Sunday, May 31, 2009

Water Scooping Airplane

We spent the afternoon with a group of friends at a lakehome on Forest Lake. Late in the afternoon we noted a big, bulky yellow plane like this flying low over the water. It made multiple sweeps over the lake scooping up water. This fixed wing plane is used to fight forest fires. We were not aware of a fire and didn't smell smoke so it could have been a training mission. (Monday morning news tells of wildfires threatening homes in Andover in the northern suburbs.)
Seven or eight years ago we visited friends who lived in Montana. It was very dry and widespread forest fires were raging. In the evening we sat on their deck and watched fires on the side of the nearby mountain. We spent a Sunday at their cabin on a long canyon lake and watched a plane like this continually dip to the lake surface to scoop up water. The fires were near. Their lake property was safe because the fires had already burned close to it. No more fuel for a fire that day.
It is amazing to watch the firefighting activities and I admire the bravery of the firefighters who do this work. My son has a childhood friend who graduated from St. Olaf College and then became a smokejumper. At $35,000 / year for college, seems like expensive preparation for the job.

And the Winner Isn't........Or Is It?

It's been a year of surprise upsets and second place finishes for frontrunners. Didn't everyone think Hillary Clinton had the Democrat nomination for president in the bag? Wasn't Miss California USA in good shape to win before "the question"? Didn't Adam Lambert outshine other contestants on AI? Even Derby winner Mine That Bird placed second in the Preakness. The latest to get the red ribbon is Britain's Susan Boyle. The You-tube star and leading contender for England's talent show came in second. Maybe second place isn't so bad. Hillary has a steady job and is in the public eye. No one can remember who came in first at the Miss USA contest and Adam Lambert is making dual appearances with the guy who actually won American Idol. Susan Boyle already has signed a recording contract and gotten a makeover. We all know what job Mine That Bird will eventually get---stud farm.
Do you think any of this is consolation to Norm Coleman? Norm is currently in the number two spot. Minnesota still doesn't have our election results from the November senate race. It goes to the state supreme court this week. There is talk of appealing to the US supreme court if that fails. Our governor has asked citizens to e-mail him budget saving tips. Here is one. Let's go with one senator and save that salary. Norm can keep busy hanging out with Susan or Hillary or Miss California. I don't care what Al Franken does.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Spin Doctor

The pictured blue device is called a Spin Doctor. It is used to restrain goats and sheep and I believe it turns or spins so a rancher or vet can do a procedure. If you want to crop a tail or tag an ear this is helpful. They might even be doing worse things to the poor male sheep or goat. I think they have a larger size used for dealing with cattle.
Last winter the TV show 60 Minutes did a segment on a woman named Temple Grandin. She is a professor of animal behavior and an acknowledged expert on treating animals humanely in feedlots and slaughterhouses. She claims to have an edge in instinctively understanding how animals feel because she is autistic. Interesting theory.
Besides teaching, she has a career in the livestock industry. She can communicate with animals and understand how to better manage them. On the TV show she talked about seeing how this device calmed animals during procedures and rigging a similar device for herself to calm herself. It works for her.
The machine is probably called the "Spin Doctor" because it spins, but I was more familiar with hearing that phrase used to relate someone who verbally tries to manage the news by cleaning it up. They "spin" it. Think the White House Press Secretary's recent comments about "What Joe Biden meant to say"about swine flu and travel. Yesterday we heard President Obama saying that supreme court nominee Sonia Sotomayor would "probably rephrase her comments" in which she said "a wise Latina judge often would make better decisions than a white male." Come again? This is a good example of current spin doctor practices.
Maybe John Q. Public is like the sheep in the spin doctor device. We are restrained and captive while they (politicians) are doing awful things to us and we don't object. Spin doctors. Nasty stuff happens.

Congratulation to Andy and Laura

Announcing the engagement of our youngest son Andrew to his lovely Laura. They met in college and have dated five years. We are thrilled.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Coached by a Friend and Neighbor to be a Smart Shopper

Woo Hoo! Look at my bargain. I was saleing (garage sales) with friend Mary this morning. She picked up a brown purse and said it was nice, but "I don't need another brown purse. It is leather, Jane". I picked it up, asked if she really didn't want it, and thought it was leather and in excellent condition. Surely it was worth a buck. I peeked inside and saw the patch that said "Coach". The tag on the outside said "Coach" too. A knockoff, I thought. When I paid for it I told the woman I would impress with the purse even if it was a knock off. The seller, a neighbor, said it was real. Her sister and another person were previous owners, but it was real. I am feeling like a good bargain hunter.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

God Save the French ??????

A couple years ago Americans were ticked off with the French and started calling french fries freedom fries. They won't have that problem in England today because they call those potatoes chips. I think they are mad at the French, though.

The 65th anniversary of D-Day is coming up on June 6th and no one invited QE2! They invited Obama, but not the queen. Hello. I think the Brits had a little something to do with saving the continent. Wasn't the Normany Invasion launched from the UK?

Sources say Queen Elizabeth is offended. The French may have to sing a few verses of "God save the French" because they may not have too many friends left to bail them out next time. They will have to depend on God.

Roamin' Roman

Mary said Roman has a cold and was cranky and crying until she took out the camera. He immediately was smiley and posing. He likes the camera. Someday he will see what mommy and daddy have done to chronicle his baby years on their blog. What a ham.

