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Yesterday I noticed that the sun is beginning to rise at around 6:00 am, and this was very good news to me.  I really dig walking first thing in the morning, but until now, it was just too dark for me to do it safely, and if I waited until the sun came up, there wasn’t enough time to walk before I had to get the house ready for school/work.

So I’ve been stuck walking in the afternoons, which I don’t like as much. But today, I woke up at a little after 4 am – I got my freelance work done, at promptly at 6:00, with the sun cresting over the treetops, I went out for a nice 2 mile walk. With a few episodes of “The Lapse,” one of my new favorite podcasts as company, the walk went by quickly, and just like that, I got my daily exercise done.

Tada! Mornings are great.

Now, any extra exercise I do later today is gravy…the proverbial icing on the cake. I adore my morning walks, and have missed them over the winter. Hello spring. I welcome you.

TRUMP

My husband and I used to LOVE watching the Celebrity Apprentice. The board room scenes were the best, because it was fascinating to see Donald Trump back someone in a corner and then go for the jugular. It was good TV.

But as the weeks go by, I am really starting to despise Donald Trump. He never answers a question. Never. He calls names. He gives no examples or proof to back up his claims or proposed programs.

I have been waiting patiently for the other clown shoe to drop – for him to do something so egregious to where few Americans would forgive him, and his bid for the Presidency would be mercifully over.

The problem is, that the wackier this guy gets, the more “Uhmericuns” are eating it up. After super Tuesday, I came to a conclusion. We have a lot of really stupid, gullible people in this country.

Trump is promising a lot and will most likely deliver little, just like any As Seen on TV Product. You know, I bought one of those products once…Tag Away. It promised to get rid of skin tags, yet after a month of use, there was no improvement whatsoever. I had saved my receipt, and wrote for a refund, which they gave me, stating that in rare instances, a person’s body chemistry may cause the product to be ineffective.

But at least I got my money back, unlike the poor souls who went to Trump University.

Remember, Trump loves the uneducated. Because he knows all he has to do is wave a flag, and wear a Make America Great Again hat, and talk about gun rights and sending back all those raping Mexicans and his followers will cheer and cheer… and then go home to eat a dump cake wrapped in a Snuggie.

I just don’t get how anyone can buy what he is peddling, and then I remember how popular Big Bass Billy Mouth was.

singing-fish-original And it begins to make sense.

 

The other day I found out an old family friend was diagnosed with cancer, and I have to tell you, this news bummed me out.

Growing up, my parents were good friends with Dan & Tina Morielli – and our families spent a good amount of time together, and I always looked forward to our outings…whether it was a trip to the Poconos or just a Saturday night hanging out at home, it was always a good time.

Dan & Tina had two kids, and we had four, and the six of us always managed to have a blast. A lot of our chuckles originated from the fights our parents used to get into over politics or whatever. I’ll tell you one thing, the visits were never dull.

We lost Danny years back, and now, Tina has cancer. I wrote this post years ago as part of a private collection I keep, but I feel the need to share it now. Because these people were such a big part of my childhood, and all the times with them were the best.

The Morielli’s Condo in Miami Beach – A Summer Playground

The summer we went to Miami Beach with the Moriellis was one of the best vacations of my entire life. It was  1973, which must have made me 8 1/2 – wow, I can’t believe I was that young. I remember so much from that trip, perhaps because it was made of the stuff that makes family legends. We retold these stories among us over and over during car trips and holidays growing up because we had a full week of hilarity and hi-jinx.

The Moriellis were, in my opinion, our closest and coolest family friends growing up. I have no clue how our families met – I’ll have to ask Dad about that one – but when we were getting together with The Moriellis you were in for a fun time. Parents: Danny & Tina. Kids: Anthony and Antoinette. Neither kids were close to me in age. They were about the age of my older siblings, but it didn’t seem to matter. I never recall being shunned or ousted from the action because I was a little runt.

