Thursday, July 31, 2008

Memories of my mother ... (part four) ...

My mother was a product of the Great Depression. There weren't just two rolls of toilet paper in the hall closet, for example, there were thirty or forty, maybe even more. You name the necessary item, she had stocked up enough to last for a very long time.

I do not remember thinking, as a child, that we were 'poor', and we weren't, not really. What we didn't have my mother more than made up for in imagination and ingenuity.

While the three of us kids were growing up, Mom did not work outside of the home. She was ALWAYS available if we needed her! I remember one time when I was home from school, alone -- our house was the Presbyterian manse, 1/2 block away from the school I attended and almost adjacent to where she was playing bridge at the Sacred Heart church. (She always left a note saying where she'd be, how to reach her, and what time we should expect her back home.)

I knew that she kept chocolate candies above the kitchen sink in a very high cabinet. I wanted a chocolate candy. Somehow or another I climbed up onto the free-standing sink and then, balanced ever so precariously, reached up to try and open the cabinet door that housed the goodies.

It wouldn't open! I kept pulling, harder and harder, until -- all of a sudden -- the whole cabinet pulled out of the wall and came crashing down onto the floor, bringing all of Grandmother's good china (and yes, my chocolate goodies) down with it!!

Some sort of basic survival instinct must have caused me to quickly get down and dive under the sink when I saw that the cabinet was going to come down on me. I don't know how to explain it other than that. Certainly, there was no time to plan a course of action!

When all of the horrendous noise had finally abated and I had the nerve to look out upon the scene, I had trouble believing my eyes! Shattered china EVERYwhere!! Goodies still intact. However, I no longer desired a chocolate candy.

My only thought was, "I did this. I did this! I did this!!" And then, "How am I ever going to tell her?" "How can I ever repay her?"

Sobbing, I called the emergency number that she had left and was barely coherent, I'm sure, as my message was relayed.

It couldn't have been two or three minutes later when Mom arrived home. She first, after her initial shock at seeing the mess, asked me if I was all right. Of course I was 'all right', but her mother's favorite set of china (except, perhaps, for a fortunate piece or two) was not!

Then she grabbed a shovel and asked me to hold the container while she shoveled the shattered pieces into it, tears streaming down her cheeks the whole while.

I never heard another word about it ... never!

Memories of my mother ... (part three) ...

My goodness, but it's been a long time since I published part two! Four months and three days, to be exact, but just in the past couple of days I have read other bloggers' posts that triggered more memories, so I thought I'd share them with you today.

Bats in Grandma's cabin ...

Dad's mom had a cottage on Woman Lake (Wisconsin) that he and his sister frequented during the summers with their respective families. And yes, it's the very same as the one mentioned here.

This one year we must have been the first family group there, and were busily bringing things in from the car while Mom was sweeping out the cabin and airing out the place. On one of our unloading trips in, Mom urged us to get into the bedroom and close the door -- "Quickly!" she said. (We could see that she was furiously chasing 'something' around the main room with a broom and was in no mood for an argument.)

When, just a few minutes later, she opened the door and told us that it was all right to come out, we could see one of God's more hideous creatures (Sorry, God, but that's my personal opinion.) -- a bat -- lying 'smooshed deader than a doornail' on the floor. Mother had triumphed again!

Berry-picking ...

We were berry-picking. Raspberries, I think, but it could have been chokecherries, blackberries, whatEVer -- and oh, were they prolific! We all had our buckets, and it wouldn't be very long before they were completely full and then we would return home, where Mother would proceed to can/bake/preserve ... you know, all of those good things that I never learned how to do because I 'wasn't interested'. (What an absolute idiot I was!)

We weren't all together in one tightly-knit group. Rather, we had each ventured out on our own to glean what was just a FAbulous crop of wild berries!

I could hear some snorting and snuffling sounds nearby, and was a little curious as to their origins. SO, I peeked around my latest procurement bush of choice, and guess what I saw?

Contrary to my post of March 9th, the first one on canoeing, where I said, "It was on this portage that I had my first live, face-to-face, experience with a bear.", it was on THIS berry-picking episode that I actually had that first encounter. I had simply forgotten about it.

So what happened? Well, I found Mom, and we all exited the bear's grazing ground safely.

In retrospect, the 'snuffling sounds' were probably those of the bear 'inhaling' the very abundant berries, and the 'snorting sounds'? Indicative of extreme appreciation, I would say, not unlike that of a belch.

Many thanks, Ellen and Steven, for jogging some more of my memory banks!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Who's on first." ...

... is #91 on the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 movie quotes. Is there anyone who hasn't heard this hilarious sequence between Bud Abbott and Lou Costello? It's from "The Naughty Nineties", released in 1945. All this time I thought it was a radio routine. What do I know, huh?

Another, listed as #88, has Katharine Hepburn speaking to her husband, played by Henry Fonda. The movie is "On Golden Pond" (1981). "Listen to me, mister. You're my knight in shining armor. Don't you forget it. You're going to get back on that horse, and I'm going to be right behind you, holding on tight, and away we're gonna go, go, go!"

That quote is not my personal favorite from that fabulous movie. The one I like better, but it didn't make the top 100, is where Katharine is talking to her daughter, played by Jane Fonda. "Sometimes you have to look 'hard' at a person to know they're doing the best they can."

Two Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator quotes made the list. #37, from the 1984 film, "I'll be back.", and #76, "Hasta la vista, baby." (1991) I like stories where the bad guys 'get theirs'.

In this same vein, I can't leave Clint Eastwood out, playing 'Dirty Harry'. "Go ahead, make my day." (1983 - #6) ... and #51, from 1971, "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?"

"A boy's best friend is his mother." Remember that one? (#56) From the movie "Psycho". Sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it! I had trouble taking a shower for months after seeing it. Do you realize that it was released 48 years ago?!? Boggles the mind.

#53 is "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know." Who other could this possibly be than the great Groucho Marx? From 1930, "Animal Crackers".

Staying in the field of comedy, this next one (#48), from "Some Like it Hot", has Joe E. Brown saying, "Well, nobody's perfect." [A little sidebar. A few years back, here in Houston when the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts had its grand opening, "Some Like it Hot" was the featured first performance. Tony Curtis played one of the lesser roles -- an uncle, I think. He and his wife were staying at the Four Seasons hotel downtown, and I often heard that they were both commonly seen in the lounge area socializing with everyone who was there. I didn't take the time to go in and meet them, but I smiled a lot just thinking about such a pleasant event.]

"They call me Mister Tibbs!", #16, with Sidney Poitier, who else? 1967, "In the Heat of the Night". #23, "There's no place like home." 1939, "Wizard of Oz".

I have mentioned only a few of the top 100. I'll bet you've got your own favorites. I haven't mentioned any from "Casablanca", nor have I cited those of Bette Davis, Tom Hanks, Charlton Heston, or Robin Williams. If you'd like to scroll through the entire list at your leisure, here's the link. Enjoy!

One more for you. This one, uttered by Greta Garbo -- a distant relative of mine (?) -- , is probably her most famous ... "I Want to be Alone." From "Grand Hotel", released in 1932 and ranked #30 on AFI's list.

OK now, ready for the 'story' of how we're related? You're not ready unless you're prepared to fall off your chair on the way to laughing your you-know-what off on the floor. NOW are you ready?? OK. Here goes.

It seems that, as the story goes, "my father's uncle's second wife was the aunt of two girls who claimed to be second cousins of Greta".

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Life is like a rodeo

"Life is like a rodeo, That ride can throw you around
It can take you to the heavens or send you crashing to the ground
And it's not a dress rehearsal, it's learning as you go
And I'm just another rider in this electric rodeo."

Those are the words from a Lee Kernaghan song. Wonderful lyrics, aren't they?

Lee is an Australian country music singer, and you can find a more extensive writeup about him, in addition to listening to one of his ballads, on Craig Peihopa's site, here.

Craig had the singular honor, just within the past couple of weeks, of being named one of the designers of a pair of jeans for next year's "Jeans for Genes" auction, almost all of whose proceeds go towards research into genetic abnormalities.

Just yesterday (or maybe the day before), he triumphantly wrote about his completed design after a 3-hour marathon burst of creative energy. Earlier in the same post, he had blabbed the name of the renowned person who would be wearing the jeans, and you have the name above.

Craig is never one to toot his own horn. Rather, he's like a little kid who gets excited about the smallest little thing and then has to go around telling everybody. I find him quite refreshing.

I came to know about Craig, initially, by 'cruising the net'. (And yes, he's one of those princes you sometimes find after kissing an infinitesimal amount of toads!)

Since then, Craig and I have become good cyberspace friends, and I invite you to acquaint yourself with a young, enthusiastic, and very talented man!

Monday, July 28, 2008

She got me!

Whalechaser got me but good a little while ago!

All y'all know how much I love to read and like to play word games, right? Well, I don't know if she set me up on this one deliberately or not, but she got me good! As a matter of fact, I'm still laughing!!

Her post today starts out like a pornographic novel. Well-written, suggestive, but nothing specific. I'm racing through this, thinking all the time, "Whaat!!".

She doesn't write stuff like this. She just doesn't!

Then, all of a sudden, there's a huge break in the post ... line after line with nothing written, and I thought, "Well, she's done what I have a time or two. She published it before it was finished. She's had second thoughts and all will be deleted in just another minute or so."

I kept scrolling down and found the 'stinger'. She got me good!

If you'd like to join in the fun, here's the link. Afterwards, if you want to, you can come back and I'll tell you about another time when I was 'gotten'.

You back already? OK. Here's the story.

I was at Judy Kutach's house. She's as fond of word games as I am, and a tremendous Trivial Pursuits player.

We were all handed this (approximately) 4" by 8" sheet of paper with a bunch of instructions on it. We were told that it would be a timed contest. OK. No problem.

The very first instruction read, "Read everything before you do anything." OK. No problem. I thought to myself, "Self, you might as well do everything as you go along and so I did." Some of the subsequent instructions included standing up and shouting, laughing out loud, etc. and blah. You get the picture, I betcha.

When I got to the very last instruction, which was, "Do nothing. Simply put your paper down and watch the show.", I discovered that I was the only one still playing!

Whalechaser could not possibly have known of my background here, as I've never before shared it publicly, so she could not have known how successful she would be with her post.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

An introspective

This is my 200th post. That seems just incredible to me! I thought I'd share with you a more intimate glimpse of Goldenrod.