Pretty in Pink Princess Zoe

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The German

For years our yard was too shady to grow tomatoes. When we first moved here twenty-six years ago, we had a productive garden. Then the trees matured and we had too much shade. I grew a few plants in containers in front of the house where it is sunny. Almost two years ago we had to cut down two mature trees. Viola. Sunshine and better grass and full sun in part of the backyard. We put in four tomato plants along the fence last year that more than met our needs with plenty to share with tomatoless friends.
Memorial Day was the traditional day when it seems safe to put in the garden. You can plant sooner and hope you don't get chilly weather, but the end of May will usually work. We spent five hours Monday removing sod, chopping roots, and enlarging last year's garden plot. Our original garden space is still too shady for tomatoes. Both of us were exhausted. Thirty years ago we could have done that job in an hour. We put in tomatoes and herbs. When I bought the plants I decided to try an heriloom tomato plant. People rave that heirlooms flavor is better than hybrids. The nursery had about a varities dozen to chose from. When I spotted one called "The German" I bought it. I wanted a sturdy, reliable, productive plant. It will be interesting to see how we like it.
Yesterday afternoon a gentleman called for Jon. He wasn't available and I asked if I could take his number and have Jon return the call. He replied he was calling from Germany and had seen some old photographs online that Jon had posted on his Picasa site. He thought one was of an ancestor of his. He has the same last name and wondered if we were related. I exchanged email addresses with him. He is an American who married a German and has lived in the Bavaria for twenty-five years. He lives outside of Wurzberg where Jon was stationed in the Army.
Small world. I should have asked him about those "German" tomatoes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Expanding Our Vocabulary and Tightening Our Belts

I have learned a new word ---unallotment. It isn't even in my 2001 edition of "Webster's II New College Dictionary". It might be new to you too if you don't live in Minnesota.
It means withdrawal of previously appropriated funds.

Like most other states, Minnesota is facing a huge budget deficit. Even after a few billion from the feds, we are short $4,600,000,000.00. Our legislature convened in January and began working on the budget. We are mandated by law to balance the budget. States cannot print money like Washington. The legislature and the governor were at odds. Lawmakers could not make deep cuts that they thought too painful to healthcare etc. The governor hung tough. As time grew short, he told them not to send him a budget that spent more than anticipated income or he would veto it. They sent him a budget that was billions too high. He vetoed it.

The legislature could not reach an agreement to cut spending to match income before the session ended. Other years, when this happened, the governor has called a special session ( an extension) to continue the haggling. This year he didn't. He said he would fix it himself by using a law allowing executive order of "unallotment" to balance the books. Many people are cheering him on. If he had called a special session we would probably have the expense of paying legislators "overtime" and still no agreement.

Ordinary prudent people practice unallotment in their personal budgets. Those who don't, have crushing credit card debt or worse financial woes. Unallotment slashes spending if you don't have the money coming in. Paycheck and bills must match.

It is refreshing to watch this governor deal realistically even if we are going to have some painful cuts in this state. One of the things that passed through this state legislature was 32 million for a practice ice rink for the NFL hockey team. Sorry fellows, learn to skate outdoors like they did in the glory days of hockey in this state. It made those small town northern Minnesota teams tough contenders. We don't have an extra 32 million this year. We are skating on thin ice.

Monday, May 25, 2009

They Are Almost Playing Our Song

The Minnesota Rouser

Minnesota, hats off to thee,To thy colors true we shall ever be,

Firm and strong, united are we.Rah! Rah! Rah! for Ski-U-Mah,

RAH! RAH! RAH! RAH!Rah for the U. of M.
M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A!Minnesota! Minnesota!Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah GOPHERS!
Those are the lyrics of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers fight song.
Hardly anyone knows what the lyric, "Ski-U-Mah" means. I don't. I might have once.
After nearly thirty years of playing football games in the downtown Mpls. HHH Metrodome, the Gophers will be back on campus this fall in their new stadium. I am usually not happy when we are paying to build more stadiums, but this one I like.
They should never have moved football off the campus. In 1982 the Gophers began playing their games in the then new downtown Metrodome. The abandoned campus Memorial stadium
nicknamed "the brickyard", sat vacant until it was torn down in 1992. An aquatics center was built on that site.
We drove through campus yesterday and I was impressed with this imposing, tucked-in edifice. It is beautiful. They have installed the maroon and gold seats that spell MINNESOTA. I can imagine sitting in the stadium on a nice, sunny fall day. I can imagine what it will be like to park.
This new stadium has everything. Luxury suites, stunning views of the city skyline, towering bleachers. The only thing is doesn't have is beer. The legislature and the Board of Regents couldn't agree on the rules. University administration did not want beer sold in the bleachers where underage students might have access. Alumni groups wanted beer sold in the box seats and luxury suites. The Governor maintained beer should be available to everyone over 21, not just those in the high priced seats. They couldn't work out a compromise. There will be no beer this year. Couldn't they have put the student seats in the upper decks and kept that dry? Everyone knows "in heaven there is no beer."
It is named the TCF Bank Stadium. Everyone sells naming rights to the highest bidder. Good thing is wasn't AIG who kicked in the most money. It might have been interesting if the donor had been Summit Beer.
The other new stadium under construction in Minnespolis, the Twins baseball stadium, is named Target Field. We also have a Target Center where our NBA team plays.
I didn't have my camera yesterday so you must settle for going to the website architects sketch.

Scanning for Cats

I have often likened my husband to Dr. Doolittle. He talks to animals and they talk back. He likes animals with the exception of squirrels . He doesn't like squirrels. He has been known to take out a BB gun to the squirrel hanging from the bird feeder. That makes me cringe, but I don't like that behaviour either. He never hits them. The BB gun he uses he got for Christmas when he was a kid. It doesn't shoot straight. Last week while shopping at Fleet Farm, he found a BB gun with a scope. Funny. He didn't buy it. When he told son in-law Mike about it, Mike said he had heard of night vision on a BB gun. The great white hunters. Mike hates the rascal rabbits that eat their scrubs and ornamental grasses.

I laughed at the concept of an improved BB gun until my neighbors cats started using my mulched flower garden as a litter box. Ish! I scattered cigarette ashes where they were going. That made them move the area they used. Today when I spotted one of the cats doing his thing, Jon asked how I felt about a scoped BB gun now. I think a sling shot would be more my style. Hit the cat with a water balloon. Cats hate being wet. I don't want to put its' eye out.

