Thursday, October 30, 2008


Here's a Halloween story, of sorts, for you. Thought you might get a kick out of it.

There's a dance studio here in Houston that's pretty good-sized, several rooms, lots of classes each year, dances, sponsored cruises, etc. Well, they've got their annual Halloween party coming up and I just read in their newsletter a story from a Halloween party ten years ago that I'm going to share with you.

It seems that they go all out for their 'Haunted House' with ghoulish creatures of every sort, Dracula in a coffin, the scene from Psycho, scary music, and all in very darkened rooms with hanging black drapes and many twists and turns. Takes hours to set it all up and sounds like a whole lot of fun.

Ten years ago a couple came dressed as M&Ms. Appropriately, she was carrying a little basket full of M&Ms. As they were walking through the blackened maze, he was quite taken with a ghoul and remarked how lifelike it was. She laughed and moved forward to give it a little poke. When the ghoul stepped toward her and made threatening sounds, the basket of M&Ms went flying and her screams could be heard all the way out to the street! Turns out the ghoul was one of the dance guests and would, from time to time, just stand quietly in a corner to see if he'd get a taker. He did, big time!

In order for dance classes to be held the next day, takedown and cleanup is scheduled the morning after the big party. The Maze has to be dismantled, and although the drapes come down a lot faster than they go up, it still requires two hours of four people working together to finish the job.

(I'm going to switch to the first person here because the rest of this story is best told by the person who experienced it, one of the cleanup crew.)

"As I took down the curtains, I couldn't keep my eyes off those M&Ms laying on the floor. The longer I worked, the more my desire grew. Pretty soon I was certain they were talking to me.

We know you want to eat us. We taste so good and you are so hungry! mmmmmmm

Yeah, yeah, I know they had millions of germs on them blah blah blah. Let me tell you something -- if you get hungry enough, those germ arguments lose a lot of their power! I fought the urge, but the charms of the M&Ms continued to weaken my resistance. Their siren call grew louder and louder. Finally I had to have one. Making sure that no one was looking, I reached down and grabbed one off the floor.

I ate it! That's when I discovered it had a peanut inside!!

Uh oh! That did it!! Those M&Ms had nuts in them. Now I was completely helpless.

You know how you spill something in the kitchen and you call the dog to come eat it up? Well, that was me. My resistance caved in and I became an M&M tramp. I spent the rest of the morning carefully ridding the floor of all M&Ms by eating them. Yum!!!

What a marvelous cleaning technique!! I had so much fun I even took a picture of them. Such wonderful memories. By the way, for all you germ experts, please note that ten years later I am still alive and doing fine. So put that in your bonnet and figure it out!"

Here & there, up & down, roundabout

A couple of things I should update all y'all on ... ...

Biopsy results ...

I received an e-mail late last night from Dr. Bauer's office that (supposedly) contained the results of the biopsy on my left cheek.

I say 'supposedly' because I was unable -- yet one more time -- to hack through 'security' clearances to read the results.

Those of you who have read any of my posts in the past know how much time has been wasted in trying to clear this matter up. As I told my daughter in an e-mail earlier this morning, I have no intention whatsoever of calling Dr. Bauer's office to try and ascertain the results. I repeat, none whatsoever!!

Doctors' offices do not send you bad news via e-mail. They call you, right? And so, I'm 'assuming' that the biopsy read 'benign'.

Passport application ...

I was told that all I needed to present was my original birth certificate, driver's license, passport photos, and proof of current place of residence. Oh, yes! And a check in the amount of $100.

SO, I went to the nearest passport office (actually, I went to a Post Office) with all in hand.

We hit a few 'snags' on the application. I'd been married 'how many' times?!? (3) My maiden name was? (OK) My mother's maiden name was? (OK) My father's date of birth? (OK) My mother's date of birth? (OK) My father's place of birth? (I didn't know) My mother's place of birth? (I didn't know) My last ex-husband's date of birth? (I didn't remember) Place of birth? (You have got to be kidding me!) The street address of my daughter? (I didn't have that with me.) My travel plans? (Whaat!?!) Date of marriage to my most recent spouse? (Give me a break here!) Divorce date? (Same comment.) Did I have the divorce decree with me? (Are you kidding??? This was over twenty years ago!!!)

Fellow who was taking my application assured me that all this really didn't matter -- that if there were any problems, they would mail my application back to me with notations of any questions that still needed to be answered. Ye Gods!

Then he asked me for $75. I thought, "Whaat! Thought it was $100!?!" I wrote the check out (I'd only brought the one). All was fine and good. Then he asked me for another $25 -- post office's fee charges, or some such.

Well, I told him that I'd have to go back home and get another check. He said he'd hold the application, no problem.

Did all that. Got a receipt.

When I arrived back home 2-3 hours later, there was a voice mail from the fellow at the Post Office saying that I'd left a copy of my birth certificate there, and could I come back and get it? They'd hold it for me. Ye Gods and little fish hooks!!

Well, yeah, I could, but meanwhile the Post Office was closed. Couldn't do it until the next day ... maybe that'll teach me to leave the house without my phone, huh?!?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Years ago, when I was in the final stages of gathering all the judges' results and assimilating them into my own research for my master's thesis, I came upon what seemed to be an impossibility -- a statistical anomaly, as it were ... that there was a negative correlation between intelligence and creativity.

It blew my mind. It blew my major professor's mind. She referred me to one of her associates at Purdue who was an expert in statistics, and that led to an interesting addition to my thesis. (For those of you who might be curious, there is not a negative correlation!)

Generally speaking I am not preoccupied with statistics, but I wonder -- and I put the question to you today -- , "How much of television advertising revenues come from election campaigns?"

It has got to be just a humongous number/percentage!! Even more so in those areas/regions/states where the races are 'close'. The media thrives on stuff like this, you know. They love controversy!

You know, we hear all the time about how dependent retailers are on Christmas sales to meet their annual 'quotas'. (And, once again, I give a "Boo, Walmart!" shoutout for dragging out their Christmas displays this year almost before October had even begun.)

I'm sure there must be nearly a gazillion 'experts' in statistical analyses out there who are just salivating at the numbers. Do you have any idea what those numbers might be??

I, for one, will be very glad when November 5th dawns.

Inspirational and thought-provoking

Craig Peihopa, in his post today, writes eloquently about reaching for your dreams and not giving up. "Choose life!" he says. I am pleased to highly recommend it to you.

He concludes his presentation with three YouTube videos, the first and third of which are from the show, "Britain's Got Talent." The third is shown below. (Unfortunately, at this time the middle video does not appear to be functioning, so I've not been able to view it. Perhaps it will work when you try. If not, I'm sure Craig will fix it later -- it's the middle of the night in Australia right now -- if you'd like to go back and try it again.)

Here then, for your enjoyment, is Paul Potts' initial audition for the show.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Free taco, anyone?

Supposedly, anyone across this great country of ours today can -- between the hours of 2 and 6 pm CST -- go to a Taco Bell and claim a free taco, courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays.

I'm going to have to try and remember that as I leave the house a touch later. I'm not a huge taco fan, but if I pass a Taco Bell later, I'll probably get in line. How about you??

Bits & pieces

Brrr! ...

Although you people who reside in the north might laugh when I say this, it's cold outside! (Cold = less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit, my definition.)

Right now (7:30am Tuesday morning) the temperature outside is hovering just above the 40 degree mark. Brrr!

I'm thinking I'll have just a grand old time tonight burning some thousands of checks that I've gone through and discarded from many many years of 'collecting' same. Why did I collect them? I'm a pack rat. There's not much else I can say in my own defense.

I haven't turned the heat on yet. I object to having to turn the heat on until I feel really chilly. Right now I'm feeling only a 'little' chilly! (Temp inside the house currently reads 68 degrees and falling. High today will not reach 70. Perhaps 'tonight's the night'? (There's a really good joke that goes along with that. I'm not sure I can post it on my blog, however.)

World Series ...

I hit the pillow long before Game 5 was suspended in the 6th inning last night, thinking I'd wake up in a couple of hours and catch the last couple of innings. Next thing I knew, it was this morning and my 'little nap' turned out to be of a nine-hour duration!

So, after some morning ablutions and zapping last night's coffee, I came in here to catch up on stories about the game, assuming it was long over. Much to my surprise, it wasn't, and there was article after article about one controversy or another, not the least interesting of which was that about missed umpire calls ...

