Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's All in the Game"

I have always enjoyed word games.  I'm a whizz at Scrabble, not too shabby at Boggle, and so on.  As you might know, I have been taking part in a fun blog entitled, "Seven Days, Seven Answers.   Its a kind of a word game competition.  There are different categories assigned to each day of the week and the author of the blog establishes a "cue" for each day and then selects a winner for each from the entries submitted.  Its a fun concept and some of the cues have been inspired.  Anyone who likes to write or has a quick wit and quirky point of view should really try it. Here's the link:

I am very excited that several of my entries have been selected as a daily winner.  I have 5 different categories where I have been a winner. I have really enjoyed participating, even when I didn't win.  (There are so many clever people out there)  I am pleased to say that I won another one!!   

Of all my entries I really think this one is the best.  I thought I'd share, 'cuz it makes me laugh, so you might think its funny too!  Sooo, here is the set-up and my entry:

Letters: Given either a first line or a set-up, write a letter appropriate to the situation.  Write an email to a friend explaining why you haven't been returning his messages.

We Have A Winner!!! 01/29/10

I've tried to be nice and let you down easily. I've told you that I am in a committed relationshhip. I don't want to hurt your feelings but I have turned you down for every date you've asked me on. I have turned you down for dinner, a movie, ice skating, a baseball game, visiting your mother, overnight camping, Irish Dancing, bowling, hanging out, and a trip to Paris!!

Don't you get it? There is no future for us. Ever! None!! So please, I'm begging, please stop calling me, stop emailing me, stop trying to get me on Twitter (whatever that is), stop serenading me in the middle of the night, stop sending me letters, and above all, stop calling the Police, telling them I am being held captive!!! I have not been kidnapped. Where I live is my own choice. I am happy. My life and my future are none of your concern.

Besides, your actions are seriously annoying all the other Sisters and Mother Superior is definitely getting snarky.

This is my last message!! LEAVE ME ALONE!

Yours in Christ,

Sister Luminaria

Winner: Mellodee

Reason: It may be irreverent but nuns always crack me up.

I know it's bad form to promote yourself, but I really think that's funny!  Hope you thought so too.  If you don't, well, oops, I'm sorry I bothered you.  Come back on another day, maybe you'll like that better.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"The Windmills of My Mind"

Did you ever have one of those days when You can't stay focused on any one thing for any length of time??  Today is that day for me.  It feels like the various "windmills of my mind" are all spinning in different directions.  Jumbled, restless, dissatisfied, just generally unsettled, that's me.  I don't think there is a particular reason for it, its sort of recurring occurance (Hmm, that sounds like an oxymoron or something).  Every so often, I get this feeling that I want to be doing something, but I just can't figure out what it is.  Its very frustrating.

It used to be that when this feeling cropped up, I could correct the problem by going for a long drive, usually with the windows open and the radio blasting away while I sang my little heart out.  That worked really well in Chicago, where you could drive for a very long distance and never leave town!  There was always something interesting to see.  I would usually try to find a road that I didn't use very often and just drive wherever it took me. And sooner or later all those windmills would stop their unsettling turning and come back into line and all was once again right with the world.

I loved doing that.  Doesn't work very well in Austin, though.  Too many roads that end up running into the river or the hills or "no outlet".  Some of those roads could get you seriously lost, even if you've lived here for 9 1/2 years!

Chicago, on the other hand, is almost impossible to get lost in.  It is a very logically laid out city.  A gazillion years ago, some inspired genius (actualy I think it was the city council or some group like that) sat down with a map of the city and drew a grid over the whole space and decreed that all Chicago roads would follow that grid, i.e., roads would go either North/South or East/West and they would be reasonably straight.  Chicago doesn't do twists and turns and curves, and backtracks, or other such nonsense.  There are a few diagonal streets, but they stick to the same grid and numbers. The streets are numbered sequentially from Ground Zero (more commonly known as State and Madison), until there is no more city to number.  This area gets bigger and bigger all the time.  Chicago is a BIG town.

For those of you who might find this to be interesting, here is a link which tells you all about it.    Streets_and_highways_of_Chicago 

As I was growing I always lived in towns (albeit much smaller towns in Florida) that were pretty much laid out the same way, i.e., North/South and East/West.  I thought (if I actually ever thought about it, which I doubt) this was pretty much always the way it was done.  I thought it was some kind of city planning law or something.  It was always logical, clear, understandable, and got you where you needed to be.  It was wonderful.

But then....duh, duh, DUH!  (that is what Ratchlet used to call danger music),  we moved to California and ultimately to Texas and all bets  were off.  There are NO STRAIGHT STREETS in California or this part of Texas....none, truly! 

In addition, Austin is kind of tilted along a NE by SW axis that doesn't correlate to anything!!  There are no clues anywhere that all of a sudden a road would stop, or twist and turn all over the place depositing you in totally the wrong place; or disappear up a hill, or come to the river with no bridge in sight; and if that weren't bad enough, street names would change for no reason at all! 

Then, if, by some miracle, you managed to navigate all that and still have some little kernal of knowlege of where you needed to be in relation to where you were, you'd quickly realize that you CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE!!  Its no wonder my hair is gray!  In fact, its amazing I have any hair at all.  I've been mighty tempted to start tearing my hair out and screaming. 

