Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Costco fiasco.

We blew it this morning. We went to Costco for five things and didn’t get ANY of them (see my previous post). The barbecue sauce and Ziploc bags completely slipped our minds, we decided to skip the lox, stuffed mushrooms aren’t in season (seriously) and they don’t carry Efferdent. In all other respects, however, our shopping excursion was a huge success. We came home with a jumbo jar of salsa, fresh-made tortellini salad, oven-roasted turkey breast, “loaded” potato salad (it’s as good as it sounds), pre-cooked bacon, a pound of tail-on shrimp with cocktail sauce, a quart of fresh raspberries, chicken tamales, the world’s largest bag of salted peanuts in the shell, Jimmy Dean turkey sausage, “heirloom” lettuce, tomatoes on the vine and patio chairs.

I made myself a BLT for dinner and Sam is still grazing through just about everything else. The patio chairs are off limits.

It’s almost 9 p.m. and time to unwind in the family room with a tacky Saturday night movie. I’ve got a  pretty bad Tarzan film that I recorded a few days ago starring Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan and Boy. Entertainment definitely doesn’t get much tackier than THAT.

We’re expecting a full day of thunderstorms tomorrow so I’ll let y’all know if we wind up in Oz. As always, thank you for reading this.

An early Saturday assessment.

The clock says 8 a.m. and Sam is outside drinking coffee on the patio, but that’s the only indication I’ve got that it’s really morning around here. The sky is getting darker by the minute, and it’s almost gloomy enough to send me back to bed for a couple of hours. That’s not such a bad idea, actually, because I really don’t have anything else to do until Costco opens at 10. Sam and I are overdue for a Costco adventure.

During the royal wedding yesterday I was dumbfounded when I saw Princess Anne seated in Westminster Abbey. I don’t know if anybody remembers what she looked like as a young woman, but this is one royal who has not aged very well. As a matter of fact, she’s officially number one in the HOLY CRAP category. See for yourself.
At 60 years old Anne doesn’t look half as good as her mother, who’s 85, or her father, who is absolutely amazing at 90.
Incidentally, it’s not just Prince Philip’s LOOKS that amaze me ... it’s also his physical condition. I watched him during the wedding yesterday, standing for all the hymns and walking the entire length of that monstrously enormous church TWICE. He doesn’t even use a cane. I wish I knew his secret, because some days I can’t make it from the kitchen to the bedroom. However, I’m sure I’d feel fabulous, too, if somebody gave me the crown jewels, catered all my meals and chauffeured me around Mesquite in a solid gold coach. I’m just saying.

And now it’s time to get ready for Sam & Marcy’s Trip to Costco. Today’s shopping list includes such essentials as barbecue sauce, lox, Ziploc bags, stuffed mushrooms and an industrial-size box of Efferdent. Thank you for reading this. Seriously.

Friday, April 29, 2011

I did it. Seriously.

I woke myself up at 3:10 in the morning, dragged myself into the family room, turned on the TV and watched four and a half hours — FOUR AND A HALF HOURS! — of nonstop royal wedding coverage on ABC with Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters. I didn’t even have to pee. It was truly a miracle.

I was on hand to see every invited guest enter Westminster Abbey, including the anticipated Parade of Exceptionally Stupid Hats, which was won hands-down by the royal family’s official Trigger lookalike, Princess Beatrice (see below), the offspring of Prince Andrew and his exiled former spouse, Sarah Ferguson.
I watched the royal family two-by-two in Rolls Royces heading to the church, saw the bride and her father try to squish into a car without destroying her dress, listened to boring hymns by boy sopranos in fruity outfits, enjoyed William and Kate exhanging vows, waited for 1,200 guests to file out and stream back to Buckingham Palace for free food, and then sat like a zombie hoping for the balcony kiss.

Sated, at 7:45 I turned off the TV and crawled straight back to bed. It’s entirely possible that Sam never missed me.

Incidentally, the royal family insists there’s no truth to the rumor that the part of Queen Elizabeth, who has shriveled to a height of 4 feet, was played by an eight-year-old altar boy in drag.
Thank you for reading this.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Batting zero.

Wal-Mart strikes out. FedEx delivered my big order of body wash yesterday — 12 bottles! — and there was a plastic bag enclosed full of very cool product samples. I definitely love free samples, but there’s not even ONE that I can use here. The bag included:
Always Thin Mini Pads. I had a hysterectomy in 1990.

John Frieda Full Repair Conditioner for Overworked Hair. My hair is one inch long.

Fekkai Shea Butter Moisturizing Conditioner for Unruly Long Hair. See previous response.

Cosmedicine Oil Control Lotion. My skin is as dry as the Mojave Desert.

Garnier Fructis Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. I do not have dandruff, I have never had dandruff, I don’t plan to have dandruff and I don’t know anybody who has dandruff.

And so, in an effort to re-gift this collection of lovely and essential personal care products I am making them available to the first Howdygram reader who shows the slightest interest. Click here to send me an email and I’ll let you know who wins by the end of the day. Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday's milestones remembered.

First, before I forget, responses have been a little sluggish so I’ll make this short but sweet. ENTER THE HOWDYGRAM’S SPRING GIVEAWAY AND WIN A PRIZE.

Click here. Thank you.

