Monday, December 31, 2007

Mr. Ed

When we moved to Stillwater twenty plus years ago we bought a book about the history of Washington county. I found this picture of early loggers on the river and got excited. The guy in the right hand lower corner is Eddie Parnell. My grandpa was Ed Parnell. When I told my mom, she said that wasn't grandpa, it was his brother Edward. Grandpa was Edmund. They came from big families of 12 or 13 kids and they must have run out of new names.
This photo is reprinted from the collection of John Runk. He left a legacy of hundreds of prints recording the early years of Stillwater and the area. A friend of ours, now deceased, donated hundreds of hours of time printing these from the glass negatives Runk had donated to the historical society.
With our upcoming family reunion in August we are also blessed to have one of my cousins, Cliff, offer to collect and put on CD all the old family photos we can find. I am anxious to see what is out there. He has already whet my appetite by emailing me some I have never seen before.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I Actually Have a New Year's Resolution

My resolution? I read a local columnist's tirade about the overuse of the word "actually" and realized I am guilty. Actually, I don't write many paragraphs without beginning a sentence with the word actually. I was not actually aware of it until her enlightenment. Now, I will try to cut the use of actually from my prose. I will work on eliminating "now" next year. That is the problem with being 60+. No grammar-teaching nuns around to correct redundant writing. Actually, I have a nun in my life, sweet 91 Yr. old Whozanun, the Benediction Nun, but she is too nice to say anything.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Bickersons

Our family Victorian Christmas picture. Jon and I seem to match the family in the picture printed in color. We used the serious pose for our cards.

I imagined son Dan in the gray looked like the school teacher, his wife Jen the milliner, grandson Zach the child evangelist, I am the banker's wife and Mr. Peanut is the banker. Granddaughter Mina (in pink) is the teacher's pet who will become a famous poet. Son Dave with the beard is the blacksmith, Andy in the light brown hat the riverboat gambler, son in-law Mike the saloon keeper, and daughter Mary a rebellious Eliza Doolittle. I think she is in the wrong story.
Happy New Year from family.

Head of the House

Still In Training. Still in the Game.

It took two weeks but I finally have my weight back down where it was before we went on vacation and before the big Christmas feasting. New goal: -5 more before I go to the Dr. in late January , one year after I started my new lifestyle. Then I am done. I am not going to keep replacing my wardrobe with new sizes. Enough. I feel good.

I won a drawing at Curves; the prize was a beautiful black and lavender Curves clothing pants and stretch top. I LOVE anything purple. I even loved it before the Red Hat ladies and their purple outfits were popular. My aunt Lu often wore lavender and since I loved my aunt Lu maybe that is the explanation. The outfit is a size medium, a far cry from what I used to wear and it fits. However, I do have a little midrift bulge that five pounds off should cure. Wish me luck.

Before the snow I was walking outside, running my errands to stores and the library on foot. The snow and ice sent me back to walking indoors at the track. I have a friend who meets me three times a week to walk an hour. That did not satisfy me. I now go over around 6:30am and sometimes walk a couple hours or more. I don't like walking by myself very long so I have been talking to strangers and partnering-up to make the time pass faster. Yesterday was great. I met three senior citizens who were extremely friendly. One even plays cribbage and I am invited to a game at her apartment next week. What a wonderful world. I have a new 85 yr old darling who not only walks fast but plays cards. One of the "younger" women (only in her 60's) is longtime friend of my brother in-law Mike's sister Phyllis's late husband Ralph's sister's wife who lives just up the street from us. So you see I am making new connections. Bet you had to think about that last one. Another of the women is in research at a transplant lab at the U of Mn. Interesting people. Life is good.

Samaritan's Purse

Samaritan's Purse--charity that begins at home and reaches around the world. I spent a few hours volunteering to sort and ship Christmas packages for this organization with my cousins. Today I received an e-mail with pictures from the organization. This little girl grabbed my heart. The smile on her face as she clutched her stuffed toy and colorful box amid her shabby surroundings is priceless. We have such an abundance. So many boxes under our trees. It is good to see we can be a part of reaching around the world to spread joy to many kids.

