Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday September 28th, 2009

Pauline Falco

Since my mom passed away on my first wedding anniversary, this had always been a rough day for me. Each year it would overshadow the happiness I had for reaching another year on what I then thought was an endless and happy journey being married. Each year until the divorce I tried to carry the burden as silently as I could, though I know the X at the time was aware of it.

At least now I can give over to the dark side and really, really, loath this day! If I could pull myself and my house into a hole and cover it over for the day I would. This year having it fall on a Monday is even worse.... I hate Mondays. And it's a rainy, dank, dark, and chilly Monday to boot. In reflection it is perfect for my mood...though tomorrow will certainly be a much better and brighter day no matter the weather!

I really miss my Mom today! While I miss my folks every day, today for missing my mom it's the worst. Compounding this is I remember the last time I saw my mom she was in the hospital for what would be the last time. She had just finished bad-mouthing my dad, who gave up so much for her when she became sick and stayed by her side for the 10 years her major illness lasted, and I told her off big time. We ended up yelling at each other before I stormed out of her room.

I carry this memory with me to this day, and usually manage to keep it in the back of the closet in the dark most of the year, but today like every 9/28 I remember it all too well. While I'm not sorry I spoke the truth, I am very sad that the last time I saw my mom alive we had to part under such circumstances, never to see each other again.

I think of the good memories too.......

I remember coming down to a home cooked breakfast most mornings, happy time on vacations, my mom walking me (and when he was younger my bother) down to the Bloomfield Center to shop. Sometimes she'd buy us ice cream soda's or Sundays at the counter at K-Mart. I remember one year we were on vacation down at the Jersey Shore. She decided to make Hamburger Helper for dinner. It was the first time she ever made it....and it was almost the last. She used ground chuck as back in those days there was no outcry about fat in ground beef, or 90% lean..... Well, she did not drain the fat out of the frying pain after browning the beef as the directions say to, and while the dinner was delicious, shortly after that the one bathroom in our motel room was highly sought after! We teased her about that quite a bit, it was funny because my mom was such a good cook when it come to home made food, particularly Italian. I can't remember how many times after that whenever she made Hamburger Helper we would all just stare at our plates silently, trying not to crack up, until she mentioned that she drained the ground beef.

I remember how at this time of year she used to love to drive in the more rural areas of New Jersey or update New York to look at the fall foliage change. I remember how much my brother and I hated such weekend trips until we were old enough to stay home. Of course, I'd gladly hop in the car and go now if I could. My brother and I used to call these, and other excursions Joy Rides, but she and my Dad really enjoyed them and I did to depending on where we were and what there was to see.

I remember how she convinced my dad, who was very strict regarding eating your dinner, to let me and my brother skip such really gross things like Liver and Onions. As they had been brought up in households where you literally went to bed hungry some nights because there was not enough food around, my dad felt you should eat whatever was on your plate. She really mellowed him out of some of the stricter after affects he had of living with my very strict grandfather.

I remember when she finally got her drivers license how proud she was.

I remember how she loved Sylvester and Tweety bird on Saturday morning TV! We would watch that together and she would chime in with Tweety echoing his "I tawt I taw a Puddy Tat!" exclamation whenever he spied Sylvester.

I remember her calling out to me anxiously to be careful, when as a young boy I climbed the tree on the other side of the school yard fence next to the house and was higher than the second floor window she was watching me from.

I remember as an even younger boy her bandaging my knees after I fell down roller skating. I remember the Bactine, which was not supposed to sting, did.

I remember how she was too sick to attend my wedding, so we had a friend video tape it and we recorded a personal message to my mom. She cried when she watched the tape.

I remember how much she wanted grandchildren, yet passed away before they were born. I often tell my kids that she would have spoiled them rotten.

I remember....I remember so many things today!

