Thursday, March 31, 2011

Holy crap. It happened again!

Sometimes the best of intentions just don’t work out. As I mentioned yesterday, I wanted to try another dose of Ultracet as a follow-up to last Wednesday’s food poisoning fiasco (see post) to find out if I’d ever be able to take this medication for chronic pain or not. So I took one pill with dinner last night, and BLAM ... within 20 minutes I was lost in a miserable, nauseated, dizzy stupor. I turned down the lights, muted the TV and couldn’t get up off the sofa for almost five hours until Sam got home from work. I WILL NEVER TOUCH THESE NASTY PILLS AGAIN. I woke up 45 minutes ago to take all the night-time meds I had to skip in case I barfed.
Thank God this entire experience is behind me. Later today I’m going to throw the rest of my Ultracet prescription from the overpass on Interstate 30 one pill at a time and watch 18-wheelers run them over. Seriously.

I do have some mighty good news, however. Richard Blais won “Top Chef All-Stars” last night. He was my favorite contestant. Sweet, funny, neurotic, self-deprecating and (apparently) extremely talented even though he cooks things like black cod with bone marrow and kumquats and — hold on — FOIE GRAS ICE CREAM for dessert. Scary stuff but the judges loved it. In the finale he beat arrogant little Mike Isabella, who spent the entire season sweating on his food.

The last episode always makes me sad because this is one of my favorite shows. I’ll have to compensate for now with a few extra “Operation Repo” reruns until “Top Chef Masters” starts on April 6.

I just remembered we’ve got leftover pizza in the refrigerator. Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Things to eat.

Howdy from Texas. I’ve been awake since 5:15 but really can’t stay for a couple of excellent reasons: 1) I’m still tired; and 2) our maid service comes today. They’re supposed to be here around 11 but frequently show up two hours early without warning, which means I have to get out of bed by 8:30. I apologize for this exceptionally stupid paragraph. Really.

Last night while Sam stayed at work two hours late I spent a little time online shopping for diabetic food products. Here’s what I ordered from
Aria is a soy protein powder for milkshakes. (I love milkshakes.) I used to buy it at Trader Joe’s when I lived in southern California. And Walden Farms is an amazing line of surprisingly tasty products with NO SUGAR, NO FAT, NO CARBS and NO CALORIES, which includes chocolate syrup, salad dressings, dips, barbecue sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, peanut butter, marinades, jelly, alfredo sauce, you name it. I don’t know how anybody can make food with no calories, but everything gets great customer reviews so I decided to order a bottle of the chocolate syrup. I’m figuring it will make an awesome milkshake and also a chocolate phosphate if I buy a bottle of club soda. (I haven’t had a chocolate phosphate since I was 25 years old. Frankly, I think I’ve waited long enough.)

And now for a startling revelation concerning my night from hell (see post) last week. Believe it or not, I don’t think this had anything to do with Ultracet, the new pain medication I took at dinner-time. I BELIEVE I ACTUALLY HAD FOOD POISONING. I won’t elaborate here for a number of reasons, but as a result I’ve decided to give Ultracet a second chance because I have to stop taking Naproxen. (Naproxen can cause kidney damage in diabetics.) Check back often for late-breaking updates.

I’m going back to bed now. Thank you for reading this.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Whiny, weak and wobbly.

Important news first. I HATE BARRY BONDS. No kidding, he has to be one of the slimiest, most repulsive professional athletes on the planet, and that covers an awful lot of territory if you include Michael Vick. Bonds is on trial right now for lying to a grand jury and obstruction of justice, and all kinds of people are coming forward to talk about how this mutant’s body and personality changed during the nine years he took illegal human growth hormones while still playing professional baseball. Unprecedented for a fully-grown adult, Bonds’ skull expanded (see photo) almost a full inch, his hands and feet grew two sizes and his chest blew up from 42 to 52 inches. He’s a liar and a cheat and he ripped off Hank Aaron’s lifetime achievement records. I don’t know about YOU, but I’d love to see this jerk get prison time like O.J. Let’s hold a good thought. Seriously.
Okay, now that Barry Bonds is out of my system I should mention that I’ve been very under the weather for the last several days, almost as though I never recovered after the night from hell (see post). I feel limp and weak with no appetite, I’m occasionally queasy and I burp a lot. (Burping is technically Sam’s area of expertise.) I don’t exactly know what’s going on so I drink a lot of Marcy-tinis* and nap as often possible. I DON’T EVEN HAVE A CRAVING FOR CHINESE FOOD. (Call 911.)

*A Marcy-tini is 12 oz. of Coke Zero, nine ice cubes and a coaster.

The only thing that makes me feel a little better right now is BUYING PERFUME. I’m so happy with the bottle of B-Exquisite that I bought last week I was compelled to visit today and buy two more fragrances by the same manufacturer ... Bijan Wicked and Bijan Style. Both are on sale for $17.49 for the BIG BOTTLES ... that’s 70% off retail and very, very cheap. Click here to buy your own. It’s fun to smell good and I strongly recommend it.
I hope you’ll forgive me for this, but I almost forgot to review a new Schwan’s product I tried a couple of weeks ago. This time it was their Roasted Sweet Potatoes, which got nice customer reviews and looked swell online. (You’d think I would have learned by now to stop trusting product photos.)
The problem here was mostly INCONSISTENCY. The sweet potato chunks in my bag weren’t uniform in size or substantial, as the photo wants you to believe, they were teeny little slivers and odd-shaped crumbs less than ½-inch in size that came out of the oven either burned, chewy or completely undercooked. Two thumbs down for this one.

And now I’m going to watch a video of President Obama’s address to Congress about Libya because I was so busy working on this post I forgot to see it live. Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Toilet paper, delivered.

