Sunday, December 31, 2006

For Auld Lang Syne

It’s the end of the year
And we are still here
Watching the clock tick away
The last minutes of this day.
2006 -- at last spent
We’ll consider what it meant.

New Year’s Eve’s for the young
When Auld Lang Synes sung
And glasses are heard clinking
In midnight toasts by those drinking
Salutes to the year that passes
The new cheered with raised glasses.
Sweethearts will be kissed
Friends not around will be missed.

These winter days it’s just fine
To have bedtime at nine
For my sweetheart named Jon
Who’s up long before dawn
We’ll leave the partying to the rest
We’re just thankful we 're blest
And are welcoming 2007
Here on earth not in heaven

Friday, December 29, 2006

On the Fifth Day of Christmas...

My true love gave to me..
two maids who are milkers---Just kidding. After hearing the report on the news about the FDA approving of selling cloned meat from cows and pigs for consumption I wondered which of our delightful beasts we should clone. Mabel has such a good sense of humor and is more laid back. Elsie is more traditional and loves Christmas. Does cloned beef mean more double-burgers at Mc Donalds or would they be half price now? I don't know how I feel about cloned animals. There is such a revulsion about a mad scientist cloning a human being that it spills over into an emotional response to messing with mother nature in beef and pork production. The world of Dr. Moreau--- I'll bet Saddam Hussein wishes he knew where his "clones" were. Didn't he have a couple doubles who stood in for him? Do we have the right guy for sure?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Sentiments

Little House in Little Falls in the Big Woods

This is a picture taken this summer of the renovated log cabin where my sister and I lived until we were 9 and 11. The tree was up in August. I'll bet the people who own it and restored it are enjoying this snug little cabin today.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Eve of Christmas Eve

One Christmas when we were young and still on the farm we had a thrill on Christmas morning. My sister, or maybe it was me, thought she heard him on the roof. It was magic. Mom and dad smiled. Not to be outdone, our neighbor boy, Joey, said well he had seen santa. It must have been hard for mom to keep quiet. What a sweet time it is for parents and grandparents of innocent children. When our Andy was 2+ he got a call from his Uncle Mike (impersonating Santa ) on Christmas Eve saying he would give him a tricycle if he would poop in the potty. He did that in short order and got the trike! Wonderful conspiracy. Santa always came early to our house. We would be notified by a phone call from someone up the block that Santa was near. Have the kids hide so he would stop early. Worked for quite a few years while they were believers.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Birthday to my Beautiful Sister

Today is my sister's birthday. She was born on our grandpa's birthday. It is not a good day for a birthday when you are growing up. Adults are busy getting ready for Christmas. She also got some "combination" gifts. They were usually wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper. Birthday parties were out of the question and I don't remember too many cakes. Since she has been married her husband and family have taken care to celebrate her birthday properly. I am not sure that happened much when she was a child. You have come a long way sister since being born in a house without electricity or running water. Dad held the kerosene lamp when you were born in that farmhouse. The Dr. and his nurse-wife came for the delivery. It must have been scary for our shy father and town-girl mom. There were guardian angels there I am sure. Happy Birthday to my beautiful sister.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Nice Doggie

It's been months without a movie being released I wanted to see except "The Nativity Story". A couple opening soon look interesting. "The Good German" starring George Clooney is a film noir shot in black and white. It is set in the 40's and stars George Clooney. The other one we want to see is "The Good Shepherd", with Robert DeNiro and Matt Damon. It is about the origins of the CIA. It may be too violent for my tastes but tells a story of the OAS and Wild Bill Donovan that is part of our history. link to trailer: All that is missing now is a remake of a Rin Tin Tin movie. They could name it "The Good German Shepherd".