Before I consider mayhem, I thought I would check the city code about cats. I Googled "Stillwater, Mn + Cats" and got information where I could get a CAT scan. On the second try, I found out it is against city code to have an animal "At Large". I don't believe we have a leash law like St. Paul. We have friends that put their cat in the backyard on a leash. Doesn't seem safe for the cat if someone lets their big dog prowl. I suppose you would hear a vocal alert from the cat if that happened and I am not sure the dog would automatically win.
In the meantime, I am left with cat poop in my garden. I don't want to have a disagreement with my neighbor. Maybe I will do what my Uncle Earl did. Scoop up the stuff with a shovel and leave it on their front door step.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Moment of Remembrance

Tomorrow May 25th is the day we remember and honor those who have died in service to their country. At 3:00 pm there is a designated Moment of Remembrance. Pause in silence to give honor and thanks.

Posers ..

If I don't quit writing about bugs no one will read this blog.

Yesterday I quoted son Dan who said, "Not all shiny green bugs are Emerald Ash Borers, mom."

We had captured one of our invading insects and Dan identified it as a Tiger Beetle. It likes to eat ants and spiders, not ash trees. Hooray.

My husband often reminds me I tend to see things pessimistically. I was shopping for new trees to plant when I thought we already had an infestation. He is more pragmatic. Wait and see. Enough bad things happen without looking for trouble.

Our bug is second from the left in the bottom row in the "line up" of impostors. Not guilty.
I don't think I would want to be an entomologist.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ashes, Ashes , All Fall Down

Headline in the local paper, The Stillwater Gazette, yesterday:

"If you see this bug, kiss your ash goodbye: tree-lovers on the lookout Emerald ash borer beetle.."

A little later, my husband Jon, came in with a 1/2in. iridescent green bug he found in our driveway. We checked the picture on-line and it sure looks like the culprit. He took it to a local nursery and the clerk was not certain if she could make a positive ID. We will need to follow up with someone more knowledgeable. Our three ash trees in the front yard look healthy. No display disease symptoms.

I called our horticulturist son, Dan, who reminded me not all green bugs are Emerald Ash Borers. Take a deep breath.

Tuesday was an extremely windy day. Maybe this green bug was blown into our yard. Maybe it is not an Emerald Ash Borer. Maybe that is wishful thinking and we will have to kiss our ash goodbye. So sad.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Gitmo For Your Dollar By Recycling, Reuse.

If you want to start a heated conversation, mention Gitmo. It provokes strong feelings. It has been in the news a lot this week. The new president promised to close this off shore prision. He is finding that to be a little more complex than issuing the executive order.
There are some questions that come to my mind about Guantanamo. How come we still have possession of a base in Cuba? Why does it cost 80million$$$ to close it? How much do we pay Fidel to break that lease?
When it comes to moving these detainees out of Cuba even those who opposed keeping them off-shore don't want them to come to their home state. I feel the same way. I live in a prision town. Years ago we had Muriel boatlift Cuban criminals languishing here for years. In a special arrangement with the federal government, Stillwater State Penitentiary housed men we didn't know what to do with. We couldn't return them. We couldn't let them loose. Locals are not comfortable with some of these Al Qaida terrorists doing time in their state. Who wants the possibility of their terrorist buddies trying to free them? The government answer is to put them in Supermax prisons. Today's paper says there is only one available bed in the Supermax prison outside of Denver. My question, couldn't we just say we put them there and house them in Area 51 in Nevada? No one gets in there. No one gets any information about that place. Don't rumors say that is where the "aliens" are? Aren't they aliens? If that didn't work, we must have some abandoned nucleur underground silos in North Dakota we could adapt. Hopefully, they haven't been converted to Bed & Breakfasts. Thirty feet of concrete should be enough to secure the badest of the bad and with the wide open spaces of Dakota they would see the attack coming if Al Qaida came to town.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Volkscar for the Volks

Remember the origin of the Volkswagen? A car for the people. Unfortunately, it is a legacy of The Fuhrer. This efficient country also gave us the autobahn, a road that tied the country together and helped Hitler move his army quickly. General Eisenhauer saw the benefit and when he was president initiated our national interstate system. So far so good. But, we still didn't have a small, mileage efficient vehicle mass produced for "the people". Wait no more. They are coming by government mandate. Yesterday, Washington set the benchmark for our auto producers to increase gas efficiency in vehicles. That sells well on the coasts. I bet it doesn't sell well in Texas. Texans like fuel efficient cars are well as Californians do, but they do not like having the feds tell them what they must drive. They probably will not like the President telling the American auto makers what to produce. Oh, I forgot. We the people now own Detroit.
My second son is a Dittohead. We often tell him to turn down his volumn when he relates his views and that of his radio talkshow favorites, but a lot of it makes sense. A lot of it is bombastic and I tune that out. Federal car mandates are not well received with the right.
Oh, there is always a silver lining in life. I dumped my financial mutual fund investments the day they started regaining strength. I prefer to think I took a bullet for the country rather than I was stoopid! My sale might have been the tipping point that got the rally going. I dont' think I will repurchase that fund with the money I have waiting in money market accounts in my IRA. I think I will cash out and buy some of those cheap big SUVs and muscular 350 pickup trucks. Then I will wait until all you can buy manufactured in America is 4 cylinder, lightweight cars. Those big SUVs and pickups might fetch a good price in the Republic of Texas. I think this latest action is going to tick them off.

We're Having a Heat Wave

Yesterday morning when I called my friend Mary and asked if she wanted to go for a walk, she declined. She was going to Duluth with a group that included a Russian visitor to show her our fair state's sites. Weather here was predicted to be sunny with a high of 83. My home page said by Lake Superior in Duluth is was 37 with a chance of rain. I remarked she might want to bring a coat.
Anyone in the upper half of Minnesota yesterday needed a coat. There were places where the temperature at noon was 32 degrees. In southern Minnesota we didn't need one. The thermometer soared to 97. It snuck up on us and Jon didn't even turn on AC. I had a sweatshirt on until 3:00pm. In spring you still get cool nights and I was chilly this morning when I woke up and even shut some windows. Minnesota. Land of all seasons, sometimes in the same day in the same state. I imagine Texas which is 1000 miles long has the same thing happen.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In Training But Not For the Marathon

Another one of "those" emails with a fantastic claim found its way to my computer yesterday. I watched the You tube video and was amazed. What if these claims were true? Another link to a series of lectures on you tube gives more information with some credibility. Superbrain Yoga. Claims of improvement in function and well being after doing a simple regime to stimulate the limbic system to function normally and regulate brain chemistry. We treat neurological and mental health problems with medication (alter brain chemistry) so why not? Most agree exercise helps depression. If it is true, it seems like a simple treatment. Claims are improvement in memory, reversing dementia and depression and treatment for autism.
Judge for yourself. Interesting. Now if I can just do those deep squats while remembering to keep my thumbs facing out. That should get easier with practice...the thumb part.

