Thursday, July 30, 2009

Shoes Even Imelda Doesn't Have

Submitted by my sister. Wonder which is her favorite.

New Bathroom Decor

I laughed at artwork made from toilet paper cores. Talk about recycling. Maybe we could do some for wallhangings in our new bathroom. They seem to be mocking us.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Power Play

We just got election results from our senator race about a month ago in the longest contested senatorial race in the country. Bad enough the campaign was long but the tallying time almost matched the campaign. That all wrapped up the end of June. Now it is the end of July and there is buzz about our 2010 gubernatorial contest. There are twenty declared candidates for governor.
Yesterday also brought forth a candidate who will be one of two Democrats to oppose our representative in the House. Do you know what all this means? It means we won't have any down time between elections. June finished the last race. July began the next one. Add to this the amount of email complaining about the current administration and we never seem to catch a break from politics.
Personally, I long for the days when Andy Taylor probably ran his re-election campaign by having Opie and his buddies put flies around town. Aunt Bea might have said a few words at the garden club. Floyd would remind people who came in the barber shop to vote. Barney Fife wouldn't have to do anything but be Barney Fife. That would remind everyone how much they needed Andy to be re-elected so Barney wouldn't be in charge.
I think I am living in a fantasy world. My fantasy is less meanness, and less hog-wild spending. Keep it simple, be polite and play nice and keep the campaign six months or less, please.

Yes, I Am Still Retired

Minnesota Viking's fans got the word yesterday that Brett Favre will not be quarterbacking in purple and gold this fall. After waiting on the edge of our benches all summer his decision came days before training camp opens. Poll results show a close to 50 / 50 split of fans either relived or saddened by the news.
Vikings haven't had the star quarterback who consistently makes the big plays all season for a few years. Many would have loved to give the legendary Favre a chance. Others would have liked to see him finish up in our colors just to bug Packer fans. I think he would have damaged his legacy in Wisconsin if he had signed here. They might be willing to forgive him for last season's return to New York but to sign with their arch rival might be too much.
When I retired I was given "parting gifts" and a pension from my employer and restricted from returning to work for them before six months. I got some mass-mailing brochures from city hospitals looking for nurses. The Army didn't even write recruitment letters. Maybe their computers are linked with the Social Security Administration's computers and they realize I am not the nurse they are looking for. I did get those recruitment letters long after I should have.
So here I am, unemployed and happy. No pressure from the NFL to play and they are laying off RN's in the metro. Wonder how Sarah Palin is doing. Bet she will spend a few days just happy to wake up without an alarm but there probably are people out there trying to get her involved in something already. If she stays in the political scene NBC will probably be pursuing Tiny Fey like the Vikes did Brett Favre.

What's Bugging Me, Part 2 or maybe 3

We survived the Emerald Ash Borer scare this spring. Don't have them, but we do have our summer friends, the Japanese Beetles, back. I can almost hear a faint voice of Ed Sullivan announcing, "And here they are, The Beetles".

They made their first appearance in our yard last summer and were noticed after they ate my rose bush and a few other things. We attacked with poisonous sprays. Our neighbor who also had an infestation put out traps.

Recently we noticed he had traps out again. After talking to him I considered buying some. Being a compulsive Googled, I checked it out online first. One bit of advice is not to put out traps. The scent attracts them to your property. If you still want traps, it advises, put them away from gardens and preferably on the lot line. Sure thing, that is where his traps are and that is where I have trouble with those darn bugs.

Another tip for dealing with these creepy bugs is to go out early, early in the morning and shake them off plants into a liquid and drown them. Not gonna happen. I prefer some distance between me and the beetles. This is too much like my sister's memories of picking potato bugs in the garden when we were kids and drowning them in kerosene. I would rather use a flame thrower but that would cause too much collateral damage and I am pretty sure no more roses.

What to do. Spray with the soapy insecticide recommended on one website or buy a bunch of traps and put them on the boulevard on the other side of my neighbor's yard?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Royal Flush

A few years ago when we visted Jon's ancestral roots in Germany, a distant relative told him our family name was derived from one of the three Magi (three kings who visited the Christ Child). Jon was delighted. Royal blood. Then someone asked if that wasn't the black king and his lineage was in question. I heard the name came from the name Balthasar. He heard he was a descendant.
Jon has compiled a nice geneology and put it online. The results are a handful of people who have e-Googled their names and found they were related to Jon. Yesterday he heard from a woman in Wisconsin with ties back to his mom's Swiss family. We visited that family home as well. The surprising part---they are related through Melchior U. Wasn't Melchior one of the names of the kings? Yes. This is only known through tradition. Their names aren't in scripture.

So my dear husband has ties to a Melchior and a Balthasar but not a Caspar. He probably won't hit the trifecta but Caspar was a friendly ghost, wasn't he? Who knows.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Wedding Dance

Laura and Andy better start practicing. They have a year before their August 28th,2010 nuptials.

Wedsite link for the 2 or 3 of you who may not have watched the Youtube video. Fun people.

Summer Fun & Some 'R Work

This looks like a major weekend for town festivals. Stillwater, MN has Lumberjack Days.