On Wednesday I finally strayed from my continuing addiction to Mongolian chicken and picked up dinner to go from Dickey’s. It had been at least million years since I’d eaten Texas barbecue and there was also a good coupon that came in the mail. Okay, maybe not a MILLION. Occasionally I lie. Consider it poetic license.
I can describe my Dickey’s feast in two syllables: YEE-HA. I bought a “family pack” so there would be plenty leftover for Sam. This included one pound each of two meats (I got chopped brisket and sausage), three sides, a big tub of their barbecue sauce and some rolls. Everything was terrific, and I’ll definitely do this again soon even though they forgot my free pickles.

Marcy the heartbreaker.
Sam and I didn’t eat a lot of frozen food last week so I didn’t place my usual biweekly order with Schwan’s for Wednesday delivery. This should be no big deal whatsoever, such as not taking out your garbage, because you assume nobody on earth cares if you don’t take out your garbage, right? Maybe you don’t have any, or maybe you don’t have enough to make it worth the effort to drag your cans to the curb and you’d rather wait until next week. Either way, you certainly don’t expect your garbageman to pound on the front door yelling “HEY, WHERE’S YOUR TRASH.”

Well, where Schwan’s is concerned I guess I just can’t casually decide to NOT place an order without raising a red flag. Gary, my delivery driver, who clearly makes a commission on every sale, had a COW. He called here THREE TIMES before 11 a.m. and left semi-frantic messages to ask if I had a serious head injury, how in hell could I not remember today is Wednesday and am I trying to starve myself to death. (Maybe not in those exact words.) I was so creeped out that I let all three messages go straight to voice mail. Apparently signing up for Schwan’s home delivery is a lot like subscribing to Life Alert. You’re never really alone. 

Sam goes shopping.
Not only did he visit Mesquite’s biggest pawn shop yesterday morning, he bought himself a top-of-the-line B-FLAT CLARINET. He’s been wanting a clarinet for years. When we first moved to Dallas he rented one for a few weeks from a music store just to see if he still remembered how to play since high school. Ever since then he’s been harboring a secret desire to buy his own, and yesterday was the big day. As I write this post Sam is in the living room trying to play “Greensleeves.” I’ll let you know when I start to recognize the melody.

Don’t forget to watch the royal wedding tomorrow morning. Live coverage starts at 4 a.m. on every major news network. I will probably watch CNN. Thank you for reading this!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Confusion reigns.

I wonder what Einstein at AT&T is responsible for their current rewards program. Last week Sam and I received a couple of Visa debit cards (one for $50, the other for $25) as a thankyou from AT&T after we signed up for their top-of-the-line U-Verse package.

As soon as the cards come in the mail I call AT&T’s rewards hotline to activate them. The word “DEBIT” is printed clearly on the front of each card and a removable sticker tells me that my PIN is the same as the last four digits of my U-Verse account number. So we should be good to go, right? Not on your life.

I give both cards to Sam because he wants to use them to fill our cars with gas. He comes home from the gas station half an hour later and tells me he probably doesn’t know how to use a debit card because it got rejected at the pump. I assure him it’s a no-brainer ... just swipe the card, enter the four-digit PIN and you’re done. A few days later he tries the card at Wal-Mart with the same result. And today (the last straw) the card got rejected at the post office. So I decide I’m through horsing around with this crapola and I’m calling AT&T.
I talk to an AT&T Einstein named Iris and explain that Sam keeps trying to use their miserable debit cards but they’re always getting rejected. She reads the entire rewards program manual OUT LOUD to me and then starts asking questions.

Did I call the correct number to activate the cards? Yes.
Am I positive? Yes.
Do I know my PIN numbers? Yes.
Am I positive? Yes.
Have the cards already expired? I just got them.
Really? Yes.
Is my husband mentally challenged? Not especially.

At this point Iris decides to pass me along to a specialist Einstein in their rewards division who might be able to figure out what’s what. I’m connected to Sandra, who proceeds to explain that — get ready for it — we can’t actually use these debit cards as debit cards even though they say “DEBIT” on the front and come with PIN numbers like real debit cards. These mock debit cards have to be used like CREDIT CARDS, and she’s sorry we were too stupid to figure this out for ourselves. At that point I was angry enough to ram my U-Verse router up her nose except she wasn’t actually in the room with me. I might mail it to her with instructions.

Before I forget, more wild weather could be on the way today. says that northeast Texas is on the map for “significant and life-threatening tornadoes,” and a tornado watch has been issued through 10 p.m. tonight. This means I’d better order my Chinese food as soon as possible to avoid the driver getting pelted to smithereens by a hailstorm.
The red star indicates the Howdygram’s location in Mesquite, and if you zoom in you’ll see that I’m the brunette in the blue robe waving on the driveway.

It might be too soon to knock on wood, but so far I’m having NO SIDE EFFECTS from the new pain medication I started taking a few days ago: Amitriptyline Hydrochloride. Even better, I actually think it’s WORKING! If all goes well I’ll be able to double the dose next week. Please excuse me for a minute while I do a happy dance for the pharmacy gods.

Thank you for reading this.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A break in the weather at last.

