Monday, June 30, 2008

Surly, party of two!

Good heavens, where did the day go? Part of it is my own fault--I stayed up too late again last night. I was doing so well for a while there, so I need to get back to it!

One of our local stores had perennials on sale for $2.50. Woohoo! A couple of years ago, Ken put in a large flower bed out by the road, and I've been trying to build up the perennials. I planted annuals one year, and that's just too much to spend every year! Besides, I love it when things just come up by themselves! The daisies are doing really well and just starting to bloom, and the coreopsis is also thriving. The sedum is looking good, too. There were a few things I planted, though, that didn't survive, so I have a few bare spots. I've been waiting for perennials to go on sale and I saw in yesterday's paper that they were at this place.

Anyhoo, I found out which ones were on sale and started picking out some. I'd only found 3 or so that I really liked--the rest needed more shade, or looked bedraggled. At one point, a young guy who worked there came over to put a couple more pots on the shelves. I smiled at him and said hi, and kept looking. He came back a couple minutes later, saw me still looking, and said, "Ma'am, we've got a whole bunch more at the back. Brand new ones." I said, "Really?!" He said, "Yeah, all the way at the back, behind the greenhouse." I said, "Wow, great! Thank you!" smiled at him again, and he gave me the biggest, happiest smile I think I've ever seen. It was like I made HIM happy because he saw how happy he'd made ME! That just kind of made my day. As Frank Burns said to Hotlips in "M*A*S*H," "It's nice to be nice to the nice!"

So I head off to the back to find the other perennials, and holy moley--SCORE! They had tons of them laid out on flats, and I found the size that was on sale. They had some different varieties, too, kinds that weren't in the spot where I'd started out. I started looking and finding some that I wanted and that can handle full sun, and while I was looking, an older guy with a clipboard said, "We haven't checked these in yet." I said, "I'm sorry, what?" He repeated himself. (And there was no tone of niceness there whatsoever.) I said, " of the guys sent me back here." The older guy flapped his hand at me and said, "Take it then." He walked away from me still muttering.

Remember Surly Grocery Clerk? I think it was her dad! I didn't let him get to me, though--Happy Smiling Guy proved to be a very powerful antidote! Hmm, I think there's a lesson to be learned there.

Another thing I needed to get was some storage bins for...well, storing stuff. I got 5 of them, and I put the 8 perennials I got in the top one. It ended up pretty heavy, and I was really struggling to get them into my trunk. If you've never had a Mustang, they're notorious for having small trunks. After trying to fit them in a couple of ways, the bins and flowers ended up in my passenger seat! I felt worn out by the time I was done tangling with the bins, so I decided to plant my flowers tomorrow.

When I was unloading the bin lids from the trunk, I saw something that I didn't pay attention to when I loaded them in. I actually laughed out loud, and knew I had to take a picture for my J-Land friends. Note the warning label: Don't store babies in this bin!

I hope you're all having a lovely day, one with more smiles and less surliness!

Oh yeah, babe!

Check it out!


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Inner happiness and Star Trek wisdom

I believe that as long as I live, I'll never understand why some people seem so determined to torpedo their own peace of mind and sabotage their own happiness.
I am definitely not talking about cases of physical abuse--that is a serious crime and should be treated as such. I'm talking about those who seem to be incapable of letting go of the types of hurts and setbacks that we've all encountered in our pasts. Let's face it, if you've had any kind of involvement or interaction with other people, I'd say there's a 100% chance that you've been hurt. It's a part of life, and a healthy psyche will realize it for what it is--I choose to see such things as a learning experience--and move on. Sadly, there are some that would rather gather their hurts and perceived slights around them like a mantle--or a shroud--rather than casting them off, and if not leaving them completely behind, at least realizing that they are a small part of life that can be dealt with.
I find it perplexing to encounter people that are consumed by bitterness and anger, unable to let go of things that happened decades ago. I definitely remember things that happened to me, because there are some things that you just never forget...but I'm not consumed by these thoughts, and my life is not affected in an adverse way. Quite the opposite, in fact, because I did my best to learn from those events and tried to steer my life in a positive direction based on what I learned. There I go again with that healthy psyche! I'm not sure why there are those that seem to be incapable of taking this step. I really do find it's such an alien concept to me.
It also makes me feel kind of bad for these people who are so "eaten up," as my Mom would say. What a sad life it must be when you continue to make the same mistakes over and over and over again, and you're not contemplative or aware enough to realize that you are damaging yourself more than anyone else. George Santayana said, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." This statement is usually used when speaking of public policy and of nations, but it certainly applies just as well in our personal lives. Part of our growth as human beings is predicated upon learning from our past experiences and recognizing the damaging patterns that we perpetuate. When I was going off to college, my Dad told me that he wished that he could give me the benefit of his experiences and his mistakes...but he went on to say, "I know it doesn't work that way...some things you just have to learn for yourself." I never forgot that and I've always tried to learn from both the good and the bad. Regrets? Yeah...I've had a few. But really, too few to mention. (Sorry, I had to inject a little humor in there.) I DO have regrets, but the key thing is that I don't dwell on them. I've reached the age where I'm starting to realize that our time here on earth is limited, and that life is too short to focus on the negatives of our pasts. To wallow in anger from past hurts is not healthy, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally. A character in the very first episode of the original "Star Trek" says, "A man either lives life as it happens to him, meets it head on and licks it, or he turns on it and starts to wither away."
I've chosen--and continue to choose--to take my Dad's advice and learn, grow, and forge bravely ahead into my future. I refuse to be bogged down by my past, my present is happier than I ever thought it could be, and I believe that my future will be even better, as Ken and I continue our plan and begin to focus on the second half (post-career) of our lives. I hope each and every one of you make the same choice. I'll go back to that first episode of "Star Trek," in which one of the Talosians says, " have reality. May your way be as pleasant."

Thanks, but no drama for me today!

It's been a low-key day here at Nutwood--have you noticed that we seem to have a lot of those? And on purpose, too!

It was rainy this morning, but it's cleared up nicely, so our Grillin' Date is on. I don't have any large potatoes to bake (a must for steaks, in my book), so I proposed Jerk Chicken and Spanish rice. Ken thought that sounded good, so Jerk Chicken it is! No problem, mon! Hey, I found a recipe over the weekend for Cuban Chicken, too, and I want to try that one of these days.

As we were reading the paper this morning, the phone rang, and it was Kim and Steve from California, the ones who just had birthdays! It was fun to get caught up, and we talked a bit about confirming the dates when we'll be visiting. We'll be going out in early August to see family and friends, and our proposed dates for a visit at their place works for them. Ken and Steve are planning on a golf outing one day--I suppose Kimberley and I can find some trouble to get into something to occupy us that morning--and then we'll hit the lake one day. We've already heard back from my niece Jen that she will be in town (she gets to travel all over the place for her job--Italy, Spain, Paris--what a gig!) when we're there, and Ken's brother Mike will also be available--I hope his son is, too. So good deal! Things are shaping up nicely. Ken has been working on getting us a hotel for the nights that we aren't staying with people, and he found a couple of great he was narrowing the choices down, the price jumped about $300! Not TO $300, it jumped from around $250 to over $500. Good golly! Needless to say, we won't be staying at those places. Bummer, too, because one of them was a hotel from the 1920's, right on the coast in La Jolla. We figure there must be something going on in the area for prices to jump like that. He's still looking...wish him luck!

