Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Special Tug Toy

One of my good friends Sue (from my former working days) is such a sweetheart. When my youngest brother and his wife had their son last year, she sent a homemade softie blanket for him. Then, when my other brother and his wife had their twin girls this past summer, she sent not one, but two, softie blankets for them. Sue has never met any of them, yet, she has such a caring heart (and she loves babies); she did it for them just the same.
This time, tucked into the box, was a tug toy for Lucy made out of the softie material.
She loves it!

Lucy and her toy from Sue

Thanks, Sue!

Mrs. B

Friday, August 29, 2008


Not too long ago, I remember reading in the Wall Street Journal about a young-ish author (around 32 or so) who has really made it big writing a series of books about a high school girl and a vampire.
The author, Stephenie Meyer, indicated that the love story of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen was something she dreamt about. The dream wouldn't leave her alone, so, she wrote it down, and, history (and a boat load of money) has since been made.
The books are intended for teenage girls, of course. I set the article aside and didn't think too much else about it other than vampires are sure a popular subject.
This past summer, The Kid got hooked on these books, known as "The Twilight Series". The fourth installment was due to hit the bookstores on August 1st so The Kid set about to read the prior three. She did so in about two weeks; pretty impressive since each book is over 400 pages.
Now my interest really was piqued; I mean, The Kid reading three books in rapid succession? I asked her about them and she told me they were "really, really good".
Ok, so, I decided to read the first book in the series, entitled "Twilight".
I have to admit, it WAS pretty good (if a bit "young", but, remember, it is intended for probably 14-20 year old girls, not old broads such as Mrs. B). So, yeah, the "love story" aspect is a bit far-fetched (but believable, again, to young girls who still haven't quite figured out that love isn't so easy). And, there are themes throughout the book that only young girls (or, I should say, only young girls SHOULD) believe, such as, the thrill of the most gorgeous boy in the school, whom up to a point appeared to hate your guts, is now your fiercest protector, savior, and is madly in love with you.
But, for the most part, the plot moved along, there were some intriguing characters and concepts, and, it held my interest.
I received a DVD from NetFlix the other day; on the inside cover was an advertisement for the movie version of Twilight. So, now there will be a movie, this will generate more bro ha ha for the books, so on and so forth.
And, the 4th book came out to much fan-fare (The Kid has already read it).
I don't know if I will read the next three books. I will probably see the movie (on DVD of course; God, can you imagine the hoards of girls descending on the theaters when this movie releases) though.
Check out the trailer (sorry, couldn't get You Tube to work).
Mrs. B

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Side Benefit

Becoming re-absorbed in work has reminded me of a side benefit I've always received from working.
Disclaimer: This might piss some people, especially women, off.
I forget to eat.
Yeah, I know; how could someone "forget" to eat? But, seriously, I get so into what I'm doing that, before I know it, it is past 10 and I've eaten nothing for breakfast. Then, I might have something (today I was bad, I had a 100 calorie pack of Pringles) and then forget again to eat later. So, what I've had to eat today are the Pringles and a handful of mixed nuts.
When I'm working down at the site, I don't take lunch (I'd rather put in my time and get out of there). And, I don't want to take the time to microwave something. So, I bring a few "snacks" and eat those. Maybe. The other day, I found a half-eaten oatmeal bar wrapped up in my briefcase.
So, a side benefit is, I'll be losing some weight, it seems. Not necessarily a bad thing.

Speaking of weight, I made one of my ice cream pies for Mr. B for his b-day celebration. I was going to make a cake, but, neither of us would eat more than one slice so it'd just go moldy. I thought about it, and remembered these ice cream pies I made a long time ago. I think before it was popular to have ice cream with a bunch of other stuff in it (candy, cookie dough, etc.)
My ex husband used to call them "Amy's Ice Cream Pies" (I know, not very unusual) and he told me I should market them. Well, I never did (obviously), but, it was fun to make one the other night for Mr. B. They are really easy because all you need is a pre-made graham cracker shell, some sort of ice cream (softened) and whatever you want to throw into it and top it off with. Then, you re-freeze it so it sets and you're good to go.
I made a Heath Bar with Caramel and Fudge Ice Cream Pie because Mr. B loves Heath Bars.
I loaded the vanilla ice cream up with huge chunks of Heath Bar, tons of caramel syrup and fudge syrup. I spread it into the shell, then, topped it with more caramel and Heath Bar crumbles.
The thing is, it was SO rich, we've only had one slice each (The Kid was over so she had a slice, too).

We've got over 1/2 of the pie left.
And, since I keep forgetting to eat, it's just sitting in the freezer. Well, at least it might last longer than a cake.

