Saturday, January 31, 2009

Quien sabe?

Will he? Won't he? Will they? Won't they? Who knows?!?

I just got back home after teaching my first beginning bridge lesson in a little more than a year. I had just a ton of fun! But, let's go back to see how all of this started.

It was just this past Wednesday (the 28th) when I received an e-mail from someone inquiring about bridge lessons and who had read on-line the fact that I was an accredited bridge teacher. I responded in what was - not normal for me - a serious and professional manner, stating what I charged per hour, asking if the person wanted to be 'fast-tracked', etc., and not really expecting to hear another word.

[I get lots of these types of inquiries. Most, it's been my experience, are just "suspects" - as opposed to "prospects" - and will waste inordinate amounts of time (theirs and yours!) unless you just 'cut them off at the pass', as it were.]

Well, this young man followed up. In fact, he wanted their - only two of them, he told me - first lesson to be today. (!)

OK. I arrived. Took three books with me, just in case another person showed up. And - sure enough - there was a third person there.

What fun! All young men - nearly 50 years my junior, each of them - of diverse backgrounds, but ALL with no bridge-playing experience whatsoever!! A beginning bridge teacher's idea of heaven, I kid you not.

I was prepared for ANYthing, but what I was met with just titillated my imagination into overload. I mean, I saw possibilities for this threesome!

At the end of the lesson, I gave them their assignments and told them exactly what to expect for the start of our next session ... was all poised to write down the date for our next meeting when I was met with this MOST awkward silence. Really, I didn't know what to make of it!

I can absolutely guarantee you that we had a good first lesson. Maybe even better than my average, which is saying something! (Not really trying to overtoot my own horn here, but I am a great teacher!! Truly, I am.)

So, what happened? (They all said something about schedules, conflicts, etc. and et al, all of which might certainly be true, but at this point I'm left wondering about what else they might have expected for a two-hour session. Surely they didn't expect to learn the intriguingly-complex game of bridge in just two hours??)

I don't know. I'll be sending a followup e-mail to my initial contact, telling him how much I enjoyed the session, etc. and blah. Will keep you posted.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I lied

So what else is new?

I was just watching Uncle Jay explain the news for the umpteenth-third time when I said to myself, "Self! You absolutely MUST include that delightful little old lady trying to figure out what the devil to do in order to get her old analog set to work." I've seen this I don't know how many times. It's priceless!

Here it is, yet once again, for your enjoyment ...

Isn't she wonderful?

I think we lost the little "Where's the beef?" gal just a few years back, but this one is almost as good, don't you think?

Number three "funny post" of the day ...

... Are you ready for this? Well, it's nothing spectacular, but I was just wanting to make sure that you were ready. OK?

Again courtesy of Beth, the following may or may not be to your liking. I found them amusing, but still! These are, supposedly, actual exchanges between pilots and control towers.

Tower: Delta 351, you have traffic at 10:00 o'clock, 6 miles.
Delta 351: Give us another hint. We have digital watches!

Tower: TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 degrees.
TWA 2341: Center, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?
Tower: Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?

A student became lost during a solo cross-country flight. While attempting to locate the aircraft on radar, ATC asked: What was your last known position? Student: When I was number one for takeoff.

A DC-10 had come in a little hot and thus had an exceedingly long rollout after touching down. San Jose tower noted: American 751, make a hard right turn at the end of the runway, if you are able. If you are not able, take the Guadalupe exit off Highway 101, make a right at the lights, and return to the airport.

Talk atchall later!

Uncle Jay

And now, with my second fun post of the day, here's Uncle Jay for Monday, January 26th ...

More to come shortly!

WITS ... #4 ...

I recently promised a dear blogger friend of mine that I would write a post on self-worth "within the next few days", I think I said. I just cannot seem to get my mind to encompass all of what is required to put it all together just now. It's weird, too, because I keep waking up with all of these thoughts about whatall I should try and include in such a post. I'll get up and take a few notes. Then I'll go back to bed. It's a very important subject, but I feel the need to postpone it until I can do it justice. I hope you will forgive my lack of timeliness.

Meanwhile, I have decided that today's posts be of a humorous nature. There'll be three altogether. Not really trying to make up for 'lost time', altho it might seem like it. It's just that I didn't want to include all of them in one long post.

This first one will have an entry from WITS. If you are not familiar with this organization, please visit here for my introductory remarks.

Composed by Jake, 5th grade, and published January 27th, it is entitled ... ...

How to Get a Date

1. Say you like the girl's shoes or something.
2. Then walk away. If she says "Ha!" go and walk back. If not, that means she's not interested in you or she is not the person who really likes boys.
3. Start a conversation. Ask what she likes or how she is feeling.
4. Tell her what you like.
5. Ask her if she has a boyfriend.
6. If not, ask her what she's doing Friday or Saturday night.
7. If she's free, then that's when you move in. Ask her if you can take her on a date.
8. Take her to a fancy restaurant.

9. Take her to where they have lots of decorations and other fancy things.
10. If you have lots of things in common and she likes you, plan to make reservations for another date.

[photo by jeff_engel via flickr]

Thursday, January 29, 2009


"Anamorphosis" - the general definition as it pertains to art, from Wiki - "is a distorted projection or perspective requiring the viewer to use special devices or occupy a specific vantage point to reconstitute the image."

There is an incredibly talented artist from the UK by the name of Julian Beever who's been producing sidewalk art - using a chalk medium - for over a decade now. His anamorphic illusions are drawn in a special distortion to create an impression of three dimensions when seen from one particular viewpoint.

Here's one of his completed projects, commissioned by Aveeno ...

Beautiful, is it not? How does he work on his projects without smudging the chalk? Seems as tho it would be an impossible task!

Well, he uses this X-type apparatus - padded at the top - and kind of hippety hops very carefully in and around the work in progress while he adds a touch of color here and a fountain there, as you will discover in this 4:18 video. I'd be willing to bet you'll watch this more than once. Just a fascinating process!

One of the things he likes to do when a work is completed is pose next to it. Here, it appears as tho he is sticking his toes into the water ...

This site has over 50 (!) photographs of his creations, a couple of which show what they look like if not viewed from the proper angle. The photos are very small on the page, but a single click quickly enlarges each of them. Really interesting!

One wonders, of course, how long they would last if it rained! Well, obviously not very long, huh? Probably a little less time than an ice sculpture would last out in the desert.

Once again, I have my friend Beth to thank for apprising me of Julian Beever's work. Thank you, Beth!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

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

My earliest memory of living in a house goes back to Akron, Ohio, where Dad was working as a research chemist for either Goodyear or Goodrich - can't remember which one.

We were living there when Johnny was born. Mother was terribly weak for a long time after his birth - it was all she could do to take care of the new baby, and we had a live-in nanny who taught me how to knit German-style.

I can remember Mother often rolling my hair up in rags before I went to sleep. Old sheets were used for the rags. I can still hear the sound of the worn fabric being torn into strips. And actually they were pretty comfortable to sleep on! The next day I'd be this pretty little girl with ringlets. All little girls like to look pretty!

There's an old black and white photo of me around here someplace standing outside Grandma's cabin in Wisconsin brushing my teeth. Even though it's not in color, you can see the sun shining through the trees and lighting on my hair. I'm smiling as the picture was taken, and my head is kind of leaning forward so I don't drool toothpaste all over my clothes. Oh, the things you remember!

This was during World War II. Coffee was rationed. We re-used coffee grounds until they absolutely had to be thrown away! Sugar was rationed. Lots of things that we now blithely take for granted were rationed. We saved tin foil. Remember candy bars with the tin foil inside? We'd peel it from the paper and make foil balls. Everything went to the war effort! We were living in that house when Roosevelt died. I remember how sad everyone was. Schools were let out early that day, and we all stayed very close to the radio.

We moved to Munising, Michigan when I was in the 3rd grade. When we first got there, we lived in the Nebel Apartments. We were on the second floor of a pretty ugly stucco building. Anyone remember stucco? Mother was a little upset about our living situation, but there was nothing else available at the time that either Dad or she thought would be 'acceptable'. That didn't last long, however.

A new minister was coming to town to preach at the Presbyterian Church. He was a bachelor, and the manse became available for rent. I wrote in this post about a near disaster that occurred while we were living there.