A Car-Full of Yankees Heading South
The Moriellis bought a condo in Miami Beach, and our summer vacation that year, rather than heading to Martha’s Vineyard, was the long drive from New Jersey to Miami. I remember a few little things from the trip down. I recall our absolute glee upon reaching Florida (yay!), only to be told that Miami was still like 6 hours away (boo!). I also remember stopping at a “Welcome to Florida!” rest stop which had a machine that would cast a little figurine out of wax, I think. One of my siblings (can’t recall which) decided to use some of their money to buy a figurine, which was exciting as I would get to see this machine in action at no cost to myself.

Money was inserted and the machine did its magic and out popped a light blue statue of a dolphin jumping in the waves. We all “oohed” and “aahed” and whoever bought it decided it would be best displayed on the window ledge of the side back window in our station wagon. This proved to be a big mistake in the hot Florida sun. I don’t think that little statue made it to Miami before it melted and folded in on itself.

Mom, Dad (complete with belly flab) and Tina Morielli at the pool

Six Kids Run Amok
Once we arrived in Miami the fun began. the Moriellis condo was small and meant only for a family of four, not a hoard of 10. A bunch of us had to sleep on sleeping bags in the walk-in closet, which to a small kid was a blast. The condo had a pool, elevators, a gym and card rooms all waiting for us to explore.

We soon found out that this condo catered to much older, child-less clientele, and we were loose and on the prowl. When we weren’t at the pool, the beach or eating, we didn’t have all that much to do, so off we would go in search of adventures in a 15-story condominium.

One of our favorite games was elevator races. You would start in the lobby and the object was to race in 2 different elevator cars to the penthouse and back. The fun of the game was you never knew when the elevator was going to stop to pick up people, thus slowing your trip. I recall being amazed at how the hallway in the penthouse was wide and lavishly decorated with plants and statues, and that one floor always smelled of chicken soup.

The gym had some kooky machines!

We would also amuse ourselves by whipping bottles and other garbage down the garbage chute, which made quite a noise and was probably very bothersome to those who could hear it. We would often try to sneak into the gym which had a whole bunch of old-timey exercise machines, and medicine balls to goof around with, but eventually some grown-up would come along and yell at us to hit the bricks.

We were allowed in the card rooms only if no adults needed it. The card rooms were small rooms with felt-covered card tables designated for Men & Ladies.I recall one girl came along to play with us. She was a bit older and her name was Doralee, and I think she was a little slow. I used to make faces behind her back to make Antoinette and Wendy laugh, which I realize now was mean, but at the time I was young and doing what I could to get a laugh.

Hi-Jinx in the Florida Ocean

The Sparkler Affair
Another moment sealed in the memory vault was the great sparkler incident of ’73. My sister Wendy and Antoinette had gotten their hands on some sparklers and had decided to light them up on the balcony. Danny caught them out there and screamed at them to get the hell off the balcony. So, Wendy and Antoinette walked back into the living room and stood there with sparklers blazing, in the process dropping little bits of fire onto the new carpeting. It was funny because they had obeyed Danny, but were making matters worse by burning the carpet.

After being ushered into the kitchen, and sparklers doused in the sink, Danny proceeded to chase Antoinette around the condo, screaming, darting in and out of rooms trying to administer a few good cracks. I stood like a statue in awe taking the whole scene in. Danny walked back into the room shaking out his hand and muttering “that kid’s got an ass like a rock.” Repeating that phrase to family members is still good for a laugh today.

Tina, Judy, Antoinette and Anthony – Bathing caps were mandatory for women

Here I am with Judy in my halter and shorts in front of Cinderella’s Castle

The Clan Takes On Disney World
The highlight of the trip was our visit to Disney World. Orlando is quite a distance from Miami, so as an adult I’m impressed the adults dared to make this trek with 6 unruly and often wise-cracking children. Disney was going to be a one day trip; no hotel stay; just there and back. I imagine whoever had to do the driving was pretty tired at some point during the day because I know we left well before dawn and did not return till the wee hours of the following morning.

Disney Ticket Book – 7 whole adventures? Gee Mickey, where do I start!

Back in ’73, Disney operated a bit differently than it does today. Rather than fork over the equivalent of a mortgage payment to enter the park, and ride all you want for that once price, you purchased a ticket book. There were a certain amount of tickets for each park section (like Adventure Land, for example) and each ride in that section required a specific amount of tickets. This proved to be rather sucky, because there were sections of the park that had better rides than others, and you had to make hard choices as to which rides you wanted to spend your tickets on.

