Thursday, December 31, 2009

High hopes for 2010

I'm not making New Year's Resolutions for the coming year. I don't need the angst of breaking them. I am, however, starting a list of Hopes... one of which is to be more consistent in posting to my blog. We'll see.

Had dinner last evening with two lovely friends, a married couple. They quietly celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year and still act like newlyweds... not by being overtly touchie-feelie but in their solicitous attention to and respect for each other. When the wife left the table momentarily, the husband remarked that marriage is a crap-shoot... you never know what you're getting into. He said that his wife was not the woman he had married. She had changed, in a good way. Of course, he added, he wasn't the same person she had married. His favorite thing about her is that she continues to make him laugh. I've not often heard a man say he is glad he's married. If my husband had been like him, I might still be married. Of course, I would need to have been as nice as his wife is. They are exceptional people and I count it a grace to know them and be included in their lives.

2009 has been a wild ride, personally and world-wide. Economic havoc, ecological upheaval, momentous strides in knowledge (medical, scientific, in all branches actually), revelations of feet of clay. 2010 will be no different. With luck and grace, the good will outweigh the bad.

My present from Santa last year was eyelashes. (I had lost them after undergoing chemo therapy.) Due to starting a second round of therapy a few weeks back, I'm basically hairless again but I still have eyelashes... and there seem to be more than I have ever had. I may find them on my pillow tomorrow, but I had them for Christmas. A bonus from Santa?

The recent terror attack attempt has prompted calls to put the Full Body Scanners in use. I remember the ads at the back of comic books for xray glasses... let you see through clothes (usually pictured a teen aged boy looking at a glamorous woman). When I started my obsession with reading as a child, one of the genres I enjoyed was the emerging science fiction... reading about all the wondrous things that might happen and be invented in the future. I have come to realize that, if we can imagine it, it can happen. 'They' have managed to get a man to put explosives in his underwear.... ! I may never get over this one.

We will have a full moon tonight, a blue moon (traditionally, the second full moon occurring in a month), on the last day of the year. Not a common occurrence, but not unheard of. With luck, the sky will be clear for us to enjoy its light.

Happy New Year to all.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa, Baby, always visits early

Let's get this out of the way first thing... I believe in Santa Claus. (And, yes, I'm wa-a-a-y past the age of consent.) Santa has always come through for me. About fifteen years ago, I had an epiphany when I recognized for the fist time that Santa was responsible for a present that only he could provide. It's been a game for me every year since to wait, watch, and see if I recognize his gift. I start watching about three weeks before Christmas as the gifts have always arrived sometime within that time frame. (My theory is that he visits the adults early so as to leave Christmas Eve clear for the children.) Suspend your disbelief and think back. I bet you will be able to identify your Santa gift.

We had snow last Friday. Lots of snow... more than we were expecting here where I live. The weather people had said we'd get about 5" and that would be tamped down when it changed to rain. I watched the first 5 in comfort. Slept through the rest. Snow doesn't appear as deep when looked at from above. Had plans to do lunch with a friend on Monday. Went to the first floor and realized that clearing the car would be a little more involved than I had thought. Knowing I wouldn't feel like socializing (ditto for the doctor appointment on Tuesday morning) after taking care of snow-removal, I rescheduled the lunch date and headed out, giant combination-scraper-brush in hand. Contrary to the amount I had told my daughters about, I measured and there was only 12" of snow on my car. In this case, size didn't matter... it seemed like 2' while I was getting it off the car. No shovel to clear a path from the parking spot through the ridge of snow that had frozen in front of the car, created when the trusty maintenance crew cleared a lane for entering and exiting the parking area.

At 10am Tuesday morning, I set out for my appointed rounds. Made it over the frozen ridge and out of the lot. The city and state snow-removal dudes had done a great job, making my trek an easy one. Got gas, went to the doctor's office, went to the Garden (beautiful with the snow!), ran a couple of errands, made a short visit to a friend's house to see her tree and give gifts for her and her family. I returned home about 8pm. 'My" parking spot was open! Had another appointment at the doctor's for a treatment Wednesday morning. Got home about 2pm. The spot was open! As today is Christmas Eve, I expect the time frame for this gift may have expired, but I'll find out tomorrow, Christmas Day, after spending time with family. Santa is nothing if not a class act and one more day, THE day, may be included.

Eartha, I know you're waiting for Santa, Baby to put your gifts under the tree, but eat your heart out... he's already been to see me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No "Bah, humbug" allowed

'Tis the season for giving. And receiving. Want to give a gift that costs no money at all? Be a joyful receiver this year. I know... we all hear "It is more blessed to give than to receive" all year long, especially at this time of year. Have you ever given someone a gift and their reaction let you know that it was beneath their standards? That they couldn't set it aside quickly enough? How did that make you feel? Unappreciated? Sorry you spent the time and money? Angry? So much for your holiday spirit, right?

It's okay to enjoy getting gifts. Even God wants us to be thankful for his gifts to us. We should do less for people who give to us? So what if it appears to be something that was grabbed and wrapped at the last minute? At least we were on the list. And that is no small thing.

So, give the gift that REALLY keeps on giving... a heartfelt "Thank you." Even if you have to mentally grit your teeth and smile through them. You won't be sorry. And the look on their face (sometimes it's relief that you didn't sneer at them) will be a gift you have given to yourself... no cost involved except a moment of your time. And, at some point in the coming year, you'll be glad you have that item, because whatever it is, you'll discover that it's just the thing that's needed, for yourself or someone else. I guarantee it. Works for me every time.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Matters of weather and taste

The parade started on time at 10 a.m. this morning in miserable weather... cold rain and wind. The grandstand was across the street from my place so I was able to enjoy watching it in dry comfort. My heart went out to all the participants. I've been part of marches in bad weather. The worst part is the standing around, waiting to get on the move. As soon as the whistle blows and the drum beat starts, the adrenaline kicks in. The weather is still miserable but more bearable. And the end is, at last, in sight.

Sometime this past November, supermodel Kate Moss stated that her motto is: "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." Some people have been upset by this as it is a slogan posted on Web sites encouraging girls not to eat. However skinny Miss Moss and others want to feel, I beg to differ. Nothing tastes as good as sharing a meal with family and friends.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The gift of moonlight

As a child, my favorite time of the 24 hours began at twilight on nights of the full moon. The heat of the summer day slowly dissipated, lightning bugs blinked their tiny beacons near and far, and the moonlight gave a silver gleam to everything in sight. On the clearest evenings, the light was so brilliant that it created knife-edged shadows. In Winter, the full moon's beams added silver outlines to the leafless trees and made the frost sparkle.

I was born at the end of June, a Cancer, under the sign of the Moon. I've always been a moon child. I could (and still can) fall asleep in the midst of a room-full of talking people, with the radio or TV playing. But let me be asleep in a quiet dark room and have a moonbeam fall across my bed and my eyes will pop open as if a wake-up switch has been thrown in my brain. For a time in my 30's, when I was a single mother of three working two jobs, having gotten my children to bed, I would lie on the lounge out in the back yard, enjoying the quiet under the full moon. A neighbor saw me one evening and asked what I was doing. I told him I was getting a moon tan.