One particularly fond memory I have of living in the manse is a birthday party. My birthday is in June, which is "iffy" weather-wise up there, but this year the weather was nice enough for one of Mother's patented (They weren't 'patented', but should have been!) outdoor games. She had two old suitcases crammed full with paper bags of clothes, shoes, jewelry, and whatnot. There were two teams. The first person from each team would make a mad dash to their respective suitcase, grab a paper bag that contained an "outfit", put it (along with all of its accessories) on, and then make a mad dash back to tag the next teammate in line who would then repeat the process until each team member had 'been there and back'. It was great fun!

We didn't have to move from the manse until after Reverend Steen got married and then, some months later, discovered that he and his wife were expecting twins! This was really good news. Everyone liked Reverend Steen and his wife, and were thrilled to learn of the soon-to-be doubling of his family, except -- it meant that we would have to find another place to live.

Monday, January 26, 2009

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

Steven eloquently wrote in this post about his efforts to try and cope with the loss of his father in early December and better understand Buddhism, his father's faith.

I felt a deep sense of peace after reading this, which is why I'm sharing it with you. For some reason, it made me think of my mother. There was no one specific word or phrase that jingled my memory's bells, as I told him in my comment. Perhaps it was Steven's thoughts about life and death that got my mind wandering back to my mother's views on religion.

My mother was brought up in the Christian Science faith, about which I know almost nothing. When the three of us children were very young, we attended either a Congregational or Presbyterian church, depending on where we lived and what was available. Mom and Dad always went with us. We were encouraged to participate in Sunday school classes and later, in various youth groups within the church.

She did not believe in an afterlife. She did not believe in 'heaven' or 'hell'. I can clearly remember her saying, many times, "You get all your heaven and hell right here on earth."

[This is not going to be a treatise on religion. Such a personal thing. Nevertheless, it will have 'religion' as one of its labels. My tenth. I'm going strictly with my memories and personal thoughts here, and will make no attempt whatsoever to judge. I am not in any kind of a position to be judgmental!]

Then, something that Chuck said as a responsive comment to one of my recent posts - and I quote, "You have to get up pretty early in the morning to beat me ..." - also reminded me of my mother!

We have to go back in time many years now! Her father, my grandpa, had long since been divorced from his wife (my grandmother). I remember hearing, every so often as a child, about "Lill" (his 'girlfriend').

My mother disapproved. They weren't married, but yet they were overtly living together. Shocking! (And it was shocking, particularly at that time. I mean, we're talking 50, maybe even 60+ years ago now!)

Anyway, this one year Grandpa and Lill were planning to come for a visit. (I would have been in college then, and Peggy was in Spain ... only Johnny would still have been at home.) They would be staying several days. Mom absolutely refused to allow them to share a bedroom. That fact was stated up front. It probably came very close to them cancelling the trip altogether!

But there was no cancellation. They arrived. Mom put them in separate bedrooms, and Dad and Grandpa spent many delightful hours walking in the woods until Dad - finally admitting, in utter exasperation, that he couldn't keep up with Grandpa - called the outings quits.

The night before Grandpa and Lill were due to depart, Mom resolved to set an internal alarm to get up really early to cook breakfast for the two of them before they hit the road again.

Her internal alarm went off, and she trudged downstairs all bleary-eyed but ready to fix breakfast for her guests before they had to depart.

What did she see? She saw Grandpa and Lill sitting on their suitcases, having already cooked and eaten their breakfast (not to mention having washed the dishes afterwards!) and just waiting for Mom to get up so they could say their good-byes!!

The Ring of Fire

This was what I saw when I clicked onto one of my favorite sites yesterday ...

What a spectacular photograph!

Today, in some parts of the world, a few lucky people will be able to see an annular eclipse. For a more detailed explanation of the "ring of fire", go here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The week that was

I can't title this "Sunday morning", cuz it's now Sunday afternoon (in fact, it's going on towards evening), so I'll just go ahead and briefly recap this past week - other than what you already know from my previous posts - , concentrating more on the past couple/three days, actually. My goodness, my goodness, my goodness!

I haven't posted since Thursday, really, with "My weekend ... #2 ...". Jiminy crickets, that seems like at least a week ago! (My Friday post was a reaction to clicking on the link in that post to Chuck's site, and then discovering that he had pre-empted me by a good four days! Danged near 'blew my mind' is what that did, I wanna tell ya!!)

We (the three of us) had such a wonderful visit a week ago -- was it just a week ago? Seems like a whole lot longer than that! They're no doubt off of their Norwegian cruise liner by now and have already driven east (after first having taken the ferry from Galveston onto the Boliver Peninsula) towards Florida.

I would rather they had not done that, but I think they wanted to see for themselves the utter devastation that Ike caused just four months ago. (They won't have seen the "utter devastation", because so much has been cleaned up, but still! -- let's move on here.)

I have barely read others' posts and commented. Been having my own problems ... *computer-wise, with sound (NO sound whatsoever, including YouTube!) ... and **house-wise, with workers traipsing up/down/around/about.

Haven't gotten my weekly grape salad 'fix', either! (Don't you feel sorry for me? Boo hoo! Poor me!!) Well, folks! Am going to take care of that little item tomorrow, believe you me!!


Located in London and founded during Queen Victoria's reign, this animal shelter currently houses some 400 dogs and 150 cats who - by no other admission criteria other than that they simply show up at its doorstep - need a good home.

According to what I remember about this morning's segment, prospective owners are first required to fill out a four-page application. A home visit might then ensue to make sure that accommodations are sufficient to ensure an animal's future well-being.

Woven glass ...

... was another neat feature on Charles Osgood's show this morning. Norris and Markow, the artists, are out of Virginia. To view the 4+ minute clip from this morning's show, go here. I tried to link the video for you directly, but got a message saying it was no longer available. However, that's not really true. Just follow the link, and you'll have it -- first, tho, there'll be like a 15-second commercial.

Steven, this process is something that you would really be intrigued by, I think. Fascinating stuff!

Thank God for my son-in-law!

I spent at least half an hour today listening to a friend complain about her latest purchases/dealings with Office Depot and her computer problems. Seriously here, I don't know what all of you do w/o a son-in-law such as I been blessed with! *It turned out to be a simple connection problem. (No, not as simple as "Is it plugged in?" but close!)


That was a year, was it not? There was an editorial-type comment this morning on that year. The upshot of it was that, perhaps, this (as in the first 'African-American' US President ever!) might provide a healing element to our country.

The comment was made that it took 40 years, from 1968-2008.

That's a sobering thought. And would that Mr. Obama live up to even one quarter of whatall is projected/hoped for!

In education, there's a very old adage that goes (something like) ... "It takes 50 years for a new idea to evolve, another 50 years for it to be recognized as worthwhile, and then another 50 years for it to be incorporated into the system. By that time, it's 150 years out of date!"

[I guess I'd like to interject here that the idea of slavery - or subjugation - did not originate in this country, but I'm not the least bit proud to have to admit that we did, indeed, subscribe to its precepts!]

For my further thoughts on this past election and subsequent inaugural confirmation, please go here.

I spoke way too soon about ...

... my (what I initially thought was) good fortune in getting another good neighbor! I mean, WAAY too soon!! (**More later, undoubtedly!!!)

Friday, January 23, 2009

He beat me to it!!

Not 'just barely', either! Chuck pre-empted "My weekend ... #2 ..." post by four whole days!! How dare he!!!

He had told me (when the three of us met just this past Sunday in LaMarque) that he was pretty sure that they were not going to be able to get free internet access until after their cruise, and so I (mistakenly, as it turns out!) thought I had just a bit of time to try and compose my remarks about what was truly - for me - a wondrous event.

[If you haven't read yesterday's post yet, please do so. It'll help with the background for this one!]

Here's the photo that Chuck posted on his site five (!!) days ago now. It's a dandy, I think, altho you really can't count on my opinion here. I'm extremely prejudiced, and I frankly admit it!

I'm apologetic in that I can show you only the one photo. (And, of course, I hope you know that I have flagrantly pilfered it from his site! Tee hee!!)

Let's move on to this photo ... ...

Ain't that purty?

I couldn't be more pleased, you two! Hugs out the wazoo and the very best and most glorious wishes I could possibly ever imagine going your way!! Am SO glad we had a chance to meet and visit with each other in person, however briefly.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My weekend ... #2 ...

