Sunday, August 31, 2008

Convening in the North Metro

Pictures from Little A & Little B's first party. The party was in Mike and Mary's patio, yard and garage. Mike's garage makes men jealous.

It Could Be a Big Blow to Two Towns

After two years of anticipation and preparation, Hurricane Gustav may postpone or diminish the GOP Convention in St. Paul. The morning paper says John McCain will only visit by satellite if it strikes the Gulf Coast cities as a 5. Of course the president and vice-president would cancel.
That would be a disappointment here, but the real disaster would be in the coastal cities. This warning will be heeded. People are evacuating, but another great property loss would probably doom future rebuilding. In this part of the country the land would be designated a flood plane and left fallow. Isn't that reasonable? This choice seems practical to those not personally involved, but must be devastating if that is your home.
So many people have generously poured their sweat, flexed muscles and donated money to help rebuild after Katrina. Our church and many others sent work crews and funds to help. Tough, determined people have rebuilt and resettled only to be threatened again with wind and water. Our hearts and prayers are with them. We pray this storm lesssens and they are spared.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Anxiously Awaiting Tuesday November 4th

I am anxious for the big event--the hype--the revelation. I am anxious for the buildup the weeks before--the anxious hours and moments on the last day. November 4th. It will be a nailbiter. It has been a long time coming. Seems like years but it has really only been since February that the major players were announced. November 4th is Mary's due date for those twins!

We don't know their names yet. One boy. One girl. With a possibility of an election day birthday, how about Sarah Jo and John Barach? I don't think that will fly.

Today we are going to a barbeque/shower hosted by friends and Mike's aunt and mom for the babies.
This is what I put on our gift:

Little A and Little B
Welcome kids to the family.
Mike & Mary thought they’d be 3
Adding one bambino to the family tree.

What a surprise when the Dr. said “two”
We’ve watched mom’s tummy as you grew and grew
I’ve seen you on ultrasound, it’s twins –it’s true
Election Day, November 4th, is when you‘re due.

Daddy and mommy are preparing the way
To welcome you here on your birthday
The nursery is painted, the layette put away
A safe delivery –the grandparents will pray.

I Like Her Glasses

First words out of my mouth when I heard John McCain's VP pick yesterday, "Sarah who?"
I did some homework on the web reading about Sarah Palin and watching her speech on You tube. My conservative brother in law seems to approve. She seems to meet the approval of Dobson and Limbaugh who remarked , "We have a babe on the ticket". Rush said that, not Dr. Dobson. No wonder Hillary and him don't get along.

I am glad to see a woman in the mix. This past week I figured McCain would pick a woman. I guessed the wrong woman. I also figured our governor was not from a state with enough votes. Wrong there. Alaska has a smaller population. This was an effort to appease conservatives and balance the ticket. She is a beauty and I like her glasses. She looks like Hollywood's choice as the first female president. I always thought if we had a female president we might have less war. Less testosterone=more diplomacy. I'm not sure about this gun-totin' mama and will reserve judgment until I am better informed.

Tim Pawlenty had charm, youth, social conservatism and more administrative experience than Gov. Palin. Was he passed over because he was a man? Has anyone cried "Sexism"? Gives one pause. There are now more women who attend college. Can it be long before men have minority status in power positions? Will men's support groups thrive? Should I be concerned about my grandsons' future?

If Minnesotans don't have a governor in the race, we will have to focus on our senatorial campaign. Mr. Franken and Sen.Coleman are slinging mud already. This is more than a local race. It is about the balance in the senate. While both major parties are pouring money and ideas into our senate election, they had better keep an eye on Dean Barkley. He is running as an Independent candidate for senator. Barkley was the campaign manager for our illustrous former Gov. Ventura. They grew the third party quietly garnering independent voters. They showcased Jesse as a cheeky independent--a third choice. They beat Norm Coleman in that race. Ventura has sulked away and lives in the Baja region of Mexico. Barkley went on to manage Kinky Freidman's Texas campaign. He didn't promote that guy as well. Maybe Texans are more savy. Maybe they liked their first two choices on the ticket. Maybe Minnesotans don't and you will hear more from Mr. Barkley. Time to watch those independent voters.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Not Wings. Not Paul McCartney. More like Linda Eastman. Wing on You Tube at a sold out performance in San Francisco. Wonder what they were smoking. She is a cult favorite and verifies that all those bad contestants on American Idol probably don't know they are bad.

Home Alone

I'm tagging along with my friend Mary today and volunteering at an adult day care facility most of the day. They are having a Labor Day barbeque and need a few extra hands to get the clients outdoors.
Jon will be home alone. Not a bad thing to have the house to yourself for a day. He already told me he plans to cut the grass. I told him not to. Too wet. There is a soggy corner in our yard and we had 2.5 inches of rain yesterday. When he uses the riding mower, which he will, it leaves deep ruts. I guess I am a control freak. He can figure it out by himself.
Hope I don't get a call to bail him out of jail. The squirrels who raid our bird feeder have been getting his goat. We have hummingbirds and lots of goldfinches at those feeders and a few big, plump-tailed leaping rodents. When Jon spots them he reaches for the BB gun. I cringe. Not legal in town and what about the neighbor's cats who slink around back there? Still he continues to take pot shots at those squirrels. I don't know if they learn from hearing BBs whiz by their heads. I don't think the gun is true enough to hit anything. A couple days ago I thought I heard him chasing one around the house and shooting. I was wrong. He only does it from the deck. Just call him Bwana. Great White Hunter. Score so far: Jon -- 0. Squirrels--a lot of nice snacks. I'm not sure anyone can win in a head to head match with them. So far the cats look healthy.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Out on a Limb

I'm going to go out on a limb with a political prediction. Should know tomorrow how this turns out. I think John Mc Cain is going to pick a woman as his running mate. A Texan, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson is my guess. I was leaning toward our Governor, but don't think he is well enough known around the country and we are a state with a smaller number of votes.