Sam is a typical guy. If I send him to the store for Charmin mega rolls he’ll usually come home with a gigantic package of the teeniest rolls he can find, because he thinks “mega” refers to the number of rolls in a package, not the number of sheets on a roll. Yesterday he even got tricked into buying a huge sack of CHARMIN BASIC, which quite frankly is the closest thing to Soviet-quality sandpaper ever manufactured in the United States. I routinely forgive him for such indiscretions for two reasons: 1) I know he doesn’t give a crap about any of this; and 2) he saves me a trip to Wal-Mart.
However, Shopping Maven Marcy has a revelation: YOU CAN BUY TOILET PAPER ONLINE FOR HOME DELIVERY, and if you go to and you can even compare prices at stores all over the place! And apparently I’m not the only screwball who thinks this is an excellent idea, because offers TOILET PAPER SUBSCRIPTIONS so you can request automatic shipments at any interval you want, like once a month, every other month, etc., depending on the number of butts in your household and the number of times each day these butts require toilet paper. We’re a two-butt family here.

HOT TIP. The best price I found is at, where I just ordered two 12-packs of Charmin Ultra Strong mega rolls for $32 including tax and $1.97 for shipping. Trust me, this is VERY CHEAP for two dozen rolls of toilet paper the size of South Dakota.

In other news, yesterday I watched part of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament on TV and tuned in just in time to see Tiger Woods smack his ball into a tree, cuss like a sailor and hurl his club 50 yards down the fairway. Personally, I think it’s time for Tiger to start thinking about a second career because golf is obviously no longer his area of expertise. He’s a mess. Even the announcers are depressed about it with comments like, “It’s just another typical day for Tiger.” At this point I think he should consider auto sales or a night course in medical records transcription and leave the game of golf for grown-ups who can break par and control their tempers. Tiger finished the tournament in 28th place.

I’m going warm up leftover egg foo young now because Sam is at the office (yes, on Sunday) and I don’t have to cook for anybody but me. I also should fold some sheets. Thank you for reading this.

Hey. I’m freezing.

It’s 4:15 a.m. and the house is ice cold right now. I woke up five minutes ago frozen in bed because the temperature dropped UNEXPECTEDLY AND WITHOUT WARNING* to 45° outside and I never switched the thermostat from AC to heat. So I’ll sit here and write things until the house warms up. I hope it’s soon.

Yesterday in the mail I got a copy of the D219 Alumni News, the quarterly alumni newsletter from Niles Township North, East and West High Schools in Skokie, Illinois. The key word in that first sentence is “quarterly,” because I graduated from Niles North 42 years ago and this is only the second issue I’ve ever received. Maybe “quarterly” means “quarter-century.” And everybody wonders why old people get crabby.
So as I’m reading through the newsletter there’s an impressive two-page spread with snippets of exciting alumni accomplishments. For example, Eva Shiu (’06) won a Fulbright scholarship, Neil Kimel (’87) is second horn with Chicago’s Lyric Opera orchestra, Noam Pikelny (’99) received the first Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass and performed last November on Letterman, Tahera Ahmad (’02) is Northwestern University’s first Muslim chaplain and the subject of a recent PBS documentary, Gary Kremen (’81) founded and Charles Prebish (’62) recently retired as Professor Emeritus from Penn State University.

I’m feeling slighted. It might be time to send a paragraph of my own to the D219 Alumni News because I’ll be 60 in a few months, and at my age a girl doesn’t have too many quarter-centuries left. Here’s what I’m proposing to send:
Marcy Lutz Marks (’69), former “Playboy” centerfold and inventor of canned kidney beans, high-capacity inkjet cartridges and memory foam, is enjoying retirement at Club Meds in Mesquite, Texas. She writes the Howdygram, injects insulin and makes beds.
I thought I’d also include a photo of Raquel Welch in costume from One Million Years B.C. You know the one I’m referring to.
In case you’re interested, the house finally warmed up so it’s probably a good idea to go back to bed for a while. Thanks for stopping by. Next time bring a friend.

*Somebody at the National Weather Service probably knew and forgot to tell me.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Making progress, one limp at a time.

To get a better picture of my ongoing physical problems — and especially the latest issue concerning lupus — Dr. M has referred me to a rheumatology specialist at the Arthritis Center of Texas, which is located somewhere in the vicinity of Baylor Hospital in Dallas. I Googled this photo for your possible interest.
The Arthritis Center’s website had eight pages of new patient forms for me to download, and I have to admit ... I’m extremely impressed with all the very specific questions about my mobility (or lack of it), the degree of difficulty and pain I experience doing a huge variety of everyday tasks, my medical history, my family’s medical history, and so on. This is one appointment I’m really looking forward to. Stay tuned and send Jello.

In other news, a nice handyman named Gary came over this morning to do some work for us around the house. He recaulked the kitchen counters, installed a new doorbell and bolted our gigantic freestanding headboard to the wall in the master bedroom because the silly thing was always leaning forward. Please don’t ask me to explain why it took us almost four years to deal with this issue. A headboard portrait appears below. (I snapped this picture 10 minutes ago.)
It occurs to me that I’m not in a very spunky mood tonight. My stomach hasn’t fully recovered after the night from hell (see post) and I still feel queasy. At times I assume it’s because I’m not eating very much, although after I eat I don’t feel better, anyway. All of this crap is probably creating some havoc with my blood sugar, too, and for this reason I’m annoyed, crabby and not in the mood to fold towels.

More tomorrow. I’m going to put my feet up for a while and watch a movie. Thank you for your patience.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Let there be light.

Thursday’s bright spot: MY NEW FLAMELESS CANDLES WERE DELIVERED TODAY. Seriously, these things are just amazing! They’re made of real wax, they flicker, they’ve got a light vanilla scent and nobody would ever know you don’t have genuine candles dripping all over the house. And the best part is, I got a box of six from for only $18, which is a fraction of what you’d pay anywhere else. (Kirkland’s sells them for $7.99 each.) I just finished installing all the AAA batteries and by the time Sam gets home from work tonight the house will be lit up like a brothel so we can watch our “People’s Court” reruns by candlelight. We’re livin’ da vida loca here at Club Meds.
I can’t think of anything else to write about so I think I’ll spend some time working in the master bedroom closet. I’m replacing all the hangers. Honest.

The day after the night from hell.

