Monday, June 30, 2008

A child ... is an original ...

I have heard it said, many times, that there is 'nothing new' under the sun, that everything that is said or thought of is merely an extrapolation, extension, or interpretation of what has been said or thought of before.


When my daughter was very little, she once asked me, "Mommy, do you know why God made clouds?" "No," I said, very interested in what her answer might be, "Why did He?"

"Because He needed a place to walk," she said, very sure of her answer.

A child sees things purely, with no preconceptions or other influences to 'color' his perceptions, yet we are unwilling to rely on his testimony in court.

There was a wonderful movie, released in 1985, called "Witness", which is listed among my all-time favorites under "Thrillers". The story revolves around an 8-year-old Amish boy who witnesses a murder. (There's a lot more to this story, of course, but -- for purposes of this post -- I will not go into it.)

Earlier this evening, while working word puzzles and listening to the Astros game (They won, hooray!), I came across this solution to a "Quotagram".

The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.

I haven't the vaguest idea who the author of this quote might be, and, to tell you the truth, I don't care.

The child's eye sees everything! The adult's eye is colored by previous experiences, background, etc., and -- in my view -- is extremely unreliable. [A few months ago, I described an incident where I was asked my opinion on what had happened.]

How many of you have seen or been personally involved in experiments where something unusual happens (staged) and then questions are asked about the incident? I have not been personally involved, but I know that the answers go all over the place! Very few seem to have actually 'seen' what happened.

SO, when you read my posts I hope you will keep in mind that my views are extremely colored by many years of personal experiences, the vast majority of which you were not a part. I guess what I'm trying to say is one of the reasons some of my posts are so lengthy is that I'm trying to describe where I'm coming from.

Or, maybe I'm just a 'wordaholic'? Whichever. I'm very glad to have all of you as readers and invite your comments, as always.

PS. I was an 'original', at one time, but that was many years ago!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Big 'C'

A blogger friend of mine is closing down her site.

Here is what you read on the opening page ...

This is my story as I journey to places unknown in life ... be it as a wife, a mother, a Christian woman, a friend, or a cancer fighter/survivor. Please know that what I write comes from my heart and soul. My hope is that you see and hear the real me in my writings, quirks and all. Thank you for taking the time to join me on my journey. May we all find beauty, peace, love, and happiness on our way to places unknown.

Isn't that beautiful?

Judy was first diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago. Her current rounds with chemotherapy (fighting the first recurrence of this awful disease) were making her quite ill. She went in every Friday, and did not feel like much of anything until the following Tuesday.

Her posts were all over the place. Most days she was really 'down' and talked about how she was losing her faith in God, that she had no friends, and no one to turn to. Some days, tho, she was feeling almost human. She got her hair cut. That made her feel better.

I noticed that hardly anyone was commenting on her posts. I didn't know her at all -- I'd just found her site cruising the net -- but I hated the thought of someone going through all this thinking that no one cared about her. I began leaving comments. I didn't know what to say, really. I tried to find something positive in each post and expand a bit on that. It wasn't often easy, but I did the best I could. I'm not very good with stuff like that.

She only had two more chemo visits scheduled. Even tho it was making her sick, she thought she was seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel.

Then, last week she found a lump. She went to the doctor immediately, of course, and they did lab tests along with a biopsy, which turned out to be quite painful. She was to find out the results this past Friday.

Well, Thursday night she couldn't sleep and wrote a post describing her fears. I checked her site every day for news. Nothing until today. It's bad news. She's scheduled for major surgery next week followed by more chemotherapy. She did not say what the prognosis is.

Now she's worried about how far throughout her body the cancer might have already spread. She's questioning God. She's going to stop posting, she says, because she has nothing good to say and she wants to conserve what energy she has for her husband and their 3-year-old daughter.

I'm going to share with you my comments on her last post. They're terribly inadequate, I know. I thought and thought, but just couldn't come up with anything that might be of comfort. If you read my words, perhaps you can send a prayer Judy's way that will be better than what I could come up with.

I am so sorry, Judy. I will think of you often in the coming weeks and months. I don't have any magic words to say. If you feel like it, you're more than welcome to read my posts. You know where to find me. I'm sending you a gigantic hug ... hope you can feel it.

I didn't include any platitudes about how God loves her or how I would be praying for her, as I have done before. She's so down right now. I didn't have the right words. Maybe you can find some?

Seventh heaven ...

... was the epithet generally accepted for where the music department was located at Northern Michigan University in 1955.

Located on the third floor (the uppermost) of one of the original buildings on campus, it was reached only by traversing a final set of steep stairs. If there was an elevator on campus at that time, I don't remember it.

I have a lot of memories of my time there, some of which I'd like to share with you.

Marching band ...

All members of the marching band had to be on campus at least two weeks prior to the start of the school year. Two reasons: 1) To become familiar with the music; 2) To get out onto the football field and begin learning the formations for half-time shows.

[Prior to enrolling at NMU, I had attended a couple of summer 'band camps', the memories of one of which I'd like to share. We had a guest conductor (can't remember his name, which is normal for me) who was heavy on the tummy side and always sat with his rear end kind of half-anchored on a stool.

He was pleasant enough. Perhaps halfway through the camp, however, he stopped the rehearsal and told us a story.

He'd been a guest conductor at a band camp many years before, he said, and had noticed a cornet player who didn't ever seem to have the instrument at his mouth. 'Paul' (that was his first name, still don't remember his last!) thought he'd see if the kid knew anything at all, stopped the rehearsal, and -- pointing his baton at the child -- asked what 'key' the piece was in. The student immediately replied, "The key of C."

Shocked (That was the correct answer!) almost beyond words, Paul asked, "How do you know?" To which the young man replied, "Because there's nothing there."

This is kind of an 'in' joke. I apologize to those of you who know nothing whatsoever about music!]

All right. I was now a music major at NMU, and we were in rehearsal prior to the start of the semester.

About halfway through the rehearsal, in walks this pimply-faced kid. "T Ray" (the conductor) stops the band, turns around and says, "Yes?" To which the PFK asks, "Is this the marching band?" T Ray responds, "Yes, it is. Welcome! What instrument do you play?" PFK answers, "I play the piano."

Folks, I kid you not!

Well, you could have heard a feather drop on the rehearsal room floor after that answer. I mean, there was DEAD silence!

Finally, after many interminable seconds, T Ray said, "Well, if you can figure out how to carry it on your back we'll find a way to fit you in."

PFK exited in extreme mortification, all red-faced. (I mean, what could he have been thinking??)

Mike Nichols and Elaine May ...

We were a pretty tight-knit group.

I can remember many times when we would all gather around either a piano or to the latest recording of Mike Nichols and Elaine May, trying our darndest to sing off key. (That's really hard to do, by the way, when you have perfect or relative pitch, as many of us had!)

How late is 'late'? ...

I think we're all accustomed, now, to waiting in line, waiting at the doctor's/dentist's office, waiting at the grocery/hardware store to check out, waiting at the post office, waiting, waiting, waiting!

When I was an undergraduate at NMU, it was not uncommon for students to walk out of a classroom (after a reasonable period of time waiting for the professor to appear). Classes were scheduled for one hour, normally, but it was 'assumed' that they would be only 50 or so actual minutes in length. (Time had to be allowed to 'commute' between classrooms.)

You didn't want to walk out too soon, or you'd have a negative mark on your record, which could ultimately affect your grade.

There was one music professor, in particular, who was notoriously late for his classes. And, wouldn't you know, he was the head of the department.

One time, someone (wasn't I, altho I'm sure you suspected as much!) asked him, "How much time should we allow for the teacher/professor to appear before we can take it upon ourselves to 'walk out'?"

His answer? Depends on the degree ... Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate, post-,etc. ... the higher the degree the more time must be allowed.

Here and there

Astros update ...

Well, they won last night, 11-10, in a somewhat wild game of runs coming in spurts. Certainly no one should get excited. They're something like eleven games out of first place.

Earlier last week, one of our pitchers was put on waivers. If no one claims him by tomorrow, then he will be released outright with no pay. This fairly unprecedented maneuver, which was approved by the league office, was due (Astros' front office stated) to the pitcher physically attacking the general manager.

Model trains ...

Lots and lots of little boys, and even a few girls, grow up playing with model trains -- setting up mock towns, laying out tracks, planning schedules, etc. Some never outgrow this childhood fantasy.

Doug Johnson, Channel 2's weatherman from some years back (you might remember him), was one of these. And, on his daily radio talk show, he would often talk about his latest 'addition'. It almost made me want to do something on my own with model trains, I found his enthusiasm that infectious.

Yesterday, just an incredible piece on "The Train Lady" was posted. Even if you are not a model train aficionado, I think you might enjoy taking a few moments to view this link. I found it almost unbelievable!

Fragmented orchestra ...

"Whaaat!" you say. My sentiments exactly. So, I read further.

The idea behind the thing was (as I vaguely understand it) based on neurons firing within the brain, the brain processing same and then sending out more signals to other parts of the body. A kind of circular and on-going/never-ending process.

It seems that three people have devised this 'fragmented orchestra' in Europe. It's not 'on line' yet, but you can read more about it here. By the way, be sure to click on the "map" link in the 4th paragraph. It's the darndest thing! Looks like a butterfly to me.

Tennis trivia ...

You will almost never see me writing about tennis, BUT ... in listening to the early morning news today, this fact leapt out at me.

Do you know who holds the world's record for the fastest serve by a female? (Close your eyes and think before looking at the answer, which is coming next.)

First they showed the serve, which my eyes could hardly follow because it was going so fast, then they named the mph (127!). Turns out that it was Venus Williams.

Well, folks, that's it for right now. Got to go and watch Charles Osgood. More later, undoubtedly.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

"Its" vs. "It's"

The English language can be most confounding at times.

Let's look at just a few examples ... ...