Anyone want the rest?
Mrs. B

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Random Wednesday Thoughts

It's been observed that I haven't been blogging as frequently. This is true, and due mostly to my returning to the corporate world. Not that I'm actually physically IN the corporate world more than one day per week (usually Tuesday); however, the other days of the week (which may even include a Saturday or Sunday), I'm working on various things from home. All in all, it's going ok (although the connection to their server from home is incredibly slow at times; so, that can be rather frustrating). Anyway, I thought I'd do a quickie post before I get going with my day.
So, yeah, "work" has been fine. Although yesterday was a tad stressful; mostly because it was my third time down there and they've all "discovered" me now. There was some confusion with my purchase order (or lack thereof); not my problem, really, but, I DO want to get paid at some point! The guy I'm working with said he'd take care of it, no worries. But, of course, it should have been taken care of before I even set foot in the door (so suggested the head of purchasing as he glared at me; then, backed down and became nice and apologetic when he realized I wasn't an employee).
Some things about working I really don't miss; things like that, and, the hyper stress moods of some folks. I certainly don't like being in a "bull pen" environment (where I'd formerly worked, I'd traveled high up the ladder to have a fairly decent office). EVERYONE at this place is in a cube, even the boss of the guy I'm working with. These guys are not junior by any stretch. It's just this company's culture.
But, it sucks. I tell you, it's hard to concentrate when there are constantly people walking by, talking on the phone next to you, shouting over cube tops to one another, etc. I am working with sensitive information, too; so, I'm constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure no one is lurking around. It's just bizarre to me. Oh, and then there was the dude sitting behind me. About noon, he started crunching away on his lunch. Ok, I can understand that, he's got to eat. But, several hours later, he was still crunching away; this time, on menthol lozenges. So, not only did I keep hearing "crunch crunch crunch" I was also getting this haze of menthol aroma swirling around my head. I turned around at one point to see him sitting there staring at me. Ick. I later heard him say to someone else, "I just need to sit here for a second and cool off or else I'm gonna go blow that guy away". Uh, nice. Thank God I don't actually work there in an HR capacity or else I would have felt obligated to walk over to him and smack him up the side of the head for saying something so dumb in the work place; especially since, in past lives, I've had to deal with the aftermath of someone doing just that.
Needless to say, I was glad when I was able to pack up all my gear and trudge out to the parking lot (quite a haul) where I had to stumble over medians of red mud to get to my car.
Then, the long drive home in the rain.
Yeah, these parts of working I really didn't miss at all!
But, on the lighter side, I got my box of business cards in the mail (too cool) as well as address labels. Sorta fun!
Ok, onto other subjects.
It seems my post about potential cat names generated a lot of interest/comments, more so than anything I've written about recently. Funny how that turns out.
I just read in the paper this morning that a priest in Italy has decided to squelch his on-line beauty pageant for nuns idea. Yep, he wanted to hold a beauty pageant in order to show the world that nuns are not all old and dour looking. It was going to be called "Miss Sister 2008" (I am NOT making this up); but, after he saw suggestions that folks would want to see the nuns on a virtual catwalk, he decided there wouldn't be anything too exciting about nuns parading around in their habits.
Hey, another great thing about returning to work has been we decided, if I was going to work 20+ hours a week, I shouldn't spend the other hours cleaning. So, we hired Merry Maids to come to the house every other week. They started yesterday, and, although I felt badly that we had to keep Lucy penned up in our sun room all day, they did a great job. Whew, take that off the "to do" list!
That damn BMW; Mr. B was at a gas station Monday night (The Kid and I were here at home) when the battery died on him. Luckily, he was at a gas station so he was able to get a jump. But, this meant a morning (yesterday) of him taking The Kid to school and then having to go to BMW service and wait around for them to replace the battery. For a BMW service bill, it was relatively cheap, but, the situation just brought to my mind, again, that it very well may be time to say good-bye to E5150.
It's raining. Still. And, it's gonna rain all day and into tomorrow. And, it'll probably rain Friday night (we have a Bulls game). Why am I not surprised?
One positive thing about driving an hour and ten minutes (or so) each way to Greensboro for my "job" is I can listen to NPR. It's much less irritating than other radio stations. And, informative. Yesterday morning I was amused to hear banter between John McCain and Jay Leno (yep, while the Democratic Convention is going on in Denver, McCain's been getting busy with the celebs). Anyway, Leno was jabbing McCain about all of his houses (and the fact, apparently, that he couldn't remember how many he actually owns). There was one exchange when McCain went down the somber "I used to be a POW" path (and of course that must have been awful). But, later, when talking about the possibility that he might end up in the White House, McCain said, "Hey, and I hear the house is really nice!" to which Leno replied, "Like you need another house!"
It's nice, I suppose, that we can manage to have humor around our Presidential candidates; it still doesn't help me figure out what to do in November.
Ok, best sign off for now!
Mrs. B

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Potential Names for TBD New Kitties

Nope, we're not yet ready to jump into the wide blue yonder with regards to obtaining new kitties. YET. The time's a'comin, though; Mrs. B, despite how much she loves her Goose, just can't be without kitties for too long.
So, as I work on completing (and therefore, grieving for/honoring) Clyde's album (almost done; the last few pages are always tough), and, as Mr. B contemplates what wood to use for Nigel and Clyde's urns (unfortunately, the balsa that dad gave us wasn't strong enough to withstand the tooling), I've been letting my mind wander down the path of what names we'll bestow on our new family members once they do arrive (I suppose I'm picking up on "new name fever" from my sister in law, Analee!)
Anyway, for the most part, I've always done this; picked out the name for the pet BEFORE I actually had the pet. I knew, for example, that Nigel would be Nigel. I knew Clyde would be Clyde and I knew Lucy would be Lucy. I also tend to like to name my pets "people" names (not that I think other names like Tramp or Skippy or Peanut or whatever are bad names for pets; just not my style, is all).
So, awhile back, when Mr. B and his folks were discussing some of their prior pets, and, in particular the cat they had when Mr. B was a baby (who used to sleep in his crib with him), I immediately knew our next cat would be named after Mr. B's protector; PETE.
What about the other cat? And, yes, I DO want two cats. Well, my brother keeps insisting on REPEAT, but, as funny as that is, it doesn't fit my name selection criteria (although it IS two syllables, which I want).
Yes, I decided the 2nd name had to be two syllables. I mean, I think one of the reasons "Nigel and Clyde" sounded so good together was there was a flow to it; and, that due to one name having one syllable and the other having two.
Pete, obviously, has one syllable so the other name must have two.
These names are ones I'm seriously considering, all of them (although I'm sort of leaning towards one in particular). And, the cats will be known in the order of "Pete and (fill in the blank)".
And, oh by the way, if for some bizarre reason the 2nd cat turns out to be a female (not likely since I prefer male cats but, never say never) her name will be Lily.
So, here are the names....drum roll, please!
Pete and Billy
Pete and Henry
Pete and Ahab
Pete and Seamus (pronounced Shay-mus)
So, what do y'all think?