He promised even a cup of water given in His name would not go unnoticed. I hope He had a good time watching children around the world open presents on His birthday.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Snow Ball

It's still snowing. Sven, the TV weatherman, actually said it was still "flurrying" outside. New word. We have had a light snowfall today. Chicago and Milwaukee caught more of this system. Roving reporters cover delighted ski hill owners and climatologists tell us winters had more snow cover in the first half of the 20th century than now. Then they predict harmful results when this snowcover melts 10 - 20 days earlier than it did a century ago. Too much talk. Too much worry. Just do like the kids and enjoy it if you can.
We attended a big funeral today for a cousin of Jon's who died from Alzheimers at 67. She was one of the most likeable people you could meet and fit the ideal image of a wife and mom from the 60s. Her son is a priest and he and fourteen other priests plus a bishop had the Mass. I think that is a record for most at a Mass I have been to. I am again resolving to be a nicer person so people will say nice things about me after I am gone. I don't think I will have 15 priests and a bishop.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Heaps of Fun

Now they are saying this is the snowiest Christmas in fifty years. What happened to global warming? Our friends in Germany e-mailed that there is no snow in Germany except in the Alps. We had several inches of fresh snow this morning and then the sun came out. It looks beautiful. Kids on vacation have something to do. I remember well a kitchen draped with drying mittens and stacks of wet boots by the back door. What fun. What memories. It is easier to romanticize snow after it is plowed and shovelled. That beach still sounds good to me some of the time.

The Grand Kids

Not So Little Drummer Boy

The grandkids got an interactive video game from Santa this Christmas. It has a guitar, microphone to sing along, and an electronic drumset. Fifteen yr. old Zach looks like he has natural talent as a drummer. Christmas Eve and Day we had fun enjoying each other's company. Jon and I restarted the Bushel Basket family tradition of giving white elephant gifts. Some were better than others. We gave Dave a heavy coil of used copper tubing that they tore out when they plumbed in our new AC. He looked puzzled. Not everyday you get that. It will fetch a few bucks at the recyclers.
Not your ordinary Christmas. One of my favorite things about this Christmas; son Andy said, "You know, we actually have a functional family. You hear so much about dysfunctional families." We enjoyed spending time together. We are blessed.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Oldies But Goodies ---- But, I Do Know That I Love You

I'm not sure just songs are "oldies, but goodies". Christmas Eve found us reminiscing about song lyrics from the 60's etc. My daugher in-law Jen said she remembered her parents singing (Sam Cook's) "Don't Know Much". My husband proceeded to sing, "Don't know much about hisory, don't know much about biology, don't know much about the meth I took, but I do know..." We howled. He insists he said "math". All of us heard "meth". After Jon vigorously defended himself to no avail, grandson Zach said, "Let's see your teeth." Jon whipped out his upper plate!

Life is never dull living with this guy.

You are now going to be humming that song all day. I think we all got the words wrong. It is "science book", not math I took. I found that out googling the lyrics.

Christmas Eve and Grandma and Grandpa's

Granddaughter Mina and grandson Zach. They are growing up to be delightful young people. We are so proud of them. Love, Grandma

Monday, December 24, 2007

Santa, You'd Better Watch Out.....

The Star

Jon took this picture on the beach on our recent trip. Guess what I was daydreaming about yesterday when the nasty blizzard-like weather hit. We didn't get a lot of snow, but we got an icy blast of wind with it. I had decided to change the church sign yesterday because I would be busy today. I have to put the letters on with bare hands for dexterity reasons. Then I found out that the freezing drizzle that started this storm had iced the letters I had to take down to the signboard. Two fingernails and some nearly frostbitten fingers later, I accomplished my task. The sign simply says, "Merry Christmas". I had asked the pastor if I could keep it short and sweet. I told him I just planned to put up "Happy Holidays". He laughed. I was teasing.
Anyway, we found one dead starfight on the beach and brought it home. It now decorates our Christmas tree. I think I will plug in those tree lights and gaze at that starfish and do a little Florida dreaming. Merry Christmas to you all.

Overcoming Advertisers Influence

I visited with a lady my age during the "coffee and cookies" fellowship after church yesterday. (No, I didn't have a cookie.) She talked about the holiday meals we would cook for family and both said we have stopped baking cookies in recent years. She talked about how baking something was such a "social thing" in the earlier years of her life. It was expected. When I woke up during the night tonight it occured to me how much we are influenced by Madison Avenue. For years Pillsbury had a popular jingle with it's ads; "Nothing Says Lovin' Like Something From the Oven." They also had the loveable Pillsbury doughboy. I think it was ingrained in my psyche that a good wife, mother, bakes for her family. What they don't sing about is that the baker will also eat all that stuff herself/himself and morph into the doughboy clone. I am now promoting a little less lovin' and a few more servings of vegetables. We will see how that plays at Christmas dinner tomorrow.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Special Special K

I have always been a list maker. This habit has not improved as I age. Now I really need to write it down. Years ago I would even construct lists of household chores I had done that day just to make myself feel like I was accomplishing something. Crazy. Maybe I left them on the frig so Jon would see I hadn't been lying on the couch all day eating bon-bons. What the heck are bon-bons anyway?