When I published #1 two days ago, I told you that this one would be the 'next post'. At the time I thought it would, but so much has been happening and my mind has been full of so many different things that I just 'had' to publish a couple of others in between.

While it might seem to you like I've been trying to make up for lost time - I didn't publish at all Sunday or Monday, that's really not the case. Just a lot going on. I'll tell you about some of it later, but let's move on to this past Sunday.

I drove down to LaMarque - almost to Galveston - where I met up with Chuck and Whalechaser at Kelley's Restaurant. Do these names sound familiar to you? They should!

[Oh, if only you could see me right now! I have this huge smile on my face that extends outward for a few feet - a 'slight' exaggeration, I hope you understand - each direction whenever I even think about those next couple of hours!! Don't know how successful I'm going to be writing this post. I can feel my cheekbones being stretched to their absolute limits here.]

I arrived a few minutes late. (I'd had to stop two or three times along the way to jot down questions I wanted to ask them.) When I got to the front door of the restaurant, I could see the two of them sitting just inside, waiting, with these humongous grins on their faces.

I started screaming. Literally! I stayed outside for a few seconds, just screaming my head off!! When they both started to get up and move towards me, I thought I'd better try and get my act together and go inside so we could start with the hugs already.

[Still had another scream or two left in me, tho, as I discovered.]

Oh, man! The next couple of hours were spent in laughter (occasionally uproarious!), almost non-stop talking, and picture-taking. Every time I looked up from my food, it seemed - and don't ask me how we found time to eat, but we did! - there was another camera pointed in my face. Boy oh boy, do those two ever like to take pictures!!

At one point I thought I heard - it was Chuck who would have asked - (something like), "Where would you rather be, Goldenrod? Here with us or on a cruise?" (They were about to embark on their first-ever Caribbean cruise.)

There were several seconds of absolute silence as I contemplated what I thought was a serious question. I thought he was giving me an either/or hypothetical.

Whalechaser said, "He's really not asking you to make a choice here." (She's intuitive as well as empathetic, and had seen my quandary.)

"Well, in that case," I answered, "I'll have both! But if there's only one choice, I'll take this moment. Now! I'm having an absolutely wonderful time!!"

And I was! It was, truly, a very special 'moment in time' for me, and I was savoring each and every second.

All too often, I think, we allow some of these wondrous occasions to just slip on by, sometimes even taking them for granted. Not this one! No no, not this one. I will keep vivid memories of those precious few hours in my memory banks for a long, long time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Great big gobs of greasy grimy mouser dust ...

... greasy grimy mouser dust, greasy grimy mouser dust ... ... How does the rest of that go? I forget. (And yes, I know that it's supposed to be 'greasy grimy gopher guts', or some such.)

Anyhoo, yesterday - was it just yesterday? Es imposible! Increible!!, when I was in the midst of composing this post, my mouse decided to run rampant.

Now, my mouse pad has a photo of this really inquisitive little kitty that's trying its very best to climb up high enough to be able to look over the top of a ledge to see if it can find something it can sink its claws into however briefly and play with awhile, maybe even give it a bite every now and again.

Well! My mouse decided to take matters into its own hands. It didn't make any difference how hard I tried to direct the cursor's movements, I failed. I was "beside myself" ... that's one of the best descriptive phrases ever, imo - all sorts of imagery come to mind!

I finally decided to call my daughter. When I described the problem to her she said, "You're going to have to take the mouse apart." I said, "WHAAAT!!!" She repeated what she'd just said.

And so, somewhat reluctantly, the surgery began. It required full and direct lighting. It required some rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, and a paper towel to catch the 'yuk'. Don't think I mentioned bifocals, did I? It required bifocals.

Every so often I'd call my daughter to give her a blow by blow account of my progress. She said, "Geez, Mom, if it was me, I'd be taking photograph after photograph of this whole process for a future post!" I replied, "Don't you think I've thought of exactly the same thing?"

Sorry, guys. No camera, no photos! The long surgical procedure was somewhat shortened by my ingenious (imo) and quite timely use of tweezers to extract some of the larger pieces of mouser dust ... voila!!

PS. My daughter told me that she had had this problem years ago, and had solved it on her own. No outside help. Cannot even begin to imagine such a thing! Good for her!!

PPS. I had this same problem with my mouse several months back. Somehow or another, however, the problem resolved itself without my having to resort to major surgery. I asked my daughter how this could possibly have happened and she said, "Mom, that's a mystery."

For my friends in the cold cold north who are ...

... freezing either their arses (Steven) or tootsies (Tammy) off, I thought I'd share with you a good recipe for crock pot chili that my daughter gave me a few months back.

Here's the original recipe ...

1 pound lean ground beef (10% fat or less)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 sweet onion, chopped
1/4 cup canned diced chilies
2 tablespoons tomato paste

In large nonstick skillet cook beef and garlic over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up meat, until browned; drain. Add chili powder and cumin; stir to combine.

Combine tomatoes, beans, onion, chilies, and tomato paste in slow cooker; stir in beef mixture. Cover and cook on high until the flavors are blended, 4-5 hours.

Per serving: 142 calories, 5g fat, 4g fiber

The first few times I made this, I followed the recipe exactly (even rinsed and drained the kidney beans) except for ...

... Instead of 1 can crushed tomatoes and 1/4 cup diced chilies, I used RO*TEL's original diced tomatoes & green chilies all combined in a 28 ounce can (two for the price of one, doncha know!).

Do you have RO*TEL products where you live? They're Texas-based. Let's see if I can read the extremely fine print on this can. It's difficult, even with the aid of my bifocals! OK. Here we go ... ConAgraFoods P.O. Box 802521 Dallas, TX 75380-2521 USA. Also, RO*TEL has a neat website (I swiped the above pic from there), where you can read more about their product line.

... I wasn't at all familiar with cumin, so when I went to the store to buy it the first time, I looked for a package that I could open and then refrigerate. Found one! Bought the smallest that I could see. I've made this chili - I don't know, maybe seven times now, and this little package will probably last for another 20-30 years!! I mean, you use only one teaspoon per recipe. (And don't overdo it! I made the mistake once of putting in too much cumin. It has a very distinctive taste. It wasn't inedible, but still!!)

... I usually use 3 garlic cloves, and never a whole onion! I chop away until it looks like 'enough' and add it to the pot. I mix it all up and then, if it looks like I need some more I add some more. Pretty simple, actually. (That's a really good thing, because all y'all know that I am basically a non-cook.)

... Now, for the tomato paste. The first time I made this, I bought the smallest can that I could find in the store. Two tablespoons is all that's required. What did I do with the rest? Well, I didn't know when I would be making it again, and so I threw the rest away. I hate wasting stuff like that! So, the next time I went to the store to buy ingredients for chili, I looked for an even smaller can. There wasn't one. Then, one of the stockers showed me this tube of "double concentrated" tomato paste (Amore's the brand name) with a net wt. of 4.5oz. I used the last of it just yesterday*. Fabulous! Still used 2 tablespoons each time, even tho it said "double concentrated". (Info on the tube says it's made in Italy and manufactured for PANOS brands out of Saddle Brook, NJ 07663. They have their own website, as well, but I haven't checked it out yet. It's at

... The word "drain" in the first sentence of the instructions is laughable. If you are really using lean ground beef, there won't be any draining required. In fact, you'll have to watch out that you're not burning your meat while it's being browned! I don't add the chili powder and cumin to the skillet and stir. I dump everything - little by little - into my crock pot, stirring like crazy each time. And every so often during this several hour period of cooking, I stir some more.

*I decided yesterday to change up the recipe just a bit. There weren't enuf beans and tomatoes/chilies in there to suit my taste, and so I doubled the kidney beans (two cans instead of one) and added another 10 ounce can of RO*TEL. Used 1 pound 2 ounces of meat instead of just the one pound. Changed nothing else. Perfection!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20, 2009

This date did not escape my attention. No no, it did not!

However, I had resolved not to write a political post today, but I must confess that I have been so moved as to publish one.

As I'm sure most of you know, I was not an Obama supporter. I was not a McCain supporter, either, as you might have gathered from previous posts.

As a taxicab driver for many years, I came into frequent contact with - and, indeed, some of my friends are - taxicab drivers of African-American ancestry. I value them.

