Sunday, February 27, 2005


I finally saw GARDEN STATE. If ever I were to make a movie, I would want it to come out like this. See it and buy the soundtrack. It made me happy to say I was from NJ!

Saturday, February 26, 2005


One of the first Valentine’s Day cards I ever gave Daniel read like this ~ I knew you were the man for me the minute I saw you lick your eyebrows.

Valentine’s Day has always been a big dilemma for Daniel. He thinks it is a waste of time and says that he doesn’t believe in a designated day to tell me he loves me. As the years have gone by, I have found it easier to align myself to that thinking and really don’t get upset or pissed off if I don’t get Valentine’s Day cards from him. Ross always comes home from school with very special and meaningful Valentine’s Day creations for me and those have become my Feb. 14th treats.

While I was checking my email first thing in the morning, Marti’s boyfriend came on line to ask me if it would be ok for her to go out in the evening. He wanted to surprise her by arriving to take her for dinner and intended going back to the restaurant where they had been on their first date. I told him that I thought it was a lovely idea and assured him I would not say a word about it so as not to spoil his surprise.

I left the house at around 11a.m. to take my Mom to a doctor’s appointment. I waited in the car while she went in. It started getting really cold and the sky got really gloomy. The rain started falling and soon my window was covered in ice.

I was listening to my current audio book; CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY and thinking how the sadness of the story, combined with the weather was really making the day look grey. I felt like I wanted to flick to a color channel. With that, a car pulled into the bay next to me, and a man dashed into the building, clearly making a delivery of a gorgeous bouquet of roses. I smiled to myself because I love it when the universe responds almost on demand with something I wish for. Suddenly there was a burst of color that went flashing past me. I thought to myself that one of the nurses or receptionists in one of the many medical offices was about to probably become the envy of her colleagues who might have not received flowers for Valentine’s Day.

In the space of the next half hour, a further two deliveries were made. One was a bunch of beautiful white roses with orange on the edges and the other the more traditional red roses. The traditional red did it! I reached for my cell phone, called Daniel at work and told him that regardless of his point of view about Valentine’s Day, if I didn’t receive something with stems that I could trim by the end of the day, I would not be trimming anything else, ever again, EVER! He laughed and told me he was busy and had to go.

My Mom came out and I took her home. She lives in a building for Senior Citizens, so the residents vary in age from 60 through to well into their 90’s. While we sat and chatted in the car, a guy came out to throw some garbage in the dumpster. I watched him walk across the parking area in the soft rain and he didn’t seem to be phased by it at all. I had seen this man a few times and mentioned to my Mom that he looked like an interesting and fun guy. He has to be over 60, but he was dressed in quite a hip way and he just seemed like a fun character. He has long hair, was in jeans, sneakers and a grey, hooded sweat shirt. My Mom said he actually is a really nice guy and that he is in fact from England. I was not surprised because the more I looked at him, the more I could see he had a completely different energy to most of the people I pass in the building when I visit my Mom. As he was walking back in the direction of the entrance to the building, Mom said to me, “You’ll see, when I greet him, he will respond with “hello, love!” and he did as if on cue.

He and my Mom got into a conversation and she introduced me and told him I had also lived in England. He asked me how long I had been there for and when I told him seven years, we all had a good laugh when he replied, “well, you are practically a native then.” He was happy to stand talking in spite of the soft rain still falling and I was amazed to hear he had been here for 40 years. He had not lost his accent at all and again laughed when he told us that when he visits England, they refer to him as “the yank” because he now pronounces his h’s. “When I first got here, I came from the poor part of London and would tell people I live in a ‘ouse, they wouldn’t know what I was talking about until I started saying I lived in a house.” My Mom then commented that he must feel like he was at home with the weather as it was a typically English day with the rain and grey sky. With a smile in his voice he looked up at the sky and said “this is a warm and sunny day in England.” We had a good laugh and he said his goodbyes and off he went. My mom and I both felt uplifted from this conversation.

