Friday, December 29, 2006


My post below this, Christmas by Jenni, left out some of the major highlights of our Christmas. Such as, the numerous searches conducted for the numerous items that went missing this holiday season.

Friday night: Luggage. Mom swore a piece of luggage was missing. We searched cars, rooms and memories and it was determined all pieces of luggage were present and accounted for. What was missing was an item Mom thought she had packed. She had to endure the holidays without whatever it was she had packed in it. Since she and Dad had 5 suitcases between them, I felt confident she was well supplied in spite of the missing luggage.

Sunday night: Meghan's gift. I thought I was being so smart by having some of the items shipped so I didn't have to pack them and lug them up to Jenni's and Tim's. I had ordered something online for both Jenni and Meghan and had them shipped to Tim. Due to availability, two shipments were involved. When I went to wrap the gifts, Meghan's was missing. Tim remembered bringing it home from the office, but after that, nothing. It had apparently evaporated. We searched offices, closets, drawers and the sofa. Sofa? Yes. Because. Never found it.

Monday night: Cellphone. Tim lost his cellphone. So we searched cars, pants pockets, hoodie pockets, closets, drawers and the sofa. Again. It was found in a nook and/or cranny of Tim's car and it showed 9 missed calls. We kept calling it hoping to hear it.

Tuesday morning, early, when we should have left for the airport: Keys to the rental car. eeeeeeeeeeeek!!! Dad walked out to the garage, looked up on the hooks where keys are kept and asked, "Where are the keys?" I pointed out that he was the last one to drive the car. I heard an "uh oh" and he went into his room. I looked around at all the luggage and wondered just what he was going to search in his room. He came back out and started searching the sofa.

"Trust me", I said, "It's not there. Not unless you came out here in the middle of the night and dropped them there." He looked anyway. Then we started looking in luggage. And found them.

I grabbed them and hurried out to the car, announcing over my shoulder that I would back the car into the garage so we could load it out of the cold wind. I opened the garage door and found our car was an icicle. I started it, cranked up all of the heaters, defrosters and such and we started loading it while it was IN the wind. Meghan tried to scrape the windows by was having no luck.

FINALLY, the car was scraped, the luggage was loaded and we were on our way to the airport in Kansas City.

Five minutes later, from the backseat: I heard rustle, rustle, rustle. The unmistakable sound of Mom searching her purse. In the dark. I asked, "Do you need me to turn on the light?"

"No, I'm OK." rustle, rustle, rustle "I'm just looking for my photo ID."

I turned on the light.

About 15 miles later, it was found.

Jenni and Tim had left a couple of hours before us and were headed to Florida. Mom and Dad went to Texas and Meghan and I came back to St. Louis.

This evening, I got a call from my sister in Texas. "Have you heard from Mom and Dad?"


"They should be home by now."

I checked, their flight came in 3:00, it was now 7:30.

Oh great. They were missing and their cellphone was dead. We were discussing how to proceed. Then Dad called. They sat on the tarmac in Houston for a long time due to air traffic (and storms, I'm sure). After they landed, they found only one suitcase. The rest is missing.

I quit.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Once upon a time, in a land far away (Chicago in the early 1980's), I had embroidered small wall hangings for the Italian aunts who hosted the family Christmas dinners, Auntie Julia (a/k/a Auntie Cheech) and Auntie Yolle. The embroidered work had a white background with "Christmas by Julia" and "Christmas by Yolle" embroidered in red. My daughters told me their aunts hung up the small ovals every Christmas, even after I was no longer a part of the family.

Those two dear souls have since left us; Julia passed away several years ago and Yolanda left us a year ago last August. The legacy they left was wonderful memories of Christmas featuring their homemade ravioli. Neither one had daughters, and Yolle's sons have no interest in cooking, yet their nieces and grandnieces have picked up the baton and have continued the tradition.

Aunties Cheech and Yolle spent about three days on the preparations; one day for the filling, one day for the pasta and filling them; and one day for the sauce. When they could no longer manage it on their own, it took several nieces, sisters and sisters-in-law to help out. It takes a village to make the meal. Well, several villages; Elmwood Park, River Forest, Lake Forest, Des Plaines and Hinsdale. From the stories I've heard, a wonderful bonding experience.

This year is Jenni's and Tim's first Christmas in their new home and Jenni wanted to continue the tradition, even though the preparations would be made with the non-Italian side of the family. But once upon a time, I did have personal instructions from Auntie Yolle on how to make the ravioli.