At the same time, I must say, when I last visited Hobby Airport this past November on election day - I'll admit that my timing could have been a whole lot better (!), I was asked (again and again), "Who'd you vote for?"

I'd like to share with you just a couple or three/four or more of my thoughts ... ...

1) I couldn't be more proud (I mean that sincerely!) that 'we' have elected an 'African-American' as President of the United States.

2) I just wish his heritage were more 'pure' ... there's Caucasian in there, along with what all else? (I don't remember. My ignorance, I apologize.)

3) I did not listen to his address to the nation following the swearing-in ceremonies, and so I cannot comment on it.

4) I'm more than a little disgruntled that we are going to be subjected to yet another four or more years of a Clinton in the White House limelight. (For the entire eight years of Bill Clinton's presidency, I was ashamed to admit that I was an American. I'm being serious here!)

5) I'm almost sorry* that we are celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday ALmost at the same time. I'm of really mixed feelings on this one! But wouldn't Dr. King have been proud?

*Dr. King was a 'proven' commodity. President Obama is an unknown as of this writing.

There was a prayer offered after the swearing-in this morning, but I do not recall who gave it. It was that prayer that inspired my writing of this post.

My own deepest, most thoughtful and heartfelt wish is that Barack Obama ascend to and encompass those highest of ideals that ALL of us in the United States - if not the whole world - aspire to.


My weekend ... #1 ...

I haven't had a couple of days like that for a while, and don't expect to again any time soon. How very, very special.

You all probably know that I've been looking for something I could do to bring more dollars in to Goldenrod's coffers each month. I've considered all sorts of different possibilities. Theoretically, I'm highly qualified to do many things.

I investigated tutoring late last Spring, but in retrospect I realize that I did so only half-heartedly. I have a notebook full of information about institutes here in Houston that are looking for tutors and teachers. I don't remember applying for more than one or two! I got kind of excited last fall about the possibility of teaching in Korea in their winter program. Filled out page after page on the application. Even got my passport. Never heard a word back. Tried to call the phone number listed, but could never get an answer.

Now, before you get mad at them, I should tell you that I never attached a resume. I couldn't see the sense in it. They already had all the info on my application. What pure and utter nonsense, I felt! See a potential problem here? Goldenrod's attitude is going to have to change if she wants to move ahead in this area!!

[But do I want to? That's the key question, isn't it? Honestly, if I had my druthers, I would probably never work another hour as long as I live! But, I don't have my druthers. I have reality, and push is getting ever closer to shove.]

This next month now, my coffers are going to see an infusion of several hundred dollars - all of that coming from old-timey taxicab customers, which is a very good thing, cuz due up are my annual property taxes, an electric bill of close to $400 (only paid $2.79 or some such ridiculous amount last month - they must have just estimated it instead of taking an actual meter reading), and a new (digital, of course!) television set.

[Hey, Goldenrod! Get to the point, will you please? All right, already!!]

So anyhoo, in my seemingly never-ending task of sorting through every single little bit of paper in my house before I throw it out, because who knows what it might be ... could be a birth certificate, a divorce decree, a will, or even a college diploma (and yes, I've unearthed some of those types of what one might consider more important items!) - and no, you don't want to see the inside of my house (but maybe you do, if you're one of those who brakes at every accident scene to see if you can spot some gore ... lots of gore here), I came across (just this past week) a somewhat yellowed "Writers' Network" pamphlet.

I thought, "Oh, my goodness! I wonder if any of these are still in existence?" I got on the net. Lots of "Southwest Literary Arts Council" listings when I Googled that name, but none specifically for Houston. And so I tried to further define in my search what I was actually looking for.

I found it! I indulged myself by reading all about the (what looked like) many such organizations in the Houston area. I e-mailed one that I found of particular interest. Supposed to have been meeting that evening. I questioned the mode of attire, was there an assigned room, etc. I heard back, almost immediately, from a "Diane", saying that the meeting had been 'put on the back burner' (my terms) but she was delighted to hear from me, etc. and blah.

To try and make an already long story just a touch shorter, Diane and I met at a local restaurant Saturday. An absolutely delightful couple of hours were spent with she and I (along with Ann, another local attendee) constantly interrupting each other! Rrvit!!

Diane's opinion is that there's money to be made ($$$) in non-fiction, which is my area, is it not? (Would that it ever be so! I'm talking about the $$$ to be made, not entertaining a possible debate as to whether or not my writing is non-fiction, I hope you understand?)

The past couple of days, give or take a few hours here or there, have been spent filling out entry forms and updating my autobiography. Am still nowhere near finished. It appears as tho I might have to get an agent. Argh! Double argh!!

[Her computer has been 'down' since last Friday, and so I haven't been able to e-mail her with some of my questions. I have several, as you might imagine!]

OK. Now you have Saturday and the subsequent many hours hence. Let's move on to Sunday (next post).

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A photo for Goldenrod ...

... is the title of one of Tammy's latest posts. It took me completely by surprise just a few minutes ago when I was going through my "Favorites".

Are you ready for the photo? Here it is ...

Would you look at that, please?

I'm so proud of her I could scream! In fact, that's exactly what I did when I saw it!! Dagnabit!!!

Here and there

This'll be one of those 'scattered' types of posts. Have some things scheduled for this weekend that will definitely interfere with my "Goldenrod's thoughts" time. I promise to fill you in later, OK?

Dances with Wolves ...

I was lucky enough to view this movie in its entirety a week or so ago. I had only seen it once before, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to watch it again.

The title of the movie was taken from the following scene ...

I spent considerable time viewing various YouTube clips that included the actual soundtrack, and chose this one to share with you because of the accompanying video. Enjoy!

Etymology ...

Have you ever wondered where your first name originally came from? How common it is? Is it being or has it been used by both genders? Dates with your name? (In Hungarian, mine is October 14th ... Estonian, August 18th. Never knew such a thing even existed!) Websites using your first name?

Well, wonder no longer. This site should provide you with a few moments of interest if not downright entertainment.

Now, I always knew that my first name came from Greek mythology. And, I knew that my mother named me either after one of her best friends or a favorite aunt - one or the other, I forget which. However, I also knew that I was the only girl growing up in my little town who had my name.

Little did I know that my first name was either the second or third most popular in this country prior to and including the year I was born. (In subsequent - and for many years since, it has been in the 300th's.)

I had no clue whatsoever that my first name had also been used as a boy's first name. Now that was a shocker! ("Zero", for statistical purposes, since 1940, which comes as no surprise to me. And no, my name isn't Sue.)

If you had your druthers ...

How would you like to pass on from this life? What would your druthers be? This is a serious question, and is by no means intended to be a joke. (The reason I'm writing about this today is that I just finished reading a true story in one of the newsletters I receive regularly. I'll share it with you at the end of this discussion.)

The vast majority of us, I think, would like to live as long as we possibly can, and don't really want to address the subject of death. However, it's something that will happen to all of us sooner or later, isn't it?

I have thought about this every now and again. I used to say that I would like to 'go' while jitterbugging. It would have been a shocker to my partner and those around us, probably, but I'd have gone out with a smile on my face! Now, in more recent years, my thoughts have been more along the lines of not leaving my daughter and her family with any sort of financial burden - including that of burial expenses, and I am satisfied that I have taken care of that issue.

I haven't danced - I mean really danced! - in a long time, so I guess my druther now would be (and whose isn't?) to just not wake up from my sleep.

Here's the true story I promised ... "My very first neighbor in Houston was this feisty, fantastic 83-years young woman. Her corner garden looked like one of those French weed/luxurious wild flower gardens, just full of Texas wild flowers! As she happily explained it, 'No grass to mow.' She was always out there, pruning and weeding ... and if you happened to pass by while she was pruning, you would get a bunch of beautiful flowers to take home! One of her friends found her early one morning, wearing her hat and gardening gloves and holding her pruning shears, lying face down in her garden. She had passed away doing what she loved best."

Now, this one I cannot personally vouch for the veracity of, but I like it. It seems there was a lady who just loved to shop! She was in the dressing room trying on a dress. Actually, it was the latest of many that she had selected! When the saleswoman went into the dressing room to check on her and see how everything was going, she found that her customer had passed away.

Miracle on the Hudson ...

Well, it's been all over the news. If you haven't seen or heard anything about it, the story is that a United Airlines pilot managed to safely land his disabled aircraft onto the Hudson River just seven minutes after takeoff.

