Friday, November 26, 2010

"Bits and Pieces" (yet again)

Just a little bit of this and a few pieces of that.....

I hope that everyone's Thanksgiving was as lovely as ours!  We went to my daughter's as has become our custom.  There was only a total of seven people....Ratchlet, M-t-G, T.A., his mother, her beau, the Big Guy, and me, but we laughed, cooked, toasted our future and gave thanks for our good fortune, talked, ate, cleaned up, and had pie -- 2 kinds!  M-T-G made place cards for the table; we sang a few Christmas carols while doing the dishes (a tradition initiating the Christmas season);  played a couple of games, watched a little football, and pulled out some old photos to reminisce with.  We had only one near disaster, Ratchlet tried to pick up a casserole dish just out of the oven with her bare hands and ended up with two rather painful blisters on two fingers....just one of those thoughtless things you do sometimes without thinking.  She spent a significant amount of time with her hand in a bowl of ice water and she needed a little help cutting her turkey!  (She is fine today, just a little residual discomfort.)  Other than that, all was fine!  A happy, family, Thanksgiving Day....just as it should be!

There was one thing about yesterday that I could have cheerfully done without!  Yesterday morning the outside temperature was in the high 70s, but the time we left to go home from Ratchlet's, the temperature had dropped like a rock to a bone-chilling 46F.  That's 30 degrees!  Winter arrived. Blech!

I overheard another couple of grammar/language things recently that just make me cringe!  I am not 100% sure that they are truly incorrect, but they sure don't sound right to me.  First, "I added too much salt on accident."  Nooooo!  "By" accident or "accidentally" but NOT "On accident!"  Secondly, "Dad had game tickets for Susan, Joan and myself ."  Noooooooooo! It should be "for Susan, Joan, and ME."  Myself appears frequently in phrases where the much simpler me, or even I, is correct.  It surprises me that the wrongness doesn't just scream at the user!  It sure screams to me!

The Big Guy actually started bringing in some of the Christmas things today -- without my asking even once!  This is the earliest Christmas decorations boxes have ever appeared inside our house.  Now all I have to do is put away the Thanksgiving things (which is why I hadn't asked him to bring in anything Christmas-y yet!)     ;-)

Our family has always waited with everything Christmas until after Thanksgiving.  We are pretty much fanatical about it.  Then, of course, we all complain that we are always doing things last minute and don't have time to get everything done!!  What a bunch!

Last Christmas, I stumbled across a gift idea that I thought would be perfect for M-t-G.  It comes from the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont and is called Once Upon a Month Club.  Once a month they will send one age and interest appropriate book to a child you choose.  I signed up M-t-G and she has been receiving a book every month for the past year and she loves it.

Before starting to send the books, their staff person called me and we chatted about M's interests, reading level, personality, likes and dislikes.  A book selected just for M-t-G would then arrive every month, addressed to her, gift wrapped, and with a note card saying "with love from Grammy and Poppa".  The books are quality books from good authors and have all been right on the money!  It's kind of like a small personal reading program just for her!  I've signed her up for next year too!  They have asked that I update them on any changes in M's interests or preferences.  

Now is that cool or what?? 

If you have any child you think would love getting a new book every month, the store's website and contact information are below.   Check them out, I'm so glad I did!

Northshire Bookstore
4869 Main ST
Manchester Ctr., VT. 05255
802-362-3565 x 171

Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored post.
Just my opinion on a great idea for a kid's Christmas gift.

This probably should have been part of my "grateful" list, but truthfully, I forgot about it. But I am thrilled to share it here. I went to the doctor recently for my annual check-up. All of the lab tests came back within normal limits! Whoo Hoo! BP was 115/57!!! How about that? Cholesterol was something like 163 with a high level of (the good one, which I can never remember if its the HDL or the LDL).

AND the kicker?!! (drum roll, please!!) my weight is DOWN 15 LBS over the last 18 months!!! Wowhee!! I wasn't even trying!  This is the second time in my life that I have dropped a chunk of weight without really doing anything!  Evidently, my body reaches a point where it says "Ok that's it, you big fat cow.  I'm not carrying around all this excess poundage one more minute!  So off it goes."  So I am now below what I weighed a week before Ratchlet was born.  I haven't been this low in about 8 years!   Dancing in the streets will now commence!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"A - You're Adorable" -- 2010

I stole this idea from my fried c. beth, last year.  I really enjoyed doing it too.  In looking at last year's list, I am still grateful for most of the items on that list! But it's time for a new list!  Amazingly enough, I actually remembered in time to do it again this year!  That's right!  It is the

Second Annual Alphabetical List of
Things I Am Grateful for this Thanksgiving Season
(Whoo Hoo!!)

A - I 'm grateful for the warm and wonderful colors of AUTUMN!

B - BLOGGING!!!  It has captivate me more than I would ever have imagined!

C - My simple, dependable, no apps, 12-year-old CELL PHONE!

D - Every single DOLLAR that comes into this house, even if they do turn around and fly right out again!

 E - ELEPHANTS, just because I like them!

F - I am grateful for all of the different types of FREEDOM I have! 

 G - I am sooo grateful for my mix of GENES that have kept me healthy to my complete surprise!

H - I'm grateful that HUMOR exists in our world.  Life would be so dreary without it!