... Take the case of "I" vs. "me", "he" vs. "him", etc. Most of us are taught, from a very early age, to begin a sentence with I (not me), he (not him), etc. And then, of course, comes this result -- when you hear a person say, "I and Pete went to the store." Now they have to be corrected. (You know, it's not polite to list yourself first.) That's confusion enough, I should think.

Where the confusion really sets in is when you want to refer to yourself or the second person in the middle (or even at the end) of a sentence. "It is I" and "Is that he?" are both correct, by the way. I know, I know. Neither 'sounds right'. (One of the reasons they don't sound right is that very few people speak our common language correctly!)

... Let's look at plurals. We are taught for the sake of simplicity that, to indicate a plural, one merely places an "s" at the end of the original word. Then they try to teach us the many exceptions: families/familys, women/womans/, geese/gooses, we/I, they/he, you/you ... WAIT! Where'd that one come from??

[Legend has it here in the south that "y'all" is singular, and "all y'all" is plural.]

ToDAY, tho, I'd like to focus on "its" vs. "it's". In my opinion, this is the most commonly misunderstood and misapplied.

There is one hard and fast rule -- no exceptions. (At least, none to my knowledge!) "It's" is a contraction, a shorter way of saying "It is". (The apostrophe takes the place of the missing letter/s. In this case, the second 'i'.) Let's look at some examples:

1. It's my turn. (It is my turn.)
2. It's about time you came back. (It is about time you came back.)
3. That company should get it's act together. (Did you mean to say, "That company should get 'it is' act together?" Of course not.) Should have said "its act".

I repeat, "It's" is a contraction, a shorter way of saying "It is".

At all other times, including those denoting possession, use "its". Examples:

1. Its purpose is to put gas in your tank. (Correct.)
2. Don't you think it's about time we acted? (Correct ... it is.)
3. Once this happens, its really not much longer until ... (Not correct. You meant to say, 'it is really not much longer until', but you did not indicate the contraction with an apostrophe.)

SO, apostrophe = contraction. No apostrophe = all other applications.

I invite your comments or questions of concern. I will do my very best to answer them in a positive and constructive manner.

George Carlin (May 12, 1937 - June 22, 2008)

My age. Just a month and nine days older than I when he died this past Sunday following his 4th heart attack.

An extremely controversial figure, George seemed to court public criticism and media attention with his sensational, sometimes vulgar, shows.

Perhaps the most famous is the "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television", which later -- indirectly -- led to a Supreme Court decision on an FCC ruling.

He did not vote, and often criticized elections as an 'illusion of choice'.

On religion, he often joked that he worshiped the sun, one reason being that he could actually see it. He prayed to Joe Pesci, he said, because he "looks like a guy who can get things done".

I would never have paid to go and see one of George's shows. Vulgarity does not turn me on. Nevertheless, I can remember often laughing hysterically at a one-liner of his.

His command of the English language, however, was very fine, and he had a really good time making fun of euphemisms and other common words or phrases that he thought were pompous, presumptuous, or even silly.

In his post Tuesday, Chuck recounts twenty of George's more printable one-liners.

Interestingly enough, on June 18th this year, just four days prior to his death, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts had announced that he would be the 2008 honoree of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Since his death, after first conferring with the family and then PBS (who had been originally scheduled to air the show), it was decided that the show will go on. It will air on PBS in November, when George Carlin will become the first posthumous recipient of this honor.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A microcosm

If ever there was a true definition of the word "microcosm", it can be found -- but you have to have a pretty good-sized set of waders in order to try and plow through all of them and not have your eyeballs permanently cross with all of the misspellings and a LOT of free time -- encapsulated in the more than 450 (!!?!?!!) comments in response to a set of 16 pictures posted here.

A friend of mine sent me an e-mail this morning with this site referenced. Initially I thought, "OK. I'll look at some more flooding photos of Iowa." I didn't want to. I mean, I've thought about and prayed for these people so many times, I really didn't want to look at their suffering again. But, I did.

These are no ordinary photographs, by the way. Some I thought were just kind of so-so, but most were really quite extraordinary. Remarkably different from those posted on your local news stations.

When I came to the last of the 16 photos, making a few notes along the way as to what I wanted to include in a response to my friend, the "Comments" section began.

I thought I would read just a few. So I did. And then I kept reading, my jaw dropping MANY times as I did so. Does no commentor ever read what has been said before? Are we all so fascinated with our own viewpoint that we cannot/will not bother to listen to or read what another person has to say?

Commentors' opinions ranged from A-ZZZ, let me tell you. Shocking! Appalling!!

Global warming ... Bush ... Race ... Police ... Government ... Katrina comparisons ... The end is coming! ... Sue-happy ... US is being punished ... Blame

You name an opinion, it's there.

I'd like to cite just a few of the commentors, altho you're certainly welcome to go through them all, as I did.

#282 ... Refers to the first picture of the 16, and involves (Who else?).

#?? ... Extremely insulting and thoughtless. Says, "Anyone want to go swimming?"

#72 ... Talks about how the US supports (darned near) the whole rest of the world in their time of need ("for political advancements, of course", he says, which I find to be repugnant) with no reciprocation. This particular comment reminded me of a recorded essay that I have heard many times, but to which I have as of this writing been unable to find the exact cite. When/if I do, I will come back and edit, OK?

#90 ... My notes say "Idiot". (I'll go back to it and try and find out why I said that.) I did. My opinion stands.

#125 ... "Scary" in my notes. (I just reread it. Should have said 'damn' scary!)

#156 ... "Hilarious" in notes. (Doesn't sound right, does it? I'll reread.) I reread. Not hilarious, but there were so many other comments on 'blame', I guess I found this one kind of a breath of fresh air.

#435 ... "Thoughtful" in notes. (Still agree.)

Get this! After you have survived all the rough commentors' waters, perhaps you might like to add a comment? The "Comment" site says, "This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it." Are you kidding me?!? Four hundred fifty some comments and the blogger is reviewing each one? I don't think so! (And no, I didn't try and post a comment.)

Shoot! I was all set to hit the "Publish Post" button when I remembered that I had not recommended that you at least hit the link to see the photographs. DO so, OK?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Country roads

One of the things that made me so quickly want to call Houston 'home' when I first arrived many years ago was the friendliness of the people.

The temperature is, for much of the year, on the warm side. Some people might use the adjective 'hot'. In addition, the prevailing winds come from the south, and guess what's there? The Gulf of Mexico. So, combined with the heat, we have a lot of humidity*. If the thermometer reads 100 degrees or above, Fahrenheit, even I feel it! So, the weather is not usually an attraction.

Scenery? Unless you like mucky goo, scrub flora (for the most part), brown water**, and flatness (the closest thing we have to a 'hill' is a fire ant mound), truly there isn't a whole lot in the way of natural features to entice a stranger.

There is great beauty here, but much of it is man-made. Houston's downtown skyline is spectacular! Even though I've lived here for a long time, I never tire of viewing it, particularly at night. It's not quite so lit up now as it used to be. Conserving energy and all that, you know. If you happen to be coming in from the northeast in daylight, along Highway 59, you have the added treat of a juxtaposition of the old in the foreground with the new in the background. Quite special.

But I digress. I'll do some posts further down the road with more specifics on Houston and, in general, on Texas. Let's get back to the topic at hand, which is (I'll have to go back to the top to find out what it is) ... I found it! Aha!!

OK. The thing that almost took my breath away when I first arrived was the friendliness of the people, and it seemed to be genuine. It was extremely unusual*** to go into a store -- ANY store -- and not have another shopper (not one of the salespeople or clerks, who are paid to do so!) smile and say hello.

What inspired THIS post was another blogger's remarks on his site Saturday, 6/21, which was my birthday, now that I think about it. Gee, that seems like a long time ago! I'm not going to quote what he said word for word, but the gist is ... ...

He's walking along a country road. A car approaches him and the driver gives a one-fingered (index) wave. He's impressed by the gesture of friendliness, and memories come flooding back.

Well, when I read this post, my mind immediately went back to years ago, when I was first traveling along a country road going north from Schulenberg (TX), as I recall, towards Austin.

In Texas, that part of the world is known as the 'hill country'. The roads wind round about and twist and turn. There is very little room for passing, so the vast majority of the time there is a double yellow stripe in the center of the two-lane road.

One might think that this would create just a tremendous line of traffic behind the slow-moving vehicle in front. No. Never happened. At least, not that I saw!

How is this circumvented? Quite simply, actually. The slow-mover merely pulls over (almost into the ditch) to allow the faster vehicle/s to pass. (The first time I saw this happen, I thought the other driver was having car trouble!)

Then, of course, the faster drivers are obliged to give not just a one-finger wave, but a full hand-waving salute along with a smile and a slight horn tap of appreciation. This habitual practice of common courtesy and decency is still being being adhered to today, to the best of my knowledge, in Texas' hill country.

*Humidity. I grew up in the far north where, after a rain, I could actually smell and feel the fresh air. In Houston, after it rains, it's like you're in a sauna bath! (You might have a split second or two to smell the fresh air, but then the humidity returns in an almost overwhelming fashion.)

**Brown water. I think that was my second biggest surprise. Where I grew up, there WAS no such thing as 'brown' water, unless there were horrendous flooding conditions, of course! Then, as I grew to understand why it was so -- water has to be able to cleanse itself by movement and rocks -- I gradually began to accept it.

***Not quite so unusual today but still, the people you happen to meet or just pass by -- if you are at ALL attuned to what's going on around you -- I find are quite receptive to a sincere smile, greeting, or thoughtful remark.

Random facts

I am shamelessly stealing these almost verbatim from several of Chuck's posts. Some are funny, some are a little scary, and others are downright unbelievable! I have not checked the accuracy of any of these reputed "facts", so if you know for sure that one (or more) is (or are) not true, let me know, OK? And be sure to cite your source.

1. Many years ago in Scotland, a new game was invented. It was ruled "Gentlemen Only ... Ladies Forbidden", thereby coining the word GOLF.