Hurricane Gustav is taking aim at the Gulf Coast and may hit New Orleans on Labor Day, the day the Republican Convention starts. He may need to do something to upstage a hurricane. Picking a woman would get attention. Oprah and Caroline Kennedy are already alligned with the opposition. There are other women who are republican but it would be hard to resist having a Texan on the ticket.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Are Those Blue Eyes I See?

Baby update: They are 3# 10 oz apiece by ultrasound. The little guy is the one dancing on his mom's bladder. He is heads up, feet down. Still time to do a somersault and line up correctly.

30 wks. Mary is feeling better.

Leftovers - Poe-purr-e - Things to Ponder

Yes, I know how to spell pot pourri. I just like this better. My excuse for this rambling? It is a rainy day. A rarity this summer. We have kept the flowers and lawn alive dragging the hoses around the yard. Very little rain this summer.

Today it is raining. It is gray and dreary and not raining much. Add that to Olympic withdrawal and I am bored. It is my fault. There are a lot of things I could do. I took a nap this afternoon.

My mom always used up leftover food. Don't waste. The children in China are starving. Not anymore, mom. They looked pretty healthy to me but we saw what the government wanted us to see.

Here are my leftover musings. Not long enough for a story of their own.

Quote from Bob Dylan: "Fishing is about timing. You should have been here yesterday."

Always yesterday. The truth is, I live in a state of 4 million people and 2 million boats. (Those numbers are close.) Any suspense why there aren't any fish left in the lakes?

If you are a gardener you may agree that if you plant one zucchini plant you won't be able to consume or give away the produce. Tomatoes are more welcome. Even if you have a lot of plants you will be watching and waiting for them to ripen.

I was so bored last night that I tuned in the Democrat Convention just to see what color pantsuit Hillary Clinton was wearing. Could she have won if she had worn a dress occasionally? I am not pointing fingers. I don't care. If I had to stand on a stage like she does, a dress might seem risky with all those photographers standing below. Barack Obama NEVER wore a dress and won anyway.

Every year the State Fair Board in Minnesota allows vendors to audition new food for the fair. Best applicants put it on a stick. This year's hottie is chocolate covered bacon on a stick called a "Pig Licker". The vendors make enough $$$ selling their product during those ten days to live on all year. The new foods, which are usually deep fried and greasy, are heavily promoted by the media. The media also carries commercials for Boston Scientific, Guidant and St. Jude Medical --the makers of cardiac stents. See a conspiracy here, or at least a conflict of interest?

The new bridge over the Mississippi in Minneapolis that replaces the collapsed bridge will soon be finished. It took less than a year to build start to finish. Stillwater has been trying to get the State and Feds to replace our antiquated bridge since the 1960's. That is slated to happen in 2024. Maybe we have to take a dive too.
With all the time in the world I have not cooked dinner. I am serving leftovers for that too.

Grand Old Appartchiks

Word Game or Game of Words?

We saw a giant snow gauge on the Keneenaw Peninsula in MI last week and took a picture. A couple of days ago I blogged about it and inserted the picture. I thought I had coined a new word calling it a snowmometer. Wrong. After Googling that I found many have referred to giant snow measuring sticks as snowmometers.

Today’s morning Pioneer Press has a story about Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s adventures in Pennsylvania. The article refers to “Republican appartchiks.” I had never heard the term appartchik” and reached for the dictionary. Webster defines an appartchik as a member of a Communist apparat.

Joe McCarthy may come out of his grave. Linking the GOP with a Communist movement? McCarthy was a member of the Grand Old Party. Now is his reputation safe as a fighter of Communism?

Now that I know the meaning of appartchik and snowmometer I may become a better Scrabble player although one only has seven letters to make a Scrabble word. Perhaps I can add on to an existing word. Would I be challenged by the other players? I don’t think snowmometer is in the dictionary –yet.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Here Come Da Judge

Texas had the hanging judge, Judge Roy Bean. That was years ago when he dispensed frontier justice that touted, "hang 'em first, try 'em later". (Let God sort them out.) Courts are hopefully more fair now by the Rio Grande.

Stillwater has "the marrying judge", Judge Howard Albertson. This kindly octagenarian judge served decades in Washington County and married thousands of local couples. Several years ago he opened his beautiful homesteaded farm for weddings. He is an avid gardner and the grounds are gorgeous. After recent cardiac problems he announced he was closing the farm to weddings. He would continue to marry couples at other venues. He married our oldest son and wife at Stillwater's Pioneer Park fifteen years ago.

