Sunday, May 22, 2011

Zombie Jamboree

We should have seen this coming. We live in a culture that is currently glorifying werewolves and vampires. In movies and on the tube they are romantic, mysterious characters. Pause while I groan. When I was young we listened to the Kingston Trio sing "Zombie Jamboree".
I doubt I knew anything about voodoo culture. I just liked the Kingston Trio.

Disclaimer: I don't believe in zombies. I don't believe in vampires or werewolves. I do believe people can be fascinated with the dark side and demons are real.

I arched one eyebrow and couldn't resist following a story online about the CDC releasing info on what to do in a zombie attack. Excuse me? A government official released a survival plan for the public to defend against zombies? Maybe that budget could be cut.

Pursuing this further, I found out they used the catchy "zombie apocalypse" release, to get people to read the info and stock a home survival kit. Have enough water, food, medications, flashlites etc. to take care of your family. Well, that I agree with. Take care of yourself. Don't just rely on the government to come in and swoop you up and meet all your needs. You may stand on your roof a long time.

I guess their plan worked. I read their zombie survival plan. I think we need more peanut butter in the cupboard in case of disaster. Google: CDC + emergency preparedness, zombie apocalypse. Photo from the CDC website.

In the Shelter of His Wings...

Last winter our son and his new wife bought a home in a nearby community. The housing bubble has caused steep drops in property prices, and they got a beautiful home at a very good price. While homeowners continued to be distressed about falling value of their homes, young first-time buyers benefitted.

Our second son has been a renter for seventeen years, and this prompted me to look online for a condo he could afford. I may sound like a pushy mother, but he needed a nudge.

My husband and I began the hunt and were surprised at some of the deals on foreclosed or short sale condos. Even before the bubble burst, condos were overbuilt in the metro and prices were soft. Around Christmas I found one online that we all liked.

After the holidays we contacted the realtor and started viewings. Our search narrowed to one particular unit and we were disappointed when it didn't work out. It's a longer story, but to be brief a similar apartment in the same building became available (it had an offer pending that the bank didn't accept). The realtor called and asked if we were still interested and we proceeded.

I fell in love with the beautiful kitchen and the huge walk in closet. It is the size of a small bedroom. The building is older but was redone in 2005. Everything looks new.

It was a short sale and the deal took five months but at the beginning we prayed and put it in God's hands. Let it proceed if it is your will, we said. It did proceed and yesterday we helped our son move in. He is now the proud owner of a beautiful apartment in a nice neighborhood next to a nature center. He is two miles from his brother and has cut twenty miles off his commute to work.

That is no small blessing when gas is almost $4 a gallon. The condo also has a heated garage.

The selling price was just 20% of what it sold for six years ago. A blessing.

God is good.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Harmon Killebrew is Not Dead, He is Safe at Home

When I was fourteen the Washington Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Minnesota Twins. Now we had our own team to root for and it made a baseball fan out of me. It made a baseball fan out of my dad. I can still mentally see him listening to the radio broadcast of the Twins with Herb Carneal calling the plays. I can still feel the excitement I felt in 1959 when "Hammering" Harmon hit that ball long and hard. I believe his team record for longest home run still stands. He was consistently a good hitter. He was consistently a good guy. After retirement he was an active volunteer helping kids learn the game. He didn't beat his wife or make headlines for drug abuse.

His eulogists praised this nice guy who lived a good life. His kids and pastor portrayed a believer who trusted Jesus Christ for his salvation. I like to think of his welcoming committee in the next world as God standing with arms stretched out, saying, "Home safe, Harmon".

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

God Save the Queen

QE2 is touring Ireland. She is the first British monarch to set foot on Irish soil in 100 yrs.
Security is on high alert. Today police detonated a pipe bomb on a public bus.

The Queen must be a trusting person. I would guess not all the citizens of that country are happy to see her. Anglophiles can take comfort she is not visiting (rural) China where exploding watermelons are going off like land mines. Reportedly, they were overfertilized, grew too large, and are now suddenly bursting. You thought Gallager made a mess. We are talking fields or dangerous fruit. Cordoned off square miles of melons. Wouldn't you hate your obit to read: "Died when hit by watermelons." Sad day for our financiers.

