Can you help a neighbor out?

Published May 5, 2014 by Betty

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a post about the neighborhood and my annoying neighbors. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. It’s been a long cold winter and I haven’t gotten out much. And it seemed futile to rant about my neighbor’s plastic flowers and cruddy “statuary” that was planted around our shared front porch in March 2013 and stayed under several snow dumps through the recent winter.

But I digress.

At 9pm on Wednesday, my doorbell rang. As a single woman who lives alone, I find that somewhat alarming. Anyone who knows me would certainly call or text first. I cautiously peeked out the side window and saw my next door neighbor, The Long Talker. Great.

I opened the door with my arms firmly folded across my chest. (At that time of day, most women would do the same, having already shed the bra and wearing only the old XL tie dye t-shirt.)

LT was there to inform me that he’d be going away for a few days and asked if I would mind taking in his mail. No problem, LT. It would have been better if you’d simply dropped me a text, but sure, no problem. As I started to close the door, he then informed me that he was expecting a package from UPS and would I take it inside if it was delivered – our UPS and FedEx guys just leave packages on the porch without signature. Again, I told him I’d be happy to do it. Just go away and let me get back to watching hockey.

The next day, I pulled in his mail. As of 5pm, no packages had arrived and at that point I wasn’t really thinking about the package anymore. My friend arrived for dinner around 6pm and the porch was still package-free. About an hour later, I decided to take the wiener dog for a quick walk before beginning to prepare dinner. I opened the front door and could barely access the porch because of the five huge boxes that had suddenly appeared. Thank GOODNESS I had someone to help me pull them inside. Here’s “the package” Long Talker had asked me to tend:

delivery 1

I was mildly annoyed but figured, oh well – some day I may need the same favor.

Around 5pm on Friday, I opened the front door to find four more boxes:

Add the four on top to the existing five.

Add the four on top to the existing five.

Now I was really ticked off. But a short 24 hours later, it suddenly turned humorous when box number ten arrived:

At this point, it was simply ridiculous.

At this point, it was simply ridiculous.

I was quite grateful when he arrived home the next day. Any longer and I would have had to move out to accommodate what appears to be an aggressive home shopping habit. Thinking back over the last year that he’s lived there, and basically being home all day since I am a home-based worker, I do recall an unusually high number of visits to our building from our friendly local UPS and FedEx delivery guys. If these three days of deliveries are any indication, I suspect there is a serious hoarder situation going on.


Jealous Revenge – Dachshund Style

Published November 25, 2013 by Betty

At almost 12 years old, it’s safe to say the wiener dog is a bit set in her ways.  For nearly 11 years, she has slept by my side in bed.

Phoebe's usual sleeping spot

Phoebe’s usual sleeping spot

When I travel, she stays with my parents and sleeps in their bed.  However, during those visits, my father has to sleep in the guest room so that Phoebe can have half the bed along side my mother.

A few months ago, I started seeing someone new.  Over the last few weeks, there have been several nights when Phoebe has been relegated to a dog bed on the bedroom floor to accommodate an overnight guest.  I’ve done my best to make it comfortable for her with fleecy blankets and flannel pillow cases.

Because of her size and the fact that dachshunds can damage their backs if they jump on/off furniture, I have a custom-built ramp that she uses to access the bed:

The wiener dog's accessible bed ramp

The wiener dog’s accessible bed ramp

The first couple of nights when the new man stayed over, Phoebe would dash into the bedroom and up the ramp onto the bed.  She seemed to think that if she got to the bed first, she’d claim her usual spot.  We were willing to let her stay in bed, but when she discovered that Sam wouldn’t be sleeping in the dog bed on the floor, Phoebe would reluctantly head back down the ramp and snuggle into her fleecy dog pillow on the floor.

Last Saturday night, the same scenario played out. Sam occupied Phoebe’s side of the bed and Phoebe settled into her dog bed on the floor. When I woke up on Sunday morning, as usual I got out of bed around 6am to take her out then feed her breakfast.  After she ate, I left her downstairs and then went back up to bed to catch another hour or so of sleep.

