Monthly Archives: October 2016

Halloween Reflections

halloweenI have been thinking about my dad a lot lately. He passed away in October of 2006 and he was a fan of Halloween. Halloween was always fun. I remember how our costumes would be homemade and when we were small, my dad would take us trick-or-treating. As we got older, we were trusted to go on our own with other kids in the neighborhood, but the one thing we had to do was check in at our house every half hour and be home at the time he set. If we were late, the punishment was no candy until he said we could have it. We were always on time. I remember the elderly couple that lived down the block who put out full size candy bars on a snack table on their porch with a note to “Take just one. We know where you live.” We always thought they were watching us from inside the house and they did know where we lived, so we only took one. There was another couple that would had out $1 bills to each child. Back then a dollar to a child was a lot of money, so everyone tried to get to their house first before they ran out of money and turned out their lights.

abbottcostelloOne of the things that I used to do with my dad was watch the old Abbott and Costello movies that used to air on one of the Chicago stations on Saturdays. As Halloween got closer, they would have a horror movie marathon and we would always watch the Abbott and Costello ones. They were Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, Meet the Invisible Man and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, which is where they also met Dracula and the Wolfman. We also watched the Godzilla movies from Japan. You know the ones where the dialogue was dubbed and never matched the action on-screen. They were wonderful campy movies and a great time with my dad. On Halloween, my dad liked scaring the neighborhood kids. One year he grew a beard and dressed up like the Wolfman. He hid out on the porch and after the kids would ring the doorbell, he would start growling and rise up out of a chair and the kids would run away screaming.

Once I married my husband and our son was born, I looked forward to taking him trick-or-treating and introducing him to those classic movies. Our son was diagnosed with an allergy to nuts and nut products when he was very young, so we had to navigate Halloween candy in order for him not to get sick. In the beginning, it was easy to switch out his bag of candy with one that was safe for him to eat and he was none the wiser. Of course my husband and I would have a sugar fest with the candy that he originally brought home. When he was old enough to realize that we had been switching out his candy, he stopped going trick-or-treating because it really wasn’t fun for him. When I asked him what he wanted to do instead, he said he wanted scary movies and snack food, so I introduced him to Abbott and Costello and Godzilla and we would snack our way through the night.

Now that he is older, he still wants scary movies and snack food on Halloween. While his idea of scary movies and mine are different, he will humor me with Abbott and Costello and Godzilla (the originals, not the new ones). And I’ll show him pictures of his grandfather dressed up like the Wolfman and tell him how he used to scare the kids in the neighborhood. Good times.

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Happy Birthday Mistress Maddie

Happy Birthday Mistress Maddie… Hope You Enjoy Your Day!!!!

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WTF Moments of the Poconos Trip

I wrote earlier about our trip to the Poconos. While the trip was enjoyable and the views absolutely spectacular, it wasn’t without some minor moments that made me say WTF. So I’d thought I’d share them.

The first WTF moment were the bees. It happened upon our arrival at the train station. I have never seen so many bees in one place before. They were everywhere. On benches, chairs, swarming around the trees and if you thought you could escape them by going indoors, you couldn’t. They were even in the restroom, so there was no escape. The surprising thing was that once you left the train station, we didn’t see another bee the rest of the time we were there. So the town really needs to find out what is causing the bees to stay in one area and try to eliminate it.

Another WTF moment was when we realized that most of the little shops in town were only open for a few hours a day, usually between 11 am and 4 pm. That was rather surprising because the area describes itself as an outdoor lovers destination. It has hiking and biking trails throughout the country. There are also kayaking and canoeing trips that leave from the town as well as zip lining up in the mountains. People are taking part in all of those outdoor activities and when they return to town in the evening, very few shops are open for them to shop and spend tourist money in. We left in the morning and returned later in the day, but there really weren’t many places to stop in and shop.

Shopping provided still another WTF moment. I am a visual shopper. I like to look at the windows and see what the shop is telling me about what they are selling. If what I see is interesting or something catches my eye, I will go in and explore further. If not, then I move on to the next window. But we realized that many of the shops had windows that were blocked out. Some were covered with some sort of film or with a color painted on them. WTF was that about? Maybe the idea was to stop people from staring inside. Other windows were just plain dirty and you couldn’t see in them. Many had nothing written on them to tell you what the shop was. I don’t know about you, but I’m not someone who will walk into a shop where the windows are covered and you can’t see inside. We walked past one shop several times while we were there and on the last night as we walked home after dinner, a person came out with a coffee cup. As we passed by we realized that it was a coffee shop, ut there was nothing on the outside showing that’s what it was. Even the name was obscure. I couldn’t help wonder how much business they were losing because people had no idea they were even there.