I'm a loner.

I haven't always been so, but I am now. While I very much enjoy blogging and interacting with others in cyberspace, the key word here, I guess, is space. I do so in my own way and on my own time.

I really don't remember a period in my life when I have been so content. I go to bed when I feel tired, wake up whenever, post when I have something to say, watch my favorite programs on TV (always while doing something else, normally word puzzles or dishes, but it could be dreaded paperwork -- balancing the checkbook or paying bills, for example) ... not much mention there -- none, actually -- of a social life.

I am multi-faceted.

I used to call myself a "Jill", as in "Jack of all trades".

There are a HUGE number of things that interest me, only a few of which I am currently engaged in. (I kind of like that fact, actually. Means I always have something to look forward to. I am never bored!)

I love to dance, altho I haven't done so in many years -- would probably fall down after the first few steps due to my leg muscles being unused to such exertion. Ex-hubby used to say dancing with me was 'like having a feather in his arms'. He meant it as an extreme compliment, and I will always treasure that memory.

I have a fairly extensive stamp collection, which I haven't even looked at in years! It's a combination of everyone else's in my family except Dad's. He was never interested in philately. I should probably try and sell it. I mean, seriously try and sell it on eBay. (I tried -- somewhat half-heartedly, some years back, to sell my duplicates. Not on eBay. I wasn't into the 'computer thing' then.)

I like to bowl. Still have my ball and shoes. Now, that is a social activity. I should probably look into that. There's an alley quite close to me, actually. I wonder if they have senior leagues? I wonder if I could get up again after completing my follow-through in a less than fully upright position?

Floating is fun. I love being in a pool late at night looking up at the stars. I could probably save myself in an emergency with a combination of swimming and floating, but I have never been anything approaching a good swimmer. I have a passable sidestroke. For quite a few years after I first purchased my townhouse, I would go to the community pool after dark. Can't do that anymore. They lock it up now. I miss it. I could drive out to DD's and use their pool, but then I'd wake up the whole family. They have a dog who gets very excited when visitors come to the house.

I very much enjoy reading. Mysteries and suspense, mainly, altho historical fiction and autobiographies are also of interest. Satire, particularly Carl Hiaasen's, is fun. Not much on romance. Science fiction, horror, and vampires of any sort are almost never on my list. Very little in the way of poetry or essays. I miss reading. Am waiting until I get my leather recliner. Then I'll be reading a bunch!

I enjoy vicarious living.

My imagination, in particular, likes to wander around here, there, and everywhere as I am reading a novel or listening to a good story. I don't need pictures to influence me. In fact, much of the time I'd prefer they not be included.

I have a few dislikes that I make every attempt to avoid as much as possible.

House-cleaning. Shopping of any kind. Sitcoms with canned laughter. Negative news. Politics. People who feel some sort of intrinsic need to put others down in order to build themselves up. Reality shows, with the exceptions of American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.

I am anal-retentive.

I am a little like one of my contemporaries, who said in the foreword to one of his latest entries, "Let it be known that hardly a word exists from the rough draft of this poem except perhaps 'a', 'and', and 'the'." I'm not quite that bad, but close!

What I have tried to do here is truthfully tell you a bit more about me and where I currently 'am'. Many interests were left out that have been written about extensively in previous posts. No psychoanalysis has been attempted. (Thank goodness! I am not qualified to even try to do so.) You can probably draw some of your own conclusions, if you've been following my posts for more than a month or two, some of which might even be correct!

So, there you have it. My 200th post, such as it is.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Selective memories

The last time I saw Ken Erickson (see "All that jazz" post) was in 1976.

I was at the hospital in Munising visiting Lavinia Meyland (next-door neighbor when I was a kid), who'd suffered a number of debilitating setbacks to her health.

Ken was there, and we had a nice visit. He took me around and introduced me to a fellow patient (Why was Ken a patient? I don't really know.) who played the spoons. Have you ever heard the spoons played? Some sort of intricate combination of palm/hand/thigh/knee slapping that is quite remarkable!

I remember Ken intently watching my facial expressions as I listened to this incredible man playing the spoons. It was an unforgettable experience. To this day, if I try and listen very hard, I can still hear the clarity of sounds as I was treated to a private concert.

[Going back just briefly to the "All that jazz" post, particularly in re the basketball star who kept 'touting his own horn', Ken confided in me later that -- if he'd only realized that the guy really could play, he'd have had him sitting in on every session!]

I was a really good sight-reader. And, I could transpose almost any composition instantly. It didn't matter what key it was in, I could do it! There was a dearth of violas, for example, in the orchestra, so the conductor assigned me to play the viola parts on my Eb alto clarinet. (The alto clarinet, by the way, sounds very similar to a viola.) Up a major fifth, and assign two more sharps -- or was it down a major/minor fifth, and take away a couple of sharps (in other words, in a different 'key')? Who cares, anyway? The point was, I could do it! (And all without needing to transcribe the sheet music.)

The required music course that caused me the most anxiety in college was that of "Composition". I was not a Beethoven, who could hear an entire symphony in his head. Not even close! I was pretty sure that I would 'fail' out of the music program completely. The professor, unbeknownst to anyone but him, gave me an "A".

Meanwhile, Ken was busily composing, arranging, and re-arranging multitudinous original works. What a talented man! He has been gone from this life for many years now, and all I really have to say is, "God, You got a good one!"

Friday, July 25, 2008

Oceans, Lakes & Rivers ...

... is the featured name of a new blog just begun this month.

Thus far, the author has posted 15 entries. I, personally, find it fascinating, and I am nowhere near a young person's age who might be struggling to learn required subjects.

I must say that I find myself thoroughly enthralled by this blog site. (Probably confessing my own ignorance here, but I don't care.)

I don't know if the author of the site is subsidized by those who might want him to teach.

Whatever the case is, I have learned a lot and heartily recommend it to you.

Check it out. Do you agree?

How did I find it? Why, by 'cruising the net', of course!

All that jazz

I just spent several minutes listening to a very nice selection of jazz as posted on Steven's blog today.

As always, he has some background information on the featured artists. As an additional treat in this post, however, Steven includes four different musical selections.

My favorite is the third one -- Concerto de Aranjuez, from the "Sketches of Spain" album, featuring Miles Davis, a lovely combination of beautiful music and photography. (Make sure you view it on full screen while listening for maximum effect.) If you listen carefully, I think you will hear a few notes now and then that are reminiscent of a bullfight.

The fourth one intrigued me, but not for the combination of music and photography. While I very much enjoyed the music, I found myself more and more interested in watching the drummer. How the devil he initiated and then kept to an established 'beat', I'll never know.

I hope you'll give these two a listen/looksee. I'd be interested in your opinions and reactions.

Speaking of drummers, when I was studying music eons ago at NMU, there was a small group of my fellow classmates who met as often as they could on the second floor (just above the cafeteria and lounge) of the student center to improvise. Ken Erickson was the acknowledged leader.

Lots of students, not just music majors, went up there as soon as they heard that a jam session was in progress. Among the usual on-lookers was one of NMU's star basketball players. I heard him say to Ken, more than once, "Let me sit in, man!" "Just for one set?" "I can play!"

Well, Ken never let him sit in until one night when the regular drummer failed to show up for some reason. Ken looked around to see who might be available to fill in. Sure enough, there was the basketball player. Ken said, "Come on! Grab your sticks and let's see what you can do."

[This would make a good Paul Harvey "Rest of the Story", wouldn't it?]

He was good. Ken was delighted, as was everyone else in the room. Not that the basketball star took over the drummer's position, but every time he was there Ken made sure that he sat in on at least one set.

Quote for the day

Friends are angels who lift us up to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.

(Sent to me via e-mail from a friend. Author unknown.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Ah, the sweet roll of thunder! It's been raining sporadically ever since late last night. My yard and foundation are simply loving every blessed drop!

This in direct contrast, of course, to far south Texas, where they are experiencing flooding conditions. Dolly struck land as a Category II hurricane, as I had feared altho not precisely predicted. She slowed down her forward progress just enough before she hit land to allow her strength to significantly increase. The folks on South Padre Island who simply 'did not believe' it could happen are kind of sad now, and I'm sad for them.

As long as I live, I don't think that I will ever understand the propensity some people seem to have to view -- first-hand -- disasters!

A young man, getting a first-hand look at Dolly from a balcony on the 7th floor of a hotel where he was staying on South Padre, was either 'sucked off' or fell. He's alive and will recover, according to news reports, but emergency medical personnel could not reach and then evacuate him to a mainland hospital because the main access route to the island (a bridge) had been closed due to the high winds.

I'm going to have to take a little break now. One of my regular long-timey customers called me last night, wanting me to pick her up at IAH at noon today. I still have to step in the shower, so I'll talk to you later.

This is later. Much later, actually. Thunder is still rolling around, and we have received 2-3" of rain on the southwest side. Wonderful!! There was perhaps a 3-hour window midday that allowed me to drive to the airport, pick her & her 'baby' (a dog) up, take them home, and then get back here. Was that lucky, or what?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lawsuits are a comin'

Some of you may have heard or read about the collapse of a huMONgous crane, which had to be hand-assembled due to its tremendous size -- 30 stories tall, I think they said -- , on the east side of Houston within the past few days. The crane crashed into a tent, causing injuries and even some deaths.

Questions immediately arose about crane inspections and safety, particularly in Texas. In light of the recent collapses in NYC (two, I believe) and one in Denver (? -- going off the top of my memory banks here), OHSA has been called in and at least one Texas lawmaker is busily trying to get the wording correct on a bill soon to be introduced.

[At least 45 years ago, when hubby and I were traveling to New Jersey to visit his folks, we stopped at a very large excavation site in Pennsylvania to see "Big Mo". As I recall, he told me that it was the world's largest (at the time) bulldozer. I believe it! I can still see it in my mind. Anyway, the crane story reminded me of Big Mo.]

What I want to focus on in this post, however, is just an incredibly unbelievable story about a local bankruptcy attorney, one William Weber. It seems that Mr. Weber decided that it would be all right to dispose of 32 boxes of his clients' files into a dumpster without first shredding them.

Well, the dumpster pickup folks called the police and local television stations were all over the story, including interviews with Mr. Weber ("It was all just a 'misunderstanding'." "I didn't realize that I couldn't do this." etc.) and shots of him loading all of the boxes back into his car. Follow-ups to this included an interview with Mr. Weber stating that everything had now been shredded and additional interviews with former clients, who were now potential victims of identity theft.