I don't use my MySpace account very often, but I had a notice that I had an email from this guy (there on the left), Peter Coyne. He's the lead singer of The Godfathers, a British band from the 80's and early 90's. They've reunited and have been playing gigs in Europe. Peter was responding personally to all the people that have left comments on their MySpace page--how cool is that? We've exchanged an email or two, and he sounds like a genuinely nice guy. I had heard rumors that they might be booking some dates in the States (the rumors are true!) and mentioned that I hoped they'd make a stop in Chicago. He wrote, "Beth, we could never forget Chicago - The Godfathers fave place to play in the States, bar none! Great nights at The Cabaret Metro - my kind of town!! We are slowly working toward setting up some US, fingers crossed!!!"

SWEET! I told Ken that this is one that I won't miss. (That's Kris Dollimore, their crazy-good guitarist, to the right.) Hopefully Cousin Shane can go, too, and we'll make a night of it in Chi-town. I've never been to the Metro, so I don't know how large or small it is. I don't care where they play, I just want to be there!

I'm sure most of you are saying, "The Godfathers? Wasn't that a movie?" Well, the singular form, yes, and the band loves such iconic movies, and according to Peter, they named the band after that movie. They also have a couple of songs that reflect their love of movies and soundtracks, such as the James Bond-like "John Barry," who was the guy who did much of the music for the Bond movies (and a version of the James Bond theme music), as well as "Gone To Texas," their tribute to Ennio Morricone and his spaghetti Western soundtracks ("The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" is Morricone's most well-known work of this type).

I wouldn't really group The Godfathers in with punk bands like The Sex Pistols and The Clash--they're on the cusp between punk and post-punk. They continued well into the 90's, long after the whole "punk explosion" had ended. They always struck me as more of a basic, kickass rock band, showing some of the anger of punk but really excellent both vocally and musically. One of my favorite lyrics of theirs comes from the song " 'Cause I Said So," when Peter spits out:

Every day's a thrill when you're living like me
Don't read Baudelaire's poetry
And I don't need no Ph.D.
'Cause I'm ten times smarter than you'll ever be
'Cause I said so!

Fun stuff! And no, I'm not an angry person like that--it's just rock n' roll, man. I like it!

One of my favorite songs of theirs is "I'm Lost and Then I'm Found." Lyrics first (tabloids never change, do they?), then a live video.


Read about some princess and her junkie friends
Didn't start my day off right
Old James Dean jumped from his grave
Swore that black was white
Read it in the papers the writing's on the wall
And someone earns a dollar out of every lie
It don't make no sense worrying at all
And I wake up and I'm wondering why

I'm lost and then I'm found
I'm lost and then I'm found

Everybody's giving me the third degree
Don't know when I'm up or down
Cigarettes and women be the death of me
Better that than this old town
Read it in the papers the writing's on the wall
And someone earns a dollar out of every lie
It don't make no sense worrying at all
And I wake up and I'm wondering why

I'm lost and then I'm found
I'm lost and then I'm found

Wintertime is coming hear the howling wind
Didn't get to sleep last night
Stoned in my confusion makes no sense at all
Couldn't change it if I tried
Read it in the papers the writing's on the wall
And someone earns a dollar out of every lie
It don't make no sense worrying at all
And I wake up and I'm wondering why

I'm lost and then I'm found
I'm lost and then I'm found


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Salmonella and Lincoln Logs

A couple of nights ago, I left a comment on a blog I read every so often--not all that often lately, but we exchanged a couple of emails recently about past comments, and it was pretty enjoyable, so I visited her again the other night. After I left my comment, I discovered that she has a really neat feature: as I scrolled over my name (which is linked to this journal), there's a pop-up of recent topics that I've written about. How cool is that? It was sort of a "tag cloud" kind of thing, and I thought it was a neat feature. What was amusing--and frankly, a little disturbing--to me was the tag cloud generated for this journal.

"Salmonella, Lincoln Logs, Obesity, Renters Insurance, Godzilla, Legos, Brain tumor."

For any of her other readers who happen to scroll over my name, that's quite a range of topics, and I have to wonder what might go through their minds when they see that. Once again, I paint such an alluring picture! Oh man, brainstorm! (Ouch!) While I don't think I can manage to incorporate all of those topics into a journal entry (at least not honestly and realistically), I just might have to try to write a scenario or a little story using them all. Stay tuned! The gears are already turning....

Ken is home safe and sound, and it was great to talk to him and hear about his trip. He felt pretty tired after several hours on the road, so he headed off to bed a few minutes ago, and I'll join him soon. I had planned on making us Muffalettas again, to use up the rest of the olive salad (I got the meats, cheeses, and bread on Friday), but after we got caught up, it was close to midnight, and neither of us felt like eating. It's supposed to be pretty nice tomorrow, so it might be a grilling day. The Muffaletta fixins will keep until Monday!


Don't forget to hold hands


Thanks to everyone who left comments about my parents' anniversary. I'm going to copy and print them and send them along to my folks, so if you want to leave one, be sure to do so ASAP, and I'll send it to them on Monday. They'll get such a kick out of that! When I told him people had been leaving comments, Dad said, "LOL!" Well, not really...he just, you know, laughed out loud.

I talked to them both today to wish them a happy day, and they'd spent the morning cleaning the yard and grounds of their little church. They got rained on a little bit, so Mom's plan for tonight was to "wash her head" and set her hair, and she is making deviled eggs and macaroni and cheese for a potluck dinner at their church tomorrow. They just tickle me to no end. 

Aren't these little critters--sea otters--adorable?! They're holding hands! Even after 61 years, my parents still hold hands sometimes, and it's pretty sweet.

I mentioned to Dad that a couple of people wondered what their secret is. I told him that I recall him telling me years ago that people should put God first, their spouses second, and their kids next. He said, "I think I said something about country in there, too." I think he's right, now that I think about it.

Putting your spouse before your kids seems like a strange thing, especially considering how "kid-centric" we've become in this country. Dad explained to me all those years ago that while he and Mom loved us girls (and still do) without a doubt, for Dad, Mom's needs, wishes, and feelings always came first. He said that a couple needs to be a united front when it comes to the kids, that you can never let the kids come between you, and that it just can't be any other way. (At 61 years and counting, I'd say it worked pretty well for them.) It makes sense to me, because the kids are going to leave the nest one day, leaving you with your spouse for the rest of your lives. How many people have you known who, when their kids leave home, look at each other and say, "Who the hell are you?"