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It is the end of the year and everyone is going to Dr. and dentist to get the bill under this year's deductable. Guess what I will be doing tomorrow?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Uno, Dos, Tres

Unlike the people who send videos to America's Funniest Videos, I never have a camera when I should. One October evening in Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany we took a stroll after dinner and ended up sitting on a bench in the town square. People were out for an evening walk. Some licking Eis cones, some with dogs or children. The atmosphere was relaxed. The evening warm. Screeching around a corner came a Fire Rescue truck with strobe lights flashing. It was going so fast it outran the sound of the siren. In close proximity five other fire trucks followed each with a wailing siren. These were big trucks including a hook and ladder company. I have never seen a response quite like that--bunched together, that unique European siren and strobing lights. You could only sit and watch mesmerized and be glad you were not in the middle of the street. In a moment they were all gone. That night we watched the local news (in German of course) and I think they were going to a fire at a hotel. No doubt they threw everything at it to protect lives.
Our second incident was observed while we were on a water-taxi in Venice. There are canals instead of roads. Again we looked when we heard a siren. There was a boat filled with firemen in full regalia plowing ahead full steam. I suppose they were going to a fire. Who knows, maybe they just do that for the tourists. It seemed funny to me to go to a fire in a boat. No camera ready for that either.
Today, episode three: We were at an intersection waiting for a green light when we heard a siren. An ambulance crossed in front of us. Then it pulled over to let a police car with lights flashing and siren wailing proceed. I have never seen an ambulance pull over for an emergency vehicle before and probably won't again. Just a juxtaposition of circumstances.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Volare, oh, oh, oh, oh..

This is something I submitted to the local paper's "Bulletin Board". Another contributor had written about her daughter getting a pet rat that escaped from the cage and multiplied itself tens of times. Most of the contributors and probably readers are retired people. We have the same memories so I enjoy reading it. My "handle" is The MOM in Stiilwater. Our gerbils weren't as talented as this little guy or we would have worked up an act instead of murder!

The MOM in Stillwater: "I can empathize with the story about the pet rat, because I was almost that gullible.
"Years ago, our oldest asked if he could have a gerbil. His elementary teacher was trying to place the classroom 'pets' at the end of the term. Not wanting to deal with reproducing rodents, I said he could take one gerbil.
"He came home carrying two gerbils. His teacher assured him they were both female.
"I think she then unplugged her phone, got in the car and left town fast.
"Well, in 28 days, we were pretty sure they were not both female.
"What I did not know then is they mate immediately after giving birth. You not only have a large litter of newbies, but they mature fast and then mate, too.
"I now had the task of 'placing' all these unwanted baby rodents in good homes. That is harder than you think. We may have gotten one of two takers, but still had a lot of rodents. I then thought of the pet store. They accepted the rest. Later someone told me they took them not to sell, but because they had a hungry snake to feed.
"Pet-store adoption no longer seemed a humane option for disposing of our excess 'adult' gerbils. As you can guess: In a short period of time, all the new gerbils were breeding. All this reproducing is logarithmic, and we were overwhelmed.
"We resorted to gassing the lot, although we didn't tell our children the truth.
"Maybe we should have given that teacher back her two female gerbils with 'interest' in the fall."

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Should I cook a turkey? Shall I do an Island theme party?
I am in a malaise preparing for Christmas because I have not seen any snow yet. I don't know how people do it in warmer climes. This is Minnesota but it looks like Arkansas. This week I will have to make some decision about what to cook. I have been catching a couple of Rachael Ray shows lately looking for ideas. Last week she demonstrated making an herbed wheel of Stilton cheese. I laughed thinking how that would go over here. Some would pick off all the green stuff, others just sniff the cheese and pass. Some would be glad I was a little more adventurous than other years. Link to Rachael Ray's Recipe:

(My thoughts on being the perfect hostess)


Rachael Ray
There is no way
I would be able
to set the table
With a wheel of Stilton
Cheese, like the Hilton
If you please.
My family’s tastes are more mundane
Gourmet food would be in vane.

