Thursday, January 31, 2008

It Came From Hollywood

So...did you watch the Democratic debate tonight?

I won't get into how I feel about what was said, or how I feel about either of these candidates. What was most striking to me about this debate was the fact that it was held in Hollywood, at the Kodak Theater, home of the Academy Awards. I would have liked to focus more on what was said, but because it came from Hollywood, we were forced to focus on the celebrities in the audience. The endless camera shots of various Hollywood luminaries was enough to make me giddy with delight, almost to the point of nausea, and it made me realize how little I know compared to each and every one of these extremely intelligent people. Those of us who live our lives in anonymity, go to work each day, and earn a modest living cannot begin to understand the complexities of this election, and we are unable to make a decision without the guidance of our most learned and omnipotent celebrity faction. Thank God for them, each and every one. I don't know how I would manage to live my life without their wisdom.


The Argument Clinic

We're planning on watching the Democratic debate tonight, and I suspect we might be in for a bit of this:

Seems like things are getting a bit testy between Clinton and Obama. Not to mention Hillary and Obama! I've heard rumors that they're trying to rein in Bill, and Hillary has said emphatically that this is HER campaign. Interesting stuff!

One thing that made me quite sad today was listening to a progam on NPR. They were talking to a group of African-Americans at a college, and others were calling in, to discuss Obama's bid for the presidency. One thing that came up was that some feel a very real sense of danger for Obama...that if he's elected, he will be a greater target for assassination. That just makes me feel ill...that anyone would want to kill any public figure simply because they don't like who they are or what they represent. I guess it shouldn't surprise me--it certainly happens all the time, all over the world, most recently with Bhutto. I wonder if there really is more risk for him, or if the risk is equal for any president? I would think that being president makes you an automatic target for certain the risk really greater for Obama? And his family? It just boggles my mind to think that there are people out there that would want to kill the man. It makes me shudder to think of the aftermath if something like that were to happen. I pray that it doesn't.


Well, THAT was fun...not!

Today we had one person call in because of jury duty, and one because of illness. Normally, that's not a problem, and we can suck it up and get things done, but our workload today was just crazy. I worked right through lunch, and ended up with an hour and a half of overtime. Yuck! The extra money is always nice, but all in all, I'd rather be cozy at home. After a quick trip to the store, taking out the garbage, and filling the bird feeders, I finally got to sit down here, check mail, and write a bit. Whew! I feel like my free time has been severely curtailed today! I'm thinking it might be a soup night tonight.

We're due for more nasty weather tonight, maybe 12 inches in some areas by the time it ends tomorrow. I think the enchantment of a winter wonderland has pretty much lost its luster!

Since I was feeling a little cranky when I first got home, I decided to find something that I knew would make me laugh. My "go-to" for that is always "I Love Lucy." I can be in the worst mood, and she'll make me laugh. I found something that had a little twist to it, and it made me laugh even more! I hope it makes you smile, too.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cajun, anyone?

Since it's so cold here, I was thinking of comfort food. Stew? Soup? What? I'm going to go with some Zatarain's Gumbo, and put sausage in it. To do it up right, I'll make some cornbread. I make it using coarse ground cornmeal--my Mom always used that, and anything else doesn't taste good to me. I make it in my iron skillet that belonged to my Grandma. Somehow that makes it better. :)

I'm off next Tuesday, and since it's Fat Tuesday, I was thinking I might need to do some genuine New Orleans food, from scratch. I'm leaning towards jambalaya. Mmm!

Hey...Fat Tuesday and Super Tuesday are on the same day! Coincidence? I don't think so!

Holy moley. I just heard on the news that the high in Grand Forks, North Dakota was 13 below today. I lived there for 5 years, and sometimes I wonder how I managed to survive that kind of weather. Apparently I was younger and more resilient then, but I think I'd just implode if I had to deal with that kind of extreme weather now!

Welcome to the Icebox

Well, this morning was certainly an adventure! If you recall, I wrote that we had a thunderstorm--there was a lot of rain. It all happened exactly the way they predicted it would, and the temperatures plummeted. It was 5° when I got up this morning! The rain eventually turned to snow, but all that rain froze on the roads, and then we got snow on top of it, about an inch. The snow actually helped a little bit, so that we weren't driving on a sheet of ice. You could see it underneath, though, and it was pretty tense going. But I made it to work, and so did Ken! He said it took him about twice as long as normal. They closed part of one of the major highways in the area, because it was just SO bad. I took it slow and easy, but by the time I got to work, I felt like I almost had to pry my hands off of the steering wheel. We all made it in, except for Sarah, who lives in Michigan (and it was a lot worse there). A couple of people had to deal with frozen doors, because they park outside. We're lucky to have the three-car garage now, so that all vehicles are inside. Anyhoo, it was a wild ride! I hope everyone else is safe and sound.

A little more about my El Coqueto entry yesterday. First of all, although I don't speak Spanish, something hit me today: I think most words that indicate a female end in "a." My friend RaQuel sometimes calls me "Chica." So I think it should technically be El Coqueta. So let's go with that.

There were some interesting comments--thanks, everyone!--about how some are too shy to flirt, that sort of thing. To me, the key thing is that we don't even realize we're doing it most of the time! Sure, you can purposefully turn it up a notch, but the article I read even mentioned that we don't observe ourselves when we're talking to others, so we don't see our own body language. I bet even those who believe they are too shy to flirt are doing it subconsciously. And this is not a bad thing. It's just a way of interacting with others and making a connection. Lyn had a really good comment: "I get accused of flirting but to me it's just being friendly..i act the exact same way towards women..interesting..."

That's exactly it. Granted, there's a different element when it's a man and woman talking, but the principle is the same. You're trying to send a subtle message that you are approachable and friendly, and inviting that person into your inner circle. It can be as simple as a touch on the arm, but the visual clues come first to show that you're open to friendship. I don't know about you, but I'm not a touchy-feely person right off the bat. I need my good 18 inches or so of personal space, and if you invade that before I'm ready for it, chances are I'll step away. We've all known those people who immediately want to put their arm around you, rub your shoulders, whatever. Back off, man, or as I used to think sometimes, "Touch me again and you'll pull back a bloody stump!" (I never actually said it.) These are people who haven't done the prerequisite work of sending and receiving visual clues that show that such behavior might be welcomed. These are the people that I tend to avoid. It's just too much familiarity, too soon. It feels presumptuous to me.

So to me, flirting is a natural thing, a way of approaching others and "testing the waters" to see if they are open to a relationship, whatever type it may be. Don't be afraid to be El Coqueta, or El Coqueto, for that matter! Chances are good that you already are, and don't even know it! Ha ha!

Uh-oh, I've lost count of my Ten Little Indians. I think we're down to 7 or 8. I heard first thing this morning that Giuliani would drop out, and I heard on the way home that Edwards has already made his announcement that he's out. Rudy's strategy--or lack thereof--in Florida didn't work very well. Who was running his campaign? You can't just remove yourself from the spotlight, let everyone else get the attention, then step back in and say, "Hi! Remember me?" Everyone moved on, or as Austin Powers said, "That trained had sailed." <grin>

A little later

ACK! I love our place! I was in the kitchen, and when I looked out back, I saw a herd of deer. I lost count, because they were milling and running around, but there were at least 10, and for sure, 6 of them were bucks. Oh, I never get tired of seeing them. They're so beautiful.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I am...El Coqueto

Before I get to that, I  hope everyone had a good day! I made it through my day at work despite a very stuffy head and a bit of a cough. It still doesn't feel like it's gone down into my chest, so I'm hoping I'll be back at 100% very soon!