It’s not easy to write a Howdygram post when you have to shut down your computer every half hour. All day yesterday, most of last night and nearly all day today, every time I sat down to write there was another storm roaring through here. We missed the worst of it (such as hail and high winds) but got plenty of thunder, lightning and rain. I think it’s finally safe to crawl out of my hiding place now. I’m baaack!

Incidentally, we really needed the rain. I am NOT complaining.

So here’s what’s new since my last post. I’ve been in “stock-up mode” and ordered a pile of cool stuff from and, such as six bottles each of my two favorite Dial body wash fragrances (Wal-Mart) and for Sam a six-pack of his favorite shaving cream and a 20-bar crate of Irish Spring soap (Amazon). As always, great prices, free shipping and zero sales tax on Amazon. This is so much fun I can hardly stand it.
For those of you who think Sam and I are really lucky to live in an exciting metro area like Dallas, I give you the follow photo of George W. Bush and Nolan Ryan taken recently at a Texas Rangers baseball game.
Despite what you see here, there is no truth to the rumor that Rangers’ owner Nolan Ryan passed away during the third inning.

And now I think it’s finally time for dinner. I don’t have much of an appetite these days so I will probably make a grilled cheese sandwich because the only food I can actually taste has to be SALTY.

Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

An unconscious, unmotivated Saturday.

This has been a mighty weird day. Sam and I have been asleep for most of it, either in bed, on a sofa in the family room or (in my case) nodding off at my desk. It’s almost like somebody’s been feeding us opiates. I can’t remember the last time I ate a meal — does ice cream count? — or if I even took a shower today. Oy.

Severe thunderstorms are on the way from Fort Worth right now. I’m sure this doesn’t mean anything to YOU, but for us this will probably provide the majority of our Saturday night entertainment aside from watching a Gunga Din rerun on TCM. (We love Gunga Din, however.) Sam is outside on the patio staring at the sky and I might join him. I also have a craving for French fries.
Before I forget, I would like to take this opportunity to extend Easter greetings from the Howdygram if you’re celebrating tomorrow. May your day be filled with a multitude of marshmallow peeps. Shalom, y’all.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday at last, plus a Thursday recap.

First of all, I’d like to say good morning to my loyal Howdygramsters (hey! a new word!) as I reflect on yesterday’s events and look forward to an exciting Friday filled with deliveries. I am expecting no less than four packages today, including a leather shoulder bag, two pairs of pants, home fragrances from Yankee Candle and a carton of loot for the Howdygram’s BIG SPRING GIVEAWAY, which you should enter now.

It’s 6:45 a.m. and our landscapers are here — four hours early! — mowing the lawn. This isn’t good, because THE SUN ISN’T EVEN UP YET and poor exhausted Sam was hoping to sleep as late as possible after working a lot of extra hours two nights in a row. Even worse, now the neighbor’s nasty little rat-dog is outside on their patio screeching at a landscape crew it can’t even see. It’s awfully damn noisy around here. I think I need a Marcy-tini.

And now for a Thursday recap!

My visit to the rheumatologist went well. It’s a large practice on the Baylor Hospital campus in Dallas with nice offices and lots of staff, and Dr. Willis is a nice man with a nice nurse practitioner named Cathy who asks a lot of questions. Even the phlebotomist was nice when she drew blood. Dr. Willis prescribed 10 mg Amitriptyline Hydrochloride tablets to relieve the intense nerve pain in my hands. I’m supposed to start with one at bedtime and eventually increase the dose to three if I’m not having any side effects (yeah, fat chance). Let’s all keep our fingers crossed on this one. I mean it.

I spent the rest of the day sound asleep except for a brief break to eat pretzels. When Sam left for work at 1:30 I was so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open so I got into bed and conked out until 4:45. The pretzel interlude began at 5, and half an hour later I was asleep again, this time on the couch watching Murder at the Gallop starring Margaret Rutherford.

It’s a tough life. Thank you for reading this.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reality TV at its finest.

I suppose I should apologize for this, but I’ve been a big fan of Britain’s royal family for almost 50 years. I know their history and lineage, their scandals, crazy titles, wacky hats and the names of all their kids. But for the greatest show on earth, set your alarm clock EARLY on April 29 to watch William and Kate get hitched.
Every network on the planet will televise the royals’ wedding with the possible exception of ESPN and the Knitting Channel. Most coverage begins at 3 a.m. (central time) with a lot of preliminary blabber; substantial events get underway closer to 4.

For the record, I plan to watch ... just as I got up in the middle of the night to see Charles and Diana’s wedding live back in 1981. I was living in Chicago at the time, and my girlfriend Sue from across the hall came over in her robe at 3 a.m. to sit on the floor with me and drink coffee. If for no other reason, tune in to see the HATS. God, I love hats!

In case you’re wondering why I’m up at this hour, I just spent half the night dealing with side effects from the latest addition to my list of prescription meds, Metanx. As it turns out, Metanx is what actually caused Tuesday’s — and tonight’s — “intestinal tsunami” as well as a thoroughly lousy rash that’s driving me out of my mind. I even had to send Sam to the pharmacy in the middle of the night to get me some relief. (This is one of the countless reasons why I love him to pieces.)