My solution to the quest
For holiday food that tastes the best
Keep it simple, keep it plain
That way no one can complain

Fondue pots with bubbling cheeses
Good with bread, oh bless it Jesus
Add a jar of Prego presto-
If tastes like pizza with some zesto
Plainer food is easier served
This family’s taste is quite reserved
Cheddar’s fine, served with some wine
Gouda, crackers, something sweet, ah-
But their favorite cheese --Velveeta.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Easy on the Gas

Due to the high price of fuel, we opted for a car with good mileage rather than muscle when we were in Europe. We reserved a small Opal from Alamo. When we arrived at the airport they had a VW Polo for us instead which is a similar car. On the fourth day the power steering went out on that vehicle. We were in a rural area and our host at the Gasthaus helped us with language barriers getting the car towed to a nearby town for service. Bad news it would take a week to fix. Alamo found an Avis car nearby for us to use until we could pick up another car from their company. The next day we drove 50K (out of our way) to Saarlouis to a rental agent for Alamo to pick up the car reserved for us. We had the reservation but they did not have the car. The people were very apologetic. While we drank their coffee they made arrangements for us to return our Avis car and pick up our Alamo car in Trier, our next stop. We were given directions to the Avis shop where we would drop this car and told they would drive us across town to the Alamo agent. So far so good. We accepted their apologies and on we went. Surprisingly, we easily found the Avis agent. She informed us they were too busy to drive us to Alamo. I think that was after Jon said "collect from Alamo for this car". After a 17 euros cab ride we connected with the third car. It was brand new and an upgraded Opal. So much for "easy on the gas". Life was good. Jon found out it would go 220K on the autobahn. Later, he found out even if you never see a "highway patrol" on the autobahn they have cameras that watch for speeders. If the sign says slow down, it means slow down. Two days ago we received a ticket for 20 euros for speeding near Wels, Austria. The notice is all in German. We cannot understand how to pay the ticket. A couple of calls to Alamo and we will now receive something in English in the mail. A friend of ours got a speeding ticket in Switzerland for 50 euros. He disregarded it and the next mailing it was at 100 euros. This got his attention and he asked a friend who lives in Switzerland to pay it for him. He then got another notice the ticket was now 200 euro. The friend forgot to pay it. I am not sure the Austrian government will double or quadruple our ticket but I feel better clearing things up. Anyway, we should have followed our original intent to be "easy on the gas".

I love the picture which I found on the Intranet. I always wondered what happened to all those old Yugos. Before the collapse of Yugoslavia, "Yugos" were marketed in the US at around $4000, a bargain even in the 90's. I thought we should get one but am glad we didn't. The one above does look like it is easy on the gas.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Last year my favorite news hour commercial featured Molly Beck, daughter of my old roommate and friend Barb. Molly was the Nexium girl. She pitched the purple pill for almost a year. We were glad every time we saw it because she got residual pay. We watched Molly grow up seeing her almost every summer when her family spent their summer vacation in Minnesota. She is a talented actor and musician competing in a crowded field.
Molly has been replaced in the Nexium commercial by a guy with heartburn. My allegiance now has moved to watching Sally Field sell Boniva. I have always liked Sally who has a wholesome girl-next-door look. In the ad Sally promotes the advantage of once a month Boniva. She says her friends have to set aside time to take their pills for osteoporosis weekly. That must be a strain on the schedule. What does it take, maybe 30 seconds to take the weekly pill? I decided since I do not have to take a pill for osteoporosis I would spend that time wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I know everyone is busy this time of year, but those of us who do not have to take the weekly pill should be considerate of the rest of our sisters who do.

site for Molly Beck Ferguson:

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Have you got change for a C..

