Archive for September, 2009

Power of the internet brings my cousin home…
September 25, 2009

Josephine Myrtle Corbin(Bicknell) and husband James Bicknell

Josephine Myrtle Corbin(Bicknell) and husband James Bicknell

You may recall when I wrote about a year ago, about being told by my little 89 year old Mother, that we had a woman who was related to us distantly…and she had four legs. I blogged about it then and in case you never read it, the post can be found in the September 2008 archives below. And I’ve been fascinated with Josephine Myrtle Corbin ever since…it boggles the mind to think of what her life was like…while she traveled in side-shows in the this country and in Europe I’ve read, she also married and had five children.

Handwriting on the back of the photo....

Handwriting on the back of the photo....

But the picture you see above came to me from a woman named Connie who lives in Washington State. She had found the photo in a box of her  Mother’s pictures…..it traveled from Iowa where she lived, to Wyoming, and then to Connie in Washington. She did some research to find out who this woman was…she believes someone purchased the picture at one of Myrtle’s shows…when she stumbled across my blog. She kindly wrote and asked if I would like to have it, as Myrtle was no relation to her.

I wrote back saying, “Yes, yes , yes…I would love to have the picture!” and asked who she thought obtained it. She replied, ” I really don’t know who purchased it.  It could have been one of my grandparents, or great grandparents, or even one of their relatives. They probably got it sometime around the turn of the century, most likely somewhere in the midwest, since most of our family is located in Iowa.  It was found in the box of our old family photos, and there were photos dating back as far as the late 1800s in the box.”

And now the photo makes another trip, this time to Baltimore, into the hands of an actual relative…I will make copies and send them to my sisters and Mother in Alabama, where I believe Myrtle was actually born…in Blount County. My Mom is quite thrilled to have a picture of her…when I told her I was making her a copy, she said, “Oh, you’ve just made my day!”

And from Connie, ” We are quite happy for you to have it.  Better that it go to family, then sit in an old box in the closet.  It’s going to be almost as well-travelled as she was by the time it gets to you!  It started out in Iowa, then went to Wyoming with my mother, then with me to Seattle, and now to you in Baltimore.  Quite amazing how things can work out these days!”

Have a great weekend everyone, be nice and come home safe….’cause we miss you.

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I’m not the only one with a problem pet….and we’re looking for a place to lunch!!
September 23, 2009

Baby Girl pondering where to pee next...

Baby Girl pondering where to pee next...

Gentle blog readers….now is your chance to help out a fellow reader, and get a laugh at the same time. Remember the cat Dolce, who will only drink from the faucet, and who was, for a while at least,  on kitty prozac? Well, Dolce’s owner Katrina wanted to commiserate a little about cats who occasionally…ummmm… “act out”, like my Baby Girl…..here’s her email.

Natures Miracle...problem solver...

Nature's Miracle...problem solver...

Hi Donna, Hope all is well on your end! I saw your post on Baby Girl, and it made me think of my sweet little Dolce. She too had a peeing problem, and the Nature’s Miracle  stuff works like a charm. Dolce felt it was necessary to pee all over my fiancé’s new luggage right before we left for a trip. Thank you Dolce. 

Anyways….I am writing to see if you can help on a location for my bridesmaids luncheon. Our wedding day is 4 ½ weeks away, and I need a cute place to take the girls after our nail appointments. Any suggestions?”

I’d like to add that Dolce survived the incident ,thought I’m sure a few choice words may have been uttered. Oh, and Katrina says she’d like to keep the lunch downtown Baltimore, as the mani’s and pedi’s are in Canton. So…any ideas out there? Cute places for a girl’s lunch? (I’m not a big lunch person…I get a salad everyday and eat at my desk…I know, so dreary.) Right off the top of my head, maybe Helen’s Garden in Canton. It’s a cute place, and they have an interesting menu, even at lunch…an almond crusted tomato sandwich with portobello, chevre, pesto mayo and roasted red peppers sounds divine. And you probably couldn’t go wrong with Pazo…I’ve never been there for lunch, but it’s always so pretty and chic, and the food is very good. Or for something historic Baltimore(and I have never been there..only seen pictures and read about it)…the B & O Brasserie  in the new Hotel Monaco looks to be like a cool space. Gonna check it out next week…

 

 

Back to DIY….I miss my housekeeper and cook…
September 22, 2009

Another town scene in San Miguel....