In other news, Sam is taking me to the rheumatologist this morning at 9. I have no idea what a rheumatologist might be able to do for me, but pain management is at the top of my short list. In the meantime I think I’ll go back to bed for a couple of hours so I won’t look like a raccoon. Thank you for reading this and don’t forget to enter our BIG SPRING GIVEAWAY.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The gefilte fish incident and other stories.

I almost wasn’t going to write a post tonight but changed my mind a few minutes ago when it occured to me that a few of my faithful Howdygram fans might have a stroke. So here I am.

It’s been an eventful day.

Event #1. An 8 a.m. dental appointment almost ended in disaster when my dentist forgot to show up. He materialized at 8:45 as I was getting ready to leave, just in time to take an impression and send my dental appliance to the lab for adjustments. (The lab delivery guy shows up at 9.)

Event #2. I was sick most of the afternoon with an INTESTINAL TSUNAMI that probably can be attributed to last night’s authentic Texas seder, which consisted of gefilte fish, horseradish, Mongolian chicken, pretzel sticks and a pair of old chocolate chip cookies.

Event #3. All of a sudden a whole pile of my clients are requesting new projects, such as redesigned websites, new logo designs, postcard mailers, stationery and magazine ads. I can’t tell if I’m excited about this or not, because I like to consider myself semi-retired and do NOT want my graphic design business to interfere with naps and “People’s Court” reruns. I’m just saying.

Event #4. I went back to the dentist at 4:30 to pick up my adjusted appliance and then hauled ass to get home before a big thunderstorm rolled in from the north. Oklahoma is always sending us their big thunderstorms.

Right now I’m hanging around, waiting for Sam to get home from work so we can watch tonight’s episode of “Deadliest Catch,” the Discovery Channel’s top-rated reality show about a fleet of rugged gefilte fishermen on the Dead Sea (see below). Just in time for Passover!
Please don’t forget to enter our BIG SPRING GIVEAWAY and be sure to tell a few friends. Thank you for reading this.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A full and happy weekend.

Some weekends are better than others. For Sam and me, this one was GREAT. We did piles of fun things that included: 1) hanging out on our patio; 2) buying gefilte fish and chopped liver at Gio’s Deli; 3) a nice twilight drive through Sunnyvale to look at cattle; and 4) watching a variety of really good movies, such as A Mighty Wind and The Apartment. In case you need a visual for item 3, here’s a map for your possible interest.
The pink star is our house, and all the open space east of us is Sunnyvale, which is primarily country roads, little lakes, woods, mansions and cattle ranches. Mostly cattle ranches. On a clear day you can sit on our patio and hear mooing. Mooing is good for the soul. We never get tired of it.

I want to patent an exciting new eating implement that’s pictured below: the TELESCOPING FORK. This is actually a metal backscratcher that I bought online but I’m absolutely convinced it has a greater purpose.
Imagine you’re in a restaurant and want some onion rings off your husband’s plate. Instead of reaching across the table, which is rude and you might drag your sleeve through the barbecue sauce, just whip out your handy telescoping fork and stab whatever you want from a polite distance before anybody has a chance to say no. The fork is made of sturdy stainless steel, extends to 20 inches and folds up small enough to fit in your purse. If you want one of your own, you can order it here for only $6.99. The possibilities are so exciting I can hardly stand it.

And finally, it’s time to launch the Howdygram’s BIG SPRING GIVEAWAY. Enter now to win one of eight prizes, including our exclusive “Thank You for Reading This” and “Don’t Pick on Nostrildamus” hats, mouse pads and note cards.
I’m sure you’ll agree these are really cute prizes, so hurry up and enter so you won’t forget. TOTAL STRANGERS ARE WELCOME, TOO. All winners will be notified by email on May 15. Thank you for reading this.

Friday, April 15, 2011

What a difference a day makes.

There are two major updates to Thursday’s post, so I’ll just leap right in with the following quick summary: 1) My missing caraway seeds are on the way; and 2) AT&T did great and erased all the mystery overcharges from our April statement. Apparently an illiterate bozo reconfigured our four-year-old landline as a NEW ACCOUNT and charged us for setup, installation and phone jacks. What the hell.

To celebrate all this good fortune I ordered a really adorable black leather cross-body shoulder bag today. I’ve been having a serious purse crisis for the last couple of years because it’s damn near impossible to carry one when you’ve got a cane in one hand and neuropathy in the other.
Sam just got home from work, which means it’s time to warm up his chicken fried rice and spend some time with him in the family room watching two “People’s Court” episodes from this afternoon. Thank you for reading this.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

When everything sucks.

To tell you the truth, this has NOT been a very good day. Aside from the fact that neuropathy is flaring up like mad again in my left foot and left hand, I also have had to endure the following assorted crap.

I ordered a spice online and they shipped the wrong one. I fail to understand how screwed this up. I ordered a 4 oz. resealable bag of caraway seeds — and it’s printed correctly on the packing list they enclosed in the box — but they sent whole cloves instead. CLOVES. Who the devil uses cloves?

