Thursday, December 31, 2009

"The Counting Song" (again!)

I have always heard about people who make Resolutions at the New Year to change, improve, modify, or cease a certain behavior.  From what I understand most folks aren't very successful at it after a few days.  Well, I know myself better than to do that.  I probably couldn't keep a resolution more than an afternoon!

Therefore, I don't do resolutions, but I do have "10 Hopes for the New Year."  I'll share my hopes....

10.  That world peace will actually be achieved and all the soldiers will come home safe and sound and never need to fight again!

9.5  That the Mayans were wrong!

9.   That Austin gets warmer weather the rest of the winter and cooler weather this summer than last summer!

8.  That my favorite authors write faster and more often!

7.  That I will reduce my "addiction" to computer games (or learn to live with it  -  lol)

6.  That I find a good friend here in Austin.

5.  That Maddie gets to remain at the school she loves (yay, Mills!)

4.  That Ratchlet can find a better balance for her use of time.

3.  That the Big Guy, T.A., Ratchlet, M-t-G, and I all remain extremely healthy and whole.

2.  That we all Laugh whenever possible!!

1.  That 2010 is a year of fresh starts, recovery from economic problems, good health, and renewed joy in living!

Happy New Year!  May all of our resolutions and hopes work out for the very best!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"What Are You Doing for New Year's?"

Okay, I seriously don't get it.  What happened to 2009?  If you're like me, the whole year disappeared in a blink of an eye!  Poof!  Gone!!  Tomorrow is the last day of 2009, Friday it will be 2010!  A full ten years into the Millenium, the Century, the Decade!  (And I am not inviting any discussions of whether its this year or next year.  When I start writing 2010, it seems like it should be ten years!)  No matter how you slice it, the whole thing changes over at midnight tomorrow night!

So "what are you doing for New Year's?" 

When we were still living in Chicago (and we were MUCH younger), we used to go to a New Year's dinner/dance sponsored by an organization we were involved in.  It was great!!  We got dressed up, had good food, got to dance a lot, had champagne and other "fun" liquids, and get New Year's kisses from a lot of friends!  An added bonus was that the event was held less than a mile from our we didn't have to worry too much about the drunken idiots on the road.  It was a lot of fun!  I miss doing that a lot.  The Big Guy doesn't enjoy dancing very much, while I absolutely adore it.  So when they stopped giving the dinner/dances, I was heartbroken....Mikey was not!

After that we spent several years with our 3 very closest friends, at their home (also very close to where we lived) and we talked, played games, and talked, and ate, had champagne, and talked, counted down to midnight and had kisses all around, talked, and stayed out waaaay too late!  That was terrific! Then, we moved to CA and lived there for 10 years.  No fun dances, but we did spend New Year's with some new friends, so it was okay! 

Then we moved to Austin.  We've been here 9 years and we have haven't done anything exciting on New Year's since.  We did spend a couple of New Year's with Ratchlet, T.A. and M-T-G, but it was all very low key. 

We probably wouldn't have made any plans for this year either, but I came up with a plan to have a PARTY!  A real, bona fide party with games, paper hats, food, and our very best friend!!  Maddie-the Great will be our sole guest, but that's okay!   We didn't invite anyone else!  We told her she could stay up to welcome in the New Year at midnight!  That will be a first for her and she is very excited.  Of course, Ratchlet and T.A. will enjoy having their own New Year's Eve celebration,  but Poppa and Grammy and M-t-G will have as good a time together every bit as much!!  If M-t-G actually manages to stay awake til midnight, we'll get kisses from our favorite girl!  Isn't it funny how our priorities change over time??

And I bet, if I ask her really, really nicely, Maddie might even dance with me!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"The Christmas Song"

Although we didn't have any chestnuts roasting, we did have the lovely glow of the fireplace and all the Christmas songs were the order of the day.  I am extremely proud to tell you, IT ALL GOT DONE!  Whoo Hoo!  My house (most of it anyway) was decorated to the rafters, the ornaments were on the tree (the lights come in the of the best inventions of the Millenium!), we had all our munchies and eggnog for Christmas Eve, we did our traditional tour of the neighborhood to see the pretty lights.  And boy, was there one happy little girl when we returned from our tour and she realized that Santa arrived right on schedule!  Even though she had been a bit skeptical about the jolly old guy's existence, she had to admit that no one stayed at home, we were all out on the tour, soooo, Santa must have really been there! 

We follow the tradition of my mom's family of exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve.  The logistics of making that happen require a well-planned and coordinated effort with Santa's staff.  First my grandparents, then my mom, and now me, have been making it work for over 75+ years!  The practice comes from the German tradition, in fact it used to be that my mom and her siblings never even SAW the decorated tree until Christmas Eve!  That would be impossible to pull off these days I think.  I certainly wouldn't like to even try it!

As you can see, Maddie was thrilled when she found her haul from Santa!!  She had that smile on all evening, even when she was not-so-patiently waiting for her "turn" to open a gift!

Everyone received some lovely and/or fun gifts (as always).  There was lots of laughter, but no tears this year.  (We'll look for inspiration again next year!)  There were practical gifts (a towel warmer from Little Sis...can't wait to try it!), silly gifts (little puzzles in the stockings for everyone), fun gifts (several word games....we all LOVE word games!), and fashionable gifts (there are three females in our family, do you think there wouldn't be a lot of clothes??) and the guys got tools!!  (their favorite things), things to read for everyone, and a traditional kitchen calendar that has arrived every Christmas since Little Sis was old enough to shop! 

I loved all my gifts as I always do, but there  was one that became my instant favorite!  This lovely linen guest towel was picked out by Maddie, herself, and it shows how well she already knows her Grammy!!  In case you can't read it, it says "Its hard to be a Diamond in a Rhinestone world." It makes me laugh everytime I read it.  What a hoot!  The kid definitely has a sense of humor!  I'll keep it forever! 

Now the tree was, as I said, decorated and lit, but when it came  time to put on the garland and the stars we use instead of tinsel, everyone said they preferred it without further adornment so they could actually see the ornaments.  That may be somewhat true, but I know that the truth of the matter is that no one wants to help put the garland on because I like it draped just so and its not simple to do.  Also, it is not a job for just one person, it requires a "draper" (me) and a "carrier" (anybody I can talk into helping).  I was outvoted.  So, as you can see above, the tree is a little "underdressed".

Nevertheless, it does allow me to share with you the best story of this Christmas.  On our tree we have an enormous number of ornaments (you collect a lot over 44 years!!)  Most of them have a story connected to them.  For instance, every time I receive a momento of a show I have done, it goes on the tree!  (That's why I have a gold bagel on my tree....received from another cast memeber when I played Golda in "Fiddler on the Roof.")  Lots of memories and reminders of the people and places we love! 