You see what I failed to consider in my assumption that all towns were laid out logically, like Chicago, was that Chicago is in Illinois.
Illinois is kind of at the center of the Midwest.  The whole state is pretty much flat as a pancake.  No hills, mountains, no need for all those twisty windy streets.  If a river popped up, they would build a bridge over it.  Simple.  They could put the roads wherever they wanted to and the roads would  be nice and straight and flat too!  Upon reflection, I realized that Florida was pretty much the same way, so they could put their roads wherever they wanted to. 

But alas, central CA and Austin both must deal with the terrain that is no where near flat or straight.  Mountains (ok, little mountains) and hills are all over the place.  It is a reality that even I can understand, that it is easier and cheaper to build a road AROUND a mountain than to build one that goes THROUGH a mountain. 

Another fatality of this terrain is my sense of direction.  I used to have one!  I don't anymore.  I think I am heading north and suddenly realize I'm looking right at the sun!  Well, I learned in grade school that the sun can be in the East, the South, or the West, but NEVER in the North, so where the hell am I???  And more importantly, how do I get to where I'm going????

I think you get the picture.  I may not be lost exactly all the time, but if I venture onto a road that is new to me, it's pretty much a sure thing that I will have no idea where I end up or how to get where I should be.  At night its much, much worse.  The moon is not nearly as good a homing point as the sun, and I never did learn how to read the stars.  So I end up somewhere unknown on a darkened roadway tearing my hair out and screaming. 

The upshot of all this is that I no longer have a surefire way to clear out my mind and get those windmills in line.  What a bummer!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"The Winner Takes it All"

Look at this!  I got an award!!  My first ever!  Well, that's not quite true.  I received one a couple of weeks ago, but I couldn't make it show up on my blog....(gee, there's a surprise!)  But I guess I figured it out. My deep delight and thanks go to my cyber-friend, Brenda, at .  She is the one who included me as a recipient and sent this my way.  Isn't that fun?  Thank you, Brenda!

So now if I understand the instructions correctly, I am supposed to tell you guys 10 things that make my insides go all warm and fuzzy.

1.  Babies (especially the 2 - 8 mo. set, so cute!)
2.  Puppies (especially the fuzzy/furry kinds!)
3.  Compliments (especially the ones from folks I respect!)
4.  Sad Movies (espcially the ones with babies and puppies!)
5.  Applause (especially from wildly enthusiastic audienses!)
6.  Favorite music (especially songs that match the mood I'm in!)
7.  Well-written novels (especially ones with new insights!)
8.  Sentimental gifts (especially ones that are totally unexpected!)
9.  Old photographs (especially of family who are gone now!)
10  Ratchlet, Maddie-the-Great (all the time, just because!)

Hmmm, not-so-easy!  Still fun, tho!!

Next I'm supposed to tag 10 people to continue with the circle of love. Otherwise Tinkerbell will die a really slow and really painful death. If your name is down below, feel free to participate or not. No hard feelings if you don't. Okay?  Really! Nada!  Just think of poor old Tink.

I'm not sure that I know 10 bloggers, but I'll pass this along to as many as I can.  That is, of course, if I can figure out how to do that!!  Here goes!  (Drum roll please!)  Bloggers I follow who deserve an award:


2.  C. Beth Blog.

3.  Eternal Lizdom

4.  FlipFloppingMamma

5.  Italian Babushka

6.  Joanie's Random Ramblings

7.  Seven Days Seven Answers

There, it's done.  I didn't make it to 10, but I love these 7 (plus Brenda).  I'm going to post it now and hope for the best.  Cross your fingers....

"Bits and Pieces" (again)

Another segment devoted to "bits and pieces",  read on

*    Today was National Pie Day!  A lot of people REALLY like pie.  I do too, sometimes.  Tonight the Big Guy and I went to Marie Callender's for a late supper.  After we finished, the young woman taking care of us, informed up that this was National Pie Day and asked if we were interested in having some pie for dessert.  We vacillated a bit, leaning toward one yes and one no.  Then she said, "It's free!"  Well, that just floored me.  I asked if they did this every year on NPD, but she said this was the first time.  After she convinced us that this was, indeed, a bona fide, authorized offer (we are skeptics of the first order!).  We both ordered pie....double lemon creme for Mikey and coconut creme for me.  Both were yummy.  How about that, though, Marie C's offered a free piece of pie to everyone who ordered an entree?  There are at three 3 Marie C's  in Austin alone, and its a nationwide chain.  If each location made the same offer...well, that's a LOT OF PIE!!!  There were no strings attached at all, just if you want one, its yours!  Now THAT's the way to build good customer relationships!  Congratulations to Marie Callender's for an Inspired idea!  Happy Pie Day!

(Of course, it is now 11:30-ish  p.m. and its probably too late where you are to take advantage of this great idea.  Oops....maybe I shouldn't have told you....sorry you missed it....well, maybe next year??)

**  Sloowwwly (but almost surely), Christmas is beginning to disappear from my house!  At last!  Really dragging my feet this year.  It should have been finished a couple of weeks ago.  Arrrggghh, I'm turning into a slug!

***   Am I the only one who finds it seriously unsettling (to say nothing of ironic) that morbid obesity and anorexia both exist in our society??