 I - ITALIAN food, 'nuff said.

 J - I am grateful for the smell of JASMINE.

 K - I am grateful I can spell KITCHEN, but that's about all I'm willing to do with one!

 L - I am enormously grateful for the LOVE I have both given and received.

 M - I am grateful for MEMORY which allows us to re-live wonderful moments and precious times that will never happen again.

N - I am grateful for well-written NOVELS.  

O - I am grateful beyond measure that I've had wonderful experiences ON-STAGE.

P - I am grateful to whoever put PEACHES and PIE together!

 Q - I'm glad that QUIET doesn't bother me.

R - I'm glad to be RIGHT-HANDED.  Left-handers seem to struggle so.

 S - I am grateful for my SISTER (even tho she doesn't visit, rarely calls, and doesn't like to "share")  :)

 T - I am grateful there is a national holiday for giving THANKS!  Remarkable, isn't it?

 U -  I'm grateful that U-TURNS are legal in Texas.

 V - VISION!!  After my cataract surgery, I am grateful every day that I can see!

 W - I am grateful English has so many wonderful WORDS, makes you wonder why so few people can use them

 X -   Grateful for the word XANADU, because it's the only "X" word I could come up with!!   :D

 Y -  I'm grateful for every single one of my YESTERDAYS.

 Z -  I am deeply grateful that there are no such things as ZOMBIES!

Well, there you have it! This year's 26 Things that I am grateful for.  How about you??  What are you grateful for?

I'm also GRATEFUL for each person who stops my to read, especially those that leave a COMMENT and I am glad that I can wish you ALL the loveliest of holidays.


Friday, November 19, 2010

"Something's Coming"

Shhhhhh! Don't say it too loud, just in case this little (or not-so-little) birdie is close by. He's probably the only one who doesn't know it, but Thanksgiving is less than a week away!

I stole ...uhhh...borrowed ....copied this darling illustration from one of my favorite blogs, Bargain Hunting and Chatting with Laurie.

Isn't it sweet??

Gobble! Gobble! Gobble!!

Stop by and visit her blog. You'll be amazed at her
skill in creating beautiful tables and holiday decor!!

Tell her Mellodee sent you! :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"I Should Have Stayed in Bed"

Almost anyone who knows me as an adult, would tell you that I am a very "put together" kind of dresser.  When I was still working, I pretty much always looked at least good or better, because I wouldn't wear something unless it all worked together.  Colors/styles/prints, whatever, it all had to look right or I wouldn't wear it.  Rarely did I actually wear an outfit that didn't make the cut.  People told me what pretty clothes I had and how nice I looked all the time.  Unsolicited, too!!  :)  So, what in the name of all that is fashionable, happened to me this week???

[You can blame Blogger (darn them) that I cannot post the photos that prove what I am about to tell you.  Trust me, tho, it happened.]

Monday is the day I take M-t-G to her violin lesson.  I had done a couple of errands before I picked her up at her school, took her to the lesson, had dinner together in a restaurant, and took her home where I talked with Ratchlet for a few minutes before I went home.  I had not gone home in between, so I still had on the clothes I wore when I left the house.  I was gone for a total of nearly 6 hours. 

When I arrived home, I checked email, looked at a few blogs, etc. But just generally sat around for a couple of hours.  I decided to changed out of my shoes and into slippers because my tootsies were chilly. 

I went to the closet, stepped out of one brown shoe and slipped into the slipper.  Then I noticed that in addition to the brown right shoe that I had just removed, the brown left shoe was already there.  What?  I still had on a left shoe, didn't I??  I looked down and sure enough on my left foot was a shoe....a BLACK shoe, not BROWN, BLACK.  I had been all around town wearing two different shoes!!!!  They weren't even the same shoe!  One smooth leather, one kind cut high on the foot, the other was a heel, the other more of a wedge!  The only way they were alike was that they were both slip-ons  and were the same heel height!

Either nobody noticed (I hope) or everybody noticed and they were hysterically laughing behind me.  I never noticed!  Completely and totally unlike me!  AACCCKKK!

Then today when I got home after my errands, I visited the loo (its always the first thing I do!  Prioritizing at its most basic!)   Looking down I saw as I was pulling up my brown pants which I wore with brown shoes and a pair of....BLUE socks!!  Oh my God; again?  What is the matter with me?  Can color blindness develop in later life???   That's it, tomorrow I start a fashion checklist before leaving the house! 

All in all, "I Should Have Stayed in Bed" all week!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles: Prematurity Has No Prejudice

Don't think it could never happen to you....

Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles: Prematurity Has No Prejudice

Take a minute and visit this site.  It is a fascinating account of another family experiencing a premature birth.  Then go to and support the March of Dimes in their efforts relating to preemies!!   If you know a family who has recently added a tiny preemie to their family, please share this with them. 


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Silver Thread and Golden Needles"

This is the posting I thought I was writing about yesterday before it morphed into the joys of having my very own Mr. Fix-It.  Today, however, Mr. Fix-It has only a peripheral role to play.  In many ways, this is the companion piece on how different I am from my husband!

