Thursday, December 30, 2004

Weekend Assingment #41 Pet Resolutions

Weekend Assignmet #41: Make a new year's resolution... for your pet. If you have more than one pet, of course, feel free to make resolutions for any or all of them.

This shall be short and sweet.  Thank you, John.  This is perfect for the New Year's weekend assignment.  But then, you knew that!

We just welcomed a little kitty into our home five days ago.  His resolution for the new year will be that he will develop such a craving desire and love for dry cat food that he'll forget that nasty cat food in cans even exists.  Right.  And now I'd like to interest you in a bridge I have for sale!!!

Extra Credit: Imagine what your pet would make as a resolution for you.

My cat's resolution would be that we never stop thinking that having him share our bed is the nearest thing to heaven on Earth that we could possibly imagine and nothing could make us change our minds.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Gift Part Two

Many years before the dogs came into our lives, we adopted a kitten from an animal shelter. This was when we lived in a ramshackle little house out in the country that was over run with wildlife. Hence, the need to bring a cat into our family, appropriately named Necessity. She proved to be a wonderful cat and lived with us until the ripe old age of 17. I wrote a little story about her a while back. We didn't rush out immediately to get another kitty because Lucy did not get along with cats at all!

As I stated at the beginning of this story, we've been pet-less for about two years but have been talking on and off lately about bringing a pet into the family once again. A kitten, definitely a kitten but a specific kind this time around. A Siamese cross-breed found his way to our door one day around Thanksgiving about 16 years ago and visited for a short time. He was a great cat, full of personality, and stayed with us until his owner spotted him in the front yard one day and informed us that this was his cat. The cat seemed to know the man and went with him willingly enough. There was nothing we could do. This fluffy creature left a very deep impression with my husband who bonded and fell in love with this cat in no time at all. I have to admit he was a pretty cool kitty! This event planted the seed that the next cat we get should be of the Siamese persuasion.

Personally, I don't care for purebred Siamese cats. I don't like their lean and hungry look, their cross-eyed appearance or their yowl. I do like the coloring of a seal point Siamese, the beautiful eyes, the short hair. For a long time I've been searching the classifieds for a kitten listed as a cross Siamese. Pure bred kittens cost a fortune and we're not in a position to shell out $300 to $400 for one. I have always felt the place from which to acquire a pet is an animal shelter and, trust me, they're not abounding with Siamese-type kittens.

Sometimes circumstances fall into place, the planets align themselves and Jupiter is in Mars or something like that. My husband has the misfortune to have been born two days after Christmas. His birthday has been lost in the shuffle of the holidays all his life. My son-in-law called me the other day to share the fact that his brother's cat had had kittens recently and, wonder of wonders, they were half Siamese. He and my daughter wondered if one of these would be a nice birthday gift for Dad. At this stage of my life I'm old enough to recognize a golden opportunity when I'm presented with one. They wanted to keep it a surprise but decided I should come along to check out the goods. It didn't take me long to see that one particular kitten was exactly what we were looking for and he had a major side benefit going for him--he'd already been neutered. Yes!

I wrestled with the firm knowledge that it's not a good idea to surprise anyone (no matter how well you know them) with an animal and my gut feeling that this was too good an opportunity to let slip by and everything would be okay. My gut feeling (which I've also learned to trust over the years) won and we gathered up this gorgeous feline into a carrier box and embarked on the anixiety-filled journey home, both the kitten's and mine. I'm happy to say the gamble to surprise Dad with a kitty for his birthday was a huge success and now we're getting acquainted with each other. I think we're in for a long, happy relationship. Oh, and his name? Finnegan. What else would an Irishman name his Siamese cat?

Our first little cat looked something like this:

    innocent baby tabby cat

The newest member of the family looks something like this:

  siamese cat licking

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Gift Part One

We haven't had an animal in the house for almost two years. The last pet we had was a dog that belonged to my Mother. She had two dogs and there was no way my Dad could deal with them after she died so my husband and I decided to take one of them to love as our own. Enter Lucy, a Shepherd-Lab mix, and while not the sharpest knife in the drawer, we came to love her dearly. We had her for a little over eight years before she became so debilitated that the kindest thing to do was to have her gently, peacefully put down. I couldn't handle arranging and carrying this out so my daughter came to my rescue and took care of everything. This was doubly difficult for me because not only had I grown to love the dog, she was my living legacy from my Mother. I regarded her as a very close, furry connection.

Before the advent of Lucy, my daughter brought home a miniscule, rat-like dog that she found sitting alongside a bridge one day. I suppose it was some kind of Chihuahua, a breed I find most unattractive. We're big dog people but my daughter worked on me long enough and I, in turn, on my husband to wear him down into agreeing this animal could stay. Big mistake! This little dog stank--even after a thorough bath--and crapped and peed all over the house. This was indeed the dog that refused to be housebroken despite all my efforts. When Lucy came on the scene, the two dogs were not compatible so we took the little dog to the animal shelter. I felt bad about this but apparently the timing was right. This occurred a few weeks before Christmas and someone adopted the little dog almost immediately.

The common thread between these two dogs was that we did not choose them; they were thrust upon us. My dear, patient husband stated that the next animal to share our home would be one that he chose, with my input as well.

Lucy looked something like this:

The little rat-dog looked something like this:

My daughter named this tiny animal "Siva" which we found quite amusing as this is the name of the Hindu god of destruction and reproduction.  Yeah, right!


Saturday, December 18, 2004

Weekend Assignment #39 Disappointing Toys

Weekend Assignment #39: Tell us about the toy you had to have for the holidays when you were a kid, only to find out it was kinda disappointing once you had it.

The "must- have" toy of my early childhood was a "Little Red Spinning Wheel". I had to have this marvelous item. I remember telling everyone that if I received this gift, I would use it and cherish it forever. I even remember the catchy little jingle that accompanied the TV ads for it: "Spin and loop and then you pull", sung to the tune of "Skip to My Lou".

Well, Santa came through and granted me my wish. I was seven or eight years old that Christmas. The disappointment began to set in when I realized that my little red spinning wheel was nothing more than a new spin (!) on an old fashioned toy; namely, a spool into which four nails, evenly spaced, are driven. Yarn is then looped around the nails in such a manner to pull a resulting braided strand down through the hole. This, in turn, could be made into pot holders, placemats, etc.; whatever one's creative little mind could fashion this long braid into.

I spun, I looped and I pulled but it wasn't anywhere near as exciting as I had anticipated. I don't even think the spinning wheel part had anything to do with the braiding process. This was probably my first introduction to the fact that things are not always what they appear to be. It happens to us all at some point in our innocent childhood.

Here is a picture of this item in all its glory. Wouldn't you be enchanted with this if you were a little girl?

Religion vs. Tradition: Why Do We Have to Fight About It?

The current controversy reported in the news recently about prohibiting Christmas carols, Christmas programs in schools or barring the inclusion of any religious reference in a holiday parade disturbs me a great deal. Some say these performances should be stopped because they may be "offensive" to some. Well, I am offended at the very idea that these things should be discontinued.

Whatever happened to our freedom of speech, expression and religion? In these days when the gap of separation between church and state appears to be narrowing in a frightening manner, these suggestions are puzzling.  The United States of America has always been comprised of a "melting pot" populace.  This means different ideas, customs, religions, etc. are going on all the time. When did our tolerance of these differences disappear? Was it never there in the first place?

The performance of Christmas-themed concerts and programs are often as much of a traditional and nostalgic nature as a testament to faith. Many people singing these carols are singing purely for the joy and love of the music; they've been hearing and singing these songs since the beginning of their memories. This is what we do at Christmastime. I'm so tired of being treated as the minority we seem to be fast becoming. I am the product of a protestant-based upbringing and I look forward to and treat Christmas as a time to celebrate even more joyously the love of my family, immediate and extended. Much of my so-called faith stems from the love and strength I receive from them. God's light and lessons shine down on us in a multitude of ways.

It will be a dark day in this country if an edict comes down from "those men in Washington" declaring Christmas carols and any and all references to Jesus' birth must be confined to the inside of churches. I'm no religious fanatic, believe me, but there's something very wrong here. No one should be forced to participate in these programs but they shouldn't be taken away from those of us who enjoy them.







