Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Happy Interesting Hanukkah-Christmas-Latke-Kielbasa Holiday Week

I said the prayers the best I could wasn't the right time...and I'm sure I mangled most of the words.

You simply can't take a girl from the south side of Chicago who omits the "th" in words and expect her to say "shehecheyanu v'kiy'manu v'higianu."

No way.

I listened to the audio on the net 100 times...but what I hear in Hebrew...what I see on the paper and what I say....are not related.

But it is the last night of Hanukkah and I'm in Jew I did my best.

This week my family celebrated multiple times in multiple ways ....being together....and being attuned to something beyond ourselves.
We started celebrating last Sunday when I took my entire family to the Temple for the Hanukkah celebration. They were wide-eyed and I was nervous.
In Jew School I'm about as knowledgeable as a pre-schooler and yet here I was taking everyone to Temple as if I knew what I was doing.....which I didn't...but people who knew me there ....kissed me... shook hands with my family....and smiled.

The Rabbi came over hugged me and chuckled....another complicated multiple faith/belief family what's new? There are many stories in the Temple...and mine is just another strand in the weave of this community.

As we walked back to our car after chicken, latkes and live music....we planned the rest of our week:

a dinner at a Mexican restaurant for my daughter's birthday....

latkes and beef brisket and candle lightening the following day....

Kielbasa, sauerkraut and pierogies to remember our Eastern European heritage on Xmas Eve

and finally Xmas.....which we would celebrate like we always have....with a special brunch....a family walk in the afternoon....presents... a turkey dinner....and watching movies together....including the infamous Pee Wee Herman Xmas special.

Mu daughter (on the right) watches my friend light the candles.

My impromptu candle holders for the Hanukkah portion of our week

Latkes from heaven...crisp hot crunchy....

The traditional Xmas celebration....with gingerbread houses and a glorious dinner of champagne, turkey, sweet potatoes and The Green Bean cheesecake from the bookstore.
We even tossed some movies into the holiday daughter and I watching our favorite movie...Sleepless in Seattle....caught Slumdog Millionaire at the theatre...and everyone watched Wall-e.
It was a rich and full week....the house full of angry cat.....the smell of roasted turkey and fried potatoes and fresh buttermilk biscuits.....pots and pans clanging....the dishwasher swishing through load after load of dishes....and the garage door going up and down a thousand times as 5 people got in and out of cars and ran errands and shopped and dashed to friends' houses.

In a few hours.....Monday morning....our regular life will begin daughter returns to Ohio.....I go back to work .....and my youngest son will play video games late into the night till I remind him he has to go back to college.
It's been a special week....a good week....
and now I turn towards remembering my friends......letters... emails....little presents....
it's about always was....and still is.....

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wow......Slumdog Millionaire


That's all I could say to my daughter at the movie theater when Slumdog ended.

We both looked at each other and said "incredible" in unison.

A very dark, disturbing, story.....involving kismet....set in India.



Finding someone .....having your heart find if an invisible string led you right to him or her.

A love story encased in the cruel barebone poverty of the slums and the surprising energy and ingenuity which springs from that harsh reality.


Sunday, December 21, 2008


Early this morning...I woke up....looked at the sun shining through the window....and smiled.

I felt like a marathon runner who had made it across the finish line.

Bruised, weary....but in the end ...somewhat elated...I pulled myself out of bed and felt grateful.

Although January 1st is still a few days away.....Winter Solstice....has for years....been my spiritual-psychological New Year.....

a day of hope.....a day when I consciously remember the darkness and shortened days are over....and the earth from this day forward.....second by second ....minute by minute heads towards longer days and spring.

This heart, my spirit and even my body took a beating......

beloved connections lost.... surprising and difficult roadblocks in my new injury which made walking a painful ordeal for months...and of course....the encroaching storm of problems with my aging parents and their health...

everything weighed so heavily on me some days....I felt like a zombie walking through my own life .....

but small hopes have kicked in......

I started religious classes a few months ago and discovered a new spiritual home.....

my job will enter a quieter phase for the next few months....

I've found a elder-law specialist in Chicago to help me with my parents....

and duh---I've re-realized how much I value my family and friends....

small things....

............seeds actually

which like the beauty berries I found this morning up against the old wooden fence.....

wait their turn.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Erotic Electronics

The men folk say to me sometimes, "Why don't you watch TV in the family room? It's can sit/lay on the couch...why are you hunched over the kitchen counter watching the little TV?"

Here's my answer:

This is an unstaged photo of what lies on my coffee table....

All of these remotes are somehow connected to our TV/DVD/Cable/Stereo.

Perhaps there are some old remotes in this group from our former TV....but which one?

Your guess is as good as mine.

To a guy....this cornucopia of electronic devices lying on our coffee the equivalent of a happy little problem to solve.

I've watched the men folk approach this electronic collage with a sense of adventure...

they pick up one or finally viola....whatever they wanted to turn on magically begins.

They don't seem frustrated...offended ....lost....or bothered. It's like a lateral Rubik's cube.

Enter Gina.

I don't even know which one to pick up for which system....nor do I know what button to push....

and don't tell me it's the "power" button....because sometimes you press the "TV" or "satellite" button before...after...or during the press of the power button....

this I know from operating the little kitchen TV......and let me tell you my success rate for turning on and getting to the channel I about 75%.

