Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Not Gopher Prairie Home Companion

I'm looking forward to a real "Americana" experience marking the 4th of July this weekend. Son in-law Mike asked if we wanted to be in the audience for the live radio show, "A Prairie Home Companion". The radio show, a nostalgic look at life in a small town, balances the scathing portrayal Sinclair Lewis gave us of small towns in the book, "Main Street". There are the same flawed characters but Keillors folks are more loveable.
It is the 35th anniversary of this show and Garrison Keillor is taking it home where it started. The party will be in Lake Wobegon Park in Avon, MN. This is mythical Lake Wobegon and just a couple miles down the road from St. John's University where he began broadcasting the show. I went to school in the area and the characters ring true.
I plan to wear the colors and eat some powdermilk biscuit strawberry shortcake. Check the website. I wonder if we stroll around town could we find the Sidetrack Tap and (the church of )Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility?
You may also have great plans for the fourth. If not, join us. Bring your lawn chair and a sense of humor. Maybe they will have Jello salad and hot dish at the vendors. The website says they will have Bee-bop-a-ree-bop rhubarb pie.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Three's Company

We got some relief tonight on the network news. They did not devote the entire half hour to Michael Jackson's death. They also talked about the death of Billy Mayes, Gail Storm and Fred Travelena. I am not sure if that is progress. My son remarked, "That is 2 sets of three". People sometimes superstitiously believe deaths come in threes. Nurses frequently say that. I was a nurse. I used to say that. Last week we had Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon and Michael Jackson. Three. Now three more. People die every day and there were probably some other minor luminaries that passed recently but I am guessing newspeople rounded up to three by including Gail Storm. I know who she is but most probably don't. I am older than dirt and remember "My Little Margie", a sitcom from the 50's. We haven't heard much from her since. I don't think she changed her skin color, carved up her nose with plastic surgery or was accused of child molestation.
I read a memoir a couple years ago written by the widow of Jackie Kennedy Onassis' nephew. She coined the phrase " death groupie". These are people who carry on as emotionally distraught when they had not know the deceased very well. Many fans liked Michael Jackson and he was globally popular but I think I have seen enough weeping, distraught women for a while. His life was pretty sad and his death will probably continue to be freaky.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Keeping Cool

We ran away for a few days this week. After whining that spring and early summer was too cool, we got a taste of hot, steamy weather. Early in the week it was mid to high 90's with thick wet air. We had planned on going to Milwaukee for a few days but changed our minds as we were crossing the border into Wisconsin thinking that the hot weather we were experiencing was there too. We went north to Bayfield which is one of our favorite places to escape the heat. It was about 70 degrees when we arrived. A bonus for us.....the lupine are in bloom. This flower that I cannot coax to bloom in my yard grows in perfusion in ditches and fields. This wildflower is called a blue bonnet in Texas.

I read the local paper online and just read a story about a local (Stillwater) waterfront establishment opening an "Ice Bar". It is made of ice. They serve drinks in ice "glasses". Guess you don't have to go to Bayfield after all but I would rather relax on a deck viewing that beautiful harbor and seeing the waves of blue, pink and purple lupine anyway. We could still order an iced tea at the Ice Bar.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Our American Traditions

"Our" German, Kai, will be studying for a semester at a University in Virginia. He was an exchange student who spent a month living with us during our son Andy's senior year of high school. Andy then spent a month at Kai's "gymnasium" (what they call high school) in Golbach, Germany. The next summer he returned for a visit and a road trip west with Andy. We stayed with his parents when we were in Bavaria a few years ago and keep in touch with them. Andy also did a three week road trip in eastern Europe with Kai. During the month-long semester break this coming winter, Kai is doing an internship in New York. I was pleased to hear he will spend the Christmas holidays with us. Of course I need to start planning. I want him to experience American Christmas culture so we will put up a Christmas tree, bake pfeffernause cookies and stollen and sing "Away In the Manger". Oh... I guess we borrowed those traditions from the Germans. Do you think he knows about Santa Claus? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stollen

Monday, June 22, 2009

My latest Book

I confess my "light" summer reading has been a little dark lately. I started reading a series of books by Patricia Cornwell about a medical examiner. Think of it as CSI in paperback. I don't watch CSI or similar TV shows because they are macabre. The books had engaging stories but I needed a break from dark fiction so I was glad when the library notified me a book on my reserve list was available.
I picked up Christopher Buckley's , "Losing Mum & Pup" and began reading his memoir. It is about coping with the death of his mom and dad within a year. So much for lighter reading and getting away from death.
I always liked William F. Buckley. We used to watch him on "Firing Line". Though I didn't agree with everything he said, I loved the way he said it. I loved his mannerisms. I can still envision his tics... his expressive face, and the erudite way he expressed himself. The book is a sometimes irreverent tale told by his son Christopher who first piqued my interest when he endorsed Barach Obama last year. That left me scratching my head. Regardless of your politics, it is an interesting read.