One of my most treasured ornaments belonged to my mother and was always on her tree every year for as long as I can remember.  It is an extremely old ornament that she received when she was a little girl!!  Originally, she was an ice skater (the ornament, not mom!) but over the years she became more and more bedraggled and lost the skates somewhere.  Finally mom did her best to repair and replace the parts of the dress that were falling apart.  After mom died, this was the only thing of hers I really wanted for myself.  Every year when I place it on the tree, I think of mom and miss her all over again.  

The key thing to remember about the little skater is how very old she is.   Now we flash forward to this year when Ratchlet and I were out doing our Christmas shopping.  We always look at the ornaments and decorations (and usually end up buying some to add to our collections.)  When I saw a little doll ornament on display, it gave me chills. She too, had a little porcelain face and her body was made from the same material and same color as the skater's original body!! When Ratchlet saw it she said, "It looks just like Gram's ornament!"  When the Big Guy saw it said, "Oh my God!"

Of course, she had to come home with me.  Below is a photo of the little Ice Skater (left) and the new little doll (right).  Now as you can see the two dolls don't really look that much alike; but they are similar enough to want to keep them together, especially with the photo of mom hanging with them.  One is brand new and one is probably nearly 100 years old.  I have a feeling they will stay together on Ratchlet or Maddie's tree long into the future as well.  So the story will just keep getting better and better.  Amazing, don't you think?

So we didn't have chestnuts, or snow, or expensive gifts.  What we did have, and will always keep, are more Christmas memories that will last a lifetime and beyond. 

"...And so I'm offering this little phrase
to kids from one to ninety-two,
although it's been said many times, many ways,
Merry Christmas to you."

Monday, December 28, 2009

Just a Christmas Teaser....

My favorite present!

The best story!

The best look!

Stay tuned, more to come....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Save the Last Dance for Me"

I hope everyone had perfectly wonderful Christmases, as we did!  I had every intention of making my next post be about our Christmas experiences.  While I still intend to write about our Christmas, there is something that has been on my mind for the last few days.  Like all my stories, it requires some background. 

Little Sis and I have recently reconnected (thru Facebook) with several cousins we haven't seen in years and years!  Because the family has spread out all over the country, there has never been an awful lot of closeness among the cousins. Every few years there would be a reunion or a wedding, or funeral where we'd all show up and catch up in that way.  Mostly though we got to know each other through our moms and dads and their letters to each other. 

There's a pretty wide age spread of our more than 30 first cousins; we now fall somewhere between our early 30's to mid 70s (wow).  All the aunts and uncles were so close growing up (as large families often are) and they would collectively, I think, be thrilled to know we're reconnecting those family ties.

My mom and my Aunt Annie were the closest of the sisters.  Annie had six kids, the oldest daughter, Sue, is 7 years younger than I....that's a pretty big spread when you're children.  My aunt's family still lives in the same area where both my mom and dad had spent part of their growing up years. I was already married and gone when Sue and her brother and/or friend would often come to Chicago on the train to go the Chicago Cubs games.  My dad, who liked baseball, and Little Sis would generally go with them.  This continued for a few years. 

When I got my Christmas greeting from Sue last week, she said how much she missed her mom who died about 20 years ago.  She also missed my mom, who was her "favorite" aunt.  And then she said something that absolutely knocked me flat! 

 She said, "....And your dad, what can you say about him!   What uncle would come all the way out here to take his niece to homecoming because she couldn't get a date?? He was the best!"

"WHAT?  My dad???  Uncle Jim???  Really???  It wasn't one of the other uncles?"  I asked. "Nope, it was Uncle Jim!" she replied.  "We were playing Grant H.S."  Well, that was where my Dad went to high school, so technically he was an alum of the rival.  Somehow tho, I never knew he did such a lovely thing for Sue.  My dad was a pretty good-looking guy.  I'm sure that added to his appeal as a partner!!  Besides he could certainly "cut a rug" ....  (oh, go look it up if you must!)  Nevertheless, she's right, what uncle would do such a great thing?? 

Because I had not known about this when it happened, I don't know how it came about exactly.  Did he offer himself?  Did my mom "volunteer" him?  Did Sue ask him??  It doesn't really matter, he did it.  And Sue, obviously, has never forgotten it!  No woman ever would! 

Its a strange feeling to learn something I never knew about a man I thought I knew well.  A good feeling, but still strange.  I guess we never really know anyone as well as we think we do.  My dad was quite a guy!  I'm proud of him!

p.s.  Still, it's ironic, isn't it, that I was never asked to go to a homecoming dance, or a prom, or the like, either, until I met Mikey in college.  There was no uncle for me.  I had quite a few dance nights sitting at home, telling myself it didn't matter!    Of course I survived, but maybe, somewhere, my dad is saving the last dance for me....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Home for the Holidays"

Well, I just can't help it, I've got to crow just a little bit.  It is now 7:35 p.m. on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 and (significantly thanks to the Big Guy) our Christmas lights are up outside; all of the gift shopping is done; all of the gifts are wrapped, bowed, and tagged; the Christmas newsletter is written and emailed to all our friends and family; the stocking stuffers are wrapped and sorted and ready to be stuffed; and most of the food shopping is done.  On the day BEFORE Christmas Eve!  Of course, there is the tiny little insignificant matter of the naked, but lit Christmas tree and the totally undecorated interior of the house, but hey, that's just quibbling!  I think we just might have everything complete and in place for Christmas Eve!  Its really going to look like "Home for the Holidays!"

And because this is a rarity in the history of my household, I am totally impressed with me and Mikey!! So I'm patting him on the back and he is patting me! 

I hope that the all the hurry scurry, hustle bustle, screamin' meemies are finished at your house too!  So that all of us may actually participate in the joy and wonder of the Christmas Holiday!  Merry Christmas my new and dear friends!  I hope that you are all able to be Home for the Holidays, if only in your dreams....

December, 2003

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"

Every year, all year, I look forward to Christmas.  I think its "the most wonderful time of the year".  I love the decorations, I love the traditions, I love the music, I love having my family close, and I love the look on my daughter's (and granddaughter's) face when they open a particularly perfect present.  Ratchlet gets all teary and sniffly because a present is a sentimental connection to something important to her.  I've managed to hit the mark with one of her gifts nearly every year.  As she has done with me!  (We are an odd family, the gift that makes you cry is the best gift!)

Maddie-the-Great has loved Christmas since she was old enough to sort of know what it was.  The look of excitement when she sees that "Santa's been here!!"  (usually yelled at the top of her lungs), brings a lump to my throat each time.  She gets so happy as she opens each present.  She says, "Santa brought me just what I wanted!"  

The Big Guy is an even bigger fan of Christmas than I am.  He is the one who insists we bring out all the old Christmas things again and again, even tho they are becoming tattered and torn.  (And I pretty much agree with him.)  I've been trying for years to rein-in his gift- giving some, but he seems convinced that more is always better! 

Poor T.A. had the misfortune of marrying into a family of Christmas-addicts!  His reactions are more controlled and he is not as sentimental about the traditional things.  But each year he understands a little bit better than the year before.  Ratchlet and M-t-G's feelings about the holiday, must be rubbing off on him by now!