It must be gender wiring....male pathways....which assess the situation and then feel challenged....oh look ....something for me to solve.

Do you know what I feel when I look down at this.....frustration, anger, incompetence (my own) and a dollop of exasperation.

Why does this have to be so hard?????

People we have robots scooting around the the surface of MARS.....

someone ...somewhere can figure out.....a simple system to turn on a flat screen TV.

If phone companies, airlines and consumer companies can operate on voice recognition systems ( do you have an account with us? please say yes or no. Now tell us the account number...)

Why can't my TV?

Why can't I just speak into the remote and say...."Home and Garden Channel"

That's it........

turn on the fucking TV to the home and garden channel so I can watch....My House is Worth What?

And if this horrifies males....and the male need to problem-solve.....I'm willing to compromise.....put 2/3/4 remotes in the box with a system.....just make the voice-recognition remote pink.

You can still operate your DVD by pressing buttons on multiple remotes OR you can grab the pink remote and say "play DVD".


Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter in the South....

I don't know why I try and save the geraniums.
They're cheap... replaceable... just ordinary flowers.
They sit in old clay pots with cracks and nicks and white lines etched by hard water.
As the temperature started to drop yesterday, I passed them by and shrugged.
So die this year....I'm too busy to fuss over you.
But this afternoon, when the first ping of sleet pellets hit the window, I threw open the front
door.....and hauled them into the foyer.
Leaves....dirt.....mulch....scattered on the oriental rug.
I placed a couple of plastic bags on the carpet in the living room.....and moved them over...
their leggy arms reaching for the door and their former life.
The ice thickens on the sidewalk tonight, the house is cold and feels dark
the heater hums and we are all huddled together
perhaps I am superstitious
or prone to magical thinking
but I am just an ordinary person too
in a flawed and weather shell
and like everyone
I hope my presence
in the lives of people I know and have been connected to
is valuable enough
to be saved.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ozzie and me

Nothing beats a brisk walk in the bright winter sunlight late in the afternoon. Ozzie and Me stop by the bridge near our house to watch some ducks drift by on the stream.

Monday, December 08, 2008

You know you're working too hard when..............

Everything was ready.

I reviewed my notes several times the night before. Selected my clothes, put my jewelry and shoes out, placed my purse and notebook.... in a pile on the kitchen counter top so I could make a quick exit.

Even though it was Sunday, I planned to arrive at work by 6:45am. I had a big event to coordinate at the store....lots of people, a fussy point person to deal with....and with revenue important sales opportunity.

I grabbed my purse....and realized my phone was still on my nightstand.....

A few butterflies flitted around in my stomach....but I took a deep breath....and dashed upstairs for the phone.

Now with purse in hand, phone secured....notebook....and my jacket....I was ready to leave....but where's my car key?

I opened my purse and rummaged around...hmmmmm......I thought it was on the counter....I thought I had laid it out on top of my purse the night before....where did I put it?

I checked the usual places....the key basket.....the kitchen table.....a nice squeeze of panic gripped me....this was not son lost the spare key.....there was only one key for the Subaru....and the two tables I needed for the event were stored in the cargo space.

I ran upstairs.....checked laundry room....checked pantry.....checked floors....checked the chairs....checked computer room...

I could feel my heart and arteries pound pound pound.....where is the damn key????????? complete panic....I woke hub up.....a desperate don't wake hub up on his sleep-in day.......unless it's an emergency.

"I can't find the car key .....I'm you know where it is??"

Hub turns over and growls...."It was on the kitchen counter last night"

I fly downstairs.....look under the the cabinet drawers....

full panic now...even if I take his car to work.....I need the tables ...locked in my car.....for the event.

I look up....and there's hub......eyes standing up.....think grizzly bear wearing underwear.....

"I can't find the's not on the counter." You could hear desperate in my voice.

"The key......."

He points at me.....

"The key is around your neck."

I reach for my neck and find the lanyard with the car key.

I wear a lanyard with a id badge at work... so the weight....the feel of something flapping around my the norm.

The bear retreated back to bed....I flew out the door.....hoping all the bad luck for the day had been used up already.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I set my morning alarm 32 minutes earlier today than yesterday and when it rang, instead of stepping into the shower, I pulled on an assortment of mismatched grunge clothes and laced up my old tennis shoes.

I headed down to the laundry room and as soon as I entered the room a big thump thump thump noise greeted me.

I peered down into the brand new kennel and chuckled. We haven't had a dog with a tail in a zillion the thump thump thump of I'm-happy-to-see-you....was a new sound for me.

Ozzie popped out of the cage, stretched his neck to receive his chain and lease, and we headed out the door.

His tail was like a crazy windshield wiper blade....flicking side to side as we walked down the dark street.

A blast of wind and a million crunchy oak leaves raced in front of us. Ozzie sat down. I bent over to pet him. He put his muzzle next to my cheek and left it there. I guess a new neighborhood with strange herds of leaves can be frightening.

I never expected to get another dog. When we put our last dog to sleep months ago, hub and I agreed that one dog, one cat, one lizard and one fish was enough. The Inn was full.

