Cross folks, and as I said earlier I ran into people I already knew.

On the way home I stopped at a Cracker Barrel (didn't know there was one only 7 miles from my house). Jane, tell Pete there's a Cabela's just 10 miles away. It's new and HUGE. Cracker Barrel was having a porch sale where everything was 80% off. It's going on today and tomorrow too. I bought tons of Christmas present. 10 presents for $30. And every one of them are things I would like, so I'm fairly confident that people will like them.

Enough for now. I need to check some more sites and catch up with my email. More tomorrow. I'll stop back here again when the Open House is going on.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

10/19 Supervision in Disaster

This two-day class I wanted (Supervision in Disaster) was full and so I had to pick others. I was resigned, but at the last moment decided to see if I could get in the class after all. And the answer was "yes."

Part of the class was boring, and part was interesting. The worst part is all the homework I had to do. Still haven't finished it, but took a break for dinner. I ate in the U cafeteria and sat with Carlos who teaches criminal law at University of Madison. Very cool.

And in the class I'm sitting next to Pete who I worked with at the Kenosha fire. Across the aisle is Mary who was at Hurricane Wilma with me. And another mental health person--a retired psychiatrist, Joyce--is sitting nearby too. We're the only mental health folks in the class.

I'm learning so much and am very pleased I'm here.

Saturday morning early though, my friend Shawn is coming over to help me pack a bit. She wanted to start at 7 but I'm not getting in until Friday night so we compromised on 8 AM. I have to figure out where to stack the boxes because there's an open house on Sunday.

While that's happening I have to finish a project from my old job. I promised I would have it done.

I'm so beat and can't wait for my vacation in North Carolina. Hope my condo sells soon.

Monday my new job starts but I doubt I'll be called right away. Also Monday my car goes in the shop for two days. Tuesday morning I'm going to sleep until noon. I promise.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

10/18 Done with one, time for others

We completed the Supervisor Essentials today. Out of the 5 exams we took, I got 85 on the first one and 100 on the rest. Pretty darn good for this old cookie.

Tonight I'm reading and writing, and will relax. Tomorrow morning starts the disaster classes. No one from my previous class remained for this, so I'll have to start getting to know people all over again.

I'll be glad to get home Friday night....

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

10/17 Tired but still going strong

The class remains interesting, and Ryan is a good teacher. The group contains neat people and I'm learning a lot. For some reason though I'm just plain tired.

Tomorrow is the last day of supervisor essentials though. Thursday and Friday I'll be taking disaster courses, so that will be even more interesting. As for now, I'm going to read a while and then hit the sack.

Cindy Lou and I went to Tumbleweed for dinner. It was really good but I ate too much.

I told her that every time I see her name tag I think of my sister Jan, who does a great impersonation of Cindy Lou Who from Doctor Seuss, and it makes me laugh when I think of it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

10/16 More pics

10/16 Pictures from BroadMinded

Thanks to MJ's husband, Tom, we have tons of pictures. Here are a few:

10/16 Day one of training

A really good day. I woke up before the alarm, went to the communal shower, and met the first person from my class. Funny that we met at the showers.

Anyway, the first three days I'm taking Supervision Essentials, and there are nine of us in the class--from Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Michigan. Two people were at Hurricane Wilma with me but we hadn't met.

The course is actually interesting. We have to take an exam after each section--five of them. Today the instructor asked if we wanted to look over the material before we took the exam, but I just wanted to get it over with so I didn't read the material. We needed 72% to pass and I got an 85%. So I was satisfied.

I'm eating hot bean curd left over from my Chinese meal last night. Plus I have a sandwich left over from our lunch today. I'm saving the Red Cross money. :)

For a while, I'm actually forgetting about everything I have to do before I leave for NC. Okay, I'm thinking about it now because I'm writing about it. But last night I actually read a book (no TV, remember?). And tonight I'll do the same. Relaxing? I'm tellin' ya it is....

Sunday, October 15, 2006

10/15 Blogging from the north

I'm in Oshkosh, WI--at University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. The rooms at the conference center are old dorm rooms. I have a refrigerator, microwave, and high speed internet access, but no towels. There are sheets and blankets, but no towels. And no hangers in the closet. Interesting.

But no complaints--high speed internet access makes me happy, especially because there's no television. Five nights with no TV. Think I'll make it.

This afternoon Brainstorm played against County Clare Clowns in the Rec League. We lost--except we really won. They earned more points, but they had to forfeit for not having enough players. They used a pro on their team. So at least they got to play and it was fun. Our team didn't have much energy today--at least I didn't. And Chris had a broken toe. Poor guy.

Training starts tomorrow. In the meantime, I have to find a towel.

Note: went down to the registration desk and bought a "towel set"--two washcloths, two towels, and two bars of soap for $3. I kid you not.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

10/14 Yesterday was quite a day!

I cried most of the day at work. Crazy, huh? I know I'm doing the right thing, but that doesn't stop me from feeling the loss of CPI. I received more presents, and more kindness from everyone. It was such a bittersweet day. Someone said, "How do you feel?" And I said, "Ambivalent." And that was true. But now I no longer feel that way. I just feel good! And those tears are spent and gone.

Last night's show was such an amazing experience. We were all there and ready to go when the audience was let in at 9:45. The house was about half full and we felt great about that.

Every single sketch was well received--the audience was super. They laughed everywhere they were supposed to, and several places that surprised us. Some of my friends attended--many were friends-in-common with the rest of the troupe, but the ones who came just for me warmed my heart. Tony, Nancy, Judith, Christopher, Catherine, and a few more that I'm blocking on right now. Many other comedians were there, and it was so gratifying to hear their compliments.

Afterward, we all celebrated in the bar at ComedySportz. The rest of BroadMinded gave me a polyester rose (it'll never die, Mel said) and a lovely card that made me cry. Stacy brought a great cake from Dairy Queen, and she jumped on the bar and proposed a toast to me. Gosh, I cry a lot, don't I? Cause I cried again at that.

Boy, was it ever fun! We received compliment after compliment. Some favorite parts (according to the audience): Mel's song that opened the show--It's Hard to Be a Republican; Anne's Sally Ann Petrosky, the nerdy (and loveable) high schooler; Megan and Stacy in the Hunters--as drunken hunters dancing to Paris Hilton; Maria as Doris Stone from Ready, Set, Hair; Mary Jo as Jasmine; and the favorite character I portrayed was Charity Blossom--the 80-year-old whore. But that's not all certainly. Others gave us kudos on other characters. I'm not trying to brag, but am still so high on those emotions from yesterday.

I'm going to miss BroadMinded so very much. The performing and the fun, sure, but mostly the women. I've grown to love each of them--individually and collectively. There will never be another night like last night for us, because the composition of the group will be different.

MJ's husband, Tom, took lots of pictures. I can't wait to see them, and will post them. Plus a friend videotaped the whole thing, and that will be fun to see as well.

I got home at 2 AM, and slept from 3 to 11 AM today. That felt good.

Now it's time to work on the condo. Time marches on....