Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Roman Is Innocent !

I don't care how it looks. Yes, he is neked and cavorting with a young female, but our little Roman is innocent.
Daughter Mary posted this picture and story on the baby blog today. She had Roman in the bath and twin sister Zoe just couldn't wait to get in herself. She leaned over and fell in fully clothed.


Tsunami, a word that wasn't in most of our lexicons a decade ago, was in the news again yesterday. Most of us became familiar with the disastrous effects of tsunamis when the big one hit in the Pacific in 2004 killing over 150,000 people. There was another that struck Myanmar more recently but was not as large. The (corrupt, repressive) government of Myanmar refused outside help for it's people.

Yesterday's wall of water struck American Samoa. American Samoa? I realized my ignorance. Why is it called American Samoa. I don't know much about "American" Samoa or even Samoa. There are probably more of my countrymen who think of Girl Scout cookies when they hear the word Samoa and have no idea why there is also an American Samoa. Time to Google.

American Samoa votes for their government and rules themselves but under the protectorate of the US. Their high courts decisions come under our Supreme Court. Perhaps this is similar to the relationship we had to the Philippine Islands. I need to do a little more research.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Flying Ants

A couple days ago in late afternoon I noticed swarms of insects flying around our big oak tree. I thought they were mosquitos at first but they weren't. This made me a bit nervous. Did we have some strange infestation of critters in our tree? There were a lot of winged creatures out there highlighted by a setting sun.

We had our small church group here for pot luck later that day and I mentioned this phenomenon. Someone quickly said I had witnessed flying ants. When a colony is overcrowded ants fly out to form new colonies.

Flying ants in Minnesota? After a summer of Tiger Beetles that I mistook for Emerald Ash Borers and picking Japanese Beetles off my new scrubs and rose bushes I wasn't thrilled to have flying ants.

I have been reading a series of fictional books about "The #1 Ladies Detective Agency" set in Botswana. These people consider flying ants a delicacy and eat them. We didn't do that. We just hope we don't have a lot more ants around our deck next year and the only "flying ants" I want to see again are Aunt Margaret, Aunt Diane and Aunt Barbara.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Camping Out

Libya's leader, Muammar Gaddafi is in New York for the opening of the UN session. He has never been a popular figure in the US and his recent behavior giving a hero's welcome to the Lockerbie bomber has made him persona non grata in America. I don't care if you spell his name Gaddafi, Khadafi, or Qaddafi, he is not welcome. Stay home. We have not forgotten how you harbored the bomber terrorists and then welcomed home the one the Scots foolishly gave an early release.

It seems Gaddafi provides his own accomodations when he travels. He sends an advance crew with his tent. A tent...Bedoin style housing. He shuns modern hotels because he hates elevators. Maybe Motel 6 isn't to his liking. He could rent a couple of rooms in a Motel 6 and only have to climb one flight of stairs at the most. The room would come with tiny soap, little shampoos and conditioners and AC & color TV. It probably has free phone service and a complimentary cup of coffee in the lobby. Maybe a tent is an upgrade from a Motel 6.

The Libyans with the tent have tried unsuccessfully to pitch Muammar's tent in Central Park in NYC, in New Jersey and in "The Donald's" backyard. Maybe "The Donald" wanted to do business with Gaddafi. Can't you see them sitting around a campfire toasting marshmallows and talking real estate development? Oh, well. Maybe Trump could convince him to live indoors or sell him a unit in Trump Towers.

Gaddafi is one freaky, scary looking individual. I don't think he would be welcome in our national park campgrounds or state parks. Maybe he should stay incognito and buy an RV. He might be able to sneak into a Walmart parking lot. Better not hang his bedoin robes out to dry. Walmart sells guns and ammo and a lot of Americans wouldn't be happy find out he was camping out there either. Go home. We have not forgotten Pan Am and the Lockerbie bombings.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Birthday Kids

Over the weekend our oldest grandson turned 17 and the youngest, the twins, celebrated their 1st birthday. The little ones each had their own cake and had a good time with it. Roman figured out what to do quickly while the more demure Zoe needed a little coaxing and a taste to get into it. They haven't been given sweets and this was a new experience. Seventeen yr. old Zach has a different approach to eating his birthday cake.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Sunday Paper