Well, mom, I've got your Virgin Mary statue looking down on me in my Living Room, and after work is done I'll light a candle by her. I apologize for yelling at you; we both should have discussed the issue like adults, but we did not. I miss you, and love you, and am so very sorry our last words with each other had to be in anger. You were a good mom, burdened by health issues for many years, and I know without a doubt how much you loved my brother and I, and our father too, and I want you to know that I miss you so very much!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

Picture Of The Day 09/21/09

Here's an interesting shot of Danielle making a face at me with the reflection of me taking the picture on the left.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Captain Chris an' Polly, ready t' loot an' pillage!

If ye do nay like seafarin' heartys, ye might as well avast readin' this post! For them o' ye who ben livin' under a rock these past 7 years, take note! Today be International Talk Like A Pirate Day! When I think o' gentleman o' fortunes, I think o' th' romanticized version such as Captain Jack Sparrow. Swashbucklers wi' nay law other than th' Buccanneers Code. I jus' love th' way gentleman o' fortunes speak an' each year on September 19th at work I would drive me mateys crazy, partiularly th' years that I had direct reports as I would expect them t' talk aft t' me like a gentleman o' fortune!

So, I jus' want t' wish sea dogs an' land lubbers a great tide! Dasn't shave or bathe this mornin'! Really embrace th' role! Gather yer mangy crew an' get ou' thar an' drink, loot, an' pillage, gather up all th' dubloon an' booty ye can get yer hands on, all without breakin' any local laws o' course! We wouldna want th' police or the Royal Navy after ye me hearties!!

An' reckon, drink them multiple kegs o' run responsibly, an' dasn't set sail loaded t' th' gunwhales me heartys, or ye could jus' find yersef walkin' th' plank!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Photo Of The Day - 09/17/09

Fall will soon be upon us as evidenced by this picture I took of a plant outside my bedroom window this morning. Where did the summer go to.......

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

To sleep, perchance to dream wildly....

You all know I like to spin off my dreams as real life and then at the end mention it was a dream. Prime examples of this can be read here, and here.

Note though that after last nights nocturnal adventure, there's no way to spin it as a real story because it is just too bizarre! I've not been sleeping well at all since Sunday night due to the pain in my leg after falling and twisting it, and last night while I actually did get a bit more sleep, it was only a couple of hours. To sleep, perchance to dream.....a doozy!

In the dream I am here in my house at the start and it pretty much resembles my house. An EMT and ambulance has arrived, and the EMT himself is sitting on the floor of the hall outside my bedroom door with his kit all laid out as if he expects to be using it, but, he is watching the TV that is on in my bedroom. It seems to be showing nothing in particular just a jumble of incoherent images as though someone is constantly changing channels every second. Looking past the TV to the bedroom windows I see it is sunny and apparently warm outside.

I am carrying a load of wash which must be taken down to the machine in the basement. There is a sense of urgency that this wash must not leave my presence and it is imperative that it be done before the kids get home from school. I am at a loss as to this sense of urgency, but, it has me wanting to get the wash down to the machine in the basement quickly!

For a moment, the TVs mad changing of channels stops on a commercial for laundry detergent! I notice outside the windows now it is dark and stormy, with the rain pouring down and the wind howling to the point of trees bending and thrashing wildly in the gale-like conditions.

Suddenly my x-wife is there asking if I want her to try and sell the dirty laundry at a garage sale she is having. I tell her no, and after remarking that I could have made a pretty penny on this sale, she departs. Tails jumps up on the dresser in my bedroom to watch her go (as she often does in real life watching any one's arrival or departure from her perch) and I notice that outside is now blizzard-like conditions with a least a foot of snow on the ground though the X, seemingly unaffected by the cold, is sporting sun glasses and is dressed in shorts, a t-shirt, and wearing flip-flops! She pulls out of my driveway and zooms away without so much as removing the snow from the windshield of her car.

The urgency of getting the wash done continues to pressure me and I try to get to the machine but no matter where I walk to in the house I keep ending up back in my bedroom. I realize at this point I have a terrible headache (which in all actuality I did have when I went to bed, having had it most of the day. It was one of those throbbing "I have not slept properly in 72 hours" headaches. I begin ransacking the medicine cabinet which is full of medications galore except any analgesics!