Gerald Treece, a professor at South Texas College of Law, stated his opinions about this Saturday morning on his television show. Not only was what Mr. Weber did a bad idea, it was most certainly an ethics violation.

Texas has one of the most stringent ID-theft laws in the nation, he said. Fines of up to $50,000 per violation can be levied in civil court. The case has been sent to the State Attorney General's office.

If there's an update to be had on either of these two issues later, I'll do a post to inform you.

We've all heard the talk about 'frivolous' lawsuits.

Remember the case from Oregon (Washington?) some years back, when a woman sued McDonald's because a cup of coffee that she had placed between her legs (!!!!!) while driving scalded her? She won something like $1 million. Incredible!! How is it possible that you can win a suit against someone else that is the result of your own stupidity?!? Was that ruling ever reversed? I don't remember.

Personally, I find nothing frivolous about Mr. Weber's actions!

Kids say the darndest things

These are from Judy's blog. I don't know if she got them from Art Linkletter's book or not (she doesn't say), but some of them sure sound familiar. Enjoy!

Teacher: Maria, go to the map and find North America.
Maria: Here it is.
Teacher: Correct. Now class, who discovered America?
Class: Maria.

Teacher: John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?
John: You told me to do it without using tables.

Teacher: Glenn, how do you spell 'crocodile'?
Glenn: K-R-O-K-O-D-I-A-L
Teacher: No, that's wrong.
Glenn: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.

Teacher: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
Donald: H I J K L M N O
Teacher: What are you talking about?
Donald: Yesterday you said it's H to O.

Teacher: Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we didn't have ten years ago.
Winnie: Me!

Teacher: Glen, why do you always get so dirty?
Glen: Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.

Teacher: Millie, give me a sentence starting with 'I'.
Millie: I is..
Teacher: No, Millie. Always say, 'I am'.
Millie: All right. I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.

Teacher: George Washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree, he also admitted it. Now Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
Louie: Because George still had the axe in his hand.

Teacher: Now Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?
Simon: No, sir, I don't have to, my mom is a good cook.

Teacher: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?
Harold: A teacher.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


AC ...

It's fixed, and seems to be running strong. A most handsome young man showed up from ARS around 4pm or so yesterday. (If I'd been 45 years younger, I might have been tempted to flirt with him a little bit, except I noticed that he was wearing a wedding band. Boo! Hiss!!) The thermostat in the hallway read 99 degrees at the time, and I was sweating like a you-know-what pig. Had taken two cold showers earlier during the day, which helped briefly, as I'm sure you can imagine. And, I had positioned the fan to blow directly on the computer in an attempt to save it from being fried.

I sent an extensive e-mail to DD (Darling Daughter) very early this morning. I'm going to quote directly from it.

It was after five when he left, but the booboo has been kissed and all is better now. Not the thermostat. The second he touched it, the AC came on. (Talk about taking your car to the garage with a problem and, as soon as the mechanic sees it, the car decides that it really didn't want to go to the doctor and have that shot after all.) Actually, the problem resulted as a combination of two different things.

1) The drain was slow in the attic. He lugged this big machine up there and suctioned whatever was obstructing it right out.

2) The coils on the outside unit were dirty. He pressure-washed them. Then, after all was dry again, he re-checked the freon levels. A-OK. When he had first measured the levels, he thought he'd have to add some.

I'd tell you what he actually did when he 'touched' the thermostat, but then I wouldn't want you coming back at me later, saying, "Goldenrod said that this would work!" A "by the way" here. AC is working so well that I have decided to 'up' the thermostat to where the AC automatically comes on now when the thermostat registers 85 degrees. (If I'm sweltering, I can always change it, right?)

Dolly ...

I'm glad I did my shopping today. While I don't think she's going to come that close to us, I've lived in the Gulf Coast area for too many years not to be fully cognizant of the fact that these storms have their own agendas.

Her winds are currently at 70mph. I do not one bit like the fact that she doesn't seem to know exactly where she's going, nor do I like it that she's moving much slower. As a consequence, while she's still out over the very warm Gulf waters, she can easily significantly strengthen and veer in any direction she might choose.

Having said all that, however, I really don't believe that she is coming this direction. My hope is that we will get some beneficial rainfall. Certainly, we need it!

Baseball ...

I'm not going to go on, post after post, about this subject. ("Hooray!" you say?)

Just as an interested outsider looking in, however, there are some VERY exciting races going on. I'll briefly recap both leagues, and then leave it at that.

American League

East ... Rays in 1st, Red Sox trail by 1.5 games, and Yankees by 4.5.
Central ... White Sox out in front, Twins 0.5 back, and Tigers 5.5.
West ... Angels, Angels, Angels.

National League

East ... Mets & Phillies tied for 1st, Marlins 1 game back, and Braves 6.
Central ... Cubs at top, Brewers & Cardinals in a virtual tie for 2nd.
West ... Diamondbacks & Dodgers tied for 1st, BOTH teams under .500 in wins.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hello, Dolly!

Well, I've just spent the past several (many, actually!) minutes tracking this storm's progress.

There STILL is no well-defined 'eye', which is really strange, but you can betcher sweet bippee that she is going to strengthen significantly now that she is once again out over open waters.

I said to Matthew East just the other day, "It looks like Houston is going to be on the 'dirty' side of this storm", and he agreed.

What's the 'dirty' side? It's the side that usually gets the most rainfall along with potential tornadic activity. We can use the rain, but I was sure hoping that it would not take a hurricane to produce it! Torrential downfalls are almost never beneficial.

Meanwhile, back at my ranch, I'm still waiting for ARS to come and see what's wrong with my AC. Sweet lady at ARS told me this morning that it would be after 12:00. Well, it's now almost 2:00, and they're still not here. More later.

Paul Harvey

I had an opportunity to listen to Paul this morning when I went to the store. A nice treat.

Do any of you listen to him on any kind of regular basis? I used to, when I was driving a taxicab.

Don't look for more than one post a week by me with Paul Harvey as the subject. It's just that his entreaty this morning was more than I could handle without posting it.

His wife, "Angel", died earlier this year, and Paul's been left on his own as a new bachelor trying to cook. He needs two recipes:

1. Overcooked beef liver ... "Whaat!" you say? Yes, you read right. Evidently he overcooked some beef liver, and wants somehow to be able to 'save' it in edible form. He said he thought he remembered that one of the Campbell's soup can (mushroom?) labels used to have a recipe for that, but he can't find it.

2. Pickled pig's tongue ... Again, I'm not joking. I've been listening to him for many years now, and he sure sounded serious to me!

SO, if any of you gourmet chefs out there have a recipe and/or solution for his dilemma, please send them to ''.

I checked and yes, indeed, there is such a website! Among other things, it lists radio stations that carry his broadcasts. You can even listen if you prefer. My goodness!

If you do a Google Search for his name, you will see mentioned a sponsored link for ocular nutrition. Have no idea how valuable this might be. Probably worth a look-see.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Morning ...

... did not have Charles Osgood today as its host. Rather, it was Steve Hartman, whose name I just tried to Google. After going through three pages of unrelated entries, he wasn't there. Never mind.

The Steve Hartman I know is one whom I have seen many many times before on Charles Osgood's show, as the interviewer who -- at the end of each segment, which was usually in depth and quite fascinating -- had his profiled guest throwing a dart over his/her shoulder at a map of the United States. Wherever the dart landed was the town that Steve would visit next. Do you remember that?

If Steve is going to be a continuing guest host, surely something can be done about his hair?!? I mean, come on now!!

The show this morning was excellent, as always. There are a couple of its featured subjects that I'd like to share (and perhaps expand upon just a little) with you.

The Green Gulch Farm Zen Center. My goodness, my goodness, my sister* would have LOVED this! Located in Sausalito, California, the center maintains itself primarily by hosting conferences and selling some of its organic produce.

Of all of the pictures taken and interviews conducted for this report, the impression that I am left most strongly with, outside of "savoring each day", is this ... simplicity.

Today is the 39th anniversary of man's first step on the moon, did you realize that? I certainly did not! Where were you when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon and uttered, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."?

I'll tell you where I was. I was sitting in the living room with my hubby, our eyes glued to the TV (as was probably just about everyone else's in America -- don't know about the rest of the world), watching this magic unfold.

Then we spent the next few seconds or so asking each other, "What did he say?" And, in spite of all the many re-broadcasts of what he'd said, we still didn't understand it!

*You will find just a brief mention of my sister's beliefs later in life in this post.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Astros, Braves, Cubs, and Red Sox

Well, THIS is going to be a fun post!

While I am starting to write this on Saturday afternoon, the 19th of July, it will not be published until mid to late Sunday or even Monday. Pay no attention to the 'startup' date and time shown when it actually does publish, OK? I'll type in the correct dates and times as I go, including those when I finally hit the "publish post" button.

[I am not nearly as computer-illiterate as I was prior to September of last year, but I still am not at all familiar with HTML, for one example, or how to add pictures or photographs to my site, for another. (Not that I have any to add or think that they might enhance a particular post, necessarily, I would just like to have the knowledge to do it!)

The one thing that continues to 'frost me' is that, when I hit the "pp" button, it is usually nowhere near the time that it was when I began writing it! Ordinarily that would not concern me, but this time it does, and so you will be seeing periodic updates in re dates and times in this post.]

OK. Let's start with Patrick, the inveterate tomahawk chopper. I must confess, Patrick, that I have not been following your team nearly as much as I did in years past. I do not have the 'vitriosity' (don't think that's a good word, but I like the possibility). Your team, as of this writing (4:12pm Houston time on Saturday), is 6.5 games out of first place in the National League's Eastern division. The poor Nationals are 17 games back, bless their hearts, and truly none of your concern.

Your team has now won three in a row. You're not that far back. Looks like kind of a tight division, actually -- at least for the top four teams. Certainly worth your continuing interest. Keep that tomahawk sharpened!

Let's move on. The only person that I know who is a Boston Red Sox 'fan' is DSL, my dreaded son-in-law. You should keep in mind that his rabid fan-ness only comes out during the World Series. Otherwise, it lies fairly dormant.

The Tampa Bay team, even tho he would never on this earth admit it, has driven his team to utter distraction! The two have been jockeying for first place for quite a while now. For one who normally has no interest whatsoever in the American League, I must say that this race has been kind of fun to watch.