The drones provided another WTF moment. I know that drones are being used to capture the beauty of nature, but continually flying over the businesses, one of which was the B & B that we were staying at, was just plan annoying. I mean really, what were they looking for? My mind immediately goes to someone searching the area to find something to steal. I’m sure that wasn’t the case, but the buzzing and hovering was just too much and it drove us inside when we were trying to relax and enjoy the view around us.

And the last WTF moment was that we didn’t see one police officer for the entire time we were there. Not one police car, police bike or even a police officer walking. There was no police presence at all. It was strange. In this post 9-11 age that we live in, we have gotten used to seeing police everywhere, so to see none was really surprising. As we drove home, my husband and I commented on that and we were rather surprised. He said that they were probably there, but just keeping out of sight or were in plain clothes. I said they were probably using the drones to police the town.

police-drones

 

Poconos Trip…Bees, Leaves and Drones

View From Penn's Peak

View From Penn’s Peak

We recently returned from our trip to the Poconos, specifically the area around Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. The trip up was very pretty. I was surprised by how much further along the trees in Pennsylvania are in terms of turning colors for autumn than we are here in Maryland. We ran into a little glitch during the planning phase. The place that we originally planned to stay notified us about a month out that they had made an error in booking and we would only be able to stay one night with them and would have to move somewhere else. They seemed surprised when I asked for a refund and declined to stay one night with them. I informed them that I didn’t want to move somewhere else so I would not be staying with them at all. They finally agreed to a full refund and I went to our second choice, which was a Victorian Bed and Breakfast in the main historic area downtown.

We planned to arrive early enough to catch one of the train rides that would take us into the mountains to view the fall foliage. As we drove into town, we saw that there was a picnic area by the train station, so we decided to take our snacks and have a light lunch before the train ride. While my husband purchased the tickets, I went to scout out a spot for lunch. And immediately discovered that the area was swarming with bees. Not just a few, but hundreds of bees. They were everywhere. Even in the shade, which is rare as bees tend to like sunshine and not shade, but it didn’t matter to them. As for me, I am someone who if bitten, swells up a lot. Like major swelling. So I hurried back to my husband, who was noticing the bees around the ticket window as well. Lunch was eaten back in our car and we waited to board the train until they blew the five-minute warning whistle.

View From the Train

View From the Train

The ride into the mountains was very pretty. I left most of the picture-taking to my husband as he is taller and can hold the camera higher. We saw several roads that led to some of the areas around the mountain, so we decided to go back the next morning to check out some of the old tunnels that had been used to haul coal back in the 1800’s. After the train ride, we had some time before we could check into the B & B, so we drove out to find the monument to Jim Thorpe, which was in the other area of town.

Upon checking into the B & B, we were told to just go up to our room on the third floor and the owner would be up in a few minutes to go show us where everything was. Our room was the only one on the floor and we had a small terrace that had a nice view of the mountains. After a brief meeting with the owner, she gave us our keys and said that she would bring up our breakfast baked goods before she left for the day. After unpacking a few things, my husband and I decided to go explore the downtown area. There is a street that runs behind the building that we were staying with little shops and restaurants dotted among the houses. The surprising thing was that many of the shops were already closed for the day. Checking the hours, most were open from 11-4. We poked around those that were still open. My husband was looking for a little gift for his co-worker that would be picking up most of his work while he was gone. He didn’t find anything for her, but we did find a set of slate coasters that were made in Pennsylvania and were rather cute. We ended up back at the B & B and sat on the front porch for a while as we tried to decide where to go for dinner. We had passed several places, so we pulled out our phones and searched for recommendations. We ended up going to a little Asian restaurant down the street and it ended up being very good.

Covered Bridge

Covered Bridge

The next day we left after breakfast and found the roads that we had seen the day before from the train. We explored the tunnels and enjoyed the mist floating down from the mountain. We also explored the surrounding area in our search for the covered bridges that I had read about when researching the trip. We found both of them. One is still in use today and the other is located in a State Park. We planned on lunch at Roadies Restaurant and Bar, which is located at Penn’s Peak, which is a concert venue. The food was typical bar food, but was really good. It was the view that was the main feature. We ate lunch while bopping to music from the 80’s and relaxing with the view. If you are in the area, even if you just get to the parking lot, stop and take a look. You won’t be disappointed.

House of Jerky

House of Jerky

We made it back into town in time to tour a couple of the museums and shops. Before dinner we decided to take advantage of the little terrace outside our room, catch up on the news and read a little. After just a few minutes we started to hear a loud buzzing. Looking up we realized that it was a drone. Someone thought it would be a good idea to buzz the street. It kept going back and forth and was rather annoying so after flipping it off, we went back inside. After dinner, we found a shop that we knew would have the perfect gift for our son, the House of Jerky. We had a really nice time getting away and spending time together. There were some WTF moments, so I will write about those next time.