Mrs. B

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Adventures in Italy: Opera Night!

Today, August 22nd, is Mr. B's b-day! Happy b-day, sweetie! Many, many, many more!

A recent (and one I love) picture of my Mr. B

Tonight, we're headed to our favorite local restaurant, Magnolia Grill, to celebrate. Can't wait!

But, on this night five years ago, as Mr. B was here in NC turning the age he'd be when I met him 7 months later, I was headed off to an opera, "Carmen", at the Arena di Verona. Following is an account of that experience.

Mrs. B

22 August 2003, 8:45a – Caffe al Teatro
Here at one of my favorite spots. Not sure why, perhaps because it’s where I met Eva who was so kind to me. The cappuccino is more expensive here (no school discount) but I’ve found it a hassle to use the discount card.
I’m still lost half the time in class! Laura (the teacher I had for the first two weeks of class) is very good and nice; her methods of instruction fun/entertaining but I feel like a dope. I think now that it will take years and years and years of study to get this language down. I know the more I speak it, the better my confidence will be.
Had dinner alone at an osteria near to my flat. This is a place one of the teachers (fast talking Andrea) recommended. It was a quaint place; sort of reminded me of where Pam and I went the first night we were in Firenze. I didn’t get exactly what I wanted but only because I didn’t take my time and I was afraid of sounding like a dolt (this is a death knoll!)
Then I got caught in the rain! Yes, it poured! Note to self. Don’t forgo the umbrella when packing! Now I have to buy one here. It was a cool rain, lots of lightening. It made for a nice night of sleeping, much cooler in my room (I did find a fan at PAM (supermarket) but couldn’t figure out how much it was and not sure I need it now, maybe the worst of the heat is over).
Later – My Apartment
School was good today. Felt as if I started to “get it”. Am going to the opera tonight; “Carmen”, with Ernst and Irene. Now it’s time to nap as the opera goes until midnight at least…
This is the fun part (if only there were a romance to also look forward to; not the case with Ernst; nice Austrian guy, very friendly and loves opera but…not my type.

Later – After the Opera
The opera was WONDERFUL and the experience of seeing it in the Arena di Verona; built in 30 AD, with 15-20K other people; was something not to be missed! It was SO crowded, though; we were knee to knee in the nosebleed section; seats on “the stones”. Amazing to have my ass on same seat as Romans watching gladiator fights and screaming for blood!
There were actually horses on stage; and donkeys, too! No English subtitles here but, I’ve seen “Carmen” before so I knew what was going on.
Horses and donkeys on stage!

Italy’s President (what’s his name) was there watching it, too; therefore, tons of polizia. (Turns out he really wasn’t; not sure why since he was supposed to be there.)
Poor Ernst, he definitely had the wrong idea about me. He was overly friendly; kept hugging and kissing and touching me. Annoying, as I was there only to see an opera in the Arena di Verona. I thought at first perhaps Austrians are just very demonstrative, until he put his hand over mine…and left it there. I finally lied to him and told him I was married. Not just out like that; I asked him if he had kids, he said no, he wasn’t married. A few moments later he asked me if I was married and I said yes (well, I was married, once!)
That pretty much put an end to it. Just call me Ms. Manipulative! Hell, I didn’t want to ruin the evening by causing a scene or by having to shoot him down. This way, he can believe it was only because I was married that I wasn’t returning his attentions. A good ruse. I didn’t want my opera experience ruined by avoiding him/being annoyed all night.
We sat on the stones for 4 /2 hours! No way to leave to go to il bagno. So, I didn’t drink but ½ bottle of water…
But, it was worth it. And, Irene showed up, thank God (but then Ernst put the moves on HER, something I felt a bit badly about).
As I said, the arena was built in 30AD. They started doing operas 80 odd years ago, “Aida” was the first opera shown in the Arena di Verona. There are 3 sections to sit in; the settore (sections) which are like general admission at a baseball game but no assigned seats; these are the cheapie seats (about 25,50 euros). These are the seats we sat in (or, rather, "on", since these were "the stones"). Then there are seats that are assigned which I think run between 50-90 euros or so; finally the seats on the floor (like the best seats at a rock concert!) around 120-150 euros. Basically, the whole seating arrangement is like that of a rock concert.

The arena fills up

Because we were in the cheap, we had to wait in a long line outside the entrance to our settore (if we’d gotten there earlier, we would have had “better” seats; people line up around 6:00p (the opera started at 9:00p!) to get in, get to their settore and claim the best seats).

Lines outside the arena

Outside the arena, vendors were hawking copies of the lirica for "Carmen" and cushions to blow up and sit on (this should have given me a hint, no?)