I think we’re getting ripped off by AT&T. The frustration level is climbing steadily here. First, we signed up online for paperless billing weeks ago but continue to receive mail from them nearly every day either asking us to “go paperless” or promoting various U-Verse deals that cost less than the one we just signed up for. I’m also concerned about the monthly bill that arrived today for our AT&T landline phone. The amount due jumped from $28 to $61 because I asked them to remove a couple of services I didn’t need. According to what I’m seeing on this stupid statement there’s a charge to REQUEST a service change and another charge to actually MAKE the change. No doubt there will also be a charge to ARGUE about the change. And apparently AT&T still adds a surcharge for “touch-tone service,” although I seriously can’t fathom what the alternatives are to a touch-tone phone. Stop by tomorrow around 10 a.m. if you want to watch me get into a screaming match with an AT&T bureaucratic idiot. Bring a coffee cake.

The corn dogs that got away. My Schwan’s delivery driver accidently forgot to include a bag of mini corn dogs with my order yesterday. I didn’t miss them right away because Sam is the one who shoveled everything into the freezer, but today when I wanted mini corn dogs for lunch they were nowhere to be found. I searched through the freezer for half an hour, emptied three shelves, dug through three bins, and finally asked Sam if he remembered seeing them. He said no. So I called Gary, and he showed up tonight at 8:30 to drop them off. I actually held off eating dinner because I still wanted those damn little corn dogs. Know what? THEY’RE ABSOLUTELY LOUSY. I had a can of cream of mushroom soup instead.
As long as we’re discussing Schwan’s I suppose I should review the OTHER lousy product I got from them this week ... Breaded Chicken Breast Patties. From this photo (above, left) you assume it’s a solid slab of chicken that’s perfect for sandwiches, but it just isn’t so. These are just giant chicken nuggets on steroids ... strange, ground-up mystery chicken in a tasteless breading. I tried one and didn’t like it at all. But I’ll try again, next time on two pieces of bread with lots of barbecue sauce and lettuce to obliterate the flavor and texture. As a last resort I can use them as coasters.

There’s a severe thunderstorm rolling in right now so I think I’ll shut down the computers and wait in the window for Sam to get home from work. Shalom, y’all.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The big fence adventure, day three.

Is this a knockout, or what? Our glorious eight-foot fence was completed this morning! We finally have enough privacy to hold Technicolor orgies in our own back yard, except we don’t know anybody to invite so Sam and I will just buy a couple of nice chaise lounges and drink ice tea. 
All that’s left to do is stain the cedar boards, and another crew will be here soon to do that. Stay tuned for additional photos.

Iceland’s Penis Museum is in the news this week, proudly unveiling the addition of a pickled human specimen donated by the late Pall Arason, age 95, to its extensive collection of mammal phalluses on display for public enjoyment. Some float in jars, others are mounted on walls.
Museum curator Sigurdur Hjartarson said Arason’s organ will help round out the unusual institution’s extensive collection of phalluses from whales, seals, bears, bulls and other mammals. The museum, located in the small whale-watching village of Husavik, is an essential part of the region’s summer tourist industry and attracts thousands of penis fanatics. The museum’s gift shop features various motorized souvenir versions for female visitors.

All of a sudden I’ve got a craving for kosher hotdogs. Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The big fence adventure continues, day two.

Installation is moving quickly today, for which I’m exceptionally grateful because I had no sleep last night and would like to take a nap as soon as the hammering ends. Here are three images of this morning’s accomplishments.
For those of you wondering why I didn’t sleep last night, this time it was a double whammy: 1) peripheral neuropathy in my left hand, which feels like electric shocks running through my wrist and fingers all night long; and 2) relentless heartburn, which might be the result of a fish dinner from Long John Silver’s or the latest additions to my ever-expanding list of daily medications. I recently began taking Neurpath-B for neuropathy and Niacin for high triglycerides, and I can’t tell yet if they’re interacting with any of the other drugs I take. (Long John Silver’s is still my prime suspect, however.)

And now, for those of you who can’t make it to Will and Kate’s wedding, there’s still time to load up on the following essential souvenirs.
Pictured above are a commemorative refrigerator from GE and a set of limited-edition Pez dispensers that are being auctioned on e-Bay through April 17. If you’re a crafty type, you can also knit your own royal wedding (see below). The instruction book from Ivy Press lets you remember the big day with yarn.
Thank you for reading this and pass the crumpets.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The big fence adventure, day one.

It was a beautiful, clear day after a night of crazy thunderstorms, and the crew from Sunnyvale Fence showed up as planned this morning at the crack of 9. Sam was already outside on the driveway waiting for them because he was exceptionally excited and fully dressed in shorts. The following five photos illustrate what the fence installers accomplished so far on day one.
I would have finished this hours ago except I took a nice nap as soon as the crew left at 4 and then amused myself with other projects like dinner, a hot shower and watching half a movie I recorded a couple of days ago ... Dear Brigitte with Jimmy Stewart and Fabian. I’ll try to finish up the other half before Sam gets home from work tonight because he hates movies from the 1960s except for The Sound of Music and Lawrence of Arabia and has very little use for Fabian. Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Clean cars and chicken salad rolls.

It’s Sunday morning — a windy, warm, brilliantly sunny Sunday in north Texas. And to celebrate our brilliantly sunny Sunday, Sam just left for the car wash with our grimy black Hyundai, which will subsequently transport us to Pei Wei on Forest Lane for an early lunch before the church crowds show up. We love Pei Wei.
Pictured above are Pei Wei’s neatly-wrapped Vietnamese chicken salad rolls with two kinds of sauce, my second-favorite appetizer after their hot & sour soup (see right). Sam and I always get the large order of hot & sour soup, which in most situations could feed a family of four. For us it’s perfect for TWO. I’d probably lick the bowl if nobody was watching.