Ten days ago, just before I tossed the newspaper into the recycling bin.....I placed the end section on the counter top and browsed through it. I never do that....there's just ads and filler. I turned the page....and there.....was a picture of Ozzie....featured dog of some animal rescue group.

I knew instantly he was going to be our dog but I thought I would test fate.

"Hey, look at this dog, it looks like Mattie except in brown."

My hub was supposed to say, "Now now, we're not looking for another dog."

Instead he said, "really?"

Hmmm....the reality-checking spouse script wasn't being followed.

So I tried again, "6 years old, affectionate, gentle, friendly and gets along with other dogs."

He was supposed to say, " Well let's be practical we agreed on a one dog rule."

"Sounds good."

Wrong wrong wrong hub. This is dangerously off the script.

So I tested fate even more by emailing the lady and asking her to describe him including any questionable habits and traits.

"He seems to be a calm happy affectionate dog with no problems. Why don't you come by and visit him?"

Since I was working that day, I threw the final test at hub. "Hey why don't you go check Ozzie out at Petsmart."

"What time?"

If hub is going to drive across town on a Saturday morning to look at a might as well buy a new box of dog biscuits....cause this is smelling like a done deal.

When I called him to ask about Ozzie, he was chuckling. "He's a great dog."

And so.....Ozzie....bypassed the new rule of the house and leaped over fate's barricades to find a place on the soft rug, the dog rug, on the outskirts of the kitchen.

And so as of 11am today....the new rule of the house is: two dogs, one cat, one lizard, one fish.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Me and Mike.....

Boa Constrictors, deranged costume characters and now Mike Huckabee.....being the pr manager in a bookstore is never dull....exhuasting....totally exhuasting....but never dull.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Catholic Girl Syndrome or I can't work unless I'm wearing a skirt.

I have only a few minutes....
but I knew if I didn't come home and change into a skirt my big event tonight would be doomed.
I have an author/politician coming to the store and we're expecting a huge crowd...,,hundreds of people.
I thought I could break the jinx and wear pants to work....and I left this morning wearing a nice pair of dressy pants....but as the hours ticked by....I started to panic....could I pull this off without stockings and a skirt?
Obviously this is not a 10 nickel day and one to take lots of risks.
Too many people...too big a production company....and I'm sure the TV crews will visit.
In pants....I could trip over a cord.....lose books.....agitate customers....but in a skirt with silky stockings and a little swish to my body as I walk down the power aisle....all will be well....
All those years of wearing uniforms in catholic school have imprinted on me....skirts just above the cute but practical.....looks like I still can't get down to business without the same outfit on.
Sister's' Marys....pray for your wayward girl here....Amen

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Message from Cleopatra

Cleopatra keeps nagging me.

She was a slot machine in Vegas.

My hotel room came with a complimentary beverage and a few free bucks at a slot machine.

I drank the wine....and then registered to use my Vegas bucks.

Only a few slot machines would accept these particular Vegas I wandered around the casino trying to pick up a good luck vibe.....felt nothing.....and plunked myself down in front of Cleopatra.

After all, this wasn't serious gambling....but a few free minutes of fun.

Hub joined me and I could hear his Mensa neurons snapping because he couldn't figure out the strange patterns which equaled a win.

Cleopatra seemed to defy logic.

So I started to play my could play between 1-10 nickels at a spin.

The more nickels you risked.....the more your chances ....but of course the more you would lose each play.

I played my nickels very Gina-like......I wouldn't bet 1 or 2 nickels.....and I certainly wouldn't bet 9-10.....I would hit the 6-7 range.... then go wild with a single 8 nickel spin even a rare 10 nickel spin.... then return to my above average yet comfortable risk zone.

A zig zag light suddenly flashed on the screen.....and I earned a couple complimentary spins and viola..... I won ...$20.00

Respectable.......not spectacular......but enough of an enticement to keep me pressing the nickel at button on the least until my Vegas bucks were used up.

Because I wasn't sure what I was doing....or how the lines were paying off.....I did something odd for me.......even though I consciously knew I would lose more and my bucks might be used up quickly....I started betting 9-10 nickels.

It was uncomfortable....I wanted to return to at least my 7 range...but I kept, for some reason, pushing myself....pressing the 10 button....risking it all.....50 cents a spin!!!

And just like before .....some mysterious zig zag..... earned a couple complimentary spins.

But the catch was......

your winnings on the complimentary spin were determined by the amount you were at 6 nickels a might win 20.00 dollars.....

but at 9-10 nickels a spin......the winnings skyrocketed....

I took my complimentary spin and won $100.00.

I was shocked....not just because I won something...but because I realized (on this small level) big risks can pay off.

If I had stayed the Gina-course I would have won 20.00.....but by pushing myself....I quadrupled my rewards.

This is nutty....

but I keep thinking I stumbled upon a life lesson of those inadvertent things...

So is the way to win big in life....based upon how much a leap....a risk you are willing to take?

if you do things very win....solidly...

if you take above average win....sufficiently....

but if you make yourself uncomfortable....if you go beyond what you normally would do.....

is that when life lets you cash in?

Is that when you find the great job.....or adventure....or the relationship of a lifetime?

If you go beyond your comfort zone....force yourself into a new that when you find something spectacular?

If you bet 2 would never get there.....if you bet 7 could on occasion get there.....but if you bet could hit the jackpot more often.....

