Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The millionth word

A small notice in the StarTribune today stated, "U.S. company Global Language Monitor estimates that the millionth word will be added to the English language in mid-June".
Add to that the fact a lot of words have multiple meanings and we're talking millions of words!

It is mind-boggling that we have that many words at our disposal and still can't communicate very well with each other.

I depend on my thesaurus to find a word with the right shade of meaning. I often have to settle for another word that doesn't quite express what I mean. It seems we will never have enough words to convey the exact thing we want to say.

It is time we start to work on becoming telepathic! Not so much to exchange facts, but to have empathy for each other. Wouldn't this make for a more compassionate, peaceful world?

Now, who do we go to with this great idea?

Anybody... ?


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Old-age angst

Yesterday I got a phone call from my middle daughter, Brenda. She had just been diagnosed with asthma and will need to start using an inhaler. Her older sister has been using one for some time.

I've read that the incidence of asthma has been increasing in the population. And yet...back in the sixties when my kids were little, both of their parents were smokers. Their healthy little lungs were polluted with second-hand smoke on a daily basis. What kind of people would do that?! How could we have been so ignorant and selfish?

We humans seem to blunder our way around the planet doing insanely destructive things without any regard for the consequences. Then we have to struggle to repair the damage in a costly last ditch effort. We rarely succeed.

We really don't deserve this beautiful, incredible Earth. The single largest man-made structure on the planet? The answer is Fresh Kills, the rubbish dump on Staten Island, NY. It is close to 5 square miles in area and exceeds both the Great Wall of China and the pyramids in volume. It was closed for good after debris from the World Trade Center was deposited there in 2001.

Thankfully, they are now flattening and landscaping the area and plan to make it into a park.

I still wonder, though, will there ever be intelligent life on Earth?

Monday, April 27, 2009

I'm finally a Matriarch

I'm back after a busy week. There's a lot to be said for being busy--mainly that it's such a relief when things slow down again.

When my mom died ten years ago, I said, "Well, I guess I'm the matriarch now." Still I never really sensed it until this past weekend. I'm not talking about being the family CEO or Diva, I'm talking about the tremendous pride in being surrounded by all the dear people who make me so happy and fulfilled. I could simply sit back and revel in how fortunate I am.

I spent the weekend in Fergus Falls MN, my former hometown where my oldest daughter and her family live. Her son (my youngest grandchild, Allen) was confirmed on Sunday morning in the church we attended. I got great enjoyment in seeing old friends at church.

It was a joyous weekend on many levels (we also celebrated Cindy's 50th birthday). My three daughters and spouses, my ex-husband, several granddaughters and great-granddaughters were at the after-church dinner in the community room at my ex's apartment building. With my son-in-law's relatives, Cindy hosted 30 people for a lovely dinner and did a wonderful job.

I know I sound like the society page in the Smalltown Gazette, but I just had to brag a little.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009

Mother Earth has been good to us, so far...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rationalizing on Earth Day

Tomorrow is Earth Day and Friday is Arbor Day.

I drive a car I've had for 10 years and it gets about 20 miles to the gallon. This is not good. However, even if I could afford a newer, eco-friendly car, my old Impala would still exist. Someone else would be driving it and getting 20 miles to the gallon. So, I may as well keep driving it.

After going to bed each night, at least a dozen small lights still remain on all over the house. There are power strips behind or under furniture, there are LED's on various electronics, the stove and microwave plus a few night lights. I'm told that we could reduce our energy consumption by as much as 10% if we turned them all off. But, who is going to crawl around every night turning off all the energy "vampires"? Really!!

We could also reduce our energy costs by replacing all of our windows with expensive new onesand replacing our appliances with more energy efficient ones. Oh, if only...

So, I do what little I can and urge others to do the same. That's called rationalizing.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Confessions of a Feemster fan

I found this picture on ebay showing two Feemster peelers for sale
for $9.99. They were advertised as "Great-grandma's potato peelers".

I have never had one like that shown on the left, (sorry, I don't know how to crop or enlarge photos) but the one on the right is my potato peeler. This is the kind that I learned to peel potatoes with as a child. I was often pressed into helping make supper and since we had meat and potatoes at every meal, I peeled a whopping lot of potatoes during my youth.

