Saturday, March 13, 2010

Well Clutch My Pearls - It's Amsterdam

My first trip to Europe was to the city of Amsterdam. I wasn't really that excited to see Amsterdam but hubby had a conference there and I was coming along (since he promised a trip to Paris after the conference.) I knew they had windmills and wooden shoes, but other than that information (gleaned from the ride "It's A Small World" at Disneyland), I really hadn't a clue.

We got in to Amsterdam and to our hotel room relatively early, but after about 14 hours on an airplane, we were both exhausted. Alex went to the conference center to check in, and rather than hanging around the room, I decided to go take a look.

I found a 3 hour tour that sounded kind of fun (plus, if I went to sleep too early, it would take me longer to acclimate to the time). Generally I like to go out on my own, but with no idea of the area, I thought a general overview would be helpful before I started my solo explorations.

The tour guide promised we would view the canals, windmills, the amazing architecture, Anne Franks house, and a couple of museums as well as the famous red-light district. Hell yes!

I learned pretty quickly that the canals were everywhere and the houses (tall and very skinny) were gorgeous! We saw some wonderful examples of Dutch architecture every place we looked.

The three hours went fast believe it or not, and I was excited to tell Alex how I had spent my early afternoon. The tour had also included taking us to the famed red-light district where the prostitutes sit or stand in windows, only closing the curtains when a customer came to call. The part that was amazing to me is that this district was in a very nice area. Actually, I would be completely unafraid to walk through the district even at night.

Far from what I expected, the girls were dressed in at least as much clothing as I see on the beach in San Francisco! A pair of shorts and a halter top were about as racy as it got in those windows.

I also got a chance to look inside the popular "Coffee Houses" where you can order your favorite type of marijuana along with a cup of coffee and a snack. (Uh, I looked, but didn't partake!)

Dutch people are a total delight as well. They are the most open minded people I've ever encountered. Friendly, helpful, and slim and tanned! Everybody rides bikes in Amsterdam. (And I'd swear nobody was over 27 years old, but I must be wrong about that!) It seemed that just about everyone spoke English and they were the best about helping you get where you wanted to go.

The Dutch are not particularly religious. They have no issue with homosexuality, prostitution, sexuality, or smoking pot. Actually, I think they are very civilized. Moral judgments are just not part of their make up.

We were watching tv one night, a rerun of an American sit com. The next program was hard core pornography (well sort of), it showed the proper way to use a condom for all kinds of situations. The next program was something like "Law and Order". It was marvelous! Alex and I sat and giggled like teenagers! (Oh it was late enough at night you wouldn't worry about the tots watching!)

If you go, keep an open mind. Enjoy the gorgeous sights and laid back ambiance of this magnificent city!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Confessional

Bless me Father, for I have sinned. Wait, maybe it should be bless me husband for I have sinned. Or maybe even bless me IRS for I have sinned.

I am guilty of the sin of sloth. When Alex travels, I sometimes don't even put on my clothes at all but sit around drinking coffee in my robe and pj's all day. I either read blogs, or surf the net or watch reality tv which is a really stupid use of my time.

I am guilty of the sin of murder. I didn't do the murdering, but I encouraged Alex to kill his mother and step-dad's pet spider named Humphrey. We were newly weds and he knew that to get his little bride to put out, he had better do her bidding. Now, I of course, had no idea that Humphrey was a pet of my in-laws. Had I known that, I would have said nothing about it in the first place.

I just realized there's another sin right there! The sin of omission.

I told my husband I was heading down to do laundry yesterday when he called. I was lying. I wanted to finish reading a blog.

I got up this morning and drank 5 cups of coffee to get high on caffeine so I could hurry up and clean up the house and put some laundry in the washer before Alex gets home.

I worked for an elderly man when I was in my 20's named Mr. Lewy. He was a jeweler and he used to pat my butt when he walked past me. I let him because I was really lousy at my job and figured I had to make up for it somehow. He fired me anyway. So much for the pat on the butt! Old bastard!