I don’t exactly know how to phrase this delicately, so I’ll just jump right in. MY NEW PAIN MEDICATION ALMOST KILLED ME LAST NIGHT. I’ve always had trouble taking painkillers in decades past — Darvon, Darvocet, Vicodin — but Ultracet nearly did me in. Instead of Dopey and Sleepy (see yesterday’s post) I wound up with something else entirely.
The directions on the bottle tell me to take four pills a day, six hours apart. I took my second dose yesterday shortly before dinner. Sometime around 7 the room was spinning, my stomach was upside-down and my eyes were sensitive to light. I knew what was coming. With Sam still at work I wobbled into the kitchen, grabbed a towel and the biggest plastic potato salad bowl I could find, turned off the lights in the family room and sat on the couch waiting to barf. I would have moved the show into the bathroom except I thought I might pass out, and I’d rather pass out on a sofa than a stone floor.

For the next two hours I sat frozen in one position, lost in a dizzy, nauseated stupor ... hallucinating, moaning and occasionally trying to lie down (which only made it worse). The “big B” finally happened around 9:30. I felt a little better for about 90 seconds after that, allowing just enough time to rinse the bowl and get back to the sofa.

Sam called from the office at 10 to let me know he was running late. I barely remember muttering I was sick, but that was enough to propel him into SUPERHERO MODE because he vaulted into the house less than 20 minutes later to find a non-communicative zombie [me] with her face in a bucket. After sitting motionless with Sam at my side for an additional two hours, during which he did wonderful Sam things like rub my face and hands, there was another “big B” shortly after midnight followed by an immediate exodus to the bedroom because both of us were exhausted. I had to skip all of my late-night meds because I was afraid to put anything — especially pills — in my stomach.

When I got up this morning at 7 I felt healthy but slightly weird. My blood sugar was dropping because I technically hadn’t eaten anything for almost 18 hours. Half a dry bagel did the trick plus all the prescriptions I didn’t take the night before. Plus a Marcy-tini because I was really thirsty. Then I went back to bed until 10.

The moral of the story is, DON’T GET OLD so you won’t have to move into Club Meds and you’ll never have to take prescriptions that make you sick. I will never touch Ultracet again even if the Wicked Queen makes it look like a shiny red apple Mongolian Chicken.

Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Meet two of the Seven Dwarfs.

Yesterday when Dr. M decided to prescribe pain medication for me she commented that she could go one of two ways with this: 1) a narcotic (Vicodin) that could cause nausea and dizziness; or 2) a non-narcotic (Ultracet) that might make me feel tired and loopy. I chose number two, explaining that I definitely prefer dopey and sleepy to nauseated and dizzy. And so, as I begin my daily regimen of Ultracet tablets today, I am pleased to introduce you to two of the Seven Dwarfs ... the newest residents here at Club Meds:
Incidentally, I just received a call from Dr. M’s nurse with the results of yesterday’s lab work. My kidney function is improved, blood glucose looks good, cholesterol is normal, triglycerides are high, and the test for rheumatoid arthritis (R.A.) is negative BUT there’s a “highly elevated indicator” for lupus — no! NOT LUPUS! — and I’m being referred to a rheumatologist for further investigation. Apparently lupus can mimic the symptoms of R.A., although the indicator could only be a “false positive.” I am oddly flummoxed by this concept but concede that it might just be Dopey kicking in.

Concerning hoo-hah with my triglycerides, Dr. M is prescribing Lopid 600 mg. and I can pick it up at the pharmacy later this afternoon.

I just ordered a bottle of the most incredible perfume in the world from B-Exquisite by Bijan. I received a free sample a few days ago and the scent was absolutely hypnotic. The only other fragrances that have ever affected me like this are Maja and Rive Gauche. I discovered both when I was in college and both are on my vanity tray in the master bathroom as I write this. I can’t wait to marinate in B-Exquisite. I like to smell good.

Also, I saw a local news item today that fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger has proposed the following new uniform for the Dallas Cowboys:
To tell you the truth, it’s got kind of a sissy vibe to it and looks more like an outfit for a middle school girls’ soccer team. I think Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones should worry less about uniforms and more about why his crew of overpaid egomaniacs can’t win a championship.

Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Welcome to Club Meds.

If you’ve been following my posts you’ll know I saw my doctor this morning for a quarterly checkup. As expected, Dr. M added to my list of prescriptions in an effort to alleviate an ever-expanding list of chronic pain issues. The latest additions are Ultracet four times a day plus a seven-day regimen of Methylprednisolone (see below).
I will take these in addition to Benazepril-Hydrochlorothiazide, Metformin, Glyburide, Aldactone, Pravachol and 2,000 daily units of Vitamin D for a variety of other annoying ailments that include high blood pressure, edema, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and anemia. Apparently the only ailments I do NOT have are bubonic plague and an enlarged prostate. Welcome to Club Meds. The line for the disco forms to the left.

Do not eat this, ever. I had an exceptionally miserable dinner tonight thanks to a Sam’s Choice 9-Layer Meat Lasagna that I found lurking at the bottom of my freezer. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what was wrong with this entree other than the bad smell, the nasty flavor, the snot-like consistency of the “bechamel” filling and noodles so tough they must have been steel-belted radials in a previous life. After wasting an hour and 20 minutes waiting for this beast to cook I threw out the entire tray and ate a couple of hard-boiled eggs and a handful of raisins. You can always count on raisins.

Thank you for reading this.

Monday, March 21, 2011

It’s good to have friends in high places.

George and Laura Bush love me. This is amusing, ridiculous and really hard to believe, since I was no Bush fan during his eight years in office and still don’t have any use for him except as a Howdygram sidebar to showcase his unforgettable public speaking skills. During the past year the Bushes have sent me — not Sam, just ME — numerous attractive welcome letters with pictures (Laura’s gaining weight), engraved and signed certificates, way too many fundraising requests, and now, if I remit $50, an opportunity to be “permanently inscribed in the Freedom Registry” at the George W. Bush Presidential Center Museum. As an incentive, they included a virtually worthless plastic membership card (see below) with an artist’s rendering of an imaginary building on the SMU campus in Dallas that hasn’t broken ground. I am, as you might expect, honored, humbled, deeply moved and confused as hell.
So. Did y’all have a nice weekend? We didn’t do much and enjoyed every minute of it. I ordered a West Bend electric can opener from (see right) and baked a loaf of pumpernickel, but my #1 goal — aside from laundry — was to learn how to use the remote with our new AT&T U-Verse DVR.