I'm still a moon child and try to catch as many moon rays as I can. Which means I was truly delighted this past Tuesday evening while I was at the Garden. I had made myself get up, get dressed, and go to the Garden library for my volunteer hours.
.... A few moments after arriving, one of the workers finishing the installation of the Christmas... excuse me... Holiday decorations in the Reading Room offered to show us a project she had just finished and placed in the cabinet holding treasured floral porcelains. I looked at the figures in the cabinet and my reaction was 'so?' Then she pointed out that the largest, sitting on the bottom shelf, was one she had created from real dried plant material from the Garden. It is breath-taking, especially juxtaposed with the porcelain porcelains. I spent the rest of my hours there pointing out my favorite 'fake porcelain' to everyone who visited the library.
.... I discovered that the evening was Member Night (free admission). The air was just crisp enough to feel Christmas-ey and only a slight breeze was blowing. I decided to stay and walk through the Garden's Fest of Lights. I treated myself to a bowl of Red Pepper & Crab soup in the Cafe as I watched darkness descend and the lights start to glow. As I walked across to the Conservatory, I realized that there was a full moon! It was a soft golden orb, in a cobalt sky with gauzy clouds seeming to hang in place, throwing a golden haze over the Garden. Heavenly.

I've been taught that in Heaven there will be no night... the radiance of the Father will out-shine the sun. I hope that in a small corner, I'll be able to find quiet and moonlight.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Glorious Thanksgiving

What a wonderful Thanksgiving Day I had. The weather where I am was sunny and shirt-sleeve mild and I got to be with some (not all) of my favorite people. Okay, so they're my family. I can't help it if they're the Best and Brightest. The rest of my B&B were off celebrating with more of my B&B. I feel like the pebble that's thrown in a pond... the rippling rings of extended family & friends keep moving out from me. If I can ever remember to buy the winning lottery ticket, I'll get them all together in one location.

So much to be thankful for this year. Family, old friends, new acquaintances. Serendipity, little graces, large blessings. Being in good shape for the shape I'm in.

And I finally figured out the real reason we eat turkey on Thanksgiving. It doesn't taste like chicken.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sunshine, glorious sunshine

Three days of sunshine... glorious Fall days. Have been out and about, added some variety to my diet, been to the Garden, and spent time with people I love. And no more nightmares of being chased by a chicken with foul designs. Life is good.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Surrounded by people in shorts, running

Today is the Marathon. Fifteen thousand people running past my abode. Plus the support people handing out water and providing security. Secure is right... can't get my car out of the parking lot. Have been a shut-in for the last couple of days recouping from surgery. Need to get out and breathe fresh pollution. I neglected to stock up on diverse provisions for my stay-in. Luckily there are several restaurants withing walking distance, on my side of the street. 'Cause I gotta say, if I have to eat one more piece of chicken, I'll lay an egg!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cut and paste

Just heard on the news that the Vatican has joined the search for extra-terrestrial life... and if any is found, it will be considered a part of The Creation.

Went to a robotics competition this past Saturday to watch my grandson's team compete. The enthusiasm and imagination was rampant and all the competitors were having fun while trying to make their best showing. These kids are a small part of the generation that will dream and invent and improve our world. Each team also had to create a presentation on transportation and all showed questions about current systems and ideas for making improvements that would benefit the environment. My grandson's team was made up of kids of varying ages with varying experience with robotics and competition. Most of the other teams were same-grade age levels. Our team was somewhat disappointed with their point level, but the experience garnered at this year's competition will serve them well for next year.

Having a bit of out-patient surgery today. 'Nothing by mouth' after mid-night last night. Had hoped to sleep in this morning but was awake at 2am per usual. Have had to keep reminding myself to not make coffee. Waiting for 7am for a sip of water to take my morning meds. Oh, great... now I'm hungry.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hey, Kids... what time is it?

My body woke up at its usual time but the clocks suggested otherwise. It's now 4:11am (or 3:11am depending on my time or the clock's). Today is my youngest child's birthday. As usual, I didn't get a card in the mail to her. At least I'm consistent. I'll call later to remind her and say, "Happy Birthday."

I'm so glad I've lived long enough to reach a stage of thanksgiving for every moment... admittedly, some more pleasant than others. Looking back, I have to admit that most of the angst I experienced was self-induced. My life has actually been an easy one as compared to those of others who have had true tragedy to endure. I've been blessed with wonderful family, friends and experiences. I've met interesting people. And had just the right amount of adventure. All enough to inspire me to want to wake up each morning. If I'd had the wisdom to practice appreciation earlier in my life, I'd have had a lot less of that angst. The official Thanksgiving will be here soon but I celebrate it each day.

Every time I hear someone say, "What time is it," I automatically think, "Howdy Doody time!" (Showing my age here.) I've had a lifetime filled with Howdy Doodys and Mr. Blusters and Princesses Spring Summer Winter Fall, and Clara Bells. All my life I've had a pretty static picture of God in my mind, a result of my upbringing and the pictures in my old King James bible. But, every once in a while, I see Him differently. Right now, He looks like Buffalo Bob. I've lived my life in the Peanut Gallery!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Square holes and Pookas

This thing with the clouds and me is verging on eerie. I drove to the mountains again last week. It had been spitting rain and mist all morning; clouds of varying hues of gray covering the sky. And then... I glance up and see a hole in the clouds. This hole had straight sides and pointed corners. It looked exactly like an open mail slot in a front door. I was inside looking though to slot to brilliant sunlight outside. I almost expected to see two eyes appear, peeking back at me. I'm not important enough to the Scheme of the Universe to think that these phenomenae are there only for me. I'm just going to enjoy the thrill of these unexpected and unusual sights. I can hardly wait for the next one.

Spent Saturday helping with a Girl Scout outing. The park was wonderful, the wind cold, and the sky by turns sunny and overcast. It was a joy seeing so many girls experiencing fun learning activities. Their favorite activity was making butter. They couldn't believe how good it was. My youngest granddaughter was amazed that it was white. I explained that color was added to butter to make it the yellow we are used to seeing.

Had a pleasant, uneventful drive home with no unusual sights in the heavens. Was too tired to do anything useful but too awake to take a nap. Noticed that the film Harvey was going to be on so I watched it. This Harvey was not the original starring Jimmy Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd, but the 1999 remake starring Harry Anderson as Elwood and Swoozie Kurtz as his sister, Veta. I had not seen this version before as I had been certain that it would not be up to the standard of the original. I was wrong. It is delightful! I highly recommend it... a great way to leave the cares of the world behind and join Elwood and his Pooka. I wish I had a Pooka. But, as Elwood pointed out to the doctor, Pookas don't come to you until you're ready. I've always thought I was ready. Lord knows, I need one. Elwood's mother told him,"... in this life you can be smart or you can be nice." I've come up short on both.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rodents and phenomenae and models, oh, my!

Went last week for a follow-up mammogram. Carol, the technician, started positioning me for the first x-ray, apologizing for the coldness of the equipment. I told her it reminded me of the first time years ago that I had come to that location. At that appointment, the tech was shorter than I, blond, upbeat... and had the coldest hands this side of death. She also sounded exactly like Minnie Mouse. When I reacted to her touch, she began effusive apologies, asking many times if I was in pain? Is the equipment too tight? I had almost choked trying to swallow my laughter when I realized that this was her normal voice, not an attempt to lighten a pressing situation. I told Carol that I had thought of Minnie and retold my tale of the experience often over the years. Carol said, "She's still here. She's my boss. She's always complaining of being cold."