****   I was having dinner at Chili's one night last week (I eat out a lot!).  I was sitting in a booth by myself and in the booth next to me were 2 women younger than I, probably in their 40s.  The one facing me had rather longish hair and had spent way too many hours in a tanning salon.  Seriously scary!! [shudder]  I was reading, but my attention was caught when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.  Too-Tanned Tessie started to comb her hair!  Not much, just a few strokes, but still!!  Then she pulled out a....(I couldn't believe it)....a bottle of HAIR SPRAY and did a few spritzes around her head!!  OMG!  There were people at other tables and booths all around her having their dinner.  (Luckily I had already finished mine.)  But she didn't even seem aware, while she sprayed away!  All that tanning stuff must have permeated her brain and eaten away all of her good sense.   It wasn't intentional, but I felt my jaw drop and my eyebrows hit my hairline!  She was looking right at me and didn't react to my obvious disbelief.  Unbelievable!  She gets my vote for the most self-centered, inconsiderate, clueless, vain, over the top behavior I think I have ever seen!  Where is the Board of Health or at least a manager when you need them???  EWWWWW!

*****   The Haitian government has officially ended the government search for survivors from the earthquake.  They may have been a little precipitous in making that decision.  Another suvivor was rescued today, 11 days after the quake!  Various non-government rescue groups are still working and will continue to do so for a while longer.  Things are getting slightly better (very slightly), but now the next really hard part is ahead....rebuilding a city and its people.  Money is still needed.  Please help!

******   I went to the theatre last night to see a couple of friends in a production of "Deathtrap" by Ira Levin.  It was at the community theatre  that I have frequently worked with.  It was a good show and my friends did a absolutely great job with their roles.  The plot is intricate with an large number of plot twists that kept you guessing.  The set was well designed, period touches accurate, props excellent, costuming appropriate, pacing good (mostly).  I enjoyed it. 

And I wanted to cry! 

I miss theater!  That is, I miss the doing thereof!  I have not done a show since March of 2009.  You may have noticed that, although my profile mentions acting and directing, I have not talked very much about my theater experience (there's quite a lot of it actually).  The reasons I haven't done so, relate to a very long saga about my encounters with the people involved with this particular group.  May I just say that I've had more problems with this group than with any other group I have EVER worked with, in either Chicago or in California for the past 30 years!!.  Sadly (for me anyway), Austin is a town with lots of opportunity for live performance, most of it at the professional or semi-professional level.  I have no ambition or desire to move into the professional realm.  Conversely, there are only a very few  true community theaters within a reasonable distance from my home.  There are so many positive things about this group, e.g., their theatre, their seasons, their audience, etc.  It should be a perfect match.  But its not.  Perhaps someday (not today), I will break down and tell you my sad story.  In the meantime, I feel bereft whenever I think about my lost theater avocation.  Sighhh.........

Some "bits and pieces" are more fun than others.....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Poetry in Motion"

I have a confession to make, I don't get poetry.  Really don't get it at all!  I've tried on several occasions to read poetry, after all, hundreds of authors write nothing but poety and thousands profess to love to read it.  That used to impress me; I figured maybe they were smarter than I.  It doesn't impress me much any more.    All those people getting such pleasure from a bunch of words which frequently don't even rhyme or make sense!  What good is that? 

I've tried to read classic poetry, romantic poetry, new age poetry, avant garde poetry, beat poetry and epic poetry.  Doesn't matter!  I can feel my eyes begin to glaze over after about the third line.  I can't get through anything....not Longfellow, Whitman, Browning, Plath, Kerouak....nope, nada, nothing, zip!  Maybe its because I have the attention span of a gnat.  Maybe its because there is too much allegory, or symbolism, or something, but I nearly always lose interest way before the end. 

Perhaps the reason has something to do with the fact that I had to memorize a poem for a class in high school.  I don't know whatever possessed me to do so, but I chose a little ditty entitled, "Thanatopsis", by William Cullen Bryant.  I did it too, memorized the whole darn thing, recited it aloud in class, all 84 lines of it!  In one looong verse!  No stanzas to break it up at all, just on and on and on, seemingly unending!  Couldn't remember a word of it a week later.  I think it was about death, but even now I'm not sure.  So what did I learn from this?  Nothing much, only that I didn't get poetry back then either.

Now when poetry is slipped into a novel (tricky, tricky!!), I recognize it right away and my eyes automatically scan down till they hit regular paragraphs again.  So far, skipping the poems doesn't seem to diminished my understanding of any of the books at all,  which leads me to ask "Why bother?"

Having said all that, what really surprises me is that (and this will really SHOCK you) upon occasion I like to write poetry!!  Go figure!
It makes no sense to me either!  When I get that urge, it is usually related to a specific event or occasion.  Back in school I wrote poetry whenever I had a broken heart.  That's not unusual I guess, teenagers have a lot of broken hearts. 

Of course, there were assignments to write a poem in various classes over the years.  But I was never excited about it!  In my senior English Lit class we had such an assignment.  With a huge reluctance, I sat down and scribbled off something in about 15 minutes.  I don't remember it or even what it was about.  Now here is the part that's funny.  A magazine was published with the top poems selected from 4 or 5 High Schools' senior level Lit classes.  Guess whose poem got published in that magazine??  Isn't that a hoot?

Over the years, I wrote poems when I was angry with the Big Guy, and poems to mark special occasion (anniversaries, Christmas, etc.).  One year when I was in "Oklahoma", the cast exchanged secret Buddy Gifts (something cheap given before each night's performance.  Sort of a good luck thing.)  My Secret Buddy was the guy playing "Jud".  So each performance night I wrote a limerick about Jud.  They became a hit, nobody knew who wrote them until the last performance, but Jud read them aloud each evening.  That was pretty cool.

