Monday, November 30, 2009

I love "Ballard Street"

The Star Tribune stopped carrying the daily Ballard Street cartoon to my great disappointment. It's always full of oddball whimsy and social misfits. I'm trying to get the cartoons emailed to me daily so I can get my Amerongen "fix".

We once had a dog who was always struggling to be the pack leader. Her name was Kippy and she was a small black mutt of terrier descent with brown eyebrows. Whenever we were out walking she had to be in front, sometimes straining so hard on her leash she'd choke and cough.

Once when we were camping in the woods, the whole bunch of us were walking down a gravel road surrounded by forest. Because of the remote location, we let Kippy and our male spaniel Pepper off the leash. As we strolled along, Kippy was happily leading the pack when I spotted a porcupine on the road ahead. The dogs hadn't seen it yet but I knew when they did, they would take after it. Porcupines are slow and dumb but they can do a lot of damage to an unsuspecting attacker.

I told everyone to turn around quickly and we started back the other way. Kippy, desperate to lead the pack, raced back to get ahead of us and good old Pepper followed. Disaster averted.

Kippy and Pepper are long gone now, but they were family members for many years. We still talk about them fondly from time to time.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

No yolk?

I got a notion to make some homemade vanilla pudding (I don't have a pudding mix on hand right now) because I have some nice bananas plus an abundance of milk in the fridge. A banana cream pie would be so nice for Sunday supper.

So, I go online to look for vanilla pudding recipes. I find lots of them but they're just milk, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla. That confuses me because I thought it had to have egg yolks in it. Or, is that just lemon pudding?

Well, I'm going to give the yolk-less vanilla pudding recipe a try and hope it's not too bland.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

On Winter, Wool and being someone's World

I saved this photo off of an email some time ago because it's so sweet and charming. It must have been taken back in the forties since the kids are wearing woolen leggings. The little girl's haircut also looks like that era or even earlier.

I remember wearing leggings to grade school in the winter. They were held up with an elastic garter belt. For some reason, little girls had to wear dresses to school even in Minnesota's bitter weather. (Thankfully, styles became more practical in the fifties.) We wore rubber overshoes instead of nice warm boots so our feet got cold in a hurry.

The worst thing for me was that all the warm clothes--coats, sweaters, mittens and scarves--were made out of wool. I was allergic to wool and broke out in an itchy rash whenever it came in contact with my skin. We are so lucky to have all the warm, non-allergenic winter wear we now have.

The nicest thing about the above picture, however, is the lovely sentiment. Everybody is the world to somebody! That is something to warm your heart on a cold winter day.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Adding to my list of "How Comes"

OK, I've been sweet and thankful long enough. It's time for a good rant!

How come I can never do a dinner where everything turns out right? It seems I always have to apologize for something that isn't as good as it should have been. This time, it was the pumpkin pies; I confused the one-cup measure for the half-cup measure and added twice as much sugar as I should have. The pies still tasted OK, but I made a mistake and it bugs me.

And then, how come some things will spill no matter how careful you are? Every time I put sugar in the sugar bowl, I scoop it out ever so carefully but still have to wipe up spilled sugar on the cupboard. It's the same when I scoop coffee from the can into the cannister. There's always some that spills and has to be wiped up.

Maybe it's the frustration of having inanimate objects defy me, or I'm just petty. Maybe I'm complaining about trivial things to avoid bigger things.

Or maybe, I'm simply crabby today.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Finally, it's Thanksgiving!

Now I'm off to make the stuffing, peel potatoes, get the sweet potatoes ready and run the dishwasher.
Enjoy your day, everybody!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Daughter Number Three

This is my youngest daughter. She may appear thin and frail but you couldn't be more wrong.
She was a farm wife for many years and milked a herd of cows while raising three boys and dealing with a very "troubled" husband.

She handled her stress by over-eating and gained an enormous amount of weight. When the marriage became intolerable, she finally got a divorce and moved to a small town where she struggled to support her boys.

However, with her great strength and courage, she has worked her way up in her profession. She is a respected member of the community. Her sons are all grown now, she has remarried and they own a home. Along the way, she shed way over one hundred pounds.

So, our family is very proud of her and everything she has accomplished!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanks to the members of my writer's group

I belong to several writer's groups but I have been with this jovial bunch the longest. They are all accomplished writers and I am so proud to be associated with them.

Their helpful critques keep me from making the stupid mistakes that I sometimes make when writing my blog, for instance: using the same word too many times in a paragraph or the bad habit of using two adjectives to describe things (Stephen King calls it the Noah Syndrome).

So, I'm still learning and growing in some respects. That's what life is all about!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Whoops! I blew it again.

(This is the Metrodome; it is an ugly temporary-looking structure that I liken to a inverted Tupperware bowl plunked down amidst crystal goblets.)