At this moment in time I’m pleased to report that I’ve already mastered all of the following functions: 1) turning the TV and DVR on and off; 2) recording and erasing movies; 3) setting up series recordings for “Top Chef”, “People’s Court”, “Tabatha’s Salon Takeover” and “Hardcore Pawn”; and 4) adjusting the volume. I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface. Whenever I’m ready to advance to the next level AT&T offers an assortment of condescending on-demand instructional videos.

And now it’s time for a hot shower, dinner and a mountain of unfolded socks! Life is good in Texas. I’ll bet you wish you were here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Libya, grilled cheese and other stories.

Sam and I are definitely on opposite schedules right now. Because I didn’t get any sleep Friday night I took a very long nap Saturday morning and then another one late in the afternoon. Shortly after dinner Sam conked out on the couch, slept for three hours and then crept off to bed at 10:30. As for me, I’m probably awake enough to sit here horsing around at the computer until 4 a.m., although I might consider taking a sedative so I won’t screw up the rest of the weekend for us. I’ve got other things to do with my life. Like laundry, for instance. Lots and lots of laundry. I’m drowning in it. If you want to come over and help please send an email right away. I’ll buy a pound cake.

Do you ever get strange food cravings? Mine is a trio of perfect flavors that’s eaten together and always in complete privacy, as Sam gets grossed out if I even MENTION this to him. It’s a grilled cheese sandwich, green olives and one of my Goofy Fruity Shakes. I also used to love liverwurst on white bread with sweet pickle relish and mayo, but I gave up on that one years ago when I started reading nutritional labels.
In other news, I see that the U.S. and Great Britain have been very busy tonight blowing up Libya and all of its air defenses. This is a good thing. If ever a country needed blowing up, it’s Libya. And after we get rid of Gaddafi and all of his evil spawn I think Disney should consider turning the entire country into a resort with rides and corn dogs.

Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How to stay balanced, part one.

When sleep deprivation turns your life upside down there’s only one way to get back on track, and that’s a middle-of-the-night SHOPPING SPREE at any or all of my favorite websites:, and Shopping is good for your soul, balances your brain and it’s not even necessary to spend a lot of money.
So ... here are the fruits of last night’s credit card extravaganza. I bought a bunch of cute new cheapo fonts, a set of six flameless LED pillar candles from and a rustic mantle clock from for the family room because our new AT&T DVR doesn’t show you what time it is and eventually this will drive me nuts.
And now for something truly ironic. Last night when Sam got home from work we started surfing through the 470 high-definition premium channels we get with our new AT&T U-Verse service, and the only program worth watching was an NFL bloopers rerun from 1995. I briefly considered blowing my brains out until I noticed that HBO was showing Gattaca at midnight. I like Gattaca.

Thank you for reading this.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Well-connected and wired to the max.

Seriously, change doesn’t come easy for me. The older I get, the more I worry. For the last few days I was in a state of clammy panic about our AT&T U-Verse installation today. All kinds of scary baloney kept whizzing through my head, like will AT&T have to drill holes in our house, do they know what to do with our Bose home theatre and can I find a private class somewhere on how to use the new remote. Fortunately, the entire installation experience was totally painless and took less than two hours, ending with one-on-one remote control instruction with Josh the Friendly Technician. I even have a hard-copy channel guide that’s the size of Webster’s unabridged dictionary ... 470 CHANNELS. Holy crap.

In case you’re interested, I have some HUGE PLANS for the weekend. They include: 1) driving to The Container Store in Dallas to pick up some desk organizers I ordered online; 2) lunch with Sam at El Nogalito even though I’m not 100% convinced I have a taste for enchiladas with Cheez Whiz; and 3) enough laundry to sink the U.S.S. Enterprise. Number three is mostly due to the enormous pile of new monogrammed towels that arrived yesterday plus a lot of sheets, two weeks’ worth of socks and a ton of underwear. I’m feeling thoroughly overwhelmed due to continuing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. (Try folding socks one-handed and you’ll get my drift.)

As if we needed more bad news, I just saw a headline that President Obama has OK’d military action to stop Charlie Sheen’s evil twin, megalomaniac Moammar Gaddafi. This scares me. Gaddafi has already made it pretty clear that he’ll fight to the death to hang onto whatever he’s got in Libya, strangely like Sheen with his “violent torpedo of truth” and “fire-breathing fists.”

God help us.

Time to throw in another load of laundry while I’m on a roll here. Thank you for stopping by. I mean it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In honor of St. Patrick.

Let me be perfectly clear about this from the get-go: NOBODY IN OUR HOUSE IS IRISH. Both Sam and I are Jewish with eastern European ancestry, which is technically as far from Irish as a person can get without being Chinese or South African. But even so, I thought I’d devote a couple of paragraphs to St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, as beer-drinkers around the world remember his death 1,572 years ago today. The last surviving snapshot of St. Patrick appears at right.

Here are some facts about St. Patrick and St. Patrick’s Day. One of them is not true. Can you guess which?
  1. St. Patrick was born in Wales, not Ireland, but don’t tell anybody.
  2. At one time his kid sister Harriet was engaged to a leprechaun.
  3. Until the 1970s all pubs in Ireland were closed on March 17 and the only place you could buy yourself a beer was at the annual dog show.
  4. Since 1962 nearly 100 tons of green dye are dumped annually into the Chicago River for St. Patrick’s Day (see below) for no apparent reason.
  5. Blue — not green — is the color that’s associated with St. Patrick in Ireland.
I should really go to bed now because Sam is already in dreamland and I’m jealous. Thank you for reading this and pass the shamrocks.

P.S. — Item #2 in my St. Patrick’s Day list is baloney. Harriet was an old maid.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The motivated shopper.

I feel a whole lot better today, in case you’ve been concerned. I’m finally crawling out of that funk from the last few days, behaving more like a genuine Marcy again. Translation: I’ve been SHOPPING ONLINE. This is the best mood-changer on the planet and you don’t have to wear a bra or look for parking.