Another town scene in San Miguel....

OK, I’ll admit it….I like being waited on as much as the next person. And one spectacular thing about the house we rented in San Miguel de Allende, was that a wonderful woman named Malena, came with the house. Oh, Malena, I miss you. I miss your tomatilla sauce, your chicken enchilladas, your roja sauce, my bed being made without me doing it. I miss the whole frijole.

I wasn’t sure how I would like having someone being around the house most of the day…maybe you’re used to it but I’m not. But I adjusted rather well I think(boy did I). Malena lets herself in about 9, and leaves the same way around 3:30 or 4…depending. She was happy to cook you breakfast, which we never did, as we usually had some croissants and coffee(decaf for me), earlier than 9. But Malena was a whirlwind…doing towels and sheets, sweeping, making beds, cleaning the kitchen, getting the guest rooms ready. And always so pleasant. I loved her.

But here’s another thing..I hope I didn’t step on her toes, because I liked to “help”. We asked her to do dinner for us one Friday night when the “chilluns” came in for the weekend…and made sure that she wanted to do it…and what the menu would be. You pay her extra of course, to stay over, and cab fare home….so it’s a some extra income.

All of this was accomplished thru the handyman Jose, who unlike Malena, spoke very good English, and translated for us. I know a little Spanish, but not enough to explain something  the least bit complicated. But that Friday night I found myself helping her clear the table, and she would “NO, Senora…” and wave me back to the table.  I’m not used to having help,ok?

The living room looking out on the garden....

The living room looking out on the garden....

And if you’re wondering about the house we rented(off VRBO, naturally)…I’ve provided a VRBO link for you here. It was such a gracious home…I think that’s the proper word for it. And I know I’ve written about VRBO before….but I’m a VRBO addict. Love that site. And it’s just such a great way to travel…to have an entire house, instead of a hotel room. See the garden outside? Under the portico on the left is where you eat meals, with a little fountain burbling just a few feet away. I’m back to DIY…washing my own towels, and clearing my own table , and doing all my own cooking….but Malena, I hope to see you again. And soon.

Organic movement alive and well in Mexico…
September 21, 2009

View from sidewalk cafe at the Jardin...

View from sidewalk cafe at the Jardin...

When asked where I went on vacation, and on being told San Miguel de Allende, most look a little puzzled and ask, “Where is that?”   That’s ok…For those of you who have also never heard of it, San Miguel or SMA for short, is in the central mountains of Mexico, about a 4 hour drive north of Mexico city, and sits at an altitude of 6000 feet. So the weather is never very hot in the summer, nor is it very cold in the winter….a lovely temperate climate that has attracted quite a sizeable American expatriate community. Some 8,000 or so Americans make SMA their home. I can understand it…the cost of living is so much lower, while the quality of life is very, very good. I’m sure it’s pretty complicated, making a foreign country your residence, but it’s attractions, I get. And some of those expats have joined with Mexicans to bring some new ideas about things to  San Miguel…including organic farming. It has brought a whole new lucrative market to small Mexican farmers, who like small American farmers, can find it tough to make a living without a niche. So when we stumbled across Via Organica, I was thrilled!

Yummy organic bread.....

Yummy organic bread.....

A lttle panaderia there sells the most fabulous croissants( I was skeptical of a whole wheat croissant, but it was divine) and lovely breads of all sizes and shapes. And just across the street is Via Organica, whose cafe  is run in part by an American woman who moved to SMA about 15 years ago. She told me that she always knew she wouldn’t want to be idle, and would want to work at something….but what? “In San Miguel, it just comes to you…I don’t know else to explain it, ideas just come to you. And here is mine!”

Breakfast al fresco at Cafe Via Organicos...

Breakfast al fresco at Cafe Via Organicos...

There’s a sweet little outdoor restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch…that’s my breakfast you see in the picture…fresh papaya, and eggs al queso(cheese), served in a whole wheat tortilla cup. Yummy.