Today I remarked to my husband that I have heard the phrase “sea change” used often lately. I thought I knew what it meant but wondered about the origin of the words. He looked at me quizzically saying he had never been aware of it. I had to refer to my favorite source to settle arguments and pursue information. I googled it. There were over one million hits with sea change. The first one lead to a page that gave a definition (transformation) and origin as written by Shakespeare in “The Tempest”. I clicked on some of the other listings and found out it is the name of a book by Robert B. Parker and a recording by Beck. It is also the name of a digital video server system. This satisfied my curiosity and I did not try all of the million sites.
The first site with the definition was from a page called World Wide Words. It lists weird, seldom used words alphabetically. Click on a word and you get the definition and use. I found a new favorite—snollygoster. The short definition is: “A shrewd unprincipled person, especially a politician.” The longer definition sent me to the dictionary to check a couple more words. It says “…someone who wants office, regardless of party, platform or principles, and who, whenever he wins gets there by the sheer force of monumental talknophical assumnacy.” I will need a fatter dictionary to find talknophical. It will not make me a better writer to study this site but I bet I could
do better on the Jeopardy pretest or the National Spelling Bee.
Prediction for the next two years. We will have to watch out for the Snollygosters until fall of ’08 unless they undergo a sea change.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Secret of a Happy Marriage

It's been a Two Tree Day on a Three Dog Night. That got your attention and needs some explaining. I know "Three Dog Night" is an old pop group, but I am talking about the original meaning of the phrase. It's about a night cold enough to sleep with three dogs to keep warm. The mercury, although there no longer is mercury in thermometers, dipped to -3 last night where we live. My husband is currently talking to his long-time friend Dave on the phone. It is +47 in New Hampshire where he lives. At 47 you can let Fido sleep in his own bed. We actually don't have any dogs but a wonderful down comforter helps and is low maintainance.

Now about the two tree day. I recently "won" another silent auction bidding on a decorated Christmas tree that was auctioned off for charity. I thought I had bid low enough to start the bidding but not win the tree. Last year I also purchased a tree the same way. It jump starts the season to bring home a tree already decorated and light it up. I thought at least I wouldn't have had to dig through boxes of ornaments and assorted Christmas decorations but in a weaker moment recently decided to put up last year's tree as well. It is decorated with angels and I thought I would miss seeing it. So it was a "two tree day".

Traveling in Europe to the birthplace of Jon's great,great, grandfather in Germany and grandmother's birthplace in Nova Bystrice, CR has motivated my husband to organize his information on a computer program called Family Treemaker. Working on geneology has become a popular hobby of many people. Jon will sometimes say jokingly that he is going to "work on his gynecology!" He has extensive information on his mother's and father's kin collected over the years by other relatives. With the program he has been able to add old and new photos that are relevant. He found the ship's log listing his emigrant G.G. grandfather and family. His goal was to merge his info with data from my dad and mom's families. That would give an up to date family tree for our children. Doing this is a learning process and he is still working on it. When he announced, "I now have two trees" I looked up waiting for an explanation. Apparently he has all of his mother's families info in one tree and his father's in another. That does not account for my parents data. He tried to explain he has many branches or trees and it is still not merged. At least we had that in common. We both had two tree days.

I also remembered that I have a third artifical tree in my storeroom. Maybe I could merge the three of them for next Christmas. When you are married it is always good to have the same goals.
I was sent the following story on email today and thought it was cute.

Secret to a Long Marriage --

With a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary at the church's marriage marathon, the minister asked Brother Ralph to take a few minutes and share some insight into how he managed to live with the same woman all these years.

The husband replied to the audience, "Well, I treated her with respect, spent money on her, but mostly I took her traveling on special occasions."

The minister inquired trips to where?

Ralph replied, “For our 25th anniversary, I took her to Beijing, China.”

The minister then said, "What a terrific example you are to all husbands, Ralph. Please tell the audience what you're going to do for your wife on your 50th anniversary?"

Ralph replied, "I'm going to go get her."

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Not Legal Here

Sign speaks for itself. This is the last of the subject, I promise.

Monday, December 4, 2006

How Do you Spell Relief

Here it is allowed. It must be "anfahrtszone". Actually it is a little village in Austria.
I apologize for crude remarks.

