Monday, May 31, 2010

In Remembrance

I did a heads up this morning when I turned on the radio and the announcer wished everyone a "Happy Memorial Day". That greeting was followed by a story about an officer in the military who chastised Americans for forgeting the true meaning of the day. Observance started in 1868 to honor Civil War dead. It is about remembering those who gave their lives in the military.
When I was growing up in the 50's, references to "the war" meant WWII. Not much time had passed sinced our parents generation sent husbands, brothers, uncles, sons and loved ones to fight overseas. Many didn't come back and are buried on foreign land.
A few years ago Jon and I visited Verdun, France, site of a great WW1 battle. We were touched by the fields of graves and the ossuary that held unidentified remains of hundreds of thousands. If an American soldier dies in combat now, his body is escorted home for burial. Families of soldiers lost in WW1 and WW11 didn't even have that comfort.
Memorial Day. A time to remember and be grateful and pray for wisdom not to send soldiers to die unnecessarily.
Memorial Day observances have expanded to families remembering all of our dead loved ones. Graves are decorated and cemetaries visited. My friend, Judy, and her sisters meet each Memorial Day at their parents grave to plant fresh flowers. They bring their lawn chairs and a beverage and pause to share stories of growing up with mom and dad. Nice tradition. Other families do similar things. I haven't.
At my mum's funeral my Uncle Wil passed out copies of some of mom's favorite poems. The first was about not grieving at her graveside because she wouldn't be there.
Hi mom. I know where you are but still miss you.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kids Will Be Kids If Their Parents Will Let Them

I am not sure I let my kids have as much fun as daughter Mary lets the twins. I remember curbing some of their enthusiasm for exploration and being awfully quick to get the washcloth. The grandtwins are having a ball exploring summer in the backyard.

How Do I love You, Let me Count the Ways and Days

After a grueling year spent losing 85# (2007), I regained 60 # and now am working to lose it again. Forty more to go. Half way and it is much more difficult to lose this time. Thoughts are to ask my Dr. to check my thyroid function..again...but he would probably smile. Over the years I have had my thyroid checked three or four times and it always comes back normal.
I wasn't going to blog about that failure, but....keep it real. I am back to walking a lot and doing Curves 3X a week. I had slacked off on Curves only going once or twice a week. That darn needle on the scale has only responded with a small drop after I started fasting one day a week with a group from church.
My motivation is to feel good and look better as the mother of the groom in August at Andy's wedding. I also have wardrobe challenges. My skinnier clothes don't fit and I buy new stuff sparingly because I don't want to stay at this size. The old adage, "Don't give away your clothes when you lose weight because you won't have anything to wear when you regain it is true." Most losers want the fat wardrobe banished so they won't regain the poundage but it doesn't work that way.
Why did I regain the weight? My first answer is "Because I am STUPID". My next answer is I was probably too strict in dieting. My cholesterol dropped to 98 and I have since read that may have been my undoing. Too low. I also resorted to artificial sweeteners and that kept my sweet tooth alive and well.
Oh, well. Not good to dwell on the past. Wish me luck and keep me in your prayers.
I want to be healthy. I want to remember my original motiviation to be healthier.
Today I commented to husband Jon that I wanted to exercise and eat right so I could be healthy. Jon keeps me grounded. "I am 65, think what comes next!, I said. Without missing a beat he answered, "Sixty-six". Got to love that guy.

Friday, May 28, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow

Pictures: Son Daniel's shade gardens in backyard. He has planted the whole frontyard with sun loving flowers and plants. Great yard.

Enigma Solved

Daughter Mary followed up on the "enigma train" with a comment about it being a ballast cleaner. Next thing I did was pursue my usual source, Google. I don't understand everything on their website. What is a ballast cleaner? Are they washing the rocks on the side of the tracks? Maybe we could use a machine like that in the Louisiana gulf. It is painful to watch workers clean strands of grass by hand...wiping it off with absorbant material. The Loram train also grinds the rails. Who knew they did such maintainance? I was completely ignorant. When did they do away with the two-man handcar and pickax?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Zach's Prom

Grandson Zach & girlfriend Sara at the Prom. The apple didn't fall far from the tree. His dad, our Danny wore Chuck Taylor hightops to his wedding. It is hard to believe Zach will graduate from high school next year.