Saturday, December 11, 2004

Christmas Eve, Revisited

When I was growing up, it wasn’t until the day before Christmas that my parents put up the tree. This was quite an undertaking and it wasn’t until I grew up that I realized how difficult this job must have been every year. They never used the conventional tree stand we see everywhere today. For all I know, this helpful item hadn’t yet been invented and marketed in the mid 1950’s through the ‘60’s--the Christmas years of my childhood memories. The tree, which had been purchased up to a week beforehand, was stored safely and lovingly outside, propped up in some protected corner of the house. It often acquired a sprinkling of snow which helped keep it happy and fresh.

When the time came to set up the tree, my mother brought forth a sturdy bucket in which it was set and gravel was poured in and around it. We had a long gravel driveway but surely this wasn’t the source of the stuff year after year. We’d have had no driveway left in a few years so where did this mysterious gravel come from? I honestly don’t know. Two thin lines of twine were attached to the upper part of the trunk and radiated out and attached to nails or screws fastened into the walls to help hold the tree straight and steady. We always had a good-sized dog around with an energetic tail so it was imperative that the tree was well secured. Once the tree was up, my dad proceeded to take on that time-honored chore of all dads and put the lights on; lights with bulbs bigger than nightlight bulbs and those fanciful, wonderful "bubble lights".

The tree was now ready to be decorated and my mother took over. The privilege of helping her with this pleasant task was not granted until one reached the age of some semblance of knowledge of symmetry in the placement of ornaments; maybe somewhere around eight years old? All my siblings had already arrived at this point when I was born. Here was a classic example of desperately trying to catch up with the rest of my family, an on-going effort throughout my youth. Once the tree was finished, mother swirled a white sheet around the base of the tree. Not even one present was visible but it was all ready for the much anticipated, annual visit from Santa Claus. For many years I had a stuffed white cat that I left in front of the tree before I went to bed. It was always moved to the back the next morning and my childish reasoning was certain only Santa could’ve moved it. This fact, even more so than the appearance ofgifts, was concrete evidence that the jolly old elf had actually visited my house.

I remember sitting on the sidelines watching the gradual, magical transformation of the tree take place before my eyes. Then, at some point late in the afternoon, I was hustled off to my bedroom for a nap. Why? Our whole family went to the late night Christmas eve church service at All Saints Episcopal Church and no one wanted the company of a tired, cranky child. This was the one time in the whole year I loved going to church. I knew that instead of some long, boring sermon and even more boring Sunday School, there was going to be the best kind of singing in my young opinion, the singing of Christmas carols and lots of them! Our church was always beautifully decorated with lots of wreaths, garlands and candles. My mother was a member of the choir and I always felt such pride watching my beautiful mother singing in the church choir each Sunday and especially on this special night. Evidently this sight was laying the foundation for my future love of singing four-part harmonies in future choruses and choirs which I joined in the years to come. Add all of this to the rare opportunity of staying up late and Santa’s impending visit and I was in little kid heaven.

When we returned home from church on Christmas Eve it was quite late and time for bed (for me, at least). Even though we had a fireplace and mantle from which to hang one, I never hung my stocking there. Instead, I attached a large sock to the side of my bed at the end with a big safety pin with care, of course! I favored one of my big brother’s hiking socks as it was sturdy and quite roomy. On this most wondrous of all nights, no self-respecting kid could ever sleep a wink. All through the night I would reach down and check the status of my stocking. Limp. Limp, sigh! Would he ever get here?...and then, finally, I would make contact with a bulging, crackling, temptingly full of who-knew-what Christmas stocking. It was perhaps then that I was able to finally go to sleep for an hour or two. I always waited until Christmas morning to open my stocking and as I got older, I became savvy enough to have crayons, scissors and pencils handy by to help keep myself occupied until it was safe to even think about venturing out to the living room to see if Christmas had started yet.

In later years, I would sometimes get up and tip-toe to within sight of the tree just to take in the bounty that always appeared as if by magic around the tree. I don’t think it was a sense of greed or materialistic longing but the sight of a beautiful Christmas tree with colorfully wrapped presents set all around it, pristine and untouched, was always one of my favorite sights. It still is! I never touched anything and returned to my room until I heard sounds of people finally getting up. This was the signal that Christmas was finally about to begin. There was always what seemed like a multitude of gifts for all of us. The love which ebbed and flowed among us was palpable and the stuff from which the most indelible Christmas memories are made. These are memories I have within me for as long as my memory remains intact.

I thank my parents for creating these wonderful times for me and my siblings and for themselves as well. I’d like to think my children will one day look back on the Christmases of their youth with similar fondness and affection.


Monday, December 6, 2004

In Search of...The Perfect Christmas Tree

For the past 23 years or so, we've gone to Christmas Tree farms to select our tree. Prior to this, the only option I was aware of was visiting a lot to pick a pre-cut tree. Both methods have always taken much time and lots of thoughtful consideration. This is a serious matter, after all, and one can't go picking the first tree that meets the eye. This very special tree is going to be a semi-permanent fixture in the house for an extended period of time. In my case, it almost becomes a beloved, if temporary, member of the family. We usually make the tree-selection excursion a family event and over the years, my children have been the ones to find the perfect tree; my son, especially, has shown a unique talent for zeroing in on the best tree year after year.

Yes, I love my Christmas tree and the entire process from search and selection to the finishing touch of adornment is a project very dear to my heart. As most people do, I have much sentimentality stored within the ornaments I place on my tree year after year. Part of the joy of decorating the tree is unwrapping each ornament and briefly reliving the memory of where or who it came from and the significance attached to it. It usually takes me anywhere from two to three days to complete my Christmas tree. The perfect place must be found for each ornament and, ideally, all should hang freely for the optimum, overall effect.


              "Christmas Morning" Print     


I'm not exactly sure when it was that we began putting our tree up in the early days of December. This was not the custom to which I'd been exposed in all my growing-up years. Some of it probably has to do with the discovery that freshly cut trees last an amazingly long time if properly cared for. Most of it has to do with the high price tag these choose and cut trees carry and wanting to get my money's worth. Add to this the mere fact that I simply adore having a beautifully decorated tree in my living roon and when the day comes that I must take it down, it is always a sad one.

A long time ago, we lived in half of a duplex that was so small that there was no room in the living room for a tree. There was a huge, multi-paned window facing the street in our bedroon, however, so we decided to put our tree up in there. There was no one around to protest such a radical change in location; our only child at the time, our daughter, was only 3 and a half and the entire Christmas celebration was all very new to her still new perception of the world and wonders therein. The tree in our bedroom doubled as a most unusual, equisite nightlight/lovelight. I was already a couple of years shy of my 30th birthday and soon discovered that the soft glow of Christmas lights was quite flattering to a face and body that were just beginning to show their age.

In fact, I loved having that tree in my bedroom so much that I didn't "un-deck" it and take it down until we were well into March of the following year. Crazy? Yes, but I couldn't bear to part with it. A major fire hazzard? Most definitely yes, but I was very aware of this fact and extremely careful about how long I'd turn the lights on and made certain someone was always in the room. It remained amazingly fresh and fragrant for the longest time.

When I finally did take the tree down, the top of it very much resembled the antlers of "Thidwick, The Big- Hearted Moose" at the end of the story--if anyone is familiar with this little Dr. Seuss gem of a story. There were all sorts of little creatures who had set up housekeeping among the top branches over the weeks the tree stood in our room. Gracious! For all I know, several generations were conceived, born, lived and died in the uppermost branches during those weeks. All I can tell you is that they didn't keep us up at night and I never kept a tree up this long ever again, much to my husband's silently suffering, utter relief I'm sure.

         Thidwick The Big Hearted Moose


The Saturday Six

Picture from Hometown

1. Think back to weddings you have attended (other than your own):  what was the nicest part of the one you liked the most?

Invitations to weddings are far and few between at this point of my life.  I would pick my daughter's wedding that took place on June 1, 2003.  This was her second ceremony that I was witness to.  The nicest part was that this time I knew her new husband was the right one, the one that was meant to be, a real "keeper".

2. What is your favorite color and which room of your home has the most of this color in it?

My favorite color is green and the room which reflects this preference the most is my closet where about one-third of the clothes hanging there are assorted shades of green.