Not too Young to Cruise

Several times this weekend I muttered, "If I only had my camera." We took one picture using the cell phone but I don't know how to transfer that to the computer and I can't begin to tell you what a beautiful sight a double rainbow is. We were returning home in the rain about eight o'clock pm Friday night. When it stopped raining a vibrant rainbow appeared with a ghost rainbow echoing it. It appeared that the end of the rainbow was in the vicinity of our house but as we drove we never got closer. It was like a mirage that you pursue and never catch.
It was Back to the 50's Weekend, an old car rally at the State Fair grounds in St. Paul. Old car enthusiasts come from distances in droves. http://www.msra.com/BackToThe50s.htm
They cruise all over the metro with a concentration on certain St. Paul streets. Snelling Avenue was lined with people in lawn chairs looking like they were waiting for a parade. In the 50's and 60's University Avenue was also a popular car cruising spot. A drive in called Porky's on University still attracts cruisers and those who come to watch. Think American Graffiti. Hot rods, 5000# schooners, Model T's--the gamit. I didn't see any old fire trucks. We did pull up at a stop sign and spot an old British sports car...convertible top down with a baby in an infant car seat in the passenger seat. That was odd enough but Jon also noted the car had a trailer hitch. No camera, so you will have to take my word for it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hooked on kids

I just read the Tille family blog ( link to website on my blog yesterday, click on their blog). Dad is the writer for now as mom recovers. The pictures brought back memories of our grandtwins birth... lots of harrowing circumstances but serenity knowing they were in good hands. These quints are in the 2# range, far smaller and delivered eleven weeks premature vs. Zoe and Roman's six weeks early. This family has a lot to look forward too and a lot to go through.

Comparing first pictures of Roman (green hat) and Zoe (pink of course) to recent photos documents the growth. Both are crawling. Roman really moves and Zoe is catching up. She has a tooth. They are amazing.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Don't Drink the Water When You Cross the Border

I am one of the older cousins among my mom's family and remember well when my Aunt Elaine gave birth to twins in her late thirties. Twins were fairly rare in the 1950's. She lived in a small Wisconsin border town, population less than 1000 at the time. Having twins was unique. Within a short time her childhood friend whose name I think was Anita, had triplets. I guess she always had to do her one better.

Twin cousins Diane & Donna and me
It would seem there might be something in the water in small Wisconsin border towns. News yesterday is of the birth of quintuplets at Abbott Northwestern hospital. This is fifth set of quintuplets delivered there since 2000. The parents are from the small Wisconsin border town of River Falls, population 12,500. The paper says they will be getting advice on raising quints from another River Falls family who had quintuplets in 2003. Amazing. Two sets of quints in the same town in five years. It must be something in the water .... or the cheese.

They have set up a web site to disseminate information. I remember when both parents and all the grandparents were busy helping care for of our daughter Mary & Mike's five # preemie twins. I wish the quints family good luck and a lot of help. I feel lead to send a little something. They also have a 19 month old girl. If you are moved, here is the address: http://www.tillefamily.com/

Friday, June 19, 2009

Catch and Release

My husband, who returned recently from a fishing trip on Rainy Lake up north, frequently releases his catch . We aren't big fish eaters.
I mistakenly said he was in far northern Minnesota. The cabin was in Canada on a lake bordering both countries.
There are lots of big fish in Canadian waters and now we know why. Fishing rules protect the fish. You can't keep a fish over 27" long or under 17". Most of the fish they caught were trophy sized. This not only keeps fishing fun, it keeps lots of big fish around. They are the spawners who make the little fish. It also keeps fisherman and their families from mercury poisoning. Paper mills in Canada have left some lakes polluted with mercury.
Jon has my blessings when he goes on these fishing expeditions. We have an understanding. Don't bring any fish home. This time I didn't remind him. Canada will only let you take one fish per fisherman out of the country.
His friend's cabin is on an island on a very big border lake. It is a 21 mile boat trip from the launch. I wonder if all the fish congregate on the Canadian side of the lake where they are safer. Word must get out in school. Tee hee.
I saw the clip of President Obama swatting the fly during a White House interview the day it happened. I quipped, "This is going to get a reaction from PETA."
The next day brought complaints that he was not as kind as budda who wouldn't harm a fly and suggestions how to do humane catch and release outdoors of those pesky insects. I usually apologize if I might offend anyone with something I write. Today I won't apologize when I ask, "ARE THEY NUTS?"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