Enigma Train

We saw these train cars in Carlton, MN and were puzzled. It is unlike any train I have seen before. There was a sign on the side of the train that said something about grinding rock. ????? Does it grind up rocks by the ties on the track? We mused it might be a mining train (this is iron mining, taconite country). Obviously, it needs to run on tracks so you couldn't just chew through rocks in the country side. I couldn't find anything online about this. Anyone know?

Bye Bye Birdie

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What Do They Do In Iowa?

We just had a little heat wave. Temps in the 90's with high, drippy humidity sent us scurrying north to cooler weather. It is programmed into Minnesotans at birth to seek the serenity and cool breezes off Lake Superior when things get sticky in the rest of the state. We drive up two or three times each year as we have done since we were married in the 60's. Many 4th of Julys were spent with our kids huddling around camp fires on the shore in our winter jackets. The frigid water of that great lake keep it cool as long as there is a breeze off the lake. All bets are off it the wind is from inland. Duluth occasionally gets hot.
We left a sweltering city. When he got off the freeway in Carlton we rolled down the windows and enjoyed the 25 degree drop in temperature. Apparently it was humid there as well; the closer we got to the lake the more foggy it became. On the approach to Duluth we realized we were to enjoy the weather but not the view. The lake was fogged in. We never saw it. We stayed overnight in Two Harbors hoping the ;fog would lift. Late morning the next day we started the drive up the coast toward the border. Visibility was less than a block. No lake. No road. No view. No stay. It was a bone chilling damp cool morning. At least we came home to a somewhat cooler, less humid town. We will have to make another trip north later this summer.
What do they do in Iowa when it gets stinking hot?
Picture: our view of Lake Superior

It's Not Easy Being Green

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Perhaps I Have Misspoken....

I'm not actually running for governor of Minnesota in spite of my earlier declaration. With only two people volunteering to support me, I decided not to throw my hat in the ring. Months ago I said I would do it because it seemed to be the thing to do. We had two dozen announcing they would seek candidacy. We now have nominees from the major parties as well as a few who will run unendorsed as Democrats. Both of these guys are wealthy men. I am not a Democrat, a man or wealthy.

Have you ever noticed when someone is caught in a lie, they claim to have misspoken? I "love" the Connecticut attorney general who is campaigning for a senate seat and talked repeatedly about his service in Viet Nam. One snoopy reporter unearthed records showing that after multiple deferments, he joined the Marine reserve and served stateside. Some claim that was because he could no longer get a deferment and didn't want to be drafted and go into combat abroad. Perhaps he should save himself some time and $$$ and withdraw as a candidate. We have enough Bozos in DC now.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dream House

Zoe & Roman in a just-their-size-house. Taken by Mary at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. We had a similar little house in the backyard when our older three were small. It had dutch doors and they played store.

Ketchup Time

Time to catch up on my blogging. I got the family round robin letter with the mail today and was reminded there are a few people out there reading this blog.
With spring's arrival I have been spending more time outdoors gardening or just playing.
I went to a recognition / thank-you luncheon for Red Cross blood drive volunteers this week. The MC had individuals introduce themselves and tell about their blood drives. One guy said he did the blood drive at the zoo. This struck me funny. How did they get that past PETA? Did you register the donors as Mr. Lyon, Mr. Behr, Mrs. Katz? I know. They collect blood from the employees but it is funnier the other way.
The next day I met for a monthly breakfast with former nurse co-workers. What fertile ground, I thought. Ask these retired nurses to share a pint at our next blood drive. I didn't get any firm commitments. It appears even nurses are squeamish about giving blood. After being encouraged by Red Cross staff to find new donors, I was eager to work this group. Perhaps my timing was off. The subject didn't blend with eating. (I donated recently and it was easy and satisfying knowing you could help someone.)
Speaking of nurses, metro area hospital nurses voted to reject contract offers and strike. I keep my licence current even though I haven't worked in four years and got a call from an agency a week ago. I didn't accept the offer. Hopefully all will be settled without a walkout or lockout.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory...