What You Talkin' About, Arnold?

Oh, my. My condolences to Maria and the kids. Arnold has admitted to being a bad boy and joined the John Edwards scalawag club. I think Robin Williams is also in that club. Didn't he have an affair with his kid's nanny? Bad boys.

This movie poster made me groan. "Nothing is inconceivable". Indeed. Don't hold politicians up as heros or role models. Gossip says Arnold is trying to resurrect his acting career. He will probably have better luck with that than running for office.

I'm pretty sure if he ran for president someone would want to see his birth certificate.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

On a Mission From God

My dear friend Mary is again spending spring as a volunteer servant evangelist. She is in Serbia teaching English in a church sponsored community outreach program. The local Serbian church runs the school free of charge to help people learn or improve their English speaking skills. Speaking English improves their job opportunities. The program is run by a national who formerly owned a language school. Mary had previous volunteered at his school and now returns to help the students practice their skills with a native speaker. She has a big heart for people and loves experiencing other cultures and sharing her faith in Jesus.

Yesterday, a group of 16 men from our small church (attendance is only around 140 a week) flew to Hungary to volunteer their labor remodeling a donated old building that will become a church for the local Gypsies in Fadd, Hungary. They will work side by side with Gypsy men. Terrific opportunity to serve and build relationships. We are keeping them in our thoughts and prayers. Our church will reap the benefit of stronger bonds being built among these men. there are three father / son teams among the group. The ages are mixed from one college freshman to some closer to my age. We pray for their safety and for them to be a great service to the Gypsy church.

Our church has many ties to service and evangelism in multiple countries in eastern Europe.
We are on a Mission From God who also pray and finacially support those who are sent.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Raising Cain

This is not an endorsement. This an inquiry.

Disclaimer: I am not a member or affiliate of either major political party and consider myself a right-leaning independent. I have previously been a member of both parties at different times and done door knocking, fund raising and attended conventions as adelegate.

A couple weeks ago a conservative friend on Facebook posted articles about Herman Cain. Mr. Cain "won" the Republican debate somewhere in the south and leads in the Iowa Republican straw poll. Many Tea Party members are supporting him.

Who is Herman Cain, I wondered. The first thing I found out is that he is an African-American Republican businessman. Why am I still surprised at that? Allan Keyes is an African-American Republican.

I have watched a few of his speeches on You tube and read some articles written about him. I don't know enough to have a firm opinion but am intrigued by the idea of an African-American Democrat running against an African-American Republican in 2012. While this would surely trigger a backlash and surging third party, I like the idea. Martin Luther King's dream would seem even closer to fruition.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dali Lama in Minnesota

Minnesota has a large Tibetan diaspora. We have the second largest contingent of them in the US. This weekend the Dali Lama paid a visit to his people. Local channels carried stories about his rallies that caused my husband to say, "Hello, Dali". Wonder if he hears that very often.

Thousands of people came to honor this spiritual leader. Many were of Tibetan heritage. Others were people who accept his religious views. Some were local civic leaders trying to honor him but I think missing the mark. The University of Minnesota honored him with a Gopher hat similar to the one worn in the photo. It appears both Indiana and Minnesota have maroon and gold for their colors and are pleased to award him with one. He is known as a peaceful man and apparently not haughty and proud or he wouldn't have worn that visor.

The Gopher football, hockey and basketball teams haven't been winning much lately. Perhaps they were looking for a better mascot.

Newt Gingrich to Challenge Donald Trump...Maybe

Time for the fun to really begin. We may witness possibly the first battle between thrice married men for the Republican nomination. We should know with certainty tomorrow. This is what I heard on the local TV news last evening: "Newt Gingrich says Wednesday he will announce he is running for president on Facebook".

The announcement will take place on Facebook?

How do you interpret that statement? Is TV news telling us that Newt Gingrich won't divulge to them that he is running for president. Everyone needs to befriend him on Facebook to get the actual scoop this Wednesday.