Today is round four of the Masters at Augusta National. If you enjoy watching scrawny Irish children play golf, 21-year-old Rory McIlroy is in the lead at 12 under par. Tiger Woods, who had an excellent second round on Friday with a whole pile of consecutive birdies, sunk back into crapville yesterday when he missed two-foot putts and whacked the ball onto the wrong fairway. The best part of this tournament is actually the golf course itself, which is loaded with blooming magnolia trees and lots of fancy little footbridges. If nothing else, at least the landscaping is terrific.

Thank you for reading this!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Enjoying the finer things in life.

Our new AT&T U-Verse service is offering a lot more than we ever expected. For instance, we can view Woody Allen reruns and one-star Jennifer Lopez movies on 43 different channels, enjoy World Series highlights from the 1980s, middle-school soccer and high school cheerleading competitions from all 50 states, and watch so many consecutive episodes of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” (see photo) on the Food Network that your arteries implode.

And just when I thought life couldn’t get better, yesterday I discovered The Barbie Channel ... Mattel’s Pepto-Bismol-pink nightmare for pre-teen white girls featuring idiotic crap about shopping, hair bows and unicorns. Sam and I were scared to death.
I’ve discovered the best way EVER to stock up on detergent and fabric softener ... shop at! I just ordered Tide Liquid Clean Breeze Scent with Actilift, four 64-load bottles, for only $39.60, and Ultra Downy Simple Pleasures Lavender Serenity Liquid, four 105-load bottles, for $49.60. These are excellent prices with the added bonus of FREE SHIPPING and NO SALES TAX. Figuring I average about four loads of laundry every week, this will be enough Tide and Downy to last way more than a year and I won’t have to send Sam to the store any more with detailed instructions and product photos.
I’m so excited I could do a happy dance except I’d probably trip over my cane. So I’ll just pile a shelf in the garage with my high-quality laundry supplies and NEVER RUN OUT FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

One final thought. In the mail today I received a $28.76 check from Baylor Health Care System for an “overpayment.” This would have to be nearly IMPOSSIBLE because Blue Cross covers all of my Baylor expenses except for a co-pay whenever I see my doctor. Since launching any kind of inquiry is probably pointless, I’ll just cash the silly check and order a lot of Mongolian Chicken. Thank you for reading this.

Three big hoo-hahs revealed.

Summer starts today in north Texas. The temperature will hit 92° by late afternoon, and in my humble opinion this is at least six weeks too soon to commence sweating. We’re having NO SPRING WEATHER at all. But I suppose I shouldn’t whine about this, because it will be 125° here by June with 143% humidity. (I might be exaggerating.)

Our fence installers will be here on Monday. Sam got the news yesterday from our sales rep at Sunnyvale Fence. He’s uncontrollably excited about this (Sam, not the sales rep) and darts into the back yard at least six times a day to remind me how GORGEOUS it will be out there. I certainly hope so, because fences are really expensive.

In-n-Out Burger’s grand opening is scheduled for mid-May. I never understood the big deal about In-n-Out Burger, southern California’s iconic fast food chain, but they’re getting ready to deliver their cult-like brand of greasy crap to north Texas by opening two restaurants in the Dallas area. The food critic from the Dallas Morning News has been following the story with enough detailed daily “In-n-Out Watch” updates to crowd out William and Kate’s wedding.
Just between us, the only food-related California transplant I’d love to see in Dallas is Trader Joe’s, the best gourmet market on the planet. I miss them so much I could cry, especially their frozen salmon burgers, cottage cheese, stuffed green peppers and mock egg salad made from soybeans.
Every six months I send an email to Trader Joe’s corporate office and beg them to consider opening stores in Dallas. I think they think I’m nuts, which is entirely possible especially if they read the Howdygram.

Today is round two of the Masters at Augusta National. Thank you for reading this. No kidding.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

One more quick thing.

Covington’s Nursery showed up this morning to replace our redbud tree in the back yard. Contrary to my post on April 4, however, we did not get a Texas Redbud. Sam upgraded to a Forest Pansy Redbud (see below), which is truly GORGEOUS. In early spring the Forest Pansy produces bright fuchsia flowers followed by burgundy leaves that eventually turn bronze and green. It’s like planting a whole box of crayons in the middle of your yard. Right now we’re at the stage with burgundy leaves.
Our next yard upgrade will be the new cedar fence but we don’t know yet which day the installers will be here. I hope it’s soon because Sam is getting manicky.

Thanks for stopping by. Bring a friend next time.

Memoirs of an escaped dental patient.

What started out as a rather lousy day is beginning to mellow a little. I had a dentist appointment this morning that didn’t exactly go as planned, but after muttering to myself for the last few hours I’ve decided that I won’t let anybody bully me into an overpriced dental treatment I don’t want or need, in this case $775 TO DEEP CLEAN SIX STUPID TEETH. (That is not a typo.) I’m feeling very empowered right now as a crabby senior citizen who will not take crap any more. Mazel tov to me!

