Saturday, April 22, 2006

#653 Robbed!

I went to the flea market at the fair grounds today (free parking and free entry, by the way). It was HUGE!! as promised. There were vendors in all five buildings, plus tents outside around the buildings. Lots and lots of stuff, some new, some old, and all of it really cheap. I hadn't intended to buy anything - I'm mainly in throwing-out mode these days - but it was only 41 degrees at noon and raining steadily, and after two weeks of high 60s/low 70s, I wasn't dressed warmly enough. One of the first booths I passed was selling sweatshirts for $3, so I bought a really nice fuzzy gray one.

I walked around checking prices on items similar to things I have and want to get rid of, and admiring the crafty things. Despite my promise, I did buy something - a carved walking stick. The guy finds oddly shaped sticks/branches, and fashions them into fantasy animals. I bought a beasty with googly eyes and a mouthful of real deer teeth.

Because of the rain, it was very crowded. You had to weave in and out of clumps of people. I had my cash, folded, in a half-zipped pocket in my purse. The purse was in a large tote bag over my shoulder. I had peeled off $3 to pay for the sweatshirt, and $20 for the stick (inside the purse - I never actually took the wad out) and then I got hungry. At the food booth, I discovered that I had no money. There had been somewhere between $85 and $120 in there. I searched the purse and the tote bag, and it was gone. A pickpocket? I figure that'll teach me. If I had bought everything I wanted, at least now I'd have something to show for the money!

After the fair, I picked up the keys for the rental car (I'll drop off the van and switch to the rental tomorrow), and then met the roofers here and signed the contracts for the roof and the exhaust fan. Now we need a week's worth of dry weather.


Nightline did a bit on rising gasoline prices last night. They laid the blame mainly on two factors. There's a law that requires that refineries add MTBE (ethanol?)(Later correction - see explanation at bottom of entry), and few refineries are currently set up to do it, which is causing an artificial shortage. China and India have increased their energy demands over the past few years, which puts more pressure on the supply, and therefore increases the price. I would add drivers of SUVs and Hummers (which Nightline mentioned but not so much as a cause, more as victims, who don't care because they are willing to pay it), and something that no one ever mentions - the building of all those superhighways and the increased power of the trucking companies, both of which led to the demise of the railroads and mass transit. A news program today pointed out the huge profits of the oil companies, and included a clip of GWB promising to look into gouging.

(Is it gouging when a company charges what other companies charge, everywhere? Is it gouging when we still pay about half what Europe pays? Is it gouging when pharmaceutical companies charge what the market will bear for cancer drugs? If US oil companies charged too little for the gasoline, then what's to stop other countries from buying it out from under us and taking it on home, causing a major domestic shortage? If I were France, I would! At what point does capitalism turn into gouging? Just a question -- no point intended.)

It bothers me that the perceived high price of gas increases anger toward middle eastern countries, when the US gets only about 15% of our crude from the middle east. Middle Eastern oil goes mainly to Europe and Asia. We get ours mostly from North, Central, and South America and a few other African countries, who, of course, charge as much as they can get away with. No altruism.

(Later edit - That didn't sound right, because I remembered that MTBE is a groundwater polluter, something I was worried about when Daughter was living in the middle of what amounted to an automobile junkyard, drinking and showering from a well. So I looked it up. The requirement is that refineries move away from MTBE and switch to ethanol. Since some localities will no longer allow the sale of gasoline with MTBE, and refineries are slow making the switch, the demand for gasoline with ethanol exceeds the supply. MTBE and ethanol both combat air pollution.)

#652 Ricketts Glen Plans

I am going to Ricketts Glen the weekend of May 20. Let me know if anyone would like to join me.

Friday, April 21, 2006

#651 More Great Photos From Egypt

A Nation for All -

#650 Thursday, Sick Van Again, and Friday

Friday, April 21, 2006

Well, well. No entry yesterday again. Maybe Mother IS losing it!

After Wednesday's entry, things got complicated. Roman was supposed to meet with Piper Wednesday afternoon, after which Roman and I would have dinner and a movie or something. Roman called during his lunch break to finalize, and I noticed that there was a message on my machine (I had been working in the basement and must have missed a call.) So after Roman hung up, I checked the message, and it was Piper - he had a plumbing problem at home, and wouldn't be able to meet with Roman, but was unable to contact him to cancel. I didn't have Roman's work number either. There ensued a few rounds of three-way phone tag, plus a trip into the village to put a note on Piper's office door, telling Roman to just come here when he arrived.

