Monday, February 27, 2012

A multitasker's work is never done

I'm having one of those days where no matter what I am doing, I feel that I should be doing something else. As I read through all the new blog postings, I keep having impulses to jump up and go do other things.

And then, I suddenly realized it's because I had a dream last night that I was back at my old job at the insurance company and I had a big backlog of old files to work on. This is the result of the many years I spent in the job I left six years ago. While having a job with a lot of variety can keep things interesting, the constant lurching from one thing to another can do damage to your brain!

I should go now!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Is this creepy or what?

Well, it turns out that the installation of Century Link did not automatically delete Comcast from my computer.
Comcast won't be turned off until I take the modem back to their offices. In the meantime, I'm trying to figure out how to get stuff transferred over to gmail. I always say, "Life is difficult for us dumb people!" I'm feeling particularly stupid right now.

I was "creeped out" when I found this message in my comments from yesterday. It seems like "Big Brother" Comcast is keeping tabs on me!
Blogger ComcastCares1 said...
I am sorry to learn that you're no longer a Comcast customer. Please feel free to contact me if you decide to come back in the future. Thanks! Mark Casem Comcast Corp. National Customer Operations
February 24, 2012 3:14 PM

Friday, February 24, 2012

Holding my breath

Comcast recently raised the cost of my monthly internet service from $65 to $70.  I huffed and puffed and decided that this is the last straw!  So, on Friday, between 12:00 and 5:00 PM (insert joke here) a guy will come to convert the internet service over to Century Link.

There are so many things that can go wrong.

1) I'm most worried about getting my new email address forwarded to all the people and places I've distributed it over the years.
2) I'm worried about getting all my screens and toolbars setup again. 
3) I'm worried that the quoted prices will turn out to be malarkey and I'll wind up paying just as much as if I had stayed with Comcast. 
4) I'm worried that the service will be lousy and I'll kick myself for going to a lot of trouble over nothing.

Here's hoping things go smoothly.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A momentary digression

There was a post on The Owl Wood about his photos taken at Medieval Fairs in the Lincolnshire area of England. This reminded me of trips to our Twin Cities area Renaissance Fair held every fall. I haven't been for some years but I have a picture taken at a photo booth there back in 1982 with my parents, my sister and her son, and my son and me (the plump one).

Aren't we a regal -looking bunch? It points out our affection for the British!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One true thing

Linda Starr at Blue Starr Gallery gave me a challenge to come up with seven things about myself. She did this in her own blog where she did a great job of relating interesting facts from her past.

I'm hard pressed to think of seven things so I'll just do one for now.

After I got divorced in 1982, I moved to St Paul and enrolled in Concordia College. My major was English and minor was Communications. In my senior year (at the age of 45), I signed on to do an internship in the newsroom at a local TV station. I worked there for three months and spent a lot of time as a "gofer". I covered a few news stories that happened on weekend evenings when nobody else was around.

One occasion was when a huge earthquake hit Mexico City (1986) and they wanted to get reactions from the first planeload of people to arrive back at the airport. I went out with a camera man and waited around until the plane arrived. I held the microphone off-camera and asked questions of the passengers. It was a pretty straight forward story.

On another occasion, late on Saturday night, there was an incident involving police and gunfire in a troubled neighborhood. At the same time, an electrical outage happened in the same area and it was thought they might be connected. When we got there, the camera man walked around taking video of the police cars and spectators behind the condoned off area. It was hard to make any sense out of the chaotic scene. I spotted an officer sitting in the back seat of a squad car interviewing a woman. In desperation, I went over and rapped on the window. They stared at me as I shouted through the closed window asking what had happened. They turned away and ignored me. We returned to the newsroom with nothing.

I felt like I had failed, especially when an rival TV station broadcast a news story about the supposed gang-related incident. More than that, however, was my embarrassment at having been rude and aggressive in approaching the police car. That was totally unlike me. It brought home to me that I was unsuited for being in that line of work. (It later turned out that the other station had blown the story out of proportion and elevated a relatively minor incident into a "gang war". I found that personally satisfying.)