The news has been full of reports on the arrest, and reaction to it, of Roman Polanski for the rape of an under-age girl years ago. My strongest reaction was to Whoopie Goldberg's statement that 'it wasn't rape rape.' Isn't that what pedophiles say?... 'it wasn't rape, they wanted it.' I am so disappointed in Whoopie. Polanski is rich and sought after by many. Want to guess how this will end? Saw a chipmunk recently... the first I've seen in several years. It was in my lane of the street and couldn't decide which way to run. So it sat there... looking at me as if to say, "Either wait or go over." Just goes to prove, if you're a rodent, and not rich, it helps to be cute.

Last week, a strange cloud appeared over Moscow. It looked like a huge halo. Or the exhaust from an alien spaceship like the ones in the film "Independence Day." (I often think of my diamond-shaped cloud.) Could this new cloud be another sign of things to come.. the future written in the sky?

Seems a recent model's photo was air-brushed to the point that her head was bigger than her hips. And it's been announced that Marge Simpson will be in Playboy magazine. Time to think of what photo I'll use for my Christmas cards this year. Hmmmmm....

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Taking license

The Pendulum of Human Intelligence must be swinging through the Arc of Stupidity again. As reported on NBC recently, a woman has been cited for not having a license to perform day-care for children. Her offense? She has been watching some of her neighbors' children to see that they are safe until the school bus arrives. She receives no money for doing this.

Does this mean that a person who sits with a sick friend can be sited for not being a certified care-giver? Do you need an On-site Liquor License to serve wine and beer to dinner guests in your home?

I suggest that there be a License to Commit Stupidity. No exceptions. Everyone would have to have a license or else pay a fee for being unlicensed (just like paying a fee to the state for being an uninsured driver). Taken to the national level, fees and fines alone could solve the deficit problem.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Soup's on

Friday had been overcast with spits of rain and a damp chill in the air... perfect weather to make the first pot of hearty soup of the season. Yum. I love soup and can't seem to make less than a large pot, so I'm still enjoying the beef & vegetables of my labor. I'll probably finish it off today. This time, I used Julia's advice and blotted the beef dry before browning; it made a big difference for the better in the taste of the soup. From now on, I'm a committed blotter-er. Hey... I wonder if it works for steaks and chops, too. (Ya think?)

Sunday (yesterday) turned out to warm (in the 80s) and it's supposed to be warm again today, but Fall will finally settle in soon. Heck, there may even be a chill in the air for Halloween this year. Haven't decided on my costume, or if it's even worth going to the trouble... I manage to scare enough people in my natural state.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bon jour!

I finally got to see "Julie and Julia" this past weekend. What a wonderful film. The acting was superb and the casting enlightened. I felt that no other actors would have been right in each role. (I used to work with a woman who could 'do' Julia perfectly... she left me gasping with laughter each time.) Julia Child was unique in every sense of the word and I'm so glad that this delightful film was made of the book. I could almost taste the food every time one of the characters said "Yummm."

Even Julia's recipes couldn't convince me to prepare, let alone taste, every thing she cooked and printed a recipe for in her book... I have a semi-educated palate. But I realized that I have neglected using her book to prepare food... something I plan to remedy.

The book and film are purportedly about Julia and her blogger learning to cook, but it really is a love story... the love and romance between a man & woman and the love of food. Okay... so I'm a closet Romantic... I admit it... and I've added "Julie and Julia" to my list of favorite romantic movies. I wonder if it will be on DVD in time for Christmas?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

To oink or not to oink... that is the question.

Days and days of beautiful weather lately, interspersed with needed mist and rain. Spent several days in the mountains last week highlighted by perfect weather the whole trip. Hot and muggy yesterday during the day; then walked out the door in the early evening and the humidity had disappeared.

Received a call Thursday informing me that I might have been exposed to the Swine... oops!... H1N1 flu. When my doctor's office returned my call, I was told that I should not have a problem... just one question: how was it determined to be H1N1? When the cases of flu created headlines this past Spring, we were told that, given the number of confirmed cases and the cost & time needed to verify, all new cases of flu at that time would be assumed to be H1N1. Does this mean that the pandemic we have been warned to expect will be backed up by the number of real (test verified) as well as the assumed cases? An assumed pandemic?

As for me, I'm fit as a fiddle, fine as frog fur, snug as a bug in a rug, comfortably well off, high as a kite (on life!, on life!), doing great, and all is well with the world. Assuming, that is, that facts don't prove me otherwise.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Feelin' the burn

Got myself a farmer's tan last weekend. A local county airport had an air show and I spent a large part of the day there, standing in the sun... something I normally avoid. One of my granddaughters has joined a youth auxiliary attached to the county rescue squad. She'll be learning rescue techniques and discovering if this is a venture she'd like to pursue. The squad was on-call at the airport and the auxiliary had a booth, selling bottles of water and taking contributions to support their activities. My granddaughter had to be at the squad headquarters at 9am. I took her so her mother could come later with the rest of the family, including two visiting cousins. The day was perfect for the show. Tickets were sold for rides on a WWll-era bi-plane, a small helicopter and a Cessna. I got my grandson a ticket for a ride in the Cessna, an early birthday present. He'd never flown before and the ride would last 15-20 minutes, giving him a good taste of flying. His younger brother and cousins flew in the helicopter, a short lift-off, circling, and landing flight. All of the fledglings enjoyed their first experience in flight. I got the burn while standing in line, waiting for their take-offs and landings. It hasn't been that painful... except when I forget and scratch.

All my grandchildren are now in school, learning their ABCs, guzzintas, and all kinds of history, science and math that didn't exist and hadn't happened or been discovered when I was in school. It's a good thing that children are smarter these days... they have a lot to learn. I had watched and read some of the foo-fa-rah about President Obama's planned speech to school children this week. Some schools opted out of allowing pupils to watch the speech. Some lawmakers and political pols claimed he was going to use the speech to garner votes for his agenda. One clip showed a woman saying she didn't want any of that socialistic talk stuffed down her children's throat. Take responsibility for your education and study... wonder how many of the children's votes that cost him. Sometimes I think I missed the announcement of a new directive: Go forth and be stupid. Fortunately, I just have to remember my genius grandchildren and their friends to counter my angst.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Regardless of what the calendar says, Fall is here

Nope. Couldn't do it. Was going to wear my white slacks yesterday, but it just didn't feel right... even though the unofficial 'official' end of Summer is Labor Day. I know Fall isn't officially here yet, but for some reason, it feels like Fall to me. The sunlight looks different. The temperature here went down into the 60s night before last, and never reached 80 yesterday. It was a beautiful, perfect day. Suddenly, the pinks, yellows, and light blues in my wardrobe look too summery to wear. Feels like time to wash and pack up the hot weather clothes and unpack and freshen the cool weather togs. Feels like it's time to take the pink & white quilt off the bed and put the warm throw in its place. Now that September 1st has come and gone, we're on the slippery slope to the end of the year.

My mind has turned again to my home town... not the one I was born in, but the one in which I spent most of my 'growing-up' years. I've only visited it once since leaving and that was almost 30 years ago. I want to make a stealth visit: drive the streets, find sites I remember, see the inevitable changes that have taken place. I want to slip in and out without making my presence known to anyone. (As I haven't kept up with old acquaintances and don't know which of them still live there, this should be the easiest part of the trip.) I've often thought of re-visiting it over the years... this time I just might make it.

