Thursday, April 29, 2010

Slick Mess

You don't hear too many chanting "Drill, baby, drill" this week. Today they announced that the spill off the Louisiana gulf coast is 5 X as big as previously predicted.
I have been reluctant to get excited about off shore drilling. We do need the oil, but I dreaded the possibility of ruining the beautiful white sand beaches of Florida. Experts have been reassuring us it wouldn't happen.
Technology has improved since the spill that polluted Santa Barbara, CA beaches decades ago. That pollution on Santa Barbara beaches is why I hated to see more drilling. Ten years after the spill you still needed to wear old sneakers on the beach and couldn't sit in the sand without ruining your clothes. They said it couldn't happen now. We will see.

You've Got to Accentuate the Positive

There is a verse from the bible that I now understand a little better. To paraphrase, it says let your yes be yes and your no be no. I may need to teach my younger grandson this one.

Little Roman, at a year and a half, now emphatically shakes his head no and says "No" when you ask him a question like, "would you like juice"? He then is unhappy when his twin sister gets juice and he doesn't! Funny kid.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Jon dear and the John Deere

He's at it again. My husband, Jon, is "working" me for a new John Deere lawn tractor.
Less than three months ago he bought a new John Deere snow thrower to replace the one he bought during the 1991 Halloween blizzard of the century. He only used the new one once before our Minnesota winter halted abruptly. No more snow fell. I think he would have welcomed another chance to use it.
It is now lawn cutting season and every time he spots that green snowthrower in the garage it reminds him he wants a John Deere lawn and garden tractor. I don't want to buy one before we make some more urgent purchases. Put the new tractor on the list or paint your red riding mower green. Just don't surprise me with a new one yet.

He will continue to try to wear me down. In the meantime a friend offered to give him his old John Deere lawn tractor. The only problem is getting it home. Neither donor or recipient own a pickup. Jon commmented he might have to drive it home along the side of the road for the five miles. I think his new tactic is making me feel guilty. It's not working. We have a fairly small yard and I love cutting the grass with the Toro walk behind mower.

No "Rabbit Redux"

It wasn't even "Rabbit Run". For weeks I have been planning to scoop some of that nice rich dirt from the composting pile in the back of the garden. It's spring and time to enrich my little garden plot before transplanting annuals. I started to do it once but halted when I saw a pile of rabbit pellets. Oh, oh. In our early years in the house, Jon dug into the same compost pile in the spring and unearthed a nest (? what is the correct term? Where does Bugs Bunny live? ) of baby bunnies. We ended up raising two of these little creatures who were about the size of the palm of my hand. We used a dropper and baby formula and even kept round the clock hours feeding them. Mom (ME) probably did the lions share of 2am feedings but I think our kids helped. When the little critters were deemed big enough to live in the wild we set them free in a nature area where they were probably dinner for a hawk. We tried not to think about that and probably reassured our kids they would be happy rabbits.
Today when I dug into the compost I didn't find baby rabbits. I didn't find anything alive except earthworms which made me feel good. They don't need 2am feedings or hand feeding and I felt comfortable letting them fend for themselves in their new space.
The references to Rabbit Redux and Rabbit Run are John Updike books which I think I read years ago. Remembering what I read is becoming problematic and I keep a list now so I don't try to read them again. In this case I could probably read them again since I don't remember much about the series.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Better Way

Oklahome City memorial with statue of Jesus weeping

This past week the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal building was observed. We visited the memorial at the site a few years ago. People visit quietly and remember. We remember lost innocence. Before 9-11 we had not had an attack of this magnitude on our shores. We had not had an attack perpetrated by one of our own citizens.