Would it be sacrilegious of me to add that I much preferred to see the Yankees more at the bottom of that division rather than at the center? Probably. However, consider it added.

The Cubs? What can I say about the Cubbies other than that their record speaks for itself?!? To my utter amazement, the Astros beat the Cubs last night by one run -- that scored in the bottom of the 9th. It was a well-pitched and defensed game. The fact that the Astros' defense showed up should have been of no surprise to anyone who follows baseball, but the well-pitched game?? Surprising. In addition to the good pitching (which has been sporadic, at best), a couple of Astros' hitters who have been noticeably absent of late decided to make their appearance.

There is an Astros' fan in Houston that I would like to introduce you to. His name is Gerald Treece. He is a noted professor at the South Texas College of Law. (You will probably hear his name mentioned by me a time or two in subsequent posts on other subjects.)

Just this morning I heard him say on television, and I quote, "We're a second half team, and we began our real season last night. You Cubs are in big trouble."

I realize that the vast majority of you who are reading this have never even heard of Gerald Treece. He is perhaps ten years younger than I and is the most consistent Astros' fan that I am personally aware of.

For those of you who do not know my background as it pertains to being an Astros' fan, you should probably read this post.

[A 'by the way' here. The thermostat now reads 89. I don't think that's right. It really doesn't feel that hot in here to me. I'm putting off calling ARS again for a while. I think that I am probably 'in the market' for a new thermostat, what do you think?]

Back to Gerald Treece. He's a 'regular' on Channel 11, local television, on Saturday mornings around 8:45 for at least five minutes. He gives a legal opinion on the 'topic of the day' and then the phone lines open for callers' questions. It's a good show, and I try not to miss it.

Almost always, however, he concludes with, "Go, Astros!" This morning's signoff was just a touch different, and you have it above.

[It's going on 3am Sunday. I went to bed really early last night, I guess around 9:00. I tossed and turned, then tossed and turned some more. It was hot in here. I woke up freezing. The AC had decided to come on again. Anyway, I'm up for a little bit.]

The Braves lost last night, but so did the first place team in their division, so they're still 6.5 games back. Tampa Bay won and the Sox lost, so there's a game separation there.

As far as the Astros and Cubs go, we won again! The Cubs' pitcher, Carlos Zambrano, scored their only run as he hit a solo homer to right field. I kept looking for Wandy Rodriguez, our pitcher, to implode, but he didn't. Stayed solid through six and 2/3 innings. He was backed up by solid defense and timely hitting. My goodness! Now we're 'only' 11 games back. (Almost laughable, but not quite.)

[Now going on 5am. I'm shortly fixin' to hit the pillow again, but just a couple of thoughts before I do.]

The Astros played 52 games before the All-Star break on the road, did you know that? Was that the highest figure of 'on the road' games played before the break in the majors this year? I don't know, and I'm not going to look it up. You can, if you want to. Of our remaining games, there are only 29 on the road.

Another thing about the Astros' upcoming schedule intrigues me. We are about to play a bunch of games against our Central division foes. That should separate the wheat from the chaff!

While the Astros are certainly not in any sort of contention for 1st place, three teams are. The Cardinals continue to hang in there, and the Brewers are a force to be reckoned with (particularly in light of their recent acquisition).

Well, we just got our you-know-whats beat by the Cubs. Our third shutout of the year, I think. Atlanta's losing, Tampa Bay's being outscored, and Boston doesn't play until tonight. That's it for baseball today. It's going on 4pm Sunday afternoon, and I'm going to hit the "publish post" button before this machine melts. It's 90 degrees in here and rising.

PS. Nothing's melted yet. It's after 5:00 now, and will start cooling off shortly. (Actually, I think it's cooler outside than in here!) Just have a couple of things to add. Patrick, I hadn't realized that you guys were playing at home against the Nationals. A real bummer! What else? Oh, yeah! The Brewers made another acquisition today. They're serious! Chuck? Your team's schedule is no piece of cake in the next few weeks. Good luck, and fasten your seat belt!

PPS. Going on 4am Monday morning. Slept quite pleasantly last night with the window open and fan blowing in the bedroom. AC now completely nonexistent. Will have ARS over later today. The Red Sox lost again, so that division's top two are still the same. While Tampa Bay and Boston have both been busy losing, the Yankees have won three in a row and are now only 4.5 games back.

AC troubles (?)

Well, late yesterday afternoon and last night were kind of nerve-w/racking. I thought I was feeling a little warm and checked the thermostat. It read 86. Now, I have it set at 83. I have a whole lot of tolerance for heat and not much for cold. Consequently, my winter electric bills are always MUCH higher than those in the summer.

I didn't remember in the past the thermostat registering that high a reading before the AC automatically kicked in. So, every 10-15 minutes found me back in the hallway again checking the temperature.

When it registered 88 and holding steady, I first checked the batteries in the thermostat and then went outside to check the breakers to see if one had been tripped. Nothing seemed to be amiss.

I decided to go to Walgreen's and buy some new batteries. Thought I'd try that route first. I did. Installed same. Nothing happened. No AC automatically kicked in. I tried lowering the automatic temperature setting. Still nothing.

I called ARS (my local 'everything that has to be fixed' favorite of choice). It was probably around 7pm. They would send someone over, she said. It would cost me $79.50 for the service call, and no work would be performed until I authorized it. (Standard procedure.) I said OK. She verified my address and phone number, and I sat back to wait.

About half an hour later I heard a noise that sounded VERY much like the AC had come on. I thought, "What the devil?" I went out back, and discovered that it was, indeed, on. Upon returning inside, I could see that the picture mobile I have in the loft was moving, a sure sign of air circulation.

I ran to check the thermostat reading. Still at 88. I thought, "What to do?" I called ARS again to tell the very nice lady that my AC had all of a sudden decided to come on, but got a different nice lady who, when I had again identified myself and explained the current situation, said, "Oh, yes. We have someone coming over. Do you want to cancel?"

Now I didn't know what to do! You who don't live in the south might not know this but, in order to 'cool' to any degree, the humidity in the air has to first be removed -- or at least reduced to a point where cooling might begin. Some time must be allowed to elapse before any actual cooling is felt.

She asked, "Do you feel any cold air coming out?" I said that I really couldn't tell, and went from room to room locating all of the vents and trying to spot one where I might actually be able to reach up high enough to tell if cold (or at least cooler!) air was coming out.

The guest bath was my best bet, and I asked this second nice lady to hold on (I was going to have to put the phone down) while I climbed up onto the toilet seat and then reach up to ascertain possible cool/cold air coming from the vent. She did, and I did -- twice! It seemed to me as tho cool/cold air WAS coming from the vent.

I made an 'executive decision' to cancel, hoping that they might still accept a distress call from me later. No problem, sez she.

Well, some hours later, as I'm adjourning into the bedroom to hit the pillow, I notice (as I'm passing the thermostat in the hallway) that the reading is at 86. NOW what?? I decided to simply hit the pillow and try and get some sleep. If I exuded moisture (will have to do a post at a later time with descriptions of how people 'exude moisture'), then so be it. I was prepared to spend a very damp night tossing and turning in my uncomfortableness.

I woke up this morning not at all hot and sweaty and very comfortable. In fact, I'd had to throw a blanket over myself during the night. I checked the thermostat reading ... 83. Hmmph!

It is now several hours later. It is STILL at 83 very comfortable degrees. Hmmph!!

To be continued later, no doubt.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A little of this, a little of that

Yesterday I published "Bits and pieces" in which, if you read the original (which didn't get extensively re-written and edited until very late last night), you may have been offended.

I invite you to read it again. You might be a little surprised at the extensive changes. (Posts like these should probably never be published until the author has had a chance to calm down. Not only was I very upset, but I was uninformed -- my own fault. I have kept a copy of the original as a personal reminder to do a draft, only, next time!) Some of the bracketed comments in italics are me talking to myself.

Someone else of note had a birthday yesterday, and his name was unintentionally left out of my newsy tidbits ... ... Art Linkletter. Remember him? Turned 96!

I've got a cute story for you, one that reminded me of Art Linkletter and all the fun times he had with small children on his radio and television shows. Remember his book, "Kids Say the Darndest Things"? I looked him up in Wikipedia, and that's how I discovered his birth date. Happy belated birthday, Art!

(A father is telling this story) ... "I was out with my oldest daughter, age 5, earlier this week at a function that really required a lot of relative quiet and good behavior. She actually did quite well, but as we were walking from one room to another, I reached for her to hold my hand, and she wouldn't do it....gave me that 'I'm big enough to not need you to direct me' look. When we got in a more private place, before we headed into the next room, I leaned down and told her sternly, 'In the future, when I tell you to hold my hand, you do it, OK?' She nodded her head in understanding and then asked, 'Daddy, is the future in that room?'"

All-Star break is over. The Cubs are in town. Here's a quote from the Astros' home page in re this series: "After a tough first half, the Astros will have a chance to make up ground on the National League's Central Division-leading Cubs tonight ....." I don't think so! (Of course they'll have a 'chance', but the adjective used should probably be "fat".)

Gotta go. Judge Judy's show is just finishing up, and then the news comes on.

There's a tropical disturbance in the Caribbean that hasn't yet been named by the National Hurricane Center. Tracking predictions as of a few hours ago had the thing crossing the Yucatan Peninsula and then into the southern Gulf of Mexico.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bits and pieces

Well, this post, folks, is going to be somewhat long, I fear. Not only that, but it will require some research. Oh, no! (Yeah, I'm afraid so.)

It will be in three or four sections, the first one or two of which will include interesting tidbits from the news of the day. The next section, which will have a bold header, will be the one that I will have tried to research. The last section will (hopefully) be an 'upper'. I personally dislike focusing on negative things, and so will try and remove whatever bad taste you might still have remaining in your mouth from reading and thinking about the boldly-headlined subject.

I'm not trying to discourage questions or comments on the negative issue. On the contrary, I welcome thoughtful debate.

That said, let's begin. First of all, I feel obliged to say that this blog site is not now, never has been, nor ever will be a gossip column! I have no intention whatsoever of publishing people's names or their possible activities out there in the public blogosphere that have only appeared in my dreams.

