Tuesday, May 31, 2011

As May draws to a close ...

Please accept my apology for not posting on Sunday or Monday. Sometimes I run out of ideas or decide to hang out on the sofa like a slug watching old movies. In this case, I was guilty of BOTH.

I had an appointment this morning with my rheumatologist, who shared the results of last month’s lab tests. The good news is, I do NOT have lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or any other chronic inflammatory disease and therefore will not have to come back. Dr. Willis gave me another prescription for the anti-depressant Amitriptylene Hydrochloride because it’s eliminating the nerve pain in my hands and feet, but next time I need a refill (six months from now, I think) I’ll just ask my regular internist. I WILL NEVER GIVE UP MY HAPPY PILLS!

I also found out this morning that my blood pressure is pretty low. I don’t know exactly what’s going on, because for the last couple of years I’ve been taking two different medications for HIGH blood pressure and rarely test lower than 130/80. Today, however, it was 102/60, which is more like a reading you’d get from a cadaver. Even worse, I tried testing my blood pressure at home this afternoon and my LifeSource monitor didn’t register any numbers at all. (I know I’m still breathing because somebody who looks like me is typing this post.)

The Howdygram launched a BRAND NEW CONTEST today. All of you are invited to guess how much money is jammed into Sam’s gigantic jar of change, which we plan to empty and count within the next four weeks. Whoever guesses a number that’s closest to the actual amount will win a bunch of Howdygram gifts and Texas-themed treasures. To help you make the best guess possible, this is a five-gallon plastic Sparklett’s bottle that’s 19" tall and weighs 145 pounds. (Sam actually put the jar on our bathroom scale. I have no idea how he lifted it.) Click here to enter!

Smooches to one and all, and thank you for reading this.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Celebrate with us.

Today it’s been FOUR YEARS since Sam and I found our home in Texas. It was Saturday and Sunday on Memorial Day weekend 2007, Sam was being transferred, and we were house-hunting in the Dallas suburbs with a really nice realtor named Darrell. By lunch time on Sunday we realized we’d been comparing every house we saw to one perfect house we loved the day before, so we wrote a check to Darrell and bought it. (The house, not lunch.) Here are two photos for your possible interest.
But wait ... there’s more! Because I made a promise to myself and to Sam that I’d never stink up our brand new house with cigarettes, this weekend we’re also celebrating FOUR YEARS SINCE I QUIT SMOKING. I was an addict for 42 years — seriously, that’s NOT a typo — but quitting turned out to be easy and the smartest thing I ever did aside from marrying Sam. My smoker’s cough disappeared after the first two days and I’ve never looked back. All together now: YAY MARCY!

As part of our Memorial Day weekend celebration, tomorrow Sam and I will make a pilgrimage to Eatzi’s, an amazing gourmet market in Dallas’ Oak Lawn neighborhood.
We visited Eatzi’s for the first time the same weekend we bought our house in 2007 and try to go back at least once a year to buy French baguettes and worship at the deli counter. It’s a religious experience.

Incidentally, this is what happens to senior citizens. You get nostalgic about idiotic things like markets, lucky underwear and froggie banks. (You’ll have to ask Sam about the froggie bank issue.)

I’m going to take a shower now and then finally eat some dinner. I warmed up a container of jambalaya a couple of hours ago that I bought yesterday at Costco but the flavor was seriously crappy so I threw it out. Now that I’m finally hungry again I’m considering chicken salad, a bowl of watermelon and an Errol Flynn movie. Thank you for reading this!

One more mystery.

Last night I was browsing around on the Chicago Tribune’s website and found a nice new recipe for potato salad. I know you’ll agree that, in itself, this is no big deal whatsoever.
Except at the bottom of the recipe article was a little box titled “MORE ON THIS SUBJECT THAT MAY INTEREST YOU.” And here are the four headline links that followed:

“Man Arrested for Masturbating on United Airlines Flight
While Passengers Looked On”

“ESPN Producer Busted For Masturbating
While Watching Neighbor Change”

“Cabbie Denies Masturbating While On Duty,
Demands License Back”

“Cops Bust Alleged Masturbating Subway Pervert”

Quite frankly, how any of these articles relate to potato salad is far beyond my scope of comprehension, so if you can make the connection please send an email and let me know. In the meantime, however, I did find it interesting that three of these stories originated in New York City.

The masturbating airline passenger was arrested in Denver. I’d be willing to bet he had a New York accent.

In other news, Memorial Day weekend is officially underway, which means three jam-packed days of classic war movies on TCM. The best of these include: 1) Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo with Van Johnson and Spencer Tracy; 2) Sergeant York with Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan; 3) They Were Expendable with Robert Montgomery, John Wayne and a great theme song; 4) Battleground with Van Johnson and Ricardo Montalban; and 5) Operation Burma! with Errol Flynn.