I can't stop thinking about it.....

I'm wondering if I've lived a 6-7 nickel life?????


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Booth of my Own......

I checked the time and groaned.

I had 3 more hours to be perky, peppy and pleasant.

I was exhausted.

It takes an enormous amount of energy to be nice for hours at a convention and say things in a fresh voice.

"Hey need some chocolate?" asks the professor in the next booth. He lures people to his exhibit--decreasing the drop out rate---- with pieces of chocolate.

"How many have I eaten?"

"Only two."

"Are you sure?"


"How about a sweet treat?" He says seductively to some ladies as they near his booth.

While they pick through the chocolates in the glass bowl, he offers them his brochure....he's trying to coax them onto a university website where years of research are summarized in a friendly format to help educators find the right program to help kids from dropping out of's important stuff to him....and yet he offers it to the teachers without being heavy handed.

They walk away munching their chocolate bars.

"Will they read it? "

He shrugs. "If one or two read it or remember it....a few extra kids will make it. "

He says this matter-of-fact.... as if he would accept just a few saves...but I sense the passion and knowledge all bundled up inside him.

He probably wishes he could grab each teacher and shout...."For god's sake woman ...get your principal to check out this website and do something!"

"How about a sweet treat?" he asks for 1000th time.....and while the teacher searches the bowl...he readies his pamphlet...cans his passion.....and suggests his website.

And me? I slip into Gina-May-I-Help-You mode and teach a hundred small things about how teachers can use our store. I'm glad its not total bullshit.

An attractive man in a casual but pressed shirt says hello and asks me about my corporation ...and how the economy is affecting the store.

Happy for new questions....I chat the man up.....blending this and that statistic and offering what I thought was a coherent guess on the economy. He asks if he can sit down....outside the booth on the chair.

"Of course of course"......

It's a little quiet now because the continuing education sessions have started.

"I like your shoes."

I 'm so startled by his remark....I look down to see what I have on my feet.

Black mules...of modest heel with an open back.

"What school district are you from?"

"Oh I'm not a teacher..... I build churches. I'm staying at the hotel next door and I was walking through the hall and thought you looked like an interesting and attractive woman."

I blushed from my mules to my ear lobes.

Good god, I've been chatting up this man like he was a school superintendent or something and he just a guy that straggled in off the street.

"My mother would like those shoes."

Oh ho.....(Gina's alarm is going off...he's in his mid forties with salt and pepper ring and he's talking about his mother.)

"Where did you get them? She has bunions."

My mental alarm is now going auuuuuwoooogaah.

I write down the name of the store and where it's located.

I try to make come-rescue-me-eyes to the professor next to me....but he misreads my intentions and offers me another piece of chocolate.

"Women just don't know how to dress like women anymore."

Oh ho.

His phone rings...he nods and takes the call.

Thank you gods of the universe.... my cell phone rings too...and I jump up and walk up the stairs and out into the lobby. Screw the booth...I'm going to hide for a thing you know he'll be want to smell my feet or something.

When I return... he's gone but I'm still off my game.....Little miss information....chatting up some random guy....oh boy.....I actually consider packing up and leaving but I remember Friday is only a half day session....and since I've already been supremely caught off guard...lightening can't strike again.


The professor and I arrive early Friday morning and agree we are dog tired.

But each time someone passes....we turn on the charm.

"I know your spiel by heart." I tell him....

"Well I'm going to work for your bookstore after this."

Church builder with a bunion-ed mother and fetish for my shoes does not return.

I am relieved.

People start packing up and I head off to the car. I've brought a pair of jeans and old shoes plus a small handcart.

I tear my stockings as I pull the hand cart out of my trunk so I decide to change clothes now. I'm in the back of the garage and there's no one around.

I slip off silky stockings... pull my skirt down....and then what the hell......I pull my top off and toss my sweatshirt on.

Not quite zipped up and re-arranged ...I look around ......and step out of the car....pantie rearrangement...bra up....clogs on....okie dokey.

But I have a weird feeling....and quickly look around.....half expecting church builder to pop up between some cars.....but there's nothing......except for a little mechanical sound.

I look up.....

and blush from my clogs to my ear lobes.

Oh well....

I wave at the security camera and grab my hand cart....

all I can say is....

I was wearing good underwear and I've had my convention baptism.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jesus...A Kosher Bagel....and's good to be dreaming again