I remember the Grand Prix car racing being a very big deal, but I was too little to ride alone so I had to ride with somebody which sucked. I held onto my tickets for Fantasy Land because I wanted to ride the Dumbo ride something fierce. I also recall us all going to the Hall of Presidents. It was pretty cool for its time because they had animatronic robots portraying all the past presidents, and I could have sworn they were real people.

Space Mountain wasn’t open yet in 1973, so our favorite ride at Magic Kingdom was the Haunted Mansion. There was really nothing like it at that time, and we were amazed. The special effects were mind boggling, and we simply had to ride it more than once. But, the ticket book only had enough coupons for one ride. This would require the purchase of additional tickets. For four kids. Asking Dad was a crap-shoot at best because we were always on a budget with 4 kids to pay for. But dad came through and bought us the extra tickets. I guess even he realized this was a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience. As it is, I didn’t make it back to Disney World until I was an adult.

The Fire Drill
After the long drive back to Miami, the parents were exhausted and the kids were all asleep. It must have been a real chore to herd our group of zombies up to the condo, because they let us flop right down to bed in our clothes. The next thing we knew, we were up again with bells ringing. The building’s fire alarm went off, and we were required to evacuate to the lobby.

Once in the lobby we felt totally out of place – everyone else was standing in their pajamas and robes. Several woman had curlers in their hair with nets over them. But us kids were standing there fully dressed. I recall getting odd looks from people who were wondering why our folks would either (a) dress their kids before coming down to the fire drill, or (b) let their kids sleep in their clothes like a bunch of slobs.

It was a great trip, just as every adventure we had with the Moriellis was. It’s why I’m so sad about this news. I want to send Tina a card and let her know how much our family treasures the memories she helped to build…and that I’m thinking of her.

Because I know for sure, that until we are old and gray, my siblings and I will talk about our times with the Moriellis, and we will laugh.

 

Spring-Home-Green

While technically it’s not spring yet, our local real estate market begs to differ. Spring is the hot time to put new listings on the market, re-introduce old ones to potentially new buyers, and sell, sell, sell.

What this means for me?
Work, work, work.

I just went through 5 days of non-stop crazy work. Every agent needed flyers, every agent needed a mailchimp to go out, I had no less than 4 ads due…my legal pad was three pages long with to-do’s from more than a dozen agents.

There were times I wanted to cry. On Friday I had to put in two extra hours, which went unnoticed and unrecognized, unlike the time I was an hour late due to snow where EVERYONE noticed.

I was churning stuff out like a machine…and I have to admit I had my fair share of mistakes. Turns out, I’m not that great under pressure. I can get the work done, but it needs to be thoroughly checked by a sane person.

On a nice note, one of my agents left me a pot of tulips on my desk with a thank you balloon. At least someone noticed I was losing my mind.

Today was far less hectic. It’s Tuesday and that means Broker’s Open Houses…half the agents in my office were either holding an open house or visiting one. It was blissfully quiet…at one point I was here all alone.

But today, at roughly 2 pm – I crossed the last thing off my legal pad. I had caught up with everything.

Ahhhh – until the next rush of must have’s comes in.

 

cracked-egg

Everybody on the planet has made scrambled eggs before…well except my daughter. I must have made them a thousand times, in several different ways. Beaten fine, beaten rough, adding milk, adding water.

I had a cousin in Czechoslovakia who would pour the beaten eggs in to a pot of hot oil…he spun them around with a fork and voila! Very oily scrambled eggs. I didn’t care for that method.

Yesterday, on Pinterest of all places, I was led to a blog post that promised the best scrambled eggs ever. I was curious to see the method behind these superior scrambles, so I watched the video. It was a Gordon Ramsay video…okay, I kind of dig him. I can’t stomach “Hell’s Kitchen” but I love “Master Chef.”