3. What is your favorite kind of popcorn:
A) Unsalted
B) Buttered
C) Extra Butter
D) Kettle Corn
E) Caramel Corn

B) Buttered  (Love the stuff, rarely eat it.)

4. Take a little time (!!) for a quick inventory of the clocks in your home:  how many do you have and what is the widest difference between any two of them?

There are 12 places to check the time in my house, including 3 watches.  The widest difference in time is 5 minutes ahead which is what both alarm clocks on either side of our bed are set to.  The rest are set at the same time, more or less, that I believe to be the "real" time.  I often wonder how anyone knows what that actually is!

5. When was the last time you used a real rotary dial telephone to place a call?

Probably some time around 1980 at my parents' house.  I remember their phone was red and it took my folks a long time to get around to installing a push-button model.

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #34 from Shannon:  What is your favorite sport and why?

I don't really have a favorite sport but if I had to choose, it would be boxing.  My husband likes to watch boxing matches sometimes and this is something I don't mind watching with him.  It's fast paced, and I like the one-on-one rather than a team effort where there always seems to be "star" players who get more media coverage than the rest of the team.

Friday, December 3, 2004

The Music of Christmas

When I was a little girl, the initial nod to the Christmas season in my house occurred on December 1st.  This was the day we were allowed to start playing holiday music.  Nothing else Christmasy was visibly evident but just hearing the sounds of the season was enough to carry me for several weeks.  I looked forward to pulling these records out every year and never got tired of listening to them.  They were the same albums year after year but that didn't matter; their predictable familiarity was part of their charm.  I even loved looking at the album covers. 

I've spent a bit of time throughout my adult life searching for cassettes or CDs to replace the long gone vinyl discs but I haven't been very successful.  Many are listed as "no longer in stock".  My favorites were compilations from Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians, The Robert Shaw Chorale and a very obscure record entitled, "Christmas in England".

Listening to the Fred Waring arrangements throughout my youth proved to be quite helpful in my years of glee clubs, choruses and choirs.  Very often my music directors chose those same arrangements as part of the Christmas music program.  Since I was so familiar with them, it was extremely easy to learn my alto part.  As a member of these assorted choral groups over the years, I learned so many lovely Christmas carols and holiday songs.  Believe me, there's so much more out there than "Silent Night" and "Jingle Bells".

I love singing these songs as much as hearing them.  I often become quite overcome when I listen to certain carols; a great emotional surge that is comprised of all the wonderful Christmas memories of my past up to the present washes over me.  The result is tears but they are soft, welcome, feel-good tears.  There are tears that cleanse the soul; these are the kind that fortify the soul.  Oh, how I love Christmas!


Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Thanksgiving's Leftover Thoughts

The last of the turkey has been relegated to the freezer in the form of soup.  The lingering triangles of pie have been divvied up among us.  Thanksgiving is over and, once again, we survived.

We had a wonderful day, the food and company was superb and we had quite a bit of help with guests supplying some of the "fixin's".  Even so, I found the day overwhelming and, truly, it's time to take a hiatus from hosting the big feast.  This year I was more organized than usual and while things flowed along very smoothly, I was acutely aware of having little or no time to actually visit with any of my company.

This was the company I love to have visit me.  I receive great strength from my family and to have all of them together in one place is close to a spiritual feast for me.  I love having my dear Auntie, cousin, nieces, nephews, their significant others and my in-laws by marriage join us for the day.  I love having my daughter, my very dear son-in-law and their little family living close enough to be able to join us for these special times.  I especially enjoy being in close proximity to my two sisters and my brother.  These three and I are the remaining core of my immediate family from my growing-up years.

Despite the fact that I had done so much ahead of time, there was still no time to actually sit and visit with any of them.  I want to go to someone else's house next year.  I want to bring a dish, drop it off in the kitchen and be done with it.  I want to circulate merrily through the crowd spreading congenial cheer.  I love hosting this day for my family; my husband and I are just getting tired, I guess.  Oh, how I admire all the mothers and grandmothers who've been responsible for providing Thanksgiving dinners for so many years.  It's not easy!

Now, I look to my most favorite season of the year--Christmas and all its glory.  Just the word "Christmas" evokes in me a magical, comforting feeling.  Soon I will transform my home into a fairyland of lights, decorations and such, ultimately to become a beautiful, softly-lit haven for my family to return home to on these cold days after work and school.  This is one of my happiest, pleasantly anticipated creations of the year.  Oh yes, I'm in my element now!  


Monday, November 29, 2004

The Saturday Six!

Due to the assorted delights and myriad of company over this longThanksgiving weekend, there's been no time to romp and play with the computer.  At long last, things have wound down and it's time to catch up.  What better place to start than with the...Picture from Hometown

1. How long do your Thanksgiving leftovers usually last, and at what's the first non-Thanksgiving item you begin to crave when you tire of turkey?

Depending upon the size of the crowd (this year's was huge) our leftovers last through Saturday and the remains of the turkey carcass and carefully saved pieces become a great big pot of wonderful turkey soup which we make on Sunday.  After consuming turkey for several days, my system starts to think about something with beef.

2. Of the following, which would you most prefer to be located:
a) Interstate highway traffic jam
b) Slow-moving checkout line
c) Dentist's chair

b) Slow-moving checkout line

3. What is at the top of your personal Christmas gift wish list this year?

A new computer

4. What improvement would you most like to see added to AOL's Journal software?

The ability to copy and paste previously written and saved material onto the "journal entry"  format.  If there's already a way to do this, I haven't figured it out yet and would love it if someone could enlighten me.

5. What seasonal movies do you most look forward to this time of year?

"A Christmas Carol" , the Alastair Sim version; A Christmas Carol", the George C. Scott version; "A Christmas Story" with Ralphie and the gang

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #33 from Tara:  What is your favorite classic 80's video game?

This form of entertainment was never my thing; updated and new-fangled games of today are still not for me.  I recall Tetris being the one game I tried a few times but didn't do very well with it.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Happy Days are Coming Soon

A couple of years ago, I discovered the joy of vacationing at home.  I found it pure heaven to stay home for an extended period of time.  It was wonderful to start a little project and see it through to the end.  My loyal readers know I'm a procrastinator of the worst sort so actually finishing a task begun is a major accomplishment for me.

My burgeoning closets are calling to me, my covered flat surfaces are begging to be cleared, my storage area at the back of the house which was the original garage before we bought this house is...well, in need of some work.  My daughter maintains I could make a killing on E-Bay with the junk, er, I mean, treasures I have about the house.  Isn't a fun-filled vacation in store for me?

Actually, yes.  It shall be so.  I picked a prime time to cash in some of my vacation hours.  This vacation starts officially at 3pm Thanksgiving Day and I will be free from the shackles and demands of the workplace for eleven glorious days.  And oh, happy day!  I recently caught a gander of our work schedule for December and I'm so very pleased.  My seniority at work is about to reward me with a major payoff, a perk, one of the reasons I remain where I am.  I will have Christmas Day off and the following two days which are my regular days off (but I wasn't expecting to get them).  Hmmm...a nice little three-day holiday for Christmas.  You can't beat that.

Every year prior to the holiday season, a list goes up in our clock-in room to write down requests for which holiday you want off from work.  The choices are always the same:  Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  The shift one works is very relevent to the prime choice of which day off you really want.  I work the day shift in a 24-hour staffed assisted living facility.  My usual hours are 7am to 3pm so I have a lot of leeway here.  All I ever want is to be off on Christmas Day.  Amazingingly enough, only once in my working life have I had to work on Christmas.  I had to do so last year and I didn't care for it at all.  My family waited for me to come home to "start Christmas" but it wasn't right at all.  I do not wish to repeat the experience if I can help it.

Having the weekend off following Thanksgiving means I can enjoy a more lengthy visit with my sister whom I don't see very often during the year.  She always comes for Thanksgiving.  It means that I don't have to drag my weary bones out of a soft, warm bed and go to work in the wee hours of the morn while the rest of my family is still sleeping soundly under the effects of tryptophan  It means that we can go to the Christmas tree farm we've frequented for many a year to choose and cut our tree.