Sunday Albertson Farm was open to the public for tours for a donation to the local food shelf. We had never seen it and went. There are beautiful outdoor flower gardens, gazebo, waterfall feature, boot hill cowboy cemetery and a restored barn decked out in vintage cowboy furnishings. Fun place. I imagine a few 2009 brides are in tears knowing they cannot be married at Albertson Farm.

I'm Sirius. The Times, They are a Changing -or- Looking For My Misplaced Youth

Remember when you watched public television because they didn’t have commercials?
Remember when everyone drank free water from the tap?
Remember predictions of every home having a computer and wondering what you would do with one? Keep recipes on file?
We may be adding remember free radio to that list in the future.

Our new car came with satellite radio. It has a cute little fin above the rear window that is the antenna. A three month free trial subscription to Sirius-XM radio came with the car. I eyed this suspiciously. A distraction. I am the primary driver of the car, but figured my husband would have that and his new portable GPS taking his eyes off the road, not to mention the car doesn’t have a cigarette lighter so now he uses both hands to light his cigarette while he drives the car. How long do you think we will keep this car wrinkle free?
I am a nag. I admit it. I frequently remind him it is the family who decides how long your keep your keys and license as you age. Yesterday I ran local errands and found myself constantly fiddling with the radio myself. So many choices. My keys may be the first to be confiscated. I found a favorite station and hate to admit what it is. SBXM Café. Spelled out, that is “Starbucks Café”. It is under the rock genre and plays a nice variety of newer bluesy, folksy music, but liking Starbucks Cafe puts me in the league with soccer mom minivan drivers.

We found Bob Dylan’s radio show on XM last week. It is called Theme Time Radio Hour and we loved it. I am “from the 60’s” and grew up listening to him through the acoustic years to the electrified sound to the garbled, mumbled years when he was seriously drunk and drugged. Liked him through all that. Now he is sober and still charming and cool. Using the word “cool” certainly dates me, but he is. His voice is clearer now that he is abstaining. You can understand what he says. It is how he says it that still wins my heart. He has a voice like a graded gravel road and the cadence still resembles that from “Every---body-—must—get—stoned!”

He was Bobby Zimmerman when he grew up in Hibbing, MN. He started his music career singing in coffee houses near the U of MN. I think my sister saw him at The Scholar in the very early 60’s. He was a folk hero until he plugged in his guitar.

Bob Dylan. Hipster and durable musician. Now he is a disc jockey/ radio host. Still cool. Still charming and looking good. It won’t matter much if he looks good. He can do radio another 20-30 years. No one will know what he looks like. He just needs that voice. Listen for yourself on his website.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jon at the Gay Bar and Grill

This fine eating and drinking establishment is in the tiny, tiny town of Gay, MI. Vending machine dispenses live bait. Not the vending service you would expect at the Gay Bar & Grill but we didn't expect to find the Gay Bar & Grill in this remote, rustic area either.

No Monk e-business Here

We had driven to the little town of Laurium, MI years ago in search of a good pasty. Folks in Houghton pointed us to a little cafe called Toni's as the best place to eat a pasty. "No carrots in their pasties" was one reason they recommended this place. The Cornish do not like carrots in their pasties.

This year I wanted to drive along the shore out to the end of the peninsula. To Copper Harbor where the ferry leaves 0n a 56 mile trip to Isle Royale National Park, an off shore island closer to Minnesota than Michigan.

We took the scenic, winding lake hugging road. Near Eagle Harbor we spotted a cottage-like little business called The Jampot. The sign said jams and bakery and drew us inside the tiny building. We were surprised to see chokecherry, wild berry jams, honey, fruitcakes and goodies bearing the label "Poorrock Abbey". Looking up we saw a monk working the cash register. He was bearded and dressed in orthodox looking robes. He told us this was owned by Byzantine Monks. We bought jam, honey and ginger cookies and left.

About a block down the road and around a curve we saw an unusual site for this area; a big golden wooden building with onion domes bearing crosses. Very unusual site in this sparsely populated area. We stopped to take a picture and spotted a monk on a ladder washing windows.
The Abbey. Built on the rocky shoreline stood gleaming in the sunshine.

That evening we talked to the owner of a tiny general store in Eagle River. He knew about the abbey and The Jampot store. He did not like the fact the monks had refused to let the snowmobile trail run through their property. He thought they were standoffish. I'm not sure he understands the monastic life.

I found their website to do a little research. I knew the Byzantine rite was a branch of the Roman Catholic church but was interested in why they settled where they did. It seemed oddly like modern day pioneering, but I guess that is the history of all monasteries. Interesting. You can buy jam by mail from them but no website sales. No monk -e -business.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Snowmometer near Copper Harbor, MI

News this morning says somewhere in Florida three feet of rain fell yesterday. Three feet. Thirty-six inches. Depending on the moisture content, an inch of rain equals 10 - 12 inches of snow. That was a lot of rain and would be a big pile of snow.
I'm thinking about snow after seeing the snow gauge out on the Keneenaw Peninsula in the UP of Michigan. Click on the picture to read the gauge. It shows last years snowfall with the record snowfall recorded at the top of the snowmometer. In 1978-79 they had 32 feet of snow. No wonder snowmobiling and skiing are big here. Lake effect snow. Good thing hurricanes don't happen in winter and drift north. It could be worse.

