Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bitter Is As Bitter Does

So the Bitter Train is home, unpacked and parked away.

This leaves a couple of options: be annoyed that it's dreary and raining and there's laundry to do and no sundownering due to a lack of sunuppering and on and on.

Or, we can make our own fun.

Twenty four hours after the train was parked, I was at Walmart with Euro Brad. He was jamming a cart full of throw pillows with a frightening level of glee. I laughed, hugged him and said "I really enjoy you. You're fun." He paused in his pillow stuffing and said "You just got back from Florida and you call this fun?"

Fun isn't a location. It's the company you keep.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why We Came Home a Day Early

In order to stifle the rumors about why we came home a day early, we offer the following explanations:

The housekeeper kept bringing us clean towels. The pressure to bathe so often was too much.

Due to a lack of email from others, we felt compelled to come home and email each other.

Leering ZZ Top-ish guys who moved into #102.

The drudgery of walking on the beach, then lounging by the pool. We couldn't take it any more.

Lynne's resolve to not shave was starting to weaken.

The only dessert left to try at the Greek Restaurant was jello.

Publix ran out of Peppermint Stix ice cream.

The weeping phone calls from our lonely friends at home.

Concern that without us, Pat might need the bail money herself.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I've never met Lynne's Aunt Pat and since she died last spring, I guess that ship has sailed for me. However, Aunt Pat has left a lasting legacy for which I will fondly remember her.

Aunt Pat was a world traveler and avid journaler. I'm sure Lynne inherited her wanderlust and lethal blogging skills from her.

Anyway, back to the Legacy of Aunt Pat (hereafter LAP): Sundowners.

When Aunt Pat was on safari in Africa all would pause as the sun began its descent. Tables were draped with linen, snacks were laid out, drinks were poured and all gathered to watch the sun go off to another hemisphere.

Sundowners (or "sundownering" in its verb form) are now a St. Pete Beach tradition---but with our own Bitter Train style. No linen here. But we pour a glass of wine (or two) and set out snacks and pause to watch the sun slip out of sight.

And, we aren't the only ones. We watch from our exalted perch on the sixth floor as people gather at the water's edge and for a few moments we are all united in silent salute to the day and to life and to the wonder of it all.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Before and After

Optimistic, Lynne prepares to encourage the shy Greek Man.
And also to wow him with her large plarn bag. (Not code)

Realizing that shyness is not an issue for the Greek Man, Lynne bolts the door.

Retail Therapy

Lynne's new career--J.C. Penney Catalog Model.

Some people call this a tube top. Lynne thinks it looks like a big tissue.

Lynne as Barbara Eden.

Lynne as Buckwheat.

Trailer Park Lynne. Doesn't she know that you can't smoke near plarn?

How could the Greek Man resist this?

Polynesian Putter

Why pay for miniature golf when you can photograph the tacky decor from the sidewalk?

Mr. Bubble---The Explanations Continue

A few years ago, when I re-entered the shark infested waters of adult dating, I was looking for a way to evaluate the caliber of potential dates. I came up with The Mr. Bubble Test which is "Would I like to spend an evening with this guy, or would I rather have a nice soak in the tub with Mr. Bubble?"
So, when Lynne refers to Mr. Bubble winning, she means that upon learning a bit more about The Greek Dude, she's decided that he failed The Mr. Bubble Test.
I mean, look at him---cute and cheerful, ready to scrub my back. He's tough to beat.

Why Mr. Bubble Won

It's rather a long, tawdry story. However, our kind and patient followers demand clarification.

To further describe Greek man, it might be helpful to think of Kinicki from Grease (I'm sure it's just a coincidence that the country of origin and name of the movie are the same).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mr. Bubble Wins Again

We went to the restaurant. We chatted with the Greek man. Got to know him a little better.

Good thing I didn't shave those legs.

Bitter Train Jeopardy!

Don't panic, Pat. We don't need the bail money. This is our version of the classic game show.

A: Sluts!

Q: What did some boys in a car yell at us last night when we were out for our evening stroll?

A: Nadia

Q: What's the name of a girl with very poor super soaker aim and even poorer supervision?

A: Angry painted on eyebrows.

Q: What facial feature of the complex manager do we find disturbing yet fascinating?

A: Phoebe and Chandler.

Q: What are the names of two poorly behaved children who were seated next to us at Skidders?