76 Trombones in Right Here in River City

As of last week we still weren't sure summer was coming. We had a very cool spring. The weather is now closer to normal and it started raining and everything is green. One of the signs that summer will officially start, besides the calendar, is the Drum Beauty Pageant in Stillwater.

Drum Beauty has been performing in Stillwater for decades. Before we moved here, Jon's aunts and parents attended this local performance yearly. His aunts had been in drum bugle corps in high school. His mom described the events as "thrilling". It's not a rap concert and might appeal more to the mature audience, but the sound of the brass, the flash of those flags and the sight of the precision routines is indeed a thrill at dusk on a warm summer night.

It is part of a national competition of drum and bugle corps from around the country. We look forward to seeing some of the best return year after year. My favorites are the Blue Devils from Concord, CA and the Madison, WI Scouts and another from Revere, MA.

These "band kids" tour on buses and sleep on gym floors on their summer tour. They hone their skills and thrill fans. About fifteen years ago, when performing in Stillwater, they ate a bad batch of spaghetti sauce or something and ended up flocking to our local small hospital with food poisoning. I had been at the performance with my parents. Toward the end my dad, ever the astute observer, noted a guy or two looking a little ill and predicted what was happening. As soon as I got home I was called to duty. Those poor kids were sick. The worst were kept in the hospital overnight. Some were treated and when well enough to stand and walk, released. They probably went back to sleeping on the gym floor. I'll bet that group remembered their trip to Stillwater.

My friend Barb, who hails from St. Peter, MN, also was a drum beauty fan. One of corps stops on the summer tour was a performance at Gustavus Adolphus college in St. Peter, MN.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cartoon Csar

What You Talkin' About Willys

Friday night I went with my daughter, her husband and the kids to the North St. Paul Cruisin' Car Show.
One of the cars we admired was a restored Willys. It was a little shinier than the pictured car.
Mary said Mike found one for sale and is considering a project.
I won't give advice, but if I did I would say wait until your kids are old enough to go car shopping with you. They might find flaws you don't see.

Picture: Roman-- with the discerning look.
When Jon was a kid his dad had a Kaiser-Frazer for sale. A guy came to look at it and take it for a test drive. Jon's dad let him ride along when he went with the prospective buyer. The car looked pretty good and drove okay. His dad was putting a positive spin on the vehicle when Jon popped up with the comment, "What do you mean dad ? .... Every time you go around a corner the door flies open." I don't think they closed that deal.

American Sign Language

If you are easily offended or are eating your breakfast now , you might want to skip this blog.
You might want to skip this blog if you have class. Someone close to me used to define class as "Someone who doesn't pee in the shower". Okay, forewarned.

It was recently announced we would be getting new signage for airport exits off the freeways. The main terminal is Lindbergh Terminal at Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport. The auxiliary airport which is growing in use, is called the Humphrey Terminal at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. I remember a few decades ago we called it Wold-Chamberlain Field. Then "the airport". Even some locals were getting confused. To simplify things, they want to direct people to Number 1 or Number 2 terminal. Lots of cities do that. Easy to remember. The new signs will cost 1.4 million $$$. We are in a financial meltdown, couldn't we have temporarily fixed the old signs with duct tape? Maybe I watch too much of The Red Green Show.

Today's paper had a comment from someone who said using Number 1 & 2 reminded him of his childhood. Kids had to ask the teacher if they wanted to leave their desks and use the facilities. Raise one finger for you know what and two for a longer leave. It struck me, why did we have to tell the teacher WHAT we wanted to do in the bathroom?

In those middle years between wearing tiny Pampers and Adult sized ones, no one asks about No.1 or 2. It is our business. If you watch the evening news commercials you would think bodily functions are a common topic of conversation. They are not. Not yet. But from my experience with the geriatric set when I was a nurse, I think those days aren't far off. Right now the only time I want to hear "Number 2" is when my husband orders his special breakfast at the local diner.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Challenging the Election

The results of the recent election in Iran are disputable. Throngs have protested in the streets of Tehran that the election results were rigged. There is an uprising lead by a young, educated class that wants an end of rule by the dispicable Mr. "I'm-a-dinner-jacket". His people claim he won a landslide victory and even took 67% of the vote in the hometown of his opponent. Some Americans are hopeful we will see changes there to diffuse the current dangerous political situation.