I missed posting yesterday but had a pretty good reason. My granddaughter and her husband traveled to the Twin Cities from their home on the other side of the state for a Vikings football game at the Metrodome.

Their three little girls stayed with me while they were gone. What would have been a boring Sunday turned into a whirlwind of activity. They only stayed until the game was over but it's always a treat to see the family.

However, I've posted before about my thankfulness for family so I have to choose two other things I'm thankful for. The first is I am grateful that I live in Minnesota--not to brag, but Minnesota is consistently at the top of polls rating states for health, happiness, etc. We always are the state with the highest voter turnout at elections. And, just last Tuesday, Minnesota ranked highest in contributions for the "Give to the Max Day".

I am ever-so-thankful that I live in the USA with separation of church and state. Neither the federal nor state governments can dictate what I can wear, or what I must eat, or where I can go --or who with. Well, the list would go on and on! I just love my freedom to be me.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Things that make me laugh

I'm thankful for all the things that make me laugh--the movies, TV shows, cartoons, comedians,and spontaneous things that crack me up and bring joy to my day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A portrait of my second oldest daughter

This is my second-oldest daughter (shown with her son and a brother-in-law). I was distressed to find I don't have a lot of pictures of her but that's because she is the one who's always taking the pictures at family functions.

She actually majored in photography for a time but then decided to go into nursing. She has been an RN at a VA hospital for 25 years now. It's a career that really suits her nurturing personality. (Before she had kids, she was in the habit of buying stressed plants and restoring them to hardiness.) Her family always has a wide variety of well-loved pets--including snakes and mice, birds, cats and dogs.

She suffered breast cancer in 2003 but took control of the situation with her usual calm reasoning. She opted to have a double mastectomy to prevent any recurrence. It was a long struggle that she and her family survived with grace and thankfulness. She is past her 5-year milestone and in good health. Her doctor credits her former good health habits with her successful recovery.

We are so thankful to have her in our family. With her bubbly personality and warmth, she is always a joy to be around. Yet, she is a gentle and wise companion to everyone she meets.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thank goodness for kitties!

These are my four kitties whom I feed every morning and get to pet every day. On top is Snuffy, the oldest (laying down) and Gracie, longhair Tortie and the youngest (sitting up). They are in the heated cat bed the sits on a table in front of the window overlooking the wooded lot next door. That bed gets a lot of traffic!

The next picture down is Sunny, our big boy, in a position he often rests in. He also lays on his back with all four paws in the air. When Sunny gets in the cat bed, he takes up all the room. We sometimes find poor Snuffy with just his head sticking out from under Sunny but never the worse for wear. I guess he stays nice and warm that way.

Next one down is Tweedy, a shorthair Tortie. She's always the last to get a turn in the cat bed,but she isn't as keen about bird and squirrel-watching.

They all have their distinctive personalties and just a joy to have around. And best of all, they make me laugh every day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Good things come in trees

I blew it yesterday and didn't post, so now I have to give two things I'm thankful for today. Well, I'm equal to the task. My motto is:

"When you feed the birds and squirrels, you have friends in high places."

I just love the variety of birds and wildlife surrounding me. It not only enriches my life but greatly enhances the lives of my four house-bound kitties.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A salute to Sparrow Chic

You may have noticed that I often get glowing comments from my biggest fan Sparrow Chic. Well, she is my oldest daughter and an incredibly loving person.

This picture was taken at her 50th birthday party earlier this year. In those fifty years, she has been the consummate caretaker for everyone she knows. If anyone needs a friend, assistance or a shoulder to cry on, she is always there for strength and support.

She has helped family members through stressful times and then gracefully steps back when the need is gone. She continues to maintain close relationships with many friends and relatives. She sometimes functions as the "information hub" for family members spread around the state. She loves to tell us how lucky we are to have such a close family because she knows so many people who don't get along with theirs. Yet, in many ways, she is the glue who makes our close family a reality.

She is a champion organizer as well, planning events for church, Boy Scouts, Sunday School, Youth Group and our family get-togethers. Her sisters sometimes get a chuckle out of her tendencies to be a "mother hen".

We are thankful to have her in our family and I am very proud of my little Sparrow Chic!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Things that make me go "wow"!

Hardly a week goes by that something doesn't "knock my socks off". Living my simple life in the middle of the continent doesn't isolate me from all the remarkable things our planet has to offer.

There is so much beauty to be discovered and so much knowledge to be gained. Sometimes I wish I could have been Jane Goodall or Dian Fossey. They accomplished so much that I am in utter awe of them.

