Saturday, July 3, 2010

Along the Way .. #4

Hi, all!

Just a short post to let you know that I am in Amherst, NH, with my family, safe and sound.

I arrived yesterday, late afternoon. Started driving Wednesday from Wooster, OH around 4:30pm, right after playing a session of duplicate bridge, and just kept on driving every time I woke up from a short nap or resting a few minutes with my eyes closed until - finally - I could not force another driving muscle to move even one more inch and pulled over at a rest stop about 70 miles away from Troy, New York at 6:30am Thursday morning, where I actually got a couple of hours of sleep in a car that was almost toasty warm with the morning sun streaming in the windows.

Started a post about that drive last night, but then realized I couldn't finish it because I didn't have all my data in hand and organized.

There will be several more posts in this series .. at least five or six, I would imagine. So, look for those. Think you'll find them of interest. And, perhaps you'll get a laugh or two.

Meanwhile, I'm ok. How are you doing?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Along the Way .. #3

Eating out ...

Beth and I decided, very early on, that we wanted absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with fast food franchises on this trip ... ... so, goodbye to McDonald's, Arby's, IHOP, Jack in the Box, KFC, etc. And, except for my quite abnormal excursion in the middle of the night to a Waffle House (see this post), any and all such establishments received not a single visit from either of us.

However, I must tell you that my visit to the Waffle House re-awakened a keen desire for 'real' bacon and eggs - these free continental breakfasts at motels, while nice, leave a whole lot to be desired, you know?

Beth introduced me to Cracker Barrel, with whom I have since fallen in love. As a matter of fact, after I publish this post, I think I'll head back on down to Columbus' one and only Cracker Barrel location, where I fully intend to have three eggs over medium, bacon very crisp and hot chocolate. (I was there last night, but am salivating again! LOL)

Our last evening together in Memphis, Butch treated Beth and me to the best Chinese food I can ever remember eating! I had egg foo yung .. three or four large pieces - sinfully delicious! - I could only eat a couple of them. What a terrible loss for my tummy and appreciative taste buds! Butch took what was left on Beth's and my plates 'to go'. Boy, he would have had some really good stuff awaiting him when he zapped them in the microwave, wouldn't he? The three of us also shared an order of crab rangoon .. two each. Nothing left of any of those 'to go'. :) The name of the restaurant? Hunan

Monday evening in Louisville, I developed a sudden craving for apple pie ala mode. And so, after settling in at our motel - we'd acquired a taste for Baymont Inns - we went in search of same. It was going on 10 o'clock at night, and I didn't know how successful we might be, but we were trying to be optimistic. As an added plus, there was an IHOP in the area. (Oh no, a franchise!!) We knew they were open 24/7 and had a varied menu. We'd stop there as a last resort.

Some of the restaurants that presented possibilities were already closed. However, one of the restaurants still open that caught our attention was Applebee's. We thought sure that, with a name like Applebee's, they'd be offering an apple something-or-another. I mean, wouldn't you think so? "No" is the answer. (!?!) No, no and no again. We picked on them for what we considered an appropriate amount of time and then went on our way.

[Sorry, folks. Thought I could wait until I finished this before going out to eat, but I'm starving! More later. ................................................... How's this for later? It's now Monday, going on 10am. It was all I could do last night, after coming back from eating, to just lay on the bed and work the television clicker.]

We'd almost run out of options. A restaurant with the kind of enticing name of Old Chicago presented itself, but - upon closer inspection - turned out to be a "pasta and pizza" place .. .. not a very likely candidate, eh what?

But, Beth being the "leave no stone unturned" person that she is, said, "Wait here. I'll go in and see what they have." She came out just a couple of minutes later with a grin on her face and said, "I think they might be able to help us."

Sure enough! They had something on their menu that described a whole apple with cinnamon, surrounded by a crust of some sort, baked and then drizzled over with caramel and strawberry sauces. We asked if they had ice cream. They did. We decided to split an order .. .. cut one in half, hold the caramel and strawberry, and top it off with vanilla ice cream.

My word, you never saw food disappear so fast! To say it was delicious simply doesn't do it justice!! The waiter came back to see how we were doing. I told him that Beth had accidentally dropped hers on the floor (I was just finishing mine), and that we'd like to have another. He was very pleased and took off with our order.