I raced to befriend him. One can't risk falling behind on political news. Not with The Donald also announcing he will announce his candidacy after his show, "Celebrity Apprentice" is done for the season.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Gingrich joined the ranks of those who won't announce they are actually running just yet. We have two Minnesotans who cagily declared they have set up exploratory committees about throwing their hats in the ring. One of them has reporters hanging on her every word and a Saturday Night Live skit mocking her. The other is trying to toughen up his talk to attract more disgruntled voters. His reputed reputation as the nice governer from Minnesota follows him even if this state's liberals don't think he is so nice.

I announced my candidacy for governor a couple years ago when the field had over twenty people vying for endorsement. Why not join the fun, I thought. Now with the reluctance of many willing to jump in and declare they are running for president, I may do what most of them do and set up an exploratory committee. That is now the first step. Set up the committee and see if the dollars flow in. I think I may have my family's support. Jon would like to travel by limosine, Andy and his wife could join my entourage on Air Force One, and the married kids with kids would enjoy the peaceful weekends at Camp David. I think I will announce on Facebook that I am available.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

No Diamonds on the Soles of My Shoes Either

The ladies' gym where I belong had special vendors demonstrating their wares yesterday. Periodically they allow massage therapists and a myriad of wellness people to display or demo their products.

As I worked my way around the circuit, one lady asked me to try the magnetic innersoles she was selling. She told me to just step on them with my shoes on. Then I followed her direction to resist her efforts to push down on my outstretched left arm. She pushed downward with two fingers and I kept my arm outstretched at my side while standing on the magnets. Viola.

Next she asked me to step off the magnetic devices and again extend the same arm. She again pushed down and I again resisted, this time unsuccessfully. Impressive I thought.

I am my nature and education skeptical of many of the wellness potions hawked by holistic practitioners. I don't do coffee enemas, preferring to drink the stuff. Crystals? Pyramids? Psshaw. Even the frequent medical studies that coffee or snake oil may or may not cause death or improve health cause me to raise an eyebrow.

For a moment I was impressed with the magnetic innersole demo. Then I asked her to test the other arm but do it in the opposite order. Try to push my right arm down while I resisted but was not on the magnets.

She did and I kept my arm up. Then I stepped on the magnets and she pushed my arm down. Not a scientific study but not reassuring that her magnetic innersoles were working their magic either. I didn't buy a pair.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

Red tulips. Last fall I supplemented gardens with 100 red tulip bulbs. When the wind whined and the snow whirled and drifted for six months, I found encouragement thinking of how beautiful all those tulips would look this spring. I love red tulips.

Tulips are hardy flowers and among the first blooms to emerge in spring. They popped out of the ground and were covered with snow several times in April. This past week I watched them reach full stature and bud. Yesterday they bloomed.....yellow. Good thing I like yellow tulips too. Either I forgot what I planted or had a mislabeled bag of bulbs.

When I stand on the deck now and survey the backyard all those perky yellow tulips amongst the daffodils look gorgeous. I was going for a less monochromatic look with the red. The corner garden has all pastel tulips so that will have to do.

Last spring we finally drove to Pella, Iowa for the tulip fest. What a display in this Dutch themed town. The city plants about 1/2 a million tulips not counting private gardens. It won't work out to go this year but I look forward to revisiting Pella in 2012. For now, I will have to be content thinking I can almost see Pella from my backyard with the display I have. That sounds a little like Sarah Palin. I am not even running for office. If I were, I don't suppose it would hurt to currey favorite in Iowa.

Friday, May 6, 2011


It looks like we are going to get our first republican candidate running for president. I read that The Donald said he couldn't announce until after the last episode of his TV show, "Celebrity Apprentice" had aired. That will happen in May. It would be a conflict to have a running TV show while in the campaign.

Trumped. Playing the Trump card. Both are associated with a power move. His running is a power move because his initial campaign could be self-funded. No groveling for funds at rallies or bean feeds. Whoops, I don't think the Republicans have bean feeds. No groveling for funds at NRA meets or VFW conventions or Tea Party meet and greets. Not for him. He could raise the moola.