When I became a "housewife" (ugly term) I got my first Feemster to peel potatoes. Over the years I tried other types of peelers but found them so awkward that I always returned to my old faithful. To this day, I find it almost impossible to peel potatoes without my Feemster.

When my mom died ten years ago, I inherited her potato peeler (actually, nobody else wanted it). I had the luxury of two of them in my utensil drawer. I felt so secure having a backup one.

One day recently, I discovered one of them was missing. I was worried sick. I was down to a single ancient Feemster--what if it broke? What if that one disappeared? Thinking I might have accidentally thrown it away, I pulled the plastic garbage bag out of the waste basket and carefully sorted through potato peelings, coffee grounds and various un-recyclables. It was a messy job but darn it, my Feemster was at stake! I searched through all the kitchen drawers several times and racked my brain over where it could have gone. I was discombobulated--I was living on the edge of disaster.

Several days later I was digging something out of a lower cupboard and noticed some baggies had fallen out of the drawer above. This rang a bell in my cluttered brain. I went over to the lower cupboard under the utensil drawer, and there, behind the bread pans was my beloved potato peeler! I had found it!

OK, so this was not an earth-shaking moment, but coming to the end of your supply of something nearly irreplaceable is scary. There's something sorta apocolyptic about it. Therefore, I write this post in the calm assurance that there are two Feemster potato peelers safely tucked away in my utensil drawer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Yahoo! I feel goood!

One of my favorite newspaper cartoons is Ballard Street by Van Amerongen.
I just had to share this day brightener!

Monday, April 13, 2009

What's up, Mr. Coffee?

There are a lot of topics on which I will never have an MP3 players, Wii games or quarterbacks.

I am, however, the queen of rhetorical questions. Another occurred to me when we were having coffee with pie after Easter dinner.

HOW COME Mr. Coffee has been making coffee makers since the 70's but still can't make a pot that doesn't dribble?! Wouldn't you think that after nearly fifty years, those fiendish minds who keep making a different shape pot for every coffee maker would have accidentally stumbled onto a really effective spout design?

I have water pitchers that don't dribble, I have Tupperware containers that don't dribble, I even have measuring cups that don't dribble!

There are other brands of coffee makers that make equally bad coffee pots but Mr. Coffee has been around the longest. Maybe it's going to take Ms. or Mrs. Coffee to figure it out!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

All creatures great and small


Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter greetings by rotary phone

This little chick is on a rotary phone. Doesn't that bring back memories?
In 1945, when my family moved back to Minnesota from California, we stayed with my Aunt Gusta and Uncle Obert out on their farm near Appleton MN. Rural Electrification (REA) had not reached them as they lived on a lonely road that dead ended at a river. There were just two farms a mile apart.
I was only five but I remember the kerosene lantern suspended over the big round dinner table near the iron cook stove. A basket of corn cobs for fuel sat next to the imposing stove. Aunt Gusta would lift out the round lids to the "fire box" to stoke it up and cook breakfast for her family of seven and our family of six. What an effort it must have been for her! We ate oatmeal out of china bowls with fresh warm milk just brought in from the barn.
After several weeks, Dad found a job and a house to rent in Worthington. We moved to an old farmhouse that had electricity (but no indoor plumbing or central heat). We also had a telephone on the dining room wall. It was on a 10-party rural line, so when you picked up the receiver to make a call there might be someone on the line. We could easily listen in on neighbors calls--this was called rubber-necking and was considered only slightly naughty.
Anyway, after the REA finally reached Obert and Gusta's farmplace, they could modernize and use milking machines and no longer have to milk by hand. They now got their first telephone. The phone was a huge old fashioned type mounted on the outside wall of the lean-to porch off the kitchen. Like ours, it was on a party line. To make a call, they had to turn a little crank on the side to get an operator and then ask for the number. But, they had finally joined the NEW AGE.
The next big improvement on phones was to add the dial so you could place a call without going through an operator. That was the Rotary Dial telephone. Since there was no operator to intercept or screen calls, kids could now begin the practice of making crank calls. My siblings and I were no exceptions.
Three of our favorites were:
  1. "Is this the lady who washes?" ... "No"... "Well, you dirty pig!"
  2. "Is your refrigerator running?"... "Yes"..."Well, you better go catch it!"
  3. "Do you have Prince Albert in the can?"..."Yes"..."Well, you better let him out!"