I ask the EMT who is still sitting on the floor of my hallway if I can have a Tylenol so I do not have to go to the store with my leg hurting (which up until this point in the dream I was walking around fine). He hems and haws and says as I am not his patient it would be illegal. "Who the hell IS your patient!???" I demand and he simply shrugs his shoulders and returns to playing solitaire with a deck of cards on the floor. Several bottles of Tylenol are now lying visibly by his other equipment.

At this point I eject him from my residence and wonder why he was there at all. Suddenly my daughter is there and she asks me if I am ever going to take the wash to the machine and offers to do it for me. "No!" I tell her. For some reason in the dream the wash is important to me and I do not want to let it out of my hands.

I then start to walk through the house.....suddenly I am walking, without a load of dirty clothes, through a large industrial complex with a girl I used to work with at Smiths Aerospace many years ago back in New Jersey. She was an older woman named Linda(older than me anyway) who was very helpful to me as I established my carer. She passed away before I moved out to Michigan. In the dream this was not remembered by me and it was perfectly natural for me to be walking and talking with her.

"HR is over here, you can take care of your wash there." she said to me. Suddenly I was again carrying the load of dirty laundry and the urgency to get it cleaned was back. In the dream I am perplexed that I would be taking my wash to the HR department! I was also pleased that it looks like it would finally make it to a washing machine.

We enter Human Resources and the inside looks like a cross between my dream-scape and the old HR offices I remember in New Jersey at Smiths almost 10 years ago, but, there are washing machines hidden behind the filing cabinets. As I dump my laundry into one of the machines I turn and say hello to someone who works with me in Michigan in real life calling her by name. "What did you call me?" she says? I look at her again, and her face has changed, subtlety, but changed it has so now she just strongly resembles the person I first saw, but is obviously not her. I explain I though she was someone else, and she winks at me and and whispers conspiratorially "It's OK, I am someone else...in fact if I can tell you a secret, I am really...."

At that moment the door bangs opens and the HR manager from NJ walks in, says hello to me, and goes into her office and closes the door. I turn back to hear the secret but the girl is gone, the washing machine now takes quarters to do a load (of which I have none) and on the washing machine is a cat carrier with a mewling kitten in it!

As I go to open the door of the cat carrier, some guy I have never seen dressed like a maintenance worker says "You don't want to do that, Kitty has claws!". I look at the adorable innocent little kitten and chuckle as I open the door of the cage.

With the speed of a bolt of lightening the cat leaps from the cage and wraps itself around my arm and starts biting and scratching! "Ha ha! Told you so!" this strange guy says as he exits the area. In a mad attempt to free my arm of the biting, clawing, growling ball of fur, I fling my arm hard and the cat goes flying fast towards the concrete wall! I am worried the cat will be hurt, but it flips itself mid-air so it is now facing the walls with all four of its paws, and after landing on them like a coiled spring releasing it launches itself snarling right back at me once again attaching to my arm and attacking it with renewed vigor!

For some reason only my injured leg (which in the dream is not injured) feels the pain, and this is about the only part of the dream I understand.

All of a sudden the kitten and I are sitting in a nice large easy chair in a living room like setting that is still part of this mysterious HR department, and I am scratching her gently as she purrs loudly and relaxes. That's all she needed, I thought, some love!

At that moment some other girl I have never seen comes around the corner with a huge basket of folded laundry wrapped in plastic and announces my wash is done and I owe her 50 dollars in quarters!

I woke up! After doing my morning routine I got the wash together and took it down the the machine. It had been accumulating for a few days, and obviously this must have been bothering me. I nodded to the EMT technician who was sitting on the floor by the washing machine playing solitaire and I woke up!!! A dream within a dream! I can't remember the last time that has happened to me.

After doing my morning routine I got the wash together and took it down the the machine. It had been accumulating for a few days, and obviously this must have been bothering me.