Another balmy day here at Nutwood. Our thermometer reads 50° at the moment, but within a couple of hours, the temperature is supposed to drop 20-some degrees. It's been raining today, so that will freeze, and it's supposed to turn to snow later tonight, so we could be looking at some major ugliness tomorrow morning. We'll see what happens, but Ken is always great about taking me to work when it's like this. I don't mind driving in some snow, but the Mustang is pretty low to the ground, and it just won't go if it's about 6 inches deep out there! I ran to the store after work, because there were a few things I wanted to get, but I ended up shopping for the week. With some bad weather coming, I'd rather get it out of the way when I don't have to push a shopping cart through a few inches of slushy snow. Isn't that the worst? With the Super Bowl coming up this Sunday, I got stuff for our dinner of snack food, including different cheeses, peppers, and pickles. I got the fixin's for my baked brie, and I'll put that easy recipe up here this week. It's tasty!

HEY! There was just a flash of lightning! And then thunder! This is nuts.

I haven't heard anything about the Florida primary yet, because I'm sure the voting is still going on. We watched the State of the Union address last night, but I dozed off part way through. It wasn't anything real exciting. Jimmy had a couple of great comments about it on his journal, and the one that amused me most was about Obama and Ted Kennedy holding hands, while Hillary stewed. Regardless of how you feel about any of them, or who you like, that just made me chuckle. Ken and I both commented when we saw Obama sitting by Kennedy, and then we got a laugh when they showed Clinton. WOW, she looked grim. Not a happy woman last night, at least that's how it seemed.

Now to El Coqueto. (For any Bob & Tom listeners out there, I was thinking of El Conquistador.) I don't speak Spanish, so I had to look up El Coqueto: it means The Flirt.

A while back (I'm too lazy at the moment to go find it in the archives) I wrote an entry in response to a journaling prompt, concerning how aspects of your personality have changed over the years, and what you've gained--or lost--in the process. One of the things I wrote was that I used to be a terrible flirt. I said I've learned that to be that way is disrespectful to your partner. I still agree with that...but I read an article in Time today that made me say, "Hey, I'm not as bad as I thought!" The article focused on nonverbal signals. That is key. It seems that we are hard-wired to be flirtatious, no matter our gender. Certain nonverbal actions such as the the tilted head for women, the open body position and leading questions for men, and the raised eyebrows, sustained eye contact, leaning forward, and sidelong glances for both genders are simply part of our nature. It's our way of testing the waters to see if there might be a potential mate there. Even people in committed relationships do it, because they need to ascertain if they are still attractive in case something happens to their mate. I know that sounds cold, but it all takes place subconsciously.

Where you cross the line, if you're in a committed relationship, is if you start sending verbal signals. It's one thing to subconsciously try to engage someone's interest with covert signals, but saying things outright is a message that you are interested in progressing beyond that initial stage.

I found it pretty interesting, and it really did make me feel better about my behavior. Don't get me wrong--any of you who know me or have been reading for a while know that I'm completely happy with Ken. So much so that people have commented to me, "You guys are almost sickening!" (It was said in a nice way.) But for my entire adult life, I have sometimes been accused of being a flirt. Now I know that it's not intentional, it's just inherent in all of us. Who doesn't have the urge to be liked by people? Who doesn't want to be charming and engaging, and make people enjoy being around you?

It's human nature!


Monday, January 28, 2008

Hey, what's for dinner?

Ken said we should just have leftovers since I'm getting over a cold, but I felt pretty good today, so I'm making something simple. It's called Grandma's Rice Dish. Not my grandma's...I don't know whose grandma's recipe it is, but it's pretty tasty. Hamburger, rice, corn, cheese, sort of a skillet thingy, but then baked for a little bit. Perhaps more later!

Dis, dat, and t'other

In light of my previous entry,  here's a neat picture I's to not just my Dad, but all members of his generation. They are truly the best of the best.

On this eve of the Florida primary (good luck to fellow blogger Jimmy!), I haven't written yet about the South Carolina Democratic primary. No big surprise: Obama won big (some have called it a landslide) as the polls had indicated, but polls can be misleading, as we saw in New Hampshire. He got an endorsement from Caroline Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy. I'm not sure whether the latter is a plus or a minus for Obama, but the Kennedy name certainly still carries a lot of clout and mystique in the U.S.

When Dad and I talked about some of this, he said he's pretty much disgusted with the whole lot of 'em already. I think quite a few people feel that way, and sometimes so do I. However, I'm also excited about the fact that so many people are talking about it! I'm sensing a high level of engagement here, and that is never a bad thing when it comes to picking our elected officials. I'm getting the feeling that people are actively interested in choosing someone who will make a difference for our country and its place in the world. I think that's something to be excited about. I just hope everyone can keep it civil, and stick to the issues. <snort> What am I talking about? This is politics! The optimist in me says, "Let's focus on the issues." The realist in me says, "It will be politics as usual." <sigh> If nothing else, I think Obama has infused some life into this election, and a feeling among some that maybe things CAN change. It certainly is interesting, isn't it? As the Chinese curse says, "May you live in interesting times!" It seems that I've gotten a few readers from outside the U.S. visiting this journal, and I'd be interested in hearing your take on all this.

Earlier this afternoon, I went outside to take out the recycling. I put on my parka and gloves, since in the past few days it's been, you know...really really cold. Was it Saturday morning that it was barely above zero, and I hunkered down in my parka until my car warmed up a little? Yes, I believe it was. So I get out there and get to carrying all the stuff out to the road, and I actually got HOT. When I came inside and looked at the thermometer, it was 49°! They're saying we could get thunderstorms tomorrow. Almost February, and we've got a chance of thunderstorms. This is just insane weather this year! I hope what happened last year doesn't happen this year. We had an unbelievably warm spell in early March, and the trees started budding. Then it turned much colder, and many of the buds were lost. My favorite tree at our place, a Japanese flowering cherry, didn't blossom at all. I was disappointed, because it has these gorgeous, double, pink flowers.

I went out a little later to fill one of the suet feeders, and wore my barn coat instead of my parka. It felt balmy outside!

Hey, I just looked outside, and it's raining. Bad, because I was going to go out and get the mail, but good, because it will fill the bird bath!


It was fun to watch Tiger win yesterday. With that victory, he tied Arnold Palmer for PGA wins. The guy still has many years of playing ahead of him, and he just seems to be getting better. Ken and I have often talked about how lucky we are to watch someone like that play--he will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the greatest athletes in history, and we get to watch him on TV fairly often! We've even talked about going to one of courses on the PGA tour and watching him play. Ken got to see him several years ago in the Chicago area. It would be fun to see Tiger for real!

A conversation with my Dad

I hadn't talked to my folks for a couple of weeks, so I gave them a call this morning. Mom was out at an exercise class with their friend Doris, so Dad and I chatted for a few minutes. Well...about 90 or so! Once we get going, we have a lot of fun trying solve the world's problems. We never succeed, but we enjoy the attempt!

Dad told me a story he'd never told me before, and it really tickled me. He joined the Army right after he finished high school (I think this was in 1941), and was sent to Washington (state) for training. He said that one time, they were out in the field for three solid weeks, and they finally got a night "off," and they went into town. He said it was a little town called Spanoway (I don't know if that's the correct spelling), just outside of Tacoma. There was an old saloon there, and all the guys took it by storm. Dad said he didn't go into the bar, he got a jug of wine or something and was hanging around outside. (My Dad is a teetotaler now, but he was apparently a bit of a wild child back in the day.) Dad said that the guys actually threw out the bartender of the saloon, and a guy named Virchek started serving drinks. Another guy, one they called Blue Eyes, went in there, and Dad said he didn't know what Blue Eyes did, but Virchek ended up throwing HIM out. Dad said that Blue Eyes was a little guy, smaller than him. My Dad is all of 5'6", so Blue Eyes really was pretty small. He said that after Virchek threw him out of the saloon, Blue Eyes grabbed a two-by-four off of the fence railing, and just stood there outside the door of the saloon, waiting for Virchek. When Virchek came out the door, little Blue Eyes hauled off with that two-by-four and walloped Virchek in the face with it. He sent Virchek to the hospital. The ending of the story?