I always kept a running list of groceries/supplies needed posted on the refrigerator door. (I still do.) I had a euphemism for Kotex. I wrote "special K'. I guess I was embarrassed to have that posted for all to see. Sensitive aren't I. In all my married years I never once sent hubby to the convenience store for kotex. I bought it myself to save him embarrassment. I guess I am not so sensitive anymore because I am blogging about it....

Yesterday we went out to breakfast at our favorite greasy spoon diner. We order cooked breakfasts, but I happened to notice they had individual boxes of cereal on the shelf. On my diet for nearly a year now, I could have been ordering Total instead of eating around the egg yolks. More surprising than spotting the cereal was noting the size of the cereal boxes. They are 50% larger than the little individual boxes of cereal you buy in a six pack at the grocer. I asked our waitress if they were making them bigger recently. She said they buy them at Sam's Club that way. The box is bigger but there is still just one ounce of cereal inside. Go figure. So if you want "special" Special K you have to shop at Sam's Club or go to the River Oasis Cafe in Stillwater, MN. If you go to the River Oasis I would recommend the bacon and eggs anyway. Do glance up at the shelf with the cereal. I think it won't be there much longer. I read Walmart Corp. had given all their suppliers an edict to reduce packaging by 5% this year if they wanted to continue to sell to Walmart. (Walmart owns Sam's Club.) This would result in a huge saving for the big W. Less room taken up in storage, shipping and on the shelf. Perhaps the CEO of Walmart noticed those super-sized individual cereal boxes. On second thought, no rush to find the "super-sized little boxes". I am pretty sure none or few of the clientele at The Oasis order cereal. They come in for the hash browns, eggs, meat and good coffee. Those boxes may be there a long time.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Milestone

Happy Birthday today to my beautiful sister. (She doesn't wear that hat anymore.) Carolyn got the looks, the brains and the great legs. I am consoling myself with the fact I will always be two years younger. It won't matter much when we are 98 and 100, but she will have Willard Scott give her birthday greetings on the Today show before I will. Happy Birthday.

I'm My Own Grandpa

Redneck humor. Try to follow this line of thought.

In Either Case, I'm Still a Bird -- OR -- Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Note the time of this blog entry. (Actually, the clock on my computer is an hour slow.) Am I up late or early? I may be a rambling night owl or an early bird. Shucks. I went to bed at 10:30 and awoke at 1:05. Too early. Yesterday I slept until around 2:00 and needed a nap by 2:00pm.

I tried to fall back to sleep. I tried. Isn’t this the time of year when we should have visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads? I couldn’t imagine what a sugar plum looked like and certainly couldn’t dream of one. My mind wouldn’t shut down again. I pondered the thought that my college-aged son was still out at a local watering hole meeting other college kids home for the holidays. He is the night owl. I am the early bird.

I envisioned the actress in the Lunesta commercial in drugged sleep while the luminous green butterfly flits around her room. I carefully opened one eye. No butterflies. No reason not to sleep except perhaps I am having these strange thoughts and I need to write them on my blog. Poor you. You get the good with the bad in this online diary.

We are having our family photo taken today at 10:00. We are wearing costumes and doing it at one of those Old Tyme Photo places. You will recognize me. I will be the one with the raccoon eyes. (lack of sleep) Now that is a different animal and the musings of a different night. Good Night All.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Blue Christmas

We found out yesterday that one of Jon's cousins died. She was two years older than him. He grew up spending a lot of time with her when he was young. This vivacious woman suffered from Alzheimer's disease and slowly slipped away. I am also thinking it is a sad Christmas for my younger cousin John's family this year. He died suddenly in November at age 60. We have several church friends who have had recent deaths in their families or are battling serious illnesses. Watching this God Tube video helps put things in perspective. God knows our pain. If you are hurting this year, know he shares our heartaches and is there to strengthen us when we need it.