Numbers three and five are my personal favorites, although number two is worth watching if only for Walter Brennan’s weird fake eyebrows (see below) and Gary Cooper at 42 trying to make us believe he’s a hillbilly soldier in his early 20s.
Now that I think about it, I honestly can’t name a single Gary Cooper film where didn’t look ridiculous, awkward or miscast, and I will never understand why he had any success as an actor except that he was unusually pretty when he started out in silent films. Mary Astor was prettier, however.

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

Friday, May 27, 2011

The voices in my head.

It’s just past 5 a.m. and I totally expect to go back to bed as soon as possible, but first I thought I’d share the latest voices ringing in my head. Today it’s actually MUSIC. More specifically, an addictive number from the 1955 film My Sister Eileen called “Give Me a Band and My Baby,” featuring Betty Garrett, Janet Leigh (with her world-famous traffic-cone boobs), Tommy Rall and Bob Fosse. The melody actually woke me up about half an hour ago so I got out of bed to avoid annoying Sam in case I started singing.

Please send an email to let me know if this song gets stuck in YOUR brain, too, and if you’re as knocked out by the energetic dance moves as I am. Betty Garrett is a firecracker, but keep your eye on Tommy Rall and Bob Fosse because they’re BRILLIANT. (Now you know why I love old movies. Nobody has talent like this any more.)

Incidentally, Sam has a follow-up appointment this morning with his plastic surgeon to remove the stitches from last week’s surgery (see my post) and I’m going to stay home and bake a loaf of whole wheat bread because it sounds like a useful way to start off a holiday weekend. I also might dash over to Costco and stock up on some fun food. I don’t know about YOU, but nothing says Memorial Day like corn on the cob, chicken taquitos and lox.

Here’s wishing y’all a safe and happy holiday. Thank you for reading this.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hissing watermelons and life’s other mysteries.

Before I jump into watermelons and mysteries and other assorted hoo-hah, please allow me to welcome a new reader to the ranks of Howdygram faithful.
If you’re thinking okay, who the devil is Eileen, she’s a sweet old lady in Ireland who also happens to be exactly my age and a pen-pal I’ve known since seventh grade, which is all the way back to 1964 in case you’re too polite to ask. Eileen and I lost touch years ago (moving, marrying and changing email addresses can be hell) but she managed to find me this past Monday through a convoluted web search that included a funeral home guest book page for my former boyfriend Joel, which I signed back in March with my maiden name and married name. God bless Google. Seriously!

For your possible interest, here’s a photo of me in England when I went to visit in the early 1970s and a shot of Eileen from the same trip. I apologize for the quality of these images. They were taken with a cheesy Kodak Instamatic camera and preserved for almost four decades in an equally cheesy photo album. The fact that I still have them at all is a miracle.
And now for my watermelon adventure. In the first place, I bought a gorgeous seedless watermelon a few days ago at Tom Thumb. I wanted to cut it up on Tuesday but we had these enormous storms and tornadoes and I figured I’d be better off running for cover in the walk-in closet than hanging out in the family room with a bowl of watermelon. So I postponed the watermelon an extra day. However, when I stabbed it last night with my big chef’s knife the stupid thing made a LOUD HISSING SOUND and SPEWED WATERMELON JUICE all over the kitchen counter like a warm bottle of 7-Up. I freaked out, shoved it into the sink, tied it up in a double plastic bag and slapped it senseless. (Okay, I might be lying about the slapping part.)
If any of you know why a watermelon would hiss and squirt please send me an email as soon as possible. Thank you in advance.

As for “life’s other mysteries,” I offer the following questions for the geniuses among you:

1.  Why don’t marriage licenses expire?
2.  Why are there no “B” size batteries?
3.  If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

Thank y’all for reading this. Don’t forget to floss.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

News from Oz.

The national tornado outbreak hit a little closer to home yesterday when the entire Dallas metro area had a target on its back. The worst of it hit after dark, which makes it damn near impossible to know if a tornado’s coming because YOU CAN’T SEE ANYTHING. Around 9 p.m. when a funnel cloud was detected just west of downtown Dallas, Sam called from work to tell me he was being evacuated to the underground parking garage. A few minutes later I heard Mesquite’s tornado sirens and barricaded myself in our walk-in closet with iced tea and a flashlight.
We escaped damage here at Howdygram headquarters, but the rest of the area wasn’t as lucky. Tornadoes were all around us last night, and just a couple of miles away Sunnyvale had GRAPEFRUIT-SIZE HAIL and wind gusts to 75 m.p.h.

If there’s a plus side to any of this, we desperately needed the rain. Apparently we got about 1½ inches yesterday.

And now — for the frozen food aficionados among you — I’m pleased to offer this quick review of two new Schwan’s products.
Schwan’s Home Style Beef Goulash is basically a sad substitute for Hamburger Helper. The pasta is squishy, the sauce is runny and tasteless, and best of luck trying to feed two people from a package that claims to “serve four.” At $10.95 this is no bargain whatsoever and I strongly suggest a can of soup instead. Schwan’s Cream Cheese Wontons, on the other hand, taste fine, but they’re teeny, need more filling and there aren’t enough of them in the package. Next time I’ll buy two boxes.