Another discouraging factor was that, in hiking the long concourses of the airport, I realized that I was physically unable to handle the legwork. I was unaware that I had a hip deformity that was aggravated by the exercise. (I had to tough it out for another ten years before I had the hip replaced.)

So, I had to give up my dream of being a reporter. I had waited too long, but at least I got to give it a try. That's a lot more than I had ever hoped for. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

I am a reluctant re-use maven

This is my dining room looking into the kitchen. The hutch came from the Salvation Army Thrift Store, the chairs from the Goodwill Store, the table under the fan was from my Mom's estate, the table on the back wall (behind the fan) came from Unique Thrift store as did the cat tower on the far left. The table under the pass-through was bought used along with the sofa and loveseat from a guy moving out of town.

I buy all my clothes at thrift stores except for socks and underwear. Just recently, my computer monitor died and I bought a used one from a store that recycles old computers.

This is not so much because I am noble or thrifty but because I don't have any "disposable income". Of course, that may well be due to the proven fact that your expenses will always increase to equal your income.

It sure would be fun to test that theory on a higher income, however!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Can you help me out here?

My brother Bob will turn 70 next Thursday. I've been looking for a birthday card but haven't found anything that I liked, so I decided to make one. I found this old baby picture of him (probably a proof) in my mom's old pictures and thought it might be fun to use it with a caption.

I haven't been clever enough to think up a cute caption.  Could you suggest one for me? (Sorry, no prizes are involved.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Old is not Useless!

Doesn't this warm your heart? It just makes so much sense! I would sign on for such a worthy project.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's Girl Scout cookie season!

Tongue in cheek

"Did you hear?  The Girl Scouts have announced that the entire proceeds of this year's cookie sale will be donated to the wealthy to create jobs."  
                 (Courtesy of Robert Brault Reader)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day 1948

Valentine's Day was a really big deal when I was a kid. The teacher decorated the classroom with red hearts pinned over white lace paper doilies on the bulletin board.  The blackboard was festooned by homemade red and white chains of construction paper.

As the big day approached, our class of fourth graders was busy making preparations. We worked diligently on our Valentine boxes, cutting out hearts of red and white construction paper and pasting them to shoe boxes. After a mail slot was cut into the top, we wrote our name on them.

The teacher had provided a list of names of all the kids in the class so our moms could help address them. But the Valentine cards themselves were just a formality. The truly sublime part of the event was all of the treats.

In those days of stay-at-home moms, everyone in the class was assigned goodies to bring to school to share. There would be cupcakes, cookies and popcorn balls! I could hardly wait.

The morning of Valentine's Day,  I woke up with a fever and headache. As my younger siblings left to get on the bus for school, I lay on the couch miserable and sad--not because I was sick but because of all the fun I was missing.

When I got to school the next day, the teacher gave me my box of Valentine cards and a popcorn ball she had saved for me. It was little consolation. I had missed the big day and it was gone forever!

This is the only Valentine's Day in entire my life that I pathetic is that?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hoping for a little lace, a bit of magnificence

This is a poem by the brilliant poet Wendy Brown-Baez. I've had the good fortune to take several classes from her. I wish I had a fraction of her talent. Here is a poem she posted on Facebook.

Truly I am worn about the edges
but maybe you see lace.
My bones ache but I hope you see the graceful
mudras made by my hands,
signs in the air.
The wrinkles are deepening.
The song is strengthening. I cradle myself.
Everything is fine. Everything.

I don’t know how to give up the freedom
I had to go wherever I wanted.
Once when I was a waitress
I was asked if I was a dancer.
Little did they know:

Nights I hit the floor
with the opening bars of flamenco music and the
crowd breaking into applause
or leaping at the wedding, two people
I didn’t know, friends of my friend
and an excuse to fly.

The disco’s vast smoothness
before anyone else showed,
spins and spirals in cut-offs and
t-shirt, going home so I could
reappear in slinky slacks and
silver platforms.

My ego wants to win this battle.
I can’t get stranded,
dependent on my own feet
to steer me home,
the delicious adventure
is postponed forever.