One of my granddaughters has a birthday today. She got a shiny new bike. I used to feel older when any of my children or grandchildren had a birthday. Then I realized, I'm not getting older... they're just catching up to me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's time to celebrate Hallo-Thanx-Xmas!

The Fall and Winter holiday push has begun. Crafty people appreciate having access to holiday items so they can start making decorations and gifts, but it was jarring to walk in the door of a discount store last week and come face-to-face with skeletons. Turned my head and saw the wall covered with poinsettias and wreaths. They could save space and hang the wreaths and tree baubles on the skeletons. When I was growing up, Halloween decorations didn't appear until the end of September. The Christmas decorating and shopping push didn't start until the day after Thanksgiving. Retailers have gotten so far ahead of themselves that now it is almost impossible to buy something in the season it is needed. Walking into a department store after the 4th of July makes me sweat... the remaining summer clothing has been relegated to a few 'last chance' stands; winter coats and sweaters fill the racks. Any day now, the media will start broadcasting dire speculation on the lack of holiday spending. Wait for it, it's coming.

Saw a report of the TODAY show yesterday morning about the picture of a 'plus-size' model being featured in the September issue, albeit on page 194. The model is Lizzie Miller. She's a size 12 and absolutely beautiful. Not a bone is visible... no hollow cheeks, no arms with knobby shoulders, elbows and wrists. Oh, forgot to mention that it's a nude photo. I haven't 'wasted my money' on a glamor magazine in years (I glance through out-dated issues in waiting areas) but I'm going to purchase this one. Just to be able to show my beautiful granddaughters an example of how a well-formed female body can look. There is a Fruit-of-the-Loom ad running that shows several real-size models (I refuse to call them plus-size). They are all lovely women. I just mentioned female body image in my last post. There goes that serendipity again. You can insert your favorite eerie music here.

One of my Facebook friends mentioned Rocky Road ice cream in a recent post. I had my first taste of Rocky Road when I was 30-ish. My boss had treated his employees with a carton of the 'good' stuff. Having been raised on homemade, freezer-cranked ice cream, I was rather startled when I encountered a lump in a mouthful... I thought one of the rubber tips from the agitator had come off in the ice cream. It was a mini-marshmallow. Let's just say that my fellow employees enjoyed a good laugh and leave it at that. If the worst thing that happens to you today is finding a mystery lump in your ice cream, you've had a good day.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Skinny. Now there's a word I haven't heard in ages....
When I became a teen, size 12 was the ideal for a woman. Size 18 was considered large but not obese. Clothing sizes were standardized and we could order shoes, dresses, and under garments in our size from the
Sears, Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs, confident that they should fit. When I was 14 or 15, Miss America's measurements were 36-26-36. I remember this because those were my measurements. (As there was a shorter distance between my 36s, the numbers looked better on her than on me.) As more and more glamour magazines for women began to began to be published, I started to see pictures of thinner models. The trend has continued to such an extent that film stars and models now look like concentration camp survivors, just with better hair and makeup. No wonder girls today as young as 10(!) have problems with their body image, and anorexia and bulimia have become rampant. And it's not just women. Men are told to bulk up and have washboard abs, to the point that they are so lumpy and bumpy they look like they should be wearing bras. The Incredible Hulk, just less green. People, grow up. I have helped elderly people dress and bathe. I know what you're going to look like when (if) you become 80 years old. You may look better than your next door neighbor, but you will not look good. I will not name names as to the picture I saw that caused this rant, but this person didn't look posh to me.

For mind, body and spirit...
Now that I'm retired, I have time to pursue more volunteer opportunities. I currently do work at our local botanical garden, pack meals for delivery with Meals on Wheels, and provide instrumental music for the congregation at my church when needed. I'm not bragging. I just feel the need to justify, to myself, the grace of continuing to occupy my little speck of the cosmos. I have to admit... the time I spend volunteering does more for me than for the people who benefit from those organizations.

THE talk of the news has been Michelle Obama wearing shorts on Air Force One. While on vacation. Cool. Stylish. Rated G. Did she disrespect her 'position.' Should (would) nations and religions take offense? NBC conducted a poll... should she or shouldn't she have worn shorts? More responses were received for this poll than any to date. God help us if the paparazzi catch her with her swimming suit on. Go out laughing? My odds are still good.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The way to go

I just finished reading a newly released biography of one of my favorite authors, Agatha Christie. Duchess of Death, is an unauthorized biography written by Richard Hack. The book is an informative, interesting read, and a worthy addition to one's reading list.

Agatha Christie was the second mystery author whose work I read, starting in my early teens; the first being Edgar Allen Poe. She had a talent for story telling that transported me into a world of English village life, wealth, mansions, cottages, servants, the King's English, and good triumphing over evil. In her books, good always triumphed over evil. Genius and talent alone are useless without hard work, and work she did, becoming one of the world's most published authors. She wrote not only books but also short stories, plays, poetry, and for films. She also wrote 6 books published under the name of Mary Westmacott.

Ms. Christi was born on September 15, 1890, and her life included its own mystery. On December 3, 1926, she disappeared. A massive manhunt was conducted and continued until she was found 11 days later, her disappearance never fully explained to this day. On January 12, 1976, while she was being pushed in her wheelchair from her dining room, she reached for her husband's hand. Without looking up she whispered, "I'm joining my Maker," and died.

I'd like to go that way. If, that is, I can't go out laughing. That's my first choice. To leave in the middle of a loud, delighted bray of laughter. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a news bit about a public service promo produced by the Brazilian environmental group SOS MATA. In an effort to conserve water, the populace is being asked to reduce the number of times they flush their toilets per day. A new spot exhorts them to "...pee in the shower... save the Atlantic rain forest... ." Go out laughing? If the world continues to produce news like this, the odds are in my favor.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Flashing lights but no siren

Took my first-ever ride in an ambulance and was transported to an emergency room this past week. I have nothing but good things to say about the first responders and the ER personnel. My experience bore only a passing resemblance to 'medical' shows we see on TV... no shouting or running amok in the ER by either the staff, patients, or families... just well-trained workers doing their jobs; patients and family awaiting treatment and outcome (if they were impatient or angry, they were very quiet about it). Did I have 10 nurses and doctors surrounding my bed, tending to my every whim? No. Was I left ignored, sick and alone in the midst of chaos? No. Were staff members sipping coffee and discussing their love lives, ignoring my fellow patients and me? No. All of the treatment rooms were full (No. 15 was across the aisle from me) and every available space against the walls not taken up with equipment had a patient-bed in it. (When my daughter arrived and asked where I was, she was given my location as a Hall Bed number.) Whenever I was moved to another location or had treatment done, the staff member quietly explained what was to be done. Often, a staff member on the way to treat another patient would pause and tell me the status of my care (i.e. the doctor would be with me as soon as test results were available and was through with another patient). A pleasant woman came up to me, introduced herself as the Patient Advocate, and asked if there was anything she could do to assist me.. when I told her I was concerned about contacting my family, she brought a phone to me. Was I in and out of the ER in an hour? No. I was there about 6 hours. Am I angry? No. Consider me grateful for the care I received and thankful for the medical knowledge and treatment available.

First thing every morning, I peruse several websites to see the current news blips. Yesterday, I came across a blog on the Huffington Post, the title of which intrigued me: "How American Health Care Killed My Father." I clicked on it and found an insightful and thoughtful piece on what had happened to his father and suggestions for health care reform. The author of the piece is David Goldhill. (I admit that I think he's smart because changes he proposes are ones that I would suggest, given the chance.)