Iran has forbidden news coverage of the civil disobedience objecting to election results. Apparently they only release images of throngs burning US flags. They don't want the world to know the populace is tired of a lying, anti-American president. He should be worried. Look what a disgruntled revolutionary force did in that country thirty years ago.

Today's news states the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has intervened and asked for a partial vote recount. As a Minnesotan who has watched our recount and partial recount unfold since November, I say "Good luck with that". We will see. Maybe after our two contestants have exhausted the State Supreme Court they will not be allowed to take it to the highest court in the land. I don't think they can count on a passionate electorate taking to the streets to demand either's enstatement to office. It wouldn't be appropriate to seek an decision by the Ayatollah. Perhaps they could decide it with a flip of the coin. Perhaps that would have been a good idea in November.

The Simple Life

How sincere are people when they say they want to lead a simpler life? I say that I do, but I don't want to give up my dishwasher, clothes dryer, car or even my computer. I really don't want to give up my computer. I have a virus bitten, spy-ware infested desk-top computer that drives me wild. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it balks. It is like a naughty child or a misbehaving husband. Their behaviour can drive you crazy but you will forgive it.

Jon has already given me the replacement for this beast--a laptop. I like my desk top. It is familiar. I don't do change easily. God bless Jon. He has all my programs and info on the new laptop. He knows I want it as close to this one as possible. He has been saintly patient. Today when my computer was slow to open files, he brought out the laptop and opened it up. My favorite bookmarks are organized in categories. I can't see where anything is on the list by just glancing so I turned it off and went back to the old setup. By then the files were open.
I will have to think of this computer as similar to an old-tyme radio or tv. It just takes a while to warm up. It would be good to pray for Jon to continue to be patient because I am pretty sure I will continue to ask him to "fix" this brat.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Adding Some Spark to Our Lives

Our longtime friend Dave is staying with us a few days. Yesterday he went to a family birthday party and stopped to see a friend who had built a new house. He got the full tour. When the guy opened the door to the attached garage, Dave was surprised to see he had a fire truck. The homeowner likes vintage vehicles. As Dave retells the story, the guy had about 13 too many beers and went shopping on eBay. He put in a bid on a fire truck. The next day he was notified he had "won" the bid. I don't think he felt like a winner. I think he wondered what the H... was he thinking when he drank that much and went eBaying. Demon rum or demon beer. The outcome is the same. Drink too much and live to regret it or maybe don't live to regret anything.

Now he has a fire truck in his garage. He occasionally takes it to parades.

We speculated what we would do with our own personal fire truck. He paid $5900. We could probably buy it for at a fire sale price. I don't think he is happy with his purchase. Of course, we could also enter it in small town parades. Or, we could do the Cruisin' thing on Friday summer nights at the vintage car show in Jon's home town of North St. Paul. I haven't seen a fire truck there, but it might be interesting. We would have room for a cooler of Coke and ten or twelve friends, although I don't know if we have any friends who would want to be a spectacle cruisin in a vintage fire truck. Then it hit me. We could become volunteer fire fighters in some of the surrounding townships. They pay higher homeowner insurance rates in the countryside because their homes are more likely to burn to the ground. We would amend their fire fighting protection. Keep that baby's tanker full of water and ready to go and wear a beeper. Off we would go, being good citizens.
My dad was on the volunteer fire brigade for a few years when they lived in the hamlet of Riverton, MN. He was at 62 yrs old. They never had a fire when he lived there. Probably a good thing.
One problem remains with owning a vintage fire truck....it wouldn't fit in the garage. Could we park it on the street? I know there are covenants about what you can and cannot do in our neighborhood, but am not sure if the planners addressed personal firetrucks. Another problem is how to keep the water in the tank from freezing in the winter. Too bad. It might have been fun. Maybe we would have to put it up on blocks in the winter and park it in the yard, but that would rule-out having some of our neighbors as friends who would go cruising with us.

