Friday, August 31, 2012

The Friday Five

A couple of weeks ago, I had a procedure done. After answering some pre-op questions, the nurse slapped this big allergy wristband on me. Five things I'm allergic to:

1. As a kid I was stung by a wasp on my hand. The swelling made me look like I had the hands and arms of Popeye. Hopefully, I've outgrown the allergy, but I'm not too anxious to find out.

2. A spider bite didn't endow me with super powers, The dizziness and swollen finger where the little bugstard bit me earned me a trip to the ER.

3. The antibiotic, Cephalexin gave me the sensation of pins and needles in my tongue.

4. Soma, a muscle relaxant I was given for TMJ not only relaxed the jaw muscles but all the muscles in my body. Not matter how much I wanted to move, I couldn't. The incident was even more scary as The Eldest was 18 mos old at the time. Fortunately, I was able to call a neighbor to come over before I collapsed on the sofa.

5. Latex. For years, I washed dishes while wearing latex gloves. After a dish session, my hands had a red rash . I must have rubbed my eyes because my eyes swelled shut for four days.

Are you allergic to anything?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shangri-La Hotel and Resort

27. August 2012

Dear Valued Guest,

Per order of the Board of Health and the Fire Marshal, it was necessary to clean your room. This was done to ensure the health and safety of our guests and staff.

You will notice a charge of $100 has been deducted from your savings account. This surcharge was applied to cover the hotel labor costs. $50 for Housekeeping, $25 for Hotel Sanitation, and $25 for Laundry Services.

**Your personal belongings were retrieved from the floor and placed in boxes and plastic bags located by the Recycle Center in the hotel garage. You are welcome to sort through the bags and boxes in the hotel garage to retrieve items you wish to keep in your room. Sorting is to take place in the hotel garage. If you need more room, you may move the bags and boxes to the hotel parking lot. Items you no longer want are to be disposed of in a trash bag which has been provided or in a bag which will be donated to charity. Items not sorted and properly disposed of will be removed on Tuesday, 4. September 2012 by Hotel Sanitation.

To avoid future surcharges, it would be helpful to all concerned if you follow a few simple rules. Eating and drinking is not permitted in your room. This per order of the Board of Health. You may eat and drink in the designated hotel eatery. Trash is to be disposed of in the proper receptacles which have been provided. Empty water bottles are to be placed in the Recycle Bin located in the community bathroom. Dirty laundry is to be placed in the hampers. The floor must be kept clean of clothing and debris per order of the Fire Marshal. All personal belongings and clothing are to be stored in their proper storage units.

If you need assistance in organizing and storing your belongings, the  Hotel Organizing Consultant will be more than happy to help at no extra charge. See the Concierge at the Front Desk to schedule an appointment.

Housekeeping Services can be provided on a daily basis at a charge of $25 per day. See the Concierge at the Front Desk to schedule an appointment.

At this time, your room has been chosen for a workstation upgrade on Wednesday, 29. August 2012. Please remove all personal items from your desk so the old desk may be removed to make room for the new desk. Delivery of the new workstation is expected between Noon and 2PM. Pease follow the instructions for sorting by following the previous instructions flagged with an asterisk (*) Thank you for your cooperation.

We at the Shangri-La Hotel and Resort take great pride in our five star accommodations. We go to great lengths to make our guests feel comfortable and pampered.

Thank you for choosing the Shangri-La Hotel and Resort. We value your patronage.

Sincerely yours,

T.H.E. Manager, Prop. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Worcester Art Museum Free Admission

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week, are the last days for Free Admission to the Worcester Art Museum. Take a mental health day and come see amazing art.

Admission is also free on the First Saturday morning of the month from 10AM to Noon.

What are you waiting for?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sending SMS via Email

Ever need to reach someone with a message, but they aren't near their computer, and you don't have reliable cellphone service? Happened to me on Friday when The Young One had a question about when and who was going to pick her up from school. She can't always get a cellphone signal while she's on campus. She had tried to ping me from her laptop via Skype, but surprise! I'm not always at the computer. What does one do?

You can send an email as a text message to a cellphone. All you need to know is the cellphone number and carrier of the person you are trying to reach. For example, to send an email message to a Verizon cellphone, enter the 10 digit phone in the To: field of the email client. Compose the rest of the email as usual. Press send. The email is converted to a text message and sent to the mobile phone. You can get a list of the correct format for different carriers at TechnoTarget 

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Friday Five

Five mildly disappointing things that happened this week.

1. I really wanted to find Uncle Manny's grave at the cemetery. I wanted to see the tombstone he supposedly carved for himself.

2. A cleanout company left a note on the door at the old homestead. The company hasn't returned my phone calls in two days. Guess the company doesn't need my business afterall.

3. It's dark by 8PM and chilly in the sun room.

4. Some people  are talking and blogging about Fall. They're even Fall cleaning workstations! Please don't rush the seasons. There's still a month left of Summer. The Autumnal Equinox isn't until 22. September 2012

5. Occasionally, I watch Antiques Roadshow. Amazed how people find valuable items as they clean out grand parent attics and basements. While going through a box of stuff at the old homestead, I found what looked to be currency tightly rolled up and stuck in the handle of a vase. I was hoping for a hundred dollar bill. What I found was a one million dollar bill. Yup, as phony as a three dollar bill.

