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Posts Tagged ‘Peter’

I didn’t take enough photos when I was there, I didn’t take enough notes thinking  I would remember a lot more! But not everything becomes a story and not everything was of enough interest to translate into a blog post.

BUT, there are snippets here and there that deserve a mention or at least a look see;

Something that you see all over Italy are beautiful fountains, not all of them like the magnificent Trevi Fountain.  I saw a woman washing her hands in fountain such as the one below in Florence one evening.  This lovely antiquity is on the main road in Guardia Sanframondi, set just off the sidewalk and available for all, so egalitarian!  A cool sip of water on a hot summer day, a splash of water on warm face, a quick wash y of your hands, sticky from dripping gelato!

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You’ve heard me speak of the new old town built around the medieval town.  Here’s a glimpse of Peter leaning up against the stairwell to the apartment that we stayed in last year and this year.  He loves the location, so central to everything – well that and it had two wide screen TVs!

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So sweet, so luscious, delicious and bountiful!  Spring in Guardia means being surrounded by beautiful fruits and vegetables growing and are there for the picking!

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”Mom, how come none of these places serve like a breakfast sandwich”?  It does seem like there are two universal Italian breakfasts;  many years ago when I was in Italy but much farther north, ( Tuscany, Emilio Romagna, Lombardy, Veneto), I had a delicious breakfast every day of frutta, formaggio, Parma, pane, sort of a deconstructed breakfast sandwich.  However here in Guardia, a cream or chocolate brioche and coffee was the daily offering.  Mom to the rescue ( I need my driver to be happy).

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We never did find out what it was with Amalfi and lemons!  They were  everywhere so we stopped on the side of the road ad bought two. Unfortunately we never got to taste them before it was time to head back to the U.S.A. I hope Cindy and Steve enjoyed them.

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Then there was the day, I asked Raffaele to take me to the town of San Lorenzillo where there is a master ceramist, he introduced me to last year. Most people think of Cerreto Sannita as the ceramic city, and in fact it’s town center is home to many shops featuring elaborately ornate and intricately detailed ceramics.

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Not So Ornate – However Almost Every Piece Is In This Palette

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I Wish I Had Taken The Time To Focus And Enlarge This Picture Because These Statues Are Exquisite

I found another postcard from Guardia…..

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Name That Saint!

 

Raffaele arranged for a couple of us to go to the top of the castle, I think I wrote about that little adventure earlier, ( https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2018/06/07/the-sights-and-sounds-of-guardia). When we were walking around the roof top  and looking over the parapet, I spied this.   Do you think a bird or the wind carried the seed to the top of this wall where it took root and blossomed?

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Rising From A Rock

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is the last leg of our journey, the final chapter in Peterlori’s Great Adventure.  The trip down to Florida was a bit rough and it lasted 26 hours, and believe me that’s a long time to be on a train.  Guess I wouldn’t do so well on those romantic transatlantic crossing of the old days!  Well, the trip back to New York lasted 30 hours!  I couldn’t imagine why the way back was longer than the way down until I learned that we were going to Tampa to drop off some travelers and then head east again and north.

I’m not used to having breakfast so early in the morning and certainly not doing so sitting in a dining car opposite a stranger.  The stranger actually was a lovely young woman who was a waitress and lived on City Island.  That made for interesting conversation as neither of us had ever met someone who actually lived there.  I had the same issues with the waiter as before.  He rushes you to make your order and listens half-heartedly if at all before he races off to deal with another diner.  This time I got potatoes instead of the grits I ordered. The girl ordered a vegetable omelette BUT she didn’t know there were no vegetables otherwise they would have been in last night’s medley!  More roasted corn and tomato or red pepper.

I wish I had some real drama or humor to interject into this post but I think the rest of the day just seemed to drift by.  Even though we ate breakfast so early, when they came around asking us to make if we wanted to make lunch reservations we passed.  The day was bright and sunny and sitting in our little roomette and reading was a great pastime.  Peter was ensconced on the upper berth and loved sitting up there.  The only problem was that the lower berth was still in berth mode and needed to be put back into individual seats.   