Summer Daze


Love those warm weekends. The kids first pool day. Don't you love the duck? It's beak quacks when you squeeze it. Roman was getting into the moment. All that is missing is a cool drink. Mom, where is my bottle?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Just Name Him Arnold Z. Pig

When I received an e-mail from my sister titled, "I've found my pig", I hurried to open it. Bet you don't get mail like that. When Carolyn and Mike visited last year, she related interest in getting a pig for the ranch. Mike did a mental eye roll I think. He is a good husband and smart and wouldn't really roll his eyes. I think he reacted to our talk about him going to get the pig in the Lexus. They do have a truck but the image of the Lexus was more amusing. Now Carolyn writes she has found the breed she wants and sent a link to a site about a "Large Black Boar". "One is available in Missouri", she wrote. Inconvenient since they live in Texas. Must be a special pig.

My sis and husband moved to a small ranch when he retired and they love the lifestyle. I had always seen my sister as being the cat in the Fancy Feast commercials vs. me as a barn cat. I thought she would be more like Ava Garbor in Green Acres. Wrong. She loves critters and is kept happy and busy with goats, sheep, calves, chickens and cats and dogs. She teaches bible studies, is a fantastic cook and loves her growing bunch of grandkids. They will have wonderful memories of going to grandma and grandpas and tending critters.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Twins Update

Roman can pull himself up by furniture or the bathtub and Zoe is the first to cut a tooth.

Perfecting Television

D-Day used to mean the anniversary of the Normandy invasion. This year D-Day was June 12th, the day digital television was mandated. For over a year we have been warned there would be no TV signal if we had a old analog television and used rabbit ears or an antenna. The government offered discount coupons to households who needed to purchase a converter. If you had cable or satellite or a newer HDTV you didn't need to convert. We have both old and new and got the converter for those extra TVs. He also have the flat HDTV. The switch was to happen in February, but the date pushed to June because "they" said many were not ready. PBS frequently ran informational segments on what to do, how to help elderly neighbors and family convert. More federal dollars were poured into the coupon program. More articles in newspapers about people not being prepared. How do they know people aren't ready?

I am probably in the minority, but I think HDTV is overrated. It pixelates in bad weather. Jon will often remind me I am on the "wrong channel". I punch in the # of the channel and watch the analog broadcast. He can instantly tell the difference. I don't notice. Has anyone but me wondered how this switch to digital broadcast will benefit the consumer? It is a boon to those selling all those flatscreen TVs and converter boxes, but is it an improvement for the average guy? Today I am a believer. They have improved TV. When I turned it on to check the morning news all I saw was blue screen. That is an improvement. There is not much worth watching anyway. I turned on the radio for the news. I know. I know. You have to rescan the channels. I just don't know how to do that. The fisherman is coming home today, and that might be on his "To do list". The other option is to leave it that way and think they really have perfected television.

Friday, June 12, 2009

In the Land of Red Green

I've been a fishing widow all week. Jon is "up north" with two old buddies. They are on a lake that is divided between Minnesota and Canada. He called a bit ago saying they were back in civilization and had phone service. According to Jon, it was a great week. They caught lots of big walleye, a clam and one sea gull. Hopefully, they did catch and release with the gull and clam. How do you catch a clam on a fishing line?
For years Jon's friend Dave has come from New Hampshire once or twice a year for their fishing trip. Years ago they would get up at dawn and get out on the lake. They would fish all day and one last time after dinner. Now, they sleep in. Go out to breakfast and sometimes hire someone to clean and cook their catch. They are getting closer to the way I like fishing... Go to the fish monger, chose a nice one and.... Never mind, order it in a restaurant.