I get tired of my clothes fairly quickly and I have always loved going shopping and coming home with a few new things, especially for the changing seasons.  Because of this I have never developed a desire to purchase brand-name or designer clothes.  It's just too costly.  I cannot see spending $200 for a pair of slacks or $300 for a sweater.  With that same $500 I can buy 3 pair of slacks, 3 sweaters, 3 turtlenecks, a belt, and a pair of shoes at Kohl's or Penney's or Macy's (on clearance).  The most I have ever spent on a dress was $600 for the dress I wore to Ratchlet's wedding! (It was gorgeous and worth every penny!)  Even my own wedding dress was borrowed from my cousin.

If you are careful, you can find nice things that look good, but don't cost the national debt.  That is important to someone who would rather have lots of clothes rather than one or two "good" pieces that I then have to wear over and over and over for years!

It's a quirk!  What can I say? 

Now when the Big Guy and I were first married, we were like many young couples starting out....not a lot of money coming in.  He already knew how I felt about clothes.  (He married me anyway!  What a guy!!) 

Anyway, for my birthday the first year we were married, he had the brainstorm to buy me a sewing machine.  We were expecting and he thought I could make clothes for myself and for the baby without spending a lot!  He was so proud of this wonderful idea and he sat watching me open the gift with this look of anticipation on his face that let me realize just what a great present he thought this was!

And it was a great present and a wonderful idea....for someone who loved to sew.  But that, unfortunately, was not me.  Of course, I did not say anything bad.  I was grateful and happy and so pleased at this wonderful gift from my lovely and loving new husband.

What the Big Guy did not know of course, was that I HATED sewing.  Seriously hated it.  During high school all the girls were required (!) to take one year (a whole year!!) of Home Ec.  One semester of cooking and one semester of, you guessed it, sewing.  As a further requirement of the class, you had to make an entire outfit by yourself in order to pass the course. Oh Lordy!  

I decided to make a skirt and blouse.  I chose the simplest pattern I could find (gathered skirt, sleeveless shirt), picked out the fabric, the thread, the scissors, the straight pins, the tracing wheel, the stitch puller, the whole enchilada!  I proceeded to follow the directions to a tee, got my questions answered by the teacher, and struggled all through the project, hating every minute.  My seams were crooked, my stitches uneven, the zipper was a nightmare, and the collar lop-sided.  It wasn't grotesque when it was finally finished but it sure wasn't gorgeous either.  The good thing about sewing is that the messy part is on the inside where no one can see it!  But I knew.

I finished it, I think I got a C, and I passed.  I promptly put sewing out of my mind forever!  I thought.  Until Mikey's gift. 

Well, I was older, I figured I would be better at it and it couldn't be as bad as I remembered, right?  I mean, thousands of people sewed.  I was not an idiot, I could figure this out!  So I sewed!  I made a couple of summer weight maternity tops, and a couple of little baby things.  I wasn't loving it but it wasn't too bad as long as everything was going along well. 

I kept thinking it would get easier as I did it more often.  It didn't.  The machine didn't like me any better than I liked it!  The thread would break, the bobbin would get all snarled, I couldn't ever get the tension right, I would get these enormous knots in the seams.  Each time something like that happened, I would get frustrated and angry, I would yell at the machine (it was ok, Mikey was at work when I sewed!)  Sometimes I would even cry a little. 

Nevertheless I persevered!  I mean after all, he had spent all this money on something for me and I just couldn't let him down.  I made a few other simple things from time to time.  Nothing that would win any prizes but sort of usable. 

When Ratchlet was about 3, I think, I picked out a pattern for a cute little pants and vest outfit that would look really adorable on her.  I laid out the pattern, traced it with the little tracing wheel and carbon paper (do they even DO that anymore??), pinned the fabric, cut it all out, and set it aside all ready to sew.

I got involved in something else for a bit (can't even remember what).  It sat by the sewing machine for a while and every time I saw it I would think I've got to get back to that, but I didn't.  I began to feel really guilty about wasting the money for the pattern and material, so I decided I'd better finish it. 

I held the cut and pinned pants leg up to Ratchlet's waist, just to see if I needed to adjust the length.  Does anyone NOT know what I saw???

The bottom of the leg came to about her knee!  The vest pieces looked more like a bolero than a vest.  The whole thing was completely unsalvagable.  Time had gone by, Ratchlet had grown, but the outfit didn't.  It was useless.

That was it!  No more!  I gave up.  Surrendered.  I  put everything away.  Closed up the machine and stuck it in the back of the closet. Never to be touched by me again!

Even now, all these years later, I still HATE sewing.  Not even using "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" could ever make me into a seamstress.  No matter how much money I could "save" by making my own clothes, I will never touch that evil machine again.  And you know what?  That is more than OK with me! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Our House"

I have been visiting a lot of blogs about home decor, DYI projects, thrifty and frugal ways to renovate.  I find the clever ideas from some of them just wonderful and not too difficult for a person who is willing to take on such projects and making them happen in their homes....everything from rearranging furniture and accessories up to and including knocking down walls to essentially remodel their homes.  I am so regretful that I am not one of those kinds of people.  Mr. Fix-It won't let me pick up a paint brush, hammer a nail, screw in a screw, or any other kind work needed in a home remodelling project. 

