The only thing I take seriously is my Freedom. And Bacon.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quirky or Weird? Cheese on Pancakes

Ok. So.
The other day, Mr. V comes in to Astrino's Cafe. He is a regular customer and owns his own plumbing business.  He has dimples and just has the sweetest smile, a face you can trust.

Well, anyway. Mr. V orders 2 pancakes, with 2 slices of AMERICAN CHEESE placed in between the cakes and an over easy egg on top.

What? I asked him if he was pregnant.

Hey, though. Too each his own. I have my quirky food things: I put pork n beans on my hotdog or hamburger at picnics, oh, and I eat them cold. I put bacon in my brownie batter. Hell, I try to fit bacon anywhere I can. I mean really, I can't think of ONE THING that would taste bad with bacon in it!

Anyway. Sara tells me that the cheese in the pancake thing is not so unusual. She used to make sandwiches out of pancakes (much like the one pictured above). Still, to me, it seems creepy.

Any strange,  quirky food habits? I'd love to hear them!

picture from NYC FOOD GUY

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Living in a Drama Free Zone - Or - Bullshit Does Not Pass Go

Is it unrealistic to desire a drama free life?
I strive to cut out as much bullshit as I can. People who are continually negative and whine about the crappy cards they were dealt don't last long in my life.
Even if they have been life long friends - I'm sorry. I'll try to help for a while - I'll give them self help books, listen to them complain, offer helpful suggestions, but I can only take so much.
My life had been one long drama until 2005 - and the one thing I take pride in - is taking responsibility for the situations I found myself in (ie: bad choices in men - and there were FAR TOO MANY).
But when I finally turned it all around, I vowed to never, ever, allow drama of any kind (work, friends, family, boyfriend) to latch on to me and drag me down.
Somehow, it seems, drama has a way of finding me.
I guess it's to be expected. I mean, life is not one continual happy dance. I understand that life is full of daily little dramas - the car won't start before an important meeting, a job offer falls through, a tooth aches, a dog dies, a friend moves away.
I can deal with life dramas - those are too be expected.
But it's personal bullshit drama - people that continue to make bad choice after bad choice after bad choice - people that continue to wallow in unhappiness and make excuse after excuse after excuse.
Where the drama free zone gets a little blurry is when you have an ideal situation (we'll say work - though it could just as easily be family) that is fraught with drama.
You might love most aspects of your job - but what happens when the boss has no business sense or has an out of control personal life that is ruining the business?
For me, I guess, I always try to last as long as possible. But when the situation is the last thing I think about before I fall asleep and the first thing I worry about when I wake up, I know that all the money & perks in the world can't keep me there any longer.
The thing is, drama is inevitable; it's part of the nature of life. Everything we need to know about life we can find by looking at nature: There will be droughts, there will be green pastures, there will be hurricanes, there will be snowstorms. And it's hard to be strong and weather nature's storms, when our attention is constantly being focused on people who knowingly drive on the roads during blizzards, or swim in the ocean despite the black funnel cloud overhead.
And sometimes, the only way to help people who are continual victims of their own doing, is to not throw out the life vest when they are bobbing, yet again, in a sea of excuses and bad choices.
It is possible to live in a No Drama Zone - but it takes courage and moxie to walk away from those people buried under tons of personal baggage.
Just like I make sure I never waste the leftover cookie dough in the bowl or alcohol on the table, I don't waste precious moments of my life on people who continue to hang on to the negatives and the self defeatist attitudes.
I live in a Drama Free Zone - so pack up your excuses and move on - the bullshit does not pass go on my Monopoly Board.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Shoofly Pies, Whoopie Pie, and a Farmer Named Walter...

I discovered the joys of a farm stand near my home: Meadow Breeze Farm. We've been eating sweet corn almost daily, and still haven't tired of it.
At Meadow Breeze Market yesterday, I noticed little, heavenly, mini, Shoofly pies in the fridge next to homemade Whoopie Pies.

I resisted the urge. One day. Then the next day I gave in. DE-freaking-LISH!!!

 I met Walter. He owns the farm. And he was exactly what you'd think a farm owning Walter would look like; ball cap, dungarees, a t-shirt stained with dirt and hard work, and smile that is as simple and sweet as the farm stand itself.

So look, if you're in Bucks or Montgomery County and want really fresh produce - stop by Meadow Breeze Farm Market 138 Walter Rd Chalfont, PA 18914 - just make sure you leave at least one Whoopie Pie
for me. For more info...see my review on YELP..