Another Loss

Last month Stillwater lost it's weekly newspaper, The Courier. The current economy and trends in readership and advertising contributed to its demise. We were extremely fortunate to have two newspapers in a town of 17,000 population. We still had the Stillwater Gazette which publishes a daily paper ----no weekend issues. We still have newspaper carriers who are kids who deliver door to door. They cover the local and national news. You can follow local high school sports and read a favorite local columnist or catch up on news of the garden or book clubs. Mayberry lives! Mayberry lived until yesterday when it was announced we are losing that paper too. How sad. With big city newspapers in bankruptcy or their stability in doubt I pleased we would at least have the local rag. Stillwater Gazette has been publishing continuously since 1870. What a shame.

Monday, May 18, 2009

See Jane Run

Next Sunday is the Memorial weekend Stillwater Marathon. There have been runs before, but this one has a full marathon through the city and into the countryside. There is also a half marathon and a 10K. I am involved. I checked online for a website and the third one said "See Jane run 14K". That is not about me. I am volunteering at a water stand.

My freind Karen, who is about to retire from ER nursing, asked if I wanted to work with her in the first aid tent. I do have an active RN licence but have let my CPR certification expire. Probably not a good idea to volunteer as a nurse. I could apply aces and do vital signs but feel out of touch with the bigger emergencies. I will have to settle for reviving tired participants with a bottle of H2O. StillH2O .

Sunday, May 17, 2009

For Crying Out Loud

I posted a link to a video of my favorite American Idol guy singing a cover of the Smokey Robinson 60's, "Track of My Tears" last week. Adam Lambert does a great job on the song I love. During the day I sometimes fire up the You-tube and play it. When my husband walks in he usually sings along morphing into the lyrics of "Tears of a Clown" which is another 60's Smokey Robinson classic. Not the same song but both memorable.

Here is a link to a video of Smokey and "Tears of a Clown".

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Constant Gardener Sets the Table

It's a seasonal disorder I suffer from: Garage sale shopping. After finding more than enough clothes for summer for the twins, I relapsed into my other weakness. Yesterday I purchased four tableclothes at an estate sale. I was overjoyed. They were 25cents each and fit large enough to fit my dining room table when it is fully extended with five leaves in it. One was a brand new Christmas table cloth in the sealed package with a $40.00 price tag from Herbergers.

Why do I get these great deals? Because no one but me uses tableclothes. My mum did and I think she would be excited at my purchases. One was white and one was peach. I have three or four of each of those colors already. Help!

Today was cold and only the hearty Minnesotan would be out garage saleing. I was. I vowed NO MORE TABLE LINES. Not even placemats or linen napkins. I kept that promise but forgot I also have a penchant for silk flowers. I use them to fill in color in my garden. I have always had a lot of shade and it is hard to get plants that flower all summer. I add a few to my daylily beds, add a few here and there. Is that cheating? Probably. This morning I got two large boxes of various colored silk flowers at a church rummage sale for $1. I keep a pink flower garden, one in purple and blue, another in oranges and related colors with lots of coleus and another in yellow and white. I don't think I will put them in until summer flowers are blooming.

I also got a bunch of real violas that can go in today when it is a cool spring day. From the pictures, can you tell the real flowers from the fake? Maybe I can get by with this.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Watch for Signs Ahead

Today I met the twins daycare mom. I need to pick them up one afternoon at daycare next week and needed to know how to get there and have her know who I was. While we were visiting she asked Mary, our daughter, if Mary and Mike were okay with her beginning to teach the kids sign language for the pre-verbal baby. We will all have to learn so we can communicate and understand.

I am thrilled with the prospect of finding out what is on those little minds. There are simple action signs the kids are taught such as hand signals that mean " drink", "hot", "cold", "eat" and "more". ( I wonder if there is a sign for, "I just feel like crying. Not hungry. Not tired. ")

You chose how extensive you want their vocabulary and how much all the adults can learn.

Since the six month Dr. appt. they have been getting strained food. Roman is a chow hound. Once he is strapped in his high chair he wants the feeding to begin. Pronto. Don't slow down and don't quit. He likes his food. He also likes his bottle. Mary laughed thinking how insufferable he might become when he could sign "eat" and "more".

After they have mastered basic signs it won't be long before they are jingling the car keys and putting out a hand to dad for $10. Those days come fast.

More from a Proud Grandma

From a continuous feed of new twins pictures from daughter Mary's baby blog. I loved these from a couple of days ago. Zoe has such a sweet smile and Roman such a winning smile. I call her my "peachie pie" because she has such a rosy, pink complexion. She is dressed in pink much of the time. When I was little my mom dressed me in pink for the same reason. I didn't wear it much when I was older.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Prayer

I get tears in my eyes when I hear Andrea Boccelli sing, "The Prayer". Found a You-tube video done a few years ago of Adam Lambert from American Idol singing it that is also beautiful. I like his cleaner cut look. He looks like a young Kurt Russell.

This Morning's Scene

Jon was awake an hour before me this morning and watched as two Mallard ducks swooped over our yard and landed in the neighbor's pool. They had been swimming an hour by the time I grabbed the camera. I caught them drying off before they left.
With all the pools in backyards and at hotels in this state, was it really necessary to vote in a 1/2% sales tax increase for wildlife habitat last year? They seem to be doing fine.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

God Save the Queen Some Money

My sister jokingly said her youngest granddaughter has her personality and when she grows up would probably like to be Queen of her own country. She is a beautiful girl and might accomplish that feat. Would that make my sis the Queen Grandmum?

