Sunday, October 26, 2008

We Are In California...Our Luggage Is In Atlanta!

I'm not complaining. We made it safely to CA LATE Friday. Actually, by the time we got to Don and Kathleen's, it was EARLY Saturday. Our bags, well, they elected to stay on in Atlanta (where we connected from Raleigh).
So, the travel was a bit of travel from hell. Delays, delays, delays. Our flight from RDU was supposed to leave at 4:30; it left at 7:00. We made it to Atlanta and barely made it onto our flight to Ontario. The pilot, coming from Miami, was delayed as well. But, we took off around 9:30.
After a LONG flight (4 1/2 hours), we landed safely. We got to baggage; our bags did not make it onto the plane. We filed our claim and went to the rental car place.
After filling out the paperwork and such, the rental car person said, "Just walk outside to the compact car area and take any car". So, we did; problem. No cars! We ended up (at no extra charge) with a full-size. Chevy Impala. Whoa.
Anyway, our baggage did not make it to Ontario until 9:00 last night. So, we had to make a trip to Target for some essentials, since it was 90+ degrees here yesterday and all we had were jeans, heavy shirts, jackets and boots.
And, no make-up.
Anyway, despite the suitcase snafu, we've been having a great time so far. D&K took us to their winery, Ponte (meaning, they are members there). Wonderful place; lots of wine tasting, an excellent lunch, more wine tasting, etc.
Then, home for visiting/chatting/listening to 80s music and chair dancing (by which I mean me and Kathleen bopping to the music sitting ALONE in our chairs; not the other! Get your minds out of the gutter!) Lots of laughs! Then, out for Jack in the Box tacos and curly fries (none better anywhere and the only JITB near us is in South Carolina).
We played Euchre; girls vs. guys which I was a bit concerned about since K and I were up against the Euchre sharks. But, we beat 'em. Both games (two was enough for them).
I just contacted Delta and our bags will be here at 11:00 this morning. Not sure what we're up to today, but, at least we'll have our stuff.
And, we'll head down to the resort later this afternoon to check-in and continue our vacation.
Just wanted to give y'all an update/Mrs. B fix!
Mrs. B

Thursday, October 23, 2008

California Here We Come!

Ok, well, we are not leaving NY but, rather, NC; we are not driving but, rather, flying and we are not going with another couple, BUT...we are going! And, we are SO ready for this vacation!
We can't wait to see as many of our good California buddies as possible, to golf, to go wine tasting, to eat out, to chill out, to hang out.
And, no blogging for Mrs. B. The computer is gonna be left AT HOME!
Talk to y'all when we return!
Mrs. B

Few Things Have Made Me Laugh Harder Than This

We're heading into the final stretch here and things are getting dirty. Lots of mud-slinging from both sides.

So, without necessarily disclosing what side I'm voting for (the lesser of two evils), I have to say, this particular piece of mud was one of the funniest I've seen!
Mrs. B

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

So Completely Unbelievable (That It Is Almost Funny)

So. Our floor. Y'all remember all of the headache we went through with the builder and flooring subcontractor to finally get it replaced? It took almost sixteen months of going back and forth, haggling, etc., etc., etc. Then, we had to endure the actual replacement itself; move everything out of the living room/dining room (which meant completely unpacking the china hutch, buffet, curio cabinet and then setting them back up again once the floor was done). Not fun. But, we finally had a beautiful floor.
Note the use of the past tense?
Long story made short (not!)
After I started doing consulting work, we agreed that I shouldn't spend my down time cleaning the house. So, we arranged to have Merry Maids come and give us an estimate. I'd used Merry Maids in the past and had been pleased with them from both the perspective of the cleaning job and the ease of working with the management staff if something went wrong.
So, Cynthia from Merry Maids comes to the house. She admires it and says it's really clean. So clean, in fact, that she told me she'd waive the normal first time cleaning charge of $52 (which they charge in addition to the normal bi-weekly fee). Great!
We went through the house so she could ask questions about what I did and did not want done. When it came to the wood floor, I said, "Dry mop ONLY!" I explained to her that we'd just had the floor replaced and were ADAMANT about the dry mop thing. She wrote it down on the estimate.
Anyway, fast forward to the first cleaning day. They did a fantastic job!
Fast forward even more to two weeks later. I came home from my consulting job and went upstairs to change. When I came downstairs (bare footed), I thought the hardwood floor seemed "sticky" or "tacky". I think I just shoved that thought out of my mind, though.
The next day the sun was out in full force. I went to open the blinds in the living room; again, noticing that the floor seemed sticky. As I reached the family room, I turned back to look at the floor. And that's when I saw it. Those damn swirls were on the floor AGAIN! On top of it, I could also see every single one of my footsteps.
I immediately called Merry Maids and spoke to Cynthia. She said they would send the ladies out again to re-do the floor. I said, "What do you mean "re-do it? They were not supposed to do anything to it in the first place!" "Oh, yes, you're right". She said. I advised her that the floor was sticky and that whoever came over better get it taken care of. She wisely agreed that she'd come along with the cleaning ladies.
They showed up. The cleaning ladies did not speak English but one of them had been there the day before. The other one had not but had been there the first time. Cynthia told me the moment she walked in the door, "I don't know why but their supervisor (who was not there) told them they had to put Murphy's Oil Soap on the floor, even though the instructions said not to".
Oh. My. God.
The absolute WORST thing to put on a delicate hardwood floor. Not only that, they used it on the tile floor, too; so, the crap was getting tracked all over the damn place.
I really thought I was going to throw up when she told me that. My heart just sank; all I could think of was our beautiful NEWLY replaced floor was now ruined.
We got the manager to come over two days later. Mr. B stayed home to deal with him. Actually, he didn't argue overly much with Mr. B; not at all, in fact. He told him that their parent company, Service Master, would take care of it.
"Take care of what?" said Mr. B. "Paying you to replace your floor" replied the manager.
Hmmm....I was skeptical about THAT!
A week or so later, the manager came back to meet with our pals at JJ Nelson (who had come to give an estimate of how much it would cost to replace the floor; something they should obviously have had near to hand but our friend Demetrius was no longer with the company (no surprise, that) so they had to send some new dude out).
Fast forward.
Today, we got a check for the full replacement cost of the floor. It took about six weeks from the time of the incident to get it. Not bad, considering it took sixteen months to get the first floor taken care of. I had to admit, I was sort of shocked. But, I suppose Merry Maids knew they were screwed since right off the bat they admitted they'd put Murphy's Oil Soap on the floor, contrary to WRITTEN instructions.
Now, we just have to decided what to do. Mr. B says he'll try to clean it with the solution JJ Nelson gave us for the first ruined floor. No harm, no foul. If it comes clean, great. If not, well, we will likely replace the floor with some other wood floor that is a hell of a lot less delicate but hopefully will look just as nice.
In the meantime, I've got to find new maids.
Mrs. B