Dad: "Nobody ever messed with little Blue Eyes after that."

Yikes! No doubt!

The other story had to do with his time in training in Washington. He met a girl named Lorraine one Sunday, at a local lake. He asked her out, and they were to meet the following Sunday for their date. That week, Dad shipped out to go overseas. Now, we had all seen pictures of Lorraine, ones that she sent to him when he was in North Africa, and always ribbed Dad a little bit about it. He always said, "Hey, just keep in mind that she wrote to me every single day that I was overseas. That meant a lot." Well, I just found out today that they never actually went on a date--they just met that one time, and then Dad shipped out! Wow, I know I love him to pieces, but he must have really made an impression on Lorraine!

Well, after Dad got back from the war, he started dating my Mom. He corresponded a couple more times with Lorraine, but then got all caught up in courting Mom and just let things slide with Lorraine. He said he always felt guilty about that, felt like he'd let her down, so he found her last name in the phone book. It turned out to be her little brother, and Dad spoke to his wife. She gave him Lorraine's phone number, so Dad called her up. When he told her that they met on a Sunday, Lorraine asked, "Did anything happen?" Turns out--this is kind of a sad part--Lorraine has Parkinson's disease, and she didn't remember anything about Dad or that time in her life. Dad said, "You can imagine what THAT did for my ego!" <grin> They ended up talking for a good hour, and she'd gotten married in the fall of '46, right after Dad got back, so he realized she wasn't sitting around waiting for HIM, either. She was happily married, with five girls, and Dad was able to tell her how much her letters meant to him, and ease his mind a little bit--they both ended up having happy marriages and happy lives, and there was no need for him to continue feeling guilty. (Have I mentioned what a great guy my Dad is?)

We talked a little about how some things are or aren't meant to be. I said that in another place and another time, things might have been different, but my Dad was meant to be with my Mom, not Lorraine. Dad agreed. I told him that it was a remarkable thing that she did, writing all those letters to keep a homesick soldier company. I said, "And look at we are, 60 years later, talking about her. She did something important in writing you those letters."

So here's to Lorraine in Tacoma, Washington. I've never met you, and I probably never will, but I've seen your pictures. Thanks for helping my Dad get through his time overseas during the war, and for giving him some fond memories. Thank you, Lorraine.



Sheer silliness

Cousin Shane sent me this, and when I watched it this morning, it made me laugh out loud! He started my day off very well!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

There's no such thing as a bad nap

That's always Ken's answer when he wakes up from a nap and I ask if it was a good one. And you know what? He's right! I think I can truthfully say that I have never had a bad nap. I slept for a couple of hours tonight before dinner, and it felt great. I don't take naps often--usually just when I'm not feeling well--and I rarely sleep deeply when I do. Not so tonight--I was out like a light. And no Heavy Thing Nightmare! ;)

Ken made a great dinner--he bought some nice thick pork chops and broiled them. He's always willing to cook when I work the weekend, and I appreciate it more than he knows. We watched a Sopranos episode, and now we're watching a martial arts movie called "The Protector," a Thai movie originally released as "Tom-Yum-Goong." I've never heard of Tony Jaa before, but he's quite the fighter, and we've got some excellent kung fu goin' on here. Okay, it's over, and wow, I have to say this was quite a good movie. The fight sequences were some of the best I've seen. The arm-breaking scene alone was worth the price of the DVD, and everyone loves elephants, right? It was also very visually striking. If you like martial arts movies, I give this a definite thumbs-up.

I hope everyone had a good weekend, and I'm sure you're all rarin' to head back to work! Just remember, as one of our favorites, comedian Greg Hahn, likes to say, "Monday starts the weekend!"

Grrr, Baby, very grrrr!

Ken and I have on the Buick Invitational while he does some work, and I just got done reading the Sunday paper. This is Tiger Woods' first tournament of the year, and he is crazy good. How amazing to come out of the off season and play this well...we just watched Tiger hit out of a wet rough and get within a couple of feet of the hole. Unbelievable. After watching that shot, I realized that I had been standing there with my mouth hanging open for about 10 seconds! He is just so good, and such a competitor. He's amazing to watch.

I'm looking forward to practicing my golf swing this summer. This is the year I will really work on it and practice, and we'll actually play a round! I never thought in a million years that I would like golf, but Ken loves it and has gotten me into it. I was hooked the first time I went with Ken to a golf course. It happened to be in Florida, when we were staying at our timeshare in New Smyrna Beach. I got to drive the cart--always fun!--but I just loved the peace and quiet of the course. We saw birds like blue herons and hawks, and the course was so pretty, with trails going through stands of palmettos and lush forested areas. I thought, "Yeah...I could do this!" I'm sure I'll be terrible at it, but I'm looking forward to trying it, and trying to get better at it!

Of course, I also like to wear my golf gear, like a skort with a polo shirt, and either a baseball cap or a straw hat. I remember telling my friend Jim about how I "looked all golfy and junk." Ha!

A conversation from yesterday

I meant to include this, because I'm still chuckling about it. This took place at work yesterday, and concerned work-related issues.

Greg: I'm just sick of all the general douchebaggery.

Beth: General Douchebaggery...wasn't he in the Revolutionary War?

Greg: Ha! Actually, I think he's been in MOST wars.

Not only was it a fun little exchange, I made Greg laugh a little tiny bit when he was having a rough moment. Yay!


Fever dreams

Thanks, everyone, for all the get well wishes! Y'all are the best!

I still felt pretty crummy today, but we had an easy day at work, and my coworkers (they're pretty cool, too) had no problem with me cutting out an hour or so early. I foresee a nap in my very near future....

After my Alka Seltzer Plus wore off last night, I got kind of restless. I was sleeping, and apparently very soundly, because I had very odd and vivid dreams. Does that happen to anyone else when they're sick? I don't know if there's a bit of fever going on that makes your mind do crazy things, or if the cold medicine makes you loopy, or what, but it can sure result in some strange dreams for me. I don't remember most of them from last night...just weird little bits and pieces, such as looking at a scrapbook that had a tiny pair of silver cat-eye glasses on one page...I broke them...a screened porch on a house...trying to put on a pair of nylons and having a hard time of it...all very disjointed and bizarre, but very vivid.

At least I didn't have the dream--more of a nightmare, actually--I used to have when I was a kid. Whenever I was sick, I would have this horrible dream that someone was throwing something huge and heavy to me, and I had to catch it. I never knew what the consequences were if I didn't catch it, but I knew I just HAD to. After I caught it, I would struggle and toss it back...then they would throw it back to me, and I would have to catch it again. It seemed to get heavier each time it came my way, and I after several exchanges like that, I would wake up in a sweat, horribly anxious and scared. I'm sure it sounds terrifying (a little sarcasm there), but for some reason, it really was an awful dream. As soon as it started, I would have this horrible feeling of dread come over me, because I knew what would happen--it would just keep getting heavier.

As I got older, I sort of figured out that it was probably because I was feeling so congested and having a hard time something heavy was sitting on my chest. Once I figured out where it was coming from, it seemed like I didn't have that dream anymore. It's been years since I had it. Now watch...writing about it has conjured it in my mind, and I'll have it tonight! Noooooo! Not the Heavy Thing Nightmare! I suppose that laughing about it helped a bit to get it out of my head, too!