2. Coca-Cola was originally green. [And all this time I thought that only the glass bottles were green!]

3. You are more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than by a spider.

4. Of all the people ever born, one-half are still alive.

5. Grapes explode when you put them in the microwave.

6. The liquid inside young coconuts can be used as a substitute for blood plasma.

7. If the population of China walked past you in single file, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction. [I wonder if that's an old source? It's my understanding that couples are allowed only one child. If the baby is a girl, she is often given up for adoption and the couple tries again for a boy. Perhaps I'm wrong? Wouldn't be the first time.]

8. The world's oldest piece of chewing gum is over 9000 years old. [Yuk!]

9. Every time you lick a stamp, you're consuming 0.1 of a calorie. [See? I knew there was a reason my body wasn't consuming enough calories!]

10. The bloodhound is the only animal whose evidence is admissible in an American court.

11. The largest number of children born to one woman is 69 (in Russia). [!?!]

12. It takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 muscles to frown. [See #9. I smile too much. If I frowned more, I would be getting more exercise, right?]

13. Teeth are the only parts of the human body that can't repair themselves.

14. The total length of all eyelashes shed by one human in his lifetime is over one hundred feet.

15. Americans consume about 100 acres of pizza per day.

16. Penguins have an organ above their eyes that changes seawater to freshwater.

17. The skin of baby mice is so transparent that you can see the milk flowing into them as they suckle.

18. On average women say 7000 words per day. Men manage just over 2000. [And at least four of those are "Hey, how's it goin'?", particularly on sports talk shows.]

19. Rats can go without water longer than camels. [Now that's a fact I could have done without. Disgusting creatures!]

20. The hyoid bone (throat) is the only bone in the human body not joined to another.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Flying kites

What kid hasn't flown a kite?

Many years ago, when Dad and stepmom were here for a visit, third husband and I took them far out on the east side of town near the San Jacinto Monument. (For those of you who are not familiar with Texas history, THAT is where Santa Anna was -- quite literally, according to legend -- caught 'with his pants down', so to speak, dilly-dallying with his sweet young thing while the vast majority of his troops were taking a siesta.)

[By the way, they don't pronounce it "Sahn Haseento" here. They say "San Jacinta". Try rhyming that with "San Francisca" and you're good to go.]

It was a gorgeous day! High puffy clouds, bright sun (This was in the years before I started to get concerned about the possibility of skin cancer!), and a pretty good-sized wind. Just a perfect day for kite-flying!

As hubby was getting all of the kite paraphernalia out of the trunk, GG (Grandma Gladys, as I affectionately called her) seemed to be getting a little excited. She whispered to me that my dad had NEVER flown a kite. (!!??!!) Not in his whole life? Not even when he was a kid??

I had to think back to whatall my dad and I had done together when I was a child. He had taken me for lots of rides in our wagon, I remembered. Those were neat! (I was being pulled along the sidewalk around our block by my daddy!!)

We went fishing, he and I. He loved to fish! He particularly enjoyed wading out into the icy cold streams and fly casting. He hardly ever caught anything. (In other words, Mom always had supper all prepared, 'just in case'. If he accidentally DID catch something, she could always freeze it, right?) He just liked being there and trying!

When the two of us were together (and, to the best of my knowledge, I was the only one of us three kids who ever went fishing with him), we were usually in a rowboat. Daddy would row for a bit while I trolled, and then we would sit in quiet waters, jiggling our bait (I got really good at impaling those big garden worms on a hook) in hopes of attracting an unsuspecting trout or bass.

All right now, where was I? Oh yeah, hubby was removing kite paraphernalia from the trunk. Well!! Let me tell ya, that was one successful afternoon.

How the heck did I get onto THIS subject, anyway? I mean, it's going on towards July, for crying out loud! Don't people usually think of flying kites in March? April, maybe?

Well, I'm going to tell you. I was cruising the net earlier, feeling the most huMONgous sense of relief at finally finishing and then posting the third segment of my "all time favorites", when I came across this picture.

Now, I ask you. Does that kite look like a dragonfly, or does that kite look like a dragonfly?

My first thought, as my mind immediately began to wander, was of a canoe trip my first husband and I had taken many years ago, vividly described here, where we had the unique opportunity of observing dragonflies 'hatching'.

But then my mind turned to another memory, that of even further years back, when DD was perhaps just two or three years old.

We were out on Montauk Point (NY), and were really having a good time. The wind was kicking up pretty good-sized waves, and kites were flying just EVERYwhere! HUGE ones!! Ones that, upon first glance, looked like they would take four or five hefty men to initially lift, run along the beach with, and then let go so that the kites could finally majestically -- perhaps even threateningly --'soar' into the skies.

Well, he decided that he absolutely just HAD to have one! I questioned how, just between the two of us, we could hope to get it up. Hubby assured me that these other people didn't really know what they were doing ... that, between the two of us (and actually, I was pretty physically fit at the time), we could easily accomplish the task.

OK. I bought into his argument and away we went. We ran and ran and ran and ran and ran some more. All of a sudden, the thing rose into the air!! My husband shouted triumphantly. It was kind of exciting, actually! There it went, higher -- ever higher -- until, with no warning at all the 'thing' took just a terrible nosedive and went crashing into this pretty good-sized tent that had been erected in the campgrounds.

The tent was still shaking when hubby and I arrived. We certainly hoped no one was injured! Heavens!! Out of the tent came this extremely gracious woman who understood completely, she said. She'd seen lots of these enormous kites before, and had even thought of purchasing one for herself. We parted laughing and smiling.

Some time later, after many successful forays into the stratosphere and about to call it a day, actually, our UFO all of a sudden decided that it'd like to dive-bomb the ladies' latrine!

Down, down it went. It didn't collapse the latrine, having been built of sturdier stuff than the tents, but nevertheless hubby and I ran at full speed, hoping against hope that no one had been hurt. He didn't accompany me inside. It was the ladies' latrine, after all!

You'll never believe who came out of a stall, infuriated ... yes, it was the same very gracious lady whose tent our 'beast' had tried to collapse only a short while back.

Favorites ... movies ...

Well, this project might have been just a touch ambitious.

Splitting it up into three different posts was a really good idea, now that I'm almost finished and looking back on it.

You know what happened? For two or three weeks I was just making idle notations of films that I remembered enjoying, placing them into categories, and worrying about how the devil I was possibly going to be able to come up with 71 of my 'favorites' for my 71st birthday. Then I got into Wikipedia on a more serious basis and got caught up in actors' life histories, clicked on one reference which led to another that led to another, etc. I'm sure you know how that can go. I got side-tracked BIG time!

But, I'm ready. There are 19 categories, of which you'll find the most heavily-loaded are "Based on novels", "Comedy", "Based on real-life people", and "Musicals". These four contain approximately half of the nominees (more than 190 altogether) for my 'most favorite'.

Many of the films listed could have been placed under a number of different categories. I chose the one that I felt was the most apt. Here they are, in alphabetical order.

Action/Adventure ...

Die Hard* Indiana Jones*

Based on novels ...

Absolute Power '97 Born Yesterday '50 Cheaper by the Dozen '50 Deliverance '72 Doctor Zhivago '65 Fahrenheit 451 '66 First Blood '82 Forrest Gump '94 From Here to Eternity '53 Giant '56 Gone With the Wind '39 Hawaii '66 Midnight Cowboy '69 Mrs. Doubtfire '93 Of Human Bondage '34 On the Beach '59 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest '75 Rear Window '54** Sayonara '57 So Big '53 The African Queen '51 The Cider House Rules '99 The Color Purple '85 The Godfather '72 The Graduate '67 The Green Mile '99 The Hunt for Red October '90 The Man Who Would Be King '75 The Poseidon Adventure '72 The Silence of the Lambs '91 The Snake Pit '48 Three Days of the Condor '75 Witness for the Prosecution '57

Based on real-life people ...

All the President's Men '76 Anastasia '56 Birdman of Alcatraz '62 Bonnie and Clyde '67 Call Northside 777 '48 Charlie Wilson's War '07 Gypsy '62 I Want to Live! '55 I'll Cry Tomorrow '55 Inn of the Sixth Happiness '58 Johnny Belinda '48 Love Me or Leave Me '55 Mutiny on the Bounty '62 Out of Africa '85 Papillon '73 Patch Adams '98 Patton '70 Stand and Deliver '88 The Three Faces of Eve '57 With a Song in My Heart '52

Christmas ...

It's a Wonderful Life '46 Miracle on 34th Street '47 The Christmas Box '95

Comedy ...

Auntie Mame '58 Cactus Flower '69 Groundhog Day '93 Grumpy Old Men* Here Comes Mr. Jordan '41*** Hopscotch '80 Maverick '94 Nine to Five '80 Pillow Talk '59 Saving Grace '00 Sister Act* Smokey and the Bandit* Some Like it Hot '59 The Bad News Bears '76 The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas '82 The Birdcage '96 The Great Race '65 The Odd Couple '68 The Sting '73 Tom Jones '63 Tootsie '82 Trading Places '83

Crime ...

Charley Varrick '73 Death Wish* Dirty Harry* In the Line of Fire '93 Mississippi Burning '88

Drama ...

Cool Hand Luke '67 Dark Victory '39**** Mr. Smith Goes to Washington '39 On Golden Pond '81 Rain Man '88 Splendor in the Grass '61 The Bucket List '07 The Country Girl '54 The Greatest Show on Earth '52 The Heiress '49 The Left Hand of God '55 The Men '50

Family Film Drama ...

Swiss Family Robinson '60 The Kid '00 The Yearling '46

Fantasy ...

Doctor Dolittle '67 Ghost '90 Nim's Island '08 Superman* The Ghost and Mrs. Muir '47 Wizard of Oz '39

Musicals ...