Every year I promise myself I will get things all done early so that they can be enjoyed throughout the season.  And every year the promise goes by the wayside.  Even if I get an early start, I am still playing catch-up at some point.   Maybe its because I buy too much, or decorate too much, or delay wrapping too much, or several other "too muches" or it might be because everything absolutely must be finished by 3:00 pm Christmas Eve, whatever the reason or combination of reasons, about a week before Christmas, I get to feeling like a Grinch!  It all becomes overwhelming and too much work and I start to snarl at my loved ones.  All I want to do is go back to bed and skip straight to Easter, a much less high-maintenance holiday. 

I thought this year, being retired and all, I could get things done in a leisurely rush, no fuss.  Take my time, do a little bit every day until its all done.  Doesn't seem to be working so far.  I'm behind, as usual.  I haven't completely given up hope for no rush, no fuss, but it most probably will become big rush/big fuss, just like always. 

Then at about 3:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, I'll take a deep breath, and all of a sudden, its "the most wonderful time of the year" again.  Its a tradition. 

Can you find Waldo..unh...Maddie-the Great??

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"59th Street Bridge Song"

Actually its not the title of this song, its the first line that is resonating with me today.  "Slow down, you move too fast."  This is a little piece of advice a lot more of us should pay attention too.

Austin is a growing city.  The population (although I don't remember exactly what it is) is definitely getting bigger and bigger.  The best way to see evidence of that is to go on any road in town during rush hour (which is really more like slow hours!)  I was reading a local history of the roadways in Austin, when I came across the concern that Austin is approaching gridlock!!  Wow, what does that mean??  Will someday everyone be in their car and every single road will be at a standstill??  Will we all live the remainder of our lives stuck in the same place forever???

Austin didn't start out to be a big town.  In fact, like Topsy, "it just grew".  I can understand the appeal of this town.  After all its a kind of funky town.  Its really a textbook case of multiple personality.  There is, of course, the main campus of the University of Texas (which has a student population of about 30,000+!).  After graduation, lots and lots of those grads just stay here!  Then there is the Texas State Capital (the largest of all the state capitals),  with all those legislators, lobbyists, lawyers, aides, assistants, ad infinitum.  Some of them actually go home when the Legislature is not in session, but a lot of them don't!  Then there is the music which means oodles of bands, events, clubs, musicians, promoters, fans and hangers-on.  Some of them, I fear, are too entrenched in the Austin scene to ever leave it.  Then, of course, there are the businesses, lots and lots of businesses.  All of which have lots and lots of employees!

Okay, that just the basic folks.  I haven't mentioned the climate, the terrain, the views, the cost of living, etc., etc. that draws newbies every day.  Seems like everybody is coming to Austin....and they all have cars.

That same history of the roadways, outlined how progressive Austin has been in planning highway systems since the 1960s!  It also outlined how effective Austin has been in CANCELLING highway systems since the 1960s!  The powers that be plan, find the funds, get ready to build and the City Council or someone is convinced by environmentalists, zero-growth fanatics, and/or other assorted  nut cases that adding more roadways would be a death knell for the trees, the wildlife, the anti-pollutionists, and the natural beauty of Austin.  And the roads don't get built or if they do, they are reduced in size, configuration, and usefulness.  So here we are nearly 50 years later (!!!!) and gridlock is just around the corner.

I believe it, too.  Now that Daylight Savings Time has gone away for a few months, its pretty much completely dark by about 5:30 pm.  Thus, it is possible to see from the headlights and tailights, that rush hour traffic is made up of thousands of cars practically bumper to bumper!  All heading in different directions (there is no direction that is counter to traffic) at about the same time.  Its unbelievable. 

Unfortunately, that which makes Austin beautiful, makes it almost impossible to "get there  from here".  We have a river, with too few bridges, running from east to west and right through downtown.  There are multiple limestone "hills" making straightaways few and far between on the existing roads.  In fact there is only one (1) major east-west street to use to go completely across town.  One! 

All right, now I'm getting to the reason I am writing about this.  Its not just frustration, after all I lived in Chicago, so I know all about traffic!  Its because that one major east-west roadway is the only way to get to my house from either the south or the east....where most of the town is!  As you might expect as an important main street, it carries an enormous amount of traffic almost all the time.  Unfortunately it is not just a nice straight level road, no not at all.  It twists and winds and curves all over the place.  It used to be surrounded by GreenSpace (can't figure out when that designation went away). There are lots of trees but very few buildings that can be seen.  If that weren't bad enough, it has a long stretch of the road that goes straight up one of Austin's highest hills.  That stretch doesn't have any shoulder to speak of, it goes into a curve both on the bottom and the top, it is not a lighted road, and the kicker is that its a 60 mph speed limit. 

The stretch that I'm most concerned about is about 7 miles long. 
In the time we have lived here, there have been about 9 traffic fatalities along that 7 mile stretch of road, possibly more that I don't know about.  Nine deaths! 

I guess, because it still feels and looks a bit like a country road, drivers aren't responding like they do in urban areas.  When I'm driving at the speed limit or little less, people pass me like I'm standing still.  The red lights along the way seem to be a challenge to Austin drives to see how many cars can get through without actually stopping.  People turning insist on trying to beat the other cars coming right at them.  Its insane!  My whole family uses that road periodically.  I'm scared to death that one of them will get entangled with one of those idiotic scofflaws and become part of that staggering statistic! 

It was extremely disheartening to read in that history, that an additional section of actual freeway was planned and then cancelled back in the 1970s.  The additional freeway would have been the perfect alternative to using the road up the hill.  So instead we get more fatalities, but all those cute little beetles or bunnies, or whatever are safe!

Its probably unrealistic to hope that people "slow down, you move too fast".   That's ok, I think it will all be taken care of before too long anyway.  Gridlock is coming, remember? 

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Saturday in the Park"

As I told you, the Big Guy and I spent "Saturday in the Park".  So I wanted to let everyone know that we had a very successful CureSearch: Walk for a Cure.  There was an outstanding turnout with lots of teams. Although it was cold (in the high 20's, I think), it was bright and sunny with no wind. So everyone was pretty comfortable.  The Walk was extremely well-organized, in no small part because of the work my wonderful Ratchlet did to make it all happen! There was even some TV coverage!  Publicity is never a bad thing.

Before the Walk actually got underway, the activities included presenting individual medals to each child in attendance, who, like Maddie,  is fighting or has won against this killer.  Also in a very touching moment, white balloons were released by families in memory of the kids who lost that fight. Those balloons were beautiful as they floated away into the clear blue sky!   It was sad but so hopeful.

Because of the generousity of so many people, $25,000  was raised for CureSearch!  Not bad at all for a first effort!  They are already talking about "Next Year" when, it is hoped, everything will be even bigger and better.  After all the fight against Childhood Cancer is not over yet.  But it will be someday if CureSearch and all who were part of the Walk have their way.  That's a goal worth aiming for.