Thinking of this made me remember one of my Mom's remedies when I had a sore throat or was coming down with a cold. She would rub BenGay on my neck, then fasten either an old sock or a cloth diaper--I can't recall which it was--around my neck with a safety pin. Okay, let's clear up a couple things right off the bat. It was a CLEAN sock and/or diaper. And she fastened the cloth together with a safety pin, she did not pin the cloth to my flesh. Just wanted to clarify! The menthol smell of the BenGay seemed to help me breathe, and it was warm on my neck, and it always seemed to make me feel better. Or maybe it was just that I knew Mom was taking care of me.

Maybe next time I feel sick I should try that...if nothing else, it would be quite a stylish fashion statement, don't you think?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Snooze time

Since I worked today, Ken made dinner, and it was very yummy! Sauteed scallops, roasted asparagus, and a salad with blue cheese dressing. Mmm. I felt bad, because I couldn't eat as much as I usually can, since I have this stupid cold! But it was very good, and it was very sweet of him to cook dinner tonight.

I'm off to chug an Alka Seltzer Plus cocktail, then off to bed. One more day, then a day off!

A lovely turn of phrase

I had an email from someone who told me a little about himself and his family, and then wrote something remarkable: "Tell me about you."

That's a very powerful phrase. How often do we go about our daily lives without ever really connecting with the people we meet along the way? Do we ask people how they are doing? More importantly, when we do ask the question, do we wait to hear the answer, and do we care about the reply? That short sentence in this particular email made me think about my level of engagement in the lives of those around me, and made me resolve to pay closer attention to those I deal with every day. My email was from someone who I have never met, but their simple act of asking about who I am made me believe that they care. It's a special talent to make someone feel that you care, and it's something worth cultivating within ourselves. Never forget that our words and actions have an impact on others, and a simple remark like, "Tell me about you" can show people that you are a caring person, and can make a difference in someone's life.

A couple of pictures from the deck:

And for a couple of great pictures of our wild turkeys, go to Ken's blog. A couple of weeks ago, I saw 50+ turkeys in our back yard, and Ken saw them again today--one even flew up onto the deck railing, and I haven't seen them do that for a while!

I caught another one

I'm not sure how I managed it, but I seem to have caught another cold. I caught one a month ago, so it seems highly unfair that I have landed another one. I will have to speak to someone about how unfair this is, and see if something can't be done. Ha! I seem to recall that a month ago, I was also working the weekend when I caught a cold. From this, I draw the conclusion that working weekends is hazardous to my health. Think my coworkers will see it my way? Nah, neither do I. I managed to get over the last one very quickly, so I'm hoping the same thing will happen this time. Again, quitting smoking was one of the best things we've ever done!

I don't recall if I've written about how we did it. If I have, it bears repeating. I hope that any of you who smoke will take it to heart and know that yes, you CAN quit. I loved to smoke...just the ritual of it, the easy familiarity, and the psychological sense of calm that it gave me. My job is highly stressful, and I always said that I'd quit smoking when I quit working, because I didn't think I could cope with my job without smoking. All that changed in 2006, when I caught a cold, it turned into bronchitis--as it always did--and a month later, I still could not stop coughing. [Ken just read this entry and informs me that it was much longer than a month, more like 2 or 3, and that he told me I needed to go to the doctor. I'd forgotten it was that long, but he's right, and he did tell me I needed to go.] I'd wake up in the middle of the night and cough for a half an hour. I love my sleep, so that was bothersome. I'd start laughing, and it would send me into a coughing fit. I love to laugh even more than I love to sleep, so that was especially bothersome. It was obvious that I needed to see my doctor. A thorough checkup, chest X-rays, and a bone density scan later, I found out that I had the beginnings of emphysema, as well as osteopenia, which is the precursor to osteoporosis. I'm 45 years old, people, much too young to be looking at something like that!

So that was my wake up call. Ken and I had a talk, and agreed that it was time for both of us to quit. We were set to go on vacation, and agreed that we'd start our program when we got back. We smoked like chimneys when we were on vacation, believe me! But we got it out of our systems and were ready to quit. Ken came up with a plan where we'd gradually cut down by starting with 5 fewer for the first two weeks, 5 fewer than that for the second two weeks, 5 fewer than that the third two weeks,then we'd quit. We also talked about changing our behaviors, i.e., we stopped smoking in the car, I smoked one less in the mornings, etc. By the time we got to the final two weeks, we were theoretically down to 5 a day. We found that we didn't always stick to that, and sometimes had more...with the understanding that when those two weeks were up, we would stop completely. 

We were able to do it without drugs or patches. I think the main thing for me was breaking that psychological dependency. Once I realized that yes, I could cut down and not miss it, I was able to take another step and say that I could actually quit. Once I had it set in my mind that I was going to quit, it became a matter of pride. I don't like to lose, and if I let myself be controlled by cigarettes, that would mean that they won, thus making me a LOSER. Ken just reminded me of another little trick I played on myself. I told people--lots of people--that I was quitting. Admitting defeat would mean admitting to my friends and family that I was a failure. That is simply not acceptable. :)

Let me just say that I am not calling anyone who smokes a loser or a failure. This is just the process I had to go through in my own mind to motivate me to quit. (The whole emphysema thing gave me a good, solid scare, too.) We were also able to quit without any drugs, but I encourage anyone to do whatever it takes to quit. My doctor in Indianapolis was so great, and of course, he was always encouraging me to quit. He said that he'd do whatever he could to help me. For one of his patients, he prescribed Valium, because the risks of dependency were less than the risks of continuing to smoke. I think any doctor will do whatever they can to help you quit. But you bear most of the responsibility. There really is no magic pill that will change you from a smoker to nonsmoker overnight. You have to believe that you will do it, that you want to do it, and that you CAN do it.

As an added plus, it turns out it was probably the best gift I ever could have given my parents.

Friday, January 25, 2008

It's Friday!

Wait...I have to work the weekend. Drat it all!

Ken worked from home today, but I had to go to work. How depressing to have to leave when he's warm and snug, and the cat is all curled up beside him! I sat in my car for a couple of minutes while it warmed up, my parka hood up and my face sunk down inside the collar. Our thermometer read 2° here, but downtown registered at -6°. We're supposed to have a bit of a warm up in the next few days, and I've entered that mindset where I'm looking forward to 35°. To heck with waterboarding...if you want to deal out some real psychological torture, just have 'em spend a month in winter climes.

Being the optimist that I am, I've found that one really good thing about this weather is that the beer in the garage is always ice cold. Cheers!

Ken worked on the computer all day, but took an hour or so to snow blow the driveway. He also cleaned off the deck, so I was able to get out and fill the bird feeders. We've got downy and hairy woodpeckers and juncos everywhere at the moment. Ken pokes fun at me, but he's a good sport about making sure I can get out on the deck and fill the feeders.

We watched the Republican debate last night...nothing really struck me as exciting or new. I thought McCain held his own, Romney seemed a little more animated, and Giuliani was trying to make some points. I told Ken that I finally realized what Mitt makes me think of...a Ken doll! I really don't think he's a BAD guy, and I think he's a brilliant businessman. I'm just bothered by his pandering to the party conservatives. He did some amazing things with universal health care in Massachusetts, but instead of touting his achievements there, he's downplaying it because it was a bipartisan effort. I think that's something to be proud of, but he's said very little about it. That's a shame, because I think most people would like to see a little more bipartisanship in politics. That's what Obama is basing his bid upon, and that's what McCain has been doing for years. Can't they figure out that most Americans want politicians to work together to make changes, instead of butting heads and not accomplishing anything?

I think Rudy's in trouble. His numbers are down even in New York, although I've gotten the impression that it's not a surprise, because he's not well-liked in New York. The Times endorsement of McCain, and their scathing comments about Rudy, made me say, "Ouch, man."

On a lighter note, I told Jillian today that my new name for her is Rudy Jilliani. Pat heard that and laughed out loud, and Jillian was so startled that she hit her forehead on her microscope. My work there was done!