A Star is Born '54 An American in Paris '51 Brigadoon '54 Cabaret '72 Camelot '67 Fiddler on the Roof '71 Gigi '58 Hello, Dolly! '69 Mary Poppins '64 My Fair Lady '64 Oliver! '68 Paint Your Wagon '69 Singin' in the Rain '52 South Pacific '58 The King and I '56***** The Music Man '62 The Sound of Music '65 Thoroughly Modern Millie '67 Viktor/Victoria '82 West Side Story '61

Race Relations ...

Driving Miss Daisy '89 In the Heat of the Night '67 The Defiant Ones '58 To Kill a Mockingbird '62

Relationships ...

East of Eden '55 First Monday in October '81 Georgy Girl '66 Good Will Hunting '97 Julia '77 Leave Her to Heaven '45 Little Man Tate '91 Pocketful of Miracles '61 Scarecrow '73 The Preacher's Wife '96 The Sterile Cuckoo '69

Religion ...

Ben-Hur '59 Exodus '60 The Robe '53 The Ten Commandments '56

Romance ...

All That Heaven Allows '55 An Affair to Remember '57 Casablanca '42 Dirty Dancing '87 Laura '44 Love is a Many-Splendored Thing '55 Magnificent Obsession '54 Not as a Stranger '54 Sabrina '54******* Scaramouche '52 Somewhere in Time '80 The Enchanted Cottage '45 The Notebook '04 The Way We Were '73

Science Fiction ...

Back to the Future* Cocoon '85 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial '82 Planet of the Apes '68 Star Wars*

Sports ...

Field of Dreams '89 The Longest Yard '74 The Natural '84

Thrillers ...

Basic Instinct '92 Charade '63 Disclosure '94 Fatal Attraction '87 Kiss of Death '47 Psycho '62 The Boys from Brazil '78 The Dark Secret of Harvest Home '78 The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane '76 The Manchurian Candidate '62 What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? '62 Witness '85

War ...

Bridge on the River Kwai '57 Saving Private Ryan '98 Stalag 17 '53 The Great Escape '63 The Sand Pebbles '66 Uncommon Valor '83

Westerns ...

Broken Arrow '50 Broken Lance '54 Calamity Jane '53 Cat Ballou '65 Duel in the Sun '46 Two Mules for Sister Sara '70

Well, there you are, my nominees as of very early in the morning hours on June 23, 2008. No doubt I will update, add to, or even delete portions of this list by the same time next year, on my 72nd, but for now, it is what it is.

OK. What do the asterisks mean? The single (*) asterisk means that there is a series of films with this (or a similar) title, and I like them all pretty much equally ... so, take your pick. (If there is no *, that means I ONLY like the year indicated.)

I am well aware that there have been many "redo's" of films over the years. If I like them all about equally, asterisks have been placed next to the preferred date, and I will give all references immediately following this statement. (If I do NOT like them all about equally, no reference at all will be made. If you have any questions, please indicate so in the "Comment" section, and I will do my best to respond in a more concise manner.)

**Rear Window '54 was remade in '98 with Christopher Reeve ... VERY scary!!

***Here Comes Mr. Jordan '41 was successfully remade in '78 with Warren Beatty. I've seen that one, and it's excellent. Supposedly there have been two others, but I cannot personally vouch for them.

****Dark Victory '39 was remade in '63 as Stolen Hours with Susan Hayward. Then, in '76, came back out again under the original title with Elizabeth Montgomery. ALL are quite good. It's a tear-jerking story.

*****The King and I '56 was remade in a somewhat different fashion with Jodie Foster as Anna in '99. The title on the remake is Anna and the King. It takes a really close second, in my opinion, so I'm including it.

******Sabrina '54 was re-introduced in '95 with Harrison Ford. Definitely worth watching.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Favorites ... actors ...

Well, this post is just going to be all over the place, I have a feeling. But, it's my birthday and I guess I'm allowed. Maybe it'll begin to organize itself as I go along? We'll see.

Deborah Kerr ...

In 1994 the Motion Picture Academy cited her for a film career that always represented "Perfection, Discipline and Elegance". Among my favorites are:

King Solomon's Mines (1950) with Stewart Granger ... I'll never forget that scene where he swipes this huge tarantula off of her skirt with his hat.

From Here to Eternity (1953) with Burt Lancaster ... torrid (for the time) love scene on the beach. Frank Sinatra distinguishes himself as an actor in this film.

The King and I (1956) with Yul Brynner ... I prefer this version over all others.

**An Affair to Remember (1957) with Cary Grant ... I cry every time.

The Sundowners (1960) with Robert Mitchum

Cary Grant ...

One of my all-time favorites, for sure. So MANY movie credits (And so many marriages [5], and I thought I was bad! I'm not going to repeat any gossip about other aspects of his personal life.), it's really hard to pick out just a few.

He made a bunch for Alfred Hitchcock, who really liked him. I like all of them!

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) ... Did you know that the part of Mortimer was originally intended for Bob Hope, then offered to Jack Benny and Ronald Reagan before Cary got it? I can't imagine any of them playing the part as well as he did!

I Was a Male War Bride (1949) with Ann Sheridan ... VERY funny!

Father Goose (1964) with Leslie Caron ... a really good story. Read the write-up in Wikipedia. That should provide enough incentive to rent it, I think.

Judy Garland ...

She had the most beautiful voice! So strong and natural. I never liked to watch her sing, tho. She had this (I found quite irritating) habit of jerking her hand through her hair while she was singing, but boy could she sing!

The Wizard of Oz is delightful, but my favorite of hers is **A Star is Born (1954) with James Mason. I spent about an hour the other day listening to what's available on YouTube from that film, and have chosen this one with the triple-screen. The bottom take, in case you have never seen the movie, is what made the final cut. I tried to find one where she's sitting on a stage singing about her early life, but it doesn't seem to be there.

Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn ...

Appeared in many films together, beginning in 1944.

**Cocoon (1985) is one. A real classic. Another is To Dance with the White Dog (1993 telefilm). Poignant.

**Driving Miss Daisy (1989) with Morgan Freeman and Dan Aykroyd. 'Miss Daisy' is played by Jessica (Hume isn't in this one). There's a very special relationship that develops between Miss Daisy and her driver, played by Morgan Freeman. If you have never seen this movie, I highly recommend it.

Audrey Hepburn ...

A gamine, what a delight she was! To look at her, you would never know how much she suffered during World War II. There's an extensive write-up about her in Wikipedia. I would like to have known her.

I guess my most favorite of all her films are Sabrina (1954), with Humphrey Bogart and William Holden and **My Fair Lady (1964), with Rex Harrison.

Richard Chamberlain ...

A very fine actor, I like The Man in the Iron Mask (1977) best, followed closely by The Thorn Birds (1983), a TV miniseries. I was never a Dr. Kildare fan.

Walter Matthau ...

What a funny man! I loved to watch him walk. He made a bunch of films with Jack Lemmon, my favorite which, of course, is **The Odd Couple (1968). I went to see that movie with a nine months pregnant friend of mine, and I thought she was going to have the baby right there, she was laughing so hard!

The Bad News Bears (1976) is a dandy, but I think my first preference of all his films is **Hopscotch (1980) with Glenda Jackson. This picture has so many twists and turns it makes my head spin, and Glenda Jackson is the perfect complement. If you decide to rent this movie, I recommend that you allow for at least two showings. There's a lot to absorb.

Katharine Hepburn ...

I was never much of a Katharine Hepburn fan personally, but there is no denying her acting ability. I read her autobiography, "Me", some years ago. She might as well have been speaking out loud. Very interesting. There's a neat shot in there of her skate-boarding. She must have been in her 80's at the time! A few of her films that I particularly liked include:

Stage Door (1937) ... might have been one of her best performances.

The African Queen (1951) with Humphrey Bogart

Rooster Cogburn (1975) with John Wayne

**On Golden Pond (1981) with Henry Fonda

Meryl Streep ...

An enormously talented actress, I have placed her immediately following Katharine Hepburn because of her many awards, altho there is only one of her movies that I would choose to watch again, Out of Africa (1985) with Robert Redford.

Charlton Heston ...

A man of strong personal convictions, he was actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement. In later years, the NRA. It was a real tragedy that Alzheimer's took him. Wikipedia has a 'ton' of information on him, if you'd like to look it up.

Altho most of you will remember **The Ten Commandments (1956) and **Ben-Hur (1959), where he portrays larger-than-life characters in epic films, I wonder if you know about

**The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) with James Stewart and many other well-known stars, and directed by Cecil B. DeMille.

**Planet of the Apes (1968) was somewhat of a departure for him. It's the ONLY Planet of the Apes film that I liked, by the way.

Burt Lancaster ...

I would watch again:

Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) with Barbara Stanwyck ... I'd forgotten about this one!

Jim Thorpe -- All-American (1951) ... I'd forgotten about this one, as well! It's based on a true story, for those of you who don't know, that of the Native American who won medals in the 1912 Olympics and went on to further distinguish himself in various sports.

Run Silent Run Deep (1958) with Clark Gable ... set in WWII.

Elmer Gantry (1960) with Jean Simmons ... do you like flim-flam?

**Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) ... probably my favorite of all of his films (and, as you can see, I like a bunch!), this is a fictionalized account of Robert Stroud, who was actually an inmate in a federal prison.

Sidney Poitier ...

I don't think I have seen all of his films, but of the ones I've seen, these stand out most in my memory:

**The Defiant Ones (1958) with Tony Curtis

Porgy and Bess (1959) ... Dorothy Dandridge's voice was dubbed. Why?!?

Lilies of the Field (1963)

A Patch of Blue (1965) with Elizabeth Hartman

To Sir, with Love (1967)

**In the Heat of the Night (1967) with Rod Steiger

John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara ...

There's an interesting little tidbit in Wikipedia about how John Wayne got the nickname "Duke". It seems that, when he was a kid, he never went anywhere without his huge Airedale Terrier dog, Duke, and a local fireman at the firehouse on his route to school started calling him "Little Duke". It stuck.