Jon also heard about a BohemianTractor Pull at Kolacky Days in Montgomery, MN. In case you are not familiar with "tractor pulls", this is usually a competative event where men use tractors to pull tons of weight. The one he heard about is a little different; the people (teams of Bohemians) try to pull tractors. Sounds like fun to watch but not to be a participant. I can envision some big guys and maybe gals with a rope in their teeth straining to budge a John Deere or Massey-Ferguson.

There are lots of events along the Mississippi river corridor including Riverboat Days in Wabasha and Old Log House Days in Hastings. There seems to be some celebration for every interest this weekend. Finn Days, Blueberry festivals, Corn Capitol Days, Polka Days in New Ulm and a Wilder Pageant in Walnut Grove. If that sounds familiar, it was made famous by Little House on the Prairie as the girlhood home of Laura Ingals Wilder. Yes, Barb, there really is a Walnut Grove. If you desire if for a less ethnic event, try the music on Peavey Plaza by Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.
If I had the time, we might go to UFO Days in Elmwood, WI. In the mid 70's they had a "Rash of Sightings" near that little town. Credible people like policemen saw flying saucers. I believe the paper says there were 30 sightings during that time period and none since. Some locals who were not intimidated by the alleged sightings proposed building a landing strip for UFOs. Wiser heads prevailed and they don't have a lighted landing strip but do celebrate UFO days every summer.

If I recall correctly, my sister knew a woman who had a cabin by their Wisconsin lake place, who claims she saw one. She had stayed alone at the cabin during the week and one night saw a strange craft over the lake. There are a myriad of other UFO stories and we tend to dismiss them as bogus or humorous. Some are hard to dismiss when a crowdof people see the same thing together. Jimmy Carter claimed to have seen one years ago. Jimmy Carter is also a Democrat and a lot of the people I know don't believe anything the Democrats say so I guess they couldn't call him an unimpeachable source. Being neither a Republican or a Democrat, I tend to believe his story. Maybe that is because I am concerned that someday on a quiet country road I will see bright lights and hear strange sounds. Odds are that would be just the sheriff pulling me over for speeding but it would be disconcerting to see a spaceship and have no one believe you.

River Rats

There is now a Webcam aimed at the historic Stillwater lift bridge.
You can get a real time look at river traffic and the downtown riverside park. They raise the bridge on the hour and you might get a peek at a river boat going under the bridge if you are lucky. There are now six riverboats on the levy.

This weekend is our annual Lumberjack Days Celebration. It commemorates the days when the river was jammed with logs floated down to the sawmills. A century ago they clear cut the big white pines up river and Stillwater was a hub was processing the lumber. It was a rough and tumble town and had more bars than churches. There was even a boradello floating on the river.

Those days are over. Now we wrestle with some of the bad behavior that comes from over indulging people who come to Lumberjack Days and consume too much alcohol. We had a few rough years but they seem to have a handle on it now. Last night we went downtown for a short time. Besides the local police and sheriff's deputies, the area had a large presence of red-shirted security guys. They looked like barroom bouncers. Beefy guys who were very cordial but obviously there as a deterrent to troublemakers. We didn't make any trouble. The first year we lived here we had houseguests and went out to dinner at a downtown restaurant during LJD. We were witnessed a very drunk woman make a scene at a table near us in a restaurant. We ducked as she threw glasses at her dinner companion. We could have used a few of those big, red-shirted guys there that night. Memorable dinner and we haven't eaten downtown during LJD since.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Living Green Would Be Good

After reading a blog today that referred to the security level rising from yellow to orange it occured to me I couldn't remember what colors were good. What color indicated safety? I found the homeland security levels by Googling. This system was originated after 9/11 to indicate when we need to get our guard up. Do any of us pay attention to it? I don't think we have had a blue day or a green day since 9/11 and I wonder if we ever will. My question is how relevant this is to the average citizen. We still leave home when it is a yellow day. I think we have had orange days when they have uncovered a terrorist plot. I don't remember a red day and hope we never see it. Red days might keep some people from flying commercial air.
It seems living green would be good but I'm not sure how different my life would be. Maybe they wouldn't make us take off our shoes at the airport on a green day. Maybe we could bring our own bottle of water from home on the airplane. Maybe not. Then they would have to racket up into a hotter colored day.

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button --Part 2

This won't make sense unless you read the blog done earlier today titled: Button Boxes and Cookie Bowls. Read that first please so I don't have to repeat the background.

My digression on button boxes ended with my wishes to have my cremains placed in mom's buttons box. We have a reserved spot in a columbarium at the Minnesota Veteran's Cemetary in Little Falls, MN., my home town.

We figured the button box would fit in our spot in the wall. That raises the question of what should we put his ashes in? He didn't have a preference or an idea. Then is struck me. The button box has always been kept stacked with my sewing "box". Neither are boxes. They are both tin canisters. They have been together for decades just like Jon and me. I grabbed both containers. My button box looks a bit battered. It has dents and my maiden name scratched on it. I guess I claimed it when I was a kid. The other canister was not acceptable to my husband for his final remains. It is labeled, "Ye Olde English Fruit Cake". I don't think that is how he wants to be remembered, but it sure is funny.
When I told this story to my friend Mary she laughed. Mary loves to travel. In the past decade she has been on around ten foreign mission trips to places like Turkey, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Belarus, Ukraine and Jamaica. Now she is planning to volunteer to help bring in the grape harvest in Israel this fall. She loves to meet new people. I suggested if she were to be cremated she could put her ashes in her travel tote and friends could just keep taking her to new places. She laughed. That might be more fun than being stuck in a wall in a tin can.