Jenni had the filling ready by the time we got there, and that Saturday, we prepared the pasta.

Jenni prepares the dough......

.....and starts kneading it.

Then the rolling started.

Jenni kept imitating her aunts; "Tinner, tinner!" she'd say. "If you tink it's tin enough, keep rolling to make it tinner."

Tim's t-shirt either expressed his thoughts on the process or he was early for Talk Like A Pirate Day. (Actually, it was the name of his basketball team)

Mom and Meghan filled the raviolis and cut and crimped them. Mom had difficulty getting into it. We had just started rolling out the dough and she said, "If this doesn't work, we can always make a pot roast."

We assured her it WAS going to work.

She also mentioned that McDonald's was going to be closed on Christmas Day and suggested a back-up plan.

We've always accused her kidded around about the fact that my sister Carol is the Golden Child. She can do no wrong. During the rolling process, Mom mentioned that Carol prepared the perfect Christmas dinner when she and Dad were there the week before; she popped a frozen lasagna into the oven and didn't have to deal with the fuss and muss. But then, Mom and Carol don't enjoy cooking, whereas I do and Jenni and Meghan are developing nicely in that area.

But we wore Mom out and she headed for the couch.

And then.......... it was Christmas morning!

Jenni also prepared another traditional meal in her family; Christmas breakfast of Aebelskivers, fried apples and bacon.

I was usually the first one awake in the morning and asked Jenni if there was anything she wanted me to start when I woke up. She told me that she could handle it. Christmas morning, she was awake before I was. My assignment was cooking the bacon and sausage. Other than asking me a couple of questions, Jenni handled the fried apples and aebelskivers herself and did a wonderful job.

Later, Tim confided in me that Jenni set her alarm to make sure she was up before me to make sure I didn't get things started before her.

And then it was time for the presents:

By the way, you may have noticed the presence of a dog.

This is Sammy. I accused Jenni and Tim of renting a dog for the holidays, but they were dog sitting. They were also cat sitting, but they didn't have the cat at the house; Tim went to the cat's home every morning and evening. I always thought cats were fairly self-reliant, but this cat needs specially prepared food and apparently is a bit of a diva. Jenni mentioned that in their small town, those that stay at home for the holidays end up doing the pet sitting.

They did enjoy having Sammy and are considering getting a dog. Even though it means getting up early in the morning for dog chores.

For the early morning walk, Jenni "walked the dog" by standing on the steps to the deck holding the leash while Sammy did the walking in the back yard.

And then it was time for the ravioli.

They were good. Since my parents didn't seem overwhelmed by the idea, we also prepared steaksoup as a back-up for them.

Meghan sneaks in with the devilled eggs she prepared.

Following dinner, there were the traditional post-pasta comas....

And then the football game.

The next morning, we all headed to the airport and went in different directions; Jenni and Tim to Florida, Mom and Dad to Texas to visit my younger sister Janice, and Meghan and I back to St. Louis.

I think for future ravioli making, I'm going to buy a pasta machine. It has no difficulty with the "tinner tinner" and your arms don't hurt as much the next day. (I left that part out. Our arms were KILLING us. On top of that, Meghan put guns to our heads and made Jenni and I go to the gym and work out, so other muscles were sore as well.) For the purists in the crowd, the pasta machine I have in mind is made by Italians. I'm willing to loan it out and would ask for nothing in return.

Except for the family brigidini recipe.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006


I love my iPod. Except when it quits working on me, which it has done on numerous occasions since Thanksgiving. Like a good little iPod owner, I checked the online support option and found this is somewhat of a common occurrence, and that it is easily fixed by "rebooting" the device.

But my iPod won't reboot. To get it to work again, I have to let the battery run down and then hook it up to my computer and then all is well.

Until it freezes up again.

Since I'm on vacation this week, I took the opportunity to call Apple technical support. The tech guy who was obviously sitting at a desk in the Phillipines determined that my device is broken and scheduled an appointment for me with a "Genius" at my local Apple Store. Seriously. The tech guys at the Apples Stores are called "Geniuses".

Genius Chris happily informed me that my iPod works. I told him that it freezes up. He happily showed me how to "reboot it", which is done by simultaneously pushing down on the "menu" area and the "select" area of the wheel. I happily told him I'd done that repeatedly all day, with no luck.

