Thursday, December 16, 2010

Its that Time of the Year Again

Dear Friends & Family,

When we left off last year, we felt guilty for singlehandedly causing the world economic crisis, because we didn’t spend much in 2009. However we made up for it this year! More about that later……………..

Our first event of the New Year was Toni’s fun, loving (and fun-loving) and terrific nephew, “Mikey’s” 40th birthday celebration (organized by his wife Ilham) with lots of family and friends. It was a wonderful way to start the year to celebrate such a unique-in-all-the-world guy on this milestone birthday!

Later in January, we headed up to Tampa to see South Pacific with Sheryl’s mom, Pat, and stepfather Bruce. We got the tickets as a gift for them but it was just as much of a gift to us in our enjoyment of the musical and Pat and Bruce’s company.

In February, Sheryl left her job with “Time4 Learning” to go to Bank of America as Vice President of Digital Marketing. The company is huge, benefits are great and Sheryl gets to work from home! Kind of disconcerting for Toni, as she’s rushing to start her 45-mile commute each morning and Sheryl just stumbles out to her computer in her PJs.

This past spring the “Perogie Sisters” (sometimes referred to with other endearing terms) directed by JoAnn’s expertise, met at our house for the Third Annual Perogie Party! We made another world famous batch of Polish potato and cheese pasta pockets -more than pasta came together that day.

In June, most of the family gathered in Orlando for the weekend to celebrate Toni’s mom, Patty’s 85th birthday! We even had a special guest join the party -our friend Nupur- from India. We are so grateful for the opportunity for our families to get together to celebrate our mom!

So a little bit more about our efforts to jump start the economy. Once we realized last year’s dismal economic performance and unemployment could be our fault, we bought a new flat-screen TV so we could better view our Dolphin away games. Of course, it was too wide to fit in our old entertainment center, so we had to buy a new one. We were thrilled when we found out our new piece of furniture was manufactured locally in Medley, FL – job creation!

Next on our list – in July Toni was at the dealer to trade in her 2005 Prius (with 178,000 miles) on a new red one, when Sheryl drove up and announced she was trading HER Solara convertible on the red 2010 Prius! Toni still has her old Prius and lo and behold we are now a 2 Prius (or is it Prii?) family. Think of the fuel we save. We’ll have to drive more, just to increase our savings.

To keep the world economy going, Toni took Sheryl on a cruise for her 2010 birthday and Sheryl took Toni to Italy for her big SIX -0 birthday! We took a wonderful Olivia Cruise with two dear friends- and cruised from Istanbul (lovingly referred to as Islamabad by fellow cruisers) through the Greek Isles to Athens – then flew to Rome for a week in Italy. We both agreed the Greek island of Santorini was our favorite part of the Greek isles cruise (beautiful, romantic island formed on an active volcanic caldera) and the historic ruins in Ephesus and the island of Delos (where Artemis and Apollo were born).

After the cruise, we had an unforgettable week in Tuscany with son Jerry and his wife Tiffany. We will always remember the picnic along the road from Assisi and the delicious “panforte” that made us all grimace! It was a trip of a lifetime and an amazing treasured journey. It was especially good to spend time with the two of them, as Tiffany is now traveling to various countries in Africa for work, and Jerry left Orbitz (in Chicago) for a promising professional opportunity in Vancouver, Canada. So we didn’t get our usual doses of Jerry and Tiffany in 2010 until we met up in Tuscany!

We returned home from Europe to an amazing new bathroom – thanks to son Tom and his wife Mandy. Thank you Tom for the creativity in pulling it all together and perfectly incorporating all of our “wish list” items, and thanks for your meticulous attention to every detail – and for all of the extra cupboard and closet space too! Amanda was a huge help with interior design and her expert procurement skills! Who could have imagined we would love a room so much……..we just want to hang out in the bathroom all the time. Speaking of bathrooms, next time we see you, we’ll tell you about our “jaws of life” experience in the bathroom in Istanbul!
Sheryl’s dad Ron and step-mom Carol retired from the glass business in Delray Beach and moved to South Carolina and are now living near their two other daughters and their families, including some of their grandchildren and great grandchildren! That has to be fun for Ron and Carol and also special for the South Carolina Sandlin’s.