By the end of the afternoon, Marti had received roses from her boyfriend and was excited about having heard she was going out for dinner. When Ross came home from school, he said that his classmates really liked the gift bags he and I had put together on Sunday night for him to take to school. The kids exchange cards and some give gifts. I try to always give non-candy items but this year, each gift bag did have one chocolate inside. Ross had chosen a small fluffy dog for the girls and a wooden glider for the boys. He came bounding in to give me the adorable wall hanging that he had made for his Dad and me.

I spoke to Daniel a few times during the afternoon and neither of us made any further mention of whether I would be getting stems to trim or not. It was dark already when a delivery of red roses arrived. Marti called me and handed me the card. The envelope was addressed to Daniel. “Wouldn’t it be interesting if these turned out to be for Daniel considering I didn’t send him roses?” I asked Marti. She told me how he had called her several times on her cell phone during the course of the afternoon to check if they had arrived. I opened the card and stifled my laugh as I read the note, “Hope these are long enough to trim!” It was clear whom these were for and who had sent them.

Alex got a very sweet pendant from Marc. David’s girlfriend Aimee gave him a fluffy frog displaying a huge kiss on its cheek suggesting she clearly feels like she has found her Prince.

My day ended with me being reminded to pay more attention to the things that seem inconsequential. A person delivering colorful flowers, a man with an accent, a husband with a sense of humor, two romantic boyfriends, a thoughtful girlfriend, and an attentive son.
A designated day well spent!

Thursday, February 24, 2005


A friend in London received an email from her friend in Southend, England. It read as follows:
“As forecast yesterday, it started snowing - not a lot! Just a sprinkle but it was snow. There was a thunderstorm too, just as I was thinking about going to Fuchsia Club! Needless to say, I didn't go. What they didn't forecast was the rather sharp frost as these snaps demonstrate...”
If this was written locally, it would probably have read more like “*$#&%!^# hell, these weather dudes just NEVER get it right!” ‘snaps’ = Brit for ‘pics’.


Jay did it! He walked off with the winning collection, a feature in Elle magazine, a mentorship from Banana Republic and a cash award of $100,000.00 to start his own label.

If his collection at Olympus Fashion Week had not been enough, his sister’s comment would have won him the title. During a visit from Tim Gunn, Jay himself posed the question, “what will I do if I win Project Runway?” His sister replied, ‘you’re gonna get lipo-suction and get the heck out of Lehman!”

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Although I never thought I would survive the end of SEX AND THE CITY and FRIENDS, I did; therefore, I know I will survive the end of PROJECT RUNWAY. The first season of any of the reality shows that are worth watching are always the best. This show however, I truly believe, offers the potential to have a good second season. I have loved every minute of it and I really don’t know who I want to see walk away with the winning ticket. I know whom I don’t want to win, and I think that is obvious to anyone who has watched the show. Can’t wait for the final episode tonight.

You know how sometimes, when you are out shopping you see something that is so ugly, it is beautiful. That’s what this season of THE APPRENTICE is for me. It has become so bad I can’t resist watching it. What is it with these contestants this time around? Was their brief to show a lack of class as much as possible? Somehow though, it still holds my attention and I am keen to see who will end up working alongside the Donald. I have no shame in admitting my devotion to Donald, ever after the wedding.

I decided that this season I was going to watch AMERICAN IDOL from the first episode all the way through to the last. I usually watch from half way through the eliminations. I have been loyal to my decision and the auditions were well worth it. Tonight is the first of the eliminations. Not that I lay claim to being any kind of a talent scout, but these would be my predictions at this early stage:
From the ladies, my favorite is Nadia Turner and I think America will vote for Carrie Underwood. From the gents, although Travis Tucker is my favorite and I would love to see Scott Savol win. Does anyone else think that Mario Vazquez is related to Justin Guarini – he reminds me so much of him?

Another show that has caught my attention, which I am going to start watching from next week, is HOUSE. Hugh Laurie is a great actor and after catching the last 15 minutes of a recent episode, I want to see more.

Happy viewing and good luck to the 3 designers!
NOTE TO SELF: Order TiVO tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


At 7.52pm EST, my blog registered 4000 visits. My counter is set to only register every unique hit, so this does not include the zillions times a day I myself re-visit!