I have realized that most (not all) of my poems are comedic rather than serious.  These poems are not great literature or ever destined to be publish anywhere.  I don't write them to bare my soul, or explore my inner muse, or to rid myself of demons (in a real or figurative sense).  Maybe I write them as a way of trying to understand poetry, or maybe I write them because the only poet I ever really liked was the great comedic poet, Ogden Nash.  No, the reason I write them is because they seem to fit the occasion.  There are some times when a poem is the only thing that will do. 

Unfortunately, you're going to have to take my word for all of this.  I don't keep my poems, so I have none to share.  Not even the Jud limericks!   Don't ask my why; I don't get that either!

UPDATE:  I found one lurking on my computer!  So you don't have to take my word for it, I can now prove it:

May, 2000

I can’t believe its been a whole year,
Nevertheless, your birthday’s now here
Bringing me again to that place that I fear…
What can I give my Mikey dear?

I’m fresh out of new thoughts,
(What you've wanted, you’ve bought!)
In a dilemma I’m once again caught,
And all my pondering has come to naught!

“Give the man cash” was my mind’s retort,
“And he’ll choose a gift of his own sort!”
So to this drastic measure I must resort,
Hoping it does not offend you, old Sport.

Your heart’s desire, or some such thing,
A “toy” that will give you much pleasuring,
Or something lofty to make your soul sing,
A choice of your own is my poor offering.

Though not one idea did my little mind spike,
At least you can pick out something you like!
Be it gadget or watch or tool-thing or bike,
Its my way to say, Happy Birthday to Mike!

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Ain't That a Shame?"

The other day  I wrote a posting titled, "What's Your Name?"  Since that time, off and on I keep thinking of some of the names of indivuals I have known over the years.  Some cute, some odd, some awful,  and some that made you just want to say, "Ain't That a Shame?"

I couldn't ever choose the worst or the best or my favorite of these names, they all stick in my mind.  For instance:

1.  Mary Cherry
2.  Robin Hood
3.  Jump-Up Wagenka
4.  Queen Esther Teal
5.  Davy Crockett
6.  Anthony Hezakiah (or Hezakiah one was ever sure which it was)
7. Skippy Drips
8.  Zoe Pfouts
9.  Candy Cain
10.  Gina Longfield-Smith Schmidt (try and say that 5 times fast!!)
11.  Matt Platt

The are all real people.  None of them have been a part of my life for years, but their names will stick with me forever.  What were their parents thinking???

Saturday, January 16, 2010

"Blue Skies"

When you wake up to a day filled with sunshine and "Blue Skies", it seems reasonable to think that it will be a good day.   Blue skies is a sort of synonym for clear sailing, good times, happy days, and so on.  But we all know that it's no guarantee.  The people of Haiti can't help but know that.

Natural disasters are generally related to bad weather....hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons, floods, lightning fires, blizzards....all occur with clouds, heavy precipitation, wind and the like.  You can look up at the sky and get a pretty good idea if there is bad weather ahead, the barometer too gives information when the weather is going to spawn some huge "something" that will wreck havoc on lives and property.   Weather forecasting has evolved so it is possible to know that even the really bad situations are on their way.  Anyone who has ever been in a tornado knows that just before it starts, the sky and atmosphere take on a greenish color and things go still. 

None of those disasters happens out of nowhere, anyone with even a little common sense, can take the cues from the sky and surroundings and get to shelter.  You can protect yourself, your family, your possessions to some degree. 

Not so with earthquakes.  They come out of nothing but tectonic disruptions that are hidden far below the surface.  There is no siren, no radio or TV warnings of impending disaster, no Paul Revere riding through town yelling a warning, nothing in the sky to hint at what is to come.  All of a sudden nothing is solid, nothing is safe, nothing is standing still.  Huge buildings collapse, 100-year-old trees are uprooted, homes become matchsticks, autos disappear below the ground, roadways undulate like roller coasters, and people die, lots of people die.  And it happens in less than a minute!  That's all it takes, less than a minute, to completely devastate an entire city.  And then there are aftershocks as well for several days after, when the shaking starts again and brings heart-stopping fear that nothing will ever be safe again.

The earthquake that flattened Haiti last week was rated at 7.0 on the Richter Scale, that measuring device that explains just how bad it was.  That 7.0 rating indicates a very bad earthquake.  The rating system in and of itself says a lot about earthquakes.  If I understand it correctly each point on the scale represents an increase in intensity by a multiple of ten!  A 6.0 earthquake is pretty scary to be in, lots of property damage but not too many injuries or deaths.  A 7.0 earthquake demolishes almost everything and the numbers of injuries and deaths increases exponentially.

I lived in California from 1991 to 2000 and never experienced anything more than a level 4.7 temblor.  Nothing was damaged that I know of.  The worst that I saw with my own eyes was our dining room chandelier beginning to sway for no discernible reason.  But even that was scary.  I missed the horror of the 1989 Loma Prieta quake in San Francisco;  but who could ever forget the photos of the collapsed double-decker freeway in Oakland?  Nevertheless for the nine years I was there, the ground stayed right where it belonged.