And they have an amazing selection of organic vegetables there that are grown on the Via Organica farm just outside the city…one day I saw a woman buying these larger than plate size, flat green leaves…I asked what they were and what she was going to do with them…..She said, ” I really don’t know what they are, but I’m using them as placemats on the table tonight.”  Shoot, I thought, I can do that…and I did….they were lovely.

The fresh orange(naranja) juice here was amazing...

The fresh orange(naranja) juice here was amazing...

And Via Organica also sells organic agave nectar…that is the foodie’s latest darling sweetener…that supposedly doesn’t spike your blood sugar like regular sugar. I have bought it at Whole Foods, but let me tell you, in the land of  native agave, it was a load cheaper in Mexico.

A roomful of holistic medicines is available for whatever might  ail you, be it depression or menstrual troubles, or zits…oh, and on that subject, you may wonder…did I ever suffer from turista? The answer is mostly, no. I was told to be on probiotics before I left….and I had been anyway from my long stint on antibiotics…I never went off. That held me in good stead..I had one bout of upset stomach, nothing serious, for one day, and then it was gone. The house where we stayed, which I’ll tell you about tomorrow, did have its own water purification system, which helps tons..of course. But you can’t always be at the house, now can you?

Back from Mexico…to cat pee on a sisal rug
September 18, 2009

Adios, San Miguel!!

Adios, San Miguel!!

Yes, readers I had a terrific vacation in Mexico…the lovely colonial town of  San Miguel de Allende was a great getaway….very relaxing…perfect weather and yummy food….I’ll tell you about where we stayed and stuff later, but yesterday and today I’m just catching up on about a trillion emails(sigh), and just getting it together.  Honestly, I was a little tired yesterday as we flew in late Wednesday night….put our bags down….was told the cat had peed on the rug….and fell into bed. Welcome home from Baby Girl!

Beeswax candles at a Mexican funeral home....really.

Beeswax candles at a Mexican funeral home....really.

My house looks like a bomb went off , because I haven’t really had the time to unpack so I’m kinda unpacking in stages. A pile of dirty clothes in one corner, some suitcases half empty that have yet to be put away, a pile of candles (more on this later) that I dragged home from a Mexican funeral home(yes, really)….mail and newspapers all over the dining room table…you know the drill. Tomorrow for sure, I’ll get everything taken care of, but haven’t had the time or felt like it, honestly.

Cat pee on a sisal rug as a welcome home gift? What the….and from what I’m reading online, washing it isn’t such a good idea. This one may have to consigned to the bulk trash heap…which I really hate to do, but I also don’t want to keep something that might once again inspire Baby Girl to…ummm…. transgress. And I can’t be mad at her…she looks at me with those big, round B to the G eyes,  which say, “What else could I do? You left me!”  If you have any ideas, let me know. But anyway…I’m back.

Update on my ticker…and more…
September 4, 2009

This is how my heart looks on echocardiogram....

This is how my heart looks on echocardiogram....

OK, yesterday I had a day fullof doctor’s appointments….and I had my first echocardiogram…which if you don’t know, and I didn’t…is a sonogram of the heart. I was lying on the table, with the technician scanning my little ticker, and I wanted to get up and get my camera for a picture to show you how great it looked, but it seemed really rude to do that , so I drew you a picture instead(not really..a kid drew it..I’m not that talented). But you know what a sonogram of a fetus looks like right? The same, only it doesn’t have a face or arms and legs….and it’s beating!!

So I beat feet over to my cardiologist after it was over(good Lord, I hate writing I have a cardiologist…but there it is)…he looked at all my test results….”Blood tests for thyroid…normal. Echo…normal.  Blood pressure…normal.” He slaps the file shut and exclaims gleefully,  “I win!” By that he means he was correct that there was no underlying problem, just as he smugly predicted…I JUST NEEDED TO GIVE UP CAFFEINE. And I have.  There have no rapid heartbeats since I did that, a week ago. So, I guess the proof is in the pudding…no more “real” coffee for me…a small price to pay really. And my headache is finally gone. 