Florida is 'reaping' the benefit of being our country's largest producer of tomatoes. More than 1,000 people nationwide have been afflicted with some sort of ailment that seems to be related to the consumption of tomatoes. While the FDA cannot point its finger directly at Florida's produce as being the problem, it will not clear them, either! Ridiculous! Florida is caught out there in limboland while the controversy rages on.

Congress' latest 'approval' rating is at 14%, half of "W's" approval rating of 28%. I can think of nothing to add that would soften the harsh reality of these disgraceful statistics!

Phyllis Diller is 91 years old (!?!) today. Heavens!! Do you remember when she first appeared on TV? (Doesn't really seem like yesterday, but it doesn't seem that long ago, either!) One of her favorite lines was, "This isn't hair. Those are nerve endings." (or some such) Funny, funny woman!

Mexican nationals' rights ...

I began my research into this issue, and found that the media has for some time now relinquished headlines to other, 'more important', matters. I'm going to have to dig a little deeper. [Utter nonsense, Goldenrod! It's quite obvious that you didn't look at ALL!! It's plastered all over the front page of our local rag!!!]

Meanwhile, let's go to what I heard on talk radio (while traveling in the car to and from the store) this morning, OK? (Keep in mind that it was a live broadcast and the phone lines were 'jammed', according to the host, for over two hours, thus proving that this topic is FAR from exhausted in -- at least -- the local public's mind!)

[Of course the local public was all over it! Goldenrod, if you'd bothered to watch or listen to the news at ALL on Wednesday or even as late as this morning, you would have known what everyone was so "up in the air" about.

It seems that there are five convicted Mexican national murderers on death row here in Texas (51 Mexican nationals are imprisoned nationwide), one of whom -- Jose Ernesto Medellin, age 33 -- is scheduled to be executed on August 5th. Mr. Medellin was convicted for the 1993 kidnapping, rape, and strangulation of Houston teenagers Elizabeth Pena and Jennifer Ertman. He would have been 18 years old at the time.]

I heard things like, "Let's put them in a prison here in the States that is the equivalent of one of their prisons and then bill Mexico for the cost of their room and board." (The cost estimates vary for detaining, feeding, and housing a prisoner according to 'our' standards from $30,000 to $50,000 per year.)

Then there was this supposed "World Court Tribunal" trying to get into the middle of everything. What was THAT all about??

[Come on, Goldenrod! Get with the current program, will you? The Mexican government petitioned the United Nations a month ago to halt the scheduled executions to allow for a review of the convicted murderers' cases. Such review would hopefully determine whether or not denying them access to the Mexican Consulate after their arrests impaired their trial defenses.

The Geneva Convention stipulates that, upon request, an alien offender's national consulate MUST (stress is mine) be notified of his arrest.

On Wednesday, the United Nations' International Court of Justice called for a stay. Texas' Governor Perry subsequently stated that the executions would be carried out as previously scheduled.]

To me, the problem seems to come down to just one question: When you are in a foreign country, are you subject to its laws or not? Does it matter whether or not you have entered that country illegally?

[Obviously, if I'd been on top of the news, this paragraph would have been worded a little differently. It's a valid question, but not quite on point.]

That is only one of the issues on the public's mind today. Another is the question as to whether or not the 'guilty as charged defendant' should or should not receive the death penalty, as provided for under Texas' law.

I should tell you that I am of very mixed opinions on this. Some years ago, I read John Grisham's book, "The Chamber". A very well-written book (as many of his are), it caused me to re-think my opinion about the death penalty. It didn't make me change my opinion, but definitely made me think even more seriously about it.

I'm going to move on. I realize that we are nowhere near finished with our discussion on this topic, but I am ready to 'call it a day' with my reporting and opinions. As always, however, I invite your comments and any questions that might lead to a substantive dialogue.

[The original of this post was published many hours ago. Unless you read that first post, before its many edits, you will never know how insulting it sounded. (At least, I found it so!) I should NEVER have published what I had written while I was in such a foul mood. If you thought it insulting, as well, I apologize. My insensitive comments were directed at no one in particular, and were the result of my frustration at being personally unable to affect any positive change.]

Paul Harvey, as some of you might know, has had his share of health problems over the last few years.

He and George Putnam, per Wikipedia (WHO is George Putnam? Serious question here ... just showing my ignorance.), are among the very few remaining radio announcers who are "older than the medium itself", Wiki says. (Paul will be 90 in September.)

ANYhoo, today I had the pleasure of hearing Paul's son do a 10-15 minute taped show on the radio. TWICE it was announced that Paul would be doing his own radio show this Saturday. I'll have to look up the local programming for it.

Tonight? For me?? After I take my nap, I'm going to watch part three of "Pride and Prejudice" on PBS.

[PS. Nap taken. Show watched and thoroughly enjoyed. Research concluded. Post extensively re-written. Goodnight, all!]

Just delicious

A couple more dreams to share with you. I'm having some good ones right now ... hope my subconscious stays in this positive mood for a long time!

First off, two of my blogger friends who have been 'smitten' with each other decided to get married. That was neat!

The second one just blew my mind. I couldn't wait to run in here and try it to see if it actually worked! (It doesn't.)

Someone with an ingenious mind needs to invent this ... BIG $$$ involved, I bet! (I want a 10% 'idea' fee*.)

You run your cursor over a saying, quote, or paragraph. Let it linger for a second or two while a gazillion data banks are searched. A rectangle (superimposed) will then briefly appear citing the original author, date, and source.

Does that blow your mind, too??

*[The '10% idea fee' comes to mind directly from the quote, "Genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration." You're entitled to your 90%.]

Will probably do another post later. Got to check all my favorites first.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Have You Ever Wondered?

Have you ever wondered why God gives so much? We could exist on far less. He could have left the world flat and grey; we wouldn't have known the difference. But he didn't. He splashed orange in the sunrise and cast the sky in blue. And if you love to see geese as they gather, chances are you'll see that too. Did he have to make the squirrel's tail furry? Was he obliged to make the birds sing? And the funny way that chickens scurry or the majesty of thunder when it rings? Why give a flower fragrance? Why give food its taste? Could it be he loves to see that look upon your face?

Max Lucado - He Chose the Nails

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Confounded language!

For the past two hours or so, I've been watching the All-Star game on television while working my (what else?) word games. I just HAD to stop and at least start this post. [Might have to pause a time or two to run back into the other room to cheer on the National League. At the moment we are leading 2-0.]

OK. Ready? Here we go. The answer to the latest puzzle that I completed was, "I kissed a frog because I'd heard that it could turn into a prince. That's not exactly what occurred, and I've been croaking ever since." (Rrivit!)

Amongst the clues to the final solution were these:

('Seeing double' was the category)

1. Pleasant French resort ... ... niceNice
2. Leave the Sahara ... ... ... desertdesert
3. Low-voiced fish ... ... ... bassbass
4. Warsaw varnish ... ... ... Polishpolish

I have written three posts on spelling. The "Its" vs. "It's" one was really good, I think. The other two, on "Their/There/They're", pretty much sucked. (And those were the EASY ones!)

What can I tell you? While I very much enjoy word games, most people (it's been my personal observation) shy away from them like horses when encountering snakes.

[Well, poopee! While I was out of the room, some weirdo from the American League hit a homerun, and the score is now tied. Double poopee!!]

When I was in high school more than fifty-some years ago, I noticed that there were a whole lot of people in my class who were deficient in their spelling skills. I mentioned this to the principal (I didn't like him very much, but I did it because I was concerned.), who asked (while playing with his ugly mustache), "Which words did you have in mind?"

Struggling for an answer (didn't have one at the ready), I responded, "Well, 'ecstasy' for example." His 'put down' was, "What would you know about ecstasy?" Cute? And so, with that nasty response any possible infusion of spelling skills into our curriculum skittered off into the gutter.

[The 'good guys' are now ahead, 3-2. Hooray!]

Folks, problems with spelling of our common language have been in existence for many years. Nothing new on that score.

[Triple poopee!!! Billy Wagner, whom I didn't at all care for when he was here with the Astros, just allowed a tying run to the bad guys. Boo! Hiss!]

Much of the time the reader can discern the meaning, and thereupon hopefully extrapolate the correct pronunciation, of a word that has a common spelling with another by context within the sentence. What happens, though, when one is trying to actually compose or write? I don't have an easy answer for that, I'm sorry to say.

How about these for 'nasties'?

1. I saw some nice gneiss while visiting Nice.
2. I didn't want to desert my dessert while I was in the desert.
3. The sound of his bass voice was loud and clear while he was cleaning the bass at the base of the cliff.

[Going to the 10th, score all tied up.]

And how about the "ough" words? You know, like 'enough' (uff), 'bough' (ow), 'through' (oo), 'thought' (aw), and 'though' (oh). You DO know that 'fish' can be spelled 'ghoti', don't you? (If you don't, ask me about it in a 'comment', and I'll give you the answer. By the way, it's true.)

[Tejada just got a base hit. Gotta go watch. ... ... Never mind, one of our good guys just hit into a double play. Going to the bottom of the 10th. ... ... Heavens! The bad guys had the bases loaded with nobody out but they didn't score, and we're now going to the 11th! Rrivit!!]

Keep your dictionary/Wiktionary handy, that's all I've got to say!

The glory of God ...

... is what came to me immediately, upon viewing the Astronomy Picture of the Day just a few moments ago.

All sorts of faintly-remembered phrases from the Bible appeared in my memory banks ... "And the firmanent shown round about them" probably being #1. I'm pretty sure I don't have the quote right -- and, even if I do, cannot beGIN to tell you where you might find the book, actual chapter, or verse.

Just click on the link and revel in your own reactions, interpretations, or reflections, OK?

Lying in repose

The body of Dr. Michael DeBakey will be lying in repose in the rotunda of City Hall until 7pm this evening. Thousands are expected to visit and pay their final respects. His family will be in attendance from three until seven.

Contrary to what I reported to you earlier, Dr. DeBakey actually died on Friday night. (Why the news did not hit the AP wires until after eight Saturday morning, I have no idea.)

His innovations, gifts to and influence on the world of medicine, particularly in the specialized area of heart surgery, are truly inestimable.

[I happened to catch an interview with Dr. Denton Cooley, with whom Dr. DeBakey had once had a serious rift that lasted for many years. I was pleased to learn that they had gotten together and patched things up a year or two ago. So often, it seems, we just let these things fester inside us until we one day realize that it's too late for a reconciliation.