This is not because he a guy who is the take charge, nobody can do anything as well as I, or go sit down, Magnolia Blossom, I will build whatever your little heart desires, you don't need to lift a finger -- type of guy!  Nope, he doesn't let me help out of a sense of self-preservation!  I am LOUSY at that kind of thing.  I am not very coordinated, things go wrong all the time, I can't even get paint to cover evenly!  I am a walking disaster waiting to happen!  He has learned that it is safer and easier to send me out shopping or visiting or something when there is a project to be done.  Truthfully, that's okay with me!  If you are like me, you will understand when I say, I don't like doing things I can't do well, especially when I have Mr. Fix-It who is exactly the opposite of me.  He can fix nearly anything, he can build anything, and he can do whatever we decide to do to whatever house we happen to live! 

Over the years he has: 
>> re-tiled floors, counter tops, back splashes, showers
>> Laid down carpet
>> Laid down hardwood flooring
>> Torn out walls
>> Installed sinks, toilets, cabinets, appliances, ceiling fans
>> Built or remodelled closets, laundry "rooms", bathrooms, kitchens, stairways, entries
>> Wallpapered
>> Installed lighting
>>  Upholstered furniture
>>  Painted  --- EVERYTHING
>>  Sewed pillows, curtains, (and a few costume things here and there)
>>  And more that I can't remember at the moment.

Some of them have been done multiple times in different houses!  And they are all done beautifully!  He is a perfectionist about it.  His work NEVER looks shoddy, tacky, or amateurish.  I didn't marry him because of these skills....they were a bonus that I discover after we were already married!

The only drawback to the things he has done is that nearly every project he takes on TAKES FOR-BLOOMIN'-EVER!  That is the God's honest truth....FOREVER!  When we completely remodelled our kitchen, it took FOUR MONTHS to finish.  He tore everything out down to the studs and sub-floor! Seriously, we had no functional stove, no sink, no walls, no flooring, no counters, no cabinets, off and on for four months.  If it had taken one week longer I was going to kill him!!

Every project takes a lot longer than he anticipated, partly due to problems that arise, partly due to the size of the projects he takes on, partly because everything has to be "just so", and partly due to the fact that he just gets stalled.  That's the part that is enormously frustrating to me, because there isn't anything I can do about it but wait till it's done! I have told him that his gravestone will say, "I didn't think it would take so long!"

Once finished, the job is perfectly beautiful and ultimately worth the wait, but I have a hard time remembering that when we are living in the middle of chaos....again!

Understandably, it appears that he reached burn-out at the time we moved to Austin.  Our house here was relatively new when we bought it, so there weren't any major problems to fix.  Somehow the few projects that I would like to have happen, were not critical, and over time they just disappeared from the radar, one by one.  Ten years is a long time to hold on to a To-Do List.

The Big Guy works long hours at a very hard, on your feet a lot -kind of job. He's a machinist. The machining that he does involves lifting heavy objects, an extremely tricky process to make many different, precisely-measured parts that are used in knee replacements.  It is a noisy, hot, tedious, tiring, potentially dangerous, and dirty kind of work.  The last thing he wants to do with his time off is more physical labor.  I certainly understand that.

I must, however, admit that I miss the kinds of remodelling (or at least re-decorating) projects he used to do at home.

So when I go to visit one of the home decor blogs I like, I feel frustrated because they remind me of things that I'd really love to have happen in my house, but can't.  "Our House" IS a very, very, very fine house...." but in my mind's eye, I keep seeing things that would make it so much more! 

Mr. Fix-It spent about 35 years creating and recreating our dream homes for us.  I kind of got use to it!  I really miss making changes.   It's sad, but I'm pretty sure Mr. Fix-It went out of the Dream Home business forever! 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Plant a Radish"

Everyone has heard of Couch Potatoes.  The term brings to mind a bland and boring lump of a person who does nothing, accomplishes nothing, and is pretty much brain dead.  Well, I have realized that I am a Computer Cauliflower!  A close relative of the Couch Potato, with many similar traits especially in the "does nothing" area, the Computer Cauliflower is addicted to the electronic world on the monitor.

Computer Cauliflowers sit in front of the computer for an inordinate amount of time every day.  It is their "drug" of choice for most days.  Although I am loath to admit it, that's what I do some days.  I check-in with Facebook, read the current news, catch the newest editorial cartoons, play on-line games, surf the Net, read my (dwindling) emails, and I blog.  There are many other things I could should be doing, but it is far easier for me to take the path of least resistance and I find myself in front of the computer more often than not.  So, like it or not I am a Computer Cauliflower.

I comfort myself with the thought that I am exercising my brain.  Learning new things, "meeting" friends, stimulating brain activity to keep me alert and interested.  The Internet is a great resource and it doesn't require a whole lot of energy,  just the ticket for a basically lazy, mature woman!

As for what makes it a "Computer Cauliflower" (as opposed to a "rutabaga" or an "artichoke"), is related to the shape of it.  A cauliflower is a cerebral-looking veggie!  Seriously, just think about a head of cauliflower for a minute....

(By the way, that's not me!)
See what I mean??  It looks just like a brain!  Don't you think so?  It's the right size and shape and it has all those creases and crevices, just like a brain!  So when it looks like I am just vegetating (pun intended!) in front of the computer, in truth, I am fertilizing my Cauliflower!  How bad can that be??

