Sunday, September 26, 2010

I'll be back soon.....

Frost on the roof tops this morning.  Amazingly, this date is the average for the first frost of the season where I live.  

Just want to say that I'm taking a short break and will be back in a week.  See ya then!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Country Culture

Last night, before going to sleep, I started a new book, "Kill the Messenger" by Tami Hoag, a great author.  Right from the get-go, the book grabbed my brain and won't let go. The book starts out with this young guy driving a bicycle around NYC delivering a mysterious package.  These messengers are incredible bike riders, veering in and out and around traffic like little beetles.  Cannot visualize myself living with massive crowds.  Maybe I'm a hayseed, but my soil needs to be spacious, soothing and silent. 

Whenever we drive through a big city, the sirens drive me nuts.  Ambulances, cop cars, and fire trucks are flying in all directions.  Some ambulances have a siren that sounds like the British bobbies use, and man alive it gives me the willies.  In our little village, when the ambulance comes to town, it's either compassion or curiosity that brings people out of their homes to see which house it's headed toward.  Bottom line is that we do care about one another. 

I've heard a million times that the big city is "where it's at." but I've never quite figured out what the "it" is.  Oh, I imagine a city dweller would say there's more culture in the city, and I don't argue that.  We love visiting the museums and theaters like the next person, but there are other elements to culture, like country calmness that fosters the growth and expansion of the soul.  I fear that living in the congested, hurried, and blaring wilderness of the city would shrivel my soul into a raisin. 

My roots are close to nature.  Growing up on a farm in the Midwest gave me a start that wasn't maybe cultural, yet it was as close to the real mccoy as I'd want any kid to have.  Looking backwards, a person always sees the highlights, not the lowlights.  For me, I remember ever so clearly the baby animals that were born, the learning about birth, deaths of our pets, orchestrating their burials, selling our loved animals, and other passages and barriers that we ultimately face as adults.  Our parents sheltered us from nothing.  We were little rocks, put into a tumbler from little on, and then at age 18 we were supposed to be polished and ready to fend for ourselves.  Oh, I don't mean polished in the sense of us being filled with poise and a perfect shine.  Rather, we had pocketsful of useful life-smart weaponry with which to fight the battles we'd eventually encounter. 

Today we are headed to my husband's family.  Our nephew is marrying a sweet little gal, and we joyfully welcome her into the clan.  Bridal parties are so fun, and this one will be a Pampered Chef Party.  We hostesses are serving an Italian lunch, and the PC lady is making pesto pizzas, as I understand.  Maybe I'll learn how to prepare something new.  That's always exciting.  I have a couple gadgets that I bought at Pampered Chef parties, but my favorite is the apple slicer.  Just love gadgets that simplify.  There's that word again.....simplify.

Today's Trivia:  Lemon wood is used to make fishing rods and archery bows.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Green Wins

I'm more convinced than ever that I need mental help.  Here it is early in the morning and already I've done an official M&M count.  Pretend there's a drum roll in the background.............3 red, 7 yellow,
 7 brown, 8 orange, 13 blue, and 17 green.  Why didn't I apply for a grant before conducting this revealing experiment?  Rats, it's too late now.

Which brings to mind the question.....where does all this grant money come from?  Is there an orchard of money trees somewhere that they're not telling us about?  Sure makes a person wonder, doesn't it.  According to my unvarnished mathematical skills, if my family owed trillions of dollars and we couldn't pay our creditors, what sense would it make to keep handing out money to anyone who asked for some?  And, more important, where the sam hell on earth would we get more money to keep doling out?

Today we are having a cupcake-baking frenzy here at the house.  I am helping put on a shower for the gal who is marrying our nephew, and I've offered to bake and decorate cupcakes for the event.  Our kitchen island is loaded with cake mixes, frostings, a variety of colored sugar flowers, and white nonpareils (fancy-shmancy sprinkles).  I'm making lemon, strawberry, and orange cupcakes with pink, yellow, blue, and orange frostings, and I even bought special white wedding cupcake cups.  They'll look so pretty when finally arranged on our cupcake tree.  Hope the bride-to-be will be pleased with the dainty desserts. 

Can't wait to get at the baking cuz I can use my new mixer for the first time.  Have gotten so lenient with myself that I don't even hold a hand mixer anymore.  You might say I'm saving myself for the long haul! 

There's been a very noticeable drop in temperatures overnight.  A storm front has passed through, leaving some areas close to us with inches of rainfall and flooding.  Last night the weather coverage showed people filling sand bags and water rushing down main streets.  Seems there's one natural disaster after another these  days all around the world.  Maybe the planet is getting angry with our polluting and changing of Mother Nature's natural systems.

Well, I think it's time for me to hand over the planet's problems to the Big Boy and rather aim my attentions to producing four dozen pretty little cupcakes.

Today's Trivia:  The best time for a person to buy shoes is in the afternoon.  This is because the foot tends to swell a bit around this time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Grabbing Giggles!

Is anyone out there, besides me, feeling like a fossil when it comes to television programming?  The t.v. we Boomers grew up with would put the kids of today to sleep, but we sure got our laughs and jollies from the sit-coms and westerns, despite how corny they may seem now.  Old-fashioned laughter and silly.  There isn't anything like it in the world. 

Have you noticed how sullen most faces look these days?  We comment often about people not responding to smiles and friendly waves of the hand.  Can't quite wrap my head around today's societal scowls.  Kinda ticks me off, really it does.

One has to be so careful today in what we say and how we say it.  Who the blazes ever dreamt up "politically correct?"  To that I say, get some tough skin, people, and get a life!  A nation of wussies, that's what we're creating.  I am absolutely certain that my daddy's joke genes are scooting around inside me, cuz I like to chuckle at an off-color joke with the best of 'em.  After all, life is life is life, and if we can't laugh at how silly life really is, well, then it's kinda sad.  This world of ours has enough to worry about with the lousy economies, shrinking food supplies, melting glaciers, and the introduction of weird bugs that are predicted to eventually eat us alive.  I'm here to warn people that if there's a reason to laugh or giggle or joke, we'd best do so while we still can.

I'm the first to admit that it takes effort to stay positive and optimistic, but I'll be darned if I'm going to bend over to pessimism and frownery.  Isn't there a hint of hypocrisy when people are pessimistic, yet claim to be followers of a higher power?  Oops, we won't tread on those waters today.

Yesterday my hubby went canoe fishing with a friend and brought home a gorgeous walleye, and the fillets are in the fridge waiting to be served with potato salad and baked beans.  Yummy.  Even though fried foods are supposedly harmful to our internal tributaries, I want my fishies pan-fried, crispy and crunchy.  Baked fish are good, but fried are better.  And, if eating fried fish kills me a couple days sooner, well, guess I'll gladly take the early flight out.

We're getting our meds refilled today....The monthly grovel at the pharmacy to get our rationed legal drugs to keep us going.  Anybody out there besides us getting a little rambunctious about med refills?  The insurance company has us on timers, and if we call in a day early for a refill.....well, we will be denied.  Woe is me.  Woe are we.  We feel like marionettes on strings.