Okay, Everyone Fall In

It seems like a few weeks ago I was contemplating signs of spring or summer’s arrival.
Looks like the next season up is sliding quickly our way.
Garden mums are for sale at the grocery store and I planted mine yesterday.
There are lots of ripe tomatoes on our vines.
The Sunday newspaper is fat and thick with ad circulars hawking back-to-school clothes, computers and dorm furnishings.
The state fair is here.
We’re sleeping with the windows open and the AC is at rest.
Roasting a turkey and baking gingerbread is appealing.
The Olympics are over.
I spotted a couple neighborhood girls loading containerized stuff in the back of a pickup truck yesterday. Freshman orientation at college is beginning.
The squirrels bombed us with acorns this morning as we sat on the deck drinking our morning coffee. We are under a big oak tree. Those flying rodents may hold a grudge that we cut down a tree they nested in( last fall). They seemed to take aim at us, dropping acorns.
The Democrats are meeting tomorrow in Denver.
The Republicans are coming to St. Paul next week.
Did you notice how nice downtown St. Paul looks?
I need a sweater when I walk early in the morning.
I need a sweater when I walk later in the morning too.
My husband thinks the weather is perfect.
Must be fall already.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Is That You Gov'ner?

Jesse Ventura called them “Jackals”. Media Jackals. Well, the “jackals” are circling like vultures around both Obama and McCain these past few days trying to scoop who their VP picks might be.
In Minnesota our boy governor, Tim Pawlenty, has been named as someone on the short list to share the ticket with John McCain.
I like Pawlenty. Some don’t. He came into office when the state was broke and made deep cuts in spending that offended some. I don’t think he had a choice. The state cannot print more money and run on a deficit like the federal government.
Pollsters say if Pawlenty was on the ticket with McCain, they would take Minnesota, which is now considered a swing state. A favorite son would give them a 13% lead over Obama who is now ahead here. The governor is socially and fiscally conservative and young and make the ticket more appealing to some. The poll shows he would sell well with independents. He has his detractors but did win election twice.
Here is my question: Why don’t the two major party candidates pick the governors of each state as the VP on their ticket? Different ticket in each state. Run with Pawlenty in Minnesota, Romney in Massachusetts, Schwartzenegger in California etc. That way they could have favorite sons everywhere their party had a man or woman in the governor's mansion.

You think that wouldn’t be fair because the big states would have more clout? You think that is a bad system? How about the one we have now that still uses an electoral college vote? I can’t see the difference between the electoral college system and the one I am suggesting.

Persons my age or better remember national political conventions and deals made in smoke filled rooms. The smoke filled rooms are gone and candidates are picked months before in primaries and caucuses. Decades ago, politically savy conventioneers withheld support of a candidate on the first ballots by nominating their states "favorite son". This was a senator or governor from their state. It gave them leverage. The front runners made deals to get their votes. Conventions were televised nail-biters back then. We are missing out on some drama when we preselect the ticket.
Face it Democrats and Republicans, this race may be tipped by uncommitted independents. The governors are proven winners on their turf and could add a layer of excitement and chaos that would make us forget Florida’s voting system. Win one for the Gov’ner.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dancing Queen

Daughter Mary is almost 30wks pregnant now. Her check-up yesterday showed Little Miss A lined up first. "She is dancing on my bladder", Mary said. It will be interesting to watch that little girl grow up. When I went for the 26 wk ultrasound she was kicking her brother in the head. He was consoling himself by sucking on his thumb. Now she is insisting on being first to be born. Who do you think will be ruling the roost in that twindom? Dancing Queen indeed.I
Googled to get a sample of the Abba hit, "Dancing Queen" to put on the blog. I love that music. This is what I got for free. Scroll down and click on the Dancing Queen song on CD 9. I think I am a new fan of "Wing". Be sure to sample the Beatles cover, especially "I Wanna Hold Your Hand."
Like we say in Minnesota, "Sure is different".

By the Shores of Gitche Gumme

We spent the night in Baraga, MI this past Monday. My sister in-law of 37 years is buried there. She divorced my husband's brother ten years before she died and my niece and nephews chose to bury her by her parents and brother in the tribal cemetery. She was Obijway, but lived most of her life in California. Now she rests in a simple cemetary plot near her hometown by the shores of Lake Superior. I would have gone back too if that had been my childhood home.
We weren't sure where her grave was and first walked the cemetary closer to town without finding her grave. Someone told us the tribal cemetary was a little further up the road. Jon did not hold much hope for spotting it. I insisted he let me get my morning exercise walking up and down looking. He dropped me off and the first headstone I spotted was her parents. She is by them in the family plot. Many of the older graves are marked with simple wooden crosses. The crosses will probably not last like the granite will. A good reminder. "Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return." Words spoken at Catholic Ash Wednesday services.

Krazy Kat

Scene from our deck this morning, our neighbor's cat who makes the rounds in our yard. He usually lounges in the garden and pounces on unsuspecting dragonflies. Occasionally he plops in the bonfire pit. White cat. Bad plan. We have been fertilizing and watering the grass and it is soft and green. Can't understand the desire of a cat to stretch out in the ashes.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Made in America?