In my own family, I'm the youngest, and except for summers between my college years (and a brief stay after a breakup several years ago, but that's a story for another day), I've been out of Mom and Dad's house for over 25 years. That's a long time to spend with someone who you have ignored while tending to the kids. I'm not making any judgements here, and everyone should do what they need to do, but this was what Dad told me. Use it as you wish. I know that I always felt loved by my parents, I never felt neglected in any way, shape, or form, but I also knew that I could never play one of them off of the other. If I was mad about something Mom had done, I knew better than to beg for sympathy from Dad, because he would back her up 100% of the time, and vice versa. I suspect that there were times when one of them didn't agree with the other about what had been done, but I never once heard anything but "Your Dad/Mom is right" from either of them. United front, indeed.

Another thing that Dad told me today was something that HIS Dad told him and his brothers. "Make a commitment and stick with it." I guess my Grandpa told him that if you decide you want to marry a girl, you'd better be sure she's the one, because she's gonna be with you for the long haul. I thought that was really interesting, and I think it's typical of their generation: divorce was rarely an option. Things have really changed, and so many people have that idea in the back of their mind, a little voice that whispers, "If it doesn't work out, we can always get a divorce." Again, no judgements--I've been divorced once, as has Ken. (But we found each other, so I suppose that sometimes things really DO happen for a reason.) I think it's a mindset thing. Today, there's always the possibility to opt out, but when Mom and Dad were a young couple starting out, it was virtually unthinkable to go that route. As for the question of abusive relationships, Dad said something to the effect of a "true man doesn't do that," and feels that divorce is justified in such cases, but seemed to think that an even better option might be changing the abuser from, as Dolly Parton put it, "a rooster to a hen." I think my Dad is a feminist! Well, he certainly always taught me that I could do whatever I wanted as long as I put my mind to it. So yeah, I'd say he has always been pretty enlightened!

So there you have it. Tips from Ezra and Lexie for a long-lived relationship. Hard to argue with 61 years.

Friday, June 27, 2008

True love ways

What a pleasure to wish my parents a very Happy Anniversary, and to wish them many more to come. They are the best people I know, and a wonderful example of how things are supposed to work. I found a few quotes that I think might apply:
Love at first sight is easy to understand; it's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle.
        ~~Amy Bloom
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
        ~~Mignon McLaughlin
Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry.
        ~~Tom Mullen
And what could very well be the very best advice, in very simple terms:
To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you're wrong admit it;
Whenever you're right shut up
        ~~Ogden Nash

Love you, Mom and Dad.



This evening, I took a card and a letter out to the mailbox to be picked up tomorrow. As I was walking down the mossy path to the mailbox, there were fireflies lighting my way. As I look out now on the back yard, the fireflies are everywhere, and I love seeing their "sparklers" covering the lawn and horizon. When I walked out to the mailbox, it had just started to rain lightly, and the humidity was lifting as the rain came in. The raindrops felt cool and welcome, and the smell of the rain was heavenly. As I walked across the road to our mailbox, I saw a raccoon cross the road, followed by two young ones--all looked plump, and seemed to waddle rather than walk, but their plumpness could be due to their fur rather than fat. I know they're annoying and destructive, but aren't they the cutest little things? Especially the young ones.

Best of all? I only got one mosquito bite! Benadryl has been applied. 

After a phone chat with Ken tonight--I'm looking forward to his return tomorrow--and a nice big salad for dinner (I watched a couple of "I Love Lucy" episodes while I was eating), I've muted the TV and I'm just listening to the sound of the peeping frogs. The air has cooled off nicely, and it's very peaceful here. After a couple of late nights, I'm feeling pleasantly tired, and on nights like this, the sounds of Nutwood make for a soothing and easy trip to Snoozeville.

When I was working, no matter how stressful my day or how crazy day-to-day life got to be, this place always grounded me and reminded me of just how fortunate we are to have found our perfect spot, and to have found it together. I'll never forget pulling into the entrance, parking the car, getting out, and walking hand-in-hand down the driveway with its canopy of trees...and looking at each other and seeing in each other's eyes that this was where we were meant to be.

I'm not working now, and my stress is definitely lessened. But there are still the occasional causes of stress, and when those times come, I look around me, and I listen to the sounds that surround me. I'm amused by the two-toned squirrel, I watch the birds on the feeder, I marvel at the parched butterfly drinking from an orange. It's all very comforting, and it all serves to remind me that while we may encounter the stray irritant, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing, at the end of the day, Nutwood abides.


Meet the new day, same as the old day

Congrats to my most excellent hubby on being Guest Editor at Magic Smoke this week. We read many of the same journals (it's a matter of, "Hey, have you seen this one? I think you'll like it!"), but he included a couple that I haven't read, so I enjoyed checking them out. I hope you will, too!

Whew, it's another steamy day here at Nutwood. I ran to the store earlier today, and it is definitely a warm one. It was really clouding up for a while there, but it looks like the sun is back out. I've been stayin' cool, not doing much of anything, reading a couple of magazines...a very low-key day. Sheeba has been sleeping all day, and just finally got up to have a bite to eat. I suspect he'll be down for the count again in a few minutes! Ken called from Columbus and we chatted a bit. (Mark, we don't live in Columbus--that's where Ken's corporate headquarters are, and he's there on business. We live in northern Indiana--not all that far from Detroit, actually!) He'll head to Dayton this evening, then back home Saturday night. Sheeba and I are holding down the fort.

We have a new critter at Nutwood. Another squirrel, but he's unique, and I haven't seen him before. The first day I saw him, we'd gotten some rain, and I said, "Hey, buddy, you've been walking through a mud puddle!" (Yes, I DO talk to our critters sometimes. Does anyone have a problem with that?) Anyhoo, while he is a typical red squirrel on his back, his underbelly, all the way from his butt up to under his chin, is dark! I don't know if he's part black squirrel or what. I've never seen any black squirrels at Nutwood, although we do have them in the area. He's really kind of cute and goofy-looking, and I saw him just now up in the walnut tree. He laid his whole body on a branch and let his paws hang down. Probably from the heat...although I suppose he could be brain-damaged or something. Awww, poor little guy. I think I'll go put out a corn cob for my squirrelly friends.

I'll try to get a picture of my two-tone squirrel, too. In fact, I've decided to name him Tommy Tutone, as in the band that did "867-5309 (Jenny)." Oh man, that song is going to be going through my head now. "Eight six seven five three oh ni-ee-ine!"

Probably more know how I am!

Version 2



Today is the the day for Bill Gates.

He steps down as CEO of Microsoft as he plans to pursue his philanthropic ventures with the Gates Foundation.

There are some who revile him as a thief of others' ideas, as a monomaniacal "evil genius," and as a purveyor of shoddy products.

I see him as more of a visionary. In reading about his "retirement," a famous memo was referenced. It is called the Internet Tidal Wave memo, and it's some fascinating reading. He lays out exactly what he sees as the future of the Internet, and it turns out that he was pretty much dead-on. He was able to look ahead and see the direction in which things were going, and steered his company accordingly.