Largely remembered for his roles in Western films, True Grit (1969), and as an aviator, The High and the Mighty (1954), he also made

The Quiet Man (1952) with the two of them co-starring.

Maureen O'Hara made a truly memorable telefilm in 1995, **The Christmas Box, which is a 'must see'.

Bette Davis and Joan Crawford ...

Never a fan of either, altho I greatly admired their acting talents, together they filmed **What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) ... engrossing.

The only other film I'm going to list here is one that Bette Davis made with George Brent in 1939, Dark Victory. This story has been remade twice, in 1963 as 'Stolen Hours' with Susan Hayward and again in 1976 under the original title (NBC telefilm). I liked both remakes, altho the original still has my vote for the top spot.

(You know, I think 'An Affair to Remember' has been remade a couple of times under different titles. I seem to remember that I enjoyed those, as well.)

I'm going to go ahead and re-publish this now. I may decide to come back to it later and add a few more names. First, tho, I'd like some time to think about who all will be included in the next post, which will focus on movies instead of actors.

I hope you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane. Please feel free to comment as you please. Any and all are welcome.

**Will be a part of the next post.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Guess what I have?

You'll never ever guess, so I'll tell you.

I have in my possession a brand new (expiration date 2014!!!) driver's license, one that has not been mauled or bitten or chewed on by a German shepherd when it accidentally fell out of my pocket and he thought it was something to play with. (I was frantically trying to grab it, but he was faster.)

Lawdy, lawdy, it's purty! I may decide to frame the darned thing.

I renewed it by mail, which sure was convenient. HowEVer, along with the new license came a letter of explanation that the new licenses feature endorsements, such as a directive to physicians, an emergency contact number, and allergic reactions to drugs. If they'd offered me that originally, my license could have had ALL of those!

Will look at the letter again later. Right now I'm of a mind just to ignore it. We'll see.

Health update ...

Halfway through the day Wednesday I realized that I had forgotten to take my pill. Too late! So, what I did was take it first thing yesterday morning. (This part of my post is being written early Friday.) Had a slight case of heartburn (now I know what it feels like), which was alleviated almost immediately by drinking a bunch more water. Then, a couple of hours ago had a little diarrhea. Nothing before or since. I'm hoping both were due to my being late taking it. Will go back to Wednesday next week, and see what happens then.

I switched from those humongous calcium and Vitamin D pills that had to be pummeled into swallowable submission to Viactiv, which is a chewable milk chocolate. (Janet's suggestion. Thank you!) I asked the fellow who was assisting me what they tasted like, and he said, "Probably cardboard." He was wrong, by the way. They're actually pretty good. Viactiv also contains Vitamins D & K, so those requirements are easily met. Not quite enough of the calcium, but I eat a lot of cheese and am having milk with my fresh strawberries, so I should be OK there.

As far as monitoring my own blood pressure, I haven't been getting any readings above 125 -- EVER! Think I should take it in next week to see if it's accurate.

Preview of upcoming attractions

My 71st birthday is Saturday -- and yes, I'm a "first day of summer" gal. (By the way, it's the ONLY "first day of whatever season" whose date I can remember for sure!) Some of you already know that I have been intending to write a post talking about my all-time favorite movies, TV shows, actors, etc.

Well, I've been compiling lists and making pertinent notes in regard to same off and on for the past two weeks, trying to be a little more prepared to write this (what will probably be a terribly lengthy) post.

It was only earlier this morning that I realized I was going to have to 'split off' a category, that of favorite TV shows. (I may decide tomorrow that I will do another splinter, that of favorite actors. We'll see.)

When I got this idea originally, I thought I would do a 'list of my 71 all-time favorite movies'. Then, as I got into it and began paying more attention, I stopped counting and instead began categorizing. There were STILL too many!

OK. The focus today is on my all-time favorite TV shows. There is only one, and that is M*A*S*H.

I don't know exactly where my mind was, minute by minute, from 1972-1983, but for sure it wasn't on television. I mean, I think I knew that that series existed, but I wasn't paying any attention at all to TV! (I don't think it helped M*A*S*H's case later, either, that my 3rd husband -- who was very fond of criticizing my every action, including how I wrang out the dish cloth -- put that series at the very top of his 'couch potato' watching list.)

But let's get back to M*A*S*H. Of the more than 250 episodes, I think the ONLY ones I have not seen are the last two -- the two and a half hour finale.

Here in Houston, local TV channels 20 and 26, between the two of them, probably carry between eight and ten different reruns each week (depending on the very late/early hours you are up and watching).

You know what? I never realized that the "Suicide is Painless" tune was M*A*S*H's theme song. (Now, I ask you, how ignorant is THAT?!?) I only ever listened to the 47-second intro each time, just the tune, no lyrics.

I see the series as a commentary on life ... a lot of moral lessons to be learned ... the fact that we need to be able to laugh at not only ourselves but at what's going on around us. I have NEVER seen the series as "noir". May God poop on those who would choose to think otherwise!!

Did you know that Alan Alda contracted polio at the age of seven? I didn't!

He has made/directed/written/acted in a LOT of movies! One of my favorites was "Same Time Next Year". If you're not familiar with it, you might want to look it up. Co-starring Ellen Burstyn, the story spans 24 years in the lives of two people who are not married to each other but yet continue to meet once a year. Thought-provoking.

The closest second to my all-time TV favorites is "Fantasy Island", with -- who else? -- Ricardo Montalban.

Some of the more unkind critics say that this series guest-stars "hasbeens" and "wannabees". I find this series MUCH more than that! In my mind, there are a whole lot of life's more valuable lessons to be learned here.

[It REALLY distressed me, upon doing research for this post, to learn that Ricardo Montalban has been confined to a wheelchair since 1993. (It seems that he had a spinal operation that left him paralyzed from the waist down.) Why don't we ever hear of these things?!? Is the media that pre-occupied with just the 'beautiful' people?]

From Ricardo, I went on to Esther Williams. Now, I would never have categorized her as one of the world's greatest actresses, but she made some WONderful films, all related to water ballet, of course.

Did you know that she rarely used a stunt double? (I thought as much, but I didn't really "know".)

While filming for "Million Dollar Mermaid" (1952) ... the story of Annette Kellerman ... she broke her neck while diving off a tower during a 'climactic' musical number and was in a body cast for seven months.

Current favorites? I like "Frazier" (along with various spinoffs, but I don't know how 'current' they are). I used to like "Rosie", but don't anymore. Personally, I have a really hard time getting past laugh tracks/canned laughter. Do YOU??

I very much enjoy "Dancing with the Stars". I used to dance a lot, but never at that level! As for religion, I like watching and listening to Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer.

"Law & Order: Criminal Intent" is among my favorites. Also "Cold Case". Almost always a sucker for 'hunks', "Smallville" makes my list. "House", while he is anything but a hunk, is a really good show. (You'll probably find yourself not liking the man!)

While I generally am not a science fiction fan, "Stargate SG-1", along with its successor "Atlantis", intrigues me.

PBS has lots of programming that I find worthwhile. Locally, they've been running films based on Jane Austen's novels. Generally speaking, I love listening to the British speak -- think it helps me with my own use of our common language -- so succinct! PBS' "Mystery" series is always worth a look. The ones starring Helen Mirren (an extremely talented actress!) are first class.

British comedy? Some I like very much, and others not at all. "Are You Being Served?" and "To the Manor Born" DEfinitely among my favorites. American humor? Try "Reno 911" -- hilarious!!

Let's see, what else?

Can't think of anything else right now. If I come across or remember something later, I'll re/edit this post yet once more, OK?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Traveling in the family car

I was w/racking my brain this morning, trying to think of what all I wanted to talk about today when, upon checking commentor's site (see last post), I took the time to listen to an absolutely riDIculous song. I listened to it TWICE, and the 2nd time through was not only tapping my feet (good exercise) but swinging my arms. I dare you to listen to it and not do the same!

What do y'all do while traveling in the family car?

When I was a kid (and probably some even to this day), I was unable to travel for long distances while sitting in the back seat without getting carsick. I mean, when I said I had to throw up, Daddy pulled over just as soon as he possibly could and I threw up!

It never seemed to help that Mom had all these really neat ideas for games to play while we were traveling. If I was sitting in the back seat, I got sick.

A couple of her games included 1) Spotting out of state license plates -- 1st person to see a new one got the credit and 2) Seeing how many cows/horses/farms/tractors/whatever the subject was that you were trying to count ... they were BOTH really good ideas! (Didn't help with my car sickness, but they were fun.)

When DD was very little, hubby fixed up a combination 'play/sleep area' in the backseat for her simply by wedging a large sheet of plywood (he had probably cut it to fit, but I don't remember) between the back of the front and rear seats and resting on the rear seat cushions, of course. Then, on top of that would be placed some of her favorite toys along with bedding and a pillow. The rest of her paraphernalia, including diapers, etc. (depending upon her age), would be under the plywood.

This worked out REALLY well! (Wouldn't work nowadays, tho, would it? Not with all the requirements for car seats.) DD, from a very early age, was a good traveler. Almost as soon as we started going down the road, she was sound asleep. Then, when she woke up, she had some of her very favorite things right there next to her -- and, if there was anything else she needed, it was easily accessible.

When she was older, we sang rounds, even old camp songs. ALL of the old-timey favorites were included, a couple of which you might not know. Do you know, "I'll sing you one-o." (response) "Green grow the rushes oh, what is your one-o?" It continues on through twelve. That's a good one.

Another tune that was a particular favorite of ours was 'stout-hearted men'. Hubby and I would sing it straight until we got to the chorus, beginning with "When stout-hearted ... ...", where we would deliberately sing off key as loud as we possibly could, trying not to laugh hysterically all the while.

(By the way, this will NOT work for those of you who are unfortunate enough not to be able to even hear a note accurately, much less carry a tune!)

I know that a bunch of you are probably planning travels of varying lengths this summer.