Sheryl’s brother Ron and his wife Selma, and daughter Isabella are moving from FL to Texas! It’s a new start for them, with a great job and an opportunity to go back to school. –This is great for them, but it does seem strange that Sheryl left Texas to come to Florida to be near her family and now all of her family has vacated South Florida!

We are both happy for our family members- that they are happy and enjoy being where they are – but we sure miss seeing them more often. Fortunately, we still have family in Winterhaven and New Port Richey – and can get there in a matter of hours.

One sad event was that Bea Cattell passed away at the end of November at the age of 78. She and her gracious and loving spirit will be missed.

The puppies (Maya and Gabriel) and kitties (Cassidy and Sundance) are good except for one traumatic event in November when the puppies underwent anesthesia and had their teeth cleaned. They were fine and it was not traumatic for the puppies – but Toni was traumatized with worry!

Well, between the car, the trip, the bathroom, the TV and entertainment center, we think we did our part for the world economy. Don’t expect us to shoulder this responsibility by ourselves next year – you need to go out and buy something- even if it is just an airplane ticket to come visit us in Florida!

Peace, love & happiness -now and in 2011 from Toni, Sheryl, Maya, Gabriel, Sundance and Cassidy

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Being Legally Right May be Dead Wrong

“For as long as I can remember, and I’ve been on the Police force for 24 years, early morning walkers and joggers have parked in front of the shops and returned before 8 am to remove their cars and there has never been a problem”

On Saturday, May 29th the owner of Beachcomber Shops and the building located at 2080 NW 2nd Street Deerfield Beach, FL hired Recon, Inc. located at 6574 N State Road 7 # 321 Coconut Creek, FL 33073 to monitor their parking lot to help them tow away illegal parkers. Starting at 6:30 am the parking lot monitor hid in the bushes next to the Howard Johnsons and took pictures of the regular joggers leaving their cars to walk the beach and then he called an army of tow trucks to come and remove the cars quickly before they returned.

Evidently the owner of Beachcomber Shops and Recon think that it is good customer relations to hide in the bushes and lay in wait for the opportunity to inconvenience their potential customers at an hour that they have no need of their parking spaces.  Rather than to use the opportunity to inform the regulars of the change in policy giving them fair warning, they think they can win friends and influence customers by jumping at the opportunity to tow their cars and earn the tow company Westgate Towing $100 per car.

When the 8 victims returned for their cars, they only had a phone number to call to retrieve their cars. In my case my cell phone and driver’s license was in the car along with what little money I brought to walk the beach at sunrise. When I asked to use the phone at Bob’s Pizza I learned that one of the 8 cars towed away from the building belonged one of their employee and had an employee sticker on the window. But that did not matter given the zeal of the new parking lot monitor.  For him every car was fair game and the more the merrier.

Once I was able to rouse someone at 7am on a Saturday morning to take me to retrieve my car, yet another horrible adventure began. I called Westway Towing and received the address of my car as 2527 W. Hillsboro Blvd. Deerfield Beach, FL 33442. When I arrived at the office I was met by an unhappy and unhelpful tow truck driver who informed me that he was at the end of a 16 hour shift and that this was his second job. He escorted 2 of his victims into a room that was more disgusting and horrible than any public toilet I have ever seen at the worst gas station in a bad neighborhood. This was the best that the $800 haul for the morning tows could afford?

He proceeded to demand from me my drivers license, registration and proof of insurance, all required by law. I also had to give him my credit card, compliments of my friend who picked me up which he then called in to process for the $100 payment. When I asked who authorized him to confiscate my car, he told me that he was not allowed to share that information. He had every piece of information about me, enough to steal my identity but I could not know the name of the person or company that was responsible for my inconvenience.