Oh, and just what does "Plant a Radish" have to do with any of this?  Well, actually, absolutely nothing, but its the only song title I know of that has a vegetable in it!  Hey!  Sometimes you've just got to work with what you've got, ya know?   :D

"You Don't Bring Me Flowers"

I read a lot (I may have mentioned that a time or two).  In the last couple of years I have chosen mostly light-hearted stories with happy endings.  Most of the time that translates into "romances" or "womens' fiction", the kind of books I avoided like the plague when I was younger.   Back then I was reading mainline fiction with substance and "meaning".  I gave up on them because I came to want things that provided me with escape from my stresses and would entertain me!

For the most part, that has worked reasonably well.  I've discovered many authors whose books fit neatly into the genre of romance and womens' fiction, without sinking all the way down into "bodice-rippers" or porn.  I've developed many new favorites whose new books I eagerly await.  People like Robyn Carr, Jennifer Crusie, Judith McNaught, Susan Wiggs, Sherryl Woods, Dorothea Benton Frank, Luanne Rice and my absolute favorite, Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  I can recommend any of them if you're looking for fiction that won't depress you or overwhelm you with plot twists and turns.  As I said, they (and others) write books that entertain.

I suppose I could have condensed those first two paragraphs into one sentence --- "I'm reading romances these days."  Somehow that still makes me  cringe a little bit.  I like reading them, but I don't enjoy saying I read romances.  I'm trying to get over it!  :)

The romance novel has a formula with specific the happy ending, the whole "boy meets girl, loses girl, gets girl back, and they live happily ever after" thing.  That is of course, a generalization, but it is the reason why some of the simpler story lines just become familiar and unsatisfying.  The authors I read generally take those criteria and put their own spin on the books they write.  That's why I love them.  Even more importantly, the faves listed above do not use the plot device I'm going to write about!!

Nevertheless, after reading quite a lot of these types of books I have come to realize that they frequently annoy me.  I mean, seriously annoy me.  For instance:

I just finished a book by a pretty well-known author (who shall remain nameless for my own self-protection!!)  I have read several books by her.  (There aren't many men who write in this genre; we all know that men don't understand romance  or women enough to write about them in a way women enjoy!) But I digress.

Anyway, the  thing that struck me when I finished the book was that the entire "situation" which formed the basis of the plot, could have been resolved just by having the characters actually TALK to each other after the problem crops up!   Instead, each of the main characters seriously overreacts to the situation, they believe what others say without going to the source, and they each feel totally justified for considering the other the spawn of the devil and they don't learn the truth for years.  Even though neither one knew the whole series of events, they still made judgements and let their relationship fall apart for YEARS without ever TALKING to each other! 

Now that is a pretty scrawny explanation of the problems I had with the book, but I think you get the drift.  It seems to crop up again and again in different books by different authors. 

Well, I don't know about you, but most of those situations and reactions do not ring true to me.  I don't believe most people would react that way when a relationship with someone you love is falling apart, especially when that person is acting completely out of character.  I think that in reality if the individuals care about one another they will at least TRY to talk it out and resolve it sooner than 15 years down the road!  

I understand that without that conflict, there wouldn't be much of a story left sometimes.  But gee whiz, I sure wish writers (both women and men) would not repeatedly fall back on this familiar plot gyration that don't really work!   When I'm reading such a book, "oh, come on!" keeps runny through my head.  See, the problem with the relationships isn't a case of "You Don't Bring Me Flowers", it's more "Would you just TALK to each other for God's Sake??" 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Sweet Lorraine"

I don't often post twice in one day, but November 11, is a day that is important to me.  Veterans' Day is to honor millions of Service Men and Women, some of which were heroes.

The other reason to post today is to honor one sole woman who was very definitely a hero.  She was my mother, and she died seven years ago today.  I miss her all the time and I can't believe it's been seven years. 

She was a hero to me and my family because, quite simply, she did whatever she needed to do to keep us fed, clothed, safe, housed, educated, and above all, loved.  Dad always worked and brought home a paycheck, but Mom did EVERYTHING else.  Dad never wanted to own a house, by renting, the landlord was always responsible for fixing big stuff, so we rented my whole life....houses when I was a child, and then apartments.  If anything little broke down Mom would fix it.  She wasn't always successful but she tried.  When I married Mr. Fix-it (aka the Big Guy), he was always available to help with things like drippy faucets so that was one less thing mom had to do.  Both she and Dad treated the Big Guy like a son and he loved them in return.

She didn't work outside the house until I was 17 years old when she was forced to by circumstances.  Before that, Mom was!  She cooked dinner just about every night, she washed clothes, she did the shopping, she drove us around town for whatever, she ironed (until I was old enough not to burn up the family wardrobe),  she dusted (until I was old enough to do the job to her satisfaction), she vacuumed, she baked, she made crafty things, she rearranged the furniture, she wrote letters, she looked after Dad and me and then she looked after my sister as well.  She disciplined  us, she praised us, she waited up until we were home once we were old enough to date, she taught us stuff, she turned holidays into lovely events filled with traditions.  From her we learned morals, and ethics, and honesty, and how to be a great mom.

When Dad died she persevered in looking after my sister and the apartment, alone, even after Little Sis moved out.  She turned into a wonderful grandmother who loved her grandkids almost as much as we did.

Due to ill health, her last years were difficult and disappointing and she didn't cope with it too well.  She had always hated being dependent on anyone for anything.  When she had no choice, she hated it even more.  The quality of her life, was not good and that depressed her and made me very sad. 