His method, without all the bells and whistles, was as follows:

Crack two eggs in a pot…not a skillet…a pot, along with a nob of butter. Yes, a nob – how cute. Put the heat on high, and with a spatula, stir the eggs over the heat. Then, take them off the heat, but continue to stir. Repeat this on the heat, off the heat cooking, while always stirring, until the eggs are done. Season only after the eggs are done.

Now, here is where I differed from his recipe. I didn’t add creme fraiche because I don’t have any. I also cooked mine a tad longer because I think wet, loose eggs are disgusting. And I didn’t add chives…again, didn’t have any.

Those things aside, I have to tell you…these were the best, most amazing scrambled eggs I ever had. They were actually creamy – almost how eggs are in a quiche. I can’t wait to make them for my family.

My husband should love this method, because it cuts down on dishes. Now I don’t have to use a bowl and a whisk to scramble the eggs before adding them to the pan.

If you’re interested, I’ve posted the video below. Happy scrambling!

hello-my-name-is

In response to the Daily Prompt Say Your Name, where we are asked “Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?”

I am the baby of the family.

My brother was born first, and given every passed down name you could possibly get. First name after my dad (Stefan), and two middle names after both grandfathers (Andrew and David).

Then came my sister Wendy. I don’t know the origin of her name, perhaps Peter Pan, but her middle name is Maria after my father’s mother.

Then came sister Judy. My mom wanted to name her Tracy, but my father said no. “Wendy ends in a “y” and Tracy ends in a “y,” let’s come up with something different.”

And just like that my sister went unnamed for days and days. They just couldn’t decide on a name. When they were getting ready to leave the hospital, they had to pick something. My mom said the name “Judy” was written in at the bottom of one of the baby name lists, and they decided upon that.

Which we all find hysterical because it ends in a “y.”

My mom always told me that when they were expecting me, she told my dad “If it’s a girl, I get to name her Tracy. If it’s a boy, we’ll name him Adam.” But when I entered this world in December of 1964, my father’s mother was dying of cancer. He wanted to name me Mary.

Mary? I’m not a Mary. I know in song that Mary’s a Grand Old Name, but it just doesn’t fit me. Thankfully my mom fought, and won the fight. She finally got her daughter Tracy.

I like my name. It’s not too average, but it’s not far out either. And it’s spelled correctly. No “e” or “ie” – just T-r-a-c-y. I couldn’t imagine changing it. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with any other name. I mean, my mom had to fight for my name. How could I think of changing it?

Plus, there’s this groovy song written about me. How could I give that up?

Blog art

This post is in response to today’s Daily Prompt, The Stat Connection where the question was asked, “Go to your Stats page and check your top 3-5 posts. Why do you think they’ve been successful? Find the connection between them, and write about it.”

I need to start this particular post with a WordPress gripe. A while back, WordPress changed their stats page, from one that I really liked, to one I don’t particularly care for. While I can see what my top posts are for a certain year, I can’t seem to find a spot where they show stats for all time. So, I can’t really answer this prompt accurately.

Rant done.

That being said, there are two past posts of mine that get views almost everyday, and they both involved nudity. How very Typical.

One post “On the Beach in the Buff” talked about skinny dipping and describes a time in my past when I regularly attended a nude beach in Jersey. That post, by my calculation, has been viewed 2,829 times by folks most likely trying to see some nudies. While I do have a photo posted, I blurred out faces and covered all the naughty bits out of respect for my old beach buddies.

The other post that gets a ton of hits is “The Naked Party.” Gee, I wonder why? That titillating tale has been viewed 1,797 times. It has actually had more traffic than the nude beach post over the past two years, but I wrote the beach post the year prior, so it had a head start.

Everything else falls very far behind these two somewhat provocative posts. A close third is when I attempt to debunk a time continuum flaw in the movie “Steel Magnolias.” That post, “Where Steel Magnolias Goes Awry” holds the record for most comments by far. Folks who have also noticed this serious screw up in the movie keep finding this post and commenting on it.

So why are these posts so popular? I have a feeling the skinny dipping one was shared somewhere on a nude beach enthusiasts page and gets traffic through that. As for the naked party? People are bored and curious. Sex sells. What can I say. I find it both sad and humorous.