Bridging the Gap: Stillwater Finally Gets a Bridge

We've lived in historic Stillwater, MN twenty-six years this June. When we moved here, plans were being made to replace our aging lift bridge. Commuters coming from Wisconsin waited in long lines during rush hour to cross the two lane bridge. Some worried it would collapse or be carried away by spring flood waters. "Cheeseheads" desparately wanted a new crossing. Stillwaterites were divided on the issue. Some were neutral. Some wanted a new bridge to reduce downtown traffic. Local downtown businessmen were concerned rerouting traffic would hurt their income. Many, like myself, wanted the historic lift bridge preserved if they built a new one. Long time residents were more likely to slowly smile and recall how plans for a new bridge were an almost done deal in the 1960's. You get the picture. No one could agree. Not only could they not agree on if we needed a bridge, they could not agree on where the new bridge should cross the river. It was narrowed down to three possible areas; One north, one south, and of course central. The southern corridor became the favorite and the state proceeded to acquire property through public domain. Dozens of homeowners were displaced and the homes demolished. That was about ten years ago. The project was on the fast track until opposition from Oak Park Heights council and the Sierra Club stopped it cold. Can't displace any river clams, can we? (Why are snails and clams more important than people?) Long time locals shook their heads and wondered if a bridge replacement would not be built until the old bridge collapsed and floated south. DOTs from MN and WI persisted in efforts to get funding for a new bridge. Finally it made the roster for federal funding. It would be built in 2024. How do you think that went over with folks whose homes had been demolished in 1999?
A year or so ago, I think after the bridge disaster in Mpls, our construction date was moved up to 2013. Mock up models of the new bridge were available for locals to peruse. It is gonna happen. Yup. Some old timers are still skeptical.
Yesterday's paper has a story about a Wisconsin lawmaker who thinks Minnesota has selected a design that is too expensive. The funding comes from federal, Wisconsin and Minnesota pockets. Those challenging him reminded us that the cost goes up a million each month we wait. I don't know if that is correct. Look what has happened to home prices.
The saga continues. States have deficits. Our Minnesota budget deficit is going to be solved by our governor's red pen using a law that gives the governor "Unallotment" powers. I'm not sure what percentage Minnesota has to cough up for the 600,000,000+ project, but I'm not wagering that we will cross that river on a new bridge anytime soon.
The local paper yesterday has a story of a bridge that will be coming soon to the Stillwater area. It is an old bridge (picture) that will be moved from northern Minnesota and used by bike trail traffic to cross a county road. Cost is 2.8 million. Wouldn't a stop sign be cheaper or is that just too obvious. Maybe I will e-mail the governor in case he hasn't noticed that project.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Winner from Winner

Lots of human interest stories this weekend about the 23 yr. old cowboy from South Dakota who won a Powerball Jackpot of 88 million post-tax buckerinos. Besides the interest of this being a down on his luck working cowpoke, he comes from a town called Winner. His last name is Wanless. Until now he was winless. At the press conference he thanked God, vowed to not squander the money, and promised to help his neighbors.

He is single. Poor guy. It might be hard to find a wife. There will be plenty of candidates looking for him, but how do you sort those out?

He hasn't quit his job as a cowboy. Eighty-eight million and he shows up for work. Not many people would do that. Bet he gets a good performance review for a lot of reasons especially if he is as good at lassoing cows as he is at cash.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Csar is Something You Could Do to Improve Your Job Hunt

Have you noticed how often you hear of a federal appointment of a Czar lately? We now have a Cyber Czar, a Green Czar, a Border Czar, and a Budget Czar. We really do. (We could use a car Csar.) There is probably a much longer list of Czars. I haven’t heard of any called Czarina, but Nancy-Ann De Parle is the Health Czar.
Picture: the Air Force has a Combat Search And Rescue unit with the acronym CSAR. Guess they are looking for Elvis. Wonder if they have checked that Walmart in Ohio where there was a sighting.

It was several decades ago that I first heard of an Energy Czar and a Drug Czar. These are appointed federal position of management. The candidates don’t have royal blood or elected status. I find it an amusing title. Do you think they have a parking space reserved for the Csar?

When the Navy came to the rescue of American seamen captured by Somali pirates I thought we could use a Sea Czar too. Maybe that would be pushing it. You wouldn’t want anyone saying, "Hail Sea Czar".

This week President Obama appointed a Great Lakes Environment Czar. Is that close enough? It sure would be an easier position to fill. I would rather be Lake Czar than Sea Czar. You don’t have to deal with dangerous pirates off the eastern coast of Africa. The worst foe might be the lamprey.

Who screens for all these Csar positions? Do they have a Csar Csar in Human Relations?
In this current bleak job market, a name change to Csar might be an advantage. Remember Major Major Major in “Catch 22”?

Twins Update....Roman On the Move

Friday, June 5, 2009

Mary Carolyn Had a Little Lamb

I posted this You tube video as a challenge to my sister and brother in-law. They have sheep and goats on their ranch. Although there is no shortage of work for them to do, a project like this would be fun and challenging. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2FX9rviEhw

Rock On, Rock Out

Wednesday a friend and I drove to New Glarus, WI. We followed the Great River Road which hugs the Mississippi. Beautiful day and a beautiful drive. Using a map and navigating together we made the trip without major mishap. We only made one mistake. We should have visited the Rock on the House instead of the House on the Rock. Simple error. One gets more hype. More publicity. This was my sixth trip to House on the Rock. It was her first. There is a lot to recommend about touring this Spring Green marvel but you come away with tired legs and sensory overload.