Monday, October 20, 2008

Baskets 'O Beanies

As in, Beanie Babies. Yeah, you read that right. Mrs. B's got a bounty 'o Beanie Babies collected during those many years of frequent business travel. I would buy them, mostly, in airport gift shops, but, a few I picked up elsewhere. The rule of thumb was, they had to be either a gift or I could only buy them while on a trip.

For many years, this was a fun past-time. When I was a single gal, I had them out for show. My dad even made a very pretty cherry shelf for me to display them on, as evidenced by this picture taken with Clyde back in 2001.

Anyway, after I met Mr. B, it seemed sort of silly for a soon-to-be married woman to display what was, in essence, stuffed animals. So, I wrapped them all up very carefully and put them in a huge cardboard box marked "Beanies". This is where they've been for three or four years now.
I tried a few years ago to give them away to a children's hospital or orphanage, but, they won't take "used" stuffed animals. I suppose I can understand why being that truly used stuffed animals could be breeding grounds for all sorts of nasties, but, MY Beanies were (and still are) in pristine brand-new condition. Each and every one of them still has their original tag (or otherwise they are worthless) and each tag is encased in a plastic tag protector. Even back when I started to collect them, I must have thought I might eventually sell them.
I know people do sell them on eBay, but, they go for something like $2.50 each. Hardly worth the effort. And, I really did not want to donate them to some smelly store like Salvation Army or Goodwill.
Well, I finally found the opportunity to off-load the Beanies to hopefully one (or three) good homes.
The Durham Symphony is holding its annual gala in December. Part of this is a silent auction of items comprised mostly of decorative/holiday stuff, some jewelry, some gourmet food stuffs, wine, gift certificates and the like. I got to thinking, "Hey, it's going to be holiday time, maybe some kid will see my Beanies and just have to have them so their parents will have to bid on them", or, maybe, some closet Beanie collector will be there.
In any event, I got them all out and they all look wonderful. Nice to see them again! I counted them all up...36! I decided I had to keep three of them but the rest are going to the auction! I divided them into three categories and will, ultimately, wrap them up in some appropriate looking basket or container that looks fetching and festive and hopefully the DSO will get some money off my Beanies.

The "Birds, Bugs and Sea Creature Creature Chums" Collection

The "Bears and Barnyard Buddies" Collection

The "Puppies, Felines and Ferocious Friends" Collection

As I was cataloging them, I realized that every single one of them is now "retired". And, boy, some of their names sure are cute, too! Like, Goatee the Mountain Goat, for example. Or, Strut the Rooster.

Anyway, it was an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon!

Mrs. B

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wow! Check Out The Princes!

Ok, silly post this morning; hey, got up early (6:30 am), it's Sunday for cricket's sake, but, for whatever reason, couldn't get back to sleep after Mr. B left for work. Yeah, work. I tell you, being a CPA's wife at times is trying.
But, obviously not as trying for me as for him.
Anyway, I was reading the paper this morning and came across a picture of Prince Edward and Prince William (at the bottom of this post).
Where the heck have I been? When did that gawky red-headed freckled Edward become such a damn cutie?