It feels like an achievement to me because when I started blogging, I did not think that viewers would find their way here and then continue to return. Well, they do, and they have, and hopefully will continue to.

Perhaps I am just getting seriously into Oscar fever because I am a devoted Oscar fan. So at the risk of sounding like Sally, I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the 4000 bonanza. To those who will add to it, thank you too and I hope you will come back.

When I visit blogs, I try making a point of leaving a comment. I think that if people put time, energy and effort into writing blogs that give us a fleeting moment of pleasure from what we read or see, they deserve some acknowledgement. So, if I like them, I tell them. Sometimes I don’t like them, and in a constructive and respectful way, I tell them that as well.

Please accept this invitation or request, however you prefer to take it, to leave a comment on my blog. I would love to get feedback from my visitors. I have made some interesting and meaningful friends on line through blogging, and leaving comments opens this very possibility.

In my opinion, blogs are the best form of reality tv you can ask for, and there are really no ads!

Happy reading.
Yours Unplugged!

"I can't deny the fact that you like me! You really like me!"

Monday, February 21, 2005


If you have ever visited the Netherlands, you will know that the Dutch love their animals. You are allowed to take your dog almost anywhere, and unless the laws have changed since we lived there 1995, that includes into informal restaurants and cafes. Of course the dogs have to be chilled out and are not allowed to run around the venue. It is not uncommon to find yourself having to step over a dog as you make your way to a table or on your way out after enjoying a meal.

You never tire of watching a dog being taken for a walk in the uniquely Dutch style. If the dog can keep up, it is not unusual to see the pet owner cycling on his or her bicycle, the lead looped around the handlebars, and the dog happily running alongside the bike. The sign on the door to IKEA would never be as blatant as to say ‘NO DOGS ALLOWED’, but rather reads ONLY GUIDE DOGS ALLOWED.

Having both grown up with dogs as pets, Daniel and I decided it was time for a pet. We had moved off the houseboat into a house in Zoetermeer, and were now ready to bring a dog into our lives. We couldn’t ask for better guidance than that which we got from our friends Lizzie and Leo. These wonderful people chose pets over children, and are still today, experts in the field of raising and caring for dogs.

Our home was quite large. It was on three levels with really nice and spacious living areas, three bedrooms and a garden. My Mom was staying with us at the time and she agreed it would be nice to have a dog in the house. The middle floor had a small landing. Off the landing were the three bedrooms and the bathroom. Our bedroom was also large so we would give the dog the choice of sleeping downstairs or in our room, we didn’t mind. My Mom would prefer not to have the dog sleep in her room but as she slept with her door closed, this was not a problem anyway.

We had a long conversation with Lizzie and Leo, and armed with all the facts required, we set out to the local animal rescue center to find ourselves a dog. In the reception area, there was a large information board with Polaroid pics of the dogs available. The details about each dog were listed under the pisc. Daniel was immediately drawn to a black dog by the name of Tosca. Tosca was a medium sized mixed breed dog. We went over to the desk and said we would like to see her. We were directed to the outside viewing area and waited for her to be brought out. We got really excited as we watched other people meet and greet the dogs of their choice and in most cases, it didn’t take long for them to walk off as proud new owners. Tosca came bounding out and we spent a little time with her. At one point the dog handler attached her lead to the handle on the gate, and I wondered if the fact that she nearly twisted it right off was as a result of her excitement at all the attention she was getting from us, or if she was indeed a little crazed.

Like all the other new owners, we were soon in the car with our new dog, two silver bowls for her water and food, the collar, the lead, a blanket, food and a few toys. Tosca was not quite a puppy, but a young dog and she was quite boisterous. My Mom sat in the front of the car with Daniel and I was at the back. By the time we got home, I was somewhat irritated by the fact that Tosca insisted on standing between the driver and passenger seats which basically resulted in me having her butt in my face the entire way home. I couldn’t really move over because by sitting where I was, I was just managing to restrain her from sitting on Daniel’s lap while he was driving.