"Jesus this is good."
My friend Amos sends me temple alerts when the synagogue orders the famous H & H kosher bagels from Manhattan. Loving them, I went right to the temple website and ordered assure I'd receive some eating goodness sumptuous everything bagel with poppy seeds and onions and one pack of plain bagels.
H & H bagels are wondrous. Thick... chewy.... plump and substantial ....and from New York can you go wrong?
So for lunch.....I took my everything bagel.....loaded it with maple-glazed ham (not too kosher) and cheese (definitely not kosher) and dill pickle slices. Popped it in the microwave.... so the cheese would become warm and gooey.....and even in the dismal utilitarian setting of our bleak break room at work......I felt happy....eating the best lunch in the world accompanied by my new beverage ice cold diet Pepsi max.
Immediately after I finished the bagel.....I realized I wanted to go to Iceland.
Most of my travel history arrives like this....a sudden epiphany.... a particular country or place is waiting for me. I thought Israel was calling me (or was that the bagels messing with me)....but I knew after was definitely Iceland.
Of course there is no way I can go to Iceland right now.
This week I'm working seven days in a row...and until December 14th.....I don't even have days marked off. A complete grueling schedule of book fairs and author appearances and even weird things thrown in like manning a booth at a convention for the next few days.... smother my calender.
"Iceland" is not penciled in....there's not even space for it.
Even if I could go in spring.....the wall.....oh THE WALL....that is my parent's situation is getting bigger and is waiting for me.
Just this weekend, I had to call the police in my parent's suburb to do a "well-being check" on them.
My mother's dementia has progressed to the point where she thinks she has paid dad is clueless and won't ask me for consequently when I called to check on them....I received a strange ring tone and a message that the "phone had been temporarily disconnected." Since their neighbor hasn't been home, I sent the police to check them.
My dad called from a pay phone and left a message that the "phone wasn't working"....but I know's because my mom didn't pay the bill which has happened several times over the last couple months......I also know when I go home for Thanksgiving....I will be scared shitless with their situation.
Since they won't come to me....I will have to go to them....assess...and figure out what needs to be done. It doesn't look good. But there is nothing I can do...except go....and then tackle.
So Iceland.... is sort of a dream.
But I haven't had many dreams lately especially with my work schedule and work.....and so this morning....I soul....everything about me....needs dreams...and I was glad to awake to feel the idea of Iceland in me.
Geez I can't wait to bite into a plain bagel....what exactly do those guys in New York City put in the dough?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Didn't Have to Wait too Long.....

My media blackout only lasted till 8:30pm.

I decided to work for a couple hours at my office and when I returned home....someone left the kitchen TV on....with the electoral votes racking up quickly.... there wasn't any need to close my eyes.

So I watched.

McCain gave a gracious concession speech (was that the same man that was on the campaign trail?) and then Obama gave his acceptance speech in my home town.

He seemed burdened if he was feeling the weight of the world's expectations.

I thought of the people I had met in my travels in Africa and Asia and I chuckled.

I am sure they stopped in their tracks....and thought it was some media trick...some strange hologram could America actually vote for someone that had their exotic bloodlines?

And yet often when I looked at Obama's careful calm demeanor....I thought of Indonesia where he grew up. A man is prized in Indonesia for not showing outward anger....or exaggerated be truly considered a gentleman in never lose would never yell or scream...or show anger or intense emotion.

People have remarked on his temperament...but I'm sure his natural abilities to remain calm....were nurtured in the Indonesian culture.

He is a man of the world...different races....and with a multi cultural background: the Aloha sense from Hawaii....the "good face" he learned in Indonesia.....the East Coast Educational Elite and finally the practical grounded Midwest man.

Like many people...I was in tears....during his acceptance speech.....but as the camera panned back and you could see the enormous crowd around him....I was afraid for him....please god let them all be sane.....and give him a chance to our world...the demons are always waiting in the wings to destroy change.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My Election Day Strategy

I'm so anxious over the election.....I decided the only way to cope is for a total media and thought black out for the rest of the day.

No computer home pages with headlines, no TV, no peeking at CNN or the NY Times online.


I told my family...when they announce a winner....let me know.. My nerves are frayed enough from my job without gnashing it through the next 20 hours.

So until its over..... I'm not listening...looking or talking about it for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Giant half-naked women on trucks and Girlie Cards....More things I learned about on my Vacation

I was sitting in our rental car wondering where our hotel was located on the "Strip."

Stalled in bumper to bumper traffic, we weren't moving anywhere in this part of Vegas.

I bent over to grab my cell phone and noticed the half naked woman on rear door of the truck in front of us.



702-555 5555

I stretched from one side to the other and saw that each side of the truck had a large picture of a blond-haired woman clad in black lacy lingerie .

She was reclining in the classic men's magazine pose: lips parted and tugging at her bikini bottom....the ...I-must-pull-these-off-RIGHT-NOW!...look.

This was not a small truck....consequently.....this woman was HUGE.

"Huh. Do you see the woman on the truck in front of us?"

Hub was staring straight ahead and probably had been for a long time....he was being a very attentive driver....and probably had been oggling her for miles.

Since I like words...I couldn't help but focus on the short one liner under her body......They really want to meet you.

So interesting....because inserting the word "really" implies that these women are guaranteed to like you.... a man doesn't have to fear rejection.

In other worries....unlike women in the real world....these women will always welcome your presence.

Another truck with a similar billboard passed by. I felt a pang of ......discomfort.'s Vegas....but ....geeez 12 foot high girlie ads are just so .....obvious.

Turning my attention to the sidewalk crowds.....I noticed groups of men in bright hunter orange t-shirts in clumps every couple blocks. The shirts were and cheap....and worn over dingy clothes.


They were handing out something.

"I wonder what they're giving out?" I said to hub.

"Trading Cards."


"Girlie Trading cards. There are some on the back seat."

"What?? Where?"

I twisted around and searched the back seat until I found 4 trading cards. Cody. Hope. Suri. Stacey.

"Where did you get these?"

"They were handing them out at the gas station where we picked up the sodas."

"How come you didn't show them to me????"

Hub was silent. It was a dangerous moment for him.