Can't complain, though.  We have excellent health care coverage.....coming at a terribly high premium.  Never thought I'd say that I'm happy to be reaching age 65.  Common sense tells us that when we reach our mid-60's, we'll be needing more medical attention, and high deductibles are not necessarily welcome items either.  Once a person incorporates the monthly premium into the budget, well, then we can rest knowing that should something happen we won't have to sell our souls to pay for good care.
  
Before I close, I must say to my loyal blog readers, that I'm going to buy a bag of M & M's so I  can count the colors.  Yesterday's blog findings are driving me crazy.  Please feel free to submit your personal findings on the number of blues and browns, the two colors vying for first place.

Today's Trivia:  Every 2,000 frowns creates a wrinkle.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blue or Brown?

More blue or more brown?
M.J. submitted the first answer to today's trivia questions.  M &M stands for Forrest Mars and Bruce Murrie, the product's founders.  Forrest then bought out his business partner and created the company known today as Mars, Inc.

NOW....... about the most popular color used in M & Ms........well, the jury still might be out on this one, as there seem to be conflicting answers.  Mars, Inc., claims there are 24% blue, which would take the lead over the other colors.  Then there are those who say there are more of the brown-colored sphereoids in a bag.  Lucky for us, our volunteer investigator has offered to buy some M & Ms and do an actual count.  The question is:  are the percentages of the colors skewed when the conveyors fill the individual bags?  Stay tuned for a follow-up on this perplexing problem that I seem to have unintentionally discovered. 

For her loyal participation in the trivia mania, M.J. wins a coveted all-expense paid round trip ticket to Pakistan!   

Bucket List

Today I'm thinking about making my "bucket list".......a list of things I want to do before I kick the bucket.  Actually, I've had a mental bucket list for a lot of years.  There were certain things that I intended to do on this earth, and I'm tickled to say that I've crossed off most of the biggies. 

Life is so doggone short, and if there are things we want to see or do, well, then it's up to us to get out there and see 'em and do 'em.  There ain't no assigned sherpas to carry our bags up the big hills, that's for sure.  It roils me to no end when I hear people complain about not being able to do this or that........horse pucky.  It's all a matter of plain old guts and gumption.

One silly thing I've always thought would be fun to do is to crash a family picnic.  Whenever we drive through a park and see a large gathering of people around tables of food, the devil in me silently schemes walking up to the group, claiming to be a long-lost cousin, grabbing a plate and helping myself to the potluck.  Honestly, if I was terminally ill and had a short time to live, that is one thing I'd do.  If they'd call the cops, would I really care?  What jail would want a dying dame on their hands?

Another thing I want to do is move to Northern Minnesota for an entire winter.  Yup, a bitterly cold winter.  Rent a house snuggled among tall pines, lakeside.  I would pack a box of  fat books, my crochet hooks and skeins of yarn, my jewelry-making supplies, and, of course, my laptop, warm sweaters.....oh, and the other two precious beings who share life with me.  I wouldn't dream of striking out on an adventure like that all by my lonely.   

Bucket lists are for everyone.  None of us, young or old, knows when that bucket will get kicked out from under us.  Could be today or tomorrow.  The human psyche simply needs to look forward to stuff that inspires and prevents our blood from clotting.  Isn't it funny how down-and-out we can feel when we have to do something we dread?  But, give us something we love to do, and, boy oh boy, our passions rev, and wowza, we start chomping at the bit.  There lives within us a thing called Excitement, and it's as real as our bones.  For me, making out the list will be exciting!!!! 

Okay, now what do I want to do yet.....................

Today's Trivia Questions:  What is the most common color used in M & M candies?  What does "M & M" stand for?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Night-Night in the Daytime

Our little family was up earlier than necessary this morning.  At 7:30, the humidity already felt suffocating, so we closed the doors and started the ceiling fans to get the air moving.  Thank heaven both of us are compatible, preferring cooler temperatures. It's already obvious that neither of us are overflowing with ambition today.  The meat and potatoes of our day will be either putzing around with our "this and thats" or we'll expend our energies scouting out the back roads for awhile, returning to take an afternoon snooze.

Naps have become an "a la mode" to our afternoons, now that we're free to take them at our leisure.  Actually, since my surgery, I've come to like snuggling in bed for a while after lunch, and, of course, the little fuzzy one sidles herself up against me, cozy as can be.  It's the proverbial "snug as a bug in a rug" syndrome!

The older we get the better naps make us feel. Don't the experts say that our brains are revitalized and our bodies rejuvenated by the nap?  For some reason the nap has gotten a bad rap, and there are those adults who are embarrassed or feel guilty about giving in to a restful afternoon reprieve.

Talk about sleep......when I was a little girl, about 8 or 10 years old, there were a lot of nights when I couldn't fall asleep.  My bedroom was next to my parents' bedroom, so I'd gently knock on the wall so mom would hear me.  She'd get up and tell me to close my eyes, say a prayer, and try to go to sleep.  A few minutes would pass, and I'd knock on the wall again.  This went on a few times until mom would get disgusted with my antics and would come in my room to scold me.  Her tried and true remedy was the scold...not the mollycoddle.

Now on nights when I'm unable to fall asleep, I use a strategy that I read about in a self-help book.  If I completely relax my body and clear my mind of all thought, I mentally say the word "thinking" over and over and over to myself.  The brain is unable to think about anything else when processing the word "thinking."  It may sound silly, but this works for me every time. 


Today's Trivia:  The phrase "sleep tight" originated when mattresses were set upon ropes woven through the bed frame.  To remedy sagging ropes, one would use a bed key to tighten the rope.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Foxy Appetizers

Isn't he cute?
Drove to the closest Kwik Trip for chicken sandwiches last evening.  We weren't real hungry, so we decided going for the sandwiches would give us a good excuse for an evening drive.  It was a toss-up between their cheeseburgers or the chicken sandwiches.  We opted for chicken.  On our way back home, our headlights caught sight of a red fox sneaking across the road and into the road ditch.  Darkness had already set in, so he must've decided to venture out with less threat of human hostility.  I've always been intrigued by the cute face of the fox and their big bushy tails.  They look so much like dogs, that's probably why I like them so much.

Am invited to a girls-only gathering this afternoon to celebrate a birthday.  Each of us are going to bring a snack and our own beverage.  Now with the internet, the cookbooks in my cupboard get used even less than before.  What I like about online recipes are the comments left by those who've tried the recipe.  If it's a 5-star recipe, then I make it with no apprehension.  Here's the recipe I'm going to put together:
BLT Bites
28 cherry tomatoes
7 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup chopped green onions
3 T grated cheddar cheese
2 T finely chopped celery
Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomato.  Scoop out and discard pulp.  Invert tomatoes onto paper towels to drain.  In a small bowl, combine bacon, mayo, onions, cheese, and celery.  Spoon into tomatoes.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hrs. 
Healthy and delicious--a double whammy in my book!

Gosh, it's gloomy outside this morning.  My hubby went for his mile walk.  He uses a walkman and listens to the radio as he makes his way around his usual route.  He stops by the post office along the way.  I'm eagerly waiting for the day that I'll be able to walk that far, but I'm not able to put full weight on my hip for that long of a distance quite yet.  If I take my cane, I may be able to make it around a town block.  So far I've just walked up and down the sidewalk in front of our house without any assistive device. 