The reports and photos coming from Haiti are so far beyond anything we have ever seen, it is almost unbelievable.  Building after building in rubble, bodies lying in the streets, the injured bleeding on the ground with no one to care for them, people displaced from their homes wandering aimlessly up and down the streets looking for heaven knows what or who!  Depending on which report you see, the death toll could range anywhere from 20,000 up to 100,000 people killed or fatally injured in the few seconds it took for the earthquake to totally annihilate Port-Au-Prince, the capital city.

The fact that Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world makes everything so much worse.  The people have no money with which to buy food or water or shelter, but for once it doesn't matter, as there is no food, water or shelter to be had!  With the devastation so widespread and indiscriminantly affecting everything, there is not much official infrastructure left to try to help the people.  Also its a peninsula (water on three sides), which means getting there is a problem too.  The only functional airport is congested with planes trying to come in to bring aid, and planes trying to get out with survivors from other places.

After several days, outside aid is beginning to filter in.  The first bringing food and water, which are needed desperately.  But its a long process and just getting the people fed will take a while.  Hundreds of buildings need to be torn down due to their unsafe condition, more bodies will be found, shelters will have to be devised and clean water will have to be restored.  Of course, this all takes money.  In such a poor country with so few resources of its own, most of the assistance must come from outside of Haiti.  These people need help.  This isn't about politics, or religion, or terrorism, or partisanship, its about giving where there is NEED. 

As you can see, I have posted a donation link to the Red Cross to help them fund their relief effort.  Please use it!  Or use some other mechanism for giving what you can so that it gets where it needs to go.

Earthquakes can be the most devastating natural occurrence on our planet.  They make us realize just how insignificant man and all his technology really is.  We cannot predict, prepare, or prevent earthquakes from striking without any warning at all. 

And it matters not one whit, that there are "blue skies".

Special thanks to my friend, Liz, for the inspiration.  Please go to her site, for more info and for blogs describing current conditions in Haiti.

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Miss America"

When I was around 12-13, I used to love watching the Miss America Pageant.  Those were still the days of Bert Parks (remember him anyone?) and fire baton twirlers.  Yep, back in the days when we all knew it was a contest to pick the prettiest girl.  There was Miss Congeniality for the nicest one and separate scholorships for the talented ones (usually not the twirlers!)  But the title went to the best looking one.  It was a parade of pretty girls, that's all.  And that was just fine.  At one point or another back then, I would bet that most girls in this country had at least one tiny little wish that they could be Miss America.  I was no different.  Those girls were gorgeous and almost all of them deserved to win.  I wanted to be one.

Within a short time after that, I realized that I was not and never would be one of the beautiful ones.  My face didn't scare small children, but Bert Parks would never be singing to me.  Well, that was sort of ok.  I mean, what are the odds of winning that thing anyway??  I was realistic enough to know that I would never have the right equipment.

Now I am NOT talking about inner beauty, or sweetness of character, or kindness or charity or goodness, or anything like that.  I am speaking strictly of the particular combination of features that make up my face.  That's all.

I would imagine that the truly beautiful, know that they are beautiful.  At least generally.  How they handle that  beauty is another story altogether, but the reality is that most of us can assess our strengths well enough to figure out where we fit in the range of beauty. 

So, bottom line, I've known for years that I am not physically beautiful in the strictest definition of the word.  I'm okay with that now.  It was a little tough during the teen years when I thought that if I were just a little prettier, I would be more....well, more everything!  Of course, I grew out of that phase and I realized that there are a multitude of different kinds of beautiful.

So, I came to acceptance all on my own.  I did the best I could with what I had.  I had good taste in clothes, discovered make-up, found hairdressers could do things with my hair that I would never have thought of and no one ever told me that I wasn't beautiful, exactly.  Still there were times throughout my life when other people have come very close.  Sort of backhand compliments if you know what I mean.

Like the High School boyfriend who said, "Well, I think you're beautiful."  or

The Dior rep in Macy's who said, "Hey if you've got some time, I could make you, I mean, prettier!" or

The dozens who've said, "Oh, you have such, nails, eye color, toes,  (its multiple choice, pick one, I've heard them all!)

Then there was the dental tech who said, "You have a gorgeous dental lamina!"  Huh??  (Its something to do with the outer layer of the enamel, I think.)  Well, gee whiz now there's a compliment!

And most recently, the old friend  who, after looking at this blog, said, "Lose the picture of you in the hat.  You're much prettier than that."  In other words, "Yikes!"

So here's my request to the cosmos...."Give it up!  I get it, I really get it.  You don't have to keep reminding me that I'm not beautiful, maybe even not quite pretty.  I got it a long time ago!!  I will never be Miss America."

So that's the reason for the new picture.  I wasn't classically beautiful in 1960 and not in 1992 and I'm not classically beautiful today and its not going to change. 

After all who wants to be ole' dopey "Miss America" anyway?

Monday, January 11, 2010

"What's Your Name?"

I just came across a FaceBook page entitled, "My First Or Last Name Will Constantly Be Spelled Or Pronounced Wrong."  After perusing the names some poor souls are saddled with I am grateful that my name is pretty straightforward.  But it reminded me of a true story that happened to one of my longtime friends.

The Big Guy and I met in college choir and we were good friends with BL and DG, another couple from the choir as well.  In fact, DG was Mikey's Best Man and later we were in their wedding party as well. 

Anyway, the two of them came to dinner at our apartment during the first couple of months of our marriage.  BL had just started a new job for the summer at IBM headquarters in Chicago.  Her job required that she make sales phone calls to a list of customers, all people she did not know.  That night at dinner BL, related an experience she had had that very afternoon.