As for me, just as soon as I publish this post, I'm planning to go back and listen to an absolutely ridiculous tune for at least two or three more times. I need the exercise!

PS. Not only did I tap my feet and swing my arms the 4th time through, I found myself smiling (Oh no!!) and pointing my fingers! I think I will probably link to that VERY silly/wonderful song many many more times before this year is over! (Next thing you know, I'll be getting up and dancing.)

What day is it?

Until about half an hour ago, I thought today was Sunday.

I woke up when I woke up (luxurious!), went to the bathroom, started a fresh pot of coffee, and came in here to check out my "Favorites" and perhaps add a comment or two while the coffee was brewing.

(Had wanted to do that last night before hitting the pillow, but the internet connections were all screwed up. Couldn't even reach my OWN site! Thought I'd probably have to call DSL today to see if he had time to log on and 'fix' whatever the bug was ... was assuming it was my computer acting up, doncha know. Took the time to restart the whole process, but nothing seemed to help.

Everything's working just fine now. Maybe it just needed a rest? [That's why I did the 'restart', but that was a no go.] Guess there's a glitch in the system every once in a while, huh? You wouldn't think there'd be heavy activity at 1am my time, tho, would you?)

Anyway, to continue. I had about 40 minutes before Charles Osgood's Sunday morning show would be coming on ... not enough time to compose a post, but enough time to do a little cruising and commenting.

I got a little hung up on another commentor's response to my comment on Simon's site, in re the origins of the phrase "chalk and cheese". That was really neat!

(I'm sure you've noticed, by the way, if you've read more than just a few of my posts, that I get turned on at times by some real oddities. What might not interest you in the slightest holds a great deal of fascination for me, and vice versa I'm sure.)

So, as I said, I got more than a little distracted, and didn't rush into the other room to tune in to his show until 30+ minutes after it had begun.

It didn't look quite right. There were too many commercials, for one thing, and where was Charles Osgood? There were crowds of cheering folks (when microphones and cameras were turned in their direction). What was all THAT about??

Then, I thought to myself, "Well, as long as there are so many commercials on, I should take this opportunity to put the garbage out."

Now, that thought should have fully awakened me to the realization that today is Tuesday, wouldn't you think? (We don't have scheduled garbage collections on Sunday!)

OK. Garbage was out. I watched the program for perhaps five more minutes, inanities abounding, more maniacally cheering people, before I realized that I was an absolute idiot!!

Came back in here. So, how's YOUR day going?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Fitting in

Peer pressure is enormous, particularly when one is young and on the verge of blossoming into adulthood.

I was struck this morning by my blogger friend's post, wherein she describes what she knows of her 13-year-old daughter's very recent experience at a birthday party.

The more I continued to read, the more horrified (that is NOT too strong a word!) I became at what all seemed to occur at this party. To say that I could hardly believe it would be an understatement.

Those years ... 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, maybe even 17 ... are horRENdous in retrospect (at least for me!). SO much peer pressure. So much need for belonging, for 'fitting in'.

I was not 'popular' in junior high or high school. This was due (I can see it clearly now in retrospect) to several different things: 1) My upbringing. 2) My parents' strictness. 3) My religious beliefs. 4) My looks (not ugly, but no big boobies, either, which seemed to be very important -- certainly to me --at the time). 5) My own insecurities.

#5, actually, is the most pertinent in my case. (And, I must say, I didn't develop a healthy 'sense of self' until many, many years later!!)

When I went to college at Northern Michigan University (only 42 miles away from my hometown, but it might as well have been another world!), it was almost like being 'born again'. I do not mean that to be a sacrilegious statement of any sort, please do not misunderstand.

Suzanne (Suzette?) -- and, of course, I forget her last name -- from my hometown nominated me for membership in Delta Sigma Nu, a prestigious sorority at NMU. I was thrilled beyond belief!

The next couple of years were spent 'basking' in my newly-found popularity. I wasn't the 'big girl on campus' or anything like that, but I WAS "popular".

It wasn't until my senior year at NMU that I wrote an official letter to the Delta sorority, requesting a discontinuation of my membership and affiliation with them. I had only recently become fully aware of their 'snobbism', and no longer wished to be associated with such an organization. My wishes were granted.

You know, I can look upon all this from many, many years in retrospect, and be sorry/glad for my decision. It was what it was. It is what it is.

The reason for THIS post is that I strongly identify with Katie's longing to be a part of the group, to 'fit in', as it were.

I am so glad that she had a solid home wherein she felt she could (and DID!) safely retreat.

Tales from an apartment ... (Ohio #2) ...

My first husband was a prankster. One never really had any idea of what he might come up with next.

I was taking a hot shower when, all of a sudden, I was struck with a bunch of ICE cold water. I yelled. I could hear my husband giggling in the background. My initial shock turned to rage and I charged out of the shower screaming, "I'm going to get you!" and swinging my soapy washcloth around my head like some sort of lasso.

Hubby retreated into the kitchen. I followed. He retreated further, into the living room. I charged after him, wielding my 'weapon' over my head.

He quickly looked around for an avenue of escape from this wild woman, and decided that his only recourse was to go outside on the balcony. There, he felt, he would be safe.

It was a Sunday afternoon. People were washing their cars down below. He was thinking to himself, "It's OK. She won't follow me out here", when the apartment door flew open and this wild banshee (his words) came charging out and advanced down the balcony a few steps towards him!

I stopped dead in my tracks when I realized that this final episode was being viewed by all those (mainly of the male persuasion) below. I hurriedly retreated back into the apartment and sat, sobbing, on our couch (still stark naked, of course), "I'll never be able to leave the apartment again. I'll never be able to look them in the face again. I'm so ashamed/embarrassed (you name it, I was 'so')."

He quickly followed and took me in his arms, tut-tutting me all the while, saying things like, "They were so shocked, they're not even going to remember what happened." "They're not going to believe that they actually saw what they saw." "You were only out there for a split second. I don't think their eyes were fully focused before you disappeared again."

All this was before the orgadon, of course.

PS. No mention was ever made of my public nudity. At least, not to my face. My husband might have received a comment or two, but he never told me about it. And, eventually, of course, I was able to look everyone in the face and pretend nothing had happened.

By the way, Chuck, there will be no photos of this event, either! :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Serendipity ... (part four) ...

First and foremost, you should know that I am a cat lover. I first began this series on February 28th (this year), concluding on the 29th , the very next day.

What has occurred that made me think of adding a 'part four'? Good question.

Earlier today I drove Joyce back to Hobby Airport. As I said in that post, she's a talker. I asked her about Joanne (her sister), of course, and she said that she was doing really well, actually. Well enough to complain about her physical therapist!

Then she went on to tell me how much she was enjoying taking Joanne's cat out for a walk. I asked, "What do you mean, 'taking' the cat out for a walk? Is it on a leash or something??"

[I have never 'taken a cat out for a walk'. Per the 3rd link in the introduction above (see the 6th paragraph once you get to the link), the only cat that I have EVER had who deigned to 'accompany' me on walks was Serendipity!]

And so I was really interested in hearing her answer. The answer was that there's some sort of cat carrier type of thingee (Don't you just love how accurately I am able to describe some of this stuff??) on wheels. When the 'cage door' is opened, said cat jumps in, anticipating a walk in the fresh air.

[This would never have worked with Serendipity, I can guarantee you!]

Joanne, of course, with her very recent knee replacement surgery, has not been able to take her cat out for 'walks'.

My mind immediately went wandering, as it often does, and I was reminded, once again, of the 'mentally retarded' cat that we had in Indiana. (See the 1st link in the above introduction, perhaps a little more than 1/4 of the way through, beginning with "I've had lots of cats" and ending with "Maybe he had no sniffer?")

Our very best friends at the time were Paul Joe and Jacky Kerker. Paul Joe was a farmer. (I say "was" because he passed away some years back.) They had two children, of whom I only taught the older, Krystal, who is herself now a teacher, but that's a story for another day (maybe).

They were the ones we relied on when Johnny (my brother) had his terrible accident and with whom we left our kitty if we were to be out of town for any length of time.

Paul Joe and Jacky's 'pets' were never considered as indoor critters. They were relegated to the outdoors, and if Paul Joe 'felt like' feeding them, they got fed. Otherwise, they would have to forage for themselves. We were understandably reluctant to leave our mentally retarded wonder, albeit much loved, in the care of such a person.

Both Paul Joe and Jacky, however, told us that we could rest-assured go on our canoe trip up to Superior/Quetico in Minnesota/Canada (dropping DD off at the University of Wisconsin at the Olympic speed-skating summer training camp along the way).

Well, we called along the way north (I don't remember where we were when we called) just to check and see how our 'baby' was doing. Jacky answered and then proceeded to hand the phone off to Paul Joe, who said (you absolutely MUST try and visualize a heavy, heavy Indiana farmer's accent here!), "Oh, yeah! He's doing great!"

[It was only after our return that we learned that, at the time of our call, Paul Joe actually had our kitty entrapped underneath a milk crate and was poking at it with a stick!)

Later ... quite a while, actually, after our return to Indiana ... we had Paul Joe and Jacky over. Our mentally retarded wonder took one look at Paul Joe sitting on the couch and immediately went over and bit him on his thumb!

We thought, "Whaaat!!" It was then that we learned of the milk crate entrapment. Also, Jacky disclosed to us at the same time, our kitty had chosen one of Paul Joe's boots to pee in!

Our baby might have been retarded, but he was selective!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tales from an apartment ... (Ohio #1) ...

My husband had just accepted his first job (PPG) after graduating from Michigan Tech. The year was 1960. We were living in an apartment complex in Barberton, just outside of Akron, Ohio. I was teaching 1st grade (natch!) and life was good.

We were living on the 2nd floor. Access to the apartment was from an outside balcony-type dealie that went all around the building. There must have been an inner courtyard of some sort, but I don't remember anything about it.