We have a lush moist coffee cake on the kitchen island waiting to be devoured for breakfast.  Our neighbor had her oven screaming yesterday.  She invited us over for warm apple pie, coffee cake, and vanilla ice cream that melted into a divine creaminess.  Besides that, she sent home with us a plate of the apple coffee cake.  What a sweetie.

On the more serious side of everyday life, the newspaper headlines this morning are disturbing and disgusting.  The company that provides us with electricity is making a pitch for a 13% increase.  This follows a 7% rate increase finalized by state regulators in January.  Hmmmmm.  Maybe we should stock up on candles and kerosene........

Today's Trivia:  Pepsi derives its name from the treatment of dyspepsia, an intestinal ailment.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Night Whispers

Ooooooh, the warm fuzzies wrapped me tight last night as I snuggled in bed after an evening spent with very special friends. Happy thoughts of a twenty-four carat evening eased me into a sea of slumber, and I remember whispering to my Creator, "thank you for them" before drifting off.

Where is she???
There is a local lady who walks her Dachshund past our house every day.  The stubby-legged little guy has to come down a steep hill and then back up the hill to make this daily trek.  The lady is at least 6 feet tall with long legs, but little Hudinka manages to keep up with her long strides.  Actually, there's an ulterior motive that propels those little legs.....and that is the cute little girl Bichon living in our house.  It's such a kick watching him strut his stuff, water the trees in the boulevard, and then stop to kick the grass with his back legs, as he looks toward our front door in the hopes that his little girlfriend is watching.  Well, I'm sorry if he entertains canine thoughts of romance, because this mother will see to it that the love affair never blossoms!

"Hudinka" is Czech and means something like little sweetheart.  My Gramma used to call us grand kids that when she'd bring us close to her apron for a hug.  It's pronounced Hood-yinka with a Czech twist that makes the Y sound like a J.  My parents both spoke Czech, and it was their weapon of last resort when it came time to settling disputes between their precious offspring(s)! 

Oops, the doorbell just rang, and we are invited over to the neighbors' home for a piece of apple pie that's baking in their oven.  Guess I'll be whispering another special "thank you" at bed time tonight!

Sunday blessings to all.

Today's Trivia:  The Dachshund, meaning "badger dog" in German, is a breed with a friendly personality and keen sense of smell.  Known for their long and low bodies, they are eager hunters that excel in both above-and-below-ground work.  The Dachshunds were first bred in the early 1600s in Germany.  The goal was to create a fearless, elongated dog that could dig the earth from a badger burrow and fight to the death with the vicious badgers.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

MJ is the winner............

Yup, MJ does it again.  Jimmy Carter had three sons besides daughter Amy.  John, James and Donnel.  Where did they hide the three boys during their stay in the White House?????  

Do Trees Have Arthritis?

The forest floor, covered with ferns, looked dark and foreboding.  The heavy canopy of trees kept the sun out from within the animal kingdom.  We drove miles through a state forest yesterday afternoon, and with each turn of the steering wheel, there was something glorious to take in and to bring joy to our day.  Few squirrels and birds.  Either they were sound asleep, or they're disappearing.  We've noticed that before on other outings. 


My Branches Ache
Gnarly trees fascinate me, and we saw many of them deep inside the woodsy acres.  They pose for the camera with no pretense, proud of what they've withstood and endured.
Our drive took us by trout streams, equestrian trails, we visited with horseback riders who were out enjoying the fall weather.  One of the horses walked right up, almost face-to face with my hubby, and the gal riding it said, "She only wants you to pet her." 

Lots of campers, some with rv's and the rest with tents set up.  The state grounds have no electricity, but that doesn't deter the serious outdoors man.  Little girls were skipping on the park roads, children were fishing in the stream, campfires were burning already in the afternoon, some people were sitting in their canvas chairs reading, others munching on snacks, and the entire place spoke of relaxation and good people making their lives into a great day.

We watched as the DNR stocked trout.  The guy took a dip net filled with good-sized trout, walked up to the trout stream, and dumped 'em in.  The fishermen standing close by were more than tickled to see the trout so they could do their best to pull 'em back out of the water and get 'em into the fry pan for supper. 

The darned mosquitoes were nasty, though.  No matter how serene and welcoming the outdoors can be, there still remains the fact that there are little biters out there who can make an outing miserable.  I got bit by one such tiny beast that decided to stick his stinger into my upper arm.  It may have been a good bite for him, but it also was his last.

Before returning home, we stopped at Kwik Trip for a thin crust pizza to nibble on at home by the t.v.  We also replenished our supply of onions, eggs, and bananas.  I picked up a couple day-old, half-price chocolate chip muffins.  They're moist, delicious, and they make my eyes cross.  If there's a better way to start a day than a chocolatey-chippy muffin, well, I'd like to know what it could possibly be!

Today's Trivia Question:  How many children did former President Jimmy Carter have besides his high-profile daughter, Amy?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Here a Hook, There a Hook, Everywhere a Hook Hook!

Hooks Everywhere!
When cool weather sets in, my fingers get the itch to hold a crochet hook and go shopping for yarn.  I find myself looking online for patterns, and the art of crochet has really come alive with new ideas, like using wire and beads for designing bracelets and necklaces.

Some stores have shrunk their yarn departments, and that's a heck of a deal for us 'hookers.'  We like new colors and textures.  Without a good selection, we find ourselves in the car driving to a city where there are craft and hobby stores.

There was a nun in grade school who taught us kids to crochet, and I'm so very grateful to her for sharing the thread art with us kids.  I remember it was boys against girls.....who could make the prettiest doily.  We weren't taught to read patterns, but were told what stitch to make and how to make it.  We sat outside beneath the shade trees during recess time and were taught how to hold the thread in our left hand and maneuver the crochet hook in the other.  Years later, I taught myself how to read a pattern, and once a person can do that, well, the sky is the limit.

At the office, on coffee and lunch breaks I taught one of my co-workers to crochet.  We started out with the simple chain, then the single crochet, the double crochet.  Her first project was a pink baby blanket.  Before I retired, she was comfortably reading a pattern on her own and crocheting beautiful doilies that even amazed me. She made me proud.

I feel it's good to pass on our skills to those who follow behind.  Only because they, too, will reach junctions in their life when they'll want and need something to pass time, whether waiting in a hospital or whatever the situation.  Seems at some time or other we all end up waiting, and it's good therapy to keep our hands and our minds moving.  Otherwise, worry takes over, and that's not a good thing. I'm always available to give free lessons to anyone interested in learning how to crochet.

If you'd come to my house, it's pretty much impossible to open a drawer in any room and not find a crochet hook.  They're all over the place, every size, many duplicates, just different colors.  The tools of one of my many trades! 

Today's Trivia:  The French word "crochet" means "hook."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

GRAND PRIZE WINNERS

Why the handle?
And.......the grand prize winners of the animal cracker trivia contest are......................MJ and RB..........both have won an all-expense paid trip to the Animal Cracker Factory in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.  The correct answer was to hang them on Christmas Trees and so kiddies could easily carry them.  Way to go!