Want to join me in a glass of whine?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Grave Symbolism

Besides being drawn to the lettering and artwork on the headstone, there is a fascination with the symbolism behind the design. For example, a skull with wings or "winged death" was a popular motif of early 17 th.  and 18th. century headstones in New England. Winged Death represented man's mortality or the the fleeting nature of life.

But on Monday, I was visiting a Catholic cemetery and the symbolism would be confined to images of saints.      In my rush to run around the graveyard, all I saw at both grandparents' graves was lilies and the image of St. Joseph holding the Christ Child. St. Joseph was the foster father to Jesus, and the head of the Holy Family. Both grandfathers died before their wives,  I thought the father figure was a fitting choice. Lilies symbolize purity, hope and life. Associated with St. Joseph, they also symbolize Joseph's wife, the Virgin Mary.

It wasn't until I was uploading the photographs did I notice something was off with my interpretation. The saint on both stones had a tonsure, the shaved hairstyle usually worn by monks. And the saint was wearing monastic robes. That wasn't St. Joseph. A quick search on the Interwebs identified the saint as St. Anthony of Padua. He's usually associated with finding lost items. One of the legends about him was that one night while in his cell at a monastery, he was visited by the Christ Child. He was also a great preacher and is sometimes depicted with the Christ Child standing on a Bible as if the word of God came to life.

I don't know what connection my Todisco grandmother felt to St. Anthony to choose his image for the headstone. Maybe it was just a popular choice of the day.

Grandma  (Riccio) was a devout Catholic. She attended Mass every morning and carried a pair of rosary beads in the pocket of her dress. She was afraid of thunder and during storms, she'd whip the rosary out of her pocket and go through a litany of saints starting with San Antonio.  She also implored Saint Anthony to give her patience and strength not to kill us when we got too rambunctious.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cemetery Crawl

Robin, no need to worry about me checking out just yet. A dirty, little secret pastime of mine is to wander through a cemetery. The peaceful stone gardens are a mix of history and art. I especially love the headstones that are carved by hand. So I was positively giddy with glee when  my friend, Teague invited me to a trip to Holy Cross Cemetery in Malden. We both have family members that are buried here.

I had the locations of my grandparents' graves. I don't ever remember visiting the cemetery. If we did, it was when I was very small. I only know my father's parents and my mother's father from stories and pictures.

I had brought some small stones from my gravel driveway. I placed a stone on top of each of the headstones. The pebbles would be my calling card to let my grandparents know I had stopped by.

I was pleased to see the Veteran's flag at my maternal grandparents grave. My grandfather served in World War I. I'm told he had been very proud of his service to his new country. My dad told me Grandpa fought in some of the larger battles of the War though he didn't know which ones. I'll have to see if I can locate Grandpa's service record from the Veteran's Administration.

I could almost hear my grandmother calling my name. She came to this country as a teen, lived more years here than she did  in her native Italy. She never lost her thick accent and wasn't able to pronounce my name. This was an endless source of teasing from The Brother and cousins. I didn't like it back then, but now it made me smile. Her accent was also a source of amusement for us kids. We would beg her to say Falcon Street and then collapse into gales of laughter.

I was told that most of my family is buried at this cemetery. I really wanted to find the grave of my great-uncle Manny, the stone cutter. Family lore states he carved his own tombstone. Teague wanted to find the graves of her great-grandparents. We headed over to the the cemetery office to see if we could find out the grave locations.

No luck with Uncle Manny. I can't seem to find a death certificate for him. I have the month and year my great aunt passed. The cemetery office had no record of them being buried at this cemetery. I'll have to see if I can get information from the city hall where they had lived.

I went back to the my grandparents' graves and spent the afternoon wandering up and down the rows to see if I could find other family names. I found a few names, but I don't think they are related. It's part of the fun of trying to find the next piece of the family puzzle.

Am I the only ghoul who likes to wander through a cemetery?

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Friday Five

Another hot day, and I couldn't be happier, but even I need ways to beat the heat. 5 Summer beverages:

1. Iced Tea, though this is a cheat as I drink iced tea year round. What? You drink soda year round, right?

2. Frozen Strawberry Lemonade from McDonald's. One of my rewards after cleaning out the old homestead.

3. Frozen Lemonade from Panera. Reminds me of the slush we used to get during the Summer at my grandma's.

4. Raspberry Lime Rickey. My mother-in-law used to make these for Himself and I when we were dating. She'd send us on a run for raspberry Zarex (soft drink syrup). Had an RLR when we stopped for lunch at Harry's this week for the lobster roll and fried clams.

5. Lemonade Iced Tea just the thing to have while hanging out at Barnes and Noble.

What's your favorite Summer beverage?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I love eating out. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Fine dining. Chain restaurants. Fast food.  It doesn't matter. Someone makes something delicious I want and places it under my nose.