A: The Disco Channel.

Q: What internet radio station does Lynne patiently tolerate when Sue is in the mood to return to her 70s roots?

A: Her inner beauty.

Q: What did Sue's super face mask bring to the surface? (Snort)

A: Because she might want to buy a plarn bag.

Q: Why did Lynne give a stranger her business card?

A: Peppermint

Q: What flavor ice cream do we have in the freezer?

A: The Flaming Cheese.

Q: What food have we agreed not to order at Skidders? Alternate answer: What would be a great name for a sports team?

A. Seven.

Q: How many books (combined) did we bring with us?

A. One (By Lynne)

Q: How many books (combined) have we finished.

A: Overly friendly homeless man.

Q: Who screwed the gas cap for Sue? (And that's not code).

Thanks for playing. Please feel free to post your scores.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Shop Til You Drop

I did, for me, lots of shopping today. First there was the trip to Publix, where we bought lots of things that we can't get in Ada---fancy crackers, matzo, babaganoush, wine and sushi. Oh, and the plaintain chips. We were feeling prettty exotic.

Then this afternoon we went to---The Mall. As you might imagine, Lynne and I aren't big shoppers...unless there's a bag sale at ReStore. At Bath and Bodyworks I bought some hand soap and a purifying cleansing mask. When I checked out the clerk told me that the mask was really great but "It'll bring everything to the surface so make sure you don't use it right before a big party or anything." So, I've got that to going for me.

Then we went to Barnes and Noble where I found The Encyclopedia of Crime. Can you believe that it was in the sale bin? In a disturbing, yet impressive display of crime knowledge, I identified all but one of the photos on the cover: Patty Hearst , OJ Simpson, Al Capone, Scott Peterson, Aileen Wuornos, Charles Manson, Lee Harvy Oswald, Mark David Chapman. I haven't figure out who the last guy is, but I will. I'll just open the book randomly and share with you: Page 175 an entry about Half-Hanged Smith--in 1705 he was hanged but before he died a horseman galloped up to announce that he'd been pardoned. He was taken down and found to still be alive. Undaunted, he continued to commit crimes and likely died in prison.

Manufacturer's retail price: $40. I got it for $9.99. Can you believe it?

Finally, the trip to the tourist boutique where I purchased a glamorous new ring for only $2.99. Yep, it takes a crafty shopper to find such a treasure for less than five dollars.

And, my favorite purchase...the perfect gift for a fan whose birthday is fast approaching. Yes, it's even better than the crime encylopedia or the mask guaranteed to make me into a zitty monster.

Don't be jealousy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


The pursuit of the elusive Greek is not going well. After another failed attempt at getting him to fall in love with me, what is becoming clear is the immensity of the obstacles and the pitiful tools at my disposal to overcome these obstacles.


Me. This is probably the biggest. I'm scared. However, I am holding my own with eye contact, smiles, and the occassional witty repartee (which lasts for approximately 47 seconds before he flits back to his Very Responsible Job).

Him. It would appear that when he is at work, he is very focused on actually doing his job. This is admirable, but not helping. Throw in his own shyness (or fear), language barrier, and the fact that the owner(s) who look like the Greek mafia (I'm just saying that to see what kind of ads pop up), and it is a recipe for disaster.

This is not to even begin to discuss possible age differences and 1100 miles. That would be easy.


Match the person and their dating advice. Five points each.

Karen, my spiritual friend
Pat, my very practical professional pharmacist friend
Julie, our superblogfan friend
Shirley Feeney, from Laverne and Shirley

"drop your fork and shake your money makers"
"he needs your graceful directness"
"be bold - get tea to go and ask him out"
"dance the way I do when I want to attract Carmine Ragusa - works every time"

Do you see what I'm up against? Is there any hope? There needs to be a way where no way appears to be possible.

Why We're Inside with the Doors Locked

'Nuff Said.

P.S. Note Lynne's shoulder on the left w/plarn bag.

A Very Short List

Some things Lucy and Ethel would do (but we know better than to try):

1. Naval shots (Sue has a caveat for this one - guess what it is)

2. Shave legs for the first time in over a decade (again only one of us)

3. Drive giant tricycles in the sand while wearing our bathing suits.

Blogging On Location While On Location

We're at the restaurant. Think of this as Harriet The Spy 2009.