Illusions prevent me from expressing the
Magnificence I know I am, precious
vehicle for spirit’s work.
But I am determined to throttle
them to death.

--Wendy Brown-Baez

(Wendy and I have both had hip surgeries in the past and walk with a limp.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

But they grew up anyway!

Elaine at Pear Tree Blog kindly expressed an interest in a photo of my brood nearly fifty years later. This picture is the most recent of all of us together. It was taken several Christmases ago when I gave everyone a cookbook with all our family favorite recipes and memories. I sometimes post blogs of excerpts from the book.

They are Left to Right: Daughter #1, Daughter #3, Son #4 and Daughter #2. The blob in the middle is me.
(We actually all have blue eyes--the red-eye function on the camera didn't work.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fading photographs

Back in the 60's, I had four little kids and a full-time job at night in a factory. My husband worked hard delivering freight during the day. We didn't have a lot of spending money, and pictures (to us) were a luxury. It was expensive to mail off the finished roll of film and wait for the photos to come back. They didn't always turn out and your money may have been wasted on disappointing or useless stuff.

As a result, we didn't take pictures on a whim. It was only for a picture-taking occasion that the camera was brought out. Usually, one picture was snapped, maybe two. The roll of film might be in the camera for a year before it was sent off to be developed.

Then a company started selling low-cost photo film with the price of developing included. This seemed like a good deal to me and I took pictures of my four without a thought about the quality of the film.

Sadly, it wasn't until years later that I found out what a scam it was. It turned out that the company was cutting up old movie film stock and selling it for photos. They were aware that the pictures would fade just as old movies do. The ruse to provide the free developing was because the film couldn't be processed by regular developers.

So, here is a picture I took in 1964 of my sweet little kids. I have so few photos of them during those years that I feel guilty and sad. I wish I could tell off those sneaky people who cheated thousands of families out of their memories! Shame on them!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thirsty Thursday

Water is my favorite beverage of all!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dirty Dishes

As kids, my siblings and I took turns doing the supper dishes. One night it was my sister and I and the next night, my two brothers. Of course, we would sometimes get into big fights over it--like who left the nasty dried-on pot hidden in the oven?

Years later, the same thing would happen with my own four kids. When I came across this poem, I put up a copy by the kitchen sink. (It didn't really help.)

Thank God for dirty dishes,
For they have a tale to tell.
While other folks go hungry,
We're eating very well.

With home and health and happiness,
We shouldn't want to fuss,
For by this stack of evidence,
God's been very good to us.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I am soooo last century!

I do not have a cell phone. Moreover, I don't even want one.

I know, this puts me in a distinctly fuddy-duddy underclass, but I don't care. When I see people at the grocery store with phone-to-ear deep in conversation about trivialities I feel like asking them, "Why can't you just BE where you ARE?"

Maybe it's the result of my working years when I had to spend a lot of time on the phone, but I don't want the intrusion of phone calls when I'm out and about. There is a certain serenity about being removed from others and free to dwell on the things at hand. I never have to worry about receiving a phone call when I'm driving. I will never have to face the embarrassment of forgetting to turn it off when I'm at a meeting or the fear of forgetting to turn it on and causing concern to family or friends.

Of course, I'm lucky enough that I'm not likely to be needed in any kind of emergency. Sometimes I feel sorry for those who nervously check their cell phone over and over for fear they will miss a call. I'm content to wait until I get home and check my answering machine. This is working for me!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Garrison Keillor, Rock Star to the older set!

One Saturday night last year, my second daughter called me up. She said her high school senior son had just informed her that he forgot he had to turn in a paper on Monday. He was supposed to go to a concert or production and write a review.

When she checked the newspaper, the only event that would work out time-wise was a Hymn-Sing with Garrison Keillor at a large church in Minneapolis on Sunday afternoon. Since I was a big fan, I was happy to go with them.

I arrived before they did so I staked out a seat in one of the front pews. As the church filled up, it became obvious this was the place to be if you were over retirement age. When daughter and grandson arrived, I laughed out loud at the hang-dog look on grandson. Every fiber of his body was sagging at the prospect of the ordeal.