That ate up the afternoon. When I was finally able to catch Roman at his home, I asked if he still wanted to come to see me, and he said "Yes", which was nice, but then he added "I know the consequences if I don't." Which set the tone for the evening. Which was not good. Civil, but uncomfortable. And rather negative.

Then came Thursday.

I had listed 6 large bags of plastic packing peanuts late Wednesday on that Ecycle website I mentioned, and within seconds, a woman in Poughkeepsie had claimed them. I awoke yesterday to 20+ emails from other people wanting them. I started responding to the emails that they were gone, when it occurred to me that I should make sure this woman was going to take all of them before I discarded these offers, so I called her. I had offered in the ad to deliver, so she asked me to bring them to Pok at 3 that afternoon.

I screwed up.

Somehow, I had it stuck in my mind that "today" was Wednesday, not Thursday. I don't know why, but I've been doing that a lot lately. I was supposed to have lunch with Piper on Thursday, but, thinking it was Wednesday, I accidentally stood him up.

I didn't shower before leaving the house, and I was wearing "second-wearing" clothes, because I wanted to go to the exercise machines on the way to deliver the peanuts. Which I did. I worked the machines from 1 'til 2, and delivered the peanuts to Spackenkill Road at 3. The woman had a lip at the end of her driveway, and when I pulled in, and again when I pulled out, I scraped bottom badly (that low clearance on the van). Which sometimes isn't serious, but I got partway up Spackenkill, heading out on the almost-an-hour drive home, when a) the guy on the radio mention that today was Thursday (WHAT!!??), and b) the "check engine" light went on.

I had committed to go to the Third Thursday dinner, because Roman had to work that night, and he had given me the coupons. It's now about 3:30. I'd get home at 4:30ish, and have to leave at 5:15ish to come back to Pok for the dinner, and that's a lot of driving on a questionable van. I don't know what I may have torn loose. I couldn't like hang out at the mall and then go to dinner, because I stank, and I had no makeup on. I could either get the van looked at, or get me cleaned up, but not both. It was all suddenly too much for me to handle. I was ready to cry. I called Roman, who lives only about 10 minutes from where I was.

He was wonderful. We looked under the van. The only thing we saw was that it's dripping transmission fluid again. Everything else looked ok. He said it was probably ok to drive, but I should get it checked. And I could shower at his place and just chill until time to go to the dinner. I have an overnight case there, so it worked out. (He said my clothes didn't smell. Thank goodness I wear loose stuff.)

There were only three of us at the dinner. Tom and I were the first to arrive, and we decided that if no one else showed up, we'd cut out and go to Gentleman Jim's for dinner instead, and then we could play trivia after. But then another woman showed up, and she had no interest in Gentleman Jim's.

This woman happens to be Roman's financial advisor. And I am beginning to think ALL money management people are ditzy. We were looking at the placemats, and I remarked that I was born in the year of the monkey, and Tom said something about astrology, and she asked him what his birthdate was, and he told her, and said, "You know, that's the second time you've asked me that. We had this same conversation last time I saw you." She didn't remember, but she almost immediately turned to me and asked if I was married (this woman is famous for non sequiturs). I said "No, why do you ask", and she replied that that's why she didn't want to go to GJ's, because she wanted to get home to her husband.

I started laughing, and said "You've also asked me that before." The last time I had seen her, she had turned to Roman and me, and had said "My husband wants to know if you two are married." That was back when Roman was courting me big time, and it was obvious to everyone at the table that something big was going on. And I remember it especially because she, as his financial advisor, should have known his marital status, so it struck me as odd. Her response was "Oh, no. I would NEVER have asked if you and [Roman] were married, because I know [Roman] has a girlfriend, [so-and-so]. I know her because her ex-husband goes to my church. If I asked, it was just a joke."

I had a flash of anger. I said "Yes, but it wasn't a joke. Sorry, but I'm feeling a bit bitter right now. I wish you had told me about her then." She said "Oh, you do know about her?" (When you think about what she'd just said, that's a really dumb question....) I said "Yes, now I do, but I didn't know soon enough. He misled me." She asked "Does she know about you?", and I said "No, and that's so unfair, because now that I know, I got mean, and she's not, she's all sweetness and light, and he's comparing us, and that's so unfair." She sympathized. Then she said "Someone should tell her. She should know!" and she looked like she was the one to do it, and I suddenly realized that I had forgotten that this was a total ditz I was talking to. She's about the fourth person to tell me that Roman has a girlfriend, but she's the first to scare me.

