Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Kittens at the rental house again...mama had them in some plants by the breezeway door. Saw them right away. Collected them when they were a week old and now they; mama and babies are all living in our storage room above the garage. 
Here they are at a week old. 

Bubbles is a very attentive mama. Nibblet being held by Bubbles. 

I take them on field trips almost everyday, to explore the house and the yard. I show them to everyone that comes over so that they get used to people. 

However, they feel most comfortable in the storage room, where they have grown up. 

Cuddles is the most adventurous!

Tippy is Cuddles "twin" and these two boys are inseparable. 

Mama is getting very bored in the storage room. She is in jail but gets to go for leashed walks around the property and into the house but is very nervous when her kittens are with her in the house. For the moment, Sparky and Smokey are "dealing". 

Finally, my son had some time away from his busy schedule to bring my granddaughter to see the kittens. It's interesting and familiar to watch her interact with them. She's a little rough but really trying to be gentle eventually.

They are 5 weeks old and will begin to be adopted out around Labor Day weekend. I weighed them last night and they are all almost a pound and a half. Surprisingly, Nibblet is the heaviest even though she looks like the runt. She helps her mom eat the wet food, so that may account for her extra ounces. 

Nibblet - 1 lbs. 6 oz. female - all black
Felix - 1 lbs. 5 3/4 oz. female - black/white
Cuddles - 1 lbs. 5 oz. male - brown/white
Tippy - 1 lbs. 4 3/4 oz. male - brown/white

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

interesting AirBnB experience...

We now have the rule in our house rules "only registered guests allowed to stay overnight". 

The girl from L.A. The Italian model. The restorer of expensive cars. The travel blogger.  It's ALL her. 

She had booked with us 6 months prior. She was going to her good friend's wedding. She had booked for 2 guests but then informed us the day before arriving that it would just be her. 

The first night was fine - that was the rehearsal dinner. She arrived home by 12:30am, no biggie. It was the night of the wedding that she arrived home at 2:30am, stumbling up the stairs with "someone" who drove her home. 

In the morning, we set an extra spot at the breakfast table and eagerly awaited meeting our surprise guest. She brought home a guy that she claimed to have known for a couple of years. We awkwardly went with the flow. She even had him hang out with her for the entire day in the room.

To top it off, you would think she would know a thing or two about etiquette since she is a travel blogger...ah well, she's young and beautiful and for us it's a learning experience :-). 

Other than the whole surprise guest thing, she was a nice enough girl. We won't get into the whole check-in/check-out time thing and having to ask her to leave...had the "guest" thing not have happened, we would have recommended her to other hosts...but alas, we did not.

so little time...

Over the past 4 months we've found out the movie Concealer will NOT be made at our house; it will NOT be made at all. We've had a number of AirBnB guests, one of which left an indelible impression and I will tell you the story behind her visit. We've gone on a couple of vacations; A week in Texas and 2 weeks in Canada. Jerome became a U.S. citizen. We have an Irish student intern staying with us this summer and we are in between renters at the Riverside house...and so, we have kittens! 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

silly russians...

In 4 days, I've received nearly 50 spam comments to my last posting; radio silence.  What a bummer.  I rarely get regular comments and to be inundated with so many spam, I just can't imagine why.  They are all from Russia.  They all have a link attached.  

Of course, I have this blog set up with securities and I have to moderate the comments before they are posted and blogger realizes they are spam and immediately puts them in a spam folder.  The only reason I even know about them is that I get an email.

I guess they figure that at some point, either I or blogger will allow one to be posted and then someone will click on their link.  Silly Russians...

Friday, March 27, 2015

radio silence...

I don’t want to get away from updating this blog…3 months is a long time to be away.  If I had any followers, I would have surely lost them by now.  

Also when I wait too long, my posts become soooo long.  Too long for the average reader.  Oh well, this is for me - to keep a record of all the cool stuff that has been going on.

Why haven’t I been updating?  With my new job, I have had very little energy, not to mention time to be creative in my writing.  Plus winter and the seasonal affective disorder that we all go through, I’m sure.  Above that, for the past 5 years during slow times I was able to update my blog while I was at work.  Working a full time job takes some getting used to…again.

So let’s see, what have we been up to for the past 3 months?

  • JOB
  • CAR

The job…a lot more.
It’s different.  It’s different working for Chrysler (FCA US) and being a direct employee.  There are a lot more requirements; a lot more accountability. A lot more workshops and “lunch and learns”.  I get a lot more snail mail (work related).  I get a lot more email (work related).  I work a lot more hours.  I am a lot busier; thus, a lot more stressed and anxious.

Not to mention “Goals”…don’t get me started.