Finally I caught a glimpse of Thomas going by and I snagged him and asked him to please put our room back in order.  He worked his way down the aisle and eventually got to us.  Peter asked him if we could leave the upper berth as it was because he really liked it up there.  Thomas said yes as long as we let him remake the bed sometime before we got back to NYC .  

There is no real dinner service on this last leg of the trip but there is what they call a simple dinner.  “The” waiter went to each roomette and took orders for this light repast.  Our choices were half of a roast chicken or a pasta dish made with spinach and a light garlic cream sauce.  As I said, the food so far had been good but you still have to remember where you are and under what circumstances.  Food and some dishes in particular are mass-produced and  I had a feeling that the cream sauce and pasta fell into the category.  So we ordered the chicken meals and were told it would be served around 4:30 or when we got to Baltimore.

When we went into the Dining Car, we were seated across from a couple who within moments went from polite hellos to those uncomfortable airplane conversations one might have with a total stranger.  What is about the fact that you don’t know this person and will never see them again that allows people to reveal their inner feelings, their secret fallacies and even air the dirty laundry about their family? It wasn’t long before I was nudging Peter under the table and trying to nod in agreement in hopes the discourse would wind down.  Way, way too much information!  It was interesting that he had been born in the Midwest but raised around the panhandle  and she was from south Florida and that they were celebrating their anniversary with a trip to New York City and then Niagra Falls and then Toronto.  We are always fascinated by what tourists think New York City is going to be like and what they are planning to see.  This couple  had bought those New York Passes that appeal to tourists.   She had no idea what was in the Metropolitan Museum but was definitely interested in seeing Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum….oh well.

Penn Station (New York City)

Penn Station (New York City) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was dark and freezing cold when we pulled into Penn Station. Peter’s much-loved, much-worn over-the-shoulder bag had ripped around one of the zippers and so he was anxious and afraid something might fall out – I had to walk behind him.  All I was thinking about was that I was wearing sweat pants and a tee shirt with a shawl tightly wrapped around me and hoping we wouldn’t have to be outside too long.   We did luck out getting a cab and believe me it was luck as the area around Penn Station on a Saturday evening is a zoo!  

We were so happy to be in our own apartment after soooooo long on the train.  I surely thought the cats would be at the door to greet us but no.  Nicky never got out of the chair he was sitting on and I don’t know where Nora was  but the fact that we had returned apparently had no real effect on them.  And as much as I adore my fur babies, it would have been nice if they had at least pretended to be dogs and wag their tails and jump around when we came home.  And the thing is the cats know their owners are needy and just for spite they act indifferently lol lol.  That will teach us not to abandon them for a week and expect a warm welcome!

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PART I

What a difference a roomette makes!  We left Florida on Friday afternoon at about 1:00pm, not exactly looking forward to the trip but hoping that with the guarantee of a berth in a roomette we would find the trip more pleasant than the one down.  As soon as we got on the train, the conductor informed us that lunch was being served.  Seemed like a good way to start the trip.  Sitting in the Dining Car is really cool.  The tables are large and the food is quite good.  We were in high spirits, ordered our food and watched the scenery go by.  It’s very pleasant sitting in a large open area with white-clothed tables, civilized in fact.  One of the waiters who might have been the head waiter was the one we got and he left much to be desired.  Who knows maybe they don’t make that much money but somehow I think with the steady work, health care, vacation and probably unionized, he could have been much better.  First of all he had this habit of starting to take your order and then either walking away while you were still talking or jumping across the aisle to take the newly-arrived guests.   I ordered tea with my meal and he never asked me what I wanted.  So of course he brought me tea – I said, “Did I tell you what kind of tea I wanted”?  I guess it did sound a little snotty but it wasn’t delivered in that manner.  He looked at me and said,”What do you want”? “Herbal”.  “What kind”? “What do you have”?  Finally I settled on Apple Spice only to be told upon his return that they were out of Apple Spice. “OK, orange”.  Tea was only the beginning of what they would be out of!