I watched a taped interview of the bomber Timothy McVeigh on television Monday night. It left me chilled. It left me concerned that so much of the anger felt in this country towards government could be misdirected toward violence.
Militias are on the upswing. A recent arrest of a Michigan militia with plans to kill local law enforcement and then ambush other peace officers who came to the funeral came to mind. We have the right to disagree and oppose bad government and lawmakers, but when those on the fringes turn to violence we better wake up. Good government is not going to come from more guns or more rallies or more angry demonstrations. None of our political parties will save us. This is a time to look toward the Prince of Peace to bring peace and justice to our land.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

He's Off to See The Wizard Or Somewhere Over the Rainbow

They prefer to be called Little People, but for past generations the little people cast in the movie "The Wizard of Oz" were referred to as munchkins. This classic movie, loved by generations around the world, endeared them to us. One of the last surviving "munchkins", Meinhardt Raabe died recently. His funeral was held in a little church in Farmington, Wisconsin not far from here. I had a friend who was a member of this church so my attention was piqued when I saw the story.
Meinhardt Raabe was born the same year as my mom not far from where she was born and raised. His claim to fame is the "Oz" movie where he is distinguishable as the coroner who proclaims the wicked witch dead.
He had a degree in accounting and an MBA but his fame will be for being a munchkin.

In later years he was a spokesman for Oscar Meyer.
Meinhardt Raabe was short in stature but long in years.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tip Toe Through the Tulips

We did it on a lark. Monday morning I looked out at my blooming tulips and thought the tulips must be blooming in Pella, Ia. For years I have wanted to see this quaint town with it's Dutch heritage and spring celebration of tulip time. I asked Jon if he was up for a little drive and we were out the door in less than 15 minutes. It is great to be retired.

We had friends who lived in Pella in the seventies - eighties. They told us what a charming place Pella was but I had never been there. This is a small town proud of it's heritage and styled after a little town in Holland. 400,000 tulips are planted in parks and boulevards and bloom between mid-April and mid-May.

Tourists pour into town on these weekends and especially during their official Tulip time celebration. Going on a Monday seemed like a good idea and was. No crowds but plenty of gorgeous tulips and blooming crab apple, rhodendron, lilacs and tulip trees. It was warm, sunny and the skies were blue. We couldn't have timed it better. Even our suite of rooms at a new Country Inn Suites was a bargain.

Pella windows are manufactured in Pella. Many of the other shops and businesses have names that sound like they are from Holland. Several were had windmills.

Don't miss the Historical village just off the town square if you go and keep your ears open for the Klockenspiel. A man made canal winds past a brick courtyard mimicking canals of Amsterdam. Look at the facades of old storefronts on the village square with their curvey rooflines. Sample the letter cookies at the dutch bakery and marvel that almost all the churches in the old part of town are Reformed churches. The First Reformed Church is across the street from the Second Reformed Church. There is a Trinity Reformed Church and a Reformed Presbyterian Church. Only the Baptists aren't reformed.

We eyeballed postings of houses for sale in Pella and marvelled how cheap real estate is compared to home. I could live here but we would miss our family too much to move to the middle of Iowa.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Spellcheck Can't Spell Eyjafjallajokull

I don't know if I should be humming, "It's the end of the world as we know it" or "I'd like to meet you on a slow boat..." News of the Icelandic volcano shutting down air traffic in Europe is a little spooky. Speculators add to the intrigue by stating it could spew volcanic ash for days, weeks, months, years to come. No one knows. If it goes on for years we may need that healthcare bill.

My memories were stirred of the eerie quiet following 9-11 in this country when the only flights in the US were Air Force jets patrolling the cities. We had been a nation that had never experienced an attack on our shores. We took for granted our freedom to move about freely. The World Trade towers attack almost paralyzed us. After a pause, we rallied. Regardless of one's politics we looked to our president for leadership. We rose up standing shoulder to shoulder with a patriotic pride and strength that as Americans we could survive and thrive and rebuild. I have been missing that lately as we devour each other politically. Might be time to bring back the mantra, "United We Stand, Divided We Fall". We still have some nasty enemies out there.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Wiggles....

It is April and we should expect showers. April showers bring May flowers. That said, our weather has not been normal. We are used to a six-week spring. This year it started in early March instead of late April. Trees leafed out earlier than usual and perennial flowers and grass greened up quickly. The only thing missing has been precipitation. We had a snowless March and almost rainless spring. Fire danger is high and the ground moisture needs replenishing.

Three nights running we had nice soaking rains. We have had a little daytime rain but mostly we continue in Camelot mode of rain at night. This morning I walked in our neighborhood and don't recall ever seeing so many earthworms or "angle worms"
before. It was almost impossible to walk without stepping on them and I gave up the dodging and trod on many dead ones.

