"Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!" - Auntie Mame

Jul 22, 2014

The BEST Day Ever - Friday

Anticipating Aura would be exhausted from the last week of school and the long trip, I planned to work from home on Friday knowing she would sleep in and be so happy just playing on her iPad and watching movies.

And so it went.

Until 7 am when my phone rang the first time announcing that the Deer Park Water delivery was in the lobby. Keith (yes, I know his whole story) came dashing in with 20 gallons of water and two cases of bottled tea for me. Ginger is barking and Aura sleeps through it all..somewhat.

Two hours later, Larry from Fresh Direct shows up with my grocery order. Aura is in AWE how I can order my groceries on-line and they just bring it right to me. I don't have to go there, pick it out and carry it home. How awesome is that?!

Around 11:30 am, I heard the first sounds of life up in the loft. Aura says, "Auntie, what time is it? I am hungry!" After boiling up some angel hair and topping it with fresh meatballs and sauce, Aura make the clean plate club with that and another 1/3 of her left-over cheese steak.

She tells me that this is the BEST DAY EVER because she just gets to relax. She does have a hard life: soccer, third grade, two dogs, a little sister, two cousins and a bike. She needs to relax!

Now she is snuggled under the covers watching some Disney show/movie and every so often says, "Later we should take Ginger for a walk to the Liberty Bell." And so we will!

The Cost of Being a Dog Person

Life is so much richer with someone/thing to share it with. My constant companion for the last 9-plus years has been the little fur ball to the right.

In the last several years I have noticed age taking a toll on my body. Weird bumps. Saggy skin. Gray hairs.All the while, my little friend here has stayed eternally young.

And as we approach her 10th birthday, I can see her age creeping up on her too. Weird bumps. Saggy skin. Gray hairs.

According to the numerous dog-age calculators say that she is approximately 54 years old. My age. Weird, huh? The calculators say she will live to age 12 or 15.

Sitting here today, it makes me just weepy to think about that. I cannot imagine what I will be like when she gets older, frail and dies. Well, if this feeling is any sign, I will need to be put down too.

Cannot. Think. About. It.

May 23, 2014

My First Family Visitor - The Arrival (Thursday)

After living in Philly since September, I finally have my first family member visiting - my great-niece, Aura. She is nine going on 30, and just more fun than I am entitled to have!

Right off the plane and on to a train!
Her adventure began in Phoenix catching a plane to Philly. While Chanelle (mommy) put Aura on the plane, Trent (daddy) went with his dad and friends to Indy for the 500!

I was so excited to see that her plane was going to be 15 minutes early until it was diverted to Baltimore because of severe thunderstorms and lightening. So much for the non-stop flights for unaccompanied minors traveling alone!

Actually kudos to Southwest. The gate agent notified the Baltimore operations team that there were unaccompanied minors on the flight and they immediately contacted me to let me know what was happening. Very nice.


Her 4:55 pm arrival that was promised for 4:40 pm actually landed in Philadelphia around 6:20 pm. We picked up her Mary Poppins suitcase and went to catch the 7:39 pm SEPTA Regional Rail for the trip into the city. The train was another of the many firsts for Aura to experience this week.

On my way to the airport I stopped at the station to purchase Aura a train ticket for the ride from the airport, tokens for the bus rides over the weekend, and her very first trans pass for getting around next week.
As we were riding the train, stopping at each terminal and then at three or four stops on the way to our station, Aura kept scowling. Finally she said, "Why are they stopping for all these people?" Apparently this was supposed to be our private ride!

She kept an eye on the scenery and was surprised that we went from ground-level to a bridge many stories above the ground and even more above the freeway to a tunnel and underground all in one ride. 

It was nearly 8pm by the time we got to the Market East Station, and that part of the city after dark can be a bit, well, full of the crazies. We grabbed an elevator up to the street level, and right away Aura got her first big-city experience. The elevator smelled like used diapers and dirty bodies. Ahh! She pulled her shirt up over her nose and tried not to gag. As we walked out into the drizzling rain she looked up at me and said, "Do you really like living here when it is so stinky?"

Rather than negotiating two more buses and the waits associated, we crossed Market street and I flagged a taxi. Aura looked at me and said, "We just get into this guy's car?" And the first's keep on coming.

Just 1/2 to start
Even though I asked several times if she was hungry, she said no until we got to the train station. Then she was starved! And rightly so, she had only snacked for the six hours trip. After dropping off the luggage, we grabbed Ginger and walked down to my new neighborhood favorite, Old City Grill. Great pizza, by the slice or the pie, steaks and grinders, and one of the best Caesar salads for the price. Aura wanted to experience what Daddy told her to try, a Philly Cheese Steak.

I explained that it was thinly sliced roast beef with cheese, grilled peppers, onions and mushrooms on a roll. She rolled her eyes at the peppers, onions and mushrooms so it was cheese only. When I asked if she wanted the liquid yellow cheese or provolone, she looked at me and said, "liquid like nachos at the game? Eww!" so it was provolone - about 14" of Philly's finest with baked potato fries (fries with bacon, cheese, sour cream and bacon). She could only eat half, because she wanted to leave room for dessert. Smart thinker!

After dinner, she filled me on school, the books she likes to read and the awesome game she is playing on her iPad. Also (her word), there are some really funny videos on YouTube about this guy who plays the game and his first house was made of wood and mud. You HAVE to watch it.

Then she unpacked her backpack and showed me the travel diary that Machie gave her for the trip. She grabbed a pen and started recording what has happened so far. I mean, she went to Baltimore too!

And on it went until I couldn't hold my eyes open for another minute. She was burrowed under her new favorite blanket (thanks Lynn) and giving Ginger some love.

When she asked how late she could stay up, I told her to just turn off the lights when she was ready to sleep. She was elated. Less than 20 minutes later she was bringing me her iPad, asking me to find a plug by the bed so she could charge it while playing. Crawling in next to me she snuggled in for another hour or so of iPad bliss before she fell asleep.

Some of the highlights for me:
  • She likes my little apartment. (Ironically it is actually more square feet than my house at the beach, but seems so much smaller.)
  • Its nice that I have this great park and nice neighborhood to walk with Ginger.
  • There is awesome food in Philadelphia. 
  • Philadelphia isn't as busy as New York (she hasn't even been there yet).
  • How do I know when I can get into some guy's car for a ride?
  • Did you (Auntie) know that Philly is known for its food?
  • Can we really walk right to the Liberty Bell?
  • Daddy told her going to the Statue of Liberty was expensive, so if we cannot go, she would understand. 
  • Is it okay that Ginger just pees where ever she wants on the street or sidewalk?
  • How do you not get lost when you go places on the train or bus?
  • Ginger is so furry she is a fat sausage.
  • Is there frozen yogurt in Philly?

    and my favorite
  • I am working really hard to not say the "g-word". (I look at her quizzically.) You know...the Oh My God word. (ahh yes, that G-word!)