Friday, September 3, 2010

Log Cabin Made of Meat

Now, if only it were raining maple syrup, the picture would be complete.

Now THAT is some Quirky Food!

Friday The 13th. A Tale of Death, Needle Sticks, Asshole Bosses and Luck.

Though I'm a big believer in 'signs' and 'fate' – I never really bought into the superstition of Friday the 13th.

And then: One early morning, a few years ago, Friday the 13th in the month of July, I'd just walked in the squad with a cup of coffee and my pink backpack when we got hit out for a 32 year old male in cardiac arrest.


When the ambulance pulls up, we are met in the street by hysterical family members. One female recognizes me – "I remember you!" she says. "You're the medic who took my grandfather to the hospital and he died!"

Super duper.

I remember her grandfather – how could I forget – 10 years in EMS and I was only ever threatened with one lawsuit and guess who it was – YEP- the very lady that was standing before me now.

Rewind, 9 months: Her grandfather was a 500+ pound man that was on the second floor (of course!) lying in bed, make chortling sounds when I walked in the room. We'd been hit out for "Difficulty breathing" – but this guy was 2 seconds away from NOT BREATHING.

I had 3 major obstacles: 1) It's hard to intubate obese patients. 2) Did I mention he was obese? AND on the SECOND FLOOR. 3) The family was FREAKING OUT and there were about 15 of them. With family members shouting "Have mercy Lord" "Praise you Jesus" and "Help Us Lord, Help Us!"I felt like I was in a Baptist Church.

But. Someone was looking out for me, because I got the tube on the first try, with the help of the Cheltenham Police we got his body out (with me repeating, "Don't lose the tube, don't lose the tube!) and we didn't lose the tube.

Of course, he went into cardiac arrest, but as far as cardiac arrests go, it ACTUALLY WENT PERFECTLY. I was high fiving everyone after that call. It ran smooth, never lost the tube, followed protocols w/o any glitches.

A few months later, I learn the family wants to sue us. They felt we "took too long" to get there. I couldn't believe it. I remembered everything about that call - mostly the fact that despite the hysterical family under my feet the whole time – we all kept our composure and it went fantastically!

They never did sue, but I never forgot them.

So- back to Friday the 13th.

 I know that this is the same family that threatened to sue us, and,  I make sure I follow protocols to the letter. But when I place the 16 gauge needle in the non-OSHA compliment container, my thumb slips off the lid as I close it, and it pierces my glove AND my thumb. 
The 32 year old male ends up dying of a drug overdose. He has a criminal history of drugs and has a long scar on his chest, from a prior gunshot wound.

After the call, I report to Employee health, get a shot in the ass, they take my blood, and they give me PEP- meds to take in the event that the patient was HIV positive.

I return to the station, talk to my immediate supervisor (who is not an asshole), fill out my paperwork, and put a call into the VOLUNTEER Director (VD) of my squad – who has the ultimate responsibility to get the paperwork rolling.

Now. It's no secret I had no respect for the Volley Director (VD). I felt he was a nincompoop. He cared more about his throwing around his title "Director 358" than he did about making sure the squad had things like proper ventilation in the building; equipment that worked. Also, if you didn't kiss his ass, you were subject to suspensions for minor infractions.

Cheltenham was one of the best places I've ever worked when it came to co-workers. It was small, but it was like a family. And there were some really talented, smart, medics that worked there. Unfortunately, Cheltenham is one squad that has a high rate of turnovers – due to (VD) 358 and his gianormous ego!

Anyway, so, a few hours after my dirty needle stick, we get called out for a man having chest pains at the fire stations.

Turns out, the man (oh, about 450 pounds), was driving in his car when he got a call telling him his cousin had just died. He started having chest pains, pulled over at the firestation, and they called 911.

So. I'm asking questions about his cousin. And. Guess What? YEP, his cousin was the cardiac arrest that I got my dirty needle stick from.


Of course, I did NOT mention that I'd been the paramedic on the call.

The patient was fine – the chest pain was stress related – and he was actually a very nice guy – who kept flirting with me. By the time we got him to the hospital, he was in better spirits.

After my Friday the 13th shift, I was off for the next few days. The PEP though, was making me incredibly sick. It was like the worst hangover without the fun of drinking the night before. I ended up going to my personal doctor for nausea medication.

Then, on Wednesday, I get a phone call from Employee Health, seems VD 358 never sent in his part of the paperwork. And in the meantime, the patient's bloodwork was sent to a contracted facility in California. Because of the red tape involved since VD 358 screwed up, it took a MONTH for me to find out I was clean.