Bird strikes are believed to have caused the first engine to fail completely. Until the actual engines are recovered from the bottom of the Hudson - they sheared off upon impact with the water - and inspected, however, we won't know for sure.

The pilot, who flies gliders in his spare time just for fun, executed a perfect nose up and wings level landing. All 155 people on board were rescued. There'll be a movie made of this event, no doubt!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

In memory

We lost a good one yesterday, didn't we? The above photograph was taken in 1999, six years after he had an extensive surgery to try and repair an old back injury. Unfortunately, the surgery failed to alleviate his pain. In fact, it left him a paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

However, Mr. Montalban remained active in the film industry, providing voices for animated films and commercials - the last in 2007, the year his wife of 63 years died. I wonder if her death might have contributed to his decision to retire from the industry altogether.

A magnificently handsome man, he is probably best known for his continuing role as Mr. Roarke in the "Fantasy Island" series, which has been enjoying reruns for years and has long been one of my favorites. There were 124 episodes altogether. Now I've seen a bunch, but by no means all of them. Something to look forward to!

In 1947, he and a young Cyd Charisse danced together in "The Fiesta". I didn't remember that. Here's one shot of them ...

He was honored twice during his long acting career, receiving an Emmy in 1978 for his role as Chief Satangkai in the ABC miniseries "How the West Was Won", and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild in 1993.

And for all of you Star Trek fans, I thought I'd include a YouTube clip from "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan".

Well done, Mr. Montalban. Now you are at peace.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Excessive water bills?

My friend Jacky sent me an e-mail earlier today wherein she said (something like), "I seem to remember your telling me you once had a cat that would use the toilet."

Well, yes I did, but I had almost completely forgotten about it until her e-mail this morning. Let me give you the story.

I was in college. Undergraduate. Northern Michigan University. My senior year. Actually, my last 3-4 months of undergraduate school. I had a dorm room all to myself, on the ground floor. This room was unique. Had its own bathroom.

I've always been a cat lover. Always! I don't remember all of the particulars involved in taking this latest stray in and petting it, loving it, holding it, feeding it, etc. What I DO remember is that I didn't have to worry about purchasing a litter box. No, no, no! This cat was potty-trained. I mean, this cat was potty-trained! (I cannot take credit for the potty-training, and I do not have the VAGUest idea how one would go about doing such a thing, either, so don't ask me to give you any advice!)

ANYhoo, somehow or another, Jacky's mind being the steel trap that it is, she remembered my telling her the story of my potty-trained kitty and hence her e-mail to me.

Now, before you view the video below, I want you to know that this is not the cat I had in my dorm ... nor did my cat flush the toilet. And what ultimately happened to him/her (and I don't even remember now what sex my temporarily-adopted kitty was!) I don't know.

All I know for sure is, that I just got the HUGest kick out of this! Read the story behind this video first, OK? Here it is ... ...

Jennifer and Jim kept getting huge water bills. They knew beyond a doubt that the bills weren't representative of their actual usage, and no matter how they tried to conserve, the high bills continued. Although they could see nothing wrong ... they had everything checked for leaks or problems: first the water meter, then outdoor pipes, indoor pipes, underground pipes; faucets, toilets, washer, ice maker, etc., all to no avail.

One day Jim was sick and stayed home in bed, but kept hearing water running downstairs. He finally tore himself from his sick bed and went to investigate, thereby stumbling onto the cause of such high water bills. Apparently this had been happening all day long when they were not at home.

Knowing that few would believe him, he taped a segment of the 'problem' for posterity!

Monday, January 12, 2009

A possible life-saving tip

I received the following e-mail last night from one of my friends ... ...

Your Texas driver's license: This was news to me. And trust me, I got my license out and looked. It's really there! It's very, very small, but it's there. Something all Texans should know, as this has received very little or no publicity. Your Texas driver's license has a phone number on the back, just above the bar code on the lower left side: 1-800-525-5555. (It's in VERY SMALL PRINT, but it IS there.) This number can be called for emergency assistance on the highway or wherever you might have trouble while in your car. A service truck will be sent to you. This service is state operated and paid for with your tax dollars. If you are ever stranded, just call the number on your driver's license ... help is on the way. A state trooper will be sent to make sure all is well. This one is worth passing on, especially to all the women you know.

I seem to remember hearing this before, but it would have been years ago. For those of you who live in other states, I imagine that the same service is available for you. Certainly worth taking a look at the back of your license to see if an 800 number is there for emergency assistance.

Now, I doubt if help would be readily available in times of area crises - hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, blizzards, and the like - but I can easily see how this would be especially useful in an isolated instance.

I can remember one such instance, in particular, when this would have been wonderful information to have. This was probably 33 or 34 years ago. My daughter and I had been enjoying a day in one of Texas' many state parks. It was getting on towards dusk, and we needed to find our way back to where I'd parked the car while we could still see to navigate the route.

We found it! Ours was the only car still left in the parking lot, so that part was easy. There hadn't been that many cars there when we first arrived, either, I'd noticed. Evidently that park was one of the less visited ones, but it had been well worth the trip. We'd had a very nice outing together.

Upon arriving at our car, however, I couldn't help but see that the right rear tire was flat. No problem. There was a spare in the trunk, and I knew how to change a flat. And so I began.

At first I had a little trouble with some of the lug nuts. So there I was outside - daughter was inside the car and watching, just in case a wild critter came out of the woods while I was distracted with the tire change. Finally, I had all of the lug nuts off except for the last one. Try as hard as I might, however - and those were the 'good old days', when a tire-changing tool was actually one that could be of use and was of really heavy duty, I couldn't get that last lug nut loose!

Soon it would be fully dark. My husband would be at first only mildly concerned, but that concern would eventually graduate to an extreme state of worriedness when we didn't arrive back home at a reasonable hour.

I didn't panic, but was really trying my darndest NOT to have to spend the night in the car. Sure, we would have been all mosquito-eaten/sucked, hot, hungry, and really cranky - not to mention 'smelly' from having to spend the night there, but we would have been "OK" long-term.

FInally, in utter rage, I stomped up and down on the lug wrench - all the while shouting vile and utterly unrepeatable epithets, I'm sure! Guess what? The nut 'gave'. I completed the tire change and off we went.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fun with word games ... #5

I began publishing these on September 20, 2008. In that first post, I described how I came upon the answers to some of these puzzles.

In subsequent posts, I introduced a couple or three other types of word games puzzles - along with hints as to how I solved them, but then added, "You really don't have to know how the puzzles were solved in order to appreciate some of the truisms/humor."

Here is my latest installment of "Word games", the first since November 20th. You're more than welcome to cruise through all four ... just click on the 'Labels' section on my sidebar. Authors are given credit where that information is available. Enjoy!

Bookworms ...

I moved from Georgia to Idaho and was nervous about the winters in this new state. My queries got this reply from a native Northwesterner, "Ma'am, we have four seasons here: early winter, midwinter, late winter, and next winter."

Crostic Puzzles ...

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the universe is for and why it is here it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. __ D Adams, The End of the Universe

A new car manual tells you to have the oil changed at least every season, but it never gives you any advice about the glove compartment. The things in the glove compartment need changing at least as often as the oil in the crankcase. __ Andrew A Rooney, Pieces of my Mind

The Inuit people of Canada probably invented the kayak thousands of years ago by stretching sea-lion skins over driftwood. They might be interested to see today's sleek neon-colored versions made from space-age materials. __ M Flagg, Desktop Traveler

Australia is the home of bizarre animals. The duck-billed platypus was originally thought to be a joke, but the cross between a freshwater duck and a muskrat is real. It is one of only two mammals that lay eggs and suckle their young. __ Johnson, Australia from a Camel

[Do you know what the other one is?]

Cryptograms ...

The proverbial pen is not only mightier than the sword, but it's also much handier for writing.

In order to discover new lands, one must be willing to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.

A diplomat is a person who can tell you to take a hike in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.

Life is not measured by the breaths that we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

My mechanic told me, "I was unable to repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder."

A friend is someone who is there for you when he would rather be somewhere else.

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, does not go away.

Isn't it interesting how the word "politics" is made up of 'poli' - "many" in Greek, and 'tics', as in bloodsucking creatures?