Tonight I’m designing a website for a new client who’s an interior designer in Los Angeles. I don’t feel very creative at the moment, however, so I might need Mongolian chicken for inspiration. If I’ve learned one thing from life, there’s NOTHING Mongolian chicken can’t do! Thank you for reading this.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Life is swell at Howdygramland.

Just a short post from Howdygramland — the happiest blog on earth — since I started taking the maximum dose of Amitriptyline Hydrochloride to relieve my pain from peripheral neuropathy. Lucky me, it also happens to be an ANTI-DEPRESSANT, so to say I’m feeling great right now would be the understatement of the century!
Practically pain-free for the first time in years, I’m also sleeping like a rock, losing weight, my energy level is through the roof and I’ve even been fantasizing about going to a museum or shopping at the mall. With any luck I should be able to ditch my cane within the next couple of weeks, so keep your fingers crossed.

I feel like a kid of 55 again. God bless my happy pills!

As long as I’m on the subject, I officially set the wheels in motion today to collect a lump sum pension payout from a former employer. It’s a substantial chunk of dough that I honestly never anticipated, and I’m even at an age where I can withdraw money from an IRA without penalty. I find this incredibly difficult to believe, because a couple of weeks ago I was only 35 years old.

Sam will be home from work soon, so it’s time to head into the family room for watermelon and a movie. Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A lesson in blind obedience.

First of all, mazel tov to all Howdygram readers who, like Sam and me, somehow managed to survive the end of the world yesterday. In case you haven’t been following this news story, wacko California pastor Harold Camping, age 89, predicted the second coming of Christ on May 21 at 6 p.m. This was supposed to follow massive natural disasters predicted to begin in New Zealand — with zombies popping out of their graves as a bonus. All “true believers” would be taken up to heaven; everybody else gets to hang around down here until the rest of the universe blows up on October 21. I am not joking about this.

Camping’s nonprofit ministry launched a multimillion-dollar P.R. campaign that included 5,000 end-of-the-world billboards in every corner of the globe, subway transit ads, Internet banner ads and a full-page newspaper ad in USA Today, and he successfully convinced many of his faithful to empty their bank accounts and quit their jobs. A retired New York city bus driver reportedly spent his entire life savings — $140,000 — on 1,000 bus shelter and subway car ads announcing Camping’s May 21 apocalypse, and others have sold their homes, antique collections and given away their possessions. Apparently none of them bothered to note that Camping’s last apocalypse prediction was in 1994. He is now 0 for 2.

Why didn’t I think of this first? The Howdygram would like to recognize two clever entrepreneurs who found a way to capitalize on Camping’s scare campaign. Bart Centre of New Hampshire launched a venture called “Eternal Earth-Bound Pets.” For $135 a confirmed atheist will rescue one pet per address within 24 hours of the rapture. Another service called “You’ve Been Left Behind” charges $14.95 to send letters and emails to your non-believing friends and relatives who get stuck on Earth.

In other news tonight, Sam and I are watching a line of severe thunderstorms roll in from Forth Worth. It’s quite a show out there, and I think we need popcorn. Smooches to everybody. Pass the salt.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I forgot something.

Forgive me. With all the hoo-hah around here yesterday I forgot to provide key information about Sam’s surgery adventure, such as what the hell it was FOR. Basically, Sam had a lot of skin tags, moles and skin lesions (benign skin cancer) removed by a plastic surgeon. He’s had various lesions removed before, but always one at a time in isolated areas. This time he had four on his face, a couple of big ones on his legs and several on his arms, neck and back, so the surgeon recommended removing them all at once under general anesthesia. Sam looks pretty weird right now — he’s covered with stitches and bandages — but says he’s feeling pretty good and isn’t having any pain.

To speed his recovery I went to Tom Thumb this afternoon and stocked up on all of Sam’s favorites, including Mrs. Fields ice cream sandwiches, deviled egg potato salad, canned peaches, salami, muenster cheese, dehydrated pineapples, blueberry muffins, pretzels, a gigantic seedless watermelon and grapefruit-flavored Perrier. We’re going to have a pig-out party tonight. Those of you who wish to attend please send me an email right away and we’ll try not to eat everything before you get here.

Thank you for reading this.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The easiest patient in Texas.

Sam came through like a champ today! Surgery at 8:30, in the recovery room at 10:15, and by noon he was sitting next to me in the car, heading home. The medical team at the hospital said Sam did just fine, but unfortunately he looks like he was on the losing team in a street brawl, with bandages, bruises and stitches all over his face and body. He’s been asleep almost nonstop since we got home except for a pizza break at 5 p.m. Sleep is good.
An image of the Texas Regional Medical Center appears above for your possible interest. However, truth in reporting requires me to mention that the sky actually was NOT blue today (it was overcast), lots of people were milling around at the main entrance and there was practically nowhere to park, including handicapped spots. Other than that, this is an accurate rendering.