I can't begin to tell you what it's like to wonder if you have AIDS or Hepatitis, on top of taking medications that make you incredibly sick and can damage your liver, ON top of the fact that you know you work for an incompetent boss who does NOT have your safety on his mind, and who never even had the decency to apologize for screwing up. 
Two words: I'm Sorry. 
Never happened.

I quit.

So, that was my Friday the 13th. It was most unusual, and some would say unlucky.

But, though I do miss the people I worked with, and the challenge of being a paramedic, I learned so much about what I can put up with in this world, and working for an asshole is not one of them. I know many people that can't stand him, yet they need a paycheck, so they bite their tongues and deal. I have to wonder, if people refused to work for assholes, how many assholes would realize they need to change. I'm not asking for perfection; I'm asking for respect, treating people with kindness, putting employees first, and treating people intelligently and fairly.

But it is what it is. And without that incident, I wouldn't be where I am now, which is in a very very good place.

I'm lucky my patient was clean, I'm glad I'm no longer working for a gianormous ass, my writing career is flourishing, for the most part, I'm my own boss, and life is good.

So, I guess, in the long run, Friday the 13th is a lucky day for me.

MOTORS VS ANCHORS. or Quit Being A Victim!

"There are 2 types of people-anchors and motors. You want to lose the anchors and get with the motors because the motors are going somewhere and they're having more fun. The anchors will just drag you down."

For the most part, I am hopelessly optimistic. I might worry about what may or may not happen, but one thing I am always sure of: I can handle anything that comes my way. I may not always react in a thoughtful manner. I may lose my cool. But the one thing that has always kept me going is the belief that I am responsible for my life. I know no matter how shitty things get, I may not be able to control the situation, but I can control my attitude.

That being said, it is very very hard to be patient and listen when a friend or family member makes excuses to WHY they CAN NOT CHANGE.

Anchors refuse to change. They blame everyone else for their problems: their parents, their teachers, their upbringing, their friends, their ex's, their bosses, the government, the weather, their DNA.

Motor's recognize that shit happens. Bad things happen. Life if fucking UNFAIR, but guess what, they forgive their parents, they forget their ex's, they quit their job and find a new one, they stop making excuses and plunge forward.

Quit playing the victim card. Motor On.

A Snowy Turnpike, A Cursing Medic, and A Lesson in Tragedy

Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see. C.S. Lewis
The snow had been falling since 7:00 a.m. We placed our bunker gear in the ambulances and filled up on coffee and ate our breakfast as quick as we could. I had oatmeal, Ray ate powdered doughnuts, and Sam filled the station with the buttery smell of fried eggs.

We sat around the kitchen table making small talk, our eyes constantly drifting to the windows watching the dizzying dance of fat wet ice crystals.

It would be a lie to say we didn't feel excited; it's not that we longed for blood and wreckage; we longed for the challenge that nature often presented; the frantic race against time, against the elements; the test of our skills and knowledge; the battle between life and death. Being able to look at the Face of Darkness, do battle with Him, and defeat Him, was the ultimate high for us. It's what made the long days worthwhile. Death and destruction made us feel alive.

The first call came around 8:30. Accident with injuries on the turnpike. I was the second out unit that day so I kept reading the newspaper and eating my oatmeal.

Ten minutes later, the first out rig called us to assist them. They weren't on scene yet, but there were reports of several vehicles involved.

This was before I was a paramedic and before funding for EMS was rationed. We had three on our crew: one medic and two EMT's. I was still an EMT at that point, wide eyed and content to take directions. My medic career was at least a good year or two away.

Even with the chains on the tires it took us a good twenty minutes to get to the turnpike. I sat in the back, watching the white world fly by. I remember thinking how stunning nature could be.

As we approached the scene, our medic said, "Holy Shit."

Cars and car parts were littered across the highway: a fender here, a headlight there, shattered brake lights everywhere. Various people were rushing around the scene: Troopers in their plastic covered tented hats, victims in their winter coats, EMS in bright blue bunker gear, firefighters in bark colored bunker gear.

Drew, the medic in the first out rig, was yelling for someone to assist him. Drew rarely yelled. He was one of our best medics: He rarely yelled.

"I'll go," I jumped out and slid on a patch of ice. I was able to right myself before I toppled over.

I opened the side door to 108-1 and climbed in.

"Bag him." Drew's forehead was soaked in perspiration. He handed me the ambu bag and unrolled his intubation kit. I took over breathing for our patient, hyperventilating him as Drew instructed.