Tigers That Don't Purr

Hey, Sunshine, the scotcharoos are very yummy!  Thanks for stopping by for our fun visit yesterday. 

Early this morning the hubby put together a ham and bean soup in the crockpot.  Tis the season for comfort foods, stews and soups.  We had bought a bone-in ham and last evening had scalloped potatoes and ham.  For those, I make the basic bechamel, or white sauce out of butter, flour, milk, salt, and pepper.  Cheese could be added, too, but we prefer to hold back on some of the calories.

There's a new series called "Freaky Eaters" that follows a different person each episode who has an extremely restricted diet, often to the point of eating only one thing.  One gal ate only french fries, and a guy ate only pizza.  The series gives insight to dangerous food addictions that I didn't realize exist. 
Taming the Tigers Within Us
I think we humans each have some kind of haunting and daunting weakness that we have to live with.  We're born to tame our tigers.  After watching a series like the freaky eaters, I can't help but be thankful that I have only two foods that I don't care for.  Raw fish and cottage cheese.  Nevertheless, portion control is the food tiger I must wrestle with every day of my life.

Am hearing the honking of Canadian Geese flying over the house this morning.  Their V-formations and their honking sounds are distinct and indicative of the arrival of a new season.  Mother Nature is sounding her trumpets!

Today's trivia question:  Why was the Animal Crackers box designed with a string handle?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

One September Morn


Blue Sapphire
 We're up early this morning.....reminiscent of our working years when 5 a.m. was the everyday norm.  Am here to say, that now it about kills me to get up early.

When I was a little girl, my Mom would wake me every morning by singing out to me, "It's time to rise and shine, honey."  Getting woke up in a happy way makes a big difference, and I make a point to wake my little fuzzy one in the same upbeat way.  With her, I have tickle time and morning massage time.  Oh, does she love that!  She rolls over on her back and savors the few minutes devoted just to her.

Yesterday the hubby went fishing for awhile, and we girls stayed in the car.  Am reading a book that's about a couple who gave their baby away and years later found him in Ireland.  The mother became a nun after she gave her baby away to a Catholic institution run by the nuns.  As the story unfolds, the parents learn how the nuns underhandedly prevented the little boy from being adopted by loving parents and kept him institutionalized with them his entire childhood.  It's a real page-turner.

The evening and nighttime temperatures have cooled down, and it feels marvelous to snuggle in the bedsheets and cozy in for a good night's rest.  We keep the windows open so we can breathe in the fresh air that descends during the dark hours.  Cool, clean, and crisp air is invigorating.

I see pumpkins appearing on front porches and people putting up orange Halloween lights.  Decorating porches and  houses is such a fun way to add color and sparkle to our world.  I always think that when people decorate they're doing it as a gesture of goodness, because it gives everyone something to look at and enjoy.  Little kids especially like seeing bright lights any time of year.  It used to be that Christmas was the only time for stringing up lights, but thank heavens we've expanded our thoughts on that. 

Maybe our years pass quickly because of all our special events.  First, in January we celebrate New Year's Day, in February we show our love on Valentine's Day, March is St. Patrick's Day and the wearin' of the green, April brings a day to fool others and the Easter Bunny brings us Peeps and Cadbury Eggs, May brings May Day and Mother's Day, June honors our Dads, July we celebrate our freedoms, August takes the kids back to school, Labor Day in September, Halloween in October, Thanksgiving in November, and then it's Christmastime and back to New Year's Eve!  In between, of course, we have family birthday and anniversary parties, bridal showers, weddings, babies being born, and loved ones and friends departing.  In one year's time, we have a constant stream of days to honor and days to remember.

Traditions are nice, but I love impromptu get-togethers more. Some people don't like traditional change, and that's fine, too.  The one thing I insist on, at this stage of the game, is humor and a bit of fun that kicks the event up a notch or two.  I've found that the holidays give me a chance to stretch my creativity, and I absolutely love coming up with and making holiday treats for our friends and neighbors.  That probably is my #1 favorite thing in the whole world to do.  Usually my treats are made out of candy, or I decorate cookies or cupcakes.  When my hubby's mother passed away, we found that she had saved many of my little creations in her china closet.  She didn't eat them, but saved them among her fancy dishes.

It's still dark outside, but I can hear cars driving around town already.  Workers heading out for the early shifts that give a jump start to our world.  Oh, in case you want to spiff up a bit, today is National Felt Hat Day!  Go figure......

Today's Trivia:  September's birthstone is the sapphire. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Do I Really Care?

One of my treasured collections is meaningful quotations.....words spoken by others that nail a truism right on the head.....words of wisdom, that's what they are.  Quotations, or proverbs, can help us think, they can give us a kick in the pants when we need that kick, and they're quite enlightening and sometimes hilarious.  Plain and simple.....they make darned good sense.  Here is one of my favorites.....

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.  It is more important than appearance, gifted ability, or skill.  It will make or break a company, a church, a home.

"The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace from that day.  We cannot change our past, we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing that we can do is play on the one string that we have, and this string is Attitude.  I am convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it.  And so it is with you.....We are in charge of our Attitudes."     --Charles Swindoll

Isn't that cool?  Oh, I know, it's not as easy as snapping one's fingers and being in a jolly mood.  It's a whole lot deeper than that.  I've come to deal with my attitude in a "who really cares" manner.  If something or someone ticks me off, I ask myself first, "do I really care" and then I tell myself to "let it go."  I'm not able to control the universe, nor should I try.  The only thing I'm in charge of is little old me, and let me add that's a great plenty to be in charge of. 

This morning we're sharing a sweet roll for breakfast with our coffee.  The roll is a couple of days old, but when it's put in the microwave for a few seconds, it regains its freshness just like it came out of the oven.  After all the years of having and using the microwave, the invention still baffles me.  Can't help but wonder what my Gramma would think about the small appliance that heats and cooks in minutes.  Poor dear, how she slaved over her old wood stove and an oven where the heat couldn't be controlled by a dial.  Yet, the pans of pastries she produced were golden brown and as soft as her heart. 

We're having another gorgeous fall day, and we're contemplating the day's activities.  I detect a bit of antsy in my guy's veins, so wouldn't doubt we'll soon be on the road on a new adventure.  Lots of white poofy clouds in front of the blue sky.  Dried leaves are floating to the ground, having completed their season's task of providing shade and cool breezes.  They let go, in their own time, having endured the elements best they could.

Today's Trivia:

In 1945, a computer at Harvard malfunctioned and Grace Hopper, who was working on the computer, investigated, found a moth in one of the circuits and removed it.  Ever since, when something goes wrong with a computer, it is said to have a bug in it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Visit from Maxine

Golden Yellow Roadsides

The roadside ditches are blooming yellow with Goldenrod, of the genus Solidago, meaning 'to make whole.'  The goldenrod has been used as medicine to treat inflammations, the rich yellow color for dyes, and for herbal teas. The plant is found in ditches and fields across the United States and is the state flower of Alabama, Kentucky, and Nebraska. It's also been suggested for the national flower.

At one time, the goldenrod was incorrectly considered to be the cause of hay fever, probably because it blooms in late summer and autumn at the same time as the rag weeds, which are the real cause of the stuffy noses and other allergic reactions. 