Just as an aside, Ratchlet and M-t-G did indeed go off to a Girl Scout Overnight Camp that evening.  Even though all they had were their sleeping bags to lay on the cold floor of the unheated cabin!  The girls reportedly had fun anyway.  The resilience of kids is amazing.  M-t-G is absolutely fine.  One the other hand, for grown-ups that resilience is much more limited.  When I spoke to Ratchlet on Sunday, she was congested with a sore throat, worn out, and just about done in.  She sounded horrible.  Today she didn't sound much better.  That's not much of a reward for her hard work over the last few months.  But she is undaunted and getting plans started for the next walk.  There's one thing about next year's "Saturday in the Park" that's already written in stone....the Walk will be in October not December!! 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

"On the Sunny Side of the Street"

It was only 28 F when we left the house for the CureSearch: Walk for the Cure yesterday morning.  As will surprise absolutely no one, I was bundled up like Nanook of the North.  My layers had layers!  I had a on Down coat with a big hood with fur trim....the heaviest socks I own (even though they didn't match anything else I was wearing!)....long-sleeved turtleneck....a camisole....all the regulation (ahem) undies....a heavy long-sleeved sweater with a high neck....heavy-weight jeans....a knit hat pulled down over my ears....a scarf around my neck....and wooly-lined suede gloves in which I could not bend my fingers.  Hey, I'm from Chicago, I know how to dress for cold.  I was READY!

When we arrived at the site and located T.A. (our team leader) and M-t-G (both dressed appropriately I might add), I had some time to look around a bit.  As far as I could tell there was only one other person dressed in a down coat with a hood (although the coat was not zipped and the hood was not up).  The other Nanook was none other than Ratchlet, also from Chicago, who was also READY for the cold, the wind, the wind-chill, the gray skies, and a day more like Chicago than Austin.

No one else seemed quite so prepared as we were.  There were jackets and some hats of course, but nothing that seemed like it could stand up to the cold.  I even saw a few teenage-types wearing only a sweatshirt over their regular clothes.  The mother in me really had to restrain herself from going to each one and insisting they go home for a real jacket!  Well, before I made a total fool of myself, I finally got in touch with reality.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky.  The sun was shining bright in the middle of a beautiful blue sky.  There was absolutely no wind, therefore there was no wind-chill.  It was still cold but NOTHING like a cold wintery day in Chicago!! 

There were speeches and announcements and things (more on this later) and then it was time to walk!  As we headed out onto the path laid out for the Walk, we were walking on a street that was sunny curb-to-curb! After about 5 minutes of walking, my hood came down, then the gloves went into my pocket, and I unwound the scarf.  It was practically balmy!  I have no idea what the actual temp was by this point, but it sure wasn't bitterly cold, like I expected.  What a great surprise.  What a great day for a Walk for a Great Cause!!

By the time the walk route was complete nearly everyone had opened their jackets, and headed straight for the cold water being distributed.  Mikey and M-t-G who, along with some others, had been carrying the banner and setting the pace, came up to the water station with sweaty heads and hats and gloves banished to pockets.

Still and all, I am glad we dressed as warmly as we did.  It probably was the insurance we needed that the day would be perfect!   After all it was "the sunny side of the street" all around us!   

As things were finishing up, I happened to catch sight of the sweatshirt contingent.  I was just a tiny bit vindicated....they still looked COLD!  Silly Texans!  Haven't a clue on how to dress for the weather!  Turns out, though, in Austin, neither do I!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Deep in the Heart of Texas"

Here, "deep in the Heart of Texas", it snowed today!  Snowed!!  Ratchlet was very happy.  I didn't even mind it.  "Hmmm, that doesn't sound like you", you might be saying.  It is true!  It snowed here, in Austin.  It snowed with medium-sized fluffy flakes for about 15 minutes around Noon, with the sun shining brightly!  It didn't even stick to the grass, much less anything else.  Now THAT's snow I can live with!   I would be cheerfully satisfied if this is the only snow we get this year, but I'm not going to bet on it.

"Bits and Pieces"

Today I have a few "bits and pieces" to address about current (well, sort of current) events.  Such as....

*  Don't you wish that someone from "What Not to Wear" would take Michelle Obama in hand??  I mean, seriously, the woman needs a makeover, the sooner the better!  Meaning no disrespect, I just don't see her as a trendsetter, I see her as fashion-challenged!  When I look at photos of Mrs. O at some event or other, more often than not, I cringe!  What was she thinking??? By the time they reach her age, most women in public life have figured out what does and what doesn't work with their body type and size.  Mrs. Obama must have missed class that day!  Maybe if we could give her just a few points to consider like.... 1) skirts and blouses and cardigans should not be the outfit of choice for meeting the Queen of England or other Heads of State!  2)  A mis-matched belt worn over a sweater or a bulky coat should only be worn by the very thin.  Actually a mis-matched belt shouldn't be worn by anyone!  3)  There are fabrics that hold their shape, others that don't need to be pressed 15 minutes after putting them on, and still others that drape and hang nicely on every body type.  Mrs. Obama doesn't appear to have found any of them.  4) There are ways of minimizing the look of areas that are not one's best points.  Full skirts, pants that are too tight, and larger prints do not help.  5)  I wonder if Mrs. Obama could possibly be color blind or at least color-challenged.  Shoes, handbags, separates, sweaters, etc. all need to be in colors complimentary to the main color of the outfit.  Pretty close or sort of matching just won't do!  6)  Any belt that does not stay in place around its intended body position (i.e. the waist!), should be anchored with a handy little invention called belt loops.  Said belt should not, under any circumstances, be allowed to migrate north to sit just below the bustline, spoiling the line of the dress or sweater, and generally looking messy.  To be fair, I have seen the First Lady in some outfits that were flattering to her, having better lines, better fit, better colors, better design.  I wish whoever dressed her on those occasions had the job full-time!  As this country's First Lady, she is one of the most visible women in the world.  To some extent she represents all of us.  Her style just does not make a good impression on any level at all.  In fact, her mode of dress can at times come extremely close to disrespectful to her counter-parts from other areas of the world, (i.e. Queen Elizabeth, who is the longest reigning and most respected monarch alive in the world today.)  Surely someone could have told Mrs O. that a skirt and blouse really wasn't the way to go!!  I just read somewhere that one of the dresses she wore recently was purchased at Target!  Perhaps that's part of the problem.  She's going to the wrong stores!

**  Have you heard that the world is supposed to end sometime in December 2010?  This is according to the Mayan calendar and their predictions according to the celestial observations they had made....somewhere between 1000 B.C and 1500 A.D.!  I'm not too seriously worried about this.  I have heard several dates throughout my lifetime that were predicted to be the end of the world according to some group or other.  To the best of my knowledge, none of those predictions came true.  Yet, the Mayans were pretty bright folks.  Their whole calendar thing has appeared to be spot-on over the years.  How did they figure this stuff out when the rest of the world at the time was still of the belief that the Earth was not only flat, it was the center of the Universe.  December 2010 is only a year away.  Some sort of cataclysmic something could happen I guess, but so far, there doesn't seem to be any evidence of what it could be.  So, except for that pesky prediction by those ancient know-it-alls, there doesn't seem to be anyone taking it too seriously.  That's kind of comforting.  Still, the Mayans had a pretty good track record of accurately predicting things like eclipses and such.  I sure hope they're wrong this time!  If they're not wrong, well, at least none of them will be standing around saying, "nyah, nyah, told ya!  There's nothing worse than a gloating dead civilization.