In the interest of nostalgia my first purchase was a big bottle of Rive Gauche spray perfume from, a scent I haven’t worn since I was in college 40 years ago. My motive makes perfect sense. I was sad to find out a couple of days ago that a former boyfriend — Joel — passed away last year, and Rive Gauche was the fragrance I wore about the same time we were dating. I know Sam won’t mind if I have a sentimental need to smell like a 20-year-old student for a little while.

I also bought myself some new desk organizers (see below) from The Container Store ... a drawer unit thing to organize my inkjet paper and envelopes and two file trays that fit on top of the drawer unit thing. I actually ordered mine in a different color — “smoke” — but they didn’t have a decent picture for me to use. (I’m trying to rise above the disappointment.)
Oy. I just saw a sickening “breaking news” bulletin on about the crisis in Japan: RADIATION SURGE FORCES WORKERS TO SUSPEND NUCLEAR CONTAINMENT EFFORTS. The horror of this leaves me without words. Thank God I’ve still got more shopping to do.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Trying to stay sidetracked.

No kidding, I can’t help it. This week it’s my life’s work to stay occupied and not get too emotionally over-wrought about the devastation in Japan. I wish I could explain why this event is affecting me so profoundly. I mean, we’ve had plenty of other disasters in the news recently, including huge earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and New Zealand, monstrous floods in Australia and half an inch of sleet here in Dallas back in January. But the fact is, Japan is giving me NIGHTMARES. If the earthquake and tsunami — and all those terrifying amateur videos — aren’t bad enough, four crippled nuclear reactors leaking radiation are more than a girl can stand. After spending four days denying any public danger, the Japanese government is finally telling the truth tonight: the radioactive steam spewing into the atmosphere WILL cause radiation sickness, and residents within a 20-mile radius are being warned to stay indoors.  

Personally, if I were Japanese I’d rather hop a plane and move as far from the Pacific as possible, like Indiana or Scotland.

Sam will be home from work very late tonight so I think I’ll distract myself and start reorganizing the closet in the master bedroom. My new velvet hangers from got here a couple of days ago. The timing was perfect.

In other news, we’ve got a VERY EXCITING WEEK planned! An AC repairman is coming to the house tomorrow, on Wednesday morning we’re getting one last estimate for a new cedar fence in the back yard, my maid service will be here at 10 a.m. and our Schwan’s frozen food delivery comes at noon, and on Friday AT&T will be here to install our new U-Verse TV, Internet and digital phone service. I’m still a little nervous about switching to AT&T but I’m sure I’ll love all my new premium movie channels and that jumbo DVR.

Best wishes to you all and thank you for reading this.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nightmares with a Japanese accent.

What should have been an unforgettable night of serene opulence in our brand new bed actually turned out differently due to a series of nightmares about Japan. Late last night I made the mistake of viewing several devastating tsunami video clips on followed by this terrifying headline plastered across the top of MSNBC’s website:


As I write this post a quarter of a million people are being evacuated around three severely damaged nuclear reactors — all in various stages of meltdown — on the east coast of Japan between Sendai and Tokyo. Japanese officials are insisting the situation isn’t “as bad as Chernobyl”, but they keep forgetting to add “yet” to the end of that sentence. In case you don’t remember Chernobyl — or you’re too young to know what I’m talking about — the meltdown at this nuclear reactor in Russia turned the entire region into a poisoned wasteland from radiation four hundred times stronger than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II, causing thousands of deaths from radiation poisoning and forcing the Russian government to move and resettle 400,000 citizens. Chernobyl is still a wasteland today ... 25 years later.

And so that’s why I didn’t sleep well last night. Tsunami videos and nuclear meltdowns. And I’m feeling rather subdued today, too, even though I’ve got leftover Chinese food in the refrigerator and one of my clients just sent an email thanking me for the great job I did designing her new blog. Somebody please cheer me up. Maybe I need lunch.

I hope you remembered to set your clocks ahead last night for Daylight Savings Time. We are all one hour older today. (Yee-ha.)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

We did it. We bought a new bed today.

We’re waiting for Mattress Firm’s truck as I write this post. They promised us a three-hour delivery window from 4 to 7 p.m. They’re already five minutes late, but we don’t care because being late means they have to refund our $49.95 delivery charge. There’s nothing better than free delivery except sex.

The bed we bought is their top-of-the-line Simmons Beautyrest “World-Class Vibrance Plush,” which is three feet thick, weighs 826 pounds and contains four million pocketed coils with a top layer of NxG™ “next generation” memory foam. We also got a fancy-schmancy mattress pad that I’ve already washed and dried.

Afterwards we had lunch at Jeng Chi, a Chinese restaurant in Richardson that I’ve been reading about online. It’s an ordinary-looking neighborhood spot in a busy Asian strip mall. The food was TO DIE FOR even though Sam and I were both so tired we were afraid we’d pass out in our entrees. (We didn’t.)
I ordered Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (see above), Sam ordered Kung Pao Chicken, and we shared a bucket of dumplings and a green onion pancake. We decided to skip the Pork Ear in Black Bean Sauce for personal reasons. Also pictured here is the little Chinese pastry shop at the back of the restaurant but we didn’t buy anything.

A final update. It’s 8:10 p.m., our new bed was delivered, and we’ve already put on fresh sheets and our summer quilt. The mattress is so thick I practically need a running start to get on top, but I love it. So does Sam.

Next project ... we’re trying to figure out why it’s 80° in the house even though the AC is on and the thermostat is set for 71°. But first it’s time for leftovers. And thank you for reading this.

Disasters: a Howdygram perspective.

It’s been quite a week for tragedies as we follow three devastating stories in the news. First we learn that 68-year-old former Mousketeer Annette Funicello lost her collection of Beach Blanket Bingo movie posters in a house fire, Warner Bros. officially dumps Charlie Sheen, and Japan suffers an 8.9 magnitude earthquake, a cataclysmic tsunami and the explosion of a nuclear power plant that’s currently spewing radioactive steam.
After pondering all three stories the one that haunts me most is the news from Japan. Not only is the entire island turning into a toxic stew of debris, contamination and nuclear waste, there’s also a potential worldwide shortage of wasabi and Honda Civic floor mats. THIS COULD GET UGLY.