Here's to hoping for a better nights sleep this evening! Thank god the wash is done.....I'll leave the sink full of dirty dishes until tomorrow.......

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 911


Who could ever forget the tragic and horrific events of 911? I know I will never be able to. At least 2,998 victims perished as a result of the cowardly attacks. Direct and indirect costs totaled more than 100 billion dollars.

I was walking past the library at work here in Michigan, and they had rolled a large display to the front windows that showed the Twin Towers burning after the first plane crash. I had a huge lump in my throat and I was shocked beyond belief.

The world was stunned. I had close friends who worked in the Twin Towers...it was days before I found out that they were OK. I can only imagine what others, particularly those who lost a loved one, went through.

Words failed me at the time, but I had to do something to work through the feelings I had afterward. The following link is to a 911 Memorial Windows screen saver I made and gave away shortly after 911. I made this screen saver as both a memorial to those who were affected by the attack, and as a tribute to those who worked selflessly during the aftermath. 911 showed both the lowest level human beings could sink to, and the highest levels of bravery and courage they could attain. I received a lot of feedback from people who downloaded it, and some of the comments were very profound.

911 Memorial Screen Saver (Windows XP and later versions (such as Vista and Windows 7).

Also of interest to you might be The September 11 Digital Archive. From their home page "The September 11 Digital Archive uses electronic media to collect, preserve, and present the history of September 11, 2001 and its aftermath. The Archive contains more than 150,000 digital items, a tally that includes more than 40,000 emails and other electronic communications, more than 40,000 first-hand stories, and more than 15,000 digital images. In September 2003, the Library of Congress accepted the Archive into its collections, an event that both ensured the Archive's long-term preservation and marked the library's first major digital acquisition."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Picture Of The Day - 09/10/09

For those who don't follow me on Facebook, here's the picture of my Birthday Monster Burger. An excellent shot taken with my iPhone if I do say so myself! Note the ice cold Diet Pepsi with a twist of lime was an excellent accompaniment to this taste treat!

Click on this puppy to see it super-sized in a new window!
It should be noted this picture is a higher resolution than the one I posted on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

September 7th - My 53rd Birthday

Monday I celebrated my 53rd birthday and I had a wonderful weekend filled with few chores, lots of relaxation and I got to spend time with all of my kids.

Monday on my birthday I arose around 8:30 AM and did 2 hours on the exercise bike instead of the usual 90 minutes. Around 2PM we ate at Red Robin and my son Chris and the kids mom and grandparents joined us.

I had a Monster Burger with Bacon and the table shared a tower of onions rings. It was good food and good company. Even the requisite singing of Happy Birthday by the Red Robin staff was endurable.

The kids and I outside of Red Robin when I asked for a nice picture!

Afterward Chris and I watched two of our favorite Buffy The Vampire Slayer episodes; the "Once more with Feeling" Musical and the scary episode Hush. It was great spending time with him and the rest of the family.

The kids and I outside of Red Robin after numerous threats!

As to my favorite present of the day.....it would have to be my kids. They help me keep my life in perspective. Some days I might get a bit sad about lacking some things in my life, such as a significant other, no parents to talk to, or even a larger cash flow. The love of my three wonderful children and the pride and affection I have in them is all I need to put a smile on my face. They are what I am most thankful for on my 53rd birthday. All in all, this was the happiest I have been on my birthday since my divorce, so, it was a very good day for me.

Disclaimer: That's not to say I did not appreciate the gifts I did get, I did! It's just that you can't put a price on something like the love and affection I have for my children.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Mark: 20 weeks on the Lifestyle Modification Plan
and my trip to Olive Garden

Today marks 20 weeks on my Lifestyle Modification Plan. As of Friday's weigh in I've lost 96 pounds.

That's not too shabby! That's almost 5 pounds a week over a five month period. Just goes to show what diet and exercise can do for you.

I had decided that for my birthday I was going to reward myself with a birthday dinner. Yesterday I went to Olive Garden with Scott, Danielle, and their mom. Olive Garden was having their Never Ending Pasta Bowl which we all like.