I am so grateful for all the explorers, anthropologists, paleontologists, scholars and scientists of every ilk for expanding our knowledge of our fascinating world.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thinking and thanking

I'm thankful for all the wonderful photos and illustrations available online. (I find this one particularly appealing.) I love to browse through Google Images or Yahoo Image Search and all the other sites that offer pictures of every description.

So, even though I'll never travel to Ireland, I can still enjoy its beauty.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I am not in pain

This is a biggie in things to be thankful for. There have been periods in my life when I had a lot of pain from my bad hip joints and sciatica. However, because of the blessings of modern medicine, I've had both hip joints replaced and I can get occasional epidural steroid injections to relieve the sciatica.

Since I retired, I no longer get stress headaches. I used to come home from work and take a nap to get through the rest of the day. I now sleep as late as I want (barring hungry kitties waking me for breakfast) and I stay up as late as I want. I can get out to go places and do things and I love it.

My heart goes out to all those with chronic pain. I know how pain colors everything in your life and takes away the joy. It takes away your purpose and feelings of self-worth, and it even haunts you for a long time after it has gone.

So, I am enjoying this pain-free period of my life while it lasts, because nothing lasts forever.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm thankful for student loans

I am so thankful for the student loan and grant programs! If they didn't exist, I could never have gotten a degree or paid for my four kids to get post-secondary education. (My second-oldest daughter and I graduated from college just one week apart.)

Imagine where our country would be if only those students with wealthy parents could get a college education. We'd be living in an elitist society where blue-blood idiots would be making the decisions how our society should be run.

Thankfully, democracy reigns and we can all be as educated or as ignorant as we want to be! Now that's what I call Freedom!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Big Thank You

Today is the day when we give thanks for the men and women in the armed forces.

More than that, we give thanks to them!

We can never even begin to know how much they have enriched our freedoms and our lives. And, we can never truly know what the cost was to them and their loved ones.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Welcome to Culver's

Yesterday we ventured up Rice Street to go shopping at the Dollar Tree Store. (There's always something we need at Dollar Tree.)

When we got to the corner where we turn into the strip mall, there was a brand new Culver's restaurant fully erected in just the last several weeks. I let out a whoop for joy! I just love Culver's and always had to go a ways to find one. Now there's one just a mile or so away.

This is a mixed blessing, of course. Culver's was special because it was an occasional thing. Now that it's close to home, maybe it will become no more special than a McDonald's (the bottom of the heap when it comes to eating out). Since I rarely go out to eat, I guess there's little danger that I'll get jaded.

I am pleased and thankful to have one nearby. The food is good and inexpensive and it's a great place to take grandkids. What more can one ask for?

Monday, November 9, 2009

TGIM (Thank God It's Monday)

When I first retired, I really enjoyed the new freedom to go out shopping during weekdays. It was a new experience. I was surprised that there were all kinds of old people out and about during the day. They were the folks I never saw when I was forced to do my shopping on the weekends. People who have day jobs crowd the stores to do their shopping on the weekends so retired folks like to wait till the weekdays.

Now I also run errands and make appointments on weekdays--always being careful to schedule things after the morning rush. According to local traffic authorities, this has resulted in a second mini-morning rush as all the other oldsters and I head out to do our errands.

As a result of this, I tend to hole up on the weekends avoiding movie theaters and stores of all kinds. So, come Monday, I am rarin' to go!

Woohoo! It's Monday!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I'm so thankful that I'm retired!

I tried really hard to get a picture from My Adobe Photostarter Catalog into My Pictures. The picture was taken at my retirement party several years ago. It shows my happy face above my big sheet cake covered with smiley faces. It really wanted to show it off because that was a truly happy day in my life. (I was leaving a very stressful job.)

Anyway, after two hours I gave up trying to get that darn picture posted on my blog. What bugs me is that I have been able to transfer photos in the past but can't remember how I did it.

Being retired means that I don't have to worry about losing my job, ever. Sure--I live on a fixed income, but it's a steady income. I may not be living in luxury but I'm not in danger of losing my home or having to get groceries at the food shelf. Even better, I am in a position to help others who are in tough circumstances. My heart aches for everyone who is out of a job and hurting. Sadly, I know so many folks who are in that situation.

I don't know what the future will hold but I can breathe easy for now. I am thankful for that.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Alfred E Newman and my boy

Back in the seventies, my son (the one pictured on the right) was having great difficulty learning to read. The school placed him in a special class to increase his skills but the poor kid still struggled. However, he always pestered me to buy him every new issue of Mad Magazine when it came out.

In a moment of insight, I made a deal with him. I told him I'd order a subscription to the magazine for him if he promised to read every word.

Well, he hasn't stopped reading since. He reads cereal boxes and instruction manuals, catalogs and movie reviews--literally everything he gets his hands on. As a result he can talk at length on almost any subject.