After lunch, we went to our tiny roomette and figured out how we and our luggage were going to live and sleep in this 5′ by 6′ cubicle.  Let’s see now, if I put this bag here and the suitcase there and Peter puts his suitcase over there…well honestly it was going to be really tight in here and I need to stretch out my legs a little.

Turquoise-socked footies

Turquoise-socked footies

For a while, we sat across from one another and tried putting our legs off to the side while we read.  I am SO HAPPY that I brought a John Grisham novel because it held my attention for hours during this trip.  There was the small tray table you could pull up and out of a slot by the window and opened up between the two of us.  Neat, it had a checkerboard stenciled on it.  I propped up my computer and although there was no Wi-Fi, I worked on writing a blog in the Word program so I could upload it when I got home.  And the afternoon slipped by.  However, at some point I had to pee (no surprise there) and I asked Peter if he had seen a restroom.  No, he hadn’t so I went out and down one aisle and into the next car and then back to the car behind us and saw nothing.  I can’t remember now if Peter left to go ask a conductor or whether someone informed him that the toilet was in the roomette!  Really?! Yes really!  The before picture is above and you see my TOWN bag sitting on a shelf.  Here is the after photo.

I'm a toilet, I'm a shelf

I’m a toilet, I’m a shelf

Now it should be clear as to what the first half of this blog title is all about! Intimacy is mandatory. Above the toilet is a sink with real running water and a mirror above it.  The sink pulls down from the wall, the faucets are there and there are drain holes in the back of the sink so when you pick it up to return it, the water runs out.  Just amazing design and use of space.

Wash up, brush your teeth and you're ON a train!

Wash up, brush your teeth and you’re ON a train!

Well once we discovered the facilities we had to work out some plans to use them.  Not going into a lot of detail here, truly it would be TMI!

To while away the late afternoon, we watched a movie on my computer and it was a great way to watch one of the old Preston Sturgess movies Peter had packed.  We made reservations for an 8:00 dinner leaving Peter enough time to make a martini in our little room first.  I had packed a very cute little plastic shaker and we had brought along some gin.  There was ice down the hall (just like a hotel) and so he enjoyed his pre-dinner cocktail just as if we were home.  We had already spent so much time on trains in the past few days that the train was beginning to feel like a getaway home to us.  Dinner was delicious;  We had steak and a baked potato and uh oh,  no vegetable medley.  They were out so they substituted roasted corn with tomato or roasted red peppers , couldn’t quite discern!  It was all good and by the way, meals are included in the fare for the roomette,

All afternoon as I sat in my seat reading, wrapped in a shawl, I kept complaining about how cold it was.  We thought we  could adjust the temp and although there was a thermostat I think it was only for heat because nothing changed.  I should have known this would be a problem at night.  As we were eating dinner, Thomas, our compartment attendant made up our beds and when we returned it looked mighty cosy.  Peter opted for the top bunk as he was agile and I had no intention of climbing down every time I had to pee.  We sat up reading for some time and then I realized just how cold I was going to be all night.  I slept in my sweat pants and a tee shirt, I had the shawl, I put socks on my feet and tried blocking the vents with a towel but that kept blowing off.  It was a very fitful night for me while Peter slept comfortably up above and about 5:30am I realized I should block the vents with one of the pillows.  Awake again by 6:30am, I finally gave up the idea of sleep.  We brushed our teeth, splashed water on our faces and headed to the Dining Car for breakfast.

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Christmas in the post-War United States

Christmas in the post-War United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let me clear up something from Christmas Eve.  I thought Laura and Jim and their two girls were coming to dinner, however, I was wrong.  Last night’s open house also included Laura’s sister Sarah and Jeff, Laura’s friend Sarah and Jim’s parents, Jim and Jenny.  And then, as the evening wore on, a couple came bearing champagne and children but they stayed just long enough to say hello and good-bye. Then two more couples came and about that time, Peter and I had finished washing all the platters and were working through the glasses and so we beat a retreat upstairs where the silence was blessed.