My 'episode' reminded me that there are things I need to do, things I have procrastinated on... Living Will, DNR, Durable Medical Power of Attorney, etc. Oh, and keep a paperback book in my purse to read the next time. If there is a next time bwaaaaahaaaaa.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Getting ready for the new year

Spent some time last week in the mountains with my daughter and her family. The kids enjoyed swimming lessons at the "Y" and a morning swimming at the American Legion lake. The weather was hot enough for them to enjoy the water but didn't overcome those of us watching from the 'beach.'

For most parents, the real New Year starts with the beginning of the school year. It has been several years since my kids finished with high school but I still get the same feeling of new beginning. My daughter had selected a donation list from the Legion to help a child be ready for the new school year. She had already purchased the backpack and we shopped for the items on the list to fill it. She still has to finish shopping for her own kids' back-to-school needs. I told her how I had done a "I don't have to go school-shopping anymore!" dance the first year after her youngest sibling had graduated. It is something she can look forward to as she searches the aisles looking for the items on the lists for her children. The teachers lists are so specific as to what supplies they require for their students. I am curious as to why only name-brand items are acceptable when less expensive items can be had. Do they get a kick-back from the companies?

Beginning to think of the things I need to do to get ready for the new year...

Wear all my white slacks and summer shoes before the end of Labor Day weekend so I can get them washed and cleaned up, ready to stow away for next year.

Start planning for Fall and Winter decorating and crafts for the holidays that will be here before we know it! Note: I do this every year... have yet to actually be ready for the holidays.

Check out Julia Child's' cookbooks to find her wonderful recipes for heart-warming soups, stews, roasts and side-dishes for the cold-weather season.

Speaking of weather, looks like real summer weather has finally come to our part of the world. We've had an unusually temperate season so far. I wonder if the hot weather will continue into the fall and winter? Time will tell. Happy New Year!

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Twinkle-Light Years

Had a lovely surprise call from a dear friend earlier this week and we made dinner plans for yesterday evening. We live miles apart and she calls when she is in town. The restaurant we chose had closed so we met at a nearby hole-in-the-wall Chinese establishment (low on cost and ambiance but good food). It survives more on Take-out rather than Eat-in customers and we ended up having the dining area to ourselves. We spent our time eating and catching up on what's happening in our lives and attitudes. Our discussed health (ours and others), economic status, news of mutual friends, and the current and future state of TV and radio programming...

Health- we both are dealing with serious health issues and are trying to maintain, if unable to improve, our current level of wellness. We are also keeping a close eye on changes in the state of health care provision (private medical insurance as well as Medicare and Medicaid availability and cost).

Economic status- both of us are are living on limited income and with increased out-go. We currently have cars that give us independence; however, we may have to give up this convenience sooner than later... not because we are becoming unable to drive, but due to the cost of repairs and maintenance. And the cost of our housing continues to increase while our income is static... what to do... what to do?

Mutual friends- we met years ago (serendipity, again) and although we can't meet often, it's always a joy to be together when we can. She updates me on people I had met through her and I update her on news of my family (no, I didn't have pictures... I'm a ba-a-ad grandma).

The state of radio and TV programming- my friend's career was in theater so she is more cognisant of the state of entertainment than I. During the past few weeks, we each have had "What?!" moments while listening to NPR. We each heard glaring, jarring errors and misnomers that appeared due to lack of research, and possibly, just maybe, the lack of age and experience of the announcers (sigh). If we can't trust NPR, then who...? On TV, the sound level of advertisements is still way louder than that of the program being broadcast, even though this continues to be denied by broadcasters. We also have noticed that the difference in volume has become even more evident since the change to digital signals. Program content on TV has become so youth-oriented that we now find ourselves with fewer things to watch even as the number of channels available increases. My friend noted that the audience that TV is trying to reach is out and about, not sitting in front of the Tube. The increasing older contingent of the population is becoming the audience; why isn't programming being placed for them? I told her "Follow the money"... the advertising budget rules the roost. (But, if the younger ones are not in front of the TV, how and why do producers think their ads will reach their target? Think cell phones that have become miniature PC-TVs, so pervasive that finding a cell phone that just makes calls in virtually impossible.)

Attitudes- we have each reached the decision to eliminate worry from our lives (more successfully some days than others). Worry changes nothing. It effects only our state of being and wastes time that we can spend on more creative and satisfying thoughts and actions.

The sky had darkened and storm clouds were moving across the sky, so we left the restaurant and said our farewells in the parking lot, during which my friend mentioned 'the twilight of our years.' She said she felt her years weren't going to be twilight but rather 'twinkle light' years. I told her I love twinkle lights. As we both have experiences that seem just a trifle off the norm, we decided to embrace our twinkle light lives. We'll also continue caring for and sharing with each other and we'll get together again as soon as we can. Twink, twink.

Friday, July 24, 2009

HMO Schmo

When an HMO was first in the works for employee medical insurance at the company I worked for, I was told that it would be an over-sight group that would negotiate physician fees to keep costs reasonable for patients. I was not told that it would be a for-profit outfit that physicians would buy into. I was not told that physicians would make bonuses related to the number of patients they saw during a day. I was not told that the HMO, not the physician, would decide if a procedure or care regimen was warranted (even if the physician prescribed it). I was not told that the main thrust would be profit for the HMO.

Medical insurance started as a source of coverage for emergency treatment. Visits to the doctor to have physicals, beans removed from ears, broken bones splinted, ingrown toe-nails treated, etc., were visits for which the patient expected to pay. Then wellness care came on the horizon, and insurance companies started charging more for premiums to pay for these visits. New medical advances and cures have come into being, all raising costs for treatment. Now, insurance companies hire employees to see how they can refuse to pay claims... as in 'she has cancer, she'll die anyway, why should we pay for chemo or other treatments just to prolong her life? ' (My scenario and italics.) God forbid that the treatment might actually provide a cure.

I need to state here that, to my knowledge, my current insurance provider has refused payment for only one procedure during my current care regimen, and that was because the pre-approval period had elapsed. The approval was updated and the treatment carried through and paid.

One thing that we as patients are not told is the amount paid to physicians and test & treatment providers. I inadvertently discovered that one provider received only $5 over my co-payment for each visit. If this is typical, one way to cut health costs throughout the nation would be for patients to pay the full amount for the visit, thereby relieving doctors of the cost of dealing with insurance companies. But then, what do I know? I'm just part of the general public.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


It's been a quiet week in .... no, wait... that's someone else's line. Actually, I've been alternating between busy doings and playing hermit.

Lot's going on behind and beyond my door, including......

The death of Walter Cronkite. Not unexpected given his age but sad none the less. A wonderful example of how to conduct a life and career... with kindness, honesty, honor, integrity.

The anniversary of the moon landing. I had stayed glued to the TV, nervously watching the landing and the first steps on the surface. I awoke my baby daughter and tried to impress her with the momentous images on the screen. (A few years back, I asked her if she remembered. She didn't.)

Another elderly lady fought with a purse snatcher. It's not that saving one's possessions is paramount. It's the idea that a person thinks one should give them something just because they make a threatening demand. The reaction is spontaneous. The outcome is different each time.