Button Boxes & Cookie Bowls

I follow a feature in the St. Paul paper called Bulletin Board. Readers write the column by emailing or calling in their stories. Topics vary but are frequently reminiscent of everyday life.

This week they have been submitting stories about personal items bequeathed to survivors. It started with a column about a mom and dad asking their adult kids to mark the things they wanted from the house when they had died.

Today's story is about a button box. The guy who wrote said he and his brothers wanted grandpa's button box. They had fond memories of playing with it as kids. They remember the round, metal canister with the flowers on the lid. He wanted it when grandpa died. After grandpa died, no one could find the button box. I was more fortunate. I have my mom's button box.

The story echoed my life. When my mom asked me that question, "What do you want?", I said, "Your button box". As k;ids, my sister and I played with the buttons. My depression-era mom never threw away a worn out garment without first salvaging the buttons. She strung matching buttons together with thread. There were lots of white "underwear" buttons from long johns. That is an oddity today. I don't have buttons on any underwear. Most of the buttons she could identify such as a bunch of dull black quarter sized buttons from her mom, Grandma Victoria's, coat. There were brass buttons, glass buttons, abalone shell buttons, wooden painted buttons and some hard rubber buttons. All of these were kept in a round dusty rose colored metal canister with flowers painted on the lid. I believe the canister originally came with some food product in it. Everything was recycled. I reach for it when we lose a button and try to find a close match. Frequently I do find something. There are 100's of old buttons.

In this world where we are now recycling clunkers for the government rebate of $4500, I wonder if anyone is still saving buttons. I know I haven't added to that collection. I have used some of those buttons and can still point out the black buttons from Grandma Victoria's coat.

Today as my son ate breakfast before leaving for work, I asked him what he wanted after I died. He didn't have an answer but I told him to think about it. Years ago I asked that question of daughter Mary. She said she would like the big green mixing bowl. Years ago every kitchen had a set of Pyrex nesting bowls. Each size was a different color and there were four bowlscolored red, blue, yellow or green. Only the big green one survives from our original set that I got with S & H trading stamps the first year we were married. Mary remembers mixing cookie dough in that bowl when she was growing up.

It seems fitting memories I have left would have to do with cookies.

I just took a magic marker and wrote "Bequeath to Mamie" on the bottom of that bowl. Mamie is my pet name for her. It comes from the way her brother Dave pronounced Mary when they were toddlers. I hope that bowl outlasts me and Mamie and Zoe and Roman can mix cookie dough in it too.

I don't think my kids have my emotional attachment to mom's button box. If not, I wouldn't mind having it for an urn for my ashes. That might bring a bit of levity to my memorial service and honor my mom, the ultimate recycler. I think she would approve. I am serious kids.

Readers challenge. Ask your kids what they want as a remembrance and let me know.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Good and the Bad

We finally had a glorious rainy day. It rained just after dawn. I loved the sound on the skylights as the rain fell. In midafternoon it clouded up again and started to gently rain. Jon went out onto the deck and sat at the table under the big umbrella. I joined him. It was a soft rain...not windy so the rain would come down at an angle. If you leaned in over the table you stayed dry. Then we heard a loud clap of thunder. I said it sounded closeby, maybe a mile or so away and I decided to go in the house. We were sitting under an umbrella with a steel pole and the table is metal and the deck is wet. Chances are we wouldn't get hit by lightning because our house has already been hit by lightning on July 3, 1993, the day our son Dan got married. The small reception was at our house and we had a big tent in the backyard. The lightning knocked out the electricity to the house for a while. We restored it when we remembered about the ground fault interrupter. I digress.
It poured rain after a few minutes and we wouldn't have stayed dry on the deck for long. It is much needed rain. We are in a drought and inches behind on precipitation.
We are fine but there was a sad outcome we heard when we watched the local news. A 14 yr. old girl in our town was struck and killed by that bolt of lightning we heard at 3:00pm. She lived about a mile away and was outdoors when it hit a tree in her yard. You have to respect lightning.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

This Will Be the Glass Full & That is a Pessimistic Outcome

Child Evangelist?

Maybe it is because she is my little angel, but doesn't Zoe look angelic with the light behind her? Her posture is that of a little Pentacostal kid. With that hat, she could be a circuit rider preacher like the Wesleys.

The Glass is Half Full or Half Empty? -or- Where is Mr. Wizard When We Need Him?

We went out for breakfast this morning. I paused before entering the restaurant to glance at the headlines on the metro papers. They seem to conflict.

The Minneapolis Tribune's headline read: "Students Science Test Scores Take Big Jump"

The headline of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reads: "Minnesota Students Fall Short in Science".

The headlines of the online versions of these papers are worded differently than the first edition hard copy. Both papers have stories about scores being higher and meeting the benchmark, but still in the 46% range and in need of improvement.

Remember Mr. Wizard from the early days of television? We might need him.