My dear mother was one of those who dreaded the sight of the goldenrod.  She was convinced that the plant was the reason she suffered from hay fever.  The very sight of the goldenrod made her sneeze.

Is goldenrod a wildflower or is it a weed?  I, personally, consider it to be a wildflower....a very beautiful wildflower that attracts beautiful butterflies. 

If you find yourself in York Beach, Maine, be sure to stop in at The Goldenrod....a restaurant, candy store, and homemade ice cream shop that's been there since 1896.  Their signature candy is the Goldenrod Kiss, a yummy salt water taffy.  My heart yearns to return to Maine.  If I had a former life, I know for sure that I lived in Maine.  Don't know what it is, but it's like a magnetic force inside me that wants and feels the need to return.  When I'm in Maine, I feel whole, at home, and it's like it's where I belong.  Weird, isn't it?

Autumn brings an entirely new color palette, and we can't help but stop and click a few pics when we're out and about on our afternoon jaunts.  Here are a couple of sacred spaces we visited yesterday.


Wild Posies Gracing Hidden Iron Fence
Water Shadows



Sunday, September 12, 2010

Not What We Expected

Am still in my p.j.'s, sipping stewed coffee beans, and trying to think of something to blog about.  It is with hesitation that I choose to share my thoughts about last evening's Cuban dance concert.  Ever since I got home, my mind has been flying like a frisbee, trying to figure out exactly what it was that we saw.

Simply said, my expectations weren't met.  When I think of Cuban dancers, I immediately picture the tango, the salsa, the cha-cha-cha, and mambo.  I think of bright reds and ruffles, handsome men twirling their ladies and flouncing their flamenco-skirts.  My visions were of zippy and zesty, and what we got was a 2-hour display of smooth ballet-like movements punctuated with jerks and other acrobatic movements by a troupe wearing colorless and very unsophisticaed outfits.  Their dances told a story.....only I felt like the person listening to a joke but didn't get it! 

In situations like that, one has to look deeper, I guess, to appreciate the performance for what it is.  And, I think we did that.  It was more of a physical workout, with both genders dripping with sweat at the end of each set.  The men's muscles were defined, but the gals' figures were lean and non-curvacious.  The performers hailed from Italy, Hungary, Spain, and various parts of America.  Only two looked as though they could be from Cuba.  I guess I was looking forward to sun-bronzed island people and a stage filled with couples twisting and stepping in perfect unison to the sparkling rhythms of the Caribbean.  None of which we got.

So it is that we chalked up a cultural event to disillusionment.  Even though I didn't grasp the meaning of the dancers' stories, the experience was tolerable and will be memorable. Right after the concert, Cuban guava and coconut pastries were served to the crowd in attendance, along with red grapes and coffee......gotta say the snack was a sweet conclusion to a more-or-less disenchanted evening.

Today's Trivia 

Despite being a world apart politically, Cuba is only 90 miles away from the U.S.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Kindness--My Stun Gun

The day President John F. Kennedy was killed, I was a senior in high school sitting in study hall when the superintendent and principal announced that our President had been shot in Texas. 

September 11, 2001
On September 11, 2001, when terrorists hit the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, I was sitting in a small cafe in Maine eating blueberry pie and ice cream for breakfast with two of my dearest traveling friends.  Later that day when we were in Portland, Maine, we learned the terrorists had been at the airport there earlier in the day setting into motion those horrible acts against our country. 

I don't think we ever forget those moments.  Ever.  Anytime something really awful happens, it's like the exact moment is branded onto us with a hot iron.  We can bring that moment back to reality on a whim.  The one thing I remember most, being so far away from home on 9-11, was fear.  What was coming next?   

Religion is supposed to be our saving grace, yet it is the battle between religions that prevents peace on this earth of ours.  The holiest places are some of the strongest sources of hatred, evil, and violence.  Among themselves they fight, and with the rest of the world they fight.  Their beliefs are so strong that they are more than willing to give their lives to defend them.   

The way I always look at life, I do everything possible to maintain peace in my own little niche of the universe.  Life has thrown some real sharp ice picks at me, with darned good aim, let me say.  But, I refuse to let life win out over me.  Over the years I amassed a library of self-help books, having read and re-read them to the point the pages are tattered.  Probably I needed a shrink to help me deal with the grief and family betrayals, but by god, I made up my mind I would learn to deal with anything, and I'd teach myself.  And, I did.  There's a secret weapon in my back pocket, and I carry it with me all the time.  It's a little thing called the rock of kindness.  Throw hatred my way, and I'll toss my rock of kindness back.  I've witnessed the results of that, and it's almost funny.  When hateful people get smacked with a random act of kindness, they fall dead in their tracks.  They honest to god do not know how to react. 

Each of us are hurt in life, over and over again.  There's no way of stopping that, ever.  People feel good when they can cause someone else pain.  It's a morbid kind of self-satisfaction.  We each have a cupful of critters we just don't care for.  They rub us the wrong way.  Guess that's the reason Our Creator gave us a neck that turns our head in opposite directions.

The best part of blogging, or journaling, is having a place to put one's thoughts, opinions, and feelings.  Most of the time I try to keep upbeat and positive, because that's something that I've practiced and gotten pretty good at doing.  The sun doesn't shine anywhere all of the time.  We're taught from little on to whine and moan about cloudy days and rainy days.  To heck with that noise, I love those overcast days.  They foster creativity and provoke thought.  It's the same with the dark days in life.  The ones that bring us tears of sorrow and tears of disappointment.  But, those days are the ones that bring us life's deepest meaning and understanding.  We have to experience pain before we can experience healing.   

So, what are the terrorists talking about today on their anniversary of 9-11?  Are they toasting their violent conquests?  It's ironic that Osama Bin Laden is the one who's been forced to live like a rodent up in the hills.  Does he really feel like the conqueror?     

My heart goes out to those who lost family and friends in the 9-11 tragic attacks.  Let us not forget that we're not ever really safe from the terrorists.  One of these days they're going to hit their target, despite their often blundered efforts.  I hope to high heaven that I'm ashes in the ground when that happens to America.  When we humans get too cocky, when nothing is good enough for us, when we get resentful and hateful toward one another.....that's about the time the axe could fall.  Evil is out to erase Goodness, and if we take a good look on all that is happening......one cannot help but wonder which is the winning team.  As I say, all I can do is keep peace in my corner and every day do something that will promote a smile instead of a crab-assed frown. 
The sun shines this morning, the air is crisp, and it's going to be a pleasant fall day.  I'm going to a Cuban dance concert tonight with my sweet little fun-buddy, and I can't wait.  The two of us always  have such fun together, and it is she who was the little angel that pulled me out of the depths of depression when life hit me hard.  She stuck beside me like no other.  So, tonight the two of us are having girls night out.  Thanks, R, for being you!

Blessings on America!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Digital Drama


Overlooking the Mighty Mississippi -- Notice the Leaves Changing Color

 Tractors of Yesterday Country Parade

"Sure tastes better over here, doesn't it?
Last Evening's Sunset

Today's Trivia:  In 1940, the Mars Company invented M&Ms for soldiers going to World War II.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Graduation Day!