When she practically wriggled her way out of the collar, I asked Daniel if he too has noticed her strength and how she had nearly twisted the handle entirely off the gate during the viewing. He was sure, as I had thought; it was just her excitement from the attention. To be honest, the dog was already starting to get on my nerves.

We got inside and the dog basically went frigging insane. She was charging, but when I say charging, I mean CHARGING around the house. Up and down the stairs, skidding on the rugs on the hard wood floors and generally just going quite nuts. We realized this all had to be quite overwhelming for her and decided she probably just loved having space after her time in the cage while waiting for her new Mommy and Daddy to come and find her. Yeah, right. I was not feeling particularly maternal towards Tosca, the Dutch dog at this point in time.

Much like with a small child, when things get too quiet in the house, best you go look to see what is going on. Before we could get upstairs to see what Tosca was doing, she arrived in the living room with the bottle of grouting cement she had found in the bathroom. Because we had gone out to get a dog, we did not think it was necessary to childproof the house. Daniel therefore did not clear the bathroom of the kit he was working with to re-do the grouting.

Tosca stood in the middle of the room with the grouting bottle in her mouth and she was biting down quite firmly on it. We were really anxious to get it from her because you don’t need to be a genius to work out that this would not digest well in her belly. As Daniel tried to ease it out her mouth, the Doberman in this mixed breed started showing through loud and clear. We suddenly became aware of her frame and the size of her paws, which looked as if they were growing by the second. As Daniel tried once more to ease the grouting container out of her mouth, she started to growl and looked totally vicious.

I came up with the bright idea that Tosca probably did not understand us because we were talking to her in English instead of Dutch. We never really learnt to speak Dutch because we always got by with English and our knowledge of Afrikaans helped a lot as well. Daniel thought this was good thinking on my part, and in the most stern voice he could come up with, he started yelling at the dog “gee my die bottle, jou stoute hond”. If you do not speak Dutch or Afrikaans, there is no way I can phonetically illustrate to you what that sounds like, but directly translated, noting the English world for bottle in the middle, he was saying “give me the bottle you bad dog!” The power struggle worsened by the minute, and I hate to admit, motivated purely by the fact that we did not want her to do herself any harm by eating the grouting, although at this point I was starting to also feel like I didn’t give a shit what happened to this dog, Daniel proceeded to do the only thing he could to get the bottle, and that was to punch her, really hard, on the side of her face. She dropped the bottle and charged off upstairs leaving us feeling like we had just fought off an intruder. Daniel, my Mom and me stood there looking at each other, totally speechless. “Don’t get freaked out”, said Daniel rubbing his knuckles, “she’ll settle down, you’ll see.”

“I’m telling you we should have paid more attention to her nearly twisting the handle off the gate and the fact that she stood with her ass in my face all the way home in the car. I am not getting a good feeling about this dog.”

As we started recovering from this most unpleasant interaction with our new pet, we heard her coming bounding back down the stairs. “Oh for fuck sake, now she’s got the grouting SPONGE in her mouth. Daniel, she can’t eat that, you have to get it away from her.”

“I promise you, I am going to moer this dog now.” [slang translation: Moer ('Moor-r')(Afrikaans - Hit, punch) Afrikaans word meaning to hit someone. "I will moer you if you take my things."]

I think Tosca totally heard Daniel’s tone and in fear of getting punched in the face again, she took the drastic step of basically, right there in front of us, in one gulp, swallowing the whole entire sponge, and believe me, this was not a small sponge.

Nobody said anything. We just all sat back down where we had been sitting before and looked at the dog that finally lay down and chilled out. If only we had known she was hungry for a sponge!

Fortunately she slept peacefully on her big new blanket at the foot of our bed. No sooner Daniel was out the house in the morning, and the nightmare started again. In one huge leap on to the bed, Tosca was lying on top of me, her snout resting on the tip of my nose. I was pinned down under her and had no idea how long we were going to remain feeling the breath out of each other’s noses on our faces. I was really scared to move. Her claws looked huge this close up and she was darn heavy. I started speaking really nicely to her and made her all sorts of promises including serving her steak and eggs if it would help to get her off of me. After what seemed like an eternity, she eventually got off and I leapt out of bed.