Coming Home

There are pivotal moments in history that raise the question, "Do you remember what you were doing when__________?" Fill in the blank with such events as the Kennedy assassination, the twin tower attack, or if you are old enough, Pearl Harbor. When a traumatic news happens where we were and what we were doing at the time seems to be burned in our memories.

It seems fitting that Walter Cronkite would have died close to the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. His is the voice many remember narrating that milestone lunar adventure. He was a man who was in awe of space travel. He was the man in the moon to me.

The other thing I associate with the Cronkite evening news is his reporting of the Viet Nam war. These past few days have brought back some of those memories as well because we have had six young Minnesotans killed in our wars. Three were National Guards mustered out of our local armory. These young men were in the same unit (The Red Bulls) as a young man who is a member of my church. His fourth son was born days before he was deployed. He has had multiple overseas assignments.

They are heroes who give it all.

With sorrow I salute and thank these fallen soldiers. My daughter in-law's family has a strong Marine legacy over several generations. My grandson has given this career consideration and my heart is guarded about his future and the future of so many who volunteer to defend us. God bless them and keep them.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Most Trusted Man

It was said he was the "most trusted man in America". They don't say that about too many journalists today. Walter Cronkite was known as a man of integrity. His calm demeanor soothed a troubled nation who weathered assassinations of a president, civil rights leader and several political candidates. It was the Cold War. We felt threatened by a formidable enemy who "rattled sabres". Walter delivered bad news and was not despised as the bearer of bad news. He rose above that. Gifted with a deep, strong voice he gave us news of the day. I don't think he ever did a report of what movie stars or TV shows were up to. Even when he reported about death and dying in Viet Nam, we were able to take that spoonful of bad news from him. When it became apparent that the Viet Nam war was a morass, he did not shrink from telling us that was what he saw. He was and is well respected. I think even God would have watched Walter Cronkite's news if God needed to watch the news.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys....

***Will the real Hopalong Cassidy please stand up.
I never knew they had a Hopalong Cassidy annual festival in his hometown of Cambridge, Ohio. Maybe I'll wait until the little guy is a fan and we will go together. I still love Hoppy.

With a Name Like Larry, It Had to be Good

We went to a celebration last evening for Jon's uncle who turns 100 today. He was Grandpa Romie's younger brother. Romie is gone, but the hundred year old Uncle Larry still has three surviving siblings in their nineties.
picture: Uncle Larry & family 50 yrs ago

I married into a family with longevity, not that it will profit me personally. Uncle Larry still lives in his own home and goes to daily mass. He does use a walker after surviving a bad car accident about ten years ago. He had a broken neck from the crash but healed up. I don't know many ninety yr old men like that.
There are 96,548 centenarians in this country according to the US Census bureau. I think there are too many who reach that milestone each day for Willard Scott to have time to wish each one a happy birthday. Perhaps Smuckers just sends them a jar of jam.
I wonder if the marketing people from Smuckers ever realized their brand name would be so aligned with being a centenarian. Don't they all chase a younger demographic?
Do you know they call 110 yr olds "supercentenarians"?
I may hear from Smuckers. I have had several public relations people affiliated with a brand comment on my blog when I mention them. Usually they do it to defend against my remarks, such as the Culvers people who didn't want everyone to think they made walleye custard. I was corrected. The sign didn't say "cherry pecan walleye custard". It was cherry pecan custard (and the fish of the day) walleye.
Don't worry Smuckers. I am not suggested your fine jams and jellies are only eaten by hundred year oldsters. Us sexagenarians like them just fine but you may not want the endorsement of a sexagenarian either. Do you make cherry pecan jam? I am not at all interested in walleye jelly.

A Pet Project

We have a friend who claims that there are always ways to make money, even in a recession. Unfortunately he is a farmer. With recent years erratic weather, I 'm not sure he is making money.

At least he is not a dairy farmer. Have you noticed how cheap milk and eggs are? What will follow is dairy farmers selling off their herds of cows and chickens. (Make that flocks of chickens.) We will see cheap beef and chicken and then the prices of everything will go up because of less product on the market. I am glad I am not a farmer.

Innovative people can make money in a recession. Just count how many ads you hear or see about how to consolidate your debt or forestall foreclosure. Look at the books on living a simpler life. These people are cashing in.

The Sunday paper has a feature on another new business idea.

Someone has a new company called Pet Airway.

They fly pets. No people, except the crew of course. Anyone who has had to crate up Fido or Felix and have the airlines put them in the cargo hold of an airplane take note. For about the same price you can fly Fido or Felix in class. No cargo hold. You still need the crate because they carry cats and dogs and that would be an interesting flight otherwise. Besides being noisy, your pets might join the Mile High Club. That wouldn't work out well for owners of purebred dogs who are traveling to be studs or studettes. We had a friend who bred Keeshonds and would send her boys around the country by airplane to date females Keeshonds.

Pet Airway is careful to give your pet potty breaks. I can see their motivation for that move. They also keep them hydrated but probably serve only water. No little plastic cups of Coke or Sprite for Fido. I didn't see any list of inflight movies on the website. There is a picture of a happy dog wearing a backpack on the site. Backpack or is it a parachute? I have never known a dog who has a backpack but I have never known a dog who has frequent flyer miles either if you don't count the oversexed Keeshond.
I wonder if the Muzak on the plane plays a crooning Frank Sinatra singing, "Come Fly With Me"? or a parody of that 70's hit, "Hang On Sloopy". I always thought they were saying "Hang on Snoopy".