When I was married and had no children, I would stay in bed all day reading until about 10 minutes before my husband got home. Then I would run around and hide everything that needed cleaning and pretend I'd been working all day. Yeah, he was kind of stupid. (Not this husband, another one.)

That's enough for this Friday, but man, do I feel better!

Thank you Glamazon Mormon Mom!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shelly, The Snake, and Humphrey

I married a Navajo man.

He’s not one-twenty-fourth Navajo. Alex is 100 percent Navajo. People are often fascinated by that fact. Alex’s mom, Shelly, and her husband (Robert the Snake) live in Phoenix, Arizona. Shelly is a nurse at Indian Hospital and the Snake works there too.

The Snake is from the Mojave Tribe and he is a “Singer” who goes around and performs ceremonies for people. I guess it’s kind of like being a Medicine Man. When an ex-husband of mine was dying, the Snake flew up to Northern California to do a singing for him. The ceremony lasted from about ten at night until ten in the morning. My ex-husband’s wife very much appreciated this. (Yeah, she and I are friends.)

About twenty years ago, right after Alex and I got married, we made a trip to Phoenix to visit the family. I adore his family, Mom, stepdad and two darling sisters. The visit was progressing nicely, as I was in the “getting to know you” phase with all of them. My Mexican/Irish San Francisco background was as fascinating to them as their connection to the Navajo Nation was to me! Culturally, we were sometimes worlds apart, but usually not.

While Shelly and the Snake were at work, I was walking down the hallway in their home and saw something on the wall that made me do a double-take. It was the biggest, fiercest looking spider I have ever seen in my life. It was the size of a grapefruit. I stood stock still and screamed for my beloved groom to come and save me. Alex came up behind me and said “What’s the matter?” Look on the wall, beloved husband! What do you think is the matter?

When Alex saw the spider, he said “What do you want me to do?” Excuse me? What did he think I wanted him to do. “KILL THE SPIDER, ALEX!” Looking very concerned, Alex left the hallway to look for something to kill the spider with. He was gone a long time. I am still frozen right across from the thing. All eight of its eyes are now trained on me just waiting for me to come closer, or even waiting for me to leave so he could scurry off and hide under my bed until later that same night!

Knowing my husband, he was gone a long time in hopes that the spider would simply move on so he wouldn’t have to deal with it. He came back with a book, shuddered and smashed the spider, and told me, “I hate killing things.” Well, too damned bad, beloved groom. I don’t like killing things either, but I cannot live with a fourteen pound spider on the wall outside the place I will be sleeping.

We cleaned up the wall, and threw away all the evidence, considerate houseguests that we are.
After dinner, Shelly and the Snake and Alex and I were watching television and chatting. I said, “Oh, Shelly! You had the biggest spider I’ve ever seen on the wall! Don’t worry, Alex killed it.” Shelly’s jaw dropped. She said to the Snake, “Honey, do you think it was Humphrey?” The Snake said, “Maybe. Maybe not. What did it look like?”

I started getting a funny feeling about all of this. While Alex described the beast, his Mom interjected questions, “Was he brown with a little bit of red on his head?” “Was he kind of furry?” By the end of the session, Shelly and the Snake looked sadly at each other when they determined, “Yup. It was Humphrey.”

Apparently this spider had lived with them a long time. They once moved from one house to the house next door and Humphrey had followed to and moved back in. The Snake had put him outside on many occasions, but Humphrey just came right back in. He did no harm. He just lived there.

I apologized as sincerely as I could.

I guess it was a novice mistake. By the way, Humphrey was the last spider to die at my request. While I still am afraid of them, they are all reprieved and put gently out into the yard.

Shelly and the Snake did forgive me eventually.

America's Next Top Idiot

When Alex (my husband) is traveling, I waste a lot of time. I take two hour bubble baths. I watch reality TV. I get bored and sort of frustrated because I am lonely with him gone. I think of things to amuse myself, but don't do them.