Weather Watch

For years I have heard that Minnesotans spend more TV time reporting weather than other parts of the country. After watching Florida's "weathercast" documenting our misery up north and their alarm at cold 70 weather, I wonder if that is true. Today I am up early and again considering the merit of a nighttime margarita. While online, I checked the local forecast. Now, I am puzzled by the meaning of "apparent temperature". ??? Don't they use sophisticated instruments to measure the temperature? At 3:00am does someone just stick their head out the door and say, "apparently it's not too cold"? Time to check my dictionary for another meaning for the word apparent.

From the St. Paul Pioneer Press website:

Current Conditions
For SAINT PAUL, MN. 55101Friday December 21, 2007Fog. Chilly.Temperature ... 33ºApparent Temperature ... 17ºHumidity ... 88% Winds ... S at 13mph Visibility ... 4
Weekly Detailed Forecast
Today ... Haze. High of 37º. Low tonight of 26º
Saturday ... Low clouds. High of 28º. Low tonight of 26º
Sunday ... Partly cloudy. High of 17º. Low tonight of 9º
Monday ... A mixture of sun and clouds. High of 20º. Low tonight of 6º
Tuesday ... A mixture of sun and clouds. High of 25º. Low tonight of 12º

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I found the local Curves

Old Fart Myers, Florida

We are settling into real winter after spending a week lazing at the beach in Ft. Myers. Because it is populated by many retired Yankees, Jon refers to it as "The Old Fart Capital of the World". Indeed there are many well-heeled octogenarians in those beautiful homes in the gated communities and high rise ocean view condos. The older full-sized Caddies are rust free and there is no shortage of Mercedes and BMW and Lexus dealers in Ft. Myers. We stayed on the strip of land known as Estero Island in Ft. Myers Beach. The tall, new condos seem to be winning but there are plenty of smaller cottages and tacky abodes left. I like the tacky "beach town look". Jon prefers the more elegant homes. I decided the difference in curb appeal is how nice the landscaping is. In areas with more expensive homes, you see streets lined with royal palms and more flowering bushes.
In our beach community I noticed many tourists from the UK and Germany. Perhaps the Hispanic clerks will have to be more than bilingual (speaking Spanish and English). Jon's uncle Bob says the Germans are snapping up foreclosed homes at bargain prices. Who would have thought.... December is slack season and the vacation was bargain priced. With the less scorching sun I was able to spend long periods in the sun without burning. I would go in Dec. again in a heartbeat.
We were lazy and had no pressing agenda. We went to see the Edison / Henry Ford homes which are decorated for the Christmas season with an abundance of poinsettias on the grounds. We skipped parasailing and deep sea fishing but found the fresh seafood restaurants that serve the daily catch of fish and shrimp off the boats. We had margaritas every evening as we watched the sun sink into the gulf and slept like babies. I can see why drinking can become a problem for the elderly. A drink every evening is more than I have had in a year. It also perked up my appetite and I have been doing penance ever since.
You have to love some of the quirky things you spot in Florida. We bought gas at a McDonalds that also had a full liquor store. In Minnesota they don't even let you smoke in McDonalds!
All the grocery stores sell wine and beer. The traffic is a pain in the neck. They build more condos and homes but don't build more roads to match.
The outdoor Christmas decorations featured a lot of different inflatable santas etc. In the morning they were all dead and deflated on the ground. Perhqaps the 85 degree days were too much for them. I loved the potted poinsettias outdoors. The wreaths look out of place. I preferred the palm tree trunks wrapped in lights. They had boat regattas with the vessels outlined with Christmas lights. While it seems odd to see Christmas decorations in a hot place, most of the world is like that. Most of the world does not have a white Christmas.
Jon thought it was too hot. I felt like it was nice and warm. The TV news continually reported the blizzards in the midwest and New England. At the end of the week they had their own crisis to deal with. These storms pulled cold air south causing the temps to drop to 50 overnight and 70 during the day. They gave detailed instructions about how to dress for the cold. Wear layers. Years ago we were in Orlando in January when the thermometer dropped to 29. They flashed a "baby alert". DO NOT TAKE INFANTS OUTDOORS, was the alert. How do kids survive in Minnesota?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Frosty Moments

Christmas Memories

This is my earliest Christmas memory. The photo was taken in 1946 when I was a few months short of two. In the background is my grandpa's tree and Christmas village. I remember when this was taken. I am the short one with the punkin face. My beautiful sister is standing beside me.