Geeky Harry a few years ago

No dis-respect meant to Mr. B; I mean, these "kids" are young enough to be MY kids.

Hubba Hubba "Dirty" Harry

Seriously, though; I used to think William had all the looks. He certainly inherited his mom's cool attractiveness.

William back in the ga-ga day

Somehow, though, as he's aged, well, he's starting to look more like his dad (or, bless her heart, his grand-mummy the Queen).

Uh, looking sorta "stodgy" (or British)

Now, there have been RUMORS that Edward is not really Charles' son, rather, the son of (Diana's riding instructor? I can't remember).

A very recent picture of The Princely Brothers

Anyway, (ladies) what do you think? Who is better looking now? Edward or William?

Mrs. B

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Memorials to My Boys

Clyde and Nigel's Albums
Clyde's says "Clyde 1992-2008 Our Sweet Pal" and Nigel's reads "Nigel 1991-2006 Beloved Friend"
After dragging my feet for several weeks, I was determined to finish Clyde's album today. I know why I was procrastinating; the end of the journey of memories with a cherished pet is infinitely more difficult than the beginning or middle.
Yet, I felt I "owed it" to Clyde; to wrap this up, already!
So, I buckled down and got it done. Yeah, lots of tears. But, like with Nigel's album, that huge wave of grief brought with it closure as well.
Now, the only thing that is left to do is for Mr. B to finish their urns made from a very pretty piece of cherry. We decided they'd like their final resting place to be something made lovingly by him, not some plastic box sitting in a velvet bag.
I must say, though; it's nice to pick up one or both of their albums now and look through it; reliving our time together.
They'll be here, if any of y'all want to come "visit" with your old friends!
Mrs. B

A Distinct Pleasure

Just now, I had the VERY distinct pleasure of, quite possibly, annoying a telemarketer more than they annoyed me.
Some history.
A few weeks ago, my friend Kathy sent me an email full of "ideas" of how to really piss off the people that piss us off; telemarketers. Additionally, there were suggestions on how to "get back at" the folks that send us unwanted junk snail mail.
I loved many of these ideas/suggestions and have been waiting for the opportunity to implement my very favorite on a telemarketer.
But, as these things go, strangely, I stopped receiving phone calls as I think the lines have been tied up by the increasingly annoying pre-recorded political phone calls I've been receiving, such as, "Hi, this is Billy Bob so-and-so. If you are like me..." Hang up. Nope, I'm NOT like you, Billy Bob.
Anyway, finally, this morning, Bonanza!
The phone rings. I answer it, hopeful.
A no-nonsense woman says, "This is Madeline from Publishers. Who am I speaking to?"
As an aside, this always annoys me. First of all, she called ME. She should KNOW who she is speaking to. Also, it's a bit too demanding.
But, here it comes.
I said very sweetly, "Hold on a minute, please" and put the phone down on the counter.
And walked away.
And sat back down at the kitchen table and continued to balance my checkbook.
After one minute and eleven seconds, she hung up.
But, oh boy, I bet she was ANNOYED during that one minute and eleven seconds.
And, I doubt that I'll ever hear from Madeline again.
So, my loyal readers, I encourage all of you to do the same the next time one of these pesky people call you. Don't just hang up on them. Make them sit there waiting for you to come back to the phone (of course you never will).
As for all of those credit card offers and such you receive in the mail? Take anything out that has your name/address on it. Use the (usually self-addressed postage paid envelop) to send them a bunch of your other crappy junk mail (name and address blacked out of course). Send them your Papa John coupons (assuming you don't want to use them), all of the political campaign crap you've been getting, the come-ons from various stores, etc.
Make them pay to dispose of your junk!
If you are like me and you implement these two ideas, you'll actually start to gleefully look forward to those previously annoying phone calls and avidly search your snail mail for junk and credit card offers.
Mrs. B