It didn't help that he was, by far, the youngest person there. (Let me add that he is a super kid, active in church activities and sports--he's now in college going for a nursing degree.)

By the time the singing was to begin, the church was packed. We were holding our collective breaths waiting for the great man to appear. He unassumingly walked out and stood in the main aisle where he made some humorous remarks about pastors and church events--none of which I can remember. He loosely rearranged the congregation by four-part harmony and we started with the first hymn in the handout.

Garrison Keillor really loves singing hymns! He sang his heart out with his eyes closed as he stood in the middle of the aisle to get the full benefit of the voices around him. The singers responded by singing their hearts out. To those of us who grew up with all those old songs as a big part of our cultural heritage, it was great.

After it was over, daughter and grandson went back to their home in the suburbs. Later on Sunday night, daughter called to read me grandson's review of the event. He lamented about the dank smell of the church (which I didn't even notice) and all the old people. Even though he had never heard of Garrison Keillor before, grandson said the congregation greeted him like some kind of Rock Star. Grandson's preconceived notion was that the hymn-sing would be long and boring and it was. He said that as a teenager, he would know what entertainment to avoid in the future.

He got an "A" on the paper!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Minnesota--just a hoot and a holler from Canada.

Corgi Dog Mama mentioned that my last post reminded her of Garrison Keillor's radio show. I've been told that before--but only by non-Minnesotans. Garrison and I are almost the same age and grew up in small towns in Minnesota. We were exposed to the same Norwegian Lutheran influences and staid upbringing. We we were born just one or two generations from our European roots and off of the family farms homesteaded by our grandparents.

There are thousands of us like that. We grew up believing we were innocuous, unremarkable folks who took care of business and tried to be well-thought of.

Thus, it came as a revelation when Garrison Keillor and Howard Mohr (who was a writer on The Prairie Home Companion radio show) began pointing out how truly different we were. In 1987, Mohr published his (locally) famous book How To Talk Minnesotan-A Visitor's Guide. It's a funny book.

Sorry. I'm starting to sound like a Wikipedia article. I guess the upshot of all this is that the moment we discovered we were kinda unique, the uniqueness began to disappear. It always happens that way.

There was a time when "Minnesota Nice" was a common expression. Now the expression is "What ever happened to Minnesota Nice?" (I think we're still pretty nice, though.)

Tomorrow--the last time I saw Garrison Keillor.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Trash talking back in the forties

I was the oldest of four siblings. We weren't allowed to say any naughty words like "Heck or Darn".  In fact, we couldn't even say "butt". The buttock area was referred to as the "seater". I found this to be very confusing because our mother had a cedar chest.

Since we were average kids, however, the prohibition on cussing didn't stop us from calling each other names. We got away with Stinkpot, Snot, Dumb-bell, Dope and Big Baby.

Going to the bathroom (or outhouse) was either Number 1 or Number 2.  Words like "pee" and body (as in naked) were very edgy language in our young minds. Incredibly, there was a character on the Fibber Magee and Molly radio show named Mr. Peabody. We happily incorporated this name into our lexicon of alternative cussing. As a result, our escalating cuss-progression became: Dummy, Dumb-Dope, and finally, Dumb-Dope-Peabody! This was the worst possible thing we could call a sibling.

The beauty of it was that even if the offended sibling tattled, Mom was oblivious of the foul-mouthed implications of "Peabody" so we got away with it for years.

Mom, being of Norwegian descent, would often say Ufta (whoops) or Ishta (gross). She was also fond of using "ofers"; you know: "Oh fer dumb!" or "Oh fer cute!".  Her favorite expressions when she was really exasperated were, "Oh for Pete's sake!" or "Hon-est-ly!". Dad would poke fun at Mom by doodling goofy pictures of men with prominent adam's apples and titling them Pete or Honest Lee.

My dad's cussing consisted of. "Blame it!" or "Son of a gun!" or "Bunch'a hooey" or "Holy smut!" This was really tame stuff by today's standards. I guess society as a whole keeps functioning as we did as kids--always pushing the envelope for ever-worse ways of trash talking.

Where will it all end!?