I think I’ll join Sam in the family room now because he’s sleeping through an Esther Williams movie I’d like to watch and also I have a craving for Schwan’s mini corn dogs. (Seriously.) Thank you for reading this.

Pre-dawn musings from Howdygramland.

It’s 4 a.m. and the middle of the night for normal people. I’d love to go back to bed for a while except Sam has to be at the hospital by 6:30 because he’s scheduled for out-patient surgery, and of course I’m going with him. I figure I’m probably better off just staying awake at this point.

My project du jour, aside from taking care of Sam when he gets home from the hospital, will be getting used to my new Magic Trackpad — Apple’s ingenious alternative to a standard mouse. I bought it mostly based on a bunch of online reviews that mentioned how well it alleviates HAND PAIN, and I’m definitely in favor of less pain!
As far as I can tell, the only potential problem with the trackpad is the unfamiliar touch. The slightest tap becomes a “click,” which is fine, but you have to press HARD to achieve the ever-popular “click and drag.” At the same time I’m also adjusting to a major Adobe Creative Suite software upgrade that was installed for me yesterday. The new versions of InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator are really nice, but I think I’m getting too old for learning curves. (And I really miss my mouse.)

Before I forget, I wanted to post these before-and-after photos of Chaz Bono just in case you haven’t seen enough of her him in the news lately. Pictures like this can give you nightmares.
Chaz told a TV interviewer a couple of days ago that his mother (Cher) is having trouble accepting him like this, but he’s convinced it’s just a “generational thing.” I beg to differ. Generations notwithstanding, CHAZ IS A HUGE, SCARY DOOFUS IN A THREE-PIECE SUIT.  

I’m with you, Cher. I don’t get it, either.

Time to get ready for our shlep to the hospital. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Too much information.

In case you don’t think Dallas is a swell and exciting place to live, just take a look at the following list of events going on in town this week.

May 18. Don’t miss the new and improved rocking chair exhibit at the Perry Homestead Museum in Carrollton, Allen High School’s spring band concert at 7 p.m., “A Night with Deadliest Catch” — those kooky crab fishermen from Discovery’s hit TV show — LIVE and IN-PERSON at the Majestic Theater, and the ever-popular corndog-eating contest at Lakewood Landing at 11 p.m.
 May 19. There’s an art tour at Cowboys Stadium beginning at 9 a.m., during which the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders will show off their latest achievements in crayon and magic marker. Some can even color inside the lines.
May 20. The punk bands Rotten Innards and Chest Pains will perform at the Hemphill Club, 1919 Hemphill Street.

Job opportunities. The U.S. government is suing Starbucks for firing a barista in El Paso, Texas, because she’s a dwarf. Although it’s difficult to believe that Starbucks didn’t notice she was a dwarf when they HIRED her, management terminated the girl’s employment when she requested a step stool during training because she couldn’t see over the counter. She filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after Starbucks claimed she was a danger to customers and other employees. Mostly I think she’d be a danger to HERSELF, particularly when she starts spewing steamed milk all over the place. Personally, I’m on Starbucks’ side here.

TMI. I don’t know about YOU, but if I never see Chaz Bono’s face again it will be too soon. I have no idea why every news website wants to force this person’s twisted story down our throats, but I’m guessing it’s because Chaz, who now has a penis and a fiancée, was once Sonny and Cher’s blonde daughter with an identity crisis. Mazel tov, Chaz, you are definitely one creepy dude!

And finally, in the Thank God I’m Not Single Any More category, I give you this photo of Mel Gibson, who posed earlier this week on a yacht at the Cannes Film Festival.
This former Hollywood heart-throb has evolved into a middle-aged, alcoholic chain-smoker with man boobs and a beer gut. And as long as we’re advertising Mel’s strong points, he’s also an anti-Semitic wife-beater.

I thank you most sincerely for reading this.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Welcoming the winds of change.

It’s no secret — I’VE GOT A VERY QUIRKY HUSBAND. On Sunday I finally convinced Sam that it’s time to cash in all the coins he’s been collecting in the five-gallon Sparkletts bottle at the back of our walk-in closet. Trust me, it wasn’t easy to talk him into this.

Apparently it’s been Sam’s lifetime ambition to fill his jar all the way to the top, and at the moment — after almost nine years — he’s still about three inches short of that goal. But we’ve got an expensive patio expansion project planned this summer that includes fancy-stamped concrete and a custom-designed cedar arbor, and we believe there’s at least $2,000 hanging out in that jar. TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS. This is nothing to sneeze at.
To make life easier I ordered an essential coin-counting kit (see above) from Amazon.com. However, we still need a few million wrappers. Oy.

In other news, municipalities all over the Dallas area had local elections on Saturday, and I’m pleased to report that Mayberry Mesquite is no longer dry because RESIDENTS FINALLY VOTED TO APPROVE RETAIL LIQUOR SALES after defeating the same proposition three times in five years. Most Texans like to get drunk and the rest are Southern Baptists.