"How come so many people die on the weekends?" was the question from my husband's lips this morning. The section seems even larger than former times now that they publish before and after pictures on many. This morning there was a photo of one deceased in her wedding veil wearing cat's eye glasses. The "older" picture showed a septagenarian in oversized glasses. That is why I usually take my glasses off when the cameras come out. Styles change and what may look stylish now is sure to appear strange in a decade or two.
Relaxing and reading the Sunday newspaper was one of the things our youngest said he missed when he lived in a college dorm. That has been something I enjoy as well ,coupled with a cup of coffee. Times are changing. It used to be a two or three cup paper. Now, after separating the ads which make up over half the volumn, I can finish in a cup's worth of time. The classified section has almost disappeared. People shop for homes on line and use Craig's list or eBay to buy used goods. Our travel section is two pages. Many columnists have vanished with financial hard times for paper publishers.

Advertising revenue sustains newspapers and weekend papers have become junk mail delivered to our doorstep instead of our mailboxes. I can continue to count on hearing Jon say, "There is a sale at Herbergers" for a while. I don't get too excited. There is a sale there every week and the circular always contains coupons for discounts. I don't know anyone who shops at Herbergers , a department store, without coupons nor do I, so I will need to continue to subscribe to the Sunday paper for the ads even if there isn't much news.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Naughty Chair

I am a product of "sister school". Catholic kids growing up in the '50's had discipline metered out with a ruler and a stern look. When we went to church, we sat in the front pews where our nun teachers could keep an eye on our behavior. If you messed up they were close by to keep you in line.

I also went to a Catholic girls high school. Social graces class was mandatory. We learned which fork to use, how to make proper introductions and how to act in public. I don't think they do that in schools anymore. We would not have had the nerve to misbehave publicly.

With the current examples of bad public behavior abounding, perhaps we should bring back social graces class and a few stern faced nuns.

Last weekend Serena Williams, a well known tennis player, imploded into a black hole of bad language and bad manners. She properly apologized.

Kanye West has been villified for his behavior on a TV awards show. I don't care about him. He is a popular rapper and one cringes that he might set an example for those who like his music. I agree with the president who was heard to call him "a jackass". This is probably the only thing Pres. Obama has said that Republicans can agree with but I don't think most people my demographic care a bit about Kanye West.

The third person in the news, if you can call that news, is Congressman Joe Wilson who blurted out "You're a liar" during the recent joint session address by the president. He apologized to the president and opponents are trying to censure him unless he apologizes to Congress. Apparently he violated rules of civil behavior. Who knew we had any of those rules still in effect. My youngest son noted that it started with maltreatment of former President Bush. I don't think he was was always shown respect due his office. It was open season on Pres. Bush in the US. Iraq tried to curb those who insulted him. The shoe thrower in Iraq went to prison where he says he was abused and tortured for his acting out.

My guess is we don't act any worse than a session of Parliament in the UK where they openly argue and scream at each other. Some former Soviet countries are worse and fist fights can break out. Hopefully we can curb this uncivilized stuff before it gets that rough.

I admit to occasionally watching episodes of "Supernanny" last year. On the show a proper English nanny tries to help parents of out of control kids. Her method of discipline is to have the offending kid sit on "the naughty chair" when they misbehave. Some of these kids are monsters but on the episodes they broadcast they are mollified to become better behaved children. (The show is really about training clueless parents.)

Couldn't we use a public "naughty chair" in this country? Aha, maybe we have one already. Did you notice Joe Biden quietly sitting behind President Obama when he gave his speech to congress? Joe smiled and never said a word. Nancy Pelosi sat next to him with her stern very nun-like face. Her face probably looks like that from Botox, but it seemed to keep Joe quiet. Joe has been known to speak out of turn at times. Remember his remarks about not letting his family fly on commercial airplanes when Swine flu broke out last spring? No, no, Joe. Don't say anything that hurts the airlines. We all knew he was right but should have weighed his words. When is the last time you heard a sound byte from Joe? He is silenced. Pelosi's looks can do that. Maybe we need a few more chairs up front for Kanye, Serena and the other Joe. "The Look" might keep them quiet.

We have made some progress. Joe Biden is muzzled and you don't hear much from Sixpack Joe. Joe the Plumber is now attending Tea Parties and Joe the Camel hasn't been seen in years.