Funny story on the BBC news last night about a 109 yr. UK woman who complained that the Queen had sent her the same birthday card every year since she turned 100. She wanted to see a card with a different picture of the queen. She thought they should change the dress. I bet QE2's social secretary doesn't get many complaints like that. They sent Prince William out to the woman's house for tea to appease her. She was thrilled but I bet on her 110th birthday the picture of the Queen on the card will change.

If I were the Queen of the UK I would probably have ordered a few thousand of the same card to send as well. For years I have recycled birthday cards. As long as my husband's name is written on the envelope and my signature is inside, I see no reason not to snatch the card back and give it to him again next year. I expressed my sentiments about the high price of Hallmark cards one year and my daughter and youngest son gave me cards with post-it notes stuck to the inside and on the envelope. They had a note telling me I could recycle this card too. I have.

10 Things to Ponder

1. I didn't get the Swine Flu. I read a comment in the paper's Bulletin Board section this morning saying since pork is now cheap after bad press from the swine flu, will they please name the next flu the "Beer Flu"?

2. Some are proclaiming early indicators say the recession is ending. Imagine, this happened before I got my SS stimulus check. Did we need the stimulus spending or did it help?

3. It is the end of the reality show season. We will know who is the thinnest, best dancer, most loved singer and survived a snake infested island or raced around the world quickest. I don't watch all of these shows but am guilty of watching some. Perhaps virtual reality has been more pleasant than "real" reality. Were we more righteous when we just worried about what the Nelsons Family would talk about at dinner? Comparitively speaking, we probably were more innocent when we were interested in Ozzie and Harriet instead of Ozzy and Sharon.
Do you think there will be another reality show where the contestants must be the best singer/dancer who loses the most weight while racing around the world and visits snake infested islands?

4. How can I stop the bunny rabbits from eating my impatients and newly planted expensive shrubs? A friend claims Liquid Fence works for deer and rabbits. My son in law has turned into Elmer Fudd defending his perenniel grasses and shrubs.

5. You can freeze eggs. You can even freeze human eggs. I listened to a woman on the book beat yesterday tout her book about reproductive choices. She suggests freezing the young eggs to keep options open. A woman could preserve her fertility, work at her career, then stay home and have babies later. Our last was born when I was almost 41. I don't think giving birth in your 50's would be that great.

6. Travel is cheap, cheap, cheap. Seven day cruises to Alaska which include airfare are under $500. Accommodations might be in the lifeboat but you would eat well on the trip and enjoy the same sights. One Mexican seaside resort offers a guarantee of three free weeks if you contact the Swine Flu while vacationing. With health officials less worried about half of the world perishing from flu it would be a good time to get bargains.

7. Why is it we read about someone promoting leading a simpler lifestyle and we are encouraged to read their book or take their seminar? Is that simpler? Even in tough economic times entrepreneurial minds are at work.

8. The seed business is booming. My husband's cousin works for a major seed company and he says business is up 80%. Years ago you could harvest your own seeds and replant. Now most are engineered so you must buy their seed every year. There is also a boom in heritage seeds. My mom saved a lot of things but I didn't find any tomato seeds after she died. Who knew.

9. With the demise of several major auto brands, will we have to buy spare parts for Hummers and Saterns on eBay in the future?

10. Why are movies booming just when so many now have big flat screen TVs? Maybe it is driven by the guys for whom TV is never big enough. They are bringing back 3-D and sensory experiences at the theatres. The seats will move with the action. All of these are retro moves. Now if they would like to restore 1960 pricing ......

Donald Ducks the Charges

His ex-wife dubbed him "The Donald". Donald Trump, a guy with an ego to match his real estate holdings, has spoken. Did he defend the blonde because she was wrongly maligned? What did it matter if she came in first or second? She got lots of free publicity for her career. Did he promote her because there is a yet unreveled career move of hers financed and promoted by him? Was what came out of her mouth justified? Did "The Donald" do the right thing? Do we care?
I think he was wrong. I admit to watching the spectacle and think Joan Rivers acted like an idiot. She was rude. She maligned her competitor. She has issues.
Another distressed blonde was rescued by the Donald yesterday. Miss California was accused of bigotry for her answer to a question about gay marriage. He got it right. The judge in the pageant asked her for her opinion. She gave it. She didn't pass the litmus test of the judge and he was disrespectful of her.
I doubt if we would have remembered her in a month if she had won the Miss Universe pageant. Now we will because of the controversy. What was the name of the contestant who actually won the Miss USA title?
Her defense of the nude photos was a little thin. What woman wouldn't notice if the wind accidentally blew open her clothes? If it was accidental, I think there would have been a shot of a surprised woman clutching her blouse. Even this probably won't hurt her career. Who remembers the #2 contestant who replaced Vanessa Williams as Miss America decades ago? We do know what became of Vanessa Williams.
I don't think virtue has much to do with beauty pageants or "The Celebrity Apprentice". The Donald still knows how to get publicity and make money. My husband says the charges against Miss California USA were "Trumped Up".

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Golden Calf

Don't call me tonight between 7:00pm and 8:00pm. I will be watching "American Idol". I will be watching it with bit of guilt about that title. Idolatry. Last week's judge's comment about one contestant being "a god". But, they aren't gods to me or even idols but talented young people. My favorite girl was voted off last week. She was sixteen when the competition began and reminded me of Janis Joplin. I know Joplin wasn't a good role model but I loved her singing.

Of the remaining three contestants Adam and Danny are my favorites. I am not a fan of Adam's makeup but what a performer. I would like to give him some grandmotherly advice to return to his natural look. Forget the nailpolish and eyeliner. Wish he would sing an Elvis song before this is over.
You tube of cover of "Tracks of Tears".

Face to Face

I am now my own best friend after responding to my own invite on Facebook. The beauty of this is, I have no clue how I did the inviting. Since Facebook communicates by email the email I send myself is undeliverable. Can't send yourself a message at the same address and I haven't given them my second email address.

At least my pathetic home page might look better now. Before this I had only three friends. Three friends make me look like a loser. I have heard prospective employers search Facebook pages to get a feel for job applicants. What would they think about me? A 64 yr. old woman with only three friends! Good thing I am not looking for a job.