... which led to further discussion about the use of replay. If I read it right, replay is only used in the Series for 'questionable' home runs. Yet one can watch replay after replay from varying angles of 'close calls'. I don't think I'd want to be an umpire and have my (almost) every call reviewed from every which angle afterwards.

And speaking of umpires, did you know that they cannot be used in back-to-back World Series? (Something about a union agreement that is due to expire in the coming year, I believe.) I didn't! Learn something new every day, eh what? SO, if the very best umpires were used in 2007, they are not eligible to work in 2008.

And there you have it, folks, parity (aka mediocrity) at its finest.

By the way, there are some great shots from last night available here. Twenty-five photographs in all, the great majority of which are very fine!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jesus wept

I had to turn off the news just now.

The lead story was of a possible assassination attempt on Barack Obama's life.

I do not happen to be an 'Obama mama' (or even an 'Obama grandma', for that matter) ... I try to be independent in my thinking.

To tell you the truth, I really am not sure WHOM I will vote for a week from tomorrow.

There have been a couple of times in the past when I have written my own name in. I kid you not here! (This will not be one of those times, altho I am sorely tempted.)

But to try and assassinate a Presidential candidate??!!??

No! NO!! NO!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Greatest Prank Call Ever

A little frivolity for you on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. Enjoy!

(Adapt for your own use with these nuisance telemarketers.)

Friday, October 24, 2008


No, I'm not going all scientific on you. What I would like to briefly discuss this morning is age.

Are you young, middle-aged, or old? Age is relative, a state of mind (imo).

One of my blogger friends, Steven, who's in his very early 50's, described his body as 'old' the other day when he was unable to open his hands after his fingers had frozen almost solid in a bicycle grip.

What had happened? Well, he bicycles back and forth to work every day and had been caught in some fairly severe weather. His gloves had gotten wet, there were strong winds, it was cold, and by the time he finally got home all he was able to do was bang on the back door with his elbows until his son (thank goodness someone was home!) heard him and came to his rescue.

When I was 'young' and in undergraduate school -- in fact, even in graduate school, I thought 30 was old. In fact, I think I wrote in a much earlier post that my very best friend, Jacky, had sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers for that occasion. The only thing wrong with her thoughtful gift was that she didn't remember the actual date of my birthday, and sent it two months early!

Now I'm in my 70's. My perspective has drastically changed. (Well, I guess!!) I know I'm considered 'old' by many, and some of the time I actually feel old.

But I still have all my wits about me, and delight each and every day that I am able to present to you a (hopefully) somewhat logical post, albeit the subject matter could be scattered 'here there everywhere'.

When I first began teaching 1st grade (I was 21 yrs. old at the time), one of my favorite responses to a student's question about my age was, "How old do you think I am?"

Initially, their answers to my question were absolutely hilarious! I stopped asking when they started more accurately guessing.

One of my more unforgettable cab driving experiences occurred quite some time ago, when I was dispatched to a Randall's (local grocery chain) store to pick up a customer.

When I arrived, she was outside to meet me (along with the manager of the store, who was the one who had actually called for a taxi), somewhat supported by her walker.

She looked really 'old' to me. (Turns out she was 103, or some such almost unbelievable figure!)

She was a regular customer of the store and usually arrived via a city bus. She'd do her shopping and then take a bus back to the retirement home that was her current place of residence.

This time, tho, the manager -- who'd seen her many times before -- felt that she had way too many groceries to try and take with her on the bus, and called for a cab. (He paid for the trip out of his own pocket! I had to estimate the charges.)

She and I talked a lot on the way back. Seems as tho she had outlived all of her children (and even some of her grandchildren), lived in this retirement home where "all they did was play Bingo", and was bored half out of her mind.

Every once in a while I think of her.

My daughter wrote in one of her posts some months back how surprised and proud she was of her mother, who -- at the age of 70, was starting her own blogsite. I was like a little kid with a new toy, actually, and am still enjoying it very much. Thank you again, DD and DSL, for your wonderful Christmas gift!

It was only yesterday that I learned of another blogsite, where it seems that a woman ten years older than I is writing about and sharing some of her memories.

Good for her!

If you'd like to see/read it for yourself, here's the link. You might notice that my site is linked there on her side bar. Don't know how she got onto it, but I'm glad she did.

Yesterday, as I was getting ready to leave Dr. Bauer's office, he asked me if I wanted to get a flu shot. I said, "No, I never get the flu." Then he asked about a pneumonia shot. Now, that took me aback! I've never heard of a pneumonia shot. Have you? (I declined. Hope I'm not sorry later.)

I was tempted to ask him if his office was offering a shot to make one 50 or even 60 years old again!

Free Photo Booth

Here's another giggle or two for you this morning. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Been there done that

Spent just a touch less than an hour much earlier today with someone from Dr. Bauer's office trying to get my e-mail account straightened out.

Don't know if it is or not. I'll wait for his next e-mail to try and come through before I can report whether or not it has been!

I have a great big bandaid on my left cheek. Yes, I said 'cheek'!

What happened to the spot on my nose? Good question.

He looked at it under his splendiferous ultra lighting and magnifying glass and said, "It's nothing. Just an oil gland gone wild." (Those are not his actual words. They are mine.)

But then he asked, "What's this?" (Pointing to a spot on my left cheek that I had 'picked' within the last 24 hours. I'm a picker, what can I tell you?)

Some novocaine, incisement (for a biopsy), and a pressure bandaid later, I'm here to tell you -- after I then had him look at a couple of other 'spots' on my forehead that I've been madly picking away at -- I look like "Gorgeous Goldenrod!"

Actually, he didn't do anything with the spots on my forehead. Advised me to stop picking -- I've ALways been advised to 'stop picking' -- and see what they look like in another week or two.

Blood pressure was checked. Nurse took it twice. First time it read 160. Next time 154.

Now, I had taken it myself (with my wrist monitor, which appears to be working correctly, thank the good Lord) earlier this morning. It read 138. Shortly after I arrived at the doctor's office I took it again, and it read 143.

In between the 160 and 154 readings, it read 151. (It has NEVER read that high at home!!) Talk about going to the doctor to make your blood pressure rise, huh?

Let's see, what else?

Oh yes, he took a cursory looksee through the fairly extensive list of ophthalmologists who are currently under contract in the WellCare program, and one name in particular caught his attention. SO, we might be 'all set' for that! More later, on down the road.

Suffice it to say that I 'survived' another doctor's visit ... ... barely.

Just checkin' in on you

Ready to start your day with a good laugh?

Click on this link, sit back, and enjoy ... then, forward it to everyone you know who could use a giggle.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Forget all I said earlier about being able to go to a specialist without a referral from my primary doctor.

This fellow in charge of the presentation I attended didn't know what the devil he was talking about!

Let me tell you how my day went yesterday.

First, I got a call from my dermatologist's office, the one where I'm supposed to go tomorrow morning, saying that WellCare had no knowledge of me. The gal who called said she'd like to check all my information. Turns out one of the numbers had been incorrectly written down. We got that all straightened out.

She called back later, and asked if I'd be bringing a referral letter with me. (!?!) I told her that I'd been informed in the latest WellCare briefing that one was not necessary. She said they needed one.

Well, it's now afternoon. I'm trying to get out of the house. Have some errands to run before bridge at 6:30 with Bob, but I have to now call Dr. Bauer's office and see what the deal is, do they know?

I talk to three different people at his office, including his nurse. At one point, I'm 'on hold' (hate that!) for almost 20 minutes. Each one tells me something different. !!

Do I want to make an appointment? Dr. Bauer can see me sometime in November. !!!

They have a dermatologist on staff. Why do I want to go someone else? (They didn't have a dermatologist last time I was there! How was I supposed to know that?)

The third one tells me she's sure that Dr. Bauer would like to talk to me first, but she thinks he'll have his office fax a referral letter to Dr. Nelson tomorrow (today now). She gives me a number to call tomorrow (today) to double-check whether or not the referral letter has been sent.

I come out of Kroger's (last stop before bridge) with my groceries, and see that I have a voice mail message. I listen to it. It's Dr. Bauer. Says he's sent me an e-mail and will talk to me tomorrow (today).

OK. I get home from bridge. I'm exhausted, and I know it's just from stress and being upset. I delete all of my 'Spam', and then hit the pillow. I put the phone next to my pillow just in case he calls before I'm up.