That'll be my last stop at an Old Chicago for who knows how long? There are two locations in Pennsylvania (plus a couple in Michigan), but they're nowhere near where I'll be traveling, and none at all (!) in New York, New Hampshire, Maine, or Vermont. :(

[I'll be traveling to Ann Arbor later today. Jennie tells me she thinks there are two restaurant locations there that might be able to come close to what we enjoyed at Old Chicago. I'll report back later. After I check out of here in another hour or so, I'll stop by the Worthington Inn (just down the street, as it turns out) for brunch. Many years ago, when we lived here in Columbus, we spent many a Sunday there after church, where our daughter enjoyed 'all she could eat' for a quarter. I was delighted to discover they were still in business.]

If any of you get anywhere close to an Old Chicago and that dessert sounds good to you, I highly recommend you try it .. without the caramel and strawberry, as we did (Those two additions really didn't sound very good to us.), and let me know what you think. It's listed on the menu as "apple _____ _____" (don't remember the exact title), but read the description. That should let you know you have the right item.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Along the Way .. #2

My itinerary ...

I thought I should let all of you know what I think my schedule will look like for the rest of this trip.

To recap thus far, Beth and I arrived in Memphis Friday, June 18th (late afternoon) and had a really great visit with Butch. Part of that trip was written about in my last post, and you should expect a "part two" before this series has ended.

We drove to Louisville the following Monday, stayed overnite, and I drove Beth to the airport to catch her flight back to Houston before continuing on to Indianapolis by myself. From Indy went to Lafayette, where I stayed until Friday with Jacky, my long-timey friend. Then on to Columbus, Ohio.

Have decided to take an extra day here in Columbus to try and play catchup on some badly-needed sleep, get my e-mail correspondence all caught up, and publish some more about my trip on Goldenrod's thoughts.

I am happy to report that I am sleeping very well, e-mails are all finished, and I'm publishing again for the first time in six days. :)

Tomorrow, Monday, I'll drive to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Jennie and I will catch an actual eyeball on each other for the very first time. Am looking forward to that!

Tuesday I'll be going back down south (might or might not decide to take a little jog over to Jackson first to see one of my college roommates) .. .. this time near Canton, Ohio, where I'll be staying overnight. Have a 'live' duplicate bridge game scheduled for the afternoon of the 30th. That evening (Wednesday) I'll be picking Beth up at the airport in Akron, where she'll be rejoining me for the rest of the trip to New Hampshire. At least, that's what I think will be happening!

Long story there. Long stories everywhere, actually, a few of which I'm hoping to publish before I get on my way again tomorrow.

Anyway, there you have it, the gist of my trip. Target date for a New Hampshire arrival is either late July 2nd (preferable) or mid-afternoon on the 3rd. More details coming. Many more!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Along the Way .. #1

In Memphis ... part one ...

Beth and I arrived here around 5pm Friday night ... 650+ miles put on the car altogether, which includes running all over the east side of Memphis to try and find Butch, eat supper and locate a motel. Turns out we wouldn't be staying with Butch for reasons I'd just as soon not broadcast all over the blogosphere.

It was wonderful to see him! We'd been quite worried about the state of his health and were anxious to get up here personally to ascertain for ourselves his present condition and ask pointed questions to his face that couldn't be easily dodged.

We were greatly relieved when we first saw him. He didn't appear as tho he'd been ill at all. On the other hand, as the three of us spent more time together the next couple of days and we saw the actual living conditions in his apartment, other - unanticipated and more immediate - questions arose.

We felt he was being less than forthright with his doctor, and we both - separately as well as acting together as one person - talked candidly and openly with him about our concerns ... me as a former lover and proposed marriage partner from years ago and one who still cared very much about him as a person of worth, and Beth as his loving sister. Beth even took it upon herself to fully inform Butch's daughter Kelly, who is a nurse, of his living conditions. Kelly had been, at best, only vaguely aware of the problem.

Anyway, we're hoping that Butch will act positively on his own behalf. He seemed to take whatall we had to say in a constructive manner. He knows we love him.

Saturday, after sleeping in, changing motels and obtaining Internet service, we picked Butch up and took just a great tour of the 'midtown' area of Memphis. When I visited with Butch here 10 years ago, it was mid-winter and too cold to do much else other than stay inside where it was warm.

Boy, does Memphis ever have some lovely neighborhoods! Mile after mile after mile of them. We spent a couple of pleasurable hours treating ourselves to the sight of attractive houses and well-manicured lawns that complemented their sites beautifully. Lots of churches. I wonder if Memphis has zoning laws? I'm guessing they do.