I never met Dr. DeBakey nor any member of his team. When my father came down here in 1986 for his aneurysm surgery, it was one of Dr. Cooley's associates who performed the operation.]

Funeral services for Dr. DeBakey are scheduled for tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart downtown.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wishful thinking

On July 8th, just six days ago, I posted a quote that included this phrase, "wishful thinking and the power of suggestion".

I've been debating all day as to whether or not I should share with you my dream. It's a DANDY!!! Definitely "wishful thinking", but I don't know about the "power of suggestion" aspect.

The following is only a dream, OK?

One of my fellow bloggers, whom I admire greatly for many reasons -- not the least of which are his exhaustive research into a multitude of interests, his willingness to exchange variances of ideas, and his generally 'upbeat' approach to life --, decided to do an entire post on "Goldenrod's thoughts".

I woke up smiling.

Symptoms of inner peace

I can take only partial credit for this post. Altho I have extensively edited, it was originally written by a Tom Ladanye. May you reap some enjoyment from its reflections.

Watch out for the symptoms of inner peace and healthy living! The hearts of many have been exposed to this condition and it's possible that others could catch it in epidemic proportions.

This could pose a serious threat to solving our presently increasing conditions of conflict, hate, and lack of love today. Signs and symptoms of inner peace include:

1. A tendency to think and act positively in the present rather than dwell on fears and past negative experiences.

2. An ability to enjoy and be grateful for each new moment.

3. A loss of interest in judging others. Not everyone is going to like you or agree with you on everything. Allow them their free agency as you desire to express yours.

4. A lack of interest in gossiping about others.

5. Losing the tendency to worry about everything. The big problem is not what people may think about you, but what you THINK they might think about you.

6. Frequent, sincere expressions of love and appreciation.

7. Frequent attacks of smiling and of selfless service and kindness.

8. An inclination to forgive and forget old hurts. Holding grudges causes illness.

9. A growing tendency to just let some things happen rather than trying to force everything.

10. An increased willingness to accept the love and care extended by others while not questioning their motives.

11. Loss of feelings of hurt and disappointment when others do not acknowledge the good you've done them.

12. A sincere desire, when possible, to help others become all that they are capable of becoming.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Astros, potato salad, and watermelon

Well, the Astros are going to lose their mooring spot at the very bottom of the National League's Central division if they're not careful. They've now won two games in a row. Oh, no! Thank goodness it's All-Star break time.

This coming weekend, beginning on Friday, the Cubs will be in town and then our place will become more firmly anchored as they beat our you-know-whats big time!

I have never been a Cubs fan. I really dislike it when the opposing team's fans outnumber yours on your own field and, unfortunately, that has been the case here in Houston for many many years. I would imagine that this weekend will see an absolute 'sea' of red at Minute Maid Park.

At least they don't have that extremely annoying and irritating 'tomahawk chop' and chant!

Anyway, I made some potato salad today for the first time in several years. Managed to put more than a good-sized dent in it while I watched the 'Stros. Yummy!

The last time I made potato salad was when I was in Memphis visiting a special friend. We were going to be having some company over for dinner, conversation, and cards. Butch was busy vegetable chopping and doing his 'thing' with the grill (he's quite adept in the kitchen).

Friends arrived, dinner was served, and the next sound I heard was something like "Yech!". Three of us turned to stare at the 'yecher' who was busy spitting MY potato salad out of her mouth! (?)

Turns out she's allergic to eggs. I always put eggs in my potato salad. Doesn't everyone? (Rhetorical question, only.)

My 'feast' ended with a bunch of watermelon. Double yummy!! I am now out of watermelon, but still have a bunch of Bing cherries to savor. Those'll do me until I get back to Randall's on Tuesday.

SO! How was your day?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Commentator vs. Commenter vs. Commentor

Wiktionary defines "commentator" as a person who comments; especially someone who is paid to give one's opinions in the media about current affairs, sports, etc.

Also (!) in Wiktionary, the word "commenter" is found. Supposedly it replaces "commentator", which is now 'obsolete'. (RRivit!!)

I propose a compromise, "commentor", whatcha think? In fact, I might decide to continue to use this spelling until it's commonly accepted. (Fat chance, right?) Actually, I have a personal problem with 'commenter'. To me, it looks too much like 'cementer', and the two DEfinitely are not the least bit similar in meaning.

Moving on.

The conservative world, of which I usually tend to be a part, lost one of its favorite 'spokespersons' (I wouldn't want to be caught publishing an obsolete, personally unacceptable, or not-yet-in-common-use word!) very early this morning.

Tony Snow, a name some of you might recognize from a couple of years back as President Bush's press secretary, was a voice I looked forward to hearing every weekday on talk radio. (This was when I was driving a taxicab and listening to the radio a lot.)

I very much admired the way he treated his callers, always with the utmost respect. If there was disagreement, he would often say, after some exchanges when it finally became apparent that no mutual understanding was going to be reached, "We will agree to disagree, but we will do so agreeably."

He described his assignment in the White House as "the most exciting, intellectually aerobic job I'm ever going to have." Me? I enjoyed getting a visual of the man and parTIcularly savored his apparent ease in sparring with reporters' oft-repeated 'dumb' (and often intrusive and obnoxious, in my opinion) questions.

I miss you already, Tony. I know you gave it your best effort. God's getting a good one!

Folks, we lost another one a touch later this morning. This name, that of Michael DeBakey, is known world-wide as a pioneering heart surgeon.

The thing I am most thankful for is that he was honored while he was still alive for his life-long achievements.

I hope that all of you will join with me in prayer for these two good men and their many family members and friends who are mourning as I write this post.

Copulating cockroaches

As if the creatures weren't disgusting enough individually, yesterday I discovered a pair 'doing the dirty' on my kitchen counter. Ugh! Double ugh!!

They were so thoroughly engrossed in the procedure that I had to practically drown them in Raid before they disentangled and fell to the floor, writhing in what I hope was extreme and excruciating agony before dying. Triple ugh!!!

You know, I grew up in the far north where, of course, I'd heard of cockroaches but had never seen one. I had always heard that they primarily 'resided' in dirty places and apartment buildings. I guess that's true. (?)

Well, down here in 'God's country', Texas, there exists a creature approaching 2" in length (I kid you not) that the locals call a 'tree roach'. [The first time Dad saw one, he exclaimed, "Look at the size of that beetle!"] And, as one might assume from the moniker, they are usually found outside.

I was telling my daughter yesterday that I intended to publish a post titled "Copulating cockroaches", and she said, "You're not!?!" I responded, "Yes, I am", and our conversation went on from there to include some of each of our previous experiences with these overgrown 'beetles' of the south.

She recalled a time when she was sleeping on a cot in her daddy's temporary apartment in New Orleans and a cockroach crawled over her face. Quadruple ugh!!!!

Have you ever had one of these monsters on you? I have, a time or two, but they generally run as fast as they can away from me, because I am Goldenrod, the mighty roach killer who ALWAYS has a can of Raid handy!

The feeling is quite similar to that of a feather, actually.

As large as the tree roaches are in Houston, however, in New Orleans they're even bigger, if you can imagine such a thing. Not only that, they fly at you! Quintuple ugh!!!!!

In New Orleans, we had a home that featured a VERY large family/activity-type room. We purchased a pool table, and DD (Does everyone remember who 'DD' is?? DD is 'Darling Daughter'.) yesterday told me of a time when one of the NO cockroaches was chasing her through the family room. (?) She jumped up on the pool table and the cockroach flew up after her!

I asked, "What happened next?" She said, "I don't remember." (?) You know what? I think she was remembering a bad dream that ended when she woke up, that's what I think!

She used a phrase that I'd like to share with you ... "shuddering herself into jello" ... is that descriptive, or what??

Anyway, I shuddered to think of these disgusting creatures trying to multiply in my very own kitchen. Enough, already!

Want more??

Have your face muscles become so used to smiling that you now have a permanent grin in place? Haven't you had enough yet? Aren't you tired of laughing so hard that your tummy hurts and your sides ache?

"No," you say??

Well, all right then, you asked for it. Last night Tammy posted a series of pictures of signs only, no dialogue. Spend 2-3 minutes there, and I can guarantee you more of the same.

New Apple product

Apple Computer recently announced that it has developed a computer chip that can store and play high fidelity music in women's breast implants.

It will cost between $499 and $699, depending on speaker size.

This is considered to be a major breakthrough because women have always complained about men staring at their breasts and not listening to them.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Some more laughs

This post is selectively copied from Judy, who copied it from Gary, who got it from who knows where?

There are some REALLY funny stories here. Sometimes I will add a comment or two. At other times, I will just let the story speak for itself. (You probably should be sitting down while you read. I wouldn't want you to fall over laughing and hurt yourself.)

We had to have the garage door repaired. The Sears repairman told us that one of our problems was that we did not have a 'large' enough motor on the opener. I thought for a minute and said that we had the largest one Sears made at that time, a 1/2 horsepower. He shook his head and said, "Lady, you need a 1/4 horsepower." I responded that 1/2 was larger than 1/4. He responded, "NO, it's not. Four is larger than two." We haven't used Sears repair since.

I went through the McDonald's takeout window and gave the clerk a five dollar bill. Our total was $4.25, so I also handed her a quarter. She said, "You gave me too much money." I said, "Yes, I know, but this way you can just give me a dollar bill back." She sighed and went to get the manager, who asked me to repeat my request. I did so, and he handed me back the quarter, saying that I owed $4.25 and he was sorry but they could not do 'that kind of thing'. The clerk then proceeded to give me back one dollar and 75 cents in change.

[Boy oh boy oh boy oh boy, I could do a whole post in response to THIS one! In fact, look for it to be published in "Goldenrod's thoughts" coming your way in the not too far distant future.]

My son went to a Taco Bell and ordered a taco. He asked the person behind the counter for 'minimal' lettuce. The clerk said he was sorry but they only had iceberg lettuce. [You know, I think I've heard this story before, but it's worth repeating.]

I was at the airport, checking in at the gate, when an airport employee asked, "Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?" To which I replied, "If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?" He smiled 'knowingly' and added, "That's why we ask." [!]

When my wife and I arrived at an automobile dealership to pick up our car, we were told the keys had been locked in it. We went to the Service Department and found a mechanic working feverishly to unlock the driver's side door. As I watched from the passenger side, I automatically tried the door handle and discovered that it was unlocked. "Hey!" I shouted at the technician, "It's open!" His reply? "I know. I already got that side."