(If these don't make sense to you, ask a more "mature" person.)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Just a few lines

I picked up so many delightful graphics from Olde Dame Penniwig's blog that I'm running out of time till Easter. So, I'm doubling up on them today. You can save them by right-clicking on any of them. Enjoy.
I have found so many truly interesting blogs since I began in November. They are of wide-ranging interests and topics. Every day I look forward to catching up on everyone else's posts.
Special thanks to "Bevie" at for the Blog Award. I greatly appreciate it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I am not a "housekeeper"

Years ago, when I had four kids in five years, I realized that having a clean house was an unrealistic (and unreachable) goal. My house was where my family resided but was never my primary role.

I still feel that way. It seems kinda sad to retire only to spend your remaining years doing nothing but cooking and cleaning for yourself. You really need to get a life!

Anyway, this attitude creates a problem when I'm having guests. I'm doing Easter dinner for ten people and I have to start cleaning now. The menu is:
  • Baked ham and salmon
  • Hash brown casserole
  • Four bean salad
  • Waldorf salad
  • Dinner rolls
  • Relish tray
  • Cherry pie
  • Lemon meringue pie

Then after the guests and food are all gone. I will start back on a diet eating vegetable soup and sugar free jello. I am getting SO BORING!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Kitchen window

I've lived in my current home for 19 years. I really like it for a number of reasons, particularly because there are absolutely no stairs. We can come into the building, go directly through our front door and straight out onto the patio. For people with bad knees and sciatica, this is a blessing.

One feature that I dearly miss, however, is having a kitchen window. For most of my life I've had the luxury of being able to look outside while working at the sink. Now I have a blank wall with a couple plaques of fruits and vegetables. It's just not the same. The featureless wall sometimes reminds me of being in a basement.
The lovely thing about a kitchen window is there are a host of things you can do with it. You can:
  1. Decorate it with cute curtains or window treatments.
  2. Hang planters in front of it.
  3. Put pretty stained glass doodads on it.
  4. Ripen tomatoes on the window sill.
  5. Root plant cuttings.
  6. Watch your kids.
  7. Watch your neighbors.
  8. Watch the changing of the seasons.
  9. Watch birds and wildlife.
  10. It's a great place to grow cactus or succulents.
  11. And best of all, catch the spring breezes.
Nowadays, (quaint old-fashioned word) I spend more time at the computer than I do in the kitchen so I guess it's not as important. I'm sure glad I had a kitchen window back when it was important.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Another Monday

In my bid to become more friendly to the environment, I stocked up on 100% recyled toilet paper over the weekend. (They cut down old growth forests to make the softer plush toilet tissues.)

Let me rephrase--I bought tissue that was produced entirely from recycled paper. Since I get a daily newspaper, I recyle a whopping lot of paper. I'm only too pleased to reuse it in another form. Sadly, it's still hard to find, but Scott Tissue, Seventh Generation and White Cloud are brands found in Minnesota.

I wanted to point out that all those plastic bottles of Canada Dry lime sparkling water I drain are recycled. I'm told they are turned into sturdy, maintenance-free outdoor furniture and fencing.

I'm also a designated Donor on my driver's license. I might have been tempted to donate my entire body to the UM Medical School, but a friend who did said they don't want obese bodies. This makes sense since med students don't need the aggravation of learning anatomy on atypical cadavers.

Monday is garbage day in my neighborhood. I have managed to reduced the amount of stuff going to the landfill over the years. I recycle most cans (except cat food cans. I got a bad cut trying to wash one.)
Anyway, I'm pretty boring today. But I'm up to 74 posts!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Wishful thinking

I love to go places. Although I have traveled some over the years, it's still not enough. (Actually, I'm not sure how a person determines when you have traveled enough.) However, since I don't have any extra income to pay for such luxuries, I felt that I had traveled as much as I ever would.
Two movies I've watched recently have given my wanderlust a boost. I watched the Darjeeling Limited with Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman as three brothers on a train trip across the Middle East. This was followed by the film Bonneville starring Jessica Lange, Joan Allen and Kathy Bates. They are three friends who take off on a roadtrip to deliver the ashes of one's husband with the usual incidents along the way.