I shall remain a faceless person with few friends and no readers. Not much different than my blog, I guess although people email me about reading my blog, I have only one official "follower", my daughter. It hasn't stopped me yet.

Have a good day. I think I will check in with my alter-ego and see how things are going.

Monday, May 11, 2009

When The Frost Is On The Tulip

It is late spring, isn't it? I was tempted to buy my annuals this weekend, but decided to wait. This morning there is patchy frost on the ground. For some reason seeing frost triggers memories of the James Whitcomb Riley poem, "When the Frost is on the Pumpkin". I memorized a lot of poetry when I was young and can usually remember a few lines of various poems. Miniver Cheevey also comes to mind and "How do I love thee...."

In case you are poetry deficient, here is the whole poem:
(You will need a dictionary to define and pronounce some obscure words.
What's a kyouck? Hallylooyer? Guess Riley didn't have spellcheck on his PC.

When the Frost is On the Pumpkin

-by James Whitcomb Riley

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,

And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,

And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,

And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;

O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best,
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,

As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere

When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,

And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;

But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze

Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days

Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,

And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;

The stubble in the furries—kindo' lonesome-like, but still

A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;

The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover overhead!—

O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Losing Face? -or - Mystery Woman

A month or so ago my longtime friend Barb invited me to be her friend on Facebook. I didn't have a Facebook account but reluctantly joined. I put minimal info on my page but enjoyed reading Barb's musings on her page. I added a few comments of my own. (Of course I did. Never been one not to talk, even if it is electronic chatter.)
My page still looked like a wanted poster of a train robber who wore a mask. No picture of me because I don't know how to add pictures.

After joining I got a couple more requests to be friends, from a former co-worker and Barb's daughter Molly. Email today had an invite to be friends with Molly's husband. I followed the link on the email and never did find how to accept his invitation. Yes, James, I would like to be your friend but I'll be darned if I know how to accept. While trying to befriend James, I also found an invitation to be friends with myself. My son told me it probably was a different Jane____, but if it is, she looks just like me; a shadowy figure with no face. He thinks I probably (accidentally) set up two Facebook accounts. Maybe, but I am tempted to make friends with myself, except what could I say to myself that I don't already know? On the plus side, I would also feel less guilty about not having my picture on my home page. Neither of us would have photos. Why do I want to see a picture of myself? I have mastered blogging but Facebook may be my downfall.

On second thought I could always be the first to wish myself a Happy Birthday. I wouldn't forget.

Happy Mother's Day

I know my mom is happy. She was a woman of faith and died in 1994 and is enjoying her reward. I am so thankful I had the good, loving mom I had.
Yesterday's Pioneer Press had a story of a young mom of five sons. The husband had been laid off eleven weeks, the mom was a stay at home mother who enjoyed her life. They ate a lot of pasta, she baked homemade bread, bought everything when it went on sale and for entertainment she let her kids play with the hose. Asked about treats, she said they bought Caribou coffee beans and made cappuccino on Sundays and sometimes Wednesdays. She loved coffee but couldn't afford to make it everyday. When I read this I thought I would like to send that woman some Caribou coffee. Then I realized if we did flood her with coffee beans it would spoil her treat. When I was a kid a bottle of pop was a treat. We never had it at home and most people didn't. It has been a long time since a soda was a treat.
I think having less made this mom appreciate the little things in life.
I have loved watching my daughter clip coupons and shop for artisan bread at the bakery outlet. She and her husband like finding good stuff at garage sales. (This is Mary's first Mother's Day as the new mom of seven month old twins. ) This is the way I was raised and for a while it was an endangered way of life. When we have less we really have more. More appreciation. More fun.
I am also thankful for my daughter in-law Jen. She has always been loving and friendly. She is a common sense hard working mom who loves her kids and our son.
I was also blessed to have a wonderful mother in-law Catherine. She died just before our last son was born and I am sorry he never knew her. When he was around three yrs old, Jon took him to grandma's grave. Spontaneously he said, "Grandma you don't know me, but I am your little grandson, Andy". Sweet. I think she has been watching over her kids and grandkids and knew who he was. A good woman and my advocate, Catherine. I miss her too.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Times, They Are a Changing

It is National Nurses Week. More has changed over my lifetime than the price of postage. The stamp on the left is current. The one on the left was issued when I was a nursing student. First class postage was 4 cents. Sometimes a student nurse had to borrow that amount to write home for money. I always thought the illustration looked like my sister.
There is an ad in the newspaper this morning with two nurses, one male, one female, declaring their pride in being members of the nurses union. While it is fashionable to bash unions, they are probably responsible for lifting salaries and working conditions for nurses in Minnesota.
When I got my first professional job in 1966 a nurse could not afford to pay rent to live alone or own a house. You found several friends and split the rent. I remember well the early days when the union was adopted by twin cities nurses. The year we moved from Minneapolis and I quit working at a major hospital the twin cities nurses union struck for the first time. I was glad not to have to deal with that. Too much of my mom in me. Nurses don't strike, do they? Aren't they angels of mercy? Like it or not, they unions have helped.
Before I retired, I liked to tell stories of the "old days" to young nurses. Sometimes the responsibility we had even scares me. My first job was at University Hospitals. They gave us a good month long orientation. Then they turned us loose and even put us in charge of units on the off shifts. We struggled through with the novice interns. I am not sure that was such a good idea, but boy did we get experience quickly. My next job was also at a huge Minneapolis hospital. I worked cardiac care in the days when they were just starting these intensive care units. When I had my babies, I dropped back to a few part time shifts. They reassigned me to the float pool. There were 22 nurses stations in that hospital and you could be sent to any of them. I worked a lot of critical care because of my background but also found myself a variety of situations such as pediatrics, post-partum. Sr. Kenny rehab , chemical dependency and psych. I even worked charge on psych a few times at night. The psych aides stayed close and helped me muddle through. The only place I never was sent was the operating room and ER.
The education and orientation of today's nurses is a little gentler. We also had a lot of responsibilities as students. One year I worked extra hours as an ICU nurse as a student. I delivered two babies as a student nurse while on my obstetrics rotation. I believe changes in education and practice have done a lot toward safer practices in nursing. I am not sure I would want a student nurse delivering my baby.
Happy Nurses Week to all my younger colleagues out there in the work force. Thanks for your service.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Plenty of Money ??

