Saturday, January 30, 2010

Half a hug is better than none

I haven't expired from mercury poisoning as my last post might suggest. It's my right shoulder that has given out. After years and years of carrying heavy shoulder purses and book bags, not to mention kids and groceries, doing laundry and ironing, etc. it now hurts like heck. The orthopedist says it's an impingement.
The first line of treatment is Tylenol and ice bags to reduce inflammation. I'm trying that now but if it doesn't help, the next step is to get a cortisone injection in my shoulder. Since I've had a spinal epidural for my sciatica and also an injection in my hip for bursitis in the last six months, I really don't want any more steroids for a while.

I'm giving my poor shoulder a rest and that is so very hard to do!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'm doomed as doomed can be!

This is Snuffy the cat. He likes to perch on my desk while I'm on my computer. Also on my desk is a green banker's lamp with a CFL bulb in it. Snuffy, alpha male that he is, rubbed his face on the lamp and knocked it to the floor. The green glass shade is intact but the CFL bulb broke scattering mercury on the carpet.

This is no small matter! I would rather the lamp had broken. I had heard that broken CFL's required special cleanup so I closed the door and went on my housemate's computer in her room. The instructions were: wear a face mask so you don't inhale the mercury, take a glass jar with a metal lid to hold all the fragments, do not sweep or vacuum because that raises the mercury dust into the air, pick up as much dust as you can with duct tape, use damp paper towels for other cleanup, turn off heat or AC to the room and open a window, close off room for 8 hours... Other sites offered harsher restrictions.

As I sit here at my computer today, I feel like everything I touch is contaminated. I followed all the instructions but when I googled the effects of mercury on the human body, it was really scary. Most sites are vague about the what the harmful effects would be from exposure to a single broken light bulb stating it depends on amount you inhaled or absorbed through skin, your age (old is good), other health problems, etc.

Here is a partial list of possible symptoms: tremors, nervousness, moodiness, irritability, headaches, muscle atrophy, insomnia and the list goes on to mention kidney failure, respiratory failure and death.

It makes you doubly concerned for children who might accidentally break a bulb and fearfully clean it up without any awareness of the danger. Even unbroken CFL's must be disposed of as hazardous waste! So now, after all the years spent cleaning up lead in paints and asbestos in schools, we introduce this frightening new hazard?

Paraphrasing Ed Grimley (Martin Short's alter ego) "We are doomed as doomed can be, I must say!"

Sunday, January 24, 2010

An Exceptional Sunday afternnoon

The neighbor guy PT, has an adopted son, NK whose parentage is from Kenya. The boy's birth mother (Z, pictured above) wanted the boy, NK to have a traditional circumcision ceremony now that he was 13. The surgery was done at a hospital on Wednesday and the boy's mother arrived from Hawaii on Saturday and started cooking native Kenyan dishes.

The event was Sunday afternoon and what a great party it was! Shortly after my housemate and I arrived, some women friends of PT arrived with native-type drums. PT's family members showed up as well as other neighbors and friends. After we pigged out on the great foods (which I can't remember the name of) the sun was going down.

According to the African tradition, a number of boys would be introduced to manhood at the same time, so NK invited his best friend to go through the ceremony with him. The two boys were dressed in white and had jaguar-print capes tied around their necks. They were led carrying candles into the living room by the Kenyan-born mother as she danced and four of PT's friends expertly drummed. (Z's an entertainer in Hawaii so she drums, sings and dances as well as cooks.)

The two boys were then approached by each individual who gave them words of wisdom in the stead of the native elders. There was a wonderful group of people there--black, brown and white, gay and straight, young and old--that gave the boys words to live by. It was heart warming and educational and best of all, my world just got a little bigger.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Lily's Den

A lot of people are engaged in the "Lily-watch" as the hibernating bear has her cubs in a hidden den in the northwoods of Minnesota. She already had the first cub but is still in hard labor so another one is on its way. I stopped watching for a while because I couldn't stand to see her suffering. However, there are well over 49,000 other folks logged on currently. I can imagine that after the cubs arrive, the number of viewers will soar.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


There are still a lot of Christmas lights on at night around my neighborhood. I really appreciate it a lot.

All the soft snowy vistas are gone and we are left with big piles of dirty, clumpy snow. This ugliness will be around for months yet, so we need the bright cheeriness of those lights. Since it adds a lot to the electric bill of those folks, I'm sure they do it purposely--whether to lift their own spirits or that of others, it's a darn nice thing to do.

So, here's my quiet salute to all the good-hearted people who light up my world!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Me too!

Everybody is going crazy over Susan Boyle. Having only heard short bits of her songs on TV, I wasn't terribly impressed. Then I rode with a friend to a meeting as she played the new album on the way. I was blown away! I literally got goosebumps listening to her. So I took a gift card that I got for Christmas and bought an album of my own. I am one of 8 million people who have bought I Dreamed a Dream so far.

I think part of Boyle's enormous appeal may be that she is "living the dream" for so many of us. I am even more dowdy and far less talented than she is, but it gives me a personal thrill to see every success she attains.