More of the outside scene

Once inside the arena, you climb up a series of steep steps (this took awhile what with the throngs of people) and finally get out into the open air. There are ushers to tell you where to sit; you tell them how many, they point out where to go and attempt to squeeze in. Squeeze in is an apt term, I felt like a sardine. This was definitely the downside to the experience (for me, anyway); no room to move or stretch, hard stone seats and no ability to get up and leave for the entire duration. The view we had of the stage was excellent meaning it was directly avanti (ahead) of us but far away. So without binocolo da teatro, very difficult to see much detail (of course you’re really there for the music so no matter). As it turned out, Ernst had binocolo da teatro with him (along with a sleeping bag to sit on) so it could have been worse.

Our great view of the stage!

Just call me spoiled but, at least WRT seats, I am used to my orchestra seats at Opera Pacific!

Good Things
The production was wonderful. Music, of course, exhilarating. Costumes, scenes, props (live animals!); the voices, all excellent. Amazing how easy it was to hear, considering how far away we were.

The crowd. I was impressed that so many people were there. Italians are obviously cultured and it’s great the opera is affordable. Also, very well-behaved; quiet, no fracas. Amazing considering how close everyone was sitting. Vendors running around selling drinks, food. Poor guys, it looked like a difficult job hauling their boxes/ice chests stepping through the throngs of people sitting everywhere. “Coca, Fanta, Birra, Bibito!”

The crowd

Very interesting to see the tradition here and how different they are from opera back home. Definitely in place to entertain the crowds that were stuck in place during the LONG intermissions (20-40 minutes; three of them). No champagne for me, I got to watch the “Gong Lady”! She comes out during the intermissions 3 times and bangs a gong. The 1st time she comes out she bangs it once, the 2nd time twice, etc. The third gong means the opera is about to begin again. She makes a big show of it, running the baton outside the gong a few times before she smacks it (once ,or twice, or 3 times, depending). She’s a very popular lady by the time she comes out the 3rd time!) You also know when the act is about to end because you can see two groups of stage hands coming along each side of the stage with screens. When the act is over, they put the screens in front of the stage. From our vantage, we could see the stage hands working to change the set.

The very experience of seeing an opera in such an old historic place is something I will never forget.

Bad Things
Being pestered (and therefore distracted) by Ernst.

Not having much space.
Not being able to go to il bagno (I never had to go, TG, but it bugged me all the same).
Not being able to have anything to drink.
Feeling like a “poor person” (ok, this was really more my state of mind, no fault of the opera!)
The BORING 3rd Act of Carmen seemed even more endless than usual.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My, My, My, How UNUSUAL!

One of my new activities is being on the BOD for the DSO. Yeah, I've purposefully left this sorta "vague". Doesn't matter, isn't pertinent to today's post.
Anyway, last night, we had an "addressing and stuffing invitations" party. It was hosted by a very gracious and genteel (if a bit eccentric) grand dame named Lucia. Lucia (and her husband) are extremely influential within the community. Extremely. They now live at a very upscale retirement village in nearby Chapel Hill. This is where the "party" was held; as a side note, I was really impressed with this place. It felt more like the Waldorf Astoria than a retirement community. Note to self; make enough money so that when we "retire", we might ultimately get into this place (if need be).
BTW, Mr. B and I were at a party this past Saturday night and Lucia was there. She said to me "Y'all are coming Tuesday night, right?" to which I replied in the affirmative. She turned to Mr. B and said, "Well, honey, it's only ladies so y'all will have to go play golf or whatever it is you men do". Too funny!
So, there we all were last night doing various secretarial tasks. It was quite fun, actually; and, Lucia had set up a nice table of cheese, crackers, veggies, nuts, fruit and wine, along with some gorgeous flowers.
Because I arrived an hour later than the others (driving up from my "job" in Greensboro), I ended up addressing envelopes (one of the least-favored tasks).
After I finished with that, I stuck on return address labels and stamps. While stamping, I ended up sitting next to Lucia, who was a flurry of activity (and would wear me out if I had to hang around her longer than a few minutes). She was sorting through addressed invitations in order to pull out the ones to people she knew so that she could write a personal note (I have to say she had a huge stack; as I said, this lady knows A LOT of people).
As she's sorting through, she pulls out one in particular, looked at it, and said, "My, my, my, how UNUSUAL!" I looked over at her; she was holding an invitation I'd addressed. She continued, "I've NEVER seen handwriting quite like this before!"
I sort of grimaced to myself but spoke up, "Oh, that's my writing". She looked at me and said again, "How UNUSUAL! Did you grow up in a foreign country because your writing looks like someones who didn't originally speak English".
What could I say to THAT? I merely replied, "Nope, I'm just left-handed!" (Mr. B told me later I should have said, "I grew up in California"; ha ha ha, Mr. B!)
She smiled somewhat bemusedly at me, as if to try and remember who exactly I was. (earlier in the night, she'd referred to me as "Hey, Blue Lady!" (because I had on a blue shirt)).
Anyway, I did get a chuckle out of this because, frankly, my handwriting is a bit hard to decipher.

My handwriting; can YOU read it?

It's been this way ever since I can remember; certainly, it was this way when I was a teenager corresponding with my 90+ year old great grandfather (it was a toss up as to whose writing was harder to read; I think I beat him out, though!)

My friend Kathleen told me she always has to read my handwritten letters/cards to her husband Don because he can't figure out what I'm saying.

And, in my prior life, the folks that worked for me used to compare notes I'd written them and place bets on what certain words were.

Of course, it was all in great fun and, eventually, people ARE able to figure out what I'm writing. I think. Or, maybe they just make up what they think I was saying? These guesses might be even more interesting than what I WAS saying!