Saturday, July 18, 2009

You Can't Always Get What You Want....

That's true. You can't always get what you want, but sometimes you do and then you don't want what you got. I am not talking about bathrooms. I am talking about ring tones on cell phones. We share a cell phone. Jon had chosen the Beach Boys song "Good Vibrations" for the ring tone. When someone called, that tune played loudly. Loudly. You couldn't reach for that phone fast enough if it rang in a public place. Next, he changed it to the Minnesota Rowser. It played (loudly) "Minnesota Hats off to thee..." and everyone in the room thought they should stand up. Not good in church. Not good anywhere but at least if it rang while sitting on his desk in his home office you knew it was the cell phone. Now if I hear the Minnesota Rowser my instinct is to run (to answer the phone) instead of standing at attention. That might look funny if we go to a Minnesota Gopher football game. The band plays the Rowser and I take off for a lap. I might even pay to see that.
Back to the nagging wife, I asked Jon why our phone couldn't just ring? He changed it to a ring tone that is just an old fashioned ring tone. This morning when someone called, neither of us ran to answer it . We looked at each other and said, "What's that?" True story. Strange but true. We have forgotten what a phone should sound like. Maybe we will have to go back to the Beach Boys or the Minnesota Rowser. At least then we got some exercise.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Okay, I stole the title line from Yogi Berra.
The deja vu part refers to the pairing of actors Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. If you saw the movie, "Doubt" you will remember them as the young nun and the seasoned mother superior. Excellent acting. Now they appear in the movie "Julie & Julia" and I can't wait to see it.
Nora Ephron wrote the screenplay. If you graduated from high school sometime in the 60's, you are old enough to read her book , "I Hate My Neck", and laugh.
I love anything Meryl Streep does.
I am liking Amy Adams work too. She has a line in the movie trailer, "I could write a blog. I have thoughts" that was appealing to me. I am a blogger. Sometimes I call myself a writer because I can, can't I? Who deemed me a writer? Me. That's who. No one said I couldn't, but in truth I am just a blogger. No one said I couldn't be a blogger. I have thoughts, too.
The movie comes out August 7th but you can see the trailer on-line.

No Habla Espanol

In the past week I have made one trip to Home Depot, five trips to Menard's, and four trips to Lowe's looking at bathroom cabinetry. The only choice we have made is the medicine cabinet and I am not so sure that will work.

On our first stop at Menard's Jon pointed to a (shiny) white vanity and said, "That's it". I HATED IT. I Hated it. I thought it looked like something you would put in a cheap redo of a Super 8 motel room. Did I say I Hated it? We hit an impasse and he remarked we should forget doing the bathroom.
Jon has shopped with me before. He knows I am a pain in the neck and can't make decisions easily. He knows I get buyer's remorse about decisions I make. He remembers the first living room furniture we bought when we got married. We bought an avocado green French provincial couch and gold brocade chair that we compromised on. It turned out neither of us got our first choice and didn't much like the compromise. We had to live with that furniture a good 12 years. Remember avocado and gold were 70's colors and that part wasn't too bad, but French provincial brocade? Not our taste. But I am never sure what my taste is.
At this point I decided it would be better if one of us got something we really liked and since he really liked the white one we should buy that. Why compromise on something neither like. It took me a day to come to this conclusion. He said I should chose what I want. Just pick something. That should have made me happy, but now all the weight of making a decision was on my shoulders. Who would I blame if I didn't like the outcome? It is a wonder we have been married 41 years. It is a wonder we both decided to get married in the first place. Good thing love helps. Marriage is a much bigger decision than which couch or bathroom vanity to pick but I think I agonize more over these decisions.
I hate shopping. I am not good at visualizing how things will look in place. The considerations are cost, fitting everything in the space we have and both of us liking it. It would be easy if I could turn this over to a bathroom planner or decorator and say "Show me something ideas", but this is a 70's tract house and I don't want to spend $20,000 on a redo. I really don't want to do that since our IRA's crashed last fall.

I am tired of trips to home stores and decided to look at the assortment of brochures we have collected. I wish I had marked which stores they came from. I can't remember. The first one I picked up I couldn't even read. Everything was in Spanish. I decided that was from Lowe's. When they built our local Lowe's a couple years ago, locals groused because all the signage was in Spanish and English. Hello. Isn't this America? Isn't this Minnesota? And isn't this Stillwater where we are still a pretty pale population? Because Lowe's is a national chain, I would guess they plan stores alike across the country and a lot of people speak Spanish. Maybe when they realize how many people in Minnesota's small towns now speak Somali and various other languages the signs will have even more choices.
I am becoming like a lot of other Americans who think the newer residents better learn English. Anyway, I groaned because I couldn't decipher what the brochure said. Then I saw you had to flip it over to see the descriptions in English. As if I wasn't having enough of a bad time trying to find something we could afford that fit, that we could agree on..... I couldn't even read the catalogue! Time for empathy and mercy. Maybe it is kind of Lowe's to put up Spanish signs. How can Spanish speaking people shop there if they can't read the signs? I think I understand their dilemma.