Hat's Off to a Real Hero

Norman Borlaug recently died at age 95. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in the 1970's for his work developing wheat, barley and rice that was disease resistant. He was educated at the University of Minnesota and the U's president described him as the most distinguished alum from Minnesota. When I talked to my son Dan, the horticulturist, this morning he expressed regret that this man who helped so many had such a brief obituary.

Norman Borlaug chose to spend his career helping third world countries increase grain production to feed its people. He developed seeds that were disease resistant and produced bigger crops. His gift to India and the far east was an enriched rice. Before his work the rice they grew was deficient in certain nutrients results in a malnourished population whose main diet was rice. It is said he saved millions from deficiency diseases and starvation. He did not get rich himself and was surprised when he won the Nobel Prize. We could use more Norman Borlaugs in this world.

Friday, September 11, 2009

In Memorium

One can't live in America and not know the significance of today's date, 9-11. It has been eight years since the terrorist attack but the images are forever with us. We pause today to remember.
North St. Paul is my husband's hometown. His sister lives in there. Last weekend North St. Paul police Officer Rick Crittenden was killed when he answered a call about a domestic disturbance. He died defending the wife and daughter of a man who was violating a restraining order. He was the first policeman ever from this sleepy little suburb to die in the line of duty. He will be buried on the day we mourn so many in public service who died helping others when the World Trade Center was attacked. May they all be in our hearts forever. We are grateful for their sacrifice.

Archive site of 9/11:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Lighter Moment

We've seen bride, groom and attendants dancing down the aisle at the wedding on You-tube. Now for a good laugh and a good laugher. I can't imagine my future daughter-in-law who is quite shy doing this but who knows.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Little More Glurge, Please

It's 3:45 in the morning and I am awake. Our youngest son moved out yesterday and I awoke feeling a little sentimental. Although we have had three other children grow up and move out, he is our baby. He has left before to live in a dorm, but this is different. He has a one year lease on an apartment followed by a wedding date in August 28, 2010. He won't be back.

When I woke up I wandered into his almost empty old room and said, "Oh, sonny boy...". He woke up and said, "What?" I guess he isn't quite gone. He was still sleeping in his old bed. He wasn't here when we retired for the evening but must not have gotten unpacked and settled yet in his new place. In the morning he probably won't remember his mom waking him.

The house is quiet. The yard is full of moonshine. Nothing illegal, just those deep shadows and the brightness of a world highlighted by the full moon. This display of God's nightlight follows last night's spectacular sunset. It was a sunset like you see in pictures found in National Geographic of India with a lavendar sky and a fiery red sun. (Red sky at night: sailor's delight! )

Anyway, I am awake reading email. I got another outrageous one and checked authenticity on Snopes. Their screen opened with category choices. My eyes stopped at the category of "Glurge". I chased down that rabbit hole wondering what glurge was and decided a lot of the email that circulates on the Internet is glurge. Look for yourself, but the brief definition is supposedly true stories that are "sweetened" to go down better. Some of these tales are true but embellished. Some are sentimental fiction that have a moral. Some have little truth.

If stories that are sweetened to go down better are "glurge", is there a term for the opposite? What do you call stories that are enriched to be more bitter and mean? What do you call the current situation in this country when we can't to accept at face value a president who wants to encourage school children to do their best? Are we living in an age of "Rush" to judgement?

I read a book by one educator who espoused parents & teachers "Catch Them (children)Being Good". He wanted parents to notice a child's good behavior. Give attention to the good and you will get more of that behavior. Change your focus. There will be plenty of things a kid does that you don't like. Catch them when they don't screw up and encourage them.
Maybe it is time to put politics aside and show respect for the office of the president even if you don't like his politics. Maybe we can catch him being good. Maybe a little sweetness would be in order.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fairly Cute

More pictures of Roman and Zoe, this time looking at critters at the Minnesota State Fair. Roman is surveying the pigs while Zoe gazes at sheep.

News from "the fair" yesterday was that 100 4H'rs were sent home when four of them became sick with the H1N1 flu. (We can't call it Swine Flu in our farm state. Don't want to scare any prospective international pork buyers.) They sent the disappointed kids home because they had been exposed to known flu. The news reporter reassured the TV audience that it was very safe for us to come to the fair. Don't think you can catch the (Swine) flu from the pigs. She said at the Iowa State Fair they were keeping people from visiting baby protect the pigs!