Love him or hate him, chances are good that you're reading this using his platform. His vision made it possible for me to publish this with absolutely no knowledge of HTML or coding. As I sit here in my living room in Indiana, I will be reaching people across the country, and occasionally other countries (Hi Vladimir!). No, Bill Gates didn't invent these things, but he had the vision necessary to apply it to a product that would become indispensable and affordable for many of us. As the driving force behind Microsoft, he has made the world a smaller place and made communication reach much farther than probably even he dreamed.

This "evil genius" has chosen to devote his time and his vast wealth to easing the suffering of those who cannot afford his products. I applaud him for that, and if he applies his considerable drive, determination, and problem-solving skills to a malaria cure, I think it's within the realm  of possibility that we could see an end to that particular scourge within my lifetime.

Besides, he appeals to my Inner Geek, and gives hope to all of us who were in the Science Club.

Good luck, Bill, as you begin Bill Gates Version 2. And thanks. I can't wait to see what you do next!


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Chick chicky boom!


With Ken off on a business trip, my big indulgence tonight was watching several episodes of "I Love Lucy" on TV Land. It's really kind of silly, because I have seasons one through six on DVD, but I guess it's fun to just flip the TV to the channel and watch. I got a big treat tonight when one episode was the one where Ricky and Lucy sing "Cuban Pete" together. Oh yeah, babe! Ricky (Desi) is his usual debonair and beguiling self, and Lucy is adorable and funny all at the same time.

Those of you who have read this journal for a while know how much I really do love Lucy...her humor is part of what has shaped my outlook on life and love, and her appeal to everyone endures decades later. When I watch these shows, I usually end up in tears--first from laughter, and next from seeing Ricky and Lucy and a romance that will never die. Although Desi and Lucille's romance ended, and they are both gone, Ricky and Lucy will always be in love, Lucy will always be trying to get in the show, and her various schemes will always continue. As The Kinks said, "Celluloid heroes never feel any pain...and celluloid heroes never really die."

First, the "Cuban Pete" lyrics, then the video. Enjoy! I know it sure made me smile tonight! AI-yi-yi!


"Cuban Pete"

They raved about Sloppy Joe
The latin labarrio
But Havana has a new sensation
He's really a modest guy
Although he's the hottest guy in Havana
And here's what he has to say

They call me Cuban Pete
I'm the king of the rhumba beat
When I play the maracas I go chick chicky boom, chick chicky boom

Yes sir I'm Cuban Pete
I'm the craze of my native street
When I start to dance everything goes chick chicky boom

The senoritas, they sing and how they swing with this rumbero
It's very nice, so full of spice
And when they're dancin they bring a happy ring the maraquero
Singin' a song, all the day long

So if you like the beat
Take a lesson from Cuban Pete,
And I'll teach you to chick chicky boom, chick chicky boom

Si, senorita, I know that you will like the chicky boom chick
'Cause it's the dance of latin romance
And Cuban Pete doesn't teach you in a hurry like Authur Murray
You're now in Havana and there's always mañana

So senorita please
Take it easy, do it with ease
And you'll love it when you do the
Chick chicky boom, chick chicky boom

I think I'm gonna ralph


Sorry to post so quickly on the heels of my last entry, but I have the news on, and this is the big political news: Ralph Nader's remarks about Barack Obama. I am PISSED.

"He wants to show that he is not a threatening...another politically threatening African-American politician," Nader said. "He wants to appeal to white guilt. You appeal to white guilt not by coming on as black is beautiful, black is powerful. Basically he's coming on as someone who is not going to threaten the white power structure, whether it's corporate or whether it's simply oligarchic. And they love it. Whites just eat it up." Earlier in the interview, he asks why Obama isn't pressing certain issues, saying, "Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson?"

Okay, I have JUST ABOUT HAD IT, and Nader, you prick, you need to toddle off to the retirement home and live out your remaining years in shame and ignominy. This is not only insulting to Obama and to his campaign, it is insulting to whites. "Whites just eat it up"??? Are you kidding me?!

I give Nader credit for having raised awareness about safety concerns in virtually every aspect of our lives, but he is well beyond any usefulness in American politics and far into the "I'm nuttier than a fruitcake" realm. His chief claim to fame is no longer as the patron saint of safety for the American consumer, it is as a spoiler of presidential elections, muddier-of-the-waters, and certified crackpot.

And you know what? This is also insulting to every single American who wants to get past everything that so many people seem to think divides us. It is insulting to each of us who wants to move on and focus on what we can and should be as a country and realize our great potential. It is insulting to those of us who believe that we are greater as a whole than as divided factions. It is insulting to The Declaration of Independence and its author, Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the immortal words, "All men are created equal." I submit to you that it is insulting to the United States of America and to everything that we hold near and dear and sacred!

[deep breath]

I'm okay, I'm okay.

All I have to say is screw you, Ralph Nader, and the Ford Pinto you rode in on.

O Solo Me-oh


Great Googly-moogly, it is so freakin' HUMID here today!

I'll have to watch the news and see what the relative humidity is, but it feels like about 172%. Ha! Hey, are you kidding me? It's only 49%! Of course, I guess that's pretty high. My pal Myra in Arizona is probably going, "49%?! UGH!" Hee hee! Tomorrow looks like a repeat of today, with a lovely cooldown after that.

Around noon, I was pruning one of our redbud trees (more about that in a moment), and believe me, this was not heavy work. Just lopping off some branches and carting them back to the burn pile. The sweat was just rolling down my face, dripping onto my glasses, what have you.

Don't I paint an alluring picture?

Anyhoo, you'd think with this sun and humidity, we'd be popping some thunderstorms, but not so far. Right now, I'd appreciate a little rain to cool things off a bit!

As for pruning the redbud...we have two redbuds that we planted a couple of years ago, and I mentioned the other day that the things are growing at an unbelievable rate. It's almost scary, like alien pods or something. The larger one grew so fast and so much that when we got rain yesterday, it weighed down the new branches so much that it looked like that entire portion of the tree was going to break off. So I got out there today and started lopping. I saw where it had started to split a tiny bit at the crook of the tree, so I took a LOT off--I had to get that weight off of it until it could grow bigger and stronger and bear the weight. Grow, little redbud, grow tall and strong!

After I was done and I started looking at it, I almost made myself sick with worry that I'd cut off too much. I kept telling myself, "You HAD to, it was getting ready to break!" and then I'd look again and feel like crying at how much I'd taken off. I was sitting out on the deck reading, with the tree just to my left, and every so often, I'd take another peek and feel ill all over again. I fretted about this the entire afternoon.

Ken got home around 2:45 PM (more about THAT in a moment!) and before he could even walk into the house, I was on the deck asking him if the tree looked okay. He stood for a moment and said, "Oh wow..." and I thought, "Oh crap..." and then he said, "Yeah, it looks fine!" [big sigh of relief on my part!] He said later that with the way this thing is growing, he doesn't think pruning it now will really damage it. I sure hope not, because it was kind of traumatic for me to cut off these branches with their big, beautiful heart-shaped leaves, and if I contribute to this tree's death, I will be devastated.

