Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just Me And My Imaginary Friend...

Last night, my older son come down stairs while I was in the kitchen, and asked me:

“How do you say, ‘Would you like to be my girlfriend’ in Portuguese?”

Should I worry?

I asked him why he wanted to know this, and his reply was the following:

“Well ma, if I’m going to Portugal this summer, I need to do know these things.”

Okay, for some reason I don’t buy this explanation at all. My son is 15, and not much of the “Casanova” type. He must be up to something. I know there is a girl he likes at school, he must be trying to impress her or someone. Well I told him what to say, and after a few times he got the words fairly correct:

“Gostavas de ser minha namorada?”

If you are a woman you would ask this:

“Gostavas de ser meu namorado?”

Translated: Would you like to be my girlfriend/boyfriend?

Oh to be 15 again… Sigh. I remember distinctly being 15 on vacation in the Azores. It was bit of a culture shock in some ways. I would hear this: “Queres ser meu amor?” Translated to be: “Do you want to be my love?” I thought it was so corny at the time. I don't want my son saying this to a matter if she understands or not! Imagine walking down a crowded street in a middle of a festival and hear this from an array of men-some young, some old (yuck) some cute, some not so cute--nevertheless strangers. Oh and sometimes getting pinched if you are close enough. Yeah…pinched! It was quite shocking for me—I was not used to that kind of attention. Oh, and sometimes, you would hear in a somewhat thick accent: “Hi, sugar.” What?! When was calling someone “sugar” hip? Back in 1972, maybe, but 1981?! Never! How so out-dated was that line! I was so turned off by that kind of behavior that it would get me mad, and give out glares of disgust in their direction—which only made them want to follow me and call me “sugar” more. Guys over there were not shy to show their affections. During street bullfights, some would come directly to my window. This was a little too close for comfort for me. If I saw them coming my way, I would quickly run away from the window and hide. Once I shut a window shutter right in this guy’s face. Sure, I felt badly afterwards, but I was a bit shy back then, and soft spoken to people I didn't know well. If you know me well enough, you know this is true.

So, I don’t know what my son is up to. But, I am including the following today in my blog. Andrew’s main interest is his music, and I know some of you don’t have Facebook accounts, I thought you may want to hear my son sing some of his own music… So here goes:

Copy and paste to hear him sing!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Good, The Bad, And the Nice Avon Lady

I am pleased to report that the NICE AVON LADY is back! Yes.. I've made contact with the lady with the defective Curves tennis shoes, and we are scheduling a return and exchange. All is well. Yes, Avon does carry an 100% Customer Satisfaction Guarantee--no matter what.

Here's my link to my store---lots of good deals:

Interested in going to the Azores yourself? Well, if so--direct flights from Oakland to California and Boston to Azores are available for sale at Azores Express:

Pictures on the plane, coming home: Summer, 2007

I shared my own experiences about flying to the Azores before----here it is again:
Flying the Friendly Skies..

Have you ever taken a charter plane to the Azores?

It all starts with the line at the airport. The line starts from the around the Suntrips terminal with people with suitcases, sometimes boxes tied with rope (for those extra fragile items). If you read the tags off of these suitcases you will find names like, Silva, Santos, Medeiros, Bettancourt, Mendonca, Costa, Sousa…. You’ll hear voices speaking in Portuguese and English, sometimes mixed in the conversation. In line you may come across someone that you know, or someone you have seen before at a Portuguese event or festa. This gives you the opportunity to actually get to know these people and learn what island they are from, and carry on a conversation as the long line slowly makes it’s way up to the check in; you will be with these people for the next 24 hours, so get used to them.

If you have heavy luggage, this could be a problem, and you will have to pay extra. You need to pack carefully. Things to remember: If you are planning to be there during the festas, you should at least bring a good dress for each one you plan on going, with matching shoes…or, have a nice dress for every Sunday to attend church. Don’t wear the same dress to church more than once, and make sure your shoes and purse match the ensemble, because you may have to walk in a church procession during a festa, and EVERYONE will be there and watching you. I’ve learned this from my mother, who always seemed to over pack her suitcase with shoes.

Always wear comfortable shoes on a plane. NEVER take off your shoes while in flight however. I’ve learned this from personal experience. When you are up so high in the air, your feet actually swell up…well, at least mine..especially ifyou choose to wear a new pair of pumps for the first time. Nothing is worse than getting off a plane with no shoes on; I mean, what will people say when they see you at your final destination?! “Olha aquela Americana sem sapatos!…que vergonha!” Another thing to remind yourself, if it is that time of the month…go to the bathroom at least twice every hour. For some reason, the high altitude seems to trigger a very cruel force of mother nature. No matter how crowded the aisles are….don’t be a victim of, “Coitada, olha aquela Americana….”