Tis Better to Give Than to Receive

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Not Ho, Ho, Ho...Ha, Ha, Ha

I blogged about my Universal Christmas Letter a couple weeks ago. It was a fill-in-the-blank form letter to use to facilitate writing the letter. I sent it to Bulletin Board at our local paper and they printed it. We have been gone for a week and tonight I caught up on the week's Bulletin Board entries online. I think I may have offended a few people and seemed too critical of those Christmas letters. Keep them coming. I enjoy them. I just had to tease a bit. I remembered my sister's comment years ago, "Why aren't my kids in the Olympics?"

I think I have found a kindred spirit after reading the response by The Wisconsin Wildcat. I laughed so loud Jon came to read what was so amusing. Here it is:

Christmas Letters Division
E-mail: "I am SO grateful to The MOM in Stillwater for providing that Universal Christmas Letter template! I jumped right on it and got'er done, and I just had to share it with you all:
"Dear Family and Friends,
"Greetings from the Wildcat family. 2007 has been a nother year for us. In desperation all of us traveled to the Twilight Zone. We flew on heavy medication. While we were there, we visited sanity. The shopping was great, and we purchased our first tranquilizers.
"The bills are growing up too fast. The Dog lettered in Carpet Puking. Uncle Bob is progressing nicely in prison and will perform a concert with The Sons of Johnny Cash. All of them made the honor roll.

All of them are considering trying out for the Olympic team. Not a single person in our family is especially gifted academically and wants to be a doctor. The snowplow driver wants to become a scientist and solve global warming. Johnny ('Judy') placed first in her first pageant. She hopes to continue on the pageant tour and compete for college scholarships. His/her application for toilet scrubber was accepted at Harvard and Yale.
"Sister Martha was promoted and is now senior Guinea Pig with Preparation H. I have been taking classes at night in Meth Labbing. I hope to open my own business selling online next year. Our financial advisor told us to diversify our portfolio, so we are looking at investments in seat covers for both vehicles. Our new QVC Full Line Cosmetic Kit will be tax deductible, as 'Judy' picks up clients at the airport with it.
"We plan to move next year and are talking to architects about building a new double-wide trailer home. We want the design to meet all of our desires. 'Mrs. Fantasy' wants a pool. We laughingly tell the 'architect' our son also needs room to store his vintage autos. We definitely will want bars on the windows in this neighborhood. I'll let you know when we have taken possession so you can visit us. We are planning a guest suite.
"My ex and family visited this summer. All of us had such fun catching up on each other's lives and playing tag using .44 magnums.
"August was our Bellevue Asylum reunion. Dad was class president so his special brand of psychotic delusion was on the organizing committee. We took a group of old friends out on the yacht.
"Hope your holidays are special.
"The Wisconsin Wildcat"

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Way Down Upon the Suwannee River

One more day. We have been looking forward to 78 to 83 degrees and sunshine. Online weather forecasts for midweek in Ft. Myers? 95 ! I know, I know, quit whining. We will suffer through it and might have to actually go in the water at the beach or our pool.

Both of us may suffer withdrawal symptoms from lack of a computer. I had better keep an eye on Jon. He has recently been telling me what a good idea it would be for ME to get a laptop. I wonder how far we will be from an electronics store.

Keep warm. See you in a week.

This is what Steven Foster wrote about:

Saturday, December 8, 2007


For the pet who has everything. They already have clothes, designer collars, fancy beds, doggie hotels, and pet wigs. Someone reached into their imagination and came up with another idea just in time for Christmas. I am not sure if this is a gift idea for the fastidious pet or the owner. It should save Fido an embarrassing moment.

Don't Be So Elfish

Tired of E-googling yourself? Try this. This is what I look like after the diet, ha ha. ( -83 today.)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Days of Infamy

December 7th. It is 66 years since our fleet was attacked at Pearl Harbor and thousands of servicemen killed. I grew up with my parents talking about it like it had happened recently. It had. Hard to believe it has been over six decades.

When America was attacked in 1941 young Americans quickly answered their country's call to arms. When America was attacked on 9/11, American men and women again stepped up to volunteer. We owe them a huge debt. So many have been wounded. Some laid down their lives. All who serve offer themselves for us and country. Thank you servicemen and women.

I received the following poem from friend Joan. I did not write it.