By the time I went back upstairs, the sun was coming up so the bedroom was a bit lighter than when I’d gone downstairs. In the dim light of the room, I noticed something on the top of the ramp, on the left where it’s a bit of a platform.  I wasn’t wearing my glasses so I couldn’t quite make out what was on the platform.  I grabbed my glasses and looked closer at the ramp and what did I see? Is that a tootsie roll?! Nope, it was dog poo!

This was no accident.  Phoebe’s been reliably housebroken for more than 11 years and she was properly walked/emptied before bedtime.  This was clearly her not-so-subtle way of letting us know exactly how she felt about being kicked out of her bed. Who’s in charge here?

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Published September 3, 2013 by Betty
My home away from home on Whitefish Mountain

My home away from home on Whitefish Mountain, just a short walk from the chair lift.

Over the last 40 years, I’ve been fortunate to travel extensively for both business and pleasure. My travels have taken me to nearly a dozen European countries, several Caribbean islands, and probably a couple dozen US states. However, outside of the New England states, most of my US travel destinations have been cities for work-related travel.

I’d always felt the most relaxing and soul-nourishing vacations to be in the Caribbean. That was until this summer when I had an opportunity to visit a friend living in Whitefish Montana. Although it took three flights each way, with three of the four round trip connections being full-out runs between terminals in Detroit (both ways) and Minneapolis (on the return), I did have sufficient connection time on the outbound to get a fab manicure at the Sea-Tac Airport branch of Butter, the London nail salon chain before boarding an Alaskan Airlines turbo-prop to Kalispell, MT. That was an extra-dose xanax flight.

But I digress. The grueling itinerary was worth the ultimate destination. While my “home-base” was Whitefish, my amazing host showed me sights from Big Fork MT to Waterton, Alberta Canada, with the highlight being a drive through Glacier National Park including the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Words will never do justice to the experience. I’ll try and let the photos do the talking, other than to say that this is one trip that everyone must include on their bucket list.

The view from the deck where I'd enjoy breakfast each morning and spend time watching the hummingbirds.

The view from the deck where I’d enjoy breakfast each morning and spend time watching the hummingbirds. Glacier National Park is off in the distance.

On the outskirts of Big Fork, MT (I think!)

On the outskirts of Big Fork, MT (I think!) looking back toward Whitefish mountain

this is what they hand you at the entrance gate to Glacier National Park.  We did see a bear, but from the safety of our vehicle.

this is what they hand you at the entrance gate to Glacier National Park. We did see a bear, but from the safety of our vehicle.

Indian lanterns in the lobby of the hotel on Lake MacDonald

Indian lanterns in the lobby of the hotel on Lake MacDonald

Along the Going to the Sun Road through Glacier National Park

Along the Going to the Sun Road through Glacier National Park

Logan Pass

Logan Pass

The hills are alive...

The hills are alive…

Now it's really getting spectacular

Now it’s really getting spectacular

Not a statue.  That's a real big horn sheep looking at the Many Glacier Hotel.

Not a statue. That’s a real big horn sheep looking at the Many Glacier Hotel.

Swiftcurrent Lake behind the Many Glacier Hotel.

Swiftcurrent Lake behind the Many Glacier Hotel.

The Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton, Alberta

The Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton, Alberta

The view behind the Prince of Wales

The view behind the Prince of Wales

Back in Whitefish riding the chair lift to the top of the mountain

Back in Whitefish riding the chair lift to the top of the mountain

The view from the top!

The view from the top!

The mountains in the distance are in Canada.

The mountains in the distance are in Canada.

The scariest part: the chair lift back down Whitefish Mountain.

The scariest part: the chair lift back down Whitefish Mountain. That’s Whitefish Lake down there.

I needed a nice watermelon mojito after that.  Cheers!

I needed a nice watermelon mojito after that. Cheers!

Brush with celebrity

Published August 5, 2013 by Betty

This post was inspired by an exchange I had with Hippie Cahier in the comment section of her recent post.  I made reference to an encounter I had with musician Nick Lowe in the early 80s.  Hipster politely asked for details.  It made me smile to recall the moment, but it also spurred on memories of other “brushes with celebrity” I’ve had. It happens to ALL of us. This post includes my Nick Lowe story, but it also includes other random meetings.