*** I'm awfully tired of bad news, aren't you?  You can't hear a news broadcast, pick up a newspaper, or read headlines on your web browser without being smacked in the face with something that you sure wish you hadn't heard.  More shootings, healthcare protests, more troops to be deployed, unemployment, financial mismanagement, bankruptcies, fraud, political correctness blown waaaay out of proportion, it just goes on and on.  I'm really sick of it.  It may be that the people have a right to know, but most times I really don't have the need to know.    The world seems to be getting crazier every day.  Of course, there are good things happening.  Its just so easy to get overwhelmed by the bad stuff!  And so far as I can tell, there's just no avoiding it completely.  So if you see me around, I may be humming....REALLY LOUD....trying to drown it all out.  It doesn't really work, but I'm enjoying the music anyway.

****  It is now 21 days until Christmas....aaaacccckkk!

*****Tomorrow and early Saturday will be the coldest days so far this winter.  Snow is predicted in Austin on Friday!  Temps below freezing Saturday.  Oh goody.  And wouldn't you know, Saturday morning (early) the Big Guy and I will be walking with Ratchlet, M-t-G, and TA in an outside Milestones:  CureSearch Walk for a Cure, to raise funds and awareness for more research for curing childhood cancer.  We'll all have to pull out our snuggies and our heaviest coats!  To make it worse, after the Walk, M-t-G and Ratchlet will be going to a Girl Scout Overnight stay in unheated cabins with sleeping bags!  Holy Ice Cube, Batman! 

Well, the sum of the whole of all these "bits and pieces" is equal to the amount of energy I had for writing tonight....and I have used that all up!  "Goodnight, Sweetheart(s)"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"A - You're Adorable"

Okay I admit it up front....I am stealing this idea from my friend, c.beth.   Thanks for the inspiration Beth!   (I didn't read her posting in time to participate in her Thanksgiving contest, so I'll modify the idea a bit and use it myself!)  I haven't figured out the contest thing so mine is not one!

The First (Annual???) Alphabetical List of Things I Am Grateful for this Thanksgiving Season:

B -  Where would we be without BOOKS?
C -  There are still things I want that are CHEAP!
D -  My DAUGHTER, the absolute best one on the planet!  No doubt!!
E -  EVERYONE that I love!
F -  Growing up in FLORIDA!
G -  All the GADGETS that make doing some things fun!
H -  All the HIGHWAYS so we can go just about anywhere by car!
I  -  The best gadget of them all -- the INTERNET
J -   JUNE and JULY, my favorite months
K -  All my best loved KEEPSAKES.
L -  Without LIBRARIES I'd go broke!
O -  My favorite OCEAN (that would be the Atlantic).
P -   Even though I don't often play (at) it, my PIANO.
Q -  QUOTATIONS that make you think, laugh, wonder....
R -   All my Wedding RINGS (now, there's a story!)
S -  Here's a surprise, SUMMER!!!
T -  My 25+ years of THEATER  experiences
U -  Aren't we glad that every person ever born is UNIQUE??!!
V -   The outstanding VIEWS all around this city!
W -  I am grateful that I still have a WAIST!!
X -   XEROX!!  Amazing technology made so many things easier
Y -  The right shades of YELLOW can make me happy, go figure!
Z -  Big city ZOOs.  I could (and have!) spent hours  and hours there.

Well, there you have it!  26 Things that I am grateful for.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

"Peaceful, Easy Feeling"

One of the best things about holidays is that "peaceful, easy feeling" you get when everything is over and done with.  You know what I mean?  Its that time that comes after the frenzy of the holiday is finally finished.  The dishes are done (mostly....I still have a few utensils that need attention), the extra chairs are back where they belong and the dining room is returned to its normal configuration.  The Thanksgiving decorations are down, packed, and returned to storage.  Just a few leftovers still lurking in the fridge, mostly condiments and the like.  The house is still clean from the whirlwind of getting ready.  Everything is in its place and God is in His heaven and all is right with the world....well, at least in my world!

There is nothing I should be doing (except for those utensils, drat it, but they can wait.)  So this evening, is a "I don't have to go anywhere, do anything, need anything" Bonus Night! 

I have plenty of evenings where I don't go, do, or need, but this is different because there is no guilt!!  The Big Guy and I can sit back and relax and know that we've survived another holiday!  Perhaps survive is the wrong word.  I don't mean that holidays are things to endure and emerge victorious from.  Its more amazement that we got everything done in time for one more year!  Also, I suppose, at least to some extent I mean, we've lived through one more holiday(literally). 

Like every other day, getting through the holiday is not guaranteed.  Studies have shown that many people in extremely poor health seem to hold off death in order to reach some goal date
....Thanksgiving, New Year's Day, their birthday, someone's wedding, etc.  The power of the mind and will is always amazing to me.  Unfortunately though, after accomplishing that goal, their reprieve is over and for their families, their death will forever be associated with that holiday.

Hmmm, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to go off on a tangent there. 

Anyway, what I was talking about (before I so morbidly interrupted myself), was the feeling of accomplishment one has for a few days after a major holiday.  Of course, the next big holiday is practically around the corner (just 24 shopping days till the big "C" holiday)!  :-)  Nevertheless, I am philosophically opposed to start any sort of decorating, planning, or even mentioning the big "C" holiday until December!

So tonight, I'm sitting around relaxing and enjoying that "peaceful, easy, feeling" and resting on my laurels after a successful and delightful Thanksgiving.  I've got lots of time for that, after all, it won't be December until....Tuesday.  TUESDAY??!!  The day after tomorrow, Tuesday????

Oh, help!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Over the River and Through the Woods"

"Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother's house we go!"  Only this is Grandmother's house and the family is coming here!  And through some sort of miraculous intervention, we will be ready (crossing fingers!) 

The carpet was shampooed (sort of), the floors vacumned, the house dusted, and polished and de-cluttered.  The fridge is roomy, the broken stove top burner has been repaired, the shopping done, the pies are baking (pecan and pumpkin).  The leek has been chopped and steamed, the beverages chilled,the table set and looks good!  It appears we are on track (crossing hopeful fingers!)

The house has been decorated, the welcome wreath is hung on the door, the silver has been polished, the stemware washed, serving pieces selected, the fireplace readied, the candles all set.  That seems like everything (crossing fingers of both hands)!

We expect Ratchlet, TA, and M-t-G around 2:30 and plan to eat around 3:30.  TA's mom and her beau will be joining us a bit later for dessert and games.  We should be able to make it with little or no angst (crossing fingers tightly)!!