Stay tuned. I'm ordering the tomato sandwich. (That's for those who actually read Harriet the Spy).

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Word About the Ads

You may have noticed the Google ads here on our blog. We aren't doing this to get rich and The Bitter Train disclaims all liability for anything you might buy. But, the ads change based upon the content of the blog and that's what we think is fun. We've gone from roofing ads to cheesecake recipes and laser hair removal. So, after you finish chuckling over our adventures, make sure you scroll down and see what ads pop up.

We thought about making up something weird to write about just to see what ads show up, but it seems that our reality is sufficient.

Sounds of the Sea

How was our first night in Florida? After driving a thousand miles, walking 3 miles on the beach, breathing in large doses of sea air, not to mention the excitement of dinner, we were beat.

We settled into our unit nicely. Sue chose the pull out couch. Being the tough cookie that she is, she didn't even pull it out! I admire her grit with couch sleeping abilities (a feat she had demonstrated earlier while pet sitting at my house).

In the bedroom with the monstrous king sized bed, I fluffed the pillows and chose some mindless entries from Reader's Digest for my final wind-down. On the other side of the wall, I could hear my neighbor's television. It wasn't too bad, but I was hoping they'd turn it off soon.

Be careful what you wish for. They turned it off. I sighed in relief and began to reach over to turn off the light. Then it began. Moaning, grunting. Oh yeah. Apparently the sea air filled my neighbors with amour. I promptly hopped out of bed to report this to Sue.

It is one thing to have to hear this, and quite worse to hear it while feeling quite shut out of the process. So I went into the bathroom and allowed plenty of time before I returned to my room. All quiet on the western (their room did face west) front. Phew.

And even better, we've moved on up (queue Jefferson theme song) to the 6th floor, ocean front room. Better view and hopefully celibate neighbors.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Always Get Dessert

So, we went to the Greek Restaurant (Skidders). Getting there was tricky. Wardrobe consultations, an incident related to the iron (non-injury), and then crossing a busy street. It was tough, but we got there.

We didn't get a rousing reception. I wondered if we should just leave. We ordered salads.

He walked by several times. Nothing.

Pat sent flirting advice.

It was a grim scene.

Then the waitress suggested dessert. We both said we didn't think so, but we looked at the dessert menu, you know, just to be nice. She suggested the cheesecake. "Why not?" I thought.

It was awesome. Lynne didn't order dessert, but noticed that the menu said to feel free to "skip over to our dessert showcase", so she did, but without the skipping.

She got triple chocolate cake.

The cheesecake was fantastic. Better than Cheesecake Factory. Really.

But the best part...he came by our table and asked Lynne "Where's the little one?" referring to Julie's baby, Lilly, who was with them in January.


Lynne introduced me and he shook my hand. A nice firm handshake. I only mention this because Lynne has totally got the jealousy about the fact that he touched me.

To recap---he remembered and the cheesecake is awesome. What could be better?

Oh...and I'm writing this sitting outside our room...20 paces from the beach.

As for the leg change. Hurry and vote.

Should she or shouldn't she?

Remember when you first started shaving your legs (or shaving at all, be you male)? It was an exciting rite of passage. It was exciting at 13, but not so much at, say, 15, when it became a real chore.

Leg shaving was never something I was very diligent about. I'd skip entire winters. The Summer Shave wasn't pretty. Fortunately, my hair has always been lighter, so not as frightening, notwithstanding a few unsightly pantyhose incidents.

At some point, I asked Darren if he'd mind if I stopped shaving my legs. He said he didn't care and that was the last of it. Darren's been gone nearly 6 years and it was several years before that since the big decision. Clinton was probably president and it was still the 20th century. So it's been awhile.

There have been occasions when I've wondered if I should shave them. Important ones like...ok, there haven't been any. I did give serious consideration to it when I had lunch with John Cusack. However, since I wore boots to lunch, it was a moot point. And I'm glad I didn't cuz it turns out he had 5 o'clock shadow at noon.

But today's a new day. Florida sunshine, beach walks, and pale, scaly hairy legs to display. Should I want to impress a guy, say at a restaurant, should I be concerned about this?

Think Burma Shave Signs:

"Cat hair stuck in snarly legs
The foam and razor from the distance begs.