And now the bad news…calm yourselves…I am recharging the batteries people…you probably won’t hear from me for about a week and a half. But know that I am relaxing, maybe drinking a margarita every now and again, and just chilling. Deep cleansing breath everyone……say it with me…..aahhhhhoooooommmmmm. Have a lovely weekend…be good, play nice with others, do something sweet for someone that you don’t have to do(make some brownies)….and come home safe. Peace out!

Email scam part II: the real Randy stands up…
September 2, 2009

Yesterday I told you about a rather humorous email I got from someone named “Randy Gartner”, who was in peril….stranded in London, having lost his wallet and he needed 3500 buckeroos to get home! Yeah, sure fellow.  Today I had two followup emails..

This one is from Matt, an account executive here at WBAL-TV:

“Randy Gartner has informed me that someone or some group has hijacked his email directory.  Yesterday I received an email supposedly from him that he was stranded in London and needed to borrow $3545.  Randy has assured me he was never in London and did not need the money.  If you happen to receive the same email, please delete it immediately. “

And a reader wrote me too saying she too knew a Randy Gartner who worked at this particular company….and the would never have written an email like that.

So I called poor Randy after hijacking his phone number from Matt. When did he first find out about the scam? Yesterday morning around 6:45 am, when his next door neighbor called and said, “Randy, I didn’t know you were in London..”

Bernie, what are you talking about?” says Randy…and then he learns the bitter truth…that his Verizon email had been hijacked and the scam emails, sent to  his entire contact list.  So embarrassing. And because Randy is in marketing , that contact list is pretty extensive. So, he did the next logical thing…rushed to the computer to send a blast email to all his contacts, saying “Hey, that is a scam email…I’m not in London, I’m not in trouble…don’t reply!!”

Here’s the scary part….wait for it….his entire inbox and contact list was…gonedisappeared….blank as the day it was created. No doubt so he couldn’t do exactly what he was planning to do. And that my friends, is most unsettling…that someone far away can somehow, hijack your email and talk to people you know, and ask them for money.

Most people who received it, Randy says knew something was off…the odd wording, that he would ask them for money….but still, they were concerned that someone they knew, might be in trouble. He got a call from a friend at the Masons, of which he is a member…who said in all seriousness, “Randy, you know you can come to your brothers if you’re in trouble..”  And it’s nice to know there are people like that, willing to lend a helping hand….but you sure don’t want their help going to a scam artist. So Randy is sadder, and wiser…he says he will still use email …of course he will.  But he’ll be more careful about the ones he responds to, like a request for an information update. He’ll pick up the phone instead. And now he’s in touch with the police and the fraud squad at Verizon to try to figure out what happened and how, and by whom. I felt kinda bad, because I really thought it was a made up name and stuff…I had no idea a real person here in Baltimore had been hijacked. Be careful people….

Someone in London needs my help…and yours!
September 1, 2009

Watch out !!

Watch out !!

I get this variety of email all the time...where someone needs to transfer a vast sum of money to this country and need your help…all you have to do is send them $500….you  know, blah, blah, blah….but this one made me laugh out loud, so I thought I’d share it with you. It’s a change of pace on the run of the mill scam email….

“Sorry I didn’t inform you about my traveling to London for a program( oh don’t apologize-you don’t know me) and am having some difficulties here because I misplaced my wallet on the way to the hotel (bad luck that) where my money and other valuables were kept.

Presently my passport and and my things are being held down by hotel management (well, tell them to get off your passport!)pending when I make payment. I will like you to assist me  with a loan of $3545 (I will like you to leave me alone)to sort-out my hotel bills and get myself back home. I will appreciate whatever you can afford to assist me with(I’m sure you would, sucker) . I’ll refund the money back to you as soon as I return (of course you would!)let me know if you can be of any help? ASAP.

Randy Gartner Integrated Market Services LLC”

Oh Randy, Randy…see what happens when you’re not careful with your things?  Hotel people hold your passport down and all your stuff too! And if I had $3500 dollars lying around, I would for sure send it to you. But as bad luck would have it, another chap in Nigeria also needed a loan, and all my spare funds have gone to him. What a dirty rotten shame. But let’s catch up when you do get back from London. I’m sure you’ll have some tales to tell. Perhaps some of my friends can help you….

Love, Donna