Seen in Calumet, MI. An American car with a bit of customizing. Bet Miss Liberty seldom gets a speeding ticket.
I wish I had gotten photos of a couple other whimsical vehicles; a big, long, vintage car painted like the "batmobile" and a truck with a moose rack mounted on top. The antlers reached far over the sides of the pickup and must have been 6 or 7 feet across.

We road tested our new Hyundai and were pleased. The sticker rates it as 32/mpg but we got 34.5 mpg when we drove 60mph on the highway. That drops with stop and go driving or faster speeds but overall still about 31. It is made in America but mostly by robots, not flesh and blood Americans.

They Do Call Them "Pasties" in the UP

I took pictures of just two of the many signs I saw for pasties. One pasty, two pasties. Ate one two at Toni's Cafe in Laurium, MI on the Keneenaw peninsula out by Copper Harbor. Everytime we asked someone in the area where to get the best pasty, they recommended this place.

We were at Toni's about 10:30am and I was afraid it would be too early to get a pasty. No problem. Later we saw them making them production line style in the kitchen. A waiter said they serve about 200 / day. Record is 900/ day.

Jon had a big, hot cooked breakfast complete with a cinammon roll for dessert. I had the pasty and raspberry cobbler with ice cream. We both had coffee. The bill was $13.65. If I go broke I may move there. Looked like you could get a good deal on a modest home in that town. It is an economically depressed area with friendly, hardworking people who are resilient enough to withstand cold, snowy winters. Maybe I would just live there in the summer and winter in Arizona unless I found an active chapter of Scrabble or Cribbage players.

Laurium, MI is also the hometown of George Gipp of Knute Rockne and the Four Horseman fame. "Win one for the Gipper" is a line uttered by a young Ronald Reagan when he acted in a movie about Gipp and the famous Notre Dame football squad. They have a memorial to George Gipp in a pocket park in the town.

This is a quote from young George to famed coach Knute Rockne uttered on his deathbed. It may sound familiar if you saw the spoof of this in the movie "Airplane".

"Acclaimed for his football prowess and natural athletic talent, it is undoubtedly the parting words to his coach that fuels his legend. As lore has it these words were spoken from his deathbed:"I've got to go, Rock. It's all right. I'm not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys -- tell them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper.I don't know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy."As Gipp requested, these words were used to inspire “the boys” in the November 1928 game against Army, and they did “Win one for the Gipper.”

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Other Coast

Time for a little R & R. We can't spend a summer without some refreshing time at "our" shore. Jon and I are heading up to the UP of Michigan this morning. With our youngest now living at home again, we can turn our flower watering duties over to him.
We are anxious to hear seagulls, eat pasties, and see those vistas over the waterand watch those gentle waves.
Around Munising, MI there are shipwreck tours. Might do that. There was a lot of shipping on the great lakes years ago. They did not have the benefit of good weather forecasting and GPS or radar and the lake claimed a lot of boats and lives.
The area has old copper mines and pasties were the food miners carried in their lunch pails. (rhymes with nasty) They are the original "hot pockets" and a lot more tasty than the frozen ones.
Maybe it is my Norwegian Viking blood, but I am drawn back to that big, cold lake and feel cheated if we don't get there once or twice a year.
When I blog, I usually look on the Internet for a picture or website to use. As I was finishing this mornings blog, I Googled "pastie" for info and got a surprise. Definition: a small, adhesive circle to cover the nipple. Sorry. Honest error. Didn't mean to go there. The delicious miners' lunch is spelled "pasty". Bet I remember that now. But how do you spell the plural of pasty? Think I will just order one pasty at the restaurant.

Today's Meditation

Sunday, August 17, 2008

That's a Lot of Bull

The men's group at our church is named "The Bulls". No, the womens' group is not the Cows. The Bulls are going on retreat to a lake camp this week. During the announcements at church this morning, the "Bulls" who are going on retreat were asked to meet for a few minutes after the service in the nursing moms' room. Oh, my. Everyone laughed. He added, better knock first.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Greek Week

Me and about 5 or 6 billion other people have spent recent evenings monitoring Olympic favorites. Michael Phelps. Lots of hype about Michael Phelps. Today on "Today" there was an interview with his mom. Michael was an ADHD kid growing up. Medicated on school days to help him focus. He seems pretty focused right now. Chalk one up for the ADHD kids! Chalk one up for his mom and coaches who channeled that energy and gave him direction. Nice story.
Starting Sunday, for five evenings, I have waited to see Mike's event. I also stayed up later than usual to see the end of the women's overall gymnast competition. Five nights in a row I dozed off and missed part of what I had wanted to see. I'm grateful I could catch up in the re-plays. I tried drinking more coffee later in the day. I tried Coke. I still dozed off and missed things I wanted to see. (Another kind of attention deficit on my part.)
That experience jolted another thought. Sometimes I live my life missing wonderful moments. Missing opportunities to tell people I care about how important they are to me. Missing opportunities to do things for others. Not being aware. Too comfortable. Too well-fed. Forgive me and thanks for taking the time to read this blog.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Royal Oui

Yesterday I had time to more thoroughly peruse the Parnell family book my cousins -in-law published for the recent reunion. Toward the end of the book is a page titled, "Descendants of Kings of France and England". It tracks our ancestors back to generation 28 where we are found in the lineage of Louis VI, King of France in the 11th century. In generation 29 is William the Conquerer (1027-1087). Remember the Battle of Hastings? The Norman King who was William the Conquerer, first King of England? Kin.