Was I miffed he picked them up or kept them??? or was I miffed because he hadn't share this interesting little treasure????

Sensing his distress....I let him off the hook.

"These are so...interesting. Girlie trading cards. Look at the little credit card logos. Hmmmm...why is Hope running a special for $37....why would a woman be on sale?????? I mean if she's a prostitute isn't she on sale already???? What do you think you get for $47?? Do you think it's just the price to get to the door????? How much do they do?????

My hub is a diplomatic and cautious man who has lived with me a long time. If he knew the answers....he probably figured it was best not to tell me ...... and if he didn't know the answers...he was content to listen to my ever growing wave of questions.

I tucked the trading cards into my purse...since we finally saw the sign for our hotel.

During our entire stay in Vegas, a steady stream of giant almost-naked women cruised back and forth along the Strip..... and every few blocks a sad cluster of men ( I say sad...only because all the men were very short dark Hispanic men who appeared not to understand or speak much English...and looked uncomfortable) in orange shirts handed out more cards.

Just before leaving Vegas, I decided to hold out my hand as we passed one of get a few more cards. The man ....looked shocked....he was obviously programmed to offer cards to any man passing by....but not a woman.

He reluctantly gave me a few cards.

Hub rolled his eyes. I imagine it's not easy living with a curious woman.

"Look here.......right on top.....a Gina card!!!.....and she's special .....only 47.00....Do you think we should call her...and just see what they say?? I mean...don't you wonder how they talk to a client....what they say ...what they offer to do??"

My hub suggested a gellato...which in hub-speak means......spare me from the inquisition.

So.... I pouted...and ordered a hazelnut concoction.....and became quiet and pensive ....thinking of men and women and sex and fun and using people as toys....I mean.... is it okay to use people as toys if there is mutual consent to be toys to each other???? what if one person sees the other person as real and one person sees the other as a toy??

Fortunately my gellato dripped all over my pants..... which in real-life means....can it.

"Hey....Let's go buy some t-shirts for the kids."

I tucked Gina in my purse for the trip home.

This weekend...I'm going to give her a call and find out what they say and what they do. I mean ...I have caller-ID block....and don't you really want to know at least if they say ...."Hello I'm Gina???? And what would they say to a woman?? How do they sound???


Monday, October 27, 2008

Things I learned on my trip......never touch the towels....they could turn into monkeys.

The best part of traveling is learning and seeing new things.

So I thought I would share the wealth of my trip over the next few days.

The first thing I want to share is an art form to me.....Towel Art.

Yes ....Towel Art.

I heard of the craft, actually seen a how-to book in my bookstore, but thought this art form was only observed in far off spas....where people who had spent way too much time in a steam bath or had way too many hot rocks placed on them....desperately twisted towels in a vain attempt to remember shapes from the real world.

But ahhh.....I learned Towel Art... is the main art form in cruise land.

Here's some art that greeted us after dinner in our room:

The cute pooch

The cuddly koala

The care-free monkey

and my favorite.....the jaunty penis.
(It's supposed to be a penis right? My hub thought it might be a strange ant eater....or aardvark??? But not me.....anything with two testicles and a stalk in between ...weighs in as a penis......okay I can't explain the little feet....but're bound to see exotic things when you travel the seas.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's Vegas

I can't remember of if said....Yippee....or Yeee ha......when I walked into our hotel room....but I'm actually glad to be here because:

1) The hotel is stationary....i.e. it does not go up and down and bob in the water.

2) It's huge......(size matters....) my hotel bathroom is bigger than the cruise cabin I lived in for the last 5 days.

3) It's a surprise.....I went online just before we got on the boat....looked at hotels deals and just went ennneeee meeeene minnnneeee mo.... and the winner was The Venetian......lots of stars....special price...huge suites.

4) Oh ho....Vegas seems a bit fun....I've been here 2 or 3 times....and never left feeling that way....but perhaps there's enough great restaurants....and spas and shops and other stuff to do besides gambling now......or I'm just being seduced by the ultra thick embroided bath robe.

Our little suite.......

Hard to believe but the swimming pool is located on the 4th floor....or one of the roofs....only in Vegas...hey?

Our TV screen saver....what did you expect a palm tree ???

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Heading for Shore.....

Whoa maties.....up and down and up and down and.....what are you thinking???

Of course....I'm back on the ship after a very sentimental day in Ensenda...a place I knew a zillion years ago when we lived in San Bernardino for a year while hub was in training.

Have pictures....have stories......have art.....

but have only a few Internet minutes left......'s off the boat tomorrow morning.....a drive through the desert ......and arriving in hunka hunka burning love land (aka Las Vegas) for a glittery night before we head back home.

See ya then.....

Monday, October 20, 2008

The tip of the Baja

Well here I the tip of the Baja penisula....obviously having survived....a night...a "fun day at sea" and Los Cabos.

It's been an interesting trip.....great to be with family....but the boat experience....feels like I was walking along a block in Las Vegas and someone came along .... cut the block of earth up and sent it out to sea.

Carnival Cruise Lines is sort of the everyman-type cruise. There's well coiffed folks and folks that look like they just walked off a Walmart parking lot.