One terribly depressed area we drove through included the surrounding areas of Graceland, where Elvis Presley had lived. Beth had taken the tour of his home, I think, when she came through here years ago, but I hadn't been interested in doing that when I was here visiting. (Butch took me on a 'virtual tour' of the property on his computer when I was here back then, but I wasn't interested in doing more than that at the time.) This time, however, I at least wanted to drive by the place.

My goodness, the monies that must have to be spent just keeping the place up and trying to make sure intruders and potentially-destructive persons don't get in! I could only get a brief glimpse of the house, but just the grounds themselves were breath-taking.

From Graceland, we headed downtown. We were scheduled to depart on a dinner cruise at 7pm from a Mississippi waterfront location, and wanted to make sure - even tho the cruise wasn't scheduled for another hour and a half or so - we had our bearings straight.

Along the way, we spent more than just a few minutes trying to circle by car the extensive grounds and buildings of St. Jude Hospital. Impossible! Some pretty hefty security there, which I found a little surprising. Have you ever seen that campus? Most impressive!

Then we crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas. We wanted to see what the river looked like from over there. Well, what the river looks like from the Arkansas side is a little like the Florida swamps. Do you remember one of Burt Reynolds' movies? Like that. Interesting!

We found that out only later, tho, as we were on our dinner cruise. That was nice! Well, all except for having to walk up a flight of stairs to get our seating assignments only to learn just ten steps later that we had to navigate another set of stairs back down again! It made no sense at all to me, and I expressed my distress most succinctly to the powers that be.

In their efforts to try and make my cruise more enjoyable, I was served the buffet at my table rather than having to navigate the stairs up and down again - first to get the buffet, and second to bring it down to our table. It was a good one, too! Barbecued pork, marinated chicken, beans, corn, cole slaw and Mississippi mud cake, which I imagine was of a souffle-like texture (Don't know for sure. Have never had souffles, only heard about them!) .. .. very light and kind of melted in my mouth. I ate only a little bit of it, tho. Most desserts aren't really on my list of preferred things to order.

[Speaking of desserts, Beth and I stopped to eat on the way to Memphis Friday at a restaurant in Arkadelphia called "The Barn". I often have trouble ordering food these days. I don't eat that much anymore, and when you're traveling like we are, there's no way the uneaten food will not just be wasted. Especially in this heat! I thought Beth was coming to my rescue when she offered to share what I wanted to order .. .. a hamburger with onions, cheese, lettuce and a side order of either french fries, onion rings or a combination of both. That was a perfect solution! The hamburger was delicious, Beth enjoyed her onion rings and I my fries. I found out only after we had arrived here in Memphis that she'd had an ulterior motive. She had spied a dessert she thought she'd like to order, but didn't think she'd have enough room left in her tummy after she'd eaten her entree. Turns out she still didn't have enough room! LOL]

After we'd all finished eating, Butch and I walked around a bit on the bottom deck and enjoyed the scenery. Beth went all over the place with her digital camera, looking for photographic opportunities. It was a gorgeous evening, nice and clear, with a breeze blowing just enough to help cool things off. There was even a half moon visible in the early evening sky.

To add frosting to an almost perfect cruise cake, the captain made the smoothest landing imaginable between two other ships back at the dock, easily navigating the narrow slot. After dropping Butch off at his apartment, we found ourselves back at our hotel by 10:30 and kind of fell onto our pillows .. .. me doing my thing an hour or so later by getting up again. :( I'm not getting nearly enough sleep .. .. mainly fits and starts!

Eventually, I walked across the street to a Waffle House - around 2 or 2:30 in the morning, I would guess - and had some breakfast (I seem to be eating just a little more these days) .. .. scrambled eggs, crisp bacon, hash browns, toast and hot chocolate. The bacon, eggs and toast were good (I brought a couple of pieces of bacon back to the room to eat later), the hash browns had kind of a peculiar taste (I left them) and the hot chocolate was one of these packaged mixes, but it was all hot and hit the spot in my tummy.

Yesterday, Sunday, we picked up Butch and drove on down to Horn Lake, Mississippi, the site of the ACBL's new headquarters. Why Mississippi? Why not stay in Tennessee? Don't know. ANYway, their one-story building is located out in the country a little bit and the surroundings are quite lovely. They've only been there a couple of months, but there's been talk of adding a fountain to the retention pond nearby. We weren't ----------------------------------------------------------

Sorry, guys. Was wanting to finish this post this morning and publish it, but have decided to hit publish and have this be "part one" ... ... maybe, if I'm a very good girl and my boss (Beth) decides to let me work on my blog after we reach Louisville later today, you'll see a 'part two'.