I woke up about an hour and a half ago. Phone's now in here with me, right next to the computer.

First thing I did was check out his e-mail from yesterday afternoon. In order to open it up, I have to enter my password. I did. Wrong password. I entered another password. Wrong password.

I filled out a short entry form to officially change my password. Got an e-mail giving me instructions about how to make my new password permanent. Followed those. Tried to open Dr. Bauer's e-mail using my new permanent official password. Denied.

So, I'm sitting here typing up this griping blog and feeling the frustration seep out of my body little by little. Thank goodness for blogs!

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for his call. If he hasn't called within another hour or so, I'll have to call Dr. Nelson's office and cancel my appointment for tomorrow. Running out of time here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Community service

Another joke, this one courtesy of Whalechaser. Ready? Kind of appropriate, I think.

On Monday a florist goes to a barber for a haircut. After the cut he asks about his bill and the barber replies, "I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week." The florist is pleased and leaves the shop.

When the barber goes to open his shop Tuesday morning, a 'thank you' card and a dozen roses are waiting for him at his door.

Later on Tuesday a cop comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill the barber again replies, "I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week." The cop is happy and leaves the shop.

The following morning, when the barber goes to open his shop, a 'thank you' card and a dozen doughnuts are waiting for him at his door.

On Wednesday afternoon a college professor comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill the barber again says, "I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week." The professor is very happy and leaves the shop.

When the barber goes to open his shop Thursday morning, he finds a 'thank you' card and a dozen books, including "How to Improve Your Business" and "Becoming More Successful."

Later that same day a congressman comes in for a haircut. When he goes to pay his bill, the barber says, "I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week."

When the barber goes to open up the next morning, there are a dozen congressmen lined up waiting for a free haircut.

Hug hug, kiss kiss

Yesterday in Orlando, Florida, Barack and Hillary were all hugs, kisses, and smiles.

I had actually predicted such an event occurring on January 22nd this year in one of my comments on another blogsite.

The blog author had despaired of the Democratic party's fracturing itself beyond repair. I wrote, "... ... But, wait! We have the kiss & make up scenes at the convention to look forward to!"

Author had responded, "... ... I don't know that everybody's going to be willing to kiss and make up later."

Well, I was way off on the date, but not on the occurrence.

What a charade!

How about this as a fantasy?

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees

I'm not sure I can recommend this film highly enough.

Yes, there was a lot of information in the film about bees ... purple honey (?) ... but mainly the film was about Civil Rights, particularly as events were occurring in 1964, the date/era in which the movie (and yes, it was book-based, Whale) was set.

Much more to the point, however, in my opinion the movie's true focus was on family ... love, people caring about/loving one another, what's really important, priorities ... ... ...

Queen Latifah gives a truly great (imo) performance, and Dakota (somebody or another -- my DGD can tell you her name, they're the same age!) a very close second.

The ability to laugh at one's self ...

... is a truly wondrous thing.

'W' has it. That's a really healthy part of his makeup. It has helped him to survive all the many jabs and pokes (some intentionally nasty, unfortunately) he has received these past nearly eight years.

I have it. Do you?

There is a site out there where you can check your blog's reading level. Did you know that?

It's kind of fun. Not only can you check your own blog's level, you can check (I don't how many, actually) any number of others!

I am kind of sad to report that my blog's level is now at "Junior High."

Well, shoot and darnation!

It used to say "Elementary."

I thought, "Oh, good. That means it's easy to read."

I want it to be easy to read! I take a lot of pride in carefully writing and re/editing each post so that you all know exactly where I'm coming from.

One of my regular readers and a personal "Favorite" of mine, Whalechaser, has posted on her site that her blog's reading level is "Genius."

I thought, "Whaat!!" (Not that she's not a genius, understand, but she doesn't use any bigger words than I do! At least I don't find myself having to go to the dictionary while reading her posts to understand what the devil she's talking about.)

ANYhoo, yesterday -- while out at DD's -- she (DD) and I spent at least an hour (maybe more!) on her trying to teach me and me trying to learn how to post pix and such on my blogsite.

I didn't take many notes.

She showed me how to post something from YouTube on my site, and I have a practice draft for that one. She showed me how to save an attachment from an e-mail into a folder (somewhere ... you see why I really needed to take notes?). She showed me how to down/up?load a pic from someone else's site to my own. I have a practice draft for that. She cautioned me about making sure that I gave proper credit to my source. She showed me how to place the pic left/center/right and how the text would appear. (And yes, you have it correctly. I took no notes for that, either!) However, I have a practice draft. :)

Well, last night I had another of these weird dreams. ("Fun" weird.)

I dreamed that I was looking at my post, trying to figure out why it was deemed "Elementary" instead of anything higher.

In my dream, I was asked to cross out (remove) any word that appeared more than once.

Well, the word "I" was used just a ton of times, and I deleted all of those. "The" "my" "it" "thought" "was" "had" "she" "at" "well" were summarily disposed of, as well.

I was left with (in my dream) perhaps four or five words that were unique (one of a kind to that post) and were less than three syllables!!

I woke up laughing ... laughing, I tell you!

Oh Lord, I couldn't wait to get in here and tell all of you about it.

But then I rechecked my blog's current reading level, and it's been 'upgraded'. How the devil did THAT happen?

Do you want to have some fun? Check this site out. Then, after you've had your giggle, check out everyone else's!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


In May Chuck posted this joke, which I am blatantly copying (with maybe a word or two changed here or there) today.

I just want you all to know that I will not be posting tomorrow.

Have kind of a busy day planned. Am FInally going to get to cash in the coupon my Darling GrandDaughter (DGD) gave me last Christmas (!!!), in which I would be treated to a movie.

We've had just an awful time agreeing on a movie, first off. Secondly, she's quite the social gadabout!

BUT, tomorrow we are going to see The Secret Life of Bees. I am SO excited!

However, you should not be the least bit surprised if you click on to my site late tomorrow and see a pic taken of me a couple or three years ago out at DD's place in Katy (before they put in the pool).

We were playing badminton in their pretty good-sized backyard, and my daughter captured me mid guffaw. (I was having a really good time!)

She tells me that it's 'ready to be uploaded', whatever that means. Look for it, OK?

Before or after the movie and uploading, we are hoping to catch a game (or two) of ban/anagrams. Remember that post? What fun!

Then, tomorrow evening, I have a team game scheduled with one of my regular bridge partners. And so, all in all, a very busy day -- and one filled with just a ton of fun!

Ready for Chuck's joke? It's called "Tact", as above, and here it is.

When Tom went on vacation, he left his beloved cat, Blackie, with his sister, Joan. Three days into his trip, Tom called back to check on things.

"So, how is my cat?" Tom asked.

"He's dead!" replied Joan. No nonsense. Straight to the point.

"What?!?" screamed Tom. "You can't just hit somebody with news like that! You have to ease your way into it. Lay some groundwork for it. Use some tact."

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"Maybe you could have said something about Blackie being up on the roof. You reassure me you have it under control and that everything is going to be fine. When I call the next day, maybe you could say he jumped off and broke his leg but the vet said he would make a complete recovery. He's just going to have to spend a few days at the clinic," he explained. "Understand what I'm saying?"

"Of course," said Joan. "I'm not stupid, you know!"

"Okay," Fred continued. "When I call back the next day, you could say there were complications and that my cat had died. That way it wouldn't be such a blow, and you could have prepared me for bad news. Right?"

"Yeah, I've got it," she told him. "I'll try to be more tactful from now on."

"Good," said Fred. "I'm glad that's settled. So how's Aunt Alice?"

And after a very long pause, Joan hesitantly began, "Well, she's up on the roof right now."

Friday, October 17, 2008

RIP Common Sense

This post comes directly from my Australian blogger friend, Craig, who had received an e-mail that he decided was worthy of a post, and I agree.

It's titled "The sad passing away of Common Sense."

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn't always fair, and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.

Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch, and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they themselves failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

He declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Panadol, sun lotion, or even a sticky plaster to students. At the same time, the schools were prohibited from informing the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost more of his will to live when the Ten Commandments became contraband, churches became a business, and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from burglars in your home without them suing you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up completely after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.

He is survived by three stepbrothers ... I Know My Rights, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I'm A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Welcome, Canada!