The talk show comedians are salivating at the thought of a prolonged run at the White house by Mr. Trump. I watched the Sunday Fox News show and think those pundits enjoyed commenting on his possible race too. While they didn't actually roll their eyes, they came close.

Hate to admit I enjoy watching "Celebrity Apprentice", but I do. I gasped last Sunday when the network cut off the end of the show with the announcement that President Obama wanted to make an announcement to the nation. Sounded like a power play. It turned out to be important news about Osama, may he not RIP.

The Donald is famous for his distinct hairdo. The stress of being Commander in Chief and leader of the world's only superpower and dealing with a dysfunctional congress seems to escalate the aging process in our chief executives. I wonder how quickly we would see Mr. Trumps's hair turn gray. I suspect about a quickly as you observe my hair turn gray, which is never. I am not saying he uses Lady Clairol because I don't want to get sued.

Perhaps we can make a deal. If he uses his own airplane, helicopter and limo we would consider letting him have the job. Think of it as cost saving in a penny pinching era. We might even let him tempt us with a generous offer for "naming rights" to a few Washington landmarks. Picture a version of Trump posing like Rodan's "The Thinker" on the reflecting pond opposite the Lincoln Memorial. The National Zoo could be renamed in his honor. There are seventeen Smithsonian Museums, couldn't we spare just one as Trump Museum? Mr. Smithson donated a mere $25,000 to get the honor of his name immortalized. I would draw the line at changing the name of the National Cathedral.

Announcing our Newest

Our newlyweds of last August are expecting. Daughter in-law Laura divulged the news yesterday on Facebook. This sweet girl shared, "Our puppy was born". Laura is always soft-spoken and demure. A more crass person might have worded it "the bitch delivered". Sorry. So sorry. Couldn't resist. That is what a female dog is appropriately called and the only time a person should use that word.

Andy and Laura had reserved a puppy when the dog was bred. They wanted a Cavashon and there are not many breeders in the area. A Cavashon is a hybrid of a King Cavalier and a Bishon Friese. It is a small dog that won't shed with the sweetest face. I think I am going to love this little bundle too.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Garage Logic

Kudos to Joe Soucheray, my favorite radio and newspaper guy. His radio program explores "Garage Logic". Thinking like a guy (gal) with common sense. "Euphorians" need not apply.

Anyway, picture is of grandtwins Zoe & Roman absorbed in play with my vintage Fisher-Price parking garage. Our kids had this toy in the 70's and I found one like theirs at a garage sale last summer. See. Garage logic fits. My "garage logic" is get toys that are vintage that they don't have at home. Toys with playability.

Roman loves to get this out of the closet when they come over. He lines up the cars. Runs them up the elevator and down the ramp. In the picture, Zoe takes a break from pushing her dolly stroller to help.

I love those kids. When they were over yesterday, Roman told me "I love to play with you , grandma". Made my day. I love to play with you too, Zoe and Roman.

Healthy Breakfast of Steel Cut Oatmeal

I love everything about steel-cut oatmeal except that it takes 30 min to cook. It is rainy this morning and cool, so I thought a bowl of oatmeal would be a good start to the day. I put it on and distracted by something, forgot to watch it. My memory was jogged shortly before the smoke alarm went off. All the liquid had boiled away and the scorched mess was left in the pan.

I think I will eat Grape Nuts today.

This cooking accident followed close on the heels of another. When I turned off the kitchen lights before going to bed last night, I noticed the telltale glow of a red light on the coffee pot. It was on with no coffee left. The glass pot was empty and smoking hot. I confessed to my husband what I had done this morning as I was cleaning the stove after the boiled over oatmeal mess. My next thought was that accidents come in threes. What would I do next? I glanced at the stove and noted that the burner was still glowing as I scrubbed the stove top. Hopefully that was the third.

In her later years, my mom used to say "Poor old people", when she or someone else had a senior moment. I said that today. I also vowed to cut the crap (sugar & white flour) out of my diet again. I think it is clogging the synapes.

Jon is keeping a watchful eye on me today.