It is important to watch what you eat. Otherwise, how are you going to get it in your mouth?

Do not underestimate your abilities. That is your boss's job.

The shad is a very bony fish. According to legend, it was a discontented porcupine who asked the gods to be changed and they complied by turning it inside out.

It's Your Move ...

Gossip columnists are the spies of life.

At a round table there is no dispute of place.

Quotagrams ...

Middle age is when you burn the midnight oil around nine p.m.

An optimist is a person who starts a crossword puzzle with a pen.

To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.

The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one minute to the next.

The definition of a living wage depends upon whether you are getting it or giving it.

Syllacrostics ...

Give the gift of love. It's returnable. __ Miller

Praise undeserved is satire in disguise. __ Broadhurst

Word Games Puzzles ...

A talented lady at home
decided to write a fat tome,
but when only ten pages
had taken her ages
she converted it into a poem.

WITS ... #3 ...

Continuing on in this series, which was first begun on November 25, 2008. Please see this post for my introductory remarks.

The poem I have chosen to publish today is not amusing. In fact, it is rather somber. At the same time, uplifting. One wonders about the author's background and reasons for writing such a poem. There's a bit of inconsistency, time-wise. I am not trying to be a critic here. Those are just a few of the thoughts that came into my mind when I read the poem.

The reason I'm sharing it with you is that it made me think - my mind going in several different directions, actually. Anyway, here you go. The author is Jessica, 11th grade, published on January 8, 2009.

Prisoner Sestina

Placed in a prison cell behind locks
With measured opportunities to see the light
Brought in and announced with loud sirens
Counting down life three times
From my cell to visitation my only trip
Where I hold family and friends in a brief embrace.

No longer free, cell bars all there is to embrace
I've found the key within, but it doesn't fit this lock
Lookin' back I never shoulda took that second trip.
It just kept callin' me to it, glowin' in the light
I took too much time.
Flashes and sirens.

Police dogs and sirens.
With me, bullets almost embracing
No, not yet! It wasn't quite my time!
Down here in Jasper they cut off my dread locks.
Next Thursday will be my turn to bask in the light
And recall those days of lovers and picnic trips.

Keys fall to the floor; the guard just tripped.
Ringing in my ears, still, from the sirens
Thirty more years till I'll see the light
Remembering the days when momma and I would embrace.
Oh, how I dread these locks!
Growing stronger with time.

Life times life times life.
Almost time now for that final trip.
Unlock the cell's lock
Hush, the ringing sirens
Lord, I pray for you to embrace
Me, before I enter your light.

Your holy merciful light.
The chamber door is closing, it's almost time
For the angels embrace.
I'm taking the final trip
The horns of heaven are my sirens.
I've found the key that fits the lock.

Bodies so light, after final trips
Eternal time now, to listen to sirens
And hide in the embrace of the pearly gates and its locks.

[photo by Blue Sharpie via flickr]

Friday, January 9, 2009

I dream in color!

I woke up this morning and just lay there, enjoying the comfy coziness of being buried in blankets and feeling all snuggly warm, chuckling as I remembered only vague snippets of the dream I'd just had ... something about insurance, I think. Really boring, I'm pretty sure.

But then, glimpses of a very bright kelly green in some of the decor came back to me and I suddenly realized, "I dream in color!"

Many years ago, my sister had asked me if I dream in color or black and white. I said I didn't remember*. Well, Peggy, that question has finally been answered. Ha!

[*I just looked it up. I thought I had talked about this once before, but wasn't positive. Here it is.]

I got to thinking, why a kelly green? Why not some other color?

Then I remembered reading about and looking at pix of flamingos all dressed in their Sunday best just within the last couple of days, and it occurred to me that my subconscious was worried about Sam's feelings.

You know he's still perched on a little table very close to me, and still dressed in his Santa outfit. He doesn't have another change of clothes until St. Patrick's Day. I simply must put him in the closet where he'll be all safe and sound and free from any possible public embarrassment about 'not having anything to wear' or not looking as 'fine' as those others I read about.

[I just took a few minutes to put the garbage out ... almost forgot that it's pickup day. It's Friday. I get to go to Kroger's today and get my grape salad fix. Hooray! I also put Sam in the closet, along with his changes of clothes. I gave him a little peck on the mouth and told him I'd see him again soon. SO, there'll probably be no more kelly green dreams, as my conscience is now clear.]

Do you dream in color?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I recommend

This past week or so I've scarcely known which of my "Favorites" to turn to first, there have been so many good postings! I simply cannot let another day go by without sharing with you just a few of those I have most enjoyed. They'll be in alphabetical order, according to author.

Polimom ...

This name will probably not be new to you, as I have mentioned her several times before. She is working diligently to hone her photography skills, and is currently interviewing Sherpas* for the position of 'lens carrier'. (She can barely lift, much less hold steady for a well-focused shot, the enormous lens she received for Christmas!)

*Just joking about the Sherpas interviews. A Sherpa is defined as "someone who carries loads at high altitudes". There's no way that Katy, Texas, can be described as having a high altitude!

She also received for Christmas - from Santa, she says - two hermit crabs, named Moulin and Rouge. In this post, she writes a bit about them and includes a few photos of Rouge, each of which (imo) is spectacular!

There are two other photographs of Rouge in her post, but I chose to show this one because it made me laugh. It made me think of a very little boy trying on his daddy's huge cowboy hat!

If you'd like to see more of Polimom's photos, go here.

Steven ...

Do you like stories of pirates, sailing ships, buried treasure and the like? Steven is in the midst of showing parts one through fifteen of "Treasure Island" ... in fact, #7 published just today. Each episode lasts less than ten minutes. I must confess, however, that I couldn't wait for all fifteen episodes to air.

I was so intrigued by his introduction to episode #1, where he relates how Robert Louis Stevenson thought of this story in the first place, that I went on ahead and watched all fifteen!

When I told Steven that I just couldn't seem to help myself, that I went ahead and watched all of the episodes, his comment was - among other such epithets - "Arrrrrgggggggg!"

Tammy ...

Our home-schooling mom extraordinaire. She and her oldest daughter, Emily, found a website the other day that showed cities built from unusual items. This one, made up of drill bits and machine parts,

is only one of the many she includes in this post. Please DO click on the link for more information!

Whalechaser ...

This is a gal after my own heart, with a 'wicked' (her own words) sense of humor. She published one such just the other day. The topic was "The REAL Stock Market Terms". I'm going to include just a couple (or three) from her post, which I found absolutely hilarious!

Broker ... What my broker has made me.

Financial Planner ... A guy whose phone has been disconnected.

Standard & Poor ... Your life in a nutshell.

For more of her zany definitions, go here.

I cannot leave Whale (because it was she who first introduced me to 'Uncle Jay', remember?) without sharing with you Uncle Jay's version of the news (as aired this past Monday). Ready? Here it is ...

See ya later!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ask Pat

All of you probably know by now that I am a Wheel Watcher. One of the fun sections on the club site is where members can write in with their questions and Pat will select which to answer. I've been saving this one for months, and thought this would be an appropriate time to share it with you.

Q ... If someone asked you what the top five rules for living a successful life are, what would your answers be?

Pat's response ...

It's tempting to be flip, so I'll avoid saying things like, "Wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident." I have never been a believer in following celebrity advice. Believe me, we're probably among the least qualified to give it. Nevertheless, keeping in mind that I have not always followed my own advice, here goes ... ...

1. Treat others with respect. It's not just the right thing to do; if you don't, it will almost always come back and bite you.

2. Learn as much as you can about as many things as you can. I know of almost no one my age who doesn't regret not following that one. You never know where life will take you, and preparation is the key to success.

3. Laugh a lot. The world is a very serious place, and, eventually, sadness or tragedy will touch your life. It's hard enough to deal with those things when they actually occur, so there's no sense in fretting about them ahead of time. Enjoy every good time to the fullest.

4. Don't sweat the small stuff. Happily, most of life's problems are merely irritants and not worth worrying about. Imagine how much better your day would be if you took only serious matters seriously.

5. Marry well and marry seriously, or don't marry. And be at least as patient and forgiving with your spouse (and your children) as you are with strangers. It's amazing how little slack we can cut for those closest to us.

I must now go back to my cave and meditate!