Jon smiled when I showed him the list. Not a believer. Lots of people claim to be descended from royalty and there are a lot of fraudulant claims. Who knows. Anyway, there they are. Names. Dates. Kings. He reminded me that in his geneological quest he discovered his family name is a derivative of Baltezar, one of the three Magi (also kings). He does not have the actual names and dates like us. Also puzzling, Baltezar was the black king and Jon's family is the poster child for Aryan nation: natural blonds with blue eyes. Hmmmm.

I emailed my eleven yr. old grandaughter Mina telling her what I found. She is quite impressed.

I also called it to the attention of my sister who responded now she was "entitled" to be called Madame Queen. Madame Queen is how she refers to herself. We have smiled about this for years. Her husband and sons have always treated her like a queen. Her wish is their command. All in good humour.

If my sister is "Madame Queen", what am I? Too old to be a Princess, although that is what Anne of England is still titled. You can only have one Queen in the family. Would I just be Madame? Madame Jane vs Jane the Madame? Doesn't have quite the same ring of respectability to it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

How To Recognize a Knock-off

You can spend almost as much for a designer handbag as we did for the mortgage on our first home many decades ago. Designer stiletto shoes--$1300. "Sex and the City" effect? Vanity? Too much spending $$$$ ?

I bought a Dolce & Gabbana knockoff a few years ago and people noticed. Didn't use it long before the stitching unraveled. Didn't get many admiring remarks after that, but it was hard for the untrained eye to spot the difference initially.

There is a simple test my sister shared for recognizing a knock-off high priced bag. If the woman is wearing it with a dress from Walmart--probably not the real thing.

Yes, I Can

Catching Olympic fever, I have increased my exercise program. I am hopeful being more fit will pay off in a healthy, longer life. Maybe this program is something you would like to try, so I will share it with you.

Car Talk Too

When we knew we needed a car, Jon searched online for the best deal. You are then contacted by salesmen from the various dealerships. He found one named Lisa who was the most helpful. That is where we started our in-person shopping. The intention was to go to two or three showrooms and get the best price. We ended up buying the car from that dealer. The price was fair and it wass just too much work to spend all that time making the deal three times.

Lisa wasn't working yesterday, but referred us to her coworker who helped us. Unlike most male salesmen, he made eye contact with me. Many will just talk to the male about safety and mechanical aspects of the car. I did fit the profile of the female shopper. Paramount to making me happy is to get the right color. The right color is the color I prefer. Men understand this. I picked a light sage green. It is called Khaki but it is green. Besides liking the green, I hate to admit this, but I like the various colored lights on the dashboard display. Bright blue, red, yellow... The car feels like a cockpit. Jon was more concerned about how it handled on the road and what was under the hood. Sorry, Betty Freidan and Gloria Steinem. I am a pretty shallow person.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My First Cousins at the Recent Reunion

That's my sister, Carolyn, 3rd from left on top in black. I am next to her.

Car Talk

That's my 2009 Hyundai Sonata on the right. My crashed 2004 Hyundai probably looks like the cube on the left. I didn't take a picture after the wreck so I went online looking for an image of what it probably looks like now. I imagine it is on its way to a scrap iron yard in China.
When I did a Google search for a picture of a crushed car I initially put in Omar Sharif + "Top Secret". Top Secret was an 80's movie; a comedy with a scene where the spy, played by Omar Sharif, is crushed in a junkyard car crusher. There is a scene of him alive but trapped in a cube of twisted metal. That is the somewhat humorous image I wanted. Google gave me pictures of Omar Sharif and a lot of other Omars. It also came up with some images of things stamped Top Secret. I suppose somewhere a Homeland Security computer has picked up on my search for Omars and top secret and zeroed in on this 63 yr. old retiree. Hope they don't also know we bought the new car from a salesman of Egyptian/ Italian parentage at an Inver Grove Hts. dealership. I am starting to look like a suspicious character, arn't I?
Anyway, I have my new wheels and this car is purported to get 32 mpg. I hope so.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Happy Birthday to My Little Girl

She's a little older than the picture and soon to have her own little girl and boy. Love, MOM

Don't Let Them Get Your Goat

We said goodbye to my sister and brother in-law this morning after a leisurely morning cup of coffee. I didn't even cook a meal for them during their two day stay at our house. If our mom could roll over in her grave, (she can't, she was cremated) she would be. Guests in your house and your don't feed them? Shameful. Mom always fed you whether you were hungry or not.

We managed two nice restaurant meals the two days they stayed with us. Yesterday, after a short walking tour of downtown St. Paul, we drove Grand Avenue looking for a nice place to eat lunch. When Mike spotted The Lexington he declared "The Lex" was where they wanted to treat us to lunch. Good choice Mike. This is an old fine dining establishment in St. Paul. A place to take your wife on your anniversary where you know the ambiance will say special date. The walls are covered with real wood panels, the crystal chandeleirs sparkle, and the walls have beautiful oil painting with crackled paint. The food is superb; the menu offers a wide variety of choices. We enjoyed everything and Mike marveled that places like this are hard to find. They are frequented by an older clientele with good taste and deep pockets. We savored the experience and the food.