In other news, season three of “Top Chef Masters” debuts tonight on Bravo and I think you should set up a series recording with your DVR so you won’t miss an episode.
I love this program even though I have no clue what these people are cooking most of the time. However, unpronounceable ingredients are not the issue here. With “Top Chef” you focus more on the crazy egos, the super-human knife skills and the impressive presentation techniques, such as a teeny little comma-shaped smear of purple cauliflower puree beneath a tap-dancing oyster with shredded spark plugs. Please don’t miss “Top Chef Masters.”

And this provides a convenient segue. Speaking of masters, the 2011 PGA Masters Tournament starts tomorrow at Augusta National. I always enjoy watching golf on TV but take strong exception to anybody who refers to golf as a “sport” and to golfers as “athletes.” Face it, golf is a game like croquet or a hobby like taxidermy, but it’s not a SPORT played by ATHLETES ... especially if they’re overweight, middle-aged arthritic guys with man-boobs like Phil Mickelson (see below), can pay somebody else to shlep their equipment and then spend half a day riding on a cart with a cooler full of beer. Please.
Does anybody else have a craving for pizza? Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Oy, I almost forgot to tell you this.

Today is Melvyn Douglas Day on TCM. He’s one of my all-time favorite classic movie actors and would have been 110 years old today if he hadn’t died in 1981. To celebrate, TCM is showing an assortment of Melvyn’s films all day and it’s not too late to watch or record some of them. These include: The Vampire Bat, Prestige, Dangerous Corner, She Married Her Boss, And So They Were Married, Theodora Goes Wild, I’ll Take Romance, Good Girls Go to Paris, Tell No Tales and On the Loose. Frankly, my favorite Melvyn Douglas movies — The Old Dark House, Ninotchka, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House and Too Many Husbands — don’t appear on this list, but there’s still a lot to enjoy here. I especially like Theodore Goes Wild because he plays such an adorable pest chasing Irene Dunne.

And now I’m going to make the bed and look around for something to eat. I wish I had an Egg McMuffin. Thank you for reading this.

The quest for happy feet.

Okay, I might be exaggerating. My feet don’t have to be HAPPY, per se, just mildly contented in shoes that won’t kill me. And so yesterday I ordered two new pair for summer on sale with free shipping. Pictured below are my new canvas slip-ons and a cute little black leather flat with cutout doodads and a teeny bow. I gave up anything with heels years ago, mostly because I’ve got arthritic knees, edema, plantar fasciitis and walk with a cane. Creaky senior citizens do NOT wear stilettos.
In case you’re thinking about a trip, Sam lucked out over the weekend and found an incredibly cheap nonstop airfare from Dallas to Burbank, California ... $219 round-trip on American Airlines. He’ll be making his annual shlep to the west coast in June to visit mom while I stay home with canned soup, old movies and the Howdygram.

Here’s some news. I’ve been receiving apology messages all day from a slew of companies alerting me to the fact that an email database management provider called Epsilon was hacked by evildoers and my address is now in the hands of cyber-criminals capable of sending DANGEROUS SPAM. It began this morning with a frantic message from Chase and eventually expanded to include HSN, Walgreen’s, CVS, Kroger and 1-800-Flowers. I’m sure there will be more, because apparently all of these major corporations think it’s a brilliant idea to give ONE SLOPPY COMPANY complete responsibility for their customer databases. However, none of this really bothers me for a couple of reasons: 1) I’m smarter than your average cyber-criminal; and 2) hackers never target Macintosh computers.

I’m STARVING as I write this post. I had almost zero dinner last night due to an upset stomach, and now at 3:45 in the morning I could eat half a chicken or at least a hot pretzel. I think I’ll scrounge around in the kitchen for a while because I’m way too hungry right now to go back to sleep. Thank you for reading this.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day one of an excellent week.

It’s only Monday but already I can tell this will be an excellent week. And here are all the reasons why.

Early morning thunderstorms. After an interminably long dry spell a system of roof-rattling thunderstorms rolled through here today around 5 a.m. and dumped about an inch of rain. I woke Sam because I didn’t think he’d want to miss our first big spring weather event. He opened one eye and thanked me.

I have swell doctors. This morning I called to make appointments with my dentist and podiatrist and (as expected) I’ll see Dr. McPhail at 10 on Wednesday and Dr. Angelier at 2. And their offices are only half a mile from home in nice buildings across the street from each other, which is pretty damn amazing and convenient. The map below indicates: A) our house; B) Dr. Angelier’s office; and C) Dr. McPhail’s office. I knew you’d want a visual for this.
Sam has a day off work tomorrow. He’s taking me to see a medical specialist. I’m married to a sweetheart, and if I play my cards right I might get a free lunch out of this, too.