In any event, liquor sales will be a very big deal here since we’ll finally get to keep all that extra revenue we’ve been losing to Mount Pilot Garland and Rowlett. Yee-hah, and thank y’all for reading this.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Reflecting on a thoroughly terrific day.

This has been one hell of a Saturday. Maybe the best Saturday we’ve ever had. The weather was sheer perfection ... 72°, clear skies, light breeze, bright sun. We began with a drive to Hong Kong Royal for dim sum, which (in my view) is the only sensible way to launch the weekend because I love hot chili sauce on just about ANYTHING except chocolate pudding and breath mints. Unfortunately, when we got home we discovered that Sam’s Macintosh computer had died in its sleep, but this really wasn’t too traumatic because his Mac was already six years old — ANCIENT for a computer — and had enjoyed a full, productive life. So we visited Apple.com and ordered Sam a cool new iMac that’s exactly like mine. It should be here on Tuesday. The iMac below agreed to pose for the Howdygram.
Feeling sated after our online shopping spree Sam asked if I’d like to go for another drive, so we bounced back into the car and headed to Sunnyvale to wave at cattle (sometimes they even wave back) and do a test-run to the Texas Regional Medical Center because Sam is scheduled for out-patient surgery on Thursday morning and we wanted to check out the facilities. On the way back we discovered a classic car show in a strip mall parking lot so we stopped and walked around for an hour. Seriously, these cars weren’t just somebody’s hobbies ... they were genuine works of art with pristine paint jobs and engines cleaner than my kitchen. Sam and I love classic cars!

As the perfect ending to a perfect day, for dinner we picked up a pile of barbecue from Dickey’s and watched A Night at the Opera. Sam fell asleep sometime during Harpo’s big number on the steerage deck and he’s still unconscious on the couch as I write this post (Sam, not Harpo).

Ssshh. And thank you for reading this.

Friday, May 13, 2011

When blogs crap out.

It wasn’t my fault. My blog host, Blogger.com, had a maintenance failure yesterday that took their site (and ten bazillion blogs worldwide) offline beginning at 2:30 p.m. During the evening — and for the following 18 hours — blogs like the Howdygram eventually began to reappear in fits and false starts. This morning I noticed that my two posts from May 12 had vanished. When they finally popped up half an hour ago both had TODAY’S DATE on them. This is not a huge deal, I suppose, but there’s no way to fix it and some bloggers are way more neurotic than I am. (Not very many, however.)

Hey! The Howdygram would like to wish a happy 50th birthday to Sam’s sister Tammy. We’re sorry we can’t be there to celebrate with you, Tam, so maybe you can just email a piece of cake. A corner piece with extra frosting and a flower would be great. And a napkin. Thank you.

In other news, I bought myself a new personal care product today from Amazon.com ... Veet wax strips. I’m excited about this! I can’t see well enough to tweeze my own eyebrows any more, and Veet is made especially for your face and eyebrows. So it sounds like I’ve got a new hobby and something constructive to do in my spare time. As a matter of fact, if I get good at this I might even open my own waxing studio. Please send me an email to request a wax job and a bran muffin. Thank you.

Before I forget, our Big Spring Giveaway ends on Sunday, May 15, which means you only have TWO DAYS LEFT to enter! We’ve got some excellent prizes. Don’t screw this up.

Repeat after me: It’s a hamburger, people.

Mainstream America is generally a pack of dolts, and the following video clip absolutely proves my point. The Dallas Morning News showed up yesterday at 10 a.m. to interview a mob of local yahoos at the grand opening of Texas’ first In-N-Out Burger, the California chain with its own cult following. Apparently some had been in line for THREE DAYS; others sat and CRIED. Personally, I don’t get it. They don’t even use Velveeta!

Trader Joe’s, however, is a totally different story. Their first Dallas store will open by the end of the year, and that’s a monumental event worthy of a three-day campout so I can be first in line for cottage cheese and couscous salad. I’m just saying. All this hoo-hah about In-N-Out Burger made me hungry so I’m sending Sam to our local Five Guys to pick up a couple of cheeseburgers for us. Is this a thing of beauty, or what? (Five Guys is better than In-N-Out any day of the week.)
FYI, I always order online so Sam doesn’t have to wait when he gets there. This activity all by itself validates my investment in a $1,700 Macintosh computer system. Thank you for reading this and pass the napkins.

Crazy Wednesday explained.

Sam and I lead a very quiet life. We don’t entertain, we have practically no friends in Texas, we never have company unless my mother-in-law is visiting from California, and — most importantly — we really like it this way. But every other Wednesday morning our house turns into a manicky free-for-all that genuinely disrupts our preferred pattern of peace and privacy.

The maids. The biweekly bucket brigade arrives at 11 to mop, dust, shpritz and vacuum. They’re here for about an hour, chasing us from room to room so we’ll stay out of their way.