We lost a dear friend last November to cancer. After he retired, he set up a worm farm to produce compost of worm castings. His operation successfully produced a lot of compost which he sold in a variety of ways. He had dried worm castings packaged in tea bags you would use to make tea to water plants. He sold castings by the bucket or pound. He and his wife have a 25 acre lake on their rural property and Bill harvested weeds from the bay to feed the worms. All this was labor intensive but the process kept Bill active and young. I couldn't help but think of him this morning when I walked.

I had to Google earthworms to see what came up. I never knew there were so many different kinds of worms. Alabama jumpers caught my eye. They are recommended as excellent to put in gardens and compost bins. I just can't get past the word JUMPER. Not sure I want worms around with the ability to jump. That would have made my morning walk today very interesting if the slimy little things were more active.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More of the Grand Twins

* highlight you tube address (both lines) then paste and copy to internet to watch

I feel bad laughing at this, but... Hope he gets the hang of it soon. I like the way they "address the chair" by patting it and then turn and try to sit. The video also has a short version of Zoe's HAPPY DANCE which she does frequently when we praise her or cheer. Happy kids, they are even if Roman is temporarily having trouble sitting in that chair. Grandma Jane

Extra! Extra! Read All About It. There's a Sale at Herberger's

Years ago, we were amused when friend Jerry, who was near retirement, commented on how his days always started. He said, "My alarm goes off, I wake up, sit on the edge of the bed and say, 'I think I'll call in sick'. "

We are retired now and don't have to fantasize about bogus sick calls. We do have a recurring mantra though. Whomever gets to the newspaper first will often announce, "There's a sale at Herbergers". Unlike decades ago when sales were rare and happened at the end of the season to clear merchandise, many retailers have weekly sales.

I drove by Herberger's yesterday, a Tuesday, and noted how few cars were in their parking lot. Everyone knows the sales run mid-week through the weekend. Everyone knows you need the Wednesday circular with the coupons to get the discounts. Everyone shops Wednesday through Sunday.

A good friend of mine dresses fashionably and is a bargain hunter. Her face lights up when she tells me about the great discounts she gets with her coupons and special sales for store charge card customers. Recently she went to the store and found a sweater she loved. There was no price tag on the garment so she asked a clerk on the floor what the price was. "$29" was the answer. Wow. She had a 30% good customer discount in her possession. When she checked out the saleslady said it was $39. Inquiring about the descripiciency, she was told it was $29 yesterday. Today it was $39. Less 30% that would make it $28. It was Wednesday and there was a sale at Herbergers. You can always count on a good deal.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Almost Like Camelot Except For the Bears

Lyrics of songs from the 60's musical "Camelot" came to mind this morning. In the mythical Camelot it only rained at night. Fine with me.
Twins fans were delighted predicted showers held off yesterday afternoon while the Twins beat the Red Sox in the season opener in the new Target Field Stadium. The rain started during the night. I awoke to a thunder clap. This morning it is still raining. I hope the old adage, "rain before seven; shine by eleven" holds true.
Our dry lawn and gardens look grateful.
Our neighbor has her pool covered with a pretty good puddle on top. It is enough water for a pair of Mallard ducks to swim. Last spring I blogged about being surprised when a pair of ducks flew at head level through our yard to swoop into her pool. She said this pair regularly stop in her yard for a few days each spring on their migratory route. The ducks have returned.
Minnesota is full of wild life. The ducks I can handle. I would prefer the bears stay a little further north. Officials have been following a bear and her cubs that are living in a culvert by Guardian Angels Church in nearby Oakdale. Yesterday they saw the bear had taken one cub but left one behind. They expect she will return. In the meantime neighbors in the nearby residences are watchful. My son works an easy bears stroll from the culvert. Keep your head up, Andy.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Taxing Moments