Okay, this morning for example, there is a marathon of "America's Next Top Model" on TV. I think I've watched 7 hours of it so far. Now, if there is anybody I dislike more than Tyra Banks, I don't know who it would be. So why am I sitting at the kitchen table watching my 14" TV? I have two respectable sized flat screens on the lower level of the house. I could go watch one of those. Then again, I think we have a 50 inch flat screen upstairs. I could go watch that.

What am I talking about? If I dislike Tyra, why would I want to see her bigger. Also, this has to be the stupidest show I have ever been addicted to. I really think I need help. Even my dogs won't watch it with me. They like Animal Cops Detroit, and Animal Cops Houston, and Animal Cops San Francisco just fine. So why don't I turn that on? I like Animal Cops too. But oh hell no, I want to see who gets to be America's Next Top Model.

Now here's the really pitiful part, I have seen this before and I already know who is going to win. Dear God, I wish my husband was home.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

HFMB- It's the IRS

Wednesday was going along just fine.

Alex will be home on Friday and that's good thing. I got up at 8 this morning so I'm getting ready for the time change this weekend. (I usually NEVER get up before 9 because most people die early in the morning I've read and taken to heart.) Never mind. I did not die so it started off just fine.

We got our front porch replaced a couple of weeks ago. Good to have it done because we had some dry rot out there. Our contractor was great and finished the job in a very short time and it looks just like new. (Okay, the house was built in 1880, so it looks just the same as the old porch, but without the dry rotted boards.)

It cost about $5000 to do the porch, including materials. Really not that bad when I think about it. Two guys worked for 4 full days on it. Not cheap, but not outrageous either. Plus, it had to be done. We also had registration for two of our three cars due about the same time as the porch. So, we're out quite a bit of money for the last 30 days. Never mind. It's only money, right?

We also had to take Honey to the vet for her shots and lab work last week. That trip ended up costing $350. Yeah, she's old and has some health issues but suck it up, we do everything we can to keep her healthy and comfortable.

Also, I've been looking at my hair and realizing it's looking a bit like a rat's nest. I know I said I was going to grow it out and get big hair, but I think I've changed my mind. My hair grows straight up, (picture those troll dolls) so maybe that's not going to work. Plus I swore I'd never do big hair. Okay, a cut and color costs $150 before the tip. I think I'm going to start wearing hats. Oh hell, maybe I'll just start wearing a burka for that matter. Then I won't need cosmetics either.

The nice mailman came today. We have one nice guy, and one who does not ever say a word. He's not that nice. You say hello to him and he just looks at you. You thank him and he doesn't even look at you. Okay, like I said, it's a good Wednesday so far.

I walked in the house and my good day came to a crashing halt. Right on top, there is an envelope from the IRS addressed to me and my husband. I have never gotten something nice in the mail from the IRS. It's never been a survey to see how I like their new forms. It's never an invite to come to a pot luck. This one was no different. It says we owe $1,350.00 to the IRS. Say what? We pay them a shitload of money and they want more! No wait! There was that thing a couple of years ago that we totally forgot about. Ah jeeze! Holy Fucking Monkey Balls! We do owe it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Guest Blogger (but under pressure)

HumpDay With Harry

Mom's friend, Peg, over at Square Peg in a Round Hole suggested that Mom let me do a post on Wednesdays since the word “hump” is such a good thing to me! This is going to be a story of my most wonderful day ever that turned into my worst day ever and believe you me, I have had some bad days.

I'm a lab/pit/shar pei mix. And I am a really good looking guy. My Dad calls me a PMF (and I know that's a good thing because it's the same name as he calls the security guy at the military base who Mom makes goo goo eyes at!) The first part of the words is Pretty. The other two I'm not so sure.

Okay, back to hump days. The only real humping I've ever done is with Dutch, and since we are both neutered males, some people may say it doesn't count for much. Okay. I would have humped Lola but she's too short. In fact, she's so short and small that her head fits right in my mouth. I love to hold her head in my mouth and make noises. And Lola loves it too. Anyway, humping Lola is out of the question.