So, for me and every other supporter of the amazing Susan Boyle, I say,

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sometimes they get it wrong!

The proper way to weigh yourself! Who knew?

All my life I've been told I'm fat. Well actually, I didn't know it until I was five. At that time, my family moved from California back to Minnesota and I met all my aunts and uncles for the first time. I have a distinct memory of that meeting as my mom's sisters oohed and aahed about what a fat little thing I was.

Over the years, I have struggled valiantly against obesity all the while being assailed by the media and medical people about how it would shorten my life. Here is a short list of the different things I used to lose weight--Ayds caramels, grapefruit diet, Hollywood bread diet, the drugs Dexadrine, Preludin, Ionimin, 3-day fasts, TOPS, Weight-Watchers, Atkins Diet, Rotation Diet, South Beach Diet and many others I can't recall. My doctor once gave me a booklet on the Heart Healthy Diet--this consisted of cutting out fats, but then moved on to eliminating salt and sugar from your food choices. I called it the "Gotcha Diet" because it was as if they decided that once got you trapped into their plan, they were going to take away everything!

Well, the upshot of all this is that they had me convinced I wouldn't live much past the age of 65. So when I retired, I set up my pension plan annuity to pay out over 5 years. I will get my final check next month.

The problem is that I'm nowhere near dead!

Not only will I suffer the loss of that income, but SS benefits didn't increase this year. At the same time, other expenses are increasing. I am in deep doodles!

I know I'm a dunderhead for not planning better. I should have been less trustful of the medical establishment/media and believed in my Norwegian hardiness more. I will manage, but just be forewarned, when they tell you you're probably going to die, don't believe them!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wanted: Psychic help!

I am going nuts looking for something! This is my last resort and I'm not kidding!

Back in December when I set about decorating for Christmas, I cleared away stuff to make room for the seasonal doodads. I had three framed pictures of my great-granddaughters on the bookcase in the corner. I stacked them up and put them all away until after Christmas. My granddaughter (their mom) gave me three new pictures of the girls for Christmas, but when I went to find the old framed pictures, I couldn't find them. Not anywhere!

I have now been looking everywhere for two weeks with increasing frustration. (I even resorted to cleaning out the catch-all linen closet.) I've looked in every logical place and every illogical place. I've checked in boxes, under stuff, on top of stuff, behind stuff, in drawers, in closets...

Some people have the innate ability to focus their energy on a problem and have the answer revealed to them. I am not that person.

If you have any ideas on where my three pictures are, please let me know. I am really desperate!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I guess I'm gonna be staying here in the Homeland

My passport expired a year ago. I felt really bad about it--the fact that I no longer had the option to just fly off to London at a moment's notice. But, I was being practical; if I can't afford to renew my passport, chances of financing a trip abroad are nil.

After all the recent upheaval in the airline business, I'm now feeling much less deprived. Why would anyone want to get on an overseas flight if they didn't absolutely have to? In addition to being treated like a bus passenger (plus paying extra for every amenity including luggage), you are faced with hours of security screening and personal intrusions. Even after all that, there is still the threat of terrorists! You really "gotta wanna" get someplace to do all that.

It makes Homeland seem like the place to be safe and secure, doesn't it?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sarah Palin tells God what His plan is?

I really admire those folks who manage to post every day. Sometimes I just need to take a break--not only from posting but from everything! I didn't feel too hot on Saturday so I laid around and then yesterday, I was just really lazy. The house is a dreadful mess, but right now, I'm ready to expend my energy on a snarky post!

This morning's Strib had a brief article about an interview with Palin conducted by Steve Schmidt. He was interviewed on 60 Minutes regarding his upcoming book about the 2008 presidential campaign. During his interview, Schmidt recounted asking Palin about her "serenity" in the face of becoming famous world-wide when McCain asked her to join the ticket. She told him, "It's God's plan!".

OK! We all know she is smug and narcissistic (not to mention balmy) but she claims to have a pipeline to God? He actually shares His plans with her while she sits and observes Russia from her house?

I have an old saying on the wall above my computer that reads:
"Do you know how to make God laugh?...Tell Him your plans!"

So while God is laughing at the rest of us, He and Sarah Palin are pals sharing plans. I'm sorry, but this just really riles me up!

Now that I got that off my chest, I gotta go clean my messy house.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Failing Geography

I recently got a terrific offer from National Geographic Magazine and subscribed for a year. Along with my first issue, I got a new edition of the world map. I have been content to live with my preconceived notions about geography for most of my life. As a result, this new map showed that I'm really out of it!

There are an amazing number of things that I didn't know, had forgotten or was incredibly confused about:
  • The largest city in the world is now Tokyo, followed by Mexico City. NYC is only 3rd.
  • Bombay is now Mombai (4th) and Calcutta is now Kolkata (11th).

  • Burma is now Myanmar (Myanmar-Shave just doesn't have the same ring, does it?)