The Schwan’s guy. Our frozen food delivery dude always shows up at 11:45 just in time to shlep his big feet across my wet kitchen floor.

The landscape crew. They’re usually in high gear about the same time our Schwan’s guy gets here, which means Gary has to run interference up the front walk to avoid getting mowed and mulched. (It would serve him right. I’m just saying.)

Sam and I always survive this hoo-hah to the best of our ability, but mostly I just want to hide in the closet for a couple of hours.

And now for my craving du jour! Yesterday it was a tube of Oscar Mayer Authentic Braunschwieger, today it’s — get ready — VELVEETA. I sent Sam to the supermarket this morning while the maids were here so he could bring home a one-pound brick.
Velveeta, as everybody knows, melts like a dream and makes the world’s most amazing grilled cheese sandwiches. However, please do NOT attempt to eat it cold because it’s the same consistency as window caulk.

We’re having a lot of noisy thunderstorms today. They started rolling through here around 3 this afternoon and haven’t slowed down for almost four hours. I don’t mind because we need the rain and I’m a big fan of free water for our lawn and trees. Here’s the latest map from Weather.com for your possible interest. The little red map pin marks the Howdygram’s location in Mesquite. Zoom in a little closer and I’m the one in the window holding my brick of Velveeta.
I’m going to take aspirin now and watch the Margaret Rutherford movies I recorded this morning on TCM. I’m still sick but definitely feel better than yesterday and the day before. This is not nearly as important, however, as today’s headline about creepy Lindsay Lohan, who was sentenced to 120 days in jail — but will only serve 14 — for stealing a $2,500 necklace from a jewelry store in Venice, California. The question is, I wonder what kind of sentence anybody ELSE would get for a heist like that.

Thank you for reading this. I mean it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

News from Snotville.

I sincerely apologize if you’re offended by the title of this post, but what the hell, I’m sick and I don’t care who knows it. I’m still feeling achy, drippy and crabby ... sort of a Howdygram version of the Seven Dwarfs. (Sorry, Walt, wherever you are.)
About the only thing I can do when I feel like this — aside from blowing my nose — is to EAT THINGS, so this morning I sent Sam to the supermarket for my craving du jour: a tube of Oscar Mayer Authentic Braunschweiger. (Not to be confused, apparently, with FAUX braunschweiger.)
No kidding, braunschweiger is a true gourmet treat on white toast with a layer of pickle relish and a side order of napkins, but I waited until Sam left for work this afternoon because I don’t think he’s really convinced that braunschweiger is an edible substance. (And he scares easily.)

At this point I’m ready for a hot shower, this week’s episode of “Hardcore Pawn” and probably a movie afterwards. Sam won’t be home from work until sometime tomorrow morning so I’m on my own with the remote. I’m thinking Doris Day. Don’t forget to floss.

Monday, May 9, 2011

And now, the worst waste of time on television.

Most of you already know that I enjoy my share of cheesy TV shows, including such cerebral guilty pleasures as “Operation Repo,” “Hardcore Pawn,” “Tabatha’s Salon Takeover,” “Millionaire Matchmaker,” “Top Chef” and “Project Runway.” Last year I even got into the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” for a few weeks but walked away by the end of the season when I began to worry about permanent brain damage. (Mine, not theirs.)

The point is, last night we’re surfing through our 450 U-Verse cable channels and seriously can’t find anything to watch until Sam says, “Wait. Go back one screen. WHAT THE HELL IS CUPCAKE WARS.” We arrive at the Food Network.
“Cupcake Wars” is a reality competition series featuring four new contestants every week. They all operate their own cupcake stores and seriously believe this is a launching pad to international fame and fortune. Although the producers attempt to invent suspense and drama where there isn’t any, it’s still just a really stupid show about people frosting a bunch of cupcakes. The host is a creepy little guy named Justin who spouts slogans like, “lock and load your pastry bags!” and “in a cupcake war there are always cupcake casualties.”

Apparently each show includes one or more of these thrilling make-a-cupcake challenges: 1) make a cupcake using specific ingredients (i.e., bacon and floor wax); 2) make three cupcakes using your own recipes; and 3) make a thousand cupcakes to display. Then you get to watch a team of three self-absorbed judges (pictured below) eat and critique a whole lot of cupcakes. Some are piled with so many decorations — feathers, stars, glitter, pearls — they look more like kindergarten craft projects. (I’m referring to the cupcakes, not the judges.)
By now I’m praying for a diabetic coma and thinking holy crap, this is ALMOST as boring as “Dancing with the Stars.” Sam and I are so thoroughly irritated by the entire program that we don’t even hang around to find out who wins the final cupcake battle and decide to watch How the West Was Won instead.

God bless Cinerama. Our night wasn’t a total loss after all.