She told us that she came to a name that she was very unsure about, so when the line was answered, this was their conversation.

BL:  "I'd like to speak to Mr. F-U-C-H-S, please."  (spelling out the name)

IBM:   (very officiously)  "Some of us would pronounce that Fukes."

BL:  "Some of us weren't taking any chances!!"

It made me laugh then and it made me laugh now!  She's quite a wit, our friend! 

Mr. Fuchs, poor guy, is probably a member of the FaceBook page!! 

"Turn, Turn, Turn"

Someone much more eloquent and profound than I once said something like, "January is the cruelest month."  Oh boy, ain't that the truth?  I've always hated January!  Its such a pity to follow up great months like November and December with January.

January really has very little going for it.  All the recent major holidays are all finished and there is not another "fun" holiday coming for several months.  We hit and passed the shortest day of the year back in December, so there is a little more daylight every day but there's not enough accumulated yet to make a real difference.  It has officially been winter since that December date too.  So far, this winter, everybody seems to have been hit with really cold, snowy, rainy (or whatever) all over the country.  Even the great sales in the stores have lessened significantly.   January just goes on and on and on. I can't think of even one good thing that ever happened in January, ever!  Not one good January thing in 63 years!

So (as happens to me every year about now) I am definitely ready to move on.  Let's skip right over the rest of January entirely.  We won't miss anything!   "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven!"  Well as far as I'm concerned things can "turn, turn, turn" right into SPRING any time now!! 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"She's Always a Lady to Me"

WARNING:  This one tends to ramble even more than usual!  Sorry!!

In yesterday's post I referenced "choicy chops of useless useful information".  So before someone starts asking about that phrase, I will provide an explanation gratis!  Believe it or not, that linquistic pearl did not originate with me. 

In actuality, I was introduce to the phrase by my BFF in high school, Flossie.  We lived in a pretty small town in Florida and like many small towns there was only a weekly local newspaper.  Even though it came out only once a week, there really wasn't all that much going on regularly to use up all the available space, so the paper ran some miscelleneous syndicated columns to fill in the blanks.  One such columns was titled, "Choicy Chops of Useful Information".  A small column filled with odd and little known facts about almost anything.  I can't recall who authored the column, but wasn't that a GREAT title?  "Choicy Chops of Useful Information"  I've never forgotten the title and have been known to...ahem.... borrow it from time to time (e.g., yesterday!) 

Now these weren't revelations or anything, just stuff to fill up space.  One fact I particularly remember for some bizarre reason is that fish swim upstream at 3 mph and the average man walks at 3 mph too; so if the man walked along side the fish, they'd get to the end at the same time.  Absolutely fascinating, right???  Well, I thought so when I was 15 (like I said we lived in a very small town!  We were easily entertained.) 

So that is the source of the phrase, but whenever I use it, it reminds me of one of the major pleasures of living in that particular small town.  I was fortunate enough to make a friend who seemed to me to be perfect in every way.  One of those down-to-the-soul friends that remain friends your whole life!!  Even though I rarely see her anymore, Flossie and I still keep in touch, albeit sporadically.  It never matters tho, when we talk we just sort of pick up where we left off.  We still connect and "know" each other as well as anyone ever knows someone else.  I not only liked her, I liked her mom and dad a lot.

I am willing to publicly declare here and now, that theirs was a family I always wanted to be a part of.  Dad was a highly respected physician in town, Mom was a member of every club in town, and always seemed elegant, classic, and sophisticated to me.  She was the very embodiment of the word "lady" in my teenaged eyes.  They even had a live-in housekeeper/cook/family retainer, Lolo! 

The three kids, Miz M., and Dr. M. would have "Interesting Discussions" every night at dinner. Flossie often told me what her family had talked about the night before, everything from politics to sports to philosphy to the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson! They often discussed the facts published in "Choicy Chops" that week.  Wow!  It all seemed so "New Yorker" magazine!!  I wanted them to adopt me.  (Sadly, they never offered.)

Flossie was closer to her Dad, but he intimidated the 15-year-old me a little.  On the other hand, I found Miz M. fascinating and I guess I had a little hero worship going on.  She dressed beautifully, her hair always coifed in an elegant French Twist.  She was funny, both intentionally and unintentionally!   Flossie was always telling me something about her family or her mom that added to my fondness and appreciation of this lady.  I have two favorite stories about Miz M.  I'd like to share.

At some point Flossie told me that her family used a particular word when talking about homosexual men and women.  (This was way back in the early '60s....political correctness was still a nightmare years in the future.)  Anyway, one evening at dinner the discussion turned to homosexuality.  As they were talking Miz M. was trying to recall the derisive word she had heard used to describe homosexuals.  Someone in the family prompted her with "just remember the underwear brand", at which point the light bulb went on and Miz M. called out triumphantly, "Looms!!"  Of course, the word became the family's own private joke.  Don't you just love the innocence of that??  LOOMS!  I love it!

The second story took place many years later.  Flossie let me know that Miz M. had suffered several debilitating strokes and although she was still living at home, she had 24 hour care.  She was unable to walk, her left side was badly impaired, some of her speech was a little difficult to understand.  Nevertheless, her mind was alert and sharp and she was still her gracious funny self. 