There's a whole lot more to say about our stay in Memphis, but I've run out of the time I need to write it. It's my birthday, too! Wouldn't you think I could be babied and have my way all day long, just for today? Geez!

Later, gators!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I know that it's been a while ...

... since I last posted, but truly, folks, there hasn't been the time. Lots and lots of things I've wanted to tell you, but it always takes me a while to write these and I didn't want to stint on one just to get it out there.

The movers are coming early tomorrow to pack me all up and load me .. .. well, not "me", but you know what I mean, I think. (?) I'm not ready. (So what else is new, Goldenrod?) I have the awful feeling that I'll wind up in the wee hours of tomorrow morning making last minute decisions that might later turn out to have nightmarish consequences.

There isn't time right now, either, but I felt I just had to publish this to let you all know the latest ... ...

[Sorry about the little break there. Just realized I have some more loads of washing and drying that must be done before tomorrow - and yes, the washer and dryer are going to New Hampshire - and so, went out to the utility room and started a load.]

... ... and to tell you that - basically - I'm ok. Really! Tired, ornery, sometimes depressed and "frozen" at the thought of whatall still has to be done, but overall ready to leave this house. It's time ... nearly 40 years in one place is plenty, wouldn't you agree?

Beth and I will be leaving early Friday am from her place in Pearland and heading towards Memphis, where Butch lives. (Butch is Beth's brother.) We're hoping to get there by late afternoon or early evening so we can all have dinner together.

After a day and a half - or so - visiting with Butch, we'll head on up to Louisville, Kentucky on Monday (my 73rd birthday), which is a change in our original plans. Won't be going to Cincinnati after all.

Beth will fly back to Houston from Louisville on Tuesday and I'll continue on alone to Indianapolis, where I'll be having lunch with (and meeting face to face for the very first time!) Marty - one of my "friends" from BridgeBaseOnline - and his wife, Lana. Doesn't that sound super neat? I'm looking forward to it.

Then I'll be at Jacky's, my long-time friend who lives near West Lafayette, where I'm hoping to spend more than just a day or two. I promise I'll try to behave myself, be polite and not make rude noises or emit foul odors while at the dinner table. I wouldn't want to be evicted early! LOL

Jacky has Internet access .. so does Butch, but we won't be there long enough, I don't think, for me to spend any great amount of time on the computer .. ... you might kind of look for another post by me - from Jacky's place - next week.

Gotta go! I started this post a little over an hour ago. (See how long one of these takes me?) Time's a-flitting. My car is in the garage right now, getting some preventive maintenance work done, some of which is more than just a little expen$ive. They'll be calling me in another 2-3 hours. I'll miss Micky, the shop owner. (One of many people I'll miss when I leave Houston!)

Later, gators!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

My kingdom for a good dohnut

I intended to stop by Shipley's to pick up a couple of my favorites - glazed - before arriving at the Bridge Studio yesterday morning to have a makeup game with Roop Prasad, my regular mentee for the past year on Wednesday mornings (2nd Wednesday of each month), but didn't have enough time. It's just as well, tho, because some kind soul had brought in a bunch of them to share with all of us!

For the past 35+ years, I've been kind of basking in the luxury of having a Shipley's dohnuts shop - well, in fact, several! - here in Houston. They're a local chain, with over 220 locations in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Yep, you read that right. Nothing in New Hampshire. Oh, unhappy day!

What seems to be most prevalent in New Hampshire is Dunkin' Donuts ... at one point in my visit there last week, I counted three (3!) of their stores within a half mile radius. I'll give them credit for serving a great cup of hot chocolate, but you can have the rest of their offerings. Ugh! Just not to my taste.

However, I did notice several "bakery and cafe" or "bakery and restaurant" signs in the area. Will have to investigate some of those and let you know what I discover. Hopefully, one of them will have dohnuts more to my liking and be located not too far from where I'll be living. I like them nice and soft and fresh, so I only buy two or three at a time.

Moulton's Market, located just off the Village Green in Amherst, offers a little bit of this and a little bit of that. We (daughter, son-in-law and myself) were there a couple of times last week, mainly to pick up sandwiches and soft drinks to go.

On our last day there, I noticed they had homemade soups - chili and vegetable. I smelled them both. Delicious! Their deli menu changes daily, but count on me to report back on the soups, in particular. That's one item that reheats very well in the microwave. And yes, I'll have a microwave.