Honey, my sister or something, thinks I'm stupid. She's wrong. I've been to obedience training 3 separate times. And each time I passed. It's just that I have a touch of ADD Mom says. I get distracted really easy.

I got adopted three times from the Shelter. I am a really good boy and I got thrown in the night drop box three times. Three times is a lot to be taken in the car and tossed into a metal box in the middle of the night. I'm not sure why those people couldn't keep me or didn't want to keep me. Maybe it's because of the ADD thing. Never mind. I'm in a FOREVER home now. (But Mom says I still “have issues”.)

The worst distraction in the world I have is squirrels. Squirrels are not nice critters and that's a fact. They stand in the trees at my house and shake their ugly tails at me. They make these awful noises and just shake back and forth. They climb trees faster than you can imagine. I try to go up after them but I just can't go as high as they do. I chase them all the time and bark my head off at them. But they just don't go away.

Picture this. Dad is gone on a trip to Germany, (whatever that is), and Mom goes to the store. I'm in the back yard. There is this squirrel right in front of me! He's a fat assed squirrel too. I lunge for him! I catch the sucker! I get him by his neck and I shake him really hard! I let him go and figure I'll chase him across the yard! Guess what! He doesn't get up! I yelp and scream with joy! This is the best day ever!

I grab the dude by his neck and carry him in the house where Mom is just getting home from the store. She sees me and she screams in the most horrible voice I've ever heard in my life! “Drop it Harry!” Shoot, I know when to pay attention. If she's sounding like this, there's something really wrong! Is she dead?

The squirrel dropped and Honey comes up and tries to sniff and mess with my squirrel. Mom grabs us both by the collars and throws us in her office and shuts the door. Now this room is not big enough for the both of us! We re both screaming in outrage! I hear Mom on the phone. “Henry! Can you help me? (Now who the hell is Henry??) Henry comes over and I can smell him from the space under the office door. He laughs and I hear Mom say, “Henry, are you taking that with you?” and Henry says “Sure”. Thank you Henry, Mom says.

So, to make a long story short, Henry took my squirrel. This was the worst day ever! I wouldn't even look at Mom for another 2 hours. I was never so mad in my life! Now, I ask you, “WHAT DID HENRY DO WITH MY SQUIRREL?” I'm just sayin...

The Queen of Russian Hill

The large building shown on the right side of the photo is known as the Queen of Russian Hill located in San Francisco.

I was invited to a sweeping penthouse apartment there (which covered the entire top floor) when I was in my early 30's.

My friend Angela invited me to come to Christmas dinner and as my children would be with my ex-husband that day, I accepted her invitation. (I usually opted to celebrate Christmas Eve with my kids and let the ex take them on Christmas day.)

I met Angela at her gently used clothing store not too far from where I lived. Angela specialized in only the top quality clothing, usually from local television personalities. Some of the clothes had only been used for one tv broadcast. I found out that one of these women was exactly my size! Angela would call me as soon as this person brought in a load of clothes. For shopping in a resale shop, I was very well dressed!

Angela was a very interesting woman, about 25 years older than I was. Her shop was cozy and beautiful and had fabulous lighting and fixtures. I actually felt that I was in someone's bedroom when I was in her shop.

Since I was a favorite of hers, we began a friendship. She had a boyfriend and told me all about their relationship. She also had grown children, about my age. Angela was a real beauty.

When I would come in, she would slip her silver flask of scotch out of her drawer and get a couple of cut crystal goblets and tell me it was time for a "drinkee". (I thought this was hilarious!)

I bought a bottle of very expensive scotch and set off for her apartment on Christmas Day. Angela had told me to come at 2 in the afternoon, and I took a cab so I wouldn't be late. There was a winding driveway leading up to the front of the complex, and a doorman hurried over to get the door of the cab for me. Hmm. Not exactly like the place I lived, now was it?

I took the old elevator (with an elevator man) to the Penthouse. The lobby had impressed me quite a bit too, with antique oriental carpets and huge chandeliers. Very upscale.