Martin Chambers, drummer and original member of one of my all-time favorite bands, The Pretenders.

It must have been 1980. My friend Roxanne and I headed into New York City for an evening at the Palladium.  I think we were there for a New York Dolls concert, or whatever form of Dolls David Johansen represented at that point (he definitely was not yet into the Buster Poindexter stage – we wouldn’t have gone for that.)

The main act became irrelevant when I was approached by a handsome man with a lovely British accent who complimented my rockin’ black punk-ish jacket.  I’d actually borrowed the jacket for the evening from a co-worker who was much more hip.  Ever alert, Rox and I immediately recognized him.  He then asked if I wanted to trade jackets with him.  Does a bear….? But it wasn’t my jacket, so it was only a temporary swap.  When we parted ways an hour later, we swapped back.

A New York Yankee’s relief pitcher from the early 80s.

(This is the only one who will go unnamed.  You’ll realize why when you read the story)

During the summer of 1981, I spent a weekend visiting a college friend in Boston. On Saturday night, my friend and I went to Daisy Buchanan’s on Newbury Street.  It was pretty late in the evening and I was heading toward the restroom.  Suddenly, a man stepped into my path and said, “Why didn’t you call today?” HUH?!

Since I had immediately recognized him as the NYY pitcher, of course I turned around to look at the person I presumed stood behind me.  There was no one there.

He then asked, “Aren’t you Barbara? Weren’t you in here last night?”

Me: “Uuuuuhhhhhh, nooooooo.”

Him: “Oh.  Well, do you smoke?”

Me: (looking down at the cigarette in my hand that I’d just taken a drag and realizing he doesn’t mean nicotine) “Ummm, yes.”  (Don’t judge, it was 1981.)

Him: “Wanna come back to my room and smoke?”

Me: “Sure!”

Him: “Okay, look.  I’m staying at the Sheraton in room #123.  Let me leave first, then come on along five minutes later.”

Discretion should always trump drunk.

Call me naïve, but I (correctly) did not at all get a sex vibe from the invitation.  It was completely just, “let’s get stoned.” And we did.

One Year Later: New York Yankees starting pitcher, Ron Guidry.

With the information I’d gleaned the previous summer, my two die-hard Yankee fan best friends and I booked a room at the Sheraton Boston during the Yankee-Red Sox series, as well as tickets to a game.

After attending the Saturday afternoon game, we excitedly prepared to hit Daisy Buchanan’s, hoping that it continued to be the Yankees’ Boston watering hole of choice. After dressing in our 80s best (with appropriate makeup), we boarded the elevator to head for the bar.

We descended a couple of floors and the elevator stopped for another pick up.  My friend Lisa was blathering away as the new passenger stepped inside.  My other friend Roxanne and I quickly recognized the passenger as Ron Guidry, aka Louisana Lightning, aka Lisa’s FAVORITE PLAYER EVER.  And Lisa continued to yap, clueless to her hero’s entry.

With eyes nearly popping out of our skulls and heads making movements necks aren’t made to accommodate, we finally silenced Lisa and directed her attention to the new passenger.  She noticed, then asked and was granted permission to feel his finely muscled left arm.

Mr Guidry was indeed headed to the same destination.  While at Daisy Buchanan’s, another Yankee icon, Graig Nettles, bought us a drink and we also met Lou Pinella, among others.

Nick Lowe.  1983-ish??

As the video posted by Hipster reminds us, in the Teacher Teacher video Nick Lowe repeatedly runs his hair back from his face with his fingers.  After a performance at Toad’s Place in New Haven, Lisa, Rox and I went downstairs to try and talk our way into the dressing room.  We succeeded. When we met Nick, I asked and was granted permission to run my fingers through his hair.

Note: when Googling to do some checking for this post, I discovered that Nick Lowe is playing at a small theatre in nearby Fairfield CT on August 23.  The show is sold out, but I am second on the waiting list.  I’m hoping for a repeat.  But I suspect his hair is a lot different than it was in the early 80s.  I know mine is.

The New York Rangers – the entire team and broadcasters.  Super Bowl Sunday, January 1984.