But, I'll admit, even I will re-read something I wrote (say, in one of my journals), and say to myself, "What the you-know-what is THAT word?"

As for the hundreds of invitations I addressed last night, what can I say except I've never had anything returned to me by the post office. So, the postal workers, at least, and I, are on the same wave length.

What does THAT mean?

Mrs. B

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Adventures In Italy: The First Day Of School

18 August 2003, 7:30a – My Apartment
My suitcase did not arrive. I spent a fairly miserable, self-pity filled evening alone. I was afraid to go out lest my suitcase chose to arrive at the moment I left. Because I didn’t go out, it didn’t show up. That’s the way things work.

No matter what today, I have to figure out what’s going on with my suitcase! Because of the language barrier, I’m not 100% sure my landlady was telling me they’d deliver it or if she was telling me, “Sorry, too bad, figure it out yourself!”
I hope the people at the school will help me get this taken care of. I don’t think I can manage one more day like this.
I’ll try to think positive but right now I’m starting to wonder if all of this was such a hot idea.
18 August 2003, 8:30a – Caffe al Teatro on Via Roma (right before my first day of class)

Via Roma

Random Thoughts and General Observations (Written on the Back of the “Lost Luggage” Instructions the Airline (Air Dolomiti) Gave Me):

I am sitting here an hour before I am due at school. This is where I met Eva yesterday. I’m wearing the same stinky clothes. This R&R Hall of Fame tee-shirt is getting a lot of mileage. I am wearing my Tommy Hilfiger blue jean shorts, too. They are probably not appropriate for school, l but I have nothing else. I refuse to wear my sweatpants and swelter to death.

Italians are a bit aloof. I stand out like a sore thumb and they notice and look down at me. Of course, they can’t know this isn’t how I intended to appear!

No one looks into windows as they walk past. I’ve sat at my window for hours last night, watching. Eyes straight ahead, no glancing up, down, left, right.

I can’t believe how noisy it is at my apartment at all hours. Street noise. Cars passing, people walking by talking, etc. Except this morning it was quiet. Funny.

It’s real humid here. In addition to making me a sweaty, icky mess, it’s rendered my appetite to next to nothing. If anything, with this situation and all the walking (Eva said I should rent a bike), I should manage to stay in good shape.

I used the "carta telefonica" (phone card) this morning to call the airline regarding my bag. It worked, amazingly enough. Too bad it hasn’t been so easy to get my bag returned to me.

It only took me 15 minutes (or less) to walk here. Good to know. Why take the bus (except to learn, I guess)?

Later, 8:45p -- Caffe Colonial (near Ponte Nuovo)
Woo-hoo, my suitcase showed up this morning! During the afternoon break, I ran back to my apartment and was able to change clothes! Glorious! Now I feel a bit more “at home” and able to relax.

And school was fine; but when they say “Total Immersion”, that is exactly what they mean! The staff and teachers try not to speak any English. Yikes! I ended up (I think) in a very basic class. I’ll know for sure tomorrow.

The street the school was on (right side)

The good news is, everyone is very nice, including most of the other students. The bad news is, I comprehend about ½ of what is being said. Ok, more like ¼!

Idea Verona (the school)

There was a 2 hour lecture this afternoon on the city of Verona, ancient cities in general, arenas, gladiators, etc. The instructor, Andrea, (a man), speaks very fast Italian, says “va bene” a lot and reminds me of my friend Cesar from Spain. Luckily, he also throws in some English, so you can somewhat follow what he’s saying. He also gave a 2 hour walking tour of Verona after school which was good to get oriented. I think I understand, basically, how to get a bus ticket and where they go; also, where to buy groceries (there may be a store closer to my apartment but I haven’t found it yet) and what the best wines in Verona are. He also told us a lot about the Arena di Verona. Maybe I will see if some of the other students would like to see an opera.

I left the tour when we got close to my place. I said, “Parto abito (and the word for “over there”, which I know I can’t spell, sounds like “la jew”). Basically, this meant, "I'm leaving as I live over there".

I went home and unpacked/got organized. Now I’m out having dinner (pizza and a beer, I figure I deserve the beer). I’m not too worried about drinking too much over here, it’s too hot to get drunk.

Yes, it’s steamy, steamy, steamy qua (here). I’ve never sweated so much in my life. I need to buy a fan for my room.

Tomorrow I have to buy a notebook. They haven’t provided me one. My notes are all over the place.

I hope now that school has begun, I will start doing things in the evening with other people. I didn’t come here to hang out by myself. I’ve made myself go to restaurants, etc., by myself and it’s ok, but, other than Eva, I’ve yet to see any other “single” women.

I would also like to find the gym, but we’ll see. I need to get the Internet thing figured but soon, too.

And, I need to remember that I am here to learn and grow. Who knows what direction this will take?

(Not-Yet) Mrs. B

Friday, August 15, 2008

My Adventures In Italy

Five years ago this afternoon, I departed on "my grand adventure" to Italy. Somehow, it seemed fitting to open up the travel journal that I kept during that time. It's a peek into not only the trip itself, but my inner journey. So, I figure from time to time over the next six weeks, I'll pop in an entry here and there into this Blog. It's certainly gonna be an interesting contrast of the before, then and now!
Mrs. B
15 August 2003 – On the Plane; Philadelphia, PA
I am sitting on the plane in Philly; believe it or not, there may be a problem with the plane (indicator problem) but, the captain just came on to say we’ll be on our way in 10 minutes. Sigh of relief; although, I guess it’d work out if I got delayed.