Thursday, October 16, 2008

No Longer Amongst The Living

During my step-mom's recent visit, she bookmarked a web site for me where you can "find" people. She uses it a lot in her genealogy work. I guess I should have realized that the people it finds are dead people (given that genealogy usually centers around ancestors) BUT, I didn't realize it until I went to go check it out. I was thinking it might be a source to track down folks I haven't seen or heard from in a long time, but, unless I plan on having a seance, I doubt I'll be talking (hopefully not anytime soon) to any of the people I find using this resource!
All kidding aside, I decided to test the site by putting in "older" people I used to know that could now be dead. First I put in my former mother-in-law; it appears she is still amongst the living. Next, I put in my former father-in-law, and, well, the site works. He's NO longer amongst the living. Apparently, he passed away September 14th, 2007.
It's sort of weird to discover that a person you used to know is now dead. Mr. B said, "If it's freaking you out, stop searching for people!" He's right, unless I really am wanting to track someone down (and make sure they are still alive so I can actually do so), it's probably not a good idea to jump on this sight and discover a bunch of people you knew are now dead.
But, anyway, I was a bit sad last night. My former father-in-law had a tough life. Yeah, he was an odd-duck and a terrible father (in my opinion; for example, he forced my ex husband to quit school at age 16 so he could put him to work) and a rotten husband and, in general, most people didn't like being around him because he was so weird (the man wore a skirt and dug around in trash bins) BUT, he had a very rough childhood and so, I guess, the way he turned out isn't terribly surprising. I just wish he'd been able to "get over it"; I doubt he ever did, though. He was like a broken record when I knew him; always bemoaning his awful childhood and how, "if only, if only", etc.
What was so awful? Well, he grew up in Buffalo, NY, for one! And, his mother and father were dirt poor. So poor that, when he was 8 or 9 (right at the on-set of WWII), he and two of his brothers were taken to an orphanage and left there because his parents could no longer afford to keep them (sort of like what is going on in Omaha Nebraska these days, except at that point in time, it was not really "legal" to do what they did). His parents kept their daughter so that she could tend to the baby (that they also kept).
So, Charles and his older brother Bob and one of his younger brothers (can't remember his name) were dumped at a Catholic orphanage run by Polish nuns where, given the fact that they were German, they were not treated terribly well. He told stories of being repeatably beaten and humiliated by the nuns. And, the fact that they actually had parents (who just didn't want them) meant those that were actual orphans scorned them as well.
At some point in time his parents must have come and collected them back; this part is sketchy.
So, Charles grew up; was smart enough and musically inclined enough that he ended up receiving a Masters in Music. And, he was a talented pianist (if you could get him to focus; one of his later jobs in life was to play the piano at Nordstrom's but I believe he ultimately got fired; probably for trying to get away with wearing his skirt with his tuxedo jacket!) Somewhere along the line he met and married my former mother-in-law (who went to Ithaca College (where Mr. B eventually graduated from; what a small world)). I always wondered why the very practical and no-nonsense Shirley married Charles; I can only surmise that his true "oddness" had not yet onset. Also, he was an incredibly handsome man (at one point) and Shirley, bless her heart, was extremely plain. Maybe she couldn't believe her luck, to snare such a prize? Hard to say, but, I am sure she came to regret it.
They had four children; three sons and one daughter; John, my ex husband, being the 2nd oldest. They had them in quick succession; the age spread between oldest to the youngest being a mere 5 or 6 years. When John was two, they moved to Oahu Hawaii where life was really no paradise for "Howlies" (what the natives called white people). He said he spent his entire school years there running away from the very big kids who wanted to beat him up. Sometimes he made it, sometime he didn't. He also told me he didn't wear shoes for 14 years (as was the custom, not because they couldn't afford them).
Well, anyway, Charles and Shirley moved back to the mainland, Arizona, this time. They bought and managed two mom and pop motor inns. Eventually, they split up with Charles taking the oldest two boys and Shirley taking the two younger children. Charles, Michael and John moved to the valley in California; Shirley, Suzi and Tom stayed in Arizona.
This was about the time when Charles pulled John (for some reason not Michael) out of school and forced him to work for a living. Although John later had resentment about this, he said at the time he was perfectly happy with the arrangement. I guess it served him in some good stead as from this he learned to fix just about anything.
Fast forward several years; I met John and eventually met his dad. John warned me to be prepared for how odd his dad was. "Like what?", said I. "Well, like the fact he wears a skirt and digs through trash", replied John.
And, yes, he DID wear skirt. And, not a kilt, either. I mean a woman's skirt. He'd pair it with a man's polo shirt or long-sleeved shirt, tube socks and tennis shoes. Yes, he was very stylish. His reasoning for wearing a skirt? "Women can wear men's clothes (meaning slacks), how come a man can't wear women's clothing? Frankly, a skirt is more comfortable, anyway". As weird as this was, he did have somewhat of a point.

My ex John, me, Michael, a very young Nigel, and Charles (wearing his skirt!) in 1991

Although he had sufficient income to rent a decent apartment, the man preferred to live in squalor. I hated having to go visit him because his abode made the dude's (Red Foxx) from "Sampson and Son" look like Windsor Castle.
It took me a while, too, to get used to him bringing me gifts of trash. Yes, seriously. We'd invite him over for dinner and he'd come bearing whatever goodies he'd dug out of the trash that day. Sometimes it was jars of unopened spaghetti sauce. One time it was a case of Coors beer (well past its expiration date). He didn't forget Nigel and Clyde, either; once he brought them a case of wet cat food. I learned to smile graciously, take the items, put them aside, and throw them away after he left.
The two of us only had one real run-in and that was one of the first times we had him over for dinner. After finishing his plate, he pushed it at me and said, "More!" I just looked at him, eyebrow archly raised. John said, "Dad, get it yourself". He never did that again.
Charles played the piano at our wedding. Because he couldn't get used to sitting on the little round stool my parents had, he went out and bought his own piano bench, which he left with my mom because he said he had no real use for it. He also left the music he played inside the bench. I think my mom carted that bench around for years and years before she finally gave it away (after asking me if I thought Charles would mind; well, I guess he wouldn't mind now!) So, yeah, he played at our wedding and did a good enough job of it; I have him on video showing off for the camera. However, he started playing the wedding march "Here Comes the Bride" a bit too early; I was sitting on the toilet when I heard the early refrains!
So, it turns out I have a lot of memories of Charles! And, I sure hope that, wherever he is now, he's at peace.
And that he can wear his skirt without prejudice, dig through trash to his heart's content, and play the piano all day long.
Mrs. B