About the only complaints we had about our neighbors were that, every once in a while, the bachelors living directly above us would host a pretty good-sized party and play really neat music whose bass resonated and amplified off of our ceiling. Sometimes we couldn't hear each other speak! We'd hit the ceiling with a broom handle. They'd tone it down for a little bit, but then gradually the decibels would increase. Other than that, they were really considerate guys.

Sundays were usually devoted to car-washing. We could look down from our balcony on any given Sunday afternoon and see at least 2 or 3 cars in the process of being cleaned. We probably did that ourselves more than once. All that stopped, however, when the owners brought in an amphibious tank.

No, it wasn't brought in to demolish the cars. It was purchased in hopes of ridding the artificial lake of weeds. The owners advertised the apartment complex as being waterfront property. Immediately a prospective renter's mind has thoughts of laying on the beach, swimming, volleyball games, and such.

Well, that didn't happen on this property. There were all sorts of weeds with accompanying algae, scum, etc., that made access to the water not only improbable but gunky and yukky! The owners had tried various chemicals and poisons to try and kill the weeds. Nothing seemed to work. Then they got the idea of an amphibious tank, whose treads would dredge up the offending flora.

The ugly beast was purchased as salvage from the Army. And, I do mean to tell you that it was indeed a monstrosity. A real rust bucket. When it wasn't being used, it was parked in our common car-washing area.

When it appeared that it was actually working, that the cruddy weeds were being destroyed, little by little, the owners decided to spiff it up a little bit. The owners had a lot of relatives who helped scrape off all the rust, sand it smooth, and then paint the beast green. It wasn't a loud or obnoxious green, or anything like that. Actually, it was kind of pretty. We all watched with great interest from our balconies while all of this was going on and had visions of shortly being able to lay on the beach, swim, play volleyball games, and such.

However, our eager anticipation soon turned to some disgust, deteriorating into anger, and then -- finally, rage. What happened was, now that the owners had a vehicle that was somewhat worthy of being shown off, they showed it off.

All of the relatives who had participated in the beast's restoration showed up, on various Sundays, to revel in its beauty. One relative in particular, 'Adonis', was ALWAYS there with his golden locks, his bare chest, and magnificently-tanned body.

At 7am every Sunday morning, its engines would rev up (waking everyone from what had been a very sound sleep), Adonis would take his position at its 'helm', and the beast would make its stately but very loud and clattering way to the water, various relatives strewn about its top 'deck' with their beach umbrellas, coolers, and containers of food. My husband decided to name it 'Orgadon'.*

Well, we ALL had had enough! A bunch of us (including the bachelors from above) decided that something had to be done. One Saturday night we all met in the bachelors' apartment with our cardboard boxes and cans of pink paint (along with brushes, of course).

We cut out varying sizes of circles, opened the cans of paint, and then proceeded to the orgadon fully armed with our stencils and brushes and giggling like mad. Not very many in the complex were aware of what was going on, so we tried to keep our giggles down to just about the sound of a murmur. It was hard, tho, because -- truly, this was just a TON of fun!!

We clambered in, around, under, and over the darned thing, plastering it with pink polkadots. (We were no doubt drinking at the time, as well.) When the dirty deed had been accomplished, we all went for a swim in the almost fully cleared of weeds lake. We decided to end the evening when it became apparent that we were not going to be able to keep quiet and would eventually be caught.

We swore ourselves to eternal silence, covered up telltale tracks as best we could, retired to our individual apartments, and laughed ourselves to sleep. We wondered if we would hear those horrendous revs just a couple (by now) of hours later.

No revs. Instead, we could hear voices raised in consternation as to how/when it had happened. Who was responsible? Tentatively, we peeked out through the drapes. There were a bunch of relatives, including Adonis (of course), just wandering around the orgadon and talking to each other.

We glanced down at the balcony floor. Telltale drips of pink paint led RIGHT to our apartment!! There was no way we were going to get away with this. We waited for the gendarmes to come and take us away. We were guilty as you know what!

Nothing ever came of it. (?!?) I have no answer as to why not. As a PS, however, I will say that never again were we rudely awakened early on any Sunday morning by engines revving up.

*Orgadon. I have just spent several minutes on the various Wiki-sites. The only reference to the word 'orgadon' comes from a world-wide organ donor site, where donors are registered ... makes sense, certainly, but this site was not established until 1986!! You know what? I think my husband just made the name up out of his very fertile imagination.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday, the 13th

I'm not much for superstition, but I have been known to do my share of knocking on wood. Other than that, very little attention is paid to this date.

I do not happen to be one of those who goes around shouting, "The end is coming! The end is coming! Repent!!". I am not a religious zealot, altho I am trying to be a born-again Christian. I say 'trying to be' only because, deep down in my heart, I have trouble believing that God would welcome me with all of my past (and even a few current) sins into His kingdom.

Wow!! This post is not turning out at ALL like I thought it would when it began. This will NOT be an exercise on religious beliefs, OK? Let's move on.

My heart goes out to all of those rain-drenched and tornado-r/savaged folks in the Midwest. (And now I know how I got side-tracked earlier.) My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of those killed when a truck was blown into the chimney at that Boy Scout camp. To me, it's a miracle that there weren't more young people severely injured. I even am somewhat forgiving of the media coverage of this event. It's important for people to have an outlet where they can express their feelings and allow some of the hurt and anguish to escape.

I've watched countless film coverage of those valiant and bone-tired folks who filled sandbag after sandbag in an attempt to stem the tide of raging flood waters. I listened to one fellow asking, "What did I do to deserve this?" (As tho he might have personally caused the horrendous flooding.)

I have not had the news on this morning, so I do not know what further terrors last night might have brought to that stricken area of our country. Let us all hope and pray that these folks might have the fortitude and inner strength to -- at least in the short term -- survive. Long term answers for these people are very much up in doubt, aren't they?

Truly, truly, I can not even beGIN to imagine their pain!

Have you ever been in a tornado? I have, many years ago.

We were living in Montmorenci, Indiana, at the time. Out in the country. There had been storm warnings all day. We frequently went out to look at the skies. We talked about what possible shelter we could avail ourselves of.

There was a pretty good-sized ditch close to our house. (By the way, a ditch or other lower-lying area than normal is ALWAYS a good idea! Tornadoes do not 'dip down'. Instead, they will go right over you. Try to cover and protect your head from flying debris.)

That was one possibility, but what if we didn't have enough time to get to it? What then? We had no basement, but did have a couple of throw rugs. We could wrap ourselves up in them and hope for the best. That's what we decided we would do if 'push came to shove'.

Well, it was much later that evening, well after dark, when the storm hit. We didn't think it was a tornado, at first, but then we heard a terrible roar (like that of a freight train). We could smell it. Tornadoes smell 'dirty'. I just don't know any better way to describe it.

We were busy holding each other and wondering how bad this was going to be when the hail began. HUGE chunks of hail hitting the house! We heard the sound of glass breaking and then the unmistakable sound of rain coming in through whatever window had been broken.

My husband went outside to inspect for damage a short while later, and, in the process of twisting and trying to nail down some sort of protection from the rain due to the broken bathroom window, he sustained what was then commonly known as a 'football knee injury'.

The next day, in broad daylight, we could see the extensive damage caused by this tornado. It had NOT hit our house directly. Rather, it had skipped over us, clipping the tops of many trees (branches, nests, and dead birds everywhere!). If it had hit our house directly, I would probably not be here to write about it.

Question ... What would YOU do in the event of a tornado warning? The obvious answer is to get out of its way. (In the Midwest, tornadoes generally travel from SW to NE.)

[This really doesn't seem like the most appropriate time to pause and tell a story that might resemble a joke, but I'm going to do so, anyway. And, by the way, I don't think it's a 'joke'. I think it might be based on a true story.

It seems that there was this motorist who was traveling at a VERY high rate of speed down this county road. All of a sudden, he noticed some sort of official vehicle coming up behind him with its lights flashing. He didn't even slow down to allow the other vehicle to pass. In fact, he urged his car to go even faster!

The 'chase' continued for another mile or so. Then he heard, "Pull over, you SOB!" He refused to do so. The official vehicle pulled alongside him, the officer obviously irate that his instructions were not being followed. Not knowing what else to do (and, certainly, he was not going to stop!), the motorist rolled down his window and frantically pointed behind them.

The officer looked back and discovered that a tornado was chasing them! He told the motorist, "Follow me!", and leapt ahead, sirens still screaming.]

I don't really know of a good way to end this post. There are so many thoughts just swirling around in my mind right now.

Let me just try and conclude, however feeble as it might sound, by wishing all of you a day without dire consequence. (That sounds just AWful!) I apologize. It's the mood I'm in at present.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What's it all for?

Craig Peihopa, on his site The Light Fantastic, posted a beautiful and thoughtful piece today. I'd like to share some of his remarks with you and perhaps add a comment or two. If you would like to read it in its entirety, follow this link.

Life is interesting isn't it. I spent some time yesterday with a client of long standing and heard him relate the story of his life at present. He has owned and managed 2 photographic stores and closed one of them this last week and was expressing his wonderment at what his life has become. He visits his Mother-in-law daily who is aged and incapacitated in a hospital facility. His wife goes in two times during the day apart from the evening with her husband. He said that in the hospital on the public holiday Monday we just had, there was a staff shortage and people around his Mother-in-law were in various stages of anxiety and stress. He said it was depressing and heart wrenching. I could see the strain on his face and the obvious toll it takes in a number of other ways on him and on other people generally.

We are all aware, I think, of how so many of those who are in long-term care facilities have either no family at all or the family they do have doesn't seem to care about them. I remember years ago, when the singles group I belonged to at church went to the VA Hospital here to sing Christmas Carols. We had time to visit, as well, and almost ALL of the veterans seemed to just love the opportunity to talk with someone or hold their hand for a moment. Personal contact is so important.

I have been thinking a great deal about some friends and about people overall and pondering a lot about my life generally of late. Life for a lot of people is hard and if the dire predictions that are before us are in anyway correct, there is more pain and struggle ahead.