And last, but not least, I’m currently suffering from an advanced case of sleep deprivation, mostly because the pain in my left hand gets worse at night and I can’t fall asleep. After thrashing around in bed for an hour I go sit at the computer, write a post or two, buy things on and eventually get so tired I can conk out whether my hand still hurts or not. I’m teetering at the conk-out point right now, as a matter of fact. I look like a zombie. Thank you for reading this.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Patience and simplicity.

It’s Thursday night, and I’m waiting. Waiting for Sam to come home from work. Waiting for Betty, my Mac technician, to come over tomorrow and set up my new Epson printer. Waiting for UPS to deliver 200 velvet hangers from so I can redo the closet in the master bedroom. Waiting for Saturday so Sam and I can buy our new bed.

That last one — the new bed — is an extremely big deal. I even printed out online coupons from all the mattress stores here in Mesquite, although with or without coupons the prices are mysteriously identical at every store. Mattress Giant, for example, is advertising “58% off all Simmons mattress sets” ... except they doubled their prices first. Our shopping excursion will take us to one or more of the following stores, all pinpointed on the map below for your possible interest. They are: A) The Sleep Experts; B) Mattress Giant; and C) Mattress Firm.
Bed-buying will be followed by a brief excursion to Kirkland’s, located about half an inch to the right of “B” on the map, because they’re having a sale and I’m ready for a few new doodads to spruce up the house. (I won’t spring the Kirkland’s idea on Sam until the very last minute in an effort to avoid the inevitable Scrunchy Face of Disapproval.) And finally, when we’re all done shopping, we’ll head north to Carrollton for dim sum, which is a critical element of our weekend activities.

And now it’s time for a hot shower, leftover chicken and an old movie. Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget your umbrella.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Two things.

Thing Number One.
Trust me, I’m not schizophrenic, but we’re all set up again for AT&T U-Verse installation on March 18. My AT&T sales rep called this morning to find out why his favorite customer [me] called to cancel everything yesterday afternoon (see post) so I told him I found out that my credit card terminal and fax won’t be compatible with a fiber optic phone line. Jeff had the perfect solution ... we can upgrade only ONE of our home phones to fiber optics and leave the other as a traditional landline! I told him I didn’t know this was a possibility since nobody suggested it when I called yesterday to cancel, but what the hell ... Jeff saved the day, everybody’s deliriously happy, AT&T loves me again and we’re one step closer to a bazillion TV channels and Internet service that’s twice as fast as Time-Warner! I’m so excited I could pee. (Okay, maybe not.)

The “U450” TV package with more than 370 channels is a couch potato’s dream. It includes all the Starz channels, all the Encore Channels, Turner Classic Movies, every premium movie channel (HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Sony, Fox, MGM, The Movie Channel), every imaginable sports channel, the Knitting Network and — thank God — high-definition HSN and Saigon Broadcasting. Seriously, I start shaking every time I think about it. The only glitch will be learning all those new channel numbers (after four years with Time-Warner I’ve got my favorites memorized) and how to use a new remote. Sam, always an optimist, is positive we’re up to the challenge.

Thing Number Two.
I don’t know if you saw this news story yesterday or not, but the Monkees are getting ready to launch their 45th anniversary reunion tour.
The band currently includes (from left to right) Peter Tork (age 70), Micky Dolenz (65) and Davy Jones (65) from the original TV series in the mid-1960s. What a gruesome crew. They look like dressed-up refugees from an assisted-living facility. Former Monkee Michael Nesmith (not pictured), who became a billionaire inventing music videos, MTV and pay-per-view television, obviously doesn’t need the paycheck. This is a unfortunate because he’s the only one who actually looks terrific now. (Money can do that for you.)

Thank you for reading this.

Averting disaster and other upcoming activities.

Everybody loves a bargain, me included, so on Monday afternoon I got lured into adding AT&T U-Verse fiber optic television, high-speed Internet and digital phone to our current AT&T landline service (we have two lines here). AT&T came up with a mighty fine deal that includes a few bazillion TV channels with all the premium movies, high-definition and a DVR that records up to four programs at the same time. And because AT&T says I’m such a valuable customer they offer to waive the Installation Fee, Receiver Fee and Residential Gateway Fee and promise to send me a pair of Visa gift cards. All this hoo-hah actually costs about $75 a month LESS than we’re currently paying altogether for AT&T phone service and Time-Warner cable TV and Internet. So I set up installation for March 18 and can’t wait to tell Sam about my brilliant accomplishment.

And then (thankfully) I decide I’d better do a little research.

I make two phone calls and find out from First National Processing that my credit card terminal (pictured below) — which I just replaced in December to be in compliance with new Federal laws — is “dial-up only” and won’t work on a fiber optic phone line, and Epson tech support tells me the fax that’s built into my new WorkForce 635 printer (the one I ordered last night) isn’t compatible with fiber optics, either.
Frankly, a few extra cable channels aren’t worth this much upheaval and inconvenience, so I call AT&T and cancel EVERYTHING. They don’t love me any more.

And now a brief rundown of my upcoming activities this week, which include: 1) emptying the dishwasher; 2) getting a mammogram today at 2:30; 3) a quarterly preventive visit from our pest control company on Thursday afternoon; and 4) tweezing my eyebrows. I’m not thrilled about item two, and item four gets harder all the time because I can’t see what I’m doing.

Incidentally, next Tuesday morning I’m scheduled for a stress test. My cardiologist’s name is Mohammad Khan. Oy.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Prints Charming travels in a FedEx truck.

Last night in the middle of a birthday card creation — yes, I design birthday cards — my Epson Artisan 700 printer stops processing anything heavier than Kleenex. It chews up the card stock, deposits ink splotches on every edge of my envelope and finishes off with a chorus of pitiful grunts. Since the printer’s officially been out of warranty for more than a year I decide it’s time to put it out of its misery and order new equipment. I am pleased to introduce the Epson WorkForce 635.
The WorkForce 635 is bigger and faster the Artisan 700 and includes a ton of cool extra features, including automatic duplex (back-to-back) printing, a fax, a sheet-fed scanner and a huge paper tray. (I love huge paper trays.) It’s also nonfat, rustproof and provides 25% of your recommended daily fiber allowance. Even better, when I ordered last night on they threw in a $50 INSTANT REBATE and FREE SHIPPING in addition to NO SALES TAX.