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Places I've Been at 8:30 AM

It was a brilliantly beautiful morning today; sunny and blue skies with just the right combination of chill and warmth. As I was driving home from dropping The Kid off at school around 8:30, I got to thinking about all of the many places I've been on sunny mornings at 8:30. Here are a few (in no particular order as this was supposed to be a "free-flow" exercise!):
Walking from my apartment to class in Verona, Italy
Sitting out on our private balcony on the Queen Mary II with Mr. B on our honeymoon
Walking Lucy in our neighborhood
Cuddling with Nigel and Clyde in the Green Chair in my condo in Torrance while reading the morning paper and drinking coffee
Early morning driving on more road trips (and with just about everyone I know) than I can count!
Having breakfast in England with Father and Margot
Walking across “the campus” at Space Park on my way to a 9:00 meeting
Sitting in our sun room reading the Sunday paper
Chatting with my in-laws and working the crossword puzzle at our kitchen table
Snuggling in bed after playing hooky from either school or work
Having breakfast with mom at The Weathervane
Helping dad do repairs on rental properties
Sitting in East Commons (at San Diego State) smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee
Making Sunrise breakfast sandwiches at Carl’s Jr. and working the Drive-Thru
Sitting in more (elementary, junior high, high school and college) courses than I can possibly remember
Riding a bus from Serrano, Italy to Rome with Hisaka
Sitting in Piazza Erbe in Verona sipping cappuccinos and people watching
Strolling through the Rialto Market in Venice with Pam
Eating biscuits and sausage gravy at Emily’s diner with Father (and sometimes Margot and Jon S.)
Roaming the farm and “helping” Grandpa C. feed the animals in upstate NY
Having breakfast with my siblings and cousins at Grandma Walbring’s house
Watching cartoons (when I was young!)
Getting lost in the airport in Paris
Riding the Tube in London
On a bus with Mr. B from Southampton, England to London
On more airplanes and/or in more airports than I care to remember!
Walking from my “barracks” to the work facility in Alice Springs, Australia
On the beach in Cairns, Australia (the sun rises in the West in Australia!)
Watching the sun rise over the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix, Arizona
Sitting on a lanai in Maui, Hawaii; having breakfast, with mom and dad
Hung over!
Opening Christmas presents and drinking Mimosa’s
Walking along the beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Eating breakfast while watching the fog rise over the distant mountains in Puerto Vallarta
Sitting in front of my computer
Pulling into the parking lot where my current consulting gig is
Driving home from dropping The Kid off at school
Mrs. B

