Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spying into Thy Neighbor's Garden!

While driving through Wernersville, PA this afternoon, I was admiring the lovely fronts of all of these perfectly kept Victorian homes, even in the dead of winter.  I do have a favorite thing I do though, that I am able to do only in certain towns with back alleyways. I will let you in on a little secret.

I drive down the back alleys and view the yards and back porches of these beautiful homes. I love seeing the backyards, the sanctuaries, the private oases of various families. Some have decks, some have pools, and others have beautiful gardens. If I am lucky, they have no fences and I am privy to see the private gardens where they relax.

In the front, the Victorian homes have beautifully public yards and porches. In the summer, large ferns, geraniums, or marigolds plantings dominate the front. Either wicker or rattan sets are spread out on wide verandas where cools breezes waft through. In the back, there may be bricked garden paths lines with lanterns. Or you might see various bird baths and bird feeders. A concrete bench for gossiping by a man made pond or fountain. Pairs of Adirondack chairs sit in one area of the yard, most likely facing the nicest vista or garden. I love it! It gives me ideas for my own garden. Backyards are places of refuge, places of relaxation. Driving around your neighborhood and "spying" into others often gives better ideas than the latest edition of Country Living or This Old House!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

AARP

Apparently AARP benefits are right around the corner. John just signed me up as a "household" member. But I am only 40 1/2!!! LOL. I guess I can still reap the benefits! :)

How I Got Away From a Barfly

So John and I were at the local lodge/bar in our community this evening and I was talking to a woman I will call Rebecca who was standing between John and I.  I have know her for a about a half year and run into her every couple weeks. She is very sweet, a little pretentious, and dresses way too sophisticated for Schuylkill County, PA. We were talking for about 10 minutes and within 5 minutes I realized she was really drunk. While throwing back a vodka tonic, she started talking about how she is working on some knitting project and goes on and on and on about it. I don't have a problem with knitting per se, but wanted to talk about other things. She kept going back to her knitting and then started talking about some knitting club she is starting. I stifled a yawn, glanced down at my watch, and seeing it was 10:00 PM, decided I needed to act to either alert John it was time to go, or try and get away from her.

I attempted to get away from her first. I went to move off of my bar stool, and she turned to John and said, "You don't mind if I sit in your seat, do you?" And without waiting for a response, she sat down and literally pushed him out of his seat. He was not happy but didn't say anything. She turned her body towards me and wedged me in. Well ... option #1 was blown.

I then attempted to alert John that we needed to go by gently nudging his leg with my foot. I leaned forward pretending that I couldn't hear Rebecca's drunken ramblings. Leaning in, I nudged John. He looked over at me, rolled his eyes as if to say "Oh my God, will she not be quiet?" He then turned to a friend of ours next to us, Todd, in his requisite Phillies cap, and proceeded to ignore us.  Great, I guess I am left to try and deal with this myself, I thought.

I glared at John thinking or rather screaming in my head, No John!!! I am trying to get you to leave! Pay attention to me!!!  I stared at John and then realized Rebecca was continuing on, now segueing some how into how she is much better at playing the piano than knitting.   HUH? I thought.  What is the segue with that? Rebecca says to me, "So do YOU think you would ever come over for a cocktail?"  The record playing stopped abruptly with a screech, and I thought, "Where did that come from?"

OK, another attempt to get John's attention.  I leaned forward again to nudge him in his leg, this time a little harder. As I leaned forward I fell off balance and kicked Rebecca squarely in the shin. "Ouch!" she yelped.

"Did you just kick me in the shin?" she asked.
I paused awkwardly, trying to compose myself.
"Excuse me, what did you just ask me?" I inquired pretending to be clueless and dumbfounded.
"Did you just kick me in the shin?" she asked again louder.
"No," shaking my head, "that wasn't me."
"Well, if it wasn't you who was it?" she asked, breath heavy with alcohol, now slurring through the last several words.
"No, Rebecca, I actually think you fell against the bar. Uh ... how many have you had?" I asked.
"Oh, I don't know, probably 6. I don't think I fell, I mean, well ... maybe I need to switch to a soda. I swear you just kicked me."
"Don't be silly," I reasoned. "Why would I kick you because if I wanted to get your attention, I could just ask you something. I mean you ARE right next to me." I looked at her with a look like she was just a little crazy.
"OK, I guess you are right. Maybe I should just go home, I have been here since 6," she slurred.
"Well, let me help you find your husband and tell him you are ready to go home. It's the very LEAST I could do," I offered smiling sympathetically to her new found embarrassment.