Getting back to yesterday, I was more than just a little surprised when Roop presented me with a parting gift ... a 100% cashmere scarf, a tartan pattern in shades of brown and made in Scotland. (Guess she'd forgotten we were also scheduled to play in the mentor/mentee game this coming Wednesday morning.) So soft! You just wouldn't believe the softness of this scarf.

I proudly wore it around my neck the rest of our game and intend to sport it again this coming Wednesday. Thank you, Roop, for your beautiful and most thoughtful gift.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Do you remember Mike Royko?

Award-winning newspaper columnist? I hadn't thought about him in years until earlier today, when cleaning out one of the file cabinets that won't be making the move, I came across an article written by him at least twenty years ago, maybe twenty-five.

I think it's really funny and I'm going to copy it nearly verbatim. Mike is interviewing a "Dr. Chernal", past chairman of the President's Commission for the Shrinking Buck and a consultant to numerous financial institutions. Hope it tickles your funny bone almost as much as it did mine!

What Wall Street needs right now is a good slapper

Q: Dr. Chernal, many experts say that panic and hysteria are among the major reasons for the stock market collapse. Do you agree?
A: Oh, yes. Panic and hysteria are very bad. Upset the stomach. Bad for the digestion. Give you heartburn and gas. I caution against them.
Q: Yes, but what can be done to prevent them?
A: Don't eat that deli food. You ever see what they eat on Wall Street? Greasy pastrami, corned beef, salty pickles. They swallow without chewing. No wonder they have heartburn. They should eat yogurt.

Q: No, I meant what measures can be taken to reduce the panic and hysteria?
A: Oh, that. Well, the first thing they should do is hire slappers.
Q: Slappers? What are slappers?
A: What's the matter, don't you ever watch old movies?
Q: Sure, but what has that got to do with it?
A: So, in the movies, what happens when a person gets hysterical?
Q: Somebody slaps them?
A: Right. It always snaps them out of it, calms them down, makes them stop screaming.

Q: So this is what you recommend for Wall Street?
A: Sure. They could hire a few hundred big bruisers just to cruise around the Stock Exchange, the trading pits and all those other places where people are too nervous. If they see somebody getting hysterical, they go over and give 'em a slap or two.
Q: Do you really think that would help?
A: Maybe. Maybe not.
Q: That's not a very definitive answer.
A: That shows you know little about economics. "Maybe, maybe not" is one of the foundations of economic thought. I know guys who got to be professors at Harvard just by saying, "maybe, maybe not."

Q: I didn't know that. Now for another question. With the market so depressed, many people are wondering where they should put their money so it is safe.
A: Good question. I recommend emptying out a couple of boxes of frozen dinners, putting your money in the empty boxes and sticking them in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator.
Q: But why?
A: Because my brother-in-law is a cop and he says that the average burglar doesn't look in the freezer. And even if he is hungry, he wouldn't eat that kind of stuff anyway. So your money is safe there.

Q: But I was talking about putting money in safe investments.
A: Oh, investments. Don't bother. Spend it, go be a good-time Charlie, whoop it up.
Q: That doesn't sound very prudent. What about planning for the future?
A: The future? How do you know what the future is going to be? You ever seen it? Have you been there?
Q: I suppose I haven't.
A: That's right. So let's say you are careful and you save your money for the future. Then one day you swallow a bad oyster, you get a fever, the preacher comes and mumbles over you, and the undertaker hauls you away. So, what happens to all that money you've been investing?
Q: It goes to my widow and my children?
A: Right. And what does your widow do? She'll probably head for Florida, dye her hair blue, take dancing lessons from some skinny young guy with a moustache and pointy shoes, and they'll go out on the town and spend your money drinking banana daiquiris. And your kids will grab their share and buy new cars, CD players and go to a Club Med. So don't be a stiff. My advice is to have a good time while you got it. Buy a hair piece. It'll take your mind off the Dow Jones.

Q: But many people would like to invest their money so it shows a reasonable return. What should they do?
A: OK, then stash it away where it'll get a little interest. Then wait and see if there is going to be a terrible depression. And if there is, and everybody is going broke, you will be in position to do something for your friends.
Q: You mean to help them?
A: No. You see if they have anything that's worth buying and you offer them 10 cents on the dollar.
Q: But that's taking cruel advantage of the helpless to enrich yourself.
A: See? You're learning. You want to join my firm?