I stepped out the room and was surprised to not find all the bedroom doors open. My Mom would always be up ahead of me and have all the bedroom doors and windows open.

“Mom?” I called out.
“What’s going on, where are you?”
“I’m in my room.”
“Are you ok?”
“Yes, I’m fine, but I’m not coming out until that dog is out of the house!”
“Really, why, what happened?”
“She ate my slipper.”
“She ATE my slipper”
“Your whole slipper?”
“Yes, my whole slipper, I only have one left now.”

I went to the phone downstairs and called Daniel at work.

“Hello” he said.
“Daniel, I am sorry to ask you to do this, but you have to come home and get this dog and take it back to where she came from.”
“Why, what’s going on now?””Well, she pinned me down in the bed this morning for about 5 minutes, and when I came out, Mom was sounding like the lady from the ‘Young Frankenstein’ movie when she was telling him to put the candle back.”
“Why, what did she do to Mom?”
“Ate her whole entire slipper!”
“Exactly. I think you need to just put this down to a major error of judgment on your part and you really need to get off your point of view about not wanting a small dog. I am speaking to Lizzie and Leo and going to ask them to help find us a Yorkshire Terrier, they are the best dogs.”
“Ok, I’ll come take Tosca back, she is a bit of a crazy one, but I really don’t want a dog as small as a Yorkie.”
“Just come take Tosca back for now, bye.”

Within an hour Tosca was back where she came from, the windows were open in all the bedrooms and life started getting back to normal in our household.

Within a couple of days Lizzie had found us a breeder in The Hague and once again, Daniel and I were in the car on our way to go get our puppy.

I knew how totally cute and adorable Yorkie puppies were, as I had owned one in South Africa. The breeder came to the door with the puppy in her hand, and I saw Daniel fall instantly in love with her. When we were leaving the apartment, Daniel asked the woman if she perhaps had something warm we could wrap the puppy in. It was winter and freezing outside and we had in fact come unprepared as far as Daniel the large dog lover was concerned. We said our goodbyes and Daniel carried the dog to the car wrapped in a cosy flannel lumberjack type shirt, which belonged to the breeder’s son. I told you the Dutch loved their pets! As he was handing her to me, as much as I was totally in love with her already, I couldn’t help reminding Daniel that she was actually a dog and it was not a new born infant he was passing me.

That was all some ten years ago. Pingy crept into our hearts the moment we laid eyes on her. By the time we left Holland to go back to England, I was 6 months pregnant with Ross. Quarantine laws were still in place in England and we were adamant that Pingy was not going into quarantine. By traveling on the train through the channel tunnel, we managed to sneak her into England in the bottom of my handbag. She survived her immigration to the USA where there are thankfully no quarantine laws.
Over the years, Pingy has created her little routines. When we lie in bed and watch TV, she sits on my lap. The moment the TV goes off, she moves over to Daniel’s side of the bed, he lifts the covers; she crawls in and sleeps practically glued to his hip. We always have a special little doggy step next to our bed that makes it possible for her to climb up.

Last week, Pingy had her period, so we removed the step, which forced her to sleep in her basket. This was hard for her and Daniel. She was standing next to his bed, scratching at the side, and crying to get up, but of course, under the circumstances, was sent back to her basket.

On the third night, I walked into our bedroom to find Daniel folding his fleece sweater into her basket and covering her with it.

“What are you doing?” I asked him.
“Well, I want her to be warm and I don’t want her to be lonely.”

It was very touching, especially seeing how Pingy was snuggling into the fleece, clearly smelling this wonderful person who had not wanted a small dog all those years ago.
I walked away with a smile on my face thinking, “when I come back in my next life, I really want it to be as Daniel’s bitch!”
PROMISE: None of the animals were hurt or harmed in any way and both have gone on to lead happy and healthy lives!
UPDATE ~ 2/22/05: I thought it was worth mentioning that when I was taking the pic of Pingy all shnoogled up in the fleece in her basket, Marti walked down the hall saying, "nobody treats US like that when we get OUR period!" I couldn't agree more and thought this was worth a mention!