I have never been on a charter plane going to the Azores where there has never been a man or two who refuse to sit in their seat during a flight. Rather, they like to get up from their seat and chat with someone who is seated clear across the other side of the plane. They will stand there for hours if need be and chat with this person. They will talk about numerous things, ranging from cows, land and real estate, or the American currency rate. These people are the most irritating people in a charter flight. Not only are charter planes filled to the hilt with people, the seats are narrow, as well as the aisles. These “men” plant themselves in these aisles, making going to the bathroom almost near to impossible. They talk and they will hover, and they will not go away unless a meal is served, or when the stewardess or steward threatens them.

I once sat on an aisle seat and witnessed this myself. I put my earphones on to block the jabbering, but the voice would not go away. In fact one person actually thought my head rest was an arm rest for the now and then air pocket turbulence. I must have cursed this at this man (under my breath of course) with all the evil names imaginable. Each time a steward would ask him to sit down, the same thing would happen. The man would look at her with a blank face, nod his head, and then continue talking.

If you are lucky, you will get a seat behind someone that does not move the seat back, but, if you are like me, you will have a large person either sitting behind you or in front of you. Remember, the tray for your food is attached to the back of that person’s seat. Have you ever had to eat in the fetal position? It is not fun, and it is almost impossible. The only food that seems safe without stabbing yourself with a plastic fork is the bread, the breadsticks, and cheese, and if you are brave, try drinking your coke before it spills on the front of your dress. You may have to make that extra trip to the bathroom and jump over the men standing in the aisles to clean that spot. Again, there is nothing worse than hearing someone say, “Olha aquela Americana…”

Did I mention how long a flight is from California to the Azores? Let me tell you. From San Francisco to the East Coast (NJ or MA, or NY) it’s about 9 to 10 hours…yes… This includes the actual sitting in the plane before taking off, and the getting out of the plane to take the next plane. If you are lucky, you’ll get to fly a Portuguese Airline, TAP—(Take Another Plane). I don’t care what anybody says, TAP is the best airline I’ve ever taken. They serve food that you can actually eat..and they have little wine bottles.

So..for 10 hours, you must share your little space with about 200 people, including stewards that often don’t know a word of Portuguese. If you disclose that you know English you are a target. During one flight, the dinner was served. “Raise your hand if you want chicken,” the pretty blonde stewardess called out. Her audience just stared back with blank faces. She must have encountered the same situation before, because right after, she proceeded to flap her arms and repeat “Chicken”. Suddenly there was laughter, and arms were raised. She didn’t need to pretend to be a cow later for the filet mignon…she got everyone’s attention with the chicken, and the irritating man standing in the aisle wearing that big gold chain and eagle medallion finally sat down.

There are always a few people on the plane with nervous conditions. I will never forget one summer, when a woman, wearing a yellow fur coat entered the plane, and announced in a very loud voice to everyone, “Tem muita gente aqui! Eu vou morrer no iste aviao!” Translated, There are too many people here! I’m going to die on this plane.” Some get on with their rosary beads in their pockets for easy access. Some people just drink. Drinking on a flight is a good idea…as long as you are a man---if you are a woman, it’s socially not a good idea because once you reach your destination, you need to direct your “man” to fetch the correct luggage at the luggage claim. If your single, and without a man; you'll find one at the baggage claim to help you out, as long as they are sober--just pretend to be really helpless--most Portuguese men, old and young love that, and will be there for you. There is nothing worse than ending up with the wrong luggage, or being caught with the wrong luggage.

Changing planes is an exciting event. If you have to change planes, you may have to go to the baggage claim and check in again. Just remember this, there is safety in crowds. If you don’t know where the other terminal is, always follow the American woman with the tight shoes and stained dress. The flight to the Azores once you are back East can range from 4 to 5 1/2 hours. Don't worry, we don't pass the Bermuda Triangle.

There is nothing more beautiful, however, than finally getting to your destination. Terceira is so beautiful in the morning when you come down and descend through the clouds. The green island suddenly appears, and suddenly the little rock walls are seen. The familiar white houses and orange roofs are there, and the plane falls into silence with “oohs” and “awws”, and jubilation. People are crying, but at the same time, holding their breath until the plane finally hits the runway. There is applause, and the rosaries are put away into their pockets. There is that rare silence again, before the mad rush to the luggage in the overhead compartments, as a few women open their compacts and check their lipstick. I don’t even bother. My dress is stained, my shoes don’t fit; and I look like hell.