It happened that around that time I went back to my high school 25th reunion in the small town, and was invited to dinner with the family.  As coincidence would have it, that same night was Miz M's 75th birthday dinner.  When I discovered that, I tried to beg off, not wanting to intrude on a family occasion, but the family, including Miz M., wouldn't hear of it!  So I somewhat reluctantly agreed to go. 

Part of my hesitation was that my memory of Miz M. was so clear as a woman of substance and elegance.  Seeing her incapacitated would be difficult.  And in addition to that, good manners dictated that I bring her a gift.  Whatever in the world could I get her??  She was either in a wheelchair or her bedroom all day, she couldn't read very long anymore, her diet was restricted, she spent all of her days in her home and only got out for doctor visits.  None of the gifts I would normally consider would do.  They just weren't right.  After a lot of thought, I finally settled on a rather unorthodox present.

When I went to their home, to my delight, Miz M was every bit as charming and welcoming as she had always been.  She, of course, had many physical difficulties.  But conversation was light and lively and she was still a woman I respected and admired.

After we ate, the family presented their gifts one by one, till it was my turn.  I was so very nervous, suddenly afraid that my choice would offend her or someone else in the family.  It was too late, I had nothing else to give her, so I took a deep breath and gave her my gift.  The photo below is a geode, similar to the one I gave Miz M.  I set it in front of her with the back/exterior facing her.

I don't remember exactly what I said, but it was something along these lines.  I'm giving this to you because I think it is just like you.  The outside shows all the effects of time;  time, and gravity, and the elements have worn the outside so that at first glance its just a worn out old rock.  [Then I turned it around to face her.]  But the inside, oh, the inside still sparkles and glows and is just as beautiful as it always was!  That is just like you, you have a lot of problems with the difficulties in your arms and legs, but your inside still sparkles and glows and is just as wonderful and beautiful as it has always been.  So put this were you can see it and everytime you're feeling worn out and low, look at the geode and remember that the you on the inside, the real you, is just as alive and wonderful as ever and that is what is important.

Flossie cried.  I cried.  Miz M. laughed and cried and held my hand and told me she would look at it every day and remember me.  Flossie told me a long time after that she did indeed keep it in sight almost to the end.

Sometimes I am absolutely astounded when I get something exactly right.  But in this case especially, I am so, so glad.

Well, although Flossie still lives in the same small town, Dr. and Miz M. are both gone now, I moved away when I was 16, the small town isn't quite as small, but its still under 10,000 people if you restrict it to the city proper, and the small town newspaper was bought up years ago by a daily paper that serves the whole region.   Nevertheless, when someone asks where I'm from, I always say Chicago, but inside, I think about that little town that is still home to me.  And I remember my friend, Miz M.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"Bits and Pieces" - next!

Just a few "choicy chops" of  useless useful unformation:

**  I'm feeling a little guilty that I haven't been writing much lately.  I have, however, been reading a lot lately.  Blog people are a lot of fun and the range of attitudes and subject matter is quite interesting.  I'm realizing, tho, that blogging (both the reading and the writing thereof) can take up more time even than games!  No wonder half of my Christmas decorations are still up.

**  A small Maddie-the-Great story:  A couple of days ago Maddie and TA were in the car and the news announcer said something about predicting that night would be the coldest night of the decade!  "Wow!"  said M-t-G,  "Did you hear that, Daddy?  The coldest night of the whole decade!!!"  She was very excited about it.  T.A. asked if she knew the meaning of the word, decade.  She did.  So he asked when the current decade started.  "The year 2000?", said Maddie, said she.  They got that part straightened  out and when he asked her when this decade started she said "2010?"  By this point she began to see where the conversation was going and her participation became a little less enthusiastic.  "What's today's date?  "January 6"  "And so how many days ago did this decade start?" "Six days ago."  She could see then that the decade was only 6 days old too, and being the "coldest night of the decade" was not such a big thing after all.  So, our M-t-G got another lesson in "Don't Believe Everything You Hear!" 

T.A. uses this strategy a lot with Maddie, trying to get her to use her reasoning skills more regularly.  A fine parental technique.  But the sad thing is that she wasn't all excited anymore.  The news announcement was no longer anything special.  It was just a trick with words.  Nothing more than a disappointment. 

A big part of me would rather keep her the little girl that does believe everything she hears for just a little longer....that's part of what makes her a kid!  She'll be bright her whole life, but she's only going to be a kid for a little while longer.  Does every lesson has to be taught at the earliest possible time?  Sometimes its hard being just the  grandmother!   You can be proud of me though, I didn't say a word!

**  As a matter of fact, the news announcer was wrong!  Tonight is the coldest night of the decade!  A low of 15F is predicted.  I will be staying indoors until the thermometer hits at least 30F. 

**  NEWSFLASH:  The Darwin Awards for 2009 have been announced!  As always, they have managed to identify the dumbest people who have walked the earth last year.   For those not familiar with this organization, here is their stated purpose: 
Named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, the Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it.
Just a sample for your entertainment:
Go to: for the historical record of Winners.  The 2009 winners and nominees can be found at the site.
      When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a Seattle street, he got much more than he bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find a very sick man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline, but he plugged his siphon hose into the motor home's sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges saying that it was the best laugh he'd ever had.
Truly if you've never encountered these before, it is definitely something that will amaze and confound you !!!  