I‘m mentioning the number of people because I assumed that on Christmas Day we would be with Laura and Jim and their family, as we knew it.   Turns out we were going to a huge house and a lot of family and friends.   Supposed to be there at 3:15 and transporting everyone actually required 2 cars and 4 trips.  It does sound bizarre doesn’t it?  You know what the real problem is? CAR SEATS!  If you’re a follower of this blog, then you know about my misadventures in October with the black tractor-trailer they call their car.  The thing is enormous but in actuality only the driver and two adults can ride in the car!  3 kids = 3 car seats.

 Laura and Jim’s house should only be described in superlatives!  First we passed the Guest House and the gardener who was vacuuming up leaves. (I thought seeing the gardener on Christmas Day was unusual).  It was stunning with a wide-open floor plan and a chef’s dream kitchen.  Later I learned that the gardener comes every day and not only cleans up the yard, he also restocks the bar refrigerator and anything else that needs attention.

I met Steve and Amy who are the Captain and crew for Jim’s 106 ‘ boat.  Steve was saying how the boat would leave shortly for the Caribbean where it would remain for the winter months and the family would fly down for some long weekends.  At one point I thought he said something about the boat being out of water for several months and so I asked him who else did he captain for and his response was “No one, Amy and I only work for Jim”.  Welllllll ok then.

 I spotted two men dressed in black and sure enough they were servers and very efficient too.  Some day I’m going to throw a party where someone else serves the food and cleans up. My Trifle was a big hit but I think the pumpkin chocolate tiramisu needed more sugar.

 I walked to the edge of the property backing up to the Intercostal Water Way where yet another of Jim’s boats was stored out of the water.  Across the canal was an extremely wide stretch of property; If this was New York, you would only wonder when will they build a high rise?  This being Florida, chances are they won’t build a hi-rise apartment building but they could build a few houses.  Jim bought the property and has guaranteed his privacy and his view!

 It was getting dark and all of a sudden a parade of naked little girls streamed into the pool  (which is kind of an infinity pool).  They had a blast – who wouldn’t running naked in and out of a pool, shrieking and splashing.   Watching them enjoy themselves is proof you can take pleasure in another person’s fun.

Time to head home.  Try to visualize Ed carrying Fletcher in cradle seat, Chiara, Finley and Frankie in second seat with Juanita driving, Linda seating on the console and me in the passenger seat (which I ‘m supposed to share with Linda).  Our very own clown car la famiglia style!  Getting everybody in was a feat in itself but backing out of a narrow curving driveway that had trees and rock islands proved to be an exercise in misdirection and miscommunication!  Dennis was directing from the front, Joel was in the back guiding us past the rocks and when I looked out the window and saw we were headed towards the rocks, I screamed!  Poor Juanita, everyone was shouting directives…. Dennis, the I’ll take charge guy told Juanita to get out and he would back out.  Mind you the car does have the back up map displayed as well as a beeping system that warns you as you are backing up into an object.

 If you thought that was the end of the evening, you don’t know the Berti’s.  Led by my daughter Chiara, fueled by my nephew Justin and instructed by my son, Joel, we all settled into the living room to play a game.  Well, not everyone-the little girls were put to bed, some of the adults opted for TV and the rest of us (the competitors) delved into Cards Against Humanity.  A modern day board game that involves picking an answer to some really sick questions, which meant the answers were sometimes quite disgusting.  The game is self-described as:   Unlike most of the party games you’ve played before, Cards Against Humanity is as despicable and awkward as you and your friends. HO, HO HO, I remember when after Christmas dinner we would all sit down and play Monopoly.  I know what you’re thinking…how dull, times have changed.  HA HA HA, you never played Monopoly with the Berti’s!!

 

 

 

 

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20060730194237 - T27 - Dining car

Dining car (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We pulled into Philadelphia at about 4:45pm and stayed in the station so engineers could come aboard and fix the falling out window.  Yes that’s what I said; Earlier when we were Newark and the conductor came through to check tickets, the people two rows ahead of me told her there was something wrong with their window.  Oh my, wrong? I should say so, apparently it was out of its frame!  One hour and four hard-hatted engineers later, the window was replaced. 

By 6:45, we’ve snacking on cheese, crackers, carrots and celery and almonds and it’s that time; We have to get ice from the bar car;  I brought a little travel shaker and now someone is very happy, not to mention that he is sitting by himself on the other side of the aisle since the window fiasco necessitated several groups to move to another car in order to keep the families together!