Here is my favorite Republican: Governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty. He came up with a common sense answer again. Several years ago the state of MN loaned St. Paul $$$ to build an ice arena / convention center called the Excel Center. It was a good investment and has brought business to the capital city and is the home of the Minnesota Wild Hockey team. Now, St. Paul has plans to add another ice rink across the street. They asked for and got the legislature to pass legislation forgiving $32,000,000.00 of debt owed the state. Gov. Pawlenty vetoed the bill and scolded St. Paul for it's priorities in this year of tight budgets.
I guess he figured they had plenty of ice and we didn't have plenty of money.
On the national scene, yesterday a report on the health of the banks was made public. It was optimistic and predicted survival. They only need another $78,000,000,000.00 . My finances would be pretty good too with another seventy-eight billion dollars.

Lessons From History

In the 1600's bubonic plague killed half the population of Europe. In the little Bavarian town of Oberammergau, villagers prayed and told God that if he spared them they would perform a passion play of the life of Jesus every tenth year. They have kept that promise. The next play will be in 2010 and the world will come to see it.

We stopped in Oberammergau on one of our visits to Germany. It is next to Unterammergau. Truely. Over and under. It was not a year of performance. When they do the play the whole town is involved. Nice tribute to answered prayer.

I have friends that come from the central Minnesota town of Cold Spring. Up on a hill overlooking the town is what is commonly known as the Grasshopper Chapel. It was built around 1870 in thanksgiving for being saved from another year of crop devastation by grasshoppers. The swarm of these insects had stripped all the crops in the area. Farmers lost a whole year's produce. Normally, they lay eggs and the next year you are wiped out again. After the first year's devastation the Governor of Minnesota asked the people to pray. They did. There were no grasshoppers the next year.

We have probably escaped major loss of life from this pandemic swine flu. Health officials are now relaxing precautions saying it is not as bad as feared. I know many have been praying. Yesterday on the National Day of Prayer many were thanking God for sparing us. There is no safety like the protection of the Most High. That is good to remember in trying times.

I don't think it would be appropriate to build a little chapel in thanksgiving and name it the Swine Chapel. Just keep the shrine in your hearts.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tribute to Dom Deluise

Anybody besides me miss comics who do a clean act? Dom died this week. His physical comedy and acting will be missed.

Musings on a May Day

It looks like we may not need my "swine flu food stash". About six months ago I increased the food stores at home. In the event of a national disaster / epidemic, there would probably be a run on grocery stores. Why not have more on hand. Can't hurt and you can always donate excess food to the local food shelf.
This darn swine flu has scared us twice in my lifetime. It looks like this pandemic won't be severe. Most get sick and recover without too much fuss. They have quit closing schools for a week when a kid gets sick. Yesterday they reported a case of a farmer giving swine flu to his pigs. Maybe the pigs should be the ones wearing the masks. Couldn't find an illustration of a pig in a mask on line.
It is warm, our grass is growing and has been cut twice. Trees are leafing out. Dandelions are popping up where they haven't already been poisoned. I know they ruin perfect lawns, but I think they are pretty. I will pause to admire a field full of bright yellow weeds. Did you know they are not native to America? An English colonist brought seeds and planted them. I have heard of eating dandelion greens in salad and making dandelion wine. Now, my friend Sue has a recipe for dandelion pesto. With what I have to pay for basil in the supermarket this time of year, ($2.29 a small bunch) it might be worth picking a few wild dandelions and trying this recipe. You must look for the ones that grow organically such as those that grow in parks.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Boomer Angst

The boomers. Largest generation. I missed being a boomer by a year. I was born in Feb. '45 making me a war baby. Boomer status starts with a birthdate of Jan. 1st, 1946. I'm not officially a boomer but grew up in their shadow. Classrooms in my Catholic elementary school had combined "grades" like 1st & 2nd, 3rd & 4th. By the time I was in 2nd grade a very large group of kids was entering behind me. I remember having 54 kids in my classroom when I was in 4th grade.

Anyway, boomers grew up with everything being about them. Now that generation is of retirement age and not all of them want to go. There is a little tension with employers not wanting to be accused of age descrimination. The stock market slide hasn't helped people close to retirement make the leap. I have friends agonizing over making a good decision to leave vs. spend another day at work.

Maybe Brett Favre's return to football will give some solace. Leave and see how it goes. Leave and come back if you don't like it. He came back to play for another team last year. They just released him and now the Vikings have been talking to him. With the ongoing rivalry between these bordering states fans, that would be a bitter outcome for cheesehead fans. Today's sports news has Farve talking to Green Bay. That might go down better than having the gold and green watch him back up the Vikings team. He could make a boomerang move. They probably retired his jersey, but I'm sure they could find another for him to wear.
--Sign of the times. The hospital where I worked the last 22 years of my career is offering an early retirement package to 60 yr. old nurses. They have never done that before.

And Justice For All

Bet you thought Minnesota wouldn't make anymore political news. We would be stuck trying to settle our senatorial election. It has only been six months since the election. The next leg of the decision making starts in June with the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Here's what is new. Supreme Court Justice Souter wants to retire to his camp on a pond in New Hampshire. That is what they call lakes and cabins in New Hampshire. Remember the movie "On Golden Pond?". Here is would translate, "On Golden Lake".

Anyway, there is a vacancy Pres. Obama will get to fill. Chances are pretty good he will nominate a Democrat and a woman. I am all for a woman taking the seat. One of the women suggested is Minnesota's lone Senator Amy Klobuchar. Wouldn't that be fun! We would have no senator. Pundits suggest that would be one way to settle our election dispute. Amy goes to the court; our Republican Governor sends Norm Coleman to replace her, and Al Franken is free to be declared the winner of the election. Whoever thought Minnesota politics was boring.
Are you sure Harold Stassen is still dead? Anybody heard from Jesse lately? Maybe there are other options.