I don't know if there are any other Wheel Watchers out there or not, but this week Wheel of Fortune is featuring Canada, who is airing the show on the CBC for the first time ever!

This year, Wheel is featuring a million dollar prize ... all sorts of hoops have to be gone through before it can be won, but Tuesday night someone did it!!

It was kind of exciting! Lots of bells and whistles went off -- confetti, streamers, and balloons everywhere ... neat!!

Pat announced yesterday (tongue in cheek, of course) that they were now going to have to cut back on expenses. The budget for this year was heavily overdrawn. Vanna was going to have to start wearing t-shirts instead of all those gorgeous gowns.

It was really fun to watch.

Well, I finally got up the courage to call the dermatologist to test out what I'd heard the WellCare representative say about being able to schedule an appointment with a specialist without going through one's primary care physician.

I wasn't talking about heart surgery or cancer. I might have misled you as to what I was seeking.

No, this particular problem requires a dermatologist. I have a spot on the left side of my nose (just below the nosepiece on my eyeglasses) that doesn't look right to me.

Anyhow, I called a couple or so hours ago, and have an appointment with Dr. Nelson a week from today.

I am SO relieved! And of course, I'll want Dr. Nelson's office to send a report to Dr. Bauer (my primary physician) so that he can be aware of and coordinate all of my medical records. "No problem," said they.

I'll keep all of you informed as things develop further. I promise.

Just received another e-mail from my friend Beth, who lives in Pearland.

This one's topic is "Why pets hate Halloween." It has about 30 pix to be looked at. Haven't opened any yet.

Probably some pretty 'sick' ones in there, but I'll forward a few of those that I consider amusing -- and no doubt there will be some. How's that sound?

Had a few extra minutes this morning (after I had contacted the doctor's office) to read through some of my "Favorites" and make a comment or two. It felt good. Kind of made my day.

I wonder if Halloween isn't getting 'lost in the shuffle', what with Ike, the debates and the upcoming election, not to mention WalMart (who has the "distinction" of being the very first retailer to put out Christmas decorations this year ... boo, WalMart!)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Here, there, and everywhere

This is my 300th post.

I thought it appropriate that it be a 'bits & pieces' or 'scattered thoughts' type of thing, as that is what "Goldenrod's thoughts" is all about ... there is no particular focus. I'm all over the place! So, with that in mind, here we go.


Hardly a morning or evening national newscast can go by without some mention of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

Founded originally as a voice for low and moderate income families, I believe, it is getting some fairly widespread negative publicity due to questionable practices by some of its employees and volunteers associated with the organization in re voter registration.

Two examples, in particular, caught my eye these past couple of days: 1) Mickey Mouse and 2) the Dallas Cowboys offense all being signed up as registered voters.

Another example was a young man (don't remember the state) who filled out 73 (!) voter registration applications in exchange for $$ and cigarettes.

I don't think it makes any difference who wins this upcoming election. There are going to be charges of voter fraud and disenfranchisement. I wish that everything were always on the up and up, but it's not.

Nuclear plant expansion proposed ...

This one is located perhaps 100 miles to the south and just a touch west of Houston. There are two reactors currently, and the proposal is that they have four.

BTW, this particular facility is the reason I came to Houston in the first place! My husband, a specialist in soil mechanics, spent months in Bay City scoping out the site.

[He was even called upon, at one point, because he was pretty good with people, to approach the very last holdout landowner in the immediate area. She didn't want to sell. The property had been in her family for generations, and she was the last one left. "Couldn't they just let her stay until she died?"

Well, no, they couldn't. Either she could accept the state's offer or let them take it -- at a much reduced price. My husband said that was one of the worst assignments he ever had.]

This nuclear facility supplies electricity for almost 2,000,000 people in the South Texas area.

However, there is a problem and it's a big one!

Currently, they are 'storing' the nuclear waste. If the plant's capacity is doubled, they will run out of room to store it.

Question: Where does one dispose of nuclear waste?

Put out to stud ...

One of the premier race horses this year sustained a leg injury such that he will no longer be able to participate in racing. The news reporter sounded very sympathetic when he said that the horse would now 'have' to be put out to stud.

My reaction is, "Poor baby!"

Sports ...

Yawn! My Astros have long been gone from any thoughts of a post season. The Cubs and Brewers, both from the Central Division, which in my opinion was the strongest in baseball, were summarily removed by the Dodgers and Phillies. Who cares? I don't! And what the devil ever happened to the Angels, for crying out loud?

Just this past week, however, there was a 'warm fuzzy' feature on the "Whalers", a high school football team from Barrow, Alaska. (And boy, do they ever need warm fuzzies there!) Did you happen to catch it? If not, perhaps you can look it up on Yahoo. A neat neat story.

The Houston Texans finally won a game. Those who are in the habit of 'arriving late and leaving early' -- Why do people do that? Don't they want to get their money's worth? -- missed the winning touchdown.

That's it, folks! My ramblings for today. Catcha later.

When I was a child ...

One of my favorite things to do was sit on a little hill near the tracks and watch the train. Sometimes it would be going back and forth, coupling and uncoupling cars. At other times it would be speeding on through.

I always hoped that the men on the train would see my wave and return it. Usually they did, and it always brought a smile to my face.

My brother had a little Lionel train set, and he played with it by the hour. I can remember making paper dolls out of models found in the Sears catalog or in knitting or crocheting books. I'd cut them out and then carefully mount them on cardboard. It was fun to try and design clothes for them. But, back to trains.

I have mentioned trains a couple of times in previous posts. The first time, I think, was when I recommendeded that you check out Chuck's post about "The Train Lady." An incredible feature. Did you miss it earlier? It's definitely worth clicking on the link.

Another time I mentioned trains is when Dad, in his efforts to get his mother all settled, was still on the train when it pulled out of the station and all **** broke loose! You can read all about it here, if you like.

Steven has a nice feature on steam engines in his post today that you might want to check out.

You know, I don't remember the steam engine, precisely. When I was very young, I had recurring nightmares where a train engine would be throwing red hot coals at me. I'd wake up crying.

Passenger trains are almost a thing of the past, aren't they? GG and I talked about taking a train ride in Chihuahua, MX, but never did. I wonder if that excursion is still being offered?

Have you ever ridden on a train?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Timing is everything

If you are in the real estate business, the key word is location, location, location.

Just about any other business -- and I've been in a bunch of them, including teaching! -- the key word is timing. Timing is EVERYthing!!

Earlier today I attended an updated WellCare (my healthcare provider) presentation on changes for 2009.

I went into the meeting 'not a happy camper' ... took me almost an hour to get there, for one thing, what with the rain, etc., plus I was ready to 'pick a fight' with slights that I had perceived existed within their system, including not providing me with a list that I had requested months ago in re doctor's names in various specialties.

And so I arrived late. There was this really good-looking black dude conducting the presentation who seemed to know what the devil he was talking about.

I apologized for being late.

I opened the pretty good-sized packet I had received in the mail from WellCare just within the past week, and was cruising through it while at the same time trying to listen to his presentation.

I told myself, "Self, don't interrupt. Just listen!"

And so I did. Learned a few things. (There's nothing quite like knowing a little bit about something to attend an 'update' lecture, is there?)

It seems as tho, altho the dermatologist I have been seeing for some years now does not currently have a contract with WellCare, one of the associates she referred me to a few years back does! And so, it's "Goodbye, Jennie Duffy, hello Bruce Nelson."

Also, I learned that I do not have to go through my primary physician to see a specialist who has a contract with WellCare. Isn't that interesting??

That means that my upcoming cataract surgery (next year, probably) will be covered.

This is a good day, I feel certain!

Not only all of that, but do you know what they (WellCare) were giving away today? Umbrellas, can you believe it? I could have used one going to and from the house to the garage earlier.

Monday, October 13, 2008


The poem to be featured in this post was written by me on July 17th, 1989.

Doug Johnson, whom I mentioned in a much earlier post, had a radio show on which I was one of the regular callers. (In fact, Doug's crew had taped a couple/three seconds of us both laughing almost uncontrollably as a promo!)

It was on one of Doug's shows that a lady named Louise Robertson called in on his "open line" -- July 7th -- talking about the fact that her home town of Orange Grove was no longer there.

What happened? Was it a hurricane?

No. No, it was construction for Interstate 10, which was going to bypass her little town (I want to say in Mississippi) and thereby cut off any long-distance traveler business that had heretofore come their way.