What could anyone possibly add to these? Nothing! Folks, they're everywhere!! Not only that, they're among the registered voting public!!!

More political correctness

Let's not forget certain residents of Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. They must no longer be referred to as 'hillbillies'. They should now be called 'Appalachian-Americans'.

And so here you go, the female version, courtesy of Chuck.

How to speak about women and be politically correct ...

1. She is not a 'babe' or 'chick', she is a 'breasted American'.

2. She is not 'easy', she is 'horizontally accessible'.

3. She is not a 'dumb blonde', she is a 'light-haired detour off the information superhighway'.

4. She has not 'been around', she is a 'previously-enjoyed companion'.

5. She does not 'nag', she is 'verbally repetitive'.

6. She is not a 'two-bit hooker', she is a 'low cost provider'.

Me? I'm not "just" an 'American'. I should now be referred to as a 'Dutch/English/German/Irish/Swedish-American'.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Political correctness

Boy oh boy, I wish I could take the credit for these, but I can't. When I first read them just the other day, I laughed and laughed and laughed some more.

I hope that you get some enjoyment from them.

How to speak about men and be politically correct ...

1. He does not have a 'beer gut', he has developed a 'liquid grain storage facility'.

2. He is not a 'bad dancer', he is 'overly Caucasian'.

3. He does not 'get lost all the time', he 'investigates alternative destinations'.

4. He is not 'balding', he is in 'follicle regression'.

5. He does not act like a 'total ass', he develops a case of 'rectal-cranial inversion'.

6. It isn't his 'crack' you see hanging out of his pants, it's 'rear cleavage'.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wonderful sounds

It's raining! Not only that, but there's a whole lot of that fantastically bombastic accompaniment, thunder!! My house's foundation and yard are enjoying every single delightful drop, thank you very much.

And now, it has settled down to a steady rain (altho I still hear some thunder in the distance) ... hang on for a minute while I peruse Houston's weather forecast and satellite imagery ... My goodness, how strange! The storms are moving from east to west!! ... I'll go back and double check. Maybe I was just imagining things? ... (Aha!! Couldn't immediately do it! My lights went out briefly and, of course, the computer shut down. Let me try again.) ... Well, they're still moving from east to west, and it looks like we've got another pretty good-sized one coming at us within the next 15-20 minutes, or so. Hooray!

What that means, of course, is that I will have to put off my shopping sojourn for another hour or two. So be it. My stomach can wait. The foundation won't.


While I'm still on-line, ...

... I'd just like to say how nice it is to be back on-line again, however briefly.

Last night around 6pm, my "zone alarm" system announced that it would like to install a couple of updates. I didn't think anything of it, as I'd done that a time or two already in my very limited time and experience with computers, so I said "Yes".

Well, it's now 17 hours later, and the only reason I'm able to communicate with you at this moment is that, between the two of us (DSL and I), we were able to disconnect the zone alarm system until he could find more time to 'get on' my computer to first diagnose the problem and then, second, to actually fix it. (Not that we didn't spend a bunch of hours last night trying. We did!!)

Quickly now, Goldenrod, before DSL gets back and you lose your connection!

OK. A couple of things. We're almost 6" down in rainfall. I really hate to mention this, particularly in light of all of the flooding in the past month north of here, but it's the truth. We're dry!!

Not only that, but it was announced today that the temperature of the water in the Gulf of Mexico has reached 90 degrees. Folks, those are hurricane-breeding/fostering/accelerating numbers.

In my travels while cruising the net, I discovered a really neat blogsite, weather-wise, that I'd like to share with you. It's hosted by Matthew East. While he is located quite a bit east and somewhat north of Houston, I find his posts to be 'en pointe'. You might want to pay his site a visit.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Naked Came the Manatee

Published in either 1995 or 1996 (Why I have two different dates noted I have not the vaguest idea! And, by the way, I have no intention whatsoever of looking it up in Wikipedia. That would take all the fun out of it!), this delightful book is the result of a baker's dozen of Florida authors each contributing a chapter, the final one (which quite neatly ties up all the loose ends) authored by none other than Carl Hiaasen.

[I don't want to leave the other twelve out, so here they are: Brian Antoni, Dave Barry, Edna Buchanan, Tananarive Due, John Dufresne, James W. Hall, Vicki Hendricks, Carolina Hospital, Elmore Leonard, Paul Levine, Evelyn Mayerson, and Les Standiford.]

Anyway, as I vaguely remember the story, it revolves around a very elderly woman (100?) who swims naked with the manatee, an endangered species because of all of the power boats in the area (among other things). The book has many hilarious episodes that are intricately interwoven with mystery and intrigue.

[I've just enticed myself to go to the library and see if the book is available for checkout. You might have noticed from one or two of my posts that I do not 'buy' books. No, no. I've already paid for them with my tax dollars!]

Very recently one of my blogger friends returned from an extended vacation with her family. In one of her posts recapping their trip, she mentioned that they had not been able to photograph the manatee because the 'lighting wasn't right'. And that, folks, is what provided the inspiration for this post!

Some years back -- fewer than twenty but more than ten -- Houston had a manatee within its city limits, 'lost' in the quagmire of Buffalo Bayou.

How did it happen? Very easily, actually. Galveston Bay is quite large, and extends inland from the Gulf of Mexico for many miles. Somehow or other, this particular manatee swam inland from the Gulf, traveled up Galveston Bay and into Buffalo Bayou, where it realized (at one of our sewage treatment plants) that it had made a wrong turn somewhere but then didn't know how to get back.

Well!! All of Houston immediately became enamored with the manatee's dilemma. What could be done to feed him? to save the poor creature? to get him back to where he belonged?

Day after day, headline after headline focused on this problem. It was exCIting to see how caught up in this creature's life the whole of Houston became. Newsreel after newsreel showed how he was being fed, how huge crowds of people were showing up at the sewage treatment plant to observe the daily feeding, and how many different attempts were made to 'steer' him back out to his normal habitat.

It was decided that he should be called "Hugh", as in 'hughmanatee'. Time went on. Hugh was being fed, but there was really no way that he could be considered a permanent resident of Buffalo Bayou.

'Mattress Mac' (a local furniture dealer) stepped in with an offer to transport Hugh to San Antonio where, supposedly, the locals there had the expertise and facilities to deal with him in the short term and, in the long term, hopefully reassign him more or less permanently to his normal habitat.

We were all watching as Hugh was gathered up in this humongous net and then loaded onto a truck that would transport him to San Antonio, some 200 miles to our west.

It was only AFter 'Hugh' was successfully transported to San Antonio and then examined by the powers that be that it was discovered he was actually a "she". Not only that, but she was pregnant!!

Is that funny or what?!?

For the life of me, I cannot remember what the name "Hugh" was changed to, nor do I recall what became of the baby.

An added comment on "Dreams"

I keep notebooks filled with the names of books I've read. They're listed alphabetically by author. Then, on each page I'll list the titles, dates of publication, add a few notes and sometimes a rating or two.

Well, in researching to find the book title for a post I intend to begin shortly after publishing this one, I came across a quote I thought you might like to ponder.

It's from "A King's Ransom" by James Grippando, published in 2001, page 50.

"Some people find meaning in dreams. I usually dismissed the good ones as wishful thinking and the power of suggestion; the bad ones I chalked up to stress, anxiety, and the power of indigestion."

Monday, July 7, 2008

If my head wasn't attached, I'd lose it

I am a creature of habit, particularly when it comes to shopping. I tend to go to the same grocery stores and the same pharmacies. As a result, many of their employees have come to know me.

It was kind of fun this morning when the clerk, whom I had seen and visited with many times before, said, "Aha! You got a new driver's license!!" Now how would he know that unless he had seen and remembered what my old one looked like? He wouldn't, of course, and that begs the question, "What DID my old driver's license look like?"

Well, it looked like something had chewed on it. Indeed, something had, and here's the story.

I was visiting a friend. The friend had a new German shepherd, not much older than a puppy. While I was leaning over to pet him, my driver's license fell out of my shirt pocket and landed on the ground. Before I could bend over fast enough to safely retrieve it, he had grabbed it in his mouth and begun playing with it.

Well, you can imagine! Teeth marks all over it and bent beyond any hope of being straightened enuf to slide through a machine, I thought of paying for a replacement. I decided against it. After all, my birthday would be coming up in less than a year* and most places where I shopped knew me and would accept the poor mutilated thing.

[*Drivers' licenses are renewed for eight years in Texas.]

I took to writing my driver's license number at the top of each check along with the expiration date, which could hardly be read, and this worked out well except for the occasional time or two when I went to a new vendor. Then I'd have to go through the whole story all over again.

The clerk then said, "I'm going to have to do that." Just as I was starting to remind him that he could do that by mail (as I had), he continued. "I left my driver's license on top of the car last night when I was getting back in to go home from McDonald's."

I immediately thought, "Oh, oh!" "Not that I had much money in it," he went on. "My business card was in there. Maybe they'll call me and return it." (Fat chance of that happening!)

Lord love us! The clerk must have meant that he left his wallet on top of the car, which reminds me of another story. "Is there no end to your stories, Goldenrod?" Probably not. Actually, hopefully not! Ready?? Or not, here it comes!

We were in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, shopping at the Indian reservation for (in my case) moccasins and anything else (in my mother's case) that seemed a likely candidate for a souvenir to take home.

We had arrived in two separate cars. Hubby and I would be returning south to Indiana. Mom and Dad would be going back to Munising. We all pretty much left at the same time.

We hugged and kissed (and did and said all those other things that normal people do who love each other and who are family).

Then, as hubby and I watched them pull away, we noticed that Mother's purse was still on the top of their car. Not only that, but it was open and all sorts of things were spewing out!

So there we were, running as fast as we could after their car, one of us trying frantically to pick up each flying object and the other screaming at the top of his lungs to get them to stop.


Boy, that one word describes the dream I had midway through my sleep last night. It woke me up, in fact. And, because I remembered all the details so clearly, I wanted to immediately get up and write it down before I forgot it, but I didn't.

Here it is, in a nutshell, details somewhat fuzzy, but meaning/s clear.

I'm driving my car and I see a 4-wheel drive, all terrain-type vehicle doing really weird things, like trying to go up steep embankments (& sometimes even succeeding) and then coming back down and forcing others to quickly have to brake or dodge to avoid an accident as it re-enters moving traffic without yielding the right of way. Once I even saw it sideswipe another car pretty good, but it didn't stop. Just kept on going.