A Different Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light, I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight. My wife was asleep, her head on my chest, My daughter beside me, angelic in rest. Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white, Transforming the yard to a winter delight. The sparkling lights in the tree I believe, Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve. My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep, Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep. In perfect contentment, or so it would seem, So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near, But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear. Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow. My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear, And I crept to the door just to see who was near. Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night, A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight. A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old, Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold. Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled, Standing watch over me, my wife and my child. "What are you doing?" I asked without fear, "Come in this moment, it's freezing out here! Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve, You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!" For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift, Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.. To the window that danced with a warm fire's light Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right, "I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night." "It's my duty to stand at the front of the line, That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me, I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me. My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December," Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers." My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ', And now it is my turn and so, here I am. I've not seen my own son in more than a while, But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile. Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag, The red, white, and blue... an American flag. I can live through the cold and the being alone, Away from my family, my house and my home. I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet, I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat. I can carry the weight of killing another, Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.. Who stand at the front against any and all, To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall." "So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright, Your family is waiting and I'll be all right." "But isn't there something I can do, at the least, "Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast? It seems all too little for all that you've done, For being away from your wife and your son." Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret, "Just tell us you love us, and never forget. To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone, To stand your own watch, no matter how long. For when we come home, either standing or dead, To know you remember we fought and we bled. Is payment enough, and with that we will trust, That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Thursday, December 6, 2007

St. Nick's Day

It is December 6th. In much of the Christian world this is the day St. Nicholas brings treats to girls and boys. Bad kids get a lump of coal. I wonder where he finds that coal these days.

Here is my Ode to St. Nick. (Sing along to the familiar tune, Jolly Old St. Nicholas)

Jolly Old St. Nicholas

Jolly Old St. Nicholas
Lean your ear this way,
Don’t you tell the Enquirer
What I’m going to say.

Christmas Eve is coming soon
Now my dear old Santa
These are all our wishes and
Some we hope you grant, ah.

Jenny wants the plasma set
Wouldn’t that be jolly?
Mikey wants a Blue Ray, yet
Mary thinks its folly.

Andy wants a brand new car
Dave to win the lotto
Mom thinks all have gone too far
It’s more than Santa’s got, Oh--

Guitar Hero tops the list
Of games the teens now play
Sleds, and books and skates
It seems really are passé.

Danny thinks the rest of us
Have desires too imperial
His request I like the best
A box of junk food cereal.

When the clock is striking twelve
And we’re tucked in safe from harm
Down the chimney you will come
Setting off the burglar alarm.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Reality Bites....or Is it Reality Bytes? (In anticipation of the idols dancing into my life)

There is an ongoing television writers union strike. The networks are using up the episodes they have "in the can". Late night shows have been reruns for a month. I heard we can expect more "reality-type shows" that do not require talent to script them. Most of these we do not bother to watch or even sample. I am, however, an ardent "Dancing With the Stars" fan and going through withdrawal pains this week. My one consolation, "American Idol" is in the wings. In about a month we can again painfully watch as the talented and not-so-talented undergo tryouts. Jon once said he wondered if these people already knew they could not sing. I reminded him that someone we know performs regularly and she has no clue she always sings off key. I also went to school with a girl who would belt out a song if anyone asked. She also would have gotten thumbs down from the Dawg. Hope springs eternal. Some of these kids try out year after year and are sent packing. Sometimes the audience gets the last laugh and keeps voting them on week after week while sending home better singers. It all starts January 15th. I can't wait.

Nostalgic Tears

Something you may not know about me; I LOVE Roy Orbison! My regret? I never saw him in person. He was in the metro the year before he died and I thought about going but didn't. My family has compensated for that loss by buying his CDs as gifts and son Andy gave me a DVD of the "Black and White Concert" that PBS runs for fundraising week. I was high school age in the early 60's when he was crooning. Maybe it is memories of dancing cheek to cheek that grabs me. Memories of being seventeen. . Not much dancing after that ring was on my finger. Here is a sermon to you guys. Dancing is very romantic. Hearing Roy Orbison will guarantee to make me want to slow dance. Roy enjoyed a surge of popularity after he died when "Pretty Woman" was re-released. I still love, "Crying".

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

View of Our Deck

This picture should make snowbirds and people who have moved to a warmer clime feel good. It is heaping up here. Today I heard someone say they had recently sold their snowmobiles because they hadn't been able to use them in years. I got rid of my Xctry skis partly for that reason. The other day we stopped up at the nearby state park and they were grooming trails. It hasn't happened until Jan. for years. On the news they said retailers love the snow. It puts people in the mood to shop for Christmas. Jon waits until it stops snowing before going out to blow the snow. I will grab my shovel and clean up the deck and front entrance. Six days until the beach.