So what is left??  Getting up on time in the morning, watching a little of the Macy's parade, getting the turkey into the oven, getting the rest of the food prep underway, getting dressed, it should be just fine (crossing fingers again)!!

The likelihood of making it all come out on time and together with no disasters is up to fate.  Thanks to the Big Guy, who worked like a Trojan, we've done all we could!  There's nothing further to do tonight (crossing fingers and toes)!!

Oh, yes there is!  What I must do before the night is any older, to give you all my very best wishes that your trip over the river and through the woods brings you the lovliest of holidays.  Among many, many other things, I am thankful that you stop and read my blog. I hope each of you gets a wishbone and has your Happiest Thanksgiving  ever (crossing fingers for you)!!

Hugs all around and blessings to you all! 

Monday, November 23, 2009


Holidays in our family generally means "Company" coming and company coming generally means its time to fix up the house.  I doubt that we are unique in this.  Little Sis does it.  Ratchlet does it.  Any number of friends have mentioned doing it too.  Of course, the difference comes in to what extent do you "fix up the house"?

Normal people will put away clutter, possibly polish the silver, maybe vacuum and dust, make the bathrooms all sparkly and shiny.  Just kind of spiff up the place.  We do that too, sometimes, so as not to be too embarrassed by our less than spotless house.  Nevertheless, there are times when we go way beyond normal! 

This is the time we'll shampoo the carpets or wash all the windows or even buy some new furniture!  None of that is too unusual either, except we do it in the last two days before company is due!  It is part of the phenomenon:   Improving any one thing makes everything else look shabby! 

I'm not too fond of cleaning stuff.  So I tend to let things go more than I should.  This is a fault.  I recognize it as such but ultimately I decided it was a fault I could live with most of the time. This indulgence in my own failings is what leads to the two or three days of marathon dusting, washing, vacuuming, sweeping, scrubbing, scouring, and all things of that sort just before any major holiday! 

We are two days away from Thanksgiving and the clan (such as it is) is gathering here for Thanksgiving dinner.   The Big Guy and I are in our usual tizzy of trying to "spiff up the house."  Nothing too drastic this time, the most involved project will be cleaning out the fridge.  (Absolutely  must do, there is no room for a big bird and all the flotsam and jetsom that goes along with it.)  I can live with that.

This will not be the holiday that will take the prize for the most extreme example of what we have been known to do to spiff up the house.  That prize was awarded the night of Ratchlet's high school Senior Prom.  She invited 5 or 6 couples to meet at our house before the dance where photos were taken and flowers were pinned on and last minute adjustments made in their formal wear.  After the prom, there was some sort of after-party they were all going to (parent-sponsored and chaperoned!)  After that they were coming back to our house to change and head off for a day at the beach.  We would provide breakfast for them before they took off again.  A simple plan.  Right? 

Remember these were 16-18 year olds in the flush of their most exciting night ever.  I doubt they would have noticed if we lived in a barn.  Anyway, the Big Guy and I were going to have a buffet of eggs, sausage, fresh fruit, breakfast breads and a few other things, nothing too fancy, but better than an Egg McMuffin!

The kids arrived, we ooohed and aaahed over their finery, took some photos (the Big Guy did, not me) and sent them off at about 8:30 to their "Dancing Under the Sea" (or whatever it was called).  They wouldn't be back until around 4:00 a.m.  Not enough time to get a good night's sleep, cause we had to have the food ready, so we would be cooking in the wee small hours of the morning. 

Sooooo, what did we do to pass the time?? We painted the living room and dining room!!  Really!  In the middle of the night, there we were with drop cloths, paint, rollers, brushes, and tape.  When the kids left the room was white.  When they got back the room was yellow!  We had time to put up the paint, clean up the mess, get the furniture back in place and still have the hot breakfast there and waiting for them around 4:00!

Now you might say, why did you bother?  They were kids all excited about being out "all night".  What did they know from wall color??  Or care?

If you have been paying close attention, you might have been able to deduce the reason.  Any guesses??  The clue was in the fact that they were going to their Senior Prom.  Senior!  Aha! You say, "Graduation!"  Right!!  Graduation was coming up very soon and we were planning to have lots of Company to share in Ratchlet's big day!

We weren't painting for the kids, or just for something to do.  Nope!  We were in Phase One of the "OMG, this house is a mess!! mode" We had friends coming!  We had family coming!!  We had in-laws coming!!  That's why we were painting at 2:00 in the morning!  We think of it as crisis management!

And it turned out great too!  Well, it looked great, right after I got the new throw pillows to replace the ones that now looked kind of shabby....maybe I should have gotten new drapes too....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Money, Money, Money"

I must have missed the announcement, but when did everything become about money, money, money??   Morality, integrity, honor, honesty, choice and safety???  Oops, they're out the window if there is money to be made somewhere!  Business has become all about greed, avarice, and manipulation!!  I hate it!   The thing that is most bothersome about this trend, is that we are all dragged along no matter what our personal beliefs, values, and ethics might be. 

  When I retired last December I was not eligible for any COBRA benefits and who could have afforded them anyway?  I won't be eligible for Medicare for another year and a half.  (Wow, there's still something I'm not old enough for!)  So we signed me up for dependant health coverage through the Big Guy's employer.  

I should preface the rest of this posting with a disclaimer that I have always gotten overwhelmed by employee benefit packages.  They are always so convoluted and unclear and filled with little tiny print that describes the things they know people won't like.  The whole process was always a pain in the...uhhh.... neck! 

The insurance company offered by the employer is Aetna, a well-known and long time player in the medical field.  Great!  Then came the kicker.  The prescription drug plan was NOT through Aetna at all.  It was through something called MEDCO.  Never heard of it.  At first read, it seemed pretty straightforward.  Go to your pharmacy, pay the co-pay, get your meds, and go home.  Simple.

Then in that little tiny print it said "Oh, by the way, you could save money by ordering a 3 month supply from their mail-order center, delivered right to your mailbox and everything!  Cool, huh?"  Well, no thank you.  I'm just fine with getting my meds through my friendly neighborhood pharmacy.  But we signed up anyway, because no insurance coverage for meds is outrageously expensive!

I told the Big Guy  I felt safer paying a bit more for my retail pharmacy and that I didn't want to use the mail option.  And I gave him my reasons:

1.  It is an unsafe practice of medical care!  Who knows where or who fills those prescriptions??  Some grossly underpaid worker in a remote village in India or somewhere??  Are they pharmacists?  Are they even trained?  Are they committed to protecting my safety??  HAH!  That isn't guaranteed anywhere in the literature!

2.  The meds are vulnerable to theft or tampering!  Once the meds are sent, they go through the mails or some freight delivery company.  Who knows how many places they go or how many people have access to those little packets of pills??  I wouldn't let anyone touch my suitcases if I were flying somewhere, why ever would I be so cavalier about something I'm going to ingest directly into my body???