The next best thing to the covers!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Daniel is a true American Football fan. During our years living in London, he would sit alone watching the game on SKY TV. He was as devoted to sitting up at all hours of the night as I was to sitting alone through the night so as to be able to watch the Oscars live. Aside from marrying me, one of the greatest highlights of his life was attending the 35th Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida.

No surprise therefore that since we came to live in the USA, we have had a series of super, Super Bowl parties every year, with the exception of 2003 when Daniel went to Vancouver to watch the game with his brother, Simon.

Unfortunately this year, our regular imports, Gary and Harry from the UK were unable to attend. Gary is a colleague of Daniel’s who has no clue what the game is about, but both he and his friend Harry, equally clueless about the game, came to NJ for Daniel’s 40th birthday which coincided with our first ever super, Super Bowl party in 2002. They came again in 2004 and brought a friend of theirs with by the name of Darren. Darren knew even less than Gary and Harry about the game, yet miraculously walked off with the winning pot of $140-00. The pot is made up of bets at $20 per person being placed in categories such as TIME OF FIRST TOUCHDOWN, WHO SCORES THE FIRST TOUCHDOWN, HALF TIME SCORE, FULL TIME SCORE, etc. Winner takes all. If you’re wondering, Gary and Harry do not have a brother named Larry! (or Darryl).

In the past, Daniel has taken care of the catering for these parties. I decided that it was time for me to put on my ‘ok, I’ll get into the spirit of it’ hat this year, and take responsibility for feeding the crowd. I arranged for Marti to be here and we planned on making the traditional pot of chili and a pot of soup.

The potato and celery soup was easy to prepare and tasted delicious. I followed the chili recipe perfectly. Both Marti and I agreed it really didn’t have much kick, so we added a liberal amount of chili powder. We let it cook a little longer and on tasting it again, added more chili powder. By the 4th taste, we were adding Cayenne Pepper. I said that if that did not help, I was going to add some Tabasco Sauce.

The phone rang and it was my neighbor Alyson. Alyson is an excellent cook so I asked her about the chili.

“Is chili supposed to be really hot in flavor?”
“Yes” she said.
“Hmmm, I have added way more chili powder than the recipe called for and I have also added quite a bit of Cayenne Pepper.”
She went on to explain, “Chili is the kind of recipe where the flavors come through later. Just as well you are serving the men from the fire department.’
‘Well, as it so happens, oddly enough, the fire chief doesn’t even like hot food! I am really pleased then that I stopped at the Tabasco Sauce.”
“Yes” said Alyson, very diplomatically; “this is probably a good thing.”
By the time the pot looked like it had been licked clean, no-one dialed 911, and probably the best compliment I could ever get from my husband the Fire Fighter and Chef Extraordinaire is one that went like this, “Well done Mrs. Levin, you cooked up a pot of perfectly traditional chili for the event. That was one mean chili!”

The combination of the amazing weather for a February afternoon, some close friends and relatives, a quarterback player fit for any modeling spread, some hot firemen, a pot of chili and some of my favorite females in the house, the heat was certainly on!

Same time, same place, 2006

Beer & cee-gars in the sun!

Brother Simon & Brother Daniel.

The Spread.

The hot quarterback.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


I was saying to a friend of mine the other day that I feel like I am still in the week after Christmas, when in fact, as we all know, we are well into the month of February already. The one good thing about that is the days are starting to get longer and that means Spring is not too far off. I can’t wait for that magical time of the year when out from under the snow and ice, those tiny green buds of new life start showing. I just love that time of the year and it can’t get here soon enough for me.