I am so ready for a break from the moans and groans and whines and complaints of the residents I deal with daily.  I really do enjoy my work but eventually the time arrives when my vast well of patience begins to run dry.  It has not only begun but has all but evaporated.  There's even the occasional tumbleweed rolling through from time to time.  It's time to retreat, refresh and renew my perspective regarding work and the elderly who rely on me for much comfort and care.  It's time to care for myself for a time and I shall glory in it! 

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Time for the Saturday Six!

Picture from Hometown;jsessio

1. Other than news, sports, editorials and weather, which specific features or columns of the newspaper do you always read?

I read the obituraries, Dear Abby, comics, Leonard Pitts' column and Dave Barry on Sundays (out loud to my husband).

2.  When do you normally do your Christmas shopping?  Have you started this year's, yet?  Do you intend to spend more, less or the same this year versus last year?

I start as soon as my major financial obligations for the year have been taken care of; i.e. property taxes.  Nope, haven't started yet but I plan to begin next weekend but most definitely not beginning with the day after Thanksgiving.  I intend to spend more; we were very much financially challenged this time last year.

3. You're having a true "TV Dinner," made by a classic character:  who would you rather have in the kitchen:
A) Aunt Bee from "The Andy Griffith Show"
B) Alice from "The Brady Bunch"
C) June from "Leave it to Beaver"
D) Edith from "All in the Family"
E) Claire from "The Cosby Show"

I would pick A) Aunt Bee because she's probably the best cook out of the five choices.  I would consider it a blessing, however, if she had a case of laryngitis the day she came to prepare the meal.  Her voice is most annoying.

4. What topic are you most sick of hearing about in J-Land?


5. What company is annoying you most with junk mail?


6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #32 from Chantal:  What cheesy sitcom (from any era) most describes how you grew up? Your family, location, dynamics, details...

None, really but if I were hard-pressed to pick one, I would choose "Father Knows Best" (but I never thought of this show as being "cheesy".


Friday, November 19, 2004

Things For Which I'm Thankfully Thankful For

Weekend Assignment #35: Tell us something you should be thankful for -- but that you're usually not. After all, it's easy to be thankful for all the things you know you should be thankful for: Your family and friends, your home, the good things that come from living wherever (and whenever) you do. So try stretching a little and think about something that you're thankful for that you usually don't think much about at all. It can be serious or silly; it's up to you. You just have to be genuinely thankful for it -- once it comes to mind.

I am truly thankful for the person(s) who invented, patented and marketed toilet paper.  Can you imagine life without it?  I can't possibly conceive of a time when people used old Sears catalog pages, corncobs, bunches of grass or whatever to perform the task to which today, we turn to, spin and detach toilet paper for today.  I don't even want to think about what people did prior to the invention of any kind of paper at all!  I am also thankful for whoever invented paper towels and I honestly don't know how people existed without them.  I don't think I could; paper towels are one of my few, I don't care how many I use, indulgences.  At this time, I would also like to add to this "thankful" list the inventors of plastic wrap, wax paper and aluminum foil.  These are items we all use frequently and they have become indispensable (well, only if you buy the cheap kind that doesn't tear off or rip properly!)

I'm thankful for all the incontinent products on the market today which make the all-too-frequent problem a great many older people have much easier to deal with and it makes my job as a caregiver to many of these seniors a bit easier too.  Imagine how difficult life must've been for these folks before the advent of absorbant, disposable pads and underpants!  There must've been a whole lot of washing going on (and I won't even begin to touch on how difficult that chore once was) and not a very pleasant task at that, under the circumstances!!  I'm thankful for all the "feminine products" available today to help (they can get rid of the "Roses in Springtime" --whatever-- personal feminine spray and its variants, however; I think men prefer a woman to smell like a woman) see us through our monthly struggle that nature deems we women must endure.  These products help us to get through these times in a relatively tidy way.  We've come a long way from gathering and stuffing moss into leather straps, positioned in the strategic area (yes, I'm a Clan of the Cave Bear fan) or using wads of material held in place by God knows what fashion.  Again, more infernal washing.

My only complaint is that in regard to so many of these above-mentioned products, they are dreadfully expensive but have become so necessary to our lives that we'll pay whatever the manufacturer decides to charge.  And they know it.  It's a crime!

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Time Once Again For that Highly Addictive little game called The Saturday Six

Picture from Hometown

1. Who is the last house guest you invited into your home and was it a pleasant visit?

One of my sisters who comes to spend Thanksgiving and some of the long weekend with us was my last house guest.  She'll be with us again before long for another Thanksgiving.  It's always a wonderful treat to have her company for a few days.  I can't wait!

2.  Other than to work or school, where was the last place you drove?

Sigh!  The grocery store.

3. In terms of emergency supplies, how many of the following do you have in your home?  A) Candles  B) Fresh batteries  C) Containers of bottled water

I fall rather short on this one, I'm afraid and shame on me because I live in earthquake country.  I know I should be better prepared.  I always have lots of candles around, occasionally have a couple of AA batteries rattling around in a drawer and I don't have a supply of bottled water.  However, I do know that in an emergency situation, the water in the cistern behind the toilet is perfectly safe to use.  Now, don't you feel better for knowing that?!

4. You're invited to a pot-luck dinner:  what specialty do you offer to bring?  (It has to be something you can cook yourself, not something you bring from a store!)

Funny you should ask; I just went to one of these last night.  Lately, I've been bringing my homemade pumpkin pie which I've altered to be sugar-free and egg-free.  I swear you can't tell the difference from the original.

5. Which of the following do you feel is the most true based on your own life experiences:
A) It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
B) The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
C) To have a friend, you must first be a friend.
D) Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
E) Never judge a book by its cover.
F) The tree of knowledge bears the noblest fruit.

E) Never judge a book by its cover, most definitely

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #31 from Cherie:  We have all watched movies and TV shows that have inspired us to want to do what the characters in the show are doing, (doctors, lawyers, politicians, fire fighters, etc).  Has there ever been program that you watched that made you realize that the occupation of the characters was something you could NEVER become?

Fascinating though I'm sure it is, I couldn't do what the characters do on CSI, Crime Scene Investigation.



Friday, November 12, 2004

Assignment Time

Weekend Assignment #33: They're Singing Your Song Weekend Assignment #33: You can have any person, past or present, sing any song for you that you want. What is the song, and who is singing it for you?   The creation and performance of music is one of the greatest gifts we human beings are privileged to enjoy in this world.  I listen to all sorts of different music and have countless favorite songs that I love to hear over and over again.  The same can be said for singers; there are so many favorites that I don't know how to choose a single one.  I'm going to cheat this time around and choose two.   I thought about this assignment all day at work and nothing came to me.  I usually roll these "assignments" around in my head for a bit before deciding upon how I wish to proceed.   When I initially checked out this week's assignment, it was about to become the third in a row I was going to pass on participating.  But now I've got an answer to the question, with a little help from my friends...this time around, my husband and my son.   I would enjoy a private performance by Billy Idol and Tina Turner singing, "Flesh For Fantasy"!  Billy Idol is one of my secret, guilty pleasures (oops! I guess it's not a secret any longer) and I just love to crank this song of his up sometimes while I'm driving and sing along with it lustily.  The addition of Tina Turner's voice could only make this song better (anyone who knows and loves me knows I'm a major fan of the lady)!  Having these two show up at my door and proceed to serenade me with this song would thrill me to the gills!  Knock my socks off!         Can you just imagine having these two on your doorstep?? Parteeeey!!!!                   Extra credit: Name a singer you wish you could sing like, but can't. So that means even those of you with excellent voices have to pick someone you can't sing like.   I wish I could sing like Cleo Laine.  She has a most beautiful voice and I had the joy of seeing her perform, along with her musician husband, John Dankworthe, many years ago.  In my next life (along with a few other wishes) I would like to have a voice worthy of a singing career.  Wouldn't that be wonderful?  I think so.  

Monday, November 8, 2004

Three Decades and Then Some

 Do you inwardly groan at the words, "high school sweethearts" when reading a wedding anniversary notice in the newspaper?  Is "how boring!" the initial thought which comes to mind?  I sometimes think people perceive the lives of these particular couples as stagnant and unbeliveably dreary.  Don't you believe it!

