Monday, May 31, 2010

Royals run amok.

Our latest Einstein Award goes to Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, who’s been caught on videotape — in a Maxwell Smart caper of her own invention — selling access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, for $720,000. An undercover reporter is shown handing her a $40,000 down payment and promising to wire the balance to a private bank account.

Apparently the Duchess currently owes creditors as much as $7 million as she tries to keep up a royal lifestyle she can’t afford, which includes a Bentley limousine and chauffeur, blowing thousands of dollars on handbags, hats and hair accessories, a staff of aids and personal assistants, sponging, haggling, requesting invoices for everything and using her daughters’ credit cards to stay afloat. And if that’s not bad enough, whenever they’re presented with a bill her assistants are trained to look offended and say, “Surely the Duchess isn’t expected to pay for this?”
Oy, Sarah ... this is 2010 ... who turned you into Marie Antoinette? Do you seriously think the rest of us could ever get away with this crap? I mean, can you picture me with a full cart in the checkout lane at Target saying, “Surely Marcy isn’t expected to pay for this?” Or trying to sell somebody secret access to Sam?

I think this woman needs a JOB. And since the Duchess obviously has no vocational training of any kind — or any skill in undercover operations — she might think about driving her own car and selling Amway. Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Keeping busy for Memorial Day weekend.

I suppose I should start by announcing that Sam is in the San Fernando Valley for the next 10 days visiting his mom and siblings, so I’m totally on my own here. It’s definitely quiet around the house when Sam’s away. I never realize how noisy he is until he’s gone.

The scope of my plans for Memorial Day weekend won’t extend too much beyond my neighborhood here in Mesquite. But next week I’m definitely up for a trip to Central Market in Dallas. Central Market is food nirvana. If you’re from southern California, it’s like a combination of Whole Foods, Bristol Farms and Gelson’s ... only more so. They’ve got the most amazing meat, deli and exotic produce on the planet, plus a bazillion kinds of cheese, a display of olives half a block long and a bakery department the size of my house with home-made marble rye TO DIE FOR. (Sam and I actually try to stay away from Central Market because we never get out of there for under $100 ... even when we don’t need anything.)
In the meantime, to keep myself occupied with extracurricular projects I’m getting an early jump on this year’s Christmas cards. I’ve already designed them (including Hanukkah), had them professionally printed, created custom return address labels to match, and this afternoon I even addressed all the envelopes! I’m so impressed with myself that I think I’ll insert a shameless plug here for my graphic design business, Ovation Creative, just in case you didn’t know that I actually do something productive besides laundry and writing the Howdygram.

So ... shalom to everybody, have a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend, and send me an email or post a comment when you have a minute!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May is a month for milestones.

For Sam and me, the end of May holds a couple of very important milestone anniversaries. I think you’ll agree these are both a super huge deal.

Milestone #1. We’re celebrating three years since Sam accepted a job transfer to Dallas and we spent the four-day Memorial Day weekend here shopping for a house. The one we bought was actually the third house we looked at; the others all paled by comparison. It was easy to make a quick decision because we knew this house was ABSOLUTELY PERFECT for us the minute we walked in the door. We moved in 30 days later and just love it here.

Milestone #2. I quit smoking the day after we put a bid on our new house because I didn’t want it to turn into a gigantic, smelly nicotine pit. I quit cold turkey after being addicted to cigarettes for 42 years and smoking a carton of More Menthol every single week. Yesterday I figured out that I’ve saved $6,240 by NOT BUYING CIGARETTES since May 2007. Holy cow.

On another subject altogether, I just ordered a shopping cart from I desperately need something to help me shlep groceries from the garage to the kitchen because my hands are useless. In my left hand I use a cane for my arthritic knees, and carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand makes it almost impossible to carry anything. The cart I bought is pictured at right. It’s very cute, holds up to 120 pounds and is exceptionally cheap ($17.89 plus 97¢ shipping). It should be here next week.

Smooches to everybody. I’m going to watch an old John Wayne movie now while I wait for Sam to come home from work. I just finished recording They Were Expendable.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Seems like a good time for an update.