The Green Card Dilema

Every Christmas season brings the introduction of a new appliance you don't have and don't need. Marketers advertise heavily trying to convince us to buy this gadget for the person who has everything and needs nothing. This all seems a little ridiculous to me. Why do we shop for those who need nothing? Who has enough room in their kitchen to store these devices?

In past years we have seen devices to heat shaving cream, rotating wheels that heat a frozen pizza with lights, salad shooters, quesadilla makers and chocolate fountains. The new heavily pushed appliance this year is the margarita maker. I've seen a model for $150. We have been known to mix a margarita and did it easily by pouring from the bottle of premixed margaritas and adding ice, then blend. 1-2-3 easy, using my 1968 Osterizer blender. I don't think we need a margarita maker.

If you resist the kitchen appliances, and the guilt trip to buy diamonds, you can now buy a biodegradable gift card from Target. These "green" cards are made from a corn/sugar based product. Watch out. They may melt in your hand, not in your mouth. I wonder if they have an expiration date for the food content as well as the time you can shop.

Monday, December 3, 2007


Is it time to write that Christmas letter? A friend just emailed saying she dreaded writing that letter. It was always a challenge to relate the good news without sounding obnoxious. We have done Christmas letters in past years that seemed obnoxious even to me. Can’t help bragging a bit about the off spring. Maybe we could save time just filling in the blanks on this universal letter. Keep a copy on your computer and reuse it next year.


Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings from the ______________ family. 20__ has been a ___________ year for us.
In ___________ all of us traveled to ___________. We flew on ______________
While we were there, we visited _______________. The shopping was great and we purchased our first ______________.

The _______________ are growing up too fast. __________ lettered in ____________.
_____________ is progressing nicely in ______________ and will perform a concert with _____________. All of them made the honor roll. All of them are considering trying out for the Olympic team. _________________ is especially gifted academically and wants to be a doctor. ______________ wants to become a scientist and solve global warming. ___________ placed first in her first pageant. She hopes to continue on the pageant tour and compete for college scholarships. __________ was accepted at Harvard and Yale.

_____________ was promoted and now senior _________ with ___________. I have been taking classes at ____________ in ___________. I hope to open my own business selling online next year. Our financial advisor told us to diversify our portfolio so we are looking at investments in ___________. Our new Maserati will be tax deductible as _________ picks up clients at the airport with it.

We plan to move next year and are talking to architects about building a new __________________. We want the design to meet all of our desires. ___________wants a pool. __________ needs room to store his vintage autos. ___________ want ______________. I’ll let you know when we have taken possession so you can visit us. We are planning a guest suite.

My _________ and family visited this summer. All of us had such fun catching up on each others lives and playing _____________.

August was our ___________reunion. ___________ was class president so __ was on the organizing committee. We took a group of old friends out on the yacht.

Hope your holidays are special.


-80 Today. Yeah. Not the temperature, my progress with that scale.

7 days until Florida. I have felt okay about "going to the beach" because the gulf coast is known as a haven for the older set. Yesterday's travel section of the the Sunday paper was about Ft. Myers Beach. Apparently the north end of the island where we are staying is known more for attracting a younger beach crowd. I am hoping that is not true in December. This is not spring break time or even Christmas holiday time yet. Wish me luck. I may be 80# less but still 62. Too many numbers.
42 - 10. Heh, how about them Vikings? I am definitely a fair weather fan and now starting to get interested. It is more fun to have them start the season lousy and finish well than the other way around.
6 inches of snow fell over the weekend. Everything is clean and white. I love watching for the bunny tracks in our yard. I miss the kid tracks in our back yard. The northeast is getting blasted with a Monday am snowstorm. That does make a mess during commute to work. 20 inches is expected in the higher elevations in northern New England. Then, I think I heard that forecast here too. Weathermen get a little carried away with their predictions.
22 days until Christmas. Our tree is up and some indoor decorations in place. I never did get around to putting up any outdoor lights. Maybe it will warm up a little and I will do that later.
Without number; the things I am grateful for this year.
7 x 70: the friends and acquaintances who need a hug or word of encouragement this year. We know so many people who are experiencing trials and pain this year. One dear lady who will bury her week old grandson tomorrow, another with a depressed and sick daughter, others with a child going through a divorce, hospitalizations, accidents with injuries. The stores are festivally decorated masking the pain many have in their lives facing a cheerful season when they do not feel cheerful. So, I guess it doesn't matter if the Vikings win nor lose. It doesn't matter if I am fat or thin. It doesn't matter if our bushes have lights on or not. It doesn't matter if our commutes to work are slowed by snow. What does matter is giving an encouraging word or hug to someone who may not be feeling like they can face Christmas. May His peace be with all of us.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Maybe You Can Take It With You...