This coming Wednesday, November 10, marks a very special day for my husband and me.  It was on this day, 35 years ago, we declared ourselves as a couple to the world.  The year was 1969 and this was in that long ago time when young people enamoured of each other went "steady".  The build-up to our decision to do so took all of seven days.  When I returned home after our second date, I very seriously informed my mother that "this was it!"  I don't think at that time I was entertaining the notion of a lifelong union but I was in seventh heaven at the time.

Of course, no one took our little romance too seriously.  My mother remarked that it was always nice to have a beau during the holiday season.  It didn't take too long for us to realize that this was indeed a relationship with much potential for a permanent basis.  Looking back, I have to admit that 16 is incredibly young to decide upon a future spouse.  My husband maintains he was certain I was "the one" from day one.  It's not easy and entails much risk to entrust your heart to another.  A great many people are unable or unwilling to do so but this is truly a case for the nothing ventured, nothing gained philosophy.  Never in a million years did I foresee finding my husband-to-be in our high school cafeteria.  It takes a brave and not just a little bit wise person to recognize what they have found and not go off looking for something that might be better, only to return to discover that "the one" didn't sit around waiting for you to decide.

There's much to be said for a relationship in which a couple grows up together; lots of common references and experiences to enjoy as the years zip by.  It's wonderful to be comfortable and at complete ease with each other.  However, you don't want to become as comfortable as an old shoe.  The day my husband calls me "Mother" and he's not making reference to me while talking to our kids is the day I'll know the bloom is off the romance and the honeymoon is indeed over.  We always say we never "work" at our marriage but it does take some effort to remain interesting, interested and unpredictable on the occasion.  The most important thing is not letting your marriage fall into little more than a realm of contentment.  You've both got to steer clear of lapsing into a comfortable union that more resembles a brother and sister cohabitation rather than a man and wife.  You do have to continue to court each other and treat each other as you did in the beginning of your romance.  My husband steadfastly swears by the fact that you must never lose your lust for each other and I think there's much truth and wisdom in this.  Alas, I think the opposite happens all too often.  So many couples stop making any kind of effort to keep the fires burning once they're married and have produced a child or two.

I have been incredibly lucky to have been blessed with a man whose love has only increased since we first met.  He is more than generous with his compliments, most affectionate and not at all reticent in his continuing declaration of love for me.  This both delights and amazes me that he should continue to feel this way after all these years.  And I?  I know I should tell my husband how very much I love him even more than I do.  If I had it to do all over again, I would once again choose him.  It's been a wondrous 35 years, a terrific ride.  Am I ready for the next 35?  Hell, yes!


Saturday, November 6, 2004

The Saturday Six

My well of writing has been running a little dry lately; thank goodness for:

Picture from Hometown

1. If you could invent your own cable channel, what would it be called and what type of programming would it show?

Presently, I think there's something for everyone on the airwaves.  My own choice of cable channel already exists, almost.  I'd like a channel that runs movie classics with some "Masterpiece Theater" productions added to the mix.  I'd love to see "Upstairs, Downstairs" again from beginning to end.  I'd call my program "Classic Movie Masterpieces".

2.  What is your typical Thanksgiving dinner menu?

Our typical menu usually includes a huge fresh turkey, mashed potatoes, "bashed neeps" (this is a mixture of mashed potatoes and yellow turnips, also known as rutabagas), gravy, green beans and almonds vinaigrette, mushroom marsala stuffing, rolls, whole berry (always) cranberry sauce, pumpkin, mince and apple pie...all enjoyed with the good wines of our local area.

3. What was your first job?  Was it within the career path you ultimately intended to pursue?

My first job was a secretarial job I landed upon graduation from business school.  It was a one-man office for a regional sales manager to whom about six salesmen reported.  I did a lot of their secretarial work as well.  It was certainly within my career path which I hoped to pursue for only a few years.  I had never worked a day in my life and this job was overwhelming.  I did the best I could and stayed with it for about nine months.  When I got to the point where I started to think that getting in a car wreck on the way to work rather than arriving there might be preferable, I realized it was time to look for something else.  I did exactly that.

4. You're at home by yourself:  do you prefer to wear shoes, slippers, socks only or go barefooted?

Depends upon the season and you left out the option of socks and sandals.  That's for me; with socks in the cold weather, without in the warm.  This is one of the pleasures of being over 50.  You can wear whatever you want without having to constantly worry about looking "cool".

 5. What's your favorite restaurant appetizer?

Has to be Fried Calamari at The Bear Republic!

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #30 from Carly: Do you have a single comment that was ever left that you really enjoyed to the point you still remember it?

Yes, I do.  It was quite amusing and still makes me laugh when I think about it.



Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Election Day

At long last, Election Day has arrived.  The build-up to this day has seemed to go on for an eternity.  I have never been very politically active but acknowledge the importance of voting and trying to understand the candidates' positions, measures and issues on the ballot.  Also, as a woman I am very aware that it is doubly important to cast my vote.  A great many women before me had to go to great lengths and much suffering to secure the right to vote.  I feel duty bound to honor their perserverence and ultimate victory.

This evening, after work, my husband and I will go to our polling place and vote.  I want to say thank you to the journalists whose entries I read regularly for their combined political information, opinions and input in general.  I believe you know who you are and I've read your entries and ensuing comments with great interest over the past months.  Your collective passion is inspiring.  Your knowledge and grasp of the myriad of problems existing in our country, our world, is impressive.  Your opinions of same have served as a guideline of sorts for me.  Do I agree with all that you say?  Not necessarily but you've all provided much intelligent food for thought and I am sated for now.

This is the first time in my voting life that a presidential election has coincided with my own access to the almighty internet on a personal computer in the privacy of my own home.  I also want to thank you all for your caring, time spent, your insight and your fervor for a better, more knowledgeable take on the issues concerning our country and the world which affect us all.

Never before have I been privy to such an articulate outpouring of opinion concerning our political challenges.  I've made my choices and I'm ready to vote.  May the best man win.  I believe we're all agreed on who that should be.  Time will soon tell.

Monday, November 1, 2004

Halloween - in retrospect

fairy-3.GIF (9887 bytes) It all started with the wings.  Have you ever seen something you simply had to have?  Something you were drawn and kept returning to until you finally gave in and bought it?

A few weeks before Halloween, I came across a pair of fairy wings for sale in the costume department of one of the stores I frequent.  They were beautiful and I was enchanted.  I picked them up and put them back down again.  The next time I returned to the store they were still there and I did the same thing.  This went on for several more visits until I succumbed.  Now that I was the proud owner of these lovely fairy wings, what was I going to do with them?

My work has a Halloween party for the residents and the staff is always invited (read strongly encouraged) to dress up.  I'm not one who's big on masquerading and usually find myself sitting on the fence as to whether I will or won't dress up.   Then, something almost always comes over me and I find myself trying to come up with something at the eleventh hour the night before.  Now that I had this great prop, I decided to bypass the valley of indecision and actually prepare a costume for the day.

I put on a long blue, lacy dress, blue socks and sandals, a blonde wig with a silver cap and donned my new silvery blue wings. I added a silver and blue necklace, heavily made-up eyes with blue eyeshadow and liner and applied silver glitter gel to my face, neck and upper chest. A star-tipped silver fairy wand completed the outfit.  To my mind's eye, I was trying to be "The Blue Fairy" from Walt Disney's "Pinocchio".  I had to pull all this together very early in the morning before I left for work.  

My husband took one look at me, proclaimed me beautiful and said, "you know who you should go as, don't you?"  I, being the fish who always bites, answered innocently, "no, who?"  He wrote down on a piece of paper what he thought I should bill myself as and it was this:

          The Lady of Rising Hopes; The Fairy Princess Viagra

Oh my!  We shared a good laugh over this before I left for work.  I stuck to the "Blue Fairy" persona among the residents but I shared my husband's take on my get-up with my administrator and the office staff and much appreciative laughter was shared all around.  The old folks got a big charge seeing me dressed as I was and a few had no idea who I was--what fun.

My daughter and son-in-law invited me to join them for my granddaughter's trick-or-treating adventure.  She was dressed up as the cutest, most sparkling "Cupid" you could possibly imagine.  To me, she looked like a beautiful Valentine but what the hey.  I decided to don my costume once more and go with them.  It was refreshing to step back and experience Halloween through the eyes of a four and a half year old and feel all the enthusiasm that ensued.  I wanted to share this Halloween with my daughter's little family and get a new, not so negative perspective on this holiday which, as a child, I once adored.  I think I got just that.