Actually, there’s not that much going on here today. We’ve got hot but pleasant weather, Sam’s at work, and I’m diddling with some graphic design projects, writing email and thinking about a nap ... but only if the spasm in my right hand calms down so I can fall asleep. (Damn carpal tunnel syndrome.) Which reminds me: I RESCHEDULED MY APPOINTMENT WITH THE HAND SURGEON for 2 p.m. on June 2. I decided to give him a second chance after my first try didn’t work out very well (read the post). And on June 3 I’ll see my regular internist for a medication follow-up plus a few lab tests to make sure I’m not anemic any more. Frankly, that’s more than enough medical hoo-hah for one week. I can barely remember what life was like without a continuous stream of doctor appointments.

I think I’ll drown my frustration with a large quantity of Chinese food ... my all-time favorite cuisine ever since I was 12 months old in a high chair gumming egg rolls at the Golden Pheasant Restaurant in Chicago. Here in Texas I always order from King China in Garland. They’ve got a huge menu, the best hot & sour soup in town and deliver so fast it always startles me. (They tell me 45 minutes when I call in my order but show up in less than half an hour. I don’t know how they do it.) What’s YOUR favorite cuisine? Add a comment and let me know!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sam & Marcy's weekend overview.

I love productive weekends, don’t you? Sam and I managed to fit in lots of exciting activities in addition to several naps. For instance:

A junket to Costco. On Saturday morning while I shoved a cart around the store buying marinated shrimp, organic raspberries and a gigantic bottle of salsa, Sam hung out at the AT&T booth and got us some new cell phones. It’s a remedial Motorola model and exactly what we wanted: free, easy to use, huge keys and no fancy doodads. (See photo below.) I know some of you will find this hard to believe, but the only thing we use them for is PHONE CALLS. Don’t tell anybody.
A long ride across Dallas. Early Saturday evening we drove Northwest Highway from our house in Mesquite all the way out to suburban Coppell ... about 40 miles each way on surface streets. Sam and I love driving around together because it’s like being on vacation. Plus we get to suck Altoids and wear seat belts.

Adventures with Cincinnati Chili. I bought all my ingredients on Friday and made the recipe Sunday afternoon for the first time in more than 20 years ... and it turned out GREAT. Sorry, but I didn’t invite anybody to share it with us because leftover Cincinnati Chili is awesome.

Yard appreciation. Our lawn is the envy of our subdivision. In the last few days three neighbors, an exterminator and a Schwan’s delivery guy have stopped to comment on the condition of our front yard, which is a thick, weed-free carpet of green. Trust me, this is no accident. We have excellent landscapers who mow and edge for us once a week, but it’s Sam who pulls every weed by hand and fertilizes the grass.

Turner Classic Movies. This weekend’s filmography included: 1) Double Wedding with William Powell and Myrna Loy; 2) a dopey British film about a goat called A Kid for Two Farthings; 3) The Rising of the Moon, a trio of weird Irish short stories directed by John Ford; 4) a terrific comedy called Captain’s Paradise with Alec Guiness; and 5) Tarzan the Ape Man with Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan, C. Aubrey Smith and Cheetah. Incidentally, when we aren’t watching movies we like to watch “Cops.”

Thank you for reading this.

Friday, May 21, 2010

This Cincinnati Chili recipe is the real deal.

Ever been to Cincinnati? I’m not quite sure why, but they’ve got their own crazy, amazing chili recipe with some mighty unusual ingredients, originally created in the 1920s by a family of Greek immigrants who opened a chain of restaurants. I spent a fair amount of time in Cincinnati back in the 1970s and 80s (my first husband had relatives there), and every visit ALWAYS included chili.

Genuine Cincinnati Chili, which is more like an exotic meat sauce than a bowl of traditional chili, can be eaten five ways: 1) by itself; 2) over spaghetti; 3) with shredded cheddar cheese on top; 4) with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped onions; and 5) with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped onions and beans. My personal preference is for “three-way” chili (over spaghetti with shredded cheddar cheese). And I always use angel hair pasta. Anyway, I’ve had a huge craving for this stuff lately, so here’s the recipe. And it’s definitely the real deal!
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
  • 5 whole allspice
  • 1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Add ground beef to water in a large kettle. Stir until beef separates to a fine texture and boil slowly for 30 minutes. Add all other ingredients, stir to blend, return to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about three hours. Pot may be covered during the last hour if desired consistency is reached. Incidentally, if you don’t use lean beef you should probably refrigerate your chili overnight so the fat can be skimmed from the top before reheating. This is definitely fantastic served over spaghetti!
I know this sounds like a complicated recipe, but really it’s a no-brainer ... just throw everything into a pot and let it cook. I don’t even dice my own onions any more (carpal tunnel syndrome won’t let me hold a knife in my right hand) so I buy little tubs of chopped-up onions at the supermarket. They taste exactly the same as the onions you dice yourself. Isn’t progress wonderful?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A senior advantage.