He rebooted, then handed it to me to try.

I failed.

He rebooted, then handed it to me again to try.

I failed.

Rinse. Repeat.

It was determined that my nails get in the way. Genius Chris told me something I had not read in any of the Apple FAQ's or message boards; my fingers have to touch the wheel to get it to work properly. Anything nonhuman will not work due to-- um-- a fancy word I SWORE I would not forget, but apparently have. It's a word that starts out like "capacity", but in the middle of the word, vears off and ends up as a different word. Which I can't remember.

Anyway, my nails interfere with the capaciwhateverness of the wheel. So I used my knuckles to reboot.

It worked.

It looked awkward and silly, but it worked.

I left the Apple Store a happy woman. Until I realized, I still don't know why my iPod freezes up. I just know that now I can get it to knuckle under and reboot.

Baby steps.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Everyone else is still a sleep, but I'm sitting here at the table, drinking coffee, reading the news and watching the sunrise.

But I'm starting to hear creatures stir.

UPDATE: Several hours later, the sun set. But my camera just doesn't do it justice. Trust me, it was beautiful.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Her Royal Highness, Princess Meghan, is home for the holidays. For 16 hours. At noon today, she heads to Upstate New York to visit her boyfriend and his family for a week. As she was packing last night, we were trying to figure out if she's going to have to pay for excess baggage. I say it's a given. Her suitcase includes her gift for her boyfriend (skates), three pairs of shoes -- two of which are boots--she IS my daughter after all-- and winter clothes for a week.

I warned her that she's taking the same suitcase I used when I went to visit her in New York this summer and I had to remove two pairs of shoes and toiletries to keep from paying the excess baggage fee.

Differences between what I packed and what she's packing:

1. Summer clothes v. winter clothes
2. Sandals v. boots
3. Two knock-off designer purses v. skates

She wants me to follow her into the airport with a separate bag in the event she has to offload some items and put them into a carryon. I don't need my crystal ball for that; she's going to need a second bag.

OK, so how much do you think this suitcase weighs? Hint: this summer, my suitcase was four pounds over at 54 lbs.

UPDATE: The actual retail weight of the suitcase was 54.3 lbs. HOWEVER, the results are skewed. Before going to the airport, Meghan took out some cosmetics, gave one pair of boots a rest for the week, and put another pair in her backpack. When she found out the bag was still overweight, she put the skates in a totebag and put the boots back into the suitcase. Result: 50.0 lbs. And some not happy people behind her in line who had to wait for her to do the switching.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


1. If you receive a present before Christmas, do you open it then or put it under the tree and wait until the Official Present Opening Time?

2. Have you ever snuck in and opened a present early, then tried to reseal it and pretend you hadn't done that.

3. If you DID open it early, did it ruin Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Winter Solstice/Festivus for you?

Saturday, December 02, 2006


You know what this kind of picture is officially called?

Blog fodder.

UPDATE: Perhaps he was just using this product:

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


OK, Boys and Girls, it's Caption Contest Time!! Come up with either a caption or a quote for one or more of the participants in this photo.

I'll start. For "W", "Hoo boy. How many days between now and January 20, 2009? Now would be a good time to know math."

The contest will close, um, sometime this weekend, and there will probably be a prize. I'll dig around in the blog closet to see if I can find one.

So, submit your entries now.

(decision of the judge(s) will be purely subjective)

Friday, November 24, 2006


I've been doing a fair amount of traveling the last couple of weeks; mostly visiting family.

First, there was the trip to visit Meghan.

I had planned to just spend one night, but ended up getting a late start AND making the trip during thunderstorms, floods, tornadoes and a leaking sunroof. The normally 3 1/2 hour trip ended up taking 5 hours; 2 1/2 of which I spent treading water while driving. After all of that, I figured we deserved to spend the entire weekend together rather than a quick overnight visit; so I cancelled my Saturday night plans and we went out to dinner.

Since it was the first weekend of the lights at Patti's 1880 Settlement, we figured it would be the perfect place for dinner. And it was.

The following weekend, I flew up to visit Jenni and Tim. OF COURSE, I had issues at the security gate. Wanting to make things as easy as possible, I put all of my electronic devices and power cords into their own zip lock baggies; and put some makeup in another one.

BUT, my bags were withheld for "bag check".

I made the mistake of taking this purse. I hadn't used it for awhile, and at the security gate, I remembered why: THINGS hide in that purse. The security person found an errant bottle of nail polish and declared that they would have to confiscate it.