We were a little slower this year getting our documents together for our income tax preparer. We also didn't call for an appointment right away. On March 23rd we finally met". She (the accountant) usually gets back to us in a few days, we go back and sign and she e-files. That didn't happen. I thought it was slower because her work load is greater the closer to the April 15th deadline. Yesterday I thought we better make a follow-up call. Last night I had an aha moment. Our phone has not been working. We didn't give her a cell #. The phone Co. had to dig a big trench in our yard and replace the main cable. Her initial efforts to reach us were probably unsuccessful.
This morning we finished the process. Since we are getting a modest return, Uncle Sam was probably glad to have the $$$ in their treasury a bit longer. With all the current federal holdings of banks, insurance companies, auto manufacturers, and a lot of belly-up-real estate, they probably needed the float. There may have even been a Wall Street executive who needed a little help. Maybe we should adjust our withholding. I am not in the mood to pay for any of those things.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Near Claim to Fame or is it Flame?

Remember the "Six Degrees of Separation" game? It follows who knows who until someone is associated with Kevin Bacon. That never worked for me. No one I know seems to know Kevin Bacon.
Yesterday there was on obituary for Ed "Coots" Matthews, formerly of "Boots 'n Coots" fame. He was one of several associates of Red Adair, a Texan famous for putting out oil well fires.
These guys were wild and daring men who used explosives to extinguish infernos. Remember the oil fires set in Iraq during the war? I can't imagine anyone brave enough to get near something like that. The feds called in Red Adair and Boots "n Coots. They put 'er out and saved the oil plus stopped a sooty polluting raging fire.

What has this to do with me? My husband worked with these guys when he filmed them using 3M firefighting products years ago. He was impressed. Apparently "Coots" was a wild and crazy guy. I am basically a coward and would never run toward a fire. Glad someone does. Hats off to Mr. Ed "Coots" Matthews. Hope your final resting place has no fires.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nursing Day

After a career of about forty years as a nurse, I gave a heads up when I saw a sign about National Nurses Week coming up on May 6 - 12. The observation ends on Florence Nightengale's birthday.
For years nurses were women. Centuries ago nurses were less respected and more likely to be the bar maids or women of a lesser reputation in the community. Things changed with Florence Nightengale. Nursing was elevated to a respectable career.
Over the years nurses, who were mainly young women, enjoyed the status of angels of mercy. They still enjoy the respect of the community but the ranks now include many men.
My ears perked up yesterday when I heard a news story about a local "nursing day" at a local chain restaurant. Come again? Isn't Nurses Week in May? Well, this is a different observance. A young mother was asked to leave a restaurant for nursing her babe in public and has countered by organizing a nurse-in. Bring your babies and boobs and assert your rights. The report didn't say if men were allowed at the restaurant.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Twilight Zone

If you are in my age group, that title provokes images of Rod Serling and the old Sci-Fi TV series. I think there was a movie in more recent times with the same title and some younger pepople are familiar with the title too. If you are the age of my older granddaughter (thirteen), "Twilight" movies have a different appeal. Vampires are romantic heroes. These dark books & movies have a cult following. When I was her age I read "Wuthering Heights" and "Jane Eyre" which have a similar gothic romance appeal.

Although my age and religion make blood-seeking men unattractive, I ventured into that world yesterday. I gave blood. The Red Cross Bloodmobile was at our church and I volunteered to help with scheduling appointments and registering donors. After years of thinking I couldn't donate due to a possible Hepatitis A infection as a six-year old, I found out I could donate. I feel a debt to the Red Cross and donors because when our daughter had a life-threatening delivery of the twins she needed transfusions. This is payback.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

What is more American than outdoor baseball in the spring? The Minnesota Twins played baseball indoors for the last 26 years at the Humphreydome. True baseball lovers missed sitting in the sunshine when they heard the crack of the bat. We tore down a good baseball stadium in the 80's so we could have a combo football/baseball indoor venue. It wasn't the same experience.
After years of finagling and a pretty good contribution from owner Carl Pohlad, a beautiful new downtown open stadium is opening this spring. We have had an early spring. While much of the south and east suffered through snow, wind and rain, we had the first March without any snow in 130 years. It is dry. It hasn't even rained. Yesterday hit 80 degrees and we have windows open all night.(You see this coming don't you.) Today is the first exhibition game at the Target Field stadium. It will rain. It will remind people there were some advantages to indoor baseball.