Know what’s nice about getting older? YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE PEOPLE’S CRAP ANY MORE. For example, I had an appointment yesterday with a hand surgeon that never actually got off the ground. Sam and I showed up at 9 in plenty of time for my appointment and then found ourselves stuck in a waiting room populated with way too many patients for a one-man medical office. At 9:30 Sam asked the receptionist how much longer this hoo-hah was supposed to take and she said the doctor was running 20 minutes behind schedule.

Yeah, right. We’d already been there for 30.

At 9:50 a medical assistant finally escorts me into an examining room, asks when did I first experience my carpal tunnel symptoms (even though this information is already on the new patient paperwork I’d brought with me), and then shuts the door and leaves me there for ONE SOLID HOUR reading back issues of People magazine. (It isn’t a total loss. Did you know that Miley Cyrus loves pink lip gloss?)

At 10:50 I open the door to my little dungeon and walk towards the waiting room. Two medical assistants throw themselves in front of me and ask where I’m going, and I reply, “HOME. I got here at 9 o’clock and still haven’t seen the doctor. My husband has to go to work, and I’M DONE WITH THIS.” An office manager named Jill beats herself up with apologies and says: “I’m really sorry. I’m sure you’ll be next. Don’t you want to wait a few more minutes and see the doctor?” To which I reply, “Nope.” (A few years ago I would’ve let these people intimidate me into staying.)

I did tell Jill I’d consider rescheduling my appointment if she could guarantee a time that didn’t involve a two-hour wait. Apparently I can either be the doctor’s first patient of the day at 7:45 a.m. (not on your life, folks) or his first appointment right after lunch at 1:45, which definitely sounds like the better deal. I’ll let you know how this turns out. In the meantime, of course, my hand still hurts.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Celebrating our first coffee pot volcano.

A few days ago I was watching this hilarious reality show on BBC America called “How Clean Is Your House,” where two middle-aged British women in lab coats clean up the dirtiest homes on the planet. On last week’s show Kim and Aggie were helping a retired NYC fireman sanitize his hovel so his 14-year-old daughter could spend the summer with him and not throw up from embarrassment. For instance, he’d been sleeping on a plastic-covered love seat in the upstairs hall for the last two years because his bedroom was so overrun with trash, food and dirty laundry that he couldn’t find the bed. And there was mold growing in his kitchen cookware and E.coli bacteria on the countertops. (I can’t find adequate words to describe the condition of his bathroom.)

If you wonder why I’m telling you this, it’s because halfway into the show I learned a terrific household hint! Aggie’s tip for cleaning seriously stained cookware (or cookware with burned-on food) is EFFERDENT TABLETS in warm water ... so I decided to try this on our stainless steel coffee carafe, which was so discolored it almost looked black inside. (The last time I cleaned this thing I used a stiff brush and a whole 16 oz. bottle of Soft Scrub. It took TWO HOURS.) I immediately sent Sam to Wal-Mart for a box of Efferdent.

So we pop in a couple of tablets, fill the carafe with warm water and wait 15 minutes. There’s a little bubbly stuff going on, but basically it doesn’t do much of anything and the stain doesn’t budge. That’s when Sam figures maybe we’re supposed to use MORE than two, which makes pretty good sense, so we throw in 24 tablets and (eureka!) wind up with a third-grade Mount St. Helens science project spewing endless foam all over the sink while thousands of hysterical citizens run for cover. (I’m just kidding about that last part.) The result? Our carafe is stain-free, sparkling clean and minty fresh. It just doesn’t get much better than this!

In other news, Sam and I enjoyed a nice little drive on Sunday out to Ham’s Orchards in Terrell for a bunch of fresh peaches. Unfortunately, their first crop is a few days late so we browsed around in the produce market and wound up with a gigantic seedless watermelon and a jar of homemade “Texas Caviar” instead. For those of you unfamiliar with the latter, this is basically a spicy relish made with black-eyed peas.
Maybe we’ll try again for peaches next weekend. Thank you for reading this.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Here's what I've been up to lately.