Ending up like that was  not much of a reward for a mom who did everything for her family her whole life.  She deserved better.  That, of course, can't be changed, but she made my life full of love and opportunities and laughter, and music and she was ALWAYS be a hero to me.  My mother, "Sweet Lorraine".

I miss her and always will.  I love you Mama!

"Over There"

Today is Veteran's Day and I am very aware of and grateful to all veterans of the U.S. military.  The following post is a repeat of last year's entry for this day.  If you weren't a follower last year, it will be new to you, but if you've read this before, you know that this expresses exactly how I feel about those individuals who are willing to go "Over There" where they fight and sometimes die, to protect the rest of us!

First Posted November 11, 2009:
Veteran's Day, a sort of junior national holiday, you know what I mean, banks and post offices are closed but everything else is business as usual. Its an easy one to miss. I used to understand the difference between Veteran's Day and Memorial Day, but its kind of fuzzy to me now. I think Memorial Day honors those who have died for our country and not just in the military.

Whereas, I think Veterans Day is to honor any and all the men and women who have ever served in the U.S. military. I do know that the origin of this holiday was to celebrate the Armistice ending World War I, The Great War, and was, in fact, called Armistice Day for many years. That changed at some point in my mid-childhood when the powers that be (who ever they are!), realized that the War to End All Wars hadn't ended them at all. In fact, every generation seemed destined to have its own war.
Anyway, it is my opinion that no matter how you personally feel about the concept of war or any individual war, whether Korea, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, and whatever history will call the current war, it should make no difference.

The truth is that thousands of men and women have served to protect and defend all of us. We owe each of them our thanks and honor. They were there to protect everyone. They were willing to put themselves in danger and in some cases, in the extremes of peril, for us. How can we not, collectively, be a Grateful Nation? Every single day that you continue to be free to go where you want, to say what you please, to believe what you wish, you are reaping the benefit of millions of men and women who wore a U.S. military uniform for you. God Bless Them All!

As a personal side note, my father, and three uncles served in WWII, one uncle served in the Korean War, at least one of my cousins was in Viet Nam and Desert Storm, and at least one was in Iraq.....I am grateful to them and all the other soldiers, sailors, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. I salute them. Because of them, we are still able to live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"I Don't Know Why, But I Do" (Flip Side)

Earlier this week I did a list of things I dislike (not hate, you understand, just dislike), so today I'll do a list of things that I do like (not love, you understand, just like.) Okay, everybody clear? Here we go:

Things I Like

Pretty landscaping
Swimming pools
Sofa tables
Post-It notes
Witty people
Comfort Food
Warm colors
On-line banking
Salty/crunchy snacks
Soundtracks from Musicals
Old Photographs
Road trips
Pretty, small towns
Books that make me laugh

I don't think I'll be posting the Hate/Love things any time soon. I have already written about most of them, probably ad nauseum!   But for now, I'm done, 'cause suddenly I have a craving for some popcorn... or peanuts....or maybe some mashed potatoes with gravy -- yum!   "Hmmpf, how come all of a sudden?" you might ask. 

"I don't know why, but I do!"

(ba da bing, ba da boom! Just how far will she go for a punch line?)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"I Don't Know Why, But I Do"

I'm going to borrow an idea from one of my earliest blog friends, , and hope she doesn't mind me being a copy cat.  If you're not one of her followers already, pop over and join up.  I enjoy her writing.  Anyway, I seem to be having some difficulty finding original ideas for my blog, so when in doubt, emulate a Master.  Thanks, Liz! 

Things I Dislike
(Just to clarify ahead of time, these are things I dislike, not a list of things I abhor.  I guess you could say they are my medium-sized dislikes.) 
Complicated board games
TVs in restaurants
Overhead lighting
Trashy looking clothes
Condescending people
Paper cuts
Most seafood
Cold floors
Pumping gasoline
Grey, rainy weather
Violent/creepy movies
Fluorescent lighting
Itchy woolens
Flannel sheets
Books with weak endings
Rocky beaches
Easy crossword puzzles
Folding laundry
Grocery shopping

There are other things I dislike, I know, but I don't want you to think I am a complete grump!  Though there are people who already believe that.  I assure you, however, there are lots of things I do like, maybe I'll do that list another time.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

"Things I Couldn't Say" (aka Dear So and So)

I'm pretty sure when I started doing the Dear So and So letters, I told you that it was from a meme at   Kat, the author, hasn't posted one lately on her own site, until yesterday.  It was then that I realized there was a designated day of of the week for Kat to post the meme...Fridays.  I find it difficult to write to a "schedule", so I will probably continue to write letters when the mood strikes me.  I don't know if that somehow violates meme protocol and/or if Kat is disturbed by my irregular postings, I hope she lets me know. 

Dear So and So...
If any of you want to participate in Kat's meme, the button will take you to her site.  You can also go there to read the letters from all of her participants that follow the rules.  There are lots of them and some are quite funny!

Any way, on to my Dear So and So's.

To Whom It May Concern,

Please forward this to the appropriate complaint office:  That's enough now!  In recent months we have had troubles with the clothes washer, the hot water heater, the computer, and the furnace.   Even Mr. Fix-it (hmmm, that's a good alias for the Big Guy...maybe I'll have to change it.) As I was saying, even Mr. Fix-It reluctantly acknowledged these problems were beyond his abilities.  Each one required a service call and/or a replacement or repair of said appliance.  