Louise was lamenting the fact that much of the business real estate in her small town had been bought up by the state, and she was afraid that her community -- as she had long known it -- was disappearing.

I was so moved by her call that -- ten days later -- I still was unable to rid myself of the sadness I felt until I had written and subsequently delivered the poem you are about to read.

I didn't want to call Doug's show. I didn't want to be a depressing 'live' caller.

I met Joe Krath, one of Doug's producers at the time, at a restaurant nearby to hand him my poem. I said, "Listen, Joe, I don't need to have Doug read this on the air. Is there any way he could get it to Louise?"

He gave me a big hug and said that he would see what he could do.

Well, I listened to Doug's show later ... a fellow named 'Dan', who "listens from his office", he said, called in to wish Louise a "Happy birthday!" (He'd marked his calendar. I guess that date had loomed large in my memory banks, as well!)

Doug seemed darned-near flabbergasted at Dan's call, and then proceeded to read my poem over the air, calling me "one of our family".


Home is where the heart is, memories reign,
People are familiar, friends remain.

Home is a feeling of security,
Of being wanted -- you & me.

Home is a place that used to be but is no more,
Where the lack thereof cuts through to the core.

The streets are empty --there is no town!
Where have all the families gone?

I remember chldren running on the way to school,
And laughing as they shouted, "April Fool!"

I remember parades and trips to the shore
To have picnics and see fireworks galore.

My years are too many, perhaps, you see,
But surely there's more living left in me!

This poem was written for Louise Robertson on her 84th birthday, 7/17/89. When I wrote it I said that she "most certainly has a bunch more living to do!"

Lord love us! She'd be well over 100 years old now.

Sorry I missed the anniversary of your birth this year, Louise. Happy birthday!

My daughter

M ... miraculous

Y ... youthful

D ... darling, dutiful, disciplined, doubting, deep, defensive

A ... adorable, artistic, admirable, authentic, argumentative, activistic, accessible, accomplished, affectionate

U ... undaunted, unafraid, understanding, unreligious, unbiased, uncommon

G ... grand, gregarious, glorious, generous, gifted, grounded, genealogist, genuine, grown-up, gleaner

H ... hopeful, honorable, humorous, honest, halcyon, hearty, happy, hausfrau, heartwarming

T ... thankful, true, tactful, talkative, thoughtful, top notch, tremendous, teachable

E ... energetic, enthusiastic, edgy, effervescent, excitable, ethical, eager, emotional, enlightened

R ... rare, realistic, rational, reader, rebutter, reaper, receptive, reflective

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Scam artists ... (revisited) ...

On April 22nd this year, I published my first in what has now become a series of posts in re this world-wide and extremely pervasive and continuing problem.

I was new to the internet scene at that time -- barely over three months of exposure -- and was really upset that I was being singled out.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth! I was not being 'singled out'. I was one of only many millions (billions?) who were being unwillingly solicited via e-mail.

However, because I was so new to 'the game', I took what I thought at the time were fairly drastic measures, which you can read about in my second post on this topic a day later.

Since then, of course, I have turned in multitudinous names and URL addresses of people/companies/senders to the Internet Crime Complaint Center and the FBI. Little by little, those types of e-mails have continued to be on the decrease, yet still they arrive.

Comcast (my provider) just recently announced that they would be limiting volume. That should certainly help. What is your provider doing to try and curtail some of this type of activity?

What has prompted this latest edition? Two things, the first of which is Craig Peihopa's very recent post wherein the scammer took things to a new height (seems to me).

Craig is in the photography business. Someone had attempted to take advantage of Craig's good nature by asking for help. You can read all about it in the first part of Craig's post.

The second part contains an unsolicited e-mail of a type that I'm sure ALL of you have received. Scroll down through that and get to the "The Nigerian Email Spam Scam" (YouTube). Worth watching. The 'bad guys get theirs' ... rrvit!

The second thing is what I heard on the local news this morning.

Some 11,000+ homes in the Houston area have blue tarps on their roofs, temporary 'fixes' while they are awaiting repair.

Scam artists are not just on the internet, are they?

It seems as tho Texas is one of those states that does not require roofing contractors to be licensed/bonded/certified -- sorry about that, but I don't remember the exact terminology used in the broadcast.

SO, guess what? You guessed it. I don't need to spell it out for you!

Reminded me very much of one of Carl Hiaasen's books, "Stormy Weather" (I think that's the one -- published in 1995), in which he describes some of the many scam artists who arrive in Florida after a hurricane.

If you're not familiar with who Carl Hiaasen is, I first wrote about him in my post of July 8th.

I went back to Google just a little bit ago, and brought this page up, which is an interview with Carl in January (this year? .. maybe).

ANYwhoozits, pay attention to what's arriving in your inbox, delete everything you possibly can (w/o giving away personal information), and take no prisoners!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Time to face reality

Doesn't mean I have to like it, does it?

However, the fact is that I'm 71 years old. The fact is that I'm OLD!

I guess I just never wanted to face it.

I mean, I look at myself in the mirror every day, but I guess my mind always saw myself as young, youthful, not necessarily energetic anymore but still full -- in my mind's eye, anyway -- of vim, vigor, and vitality.

I went to get my passport pictures taken today at Kinko's (Federal Express).

At first, the young man behind the counter told me that their camera wasn't working.

Then, another young man came over and snatched the camera out of his arms and changed the batteries. Voila! Camera's now working!!

I looked at two different sets of pictures ... one smiling, one with ends of mouth turned up and eyes (I thought!) twinkling.

The first set looked like I'd been dead and buried already.

The second set looked like I was 187 years old.

I chose the second set to have copies made for my passport pictures.

All you guys who have been screaming to see what I look like ... do you really want to see what I look like? I look like an old hag, is what I look like!

Sorry about the rant, but I've just been brought back down to earth from the optimistic stratosphere I was blithely occupying.

Ah, the teenage years!

It's been something like 55 years since I was a teenager.

I remember those years only vaguely, probably because I was filled with such insecurities that my mind has chosen to block many of the negatives out. "What negatives?" you might ask. Well, ...

... pimples ... not severe acne, but troublesome, nonetheless

... lack of boobies ... now I can laugh, but bras that accentuated what one did not have were prevalent, and I had some of those

... not being in the 'mainstream' of social life ... I was not included in the 'popular' (or what I considered popular) group activities ... Looking back on this, I can distinctly remember having mixed feelings, because I kept hearing stories about some of the parties and was actually glad that I wasn't there, but at the same time wanted to at least be invited ... very confusing times, the teenage years

... being 'smart' ... frowned upon ... teacher's pet kind of thing

Were there any positives? Sure there were ...

... family ... I've written extensively about my mother. Will probably write a bunch more about her. Dad's a tougher subject.

... friends ... Yes, I had some -- good ones, too! (They were not what I would have considered in the mainstream, either.)

It wasn't until I got to college that I 'came into my own'. I was popular, and was included in every 'mainstream' outing! Still didn't have any boobies to speak of (and don't to this day), pimple situation had sort of resolved itself, and my intellect was admired and applauded. Humongous difference between high school and college! Loved my college years!!

When I became a mother and my daughter was going through her own evolvement, I was unable to adequately cope. Drugs were on the scene. Husband and I did not have the close and loving relationship necessary to -- together -- fight to protect our daughter from herself and her environment.

Somehow or another, sometimes I think "in spite of me", she grew up to be quite a well-grounded woman and wonderful mother in her own right.

I'd like to share with you a story I heard at about the same time as my daughter was going through her toughest years. It's a true story. However, I'm going to change the names and locations of the principals involved.

It was here in Houston. I was heavily involved in politics at the time and doing a lot of volunteer work in George Stevens' campaign for a State Senate seat.

My daughter and I were 'at odds', to put it very mildly. Sometimes, at the end of a very long day, the head of the volunteers would ask me, "What's wrong?"

I'd respond, "Nothing. I'm just tired." (You know how we do that. We don't want to 'air our dirty laundry', so to speak.)

Finally, tho, after one particularly exasperating day, I told her my concerns.

She said, "Listen. I'm going to tell you a true story. It's about my own daughter and how my husband and I dealt with the situation."

Here's her story.