Maybe I shouldn't take things QUITE so much to heart, eh?

Yeah, Ken got home early today because he is driving down to corporate headquarters in Columbus (Ohio) tonight. He's having dinner with his boss tonight, then has meetings all day tomorrow, then will drive to Dayton to see the kids. He'll be back Saturday night, but in the meantime, I'm flying solo for a couple of days (except for Sheeba, who I'm sure will prove to be an excellent and interesting companion), and missing him already. I can probably find something to occupy my time, though!

Oh wait--I already have! Reading, of course. I read the latest issue of Time this morning, then got started (finally!) on the book that Dr. Will sent to me, Refrigerator Rights. I'm really liking it so far, and will put up a review when I'm done. It's definitely making me think! I should have no problem finishing this one before we're into July and it's time for our next book club book, Ironweed by William Kennedy.

Speaking of reading, a couple of you responded to my entry about Obama's first book (thanks for your comments, as always!) wondering about his reaction to meeting his Kenyan relatives for the first time. I'm sorry I didn't write about that in the original post, but I wasn't kidding when I said my brain was starting to hurt. Bea mentioned something in her comment about how mind-boggling it is to think of how huge our world is...but at the same time, in many ways it's very small. (I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it.) It really is awe-inspiring to think of it--at least for me--and that was exactly part of what I was feeling when I wrote that. Sometimes it hurts when I think too hard! Ha!

So to expand a little on Obama's first visit to Kenya, I got the impression that it was quite a culture shock for him. While his early years were spent in Indonesia, his youth was spent in Hawaii, and his young adulthood found him in Chicago and at Harvard. While he found much to love about the country and its beauty and much goodness in his relatives, he was also confronted with corrupt politicians, service workers who treat tourists better than native Kenyans, and social mores still in use that had to be jarringly anachronistic for a thoroughly modern man. Add to that some family members who expected to be "taken care of" with money and gifts from their "rich" American cousin. A few years after his first visit there, one of the cousins he mentioned died of AIDS.

If any of you have read it, or if you read it in the future, be sure to drop me a line and let me know what you thought. I felt it gave me some insight into struggles that I can't really begin to imagine or to fully understand. In the interest of equal time, I have also read one of John McCain's books, Faith of my Fathers, and enjoyed it very much. Regardless of what you think about his politics, he served his country well and at great cost.

Holy crap! I just looked him--McCain--up, and we share a birthday! August 29th! That's cool! The only other person I've known of up until now who I shared a birthday with was Michael Jackson, and that's not something I go around talking about a lot. <grin>

Holding the mustard--literally

I really can't explain why, but every time Ken and I see this commercial, it makes us giggle! The first time we saw it, we both laughed out loud. Is it the hot dog cuddling with the bottle of mustard? Is it the weird little mariachi band? I don't know, but it makes me laugh. I do like their mustard, too!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Viva la difference!


Today I finished Barack Obama's first book, Dreams from My Father.

Don't worry, I'm not gonna go all political on you. What struck me about this was two things: his struggle to "define" himself--to fit into some kind of demographic--and his eventual meeting with his Kenyan relatives, and that's what I want to write about. Not politics. This is just some thoughts about my feelings as I read this book.

As a white woman born in the 60's, it's very hard for me to imagine how hard it must have been for someone like him to find a place in this world. I think everyone has the desire to "fit in," to find a comfortable niche in which to reside, and with an African father, a white mother, an Indonesian stepfather, a childhood spent in Indonesia and later being raised by his white grandparents in Hawaii...what a mix of cultures and heritages! While I can't begin to understand what that must have been like, I think that every single one of us understands the desire to fit in, and at some point in our lives, we have felt ourselves to be the proverbial square peg in a round hole.

He also struggled with trying to break out of the constraints of the "you think you're better than us?" mentality. I believe that this attitude has nothing to do with race. I think we have all experienced that at some point in our lives, whether it's peer pressure in high school (the attitude that it's not cool to be smart or to be a bookworm), going with the flow at work (feeling that everyone else is behaving that way, so you'd better go along), or just generally thinking that we need to conform to certain inchoate ideals (defined by whom?) in order to be part of "The Group."

In the words of Mama Cass, I say, "Make your own kind of music, sing your own special song, even if nobody else sings along." We are all unique, we all have something to contribute, and our diversity is what makes life so utterly and completely interesting! Trying to pigeonhole people into our own preconceived notions of how things should be is not only unimaginative, it's downright inhumane.

When I lived in Grand Forks, North Dakota, one of the pathology residents at the hospital was a Sioux Indian, and he grew up on the reservation. We became friends, and Dr. G. told me that his family and friends were NOT proud of him, and in fact, they had the attitude that he thought he was better than them. He said it's a common mentality on the reservation, that people resent those who manage to better themselves and get an education. I can't begin to tell you how dismaying I found that to be, and how shocked I was to hear that. We should be enlightened enough--shouldn't we?--to encourage ANYONE who wants to get an education to do so. I know it's getting harder and tuition is going up, but to ridicule anyone for trying get an education or for having a degree is ludicrous, and it is not what humanity should be about. We should all, at every point in our lives and at every chance, take the opportunity to learn more, whether it's about classic literature, art, or our own local history. Formal classes aren't necessary. LEARNING is what drives us to reach for goals that we never thought would be attainable, forces us to embrace all of humanity as part of our world, and reminds us that there is much more to life than is dreamt of in our philosophy.

When I was in college, I remember having discussions with my Uncle Lin about educational opportunities for minorities, especially blacks. (My Dad still remembers these conversations, and often mentions how I made Uncle Lin think about what he was saying.) Uncle Lin (my Mom's oldest brother) was a wonderful guy, and he was no stranger to hard times--he grew up in the hills of eastern Kentucky, and they were dirt poor, often not having any food for lunch, often not able to go to school because they had to work in the fields. Uncle Lin would say that minorities had opportunities the same as everyone else, there were scholarships, there were school loans...I agreed, but I reminded him that in the big scheme of things, we weren't that many years away from the days of slavery, and there are issues there that we can't even begin to understand. I said I didn't think it would be all that easy to erase years of second class, inhumane treatment, and after all,Uncle Lin didn't go to college, either! Uncle Lin has been gone for many years now, but I think he liked my feistiness, and I really do think that our discussions made him think. Sometimes there is nothing wrong with calling people out on their misconceptions, and having a bit of a discussion. I can't say that I have quite as much of a fire in my belly as I did then, but I can still get a little "het up" about things!

The last third of Obama's book was about his first visit to Kenya, to meet his relatives. I did my best to put myself in his shoes. I know that I have distant cousins in Germany, but my ancestors came to the U.S. around 1790 or so--we've been here for a while. I could go to Germany and meet my cousins, but the immediacy of close family is not quite there. Obama's father was from Kenya, so he has many relatives still there: half-brothers and half-sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles...can you imagine meeting your big ol' bunch of relatives that you have never encountered before? Most of us are overwhelmed by the relatives we HAVE met, and to travel to a different continent and encounter an entirely different culture and meet dozens of people who say, "I'm your cousin, your aunt, your half-brother..." Well, I can't even begin to imagine it.