Now, I saw this picture on a fellow bloggers post and that old feeling came over me again. I want to get in a car with a few pals and hit the open road looking for adventure...or at least a good time...or even a swell restaurant. I'm dreaming about a devil-may-care time where money is no object and everyone you see envies you because you're having so much fun.
Well, maybe I wasted my Sunday afternoon but I enjoyed it. Hope your afternoon was enjoyable as well.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My drinking problem

Like most people, I am devoted to my creature comforts. It sours my day if I can't start it with a big mug of coffee and the Star Tribune newspaper. After that, I move on to my computer and check my emails and blogs. If I don't do these things, I feel disconnected and isolated.

On those rare occasions when I travel, I always take my pillow with me. I notice many other travelers do this too. I suspect it might be an unconscious throwback to the childhood "blankie".(Think about it--it's soft, warm and cuddly and smells like home.)

And then, there is what my kids call my "drinking problem". I am addicted to lime-flavored sparkling water. My favorite brand is Canada Dry in 16-oz bottles. (Not cans--it tastes wrong.) It's hard to find and I have gone far and wide in my pursuit of this delightful beverage. At one time it was carried by a local grocery store chain and I would buy all they had. It was restocked infrequently so I would often run out before they got a new supply. I begged the store managers (my dealers) to keep the stuff in stock, but they would give me false promises and run out again. I even went so far as to send the distributor a letter pointing out the folly of lost sales due to erratic delivery schedules. I never got any response. As a result, I would drive around to other stores all over the Cities and buy all they had in stock.

Then in a crushing blow, all the stores in that chain stopped carrying my brand. All of them. I checked! I was frantic. I need my water! Is that too much to ask?

I found another grocery store chain that carries it. It's at a higher price and stocked in smaller amounts, so I buy every 6-pack on the shelves. It's always on the bottom shelf and not easy to dig out, but at least it's restocked more frequently. Happily, I am hanging in there for now. The day may come when I'll have to move on to an inferior brand of lime-flavored sparkling water. I'm totally committed to my creature comforts (or is it called being "set in my ways") shudder.
(PS: Lindy's surgery went well and she's scheduled to be released tomorrow.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Salute to Lindy

Tomorrow my oldest granddaughter will undergo bariatric surgery in Fargo. She's 25 and has three little girls (see "The flip side of Spring"). The surgery was rescheduled from Wednesday to Saturday after the hospital was evacuated due to the flooding.

She's enthusiastic about getting it done and I don't blame her. If I would have had that option at her age, I'd have done it too. It's not her fault she's overweight because she inherited the same
big-belly genes that I did. My mom had a big belly as did all her sisters.

I can't help but wonder what is the evolutionary benefit to having a big belly? It makes for nice soft, bouncy mommies but it really screws up your Body Mass Index. The "apple" body shape is reputed to be the most likely to produce diabetes and heart trouble which makes for grandmas that don't live as long. Of course, in evolutionary terms, grandparents are largely expendable.

I guess I shouldn't complain though. At my 50th class reunion in September, I met a classmate who was awaiting her first grandchild. Not only do I have eight really neat grandkids, but three darling great-granddaughters.

I will now close and
count my blessings.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Stop the world, I want to get off

Time is just whizzing by lately. Tuesday was my oldest daughter's 50th birthday! That seems so insane--it was only a few years ago that I was fifty. It's time to pull back on the reins and stop the mad rush of time 'cause it's gonna wipe me out at this rate. (Sorry about the mixed metaphor.)

I spent much of Wednesday getting my taxes done. I'm getting enough money back that I can replace the washer and dryer--both purchased in 1990. The dryer drum goes ka-thunk, ka-thunk and the washer shrieks like a banshee in spin cycle. The poor cats and I have tolerated this long enough.

Today I was back over at the clinic sitting at the lobby desk (nothing untoward today). By the time I had lunch and read all my emails, blogs and facebook entries, I've started running out of steam (or whatever it is that propels my feeble brain).

April is going to be a hectic month. I won't bore you with the details. But, I'm oh-so grateful that I'm retired.

To all you ER fans, enjoy the finale tonight.