I was “sun downing” when this new work arrangement (opportunity!) happened…the last few months at VM, working only two days a week.  I was loving it!  So, it’s taking a while to get used to working full time again.  Luckily the HR department knew I was a special case so they were the ones who approached my management about me working part time here.  We tried to figure out if it would be better for me to do the Flexible Work Arrangement or do the Family Medical Leave Act.  I chose the FWA because the FMLA is for when you have a family member that requires your constant attention and aid.  My mom is doing OK right now so I would use this time to take her to lunch, take her grocery shopping and also to her many, many doctor appointments.  I will also use some of this time for ME!  So, it just seemed appropriate to use the FWA at this point.  FMLA might need to be put into effect sometime in the future.  Either way, I wouldn’t get paid for that time off.  So, as of the beginning of March, I am working 4 days a week.  Still twice as much as before but a little easier to take.

The Car…bye bye Miss MINI, Hello Earl!
We were driving home from work one day in Miss MINI when her odometer clicked over to 175,000 miles.  I jokingly said “Gonna have to trade her in for a newer model”.  That’s when Jerome told me that he’d show me the cars that he’d been researching.  Surprise!  Within a couple of weeks, we were driving down to Cranberry Township, PA to buy a new (to us) MINI.  

A couple of years ago, Jerome and I were at Motor City MINI for a little club event.  I had seen the MINI Cooper Coupe at the MINIs on the Mac(k) and I thought it would be cool to take a test drive.  We did and I really liked it.  I said (as I sometimes do) “this will be our next MINI”…little did I know that a short time later, it would come to fruition.

Earl with his notorious summer wheels and tires.
Jerome found a 2012 MINI Cooper Coupe S in Auto Trader.  A 2+ year old car that only had 7000 miles on it.  Our rule was that if we were to buy a used car, it would need to have as little miles on it as 10,000 miles per year.  This one had MUCH less than our requirement.

We drove to CarSense in PA on Valentine’s Day – during a white out (dangereux!).  Took us an extra 2 hours to get there.  We took it for a test drive, but because the roads were covered in snow and the car had summer tires, we really didn’t go very far.  There is a very long story regarding the tires that goes along with this but I will not bore you with the details.  Let’s just say we paid them an extra $500 to deliver the car the following week.  Also, once the review is written about CarSense, I will post the link here.  It was not the best of experiences.
Earl and his super hot winter wheels and tires.

Miss MINI, I forgot to tell you what happened to Miss MINI.  We were told that trade in value would be crazy low so we decided to put her up for sale on Craigslist.  We had a lot of responses.  We met with the girl who was the first positive responder.  She test drove Miss MINI and LOVED her!  So, we met with her at the Secretary of State and did the exchange of cash for title.  We hope that they will both live happily ever after.

Maple syrup…
We’ve had some luck this year with the amount of sap we are collecting.  We started tapping at the right time I guess.  Last year I didn’t even get to ordering the supplies until after I had seen a neighbor doing it for a few days.  Could be why that last year we only got enough to make about 2 tablespoons of cloudy syrup.

Just yesterday we collected about 2 ½ gallons of sap!  This is from three trees; two that are ours and one that is our neighbors.

Last Friday we did our first boil.  We boiled down 22 liters of sap to make about 2 ½ cups of syrup.  We started putting together the boiler and filtering the sap for the first time around 6:45pm.  We were done cleaning the kitchen and going to bed at 3:30am!  Not great planning, as usual.  We had never had so much so we didn’t realize that it would take nearly a full work day to boil it down.  Now we know and we have even more sap than before so we’re going to do this on Saturday and start early enough so that we can boil it all down by Saturday night. (**oh, and after all of that boiling down - all that time, I ended up bumping into the container where we were filtering the syrup and spill a good 7 oz.!).

Also last Friday, we stayed with the (turkey) boiler for a good portion of the boiling time because there is a safety timer that shuts off the propane every 15 minutes.  We have to push a button before the gas gets shut off otherwise we may risk losing our rolling boil.  It reminded us of our all-time favorite TV series; Lost.  Only they had to press the button every 108 minutes.  Eventually we figured out that we could sit in the nice warm house and set an alarm on our device for every 13 minutes.  The alarm goes off and we go outside to check on the sap and press the button.

Not much else...
Other than all of that, over the past 3 months we've gone to a couple of MMMC events; Holiday Party, Planning Meeting and Kart2Kart (where Jerome came in 2nd).  We've worked on different things on a couple of the rentals, I've forced flowers, Justin and Sam had their birthdays in February, We've done Extreme Winter Sports such as snowshoeing (only lasted until Jerome's snowshoe broke, then it became just walking).  We were lucky when we decided that we wanted to walk on Lake Huron on probably the absolute last day that you could have without falling through.  We were able to celebrate our friend Linda's son's Bobble Head Day at Joe Louis Arena and got to see the Red Wings win!  Jerome was treated to making a glass blown icicle and we did a small tour of the Historic Pewabic Pottery in Detroit.  Oh and TV....a LOT of TV.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

blue badging it...