Next I decided to do a mock up of how an 84in. tall linen storage cabinet would look in our space. Jon thinks it should go to the left of the vanity. I think it might look better to the right. I created a simile by stacking boxes on top of the counter. I asked him what he thought and without dropping a beat he said, "It looks boxy". Funny, but not helpful. I think it would work to the right but it would cover the light switch. Where would we move the room light switch? It belongs on the wall as you enter the room. You can't just hide it somewhere. The linen storage cabinet isn't going to work. Hmmmm. Back to the brochure. Back to the store. Maybe I will brush up on my high school Spanish and a clerk at Lowe's will take pity on me and plan this damn bathroom.

Picture: Mock-up of linen cabinet leaning right.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Guess Who Is Coming to Dinner,,,

Zoe & Roman waiting for mama to come home from work. Nice welcoming committee. Guess they are "screening" visitors. The sight of them looking for her thrilled Mary. I stole this from the baby blog.
The twins will be ten months old next week. Time has gone quickly and it is fun to watch them grow and learn. Both have two teeth and creep or is it crawl. I can't remember which is which. They are eating some finger food now along with the pureed stuff. Neither is a fussy eater unlike my kids when they were growing up.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Have We Found Favor With Favre?

We will have to wait a little longer to find out if Brett Favre will suit up with the Vikings this fall. We are patient people. Didn't we wait eight months for election results?

Haven't we waited patiently for summer? It is going to be cool on Friday with lows in the 40's and highs in the 60's. That might sound okay to people sweltering in the south and southwest. Minnesota, where there is probably one boat for every citizen, would like it a little warmer. I am content to leave the boat in the garage and enjoy the 70's, but we need heat to get a good crop of tomatoes.

Back to Favre. It was announced today that he has made a decision. The decision: He announced a date when he will announce what he will decide. ???? I am not sure that is progress. It still sounds like procrastination. Mox nix. What can we expect from a twice retired quarterback who doesn't even know how his surname should be pronounced. Shouldn't it rhyme with FAVOR?

Wise White Woman ?

Picture: Miss America 2003 crowning Miss America 2004

I don't think you could get by describing yourself as a "Wise, White woman". That might sound prideful and a bit racist. Washington is currently interviewing the latest Supreme Court nominee and her past comment about making better decisions as a "wise Latina" is coming back to haunt her. (She said it five times.)
It is probably efforts to combat racism that prod people to make statements like hers that really are racist against white folk. I am not that offended. I don't think she meant harm, but it shows where she is coming from. I strongly disagree with and dislike skin heads and white supremists. They are narrow minded and racist and hateful. I would decry any statements they made about being able to make better decisions because they are "wise" and "white". If Judge Sotomayor looked at it from that point of view, she might understand why her words struck us the way they did.
Isn't it time other sensitive people did away with the beauty contest "Miss Black America"? I realize the contest started when African American women were passed over but have you noticed all the African American contestants in the Miss America in recent decades? Have you noticed how many of them won the title?
Times have changed and the Miss Black America contest should cease or actively seek non-black contestants. It is racist. Affirmative action should cut both ways.

A Few Good Men

There are couple less "good men" around this week. Two weeks ago our dear 95 year old neighbor died. This Monday Jon's favorite uncle Jack was buried. Both of these men will be missed by those who knew and loved them. They lived quiet lives. Good lives.
Our neighbor Harry, the 95 year old, volunteered at a local nursing home until his health failed in May. He is greatly missed by the daughter who moved him into her home eight years ago and cared for him. He is greatly missed by all his friends and family and even the family dog, Lucy, who still goes into his bedroom looking for him.
Uncle Jack was Jon's favorite uncle. He had polio as a young child and had some encumbrance with mobility all his life. In the last decade or so of life, that polio caused increased weakness of muscles and he used braces, crutches, then a wheelchair.
That disability didn't stop him from having a wonderful life. You might have noticed his deformed feet and spindly legs but quickly forgot those physical attributes when you spent time with Jack. He was one of the warmest, most engaging people I have met. Jack had many interests and spent a lifetime learning. He loved to read and had more books than some small town libraries. He loved doing research. He was interested in new ideas. His major interest was in history and he wrote several books about subjects in Stearns County, MN. Although he loved history, he kept his focus forward and marveled at new things that interested him and almost everything interested him. He was a lot like my father in-law Roman and they were close friends. Both were great storytellers.
Uncle Jack was a bachelor until he was forty. He drove a cool T-bird--a two-seater that impressed the nieces and nephews. He loved photography and had his own dark room to process his photos. He wrote. Most of his life he worked at St. John's University, first teaching English and then working at the liturgical press.
He married later in life but still managed to have five children.
My husband Jon stayed close to his favorite uncle. He always made copies of his vacation videos for him and Jack enjoyed this vicarious travel. At his funeral Jon met many of Jack's friends who told him how his uncle would brag about his nephew Jonny. They would also get to see the videos. I think this was a symbiotic relationship. Both men were creative and interested in life. Both men appreciated each other.
I know Jon will miss visiting with Jack. No more email. No phone calls. No more visits. Not until later. Jack is no longer living in St. Cloud. He is now walking the Streets of Gold, as Jon said at his funeral. Much has been made of the demise of the King of Pop as he made the rounds in his golden casket. He had fame, talent, and money but lived tragically. I don't think the King of Pop enjoyed his life as much as the humble man from St. Cloud. The celebrity certainly had the bigger send off but we are certain Uncle Jack had a very warm, big reception by the real King. Streets of Gold and no disabilities anymore. A whole new world has opened up for Jack in heaven. Surely Jack has a lot more to experience there and I know he is enjoying himself more than we can imagine. He loved the Lord and the Lord was waiting to welcome him home.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Man (or woman) in the Mirror---- Contemplating Change