Finally, ask and ye shall receive. I wrote a note to Dr. Will saying that his videos had gotten a very good response here, and that I hoped he would do more. He put up a new one, and it's very good! He also sent a really nice reply...not only is he smart and funny, he seems like a genuinely decent guy. Wow, if I ever have to go to a therapist, I want to go to Dr. Will!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I've discovered something

I was talking to my friend Aubrey at work today, and she said that she was trying to get caught up on my blog...but realized she was still on ONE DAY of entries! (That would be yesterday.) I am always willing to learn more about myself, and apparently for me, it's a simple equation:


In other words, the amount of free time I have is equally proportional to the quantity and size of entries.

Keeping that in mind, my next day off isn't until Monday, so y'all can catch a break. While I'm at it, though, I'll give you fair warning: I have four days off for Super Bowl weekend. Run for your lives!

Well, the roads were crummy this morning. Not here at Nutwood--I got out of the garage and out of the driveway with no problems, and our rural roads were actually in pretty good shape. I didn't run into problems until I got downtown. Wouldn't you think they'd do their best to clear downtown streets? I'd have thought so, too, but that was not the case. I made it to work safely, but at one point I thought I was going into a spin. My mad drivin' skills took over, and I got Slick back in control. It is amazing to me that instinct takes over like that...I can sense the back end wanting to come around, and I don't even have to think "Which way should I turn the wheel?!" I just do it. I hope no one else had such misadventures this morning! Ken took the truck, and he just got home. He said he had no problems.

It was rather busy today--we're once again getting work from one of the local hospitals, and there's plenty of it--but for some reason, we were all in crazy moods. We had quite a bit of fun and lots of laughs. That makes for a much more pleasant day! Maybe it was because we were all on a sugar high, thanks to Aubrey's rice krispie treats with chocolate on the top...they were yummy! She brought them in for Jillian's birthday. Happy Birthday, Jillian, to you and your messed up neck! (Skiing wipeout. She should be okay.)

Hey, I just heard that Kucinich has dropped out. He will not be endorsing any of his opponents. Does he think any of them would want him to? Just wondering. I think we'll watch an episode of "The Sopranos," then watch the Republican debate. We thought about watching "Celebrity Apprentice," but I told Ken I was feeling a tad "politicky."

How about another video from Dr. Will? Sounds good to me! I hope he does more, because I like putting them up here. He just tickles me.

I'm happy I'm not married to a Darren, although I suppose there are some that would call me a witch. ;) I never did understand why Darren was such a jerk about not wanting Sam to use her powers. Dr. Will cleared it up--Darren was the stupidest man in America!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Ken made it home safe and sound. The snow isn't too crazy at the moment, and there were no problems with his flights.

The other cool thing is what Cousin Shane just sent me. I have never heard this version before, and it is not a video, just music with background, so just a warning...but it is an excellent cover.

Beth, come back to the lighter side...

Okay. I can do that.

I just heard a commercial that made me laugh.

"Eat all you want and still lose weight! If it wasn't true, we couldn't say it on TV!"

That's really what they said. What's really scary is that there are some who believe that if it's said on TV, then it must be true. Does anyone really believe that they can eat all they want and still lose weight? No. No, you can't. It doesn't work that way. It just doesn't. Everyone gets that...right?

I had planned on having rice with the Chicken Cacciatore, but discovered that I had lots more pasta than I had rice. I use the rice for lots of skillet dishes, so I decided to use pasta for the CC. It's almost ready, and I'm hungry.

So far, so good--Ken is on his way home. He should have left Cincinnati by now, and is on his way here.

I have to say thanks to Kentsmokerguy for all the Dino comments today--that was a lot of fun, and it was a breath of fresh air! It tickled me to no end.

Yep, I'm smiling now.

One last sad thing

This sort of sadness is out of character for me, but I'm going to go with it, and then be done.

There was a story on NBC Nightly News tonight about the Holocaust. It seems that there were over a million more Jews in the Ukraine that were murdered during Nazi occupation, but that they somehow, someway, mysteriously...just disappeared. They weren't counted in the 6 million dead that have been previously reported. Do you see what I'm saying? This is over one million more Jews that were murdered during that dark period in human history.

As if 6 million weren't bad enough.

I am not dealing well with this. Perhaps it's because I was just thinking about our trip to Washington, D.C. with my family. One of the places we visited was the Holocaust Museum, and I can't even begin to convey how disturbing and how awful it is. But I also think everyone needs to see it. We were there for the WWII Memorial dedication, and when we visited the Holocaust Museum, the lady who took us up in the elevator saw my Dad's WWII Veteran cap and started crying. She said, "I'm sorry...I just can't see one of you without crying...thank you."


<getting a grip>

And there are still those who deny it, say that it never happened. Imbeciles.


Roots and History

I'm not a regular viewer of "Oprah," but I turned it on this evening. I'm glad I did, because a couple of things struck me as significant and important.

The main thing was watching comedian Chris Rock learn about his ancestry. It was part of a show on PBS--I don't recall the name, but I'm sure you can find it on either Oprah's web site, or on PBS's. He found out that his great-grandfather was a slave for twenty-some years, but joined the Union forces when the Civil War started. Julius Caesar Tingman survived the war, and went on to become a politician. He accumulated over 60 acres of land, and left that to his descendants. Rock's reaction was remarkable. He said that knowing what his great-grandfather did and accomplished was shocking...and that if he'd known earlier about it, it might have changed his life. Comedy for him was a way out of menial jobs, but knowing what his great-grandfather achieved was an eye-opener, and made him realize that what he (Rock) has accomplished is nothing compared to the courage and fortitude that his great-grandfather showed some 150 years ago.

I've always felt that a strong sense of family and family history is very empowering. My family is fortunate in that a couple of individuals have done extensive research and traced our history back hundreds of years. On my Mom's side, we haven't gone back that far, but Mom was happy to find out more about her ancestors. We believe that on her side, we have Scots-Irish ancestry--her people come from Eastern Kentucky and the West Virginia area, where many of those immigrants settled. On my Dad's side, my Uncle Bill, gone for many years now, managed to trace us back to Germany in the 1500's, in the Prussian area. My ancestors came here in the late 1700's, and eventually made their way westward, to settle in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and eventually Indiana. On both sides, we've had people who served in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War (including a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient), and every subsequent war. Knowing our family history IS empowering! No matter where you're from, or what your background might be, think of what your ancestors dealt with, and had to overcome. What we deal with in our daily lives pales in comparison, and we can and should find strength in what they have done, and know that we have that strength within us.

The other thing that was discussed--and yes, this is a little lighter!--was the Smithsonian Institution. A curator brought Dorothy's ruby slippers to the show. While that doesn't totally trip my trigger--they're cool, but I'm not rabid about the ruby slippers--they discussed the Smithsonian in general. I've been fortunate enough to have visited the Smithsonian a couple of times, perhaps 3 days total. Three days can't begin to scratch the surface of this museum. There is no admission to the Smithsonian. Yes, as taxpayers, we fund it, but if you've ever visited, you will happily fork over that tax money, because it is a remarkable place. The repository of knowledge and history is astounding, and never fails to take my breath away. There are many things in Washington, D.C. to explore, enjoy, and be inspired by, but the Smithsonian really has global appeal. Seeing the curator on Oprah made me want to go back to D.C. and explore the various Smithsonian museums at length. Washington, D.C. is on our list to visit again, and I have to say, I've got the D.C. bug at the moment. It would be a long trip for Kim and Steve, but hmmm...would that be a possibility for a vacation? Let's discuss! On our last trip to D.C., we didn't get to do the tour of the White House as planned, because our Congressman had to reschedule, but I would love to try again.