In addition to the problems with the appliances, the Big Guy has strained his back (unrelated to the appliances!) and has needed multiple and on-going visits to doctors and physical therapy.  He still hasn't fully recovered from the Bell's Palsy either! 

In the overall scheme of life, none of these is particularly distressing, except they are all coming in a clump!  And they each cost money in varying amounts, some of which have taken quite a bite out of our coffers!  

We are done.  No more!  Everything in this house that is expected function better keep functioning or I'm going to start yelling....and you know that ain't good!  So Shape Up and get on with it!  Don't make me come over there!


Dear Time Keeper,

Tonight is, I believe, the night for the end of Daylight Saving Time.  Yeah, yeah, I know we get an extra hour of sleep, but then we also get shorter and shorter amounts of daylight for the next six weeks or so.  Now really, if time can be fiddled with willy-nilly, why can't we just have daylight saving time all the time?  If I remember correctly, Daylight Saving Time came about (maybe in the Depression??) in order to help the farmers make the best use of their time, by having more daylight hours to tend the fields. 

In the past few years thought changes have been made, no one is sure when it starts and stops anymore, but it definitely comes later and is over sooner than it used to be.  Why, then are we bothering with it at all?   I don't believe it even lasts a full four months now and it used to be a full five months. 

Time is just flying by anyway.  Let's spend as little of it as possible in the dark!

Daylight Melly

Dear Shoe Designers and Manufacturers,

I have not bought a pair of shoes (other than sandals) in almost three years.  I have no interest in wearing Gladiator platform footwear with 6 inch heels.  Even if I loved them (HA!), I would probably kill myself trying to hobble around on heels that high! 

Then there are the latest wrinkle that I've seen, the ones that look like they're boots that fit around the ankle and leg, but don't go down the rest of the way to the sole!  What in heaven's name are those??  All those leggy models and celebrities that I've seen wearing them look as though they are individuals who have been convicted of some crime and placed under house-arrest!  They look like those sensor thingies that let the cops know if somebody flies the coop!!  Really!

What ever happened to pretty shoes??  You made them for a while, but then these monstrosities took over.  Well, that's enough, fad over, how about you go back to making shoes for real people?


Dear Models and Celebrities,

Speaking of looking good, who ever told you it was a good idea to stand with one leg crossed over in front of the other for photos, was WRONG.  It doesn't make you look thinner or taller, it makes you look like you have to go to the bathroom!!!  So, unless you really do have to go to the "little girl's room" (now there's an insipid phrase!!), stand up straight in the graceful pose that we all learned in ballet class!

Mel, Charter Member, Posture Police

Dear Inventors and such,

Would you please stop promising things that you cannot deliver?  You know like, cheap fusion energy, paperless societies, flying cars for individuals, and robots who clean your house!  I've heard various writers, inventors, and scientists predict these  and other pie-in-the-sky additions to our lives for decades.  None of them has appeared in the realm of reality!  We don't have colonies on the moon or anywhere else.  We don't have computers that truly "think" or repair themselves.  We don't have all-weather fabrics that will protect us no matter what it's doing outside.  It goes on and on.

I am tired of cleaning my own house.  So where are those robots that are supposed to be eliminating this odious chore??  You keep predicting, but you don't deliver.  So either put up or shut-up about it!!  I'm tired of waiting!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Bits and Pieces" (ad infinitum)

*****  I am a terrible person!  And an even worse Grandmother!  Tonight M-t-G is playing in the 2nd game of the softball league's playoff tournament.  For the second night in a row, I will not be there.  I went to every game of her season.  They lost all but one (the last regular game).  Last night they lost and if they lose tonight that will be the end of the season for them.  My absence has nothing to do with whether they are a winning team or not.  She has played softball for at least two and a half years, both fall and spring.  Except for the very first team she was on, her teams have usually lost more than they've won, still I've been to almost all of the games.  But now in the homestretch (I know, I know --- mixed metaphors!), I am choosing to stay home. 

I'm embarrassed to tell you why.  (Big breath)  It was very cold here last night and it is predicted to be even colder tonight (a low of 39F).  The very idea of sitting for an hour and a half on cold, uncomfortable, windy, unprotected bleachers next to open, unprotected field on a cold and windy night makes me just cringe!  I can't deal with cold anymore.  All the layering in the world never has done anything to help when I get cold.  I hate it.  Truly!!  I'm sorry M-t-G, but your Grammy's a wuss and I'm sorry for letting you down.  I promise I'll attend every indoor function you are ever involved with, and if you play again in the spring, I'll be there just like always....but don't count on me when it gets cold, I'll be hibernating inside where its warm!

****I am glad this round of elections is over.  Politics and government in general are not the most pleasant of topics during this era of economic and political upheaval.  It's been my impression over my lifetime, that no matter who gets elected, some people will be unhappy and will feel free to let the rest of us know they are not responsible for whatever terrible thing comes about due to the incumbents!  Same song, different verse!