I had gone too far. I asked her and Tom to please not say anything to anyone - but - she's a ditz. Sometimes I guess I am, too. My only consolation is that she has no contact with the woman, so her blathering to her is unlikely. Her blathering to or scolding Roman is a distinct possibility, however. On the other hand, she SAW us together at that dinner. She KNEW THEN that Roman and I were "involved". He walked up to me and kissed me right in front of her once. So this shouldn't be news to her. What the hell was in her mind then? What was in her mind last night, when she informed me Roman had a girlfriend named xxx? Mensa considered Roman and me a couple, so her announcing at a Mensa function that he had a girlfriend (by name, even) was very embarrassing to me. The woman is a ditz.

I am stupid. I am sick. I am a spurned woman. I am human. I know that if xxx did find out about me, and if Roman thought I was in any way responsible for her finding out, it would destroy the last shreds of our already-tattered friendship, and I don't want to lose that. Even if she throws him out (and I doubt that she cares for him enough to get angry, certainly not enough to throw out her 'faithful' servant, he's just too useful) if he thought I was responsible he wouldn't turn to me, so there's no advantage to me.

No matter what else stops, I never want to stop seeing his smile.

So, anyway, after dinner I went to trivia with Tom. He asked me if I'd like to go next Thursday, too. I said yes. There's a Mensa group in NYC who are always near the top of the national ranking, and we're considering a trip to the city to meet them and see them in action some summer Thursday. Tom is the subject of a lot of gossip in the local group, because he's been married like five times, and he's a bit of a hound. He's about 12 years younger than I, in love with a woman who shares his interest in hiking, and I don't get "hound" vibes from him at all, which is refreshing. We're trivia buddies, and I like him. He's fun.

So, today, bright and early, I took the van to my favorite garage. Unfortunately, it's also everybody else's favorite, too. The owner told me I could bring it in on Monday, but I have a volunteer meeting on Monday that I can't reschedule. The next available time is 8 am, Friday of next week, so I agreed to that. Not good.

Then I stopped by Piper's office because I just got a notice from the state that they were fining me $50 because my last business sales tax return was late. The Angel did mail the forms, but I don't know when. Neither Piper nor The Angel were there, but Vinnie was, so Vinnie and I went to lunch. Man, he can talk!
Much later (6:30 pm):
While writing the above, I realized I could rent a wreck, which happens to be right next door to the garage. I called the garage, and the Monday slot is still available. I tried to call the car rental place, but they weren't in the book, so I ran down there and reserved a car for tomorrow. I can drop off the van at the garage tomorrow and pick up the rental, and I'm all set for Monday's meeting. (The car rental place wasn't in the book because they changed their name.)

Then I went and did a round on the exercise machines, plus 25 fast situps, and got thrown out because they were closing. They close early on Friday.

When I got home, there was a message on the tape from Roman, asking how the van was (wasn't that sweet of him?), and a message from the Hunk saying he'd be here Monday to finish the chimney work. I called Roman right back, but I guess he has already gone over to xxx's house - for the weekend, like every weekend, damn him. I left a long message. I probably won't hear from him again until Tuesday, if then.

Tomorrow is filling up. I'm going to a monster indoor flea market at the fair grounds, then I have to pick up the rental and drop off the van at 3 pm, then meet the roofer here at 4 to sign the contract. Then I'll sit here alone with PBS on Saturday night. (Fishkill would like to see me again, but he has a dance recital (per salsa lessons) on Sunday, and will be rehearsing, or I'd have invited him to share some Saturday time.)

And --- that's what I've been up to.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

#649 Busy & Recycling

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Just a quick entry, for Daughter.

I have swept the north end of the basement, and am now carrying storage containers full of fabric and trims down. Then I'll get cleaned up, possibly go do the exercise machines, and then meet Roman after his tutoring session with Piper, for dinner out and possibly a movie.

I've found a wonderful local web site, where you list stuff you are willing to give away or trade, and I can't wait to list the six large bags of plastic peanuts, Jay's skis, two bed frames, and whole lots of stuff in the basement that I couldn't just throw away. It was such a fortunate coincidence that there was an article in the newspaper about it.
It's at

Later Edit: is a list of similar sites worldwide. It's not sorted, so it'll take a while for me to locate other local groups - but go find yours!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

#648 Daffodils

These are the daffodils in my yard. The pictures were taken last Saturday, and more have opened since then. It was overcast, so the photos are a bit dark, but you get the idea. I should have waited - the blossoms are much denser now.

Along the lower end of the driveway:

Along the front of the garage:

Along the side of the driveway:

There are a few more clumps scattered around the lawn.