Puff (a.k.a Squeak) had her spaying surgery yesterday. She's doing fine. Post-op instructions were to provide paper litter in her box and keep her quiet, no running or jumping. Yeah, right. She loves to play with paper. The only time she's not running or jumping is when she is in my lap. I do have other things to do, after all. I have a life. Sometimes.

Friday, July 17, 2009

(Wake-up) Alarms in the night

Living as I do near the 911 Response headquarters, I've become accustomed to sirens in the dead of night, so this morning's 3:45a.m. siren was not a shock. Actually, it was the most subdued I have heard so far. I often wonder why the use of the siren is necessary at this time of early morning but assume it is required by law as there is no traffic to alert. But that's okay... Squeak had already sat on my neck and given me my wake-up lick on an eyelid.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Little cat feet

I won't do a running commentary on all my new kitten's activities, but want to note a couple of things. I have changed her name from "Puff" to Squeak" as that is what she does. And I have to admit that I wish I had half the energy "Squeak" does. There is no ledge too narrow for her to walk on; no corner too small or dark to explore. If it moves, or makes a sound, it will be pounced upon. (Trying to make up the bed is a challenge.) She discovered the remote and turned on the TV at 3:05 this morning. Nothing is safe from her exploration. I admire her determination. I'm in a flurry of movement. trying to stow all things movable before she can get to them. I have no doubt as to which of us will win that race. Excuse me, I have to change the channel...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Kitten Chronicles (short version)

Decided to get a pet. Would love to have a dog, but know I'm too lazy to walk it... I don't walk myself when it's cold and rainy. Got a cat instead... a kitten actually, adopted from a family member. Said kitten, small and virtually weightless, was born at Easter. She was named Puffball because of a spot of fur in the middle of her forehead. I've renamed her "Squeak" as that's what she does... haven't heard a single meow. Just survived the second night with my new companion. It's like living with a newborn baby... lots of sleep, then demands for attention. No need to be fed during the night, but bouts of energy involving running, clawing and chewing.

Squeak's favorite toys are (1) me, (2) her official bed, which is soft, lightweight and easily moved... she likes to claw and chew on it... has yet to get in it, much less use it to sleep, (3) the bathtub, sans water of course, and (4) a paper bag. She appears to travel well in her carrier so road trips are in the future.

Whenever one acquires a new roommate, there is always a period of adjustment. Rules have to be established. So far, there are two... (1) the keyboard is off-limits when I'm online and (2) no walking on my face at 2:40 a.m.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Black Dog has moved on to another neighborhood

A legend has passed on to easier streets. Black Dog roamed the near West End for years. At first, he was just an elusive target for 'the dog catcher,' but as time passed, sighting him became a small coup for those who walked, ran beside, and drove the streets and alleys of the area. I saw him at least twice, so unexpectedly that it took me several seconds to realize "Hey, that was Black Dog!" He inspired a protective feeling in the neighborhoods he frequented; most people not really trying to catch him so much as trying to provide shelter and food for him in his wanderings.

At first, as the public safety representatives started receiving reports of sightings, they thought people were seeing several different dogs, but as time went on and descriptions coalesced, they realized that, yes, Black Dog was not just a figment of our imagination. They had a hard time understanding how he could survive for so long, roving the busy city and suburban streets.

If you would like to learn more about this sojourner, access the Times-Dispatch today and check Local News. I don't know how long the item will be on the current page, but it will probably be archived. Today, it is located at:

Some day, I hope to see Black Dog again. Maybe he'll let me pet him.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Fine Fabulous Fourth of July

The drive to the mountains this past Friday was wonderful; the weather so fine that I could travel without running the air-conditioner. The lawns, fields and gardens were green and thriving... the corn tall and full. It's been several years since I've seen growing corn looking that healthy.

On the Fourth, I got to hear my favorite patriotic music, including Sousa marches, and American the Beautiful, although it's the first time I'd heard God Bless the USA sung by a barbershop quartet. My son-in-law grilled chops, and as expected, they were great. Didn't get to a parade, but did attend a local baseball game in the evening. The teams started out slow but reached their stride in the 4th inning and gave us a show... even a fair number of foul balls for the crowd to catch... my grandson caught one. I really enjoyed the game for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that the announcer didn't say anything until... (gasp!) ... he actually had something to announce. So nice not to endure endless recitation of team trivia that die-hard fans already know and people like me don't care about. Yeah! Then had a perfect seat for the fireworks after the game.

All in all, a wonderful Fourth of July... fantastic weather, great food, and good fun.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Still celebrating...

Have been celebrating my birthday for over a week now...
... A dear friend took me out to dinner last week
... I received birthday greetings through cards, Facebook and email.
... My youngest daughter and her children took me to hear the Gourd Orchestra at a county library. The performers grow their own gourds. Then they make beautiful musical instruments out of them and play them. They also wear them. What fun! Check out their website at

I'm going to continue celebrating this weekend. My family has promised that my son-in-law will barbecue something for me. I can hardly wait. He is a BBQ gourmet. He could grill cardboard and it would taste yummmmy!

We'll be celebrating our country's independence, too. For me, the Fourth of July just isn't complete without a parade, patriotic music, fireworks, and a picnic with family and friends. I hope to hear and sing along with The Stars and Stripes Forever (I always have to march in place to this), God Bless America, and The Star Spangled Banner. And I'm Proud to be an American-God Bless the USA.

God bless our men and women serving in the armed forces (past and present).

God bless America.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Am I blue?

Am I blue? No, but I started out that way. I was a blue baby... born with the cord wrapped around my neck three times. My mother watched as the doctor unwrapped the cord from my neck and I slowly attained a healthy color. It was also a breach birth... I arrived right-foot first with my left leg pressed up against my left arm. It was not an easy experience for my mother, who delivered me in a small town hospital. I didn't move my left arm for several days. Mom massaged my left arm and leg for hours each day until I finally gained movement in my arm and leg. If I suffered any brain damage, it was minimal. I consider my survival a miracle.

I have experienced many miracles throughout my life, not the least of which is being here today... my birthday. Thanks be to God.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The King of Pop will moon-walk no more

Michael Jackson's moon-walk maneuver turned out to be a visual of his life... seeming to go forward while actually going backward. His death should be more of a surprise than it is... after all, he was only 50 years old... but he had been disintegrating for years. The line between genius and madness is exceedingly thin and Michael had a foot planted firmly on each side. Such a shame and waste. Long live Thriller.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Father's Day in the Garden

Took my brother to the Garden to see motorcycles and classic cars on Father's Day. After the suffocating heat and humidity of Saturday, it was a wonderful surprise and a joy to walk out the door into the perfect day outside. We ate lunch in the Cafe than walked through sun and shade to the display. There weren't as many cycles (Hogs, of course) or cars as I had expected, but the ones there were pristine. And they brought back memories of days when cars were simpler machines. They were machines that any average man with a knack for working with tools could tinker on, tweak, and repair if need be. It was also a rite-of-passage for many boys... spending time working under the hood with their fathers... learning the secrets to making the engines purr. Can't do that anymore... cars have become too complicated. But at least they don't have to worry about getting the engine stuck at the top of the A-frame.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Different Verdict?

Took a ride into the country last evening. It was a trip into my past as I drove a road I had lived on for some time. I saw family farms that have existed for several generations and a corporate farm or two that have sprung up over the years. Miles and miles of grass, trees, wild flowers, and crops not yet paved over in the name of progress... everything so green and washed clean from rainstorms the past week. We've had a warm winter here and I wonder if Summer will bring us lingering heat to sere the green to brittle tan and brown.