This isn't about Michael Jackson. God forbid. May he rest in peace. May we rest in a different kind of peace .... a peace that comes when they stop talking about Michael Jackson.

This is about looking in our bathroom mirror and seeing a reflection of a very dated 70's bathroom. It has been painted or papered and a few minor alterations made, but it is dated. The wooden cabinets are dark, the lighting a swag style fixture found only at garage sales when the seller tries to unload old fixtures. There are a few cracks in the grout and I have never like the grayish tone on the floor tile which doesn't match the tub tiles. Yesterday Jon suggested we replace the tile and that got the ball rolling. As long as we are doing that we better redo the vanity.....get a new sink and counter top and get a new medicine cabinet.....and that lighting.....we need updated lighting and we need more storage so a tall linen cabinet would be nice. We want to replace the toilet fixture with one of those gravity super flush commodes. We could use a cabinet above the potty. I drew the line at replacing the tub. The tub is okay. We will have to replace the door to the room to match and when we do that the three adjacent doors to the bedrooms and linen closet need to match. Then we will have to change the baseboards to match and ................on and on .
We checked out a local builders store and got a few options. There wasn't anything I was crazy about. I have a terrible time visualizing how something will look and dread making a choice I will hate when it is installed. As far as I know, they won't bring everything out and let me look at it in our bathroom for approval. Make a choice and live with it. That is how it works. It took me a year to buy our last couch and love seat. A full year. I started looking at HOM's labor day sale one year and when that sale rolled around the next year I was still looking at furniture. I also dilly-dallied choosing floor covering and carpeting with our last job and now wish I had not picked that carpet. Maybe I should have been a renter instead of a home owner. I could move when things got dumpy.
Today when Jon said something about the bathroom work I inquired whether we shouldn't replace our deck instead. He seems to think the bathroom thing is all settled. Meanwhile, I am looking online for a different house. Why do I think that would be easier than choosing a new bathroom vanity? I guess Michael Jackson wasn't the only one who is a bubble off.
Incidentally, am I the only one who thinks the classic sculpture of "The Thinker" looks like he is sitting on a porcelain fixture?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"Where The Women Are Strong, The Men Are Good Looking And All The Children Are Above Average

While some (none of you I'll bet) were in a queue online for lottery appointed tickets to the King of Pop's memorial service, we attended a free performance of the Prairie Home Companion with host Garrison Keillor.

As I blogged earlier, we had a close up view of him as he came out of his RV trailer and prepared for the show.

After the show Keillor stayed in the area signing autographs and visiting with fans. I was impressed with his patience. The performance ended at 7:00pm and as the crowd thinned to about a half dozen after more than an hour. M & M thendecided to get that photo-op with the babies and GK. We were second to last, and he must have wanted to leave, but was gracious and visited with us for 2 or 3 minutes while allowing us to snap several posed photos. The great one , my term because I was really impressed with his down home folksiness, was very personable. Mary introduced the twins as "His youngest fans". He asked Zoe's name and then if it was spelled with an umlaut.

My husband Jon has a cousin who dated an original member of the Powdermilk Biscuit Band that has been a staple on the show. His cousin Peter even played on the show a few times years ago. When Jon asked if he remembered Pete he affirmed he did. "Wasn't he raised in Melrose?" he asked. "He sold precious violins and bows and I saw him a few years ago at an auction in London." Yes, he remembered Pete and the girlfriend (Molly) .

Lake Wobegon may be a mythical place but Garrison Keillor is very real..... even with those red shoes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Kissing Up

Here she is. Zoe pinching our Senator while Roman waits in the wings. I stole the picture from daughter Mary's blog about the twins. Mary laughed when she opened the Sunday paper and a picture of our other (new) senator Al Franken graced the front page. He was holding a baby too. It is funny when you think about it. We claim to not trust politicians then hand over our kids to them. Senator Klobuchar was very warm and personable. Amy, don't take it personally if I am still an Independent.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Jackson Imposter??

I haven't heard anything to the contrary, so I assume Michael Jackson is still dead. He is still dead like Elvis is still dead. I wonder how long it will take for a rash of impersonators to start.
Do you think it will matter if the impersonator is "black or white", Arab or Asian?
Remember when the post office had people vote to chose between a young Elvis or an older jumpsuited Elvis that would appear on a stamp? MJ's image is like that. A black pop star or a latter-day glowing sort of too- white-to-be-believable MJ. I scratch my head when wondering why this was not offensive to African Americans. Now I am being judgmental. I know plenty of people of Scandinavian heritage who slather on tanning oil and go to the beach or electric beach and opt for darker skin.
Is that a rejection of one's heritage?