I have never seen the Rock on the House. It is combination man-made / natural wonder created when a boulder slide down the cliff and crashed into a dwelling. http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2243 Amazingly, no one was killed. I think there is a free-will offering of a buck or two to see this display. House on the Rock is a little more expensive. House on the Rock employees challenged me when I asked for a senior discount. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? Must be 65. Maybe I should be grateful, but it was hard to pay $26 for the sixth tour of that museum.

Next time we go through Fountain City I may stop to visit the Rock on the House. I will see if they will give me a senior discount. It must be worth 50 cents or a dollar but one better keep a wary eye on those boulders above.

The Original Cheeseheads

Cheesehead: A somewhat unflattering but self-described term for an ardent Packer fan. The term is also used by snooty Minnesotans following behind a slow moving car with Wisconsin license plates. During the football season you can see Green Bay fans with foam fake cheese wedges on their heads at NFL games. They invade us once a year to play the Vikings. There is a good natured rivalry between the two neighboring states.

I returned late last night from a quick road trip to the Motherland of Wisconsin cheese, New Glarus, WI. The area is well-known to tourists and claims to be "Little Switzerland". It was settled by Swiss emigrants and now draws tourists to sample the culture. The little town resembles a village in Switzerland with it's chalet style architecture and red geranium flowerboxes. I have been there several times before but never stayed overnight. My friend is of Swiss heritage and was in Glarus, Switz. a few weeks ago. She had never visited this Wisconsin town and I enjoyed it more because of her enthusiasm.

We stayed in the Landhaus Chalet Hotel and it was charming. Our first choice had been to get a room in the New Glarus Hotel located centrally downtown. We entered at the lower level and were told that this was the (pizza ) restaurant and bar. We followed the directions to go around to the side entrance to find the New Glarus Hotel. We did. The guy there affirmed this was the NG Hotel but they did not have rooms. The New Glarus Hotel is a restaurant. Perhaps I should have been asking for a "zimmer".

The village is decorated with life sized painted cow statues. I think this originated in a Swiss town. Chicago did this a few years back. There are cows on top of signs, cows reclining on outdoor patios, and cows in front of stores. This area thrived because the early immigrants brought their cheese-making skills from the old world and they owe their survival to cows. At one time there were 22 cheese factories in this small town. They made Wisconsin famous for cheese.

If you visit New Glarus, don't miss the historical old Swiss village. Our tour guides were very knowledgeable and the artifacts and recreated or preserved buildings are interesting.
There are many festivals and events that draw tourists. Check it out if you haven't already.
link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Glarus,_Wisconsin

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Annie Get Your Gun

Fair warning. If you tell me something and neglect to say you told me "in confidence" your remarks might appear in this blog.
My Nunchucka blog brought an e-mail response from my Texas sister. She wasn't as enthusiastic as I about nunchucks, but said she was considering a 410 pistol for defense against snakes and varmin. The gun she was considering was a two shot pistol.

I would need more than a two shot pistol for the snakes. The target might move. Carolyn said she had seen a 6 inch baby garden snake on her sidewalk recently. Do you think she could have hit that with a pistol? You could have clubbed it to death with the pistol but it would be hard to shoot a vital part of a skinny six-inch slithering snake in my opinion.

I am sympathetic to my sister's dilemma. She lives in Texas. They have wildlife that can hurt you. Snakes. I do want her to stay safe. So far her only defense against snakes has been the chickens. When they started ranching, they built up a flock of chickens who were also useful to patrol for baby rattlesnakes. The chickens can safely eat the little snakes which are more venomous that the bigger rattlers. Who knew. I wonder what happens when you eat the chicken that ate the highly poisonous snake. Wouldn't that make an interesting episode of CSI Texas?

Less Alarming Than I Thought

I'm off on a short road trip today with a friend. She had mentioned getting an early start so when we talked yesterday she asked what time were we leaving. I came back with "Nine o'clock". She replied that eight was what she was thinking. I told her I'd call when I was up and ready.
Since retirement my alarm clock has been retired too. I am not a late sleeper, but I wake up when I wake up. Occasional bouts of insomnia coupled with periods where I burn the midnight oil have left me catching sleep when I can. I told my husband about not wanting to set an alarm to "go on vacation". Wise man that he is, he said most people live by waking to an alarm to get up for work. When they are on vacation they enjoy a break from that regime. He reminded me I am on perpetual vacation and have reversed the situation. Now I should set the alarm. Get going.
I set the alarm for 6:00am. I awoke around 2:00am. That is why I am blogging now. It seems I have plenty of time to get ready and won't disappoint my friend who wants to get an early start. Maybe she would answer her phone if I called now. Might be better to wait until sunrise.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

N.A.R.N.I.A.----Story of My New Club

This tale has no wardrobe, witch or lion. This is about my new club.