Hovering over the Border

Debating what was the worst part of our trip thus far (because those on the bitter train do not discuss the best parts of the trip), we realized that after 800 miles, we arrived into our comfy hotel only to discover we couldn't get on the internet. We apologize to our loyal, anxious Followers.

But due to Sue's diligence, we have access this morning and we're back and bittererer than ever. Well, not really, we're almost to Florida. It was 28 degrees when we left the Gold Coast of Hardin County, and arrived in 74 degrees in Georgia.

We made it clear to Valdosta, Georgia in 13.5 hours. The trip was smooth, though we had rain as soon as we crossed into Kentucky (punishment for leaving Ohio?) - so basically for 11.5 hours, we were in the rain.

Now, just 18 miles from Florida, the Train should be pulling into our Florida destination by noon. And we're going to have lunch at Sonny's BBQ if it kills us! Not that Sonny would do that to us, we just couldn't find any for dinner last night, so we had to settle for Cracker Barrel, which afterall is a mandatory stop for all roadtrips on Interstate 75.

Be sure to check in for breaking news on all meals, hazards, and people sightings.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


The Bitter Train is expected to depart from the Gold Coast of Hardin County in about an hour.

We'll check in with you later from the road.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Twenty Four Hours Before We Leave and I'm Searching the Web for Lucy and Ethel Photos

"Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead." - Lucille Ball

The quote is totally unrelated to the photo or even what I wanted to blog about, but when I found it (while looking for Lucy and Ethel photos) I just had to use it.

Being a redhead, I have so many celebrity role models---Danny Bonaduce and Lucille Ball top the list. Ok, I don't really want to emulate Danny. I just like my photo that looks like him.

Back to my point. This trip is a total Lucy and Ethel adventure, but what I realized this morning is that Lynne, who is usually the voice of reason (a la Ethel) has completely transformed into Lucy.

And, since everyone loves Lucy, I think this is a great thing. I just hope we get a chance to stomp some grapes. (That's not code.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why St. Pete Beach?

Why indeed?

My first trip to St. Pete Beach was in '04. I went to see a dear friend. Many years prior, we had a very unfortunate falling out. Outside the plane window, I saw the blue of the ocean, and the green of the grass - colors not often seen in a Buckeye January. I was going to see my friend, who at the time lived in St. Petersburg. My eyes were full of tears that a reconciliation was at hand.

I stayed at a place her mom and dad knew, and I ended up buying a week there. The concept of "buying a week on a calendar" was bizarre, but they explained it to me, and I followed through. I have never regretted it. It has been the place where many friends of mine have been able to escape the winter during "Week 5."

St. Pete Beach has been a place of restoration, repair, and relaxation. I realized today that it is precious to me. Four and a half years ago, it is the place where two cancer survivors did a 60-mile, 2 day walk, and somehow talked me into joining them. I realized that I had more physical strength than I knew. It's a place where a last minute New Year's Eve concert translated into a revitalizing walk on the beach on New Year's Day '06, when I realized I had (finally) come through the grief fully and even more edified. It is where I've been able to nurse many wounds from the years of dealing with Darren's illness and rest my physical body and my mental pain. It's where I've had so much fun with dear friends. Walking down to the "pink birthday cake hotel," it is a place where I contemplate dreams.

Now that we've made the radical, only slightly impulsive, decision to leave early (Saturday!), I have hopes that more areas of my life will be healed and restored - no matter what that looks like.

Some may say I am going because I can't resist the "rack of lamb" at the restaurant across the street. Ok, so a healthy appetite is a good sign in some respects, but it is so much more than that, this excursion. It is a place that heals me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Losing It

"She's not playing with a full deck." "He's not the sharpest knife in the drawer." "The butter has slipped off her noodles." Me? I'm missing a few shingles from my roof.

Three days after I returned home from my regular trip to Florida (yay for Week 5!), winds close to 70 mph kept me awake all night as the lampshade rattled and my bed shook (and not in a good way). In the morning, I went outside to find my yard littered with shingles. For the fourth time in a year, I had to call the roofers.

And while the two little days we had this past week where the temperatures basked in the mid-60's, it's right back to howling winds and wind chills below freezing again.

Which leads me to ask, can the train leave a few days earlier?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Since You Asked

Other ways for Pat to raise bail money.

Expert tour guide and/or arm model.

Cutlery demonstrator.