On this day in 1893, Lizzie Bordon was found 'not guilty' of the ax murders of her father and stepmother. She claimed her innocence throughout the trial, which was covered extensively by the fascinated media of the day. She lived a quite life afterward; never, to any one's knowledge admitting to anything else. Growing up, I jumped rope to a jingle that arose during that trial and it survives to this day:

"Lizzie Bordon took an ax...
Gave her father forty whacks...
When she saw what she had done...
Gave her mother forty-one"

Author Walter Satterthwait wrote a fictional mystery, Miss Lizzie, that tells the story of a young girl whose life intersects with Miss Bordon years after the trial. I've read the book and have listened to the audio version several times. The book evokes an era before DNA testing and other forensics had been dreamed of, much less developed. I've often wondered if the verdict would have been the same had that science been available. Somehow....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Living a charmed life?

Throughout my life, I have had numerous illogical escapes from potentially deadly events. When I became aware of these escapes, I at first thought there must be something special that I was to supposed to do for human-kind. As I grew older, and continued to experience these escapes, I decided that it wasn't about me doing something, but about being instrumental in helping someone else do something. I developed a sense of being almost indestructible. Several years ago while my son-in-law was in the car with me, I narrowly missed an accident with a truck. He was amazed at our good luck. I explained my theory. I told him how I probably would not know when I had completed whatever it was that I was supposed to do... but when that happened BLAM! No more narrow escapes. He said he could see how I would feel that way. He just hoped he wasn't with me at the time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The annual summer gas-gouge has begun. And it's our own fault.

The Consumers did it. Or are not doing it, according to the media who tell us why gas prices are rising again. It's us, the Consumers, who are at fault. Consumer demand is down. The producers have had to cut production because we're not buying enough gas. We are just not doing our part. If we... those who are on fixed incomes, the thousands and thousands who have lost their jobs, those who are still employed... all of us who see prices rising on everything... would just pull out our cash and credit cards and spend, the economy as a whole would be just fine. We didn't spend enough at Christmas and we're not driving enough now. The producers have to raise prices. Am I the only one who wants to throw up when the oil companies boast about their profits? And they will. Again. At the end of this summer. And prices will go down until time to raise them again for the holiday seasons.

The mid-point between a hissy and a rant is justifiable anger. I'm there.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Out-and-about again

Just came through the weirdest 'cold' I have ever had. Sore throat for 1 day, dry cough for a day and a half, 4 sneezing fits, 1 nose-blow, and a general malaise for 9 days. Not sure what it was but glad to have it over and done.

My oldest daughter and her children came into town for the weekend with hopes to visit historical and scientific sites. One visit we made was to the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site in Richmond VA. It is well worth a visit if you want to learn about an wonderful woman who used her intelligence to improve the lot of her family, race and city. The site is well maintained and renovated, the staff are eager to show and tell about the site, and most of the artifacts in her home are the actual furnishings, etc., that she accumulated, lived with, and used. Her story of personal triumph and tragedy is inspiring. We were enthralled.

One visit we did not make was to Hollywood Cemetery. My 10-year-old granddaughter said she does not like dead people. Her 5-year-old sister said she likes dead people. "They're nice." My daughter and I agreed that some are nicer than before.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


A strong thunderstorm came through late yesterday afternoon with lots of thunder, lighting, and a heavy downpour of rain. As I have a 7th-floor, corner apartment, I often felt as if I were in the midst of the lightning bolt. Very exhilarating when the flash and thunder seemed to be simultaneous. Lovely to experience and be safe at the same time.

When I was very small, there was a bit of family lore about lightning. Aunt Evie (my mother's sister) had been in the front parlor during a summer storm . She was sitting near an open window, reading. She had washed her hair and set it with metal crimping pins. The lightning struck in the yard close to the window. Didn't damage the house but it blew the pins out of Aunt Evie's hair. That explains a lot about Aunt Evie.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pardon My Angst

angst - an acute but unspecific feeling of anxiety; usually reserved for philosophical anxiety about the world....

Over the years, my interactions with kin and kith have brought me in contact with people who have depression, dementia, or just plain sour attitudes. My prayer has always been that I would never loose my awe of the wonders of life and nature, both human and non-. So far, I haven't lost my delight. However, every once in a while the horrors and idiocy that humans sometimes perpetrate overwhelm me. Several items in this morning's news pushed me over the edge. There is a line of dialog in one of my favorite films, Contact, to the effect that humans are capable of wonderful dreams and awful nightmares. I'm in 'hermit' mode now. But I'll get over it.

Of course, the fact that I have come down with a cold reduced my ability to avoid this current angst. I have observed that colds last 9 days and are divided into 3 phases of 3 days each. Phase One is "It's coming." Phase Two is "I'm dying." Phase Three is "Oh, wait... I think I'll live." I'm in Day 1 of Phase One. It's all my fault. My colds always come after I have used a telephone shared by others. I let a neighbor use my phone and wasn't able to disinfect before using it again. No good deed goes unpunished.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Seasoning of My Life (I Should Be Cured by Now)

When I was very young, farmers were still putting salt blocks in their pastures for the livestock. One of my earliest childhood memories is of being in our pasture, licking the side of a salt block while our cow licked the other. Mother was not amused. Salt has been the necessary condiment for me, provided mostly by potato chips (a duality of taste and crunch). A lifetime of chips.

Did you know that the amount of chemicals used for chemotherapy is based on body mass? Height and weight are used in some kind of formula to determine the dosage for the sessions. My oncologist gently suggested that I loose some weight, thereby reducing the amount I would need. Aided by that suggestion and the resultant loss of taste and appetite due to the chemo, I managed to loose 20 pounds. However, at my last weighing in I discovered I had gained back 5 pounds. Scared me chip-less! Haven't bought a bag of chips in two weeks.

Dr. Fredric Baur, the designer of the Pringles can, died in May 2008. He was so proud of his invention that he requested that his family bury him in one. They honored his request. I've told my family that they should bury me in a potato chip bag. Folded down and clamped with a wooden clothes pin. That'll keep me fresh.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'm a parsing Laodiceac

Nobody parses anymore. Sentences haven't been diagrammed in school for years. I remember conjugating sentences in English class. I can still diagram a simple sentence, but anything past noun, verb, adverb and adjective escapes me. New words are added to the dictionary every year; however, the actual number of words used diminishes. This is partly due to the advent of text messaging. But the language was dumbing down before that. Speaking correct English in everyday conversation has become looked upon as affected and slightly suspect. Electronic word processing has been invented. Spell-check has been added. Proof-reading by an actual human is considered redundant. Thousands of proof-readers have lost their jobs! Chaos reigns!! (Oh, sorry... got carried away.) New books contain ever-increasing numbers of miss-spelled words and words spelled correctly but that don't belong in the sentences. Sometimes fragments of sentences are missing. I am seeing more and more corrections penciled in on pages of the books I borrow from the library. Bless our hearts. We who parse are falling by the wayside. Our days are numbered. Oh, well... as long as people can still communicate and understand each other, I guess everything will turn out all right. Yo.

The 2009 Spelling Bee Winning Word has finally given me a definition with which I can identify. Laodicean: lukewarm or indifferent in politics or religion. I was excited and energized by the last Presidential election as I haven't been in years. My enthusiasm for politics has since waned. Again. If that makes me a Laodiceac, so be it. Hmmmm... Spell-check doesn't like those words. Maybe they'll add them in the up-dated version.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bits & Pieces

The last day of May! My time is moving so fast.