  • St Paul Mn is north of Toronto, Ontario.

  • Peru is north of Chile.

  • There are a whole bunch of "Stans" where part of the USSR used to be, but Russia is still a huge country.
    • I don't want to bore you with my ignorance, but keeping up with the global changes can be mind-bloggling. I don't know how many erroneous preconceptions I still hold in my head, so thank goodness for the map makers.

      Thursday, January 7, 2010

      Plant problems

      A neighbor gave me a tiny plant when she moved away a year ago. I put it out on the patio to fend for itself over the summer and when I brought it in, it happily began producing buds. In December, it finally bloomed with lovely salmon-tinged yellow petals. It looks good and healthy in this picture.

      Since then, the plant has become covered with a white fungus and is dying back. It's still producing a few blossoms but it looks awful. I don't know what kind of plant it is or if this is typical behavior. Does anybody know what's going on with it?

      I don't have much of a green thumb but I'm nowhere near as bad as my mother was. It was always a family joke that if we gave her a plant for Easter it would be dead by Mother's Day.

      Mom just loved Gloxinias. They had big showy pink or purple blossoms and sometimes she'd buy one for herself at the grocery store. Now the thing she loved about Gloxinias is that after they blossom, the plant dies back. But, if you put it away to "rest", you can restart it to grow and bloom again. As a result, she would store them in her basement but then, forget all about them. There were dried up husks of old Gloxinias in colorful foil-wrapped pots scattered everywhere. She always meant well...

      I once gave her a paperback book called, "The Power of Prayer over Plants". She was not amused. We still chuckle over those loving memories of her.

      Wednesday, January 6, 2010

      After Christmas cleanup

      It's time to put away my little Christmas tree and take down the decorations for another year. All my Garfields go into pillow cases and then into a plastic bin to "rest".

      It always contributes to the post-holiday letdown to take down all the festive decor and return to the old everyday look. Boy, do the winter blahs start to set in then!

      Then there's the pile of Christmas cards to go through. It's always a conundrum on whether to toss them or save them. Should I make a list of who sent cards to me or is that petty? What should I do about those who I got a card from but didn't send a card to? How do I deal with the guilt of of having overlooked them? (I now realize, when you don't send cards to anyone, you don't have to worry about that.) I got really beautiful cards from some people and that makes me feel like a slacker for sending boxed Dollar Tree store cards. Some folks wrote nice things in their cards, I didn't.

      Well, there's always next year!

      Tuesday, January 5, 2010

      Ms Sparrow gets grumpy

      Every weight loss plan in the country is running ads to entice all of us fatties to get with it and LOSE WEIGHT in the New Year! This is called, "Making hay while the sun shines".

      Some of the ads are nonsense but some of them are really annoying. The one that bugs me the most is this one with the sneering Jillian, the "dominatrix" of the TV show, The Biggest Loser. She sells a line of weight loss products and workout DVDs in addition to her role on the TV show where she bullies and snarls at the contestants as they are forced to exercize to the point of exhaustion.

      Apparently there must be a large (pardon the pun) market for this hard-hitting/tough-love type of weight management but I find it condescending. She maintains an attitide of smug superiority while she flaunts her abs.

      I'm sorry, but it just makes me want to smack her!

      Monday, January 4, 2010

      Wanted: Reliable Muse

      I find it amazing that every day after I have read everybody else's blogs and go to my own, I don't have a single thought in my head. I often resort to MyPictures and try to find something to stimulate my Muse--you remember her?

      She's the ditzy airhead who likes to mess with me. She gets most productive when I'm lying in bed at night trying to get to sleep or else driving to an appointment. But, when I sit down at the computer with fingers poised over the keys...nothing!

      How do you keep blogging regularly without boring yourself? I'd really like to know!

      Friday, January 1, 2010

      2009 is gone-gone-gone!

      Join us in our Happy Dance!

      I took the girls to Cub Foods yesterday for a little shopping. We had already gone through a gallon of chocolate milk and a gallon of white milk this week. We got a few frozen pizzas and some pop for New Years Eve.

      The oldest girl insisted we had to have some horns for the party. After traipsing all over the store, we finally found them up by the cash registers (DUH!). The package of four "tooters" was $1.99. So, after we got home, we baked some New Year's Eve cookies (peanut butter with chocolate chips). The girls sat at the dining room table and frosted them and then covered them with colored sprinkles (the best part!)

      We invited a neighbor and his son to come over and he brought a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne. Around 8:30, we had our champagne toasts and the girls really got into that! I had brought out my collection of small jelly glasses with dinosaurs and muppets on them. When the the girls discovered that clinking glasses was fun, everybody had to be toasted individually by every other person. After the toasts were finally done, they and the neighbors all went out in front and made a racket. But since the wind chill was 20 below, that didn't last very long.

      It was a full evening and the girls didn't get to bed til 10:30. They woke up as usual around 8:00--the youngest first. She was still in her jammies when she asked me if they could go in front and blow their horns again.

      I like that kid's attitude!