Shows a little different side of him, doesn't it? I was one of the few who liked his late night talk show, too. Of course, he was going up against Johnny Carson. It's a wonder his show lasted as long as it did!

[By the way, how do you like the photo I chose of him? Great, isn't it? I don't think he's very photogenic. Took me a while to find a good one. Another 'btw' ... I must have heard that "wear clean underwear" mantra so much in my early years that - to this day - I cannot put on a pair of undies without thinking of it. Is that hilarious, or what?]

Now, on April 1, 2008, this piece aired on "Wheel of Fortune" ...

... What do you think? Is he or is he not? Is Vanna White the world's best actress or is she not? Was this real or was it one of the world's better April Fool jokes?

In an attempt to find out the true answer once and for all, and at Tammy's behest, I wrote my question in to "Ask Pat". Daily, for weeks and weeks, I checked his answers to see if he would address my question. He never did. I stopped checking. (Pardon me for a moment while I check one more time to see if he answered my question ... ... nope, still not there.)

Meanwhile, the controversy rages on. (Sorry, Tammy, no definitive answer.)

For those of you who might be interested in joining the club, check out for 'how to' information. If you want to play some free practice games, go here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Wheel" - a brief history

It was on this date - January 6, 1975 - that "Wheel of Fortune" first aired. It was a daytime show, and for six years Chuck Woolery was its host.

Then, in a salary dispute in 1981 with Merv Griffin, the show's creator, he left and was replaced by Pat Sajak*. "And the rest," as they say, "is history."

[Evidently the dispute between Woolery and Griffin was quite bitter, and the rancor remained throughout the rest of Griffin's life.]

There have been other hosts, particularly in the two and a half year period when Pat Sajak left to host his own late night talk show, but - for the vast majority of that time between 1975 and now, it's been just the two.

Wiki has a pretty thorough recap of the daytime show here. Appropriately enough, it was last modified just today.

For those of you who have been enjoying and watching the nighttime version of "Wheel" and know that they were celebrating their 25th year, you might have wondered about the disparity. Why only 25 years? Why not 34? Well, it was the 25th anniversary year of the nighttime show, which debuted on September 19, 1983, that they were celebrating.

[Tammy, now, remembers watching the old shopping format. Don't think I ever saw any of those!]

Here is the Puzzle Board as it appeared through 1997,

and here's what it looks like now.

The million dollar wedge was added last year, and on October 14, 2008, someone actually went through all of the many and various hoops required to win it. It was very exciting, and I wrote about it briefly in this post.

For further details on the history of the nighttime version, updated just today as was the other, go here. Again, courtesy of Wiki.

*I've been saving a draft for a post on Pat Sajak since last April, and will edit and publish it tomorrow. Look for it, OK?

The Story of India

PBS is currently showing a six-part series on India. I sat and watched, enthralled, as the first two episodes aired last night. In case you missed it, here is how it begins ...

I should add that the clip you just watched is not exactly what was shown last night, but it's very close. Further edits and modifications have been made for the current series. Michael Wood did a tremendous job writing and narrating, and I am really looking forward to next Monday night, when our local PBS station will show parts three and four.

For those of you who are home-schooling, or just interested in learning more about this series and India, this site is full of useful information.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The 'peanut farmer' ...

... was what my memory banks had stored up about George Washington Carver. Well yes, he was that, but so much more!

Look at his photograph. Tell me, what do you see?

I see a most distinguished-looking gentleman whose eyes are filled with proud memories of times past and a job well begun, and bright in anticipation of future discoveries.

[I scarcely knew where exactly to begin and then try and continue this post in a manner that would do him justice. My own research - which has barely scratched the surface, I'm sure - has dredged up many inconsistencies. And so, I have decided to just 'fly' with my own best guesses as to where the truth ultimately lies.]

Fact vs. fiction ...

1) He was born of slave parents. True. The slave owners were Moses and Sarah Carver.

2) He was born in January 1864. ? Other accounts state July 1864. Even July 1865.

3) He was orphaned at an early age. True, altho there are conflicting reports as to the circumstances.

4) He didn't enter college until the age of 30. False. He entered at the age of 26. (The facts were that he had to first earn the money to enroll and then find a college that would accept a Negro.)

5) He enrolled as an agriculture major at Iowa State College in 1890. False. He began college in 1890, but it was at Simpson - and not as an agricultural student, either. He enrolled to study piano and art. In fact, some of his paintings were exhibited at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, receiving an honorable mention.

6) Most of his inventions were not patentable. False. While it is true that he received only three patents - one for cosmetics and two for paints and stains - between the years of 1925 and 1927, it is this author's opinion that he really was not most interested in fame and fortune. Rather, I would suggest, he was intrigued more by the process of observation and ultimate discovery.

7) He was a humble man and deeply religious. True. One quote I found and would like to share (this in reference to why he didn't further pursue patents for others of his many inventions) ... "God gave them to me, how can I sell them to someone else?"

8) He never married. ? I could find no reference to the contrary.

9) He invented peanut butter. ? There are even statements to the contrary on that! (Don't you worry, Dr. Carver. Every time I eat or even think of peanut butter, it'll be you that comes to mind!)

10) It was only years after his death that George Washington Carver's importance to agriculture and farming, particularly in regard to the many hundreds of practical uses he discovered for the 'lowly' peanut (not to mention sweet potatoes, pecans, cornstalk fibers, the palmetto root, etc.), was recognized. False, I am pleased to write. His contributions - most specifically in the area of crop rotation - were widely recognized.

11) He died on January 5, 1943, in Tuskegee Alabama. True.

There is a ton of mis/information available on the web, and almost all of it is fascinating! I invite you, as you wish and at your leisure, to check any or all of the sites out and then come to your own conclusions.

I'm not going to try and influence your reading by linking one or more of them, specifically. Instead, I'd just like to leave you today with this quote ... ...

"Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses." ~ George Washington Carver

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday morning

What would Sunday mornings be like on this blog site if not for Charles Osgood's show? Different, that's for sure! Although Charles had a guest host today, the features were, as usual, fascinating.

Best friends ...

Tara and Bella have been best friends for years, even though there's a huge disparity in their sizes. You see, Tara is an elephant and Bella is a dog.

Where is this, in a circus? No, it's on an elephant 'retirement sanctuary' in Tennessee. Today's story focused on the friendship between the two, not on the sanctuary itself, so I don't have much information for you on how or when it was first set up or exactly where in Tennessee it is located.

When an elephant first arrives at the sanctuary, she goes looking for a friend -- usually another elephant. There are several stray dogs on the grounds, and normally the two stay far away from each other.

Not in this case, tho. Somehow or another, Tara and Bella struck up a friendship that has only deepened over the years. Then, one day Bella sustained an injury that confined her to the infirmary for several days. Tara was disconsolate. She didn't roam all over in search of her friend. Somehow she knew that Bella was in the hospital. She stayed in one corner of the tremendous grounds, as close to the infirmary as she could get, waiting and watching for her friend to appear.

Finally, one of the staff decided to carry Bella outside to the porch so she could at least see her enormous friend. As soon as she saw Tara, Bella started to wag her tail, so he carried her down the rest of the way to where Tara was patiently maintaining her vigil.

Bella continued her recovery, and there were several moving shots of the two playing and just walking quietly along together. I love happy endings!

Pennies for Peace ...

The 16-year-old son of actor John Travolta died a couple of days ago, apparently from injuries incurred in a bathroom fall. Although it was well-known that he had epilepsy, autopsies are being conducted even as I write this to determine the actual cause of death.

In 1992, the younger sister of Greg Mortenson fell victim to this same disease. He decided to climb K2 in honor of her memory in 1993. He never made it to the top. Exhausted and weakened by fellow climbers' and his successful rescue of a 5th member of their party, he was barely able to make it to the remote village of Korphe, in northeastern Pakistan.

He was nursed back to health by these kind people, and promised to build them a school in return. His book, Three Cups of Tea, which has been on the New York Times' best-seller list for something like 100 (!) weeks now, chronicles his struggles to try and fulfill his promise.

One of the most heartening of the many stories included in this journal is where grade school children brought in all of their pennies. Several hundred dollars were raised in this initial effort, and he was encouraged to go ahead with it and tried again to get enough funds so he could return to that village with at least something!