Chicken Soup Not Happening

chicken-soupNow that fall is here, the weather is turning cooler and I am planning all the yummy foods I can make in my crock pot. I use my crock pot during the summer, but it is usually to cook a roast or put in pork roast for some pulled pork. In the fall, I love cooking different soups and stews. There is nothing like coming into the house after work and smelling the wonderful aromas from the crock pot. So I’ve been thinking about what the first soup of the season would be. Last week, one of the grocery stores had rotisserie chickens on sale for $3.99 each, which is a deal. I usually buy one and we will have it for a quick-lunch on the weekend, but this allowed me to buy several. And after taking them apart, I had lots of chicken to use in different meals. I froze them for use later.

When I saw that this past Saturday was supposed to be cool and rainy, I decided that I would use some of the rotisserie chicken to make soup. So Friday, I asked my husband if he would bring up a package of the chicken from the freezer downstairs. He wasn’t sure which one I wanted, so he brought up two. I pointed to the one I wanted and he went to put one in the refrigerator and the other in the freezer.

The next morning I gathered up all of the ingredients for the soup and pulled out the crock pot. I went to the fridge for the chicken and didn’t see it. I searched the entire fridge, opened all the doors and even went back downstairs to see if he put it in the fridge down there. Nope, no chicken. Hmm, maybe my son ate it for a midnight snack. Nope, he didn’t know anything about any chicken. I called up to my husband to ask where he put the chicken and he said in the fridge. Nope. Not in there. My husband came downstairs and mumbled something about “I bet it’s so close it will bite you.” I let him open the fridge and search for himself. Nope. Still not there.

So I reached around him and opened the freezer. Guess what I found? Yep, two packages of frozen chicken sitting on two separate shelves. My husband looked at the chicken and then at me and said, “Huh, I thought for sure I put the chicken in the fridge. So can you put it in the crock pot frozen?” I shook my head, “No. That isn’t a good idea.” He looked back at the chicken like it had done something wrong, “Hmmm, so where do you want to go for dinner?” I looked out the window at the rain that was coming down, and had been for several days, “I don’t know. We’ll decide when it stops raining.” And for dinner, we had canned soup and sandwiches at home. It was still raining and I really didn’t want to go out. So Rotisserie Chicken soup will be in the crock pot again. I’ll just make sure that I take the chicken out of the freezer myself.

October Cancer Awareness

pink-ribbon-emerald-green-ribbonLast October I began my monthly posts about cancer awareness. When I sat down to write this month’s entry, I decided that for the next year I would do something different. If you want to read about October being Breast and Liver Awareness Month, click on the link here and it will take you to the post from last year. Or you can click on the archives for October 2015 and it will take you there as well. For the next year, I am going to highlight different cancer organizations that are making great strides in research and how you might help if you are interested. Look for those in the middle of the each month.

I have been working in the cancer field for the last five years and during that time, I have observed things that have filled me with hope and others that have made me sad. I decided to share some of them here:

Cancer does not care if you have been a vegetarian, eaten only organic since birth or exercise everyday. I have seen patients that have lived a healthy lifestyle every day of their life and yet when it comes to cancer, they are fighting just as hard as someone less healthy.

Attitude truly seems to make a difference. I have seen patients that have the most positive, happy attitude deal with their treatment in such a way that they inspire others. To them, this is just another hill to climb. And they seem to make it through with a smile and a hug and they just don’t let it bring them down.

I have heard patients say that they threw away their cancer medication that costs upwards of $150,000 because they don’t want to get treatment anymore, while other patients struggle to come up with money to cover their co-payments for their medication. Often deciding against a certain medication because they just can’t afford it.

I’ve heard of patients who ask the doctor for more pain medication, despite being given a 30 day supply just a few days before, because their grown child or grandchildren have stolen their pain medication. I’ve witnessed a 50 year old son scream at a doctor who wouldn’t prescribe more medication for his mother after he had taken hers and either used it himself or sold it. As for the patients, they deny everything because they don’t want to get their family member in trouble.

I’ve seen insurance companies deny treatment because the plan “isn’t a cure for cancer.” Newsflash, there isn’t a cure for cancer. I’ve watched my doctors argue with the insurance doctors to get authorization and it seems that it is just a big game to the companies. I’ve watched U.S. Veterans wait weeks for the Department of Veterans Affairs to approve their tests or treatment.

But I’ve also seen amazing results in patients who come back for their follow-ups and tell us how wonderful they feel or show off their hair after it has grown back. There are those who bring back vacation pictures to share with us after they had told us during their treatment that once done they were taking the trip they always dreamed of.

And there are those patients who truly are an inspiration, who talk to other patients and help them along their journey despite what they are going through themselves. Should I ever get the diagnosis of cancer I hope that I can be as brave as they are.

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