I asked why.

I was told because it was not in a ziplock baggie.


So, I picked up the baggie containing the makeup, unzipped it, and she dropped it into the baggie. I was then able to take it with me; the flight apparently being safe since the bottle of OPI polish was secure in a baggie.

(imagine me rolling my eyes)

During the weekend, Jenni and Tim celebrated the 29 months of their marriage by getting the top layer of the wedding cake out of the freezer, defrosting it and serving it for breakfast Saturday morning.

The reason for getting it out of the freezer MAY have had more to do with needing room than wanting to celebrate 29 months of wedded bliss. It wasn't a reflection on the marriage; just a reflection on the fact that the space in the freezer was REALLY needed.

By the way, we each took a bite and then threw it out. While it tasted OK, we just couldn't get past the idea we were eating 2 1/2 year old frozen cake.

While I was there, Jenni asked for my help with making some curtains for their bathroom.


Jenni apparently got me confused with her OTHER mother because, basically, I don't sew. Oh, I made curtains for her room and Meghan's room when they were babies. But that was last century, for crying out loud!!

Next on the agenda was decorating the house for the entree portion of a progressive dinner they were hosting on Sunday night.

Basically, it was pretty much a Martha Stewart Before The Incarceration Weekend.

And that's a good thing.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


My voting experience yesterday morning was not the norm for me. Usually "Something" happens. Other than waiting in line, the morning went fairly smoothly.

When I woke up, the news was on and reporting that there were no lines at the polls in Kirkwood. I checked the clock, 6:02, bounded out of bed, threw on a pair of sweats, brushed my teeth and headed for the polls, which are located just three blocks away.

OK, as soon as the news reporter went off the air, voters apparently rushed the polling place. At 6:10, and there was already a long line. The three new electronic booths were working well. The 4 “paper booths” were not. Those worked like the scan sheets in school for tests, where you fill in the bubbles. Apparently, they weren’t scanning in as they should. Pens were being handed out for them; but I wondered if #2 pencils would work better.

Anyway, it took me a little over an hour; no one shook their finger at me, no one slammed The Large and Mysterious Book of Voters while heavily sighing. It was as if they did not care at all that I needed blog fodder!!

But they gave me a sticker for being a good voting do-bee.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I've had some e-mails asking why I haven't posted anything about the Cardinals winning the World Series. The thing is, I wanted to post some photos of the rally and parade, but due to having a killer of a sinus headache last Sunday, I watched it all from the couch.

I've been thinking about what to write that would be different from everything else that's been said. Then this morning on the radio, I heard a post that was written by Five For Fighting's John Ondrasik on his blog the night we won. FFF was playing at The Pageant in St. Louis last Friday night, and he truly expected there to be a lot of empty seats at the concert.

This is what he wrote

Oh, and that crap that about some survey that said St. Louis was the most dangerous city in the United States -- seriously? More dangerous than New Orleans? Interesting that came out the day after the Series; AND that #2 was Detroit. I couldn't help but think that SOME organization did it for the publicity. I work downtown and feel very safe riding the train to work, walking from the train to work, shopping, etc. AND we managed to have a celebration downtown without incident.

Dangerous, my a$$.

Someone said it IS the most dangerous city in the United States.....for the Tigers to play baseball!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


My trip started off by getting bumped from my flight, but getting a voucher for a future flight, and my new scheduled arrival time being only an hour later. Not too bad. The down side of that, however, was a woman sitting in the same row on the plane relating her amorous exploits to the guy sitting between us. The entire way to Vegas. She has a "special room" in the basement, has been married 4 times (the last two husbands died); her last husband died in July and she was flying to Vegas to meet her boyfriend for the weekend. I know that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, but we hadn't even gotten there yet!!!

Anyway, when my flight landed, an hour and a half later than my original flight time, Mad and Mike met me with a sign that Mike had made.

We then met up with Jeff and Jackie and went to Paris for a late dinner, getting a table at the fake outside. Sort of like this:

The next morning, Mad prepared a wonderful brunch for us of scrambled eggs, strawberry and chocolate chip pancakes, bacon, mimosas, and rugulah (sp?) provided by Jackie from Brooklyn. Initially there was a concern because we didn't have any butter. We decided the eggs could be cooked in the bacon grease, making them taste close to the pig, but that wouldn't work for the pancakes. Higgy came through by stopping at a convenience store on his way over and picking up two sticks of butter. Didn't know it could be bought that way, but it worked. Later, Higgy's wife, Lisa, and his friend Sean, joined us.