This is a rerun of our "Jon and Jane at the Pearly Gates" picture. We took it last July @ St. Peter, Mn's public display of questionable public spending. Jon thought we should use it on our Christmas card. Plans have changed. Expect a picture of us at the beach with a "wish you were here caption". Eight more days until Ft. Myers!!

It has been a cold week in Lake Wobegon. We were jolted into winter with wind chills in the -15 degree range and 6 inches of snow yesterday. One night, while we cuddled before falling asleep, Jon remarked this was like we would be cuddled (or perhaps huddled ) together in our columnbarium. Our columnbarium is in a stone wall out on the prairie in central Minnesota. It didn't seem like it was going to be warm and cozy to me. The first words out of my mouth, "It will be colder than hell there." That is kind of a good thing--colder than hell, I mean. With our planned cremation, at least we will be getting a warm sendoff. When we were at the Mall of America last week I stopped at the "As Seen On TV" shop and bought a space bag to store our goose down comforter. They are over-priced, but at least you do not have to pay shipping and handling when you buy at the store. Maybe we can compress that comforter in the space bag and have our kids stuff it in the space in our columnbarium. Maybe you can take it with you.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Not So Easy Rider

Evil Knievel died yesterday. I wonder if my kids remember him. He was a headline grabbing, attention getting daredevil motorcycle stuntman of a few decades ago. I can't understand why anyone would do the things he did, but I am not a daredevil. Going on a Ferris Wheel has become daring behavior for me. Truly.

Evil was not his given name. I remember his telling of how he acquired that name. He was in jail and his cellmate was Awful Knaufel. Evil Knievel seemed a natural choice. He did live a rough life. I am not sure how his mom would felt about that name change. I think kids sometimes live up to their names. (Plain Jane comes to mind.)


We have been warned. It is going to snow. Stock up. Hide out. Hunker down. The warnings started several days ago and the intensity of the message grew each day. Winter is here. The TV people who are scaring us are the same ones who collect money for ads from retailers who want us out there shopping. I think the retailers hate to see a weekend wasted. They always seem to have stocked too much merchandise and the economy of the nation depends on us. I don't feel guilty. We are doing very little shopping retail this year. Wonderfully liberating posture.

I cut my walking short this morning and wussed out. Darn, that wind was cold and I have done well all week anyway. Soon after I got home it started to snow. If you have lived in a cold clime you know when it snows big flakes that won't amount to much snow. When it snows small flakes but looks like a whiteout, you are going to have to get your snowblower out. It is doing the latter.

I ran to the library to pick up two books I had reserved. I also topped off the frig with a new gallon of milk. We are good. I would hate to run out of reading material. We have a beautiful new public library. Recently they added a coffee shop and the first thing I noticed this morning when I came in the door was the smell of coffee. I didn't even need to buy a cup. Just the combination of books and coffee made my day.

Jon has a fire blazing in the woodstove in the shop attached to the garage. We sat with our coffee and listened to "Car Talk". Tonight we will listen to "A Prairie Home Companion" and maybe roast a hot dog. I think I can handle a day of snow. This is nothing like the homesteaders on the prairie a hundred years ago. No snowblower. No TV. No radio. No public library. No 4 wheel drive vehicle. No central heat and animals to worry about. Maybe I will reread, "Giants of the Earth" and count my blessings.

R. O. K.

Random Acts of Kindness. I don't think we coined the phrase, but our church encourages doing the little extra things to brighten peoples' days. They have calling cards printed that say, "Just for you, Just because God loves you." The idea is to do something unexpected and leave your card. It could include picking up someone's bill in a restaurant (such as a serviceman or woman), over-tipping, helping a young mom who has her hands full trying to wrangle a couple toddlers and push that grocery cart to her car. Try tipping the fast food people. Don't forget the one who cleans your hotel room. You will get a smile. Who knows what good effects can come from your actions. My husband has scooted out to help the garbageman load our sacks of leaves on the truck. Stiffle your gripes. Wait patiently. Let another ahead of you in line. Try a little tenderness. Give a smile today. It might make all the difference in the world to another. I think this is a key to true happiness. It will come back to you.