3.  Then, suppose they make it through those perils and they arrive safe and sound at my Texas!  TEXAS!!  Where the the outside temperatures can be anywhere from 15 F to 115F!  When was the last time you had any kind of medications?  Somewhere on the bottle or in the instructions it almost always says, "Keep in a cool, dry place."  In Texas???  Oh, please!

4.  Its damned incovenient to have to remember to order the refills in enough time not to run out.

So how would any of that benefit me or my health?  "It would be cheaper!"  Oh goodie, so when I'm lying on the floor in the last throes of my early demise from unsafe meds, I'll take comfort in the fact that, at least, I didn't pay full price!

Like I said, "No, Thank You!"  The Big Guy didn't like spending the extra money but I was adamant!  Okay, fast forward three months.  I've gone to the pharmacy to pick up my meds and the price has doubled!  Hey!  That can't be right.  Well, it was right.  They told me that I had used up my allotted usage of the retail pharmacy and now as an incentive to use their WONDERFUL mail order service, I would pay double the initial rate.  (Well......fu....dge...!) 

Mikey had tried to tell me, but I guess I didn't really get it.  After all, the literature all said "I could use the mail order..."  That implies a choice, either you would or you wouldn't.  Nowhere did it say that I must use it.  No, they'll just charge you twice as much.

I may not have mentioned it, but I am just the tiniest bit stubborn.  I don't like being forced to do anything.  It just makes me dig in and resist even harder.  (I blame it on the 1960s!  Remember "Hell no, we won't go"??) 

The reality was that most of my meds are generic and the co-pay was bearable, even at twice the amount, and they were still a lot less than full price!  I thumbed my nose at them and continued to get my meds locally. 

Since then about every 2 months I got a letter from MEDCO, "We notice that you are not taking advantage of the Enormous Cost Savings of our Mail Order option...."  Then I started to get phone calls!  There have been three.  Two different men and one woman have called.  "We notice that you are not taking advan...."  STOP!  Firstly, they are difficult to understand because even though they are speaking English, they are definitely from India (HAH!) or that part of the world, and their accents distort their words.

Anyway, I explained to each of them my reasons (see above) for "not taking advantage..." and that I had no plan to change my mind.  (I might have mentioned something about "Hell freezing over", but I may have dreamed that.)  They were all very polite, thanked me for my time, and I was let alone for another little while.

Today, I got their most recent "Important Announcement" mailing.  and I quote,

"Your....plan allows you to purchase your meds at a retail phamacy a certain number of times before your co-pay increases   Our records show....reached that limit.  You can MEDCO  BY MAIL to avoid paying the co-payment increase at retail."  (emphasis added)

In other words, they're raising the prices on retail to strong-arm you into using the mail option.  And God only knows how much the increase will be!

Well, okay, okay, I give!  I am out of options.  I can't afford to pay more.   I'll bite the bullet, take the risk, and start using their stupid mail order.  But I don't have to like it.  I am angry and resentful and will likely stay that way for a long time.  I will never say a positive word about MEDCO to anyone.

So was any of this about improving my health care?  No.  Was any of it about reducing my burdens, financial or convenience?  No.  Do I expect any kind of positive outcome from doing it their way?  No. Will I get some tremendous windfall of benefit to me??  No.  So what was it about???  Who will benefit??  Its all about the "Money, Money, Money"!  Their money, not mine!!  Because you can be damn sure that the mail order business is a LOT cheaper to run than paying claims directly to retail pharmacies.  Money!  That's what its always about!  People be damned!

You know, I can hardly wait for whatever final health care bill that comes out of Washington.  Oh yeah, we're all going to have lots of fun then, just like this!!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I think everyone has figured out by now that I don't add a lot of photographs to this blog.  As I look at other blogs, they seem to be loaded with a ton of wonderful candid family shots, or beautiful landscapes, or even abstract photos that are mysterious or funny or something.  I'm so jealous.  "So," you say, "Why don't you add more photos of your own?" (a perfectly logical question.)  Well, there's a reason for that, Cameras hate me.  Seriously!  They do!!

It's not that I don't think I look good in photographs, or that I don't know how to use a camera.  Oh no, its much more basic than that!
Whether digital, or Poloroid, or a little point and shoot gadget loaded with "Kodachrome" film, (does anyone still use film??)whenever any camera senses that I am in a place where photos are being taken, some little cosmic polterqeist who hates me for some reason, manages to do something to ensure that no good or even passable photos will result until I am no longer around.  (Hearing your snorts in the background!) You don't believe me, do you?  Well, read on my friends!

The very first experience I had with "Dirty Tricks Photography" was by far the worst.  It was my wedding day!  (I can hear your gasps, "No, not that day!  Nooooo!   Oh yes, My Wedding Day!)  My cousin was married at that time to a really nice guy who was a professional photographer.  As their wedding gift to us PhotoHubby offered to take the photos at the wedding.  We were thrilled.  We couldn't afford a professional photographer so this would be wonderful.  How generous of them!! 

The morning of the wedding,  just after I got up, my mother snapped a quick shot of me sitting on the sofa in my nightgown with my hair still in rollers (this was a long time ago!) and looking like the walking dead.  And then a short time later, after I had taken out the rollers and sort of combed out my hair, she took another quick snap of me in the mirror, still in my nightgown, with my veil perched on the top of my head.  (I looked like I was playing "dress up" or something.)

Anyway, shortly thereafter, PhotoHubby arrived and shot, and flashed, and focused constantly the entire rest of the day.  He was Everywhere, behind the priest  on the altar during Mass, walking backwards back down the aisle with us, at the reception, cutting our cake....everywhere!  He told us that night that he had  shot several rolls and thought he had some great shots.  He said he should have proof sheets for us in a week or so.   I was so grateful and excited to see them.  And off we went gleefully to our "honeymoon" (ahh, that's another story). 

So, we're back at my aunt's house for dinner about a month later and my cousin and PhotoHubby were there as well.  No one had said anything about the pictures (we didn't want to seem pushy), but I was anxious to see them.   After the meal was over, PhotoHubby said, "I'm afraid I have some bad news."  (Oh, crap!  This can't be good!)

It seems that he and his partner in the photography business had had a huge blow-up about 3 days after our wedding, and said partner had, unbeknownst to PhotoHubby, packed up everything that was in the studio and left town.  We were properly sympathetic and outraged for him.  But then he made it clear that the jerk took everything, cameras, negatives, equipment, film.  Film??  Our film??  All of it???  Even the stuff that didn't belong to him????  Yep, all gone, and PhotoHubby had no idea where he went.  Well, there you go!  There was absolutely no possibility of getting it back.  I was heartbroken, but I managed not to cry until we got home.  We couldn't even ask for our money back! 

The sad fact was that no one else took any photos because Photo-Hubby was a "Professional!" 

So ladies and gentlemen of the jury, in summation, poor little bride (me) has exactly two photographs recording her happy her nightgown with a veil on her head!  And the are no photos of the groom (Mikey) at all.  See, because it hates me, the poltergeist planted that evil idea in the mind of the partner, leaving us with zilch!