I’m on my way to Paris, then Verona. So far it’s been uneventful, although I am already thinking I have too much crap (even though I did get everything in one wheelie bag and one carry-on). Yes, I began to think this while lugging the carry- on through the airport here in Philly, my shoulder aching from its weight. I’m definitely going to ship some shit home after the class in Verona is over. No way am I lugging this over Italy for two weeks. See how much I’ve changed already!

The most traumatic thing today was saying good-bye to Nigel and Clyde. This will be the longest yet that we’ve been apart. I know they’ll be fine, but my heart still hurts a little. I’m happy that my heart is hurting for cats and not some guy. Yes, I really mean this!

I hope the people get friendlier during this journey of mine! So far, no one has been that outgoing. I think I have a “dud” for a seat mate; some big guy who won’t even look at me. He seems to have an attitude; or maybe he’s one of those that is scared shitless of flying but he doesn’t want to let on. Well, it’s a 7 hour flight; maybe he’ll say something at some point (He never did!)

I’m not sure yet how my writing will go. I do want to capture details of my trip so I can write up a memoir later. I’d like to write about my inner-journey, too. I think I’ll be in a different place emotionally six weeks from now. And, of course, I’d like to write poetry, stories, articles, etc.

When this trip is all said and done, I’d just like to be happier. That’s a broad statement; I’ll figure out more details as time goes on.

16 August 2003 – In the Airport; Paris, France
I’m not impressed with this place. I ran around for almost an hour just trying to figure out where I was supposed to be. This airport is full of escalators and moving sidewalks that seem to go everywhere but where you want to go. Some of the running around, admittedly, was my own damn fault. I got to the “Satellite” ok, but thought there wasn’t anyone there to check me in (at least I didn’t see anyone there). So, I tried to go down to where ticketing was. I could see it, but no escalator went down there! I asked several times and was told I had to take a “lift” down. So, along with a whole throng of people, I waited 10 minutes for the lift. Once down, I found the ticketing area with a huge long line of people checking in. I thought about standing there politely, waiting my turn to ask if I was supposed to even be standing there, but decided I didn’t have time to waste so I walked up to the counter and asked the agents if I had to wait in line. They said no (somewhat snottily, I might add; perhaps they didn’t appreciate my impatience, but, if you think about it, I DIDN’T have to wait in line so why should I wait in line to ask if I have to wait in line?) So, off I went (hauling my stupid black bag) back up to Satellite Six. Once there (and now there was a person in attendance), I was told I had to go back downstairs to check in! Luckily, some other lady that was working nearby seemed to know what was going on and said I could check in there. Also, next time (if indeed there is a next time that I’m in this inane airport), I need to say or refer to a “transfer” (the US equivalent of “connection”).

My French really sucks. I could hardly understand a word. I hope it’s easier in Italy!

Now I know why Karen Allen’s character got lost in this same airport in the movie “Until September”. She missed her plane and met up with a handsome, rich French dude. Me, it looks like I’ll make my flight to Verona where hopefully all will be well!

Later – On the Plane; Flying Somewhere Over France
This flight is actually ok. The Flight Attendant is very friendly; stowed my bag for me.

At 11:00a, it was “Happy Hours” time. She wheeled a little cart down the aisle with miniature sandwiches and cocktails. I opted for orange juice (which, by the way, was not orange, it was the color of Margot’s sangria!)

I think the carton said “Arrance Rossi” from Sicily. I’ll have to look this up later. In any case, it was “molto bene!” (arance rosse = red orange).

Later – My Apartment; Verona, Italy
I made it to Verona…but my suitcase did not. Doesn’t this figure? I’m trying not to panic…yet, or freak out, because there is no phone in this room and the landlady does not speak any English. The airline is supposed to call her before they deliver it. Sigh. I need to go get a phone card and find a phone to use to check up on this. Talk about frustrating, but somehow, I’m really not surprised.

The outside of my apartment building in Verona, Italy
Closer up
Side street; my windows were the first two on the lower floor in the lighter colored building in front
Despite this, I managed to get to the train station then to the apartment. It’s ok, but sort of loud. I’m really glad I brought ear plugs. I hope it’s a safe area because I’m on the first floor and it’s hot, no AC, so, windows have to be open. Oh well. I’m a bit out of sorts right now, mostly because my bag didn’t show up!

Lobby of the apartment building; my apartment was to the left of the elevator around the corner

My little bed in my little bedroom; note candle on night stand to make it "homey"!
The very small and bizarre bathroom

The "kitchen" (such as it was)

This was a 2nd bedroom, but, I used it to lay out and dry laundry (which I washed in the bathroom sink!)

My silly dancing hamster; he kept a smile on my face when I was homesick, though!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