The patient was a young guy; 18 or 19. His clothes had been cut away in order to search for injuries. There were no visible cuts or bruises. His legs were long and muscular. His chest broad, his arms well defined. He had a mass of shoulder length chocolate hair with just the slightest curl to it. He was beautiful.

Our Chief was on board with us, trying to start an IV line. Another EMT was helping Drew. Before Drew attempted to intubate, he checked the patient's eyes with a penlight.


Drew never swore.

The patient's eyes were fixed and dilated; he had a severe head injury.

It's often said there's little hope once the pupils no longer react.

I don't pray often. Not sure who's ever really listening. But as I squeezed air into this dying man's lungs, I silently pleaded for someone to give him a chance.

"Please, please, please," became my unspoken mantra.

The helicopters were grounded. The trauma center, on a good day, was 20 minutes away.

"You drive," Drew barked.

Me. Drive. In a raging snowstorm. We were facing northbound in the southbound lanes. I knew the nearest spot I could cross over to get in the correct traffic lane was at least five miles up the road.

The Troopers rarely shut down the turnpike, but today, today they offered to put up roadblocks and to give us a police escort.

I knew not to argue with Drew, even though I was scared shitless at the thought of navigating through snow and ice. I quickly shed my bunker gear and jumped to the driver's seat.

"Please, please, please," continued to play in my head. Please let the patient be okay, please let me get him to the hospital safely, please let me get everyone to the hospital safely, please stop snowing.

It took 50 minutes to get to the trauma center. The patient's "Golden Hour" had come and gone. It's drilled into our heads that in a trauma situation, every minute of the first sixty is golden, and for the best outcome, the patient must make it to a trauma center within that hour.

After we turned over care of our patient I went outside to grab a quick smoke with our Chief (who had given up the habit).

"He was on his way to go skiing with a bunch of his buddies from college," Chief said as he lit my cigarette.

"What do you think?" I asked. Will he live?

"It would be a miracle."

A week later, we were back again at the hospital with a cardiac patient. We stopped in the trauma unit. Asked to see him. They don't usually allow non-family members in, but they turned a blind eye.

I stood at his bedside watching his chest rise and fall with the aid of a machine. I touched his long white fingers. His skin was pale, almost translucent.

A month later, his family took him off life support.

The word Mirage comes right after the word Miracle in the dictionary: Mirage; something illusory and unattainable.

Sometimes I think we kid ourselves, thinking we can pull one over on the Prince of Darkness; after all, He works hand in hand with the most powerful force on the planet: Nature.

And yet, what we fail to see is the warning that nature gives us time and time again, a catch phrase we often say, but rarely heed: "Life is short. Make each moment count."

In the dictionary, miracle comes before the word mirage.

Though my prayers weren't answered that wintry day; I still see the beauty in a snowfall.

I still believe in miracles.

Seth Godin Says Kiss My Ass Publishers...(In a roundabout way)

In an interview with,  Seth Godin, recognized that the Publishing Power Houses are going down the crapper with their own fingers on the flusher...

"The book industry does a great, fabulous, miraculous job of doing what they needed to do in 1965. Great jobs for good people. Ethics that matter. Good taste. Products to be proud of. In terms of responding to changes in the world, I'm at a loss to think of one thing the book industry does well in 2010 that it wasn't already doing in 1990. Not one new thing done well...
I've decided not to publish any more books in the traditional way. ... I like the people, but I can't abide the long wait, the filters, the big push at launch, the nudging to get people to go to a store they don't usually visit to buy something they don't usually buy, to get them to pay for an idea in a form that's hard to spread. ... I really don't think the process is worth the effort that it now takes to make it work. I can reach 10 or 50 times as many people electronically. No, it's not 'better,' but it's different. So, while I'm not sure what format my writing will take, I'm not planning on it being the 1907 version of hardcover publishing any longer.

 Godin says he will use ebooks & POD's to market his own work.

Fleeing Famous - Bomb Bomb Lemonade

Fleeing Famous: Bomb Bomb Lemonade
  • 1 cup sugar (more or less to your liking)
  • 1 cup water (for the simple syrup)
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lemons (8 oz)
  • 3  cups cold water
  • 1 cup of vodka (experiment! You can use blueberry, cherry, any type of fruity vodka or just plain old awesome vodka)
1 Make simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.
2 Juice 4 to 6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice.
3 Add the juice and the sugar water to a pitcher. Add 3 cups of cold water and 1 cup of vodka (more or less to the desired strength).  Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes. If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it.
Serve over ice. Drink at your house and invite any drinking guests to stay over or call a taxi to take them home!
Yield: Serves 6.