Later, as I'm driving up a street in this very attractive neighborhood, I notice the vehicle perhaps half a block in front of me. It is stopped in the middle of the street. I can see that there are two people inside. I pull over to the side because I don't know why it's there or what they intend to do.

As I'm waiting and watching, all of a sudden I see it shoot forward and just 'cream' a really expensive-looking car parked in a driveway. Shocked, my jaw practically on the ground, I get out of my car and watch as they get out to inspect the damage to the other car. Seemingly satisfied, they turn around to get back into their vehicle (I guess to find another 'victim') and see me watching. They hesitate. I shout, "What do you guys think you're doing? I saw what you did. I'm going to call the police!"

They start towards me. They don't look friendly. Now, all of a sudden, I'm afraid and run towards the house nearest me and pound frantically on the front door. It opens and I'm inside, safe for the moment but worried about my car. Sure enough, my worst fears are realized when I finally venture back outside and see that it is no longer there.

I remember thinking (in my dream) 'fun' stuff like, "Now they know where I live. My registration's in the glovebox. They'll come and get me!" "How am I going to be able to afford a new car?"

Do you dream? If you do, does everything seem to happen in slow motion? Do things that would make no sense at all if you were awake appear normal? Do you dream in color or black and white? (My sister asked me that once, long ago, and I said that I didn't remember.) I don't remember to this day, although I have tried to tell my subconscious many times to pay attention to that little detail. So far it hasn't listened to me.

In a post titled, "Talking to oneself ...", published in January, I said that dreams are the sub/unconscious mind's way of resolving issues of the day.

Well, I guess that one of the issues my subconscious continues to worry about is my car. The above-mentioned post refers to that in the first paragraph. Overall, tho, that post is upbeat and fairly amusing, not at all like this one! If you haven't already read it, you might get a kick out of it.

I'm not a taxicab driver any more and don't depend on my vehicle for a living, so why am I still worried? Well, for one thing I took the collision insurance off when the car was paid for. I figured that I could avoid an at-fault accident. What I am not protected against is theft. An amazing creature, the subconscious!

Where'd the destructive vehicle come from? Well, I watched a sub-par movie about this 'demon' car within the last few days. "If it was so sub-par, why'd you continue to watch it?" I guess I kept hoping it would get better! Anyway, that got thrown into the mix. Where I was in fear for my life my subconscious must have decided to add just to scare me enough to wake up.

My hope is, now that I've written all of this down so that my feeling of horror might somehow be neutralized as the components are strewn all over cyberspace, that I have gotten this out of my system and the dream will not recur.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cleaning up a mess

A little reorganization here, a word or two or three (maybe even a hundred) added there, many extraneous words deleted, a cup of hot coffee by my side, and concentration ... with all of these in hand I just might be able to resurrect "Their" vs. "There" vs. "They're".

I decided this morning, after re-reading yet one more time the above post, to give it a grade of D, not 'pretty good' as I stated in my response to Tammy's comment. Certainly no higher than a C-. SO, with all that in mind, this might take a while. Hopefully, tho, the finished product will warrant at least a B. (If you haven't done so already, you might want to quickly read through my post of July 4th so that you know what the devil I'm talking about.)

Apostrophes ...

When we see a word that has an apostrophe, two thoughts immediately come to mind ... ...

1) The word is a 'contraction' of two different words, and the apostrophe is taking the place of one or more missing letters in the second word.

2) The apostrophe is indicating 'possession'. (Whatever comes before the apostrophe 'owns' or 'has' something.)

Let's look at some examples. Then we'll discuss them. Let's start with "I" and "he/she" along with "we/they".

[By the way, did you notice that in the preceding sentences there are three words that have apostrophes? Two 'let's' and one 'we'll'. What are they? They are all contractions! In "let's", the apostrophe takes the place of the missing 'u'. So, let's = let us. In "we'll", the apostrophe takes the place of two missing letters, the 'w' and 'i'. Ergo, we'll = we will.]

a. I've wanted a baseball like that for a long time, and now I have one. My parents bought it for me as a birthday present. It is my ball. It's mine. (Note: two apostrophes, two contractions.) "I've" = I have. [Why didn't I use a contraction for 'I have' later in the sentence? Well, technically it would be correct, I suppose, but hardly anybody talks like that these days. People would look at you like they couldn't believe their ears! "Whaaat!! Have you been drinking?"] "It's" = It is. [I could have done the same thing in the previous sentence, but it's just not my personal writing style to repeat the same words -- or variations on same -- too frequently.]

b. Henry went to the store. He was 'just looking' and didn't really have all that much money, anyway. All of a sudden, tho, he saw something that he could afford. Quickly, he snatched it up and took it to the cash register. When the clerk announced the total amount that he owed, Henry proudly produced it. "It's mine!" he shouted. The clerk smiled and said, "Yes, Henry, it's yours."

Then, going on down the street and grinning from ear to ear, Henry ran into some of his friends. They exclaimed, "Look at what you have. You've got one! It's yours!!" "Yes," Henry smilingly acknowledged. Later that day, his friends were heard to say, "Henry's (whatever it was that Henry bought) is really fine. I wish I had one! It's his. It belongs to him!"

[How many words with apostrophes do you see in the above example? (7) Which ones are contractions? Well, there is "didn't" (did not), "it's" (it is -- four of those!), and "you've" (you have).

What about "Henry's"? If you assume that it is a contraction, then the sentence would read, in a somewhat more elongated version, "Henry is is really fine", which makes no sense whatsoever, would you agree?

And so, we have our first example of when an apostrophe indicates possession rather than a contraction. I'll expand upon this further in just a moment. For now, however, let's go on to "we/they".]

c. For many years, Munising's high school football players had wished for a new practice field. It seems that, for a long time, they had been practicing in what used to be cow pastures and trying to avoid stepping on or falling in 'patties'. Then, one year, it was announced that an anonymous benefactor had donated the necessary funds to provide same. Everyone was excited. They couldn't wait to see what it would look like! Finally, the big day arrived.

Lots of comments were overheard ... "I can't believe it's ours!" "This is our practice field!" And, in later years, "And to think that they used to practice in cow pastures. It's hard for me now to imagine that their practices used to include drills in avoiding patties." "Look at those new jerseys! They're really looking good."

[Six words in the above example have apostrophes. How many are contractions? (5) "couldn't" (could not) "can't" (can not) "it's" (it is -- twice) "They're" (they are)

"Munising's" cannot be a contraction because the sentence makes no sense if you use the word 'is' after Munising. Here, as in "Henry's" in example 'b', the apostrophe indicates possession.]

Pronouns ...

We use so many pronouns in our everyday language that we don't even think about them beforehand. How many of you remember the old Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller? I don't remember him using many pronouns. I remember, "Tarzan go now." "Cheetah sick?" Stuff like that. (Didn't use a lot of verbs, either!)

In example 'a' above, we don't know who it is who's talking. The apostrophes that exist are all part of contractions. Yet there are five words in that paragraph that indicate possession. Can you find them all?

"My" is used three times ... 'My' parents, 'my' ball, and 'my' personal writing. "Their" and "mine" once each ... 'their' ears, and It's 'mine'.

In example 'b', we're talking about Henry, but rather than use Henry's name each time we want to refer to him, we say 'he' ... or, if something belongs to him, we could say 'his' instead of Henry's. If we use his name, then the apostrophe must be entered to show possession. Six examples of possessive pronouns are there, none of which have apostrophes.

"Mine" (It's 'mine'), "Yours" (it's 'yours' -- twice), "His" ('his' friends -- twice, It's 'his').

In example 'c', the possessive pronouns are found in the second paragraph. "Ours" (it's 'ours'), "our" ('our' practice field), and "their" ('their' practices).

What should be extrapolated from all of this is that pronouns are never used in conjunction with an apostrophe unless they're (they are) part of a contraction. (Do you remember "Its" vs. "It's"? Similar.) NOW, let's see if I can finally get to the heart of this lesson, which is ...

Their vs. There vs. They're ...

They're ... I've covered apostrophes out the wazoo here, so I think it should immediately jump out at you that this is a contraction. Enuf said.

Their ... a possessive pronoun, but how can you remember to spell it 'eir' instead of 'ere'? Sometimes, I've found that word association helps. If you take the 't' off of 'their', what do you have? You have 'heir', which usually refers to a person who is 'in line' for an inheritance of some sort. The inheritance could be in the form of money, property, or even title (Prince Charles, for example). That might be one good way for you to remember it.

[For years, I had trouble remembering how to spell these words ... principal/principle and stationary/stationery ... I was ALWAYS having to look the meanings up in the dictionary! I got really tired of doing that every single time and made a concentrated effort to somehow try and find a way to get at least ONE of each two permanently affixed in my memory banks. Locating the word 'pal' in principal pretty much solved that one, and then noting that the 'er' in stationery was exactly how the word 'letter' ended took care of the other.]

There ... Well, it's not a contraction and it doesn't refer to an actual person, place or thing, so it's not a pronoun, either! Ergo, an apostrophe would not be used. Nor would it be spelled like 'heir'.

[It has often (because it's true!) been said that the dictionary defines one big word with another. The word 'there' often has such an ambiguous meaning that it seems, at times, to have no meaning at all.]

SO, my recommendation (especially for you, Katie) would be this. If you KNOW that it's not a contraction and you're pretty certain that the word doesn't actually take the place of or refer to a person, place or thing, use "there". I'll bet that you won't be often wrong. (Does "here, there, everywhere" help at all?)

My goodness, my goodness, my goodness, this has been a long one!! I don't know about all of you guys, but I'm ready to go on to another subject entirely.

PS. As always, I invite your comments and/or questions, but -- PLEASE -- don't come back at me with personal pronouns, adjectives vs. possessive pronouns, or anything else of that nature! I was trying to be of help here to a friend who was having a particular problem. As usual I got mired in my own rhetoric. And, although this post tries to answer the question from a somewhat different angle, I don't know that it's any better. I would give it a grade of no higher than a C.

PPS. Altho I began this post yesterday morning, my computer started acting up a bit. I had to confer with DSL (dreaded son-in-law) to get it straightened out. It's now almost 10:00 on Sunday morning. I apologize for the delay in getting this published.