The thing that upset me the most this time, had nothing to do with any single candidates particular campaigning strategy.  I'm pretty much ticked off at all of them.  Who ever came up with the idea of phone calls of recorded political endorsements.  Who believes that I (or anyone) would be willing to sit and listen to a machine telling them how to vote???  I feel the pretty much the same way about TV political ads, but since I don't watch TV, that's not so much of an issue for me.  But a recorded message in a phone call???   If someone wants my vote, call me, talk to me, ask for my vote, DON'T make a recorded message to interrupt my life ten times a day for two straight weeks or longer!!!  I hang up on recorded messages!  Always!  Even when it's supposedly from former President Bill Clinton!   

*****No one I have ever asked, can tell me why when architects, designers, and builders plan and build houses, they only put ONE electrical socket in bathrooms.  Just one!  If I have a hair dryer, curling iron, and heater that I wish to use, I cannot use them at the same time.  Even if I could put in a multi-tap, all of those appliances at once will overload the circuit and blow a fuse!!  Not only is there only one, it is usually sitting right next to the sink with very little countertop to keep things from falling into said sink.  Has no one ever told them that water and electricity are NOT good neighbors?  Some times the lack of common sense in standard practices astounds me!

****I don't get many emails anymore.  I guess between social networking, blogging, texting, twittering, and whatever else is coming along, email is no longer the communication tool of choice for much of anyone.  That's a real shame.  I like email.  Its quick, its easy, its functional, its universal.  I still use emails for more personal messages, or sending photos, and some other types of communications, but I no longer get the plethora of jokes, funny photos, simple communications between friends except a few.  Despite this reduction of emails I care about, I still receive on the order of 50 emails a day.  Sometimes more!  So who is writing to me?  Everyone who wants to sell me something, everyone who wants to con me or scam me, every one who belongs to an organization that wants me to join, every game site I've ever played, every group whose website I've ever accessed, every catalog I've ever looked at, every company from whom I purchase something, every individual who has the perfect answer to all my problems, no matter what they are!  Well, even tho my friends don't write much anymore, I guess it's nice to know somebody wants me!

****I have often read about couples who have "honey-do" lists of projects or chores one or another of the home's occupants need to accomplish.  All kinds of things can end up on these lists and I guess the majority of things get done.  Hhmmpf!  If I tried that, all I'd end up with is a "honey-didn't" list!   :D

****How come that the temperature you set your thermostat on for summer can feel too cold, but that very same temperature set for winter will feel too hot? 

****Congratulations to my nephew on his recent completion of his degree.  It has something to do with computers, but I'm not clear on what exactly.  Nonetheless, he's finished and can now join the ranks of those who get to string a bunch of letters after their name!!   :)    Mazel Tov! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"The Party's Over"

It's boos! have turned to boo-hoos.  Yep, "The Party's Over!"  It makes me sad every year to take down my outside ghosties and ghoulies.  In spite of the spooky nature of Halloween decorations, houses that are decorated feel and look light-hearted to me.  Its a happy time and I'm sorry to see it go.

After the flood of kids we had last year, we were not sure how much candy we should stock in order to meet the demand.  Ultimately, we went with the "More is better" concept and it ended up with huge bags of candy all over the kitchen.  But we had enough!  And most of the stuff that's left (I hope) will go with the Big Guy in to work where they will scarf it down in short order.

So how did it go??  It was great, We had nearly as many kids as last year.  Although we didn't get an accurate count exactly but as near as we can figure,  about 180 kids come to our door.  They came in a fairly steady stream from about 6:15 until about 9:15 p.m. and then it was done!  It was as if somebody turned off a switch and all the kids were pulled off the streets.  Odd!  No dwindling down. Just chaos then nothing!  

One of the candies we gave out was candy corn and some of the kids were really excited about getting that! You would have thought it was something really special!

There were adorable little kids in sweet costumes, medium sized kids in funny or scary costumes, at least six Cleopatra's, lots of "The Scream" faces, some with oozing blood (REALLY spooky), a few older kids in really imaginative and clever costumes.  They were all fun to see.

Every single one of those kids was polite, happy to get what we gave, and each one said thank you! (Except for the really little ones who had pretty much no idea what was going on!) There were parents in costumes. I saw nothing sleazy or in poor taste. They, too, were polite, complimentary, and supportive of their kids. Not one bad incident, not one!

So Halloween will continue here for another year in its Spooky, Funny, and Traditional way. It's all about the kids and that's a good thing. That is how it was here.  Halloween is alive and well in Austin!

Just to finish up my Halloween report, here are some photos I promised to post.  I don't know why three of them are turned sideways.  I tried several things to make them post correctly but Blogger wasn't cooperating (Ha!  There's a surprise!)   The first one is from a cell phone, and just not very clear.  I'm sorry, but I think you can at least get the idea of what they show.

Oh, by the way, if you get a craving for something sweet, come on over.  We've even got some candy corn left!!  I'd be happy to share!

Maddie the Spy!
(Turned out pretty cute, didn't she?)

What happens when you get caught in a web! Watch out!
(Wish this picture was right side up!!) 

The Mantle Barnyard

"I took my troubles down to Madame Rue,
Your know the gypsy with the gold capped tooth...."

This is the rooster my mom embroidered years ago. 

The Big Guy in Costume!
(Even his closest friends would never recognize him!  LOL!)

Well, there you have it....Halloween 2010.  It was a HOOOOOOT!     

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