About two weeks ago, when I had the dumpsters here, I mentioned that I had put some computer listings and dumps in, and that the next morning, I found paper streamers across the lawn and driveway. This is what it looked like after I cleared it off the drive and piled it at the end of the dumpster:

The blue you can see low beyond the trees, below the white clouds, are mountains, across the Hudson River.

#647 Some Blogs I Read

I've been very unhappy with the "news" reported in our local newspapers and on TV. There's nothing there. Even "Nightline" and the PBS information programs seem to have been watered down, or gotten awfully parochial. We don't know, and don't seem to want to know, what the rest of the world is doing or thinking. We hear of nothing but the sensational, and no one seems to think about what even that means. I guess partly because of that frustration, I've become addicted to blogs.

When I started my first journal on AOL, I started reading other AOL journals, mostly American. Interesting, but not particularly illuminating. Maybe, like me, most people avoid controversial topics because they don't want to deal with the fallout. The few blogs I visited that did express strong opinions tended to be rather vicious. Zealots, I guess.

From the American blogs I expanded to British bloggers. More interesting because so much of the day-to-day lifestyle and concerns are so different, yet the people were the same. I learned some stuff I didn't know. Like that although the British medical system is inexpensive for the people, it is very difficult to get timely and thorough care. It seems like you don't get a test unless you will die without that test. You have to be practically dying to get an appointment with a doctor. Otherwise, you get better on your own, or you get closer to dying. And the judgment on who is "worth" saving is more harsh.

I didn't get this from someone ranting about the system. I got it from ordinary people writing about their medical problems. They seem to accept the difficulty in getting care as perfectly normal.

I've been spreading out. There's the journalist in India I mentioned a few entries back, and now I'm fascinated by bloggers in the middle east. Some that I've been reading:
  • Rantings of a Sandmonkey - - excellent analysis of what's happening in Egypt and more generally in the middle east. For some great photos that you probably wouldn't see anywhere else, scroll down to the April 17 entry, "Doing the Media's Job". Entries above and below explain.
  • The Big Pharaoh - - Egyptian blogger, moderate Muslim, news and commentary.
  • Mindbleed - - Egyptian. Commentary, and the discussions in the comments are especially good.
  • And Far Away... - - a woman in Jordan - not very political, but a woman's view of life.
  • Saudi Jeans - - Saudi Arabia, young man's view, good links to other blogs and news reports.
I'd love to find a Saudi woman, and a student in Iraq. The last issue of "The Sun" had several pages of Irani bloggers, and when I have some time I'd like to check them out.

I don't like to comment or offer opinions on things I don't know a lot about, so I'll give you the links and let you form your own opinions. But one thing that impressed me is that there seems to be a very wide gulf between the moderate Muslims and the fanatics (of course!), and - the big thing - that there are a lot more moderates than we might have been led to believe. The fanatics are a minority, but they are in power, for various reasons. Throughout the middle east the moderates are chafing. It's an explosive situation. Weirdly, I see a parallel to the US. We have our own "religious police", and they're getting more powerful. How do you fight that?

So, anyway, this addiction is one reason the house clearing is moving slowly. That, and a very VERY slow dialup link.

Monday, April 17, 2006

#646 Coincidences

Dreyfuss and I have been trading emails since dinner Saturday night. We set up another date for next Saturday, a monster flea market at the fairgrounds. He sent an enthusiastic note saying that he thought things were going very well, did I agree? He shouldn't have asked.

I thought about it a long time. I really did want to see him again, but I also knew that this wasn't going anywhere. So I sent him a note early Sunday evening that although I "find you good looking, intelligent, articulate, accepting, a gentleman, not a player, easy to talk with, open minded, with a close and supportive family, and generally happy with your life", I didn't think we were likely to connect long term, and that I didn't know why, but it was like a jigsaw puzzle piece that's the right color and shape, but still just doesn't fit, and I was worried about wasting his time. But (I'm such a waffle) if he still wanted to get together Saturday, I'd enjoy his company.

Later Sunday evening, there was entry #645, and I understood a little bit better the nature of the disconnect with Dreyfuss. There are things he likes and does that I would have some trouble appreciating. The mysterious piercings are only a tiny part - I might even get past that easily. But his idea of Heaven probably involves a huge recliner in front of a monster TV, with NASCAR races on, and a lot of beer and beer buddies. I'd have some trouble with that. I guess I'm as big a snob as Jay's father. But really, it just wouldn't work. I suspect that many of the things that make him happy would bother me. (I'm sure the reverse would also be true.)