Picture: My oatmeal. A little on the well done side. Those aren't raisins.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Osama bin Laden's Compound

We were duped. For almost ten years while we had bin Laden on the run, we thought he was living in a cave. We felt better thinking he was huddled in a sleeping bag eating goatmeat cooked on a kerosene stove and drinking water fetched from streams. We were glad he didn't have central heating or modern plumbing. We hoped the chilly winter winds blew hard and spring melting flooded the cave.

We were duped. Osama was living in a palace called "The Hideaway". Pakistani officials knew nothing about it. He was living in a fortress among retired military officers down the road a piece from their premier military training school and they didn't notice a thing. They didn't notice him hiding 35 miles from their capitol city. He didn't raise suspicions when he retrieved his morning newspaper wearing sunglasses. No one was puzzled when it was the only palace on the block that didn't come out for the annual block party picnic. No one questioned why there was barbed wire on the top of 18ft walls around the place. No one wondered why it was the only house on the block that didn't answer the doorbell when Girl Scouts came selling cookies. (Everyone else in the world wants those cookies.)

Libya's president what's-his-name (Quadafi, Gadaffi, Kadaffi??) had us thinking he lived in a tent. You don't hear of NATO bombing any tents, do you? We are not going to be duped twice. Bombs are now taking out palaces in Libya. We're not buying that Tent City story even if that is how he mislead the world when he tried to campout in Central Park in NYC when he visited the United Nations and gave that rambling monologue. We didn't let him pitch his tent in the park .

Better duck, Mr. Gadaffi. Better get nervous if you hear helicopters whirring.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Birther Blues -or- I Am What I Am and Who I Say I Am, I Think

Never thought I would feel sorry for The Donald, but he had to sit and take it at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in DC this weekend. President Obama stuck him with a few sharp barbs about the birther issue. The Donald didn't seem amused. Not sure I would get in a sparring match with Mr. Trump, but he did start the fight.

I was amused to read Joe Soucheray's column in the St. Paul Pioneer Press this morning.
His title reads: "I, too, have a birth certificate mystery--if I am even me."
The story that follows is that he did not find out until decades after he was born that his birth certificate spells his name Soucherey and he spells it Soucheray. For those who don't know Joe Soucheray, he is a local newspaper colmnist and has a radio talk show that is humorous and conservative.
When he found out about the discrepency in spelling of his name, his wife (joked) that she probably had grounds for annulment. Then she said, "If The Donald gets ahold of this, you'll be ruined, finished." That left me laughing. I don't think The Donald did himself any favor backing that horse. My opinion. Your's may differ.

I have found over the years when I laugh at someone elses problems or dilemas, I usually find I have trod on the same path. My mom told me that when I was baptised, the priest insisted on baptising me "James" instead of Jane. He did not think there was a St. Jane and he strictly enforced having a saints name for the child. Hopefully, I won't have a hard time getting past St. Peter at the pearly gates. I don't know if my patron saint is St. James the lesser or St. James the greater.

In the meantime, I will echo Popeye's line: " I am what I am."

May Day

May Day. This holiday isn't important in the US, but widely observed in European countries. We arrived in Germany on May 1st a few years ago and saw Maypoles in almost every village.

I grew up Catholic and memories of May Day involved church and a procession of children strewing flower pedals followed by clergy carrying a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May was observed as her month. I don't know how far back that tradition goes, but remember learning the Catholic church emphasized the Marion holiday to counteract Communist observance of May 1st. That was the day the soviets paraded their armaments in Red Square.

May Day has a long history and was a pagan celebration of spring in pre-Christian times. Roman culture observed it as a holiday to the pagan goddess of flowers. Druids celebrated springs arrival. In the 19th century a focus on laborers observing it began. Remember Karl Marx and "workers of the world unite"? It is still a labor day in many countries.

I found some local observances for May Day. There is an Immigration March for Emancipation. Don't think we will do that. Minneapolis has a parade in one neighborhood park. No doubt wiccans or warlocks or Charlie Sheen are having another party. We are just going to go to church. I don't think there is anything special going on.

I will continue to think of May day, may day as an urgent call for help. That is the message you send when your ship is sinking. Perhaps saying may day, may day is getting more appropriate. Sure haven't heard too much good news in this country lately.