Teenage daughter had been involved in various shoplifting episodes, drugs, car theft, not to mention skipping school. Mom and Dad were beside themselves with worry. Mom had taken to driving daughter to school. All was sweetness and light inside the car. Daughter got out, walked inside the school (Mom was waiting to see if she did) -- but then, as soon as Mom pulled away, walked back outside and was gone for the day.

Some 'mischief' would occur. The police would be called to the scene. Daughter would be in custody. Mom and Dad would be called down to the police station to explain themselves.

This one time, tho, a police officer (who had known Mr. and Mrs. Smith for years and who knew of the many instances where police had had to become involved in re this young person's life and activities) told them, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith, if I didn't know you personally, I'd swear that this was a neglected/abused child. But because I know that this is not the case, I have something to recommend that I think you should seriously consider."

He then went on to describe a boarding school (of sorts -- actually, a kind of lockup). Their daughter would be there for the next few years of her teenage life. No going out at night. Very limited parental visitation. Good schooling. Costs to parents (something like) $100/day.

That is a true story. The head of the volunteers told me that, after graduation from college and marriage, their daughter looked them both straight in the eyes and said, "Mom and Dad, thank you!"

Then she told me that the only reason she was still working was because she and her husband were still trying to pay off the school! "Worth every penny!" she said.

My heart goes out to each and every one of you who is a teenager or the parent of a teenager. Wonderful times, but at the same time terribly frustrating and exasperating!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Down memory lane ... #1 ...

Wow, what a trip!

Found my "goodies" -- birth certificate (for the passport) and notarized transcripts from three different colleges (for job applications) -- all in one fell swoop. Also found various resumes that I had composed over the years.

What really stopped me dead in my tracks, however, were all of these personal notes from students, parents, and other teachers that I've kept all this time. It's been fun to read all of the different names and realize that I actually remember a lot of them!

Today, I'd like to share with you a 'book', of sorts, that I made when teaching 1st grade ... always my favorite!

"A playground accident led to a discussion by our class of things that have happened to them," I wrote in the preface. "The following are their stories, as dictated to and transcribed by Miss Green and Miss Brown from Hilliard High School.* First is the story about Tina Boorman."

Things that Happened To Us

Yesterday Tina fell and cut her chin on the boot scrape. The emergency squad came and took her to Riverside Hospital. She got 8 stitches.

Me and Bobby was riding a bike and we wrecked into a sewer. And when we wrecked my handle bars fell off. So I went home and my dad fixed my handle bars.
~ Steve Lombardi

I fell over a rock but I was not hurt. I just got up and kept walking to where I was going. ~ Jeff Brown

I was walking home and fell over a rock. I went in the house and my mom put a wet rag on my leg. When I fell my mother took me to the hospital and I got stitches. ~ Ruth Marker

I was going to get my daddy a beer and fell and everything fell out of the refrigerator. And I cut my toe and had to go to the hospital and get six stitches. ~ Renee Carter

I fell off my bike. And I skinned my knee. And I showed my mom what happened and she put a bandaid on it. ~ Robin Oiler

One day I fell off my bike and got hurt and I went to the house and told my mother and she took me at the doctor's and I got two shots. ~ Sharrie Park

One day me and my brother rode on a trike and I fell and hurt myself and cut my lip open. And I had to go to the hospital and get a shot. ~ Laurie Bickerdt

I was sitting down at my friend's with my feet down and some boy ran over my big toe. So I started crying and I went home and my daddy put some medicine on it. And then he put a bandaid on it. ~ Missy Maynard

My friend threw a board and hit me in the head. I had nine stitches. I got to sit in front of the emergency squad. ~ Jamie Clapper

One day I wrecked on my bike. I fell down and cut my chin. I ran into the house and put a bandaid on it. I went to put my bike away. ~ Brian Hay

I was walking down the steps and I fell. My mom called the emergency squad. I went to the hospital. And I got 8 stitches. ~ Bobbie Gillespie

When I was living someplace else I was sleeping on my brother's top bunk and I rolled over and fell off. I hit the baby bed and had to go get stitches in my chin. ~ John McPherson

Donnie, my brother, was riding me on his bicycle and I fell off. I cut my knee. It hurt a lot. But I didn't cry. ~ Randy Rausch

I had a wreck on my bike. And my hand got all bloody. I went home and my mom put a bandaid on it. ~ Terry Blevins

I was standing by the deep fryer and my mom was cooking onion rings. The pan fell over and burned my leg. I was in the hospital for three weeks. ~ Michele Carroll

Every time I'm clumsy I fall down. When I get silly I fall down. When I fall down on the sidewalk my pants rip all the way. When my sister let me ride her bicycle I fell down. ~ Susan Nininger

I was riding my bike on the big hills and I wrecked and I got hurt real bad. I was riding and I popped a wheely and my baby brother jumped off and my sister fell in a mud puddle. And my dad almost ran over us. ~ Terry Lively

I was living at my old house and my brother and me were swinging. I was petting a dog. The dog bit me on my head. It was bleeding. I had to get stitches. ~ Tammy Ward

I was roller skating and I fell. I sprained my ankle. My sister said, "What happened, Carol?" And I said, "I sprained my ankle." The back of my leg was skinned. ~ Carol Huber

If you were a first grade student at Beacon Elementary in Hilliard, Ohio, between the years of 1966 and 1973, I was your teacher. Anyone out there recognize their name?

More to come -- much more, but another time.

*These two young ladies must have been interested in teaching careers. I hadn't remembered that program.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Letting Go

I have decided, because I am smack dab in the middle of applying for part-time jobs on line and organizing my thoughts for same, that I would publish one of my poems today to tide you over, as it were, until I can get some real 'meat' out there. Hope that's OK with you.

This one, written June 14, 1982, was composed by me while I was on vacation in Puerto Vallarta. The title is as above.

Here I sit -- amidst the noises
Of surf, music -- big girls & boyses.

My heart is light ... no cares or woes,
Happiness & contentment reach right to my toes.

I am at peace. This is why I came ...
To rest -- relax -- enjoy life's game.

Work, worry, stress -- all seem far away.
I'm in Puerto Vallarta, & here to play

A little bridge & get a lot of sun,
To sleep late, & have some fun!

To let my mind & body go
At their own pace ... and slow

Way down. What's my hurry?
Life should not be such a flurry

Of alarm-setting & waking up with a jerk,
Knowing you've got another heavy day at work!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Scattered thoughts

I didn't post yesterday. "Why didn't I?" you ask. Well, it was because I was trying to fine tune my applications for various teaching jobs on-line.

Normally, you only get one shot at these. If your first shot goes somewhat astray, that's it, folks! End of story.

One in particular caught my attention, that of an English teacher to be a part of a 4-week winter program in Korea, beginning in January 2009.

They advertise all the time for year long instructors. I cannot do that. I obtained a reverse mortgage on my home late last year, and must be in residence for six months out of every year.

And so, the 4-week dealiebop kind of got me excited, and I've spent a lot of time on that.

I sent in my interest (via e-mail) last Friday, but as of this moment (10:15am Tuesday, October 7th) have not heard back, altho Wiki says that 'you will be contacted ASAP'.

I am fully qualified for this position ... in fact, probably more than qualified!

In an attempt to hasten my application along yesterday, I contacted the Korean embassy here in Houston. Reached a very nice young lady who told me that they only handle visas and passports for Korean nationals. Did I have an authorization number? Ye Gods!

Long story short, I have done pretty much all I can do in re this application. Just in case they do call me, however, within the next week or so, I need to get my 'you know what' down to the passport office.

Meanwhile, I have two others that need to be attended to ... 1) Adjunct teacher -- working primarily from home -- interaction via the internet and telephone. 2) Bradford School of Business -- English composition -- on site instruction.

ANYhoo, that's pretty much how my day went yesterday. Scattered.

Meanwhile, I've been paying 'some' attention to the news. A couple or three things worth mentioning ... ...

Special car keys ... to be issued (not available just yet) to parents who are worried that their teenaged drivers will speed excessively or play the radio too loudly.

WalMart ... the first major retailer to bring out Christmas merchandise.

Dayton, Ohio ... the site of the second Presidential debate this evening, and no, I will not be watching or listening ... I'll be playing bridge with Julian, and I can almost guarantee you that we will be having a lot more fun! However, did you know that Dayton, in spite of GM recently announcing its plant closing there, is where some of our modern day inventions occurred? I didn't -- well, except for Wilbur and Orville Wright's, of course! Among those inventions were freon, pop tops, the cash register, and ignition switches. Interesting!