 

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Today my oldest daughter, a senior at VCU, hosted her very first radio show on the campus station.

She had mentioned a desire to volunteer for her own show last semester, but with classes and her involvement with Phi Sigma Pi, I never thought she’d make the time. Plus, she tends to procrastinate – doing and saying are like Earth to Mars many times for her.

But not this time. Earlier this week she met with the station manager, familiarized herself with the board (which she pretty much knew from her communications classes) and today, at a shade past 10 am, she was on the air.

She played music…and lots of it was pretty good. Some Beck, Vampire Weekend, and Talking Heads. She mentioned her sister and her love of the Beatles. She talked about how it feels to attend a concert, using her time working at the Charlottesville Pavilion as an example. And she admitted it was her first broadcast, and that she knew her family was listening.

And we were, thanks to live streaming. Her dad, myself…even her Aunt Judy in Florida tuned in to hear the show. I sat there listening to her sweet voice – high and clear – sort of like the mew of a kitten, and I was fairly bursting with pride.

Because there was my girl, on the radio. My girl who until she tried out for her first play in high school, was as shy as they come. My girl who continues to take chances and push herself in order to build experience and create opportunities for herself.

And this is the same girl who, while snuggled in bed, will call me to her room only to ask for me to hand her the TV remote that is 3 feet away.

And as for the prejudice part? Yeah, her show wasn’t perfect, but it was really good. And it’s only going to get better. If you want to listen, she’s on the air Wednesdays at 10 am on WVCW.

walkingpart3_crowded.jpg.CROP.article568-large

Today while taking my lunchtime walk, I was amazed by the number of people who got in my way. I mean, on an average walk in downtown Charlottesville, I may cross paths with a few people, but today? It was like Grand Central.

And it wasn’t just passing people on the street. It was intersecting at a corner where one of us had to stop or we’d simply collide. Or on several occasions I would meet up with a group of people walking together, none of whom would make room for my passage.

I have to tell you, all that stopping and starting? It got a little annoying.

And it made me think, why now? I mean, if I had left my office 38 seconds later or earlier, I may not have met up with any of these people – the sidewalks may have been all mine, or doubly as crowded. You just never know.

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This morning had to be late for work. My daughter’s school had a two hour delay, which meant school started at 10:25. I’m supposed to be at work at 9:30. I was fully aware of the deficit in time.

I had discussed this with the office manager yesterday, saying that I would stay late to make up the time – today is one of my half days at work, and I’m usually off at 1:30. I figure no biggie, I’ll stay until 3.

I am always very honest about my time. I hate being late, I hate feeling like I’ve cheated my employer of hours. If I’m stuck in traffic getting back from lunch on Monday, I will come in 15 or 20 minutes early on Tuesday to make it right – even if they don’t know about the deficit in time. It’s about keeping it equal and right in my mind that counts.

That being said, one of the first emails I read this morning was from my boss, saying I needed to make up the time today or tomorrow, not “after hours.” I quickly responded saying that I wasn’t sure what “after hours” meant, but that I planned on staying until 3 pm today.

It turns out she was concerned I might try to “make up the hours” during times when we were out of the office, like before or after closing. And I was super insulted at this.

I’ve been here over two years, and I don’t feel like I’ve given them any reason to doubt my honesty. I have only asked to work from home because of bad weather and in sickness – and only on a handful of occasions. All other times I am at my desk, at the ready for whatever is asked of me.

I thought of the conversation I’d had with my daughter on our way to school this morning. I told her I had to stay late at work to make up the time, and not to worry if I were a wee bit late picking her up. I further went on to say that in the future, if she had late openings, she may have to get herself ready and take the bus because I can’t be late for work too often.

And when I get to work, I see that email which makes me feel like if the boss hadn’t said anything, she figures I might have tried to scam out of making up the time.

What insults me more, is an hour and a half deficit is immediately red flagged and commented upon. Yet the fact that I regularly show up early to work, sometimes 3o minutes or more, is forgotten. I can assure you that I am in the red when it comes to hours. They owe me way more than I owe them.

It was a cruddy way to start my day. I feel so devalued. Like I’m just 30 man hours per week…nothing more.

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