This morning, I went outside and as I looked up and down the street, I was so pleased to see no traces of broken eggs or smashed pumpkins.  I really hate to see anyone's carved masterpiece reduced to a pulverized orange mess in the middle of the street.  All in all, I enjoyed this Halloween more than I have in many a year. 


Sunday, October 31, 2004

A Halloween Saturday Six

Picture from Hometown

1. What is the most clever Halloween costume someone you know has worn (that you wish you'd have come up with yourself)?

When my daughter was around ten, she put together a costume that featured her head being served up on a plate as the main dish.  She had it all--table, tablecloth, placemat, utensils, napkin.  I believe she even made construction paper "lettuce" to surround her head as garnish.  It was somewhat awkward to trick or treat in but she managed.  I thought it was very creative and clever.  Sixteen years later, I still use those adjectives to describe my daughter.

  2. You're invited to a Halloween party that begins in one hour.  You have to make a costume only from what is already in your house.  So how would you dress up?

I'd grab a plastic laundry basket and cut a hole in the bottom big enough to fit around my waist.  I'd then put in an assortment of clean clothes around myself in the basket and add a box or bottle of laundry detergent and/or an empty bottle of bleach, box of fabric softener, etc.  For an added touch, I'd drape a provocative article of clothing over the side.  Voila!  I'm a basket of dirty laundry.

I've got to give credit to my husband for this idea.  Many years ago, he had to scramble and pull together a costume just before leaving for work.  This is what he came up with and he returned home that evening with a bottle of wine he'd won as a prize.

3. What is the amount of the last check you wrote?


4. How many keys are on your keyring, and are there any that you've forgotten that you even had?

I have four keys on my keyring; all accounted for and none forgotten.

5. Who was the last musical performer you saw live in concert, and was it worth the admission price?

The last musical performer I saw was Ray Charles.  The ticket price was definitely worth the show and evening.  We went with several other couples, rented a limosine and made quite a night of it.

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #29 from DaBabysBack:  What is your favorite day of the week and why?

My favorite day of the week is Monday.  This is one of my days off from work.  My son goes to school, my husband goes to work and I do as much or as little as I like depending upon how I feel.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A Bicycle Story

As it so often happens, my husband and I discovered the fun of going on scenic bike rides with my brother and sister-in-law a bit late in the year.  This past Sunday was only the second time we got together for a ride this year and due to the early arrival of the rain, I doubt we'll get another opportunity until next year.

The experience of going on a long, leisurely bike ride with my brother has brought me full circle in my recreational biking.  I learned how to ride a bike embarrassingly late in life and it was my brother who took on the job of teaching me.  He is the oldest of my siblings, 11 years older than I, and I have always adored him.  You couldn't ask for a kinder big brother.  I was given a second-hand bike on my 10th birthday and why it took me so long to get and learn how to ride one, I can't tell you.  I wasn't known for my exceptional skills of coordination and perhaps that had something to do with it.

He taught me how to ride in the classic method; holding the bike and running alongside as I pedaled furiously.  When I turned to ask him how I was doing, it was only to find he'd let go of the bike some some back and, of course, I immediately fell off.  And so it went until I could start off, ride and stop on my own.  I recall that for some strange reason, whenever I stopped I would slide off the seat rather hard and hit the front of the bike between the handlebars.  For the longest time, I had an ongoing bruise in various stages of color in the area of my pubic bone.  Ouch!

In the short period between my birthday in the middle of August and the start of school in the beginning of September, I learned to ride well enough that I became over confident and, ultimately, too cocky.  One evening after an early dinner, I rode over to a nearby development with lots of lovely smooth roads and nice hills.  I got myself to the top of one and readied myself for the glorious descent.  Oh, I descended all right--right into the curb at the bottom of the hill after being tossed over the handlebars.

I remember gathering myself up and sitting on the curb for a while.  I knew I'd hurt myself because I could feel that stickiness that you just know without looking is blood.  Eventually I looked at my bike; it was totaled and as sad a looking sight as I'm sure I was.  The handlebars were twisted and the frame was bent; the bike was unridable.  I walked the sorry thing back to the house and I still remember distinctly the "pinging" sound of the broken spokes hitting against the wheel.  I got as far as the end of our driveway and just stood there, bleeding, until my mother found me eventually.  I was unable to provide an answer to her query about what happened to me.  I couldn't remember a thing past leaving the house after dinner.  My mother who had once been an R.N. hustled me into the bathroom to clean me up and put things to right once again.  These procedures were carried out very proficiently and almost always involved a bottle of iodine.  Mother was a great believer in the stuff.  I would begin to scream and carry on at the mere sight of the bottle but she persevered despite my protests.

I ended up with a deep, nasty cut under my chin which my mother pulled together with adhesive tape.  To this day, I have a small scar there as a reminder.  My forehead and cheeks were bruised and cut and these were cleaned up and bandaged as well.  I still couldn't tell her what happened so she put me to bed in my room with a fan blowing cool air and it wasn't until I woke up a few hours later that I was able to tell her I must've hit a big rock while going downhill.  She diagnosed my short lapse of memory as a minor concussion and seeing that I was none the worse for wear, the episode was over.  The true fact of the matter, however, was that I didn't hit a rock in the road at all.  When my briefly- interrupted memory returned, I remembered that I had been putting the tip of my shoes in- between the spokes of the front wheel while zooming downhill because I discovered it made a "neat" sound.  I never told my mother or anyone else in my family that this is what I'd been doing.  My penance was having to endure the misery and total embarrassment of starting 5th grade in a new school with new teachers with my head wrapped up looking like something out of "The Mummy"!  Served me right!!

There I was with no bike to ride.  My brother took pity on me and bought me a beautiful, brand new bicycle.  He told me that none of us kids had ever had a new bike and he wanted to change that.  It was new, purple and sparkled in the sun.  I loved it and wasso proud and pleased with it.

There we were, this past Sunday, and I found myself turning around to look back every once in a while to make sure my brother was safe and doing fine.  Of course he was, but it struck me as a bit of a role reversal and I rather liked that.

This is a picture of my current bicyle, a Bianchi Avenue.  Sweet! 




Saturday, October 23, 2004

The Saturday Six...on a Saturday. Gasp!

Picture from Hometown

1. Think back to your years of Trick or Treating:  Which one of your past Halloween costumes are you most proud of?

I think it was when I was in second grade, 7 years old, my mother made me a fantastic devil costume.  It was perfect, from the horns on the hood on the top of my head to the long red tail which finished with a point.  One of my older sisters agreed to take me trick-or-treating that year and either volunteered or was mildly coerced into wearing a devil costume as well.  She was 14 years old and wore a costume identical to mine.  I remember a lot of people getting a kick out of the big and little sister "devils" and being asked into houses to have our picture taken.  This, of course, was back in the days when entering a stranger's house in your own neighborhood wasn't possibly taking your life in your hands.  Ah, those were the days.

2. What is the format of your favorite radio station?  (In other words, what type of music does it play?)

I listen to the KRSH, an adult alternative station which offers a mixture of blues, folk, Americana, world music and rock.

3. What is the oldest thing in your medicine cabinet?

Whoops!  A container of Tinactin for athlete's foot which expired Sept. 1994.  Hmmm...I guess I need to check my medicine cabinet just a little more frequently.  Truth of the matter is, there's not much in there.

4. What kind of book do you most prefer:  hardback, paperback, audio or library?

My favorite kind of book is a hardback.  However, books are so expensive today that I generally buy used paperbacks.  If it's a book that's very special to me, I look for (and usually find) a used hardback version in good condition.  And God bless the library; a most wonderful resource.  Thank you, Ben Franklin!

5. What is your favorite comfort food and when was the last time you felt bad enough that you needed a big helping of it?

My favorite comfort food is macaroni and cheese (didn't we have a question similar to this some time ago?).  I don't resort to food, comfort or not, when I feel bad but if I did, I would've had a big, heaping plateful this past week.

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #28 from Tara:  
Dust off your high school yearbook.  What was your Senior quote and/or what were you voted ''Most...'' or ''Most Likely To....''?