7:45 I know we are already at least 45 minutes behind schedule and now we are in Washington D.C. and once again, engineers have descended upon the train.  The window has not been fixed correctly.  Three hard-hats all agreed that something is not right and they have shut the power off in our car and here we sit.!!!

 9:00 Earlier when the man came through the car asking if anyone wanted to make dining car reservations and we were informed of the 5:00 (must be the Florida early bird special) only time and we declined, he told us we could go to dining car at 8:30 and perhaps there would be a table.  If not, we also had the option of ordering some food and bringing it back to our seats.  So at 8:30pm Peter went to the dining car and immediately returned as the line was all the way into the next car.  He went back at 9:00pm and the dining room was closed.  SO MUCH FOR DINNER! 

Finally at about 9:30 we went to the Bar Car and ordered a Tempting Turkey Sandwich to split.  I’m not even sure it was turkey.  At 10:30 they turned off the lights in the car but I continued to read for at least another hour hoping I would feel sleepy – I did not.

I never fell asleep all night!! I know I dozed off several times because I had little dream vignettes but the arms of Morpheus were elusive and trying to sleep in a seat titled ever so slightly back was really impossible for me.  As I roamed down the aisle to the rest room I was envious of all the travelers sacked out and sound asleep!

 

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Wi-Fi Signal logo

Wi-Fi Signal logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SUNDAY

Well, I’m off on another adventure to Florida!  Usually the “fun” begins when I’m there and I amuse my readers to no end with accounts of the daily craziness.  NOT SO this time!  Let the games begin! 

Today is Sunday and after racing around to finish up packing, getting a pedicure, trying on 3 different things that did NOT fit and not being able to locate one of the cats (we finally did) we finally left our apartment.   Since we were leaving late (apparently my fault) (NOT), tempers were already running high.  Add the 71 degree weather in the no-longer-air-conditioned apartment AND picture this – I have my rolling suitcase with a heavy tote bag on top of it, carrying my computer over my shoulder and one large canvas bag of Christmas presents; I’m wearing flip-flops because I don’t want to squish my new pedicure and all black because that’s what fit that would be ok to sleep in.  Peter is carrying a suitcase that must weigh 25lb on his shoulder that pulls his sport jacket down and he’s carrying another canvas bag with Christmas presents and a bag that has some last minute snack food I scavenged from the refrigerator and cupboards.  Actually the snacks are leftovers from Wednesday night’s gathering!

Hailing a cab turned out to be fairly easy but of course we got a driver who was indecisive about the fastest way to Penn Station.  First he started west on 86th St and then thought the FDR drive would be better so he U-turned.  The Drive was ok but when he exited at 34th St and headed west on 35th St, we virtually crawled across town.  I was already overheated, cranky and watching the meter climb was making me crazy.  $22 later we arrive at Penn Station a.k.a. Penn’s People Zoo.  It was MOBBED and it was hot.  

We were supposed to leave by 1:30pm but by the time we walked out the door it was almost 2pm.  Our intention was to get to the station an hour early so we could check to see if there were any cancellations for a roomette.  There were none, the train is sold out!  Oh, didn’t I mention that by the time we booked the trip they were no more roomettes left? And why did we book so late?  Look to my right…. therefore we are in for a 26 hour train ride in Coach seats, no beds.  I knew right away it was Christmas since there “was no room at the inn”. 

Getting onto the train was like being part of a herd of cattle.  There’s a cop at the top of the stairs next to the ticket agent and he’s shouting “Keep the families together, keep the families together” which means there are straggling kids with wheeling suitcases trying to push through the 5 lines of passengers trying to reach the top of the escalator!  