That, of course, led to the thought that Roman and I like pretty much the same things. Our tastes are very similar. The degree here and there might vary, but it's all acceptable. At a basic level, we fit perfectly. There are a few places where our personalities clash, but nothing talking can't fix. Piper asked if I was comparing all these guys I'm meeting with Roman, and of course I am. How could I not?

I didn't hear from Dreyfuss again until this afternoon, when I got an email from him in which he agreed that the chemistry wasn't there, and it was ok, and he hoped I'd see it as mutual, and that no, he didn't think next Saturday was a good idea. I was happy that he took it ok and wasn't angry with me, but I was disappointed that he didn't want to see me again anyway. It wasn't a pride thing. I don't want to be touched by him, or to enter his life, or let him very far into mine, but I still wanted to talk more with him. I didn't know what my problem was, why I couldn't let him go, until I read the blog of a very perceptive young woman who said:

"I've been thinking I fixate on people and find myself with a near-compulsive urge to get inside their heads, and wondering why this is so. Sometimes I (do we all? am I unique in this?) just clock someone, pick up on a few things they say, get a few bits of insight into their character and feel an urgent need to know them, to understand them, to know what goes on in their mind -- maybe to figure the world out one person at a time."

... and I think she nailed it. I feel a need to know him. He's very different from most of the people I know, and I want to see into his mind and his world.

I think that's part of the problem with Roman, too. There are still a lot of things I don't understand, and I can't let go of him until I do.


On the "Fishkill" side, he had taken some pictures in the B&N parking lot on Saturday morning, and I got an email note from him Sunday morning saying that he had uploaded and cropped them, and he would send the large files to me to resize as I like, so I should expect "a torrent of emails" from him "this afternoon or this evening" with the photos attached. They haven't arrived yet. I'm getting anxious.

Ahah! As I was writing the above, I heard the "plop" of email dropping into my reader. It's the photos, from Fishkill. A torrent. Pardon me while I go look at them.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

#645 Disapproval

I was looking at the tv guide to see if there was anything worth watching tonight, and noticed there was a new Malcolm in the Middle on tonight, and I decided to watch it.

That reminded me of a friend, whose tastes are very similar to mine. We like a lot of the same things. However, he can't expose a lot of his tastes and preferences to his girlfriend, because "she wouldn't approve." I don't understand. I understand how you can be friends with someone whose tastes are different, but I don't understand how you can be that close to someone who doesn't approve of the basic you.

I am watching Malcolm now. I know that right now my friend is at his girlfriend's house, and he has his machine set to record Malcolm at home. I think that's so sad.

It reminds me of a lot of Mensans, who will look down their noses at you and declare "I don't even OWN a television set." They seem to feel that this is somehow superior. Like there can't possibly be anything worthy on "the boob tube", and they're not even willing to discuss the possibility. These are the same people who reject all but the snootiest magazines. It was very embarrassing to them when the largest jump in Mensa membership occurred as a direct result of a sample test in Reader's Digest.

Jay's father is very much like that. Even though much of his research has been in television (the technical/engineering aspects), he brags that the only channel he watches at home is the weather channel. He was visiting once when a show that Jay and I very much enjoyed was on, and we asked him to watch it with us. It was an early Frasier, and that night happened to be an especially good show. When it was over, Jay and I looked at each other, pleased, then we looked at Dad.

He was sitting there with his arms folded, frowning, and he said,

and I quote,

"Well. THAT was a complete waste of time."

At that moment, for a moment, I hated him.

He sure as Hell would never had made it as my boyfriend, and I pitied Jay his childhood. I pity my friend his girlfriend. My friend needs to value himself more.

#644 Peeps

I had been trying to ignore marshmallow peeps. Sugar. Oh, dear. I'm down another two pounds, and I want to keep it that way.

But they're everywhere this weekend. I think about how wonderfully plump and warm and soft they get in the microwave. They chase me, peeping at my heels.

This afternoon I was asked to write something moving about someone I loved who had died. I wrote about Jay's lopsided smile when he saw me coming down the hall at the rehab center.

Then someone mentioned peeps. I was not at that nostalgic moment able to ignore peeps.

I remembered the time, before we were married, when Jay and I were driving through Catskill, a particular street and intersection, and I was feeding him peeps, one bite for him, one for me. We were so happy. The older couple in the car behind us were laughing at us, and waved at us, and the woman gave the man a kiss when we all stopped at the traffic light. It was spring, and we were in love.

I couldn't stand it any more. I went to the drug store and bought peeps. The properly yellow ones. One pack for now, and one to let get stale and chewy.

Here's to you, Jay. I love you, still.