Wikipedia background on The Battle Hymn of the Republic

The world has changed. This was a battle hymn sung by marching Union soldiers back in the day when southern whites reviled the Republican party and newly freed slaves loved it. Political opinions were strong then too. People were deeply divided about slavery, states rights and abolition. States rights advocates wanted to reserve their right to chose. Others saw the rights of the individual life as having more merit. Echoes of the warring between pro-life and pro-choice factions today.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Battle Hymn of the Republicans ...( I just like that title)

Husband Jon announced this morning he had just had his half-birthday and had calculated he has "lived 24,000 weeks". Holy Cow. Didn't realize I was married to such an oldster. I think he misplaced a decimal or screwed up the math. He doesn't look 461 yrs old and I hope to have him around a lot longer. He looked chagrined when I told him that was a blogable comment.

I am still in the habit of parusing the obituaries, checking to see if I know anyone.
They are listed alphabetically and the first one today was a John Brown. I am sorry for the Brown family's loss, but I wonder if anyone else started singing "John Brown's body lies a-mold'ring in the grave, (repeat x 2) His soul is marching on. Glory, glory, halleluia," ect.


Naughty me. John Brown just died and isn't in the grave yet. We aren't in the grave yet either so it must be a good day. I think the 461-yr-old guy I am married to is living on the edge, though.
Picture: John Brown of Harper's Ferry fame, not my Jon.

I looked up the lyrics and there are two differing versions of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. ???? Maybe the republicans could claim one.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Young Life

When I met my husband his "baby sister" was fourteen. Today is her birthday and she is no longer a teenager, but she is forever young in my mind. Happy Birthday Jannie.

I am not glorifying youth. I think we should appreciate age and experience, but I the young ones give us hope of life continuing on. Yesterday Jon and I spent the morning watching the twins. We both love how cuddly they are when they first wake up. Both want to spend a while sitting on your lap. Young life. Precious.

My son in-law is preparing to reside their house and garage. While doing some prep and yard work last weekend he uncovered a nest of tiny baby rabbits which he carefully moved and sheltered. The next day he did a welfare check and saw the momma rabbit had relocated the nest. Mike has a tender heart and couldn't hurt them even if he later is frustrated when they eat his garden.
When we sat on their patio Sunday he pointed out a robin had nested in the wreath hanging on the patio. She was flying around, apparently nervous that we were so close to her nest. He suggested we move the picnic table into the yard so the eggs wouldn't get cold and she could sit on the nest. We moved and mama robin came back to keep her vigil. (There were four robin's egg blue eggs in that nest.) Life. Cherish it.

Picture: My sister Carolyn with new lambs on her Texas ranch. One of those is named Jane if I recall correctly.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Who You Gonna Call? Popeye? Casey Jones?

I am scratching my head about the headline of a local story; "Stillwater / City Pays to Have Towboat Towed".

"Stillwater / City pays to have towboat towed
Pioneer Press

Updated: 05/06/2010 11:46:31 PM CDT

Stillwater officials voted this week to pay $29,612 to have the Cayuga towboat taken off their hands.

"It's a liability we're happy to be rid of," said City Administrator Larry Hansen.

The 120-foot towboat, which the Aiple family gave to the city in 1998, was partially dragged to shore last month. It was originally envisioned as a floating museum docked next to a new park on the St. Croix River south of downtown, but those plans never materialized.

A crew from MidAmerica Technical and Environmental Services in Oakdale is expected to remove the boat by the end of the month, Hansen said.