With that, I had my exit and got up and found her husband. Soon, Rebecca the Barfly was peacefully passing out in the passenger seat of her husband's Lexus on the drive home.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Crazy Stuff While Driving to Work

Driving to work today in my trusty red Saturn, I glanced over at a woman traveling about 70 mph. She was passing me on the major highway I travel every morning. She was driving and putting on mascara in her visor mirror at the same time! She seemed to be doing it well and was very adept at it, just spending enough time to put on one brush stroke and then looking down at the highway in front of her. She would swerve just a little about every half mile. I was mesmerized at how determined she was to get on that mascara! As I spend a lot of time on this highway, you can imagine that I end up seeing some pretty wild stuff.


The only time I ever saw a barn owl was when it swooped down in front of my car, coming to within about 2 feet of hitting my windshield. I screamed like a 5 year old girl. Thankfully I didn’t swerve into the other lane. I once saw a huge 35 plus foot sports cruiser boat on the back of a flatbed truck. It towered over everything but of course was just able to fit under the over passes. I think what struck me as crazy was just this huge mass of the boat going down the highway. I also saw a flatbed tractor trailer hauling a fiberglass swimming pool. The side of the swimming pool was hanging out over the adjacent lane by three feet. I was next to it in the fast lane when it had to move further into my lane to avoid hitting a pulled over tractor trailer on the side of the road. Imagine being crushed on the highway by a swimming pool. I figured at least I would make the evening news with that one.

Every morning like clockwork, I am passed by a truck load of pigs going to the slaughter house. They are in those trailers with the small air holes. You can’t see much but you see enough to know it's filled with pigs. I once saw the eye of one of them. I grew so sad wondering what must be going through that pig’s mind. Poor Wilbur. I blocked it out of my mind … until the next day when I saw another truck load pass me by. Thankfully now I am almost oblivious to it.

Back to the woman with the mascara. Why is it that we do things while driving without a care in the world as to who may be watching us? I have seen people consume full meals while driving, put on makeup, and even shave! I once saw a man behind me at a stop light in my rear view mirror. He looked from side to side, saw that nobody was next to him, and then picked his nose and ate it. He wasn't some punk kid, he looked to be about my age. I guess he forgot someone in front of him could be looking through the rear view mirror.

People, I have observed, seem to feel their cars are a sort of protective sanctuary, an inner sanctum. Sure there are windows that others can see through, but with some people that does not seem to matter. That glass between them and the outside world is enough of a protective wall to do some of the most outrageous things. I have observed people brushing their hair, someone popping a zit while driving, and one guy eating a bowl of cereal with a spoon.  I even passed an attorney I worked with who was driving his Mercedes to work. He was texting and speaking on the phone.  He must have been steering with his knees! I saw him later that day in my office and told him what an idiot he was.

I guess it also comes down to how much someone is rushing to whereever they want to go. They feel they are passing by you at 80 mph and are never gonna see you again anyway, so they pop, pick, or text away. Well, if you happen to see me doing some outrageous behavior, cut me some slack. My commute is one hour each way every day, and my little late model red Saturn is my own sanctuary!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pumpkin Vodka Recipe

This is the recipe for pumpkin vodka which I made during the Fall and the holidays. I would love to take credit, but alas, I cannot. It was created by the Chef Jerry Labooty and General  Manager Mark Rosenberger of the Greystone Restaurant in Pottsville, PA. I can say that it was easy to make and sooo good! One thing I would recommend is that if you aren't going to finish it quickly, I would strain the pumpkin vodka through a coffee filter and then chill in the fridge to encourage longevity with flavor! I halved the recipe and it came out perfectly. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Vodka Recipe

1 gallon jar with lid
3 small pumpkins
2 1.75 L vodka (Skyy was used, I used Absolut)
1 lb brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon each of nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice

Remove stems from pumpkins, cut in half, and clean out seeds and fibers.
Steam halves for 10-15 minutes until a little soft.
Place halves, while still hot into 1 gallon jar.
Add all the other ingredients, seal jar.
Let sit for at least three days.
Enjoy!