Monday, October 13, 2008

Old Habits Die Hard

I remember when I was in high school and college and, then, later working, I had the tendency to put off working on a project (usually something that involved writing something) until the bitter end. Now, this didn't mean that I was not thinking about it, or, perhaps, even researching the topic and gathering data; but, when it came to doing the actual deed, I always waited until a night or two before it was due.
I'm sure you could query my good pal Kathleen (who, I believe, was of the same mind regarding this); she'll tell you all about the times (more than once) that we'd wait until the night before one of our Psychology papers were due (a big deal because, not only did the research and writing have to be good, they were very picky about the format of how it was presented as well) to finish writing the paper (long-hand) and then type it out. These were back in the days when there were no word processors (that I knew of) and so we'd take turns typing a page on her electric typewriter. We'd literally be up all night doing so.
In all honesty, I always felt that, if under the gun, I tended to produce a much better product than if I had completed in days before it was due.
To that point (and this is an extreme one), one year in college I was taking a Women's Studies course. Actually, it was my second semester and I'd really enjoyed and been extremely interested in the first semester. It was the same instructor. But, alas, I got involved with a particular person who wasn't the best influence on me. I ended up not going to that class more often than I went; I missed papers, tests, and, obviously, class instruction and participation. About the only thing I did (half-assed) was peruse the text book.
Anyway, one day I "woke up" and realized I was in real danger of flunking out of that class. I hung my head and went to talk to the instructor about it. Of course, I had to hear (rightfully so) how disappointed she was in me for not showing up and how much they'd missed my active involvement. As to be expected, she informed me that I was currently receiving an F in the class. Oh my God! To think it was one thing, to hear it confirmed, quite another. Luckily for me she had a heart. She told me that the final exam was the next day (this is likely why I'd gone in to talk to her; I can't imagine I was so out of it that I didn't know when the final was). It was a essay exam, meaning, each person in the class would receive a different topical question (on the day of the exam) and they'd have to spend the entire exam time answering, in essay format, that question. Sounds easy enough, however, the questions were all based on what everyone else had been learning/discussing in class. She said to me, "Whatever you get on that exam, I will give you as the grade for the course". I must have looked quite pathetic standing there and she obviously took some pity on me (why I'll never know because I did not deserve it). She added, "Look, I know you've missed the classes and the discussion. All I can tell you is, read the book, it will help. And, think, too, about what we learned last semester".
That is exactly what I did. I wish I could remember the question I was given but, some 25+ years later, I cannot. However, I remember my grade.
Why I'm blogging about this is because the folks I'm doing some consulting work for asked me to put together a summary of the pros and cons of implementing a fairly minor executive compensation element. There was no discussion as to when they wanted it. But, in my typical fashion, I did set about to gather data by researching a few key HR web sites for information, talking to another compensation consultant, reviewing past practices of companies I've worked for, etc. I've written a lot of notes and have just as many unwritten thoughts in my head. Last night while talking to Mr. B, I rattled off a few very well presented points on the topic.
BUT, I have yet to write it all down! I said to Mr. B, "It's just like having to write a damn paper in high school or college! I'm procrastinating!" Now, obviously, if the company I'm working with had said, "Could you get it done by such and such a date?" we would have negotiated and, yeah, it would have been done. But, since they didn't, I'm having to self-monitor. And, a lot of other things have all of a sudden become more interesting to do, more important to do, etc., including some of their other projects.
Anyway, last night I told myself that, "Enough is enough!" I want to get it off my plate, even if they haven't asked for it. I'm going to buckle down today and tomorrow and take the (probably no more than 2-3 hours total) to pull everything together to write this (likely one page) summary.
That is, unless I decide it's time to mop the floor, put the dog food into zip lock bags (freaking pantry moths), pick up dog poop, clean the toilets, scour the stove, organize my closet, etc., etc.
I suppose one side benefit of procrastinating one thing is a bunch of other things than need to get done get done.
Mrs. B

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Pound of Flesh...Or Five

When last I blogged, I noted that I'd gained five pounds and that I weigh more than I ever have in my life (as far as I know since I typically don't climb onto scales). I should clarify, though, that I did not gain five pounds since my last visit to the doctor (one year ago), rather, the five pounds have snuck their way onto me over the last five years.
I was quite depressed about this but Mr. B pointed out that a five pound weight gain over five years isn't really that awful; especially considering I AM getting older (he didn't say this, but it's true) and things are a-shifting around somewhat (gravity works, unfortunately).
Also, if I stop and think about it, the past five years have been, really, some of the best of my life in terms of love, family, friendships, good times, traveling, wine and beer festivals, and the like. I've always been a "happy" eater; meaning, if I'm happy, I eat more than I do when I am not.
Of course, this doesn't mean I want to pack on another five pounds anytime soon, but, I think I can adjust to these five. And, obviously, if I REALLY wanted to shed some of it, I could; I'd just have to cut back on, well, those wine and beer festivals, all the yummy recipes we try at home; you know the drill.
So, I was yakking with my Father this morning. He says, "Well, I decided to stop drinking beer and eat about 1/2 of what I normally do for a week to see what happened". Turns out he lost five pounds, BUT, he was fairly well miserable the entire time. He said as soon as he started drinking beer and eating his normal portions, he put the five pounds right back on. We discussed that, so long as a person is healthy in all other aspects, why torture yourself by depriving yourself of the things in life that make you happy? Or, add to your happiness.
I guess it's all in what is important to you. When I was single and living in California, I wanted to have the best body ever. I did, but I was also pretty damn miserable and lonely.
I suppose I'll take one pound per year for the incredible happiness I experienced while putting them on!
Mrs. B