In addition, he has innate mechanical ability. I know he was born with it because of an incident when he was just four years old. His dad had taken this thing out of the car and removed the old
brushes that were worn to a nubbin. He had disassembled the thing on the driveway in front of the garage and laid the old brushes aside. The boy and I came outside to watch. We sat down by Dad and the little fella looked it over, took the new brushes (pictured above) out of the box, picked up a screwdriver and began installing them on the posts where they belonged.

I was totally blown away! To this day I find it utterly amazing.

Needless to say, with that talent and intellect, he can fix anything. He now owns a violin shop where he restores and rebuilds fine old violins and other stringed instruments.

Thanks to Alfred E Newman and talent, my boy has grown up to be a great guy and respected craftsman. I am thankful that he is my son!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Recycling is great for us all

St Paul now has a recycling company that sorts everything. All we have to do is separate the paper from everything else. The glass, plastic and cans all go into the same container. According to the Star Tribune, recycling has greatly increased under this new policy.

I'm so thankful that I no longer have to feel guilty about adding to the stuff going into landfills. I'm thankful that we are becoming more enlightened about our trash and castoffs. I'm also glad that it has added dignity to jobs of the folks who handle the collection of trash and recyclables.

This is just a Win-Win-Win for everybody!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Long live the Star Tribune!

I have been reading the Minneapolis Tribune since I was a kid--that's probably 60 years. Admittedly, it was only the Sunday funnies at first but I progressed to the news and editorials over time.

The Star and the Tribune consolidated many years ago and became one newspaper that's delivered statewide and even into Wisconsin. Like most other papers, it has fallen on hard times and struggles to keep publishing. However, they recently emerged from bankruptcy and seem to be doing OK.

I would really suffer the loss if they ceased publication. The morning paper is such an important part of my day. The news that I get from TV and online could not begin to fill the void.

So, again I say, may the Star Tribune live long and prosper!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thinking about Thankfulness

These are my three little great-granddaughters in a pile of leaves. They live 200 miles away but thankfully, I get to see them fairly often.

It's such a delight when they come to visit and they all run and tumble through the door giggling as they rush to give hugs.

Wow! I am so blessed!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I need trees!

Years ago when I moved to the Twin Cities, I lived in a highrise apartment building next to the freeway. It was surrounded by a huge parking lot. The area was full of other buildings surrounded by parking lots.

In order to see trees, I would have to peer out the 18th story window at the trees blocks away on the other side of the freeway. I lived in that place for the first year I was in college. It was incredibly stressful being in such an alien environment. No trees, no greenery, no beauty to embrace the senses.

After that experience, I realized that trees are vital to my mental health and well-being.

I am so grateful that I now live in a place where I am literally surrounded by trees! The area was a gravel pit in the early 20th century. Many years later, my building was erected at the base of the slope thus created. The slope rises over 100 feet and is covered with mature trees for its full length of half a mile. (The area is called Hidden Valley.) In addition, there is a wooded lot on the other side of the building outside my bedroom window.

These wonderful trees provide joy and beauty in every season. The provide peace, quiet, shade and oxygen. So, I find myself cuddled in the embrace of hundreds of trees. And I absolutely love it!

Monday, November 2, 2009

25 Things I'm thankful for

Several fellow bloggers have challenged me to blogging about something I'm thankful for every day until Thanksgiving. At first thought, that seemed like it would easy. But then, I realized it would be hard to avoid being redundant. Plus, it will be really hard not to be boring or schmaltzy.

Well, so be it!

I worked for 17 years for a large insurance company before I retired. The job had it's ups and downs, but the thing I'm most grateful for is all the computer training I received. If I hadn't had the experience and confidence gained from that, I never would have become a blogger.

It's hard to conceive of life without my computer! Each morning I get up, feed the four cats, make coffee, read the newspaper and then sign on to my computer. That's when my day really begins. I check my emails, my Facebook page and then, my blog. I read all the updated blogs and worry a little over those that haven't been updated for a while.

I spend my morning at my computer leaving comments on the delightful blogs I follow and then writing my own blog. If I'm feeling down, I might just post something silly or blow it off altogether. My confidence comes and goes and so does the quality of my posts. But I tell myself there's nothing wrong with being eclectic or eccentric!

Fellow bloggers understand that, and that's why I love them!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Toddler Property Laws

You may have seen these before, but they are so laughably accurate it makes me smile.

1) If I like it, it's mine.
2) If it's in my hand, it's mine.
3) If I can take it from you, it's mine.
4) If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
5) If it's mine, it must never appear in any way to be yours.
6) If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7) If it looks like mine, it's mine.
8) If I saw it first, it's mine.
9) If you play with it and put it down, it's mine.
10) If it's broken, it's yours.