Summer, 2007 My kids standing in front of the name of the street my mom's house is on. The street is named after my grandfather.

Yes, I'm taking a direct flight. I just get on the plane in Oakland, and we land in Terceira. Very easy---no flight changes--just 10 + hours of plane. It might seem like a lot of hours, but I think it's the best way to go when traveling with kids. Fares are cheaper this year too--this is good, because traveling there is not cheap! This Avon lady needs to sell more Anew.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Did You Hear What Happened to Joan?

Did You Hear What Happened To Joan?

You can read it here:

Or you can skip that and read it here..

Apparently, Joan Rivers was held "hostage" in a Costa Rican airport on her way home after vacationing during the holidays. She was held "hostage" because her passport didn't match her boarding ticket. Now, I believe that even celebrities have to follow the rules, but this all has me worried. Apparently the agent who I purchased my tickets spelled my son's name wrong on the ticket. Instead of "Nicholas" it reads: Nickaulos. Okay..easy mistake I guess? So I called the agent right away to correct the problem, and she promised that she would send me a new ticket after she gets "permission" first. I don't know what that means, do you?

Traveling with kids can be interesting. Back in 1999 I went to the Azores (I was a single mom back then, with two kids.) and the travel agent insisted that I needed a notarized letter signed by my ex-husband permitting our children to leave the country. It was done after weeks of pleading, and I carried this letter with me at all times of travel: time of check in, time when we changed planes on the East coast, and when arriving to my destination overseas. During these times, I kept this letter with my boarding tickets. Never at any time did ANYONE ask to see this letter. I even volunteered to show this letter, and I only got odd looks for security and airport personnel. Okay..

When I traveled three years ago, my passports were a major issue. All of our passports had expired, and I applied for new ones that year in February. I didn't get my passports until July--5 days before my flight--only because I actually went to the passport issuing office in person in San Francisco--otherwise I would have received them in October. Richard signed a document allowing our youngest to travel outside of the country. I encountered no problems until we reached our destination.

When we arrived and showed our passports, the airline guy had questions. Why did my two older children have a different last name than my own and my youngest child? Why is that a concern? Really? Well, I had to explain to him about my divorce, and that my two older children had their father's last name, and I remarried and had another child. I then pointed out to him that ALL my children had my maiden name written on their passports. I really didn't mind explaining these facts, but I really didn't think it was that necessary! With the strict passport laws that are enforced these days, I wouldn't think I would be questioned about my personal life like that. When leaving the Azores weeks later, after checking in and after saying our goodbyes to our crying relatives, I was targeting aside and was "searched" by a female employee at the airport. I guess I looked suspicious: a mom with 3 kids traveling with their grandmother--that reads trouble all over the place, doesn't it? Then my kids were questioned. Remember, I was LEAVING the Azores! My two boys were questioned by airline security in English. They spoke English to them because my boys didn't speak enough Portuguese. It was more than obvious to anyone that I wasn't taking them hostage against their will from the Azores, and they were two American kids on their way home, so I was peeved, yes, I was pissed.

"Who is this woman?" (lady was pointing to me)

"What's her name?"

"Why did you come here?"

Well, good thing my kids gave the right answers! Was I part of a security training drill or what? Perhaps when I absent mindingly packed that bottle of cognac in my carry on-it alerted a guy sitting in the back with the security cameras. I swear, I only had 3 hours sleep when I packed that in! It was handed over to my crying cousin, Adelaide who promised to not open it until I arrived back to the island again. They could tell I was getting upset. I was tired, restless and ready to get back home, (I should remind you that it takes a lot for me to get that level in public.) but was reminded over and over again that it was airline "policy". Each time that woman at the airport repeated that line that over and over again, I was ready to erupt like a volcano. Yes, I almost had a Joan Rivers moment. If I was say, Joan Rivers, quite possibly I would be treated better, but really... This was the same year that poor English couple lost their girl in a Portuguese resort area, so I can understand a little..but---I was LEAVING the country!

So far, my husband has already applied for his passport. My passport and the passports of my children are still good. My mom's passport doesn't expire until next year. So far, everything is running smoothly--I'm keeping my fingers crossed nevertheless.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Channeling My Inner Rocky

Well, wow, it’s the middle of January and I haven’t bothered to enter an entry until now? Okay, well I had good intentions at the first of the year—I’m sticking to that.