I am still coughing my way through the remains of the flu that struck the household over the blizzard weekend, but hopefully this will pass at the same speed the year is zooming ahead. Aside from the physical drain and challenge my cough presents, things in the household have been pretty festive. As we are a family of mixed religions, I try as best I can to honor the holiday season for everyone concerned. With Christmas Eve having fallen on a Shabbas (Sabbath) this year, the table reflected both aspects of the date as shown in the photo Ross took of Marti, taking a photo. The Shabbas candles adorned the Christmas decorations and there was indeed a vibe of festivity and goodwill in the air. With the exception of my friend Jodi and her family, and my Mom who was not well, the usual suspects gathered for the evening. When Stan spilt food down his shirt, he felt it was necessary to cover it by folding his arms over his chest. This gave me the idea to seat all the men in a row and have them fold their arms over their bellies. I directed the wives to stand behind their husbands, as this would hide their bellies! I absolutely love the pic with Ross and Brenna seated in the front. When I look at it, I project myself into the future and can imagine Ross all grown up and looking back on this and saying something like “this is the group of close friends my parents made when we first came to live in New Jersey”.

We enjoyed a Christmas party at the Firehouse just prior to our friend Bobby being inaugurated as Chief for the year 2005. The pic of the Christmas tree and Chanukah candles reflects how the department honored the fact that they now have a Jewish firefighter in their midst. I had to laugh when Bobby called me about half an hour before we were leaving for the party at the firehouse.
“D’you think you could sneak your menorah in when you come down? I want to surprise Dan with it tonight.”
“Um, Bob, it’s not exactly a small item that I could slip into my pocket. Why don’t you come by the house quickly (we live less than 7 minutes from the firehouse) and I will send Marti out with the menorah, no-one will even know you have been here.”
The mission was accomplished and Dan the Fireman was duly impressed and touched.

The inauguration on January 1st was very moving. I took it upon myself to carry out a press campaign and distributed a news release about the fact that Bobby is the 5th member of his family to serve the department. His Grandfather was Chief in 1936 and 1937. His Dad was the first member to die in the line of duty. He suffered a heart attack while responding to a fire call during the blizzard of 1996. I was very pleased with the coverage the story received in the local neighborhood paper and the Daily Record. There will be a further article coming out in the Star Ledger on Feb. 17th. If I were still in the employ of a P.R. agency, this would have proved to be a highly successful exercise. It was a nice feeling of achievement, I must admit!

On Friday, January 29th, Ross and I proudly attended the graduation of Dan the Fireman from the fire academy. To put this into context as far as commitment and achievement goes, I go back to my very scary health crash last October. When I got out of the hospital, Dan arranged to work from home three days a week through to the end of the year. He holds the position of Senior Manager, E-technologies Network Services, of a large bank. I had no idea what a pace Daniel works at. It is non-stop stress and pressure. I was really amazed. For those readers who know us, you will understand what is meant when I say that given the quagmire of shit he comes home to on an almost daily basis, I don’t know how he keeps it all together. For those readers who don’t know the intimate dynamics of my family, I ask your understanding to not lose interest but respect that it would be inappropriate and possibly hurtful to certain members if I were to elaborate. In addition to all he shoulders, he took himself through 150 hours of training. As the Chief of the Academy said in his presentation, if it rains, the guys are on the grounds training, if it is freezing cold, the guys are on the grounds training, if it is hot, the guys are on the grounds training. In addition to all this, in the course of a working week, he also responds to fire and ambulance calls. This certification as a fully-fledged fire fighter will now create some heated (sorry, couldn’t resist) discussion between my husband and me. For me, I still believe people should run OUT of a burning building, not INTO it. However, Daniel, I salute you! You deliver above and beyond the call of duty for everyone in your life and for anyone outside your life that needs the help and assistance you are trained to give. You deserve to be very proud of yourself. You are a very special human being.

The month came to a close with the celebration of Daniel’s 43rd birthday. By means of explanation and not excuse, I managed to cough my way through putting a birthday celebration together, but overlooked the pics. While there is no evidence to show it, a really good time was had by all.

Next on the agenda of partying and celebration, of course, the Super Bowl. It should be a fun day and I will remember the pics of this one.

Marti captured by Ross.

The Usual Suspects.

A Chrismukah moment!

Swearing In Ceremony - the Chief and his family.

The Chief and two proud daughters. Yes folks, the little one did survive!

Great shot, Ross ~ well taken!

Ross, Pride-Unplugged, Dan the Certified Fireman