The only thing that could make this even better would be 1,000 sheets of premium presentation paper and a free lifetime supply of inkjet cartridges, but I won’t hold my breath.

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The men and women of Crook County, Illinois.

I love blogging. You have no idea how liberating it is to sit in front of the computer day or night and publish any damn thing you want. With pictures! When I first started the Howdygram I was positive only a handful of people would ever stop by to read this baloney, but eventually my visitor statistics proved me wrong. Now I’ve got regular readers all across the United States, every corner of the globe (Tasmania, Argentina, Germany, Great Britain, Canada, Pakistan and Malta), the Pentagon and even the Department of Justice.

Smooches to you all, whoever you are!

And now for tonight’s post about the Einsteins of Crook County, Illinois. I’ve written about this corrupt crew of Chicagoans before (see post), but it’s time for an update because former Crook County Board President Todd Stroger, who lost his bid for re-election last year by finishing dead last out of four candidates, is attempting to apply for unemployment benefits.
Pictured above: A) Todd Stroger; B) Deborah Dunning, Stroger’s cousin and the county’s former chief financial officer; C) Tony Cole, a busboy at Stroger’s favorite steak house; and D) Carla Oglesby, who was Stroger’s campaign publicist and deputy chief of staff.

Todd Stroger. The king of corruption and proponent of the Crook County Friends and Family Hiring Plan applied on February 7 for unemployment benefits for the $170,000 he was paid annually in his position as County Board President. This, of course, only represents Stroger’s BASE salary and does not include any additional funds acquired through graft, kickbacks and bribes. His request for unemployment has been denied because elected officials are ineligible.

Deborah Dunning. Crook County’s former chief financial officer was responsible for hiring Tony Cole, a busboy at Stroger’s favorite steak house, and offering him an administrative position on her staff that paid $60,000 per year. Dunning chose to ignore Cole’s substantial criminal background, which included arrests and convictions for assault, writing bad checks and a rape case that ended his basketball career at the University of Georgia. During Cole’s first few weeks on the county payroll he was arrested TWICE for domestic battery and violating an order of protection, for which Dunning bailed him out of jail, arranged for him to be paid for the days he was incarcerated and then approved a $3,000 salary increase. Cole and Dunning were both fired after the Chicago Sun-Times reported the story.

Carla Oglesby. Stroger’s former campaign manager and deputy chief of staff is currently out on bail and awaiting trial for wasting more than $180,000 of the county’s money on lucrative and thoroughly bogus contracts for her friends and business associates, including a contract to her own public relations agency for a phony “composting awareness program” and $25,000 to a pair of hip-hop artists for “census outreach.” All of this activity occurred during Oglesby’s first two months on the job. She was fired last spring. Her request for unemployment benefits was denied, too.

As far as I’m concerned, all of these Einsteins deserve adjoining cells at the penitentiary in Joliet. Thank you for reading this.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Too much doctoring can get on your nerves.

First of all, let me state clearly that I really like my internist. And Dr. M apparently likes me, too, because she demands a hug every time I see her and tells me that my upbeat personality “makes her day.” This may be genuinely swell, but I’m currently fed up with all things medical. I see Dr. M every three months for a checkup and a never-ending series of blood tests to make sure I’m surviving all my meds, and now, of all things, she wants me to get a MAMMOGRAM — I hate mammograms! — and see a cardiologist for a STRESS TEST. She keeps muttering about my advancing age and “risk factors.” A scheduling nurse named Norma called today to set up appointments for me, at which time I told her I’m going to London for the royal wedding and would get back to her in May if I felt like it. (Just kidding.)

The bottom line is, I’m turning into my mother and it’s creeping me out.

To cheer myself up I ordered 200 black velvet hangers tonight from so I can reorganize the closet in the master bedroom. I have no idea whatsoever how many I’ll actually need, but 200 should be more than enough with a few left over for moderate wardrobe expansion. Closet organization is BIG FUN, so please send me an email if you want to come over and help. We can order in for lunch.
For the record, I priced comparable hangers first on — Joy Mangano’s “Huggable Hangers” — but they’re overpriced, come in ugly day-glo colors and include lots of stupid accessories that I don’t need, like cedar balls and skirt clips. They also have an inordinate number of fascinating negative reviews. I never realized how many people can get aggravated by something as innocuous as a HANGER.

Sam just called. He’s working late again tonight so I’ll probably be on my own here until 3 a.m. or later. I think I’ll fold socks now and watch a movie to keep out of trouble. Thank you for reading this.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tidbits and possibilities.

Howdy. I’ve had a very annoying day so far, mostly because my left hand is all cramped-up again and even TYPING is painful now. The problem is, I can’t bend any of my fingers! So in addition to not being able to type I also can’t grip a Marcytini, fold a pair of socks, turn a doorknob or empty the dishwasher. However, I can still operate the remote and order Mongolian Chicken. Life is not a total loss.

Yesterday Aunt Adie emailed the following photo of Sam’s mom posing at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. I think Belle looks very comfortable at the podium and should consider running in 2012. I’d even be willing to help her pick out a fancy hat and edit her inaugural address.

And finally, I thought y’all might enjoy the following video clip ... it’s Jimmy Fallon’s impression of Charlie Sheen being insane. Fallon really nailed it. Somebody remind me to watch his TV show once in a while.

Next time you stop by bring a coffee cake. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The best thing about Wednesday is Top Chef.

I’m having a very weird day. I woke up tired this morning (if that doesn’t make sense, join the club) and it’s pretty much all been downhill since then. Judge for yourself. 1) Our maid service showed up two and a half hours late; 2) my favorite black rubber coaster is missing; 3) I dozed off on the sofa FOR 15 LOUSY MINUTES and completely missed a scheduled visit from our pest control company; and 4) my 30-pound FedEx delivery from The Prepared Pantry never got here. Online tracking says it was delivered yesterday but they’re lying. Somewhere in north Texas there’s a FedEx driver stuffing his face with pumpernickel, and I need to find out where he lives.

Sam and I are getting ready to buy a new bed. What began this morning as a casual hypothetical conversation — i.e., “if we ever decide to buy a new bed” — quickly transitioned into “let’s go shopping on Saturday.”