We’re getting our new fence installed. By the end of the week we’ll have a totally remodeled back yard. Sam ordered a beautiful top-of-the-line board-on-board cedar fence that’s eight feet high and looks something like the photo below, which I downloaded from the gallery on our fence company’s website. However, I think the color of our stain might be a shade or two darker. Stay tuned for some exciting before and after pictures, although we don’t know for sure yet which day this week the installers from Sunnyvale Fence will be here. Sam is EXTREMELY excited about this.
Our Oklahoma Redbud tree is being replaced. Sam bought it from Covington’s nursery late last fall (see post) and had it planted in our back yard, but the poor thing didn’t survive winter and at the moment it’s just a dead stick with branches. Covington’s will replace the tree for free, so we’re switching instead to a heartier Texas Redbud and Sam will pick out the exact tree he wants later this week. It shouldn’t be too hard to get a terrific specimen this time because they’re all in full bloom. A full-grown Texas Redbud appears below for your possible interest. I personally think Texas PINKBUD is a more accurate name, but I can’t figure out where to file a complaint.
And so that’s about it for now. I have some client projects to keep me busy for the next few hours, leftover Mongolian Chicken in the refrigerator and no laundry to fold. My excellent week continues.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Strange phenomena.

At the moment there are two, and I’m going to use my friendly Howdygram forum to share them with y’all.

Number one. Maybe somebody can explain to me why I’m sleeping better at night since I gave up sedatives. Giving up caffeine I can understand, but SEDATIVES? I’d been taking a low-dose over-the-counter sleeping pill every night for years and years and years, starting when I lived in California and owned a custom chocolate company that kept me busy 24/7. Eventually I realized I couldn’t turn my brain off to fall asleep at night so these teeny little sleeping pills really did the trick. I finally gave them up a couple of weeks ago when my doctor prescribed a new medication (Ultracet) for chronic pain that was supposed to make me drowsy. Even though Ultracet didn’t work out — actually, it almost KILLED me — I never went back to the sleeping pills. And surprise, surprise, I’m getting a lot more sleep WITHOUT them!

Number two. This one’s scary: I’VE LOST MY SENSE OF TASTE. I first noticed this a few weeks ago when my appetite decreased and I began adding an awful lot of Tabasco or soy sauce to make things taste good. It all went downhill FAST, however, because right now I can’t taste anything at all except over-salted food (i.e., Campbell’s soup), extra-spicy Chinese or whatever’s cold and sweet, like my world-famous Goofy Fruity Shake. I did a web search last night for the phrase “taste disorder” and discovered it’s a rare side effect of one of my diabetes medications (Metformin), which means I’ve got something new to whine about next time I see Dr. M. Mostly, I’d like to know if a condition like this can be reversed. Is this crappy, or what?
For instance, Sam and I had an early dinner today at Scotty P’s, our favorite burger joint (see photo), and everything I put in my mouth was completely tasteless even with ketchup and mustard. I took a few sad bites, drank my Diet Coke and we went for a nice long drive all over north Texas because it’s spring and we love to hang out in the car together.

That’s the latest from Club Meds. Hope y’all have a swell Sunday night, and thank you for reading this. Send hot sauce.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Looking for that little spark of joy.

In case you haven’t noticed, the world is going to hell in a handbasket right now. There’s a massacre in the Ivory Coast, civil war in Libya, radiation leaking in Japan, sad and delusional Newt Gingrich wanting to run for President and Tiger Woods still can’t win a game of golf. With news headlines like this, life can only get BETTER.

And so I’m pleased to report on three new Schwan’s food products that I tried last week. Here’s the whole scoop.
Schwan’s Soft Stuffed Pretzels with Cheese are extremely cute and tasty little doo-dads that go great alongside a nice tall Marcy-tini. They bake in only eight minutes or you can nuke them, but I recommend the oven method or they don’t cook evenly. NOBODY LIKES A COLD HOT PRETZEL. (What an idiotic sentence.) I also love Schwan’s Cheeseburgers, which are FLAME-BROILED and addicting with terrific flavor. However I had to invent my own microwave cooking method because the instructions on the box didn’t work out so well. (I hate over-nuked buns.) And last but not least there’s Schwan’s Breaded Catfish Fillets, a good idea gone bad. These strange little slabs cook up just fine and stay moist in the oven ... but they have NO TASTE WHATSOEVER. Please note: I might be basing this negative review on the fact that I ate three pieces at the start of my Ultracet incident Wednesday night and then spent the next several hours regretting it. I’m sure I’ll give this product a second chance (but not any time soon).

Sam and I talked about dim sum for lunch today at Hong Kong Royal in Carrollton. This is an excellent way to spend a Saturday! A nice alternative would be the “restaurant row” area on Greenville Avenue in Richardson with enormous strip malls filled with dozens of authentic Chinese restaurants, the kind with chicken feet on the menu and customers who don’t speak English. In any event, maybe I’d better rest up a little more before our big adventure and go back to bed.

Thank you for reading this.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Good morning to April fools everywhere.

Hiya. I’m here again at the crack of dawn because I slept like a rock and woke up early. I also had a night of very weird dreams, which probably can be attributed to the movie Sam and I watched before we went to bed last night ... The Men Who Stare at Goats, an off-the-wall military comedy from 2009 with a gang of my favorite actors. Pictured below are George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and a goat.
I won’t go into any plot details except to mention the movie contained lots of bizarre storylines and images that apparently didn’t get out of my head before I fell asleep last night. As a result I dreamed about people, places and pets that hadn’t been in my consciousness for DECADES. I woke up at 5:15 positive that I’d been neglecting my cat and even got out of bed to look for him. Except I haven’t owned a cat for 25 years.

That was definitely an April Fool’s joke on ME.

I should go back to bed for a while. More later.