With the new year come new challenges...or as my fortune cookie said "There are big changes ahead for you".

I have been working in the auto industry since August of 1991.  Working either as a contractor or as a direct supplier, but always for Chrysler.  From a green badge to a red badge and now, as of January 1st as the subject implies, I am a BLUE badge!

I have moved up the food chain from my humble beginnings as a receptionist at a Chrysler design shop to what I am doing now; Product Data Management Administrator...actually, I know that was what I was doing at the end of 2014, but I'm not 100% sure what I will be doing in 2015 and beyond.  My official title is Diesel Integration Program Support.

From the time I started working as a contractor for Chrysler, I have yearned to be a direct employee.  The powers that be that were directing me had always kept that like a carrot, an unreachable goal, which made me want it more.

After much frustration, in August 2006 I moved on to the supplier side of things.  I was forewarned by a recruiter that once you leave Chrysler, it is nearly impossible to come back.  I had never known this to be true as I had seen plenty of people I knew coming and going.  But the warning always stuck in my head.

In June 2009, Fiat and Chrysler aligned and at the end of October 2013, Fiat purchased the remaining 50% of my company (VM Motori) from Penske.  Prior to that, Fiat had already owned half.

Things started getting strange for those in our building starting in April 2014, when the Italian portion of the company, located in Cento, Italy were converted to FGA (Fiat Group Automobiles) and Chrysler changed their name to FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)...and the rest of us in the North American portion of our company were not being told anything.  We were being asked for our resumes, which was unsettling.  Rumors started flying and anxiety was the dish of the day.

There are only 21 employees in my building and I've been through something like this before when I worked for FEV.  At Brown Road #2, while working for FEV, there were 15 of us working on a new engine for Chrysler and then Chrysler went into bankruptcy.  Our engine was shelved and our building was closed.  Some people were assigned to the main FEV building, some were reassigned to be on-site Chrysler and others...namely me, were laid off.

In November 2014 we had a large meeting with Chrysler's HR.  They informed us that they would be transitioning all of us to Chrysler, with all the benefits that come with it. AMAZING.  It's like I was just sitting there and an awesome opportunity, one that I had longed for in my earlier years, one that I was sure would never happen to me, happened.  It was handed to me on a silver platter. 

Now to make something of it.

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I want to take this opportunity to thank those that were instrumental in getting me this far in my career.

Tech Row - My dad is the one who told my mom of a full time job position at the design shop he was working.  I had just been separated from my then husband and was living in my parents basement since January.  My mom prodded my dad to get more information about it.

My first boss, Chuck Martin.  He was a kind man and wasn't a micro-manager.  When our building was shutting down because all of the employees were being moved to Chrysler's new building, he along with my contract house, found me another job.

Liberty & Technical Affairs - I had a really bad boss here.  Luckily I also had some nearly retired guys that liked me and utilized me, Del DeRees, Don Jay, John Argeropolous.  Eventually taking me away from the reception desk and offering me an Executive Secretary position.  Later, the same nearly retired guy, Del DeRees wrote up a lovely referral letter for me so that I could move on to another higher paying position at CTC.

LCP, Chassis - I had an even worse boss here than I did when I first started at L&TA.  I want to thank the recruiters at my contract house, Jim Imrick and Rick Wisnewski for temporarily placing me in a position and then getting me an interview with a couple of managers at JTE.

Truck Interior and BIW - My boss, Steve Jakubiec gave me the opportunity to learn the Chrysler database VPM so that I could move away from being a secretary and move into a role that would utilize my design studies.  Steve Swailes was assigned to set up training for me.  Both guys were amazingly nice and forever patient with me.  That leads me to Chris DeMartini.  He is the most awesome and patient trainer.  Funny too.

Jeep Chassis to Truck Interior...again - I want to thank David Ramirez for putting in a good word for me and Dana Warehime (sweetest man ever) for (re)hiring me to be their VPM Coordinator.

FEV to VM-NA - John Blacklock heard from his wife (at the time) Kimberly that VM was looking for a VPM Coordinator.  I had just been let go and with that information, I was able to get an interview and got the job.

VM-NA (in general) - Thank you for only hiring me part time for the past 5 years.  It gave me the opportunity to be with my dad for the last years of his life and especially his last 6 months.  It gave me the opportunity to spend meaningful time with my mom taking her shopping, lunch and just basically getting her away from the house.  It gave me the opportunity to deliver meals for Meals on Wheels every other week for nearly 5 years...something that I had always wanted to do.  It gave me the opportunity to stay home and enjoy some of what that means.  Now, thank you again for giving me this opportunity to finally work "direct" for Chrysler, without having to jump through any hoops.

Also, thanks Jerome for being fine with me working part time and for never giving me a hard time about bringing home less money.