By the way — for your possible interest — I’m still sick. Not SICK-sick, really, just mildly sick. I’m only reminding you in case you’d like to send Jello, which I first requested on Saturday. And in case you haven’t seen the big news today on MSNBC.com, Meredith Vieira is resigning from the “Today” show in June. I’m not exactly sure who she is, but this definitely sounds like a major traumatic hoo-hah to me. Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The drippy truth.

I’ve already been awake for an hour and a half, my eyes are watery, my muscles ache and I can’t breathe. Other than that I’m feeling swell at 6:30 on Sunday morning. But before I forget . . .
Aside from the fact that “mom” obviously needs an industrial-strength depilatory, is this a great picture, or what?

FYI, there’s only one week left to enter our Big Spring Giveaway. THIS IS A HINT. Thank you.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday night fever.

I’m still sick. After sleeping through the Kentucky Derby this afternoon I sent Sam to CVS for a new digital thermometer. He asked why do I need one if I already know I’m sick, so I told him I require an exact temperature reading in order to adjust my whining to an appropriate level. The thermometer he brought home is manufactured by Vicks, and I love it. It’s easy to read, it’s really fast and — best of all — I can actually hear it BEEP. (There are lots of sounds I don’t hear very well any more. Teeny beeps top the list.)

My temperature at the moment is 99.2°. Send Jello.

Incidentally, Sam and I never made it to Pei Wei today so we ordered in Chinese food for dinner. Nothing works on a cold like Mongolian Chicken. And egg rolls.

I think I’ll prowl around now for chocolate chip cookies. Thank you for reading this.

Guess who has a cold.

Me. And it’s unexplainable, because I never leave the house or come into contact with anybody but Sam, and he hasn’t had a cold in YEARS. So I have no idea where this came from unless the pizza guy was harboring lethal germs on Thursday. I’m congested, achy and probably also have a low-grade fever except I can’t find the thermometer. Don’t get too close to your monitor for a couple of days. I wouldn’t want you to catch this.

If you have some free time this afternoon don’t forget to watch the Kentucky Derby, a traditional sporting event where rich people race hired munchkins on horseback for recognition and prize money.
For your possible interest, most of these munchkins are direct decendants of the original immigrants from Oz during the early part of the 20th century.

Also coming up this weekend is Mother’s Day, and I would like to wish all you moms a happy holiday from the Howdygram. If I’m feeling well enough Sam and I will go for a late lunch today at Pei Wei because they’ve got a BOGO* entree event going on. WE LOVE FREE ENTREES but please don’t tell them I’m not a mother or I might be disqualified.
*BOGO = buy one, get one free.

Mark your calendars. Wednesday, March 11, is Margaret Rutherford Day on TCM, and you should tune in to see five of her adorable films from the early 1960s beginning at 11 a.m. Central time. These include The Mouse on the Moon, Murder She Said, Murder at the Gallop, Murder Most Foul and Murder Ahoy. She’s always fun to watch even though I’ve seen all of her films at least a dozen times.

And now I’m going to hunt around again for my thermometer. There’s always a possibility it might be hiding in the pocket of Sam’s missing black stretchy pants (see post), which vanished mysteriously back in February and still haven’t turned up. If you have any thoughts about this please let me know. Thank you.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Shopping, crappy pizza and other news.

I forgot to tell y’all something. My new medication — Amitriptyline Hydrochloride — is already doing a fine job relieving the nerve pain in my hands, and I’m mighty damn happy about that. But since Amitriptylene is most commonly prescribed as an anti-depressant, I also get to sit around the house all day like a grinning idiot. They’re HAPPY PILLS!

I highly recommend that YOU take happy pills, too. Ask your doctor if Amitriptylene is right for you!

I’ve been craving Chicago-style deep dish pizza for at least two years and finally decided to order one yesterday from a hole-in-the-wall dive here in Mesquite called Chicago’s Original Pizza. After reading their four-star reviews all over the Internet I ask the guy who answers the phone if his pizza is really as good as genuine Chicago-style, and he says, “Ever had Gino’s East or Giordano’s?” When I say yes, he says, “Ours is even BETTER.” At this point I’m pretty much convinced to give it a shot, so I order a medium deep-dish pizza with Italian sausage for (don’t scream) $26. The photos online are exquisite, and I’m so excited I stand at the living room windows waiting for the driver. When he finally shows up the box weighs a ton and the pizza inside looks exactly like its portrait.
Unfortunately, Chicago’s Original Pizza is INEDIBLE unless you’re fond of greasy doorstops. The crust is like plastic and so tough I can’t even cut it with a serrated knife, the cheese is piled two-inches thick and rubbery enough to retread a couple of steel-belted radials, and the faux pizza sauce is made from Campbell’s tomato soup. I attempted to eat half a slice and couldn’t chew through it; the rest wound up in the garbage.

This experience actually surpassed the previous #1 worst let-down of my life, which happened back in 1964 when my girlfriend Sandi said her dad would take us to the airport to see the Beatles arrive in Chicago. We were so excited we didn’t sleep for days, and then HE DROVE US TO THE WRONG AIRPORT.