I'll wind this up, because my brain is starting to hurt. I guess I'll say that problems and issues in our country--and our world--are not black and white issues, and I mean that in many different ways. It's time to get past our divisions and focus on our common trait: our humanity. It's a big world, and we are all part of it.


America's Top 20

Last night, I was reading the list of America's 20 most-hated foods. I was shocked to see some of these on here, and it tells me that I am NOT a picky eater! Ha! Here's the list, in ascending order, with some of the comments people gave as to why they hate the food, and a little commentary from me. (I DO understand that if you're a vegetarian or vegan, there are some things on here that you won't like for that reason.)

#20 Blueberries

People stated that they taste like aluminum, or they can't stand the smell. Are you kidding me? Blueberries are only one of the single healthiest foods you can possibly eat, packed with nutrition. I think they're delicious, too, and I can remember picking blueberries with my folks. You have to sample a few as you're picking! I don't get how anyone could not like blueberries. That's just crazy talk.


#19 Maple syrup

One comment was "I ate a 2lb box of maple sugar candies when I was 6. I was violently ill for 3 days." Well, yeah, because you were a GREEDY LITTLE PIG! Now oddly enough, I don't care for maple syrup on my French toast or waffles or anything (on the rare occasions that I eat them). However, I do love to use it in cooking, both for marinades and dressings. I also get the pure stuff from Funk's Grove on Route 66, rather than the fake stuff that is mostly added sugar.


#18 Cilantro

People said that just the smell and taste make them ill.Something I learned: there is evidence of a gene that makes cilantro taste like soap to some people. I never knew that! It doesn't taste like soap to me, so I guess I'm missing that particular gene, but I'll admit that if something calls for cilantro, I usually leave it out. I don't hate it, but it's not one of my favorite herbs.

#17 Onions    

ACK! Again...insanity! One person wrote, "Fried/sauteed ones are the absolute worst. They leave a person's house smelling like the worst case of B.O. that ever was." Okay, I have to admit that's kind of funny. I LOVE the smell of onions and garlic cooking in the pan, though. You know it's the start of something good! For a while there, onions really upset my stomach, and I couldn't eat them much. I'm happy I outgrew that, because I loves me my onions! (Happily, Ken loves them, too!)

#16 Cooked carrots

Some people mentioned that they like them raw, but can't stand them cooked, that just thinking about eating them made them feel nauseous. I'd say that they aren't doing it right. Boil the carrots, drain them, add a tablespoon of butter and a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup (see #19), and you've got a pan full of Delicious! I'll even eat them without the butter and syrup, though--I love carrots cooked along with a roast beef or chicken, when they get a little caramelization to them. Also, carrots are very good for you, with tons of Vitamin A and fiber!

#15 Raisins

"Raisins cooked into a dish remind me of roaches." "Cooked raisins look like FAT TICKS!" Okay, those are pretty funny, too. I also don't like raisins in things like main dishes, but I have three words for these people: oatmeal raisin cookie. I rest my case.


#14 Peas

"Canned peas are awful! They smell like somebody who hasn't had a bath for a week!"

Blasphemer. You'll get my peas when you pry 'em out of my cold dead fingers. One of my all-time favorite vegetables.


 #13 Oysters

"The oyster on the half shell is like swallowing a fresh phleghmball. [sic]"

I guess I can see how a lot of people don't care for raw oysters. But if you're focusing on the texture rather than the taste, you're missing out on the fruits of the sea! Besides, you don't want to swallow it whole--chew it and enjoy the taste of it. Really fresh oysters will almost melt in your buttah.

#12 Pea soup

One commenter put it simply: "Pea soup looks like vomit." I'll concede this one, because when it comes to pea soup, all I can think of is the vomiting scene in "The Exorcist." Since I love peas so much, I would probably enjoy the taste, but I can't get past that image.


#11 Sour cream

"It's like expired chunky milk." "...smells and tastes like it's gone bad white grossness."

Sacrilege! Mexican food isn't complete without a little (or a lot) of sour cream to balance out the spiciness of the guacamole. Mmm. Ken will agree with this one, though--he hates it, too. I grossed the kids out one night when I licked the sour cream spoon when cleaning up after our taco dinner. Ha ha! I don't really care for it on baked potatoes or anything, but it's a must-have for me with Mexican.

#10 Jello

"I can't stand to eat Jell-O with the way it wiggles around in my mouth." Sounds like another texture issue. This one surprised me, because Jello seems to be a fairly bland and inoffensive food, but a lot of people did seem to dislike the gelatinous nature of it.

Don't they understand? There's always room for Jello!

 #9 Tuna

This seems to be more of an aroma issue for people. I suppose I can see how that could be the case, if you don't care for any kind of a "fishy" smell. Every so often, I'll make a tuna casserole, and we both like it. I love tuna salad, too. And I'm assuming that they're talking about canned tuna here, because I don't know how anyone could dislike seared ahi tuna. One of my favorite appetizers.

Sheeba has something to say...wait a minute...he says, "Those people are freakin' nuts."

#8 Brussels sprouts

"Brussels sprouts are ugly and taste like farts." Well now, that's just unfair. Brussels sprouts get a bad rap, man. I happen to think they're adorable--they look like little tiny cabbages! And like cabbage, broccoli, etc., they are a cruciferous vegetable and believed to offer many health benefits (like protection against certain types of cancer). I really like them and fix them occasionally. Ken isn't as crazy about them as I am, but he likes them okay. Put a little spray butter on them, and we're good to go!


#7 Beets

Comments were that there was both a taste and texture problem here. I'm assuming they are talking about pickled beets, and I'll cop to not caring for them, either. (But I loved eggs pickled in beet juice. Go figure!) I might have to give fresh beets a try, though. I love other root vegetables like carrots and parsnips, and I'm thinking that roasted beets might be pretty tasty. Maybe I'll try that some night when Ken is off on a business trip. (You're welcome, Honey.)

#6 Okra

This one is definitely a texture issue. A commenter rightly mentions the "slime" that okra puts out. Again, you're not doing it right! You have to fry it! Coat it in a little flour and fry it in butter. Not exactly healthy, but when it comes to okra, the only way to go, in my book.


#5 Eggs

Once again, texture. The consistency of the white in a hard-boiled egg was mentioned. Hello? Deviled eggs?! There aren't too many ways that I don't like eggs: over easy is my favorite, scrambled, hard-boiled, egg salad, etc., etc. They also aren't as bad for you as they said several years ago. I love these little orbs of goodness!


#4 Mushrooms

With real estate, it's location location location. Apparently, with food, it's texture texture texture. Someone wrote that mushrooms feel "all rubbery and junk," and a friend in high school called them "squeakers." I swear, people just don't know what they're missing out on. Mushrooms sauteed in butter? A spinach salad with bacon and mushrooms? C'mon!