I rang the doorbell and a man answered. He looked like a guy who would be posed advertising expensive whiskey and sipping it on his yacht. In other words, wow! He introduced himself as "Angela's friend". He was dressed so impeccably in a tuxedo and blindingly white shirt that it made me feel somewhat under-dressed.

Angela called out from down the hall and invited me to come in to her bedroom while she got ready. (Umm, it was after 2 PM. What did I misunderstand I wondered.) Angela was sitting in front of an antique vanity putting electric rollers in her hair when I walked in. She kissed my cheek and continued her getting ready, but asked her boyfriend to bring us in a drinkee.

Well, okay, I'll drink to that! Angela asked me if I had a chance yet to look around and I told her not really. "Well, go!" she waved a hand and I dutifully went. Every room in this place had the most astounding views I've ever seen. The Golden Gate Bridge was out the window as was Alcatraz Island. The Bay Bridge and the Oakland hills were on the other side.

As I wandered from room to room, I couldn't help but notice that Christmas lights were in every room and twinkling merrily. The furnishings were all jammed together. I think there were four couches in the living room, and while it was a big room, it was a little startling to see four big couches and maybe twenty chairs. And nothing matched. Nothing seemed to go with anything else. It was as if a deranged antiques collector had gone hog wild and just said "move it all in" somehow. Strange.

The doorbell rang and another couple of people arrived. Handsome made drinks for everyone and Angela made her appearance. She was wearing a bra, a full slip, and a lace "bed jacket" with fluffy pink high heeled slippers. Her hair was still in electric rollers and she was full made up, except for having forgotten (neglected) to put on one of her false eyelashes. It is hard for me to have a conversation with a woman wearing one false eyelash, but no one else seemed to bat an eyelash at this.

More people arrived and Angela's boyfriend pulled the turkey out of the oven, to the collective oohs and ahhs of the now assembled crowd of about 20 people.

We sat down at the massive dining room table and several people made toasts to the hostess. Did none of these people realize this woman was sitting there in her slip? Did nobody else notice she was still wearing electric rollers in her hair? Did it not bother any one else that she was wearing one false eyelash?

I met Angela's daughter and her husband. They were "Life Springers" (uh, okay) and very friendly, if a bit bizarre! They were so greatful to me for sharing! (They told me how greatful after every word I said, and then looked at each other and giggled.)

I think it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who said "The rich are different" and he wasn't lying! I felt like a bit player in a foreign movie that I really didn't understand because even with subtitles, it was just too confusing.

And that was my experience with The Queen of Russian Hill.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Memories Of The George V Paris

A few years ago, Alex decided to take me to my favorite city in the world, Paris, for my birthday.

We spent about a week at the Four Seasons George V Hotel in Paris. This is a 5-star Hotel and our every whim was catered to.

It was a lovely experience all in all. The only problem with a 5-star hotel is that by default, they are all somewhat generic.

The restaurants are wonderful. Check! The decor is fabulous. Check! The rooms are sumptuous with the best linens and toiletries imaginable. Check! The people who work there are beautiful. Check! The service is impeccable. Check! The price is astronomical. Double Check!

The downside is that you could move this hotel and locate it at Embassy Row in London, in Hong Kong, or in the Union Square area of San Francisco, or in downtown anywhere! As a result, local flavor is lacking with these hotels. Beautiful, posh, luxurious, sure, but not French, not British, not American.

After a few days, we found a much more modest hotel in the Opera District of Paris. Now we're on the right page. French is the language spoken here. The little bistros overflow with people! You see Parisians hurrying home after work with their fresh baguettes under their arms. The lobby smells vaguely of cat pee. (All hotel lobbies in Paris, except the 5 star hotels, smell a little like cat pee!)

We had a wonderful street scene out of our windows! Not landscaped perfection, but much better. Real people living real lives! The food was amazing and not the fancy expensive fare either. A ham sandwich on that amazing bread was food for the gods! Add a glass of vin rouge and watch the afternoon unfold around you! Breathtaking!