Thursday, October 9, 2008


In general, there seems to be plenty to be miserable about right now. I am thinking about the stock market and how much money we (and everyone else) have lost and that we can, really, do nothing about it. If we were of the mind to hide money under a mattress, we should have pulled it out a long time ago. Like a wayward gal that "almost didn't get pregnant" because her swain "almost pulled it out in time", so goes some of our money (but in or case "down", rather than "up", shit creek).
I guess I brought up the pregnancy analogy because I had to go to "that" doctor today for something. No, I'M not pregnant (but, my oh my, wouldn't THAT cause some excitement!); no, my OB GYN typically serves as my GP since I'm hardly ever sick. And, obviously, in an OB GYN's office, you're gonna see pregnant females (although none near as entertaining as "Juno"!)And, oh, guess what; talk about having something ELSE to feel crappy about; they weighed me (I hate that) and I weigh more than I've ever weighed in my life. Now, I don't think I look fat (although I feel fat, which is not the same thing), but, it was a bit of a shock. It's only 5 pounds, but, well, shit!
Let me step back (and OFF that freaking scale!)
Yesterday, while driving back from Greensboro (and listening to NPR and all the DIRE news, which should have given me a clue what would happen with our markets (again) today since it was happening all over the world yesterday), I realized I felt sort of sick, and, in a bit of a painful way.
After I finally got home, I did my best to self-treat; which means Aleve and my ever-ready stash of antibiotics. This didn't turn out to be the best idea because the antibiotics (which I learned later that I didn't even need) sort of made me feel ill to my stomach.
I tried to distract myself by reading. Unfortunately, that did not help much. On top of it, Mr. B has been working later of late because he's in the October "Busy Season". So, HE wasn't around to distract me/comfort me. Lucy, bless her heart, WANTED to comfort me, but, she just made it worse with her prancing all about, tags jingling, etc. But, thanks for trying, Goose.
Finally, he did come home. We had a late dinner and went to bed relatively early.
I spent a fairly miserable night; restless and somewhat in pain (not an awful pain but an irritating one). BTW, what turned out to be "wrong" with me was a small but painful abrasion in an inconvenient place. I'll leave it at that, but, I'm obviously gonna survive.
Anyway, I had a very long dream last night about Nigel. Or, I should say, "Nigel visited me last night for a very long time" because I like to think of my dreams of Nigel and Clyde as them coming to see me. What I really only recall from the dream (other than he was in it) was petting him a lot, holding him, and feeling comforted.

Which is not surprising, since, when he was alive, Nigel took on the role of comforter whenever I was sick, sad, etc. Not that Clyde couldn't, but, it was typically Nigel who would come find me wherever I was pouting/crying/moaning/sleeping and either climb up into my lap or get up onto the bed with me and cuddle close. In fact, I can recall times when I was married to my ex that, after a really bad day, or, if I was feeling rotten, he'd say, "What can I do to make you feel better?" to which I'd reply, "Bring me Nigel" (assuming he was not already Johnny On The Spot). This probably didn't make my ex feel great, but, well, I ended up with Nigel and divorcing him so that should tell you something.
Funny, a week or so ago, I said to Mr. B, "You know, Nigel has not come to see me for a long while", to which he replied, "Well, he must be busy right now". We had an interesting conversation about what, exactly, he might be doing up there in kitty heaven and came to the conclusion he was probably still trying to get Clyde acclimated.
So, I suppose he decided coming "down" and comforting mom was more important than whatever he was doing with Clyde.
Thanks, Nigel!
Now, if you could only magically make those 5 pounds disappear, I'd REALLY be grateful.
Mrs. B

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bygones and Long Lost Friends

I believe all of us, at times, have been in the position of having to “let go” of a person that perhaps you were not really ready to say good-bye to but “life happened” and it seemed like that was the way it had to be.

Funny, over the past several months, I’ve heard a few people say, “Gee, I really wish I’d never lost touch with…” or, “You know, so and so got divorced and that meant the end of my relationship with (one or the other) but I never really had a problem with them personally and sure would like to see them again…but…I don’t know how to go about that”. So, I guess it’s just not me. And, I do know of people who keep in touch with former in-laws, so, it’s not completely weird.

Before I go further, let me just say this. I truly, truly believe that things happen for a reason. Any one of you that reads this Blog knows that (or if you know ME you know that). We just don’t always KNOW at the time WHY something is happening, especially if it is something that doesn’t feel very good at all.

Several years ago, my younger brother and his then wife separated. To be honest, I was fairly well shocked because, like a lot of couples with “troubles”, they didn’t go around advertising them to the world. In fact, it seemed “all was well”. Of course, some of this was MY particular rose-colored glasses view of everything at that time because it was the same year Mr. B and I were married. Anyway, when my brother finally said something about it, it was pretty much over between them.

One day she was in my life, the next, she wasn’t. Just like that.

Of course at the time my primary concern was my brother; he being the youngest and also us being considerably close, my fierce protectiveness over him came out and I found myself, well, mad at her. In looking back, I had to admit, I was also grieving not only the loss of their marriage, but, the loss of our friendship as well. Because, truthfully, she and I had been quite good friends for several years.

Step back even further in time; when I divorced my first husband; the relationship I mourned the most was not ours but the one I’d had with his sister. After he and I split up, I never heard from her again. Of course, I didn’t attempt to contact her either; it just seemed like it would be too awkward.

So, when my brother and Michelle divorced, I found myself in a somewhat similar situation; after enough time for the anger and all of that “stuff” to wear off passed, it just seemed like far too much time had gone by and we’d all moved on, anyway.
As far as I can tell (and am concerned), in the long-run and in hindsight, both my brother and Michelle were meant to be with other people. My brother is married now to a lovely lady who has become a much loved addition to our family. They have an adorable son and another baby on the way. From what I know, Michelle is also remarried and happy with her life.