I still have a bit of soreness in my chest after the accident. Sneezes are followed by yelps. (If I suffer everyone knows it.) I try not to cough or laugh. No one wanted to be cruel, but the conversation around the table this morning sent me into gales of laughter that had me clutching my chest. Can you die laughing?

We started by talking about memoirs. Carolyn and I co-authored our childhood memories two years ago. Us and about 50,000,000 other boomerettes or circa boomers. She remarked not only are people writing their own stories, there are a lot of books about animals currently on the market. Think "Marley and Me" etc. This summer she sent me a book, "The Good, Good Pig" which I enjoyed. It is about a hobby farm couple from Vermont and their experiences raising a piglet who grew to be loved by many.

Carolyn said she would like to raise a couple of pigs. The pigs could be fed table scraps. One of her fellow churchmen had shared how much food is thrown in the garbage after a Wednesday night dinner at church. Carolyn thought this would be a good food source for their pig. There would be no waste. It would set a good example for the Sunday school kids. Mike grimaced knowing which one of them was going to be hauling it home. I said maybe you should let them keep the pig in the church parking lot. I won't tell you what she said. Come to your own conclusions.

The conversation sparked another cute story from these Texas ranchers. One of their neighbors bought a small spread as an investment and got a few goats so he could qualify for the Green Acres tax exemption. The man lived in Houston during the week. His goats must have been lonely and were not satisfied staying home. They got out of the fenced pasture and went to make new friends with the neighbors. Carolyn and Mike first spotted them in their closest neighbors "yard". Before long these adventurous animals were happily munching Carolyn's carefully planted tulips. Time to go home. They lead them back to the neighbors yard. There was only one problem. This guy was not the owner. He came out and said, "They are not my goats". They had merely stopped at his house to eat his geraniums.

The real owner put out a missing goat alert on local radio. They contacted him. He showed up in compact hatchback car, coaxed the goats inside and went home.

I think he has a lot to learn about raising livestock. On second thought, maybe not. He must be a pretty smooth talker to get three goats in a small vehicle. Maybe he gave those goats a good motivational speech and things worked out. Carolyn and Mike haven't seen the goats roaming since then. I don't know if the owner made a left turn towards his ranch or went straight to the local livestock auction house. It would depend on whether or not the experience got his goat.
Picture taken at my sister and brother in-law's Fair Haven ranch in Texas Hill Country.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Time In A Bottle

After months of planning, we had a wonderful family reunion over the weekend. Great weather, great turnout, great getting reacquainted with cousins and acquainted with their offspring.

One becomes aware of the passing of time, but forty years seems more recent to someone my age. I told one of my younger cousins how I thought of him and his brothers as my "baby " cousins. He laughed and said he would be 52 on his next birthday. Sobering. Still my young cousins. I am among the oldest of the group.

We grew up with 28 first cousins. Three have died. Most of the remaining cousins attended the reunion. Only two of mom's brothers and one sister are still alivefrom a family of nine sibs. We fondly remember the rest and miss them.

My kids generation has far fewer cousins and aunts and uncles. They have different experiences. I hope in the future they will continue to treasure each other and be planning their own reunions when they are my age.

Time. You can't make it stand still. I do try. Anticipating this reunion I bought a bottle of Olay age defying anti-wrinkle lotion. I have deep creases under my eyes I hoped to minimize. They promise noticable improvement in five days. This morning I asked Jon if he could see any improvement. He looked, then said, "I didn't notice those wrinkles before". Oh, the blessing of having the same husband for forty years. The blessing of growing old together. Both of us have wrinkles and dimming vision!

Time passes. You might Botox the wrinkles, tighten the face surgically, but someone will still be able to tell how old you are by the number of pill bottles on your refrigerator. We have Ibuprofen, vitamins, Biotin (for thinning hair), glucosamine, tylenol. antacids, and zinc supplement I can spot from here. That's not counting Jon's nine Rxs. Time in a bottle. Buying more time. Hope it works. Time to go. Ole.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

They Will Only Have Kissin' Cousins

There will be a lot of buzz about China for the next two weeks. Yesterday I had an "aha moment". With the one child rule in China, there will now be generations coming up who have no cousins. No aunts. No uncles. Everyone is an only child. What a social change for a society that respects family and ancestors.

This is the weekend of our family reunion and I am glad I have lots of cousins. I treasure the aunts and uncles still here and look forward to seeing everyone this afternoon.Without real cousins the Chinese will have to settle for kissin' cousins. This is a definition I found while Googling. It doesn't mean it is correct, but it sounds right.

" 'Kissin' cousins' is a sourthern Americanism that predates the Civil War. The term at first referred to a distant blood relationshi but today means a very close friend who is considered family. The 'Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins' states: It still is used in its original sense of a relative far removed enough to permit marriage, "an eighth cousin" in the North.'Kissin' cousins' does not derive from kith and kin.Kin stems from the Middle English word 'cynn' meaning race, kind or people. It's a derivative of the word 'kindred' meaning related by birth or (incorrectly) marriage. Kin refers to one's relatives collectively.Kith literally means knowledge of etiquette (believe it or not) but has come to mean familiar friends, neighbors, countrymen or acquaintances.The term kith and kin means one's relations and/or family connections."

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet, It Is Gone..