We didn't do these "fun" things in my senior yearbook.  I will share that my senior picture was so terrible that to this day, it makes me cringe to look at it.  It was one of those pictures that one writes all over when signing a friend's yearbook in a feeble attempt to obliterate it.  Yes, it was that bad.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Assignment Time!

"Assignment:  What gone, but not forgotten, TV series do you miss the most?

Extra Credit:  If you had to be on a game show or reality show, which one would it be?"

Every morning when I went into Room 36 around the same time each day to tend to that resident's needs, the strangest program was always on the television.  I could never stay in the apartment long enough to make any sense of it; it was like nothing I'd ever seen before.

Many years later, a mutual friend of my husband's and mine who lived with us for a while introduced me to a TV show.  It was Northern Exposure and I instantly recognized it as the curious program I'd seen before in fleeting bits and pieces.

This is the show I miss the most but I wouldn't want to see it resurrected or worse yet, redone.  It played itself out and ended with a grand finish.  I came to love this quirky hour-long show and the characters within.  It was many things but most of all, it was different and highly imaginative.  This program often took the viewer to the left and quite a bit sideways from the norm.  The ensemble cast was excellent and I really cared about these people.  I always got a little charge from the fact that I had seen John Cullum, the actor who portrayed "Holling" in the title role of "The Man of La Mancha" on Broadway way, way back when.

Northern Exposure hasn't appeared on TV for a while now but thank God for reruns.  It will be back again some day, some time on some little channel.  For my birthday this year, my daughter gave me a gift of four Northern Exposure episodes on tape.  It was a great present and a real surprise.

Northern Exposure Tv Show Cast The cast of "Northern Exposure"

For my "extra credit", if I were to pick a game show to be on, it would be "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire".  I would never never, ever appear on any reality (and I use the term very loosely) show at any time, for anyone for any price!

Monday, October 18, 2004

And So It Continues

Next up in the fall lineup of things to do is dealing with the property taxes.  We always try to pay the entire amount rather than opting for the two-payment plan so we can get it out of the way.  I want to know who the incredibly shortsighted idiot is who determined that the first installment of property taxes should be due before Christmas and the second, right around income tax time.  I would call that very poor planning.

The taxes being handled brings me to Thanksgiving preparations.  We have been hosting Thanksgiving for at least the past twenty years.  For years, we did it all and slowly but surely over the years we have welcomed assistance with food and drink from our guests.  Being from the east coast originally, this has been a hard lesson to learn.  When one is extended an invitation in the east, it's expected that the host will provide all the amenities.  When an invitation is extended in the west, the first words out of the invited's mouth are, "what do you want me to bring?"  Of course, down through the years our guests have offered to bring food and such but we've always wanted to make everything ourselves.  At long last, we've come to our senses!

We've had anywhere from eight to twenty-six people for Thanksgiving dinner.  Over the years, my husband and I have handled the meal preparations.  We do a lot of work ahead of time.  I've been known to make as many as four pies (and I'm not talking the heat and eat variety here).  This takes some doing but we always seem to manage.  Our house isn't tiny but it's far from huge.  Seating two dozen people can be quite a challenge but we've learned how to do it.  By the time everything's ready and the time has come to sit down to dinner, our living room resembles something along the line of St. Anthony's Dining Hall.  It's cozy and somewhat cramped but the result is a Thanksgiving of intimate proportions.

The date Thanksgiving falls on determines how soon we get our Christmas tree.  Thanksgiving is on November 25th this year.  Oh my!  Just one month before Christmas.  This means we'll probably venture out the next day in search of the perfect tree.  This also depends upon whether or not I get the day after Thanksgiving off from work which I requested but haven't had confirmed as yet.

There are lots of Christmas tree farms in the area and a freshly cut tree properly cared for lasts an unbelievably long time.  One of my favorite parts of the season is my Christmas tree but that's another story.


Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Saturday Six

Picture from Hometown

1. What was your favorite Halloween candy to receive as a child?

Mounds was my favorite candy bar (still is) and I always loved the look and taste of candy corn.

2. Of cities you've visited (that you don't live in), which is your favorite and why?

San Francisco is my favorite city.  It's a beautiful, walkable, fun city with much to see and do.  I must confess I did live there for about 3 years about 28 years ago.

3. What is the oldest appliance in your kitchen (and how old is it)?

That distinction goes to my Oster blender which is somewhere around 50 years old; for my needs, it works just fine.

4. How many broken bones have you suffered in your life time, and when was the most recent?

None so far...touch wood.

5. Check your caller ID:  who is the last person to have called you?

My son

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #26 from Nettie: What would you say is your biggest "character flaw?"

I think my biggest character flaw is my lack of ambition.

Friday, October 15, 2004

A Necessary Evil

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes? A pair that you wish you could wear for everything because you like how they look or you like how your feet feel inside them? They can be a pair you have now or had when. Tell us why they were so special.

Extra credit:  A picture of them!

Let me start out by stating that shoes are probably my least favorite articles of apparel.  If I had my way, I'd remain in sandals in the warmer weather and cozy slippers in the cooler temperatures all the livelong day.

I do, however, own a pair of shoes of which I'm particularly fond.  These are a pair of high heels I bought when out shopping with my husbnad in preparation for our 25th wedding anniversary trip to Jamaica.  They are open-toed, gold/clear colored with ankle straps and 3-inch heels.  They make me feel like a vamp, a scamp and a bit of a tramp (remember that Cher ditty?) and I like that!

If I'm lucky, I get to put on these beautiful shoes once or twice a year.  My feet have long since rebelled against wearing high heels for any length of time past an hour or two.  Mine is a job that keeps me on my feet and on the go all day long and comfortable shoes that offer some suggestion of support are necessary.  Most of my shoes for work come from Payless Shoe Source.  My shoes tend to get pretty wet when I give showers to my senior residents.  It's not worth paying the big bucks for shoes that meet this soggy end.  I would like to personally thank the person(s) responsible for making this venue possible.  I've always found shoe salespeople carting boxes of shoes hither and thither and fiddling with my feet in the interim incredibly annoying.

I wish I had a scanner (and instructions on how to operate) to share this pair or shoes with you.  Trust me, they're pretty darn cool! 

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

And So It Begins...

Have you ever noticed that once the calendar page flips to October, the remainder of the year seems to zip by faster than the past nine months?  There's so much going on that gets crammed into a relatively short span of time.  Every year, I make a solemn vow to myself that I won't be caught unprepared for what's ahead and every year I manage to break that vow.  Coming in second to my serious case of pragmatism is a bad case of procrastinationitus.  The good news is that each year, I get yet another chance to redeem myself.

Five coming events loom heavy on my mind from now until the end of the year.  They are, in sequential order, a) Halloween, b) paying the annual property taxes, c) Thanksgiving, d) Christmas and e) my husband's birthday.  Over the years I've tried to take these events in stride.  At times it's not easy. 

I don't like Halloween very much.  Over the years I've been trying to wean myself away from using the word "hate".  Hate is such a strong word that carries a great deal of negative passion and wasted energy.  Who needs this?  Certainly not I.  Closer to the truth would be to say I dislike what Halloween has become over the years.  The very idea that parents have to check the contents of their childrens' bags of loot for hazardous items such as razor blades or homemade treats laced with a harmful substance is so sad.

I've become afraid to open the door on Halloween night in these times in which we live.  Anyone could be on the other side of the door concealed by a mask.  Once the door is open, it could be too late.  When my children were of the trick-or-treating age, I always opted to take them around town, leaving my husband home to answer the constant summoning of the doorbell.  The fact that I feel this way is a grim reflection of our current society.  I spend all of Halloween waiting for it to be over and breathe a welcome sigh of relief when All Saint's Day arrives and we made it through another year.  It distresses me to feel this way and makes me feel not just a little guilty.  When I was a child, going out to trick-or-treat on Halloween was right up there with birthdays and Christmas as one of the best days of the year.  I'm so sorry such a fun, child-oriented holiday has become an opportunity for some misguided wretch to turn it into a possible nightmare. 

Sunday, October 10, 2004

A Play Date

Weekend Assignment #28: The United States Congress (or appropriate legislative body in the country in which you live) has vested in you the power create exactly one National Holiday, celebrating anyone or anything you want, no questions asked. What is the name of your holiday, what does it celebrate, and how should we celebrate it?