*Results Not Typical

Here is a quick entry about something I've never completely understood.
You know those weight-watcher programs? Any and all of them? They all seem to use advertisement, either TV or print or Internet, where they show some fat cow woman in a side-bar picture (who, in addition to being over-weight, usually looks frumpy and washed out) next to a picture of the same woman who is about 30-50 or more pounds lighter, wearing gorgeous clothes with hair and make-up done to perfection.
Or, my other favorite; a woman in the "before" picture wearing some saggy looking underpants and bra standing there with her shoulders slumped and a morose look on her face next to the picture of her "after"; wearing a real nice two piece bikini, high heels, and her best Miss America smile. Yeah, a few pounds lighter, too, but, it's amazing what a better outfit (worn correctly) and standing up straight will do for one.
Anyway, my rant today is, they use this sort of advertisement to lure in people; to get them to think, "Hey, if I eat reconstituted spaghetti and meatballs and cardboard tasting granola bars, I, too, can look like THAT! All for only $200 a week (or whatever the food costs)".
Then, next to the tag line of "Susie lost 75 pounds on our system!" is the proverbial asterisk (*) and this, "Results not typical".
So, right off the bat, these companies are disclosing that it's very likely that, even if you followed their program to a tee, you're not EVER going to look as good as Susie.
And people STILL buy this crap.
Everyone knows good old fashioned eating properly, drinking a lot of water and exercise is really the only thing that will take weight off (and keep it off) and make one looked toned. Aside from having major surgery (and most people don't need to do this, anyway), you just can't make a purse out of a sow's ear by throwing money at the problem.
I suppose these companies just prey on people's deep desires to be "skinny", and, they succeed on doing so EVEN WHEN they disclose that, basically, their product won't do a damn bit of good.
It's SAD!
Mrs. B

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

Well, at least partially!
After five years of not working (for pay), yesterday, I ventured back into the corporate world. An environment that I gladly walked away from, even though I was at the pinnacle of my success.
Y'all know why, y'all have listened to my reasons (or read them) regarding that particular decision.
You also know that, in the last month or so, I was approached my someone I used to work with and asked to do some consulting with a large well-known company about an hour and twenty minutes from my house.
What with the family reunion going on (and a few other things), it took us until late last week to reach agreement on a) what they'd pay me and b) how much (and where) I'd work.
In the meantime, Mr. B set up our very own LLC, complete with insurances. I opened up a small business bank account, we're looking into some office equipment/capabilities, and, soon, we'll do fun stuff like order business cards and business letterhead.
But, the rubber really hit the road yesterday when I got in my car and drove down to the company. Believe me, the night before (after a minor hitch with the guy I'm working with, which was resolved), my heart was a bit heavy with apprehension. By yesterday morning, my heart was pounding so hard I thought I might have a heart attack. Of course, it was only anxiety; but, I asked myself anyway if I was a complete nut or fool for contemplating this major change in my (our) life.
And, that is what it really came down to; I wasn't afraid of the work, just the change. But, we all know that our fear of what might happen is usually far, far worse than what actually does happen. Of course, that's what the case was yesterday.
The day went very well! I managed to get down there (even early); everyone was very nice and friendly and welcoming. As Mr. B surmised, once I "got into it", the old professionalism and work ethic kicked right in and it hardly felt like it had been five years since I'd worked. Of course, this IS different than working for a company; I am working for myself (and Mr. B). I could have, if I'd wanted, told them yesterday "forget it, not interested" after the end of the day. But, I AM interested; it's a cool place, neat product, lots of projects to work on that are right up my alley. And, the money ain't bad, either.
So, yep; I got home, and, upon reflection, figured out (as I already alluded to) that, I was afraid of changing my life. Hell, why wouldn't I be? It's been a great life these past five years! Yet, it WAS time to make a change. To take a chance. To turn the page and see what's next.
So, here are a few more of my favorite sayings/adages (whatever) to express how I'm feeling today.
"Life is a form of not being sure, not knowing what's next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little." (Agnes DeMille)
“First you jump off the cliff and you build your wings on the way down.” (Ray Bradbury)
“Leap, and the net will appear.” (Julia Cameron)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” (Anais Nin)
“Take a chance! All life is a chance. The man who goes furthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.” (Dale Carnegie)
"When you come to a fork in the road, take it." Yogi Berra (Thanks, George!)
Mrs. B

Monday, August 11, 2008

My Best Advice...So Far: Part Two

Mrs. B is back with more advice. Whether you want it or not; and, hey, you might learn something from this old broad! Or, if you think I'm full of it, hey, that's okay, too; you'd in essence simply be following some of my advice!
Forgive…Bitterness Takes Its Toll
“Never give way to malice; it turns the best men into fools.” (Henry VIII)
Having gone through a divorce and the dissolution of a few other important relationships (both romantic and platonic) AND observing how others in similar situations behave and the havoc said behavior has wrecked, I think it’s worth noting here that one of the best bits of advice I have is to forgive and let go. I’m not saying be a dupe and constantly let someone get at you (you know that other adage, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” holds true here) but, I guess what I’m getting at is, don’t let it eat you up. Don’t let some slight, big or small, keep you from moving on with your life and getting all that is out there to grab out of it. And, certainly, don’t drag others into your little bitter pity party. One last notation on this; not only does bitterness take its toll on the INSIDE, it can ruin your looks on the OUTSIDE, too; age you beyond repair, and, in general, give you the appearance of one so unapproachable, that, no one will approach you. BTW, although old Hank offered up some grand advice, I don't think he paid attention to it himself (just ask the two of his wives and many others who lost their heads because he couldn't keep his).
Know When To Keep Your Mouth Shut
“Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” (Ernest Hemingway)
I struggle with this one all of the time, but, I know that there are usually more situations when it’s important to not flap your gums than there are to go out on a limb. Actually, what I’ve really learned with this one is, as I grow older, it’s just not as important to try and prove that I am right, smarter, better, wiser. And, there certainly is no use in saying anything if it just ain’t constructive. Period.
Be Decisive…But Also Be Flexible
"The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want." (Ben Stein)
At first thought, this might seem like an oxymoron, but, it’s really not. I’ve learned that, when making an important decision, it’s imperative to gather sufficient information and facts to make said decision, and, once amassed and pondered, make a decision fairly quickly. In other words, don’t go vacillate back and forth so long that you confuse yourself and/or the data becomes obsolete in the time you are wishy-washy. But, probably the most vital part of this advice (and something, frankly, that I am still learning) is, once a decision is made, there are times when you might have to go back and re-think it. Perhaps more information has come to light or the situation has changed. When this happens, it’s probably just as necessary to allow yourself to be flexible and perhaps change your mind as to be pig-headed and stubborn about the original decision.
Think Of The Worst Thing That You’ve Ever Had To Face In Your Life So Far…Whenever You Have To Do Something You Don’t Want To Do Or Are Afraid Of, Tell Yourself “No Matter What, It Won’t Be As Bad As…!”
“I’ve seen a heap of trouble in my life, and most of it never came to pass.” (Mark Twain)
This little mind game has come in handy for me many times. It’s fairly self-descriptive; so, no need to really go on about it here. But, it works.