Look up in the sky.

It's a bird

It's a plane

No, it's not superman

It's the Green Flash!

I learned something last evening at a family dinner party. My cousin Cliff asked if we had ever heard of the "green flash". None at the table were familiar with it. He cautioned that it had nothing to do with comic book heroes. Not the Green Lantern.

My cousin is a professional photographer. Every ready to capture the perfect photo, he recounted awaiting a sunset over the ocean picture in La Jolla, CA a few years ago. A woman nearby remarked they might even see the green flash. Coming from a landlocked middle state, he too was unfamiliar with the phenomenon. The green flash is a brief flash of the color green just as the sun plops in the ocean for the night. He waited and watched. He saw the green flash. Apparently you don't always see it. Just got lucky.

We asked our four California relatives who were also at the dinner if they were familiar with the phenomenon. They weren't. I guess it is not common knowledge or a common site. I am not surprised my observant cousin Cliff saw it. He is a talented, gifted photographer and I think the creator couldn't resist giving him this special treat.

Now you know. If you find yourself gazing west at the sunset by the oceanside, watch for it. It is gone faster than a speeding bullet.


Friday, August 8, 2008

The Bigamist

The bigamist is not about the FLDS or the stepford wives we saw in the news recently after their children were removed from the Texas bigamist compound. This bigamist is about the air quality at the China Olympics. That is the spin now put on the white-out air quality seen behind broadcasters in Beijing. It’s fog. It’s the humidity. It’s mist. Don’t say smog. In their defense, how many photos have I seen in National Geographic taken in India or that part of the world with an ethereal quality from the thick, moist air?

We’ll hear a lot about all things Chinese in the coming weeks. Might as well toss my impressions in the mix too.

When I was growing up we called it Peking. Peking not Beijing. What would you get if you ordered Peking Duck in a café in China? Would you need to order Beijing Duck?

Officials in China, anticipating the sensibilities of the western world, have banned the serving of dog in their restaurants. That doesn’t mean a dog couldn’t eat in the restaurant. He just could not be wokked. Our son, Andy, who spent six weeks in China last summer said he never saw a full sized, grown dog. Plenty of puppies, but no bigger dogs. Wonder what happened to them.

If dogs are banned, will you still be able to get a hot dog from a street vendor? Before we get snooty and judgmental about Chinese food, consider what we eat disguised in the hot dog.

China may be the salvation of our auto industry. They love GM cars. The wealthier class aspires to acquire a Buick. Maybe GM can again overtake Toyota as #1. Market those Buicks more heavily in Asia. Turn about fair play. After all they have a lot of money from all their exports to the US. We could probably make a deal to buy up all those used bicycles you saw everyone riding during the Mao years. We need to conserve gas and watch our budgets and should ride bikes..

My son Andy has an employee picnic today at lunchtime to celebrate the beginning of the Olympics. He was amused that they are serving Gyros. Where did you say those Olympics are again? The Middle East? If you pronounce gyro like they do in the middle east is sounds like “Gi-row”. Many Americans say “hero”. Maybe that is why they chose that menu. We look to our Olympians as heroes. Hero sandwiches. Jon and I are eating hot dogs.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Green

Brett Favre a Jet? Who would have guessed. I guess Thomas Wolfe was right. You can't go home again. Favre couldn't resume his quarterback position with the Pack. That probably leaves some fans disappointed, but his replacement must be sighing his relief. Management was in a hard-to-win position. No one over there wanted Brett to show up at his first game wearing purple and gold. Better to let him go into the AFC. Every year the Viking/Packer game brings out border rivalry. Former Minnesotans who now live in Wisconsin towns must root for the purple quietly.

After I retired from my position at the hospital, I took a "casual" position and worked a few days a month. One of the Drs. always teased me, saying I was doing a "Bud Grant" retirement. Have the party, come back to work after. He was the physician in the ER when Jon and I were brought in after the car crash Saturday. He greeted me and asked if I wanted to come back to work now, "Like Brett Favre". Nope. Liking my life just fine. Nice to be fully retired just like Bud Grant is again.

Picture: Former Vikings coach Bud Grant when he played baseball for the Stillwater, MN team.
Click on the picture to see it bigger. He is fourth from left.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

GR 8 FL 1

I saw the above title on a vanity plate on a car a few weeks ago. Today I am the "grateful one".
We have had stuff happening the past two weeks starting with daughter Mary being involved in a car accident. She is 26 weeks pregnant with twins and she and the babies are fine. Gave all of us a scare. They kept her in the hospital over the weekend to monitor her and the babies. Thank God all is well. The driver of the other car was a paramedic and she was just two blocks from a major hospital. Again, we are grateful that everything worked out.

Today we were in a car accident. It looks like our car is totalled. Not our fault and the other driver admitted blame and was ticketed. We went (by ambulance) to the ER and passed the tests but are sore. Should be A-OK in a day or so. Nothing big. Again, there was an off-duty Wisconsin highway patrolman at the scene who helped keep us safe and called 911. No one in the other (big) SUV was hurt.

I feel compassion for the 19 yr old driver of his mom's car. Keep him in your prayers. I don't think he read the fine print on his insurance card that said not to admit guilt, but it was obvious it was his fault becauses he made a U-turn from the shoulder into our car.