No procession.  No Pomp and Circumstance.  Just me, switching privately and quietly over from the walker to a cane.  My Momma's cane.  The one filled with the energy and gusto she left behind for me.  Yup, yesterday I graduated to using a cane.

Funny thing, but until now I never really knew the proper way to use a cane.  The right way is to hold the cane in the hand of one's good leg.  Start walking with the good leg, and put the cane ahead same time as the bad leg to give it support.  Works so cool, but just never knew that before.  I just thought a person used a cane with the right hand and went on with business.  Life just keeps on teaching me new stuff.

Today it's cloudy, but when I woke up early this morning the eastern sky was bright pink as the sun was starting to come up.  I was half sleeping yet, so didn't have the awareness to grab the camera.  Oh, well, it's in my mind's eye nevertheless.  Isn't the "mind's eye" something extraordinary when one thinks about it?   

We're off and running today, I think.  We have some events coming up in the next couple of weeks, and I need to buy some supplies where there's a bigger selection from which to choose.  So, that's a perfect excuse to take a drive to one of the bigger cities within 100 miles of where we live.  Since my surgery, my hubby pushes me around stores in a wheelchair so I don't tire too much or start hurting more than necessary.

I've received so many beautiful get-well cards, and each one has brought me a extra helping of happiness.  One doesn't realize the importance of the card until we're down and out ourselves.  In this morning's mail I received a most beautiful card and caring handwritten note from my hubby's aunt, and another of his aunts called me on the phone yesterday.  I don't have an aunt of my own, so I've adopted my in-law aunties.  They're getting up in years now, too.  That darned life cycle just doesn't slow down.  Not for anyone.

Have to make a list of things I need to buy.  Without a list, I'm sure to come back home having forgotten an important piece of my project.  Why is it that when a person gets in a store the mind goes blank? 

Today's Trivia:  Rats multiply so rapidly that in 18 months, two rats could have over a million descendants.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Puppy Love

Yesterday our fuzzy one went to the puppy salon with her daddy.  She came home looking sweet as a bug, sporting a haircut and pedicure.  She's a no-nonsense girl, so she doesn't get the bandanna and nail polish like most of the canine cuties. 

Have to go to the clinic to get my blood tested again today.  Checking the coumadin levels to prevent blood clotting.  Will have to do that for maybe four more weeks or so.  I'm now able to walk around the house without the walker, and that's really a big deal for me.  In only 3-1/2 weeks I'm able to do that with my new hip.  I'm tickled pink. Next week I go to see the surgeon and have an x-ray.  Am sure he'll be pleased to see how well I'm doing.  The trick is to do my physical therapy exercises faithfully every day.  That was the advice I kept hearing from others who have had their hips replaced, so I took their advice seriously.  The exercises that are the hardest to do are the ones that help build my leg muscles the most.  If I don't take care of myself and do what I'm supposed to do, well, then, I'll have to live with the consequences of my inaction.  It's that plain and simple.

The summer is slipping away, isn't it?  Last night temperatures fell into the 40s where we live.  Won't be long and the frost fairies will be flitting around frosting the branches and rooftops.  Leaves will begin to change from green to brilliant oranges, reds, and golds, and it'll be time to go for leaf-looking drives.  The last week in September we have reservations in lake country to celebrate our 43rd anniversary.  We'll pull our boat along so we can hopefully do some fishing.  By then I should be able to get in and out of the boat without too much trouble.  Ooooh, I can taste those fresh fried fish! 

We have our favorite haunts that we like to return to, but this year we're scouting out a new area.  We're excited.  Our fuzzy little one just loves to go places, and she's such a trooper when it comes to new experiences.  She goes right along with us in the boat fishing.  As long as she's with her momma and daddy, she's just fine.  We couldn't have found a better suited little buddy in the whole wide world than our little girl.  As all our friends and family know, she protects and pounces if anyone gets near me.  Of course, for me, it's just the greatest feeling in the world, knowing she loves me that much. 

The sky is the prettiest blue this morning and is the perfect backdrop for the arborvitaes that I see across the street in the neighbor's back yard.  It's hard to believe that it is really this late in the year.  My creative juices get crazy this time of year.  I feel like getting out my crochet hooks and finding new patterns.  Last evening I was browsing online and found some cute patterns for Christmas presents and/or hostess gifts.  We've been talking about maybe doing a couple of craft shows later on, but we'll have to see about that.  Both of us have more hobbies than sense, actually. 

My hubby baked banana bread yesterday, so I've got my eye on a slice slathered in butter for breakfast.  We had some bananas that we didn't want to go bad, so he whipped up a couple of loaves.  He took one loaf over to the new neighbors that moved in a couple houses down the street. 

Better scoot for today.  To my friends who follow my blogs, you have a great day and ta-ta till tomorrow.

Today's Trivia:  The average human produces 25,000 quarts of spit in a lifetime, enough to fill two swimming pools.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Political Pucky

If there's one thing I dislike more than cottage cheese, it's politics.  First, I admit to not really understanding politics, except that just hearing the word itself nervouses me. 

Our world is undergoing a revolution that every day changes what we baby boomers knew the world to be.  Not one decision made by our government seems to make sense, nor do any decisions on a local level make sense either.  We Americans are barraged  with election bull-pucky to the point we don't even want to turn on the television.  I cannot understand why political candidates have to open fire on one another like they do.  What is this teaching our children?  And, if we get one more phone call from a political candidate during suppertime, well, let me just say that the rubber band may snap!

Haven't got a clue what brought this on for today's blog topic, but now that I'm into it, I just have to finish.  There is one person who has snaked her way into our political system.  I won't mention her name, except that her initials are S.P. and she hails from the State of A.  The sound of her voice, the sight of her face, and her incompetence... all three are overwhelming to me.  What she did to her party is devastating.....enough to have had me change my political party.  

Every morning the newspaper floods us with more political hype.  One party bashing and fighting the other.  And, it's all about the buck.  Money rules.  Rich people are getting richer, and the middle class is shrinking.  The America we were is going away.  We will not be the Greatest Nation if we keep on relinquishing ourselves to the other countries.  If we'd take our lobbyists and put them in a big boat, give the boat a shove out toward the Bermuda Triangle.......(you get my drift).

Money and greed.  Goodness me.  Big business just can't get big enough.  Billions have replaced millions.  The answer is so incredibly simple.  If everyone could be satisfied with less, there'd be great plenty for all.

Along with retirement comes a great sense of relief to be finished in the working arena.  The workplace has changed, and it's not for the better.  The average person is having their benefits taken away, their salaries cut, and no one can be sure of job security.  Pink slips are a constant fear.  Raises are some years non-existent.  Work more, get less.  Families have to decide which things will take the back burner.  For many, the American Dream has turned into the American Nightmare.

We all have our own political preferences, given the fact that we decide them on a teaspoon of fact and a big vat of personal non-factual opinion fueled by the gossip mongers.  But, I am here to openly give my support to President Obama who is trying his darnedest to do what we need him to do, but is being bucked by the strong winds of the opposing party.  Is that good government for the people, of the people, and by the people...........or is it government for the rich, of the rich, and by the rich.............