Fundraising for our adventure

Friends really keep us going, don't they? It's good to have friends. And if they have a function other than their fantastic selves, it's a bonus. Our friend Pat is a pharmacist, professor, and a helpful reference for all medical issues. She also seems to have some sort of cache of bail money set aside in case she gets into trouble, say, on one of her excursions to Vegas or a student with unauthorized piercings walks into her office.

Upon reading our posts, she has become concerned that she may need to use them What? Here are some of the ideas she's had to raise additional bail money:

1. Part-time job
2. Recycling aluminum cans
3. Turning in her change jar
4. Tax refund
5. Coffee cans with our pictures on them for giving at the local carry-out (we'd probably bump a few kids with mysterious ailments)
6. Bake sale for "Free the Ohio 2"
7. Liquidating cd's
8. Selling plasma

Surely it won't come to that. Will it?

If this was on my porch, what will wash up at the beach?

With the awful time change, it's very dark outside in the mornings. When it's so cloudy and pouring rain, it's still dark when technically the sun has risen. While sipping my orange juice and looking out my patio door, I noticed a large something on the porch. It looked like a branch, which would not be a surprise with the winds we've been enduring.

Outside in slippered feet, the investigation revealed not a branch but a fish. An ugly, frost bitten fish. A fish of 13-14 inches long. Apparently it was a gift from Franklin, my 19.6 pound cat (weighed at the vet's yesterday), who must have drug it up from the pond.

I sure hope they find those NFL players soon.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Just another day in Alger

One task that needed to be completed before leaving was holding my mail. As I was leaving the post office in Alger this morning, a man with a cane limped heavily up the ramp. I said, "let me get the door for you." He replied, "oh, I'll get there eventually."

As he went into the building and I began to walk away, he called, "yep, just got the leg last week."


It's enough to drive you to drink. I don't drink often and I don't drink much. So how did I accidentally get a little tipsy at noon on Monday? The potato vegetable soup I was having for lunch had tasted great the night before with a little wine, so I poured myself a glass. Maybe a little more than last night, but not as much as you'd be served in a restaurant. Perfect.

Shortly after lunch, I thought a cup of coffee would be good to chase away my sinus headache. Looking in the fridge, I was out of cream, but I did have that wonderful rum liquor a friend had given me. Midway through my coffee, I realized I had a buzz. Of course, I drank the other half.

And I must say, it made cramming two cats into their own carriers then hauling them to the vet a little more pleasant.

Now if I were on vacation, this wouldn't be a problem. Why does location matter?

And that may explain why I decided to use my camera phone and take that picture. It's not a great book, and the cover makes it seem like a torrid romance novel, which it soundly is not (darn it). The story isn't great, but marking my place each night sure gives me a kick.

Clearly, I need a vacation.

Where Should We Go For Dinner Tonight?

I hear there's lots of fine dining in Florida. But, will they be able to top this?

I'd been waiting for them to replace the "G" but it's been this way for several weeks, so I think the "G" is g-g-g-gone.

P.S. Click on the photo to get the up close version if you're having trouble reading the sign. There's only so much I can do with a camera phone in rush hour traffic.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Not that we need to justify leaving, but....

Spring is coming. I know it is because the temperature is 70 degrees at this moment. Last Saturday, it was 7. And Monday, it will be back to 27. That's how you know it's Spring in Ohio. My cranky cat who normally sleeps full-time,Olive, went outside yesterday. Yes, it's Spring.

But that won't keep me here. I know darn well that 70 degrees is just a tease. I'm headed for better scenery because right now the best I can do are my neighbor's cows. See that look on their faces? They're judging me.

Because A Long Cold Winter Just Wasn't Bad Enough

First, there was the fun and excitement of having a tree fall on my house.

Then I got a new roommate.

Yep, I'm ready for a roadtrip.

Friday, March 6, 2009

On or about February 10, plans were drawn for a trip to Florida. For those of you living north of the Mason-Dixon, you know what a brutal winter '09 has been. It deserves no further comment. Spring break looms for one of these train riders, and the opportunity for warmth is irresistable. For the other passenger on this train, this trip is a fool's mission (but with a minimum reward of plenty of fun and warmer weather). But more on both of them later.

For now, sit back, load up your i-Pod, cuz the Bitter Train is getting ready to roll.

Don't be jealousy.