What I don't like about eating out is a hovering waitstaff. I hate being asked if everything is alright with my meal just as I'm chewing my first forkful. I wish restaurant management would train their waitstaff to take a more European approach. Take my order, deliver it to me hot and in a timely fashion, then leave me  alone to enjoy my meal and the company of my companions. If something isn't right with my meal or the service, I'll be sure to signal the waitstaff or the manager.

Do you like the waitstaff constantly at your elbow?

Monday, August 13, 2012

This Little Piggy

went to market. This little piggy stayed home. This little piggy had roast beef. This little piggy bashed itself on a chair leg and cried: %#%@ That $#^$% hurts! I think my #%$#% toe is broken.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Friday Five

Got this meme from Five On Fridays 

1. Do you ever find yourself singing advertising jingles?

Sadly, yes.

2. What are your favorite jingles?

Speedy Alkaseltzer singing Plop, plop, fizz, fizz and one advertisement when I was a kid for carpet cleaning. How many cookies did Andrew eat? Andrew ate eight thousand. How do you keep your carpets neat, call Andrew 8 8,000.

3. Which jingles do you hate to hear?

1-800-CarsForKids and JG Wentworth Need Cash Now. Got those earworms stuck in my head and couldn't get rid of them.

4. Why do you think jingles are so effective?

Simple lyrics and a catchy tune make a great mnemonic.

5. Are jingles going the way of the dinosaur?

Maybe some should, but it doesn't seem like it.

Do you like or hate jingles?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Better Living Through Chemistry

is the motto in my household. Happens when one lives with a chemist. Usually, the phrase refers to some wonderful substance, usually for medicinal purposes, manufactured by a big pharmaceutical or chemical company. But I've discovered a wonderful, natural substance, no doubt extracted and produced by a large company. Australian Tea Tree Oil.

Tea Tree Oil is an essential oil produced from the leave of the tea tree which is indigenous to the state of New South Wales in Australia.  And it is great topical agent for relieving bug bites! Never mind water boarding as torture. The itch associated with bug bites is sent from Lucifer himself. No topical cream seems to help. But a drop or two of tea tree oil and the itch is gone! One application and it's gone!

Tea Tree Oil also helps with acne and skin blemishes like skin tags. Apparently, it's a natural antibiotic. (Not to be ingested!)  A drop or so on a damp cotton ball and bye-bye ugly skin thingies that suddenly appear when you get over 50.

It's a bit pricey for a 2 fl. oz. bottle. This brand found at Walmart was around $7.00. On the other who, a little seems to go a long way. The smell is quite heady, not unpleasant but wouldn't be my favorite scent. Smells a bit like camphor or eucalyptus which is why it helps to dilute it. And why I don't use it during the day unless I will not run into another living soul.

Have you used Tea Tree Oil?

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Friday Five

I'm not really into sporting events. I'll watch Red Sox games with Himself, but that has more to do with sharing something Himself loves than being a real fanatic. With the Olympics in full swing, I've barely payed attention to the drama happening across the pond. There is one Olympic sport I do enjoy: Fencing.

1. Many years ago, I took a fencing class. There was a certain romance about the sport, no doubt from all the King Arthur stories I read in Medieval English Lit classes and watching Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone swashbuckle their way across the silver screen.

2. I worked with foil and epee. They are elegant weapons said in my best Obi-Wan Kenobi voice. (The instructor refused to teach the women the use of sabre claiming sabre was not a woman's weapon. I'm pretty sure the instructor was a chauvinist. Hey Mr. B, did you watch Kim Jiyeon's (Korea) stunning run for the gold in women's individual sabre?)

3. Fencing is a bit like playing chess except you're not only the chess master but the chess piece as well.

4. Unlike a lot of other sports, the action is extremely fast. A fifteen touch bout takes approximately 11 minutes with a one minute break after eight touches.

5. Since it's not a wildly popular spectator sport, the action isn't really televised, but I've been able to follow some of the action during the day live on the iPad because there's an app for that.

Do you have a favorite Olympic sport?

Thursday, August 2, 2012


My dad gave me a bridal shower gift. With the aunties and Ma planning, decorating, and baking, the poor, old dude felt left out. So he gave me a stand mixer in chic 80s almond. I really suspect Ma told him what to go out and buy. Didn't matter. I loved that stand mixer.Together we whipped, mixed, and beat millions of pounds of cake batter, cookie and bread dough. Lots of bread dough. After 26 years of faithful service, the stand mixer up and died. That's not really true. Its 10 speeds were reduced to two: Mach One and Warp Four. It made it difficult to control the baking results.

I missed that mixer. No more cookies, bread dough or pizza dough. And then from Himself, it arrived in its Cobalt Blue glory. Is it not a thing of beauty? Even though the bowl is a bit larger than the old one, the locking hub for bowl and blades is the same size. Means the old bowl and blades (which I kept) fit the new machine! For its maiden voyage,I made pizza dough. Pure joy.

Do you have a small kitchen appliance you would be lost without?