And that was the start of my ongoing devilment by Dirty Tricks!  Whenever I managed to remember to take my camera to some event or other, the battery would be dead, or the flash wouldn't flash, or a perfectly framed and enchanting photo of the ones I love, a tree will seem to sprout out of someone's head and the rest will have their eyes closed.  Or the back of the camera will fly open and expose all the film! Photos that I thought were the right distance and lighting will emerge with the figures too far away to even recognize! 

And its not just when I am the one taking the pictures, oh no, that would be too simple.  If someone else is attempting photos and I'm around, well, suddenly there will be a big shadow, or the sun which has been behind a gray cloud bank the whole bloomin' day, will abrubtly poke through the clouds just long enough to make everyone squint!  Up until Photoshop, nearly every color photo shows me with "Devil Red Eye."  Its enough to scare little children!  Those photos by others are too light, or too dark, or blurry, or double-exposed, or some damn thing!

Unfortunately, I don't seem to be a quick learner. I kept trying.  Big problem #2....

The day?  Ratchlet's Wedding Shower.  (I'm hearing more gasps, I bet)  I volunteered to take photos.  Dear God, what was I thinking??  What was Ratchlet thinking??  It was a nice shower, with good food, lots of friends, some silly games, everybody had a nice time.  Somewhere toward the end it finally hit me that I would probably need to change the film soon.  I looked in the the little window to see how many shots I had left, but I couldn't see any numbers.  Oh pooh, I must have finished the roll without realizing it.  Not to worry, I had more film, even though the party was nearly over.  So I flip open the back of the camera and....IT WAS FRIGGIN' EMPTY!!!  I had been shooting the whole shower without any damn film in the camera!   I wanted to cry, I wanted to die, I wanted to kill that damned poltergeist!!  Why??  Why was he always doing this to me???  Why did he hate me so much???  It wasn't fair!

Ratchlet was very sweet about it.  She never got mad, or yelled at me, or anything.  But now, Ratchlet's hubby, TA, takes all the photos in our family and he NEVER focuses on me.  It seems to be fooling the poltergeist so far. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"The Counting Song" -- Part ...uh....whatever

Just on the off-chance I actually get there, here are 10 Things I Hope They Have in Heaven:

10.  Flowers and greenery (that my black thumb can't hurt!)

9.   Sunshine (all the time!!) and warmth.  (I couldn't face in an eternity where I was cold!  For me, that would be Hell!)

8.   Endless Iced Tea (sweetened exactly the way I like it!)

7.   Music (real music, not just harps.)

6.   Pretty things to wear!  Something different every day that would always fit perfectly!

5.   Babies!! (to hold and play with)

4.   Wonderful scents  (jasmine, bread baking, sea air...)

3.   Books to read all the time!  New books every day from all my favorite authors!

2.   Dogs!  (All the dogs I have ever known or loved racing to meet me, crowding around me with goofy doggie smiles, wagging tails, sloppy kisses, and their completely pure, unadulterated doggie love.)

1.   And the top thing I hope to have in Heaven??  All the people I love and miss so much!  My mom, dad, Gram and Gramps, aunts, uncles, all of them, with their youth and vigor restored, free of pain, disappointment, unhappiness.  Without them, it wouldn't be much of an eternity!

Actually, there is one more thing.  I hope I understand and I hope I know!  "Understand and know what?" you say.  "Everything!  I want to know everything I could never understand throughout my life."

That would be Heaven for me!

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Fly Me to the Moon"

I have always been a big fan of Science Fiction from lots of different genres....novels, short stories, movies, TV (back in the days when I watched TV), whatever.  Nothing too creepy or frightening, just a good solid sci fi story set in the not too distant future.  It has to be plausible-sounding but with imagination.  A lot of fictional ideas in this realm have become an actual reality.  And I've always thought that a "Fly Me to the Moon" future would, one day, become possible. 

After the Moon landings back in the day, I was disappointed that the Moon was pretty much discarded as a destination for future space flights.  That  seemed to me to be a totally illogical choice.  The Moon is the closest celestial body to our planet.  We proved we could get there.  Why wouldn't we continue to go there and make use of its minerals and space??  If our planet is plagued with these enormous threats to our existence, like global warming, over population, shortage of resources, ad infinitum, why wouldn't we use the Moon as part of dealing with these issues and others?  I mean, where else would we go?  Its right there!! 

Okay, so I was (am??) a little naive and ignored some of the more basic realities.  Nevertheless, it still seemed like that old Moon shouldn't just be abandoned, like some old beat-up toy stuffed in the back of your closet!

I do concede that the Moon was never really discarded as an object of scietific interest.  NASA and others have always had some sort of lunar research going on.  It just didn't include actual "on-site" visits for research, at least not for human beings.  Any number of satellites and other probes have been gathering data for years.  And that data gathering has finally paid off with something that could affect the future of this old Earth and further travel into Space!!

A few months ago there were two rockets (or whatever they called them) that were sent to deliberately crash into the Moon.   The second rocket would be filming the crash of the first and sending back data and images until such time as the second camera crashed into the Moon as well.  It was predicted that an enormous "plume of debris" displaced by the rocket, would occur as a result of the crash.  What made it exciting for a lot of folks was that it was also predicted that the plume would be visible from Earth!  Wow!  Wouldn't that be great to personally see a man-made event that was happening right then on the Moon??  Lots and lots of people were ready and eager to witness this historic event.

Sadly, it didn't quite work out the way it was supposed to.  Oh, the rockets crashed, the photos were taken and sent back, but the resultant plume was more of a plunk!  Much, much smaller than expected, it wasn't even close to visible here at home even with lots of fancy telescopes and such.  Very disappointing to those who had waited and watched (and, I imagine, to NASA and other lunar scientists as well!)

I am pleased to annouce right here on my blog (Do I sound like Ed Sullivan?  Don't say, "Who?"  Look it up!) 

Anyway, I am very pleased to let you know that the data images sent back have been studied and analyzed and GUESS WHAT!!  They discovered water!!  On the Moon!!" WATER!  Imagine that!  And not just a tea cup of water, its estimated there was more than 25 gallons of water at the site.  Now you have to admit that if there was that much water in this one place, it would be extremely likely that there is more water up there just waiting to be discovered!!

Up til now, it was believed that the Moon was as barren as it looked.  Little or no point in going back.  The seeming lack of water was one of the key elements in decisions to send future manned missions to Mars or beyond and not back to the Moon.  Well, it appears that this awesome discovery could very well lead to the revival of manned missions to the Moon.  And ultimately to use, mining, settlement...who knows what could result! 

Admittedly, it won't happen tomorrow or possibly ever, still Man is too curious to not investigate it further.  The upshot of the discovery, if it is borne out to be true and not just a fluke, is that some day, just possibly, "fly me to the moon" will become reality! 

Gosh, I wish I could still around to see it!

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