Then there are the memorials. Some of those are worth seeing. <grin> That Illinois guy, Lincoln, was kinda okay, and then there's Jefferson...I guess he was okay, too. I suppose I could see their memorials again, if someone twisted my arm. The war memorials are also kinda good. All kidding aside, I'm not ashamed to admit that when I stood in the Jefferson Memorial--that was my favorite--and read the words he'd written, I was so moved that I cried. Standing there with my Dad made it even more special. Walking around the WWII Memorial with Dad and Mom, when we were all there for the dedication, is something I will never forget. We went there at night, too, and the lights were so beautiful, and it was so peaceful...the war memorials in D.C. are truly that--they are memorials to those who lost their lives, and should be approached with respect and solemnity.

I guess I'm done with my little tribute to our capitol. Sorry if I got a bit verklempt. :)

Live birds fed, dead bird cookin'

After I cleaned off the steps to the garage (it was only a couple of inches of snow, so no big deal) and got the mail, I put new water in the bird bath and filled a couple of the feeders. It's mighty cold out there, but the birds seem happy, and as Ken would say, "That's all that matters." He says it with complete sincerity, too, not even a hint of sarcasm! :)

Speaking of Hubby, he called earlier and was all finished with his meetings, checked out, and ready to grab some lunch before heading off the the airport. There's a winter storm warning for tonight, so we're hoping that he can get out of Cincinnati before the snow really starts flying. He's supposed to get in around 8:30 PM, and I hope the weather doesn't cause flight problems. I'll be happy to see him!

I've spent the last hour or so getting dinner together. It really wasn't all that complicated, I just took my time. I'm doing Chicken Cacciatore in the crockpot. I've always done it on the stovetop, but I thought this sounded tasty and easy. The recipe I used calls for dredging the chicken in flour and browning it on the stove, and wow, it really started smelling good in here! Whenever I've made CC in the past, I've used my BH&G cookbook, which says to serve it with hot cooked rice or pasta. I've always served it with rice, but most recipes I looked at today called for pasta. Hmm. Decisions, decisions! I kind of like the rice the best...if I'm making Chicken Parmigiana, then I'll use pasta, but I think I'll still make rice with this. Ken will get home too late for dinner, but we'll eat this a couple more nights.

I need to finish up the laundry, then send out a birthday card to Ken's brother Mike, and I think I'll write a note to his Mom. Probably more later!

Island Time

Dr. Will had some interesting things to say about Heath Ledger and depression. I think everyone is saddened at the tragic loss of someone with such talent. While looking at his blog, I clicked on his link to his niece's blog, Lindsay in Haiti. It looks like she is teaching in Haiti for a couple of years. She has some wonderful pictures of some of the children up there...but it made me cry a little bit, because it's just so sad that so many live in such abject poverty.

It reminded me of our cruise this past summer, where one of the stops was Haiti. We didn't venture out to the rest of the island--the cruise line doesn't recommend it--but stayed on Royal Caribbean's private beach. It's such a gorgeous place, as you can see.

We took a walking tour of the beach area, and our guide, Lamy, was such a neat guy. He was very matter-of-fact about his country's poverty. He said that he received $600 last year from Royal Caribbean, which is apparently quite a bit of money there, and he used a lot of it to buy a cow for his mother. The kids commented later that $600 was a lot if you considered the cost of living. We tried to explain that the concept of "cost of living" doesn't really apply when it comes to an area that is so poverty-stricken. It's not a matter of East or West coast prices versus Midwest prices...there are simply very few goods to buy, and no easy means to get to somewhere to buy what few there are. I think they'll understand it one day. There really is no comparison with what we have here.

As a secondary school graduate (our equivalent of high school), Lamy was considered a "VIP" in his family, and his duty was now to pay for his little brothers to go to school (which he was doing). He explained to us how most people have gardens where they grow much of their own food (thus the importance of the cow for his mother--fresh milk). He realized how far his country has to go, but he was very proud when he spoke about his country's independence--it was the first black republic, and they call her Mother of Freedom.

Reading Lindsay's blog and seeing the pictures reminded me of all that. I wonder how Lamy is doing? I wonder if he realizes what an impression he made on us? If you take a look at her blog, I hope it helps you remember how fortunate we are here. We may have our own problems to deal with, personally and as a nation, but if you put things into perspective, we are very blessed. There's a reason people want to come here. America has always been a melting pot, and I hope it always will be.

I hope her blog also makes you grateful for people who try to make a difference--her, my niece Jen who spent 3 weeks in Ghana to help at a kids' camp, my friend Felicia's father, a physician, who spends weeks at a time in Africa treating disease and infection...I'm sure we all know people who try to help others. We may idolize athletes, actors, or musicians, and I certainly love my entertainment, but our misplaced adulation should be focused on the "ordinary" heroes. They are the people who try to make the world a better place.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A lovely Florida flower

I was just looking at some pictures of mine, and considering that it's all of 13° here, I really liked looking at some of our Florida pictures. I think this one is especially pretty.


In praise of westerns


In westerns, it's obvious who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. More recent takes on the western have blurred that a bit, to good effect. Nothing wrong with shaking things up a bit. But I think what appeals to us most about the classic western theme is seeing good triumph over evil. Some great shootouts along the way can't hurt!

Some of my favorite characters and moments? Watching John Wayne, always the chivalrous knight of the west. Clint Eastwood's "drifter," with his squinty eyes and raspy voice, cigar clamped in his teeth. In "Silverado," Kevin Costner standing outside the saloon, on the corner, saying, "Hey," and plugging two guys at once. In "Tombstone," Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp shouting, "Hell's coming with me!" In the same movie, Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday saying, "I'm your huckleberry." The slow motion, bloody shootout in "The Long Riders." And in a rather obscure favorite of mine, "Purgatory," bad guy Blackjack Britton (Eric Roberts) saying to Sam Shepard (as Wild Bill Hickock), "Your mother's a whore," and Shepard calmly saying, "I have no mother," then drawing and shooting the cur where he stood.

See what I mean? It's all about vengeance. It's the good guys versus the bad guys, and in westerns, the good guys always win. It's a way for average folks like you and me to find an easy resolution to the complicated problems we encounter every day. Most of us don't pack heat these days (at least not legally), and immediate justice, such as blowing away the person who cuts us off in traffic, is strongly frowned upon. Westerns provide vicarious vengeance, and an appropriate, safe outlet for our aggressions.

To quote "Tombstone" again, "You called down the thunder, well now you've got it!" That's some powerful stuff, and it's better that we hear it and watch it, rather than say it in real life.

My little TV indulgence

I watched "American Idol" at 8 PM. Ken and I both watch it, but I have to say, the gild is off the lily. I'm sure that once we get into the legitimate competition, I'll get into it again, but I'm finding that the auditions are just not capturing my attention this year. I'm still a little irritated that Bo Bice didn't win, and that Chris Daughtry was out as early as he was. Sure seems like Daughtry showed 'em all, though.

I was looking to see what is on TV tonight, and there really isn't much that I felt like watching. I decided on "Rio Bravo," the John Wayne movie that also has Dean Martin in it. It's on AMC, and for some reason, a Western just sounded fun to me. I'm enjoying it--I wonder how much influence Dino's sobered-up gunslinger had on Gene Wilder for "Blazing Saddles"? Hmm....

Shocking and sad news

They found actor Heath Ledger dead in his Manhattan apartment today. A drug overdose is suspected, because they found prescription and non-prescription pill bottles around him. The guy was only 28, and has a 2-year-old daughter. He was so talented, and it makes me ponder what gets a person to this point.