Maybe it's because I grew up in a poor family, but I must confess to my resentment of the rich and those who flaunt a wealth, whether real or pretended.  Growing up, my family didn't have much, yet we lacked for none of the things that mattered.  My parents' philosophy is deeply ingrained in me and will go to my grave with me.  They believed in hard work to earn the dollar.  No room for complaint.  Be damned glad you have a job, do it well, and shut the hell up.  No one would have dreamt of buying me a toy to buy my behavior.  That would never have happened.  There were consequences, yet we knew that when all was said and done, our family would gather around the supper table, mom would have a delicious meal ready for us, and daddy would wrap up the day by saying grace.

Am not sure where I'm going with this, except that I hope with all my heart that we Americans don't allow the media to stain our common sense.  The pundits, as they're called, are doing us more harm than good.  All they seek is for television ratings, and they do that by saying awful things about good people.  So often we form our opinions by what we listen to them spouting off about.  Bottom line, I'm proud to be an American, we enjoy unparalleled rights and blessings, yet some days I can't help but have that queasy feeling that we may be veering off course and taking a route that our forefathers would have frowned upon.  Enuf of that.

Today's Trivia:  Dragonflies are ancient insects.  They have existed on Planet Earth for approximately 300 million years.  Today, they look very much like they did in dinosaur times, though they have gradually gotten smaller since then.

Monday, September 06, 2010

The celebration in our town is over, truckloads of picnic tables being hauled out of town.  The steady stream of people walking and driving up and down our streets is gone.  Squished tootsie rolls that weren't picked up by the kids during the parade are laying on the boulevard.  Left also are memories of meeting friends we hadn't seen in many, many years.  All of us growing old at the same pace.  No room for pretense anymore.  We all know, deep inside, that the years are numbered, and we may or may not see one another again.  There were hugs.  Tight ones.  We had belly laughs that made my stomach muscles sore.  We opened up about Catholic School experiences and realized bringing them out and sharing them felt good for each one of us.  Good to know we survived those harsh years.  Maybe it was that discipline that shaped us into highly respectable, hard-working, adults.  This morning my heart beats with a sweet rhythm that can only come from the love and friendship of my dear childhood friends.  This weekend was a beautiful thing.

Tonight we are invited to a supper and bonfire.  I've offered to take a salad, so will put together a fresh garden coleslaw.  I prefer the vinegary over the creamy type.  The gardens are coming to a close, and it would be a shame not to make the most of the head of cabbage and green peppers that were given to us over the weekend. 

The sun is shining, the flag is moving a smidgen, and the coffee is good and strong.  We're going to kick back today and relax, spend some time out back on the patio.  The Sunday crossword is only half finished, and I'll be darned if I won't finish the difficult bugger.  Have to use my trusty little computer to help solve the puzzle.  Like, how would I know the "Mem. of seven consecutive All-Star Game winning teams, 2003-2009." 

Am thrilled to say that I'm now able to walk a little bit around the house without my walker.  The pain I have is the surgical pain, not hip pain.  I realize it will take time to heal that deep cut, but am doing very well.  Don't want to pamper myself, but rather want to get to walking once again on my own.  Also have to be careful not to get too sassy so I don't fall and hurt myself.  Guess I'll have to simply use good  judgment, plus my hubby closely watches and reminds me what I ought to do or not do. 

Can't quite believe Labor Day Weekend is on its way out.  Halloween will be the next big event, followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Will be time to get out the fleecy blankets and turn on the fireplace.  An entirely new ambiance.  Of course, I don't have to worry about snow removal or any of the yard work.  My hubby tends to all of that.  So, it's quite nice for me to say that I enjoy winter and the beauty of snowfall, evergreen limbs sagging with heavy snow, and cuddling in with a good book and cup of hot chocolate.  The way I see it, at this stage of the game, I'm gonna maximize every single day and moment.  This weekend of renewed friendships has awakened me to the brevity of life.  We are but a whisper amid the clamor.

Today's Trivia:  The first Labor Day in the United States was celebrated on September 5, 1882, in New York City.  It became a federal holiday in 1894.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Yesterday's blog......a day late!

This morning our town is having a parade.  There are close to 200 entries, as I understand, that will go past our home.  Ordinarily parades don't get me too excited, but this one has.  Maybe my age has something to do with that, I'm not sure.  I guess I was always too busy to bother with parades when I was younger.  Over the years, I was on floats myself representing groups I belonged to, and it was fun being on stage waving at the audience and tossing candy out to the kids.

There's a breakfast bake in the oven, and I'll be baking cinnamon rolls in awhile.  My niece is running in the morning run, and we've invited her over for breakfast after she finishes the run.  I admire young women in their 40s who are in such good shape that they are able to enter fun runs like this.  I, too, remember how I got up every morning at 5 o'clock and jogged 3 miles.  Jogging was invigorating and helped wear down my office-induced stress.  But, now, I prefer watching the younger ones participate and am content to sit back and be the onlooker.

The citizens couldn't have ordered a more perfect day for this celebration.  The sun is shining, and a refreshing cool air has descended upon the town.  Maybe the fouding fathers, of which my family was one, are looking down in amazement at how pretty the town has grown and how devoted its residents are to their hard work.  There's been a ton of hard work put into this weekend, and one has to shout loud kudos to all who have shared their energies to make it happen.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Sobering, that's what it is......

These magnificent limestone bluffs are within a modest driving distance of our home.  Their beauty never ceases to inspire us, and the river that wraps itself closely beside them is a hot spot for canoers,  kayakers and tubers. This spot is perfect for water therapy, as I like to call it. North-facing bluffs and cool air currents from underground  caves make these areas more like the north woods than the state in which they are located.  What is really spectacular is the stand of balsam fir trees reminiscent of a geological interval of warmer global average temperatures that separated glacial periods within an ice age thousands of years ago.  

Glacier ice is the largest reservoir of fresh water on Earth, and is second only to oceans that are the largest reservoir of total water.  Glaciers are found on every continent, even Australia, and cover about 3% of the earth's surface. 

We've never traveled to see a glacier but always thought it'd be something one should see.  Just imagine those huge masses of ice moving very slowly, taking a year to move as far as one can walk in a few minutes.  

Today one can scarcely open a newspaper or tune in to a news channel without hearing the words "global warming."  Is it for real?  Europeans get more upset about climate change than we do, but there's good reason.  They watch the sobering reality.  In the Alps, home to the world famous Matterhorn, nearly half the glaciers have disappeared since record keeping began.  The Alps, often referred to as the "water tower" of Europe, contains 40% of Europe's fresh water supply.  The significant disappearance of ice on the Matterhorn has prompted the need for the border between Switzerland and Italy to be redrawn.  Isn't that interesting.

The receding Muir glacier in Alaska is causing scientists now to warn of more earthquakes, triggered by tectonic plates with suddenly lightened loads.  The Himalayan glaciers are losing 3 feet in thickness per year.  The Chinese government officials are growing concerned that retreating ice may spell the end of reliable water supplies for China.  Greenland's Helheim Glacier is retreating at an average rate of 110 feet per day.  The famous icecap, Mt. Kilimanjaro, has diminished more than 85% since 1912.  Mount Kenya has lost nearly ALL of its ice at an average of 1 meter per year, threatening water supplies for millions of people.  Scientists are now saying that the great African glaciers could be gone within 20 years.