There is a money to be made for an entrepreneur who markets white sequined gloves and fedoras, uniforms with epaulets and braid. The death groupies have money to spend. Anyone for an eBay business partnership?

I am sorry for the pop stars kids, but I was sorry for them before he died too. I am sure he loved them, but how could they have ever had anything but a weird life?

LA is gearing up for a big (ticketed) public funeral. I don't know if Michael in his $25,000 gold casket will make an appearance there but it could be a good place for an impersonator to start a career. Just dress the part and lie very still. And it better be a white guy who does the funeral.

Who Was Really Working the Crowd?


We did the trek up I 94 to Avon, MN yesterday for the Prairie Home Companion's 35th anniversary show. It was a pleasant day. We arrived an hour and a half early but had greatly underestimated the crowd that would come earlier than that. Most of the remaining outdoor seating was in the hot sun and on the periphery. With two babies entow and five adults who didn't want to look into the sun, we chose to set up our lawn chairs on a grassy, shady area close behind the stage. Our view was limited but we were by the staging area where the shows cast congregated. We watched Garrison Keillor come out of his trailer and mingle. We saw our senior Senator, Amy Klobuchar, work the crowd. When she got close I said to Mary and Mike that this would be a good opportunity for another first time experience for the twins.... Hand them over for their first politician's kiss. That is what they do, right? They kiss babies. Sure enough. A good natured Senator Klobuchar received a smiling Zoe. Zoe repicrocated by grabbing her glasses. I pried the glasses out of her hand only to watch her get a good handful of her neck. Thankfully we grabbed her back before she pulled the senator's hair. Zoe is good at doing all that with a big smile on her face. If pictures of the senator today show a bruise on her neck you will know why. Could you call this child abuse? Abuse by a child? Oh, Zoe. We didn't hand Roman to the senator. He is famous for spitting up on people and that might have been inconvenient for a politician with a lot of hands still to shake. The afternoon continued with a tireless politician doing the meet and greet. She told us she had already done four other town parades. Two smiling nine month olds also worked the crowd. They didn't walk around and shake hands but still charmed everyone who came near them.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th

Happy 4th of July and thank God for our Freedom. I love the picture of granddaughter Zoe waving. Her mom says she is practicing her "parade wave". Roman just keeps smiling. Maybe he will be a politician.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Crime's Real Dividend

Why do we glamorize gangsters? We are about to have another round of Hollywood hype with the opening of a movie about John Dillinger starring Johnny Depp. Depp is popular and although he doesn't appeal to my demographic, many younger women do like him.
My son told me Tupac, the gangster rapper, is still selling a lot of CDs ten years after his death. Good musician or gangsta appeal? He is dead and like Elvis probably more prosperous now.

John Dillinger was a criminal. He was the FBI's most wanted and terrorized banks while on his crime sprees. There is local history of gangsters hiding out in St. Paul when the heat was on in Chicago. Certainly Chicago had a nasty reputation in the 20's and 30's when bullets flew and bad guys ruled, but that corrupt town was probably more innocent than St. Paul where the officials were bought off and many citizens were complicit. All gangsters had to do was not commit crimes in the city and pay mobbed-up cops and judges who looked the other way. Add to that, many locals socialized with these scumbags. Others gladly served these big tippers in bars and restaurants and rented them apartments and cabins. They were recognized but moved about freely. People considered prominent in society hobnobbed with them.

If you don't believe sin entices and initially looks glamorous, just examine those gangsters lives. Not many died as old men in their warm beds. In the end justice was served. Dillinger died like he lived, violently.

The paper this morning says federal officials expect a rise in bank robberies after the Depp movie comes out. One Wisconsin bank has posted a sign saying caps, hoodies, and sunglasses are not allowed. My husband wondered if they shouldn't add ski masks to that list. Can't say anyone walking around off the slopes with a ski mask on has ever been up to much good. Maybe a bank robber could pose as a Michael Jackson wannabe with aviator glasses, fedora and black silk mask and slip into a bank. Then again, more reasonable people would guess anyone in that get-up was not a normal bank customer.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Race

I heard on the radio that "the Minnesota senate RACE was over". Race? Eight months to count the vote and they call that a race? Maybe we need a new way to describe political contests.

These races start years before election day with candidates testing the waters, raising funds and hitting the trail. It takes lots of time. It is like a marathon so maybe the word race fits, except in Minnesota where we have almost forgotten that we are waiting for results.

Potential candidates are beginning to line up to run for MN governor in two years. Our current governor seems to be out in the national eye and many believe he has his focus on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Even Jesse Ventura may be adding his opinion. Please, Jesse, stay in the Baja. You could help your country more by using some of your previous training and tough guy skills to fight the drug cartels in Mexico where you live.

Governor Sanford is treading water to hold on to the job he has. I don't think he can count on his wife to manage his next campaign. That in itself would be one way to screen his mental health. The guy must be crazy if he thinks he has a future in politics and crazier if he thinks she will work for him. Maybe she should run. Many of us loved her absence at the podium when he tearfully confessed. Bill Clinton pulled it off but not all of the voters Bill needed were in the Bible Belt. Remember Gennifer Flowers? That was before Monica and he still got elected.