To drown my disappointment till it’s time for my next happy pill I decided to do some online shopping. Today’s purchases included half a dozen enormous bottles of Suave Almond & Shea Butter shampoo from Wal-Mart.com, bronze ballet flats from Woman Within and an adorable tobacco-color leather cross-body bag from eBags.com on sale at 25% off.
I’m all set for summer. Bring it on, and thank you for reading this.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday in Howdygramland.

Yard news. It’s done. Our fabulous new cedar fence was stained yesterday and it looks TERRIFIC (see below). Next on our agenda is patio expansion with a cedar arbor to match the fence, and Sam has been busy collecting estimates. We’re so excited we can hardly stand it.
All of this will coordinate beautifully with the commercial-quality chaise lounges we bought a few days ago at Costco. They’re super comfortable and long enough for Sam to lie down without his feet hanging off the end. Sam’s feet are extremely important.
Let’s party! The Howdygram would like to wish y’all a happy Cinco de Mayo, which is Mexico’s annual Mayonnaise Festival sponsored by Hellmann’s. A photo of cinco jars of mayo appears below. My traditional Cinco de Mayo lunch celebration, which begins promptly at noon, will include homemade tuna salad in a rye bread piñata that gets whacked with a large fork.
Adios and thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's true. Great stuff happens in threes.

Still reeling from the four-hour televised marathon of William and Kate’s wedding and the happy demise of Osama bin Laden, the big news today in Dallas is almost enough to make my head explode.

Trader Joe’s is coming.

According to the Dallas Morning News they’re planning 10 stores in Texas beginning with the Dallas area sometime this year. I got so excited I immediately sent an email to Trader Joe’s corporate office and requested a location with a lot of handicapped parking in Rockwall, not too far from the Howdygram’s headquarters in Mesquite. (Mesquite itself is out of the question because we’re “dry” and Trader Joe’s sells liquor.) Then I sat down and wrote out my first shopping list, which includes all those unforgettable private-label products I haven’t been able to buy since I left California four years ago, such as Trader Joe’s stuffed bell peppers, homemade mini-pizzas, couscous salad with raisins, Greek yogurt, the best cottage cheese on the planet, giant frozen sea scallops, eggless egg salad and bruschetta in a jar. And oy, their FRESH TAMALES! And their CEREAL and FIVE KINDS OF PITA BREAD! And REAL KOSHER CHICKENS!

The amazing thing is, barely a month ago I wrote a post about how much I miss Trader Joe’s, which means somebody VERY VERY IMPORTANT must be reading the Howdygram. Thank you, whoever you are.

In other news, I’m damn excited to announce that it’s ESTHER WILLIAMS MONTH on Turner Classic Movies and you should tune in on Thursdays throughout May to see her films. My personal favorite is Thrill of a Romance with Van Johnson (see photo), but I’m not sure why.

Thank you for reading this.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cold, wet and crappy.

I have NO idea where this miserable weather came from ... overcast and steady rain for at least 15 consecutive hours. I heard some thunder this morning around 7:30, but mostly it’s just been rain. And COLD. Apparently today’s high of 49° is a record low in Dallas for the second day of May, which is typically in the mid-80s. I am not leaving the house and I don’t even want to look out the window. To keep myself occupied I’m doing a mountain of laundry and watching “Two Fat Ladies” reruns on the Cooking Channel.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the “Two Fat Ladies,” they’re a couple of chain-smoking old broads in England who travel around the countryside on an antique motorcycle with a sidecar, cooking in a different location for each show, like a monastery, a girls’ boarding school or a lighthouse. I have no idea why anybody ever decided to give them a TV show of their own, but the Brits apparently have a stronger stomach for this kind of thing. (The photo above is heavily retouched; Clarissa and Jennifer usually look much worse.) As for their cuisine, be sure to watch if you ever need pointers on cooking with lard, how to clean kidneys or the best way to soak kippers so they don’t stink up your house. I am not joking about this.

In case you’re just tuning in, Osama bin Laden is still dead.

I’m going to fold socks now. Thank you for reading this.

Big news tonight.

Even bigger than the postponement of William and Kate’s honeymoon is a news story tonight that American troops have found and killed the infamous Saudi terrorist nutjob Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. I just watched President Obama announce the news on MSNBC.com.
I want to make this a big hoo-hah, but it’s too late to order Chinese food so I’ll have a Marcytini instead and write a mazel tov email to the White House. I also can’t wait to tell Sam, although at the moment he’s asleep in the family room pretending to watch a movie. (He’s not fooling anybody.)

Sunday was a milestone. I turned 59½, making me eligible to collect a big fat lump sum pension payout from a former employer without paying a tax penalty, and I requested all the required paperwork on Thursday. This is slightly surreal, to tell you the truth. A couple of weeks ago I was only 35 years old.

Don’t forget to enter our Big Spring Giveaway. Thank you for reading this!