Where's Joe ? part duex

It had to happen. Joe Biden is out of the bunker and being rehabilitated. First the press secretary explained "What Joe really meant" with his comments about not flying or riding the subway. Then we didn't hear much from Joe.
Yesterday he was sprung from seclusion. Pres. Obama and VP Biden went out alone to lunch (with about 40 of the press corps). This might have been step two in reintroducing Joe to the public. See--he is not afraid to eat in a small diner. Not afraid of that flu.
Joe and B.O. ate burgers. They might have taken this a step farther if they had eaten BBQ pork or a Spamburger. Calm public hysteria about consuming pork. The president also asked for french fries. I guess they are politically correct again. Remember the Freedom Fries?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In Search of the Real Brick Cheese

Our friends Dave & Sue love brick cheese and he had heard it was only made at one Wisconsin cheese factory in Comstock, WI. Turns out they don't make it there but do sell it. This cousin of Limberger cheese, AKA "stinky cheese", is so fragrant it comes double wrapped in foil and plastic. Our friends love the stuff. I have more pedestrian tastes in cheese.

I found the history online. It was developed by a Swiss immigrant in the 1800's. He wanted a cheese that was drier than limberger so he pressed it with bricks. That is why they call it Brick Cheese.

I still don't understand why anyone wants to eat something that you have to hold your breath to eat. I am told it is good with beer. I think that explains everything.

When Pigs Fly-- part two

Loved my son in-law's comment on yesterday's "When Pigs Fly" blog. It has happened. Pigs have flown, after all : "Swine Flu (flew)".

I think it is the end of the world.

We were in Wisconsin yesterday with our old friends who are visiting from New Hampshire. The "boys" recently reconnected with a boyhood friend who lived on their block. 45 years had passed since they saw each other, but the friendship and memories are still intact. They are going fishing together for a week in June. That should be fun and recement the friendship -or- it will be another 45 years until they want to see each other.

When we were there he remarked that there was one case of Swine Flu in the next little town. The schools were closed. Don't you think school aged kids might have fond memories of the Swine Flu?

Today is the real Cinco de Mayo. It was celebrated last Saturday in West St. Paul. Andy had planned to go but decided not to tempt fate. I guess he had second thoughts about eating food prepared by someone who may or may not have recently been in Mexico. Instead, he and his girlfriend went to the Festival of Nations. Later he laughed wondering if it really was safer to attend an event held in an indoor arena.

The Wrestler

Is this Mickey Rourke's baby picture?
Not the movie star as a baby. Just a picture I stole from the twins blog. It looks like a little league wrestling match. Roman has a pin but Zoe is fighting back. The babes are the age where everything goes in the mouth and when you hold them they suck on your wrist or thumb. She seems content to have found his arm to gnaw on.

Monday, May 4, 2009

When Pigs Fly

When I first heard about the current near pandemic flu strain's composition (part avian, part swine, part human), "when pigs fly" popped into my mind. That used to mean the unbelievable; something that will never happen. I think most of what has happened in the last half-year falls into the category of "when pigs fly". Who would have foreseen these economic events and how we are nearly numb to someone proposing to spend a billion here, a billion there. Just charge it.

Unbelievable times and now this flu. I Googled to get a picture of a flying pig and didn't immediately get a hit. Then I noticed I had entered "lying pigs" not flying pigs. You would think Google would have come up with some pictures of politicians or hedge fund managers or the media!

Pigs. Much maligned. Last year my sister gave me a book, "The Good, Good Pig". I enjoyed it and pigs rose a bit in my estimation. That book is probably not a best seller now.
I heard there were riots in Egypt yesterday. Farmers were protesting the governments decision to shoot all the pigs in Egypt. There is no flu in Egypt (yet). The Flu is spread by human to human contact. And, why are there pigs in Egypt? Isn't that a muslim country?

While US pork farmers' livelihood is threatened due to fear of pork, Mexico, where the epidemic is the worst, is buying more Spam. That is pork in a can. Smart people. It has long, long shelf life and will probably be a bargain.
Maybe we will see some of those famous chefs on TV cooking with Spam. Don't believe it? That could only happen "when pigs fly".

Saturday, May 2, 2009

More Twins

Saleing, saleing, over the.... Garage sale season is here and when I saw the little boy Cabbage Patch Doll I couldn't resist. Blond hair and blue eyes like little Roman. I already had the little girl doll. Now I need to appropriately name them. When originally bought they would have come with a birth certificate with their name assigned. These adopted kids are mine to name.
Ralph Jon and Zelda Marie come to mind.
Rosie Greer (no, not a sissy name. Rosie is short for Roosevelt and a former big, strapping NFL player) and Zephelda Jo? Any suggestions?
I wonder how Mike will feel about his son playing with a doll.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ham on Rye, Hold the Cinco de Mayo

Go ahead. Eat the ham sandwich. You won't get H1N1 flu from a ham sandwich. It is cured. Cooking kills any virus. But, you might want to hold the Cinco de "Mayo". It will probably be a quiet holiday in Mexico City. In our area it is celebrated in West St. Paul where a large number of hispanics live.

People in Mexico are taking seriously the direction not to congregate. Here in the states it looks like a different response. Many school districts where there has been a case of (swine) HiN1 flu are closed. That seems prudent. Stop the spread. The next thing you see is media coverage of what kids are doing now that the schools are closed. They get together to play. They go to baseball games. These can both be outdoor activities so the risk is probably low of spreading disease.

Haven't seen much of Joe Biden since his TV comment about not flying or being in small spaces with others. Later yesterday, the White House Press Secretary issued a statement about what Joe Biden "meant to say". I think I should have a press secretary. Might keep me out of trouble with my mouth. Just have someone issue a statement about what I meant to say. We all know what the VP meant to say. We've had a few thoughts along those lines ourselves. Are we overreacting or being prudent? Time will tell. We have one case of the flu in central Minnesota. I just might decide to go to Cinco de Mayo myself, but I think I'll skip "El Dia de los Muertas".

By the way, has anyone seen Joe?