**  I have always loved words and writing and reading, this you know from previous posts.  When you combine them into one thing you get a book about words and writing.  I have several of this kind of book and I got two more for Christmas.  The first, from Little Sis, is "Zen and the Art of Writing", by Ray Bradbury; the second, from Ratchlet, is "Reading the OED"  [Oxford English Dictionary] by Ammon Shea. 

Thanks guys!  I can hardly wait to read them.  After I do, I'm sure everyone will see a marked improvement in my writing and word usage and I will undoubtedly impress you all with my new-found skills.  I will accept all kudos and accolades as my due!

Oh....okay, okay.... my writing probably won't change one iota and that's fine.  I don't want to turn this into WORK after all.  I will, however, enjoy reading my new treasures and will again be in awe of people who can really write to the level that they can be published and earn actual money for their efforts!  Those are the folks that impress me!

No more "Bits and Pieces" today.  In the immortal words of Woody Woodpecker, or Porky the Pig, or one of those, "Th-th-th-that's all, folks!"  Nighty-night!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"Taking Care of Business" (January version)

Well, I hate to admit it, but I occasionally make mistakes!  (Gasps all around!!)  Yes, it's true.  When the mistakes build up or there is one that is egregious, I must, then, put up a post for "taking care of business". 

As you might have guessed, I have a big ol' mistake to correct (hangs head despondently).  Don't know how I managed it but I gave the incorrect date for the end of the world!!  OH HORRORS!

It's good news really, at least if you were depending on me for information on this rather important announcement.  Okay, are you ready?  Sit down, grab on to something, here it comes....

The end of the world is supposed to occur in December, 2012 NOT December, 2010!!!  See, I told you it was good news!  Two more years for everyone!  Wheeeee!

"What??", you say.  You haven't heard anything about the world ending in either 2010 or 2012??   Well, you did if you've been a faithful reader of this space. 

Back on December 3, in my "Bits and Pieces" posting, I blithely stated that according to the Ancient Mayan Calendar the end of the world was predicted for some time in December 2010.  

Well, no, that's wrong.  According to the Mayans that awesome event is due two years later, in December 2012. 

I knew better, I just kept typing it wrong!!  I think it had to do with my getting reved up to typing 2010 instead of 2009 (that sounds like a good excuse, huh?)  Maybe it was that I should get my glasses checked?  Or maybe it was pure laziness....not taking the time to check the facts;
mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

Any mistake I normally make is usually due to poor proofing reading and perhaps that's true this time as well.  It's just that, this is such an important matter (or not, if you don't think the Mayans actually knew what they were talking about), I'd really hate to think that any of my readers were out there preparing themselves for the end of the world two years too soon!  I'd sure be standing here with egg on my face. 

On second thought, don't pay any attention to those old Mayans at all.  If they were so smart, how come you don't see many Mayans hangin' around any more?   I'm just sayin'.....

"What's the Use of Wonderin'?" (continued)

Another bunch of things I just don't get:

1.   How come, if there is Global Warming, the winters seem colder than ever?

2.  How come taking down Christmas decorations takes so much longer than putting them up?

3.  How can anyone keep up with all the changes, modifications, improvements, new releases, new gadgets, and adapters that are needed for anyone to have an up-to-date and complete computer set up?

4.  How can anyone afford #3?

5.  Speaking of  affording, how can sooo many young couples with little children afford to live in these $1M-plus homes? 

6.  How come clouds, which are made up of nothing more than water, water vapor, and dust, can effectively block out the sun which burns with an unbelievable heat?

7.  How come so many people immediately take down their Christmas decorations on Christmas Day?  

8.  How come it takes a long time to drive somewhere, but the return trip always seems faster?

9.  How come reality TV is soooo popular when its so often about showing people at their worst?

10.  How come grass doesn't grow in the winter, but weeds do?

11.  How come left overs of even your favorite foods can look so unappetizing after only one day in the fridge?

12.  How come you can use a gallon of moisturizer on your skin and the next day you still look like a thousand year old snake?

13.  How come some people always have such incredibly good luck and others never do?

There you have it, a baker's dozen of questions for today to make you ask, "What's the Use of Wonderin'?"

Friday, January 1, 2010

"Another Auld Lang Syne"

The new year of 2010 is one hour away from being one full day over, there are 364 days left til we again sing "another Auld Lang Syne".  Every year brings change and variety and unexpected events.  Where will we all be at this time next year?  Who will still be here next year?  What will be invented or discovered or revealed that will change our lives?  Will this be a year of excitement or a year of boredom?  Will there be financial recovery?  Will there be a functional health care system?  Will there be more good news than bad?

What celebrities will be "hot" and who will "not"?  Will we still be enduring the reports of misbehavior by those who should know better?   Will this year's crop of new babies bring Einsteins, Darwins, and Mozarts?  Or will the world be increased by Gosselins, Pitt-Jolies, and Woods?  Will we care?

There is no way to know.  No fortune teller, seer, prognosticator, or modern "prophet" has ever been able to know the future. 

That's why each new year is exciting; the possibilities are endless and it's totally out of the control of any one person!  Of course, individuals can influence events, even bring about huge changes, but no one person can control it all and no one can read the tea leaves and really know with certainty what tomorrow will bring.

Every one of us has to wait and watch each day as it comes along.  Some will succeed and some will fail.  The potential is enormous.  There are days when I can't wait to find out what comes next....and there are days it just flat out scares me to death!   The only way to find out is to tally the score on January 1, 2011. 

So with high hopes and crossed fingers, I'll close with "See you Next Year!"

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