I was working in the group and incentive division of a travel agency. I had to go to Toronto for a hotel site inspection.  The Saturday night I was in town, the Rangers were playing at Maple Leaf Garden.  My favorite team? An iconic hockey venue? I had to go.  For $20 Canadian, I scalped a ticket that had me in the last row of the venue with a partially obstructed view, but I didn’t care.  The people sitting around me could not have been more kind and they indulged my Ranger-mania.

The next morning, I hustled to the Toronto airport for my early flight back to LaGuardia.  As I sat at the gate, I looked up at one point to see two guys walking toward the seating area.  I thought to myself, “Hey, that guy looks like Phil Esposito…..wait a minute, the other guy looks like Sam Rosen.”  At the time, both were the broadcast team for NY Ranger games on MSG network. Well, at their arrival, I thought the cake of my weekend had just been iced!  But it wasn’t over yet.

I continued to check out the flow of beautifully fit young men gathering in the gate area as my brain fired:  Oh my god, THAT’S DAVE MALONEY! THERE’S BARRY BECK!  ANDERS HEDBERG AND THE REST OF THE HOT SWEDES!  And so on…  If you were a Rangers fanatic in the early 80s, you know those names.  To me, at that time in my life, it was a big deal.

After we boarded, I found that I was on an aisle seat smack in the middle of the whole flipping team.  I had Rangers in front of me, Rangers beside me, Rangers behind me.  Many of you know I now have a severe fear of flying that developed in the early 90s.  But at that moment in the mid-80s surrounded by every member of my all-time favorite sports team, if the plane went down I would have died wearing the biggest smile of my life.

Some other random but fun brushes I’ve had include:

Ivan Lendl.  Mid-80s.

He played in a squash tournament at the Southport (CT) Racquet Club.  Afterward, I approached him in the parking lot for an autograph.  I’m pretty sure he sneered at me and gunned his Porsche to knock me over as he sped out of the lot.

Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes.  Totally fuzzy on the timing of this.  Could have been anywhere between 1978 and 1984.

They played an outdoor concert at the now defunct Pinecrest Country Club in Shelton CT. There was virtually no post-event security for the band.  After the concert, my friends and I wandered to the band’s trailer.  We hung out drinking beers for a while with a few of the Jukes, including Southside himself.

Ice-T & Coco.  The Las Vegas Hilton, June 2010 .

I was walking through the hotel lobby with my colleague after spending nearly 12 hours working at the convention center.  As we headed toward the elevators, I spotted a couple walking toward us in the direction of the casino.  I said to my friend, “LOOK, there’s Ice-T and Coco!!” In her ever so delightful and polite sounding British accent, she turned and promptly chased them down:  “ICE-T!  ICE-T!  EXCUSE ME!”  Ice and Coco couldn’t have been more polite as they smiled for photos through our blundering efforts with newly acquired mobile technology.

The only actual photographic evidence I have of any of the encounters

The only actual photographic evidence I have of any of the encounters

Not me.  But shortly after I met Ice in Vegas, another friend ran into him in NYC.

Not me. But shortly after I met Ice in Vegas, another friend ran into him in NYC. He gets around.

Anthony Bourdain.  Craft Restaurant NYC, April 2012.

While dining with my friend May, Bourdain entered the restaurant and walked by our table three times while we simply gaped.  This man is my fantasy husband.

Jackie Mason.  Scarpetta Restaurant, NYC, April 2013.

Again, I met May for our annual dinner in Manhattan.  After exiting the taxi and struggling to identify the location, looking up toward building numbers, I suddenly realized I was in front of the restaurant and veered left to enter.  In doing so, I accidentally walked behind a woman also entering.  In doing so, I also cut off her companion following about ten feet behind her.  I looked at the old timer, apologized, and thought to myself, “gee, that looks like Jackie Mason.”  As the three of us approached the maitre d’ desk, several staff gathered and greeted him by name, wondering if they now required a table for three.  Nope, so sorry for the intrusion! May had not yet arrived so I took a seat at the bar.  When she joined me, I told her about my faux pax.  Because I have about a dozen years on May, she wasn’t old enough to be exactly sure who Jackie Mason was.  But once we were seated, she pointed to the table next to us and said, “Is that him?”   Indeed. May and I wonder who we’ll see at next year’s dinner.