I've seen more cellulite than I would ever want to (oh god some people should not wear daisy duke shorts and swimsuits without skirts)...along with enough fake boobs to be comforted that if something happens to the ship...I'll just grab one of these gals ...because there are huge floaties riding on some chests here.

The food has also ranged from very nice dinner and wine combinations with pleasant even artistic presentations to a buffet where people are totally into piling on food in mass quantities.

I've had times of claustrophobia.....and a bit of motion sickness....and the fun day at sea probably would be more fun if I enjoyed Bingo...or games....or lectures on shopping....instead I found myself pacing back and forth on a deck, that for some reason, was devoid of folks.....feeling restless and very confined for a few hours. But Sunday (our day at sea) ...was also my hub's we had a celebratory bottle of wine before dinner.....and I was happy we celebrated with family around.

When we docked this morning......I couldn't wait to get off the ship and on to land....but Los strange place....gorgeous to look at....desert hills and mountains perched on the beach....but also a thousand million condos.... for Americans and Europeans. I have a feeling not many natives can afford the mega mansions built on the hillsides.

It was 92 degree and at least 95% humidity when we got off the ship....and within a few hours....the intense heat and humidity ....made me weary...that and the fact that my shopper's eye found nothing to be happy about....all the shops sell the exact same stuff just in different colors. There was even a mall which we stepped into to escape the heat....but it was the same stores I've seen elsewhere. I was sure there might be a store or two....a vendor with something unique....but I only found one place which had artistic and unique gifts....unfortunately....the prices were also unique.

Perhaps I did this port wrong....I should have just signed up for a jet ski...slathered on the sun screen and joined all the other folks out on the ocean. Regrettably.....all that happened is .....I came back exhausted.....and literally peeled off my drenched sweaty clothes and layed naked on the bed till my core body temperature went back down to normal.

Geez....I must have gotten soft over the last few months of work...if I can't take a tropical temp and humidity....for a few hours....oh .....what's become of me???

The boat will be leaving soon......for another "fun day at sea".....before reaching's a time when the boat has you captive.....but I'll be better prepared this time.....I've pulled my books out....a sketch pad....some mags....and I've already scouted out a place or two that may be quiet and in the shade.

I'm also ready to enjoy some of my favorite characters on the ship during our confinement at sea........although there are 2000 folks's amazing how people you start favorites are Girdle girl and her cowboy boyfriend ( a volumptious woman who wears a tan body stocking down to her thighs which shows when the winds blows her dresses up in the air)....Maori arms....(a buff guy with interesting tattoos).....Short Stud.....(a gorgeous upper body dad with 4 young daughters who follow him around).....Gross Pizza man ..( a guy weighing at least 450 pounds who sits at the buffet and eats whole pizzas all day)....the Kissing Couple....(a large girl with multiple tattoos and burgundy hair on her honeymoon with a man who has hair like Elvis).....and Donna....(a woman I envy because she is going to be heading off to Ghana with her family to live for a couple of years since her hub works for the American Embassy ).

Maybe they'll have another "chest contest" tomorrow.....the one thing I did find funny....on my previous day at sea....was the "best chest contest"....featuring a group of guys. I hooted and clapped for one cute guy....who eventually won......I presume to be fair.....they'll have a "chest contest" for women tomorrow? Hmmm...they better have it in two sections......natural and enhanced. Damn....where did I put that push up bra????

Oh ho....we're moving.....heading out to sea....I hope I didn't lose my sea legs.....the trick is seems to relax....the moves up and down....just like someone breathing......interesting it feels just like that....interesting it's the same rhythm we have in our own body...I like that part of the ocean.....


Los Cabos

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Its moving!


A few minutes to relax then lifeboat drills

Oh ho. Razors and fiber pills are in our freebie bathroom basket

Our cabin

Here I go!

Da boat!!

Yikes. Here it is our little behemoth. No wonder they call it a
carnival cruise because the port is like a carnival.....with buses and
taxis and cars unloading luggage and people. I just have to send this
and step on board.....well here I go......
Sent from my iPhone

Heading out to Sea......

Well....bags are repacked....passports ready.....we head off to the dock in just a few minutes to meet my hub's family and get on board a carnival cruise ship to Ensenda and Los Cabos in Mexico.

I have mixed feelings. I'm excited to see my in-laws...but I just don't know about the boat thing. Everyone that knows me....laughed when I told them I was going on a Carnival cruise. I guess I seem a bit too independent in my traveling habits to inhabite a floating hotel for a few days....but heck....I'm sure it will be an experience....and fun...and I'm sure I'll have a ton of stories....ain't that what life is all about?'s Bon Voyage for me......LOL>>>

Friday, October 17, 2008

Out of the Valley

A few hours ago....if you asked me where I worked.....where I lived.....even what my name was.....I would have given you a puzzled look.

That's what three days in the desert can do to scrubs you clean....erases your worry....and sometimes even erases who you's like resetting an internal clock to a new time....and a new date.

Death Valley was incredible.

We escaped Las Vegas and the mega traffic jam in the middle of the afternoon....and arrived at Furnace Creek as the sun was thinking about slipping behind the Panamint Mountains.