Yet, still, those of us who have “lost” people through divorce know that, assuming the ex in law was not a complete you-know-what, you will, probably, eventually miss them; especially if you were close. I still miss my former sister in law Suzi; and I still miss, from time to time, my former brother in law, Jim. And I miss Michelle. I miss the Michelle that was MY friend, which, frankly, had little to do with her being my brother’s wife. This was probably why, after the dust had settled and everyone had moved on to find happiness, I found myself feeling sort of bad about the ways things ended between US.

A while back, I read a great book called “The Life of Pi”. Not exactly the same story here, but, in summary; Pi, an Indian boy, is in a shipwreck where his entire family is drowned. Somehow, he finds himself floating around on a raft with a bunch of zoo animals that had also been on the ship. One of them was a huge Bengal tiger that, for lack of anything better, he named Richard.

Again, a different story line, but, my point is, after weeks at sea and having to work together to survive, they (the only two left alive on the raft) finally reach land. Pi is overjoyed at the nearness of being rescued (and eating). He turns to say something to the tiger, but, the tiger has already leapt off the raft and run away into the woods. Pi never saw him again; and, later in the story, he muses,

“Can there be anything worse than a botched farewell between friends?”

Ok, so, fast forward to this past Saturday at The World Beer Festival. I was standing with my sister in law Shannon and the twins. Mr. B and Brother Jon were off sampling beer, as was my step-mom, Margot. I said to Shannon, “You know, I bet Michelle is here somewhere because I know she liked coming to these festivals”. Probably 10 minutes after I said that, I looked over a ways away and saw Michelle standing there alone. I said to Shannon, “Is that Michelle?” and Shannon said, “Yes, I think it is”. Shannon and I stood there in silence, looking at each other. We stood there long enough that it seemed Michelle might have moved on, but, she didn’t. She stayed right there, still alone.

Well, like I said, things happen for a reason, and, to my way of thinking this WAS happening for a reason.

So, I told Shannon, “I’m going to go say hi” and I walked over to her and did just that.

And, let me tell you, I’m SO glad that I did. There were tears and hugs and more tears and hugs. We walked over to Shannon so Michelle could say hi to her; see the girls, and, a few minutes later, Jon and Mr. B came strolling up and she was able to say hello to them as well. We all chatted briefly, caught up a little bit, and then, she left to go find her new husband and the friends she’d come with.

Durham is not a huge town, but, this really was the first time in over three years that I’d seen her, or, rather, was SURE it was her. So, I don’t know if we’ll ever run into each other again or not. But, I definitely feel much better about this particular farewell; if in fact, it was one.

Mrs. B

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Happy 40th Anniversary Mom and Dad!!!

Today, October 5th, is my mom and (step) dad's 40th anniversary! They spent this past week celebrating in Puerto Vallarta and will be en route home later on today.
To me, they embody what a marriage should be like. Although life has not always been easy for them and there have been many, many challenges along the way, they are still together, still very obviously love one another and continue to share that love with their 5 children, son and daughters-in-law, and six (soon to be seven) grandchildren.
Happy Anniversary, mom and dad; and MANY MANY more!
Your Second,
Mrs. B

Friday, October 3, 2008

The World Beer Festival Is TOMORROW!!!

So, in honor of beer and the (safe) consumption of it, here are a few apt quotes:
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" -- Benjamin Franklin
"Do not cease to drink beer, to eat, to intoxicate thyself, to make love, and to celebrate the good days" -- Ancient Egyptian Proverb
"Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but, the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza" -- Dave Barry
"A man's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another drink" -- W.C. Fields
"A man hath no better thing under the sun than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry" -- Ecclesiastes 8:15
"The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind" -- Humphrey Bogart
And, my favorite and the one I'll be reciting in my head tomorrow:
"Quaintest thoughts and queerest fancies come to life and fade away. What care I how time advances; I am drinking ale today" -- Edgar Allan Poe
Mrs. B

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What the...?

About two months ago, Mr. B started receiving Time magazine in the mail. Not that he'd subscribed to it; no, it just started to show up in our mailbox every Saturday. In looking at the address label, it definitely is his name and the subscription is through 2009.
Ok, well, whatever. I'd actually been trying to eliminate magazine creep by not renewing my subscription to More. The only ones we were getting were food and drink related.
Time isn't an awful one; you can flip through it, read what you want, toss it.
But get this one. When I went to get the mail out of the box Monday, there was a new magazine in there. For me. My name was on the address level with a subscription through September 2009.
Anyone care to guess what the magazine is? I can tell you, it is one I'd never in a million years read, even if it were the only one in a doctor's office and I had nothing else to read and an hour to wait.
BTW, it turns out that, the reason I started getting this (I called the magazine to cancel delivery) was I'd ordered something through a completely unrelated company. This company, for whatever reason, "rewarded" me by giving me a gift subscription. You'd think they would have at least sent me something I'd read!
Chances are, this is how Mr. B ended up with Time magazine (by ordering something). Still, when did this practice start? You buy something, they send you a magazine subscription (and don't bother to ask you if you want it/what you'd want?)
Mrs. B