Once again I let a whole bunch of days slide by without posting, but this time I wasn’t being a slug. Apparently a lot of my graphic design clients decided the second week of May would be the perfect time to add new pages to their websites, order postcards and brochures and refer me to three friends who want logos and business cards. As a result I’ve had a gazillion projects to do ... plus I’m waiting for two new website clients to review and sign their contracts. None of this is easy to do with carpal tunnel syndrome because it hurts to type and work with a mouse, so I decided against writing an excessive number of blog posts for a while to prevent my right hand from turning into a SPASTIC CLAW. Fortunately, relief is on the horizon ... I’ve got an appointment with a hand surgeon on Tuesday morning. I’m so excited I could slap the mailman!

There’s a lot of weather heading our way tonight. This is in addition to all the weather we had this afternoon, such as three hours of thunderstorms and some moderately heavy rain (which we desperately needed). Right now the next storm system is just west of Forth Worth, heading due east straight for Mesquite. says it should start booming here around 1 a.m. Sam and I love nighttime thunderstorms. If it’s not too late we open the garage door and sit on card chairs to watch the lightning; otherwise we hold hands in bed and enjoy the hoo-hah through the bay windows.

Here’s hoping y’all have a swell weekend. Smooch.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Giving it a rest on Monday.

I just canceled my 10:30 a.m. eye doctor appointment because I don’t feel like going. I’ve got some excellent reasons for this: 1) we’re expecting thunderstorms; 2) I’d rather stay home and hang out with Sam; 3) I didn’t get enough sleep last night; and 4) I want to make homemade potato salad. Bottom line: a last-minute cancellation is almost as luxurious as CUTTING SCHOOL.

In other news, I probably don’t have to tell any of you about the final straw in Tiger Woods’ public meltdown. After failing to make the cut last week at Quail Hollow he quit during Saturday’s third round at the Players Championship complaining about a bulging disk in his neck ... probably because he needed a mighty good excuse for whacking his ball into the lake on the 9th hole when he was actually teeing off on the 8th. Every aspect of this guy’s life is a total train wreck. He can’t hit a golf ball, long-time swing coach Hank Haney resigned, his wife is filing for divorce, helicopters hover over his house in Florida day and night waiting for a scoop, sponsors are dropping him left and right, the sports media thinks he’s a pathological liar and he was even being heckled by a 7-year-old fan in the gallery at Sawgrass. It might be time for Tiger Woods to try another line of work, maybe landscaping or a degree from ITT Tech. Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day.

This isn’t really news, but it’s been a whole week since my last post. I’m sure you’ll forgive me, though, because it’s not like I drank the only cold Coke in the fridge or ripped off your last five dollars. You get my drift.

It’s Sunday, May 9, and there are two important holidays on the calendar today. First, please accept the Howdygram’s very best wishes as you celebrate Lost Socks Memorial Day, possibly with a candlelight vigil in the laundry room or a nice brunch. Second, I want to wish all you moms out there a very happy Mother’s Day. For the record, mine (Shirley) is comfortably ensconced in an assisted living nursing facility in suburban Chicago; Sam’s mom (Belle) lives in North Hollywood in the same house he grew up in. Here’s a photo of Belle taken recently at the beach in Malibu.
Incidentally, the thunderstorm that woke me up 45 minutes ago has finally passed, so I’m thinking this might be a perfect opportunity to go back to bed. Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Let's play another round of Side Effects Bingo.

We can thank my new blood pressure medication for the fact that I’m writing a post at 5:15 in the morning. I started taking Bystolic at bedtime (doctor’s instructions) about two weeks ago and haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since. Dr. Meyrat probably recommended bedtime because the label says it’s supposed to make me drowsy, but the opposite effect is happening: I’m wide awake all night and tired all day from lack of sleep. And this is also the most expensive medication I’ve ever taken. I’ll talk to my doctor on Monday and tell her we have to try something else.

Of course, Bystolic isn’t the only drug that’s giving me insane side effects. Pravastatin, which dropped my cholesterol from 225 to 132 in less than six months, is also responsible for my hair loss and muscle pain in my legs and lower back. And I’m also taking Benazepril, Hydrochlorothiazide, Metformin, Glyburide, Naproxen, iron supplements and vitamin D ... all of which are interacting like a gigantic chemical stew and making me feel completely whacked-out. I’ve got equipment on my desk to monitor my own blood glucose, heart rate and blood pressure. The only thing I haven’t got in here is a bedpan.

I think I’ll go eat a bagel and lie down in the family room. Maybe I’ll even fall asleep for a little while. Hold that thought.