Mad cooking up brunch.

Jackie, Higgy (in the window) Lisa, Mad and Jeff.

I changed into my National League Championship t-shirt and we headed out to the strip. As we left, I realized the plan was "getting sly drunk". Apparently, there had been plotting while I'd been changing. While we did have a few drinks, that event didn't happen.

We headed over to the Forum Shops. Mike developed a nosebleed and he and Mad had to return to the condo, but the rest of us shopped, gambled and/or checked out the bar. I heard that statues there came alive every hour on the hour. However, that day, they were broken. So we went to a Mexican restaurant for drinks and snacks and were entertained by Higgy's impression of Roy Orbison.

Later, we had a conference about what to do next; Mad went for a massage, Lisa and Higgy went back to their hotel while Jeff, Jackie, Mike and I went to a block party at Margueritaville where there were pirates on stilts.

We regrouped that evening at Nine Fine Irishmen for dinner.

Where Higgy entertained us with his imitation of Roy Orbison drinking.

Federal Duck called us during dinner to say hi and get an update on the goings on and said he'd try to make the trip next year. For dinner, Jeff had pot roast, Higgy dined on bangers and chips, Lisa enjoyed the waitress' suggestion of halibut, Mad had a salad (I think), Jackie and Mike had the fish and chips which were served in a coil...and apparently with a side of thumb.

My meal paled in comparison, mainly because it was, well, served in a pail.

During dinner, I kept an eye on the score of Game One of the World Series, being rewarded with a 7-2 win for the Cardinals. YAY! After dinner, Mad and Mike left to see Bill "here's your sign" Engval, and the rest of us went to see St. Louis Lutheran South High School Alums Peter and Jim Mayer in concert with their lead singer, Jimmy Buffett.

It was a great concert, but a few of the younger Buffett fans fell asleep a little early. We noted that there are very few fashion police among the Parrotheads.

After the concert, we said goodbye to Higgy and Lisa, and goodnight to Las Vegas. Yes, just to the right of the Brooklyn Bridge at New York, New York, you are seeing the Eiffel Tower.

Jeff, Jackie and I met Mad and Mike the next morning for brunch at The Flamingo Bally's (by then, the casinos had all become a blur) before they headed back to Las Angeles. Then we did more casino hopping, visiting the Venetian, Ceasar's Palace and the Bellagio.

At the Venetian, there is a restaurant called Tao, which advertises itself as a place for spiritual dining. The entrance features tubs of rose petals and scented candles. Jeff had heard that Paris Hilton had dined there earlier in the week. The combination of Vegas, spiritual dining and Paris Hilton almost made my head explode, so I didn't think about it.

None of us felt compelled to shell out $15.00 a person for a gondola ride through an indoor Venice canal, but we were surprised at the number of people who lined up to do just that.

We went on down to the Bellagio to check out the autumn leaves.

...and caught sight of a bride with men in kilts....

.....we did see another bride angrily stomping away from the area of the Wedding Chapel with two of her friends. We got the impression something hadn't gone as planned. The chapel is in the area where Chihuily glass flowers decorated the ceiling.

One of my favorite sights was the topiary garden which featured ducks made out of over 40,000 botanicals

and a banyan tree which was taken apart from its original home (I forget where that was) and reassembled in the Bellagio.

Then, of course, there are the famous Dancing Waters outside of the Bellagio, which start off as vapor forming over the lake.....

before the water erupts and dances in time with music.

Much too soon, it was time for me to leave and I headed for McCarren Airport, where the Vegas excesses continued. I passed this oxygen bar where one can buy oxygen available with different packages. PT Barnum would have been proud of the marketing. I chose to breathe the normal cheap air.

Game Two of the World Series had started, so I located a friendly sports bar across from the gate for my flight and found it full of Cardinal fans, and one of our local news anchors (fourth from right) who used to be one of our sports broadcaster. He gave us a little play-by-play during the game and someone else offered to buy us all a round of shots if the Cardinals got a run. Sadly, he didn't get a chance to do that.

It was 2:00 am before I got home and fell into bed, having thorougly enjoyed the weekend.

This year, no statues were molested and apparently, it was a more boring tamer weekend than last year.

And we're sticking to that story.