It is June and once again "vetting time". We have a supreme court nominee whose past decisions are being scrutinized. I heard this story on the radio yesterday. Looking for any past cases that may tell how she would vote on Second Amendment cases, her involvment in a lower courts opinion on the legality of nunchucks was discussed.

There is a New Yorker who is fighting to overthrow a New York state law banning nunchucks.

He claims they have no right to interfere with his right to bear arms and anyway nunchucks are a defensive weapon. They are a couple of attached sticks. This story has a more serious side. His father was stabbed to death and he proposes nunchucks are a great defensive weapon against knives. NOW he had my attention. I am more afraid of someone pulling a knife on me than a gun. That may not make sense, but it is how I feel.

I know the right to have a gun is a hot button issue. I know about the Second Amendment. I know there is a bullet shortage because some believe the current administration wants to restrict their Second Amendment rights. My dad hunted. I have many friends who have licenses to carry concealed and one with a loaded shotgun by the kitchen door. I am neutral. I wouldn't put a sign on my front lawn that says, "No Guns Allowed on These Premises" because I am not stupid. Duh! Don't let the robber with a gun know if you don't have a gun.

When they teach gun training, they say never draw your weapon if you couldn't actually use it. I couldn't use it. I could grab my nunchucks. I would need some martial arts instruction to actually scare the bad guys. The only problem is having them readily available. I could hang them from my belt if I wore a belt. I wouldn't drape them around my neck because then the bad guy would strangle me with my own weapon. Having your own weapon used against you if why I am not "Gun hoe" about guns.

So I have a new club. (I don't have the nunchucks "clubs" yet.) There is a club you can join online called N.A.R.N.I.A. That is an acronym for National Alliance for Relief from Nunchucka Intolerance in America. That is a lot to remember for someone who couldn't even spell nunchuck before yesterday. Always thought that word was numchucks. Nunchucka? Is that plural. Are two sticks chained together referred to singularly or as a plural? Nunchucka sounds like a Native American chant to me.

I always Google for my blogging graphics but can't use what I found today. I would offend my Catholic friends and relatives. If you are curious, go to Google and click on images and type in nunchucks. It's not that bad but that is the opinion of a woman who wore a nun's habit to a party recently. Hmmm. I do have a belt on that outfit where I could attach my nunchucks. I might look as scary as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. That gives me an idea. Our youngest had all the "turtles" gear when he was six. Maybe there are some nunchucka packed away with his boyhood toys.

Monday, June 1, 2009


See I have only blogged twice this month, so here is another. Oh yeah, it is June 1st. I Googled a couple other blogs with names similar to my blog and see they don't post everyday. Why am I so driven?

Wondered if anyone had ever tried to make Waldorf Red Velvet cake substituting grated beets instead of 2 oz of red food coloring? I heard about this but don't want to try it if it isn't good.

Heard another helpful hint. Ice cream gets frostbitten in our freezer. Heard if you put the carton in upside down that doesn't happen. Worth a try.

Oh, my gosh. I have become Heloise.

In Memory of My Mom

Mom died fifteen years ago today. Her funeral was on June 3rd, 1994, which was my dad's birthday.
When you are young, you hope you won't be like your mom.
When you get older, you hope you will.
Still miss you mom, but know where you are.

Would Be Good Ash Wednesday Blog

This is a true story. Jon and I stopped to apologize to our pastor for giggling in church (uncontrollably) during his preaching yesterday. I won't say what struck us funny , but he told us this story about a similar incident that made him laugh. Years ago when he was a Youth Pastor, he was teaching a group of teens. He read the text, "Remember man that thou art but dust...". One kid asked , "What's but(t) dust?" (Was this an innocent question or a cheeky kid? )

Oh, my.

One might think that telling a story like this about scripture would provoke the Almighty to send lightning bolts and thunder. I think God has a sense of humor. I am also feeling particularly brave and even if he sent the thunder and lightnin' it might be followed by rain which would be a blessing. We are in a drought. This is the driest month of May since the late 1800's. Pretty soon we may all be but dust....