It should be noted the last time we went to Olive Garden I was so big I could not bend over the table! This is something I am not at all proud of. Yesterday I was quite comfortable eating with the bowl on the table and I had room to spare.

Needless to say I was quite pleased to be able to enjoy a large meal!

I had salad as my side while the girls had soup and Scott just munched on bread sticks, and we ordered our first bowls of pasta.

Normally they bring you your first bowl in a large plate and then subsequent bowls come in a smaller size. I had them start out my traditional first bowl, which was Angel Hair pasta with meat sauce in the smaller bowl. I also ordered sausage with my meal. Having the protein helps slow the digestion of carbs, and I knew I was going to really blow my carb allowance! The past five months I have been religious on what I have been eating both in caloric and nutritional areas.

I managed to get through three bowls of pasta and think I could have done a fourth (I've done 6 in the past starting with the larger big bowl) but I did not want to be a total glutton.

The only thing marring the meal was the really poor service of the waiter to the point I had to talk to him about how displeased I was with his service. Sadly for him, the tip really reflected Justify Fullthis.

We departed after biding farewell to the kids mom and as we approached the Mustang Scott pointed out that evidently some very large mutant avian creatures had quite befouled the rear trunk deck of the Mustang quite voluminously! So, we made an unscheduled swing by the car wash before swinging by Blockbuster to drop off Inkheart.

This morning after arising I had my usual nutrition shake before burning off 1100 calories on the exercise bike, I'm getting ready to have my second now for a total of 200 calories for the day thus far. Tomorrow is my birthday, we'll be heading somewhere for lunch that my older boy Chris likes, since he loathes pasta he did not join us for the festivities yesterday. My goal upon my next two week weigh in is to not have gained any weight, though I'm really striving to drop at least a pound or two in spite of the extra eating this week. We will see just how much exercise I can handle!!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Picture Of The Day 09/04/09

Sunrise this morning.

Answering Steve's Question

I was not thinking when I used some classic pictures of past paintings in yesterday's post. My friend Steve asked me to identify the artists, so here we go:

The first painting "Marriage at Cana" by Jacopo Tintoretto was painted in 1561.

The second painting "The Bean Feast" is by Jan Steen painted in 1668

The last, and my favorite, is “The Monkeys’ Feast” by Ferdinand van Kessel but I do not know the date it was painted. The artist lived from 1648 through 1696.

My apologies Steve, and anyone else who may have wondered, for not including this info but I was so wrapped up in my humorous use of the pictures. You all thought it was humorous, RIGHT!!!???!!!

My apologies too, to anyone reading this blog that does not want any cultural education. Deal with it. Sometimes culture just leaps and bites you on the ............

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Scheduled Caloric Intake Overage in Celebration Of A Most Auspicious Annual Event Which Commemorates The Start Of My Yearly Journey Around The Sun

Actually this post should have been entitled 'A Scheduled Caloric Intake Overage in Celebration Of A Most Auspicious Annual Event Which Commemorates The Start Of My Yearly Journey Around The Star Known As Sol' but evidently there is a field limitation on the post title!

As many of you know I've been on a Lifestyle Modification Plan for almost 20 weeks now. As some of you know Monday is my birthday, and a Scheduled Caloric Intake Overage in Celebration Of A Most Auspicious Annual Event Which Commemorates The Start Of My Yearly Journey Around The Star Known As Sol is what I call going out to dinner to celebrate my birthday.

I've been averaging lately about 1100 calories a day except for Sundays when I can do 1500. For someone who used to do 1500 calories for lunch it has been quite the change for me. I figure a birthday dinner is a reasonable gift to myself for this event!

I would like to think my birthday dinner would be a classy and refined affair!

I went back and forth on this subject for quite awhile. Finally I decided a couple of weeks ago when I hit the 90 pound lost mark that I deserved a nice meal for my birthday.