A longtime landmark for boaters on the St. Croix, the Cayuga once housed offices for the Aiple Barge Co. and Max To Do Marine Service. "

— Mary Divine

File this story under, "Beware of people bearing gifts". Ten years ago our fair city was gifted with an old towboat that it accepted hoping to turn it into a floating museum. It never was renovated for a dockside historical museum of life on the St. Croix. The boat had lead paint and some other toxic substance and would have been very expensive to salvage. Local government finally threw in the towel and called someone to tow it away for over $29,000.
Is our small town government is as skilled in fiscal matters as our federal government? Comment from city officials said they were just glad to be rid of the thing. Cut your losses. I wonder if they tried listing it on eBay.

We also have a landlocked train in Stillwater. The dinner train business closed last year leaving the locomotive and dining cars landlocked on tracks that go a few miles and end. Removal would take a crane and big trailer. It is parked close to the river. Maybe someone can get that towboat to take it too.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mom and Me & the Other Me

It's Mother's Day. The day brings back memories of childish greeting cards made by our kids who were prompted by grade school teachers. Love those teachers. Those little drawings and verses are priceless.
I received an electronic greeting and invitation to be his Facebook friend this morning from our youngest son. I accepted his invitation. Now, I can't find evidence that we are indeed friends on my homepage. I think my alter-ego has stolen my son. When I set up my Facebook page I accidentally befriended myself and that other self steals some of my friends and mail. No one seems to know how to kill off the other Jane.
I was amused when Andy asked to be friends. Facebook started as a social message board for college kids. Oldsters and others were excluded. It has now grown so almost everyone I know is on Facebook. When I got an account I asked Andy if he wanted to be friends. The look on his face said no way even if he was too polite to say so. I think as he has matured he is less worried I will read about an underage party.

It's also a good time to remember my own mom today. Picture of young mom & dad.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

See Jane Stand

Our fair city of Stillwater, MN has a marathon coming up again this Memorial Day weekend. Last year I volunteered at a water stand and will do so again this year. It was fun. Duties are simple; hand the runners a cup of water and cheer them on. Our post was toward the end of the race and we saw tired runners who were walking as well as those leading the pack. See them run; see me stand.
We were oxymoronic "paid volunteers". I would have done it for nothing and that is what I was personally paid. The money went toward our youth groups summer trip.
I signed up for duty but couldn't remember the date when I went to mark my calendar. Was it on Monday? Sunday? Saturday? Checking the website clarified the date. There was also an interesting story about last years motivational speaker for the runners. He was a guy named Dane Rauschenberg from Washington D.C. who ran a marathon every weekend in 2006. 52 weekends and 52 marathons. He was also the pacer for the serious participants who wanted to have a time that would qualify them for the Boston Marathon. Dane's book about his achievement is called, "See Dane Run".

Friday, May 7, 2010

Don't Lettuce Alone

It's Friday. Many say TGIF. I am no longer employed so those words aren't spoken often in our house.

There have been a lot of bad things happening lately. I half-heartedly joked about the disaster of the week, but I don't think we even have a week between some disasters. Consider Icelandic volcanos, loss of life on the oil platform in the gulf followed by a gushing leak contaminating coastal shores, tornados, biblical flooding in Nashville, more airport closures in Ireland and Scotland as the Icelandic volcano smokes again, riots in a bankrupt Greece, possible troubles with the euro and then a plummet on Wall Street probably caused by an electronic error.
The state of Minnesota is again on the brink of bankruptcy with a 3 billion $$ deficit to fix before the legislative session ends in two weeks.

Morning news today about a food recall of romaine lettuce contaminated by e coli. The next story was about Americans not eating the recommended five servings of fruits and veggies. Hmmmm.

The red-hot MN Twins were beaten by the worst team yesterday.

Snow is predicted here today. Our grandson, Zach is going to the prom tonight. The good news; it won't be "shovelable".

Our second son was in a car accident coming home from work yesterday. Thankfully, neither he nor the other driver were injured.