1st Monday in October ... yesterday ... Supreme Court reconvened.

Ike's affects on school year terms ... I have written on this subject previously. Let me just tell you what I know 'for sure' ... ... Katy ISD (where darling granddaughter attends) has received a 'dispensation' from the State (an 'act of God', as it were) ... however, my daughter has noticed a significant 'tightening up' and even an increase in the amount of homework that she (darling granddaughter) is bringing home ... ... LaPorte ISD (much more adversely affected by Ike) announced yesterday that they would not be extending the school year, but rather would be extending the number of hours students would be attending each day to try and make up the lost time. This announcement has been met by some loud objections from parents, who have now had to adjust their work schedules.

National Night Out ... tonight ... 25th anniversary of such an event. It's a wonderful concept. Neighbor should know neighbor. I'm almost ashamed to admit that I have never participated!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

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

My mother was a fabulous cook!

Her pie crusts melted in your mouth. The roasts could be easily cut with a fork, and the accompanying vegetables -- usually potatoes, rutabaga, carrots, and onions -- were cooked to perfection. She made her own stocks and gravies, and knew just when to use them.

I never did acquire a taste for rutabaga as a child, altho I later learned to appreciate its unique flavor in pasties -- delicious meat pies prevalent in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan. I don't think I had even heard of pasties until I lived up there. Certainly Mom never made them.

Home-made jams and jellies were stored by the hundreds in a damp and cool basement. Those were the days when wax paraffin was used to help seal the contents of the jar. Do people still use that method? I can vaguely remember pouring it into the jars. Daddy liked to grow stuff. Mom liked to do things with it in the kitchen. (And then, of course, he loved to eat it!)

One of Dad's favorite crops was rhubarb, which he grew in a small plot out back. To this day it is on my list of what not to eat ... tried it once, and just didn't like it. Mom and Dad both loved it, and she made lots of rhubarb pies just for the two of them.

Peas were sometimes served at our table, but never to Dad. In order to put himself through college, he worked in a pea canning factory, and often said that he thought he would probably never eat a pea as long as he lived. (And I don't think he ever did!)

All of Mother's cakes were baked from scratch. She had one very large flour sifter and a small one in case one of us kids wanted to help. (I almost never wanted to help. I was more interested in exploring and climbing trees. Peggy was interested in rescuing bugs and critters, reading, thinking, and writing. Johnny was so much younger than we that I really don't know if he helped or not when he got to be our age. Even if we didn't want to help, however, I can definitely tell you this much ... we ALL wanted to lick the spoon!)

After I was married, I tried to get Mother to crash course teach me what I could easily have learned over many years. I was an abject student.

However, I thought I made a more than passable chili and one time, when Mom and Dad were visiting us in Houghton, I made my prized dish especially for them. I was a little worried that it wouldn't have enough salt for Dad's taste. So, every once in a while I would sneak into the kitchen to put a little more into it. Then, I'd stir and give it the old taste test. Finally, it was ready to serve.

I did. Took the first taste and knew it had way too much salt in it! I could barely finish my bowl. Dad kept asking for more. I don't know how many bowls of over-salted chili he had, but all the while he was exclaiming about how delicious it was! I didn't quite know whether or not to believe him, but he was so exuberant in his praise that it was hard not to!

Some years later, Mother confided in me that they'd had to make several 'pit stops' on the way back to Munising -- some 140 or so miles. Dad had an upset stomach for another day or two, as well.

We told this story to the best mother-in-law of all time, who then told us one about how everyone kept sneaking into the kitchen to add more salt to the turkey because her husband had always complained that it didn't have enough salt. They had to throw it out. It was inedible. (In fact, I think that's what we did with the rest of that chili!)

When Mom got really sick and was in the terminal stages of lung cancer, we were up in Munising to visit and say a last goodbye.

I was really worried about Dad. He didn't even know how to turn on a washing machine, for crying out loud! And what was going to happen to all of those wonderful-looking vegetables that he was producing in what now was a pretty good-sized patch just outside of town?

I decided that I (yes, moi, the non-cook) was going to have to teach him how to cook vegetables. I mean, there were so many and they looked so wonderful ... I just hated the thought of him not being able to enjoy some of them!

And so we had a cooking lesson. I think we started with green beans. A pan of water. Some salt (not too much!!!). Bring to boil. Simmer. Dad asked, "How can you tell when they are done?" I answered, "Spear one and bite into it." That lesson was so successful that I felt I could leave and he would not starve. At the very least he would be able to cook up some of his fantabulous-looking vegetables!

The freezer in their refrigerator was always crammed full, everything properly labeled and dated. Mom kept a lot of information in her head, but also -- particularly after it was discovered that she was terminally ill -- wrote a lot of things down ... how to reheat this (all in the days before microwave ovens), how to use that, when to throw this other away ... just tons and tons of invaluable information.

I still have a bunch of her notes on my "to do" list of things to sift through. I'm not getting any younger. Need to do that. Don't want to have to make my daughter go through it. Besides, what she'll probably do (I would, if I were she) is simply take one look at the stacks and stacks of stuff and light a fire!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

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

Two months and three days since I published part five. Kind of hard to believe it's been that long since I have added to this series.

What prompted this post are three accidents (including one very near-miss, in Steven's case) that occurred just within the past few days to people in my immediate or blogger family. I hope that the 'cycle of 3' has now been completed.

I was reminded of a time when, upon returning from a trip to San Antonio and then down to Brownsville -- where my folks enjoyed visiting and playing bridge with friends (then retired) from many years back -- and back to Houston, my mother announced, "I was almost killed!"

That got our attention! We asked, "What happened?!?"

Well, it turns out that Mom had gone into a drugstore in San Antonio and heard about the shop being robbed two weeks prior. In that incident, someone had gotten killed.

It was her version of being 'almost killed'.

Mom had an imagination that would not quit and was prone to exaggeration at times, obviously. BUT, if you ever wanted someone to plan a children's party, you had to look no further!

My mother was a very proud person.

She had always dreamed of being a teacher, but it wasn't until after Peggy and I had both graduated from college and moved on in our lives and Johnny was in high school that Mom obtained her GED (she'd had to drop out when she was in high school to work and help support her family).

She then enrolled as an undergraduate student at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan, some 42 miles west of Munising. She commuted back and forth daily her first couple of years, taking the maximum number of courses allowed each term and even added summer schools so that she could finish in the minimum amount of time possible.

[I had been a student at NMU, as well, and it was a lot of fun for me to discover that she and I both were (or in my case, had been) students of Dr. Hilton -- English. An aside here ... I wrote to Dr. Hilton a couple of years ago, asking if he remembered us. He wrote a very nice note back. I don't think he did remember us, actually, but the note was nice!]

Upon graduation and certification, Mother obtained a position as an English teacher at Mather High School in Munising and was in 'seventh heaven'.

Dad and she, for probably the first time in their lives, had 'extra' $$, and were very much enjoying themselves. He really didn't like to travel, but Mom did, and she and Gladys (a friend of many many years) planned a lot of trips together.

A sad note. I HATE sad notes, and have thought long and hard about including this one here, but have decided to do so.

One or more students, who decided that they didn't like the way my mother was teaching -- or perhaps the discipline she was enforcing in the classroom --, thought that it would be fun to "egg" her house. Hubby and I were both there to help her try and remove the awful stuff.

To this very day I think, "How cruel!"

Life is not always happy events and memories. You have no idea how much I wish that this had not happened to my mother, who worked so hard to achieve her lifelong dreams!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Voting, politics, and me

I told all y'all just a few days ago that I would be voting this year.

My reasons for doing so will be stated here, in rather an oblique way, via links to other posts and articles, with perhaps a comment or two here or there (you know me).

If you have questions and/or comments, I invite you (as always) to share them.

First, however, I'd like to ask each of you if you watched the debate last night? I did. What was your reaction?

Initially, prior to watching, my emotions were quite mixed. Would there be terrible faux pas committed? Would there be a 'free for all'?

I watched and listened closely, and began the hour and a half by taking extensive notes. About halfway through, I stopped taking notes and began simply enjoying the event. (Don't you think that's weird? I think that's weird!)

I have never been a good debater. (Not really good on the telephone, either!) I am much better writing. I have a chance to think about what I'd like to say, write it down, then go back and rewrite, etc. Doesn't make for a good debater.