Rather than dwell on the hopelessness of fuel prices and the struggles some people close to me face, I have thought deeply that whilst I cannot control many things in life, the only thing I have total control over is my responses and my reaction.

He then talks about the word responsibility and breaks it into response-ability. A really neat segue into his next several sentences, where he says he has to be careful not to internalize other people's problems.

I have been surrounded of late by people who are expressing much more of their lives than I asked for or ever imagined. I'm not quite sure if they trust me, or because they just need to vent, or because there are few people who will listen much anymore.

I think the key phrase there is "will listen". Believe I made a reference to that yesterday, altho not quite in the same context.

He talks about the importance of being positive.

But after a deeply personal and confronting experience some years ago, I made myself a promise that I would never walk the roads to negativity, and overt self pity and self deprecation again.

I'm assuming the 'deeply personal' experience he is referring to is the birth of his son, now twelve years old (I think), who has Down's syndrome.

Is that what getting older and more mature is about I ask?

I am grateful for the chance of late, that I have had to reach out and get to know and be touched by people whom I would otherwise have passed by and not known. My life is greatly enriched by the interaction I have with those around me.

Craig is not a writer. He is a 'people person' and a renowned photographer. I feel enriched knowing that someone like that exists and allows me (and others, of course) the privilege of reading such profound and personal thoughts as these.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


A new word? SURELY not! Nevertheless, I looked it up in my dictionary (circa 1976 ... yes, one and the same, as you might remember). It isn't there. Neither is it in Wikipedia, Wiktionary, nor any other Wiki-thingamabop.

I used this word in my post earlier today, titled "Even more bits & pieces" ... I sure hope all y'all understood what I meant by that (supposedly) non-existent word!

'Nether' ... Middle English ... an adjective, meaning 'situated down or below'. Now, I ask you. What could possibly be a more appropriate meaning for a sentence that includes the word 'netherlands'? In fact, the sentence read "... that pill disappeared into the netherlands slick as a whistle". In other words, further down my body (as in south, or more towards the ground from my mouth).

I don't like it when people use words incorrectly, and I'm often seen going to the dic/Wiktionary in an effort to be succinct. I'm more than a little ticked that this word might have to be classified as "coined".

A little over an hour was spent today looking up the history of the name "Netherlands". From there, I went on to Finland, Sweden, Norway, you get the picture, I'm sure. ANYhoo, by the time I was finished, I was almost so far removed from the original question that I forgot what it was, for crying out loud!!

Quote for the day ... ...

(per Wikiquote), is ...

Talking and eloquence are not the same: to speak, and to speak well, are two things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks. (per Ben Jonson)

I must say that I think this quote is not worthy of inclusion.

I agree that talking and eloquence are not the same. I also agree that to speak, and to speak well, are two things. (I would probably insert the word 'different' between 'two' and 'things'.)

Where I REALLY disagree is in the final sentence, "A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks."

How about an even MORE wise man LISTENS???

Even more bits & pieces ... ...

Health update ...

It's Wednesday again, and THE DAY to take my pill. So, last night I had trouble getting to sleep (think my mind is probably 'playing' with me) again, but woke up this morning -- wonder of all wonders -- having gotten the required amount of sleep. On an empty stomach, I extracted one of the teeny pills from my cache, filled an 8-oz. glass of water (as suggested), placed the evil thing on my tongue and swallowed. Nothing happened. It was still there!

This time, however, I said to myself, "Self, you know that you can swallow this pill. You did it LAST week, so what's different?" Outside of the fact that I had cracked the darned thing accidentally while gritting my teeth, nothing was different. I realized that I was allowing this little teeny tiny pill to take control of my life!

Taking another swig of water, that pill disappeared into the netherlands slick as a whistle. It is now almost four hours later. No heartburn, no palpitations, no dizziness, no muscle aches that weren't present before, NONE of that scary stuff that this 8-page brochure with the microscopic print alerts the user to in re possible side effects. (I think I scared myself half to death just reading all that crap!)

In re my blood pressure? I finally purchased the monitor recommended by Dr. Bauer. I have since taken four readings at various times of the day. Nothing over 120!! (?)

I'll keep doing this for another week or so. If it doesn't register anything higher, then he wants me to come in to have them check the device for accuracy. The nurse had suggested that possibly I had a 'white coat' syndrome? We'll see.

Tom Thumb ...

Well, Steven has done it again! I spent just a delicious 5-6 minutes or so this morning viewing a cartoon he posted on his site. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Going to/from the airport

One of my long-time taxicab customers called me a couple of days ago. She wanted to know if I might be available to pick up her sister who was coming in to Hobby Airport Tuesday afternoon (today). She said she'd heard from a mutual friend that I had retired but was still driving 'regulars'.

I said that I would be available, and asked why she wouldn't be picking her up herself. She told me that she'd just had knee replacement surgery (Ouch!) and wouldn't be able to drive for another month or so. I asked her to have her sister call me so that I could get flight information, etc.

Well, Joyce called the next day and I got all the info I needed. I asked her to call me on her cell phone when she was about to walk out the door with her luggage and let me know what she was wearing. I told her I'd be parked in the shade just off the airport grounds, and it would take me only a minute or two to get there. I told her I'd be driving a blue Buick LeSabre. Everything seemed to be all set.

This afternoon I was parked as I'd said, in the shade, working a logic problem, when the phone rang. It was Joyce. She was at curbside already, and would be the one wearing a red blazer with black slacks and sporting white hair. I said it'd be only a couple of minutes.

The closer I got to the terminal, however, the slower the traffic moved. The southeast part of Houston had experienced pretty good-sized storms earlier today (my house might have received a drop or two), and many flights had been delayed. And now, it seemed that all of the delayed flights, in addition to those normally scheduled to arrive, had landed all at the same time. Well, shoot!

I tried to call her back when it became obvious that it was going to be longer than two minutes, but she didn't pick up. (I wish I had anticipated that before we hung up on the call just a touch earlier. Hindsight, right?)

Anyway, in the hope that she might notice she had a message waiting on her cell phone, I left a message saying that I was at the terminal but traffic was moving very slowly. I told her voice mail dealiebop what make and color of car I was following. We inched along.

Airport security personnel were doing their best to move vehicles who weren't actually loading to the outside lane, where they would be forced to circle. I stayed with the turtles. Then, all of a sudden, there she was -- red blazer, black slacks, white hair and all.

She said she had been just about to call me to see where I was when I pulled up. I told her I was sorry I hadn't advised her to keep her phone on, and she said, "It is on!" She reached into her purse and pulled it out. Sure enough there was a message on there. We both thought that the reason she hadn't heard it ring was because of all the noise at the pickup area. Anyway, off we went.

She's a talker. Had a lot of interesting things to relate about her visit to California. I felt exhausted just listening to what all she had done while there! We talked about her sister's surgery some, and I related a story about her sister forgetting to take her cane with her on one of her trips out of town. It wasn't discovered until we actually got to the airport and we didn't have time to go back and get it. Well, when I picked her up from the airport a week or so later and we got back to her apartment, there the cane was, right where she'd left it, propped up against a table on her patio!

Joyce giggled about that, and told me one about her husband forgetting to take his luggage to the airport. I said, "No! How'd that happen?" It seems that he had decided almost at the last minute to repack his change of clothes, shaving stuff, etc., into a much smaller bag than normal. He was only going to be gone for one night, he said. Then, afraid that he might forget to grab it on his way out, he set it right in the middle of the living room where he'd almost have to trip over it.

Well, the time came to go. He went into the kitchen for something or other, grabbed his briefcase on his way out the door (as per usual on a business trip) and left. Didn't realize he'd forgotten the small bag until he was at the airport.

We were still chuckling over that story when I remembered a time I was dispatched to pick up a gentleman late one night, 10:30, to go to Hobby Airport. I wondered to myself, "Gee, I didn't realize that flights took off from Hobby after 11pm." But then I thought that he was probably going to one of the rental car places, which are open late at the airports.

When I arrived at his townhouse, he was waiting outside with no luggage. I asked, "Going to pick up a car?" "Yes," he answered. He seemed like he was in a really frosty mood, so I didn't initiate any further conversation.

About 2/3 of the way there, I asked which rental car place he was going to. (That would make a difference in my route.) He responded that he wasn't going to rent a car. He was going to pick up his car!

In an attempt to get him to feel a little better about his circumstances, I told him that I'd driven lots of customers to either IAH or Hobby Airport to pick up their cars. Normally, they'd have driven to one of the two, anticipating a return to the same airport, but scheduling changes, flight delays, whatever, had interfered with their plans and they'd been forced to either try and get a friend or co-worker to give them a ride back to where they'd initially parked their car -- or, as in this case, hire a taxicab.

He snorted and said, "Well, that's not what happened to me!" It seems that he always takes a cab to and from the airport, ALWAYS! Well, that morning he decided, "I'm only going to be gone for half a day. Why am I wasting the company's money taking a cab?" And so he decided to drive, feeling quite righteous all the way.

When he returned, three or four hours later, he jumped into the nearest taxicab (as per usual) and went home. He checked his mail, returned a few phone calls, and then decided he'd like to go out for dinner. He hopped in the shower, dressed, and then went out to the garage. His car wasn't there!!

He called the police to report a stolen car. He alternately sat and then paced in his townhouse, fuming! There didn't appear to be any signs of breaking and entering. How could this have happened?!?

Well, a couple or three hours later, he remembered that he had driven to the airport. His first phone call was to the police, to "unreport" a stolen vehicle. His second call was for a taxicab. And that, of course, is where I came in.

I couldn't help myself. This story was so funny, a small giggle escaped. At first he looked at me somewhat angrily, but then he started to laugh. By the time we found his car we were both laughing almost hysterically.

Have you ever had 'stuff' like that happen to you? I have, but most of the time I don't find it even the slightest bit amusing until much later, sometimes even years!