Atheists are challenging our National Day of Prayer. Although we don't need a federal proclamation to pray, why do we want to banish God now? Our hope is in Him and we do not want Him to let us alone.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Just a Good Story

I spent yesterday afternoon volunteering at our church. We are doing a new church directory and someone needed to handle registering people who came to have their photos taken.
Someone shared a story about one of the women who came for a session. She is a retired nurse like myself and volunteers a lot of time helping. A couple years ago she was in charge of delivering hot meals to people who were sick, recovering from surgery or had new babies. Church people prepared the food and she delivered.
She called one recuperating lady and was told "Just walk in, put the hot dish and food in the refrigerator. I will be napping." Fine. That is what she did, along with a little note saying everyone in the church was praying for her. A short time later she made a follow up call. The lady said she never received the food. Our church lady had delivered it to the wrong house. I wonder what those people felt.... lucky, blessed, or just perplexed.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Biggest Yet

Another airline merger. United and Continental are joining forces to form the largest US airline.
We have recently been through a transition of "our airline", the old Northwest, which merged with Delta. One can still spot a few of the old red-tailed airplanes that haven't been repainted with the new Delta colors, but basically NWA was swallowed up. We are no longer "the" hub and corporate headquarters are elsewhere.

Perhaps the new mega-airline could ease the pain by using a combined name for United and Continental. Here are some possibilities:

Biden's suggestion; Big Bleeping Airline.

When you consider which airline to chose for your travel, keep in mind Delta is now the only one to still offer free blankets. Pull the blanket over your head and dream of the old days when they all offered snacks, free meals and champagne cocktails and didn't hold you captive for hours on the tarmac. Years ago, all we had to worry about was being hijacked to Cuba.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Our Four Grandchildren

Stand and Be Counted

Today's newspaper travel section had a notice of Whalen, MN's upcoming "Stand Still Parade" on May 15th. Whalen is a town of 64 souls. A town so small that the parade doesn't parade. Spectators move along the line viewing the parade entries. You gotta love 'em.

A few Saturday's ago on one of those warm, sunny days we drove to Lanesboro, MN. We've been to this charming town in the bluff country before and enjoy it. Driving a few miles further, we happened upon tiny Whalen. The sign there advertised the stand still parade. Charming.

Afton is a neighboring little river town close to Stillwater where we live. Every fourth of July they celebrate with a parade down main street. Main street is just about the only street, so the parade starts at one end, reverses direction like a train and goes back to the beginning. This main street is also Hwy. 95 and for an hour or so there is no way to get through town. Throngs of people show up to see local kids in decorated wagons, bikes and wagons behind tractors. Americana lives.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Early Bird But No Worms

When we were kids we were subjected to mom's home health program. The government might learn something about cost cutting measures from her. She usually diagnosed and treated us without consulting a doctor. That was a big cost saving measure.

One of her "treatments" for a condition we probably didn't have, was annual worming. She gave us the over-the-counter medicine to rid us of pin worms. I don't know if we even had pin worms but you can never be too careful. The pills were basically a purple dye. I am so glad we never had headlice, or that she even suspected head lice. That treatment is no fun.
I apologize about all this talk of parasites, especially if you read this first thing in the morning. My blog isn't about helminths (check your dictionary). It is about being early for everything.
I volunteered to watch the twinbabes this morning while Mary & Mike have a garage sale. I even set my alarm for 5:30 to have plenty of time for coffee and a shower and the half hour commute to their house. I woke up at 3:14. Good judgment dictated I not knock on their door yet, so....

This week I received an invitation to a reception for one of our local physicians who is retiring. I called another retired co-worker and made plans to go together.
I was dressed and spiffed up and ready to pick her up last night when I took another look at the invitation and saw the party was on Friday, May 7th.
I wonder if mom would have a cure for what ails me now. If it was purple dye, I think I would pass.

I'm walking on sunshine

I'm not sure I have this much fun myself. If you are a dog lover or wannabe, you might enjoy this You-tube clip.