There were quite a few choices and places I considered. Over the days I whittled the list down. Right now I am torn between Olive Garden and their infrequent Never Ending Pasta Bowl which is running in this area, or one of the three Chinese places I used to frequent on a regular basis.

One of the Chinese places is the best sit-down restaurant we have been to since we moved to Michigan just over 9 years ago. The other two are buffets, both with their strong points.

Olive Garden's Never Ending Pasta Bowl however is something the kids and I love plus they have 2 new sauces this year. They run this twice a year at most so it seems the timing of this is almost a sign to go there! Scott really loves the bread sticks there as does Danielle. I like them as well in addition to the excellent salad they serve.

However, I am sure my dinner will be somewhat less refined, though still pleasant!

The longest I recall ever being able to maintain a diet has been 3 months. I've passed that by two. In addition I have have never exercised this rigorously for this long. Since I actually started exercising a few days before the dieting started, it's been 140 days in a row of riding the exercise bike. I hate exercising, but always feel good afterward. These days on my normal 90 minute work out I burn about 920 calories.

I'm not calling going out to dinner breaking the diet, because it is scheduled and planned for. I do plan to do a minimum of 90 minutes on the exercise bike both Sunday and on my actual birthday, returning to my normal caloric guidelines after my birthday passes.

Based on this I feel I am justified, and am OK with the decision.

Heck! If I can still move after dinner I plan on taking a nice 2 mile walk to help offset some of the extra calories so long as weather permits.

I can hardly wait for Sunday! In addition to the food it will be so nice to go out to eat. The kids and I have really missed that this summer though I have been bringing in Chinese and Italian food for them at least 2 times a week when they are at my house. I know they prefer dining out though.

Heck who am I trying to kid! My birthday dinner will probably be like this!

On my actual birthday since I have the kids, I'll see if they want to take in a movie or something. They may be a bit subdued as school starts the next day. That's one of the reasons I decided to do dinner Sunday so in the back of their minds they won't be thinking they have school the next day.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Recipe - Egg Beaters Omelet With Mushrooms, Cheese, & Chives

Here's a tasty and filling low calorie, low fat dinner! This is the second night in a row I had it. Read on after the picture for ingredients and preparation.


Ingredients & Calories:
1 cup Egg Beaters (120)
2 slices Louis Rich Turkey Bacon, diced (70)
8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms (50)
1 slice Kraft Fat Free Sharp Cheddar Cheese (25)
1 tsp Red Monkey Cajun BBQ seasoning
2 tbs chopped chives (2)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt substitute
1/2 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
PAM spray
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter pump spray

With spices I'm going to call this 275 calories total. Quite a large omelet for so few calories! Note the plate in the picture is a full size dinner plate.

Substitutions: Of course if low calorie, low fat is not in your game plan, substitute 4 large eggs for the Egg Beaters, 1 slice Cheddar Cheese for the Kraft Cheese, and 1 tbs butter for the bottom of the frying pan instead of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter pump spray. Note though that this will triple the calories and add lots of fat. Honestly, this recipe tastes really good the way I prepared it.

Preparation: Lightly spray bottom of 10" frying pan with PAM, coat that with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter pump spray, and top that lightly with another coating of PAM.

Heat frying pan until water sizzles over medium high heat, and add mushrooms. Spray with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter pump spray and sprinkle Red Monkey BBQ Spice, cumin, paprika, pepper, and salt substitute. Toss every 30 seconds or so for several minutes until mushrooms are evenly browned.

Add diced bacon and continue to toss for another few minutes. Pour Egg Beaters into pan, reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook for 8 minutes or until surface of Egg Beaters is just set. Break slice of Kraft Cheese into quarters and place evenly down one half of the pan. Sprinkle chives over surface of pan.

Using a spatula carefully fold the omelet in half. Increase heat to medium and add 2 tbs of water to pan and cover. Cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes flipping once until the water is gone.

Spray omelet light with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter pump spray, grind a bit of additional black pepper over the top and serve.