Extra credit: Name the holiday that already exists that you'd like to see have a higher profile.

Here's an old saw:  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  I heartily agree.  My suggestion for a newly instated national holiday is an official Play Day to be observed by people of all ages.  Imagine!  A holiday free from the usual trappings of gifts to buy, feasts to prepare, cards to send.  Plenty of retailers across the country wouldn't want to support this day because there'd be no monetary gain for them.  That's okay, they'd be playing too.

This would be a free day for children and adults.  It would give freedom from school, homework, chores, work and all responsibilities save the safety and welfare of yourself and loved ones for one entire day.  Some people play too much and some not at all.  This day would allow everyone the opportunity to have a guilt-free day to spend however they wished.

I think a lot of adults have forgotten how to play and in my business I see the end result of this departure from some kind of frivolity and it makes for a grim picture.  Kick up your heels a little while you still can.  All too quickly, you'll no longer have the physical ability to do so.  You might want some memories of play that don't stretch back as far as childhood.  This day could help provide some of them.

A holiday I'd like to see get more recognition is Earth Day which is celebrated on April 22nd.  Yet, I wouldn't want it to turn into another commercial opportunity which seems to overtake most of our holidays to the point where the original purpose of the holiday gets lost.  Also, considering one of the many reasons for observing this special day; i.e. concern for the environment, it would be counter productive to destroy even more of our beautiful planet creating more cards, wrapping paper, gift tags, etc. to further celebrate this day which you know would happen.  On second thought, better to keep the existing low profile on this "holiday" and just continue doing whatever each of us can to help our planet.



Saturday, October 9, 2004

The Saturday Six

Picture from Hometown

Saturday once more and here we go:

1. What is your favorite cartoon show?

I have to agree with Patrick here.  The Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner Show (or any other show featuring Daffy, Bugs, Yosemite Sam, Pepe and the rest of the gang) is my favorite also.  It truly doesn't get any better than this!

2. I found this on Wil's journal:  Take the quiz...What natural disaster are you?

3. What was the design of the last postage stamp you used?

The American flag

4. What was the last pill you took?


5. It's your ultimate breakfast:  what's on the plate?

Ah, breakfast.  My favorite meal.  If I were to throw all health and caloric caution to the wind, I'd have a cheese and mushroom omelet, sausage links, an english muffin, cranberry juice and coffee with real sugar and half and half.

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #26 from SpringsNymph and Neil:
a) When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
b) Are you anywhere close to that dream now?
c) Now that you're in the "real world," is your current job now really what you want to do for a living?
d) If not, what would you ultimately like to do?

All I ever wanted to be was a homemaker with a devoted husband and family of my own.  I realized that goal quite nicely, I think, and had the wonderful opportunity to be a stay-at-home mother for almost 12 years.

I never wanted any kind of job or career at all and I certainly never gave a thought to doing what I have been doing for the past 14 and a half years.  I take care of the elderly having discovered, much to my amazement, that I have a real knack for it.  My job is certainly not one of those jobs that people dream about when they say, "when I grow up, I want to be......."

I would love to sing for a living; specifically in a nightclub or lounge, wearing beautiful flowing gowns, singing classic torch songs.  The option to drape myself over the piano at will would be written into my contract.  Also, I would love to have some sort of writing job. 

My talents are minimal in both areas and I lack that very important drive of ambition.  Therefore, I don't foresee a career doing either of these things.  It's pleasant to daydream about sometimes though so I'll just keep singing for myself and regaling you all with my assorted journal entries.  That will have to suffice.


Wednesday, October 6, 2004

A-Ranting I Will Go

It's time for a mild rant which is something in which I rarely indulge myself.  When was it, exactly, that drivers stopped using their turn signals?  When did it become too difficult or too much of a chore to flick a lever to indicate which direction their car was about to turn?  Did I miss a nationwide mass implantation of  nifty new psychic microchips that alert us automatically as to which way a driver plans to go?  Does anyone else wonder about this?

These are rhetorical questions, of course; except for the last.  Over the past several months I've noticed that more and more drivers have all but stopped using their turn signals.  It's maddening, rude and more importantly, dangerous.  One would think that these people have to actually roll down their window and use hand signals.

I'd also like to know why on earth folks are so reluctant to turn their headlights on when traveling during early morning hours when it's dark, foggy or rainy or all three?  I leave for work early every day and I am amazed--and annoyed--by the number of cars with no lights on whatsoever.  It's important to have them on so that other drivers can see them.  They're necessary to make one's car more visable.  What do people think they're saving by not using their cars' headlights?  What they need to think about is saving lives from a potential accident by turning those headlights on!  It also astounds me how many drivers think it's perfectly legal to drive with only parking lights on.  It isn't.

If anyone recognizes themselves here, I hope I've given them a little food for thought.  If anyone can shed some light on why signalling and using common sense when driving in the dark have disappeared, please do so.  Shine some light on something!  Just call me amazed, annoyed and astounded.

Monday, October 4, 2004

Animation Rumination

Animation is one of the interests I chose to include in my AOL profile yet it's a subject I haven't touched upon to date.  With this entry I wish to try to convey my love for animation.

Many of my childhood memories coincide with the early years of television.  I grew up watching cartoons; some were awful, many were mediocre and a great deal were outstanding.  One of the reasons I love animation is because anything is possible and the most ridiculous scenarios are accepted without question because these are drawings and, obviously, not real.  I remember the awe and admiration I felt when I discovered just how many drawings were necessary to create even the smallest action of a character.

Attention to detail and well drawn characters and backgrounds are very important to me.  Some of the animation to be found on television today is so badly drawn and ugly that I cringe when I happen to get a glimpse of it.  I'm probably spoiled because, of course, I have seen almost all the animated Disney features and love many of them.  I've always been partial to the works of Max and Dave Fleisher, too.  I loved watching their version of "Gulliver's Travels".  For me, the creme de la creme of cartoons has always been the efforts from Warner Brothers.  Looney Tunes.  Merrie Melodies.  These represent a marvelous cast of characters invented and brought to life by so many talented artists.  These cartoons are funny, some hysterically so.

My animated hero is Daffy Duck.  I adore Daffy.  He's often depicted as an irascible, selfish, greedy little miser but in earlier cartoons this was not always the case.  It isn't these qualities about Daffy that endear him to me; he just makes me laugh.  In some of the cartoons from the late 1940s through the '50s, he was the leading character and carried himself quite nicely:

Yes, I'm a devoted fan...and just a leetle bit crazy.  I also think one of the choices in the drop-down menu of moods offered in the "Add an Entry" to Journals format should include "daffy" or at the very least, "daft".

As I got older, I was thrilled to discover that there were animated films for adults as well.  So many people automatically equate animation with entertainment for children.  Mention animation and the instant reaction is, oh yeah, Saturday morning kiddie cartoons.  This is far from the truth.  I remember when "The Flintstones" was about to debut on the new fall season lineup.  I recall one of my sisters making it very clear to me that this was to be a show for adults, not children.  It came on around or after my bedtime for heaven's sake.  Can you believe this?  It was years before I realized that "The Flintstones" was merely a redo of "The Honeymooners".

I often think animation is an under-appreciated art form.  It amazes me that I can be reduced to tears of empathy and sympathy over a bunch of drawings.  That is quite an achievement for an animated production.  Several films I've experienced and enjoyed over the years come to mind.  My first taste of adult animation was "Heavy Traffic" by Ralph Bakshi. found this to be simultaneously shocking and sometimes amusing.  An entertaining, beautifully drawn film is "Fire and Ice" featuring much of Frank Frazetta's art (his work is fantastic).  Check out "Heavy Metal" for good old seventies rock classics and a vignette of stories threaded together with the time-honored plot of good versus evil.http:/

I'm sure just about everyone is familiar with "Fantasia" (of course, it's Disney).  "Fantasia 2000" is worth looking at also.  The "Rhapsody in Blue" segment is outstanding.  Much as I love these films, my personal favorite is a little gem called "Allegro Non Troppo".

It's an Italian parody of "Fantasia" but so much more.  If you love animation and classical music, this is a film worthy for fans of both.