Excel At Least One Thing…Do It When You Need A Confidence Boost
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” (Rumi)
Most of us are really good at least one thing; something that others acknowledge. In times of uncertainty, I’ve found engaging in one of the things I think I’m pretty decent at gives me the lift I need to move on past whatever is troubling me. There’s just something about that positive recognition that works wonders, and, usually, others benefit, too.
Don’t Try To Be Who You Used To Be…Be Who You Are NOW
“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.” (Johann Wolfgang Goethe, from “Faust”)
When I first jotted this down, I was primarily thinking about physical appearances; this is mostly because it is something women in particular with struggle with as they grow older; accepting that they no longer look like they did when they were 25. Hey, in some cases, this is probably a good thing, but, for most of us, it can be somewhat of a shock at times when we see ourselves in a mirror! But, as I’ve pondered this bit of advice, I’ve realized that it applies just as much, if not more, to who you are INSIDE. I suppose it might go hand and hand with the “Don’t apologize for who you are” advice I blogged about earlier. In any event, one of the best damn things about getting older is the realization that, for the most part, you can be and do whatever you please; look and feel however you want, and have the confidence to do so.

Mrs. B

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"She's As Ugly As Sin Now..."

Is this the same woman as the one in my previous entry?

"...but that's our Joyce".
Or so says the husband of a woman that the dog cloner lady supposedly attacked several years ago.
So, the flap now is; is the wacko lady that had her dead dog Booger cloned the same woman who, 30-odd years ago, chased a Mormon Missionary to England, abducted him, tied him to her bed and made him her sex-slave? And, then, jumped bail and went on the lam and later, allegedly, attacked a woman?
Seems really bizarre, huh? But, apparently, the "two" women share the same name, birth date and SSN. The current dog clone woman is vehemently denying that she's the sex-crazed woman from years ago.
In looking at pictures, there does appear to be a resemblance (although, and as indicated by the title of this entry, the years haven't necessarily been all that friendly to her).
Apparently the authorities don't plan on pursuing this case. Too bad. Following it in the paper would certainly be an alternative diversion to reading about sorry-ass John Edwards.
Mrs. B

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cloned Pets

I saw an article in the paper this morning about a lady (from the US, I think) who used a South Korean company to clone her dead pit bull. Now, I'm not sure, exactly, how this all worked, she must have had DNA taken from the dog prior to its death and frozen or something? Anyway, this company charged her $50,000 and cloned five pit bull puppies from the dead dog's DNA. When she first saw the five puppies (being nursed and cared for by a surrogate dog), she exclaimed, "Yes, I know you! You know me, too!" In other words, she was assuming that, because these puppies were cloned from her dead dog, that they WERE her dead dog come back to life (times five).
I guess this same company successfully cloned a dog several years ago and have been "perfecting" their technique ever since. Now, they are offering this service to anyone willing to pay the price (and who happens to have DNA on hand of whatever pet they want cloned).
As you can imagine, this procedure (and its implications) have animal control and animal rights advocates in an up roar. Animal control because they fear that this will mean more pets bred as opposed to people going to the shelter to adopt a stray and animal rights because they say this is an unfair thing to hoist on the cloned animal. What's unfair? That the owner will automatically assume that the cloned pet(s) are, in reality, their dead one. Which of course, despite the shared DNA/genes, they can never be.
It takes more than DNA/genes to make up a living being. There is also environment, circumstances, and shared experiences. This woman may think these five puppies are "identical" to her dead dog, but, how can they be? Already, everything is different, including her. SHE'S not the same person she was when she got the first dog, how could she be? She's not going to have the same shared experiences with these puppies as she did her first dog. And, these dogs have four siblings that the first one didn't have.
So, frankly, I think it's sort of sad that this woman did this; obviously in hopes that she'd get her dead dog back. It's not fair to the new dogs, it's not fair to the ones in a shelter that she may have adopted instead, and, it's really going to end up a real disappointment to her when none of the five puppies turn out to be anything, really, like the dog that died. So, it's not fair to the dead dog's memory, either.
I think if I'd been able to clone Nigel and Clyde, they would have been pretty pissed off at me! Of course, I never would have, even had I had the chance, because no cats could ever replace Nigel or Clyde, not even ones that shared their DNA. I think it's more a natural progression of things to grieve what you've lost, hold memories of the loved ones close to your heart, remember, laugh, cry; but, move on. And, when you're ready to really move on, go find a completely new and different creature to adopt, cherish and shower with love and affection. Something that might otherwise not have a chance at a happy life.
That's just Mrs. B's opinion. What do y'all think?
Mrs. B