I have never experienced such joy in a place. I never tire of this magical City of Light.

Ten Years From Now

Kathee at 2010-The Year of Miracles tagged me with this yesterday. Thanks Kathee!

Okay, in ten years I hope to be:

Either dead or alive and nothing in between

In possession of my faculties

Having dogs and husband around

Seeing my 6 grandchildren with happy adult lives

Still loving music and art and movies

In good health for an older woman

That's about it!

Now I am supposed to tag 10 people and pass this on to them.

Scott at Ergo (one of the most amazing bloggers I've encountered!)

Jen at Redhead Ranting (not just another pretty face, but she has that too!

Cat Lady Larew at How to Become a Cat Lady without the Cats, (she's really my sister from another mother.)

Alyssa at Bloggin 2 Noggin. (Lots of charm!)

Suzicate at The Water Witch's Daughter (great writer and really funny when she wants to be!)

Val at Golden to Silver Val, (interesting woman and damned good writer!)

Jay, the birthday boy at Cynical_Bastard (he is neither, by the way).

Bridget at Bridget's Two Cents (Army wife and mom of 3 and a way fun girl!)

Southern Sage at the Independent Thinker's Lounge (not everybody's cup a tea, but he's mine! Funny, irreverent, smart, and thought provoking.)

And last, but not least is Patience at A Reason Or A Season. (She's hilarious!)

So there you go. Thanks again Kat!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My Cousin Winnie

Harry wants in on the action. I'm letting him do a guest blog.

My name is Harry and I'm a four year old dog. I'm handsome and big and people all seem to like me a lot. Other dogs usually like me too, because I love to play and have a good personality. I have a neighbor guy named Dutch, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, who is about my size. Folks say we look alike since we are both that really great shade of orange-red. He and I hang out sometimes and we both love to run. We also like to hump each other but since we are both neutered now, don't take that part too seriously because we don't. Dutch has a house mate named Samson who is a Pug. He's kind of a yappy guy and not nearly as much fun as Dutch. There's another dog there too named Delilah. She's okay. I hear she's a French Bulldog, whatever that means. Dutch likes her better than I do. She yaps a lot too.

I live with Honey. Honey is either my sister or something. She's smaller than me but much meaner and she always gives me dirty looks to let me know what I'm not supposed to do. She can be nice sometimes, but usually not. I mean, Honey will act like she wants to play, but then she gets mad and growls at me or bites my ear for no real reason. Okay, I took her toy, but I was only playing.

We also have a black cat named Smokey who lives in our house. Smokey hisses and spits at me whenever he sees me. Whatever, Dude. Cats are weird anyway. They don't leave me alone with Smokey because as my Mom says, "That would be looking for trouble!"

I have a cousin named Lola. I love Lola. She's little and black and very curly. She lets me put her head in my mouth and hold it there. I love to do that! Then we chase each other and she bites me every place she can reach. She's funny! Sometimes she makes me get tired because I love to run, but Lola never quits. She just keeps running and running and biting me so I'll chase her. And she keeps falling in the fish pond and Mom gets mad about that. Lola also poops in the house, but nobody gets mad at her about it. (What would happen if I tried that? I wouldn't even want to know!) I don't care, I still love her. She comes to visit a lot. Honey has tried to kill her a couple of times, but Mom yells and Honey stops. I hope Lola knows that Honey doesn't like me that much either and we're brother and sister (or something like that).

Now, I have this other guy cousin, Winnie. I've been to his house a few times, and he's come to mine a few times. This guy is trouble if you ask me. Because he's family, I try to love him. It's not always easy though. Mom taught me it's not polite to show my teeth. What does Winnie do? He walks around with teeth showing all the time. And he's kind of funny looking. He doesn't look anything like me and Honey and Dutch. Winnie snarls all the time and he makes really strange noises when he eats. Even when he just breathes, he makes noise. Winnie slobbers all the time too. It makes me mad when Mom says "Oh Winnie! You are so beautiful!" She's got to be kidding. How did this guy get to be my cousin, anyway?