We originally considered a Sleep Number bed or a Tempur-Pedic but found way too many negative online reviews about both brands ... and the prices ($3,500+) were OUTRAGEOUS. So we shifted to Plan B and decided on a Simmons Beautyrest set that’s a lot like the one we’re replacing ... a no-motion-transfer, non-flip king that weighs about 575 pounds (see below). Ours is more than 10 years old with a dent on one side that’s beginning to rival the Great Rift Valley of Africa.

I accept full responsibility for the dent.

I smell good! My order from showed up this afternoon and I’ve been marinating in Estee Lauter’s “Pleasures Intense” since shortly after dinner. Unfortunately, the rest of my order was out of stock so I just visited and bought myself a 3.4 oz. bottle of “Maja” by Myrurgia (see right), a fragrance I haven’t worn in at least three decades. I can’t wait to smell like a 30-year-old again! And the best part about shopping at is NO SALES TAX and FREE SHIPPING, and if you agree to answer a short survey afterwards they give you FREE MAGAZINES. Four of them! I picked the best of the lot: Field & Stream, Ebony, Seventeen and American Bowhunter. Seriously.

And now it’s time for “Top Chef,” which is one of my favorite TV shows even though I have no idea what these people are cooking half the time. I think I’ll reheat the rest of my dinner and enjoy the program as it was originally intended: with a fork and a napkin. Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mastering the art of self-diagnosis.

Sam tells me all the time that he thinks I’m a genius, and I might finally be convinced that he’s right. I believe I’ve figured out why I have so many strange aches and pains! This afternoon I read an article online, completely by accident, that listed the eight signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis ... AND I’VE GOT SEVEN OF THEM. They are: 1) pain and tingling in my hands that can be misdiagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome; 2) pain in my heels that can be misdiagnosed as plantar fasciitis; 3) unexplained fatigue; 4) pairs of achy joints (my hands and knees); 5) severe stiffness in the morning; 6) painful locked joints that cannot bend; and 7) nodules that grow near the affected joints.

Holy crap, I’m a textbook case! And the most illuminating connection is the fact that rheumatoid arthritis is genetic, and my mother has had it for years.

I can’t tell you how exciting it will be to add yet another chronic, incurable disease to my growing list of physical problems, and the prospect of additional prescription medications means I can finally justify ordering the industrial-size, fancy-schmancy pill organizer I’ve been coveting on Wal-Mart’s website. It’s $69.95 at the time of this writing and the size of South Dakota with an alarm clock that yells at you.

I’ve got an appointment to see my doctor on March 22, so stay tuned for an update. Let’s see if I’m as smart as Sam thinks I am! Thank you for reading this.

A March 1 retrospective.

It’s the first day of a brand new month, so the Howdygram would like to wish you an Extremely Happy March as we provide the following information for your amusement and education. This is great stuff and I think you’ll be impressed as hell.

The Salem Witch Hunt Begins (1692). In Salem Village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, two women named Sarah and a creepy Indian slave from Barbados are accused of practicing witchcraft after a pastor’s young daughters are afflicted by fits. With the help of several extremely stupid adults and the diagnosis of a quack doctor, the girls’ ailments are blamed on witchcraft and they all begin to point out suspected witches. During the following few months more than 150 women and men from Salem Village are accused, tried and executed. Incriminating evidence included making a neighbor’s pie crust fall apart, having green eyes, or if a possum sits on your doorstep when it’s raining. Those wacky, wacky Puritans.

Yellowstone National Park Established (1872). On this date in 1872 President Ulysses S. Grant signed a bill creating the first national park at Yellowstone, consisting of 1,221,773 acres of public land straddling the future states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. The region had been mostly unknown (unless you’re a Native American) until after the Civil War, when exploration parties in 1869 and 1870 returned to Washington, D.C. with stories about exploding geysers, gurgling mud pots and herds of wildlife. In 1871 a government geologist named Ferdinand Hayden shlepped a photographer and artist on a third expedition, and the images they brought home sealed Yellowstone’s fate as a protected wilderness for all Americans. The first souvenir stand with hotdogs was built in 1875.

Lindbergh Baby Kidnapped (1932). It was a crime that riveted the entire nation when the 20-month-old son of aviation hero Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped on this date in 1932 from the family’s home in Hopewell, New Jersey. After paying $70,000 ransom the Lindberghs were led on a wild goose chase to recover their son from a boat off the coast of Massachusetts, but the baby’s body eventually was discovered less than a mile away from their home. Two years later a marked bill from the ransom money turned up at a gas station and police arrested German immigrant Bruno Hauptmann, who was later tried and executed for the kidnapping. The moral of the story is, you should always pay for gas with an ATM card.

Mickey Mantle Retires (1969). Legendary New York Yankees center-fielder Mickey Mantle retired on this date in 1969. During his 17-year career with the Yankees (1951 to 1968) the team won 12 American League pennants and seven World Series. You can buy a 1965 Topps Mickey Mantle #350 Baseball Card on eBay for $195, but Howdygram financial experts recommend investing in something of real value from our Boutique, like maybe a mouse pad. Thank you.

The big Tuesday hoo-hah.

There’s so much happening here today I almost don’t know where to begin, but I’ll give it my best shot! First, I just spent an hour redesigning certain elements of the Howdygram. As you scroll around the page you’ll notice our new banner, new navigation links and assorted other graphics. I know you’ll find this as exciting as I do. Second, I’m expecting a delivery of bread machine mixes this afternoon from The Prepared Pantry.

Wow. I guess that’s about it.

In case you’ve been losing sleep over this, here’s an update on Sam’s black stretchy pants (see post). Even after reporting this incident to Mesquite police detectives, offering a substantial $25 reward and promising the thief complete amnesty, SAM’S MISSING PANTS ARE STILL NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. The only possible explanation is that our housecleaning crew took them home as a souvenir, although with very little effort they could have found other items of much greater value, such as my collection of melamine soup bowls, the tape dispenser on my desk or Sam’s carousel horse statue. (I’d actually be willing to gift-wrap the horse statue for them.)

And now I think I’ll go back to bed for a while so I won’t look like a zombie all day. Thank you for reading this.