I boarded the train and turned right like the conductor said only to come to an immediate HALT.  There was a family of four trying to get out of the car against the tide of us trying to get in the car.  This necessitated a strange dance backwards of several people and their luggage with no place for them to back up.  Finally they got off and I lunged forward hoping to find two vacant seats together, lol lol.  Of course there were no seats.  I was ahead of Peter so I dropped one bag down on one seat and across the aisle and one row forward, I dropped another bag.  Then I tried to negotiate with the woman in the second pair of seats.  “ Excuse me ma’am would you mind switching your window seat here for the one over there so I could sit with my husband”?  She looks at me as if I asked her to move to rest room.  I try again and she leans over to look at the seat I’m pointing at and says, “No, I think I’d d rather be here”.   At this point Peter comes up the aisle and sees that I’m not standing in a pair of seats and I’m already putting the bags of Christmas presents up on the rack.  He loudly says, “What, aren’t there 2 seats together?” And then adds, “Well can’t you ask someone if they will move?”  I tell him I did but no one wants to.  I guess that did it because the lady announced she would move.  I said, “Bless you, thank you, you are so kind and you have no idea how he’s been, I’m never traveling with him on a train again! 

Once underway, the train cooled down a bit and we settled in.  As soon as one of the conductors came by, I inquired about Wi-Fi and was informed there was no Wi-Fi on the train and here I thought I would be writing my blog, playing scrabble online, cruising through ebay and checking in on Facebook, Not Happening! 

Shortly thereafter, a man came through asking is anyone wanted to make reservations for the Dining Car.  We looked at each other and thought a change of scenery would do us good later on so I told Peter to make it for 8:00pm. Well that wasn’t happening either because the only reservation he had was for 5:00pm and it was already 4:30pm!  And I wanted to buy a large sub for us to split on the train since everyone told us how expensive the food was and Peter said not to AND I listened to him, so really who’s the schmuck? 

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I’m going to start with the back story….

Living near the ocean does have a few drawbacks, really very, very few;  in fact the only one I’m talking about is the dampness.  Not the kind that seeps in through the screen door and windows and makes the furniture feel damp and cool  – no, not that kind.  But living near the ocean, things like snails and slugs tend to appear unwelcome on my porch or sidewalk now and again.  I have abhorrent fear and anxiety about slugs in particular.

I mean they are so slimy and icky looking – like some kind of spineless blob from outer space that seems to traverse without legs.  I literally can’t stand the sight of them.  We’ve come home a couple of evenings over the years and found a long slug on the sidewalk and I got the willies whatever they are!!  I make Peter pick up the slug on a piece of cardboard or newspaper and insist that he toss it over the fence into our neighbor’s yard.  They (slugs) are SO GROSS.

Two days ago, my contact lens was bothering me and those of you who know me, know that I have a history of problems with the lens in my eye because I have some scarring on my cornea, but that’s another story.  I’ve been giving the eye a vacation from the lens and trying to use glasses.  However, my glasses are not prescription, just readers and since they are really only good for close up reading or work, I didn’t have them on when I went upstairs to change my clothes.  It was dark and the door to the porch was open and our neighbors across the backyard were home – thank God their doors were shut, they must have had their air conditioners on.  I took off my clothes and put on pajamas and hung up my pants and I was barefoot.   I moved the door to a more open position now that I was dressed and stepped away.  When I looked back and down, this is what I saw…..

OMG!!!!

OMG!!!!

 Needless to say I screamed, “Peter, Peter, PETER!”  Still no answer;  The TV was on upstairs and downstairs and he was in the kitchen.  I grabbed the remote, hit mute, went to the top of the stairs and screamed again, Peter! You better come up here NOW”!  He came flying up the stairs, out of breath and said, “What is it? What? Is there a bat”?  I pointed to the floor and said, “LOOK! You better get it out of here, OMG how did it get in the house? OMG I could have stepped on it” 

With wife on the verge of hysteria, my husband runs downstairs and grabs paper towels while noting OUT LOUD that there were no more paper towels!!  He returned and got on his hands and knees while I fretted and fumed and worried sitting on the bed.  He stood up quickly with paper towel crumpled in his fist and I said, “What did you do with it?” He showed me……

A Hair Clip ! REALLY??

A Hair Clip ! REALLY??

I laughed so hard I thought I would either cry or pee in my pants!  I mean, “Really, really?”  All in the life and times of living with Lori.

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