I thoroughly enjoyed last night's debate. I thought the questions posed were excellent. I thought Joe Biden's answers were authoritative and informative. I thought Sarah Palin's responses were skillfully 'off the question' at times to illustrate a point she specifically wanted to get across. I thought there was a great deal of cordiality and respect. I very much enjoyed watching it!

In particular, I enjoyed flipping from channel to channel afterwards (five in all here in Houston) to get various commentors' non-plussed looks and (almost) stuttered responses to questions about how they thought the debate went.

And that's all I'm going to say about it.

All right. Let's move on to my oblique references for reasons to vote this year.

The first link I'd like to cite is Steven's, posted just a few days ago, wherein he copies -- almost verbatim -- an open letter to the Prime Minister of Canada. If you go to the link and read Steven's opening and closing remarks, in addition to those comments of each of ours following that post, I think that you will understand why I did it this way.

Secondly, I'd like you to know about this site. It appears ultra-conservative to me, and I have no intention of recommending it one way or another. I just wanted you to know about it because there are a whole lot of sites out there that are on the extreme other end of the pendulum. Fair is fair, I do believe.

The last site, which was first referred to me in an e-mail recently, is this one.

The e-mail was titled "Why women should vote" and speaks about the original suffragettes with passion. Phrases such as "innocent and defenseless", "guards wielding clubs", "beat and chained her hands to the cell bars and left her hanging for the night", "smashed her head against an iron bed", "only water came from an open pail", and "food infested with worms" can be found in this e-mail, which was only recently written to try and describe events in and surrounding the 'Night of Terror' on November 15, 1917.

It is not well-written (the e-mail), but is filled with great feeling. If you would like me to copy it to you as it was written, please let me know and I will do so.

Our (women's) right to vote was won at great cost. Please do not allow yourselves, at least those of you who are of the female persuasion, to be disenfranchised of that hard-won right!

Perhaps, when you get into the voting booth, you find that you can only bring yourself to vote for one or two (or whatever) candidates or propositions on the ballot. Whatever! (And I dislike that word as much as the next person.)

Vote ... please ... VOTE!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Stupid Spell Checker Ditty

This was sent to me yesterday via e-mail from my daughter. Enjoy!

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

~Author unknown

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More scattered thoughts

Mostly on Ike, I'm sorry about that. I'll try and sneak in one or two other items that are not Ike-related. We'll see.

Schools ...

are almost all back in session, except for Galveston and the areas immediately around Kemah (Seabrook, for example).

Galveston ...

The beaches are open -- Navy must have done its job! It's "at your own risk", of course. (Question: Who would want to go swimming in the Gulf right now with all the debris that is almost certain to be floating around or just below the surface out there?)

Power restoration ...

As of last night, there were still 114,000 Centerpoint customers without power!! "Mostly in the heavily-wooded areas," said Centerpoint. Supposedly, there are still 12,000 workers working 16-hour shifts daily to try and correct the problem/s.

Gas prices ...

continue to fall. However, last night (driving home from playing bridge) I noticed a 40 cent per gallon differential -- same type/brand of gas, just different locations. You really have to do your homework, don't you?

Florida's regulations ...

Shoot! Can't find my notes on this one, but I'm pretty sure I heard that FL's legislators passed a law requiring that gas stations have their own generators.

That sounds really good to me!

There was plenty of gas at stations all around the Houston area following Ike, but they had no power to work the pumps!!

Boliver Peninsula ...

Three more bodies were found just this past couple of days -- one washed ashore, two found beneath rubble.

If you will look at a Texas map in detail, the Boliver Peninsula is located just across from Galveston and goes for many miles.

Those folks have been historically on record for not evacuating, for being tough, for facing up to and withstanding any storm. They were among the 90-some helicoptered off of their roofs, as I mentioned in an earlier post.

I do not know how many more bodies might be found. Search dogs were called off a few days ago because they were being bitten so badly by mosquitoes.

Many are missing. My thoughts and prayers -- and I know that yours do, too! -- go out to them and their families.

Local television stations ...

are all now back on the air, except for Channel 33 (Conroe, I think). Channel 14 just got back on last night, but there was no way I could stay up to watch The Shoes of the Fisherman, with Anthony Quinn. Wanted to, but sleepysand called. Wonderful film!

Channel 26 has, for the past week or so, been running what they call "Ike Interruption Theater", airing popular shows that did not run because of the ongoing hurricane and its aftermath coverage.

Sorry, guys! Guess there's nothing really here but Ike and more Ike. Hopefully, this will be the last one that I will feel obligated to post.

Little old ladies and my family

Well, DSL (Dreaded Son-in-Law) got into it with a little old lady the other day.

He does the majority of the grocery shopping for the family and was driving down one of those long parking aisles in front of the supermarket, minding his own business and looking for a convenient place to park his car when it was run into by a little old lady hurriedly backing her vehicle out of its parking spot.

They both got out of their cars to inspect the damage. The little old lady (lol) was very upset, and DSL wasn't in any mood for frivolity. In order to have the time they needed to exchange information without blocking others, she pulled back in and he found a spot to park three or four places down.

He was walking back to where the lol's vehicle should have been parked when he saw her quickly backing it out of its space again, whereupon she immediately struck another vehicle coming down the same aisle!

He's standing there somewhat in a state of shock, the man driving the newly-hit vehicle is asking the lol what the devil she thought she was doing, and lol is crying. Anyway, DSL somehow manages to exchange information with the lol and goes into the store to do his shopping.

He exits the store with his bags of groceries some time later expecting to deposit them in his car and go home. Instead of being able to do so, lol and the other victim (who are still standing there discussing whatall has happened) tell him that the police have been called (lol has insisted -??) and ask him to wait.

Three hours later (of course!) the police arrive.

Darling Daughter was telling me this story yesterday, and we were just hooting with laughter!

Then she asked, "Mom, do you remember the time when I was hit while riding my bicycle?" Nooo, I didn't.

Said she'd ridden her bicycle to the corner store to pick up some Gerber's apricot baby food and a few other things. She must have been 10 or 11 years old at the time.

No, we didn't have a baby in the house. She had developed quite a fondness for the apricot flavor -- and, it was good (ex-husband and I both liked it very much, as well) -- and was almost back home when a large car pulled out of its parking place and hit the bicycle, causing DD to drop her bag of groceries and break one of the glass Gerber jars.

This blue-haired lol quickly got out of her car and asked DD if she was all right. She was, and the bicycle was, too. It had been only a tap, really.

[Do you remember when there were a lot of blue-haired little old ladies? I do. The dyes they used then were not nearly as good as they are today.]

Then, they both came up to our front door to tell me what had happened. I can't believe I don't remember that!

I was reminded of a time when I was driving down the Southwest Freeway here in Houston. I could see in my rear view mirror a large car coming up behind me that looked like it was weaving a bit.

It was in the middle of the day, a tad early for a drunk driver, but I thought I should probably get as far away from the other car's projected path as possible. And so, I start inching over into another lane, all the while keeping an eye on the weaver.

As I'm watching, I see it sideswipe two cars. One on its right, one on its left (over-correcting, obviously). I try to inch over some more. I'm successful.

The other car goes by and misses me. Behind the wheel I see a (guess what?) lol. I don't remember now if she was looking through the steering wheel or over it. No matter. She missed me.

I continued to watch her progress down the freeway. She wasn't speeding, but it was obvious that she was having some kind of control problem. Perhaps a health issue? I don't know.

She sideswiped at least two other vehicles that I could attest to -- and, as I passed each one (they were all braking), I could see that the drivers' faces were all of the same expression, incredulity!

A question ... Does the fact that I am a little old lady directly relate to my not ever having been hit by one?

But I wasn't always a lol, or was I? Hmmm. Gertrude Stein once said, "We are always the same age inside."

Certainly I am of the right age to be called one, I guess. I asked DD how old the lol was who backed into DSL, and she answered about 75. Hmmm.

I wonder if they (DD and DSL) think of me as a little old lady? Hmmm.

I drive a Buick LeSabre. Every single one of the lol's cars in this post was a Buick! Hmmm.

Although I have lots and lots of wrinkles, I don't have blue hair, nor is my hair white or even gray. (And no, I don't dye it.) Maybe that saves me? Hmmm.

I wonder if Darling GrandDaughter should be forewarned about little old ladies driving Buicks?