I know that everyone has encounters like this.  I’d love to hear about your brush with celebrity! Please share.

Leaving the Bubble: Vegas. Again.

Published June 30, 2013 by Betty

Well, it was time once again for a business trip to Las Vegas.  Honestly, I’m sick of the place.  I do feel it’s a destination that everyone should see at least once in a lifetime – it’s such a spectacle.  But enough is enough.  I lost count a few years back when I hit something like visit number 20.  For the record, they have never been voluntary trips.  Always work-related.

I’m not a gambler, nor do I care for the shows.  Especially when the least expensive ticket for any show starts around $100 AND after working at the convention center from 6:30am-6:30pm, it’s damn hard to stay awake past 10pm at my age.

This trip, however, was a bit different.  Our staff was booked at the Renaissance Hotel, a property with NO gaming and NO smoking.  There’s nothing worse than slogging through a casino at 6am to go to work and passing by people sitting at blackjack tables drinking scotch.  Gag.

But before I got to the hotel, I discovered that a three-plus hour layover in Charlotte was insufficient time to allow US Airways baggage handlers to transfer my luggage between my connecting flights.  Seriously.  Had I known it would be so difficult, I certainly would have had enough time to claim the baggage myself and recheck it through to Vegas.

A lot of people may moan about a three-hour layover.  But, as a NASCAR fan, I enjoy connections in Charlotte for the opportunity to visit the Stock Car Café at the airport.  As a so-called restaurant snob, I find the food leaves much to be desired, but who could complain about an establishment that offers wine with a choice of 6- or 9-ounce options?  I’ll have the triple grande Chardonnay, please!

Anyway, after checking into the hotel and advising the front desk that US Airways promised to deliver my luggage later that night (it was put on the CLT-LAS flight AFTER mine), I entered my room to see this image filling an ENTIRE wall:

Her name was Lola...

Her name was Lola…

This was the “art work” above the bed:

Here's your morning cocktail!

Here’s your morning cocktail!

Perhaps Lola’s head was meant to top Raul’s body?  But I think Vegas is the last place one wants to wake to see a headless body holding a cocktail above the bed.

But heads – or lack thereof – are never a problem when I travel for business.  This crew ships with me from event to event:

I ain't got nobody

I ain’t got nobody

After one event ends, the 50 bald heads get packed in a crate, shipped to and sit in a warehouse for a couple of months before they get shipped to the next event.  When (and if) they arrive at the next destination, inevitably they are dirty.  So it’s part of my job description to clean the heads.

I kid you not, part of my job description

I kid you not, part of my job description

Vegas would not be Vegas without a little bit of fun.  This year, it involved a house party where some people walked into the pool fully clothed and shoed in order to give a foot massage

When you walk 10+ miles a day on a concrete floor, any kind of foot massage feels good

When you walk 10+ miles a day on a concrete floor, any kind of foot massage feels good

and a birthday girl was treated to an impromptu striptease

Intentionally un-enhanced to protect the innocent

Intentionally un-enhanced to protect the innocent

Viva Las Vegas, my friends!

I’m coming back

Published May 13, 2013 by Betty

After an extended absence due to work and life in general, I do have a couple of posts in development. The old neighborhood rant type of posts.

Part of what’s been occupying my time lately is the NHL playoffs. Some of you know I’m 35+ year New York Ranger fan. I never thought they’d make the playoffs this year. I’m not a fair weather fan, I’m simply realistic. I will be content if 1994 remains their only Stanley Cup in my lifetime-at least I’ve seen one. But another would be nice.

So far, I’ve let superstitions dictate my playoff viewing. And I’ve been trading game commentary texts with an old high school friend – all positively reinforcing our NYR support. After last night’s nail-biting game, I’m not sure I can sit through tonight’s game.

This morning I received the following text from my NYR fanatic friend:


My initial thought was to reply that I, too, thought the Rangers might fail. But to support Ovechkin? The Ranger buzzkill?

Thankfully, soon after she informed me it was a prank pulled by a Caps fan colleague of hers. I’ve resisted the urge to trash talk back. I don’t want to eat my words later. All I have to say is: LET’S GO RANGERS!!


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