The contrast between Ledger and Britney Spears is worth noting, I think. Here's an extremely talented actor, with little to no press about his partying, depression, or any bad behavior (there may have been incidents, but nothing like the antics of Spears). Most of us are shocked at this, because we'd heard nothing that would lead us to think he was at risk of suicide (whether intentional or unintentional). On the other hand, Spears is growing increasingly bizarre and irrational in her behavior. I'm no psychologist, but that tells me that she is ASKING for this attention and actually wants help. Ledger's quiet spiral into the depths of depression is even more sad to me, because he was unable to get help when he needed it.

I always find it sad when someone with so much talent, or anyone else, for that matter, ends up destroying themselves. Maybe this will help people see that no one is immune from depression, and there's nothing wrong or embarrassing about seeking help. It could save your life!  

Ten Little Indians

Fred Thompson has dropped out of the race, officially leaving 10 candidates. I was so happy I actually got to use the "Ten Little Indians" reference! Fred was a big disappointment, wasn't he? Before he declared, he was hailed as the great GOP hope, but once he got in there, he just didn't have much to say. My impression is that he just didn't want to work all that hard to win the nomination.

I didn't watch the debate last night, but heard about it on NPR at work today, and now on the news. The local news poll was whether or not candidates should "bicker" or some such thing. I don't think they should get juvenile about it, but I do think they're obligated to point out the shortcomings of their opponents. Obama and Clinton were really lettin' the fur fly for a while, and NPR analysts said that Clinton's accusations didn't have a lot of truth behind them. Obama's did, sort of, but that when Clinton was on the board of Walmart, she DID work for changes, such as equal wages for women. Edwards got a few digs in, too, but Obama and Clinton were the big news.

In the meantime, Dennis Kucinich has filed yet another lawsuit, this one against the Texas Democratic Party. Stop him before he sues again! I'm thinking that anyone this litigious is just going to continue to be a general pain in the ass.

Well, as you can see, I'm feeling a lot better! I finished off the remainder of the Eggplant Parm last night, and I'm pleased to report that I had no symptoms like the previous night. In fact, the eggplant tasted even better the second night. I DID go to bed very early last night, though. I hit the hay at 8:15, read a bit, and turned out the light at 8:45. Wimpy, I know, but I slept the entire night through, and I'm a big believer that if you get plenty of sleep when you're ill, it gives your body a chance to work overtime on fighting off whatever ails ya.

We got a little bit of snow during the night, but I had no problem getting out of the driveway (that CAN be a problem at times) or getting to work. It continued to snow a bit during the day, but after work, I ran to UPS to pick up a package, the roads were fine, and I was able to get in our driveway and into the garage with no worries. We're supposed to get more snow tomorrow--yikes, it sounds like 6 or maybe even 12 inches!--but I'm off, and I don't need to go anywhere. Ken gets back tomorrow night, Lord willing, and he took the truck, so he won't have any problems getting home--assuming there are no delays with his flight. Keep your fingers crossed!

Speaking of snow, it was thirty years ago today that Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play. I'm sorry, I just can't say "thirty years ago today" and not throw Sergeant Pepper in there. No, actually, it was the great Blizzard of '78, and believe me, around here, it earned its capital letter status. Here's a little info from Wikipedia:

The Great Blizzard of 1978 struck across the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes on January 26, 1978, with a center in northwestern Ohio. A freak convergence of two atmospheric low pressure systems resulted in a "storm of unprecedented magnitude", according to the National Weather Service, who categorized it as a rare severe blizzard, the most menacing grade of winter storm. Particularly hard hit were the states of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and southeast Wisconsin where up to 40" of snow fell. Winds gusting up to 100 mph caused drifts that nearly covered some homes. Wind chill reached 60°F below across much of Ohio where 51 of the total 70 storm-related deaths occurred.

The lowest atmospheric pressure ever recorded in the United States, apart from a hurricane, occurred as the storm passed over Cleveland, Ohio. The barometer fell to 28.28 inches.

Snowfall totals

The following table displays snowfall totals during the January 25-29, 1978 time period.



Amount (inches)











Grand Rapids



Houghton Lake






South Bend









Traverse City


*Total data for a 24 hour period.

Source: National Weather Service Detroit/Pontiac, Michigan

I remember it well. My parents were spending the winter in Florida, while my sister and her husband stayed at the house with me. We lived not too far from a four-lane highway, and it was completely closed. Three feet of snow will do that! The snow that piled up on the roadsides when the plows finally got through reached up to the power lines. I've never seen anything like it, even in North Dakota.

Our funniest family story of the blizzard comes from Cousin Shane, his Mom (my Aunt Bert), and his stepdad (Uncle Denny). I can't remember how long we were housebound, but it was at least three days. But Aunt Bert and Uncle Denny had a Blazer, and they were able to get out before anyone else did. Aunt Bert and Shane had a major jones for Pepsi (at that time, it came in returnable bottles--that is important), and Uncle Denny had run out of cigarettes. They eventually brought milk and stuff like that to anyone in the family who needed it, but their first stop was for Pepsi and smokes. Shane said that they didn't have a bottle opener in the Blazer, so they were prying off the Pepsi caps with a screwdriver, while Uncle Denny smoked like a chimney. I still crack up over that!

I hope you're all safe and warm tonight! 


Monday, January 21, 2008

My hilarious husband

Ken called a little bit ago and we talked about our days. When I told him that I stayed home today because of a stomach bug, what was the first thing out of his mouth?

"It was that eggplant."

Why was I not surprised? Ha ha! I had to tell him that in my brief entry this morning, I even said that I was sure it was NOT the eggplant! We got a chuckle out of that. Well, just to prove it really wasn't the eggplant, I'm eating the rest of it tonight. Boy, I'll really have egg(plant) on my face if I feel sick again tonight!

I might write more later (feeling crummy is not conducive to writing, at least for me), but in the meantime, I'll refer to an entry I made back in December. It was based on something I'd read...the person couldn't articulate anything about policies or experience or something that was, you know, substantive. No, it was all about race, gender, and religion, and it was quite mean-spirited. On the day when we honor the vision, dedication, and world-changing message of Martin Luther King, Jr., it makes me sad to think that we still have such a long way to go. If you don't like someone, whether it's a presidential candidate or the guy next door, is it really necessary to ridicule them for what they are? Isn't that sort of...junior high?

Reflections from the couch

Hey, I'm feeling better! I spent a few hours on the couch, and the cat curled up with me, and everything seems to have settled down. I still haven't eaten anything yet, but I don't want to push my luck!

I was watching the Food Network, and while the shows were enjoyable, I found some of the commercials quite interesting. One really bothered me, and made me think of an even more questionable drug.

The commercial was for Yaz, which is a new type of birth control pill, using alternative hormones. It claims that this pill can alleviate emotional and physical premenstrual symptoms, as well as the problem of acne. The whole marketing thing bothers me...what, we're not supposed to ever feel any physical discomfort EVER in our lives? It's cramps, people, and most women have them. I don't enjoy 'em, either, but 4 Advil and I'm good to go--and I usually only have to take one dose of that. I don't want to be too dismissive, because I know that there are women who have much more severe symptoms than I do. I can see how if it were that bad for you, you'd want to try something that would help. The name of the pill bugs me, too: Yaz. It sounds so cutesy and fun, and it seems to me that they're targeting a particular age group.

That one isn't that big of a deal to me, but I've recently read about another new pill, Lybrel, which doesn't have the placebo pills at all (which is when you have your period). You just take the real deal all along...and never have a period. I'm not sure this is a good thing. Your hormonal exposure is several weeks longer, and do we really want to be screwing around that much with our hormones? The effects of hormone therapy on breast cancer is still way too unknown for me, with conflicting reports coming out seemingly every week. I also realize that menopausal symptoms can be very severe, and that hormone replacement therapy is a necessity for some. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, but my goal is to avoid them if I can. My Mom weathered it well and didn't have to take anything, so the odds are in my favor. The other thing about this that concerns me--and it's stated on the Lybrel web site--is that because you no longer have a period, you may not realize that you are pregnant. But Beth, if you're on the pill, you won't get pregnant! Uh-huh. Ask one lady I know...and her three children.