In South America, the Chacaltaya glacier has completely vanished.  It was once the highest ski resort on earth.  Researchers believe that by the year 2030, the vast majority of ice in Glacier National Park will be gone unless current climate patterns are reversed.  Montana may have to think of a new name for its famous park.

All of this saddens me.  Are we humans to blame?  Are we going overboard with our intelligence?  Who knows.  Sure isn't up to me to be the judge.  But, we can privately lay claim to our own solutions and point fingers at who we think is to blame.  I guess when I see Mother Nature crying her frozen tears, it can't help but make me really sad.    

This morning the temperatures have dropped quite a bit, and today we're trying to decide which sweatshirt to bring out from storage.  Yup, there's a gorgeous brisk breeze, and the trees are so happy they're waving their branches every which way.  Sky is blue with puffy white clouds.  The kind that scatter and keep forming images for our imaginations to play with. 

Today's Trivia:  If you plug your nose, you can't hum.  

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Real Jewel

Finished reading "Jewel" and am thankful I didn't stop mid-way through the book because of the harsh realities of it.  This is a story, as I've said earlier, about a Down Syndrome girl born to a woman who knew what cruelty in life was all about.  This little girl could not have been given to a more loving and devoted person than Jewel.  Her name says it all.

The book shows how each of us has more than one life, right here on earth.  Following each big event, a birth or death, hardship or trauma in our lives, there emerges a new life, different from the one before it.  We are never able to go back to the former life, simply because things are no longer as they were and never will be. 

This is so true.  Our families, like all families, have had tragic happenings.  The instant they occur, life changes, our emotions change, our views change, and with each stinging whack, our heart seems to split open a bit more.  When we grow old and are ready to pass out of this life here on earth, our hearts are sufficiently ripped apart that we feel we have had enough.  It is time to pass the torch. We came, we learned, and we leave.

The word BEFORE is the key word.  We can't get back what came BEFORE what happened.  Whether it's getting a spouse, having a baby, or losing a dear one.  Life is never like it was before.  And, do we want it to be?  That is the big question.

Twenty years ago I would have said, yes, I want to go back to how it was before.  But, now at 64, I don't  think that way.  Life has shown me that there is a plan woven into us somehow, that dictates all the hardships in order for us to gain the strength to go forward and understand the divine intricacies of life.  I don't say we ever can fully understand, but I mean we can understand the purposes for some things and we can see why they happen.  Life is played out....at the very end, each detail having been necessary for the picture to be complete.

Rather than interfere with other lives, and try to make things better for someone else, I know now the best thing to do is to let everyone make their own mistakes.  That's the only way to learn the ins-and-outs to existence.  Some people tend to insert their nasal passages into situations they do not belong, and that only exacerbates the situation.  Life has got to play itself out according to our individual actions.  If I do something stupid, well, then I'm going to have to deal with the results of my stupidity.  Plain and simple.  And, if someone interferes with my stupid actions, then my problem only gets more snarly and complex. 

I've come to maintain that I want to live the remainder of my life "flying under the radar."  I don't embroil myself in any type of organization or commit myself to obligations that will rile my peaceful heart.  I spent my entire life in an arena that held its pitfalls and fears, high expectations, and demands, but I managed to delicately and obediently stay on track, and it's only because of my tending to my own business that I am where I'm at right now.  I didn't let the BEFORES stain my life.  Rather, I took hold of the AFTERS, knowing full well they would be short-lived as well.  Life is a basket of befores and afters.  We can easily get buried in the thought that life as it is right now really stinks and it always will.  Au contraire.  Life will change, at any moment and send the current situation into the BEFORE category, and a new life will begin. 

Some days I feel philosophical.  Some days I like to think serious thoughts and engage my brain in sophisticated thoughts.  My self-acquired exposure to the psychologies of life has given me a yen for learning about individual characteristics in people.  Why do they do what they do?  Sometimes my brain spars with itself, wondering why the heck people hurt one another like they do, whether it's through words or actions.  I find it fascinating when I can identify, to the best of my ability, and come to understand where the quirks come from.  That's the only way to deal with behaviors that are not only annoying, but actually can be destructive.  Knowing that we all are living with BEFORES and AFTERS helps one to gain respect and perhaps even admiration for how people deal with life.  The situations we are recklessly tossed into are not always bad for us, even though it sure feels bad to us.  There's always a far-into-the-future reason for everything, and we won't know what that reason is until we reach it's time for the answer to be revealed.  That's been my experience, and that's why I can tell those dear ones following in the next generation not to get down and out and quit.  Never ever quit.  Just like me reading the book "Jewel."  At one point I wanted to quit reading it, but I knew I had to plug through those heart-breaking pages that were bringing tears to my eyes and making me sadder than I liked.  However, when I met that last sentence on the last page, I knew that I had been enlightened for having read and completed the book.  And, that's just a teeny-weeny example of forging ahead and never quitting.

So it is that we have a rainy morning where I live.  We have our floor lamps lit at 8:30 in the morning, and that makes our home feel even cozier than usual.  Little fuzzy one is close beside my leg in the snuggler, and daddy is reading the morning paper.  Coffee cups close by.  We don't know what the day holds in store for us, but we have lived long enough and through enough to know that no matter what it is.....we can deal with it.  We'll walk through the fire knowing that there will be an AFTER.  Sometimes the AFTER is a whole lot better than the BEFORE......if we just let it be that way!

Today's Trivia:  The human heart beats roughly 35 million times a year.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Plum Poppin' Time

Eating wild plums, right from the tree, is a pure and simple pleasure that I have managed to elevate to a yearly celebratory event.

There grows a tree on public property that beholds beautiful plums each year.  We know there is a clandestine conspiracy among us plum pickers that beckons each one of us to get to that tree before the other one gets there.  Last evening we went out on that annual plum hunt, only to find that the red beauties were gone, the tree bare, and we had lost the once-a-year competition. 

But, our watchful eyes were surprised to find yet another plum tree tucked among other shrubby trees, with a few of its branches still bearing the tiny orbs.  Out came the plastic grocery sack, out jumped my hubby from the driver's seat, and our private plum pursuit was underway.  The caper carried off without a flaw.  I had my trusty little bunch of plums, ready to dig into and eat, one by one.  Omigod!  They popped open when I bit down on them, with the sweetness and tartness giving my body restorative powers that only Mother Nature can give.  I tossed the pits out the car window, hoping maybe another plum tree will emerge from the earth to provide more sweet sustenance for us earthlings.

The temperature has come down, and there's a nice breeze bringing itself in the house through the screen door.  Refreshing.  Fallen leaves are scattered on the sidewalk and our front porch.  One by one they sail to the ground like little parachutes, each leaf having faithfully completed its job to help beautify our boulevard and give us summer shade.  There's a twinge of sadness as I watch the leaves falling, yet there's a balancing twinge of anticipation for the cooler season that will soon be obeying the waving hands of Mother Nature.

Today's Trivia

Hummingbirds can't walk.