#3 Mayonnaise

"It's salmonella pudding." Yeah, that's pretty funny, too. But if handled properly, you have very little chance of getting Salmonella from mayo (at least the kind that comes in a jar). If we didn't have mayonnaise, we'd have no tuna salad (see #9), no egg salad (see #5), no deviled eggs (again, #5) and horror of horrors, no POTATO SALAD!

I always like a little bit of mayonnaise on my hamburgers, too.


#2 Lima beans

These beans are the Rodney Dangerfield of the legume world: they don't get no respect. One commenter went so far as to call lima beans EVIL! Poor little maligned lima beans. Beans of all types are extremely healthy for you, loaded with fiber and nutrition. I've never thought that the texture of lima beans was all that different from other beans, but a lot of people really seem to have a problem with them. I love butter beans, too, and those are a type of lima bean. They're great in vegetable soup.

#1 (finally!) Liver

They seem to be talking about beef liver on this one. Someone wrote that it's like a blood clot with fried onions. Ewww! I'll say that I'm not a fan of beef liver. I find liver quite rich, and a large piece of beef liver is just too much for me. My Mom used to make fried chicken livers, though, and I always liked those. Some of the teppanyaki restaurants (places like Benihana) I've been to have served a chicken liver appetizer that was just delicious. So this is a case where, at least for me, less is more.

Reading this list told me a couple of things. First of all, it's no wonder we have an obesity problem in this country. It's amazing to me how many vegetables were on this list! I know that some of you are trying to lose weight, and I applaud you all and hope you continue to have success in your efforts. But there are some very healthy foods on this list, and I think that's a real shame. Like I said, there's very little that I don't like, and I attribute that to my Mom. She made things that many kids would never choke down, but for whatever reason--adventurousness? a love of food?--I never had a problem with trying new things. A few people commented that they hate foods today that their parents forced them to eat as children. I guess that's a lesson to never force anything on a kid...but if they're hungry enough, they'll probably eat it!

Ken's rule with his kids was always "you have to at least try it." I think that's fair, and the kids were always good about trying new things. If they didn't like it, that was fine, but sometimes I think they were surprised to find out that they actually liked whatever it was. As I wrote in my entry about childhood obesity the other day, I think one of the best things we can do is set a good example, whether it's concerning exercise or nutrition. If we eat a lot of junk food, and always have plenty in the house, that's what our kids will eat, too. But if they see US eating salads, vegetables, fruits, etc., and that's what we make available to them, they're much more likely to eat healthier. And while we can't control what they do when we're not around, what they get at restaurants or shops or out of vending machines, maybe they'll have understood the lesson and will be more apt to make healthy choices. No guarantees, but it seems pretty simple to me.

I've read recently that vegetables don't have to be fresh to be healthy. In fact, some vegetables actually have more nutrition canned rather than fresh! (Canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, etc., have more lycopene than fresh.) I love fresh vegetables and love it when they're in season (better yet, when I can grow my year!), but we eat plenty of canned, too, especially in the winter. It's not out-of-reach for anyone to eat healthier and make smart choices. Now let's get out there and eat our Brussels sprouts! Everybody with me? Yeeeeahhhhh!

Hello? Anyone? Hello...?

From the Ask and Ye Shall Receive file

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

In Godzilla we trust

Just wanted to wish our pal Steve in California a great birthday. I hope the fish are bitin', buddy!

I got an early start today, since I wanted to get to the grocery store and back before my parents stopped by. They had borrowed our trailer a while back in order to haul a few things, and they were taking a load of firewood to my niece, so they stopped by on the way back to return the trailer. I wish they could have stayed a little longer, but Mom said, "Oh, honey, we've got all kinds of things we need to do!" They crack me up. They have a busier social life than Ken and I do!

They did take some time to walk around our yard a bit, though. I showed them how our crazy redbud has grown at least 3 feet so far this summer--the thing is almost scary!--and how one of our little walnut trees has grown a couple of feet already. I told them how just an hour or so before, I watched 3 8-point bucks walk through our back yard, and when we walked out by the pond, we found their hoof prints. We checked on the fruit trees that Ken planted, and they seem to be recovering nicely after the deer ate almost all the leaves off of them. Ken had put up wire around them to protect them, and they're looking really good! Dad walked down the pathway into the marsh a little bit and we talked about how we could easily hunt in there, and about how good venison is. I said, "You know what, though? After living here, I couldn't eat venison." If I were starving, obviously, I could, but I've gotten so I love watching our deer so much that I can't imagine ever hurting one of them! I know Dad understands.

Dad said, "Isn't it amazing that it worked out that this is the kind of place that both you and Ken love?" I have to agree! It was really a nice visit with them, but like I said, I wish it could have been a little longer!

Speaking of wildlife, I had an amazing thing happen while I was sitting out on the deck reading. We have a hummingbird feeder out there, and it hangs right over our little tête-à-tête settee. The hummingbirds often come up to the feeder while I'm out there reading. I can look up and see their tiny little claws, and sometimes they'll hover in front of me for a moment, checking me out. Well, this female hummingbird did just that, but I have never had one get so close to me! She was maybe 6 inches in front of my face, just looking me straight in the eye, and she was there for several seconds. She was so close that the beat of her wings felt like a breeze on my face. It was almost scary, because for a moment, I wasn't sure if she was going to slam into my head! But no, she just looked at me. It was one of the most amazing things I've had happen to me, and as long as I live, I will never forget that tiny little thing hovering right in front of me, as we looked into each other's eyes. It was SO COOL!

On the way to the grocery store this morning, I drove by a large Baptist church near us. They are signing up kids for Vacation Bible School, and in order to promote their VBS, they had one of those large, inflatable Godzillas out by their sign.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but I just don't get the connection. All those years that I spent in Sunday School classes, and they never covered Godzilla's part in the Bible! Too bad, because it would have been pretty cool to hear about Godzilla on a rampage in the temple, not just throwing out the money lenders but stomping on them! Or to hear about the angry and vengeful Godzilla of the Old Testament, and how he compares and contrasts to the loving, forgiving Godzilla of the New Testament. Then there's the Holy Trinity: Godzilla the Father, Godzilla the Son, and Godzilla the Holy Ghost. And I think every single one of us who has ever rooted for the underdog loves the story of David vs. Godzilla!

I know I'm being irreverent (I've been known to do that from time to time), but what the heck? Wouldn't maybe something like oh, I don't know...a CROSS?? be a little more pertinent when it comes to Vacation Bible School? I just don't get it.

But I hear that next week, they're putting up a big inflatable gorilla and calling it King of Kongs.

And they'll be teaching the King Kong James version of the Bible.

Insert your own rim-shot sound here. Okay, I'm done with that, but feel free to add your own in comments!