I could start this by saying that I’ve been busy, but what else is new? Sometimes, by the end of the day, I’m exhausted. I’m finding that it is getting harder and harder to stay past 10 pm during the weekdays—even sometimes on the weekend. My friend Deolinda came across my blog the other day and wondered when I had time to write on this—she was amazed. Deolinda---I don’t have time. It amazes me myself. Sometimes I have good days. Today has started to be a good day---I even had a cute homeless guy wave at me this morning and say hello while I was on my way to get my coffee. Can it get any better than that? Well, he was cute anyway.

I’m getting a little peeved with a few of my Avon customers as of late. I try to be a nice Avon lady, but sometimes I think I’m feeling taken advantage of because I’m so “nice”. For instance, I have a few customers that return stuff a little too often. I can almost predict when she is going to tell me she is going to return something. Okay, I say..and I pay for the return to go back to Pasadena. Yes, at my cost, because I’m the “nice Avon lady”. But, when I get customers that want to return stuff months after they have used the product, Miss Nice Avon Lady turns into Rocky Balboa Avon Lady. What is up with that? Okay lady you bought these tennis shoes like 2 months ago, and now you want to return them? I don’t think so, lady! I could see a week or two afterwards, but two months?! This is not the first time this lady returned these very same shoes. She ordered them and they were a “bit too big” now one of the “loops” are getting loose. No more Miss Nice Avon Lady!! Ding! Dong! This Avon lady isn’t going to be ringing your door bell anymore. Okay, I’ve vented.

Well, it’s official! I bought my airline tickets and, God willing, I will be back in the Azores this summer. Yay! Yes, I’m excited---I’m looking forward in seeing my family back there on the rock, and be part of my dear cousin’s wedding. This year my husband will FINALLY make the trip over to see where his crazy wife’s ancestors were from. He has heard so many stories about the place—but the whole Azores experience cannot be just told—he needs to see it—and live it. Okay, he’ll be there for only a week, and it will probably just be a week of blur images once he gets past the 7 hour difference in time and jet lag, but hopefully it will be a happy blur! I can’t wait for my relatives to meet him. They all love him already for “saving” me from being an “old maid divorcee” (a Portuguese mother’s nightmare for their daughter), but I want them to meet the MAN, the legend, in person.

My kids went out to see their dad in New Jersey, and I’m happy to report that they had a good visit. They enjoyed the snow and the East coast atmosphere-especially the sights and sounds of New York. I’m just glad they are back home-I missed them. They were spoiled beyond reason-lots of eating out, trips to New York City, Atlantic City, Broadway shows…and lots of shopping. Andrew has this new Ipod Touch that I’m totally fascinated about—it has everything—it’s a phone, it’s mp3, it’s…amazing.

I have a little Ipod. It’s a tiny little one. I need to upload my music list on here and slap on my Curves pants and get to walking the track again. It’s rainy over here, and cold, but I have some pounds to lose before the big trip. It’s cold, but not snowing. When the kids called me from New York earlier this month when it was a whole 4 degrees, I felt pretty guilty about complaining about my 60 degree weather. Time to toughen up! Time to call on my inner “Rocky Balboa”.

Have a great week everybody!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 Meme

I got this from Joann:

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?

Flew into LAX airport! Didn't see any celebrities but had a good time!

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions from last year and will you make any for 2010?

No, and yes! (At least I have good intentions, right?)

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

A cousin--not very close to, but I have two more babies arriving next year--my cousin's wife, and one of my nieces!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No---thank God.

5. What countries did you visit?


6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

A smaller butt!

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory...and why?

I don't remember the dates... I will remember 2009 as a year of many untimely celebrity deaths-that is for sure.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Keeping my sanity in tact.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I don't get those..

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?


11. What was the best thing you bought?

My airline tickets for summer 2010! :)

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My husband---but then again--what else is new.. I'm a lucky girl, that is all I can say.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

A certain somebody whose name shall remain unknown.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Airline tickets!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Summer, 2010!

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?

Soul Sister- by Train

17. Compared to last year, are you...
...happier/sadder? happier
...thinner/fatter? Same--why isn't that an answer?!
...richer/poorer? richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

My Curves training pants have been calling my name for months. The cold weather and lack of ME TIME have made me turn away from their pleas of attention.. Excercise-what else?

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Eat chocolate.

20. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?

Spent it alone at home with hubby and youngest child.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?

...with Richard :)

22. How many one-night stands?

Those days are over.. (Not like had a lot of them however!)

23. What was your favorite TV program?

Amazing Race, Desperate Housewives, Modern Family..

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

I don't hate.

25. What was the best book you read?

I don't remember!

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

My son Andrew---I never knew my son had a voice or such talent! He blew me away!

27. What did you want AND get?

Airline tickets!

28. What did you want and NOT get?

A small butt and narrow hips!

29. What was your favorite film of the year?

Gosh... None stands out in my mind...

30. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

OMG.. I don't remember what I did no my birthday! OMG..I'm getting so old! I'm 43.

31. What ONE thing would have made your year immensely more satisfying?

I can't say here.. Lol...

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?

Boots. I like boots! :) I like boots because I don't have to deal with nylons because my nylons never last. I am always in a hurry, so boots work.

33. What kept you sane?

My 6'2 teddy bear. :)

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Hmm...none really...

35. What political issues stirred you the most?

I'm so not into politics..

36. Whom did you miss?

I miss my dad--but what else is new?

37. Who was the best new person you met?

My friend Delia--she help keeps work bearable..

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson that you learned in 2009.

It's okay if people don't like you for who you are. It's not your job to please certain people.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Okay this is hard... I had something here earlier but realized that it wasn't MY song--but someone elses.. Hmmm..will have to come back to this one later.

Happy New Year!

Welcome, 2010!

Welcome to my life--please enter quitely, and leave peacefully, 2010. I look forward to your stay, and I'm hoping you will enjoy my company as well. I know we shall have good times, and perhaps some tough times. We may have good weather, and sometimes stormy, but I own an umbrella. May you bring joy and good health to my friends and family. If you should leave a mess now and then, I'll be ready for you--as long as the sun comes up the next day, I know I'll get the strength to conquer whatever you should throw in my path. Welcome, 2010--make yourself at home.

Okay I've made a few resolutions already. One of them is to write more often-and that includes being more dutiful to my blog which I have neglected for many weeks. I'm not even going to spend too much time explaining myself, just that life has been pretty busy the last few months. It seems as the kids get older, life gets even more busier---why is that? I should not complain though--I know one day Rich and I will be in an empty house (Rich is looking forward to this--I'm not) and we will sit there in front of the T.V. and we will wonder... "Why haven't we heard from the kids lately?" Well--it's not going to happen any time soon. Nicholas is 6--we have at least 14 years to go..ha ha ha. Wow--we probably will have grandchildren before weird. Okay, I'm going to stop thinking about it.

Last night Nicholas marched down stairs to the living room and announced that he was holding something behind his back that he no longer "needed". He then quickly revealed what it was---and my heart dropped when I saw what it was. It was his Winnie The Pooh musical pully that was once hanging in his crib. It plays the lullaby song, and he has had it hanging on the door knob of his closet ever since we put the crib away. Sigh.. Our little boy is growing up! I promised him I would keep it for his first born. Oh God, I don't even know how old I'll be when that happens.. Eek...

The house has been a little more quiet lately. My Lizzy and my son Andrew is off in New Jersey being spoiled by their father and step-mother for a week. From the phone calls I've been getting they are enjoying themselves and the snow--they'll be home soon. I personally don't know how their dad does it--I could not go on without seeing my kids years at a time-it would kill me.

Andrew on staging performing with his friends.

For Christmas I got a very special gift from my son Andrew--a copy of all of his songs on a CD, along with a very special note that made me cry--a happy cry, not a sad one. If I knew how I would download one of the songs on here---perhaps later.

Last night hubby and I watched old episodes of Roseanne through the new year. Sounds exciting huh? I never watched the last episodes of that show and had no idea that Roseanne's character wins the lottery. Rich explained it all to me, and I must admit that I was a bit surprised that my husband used to watch that show---almost in shock. I mean, he likes the History Channel and watching men drive trucks through Alaska shows, and comedy stuff--but Roseanne?! The people on that show remind me of the people I used to see during my brazen single days when I would go to mountain bars. All that plaid and missing teeth, and beer bellies... Interesting. We watched Roseanne and heard the fireworks go off around the neighborhood--thrilling I know, but when you are with the love of your life it really doesn't matter where you are for the new year, right? Tonight we are going to visit my mom, leave Nicholas there and go out to dinner and see a movie.

My friends--may your year be beautiful from beginning to end. Hugs and God bless!