Sign of the Times

Sign we saw by nursery school in Garmish, Germany. I love German words. Do you suppose there is "anfahrtszone fur volks"? You see the word fahrt a lot such as in "ausfahrt" or exit. It relates to journey or drive. Krankenwagen is an ambulance. We guessed the signs means something like a parking or pull in place for ambulances, but it still amuses me. They serve a lot of beir and cabbage in this country and it might me good to set aside a zone for the results.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

The Other House on the Rock

Above: View of Fussen from Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavarian Alps
Two views of the castle below: from the path and from the Marionbrucke the "poster" picture.
No picture but visit site for Alex Jordan's House on the Rock, Madison, WI
Recommended if you find yourself in that part of the country:

Please fasten your seat belts and keep your seats in the upright position. We are visiting Bavaria and the best known tourist site in Germany, Neuschwanstein. This prototype of the Disney Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyworld still stands in the Alps at Fussen. In October '06 we joined international tourists trudging up the hill to tour the landmark.

We had visited Fussen in May '03 but due to throngs of tour busses only seen it from a distance. It is the newest of fairy tale fortresses you find in Germany. It is not in ruins because it is just over a century old having been built by "Mad" King Ludwig of Bavaria in the 19th C.

There are three ways to reach the castle: 1. Hike up the steep hills. 2.Buy a ticket on a bus that takes you part way for a small price. 3. Pay 20 euro to take the horse and carriage that almost gets you to the gate. We chose the bus. From the staging area where busses drop tourists it is a steep walk to the bridge for the photo-op view of the edifice. At this point 20 euros does not seem like too much to have paid for the horse and buggy. It is a wonderful vantage point and we bucked up and decided to enjoy it. We still were not at the castle and became painfully aware of the trudge ahead of a couple of 60+ yr. old travelers. I was wishing I had prepared for these hikes by doing a little more leg work at home. As we climbed we were shamed meeting those health-conscious Europeans coming up the mountain carrying their walking sticks. I don't want to climb those mountains but maybe I could just buy the walking stick and have my picture taken that way. Do you think I would fool anyone who knew me? Maybe I could fool some of you who don't. I was the one taking a break everytime I saw a bench. This is when one of us uttered the line, "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!" to paraphrase Shakespeare.

There is an advantage to traveling off-season. The lines are shorter. We had tickets to tour the castle at an appointed time. This was an incentive to keep climbing up the hill and keep the breaks short. We were a few minutes early and visited with others waiting in the courtyard. One gent from the UK was wearing a tee shirt with those familiar golden arches and the logo "Mc S...t". Fill in the blanks yourself but I do not think he likes America's most visible export to Europe, Mc Donalds. He was too polite to discuss it with a couple of Americans.

The view from the castle is awesome. No wonder Ludwig hid out here. It had central heating, indoor plumbing, and electric lights along with all the amenities suitable for a king. This was a great improvement on it's medieval counterparts. I believe it took 17 years to build and the king only occupied it half a year. Swan motifs are everywhere. There are floors of the building that were never finished. It is imposing and it's location on the rock offered Ludwig some delay from the forces who eventually dragged him out and deposed him. They were upset with his politics or lack of and his spending a fortune on the fortress. I think he had the last laugh and a lasting legacy that draws millions of people and their money. Maybe if he had lived a little longer he could have built Frontierland, Adventureland and Space Mountain too.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Mina Ballerina


Brown eyes
Bobbed hair
Smiling face
One tooth not there
Upbeat, so sweet
Nine year old Mina.

Skates fast
Never last
Soccer kicker
Doesn’t bicker
Lots of friends
That’s Mina.

Princess, yes
Likes to dress
Only thing
Room’s a mess
Try to Keep it
Cleana Mina.

Girl scout
Camps out
With a group
Called a Troop
Cookie selling
Champion Mina.

Sleeps well-no fright
If there’s - some light
Stuffed toys
In bed
All around
her head
Where’s Mina?

Reads a book
Likes to cook
Quick to hug
A cuddly bug
Dancing queen, Ah
That’s our Mina.

Love, Grandma