Juice-box Soccer
I got to see my 5-year-old grand-daughter play her final soccer game of this season. Such fun! The players on both teams displayed varying degrees of interest, adeptness and aptitude for the game. (Hanging from the frame of the goal net was a favorite activity for the goalies, but they rose to the occasion when the ball came their way. Mostly.) There were two basic rules: every child played and the goal was to have fun. Both teams scored goals, but only the most intently involved families could tell how many and by which child. The final score? You'd have to ask one of them. The coaches were great. They encouraged and helped all the players regardless of team (i.e. "Good job!" and "Psst... you're going the wrong way."). After the game, our team, the coach and assistant coach, and a few parents and 'grand's went to a pizza buffet to celebrate the season. Each player received a tasteful bobble-head trophy. My grand-daughter is looking forward to the next season. Swimming lessons will help bridge the gap.

Time in the Garden
I was at the local botanical garden again yesterday. Some many people, all ages, styles, makes and models united by a love of Nature at her most beautiful. Communed with butterflies in the Conservatory enclosure. Watched a large specimen partake of a sliced banana. A man joined me and said the butterfly was obviously enjoying a snack. I told him I'd been watching awhile... this butterfly was having a three-course lunch. As I walked the path to leave, I recalled someone said " A weed is just a flower in a place you don't want it." Some days I think I'm the flower. Other days, I'm sure I'm the weed.

End of a dream?
Susan Boyle didn't win the contest. But because of the exposure of her talent, the way is now open for new opportunities and experiences. The entertainment establishment was astonished that such beautiful music came from such an ordinary person. (They called her 'dowdy' and 'stocky' and were aghast at her tousled hair. Admit it... if a 'star' had been seen with hair like that, the proceeds from the stampede to salons might have put a small dent in the national debt.) Most of us were not surprised. We know that genius and talent abound everywhere in all kinds of people... just without the notice of the Press.

Living the Commitment
A news story on TV this week was about a couple in Plymouth, England, who will be celebrating their 81st wedding anniversary. They've been married longer than most of us have been alive. Puts to shame the seemingly rampant mindset of today: Marry today - divorce tomorrow. It couldn't have been all kisses and roses; they are human, after all. But they stayed the course. I couldn't. God bless them.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The "S" Factor at work again

I went to a rehab center yesterday to visit a delightful elderly lady. She had just received news that her son had died after a long fight with cancer. This is the second child (both sons) that she has lost. She lost a young grandson last year. She doesn't understand. These events are so out of order. She is the oldest. She is supposed to have gone first. She is grieving again. And asking the un-answerable question: Why?

When leaving the facility, I took a wrong turn and came face-to-face with a young woman who had worked at the same company as I. She had been working part-time while finishing school. I had not seen her since she left her job to start teaching. I've thought of her often, and several times in the past couple of weeks. She still has one of the biggest, sweetest smiles I've ever seen. What a treat.

Today, I drove though a shower of grass clippings thrown from several utility mowers at work in the median. I don't care if it does make me sneeze... I love the smell of freshly-cut grass. Such a good, clean smell. For some reason, it makes me feel so young.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Until I was sixteen, I lived in a town with a population of only 2000 people. My school wasn't one room but my library was. It was half a block off the main street. It's total width was made up of shelves on the left wall, a three-seat-wide sofa, a large one-panel wood and glass entrance door, and shelves on the right. It's depth was less than half a town block from front window to back wall. It was my place of choice in Summer. Reading its books was my favorite activity. The librarian was my guide to people and ideas and adventures beyond those walls. Even today, whenever I think the word 'library,' that room is the first picture in my mind.

My first favorite books had orange covers and were biographies of famous people in history, i.e. George Washington, Patrick Henry, Daniel Boone, Clara Barton, etc. They were stories of heroic deeds with no hint of scandal. They were my heroes. My favorite was Benjamin Franklin. He was so patriotic. And so smart. He invented things. I remember my disappointment in him later on when I found out he was evidently quite fond of women. Human. Feet of clay.

I have to read. It is my main addiction (followed only by potato chips). If no book is available, nothing with writing on it is safe. Cereal boxes, prescription info sheets, the directions for use and care of my sweeper, old greeting cards. The United Laboratories label on the cord of my lamp. Something. Anything.

I never learned a second language. When something I'm reading contains phrases in another language, I'm limited to sounding it out as best as I can. I have become enamored of French. Some words and phrases I've recently come across strike me as almost lyrical. "Festival du fromage." Sounds much more elegant than 'cheese party.' And " Pompage BM," the name of a Canadian company that cleans out septic tanks. Much nicer than a literal translation.

I hope I never need the services of a Pompage BM. Or be one.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Serendipity bits and pieces

I have experienced serendipity so often in my life that I may have become a serendipity junkie. All the bits and pieces that follow have had a serendipity factor to them (which I may or may not explain in future posts).

This month I'm celebrating the 2nd anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. Not the fact that I have cancer, but the fact that I was diagnosed. I finally dragged myself in to have a mammogram that I had been putting off for 5 years and the cancer was discovered. Which allowed me to start treatment. And fully appreciate living each day.

My favorite author is Louis Penny, a Canadian whose writing I discovered just at the time I needed it. She writes intelligent, lyrical mysteries. Her stories are mostly set in the village of Three Pines. I want to live there. Her characters are wonderful. I want to be friends with them. The first in the series is "Still Life." You might also want to check out her blog (LouisePenny on Blogspot). Her last few posts have been hilarious.

Have you ever seen a cloud so unusual that it looked fake? Have you ever seen a diamond-shaped cloud? I have. On the same day. Within minutes of each sighting. I know that these clouds must have been seen by others. But as the odds against any of them verifying my sightings are astronomical, I expect you'll think I may be an egg or two short of a dozen. I don't care. If you'd like to see pictures of other clouds, check out wbangham on Blogspot. He's a professional photographer. Wish he'd been with me.

Have a wonderful day. In italics.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day Memories

When I was growing up, Memorial Day was called Decoration Day. My mother would take my grandmother, my uncle and me to the family spot in the country cemetery to weed and leave flowers on the graves of our relatives. Usually other families were there tending to the plots of their kin also. Mom, Grandma and Uncle Glen would reminisce about those that were buried there. The memories were of service in wars and family lore.

The first person of my age that I lost was a sweet boy named Eddie. He loved his horse and would sometimes give me rides. He never teased me or pulled on my pigtails. I always thought Eddie would be an important man when we grew up. He died in Vietnam.

My family moved to a new city right before my Junior year in high school. Jeff, a Senior, was in the school band with me and we would play the piano together before the start of practice and during breaks. I was fascinated with him because he could play Dave Brubeck 'by ear.' He was fascinated with me because I could read Brubeck's music. He was another sweet boy lost in Vietnam.

My Uncle Marvin served in the Army during WWII. I still have a picture of him in uniform with his skis. No smile. And no tales of his duty. Just that he was on ski patrol. He has never spoken of what he and others endured during his service.

My brother served as a Marine in Vietnam. He doesn't discuss it either.

My son was in Desert Storm and again in Iraqi Freedom. He has shared some of his experiences, some dire and some more lighthearted.

I am grateful for the service my kin and others have performed in duty to my country. Thank you