Upon completion of payment a third hapless victim arrived and he told her to wait inside while he opened the gate to let the 2 processed victims out of the lot. When we got to our cars we found the windshield covered with white lettering on the driver’s side of the car. It did not seem safe to try to drive the car with obstructed vision but when we asked if he had a rag or toilet paper to wipe it off with he said, “Lady, this isn’t my problem and if you don’t want to leave then I don’t care.” At that point he relocked the gate and moved the tow truck in front of it so we were unable to leave.

He then went back inside and processed the 3rd victim while we scrounged around the yard for an old towel to clean the windshield so we could be ready to drive safely away if we were ever given the chance to leave again. After about 15-20 minutes of waiting he re-emerged and opened the gate for the 3rd victim and we were able to escape our nightmare at that time.

If you use Westway Towing or are considering using them I would highly recommend against it as they treat their employees and their customers very badly and expect you to operate in conditions that are on par with third world countries in terms of cleanliness and customer service. As an alternative I would like to recommend: Bonnie Towing or Emerald Towing.

And yes, I know the sign posted 11 feet from the curb that says 24 hour towing strictly enforced makes what they did completely within the letter of the law. But I also have my rights of free speech and am able to say that sometimes you can be legally right but if you are in a business that interfaces with the public your being right can cost you plenty of lost business due to poor treatment of your neighbors and customers. It is more about doing what is right by others (also called the golden rule) which is always good to apply in situations like this, not your legal rights.  Pay your parking lot monitoring company to inform regulars about your new policy instead of hiding in the bushes and playing gotcha with a big towing bill. Thanks Beachcomber for a memorable memorial day.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

When I grow up I want to be....

When I was a teenager in high school I decided I wanted to be a songwriter when I grew up. It didn't hurt that nearly all of my "boyfriends" during that phase of my life were musicians, singers, guitar players or drummers. So I kept a notebook with all of my budding song ideas. And one notebook turned into two and then three and then six or seven by the time high school was said and done. The problem was that all of my "songs", I use the term loosely as they were more like badly rhyming poems without music, were so depressing that anyone trying to put them to music would probably end up committing suicide.

Why in the world anyone would want to put that depressing dribble to music is beyond me now, but at the time I thought I was on to something. It is true of many songs and songwriters that they write their best songs when the going gets tough, the songwriters start writing. But I couldn't write a "don't worry, be happy" song to save my life. The problem was, when life was good who wanted to stop living long enough to commit it to a song - it was more fun to be in the moment. But when life sucked, writing a song about it was like therapy, it somehow helped you be in that moment and extract something worthwhile from it, with the word "worthwhile" being in the ears of the beholder.

I remember that I loved the songwriters more than the singers or the musicians. I loved Carol King more than James Taylor for You've Got a Friend, Leonard Cohen more than KD Lang for Hallelujah - heck I loved everything Leonard Cohen wrote and he couldn't sing for his life. Same with Bob Dylan, it was the words not the sound quality that always touched me. And I fell in love with these songwriters, those willing to bear their souls to the world and have it put to music for everyone to hear and know.

So you might have guessed, I didn't grow up to be a songwriter but I thought it might be fun to dig out one of those old songs and dust it off, do what I always wanted to do, share it with the world. So here goes:

Nothing More Than You

Silently and softly
I steal across your mind.
I do not wish
To devour time
But only to touch it.

At this moment
I think
There is nothing
More to life
Than you.

There are other things
That keep screaming
In my mind.
But I don't need to listen
Our whispered thoughts
Are enough.

At this moment
I think
There is nothing
More to life
Than you.

Don't die in front of
My reality.
I'm tired of reaching out
To touch
And seeing things disappear.

At this moment
I think
There is nothing
More to life
Than you.

Keep me
In your thoughts
At least.
Each year, less
But keep me somewhere.

At this moment
I think
There is nothing
More to life
Than you.

Now if there's anyone out there that feels compelled to put these words to music, just contact my agent and I'm sure we can arrange something. That is as soon as I get an agent :-)


This post is dedicated to Cheryl P, the one that spells her name wrong.