There is website after website that you can visit to learn more. You could begin here. Even tho this article was updated January 1st, it still is a little behind. On Charles' show this morning, it was announced that - not 60, but 78 schools have been built in not only Pakistan, but neighboring Afghanistan, with eight more planned! Incredible, simply incredible!!

We often hear of Taliban strikes on Western-built schools, especially those that include classes for girls, but the schools that Greg has helped raise money for have - for the most part - escaped such destruction. Why? Because the villagers themselves helped build them, and they are keenly interested in what happens to these schools that have brought such wonderful changes to their small communities.

It's pretty much a 'win win' situation no matter which way one might choose to look at it.

[One website that you might want to take a look at is Pennies for Peace. I googled 'Korphe'. Greg has his own website, which I have not visited, and there has been writeup after writeup about him, particularly in the last year.]

This is a truly inspirational story of one person making a difference. On March 23rd this year, he will be receiving, in Islamabad, the Star of Pakistan -- Sitara-e-Pakistan -- a civil award in recognition of gallantry or distinction, and one rarely given to foreigners.

Congratulations, Greg. Well-deserved!

200th anniversary ...

It was on this date in 1809 that Louis Braille was born in France. An accident with his father's awl at the age of three led to his blindness. Ironically, Louis - years later, at the age of 15 - used his father's stitching awl to illustrate how unique combinations of six raised dots could be utilized to represent each letter in the alphabet.

This Spring, according to Wiki, a commemorative silver dollar will be introduced with the respective one dollar denomination written on the coin in braille.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

College football (continued)

I have decided to try and finish this recap of my extreme interest in college football while the 'bowl season' is still under way. How can it possibly still be 'under way', for crying out loud?!?

Ah, but yes it is, with the "Fiesta Bowl" scheduled to be played this coming Monday evening, January 5th, between Texas and Ohio State.

I remember - from many years back now, you understand - when the only bowl games were the Rose, Orange, Sugar, and Cotton ... when the Rose Bowl - the 'granddaddy of them all', was the featured attraction on New Year's Day, and the two contestants/combatants were the champions of the Big Ten and Pacific Coast Conferences. For a glance at the history of the Rose Bowl, go here.

In those days, it was unheard of for a member of the 'Big Ten' to compete post-season other than in the Rose Bowl. I don't know when, exactly, the restrictions were changed, but - obviously - they were!

Northwestern was the 'weak sister' of the conference. (That's the truth. Hope I don't offend any Northwestern alumni here. Their primary focus was not on athletics, but rather on academics. Duh! As well it should have been, wouldn't you agree?)

There were many intra-conference rivalries. Ours (Purdue's) was primarily with Illinois. (Indiana University's focus was on swimming and basketball.) In fact, I remember one Purdue homecoming banner that read, "Hit 'em in the buttkus" (or some such) ... Dick Butkus was a soon-to-be All-American linebacker (at least, I think he was a linebacker, and a fiercesome one, at that!) for the opposition.

A huge rivalry existed between Purdue and Notre Dame. I guess Notre Dame is still considered an 'independent', altho I really haven't kept up with all of the changes these past many years.

When Bob (Griese) was a senior, he was selected an All-American over Terry Hanratty, Notre Dame's quarterback. I will remember 'forever' (I guess, because I still remember it now, 50 or so years later!) a newscaster saying, "Well! If Bob Griese is an All-American, then I guess Terry Hanratty should be considered All-World!"

That comment incensed me! I was particularly disturbed by it because Bob's first wish had been to attend Notre Dame as a student on an athletic scholarship (which was withdrawn just days prior to his enrolling ... Notre Dame's loss, Purdue's gain!).

The Purdue Boilermakers were the 'heart attack' kids. If you were a fan at all, and/or were even the least bit subject to palpitations of the heart, ANY game you attended (or even watched, for that matter!) was at your own risk.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My 400th

It's been almost a year since I first began blogging - January 10, 2008, to be precise. This is my 400th post. I thought, as the numbers inched ever closer to that figure, that the timing might be perfect for both to fall on the same date. But alas, such a thing was not to be.

My first milestone (the 100th) occurred on May 8th, when I published "In my perfect world ... ...". This one was kind of a challenge, but a lot of fun. In exactly 100 words, I listed some of the things that I thought would be included in my utopia.

"An introspective", published on July 27th, was my 200th. In this one I attempted to share with you a more intimate glimpse of "Goldenrod" - what I like and dislike, some of my interests, and various idiosyncrasies of my personality. I tried to include details you might not already have read about in previous posts.

On October 15, 2008, I published my 300th, "Here, there, and everywhere". It was a 'bits & pieces' or 'scattered thoughts' type of post, which I thought was appropriate for an anniversary because that's what "Goldenrod's thoughts" is all about - no particular focus, no central theme or topic. In fact, I wrote, "I'm all over the place!"

So, what have I decided to do for my 400th? Other than the fact that it's being published on the 1st day of a brand new year, there's nothing particularly 'special' about it. However, I have a specific topic in mind ... football!

College football, what with all of the bowl game hype going on right now (Capital One, Gator, Orange, and Rose Bowls are all being played today), is at the forefront of many people's minds, and I'd like to take you back to the 60's, when I was living in West Lafayette, Indiana and attending Purdue University part-time as a graduate student while teaching full-time.

The year was 1966. I'd always loved football, even played it some as a kid. Always with boys, of course ... no other girls were remotely interested in such a thing! Liked a lot of other sports as well, but I'm going to write exclusively today about football.

Those were the 'golden years' of Purdue football (imo), when a young fellow named Bob Griese was the quarterback. He not only was the mastermind of the team's offense, he also kicked off and attempted their field goals! (Did any of you happen to know that little tidbit?)

[I actually met him and had the opportunity to talk with him several times when we were both students there. It would have been while I was going to visit my husband in the lab, probably. Perhaps Bob was an engineering student? I don't remember. What I DO remember, however, was how self-effacing he was. No bmoc attitude.]

I went to every game that year. The Boilermakers were having a great season, and it looked like they might even be invited to go to the Rose Bowl for their first time ever. It was exciting! Except for the game against Minnesota, I drove. I came very close to missing that one! Drove to Crown Point, where I dropped my daughter off at my in-laws, and then continued on to O'Hare Airport in Chicago, where I looked frantically for a spot to park the car.

Finally found one, shoved my feet into fur-lined and waterproofed nylon boots, grabbed all my gear (lots and lots of warm stuff, including an afghan that I had knit), made sure I had my ticket, and RAN all the way into the terminal. Once inside, I began shouting for directions to the gate. Kept running and screaming whenever I needed more directions. It must have appeared as tho I was a crazy woman.

I didn't dare look at any clocks. I just kept running. I got to the gate just as the stewardess was closing the doors! Found my seat and collapsed. I don't think I stopped gasping for air and breathing hard for another ten or fifteen minutes. Boy, that was close!

For the game against the University of Michigan, my brother got us seats in the middle of their student cheering section. Can you imagine such a thing? Well, he did! In those days, anyone who was extremely obnoxious was in danger of being passed overhead on outstretched hands and arms to the top of the stadium and then summarily dropped to the ground outside.

Are you familiar with that stadium? It's a complete oval and is set into a hill. So, depending on where your seat was, the drop could have been anywhere from just a few feet to many! (I believe that practice was outlawed some years ago after one incident where a dropee sustained severe injuries.)

Well, I was there to cheer for my team and cheer for my team I did. My brother did his best to shush me. When that didn't work, he tried to hide under his seat. A pretty tough maneuver when you're 6'3"!

All of Purdue's games against Michigan were played in their stadium. Why? Money, of course! You know, that green stuff? Our stadium only seated a little over 62,000, theirs 100,000. Ticket, as well as broadcast, revenues were shared between each school.

The upshot of this whole story is that Purdue did go to the Rose Bowl. Guess who won?

Many people told me later that they had searched for me in the stands at that Rose Bowl game and finally found me. I'm pretty sure I was so unthinking as to tell them that I wasn't there. Certainly, I could have described the game in great detail. We were glued to our television set the whole time.

Initially I had planned to go, but we had just relocated to Columbus, Ohio, and there was a lot of settling in to do.

I'm nowhere near the end of talking about Purdue's 'glory days' in football, but that'll have to do it for this post. If I'm in the same mood tomorrow, I'll continue. Otherwise, you can look forward to another segment about this same time next year!