When we first drove past the posh inn at Furnace Creek....I wondered if I had made a mistake to book the simple...historic little cottages a few miles down the road. But when I opened the door to the clean little unit...with a porch and a couple of chairs to sit on....I knew it was a good decision....the big hotel had been renovated and now looked like any Marriott any where in the world.....but this little cottage....on Dante's Lane...was a throw back to an early age...when people summered in the desert for their health and spent weeks soaking up the sun and the warm spring waters.

We threw our bags in the cottage and took a walk...and within a few minutes....a huge silver full moon....rose up from behind the mountains to the east. The moon was so seemed like someone turned a thousand gray lights on.....but despite the glow....the whole valley had quieted down... there was no sounds.....just moonlight and a few stars.

We went back to our cottage and found we had neighbors...each cottage is divided into two units. The man and woman were retired folks from Denmark....sitting out on the chairs smiling like little kids.

"It's so cold where we are from...we are so happy to sit outside.".....They were dressed in t-shirts and shorts and sipping a cold beer...and their being sitting outside with a beautiful warm just the essentials in clothing....was so seemed to add a glow to our little place.

The next morning....I woke hub up early.

"It's time to get up and go into the desert."

"It seems so dark."

"'s already 7:15 so you better hurry up."

Hub dutifully got up and moving...before realizing....I had stretched the truth a was 7:15 am central time.....but only 5:15 am Pacific time....but worked and we were out the door and watching the sun rise .....watching it paint the barren rocky mountains with a deep red it rose.

Over the next days....we hiked in a small field of dunes.....hiked a gorgeous shady high walled canyon......and also found a place I named....Play doh canyon...because the high walls of ancient soft smooth mud...made you feel like you were walking through a kid's Play doh project.

At times....we felt like we were visiting a foreign land in the park...not because of the scenery but because we were the only English speaking/Americans around.

The place was full of French, German, Spanish and other European folks. I guess the American Dollar is so deflated....coming here is a bargain....and there are no great deserts like this in their countries.

Funny ...I noticed ....the majority of them seemed to be renting Mustangs or Mustang convertibles. Every time we saw a Mustang...out popped someone speaking French or German. We theorized....they love big engined cars....because the majority of cars in Europe are small..and fuel efficient.....and of course ....who doesn't want to go vroom vroom in the desert with our top down?

I took a gazillion pics ....with my reg camera....and I'll post a few when I return home....I was forced into electronic silence in the valley.....because there is no cell service 200 feet below sea level in the park.....and no Internet service.....I actually had to call my son with a regular telephone....a land line from the room...and leave a message on how to call us and ask for our room number. Wow...that was like in the prehistoric days.....but I survived....and we survived...and even my kids survived without us for a few days....

although I will tell you....that when we crossed over into California....and our cell phones reenergized.....the first messages went like this from the kids: my cell phone is dying....I think you may have to get me another car is not working....what do I do...and nothing from my daughter...which means she hasn't figured out we're actually on vacation yet.

Racing out of Vegas to get to Death Valley

The Funeral Mountains bordering the East side of DV

Heading off into the Valley to find a hiking trail

Resting on a cold slab of marble in a canyon

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Medicine is Ready!

A while back.....I made some medicine according to my grandma's recipe....honey, a special aloe cactus and some good whiskey.
Checked the bottle yesterday...and the cactus pieces finally sunk. It's ready!

Beautiful....a golden hazy color.

Absolutely perfect!!

Sweet ....warm ....honey-laden....with a gentle kick.

Had one more "dose" before bed....slept like a baby!!


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die....

On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed, And on Yom Kippur it is sealed.
How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,
Who shall live and who shall die......
My friend Amos, who is Jewish, sent me a utube video last week....where this prayer- poem.....called U'Netaneh Tokef set to haunting music. It's the High Holy Days, the time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the time when the Unetenah Tokef is read.
Ever since I watched the video...the prayer has been running through my head.....
Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not,
Who shall perish by water and who by fire,
My father-in-law died right after I posted my last blog.
Who shall have rest and who shall wander,
Who shall be at peace and who shall be pursued,
My husband's parents......both have died within the last 6 months.
Who shall be exalted and who shall be brought low,
Who shall become rich and who shall be impoverished.
It is strange to think of them being predestined to die think that God said last September........Ted and Eleanor.....I'm writing your name down.
But repentance, prayer and righteousness avert the severe decree
Such sweet people....Eleanor so religious....Ted so full of intelligence and good humor....did they not repent? ....were they not righteous enough to erase their names and change their fates?
I searched the web to see if others felt questions about what this prayer meant...... and found a very beautiful interpretation of this a Rabbi from California. He was lecturing on the predestiny aspect of this prayer .
He said....that the poem is not about others.....but about ourselves.....that we should change the
"Who" ....into "I".......
I shall live and I shall die, I shall reach the end of my days and I shall not, I shall perish by water and by fire, I shall experience famine and thirst, and feel the earthquake.... and rest and wander, and be peace ......and be tormented.......
In other the course of a year....I will experience so many trails and so many many many moments of peace....
but if I can strive to be kind.......generous.... treat others compassion....look for chances to serve...... continue to grow......I will change my fate.......because I will move beyond just experiencing these things.....I will be more than an inscription.....of what can happen a life.....I can move into becoming a better person in spite of and because of my experiences.
And when the Rabbi finished his video sermon....and the audience applauded.....I found myself .....
quietly saying......

Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die....