From everything I've read, taking the pill when you're pregnant because you don't know you're pregnant can have adverse affects on the baby. Most docs recommend that you stop oral contraceptives a few months before you try to become pregnant.

I believe in taking medication when it's necessary, and I certainly have no problem taking Advil when I need to (although I've cut way down on that, too). But I feel we still know so little about how things can affect us, and hormones are one of the more unknown entities. Look at it this way: the stuff that some baseball players and other athletes have been taking are hormones. Do YOU want to look like Barry Bonds? I know I don't! I just think we need to be a little more careful with what kinds of medications we take.

Oh a lighter note, have you ever heard of that game "Would You Rather?" by Zobmondo? I got that for Shane for Christmas a couple of years ago, and they have a web site with some interesting sample questions. It's mostly a way to generate some interesting discussions, and believe me, there are some real dilemmas! Here's a sample, and it's a disgusting one:

Would you rather...?

Immerse your naked body in a bathtub of cockroaches
dive naked head first into a pool of chewing tobacco spit?

I told you it was disgusting! I really had to think about this one for a bit. At first, I thought that I couldn't dive into the chewing tobacco spit because of the exposure to bacteria and viruses. But the alternative is cockroaches, and I think I would go out of my mind if I had cockroaches crawling all over me. (I did note that they didn't specify live or dead cockroaches, but I will assume live ones--dead cockroaches would be easy.) So I thought about the pool of chewing tobacco spit a little bit more, and it seems to me that chewing tobacco would pretty much kill any bacteria and viruses present in the spit.

So I guess I'd have to choose the spit.

I'll just have to hope that I'm never faced with that choice for real. Ha ha!

Tummy ache

I was supposed to be at work today, but a bug got me during the night. Bleah. I'm sure I'll write more later as I start feeling better, but I think I'll go lay on the couch for a while.

And it was NOT the Eggplant Parm, I'm sure of that! :)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

<snore snore snore>

I'm not quite there yet, but I'm very very close.

The Ken-is-on-a-trip Eggplant Parm was mighty good. I thought I'd get three dinners out of it, but I ate half of it tonight! And wow, do I love that fresh mozzarella, or what?! It was so yummy and nutty-tasting, and just...well, it was just darn tasty!

My challenge tonight is to see if I can stay warm in our bed without Ken, AKA, The Human Furnace. I get fairly hot at night, too, so I think I might be okay. Sheeba always comes in and curls up right by me, and that makes me feel toasty, so I don't think I'll freeze tonight. :)

Patriots are in the Super Bowl (but the Chargers gave 'em a run), and the Packers and the Giants are battling it out right now. It's a good game, although it's kinda crazy to be playing in such cold weather!

It's embarrassing to admit that I am ready to hit the hay...but what can I say? I'm really sleepy, and I get up at 5 AM. I'll turn on the game in the bedroom, but I'm pretty sure I'll conk out in a matter of minutes, now that I know that Ken is safe and sound. If I stayed up for a while, I'd hit my second wind...but I'd much rather just go to bed and get a good night's sleep. I learned a while back that if I'm to do the best job I can do, I can't be sleep-deprived. I'm much better and much more efficient at what I do if I'm not overly loopy!

Oh! I knew there was something I was forgetting about! I've got my book ordered for our book club's next book, The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles. The timeframe of the book is post-WWII, and I think it will be fairly interesting. I ordered the book through ABE, which is a great source for obscure books. Through ABE, I ordered a book through yet another great site, Better World Books. Not only do they recycle books by selling used copies, they are also a local company. Even better, a portion of each of their orders goes towards funding world literacy. They don't charge shipping, so I was able to get the book--gently used--for less than $4. Can't beat that with a stick!

I'm about ready to plant my face in the keyboard...I'm just plum tuckered, as my Mom would say. Night all!

Still kickin'...

Wow, looked for a moment like the Giants had it...but the TD was called back. All tied up, with a minute and a half to go. What a great game!

Holy crap!

Giants kick a field goal to win it...BLOCKED! This has got to be one of the best playoff games ever. WOW! Dammit, I'm all wokeded up now. Hee heee!

That reminds me! Cousin Shane and I exchanged jokes today, ones that we made up. Mine was, "What is the psychotic's favorite perfume?" Obsession. His was, "What is the pychotic's victim's favorite cologne?" Escape. We cracked each other up with those!

I seriously want to go to bed right now, but I can't go to bed on a playoff game that's in overtime! These guys are killin' me....

It's quiet at Lambeau Field right now

Holy moley...Giants kick a field goal to win it, and they're going to the Super Bowl. What a game.


Beth's Music Moment


Today's Music Moment is about The Kinks.

Formed in 1963, they are considered one of the '60's British invasion bands, but never quite achieved the level of popular recognition bestowed upon the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, or the Who. Critics, however, have long lauded the Kinks for being one of the foremost bands of rock and roll, and any student or graduate of the School of Rock <grin> appreciates and understands the contribution made by this band.

Their early singles, such as "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night" from 1964 remain rock standards. Van Halen covered the former and scored a hit, and boosted the Kinks' popularity, but for purists (like me), the original will always be the best. The Kinks' earlier hard-edged sounds were replaced later, somewhat, by Ray Davies' (lead vocals/guitar) focus on writing about social situations and on his clever wordplay. 1965's "A Well-Respected Man" is a classic of social commentary and a pointed dig at propriety.

Ray Davies is one of the best performers in the history of rock. He blended music, lyrics, and theater to achieve a mixture that is rarely found in music: a renaissance man, one who managed to channel his past influences and form a unique sound, and an innovative and new voice in music. Kinks fan (and a pretty good guitarist in his own right) Pete Townshend said for The History of Rock 'n' Roll that "The Kinks were much more quintessentially English. I always think that Ray Davies should one day be Poet Laureate. He invented a new kind of poetry and a new kind of language for pop writing that influenced me from the very, very, very beginning."

Ray's brother, Dave (lead guitar/vocals), is one of the unsung guitar heroes of rock. For the early sixties, Dave Davies' guitar licks were much edgier and harder than anything being done at that time. A loud, distorted guitar riff, achieved by Dave's slicing of the speaker cones in his amp, gave "You Really Got Me" its signature, gritty guitar sound. The new sound led to hard rock, and eventually resulted in heavy metal. "All Day and All of the Night" is a prime example of this different sound.

"Lola," a single released in 1970, remains a cult hit and certainly pushed the edge of the envelope of standards at the time. The tale of an encounter with a transvestite, who "walked like a woman and talked like a man," is known to most, and if played in any dance club, the crowd will shout, "L-O-L-A LOLA!"

I loved the Kinks throughout the '70's, but a big commercial breakthrough came for them when they released a live album in 1980, "One For The Road." Their excellent performance, both theatrically and musically, gained them new fans and new commercial success. Subsequent albums in the next couple of years were also successful, and this period marked the high point of their commercial success.

In 1990, their first year of eligibility, The Kinks were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

A bit of trivia (or two):

Ray Davies was awarded the rank of Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004, for "services to music." On January 4 of that year, Ray Davies was shot in the leg while pursuing a thief who had snatched the purse of his companion in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Ray Davies released a solo album in January 2006 titled "Other People's Lives," and it was highly acclaimed by critics. The album gave Ray Davies his first top 40 album chart success in the UK for almost 40 years.

If you love music, do yourself a favor and give this band a closer look. You won't be disappointed. I know there are lots of videos posted in this entry, but each one is a different phase of the Kinks' musical history. It's all good stuff, in my book!

P.S. Got a call from Ken, he made it safely to Dallas. Yay!