Late last week, I was at the grocery store, and one of their specials was to buy a large French bread and get one free. These babies are about a yard long, and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to use both of them, but heck, the second one was free! If nothing else, I'd throw it out for the birds. We've gone through most of one by making garlic bread, and I had a brainstorm a couple of days ago! Muffalettas! (This is where Ken would probably say, "Gesundheit!")

If you've never had a Muffaletta, it's an Italian sandwich that originated in 1910 at Central Grocery in New Orleans. I'm not making a traditional one, because it's supposed to be made on a round Italian loaf, but hey, I have this bread to use up. I think it will still taste just fine. I'm using ham and salami, with provolone and Swiss cheese. My recipe calls for Mortadella, which is kind of similar to salami, but my store didn't have Mortadella. You top it off with olive salad, which is a mixture of green and black olives, as well as carrots, celery, onion, and cauliflower. The first time I made this, I chopped all of that stuff up myself, well before hand, and let it soak in olive oil for a couple of days. It's much easier--and I think it will taste just as good--to get a small can of chopped black olives, sliced green olives (I chopped those up a little more), and a jar of Giardiniera, which I also chopped into small bits. Also the last time I made this, I used all the oil it called for (over a cup of olive oil and vegetable oil) and Ken and I agreed it was WAY too much. So I went lightly on the oil this time, and the olive salad is chillin' in the fridge.

Most guidebooks will tell you that Central Grocery makes the best Muffaletta in New Orleans. I've had a couple of them at different places in New Orleans, and this last time with Kim and Steve, we got our Muffalettas from Central Grocery--they really ARE the best. As we were chowing down on them, Kim and I were making what she calls "yummy sounds," as in "mm...yum...mmmm!" as we ate! Every once in a while, Ken will tell me, "You're making yummy sounds, Honey!" I consider it a compliment to the chef!


Monday, June 23, 2008

I REALLY wish I had a picture for you....

Elkhart man arrested for nude mowing

Tribune Staff Report

ELKHART — The recent summer heat apparently was too much for an Elkhart man who needed to mow his lawn.

A 31-year-old man was arrested shortly after 9 p.m. Friday for mowing his front lawn in the nude, according to Elkhart city police.

Officers were called to a home in the 2300 block of Cassopolis Street on complaints about the nude mower.

Police arrested the man on a charge of public indecency.


I thought this story was funny enough, but it got even better after watching the local news. They reported that the man was wearing nothing but--get this--"a dog collar and sandals."


I'm having this mental image of him riding along on his mower (no word if it was a push mower or a riding one, but in my imagination, it's a riding one) wearing nothing but a smile, a dog collar, and his sandals, and singing, "Greeeeeen acres is the place to be!" Gee...I wonder if alcohol could have been involved in this incident?

Another big story from last night, and still being reported on today, was an apartment fire caused by a lightning strike. I believe the numbers were 4 apartments destroyed by fire, and the 8 apartments beneath them with severe water damage. The news tonight reported that, if I recall correctly, 70% of renters don't have renters' insurance. Could that be true? I don't mean to sound...incredulous, I guess is the best word, but everyone does know that it's important to have insurance to protect your personal belongings, even as a renter, right? Maybe it's a lot more expensive in other states, but in Indiana, it's very reasonable. From the very first apartment I ever had, I always had renters' insurance. Especially after I got divorced and was on my own, I knew that having to replace everything I had would have put me in the poorhouse, and I certainly wouldn't have been able to replace the nice things I had, like my Bose 901 speakers (still got 'em, too). If you live in an apartment, don't take the chance of losing everything you have and everything you've accumulated over the years. PLEASE get renters' insurance and protect yourself! This local apartment fire wasn't the fault of anyone--no one was smoking in bed, no one set the fire, it was a lightning strike that ignited it. It definitely happens, and don't risk seeing all your hard work go up in flames!

Last week, I made some baked pasta, and there is plenty left, so we're having that tonight, along with roasted garlic and bread and a salad. I'm getting hungry! Oh, and I got a call from Mom this afternoon, and she said they'd just had one of my brownies and they were really good--she said they were very much like Aunt Margaret's, except she made hers a little thinner and she also put nuts in them. I said that the recipe called for nuts, but I've never liked nuts in my brownies. What is your brownie preference?


So long, George

R.I.P. George Carlin
The first thing I saw when I got online this morning was that George Carlin had died. This guy was nothing more than a comic genius, and in my opinion, the reigning American icon of comedy. "Groundbreaking" doesn't begin to cover it. His timing and delivery were unsurpassed, and he could make an audience laugh simply by raising an eyebrow. I'm very happy I got to see him live several years ago. Here is one of my favorite bits of his, about "kitty cats." Warning: Explicit language. I mean c'mon, it's f***in' George Carlin!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Little Red Doggy and his Little Blue Comb

As Ken was reading my previous entry, he asked, "So where IS Little Red Doggy?" I said, "He's in the basement!"

Well, obviously, I had to go retrieve him. I knew right where he was, and as I pulled him out of his little storage bin, I felt like I was seeing an old and beloved friend. I present to you...Little Red Doggy.

Feel free to laugh. Ken said that it's one of the strangest stuffed animals he's ever seen, and he got quite a laugh out of seeing him. I can't believe I never showed him Little Red Doggy before! As I was trying to take Little Red Doggy's picture, I had to laugh, too, because he really IS goofy-looking, isn't he?!

Cousin Doug gave him to me for Valentine's Day when I was maybe 4 or 5 years old. Cousin Doug was kind of the big brother I never had, so I idolized him and I loved getting a present from him. I think Little Red Doggy might be a genuine antique. At one point, he had a shiny silver collar, but that came off over the years. He also came with a Little Blue Comb, and you could comb his hair and tail. After many years, the comb is lost, and his hair is way too matted to ever comb, anyway.

Ken doesn't really remember a favorite childhood toy, although he says he loved his Legos. Do you have a favorite toy or stuffed animal from your childhood? Do you still have it, or is it merely a fond memory? Tell me about it, and maybe it will help Little Red Doggy to not look so sad, knowing that he has some friends out there.

My cousins and I loved Legos, too, but they were extremely simple, not like they are now. We'd use a shoebox to make a little house furnished with Lego couches and chairs. I didn't have any Lincoln Logs, but some of my cousins did, and they also had Tinker Toys, which were fun, too. Cousin Greg (who ended up becoming a Marine) had an Easy-Bake Oven! I've mentioned my G.I. Joe before, and I also had a Spirograph and an Etch-a-Sketch. I had a Barbie, a Skipper, and a Dawn doll, but I don't recall being all that much into dolls. I had neighbor kids that I was friends with, and they had Creepy Crawlers. I know I'm biased, but it sure seems like our toys were a lot more fun than just playing video games! They were definitely low-tech, but it was fun to use our imaginations and build things and be a little creative.

Of course, Little Red Doggy is in a category all his own. He was my faithful companion for many years, and I was happy to see him again tonight and know that he's still with me.

I'd love to hear about your favorite childhood toys. Isn't it amazing how they linger with us?