Thursday, May 28, 2009

Having fun

Whalechaser posted this YouTube bit on her blog Tuesday. It's more fun than a barrel of monkeys, and I thought all y'all might get a big kick out of it.

Who says that older folks can't have fun? (I used to, but that was when I was much younger and terribly ignorant.)

Thanks, Whale, for brightening up our day!

Happy Mother's Day! (#2)

When my son-in-law came over Monday to install a scanner and look at why my printer was acting up, he brought me my Mother's Day card and present from my daughter. Here's the card ... ...

Now, I must tell you that I never once in my whole life even came close to resembling the lady on the front of that card, but I sure am having fun with my scanner!

Inside the card, it says, "How else could I have turned out so great?" Rrvit!

My present was a photo she took of herself which I now have sitting on my desk.

She looks nothing like me, wouldn't you agree? Her daddy and I both thought, from the time she was a baby, that she looked a lot like his mother. I mean, there is no resemblance to me whatsoever ... hair, eyes, nose, mouth, figure, smile ... you name it, she's a stranger, but isn't she gorgeous?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Happy Mother's Day! (#1)

I know it's late, but I was in New Orleans Mother's Day weekend and thought I'd share a few pix with you that I just received from my partner.

This first one is of Marilyn Methvin and me. Marilyn's the good-looking 80-year-old. I'm the tired and kind of cranky-looking one who was trying to smile with a mouthful of food. (I take terrible pictures if I'm not smiling! It would have been better if I'd not tried to smile, wouldn't it?)

I really have trouble, especially looking at that photo and seeing how incredibly tired I looked, believing I made it back to Houston in one piece early Sunday morning.

Did you notice that neat trick Marilyn has of keeping her mouth closed and fiddling with her napkin? Whalechaser did the same thing in January. I'm going to have to practice doing that in the mirror.

I hadn't seen her in 32 years, but I'd have known her anywhere! Here's what she held in one hand ... ... (Spades)KQT965 (Hearts)KQ98642 (Diamonds)-- (Clubs)-- ... ... There's no adequate word to describe that kind of hand. You could call it a freak or an aberration if you'd like ... either of those epithets fits perfectly.

The notes in the hand records that came out after the game included comments like "wildest deal I've ever seen, and I've seen a LOT of deals!" and "there is very little science to bidding freak hands." Btw, Marilyn chose to open it a quiet one heart, and she kept bidding over the opponents until I took a heart preference over her spades at the six level. Doubled, down one, for -100 ... a top board. The opponents were frigid for 7NT, with 13 tricks off the top*, but they didn't get there.

It was great seeing her again and, except for one bidding misunderstanding, it was like it had been only a couple of days since we'd last played together rather than 32 years! An added plus was that we placed in the overalls. Fun, fun, fun!

There were three sections of tables in play and John Onstott, who was the honoree of this party celebrating his 20,000th masterpoint achievement, remarked that they had more tables in play that day than they have at some of their tournaments! Here he is, describing how he acquired all those points.

I've titled this one, "Honey, I only spent five million dollars!" John was exaggerating, of course, about spending 'only' five million dollars, but - believe me - he spent a bunch of money!

Bridge can be a very expensive hobby. You can't get that many masterpoints just playing in your home town. Travel, hotels, entries and food are all part of the costs involved, and also taken into consideration should be any expenses incurred as a result of your being away from your job. (That's assuming, of course, that you have a job and are not independently wealthy. If you're independently wealthy and money is, indeed, no object - well then, go for it!)

You might have noticed (in the photo of Marilyn and me) an empty table to the right of the four people behind us. That's where Marilyn and I were seated when we played. Along about the 10th or 11th round (there were 13 rounds), the band started tuning up. In this next photo, you will see the same four people sitting there in the background.

I thought sure that play would be stopped once the band started to tune up, but no -- no such thing. Teehee! That's New Orleans for you. Now I ask you, "Was this a good party or what?!?"

*For those of you who might be interested in how or why the East-West pair might be able to make 7NT on this deal, here are their hands ... ... East (Spades)843 (Hearts)AT (Diamonds)AK53 (Clubs)9843 ... ... West (Spades)A7 (Hearts)7 (Diamonds)Q2 (Clubs)AKQJT752. I already gave you Marilyn's hand. She sat South. If you take a 'normal' bridge deck (52 cards in all, 13 in each of the four suits) and lay out the three hands already given, place the remaining cards in North's (my) hand and there you have it.

PS. I would have posted this yesterday, but I got a phone call from John Zilic (a friend, local director, teacher, and one who has - I think! - even more masterpoints than John Onstott) early last evening wanting to know if I was available to play as a 'fill in'. The same thing happened Sunday. I was available both times - kind of unusual for me, and you know what? Won both times! (I wonder if I should retire a winner or continue playing? You know there's no place to go but down now, right?)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This one's for you, Tammy, ...

... and for any other 'wannabe' baseball fan out there who has been just casually interested in the past, is new to "fandom" and unaware of how the major leagues are set up and how it all kind of ties in and fits together.

Without going back to Wiki to look up every exact date and make sure that all of my t's are crossed and i's dotted, here's how it works (as I understand it) -- basically.

Leagues ...

There are two leagues in professional baseball ... the American League and the National League. For many many years the teams in one league never played against teams in the other league except for pre-season action (getting everyone all tuned up, on the same page and [hopefully] ready for the regular season to begin - usually around the 1st of April or so each year) and the World Series (October), where the champion from the American League plays against the champion from the National League for the title.

There is really only one basic difference, as I see it, between the two leagues. The American League has what they call a DH (designated hitter), who always bats for the pitcher. (The National League does not have a DH!) In other words, their pitchers do not take batting practice. Why would they? The DH does not occupy a position in the field - not 1st base, not center field, not any! He just sits there on the bench until it's the pitcher's turn to bat, then goes up to the batter's box and tries to get a hit. In the past (and probably true in the present), this was a really good way for previously 'regular' major league baseball players to still be productively active (and paid) well beyond their prime physically but more than able to swing their bat and try to do some real damage against their opponents. The name Cecil Fielder comes immediately to my mind as a good example of a DH.

Divisions ...

Within each league are three divisions ... the East, Central and West. You will notice, if you follow this link, that the American League has a total of only 14 teams, whereas the National League has 16 ... ... 30 teams in all between the two leagues. I can think of no reason whatsoever why one league has 14 and the other 16 (other than political scrambling for territory). Politics at some of its very worst, no doubt! I mean, why couldn't it have been 15-15? That's a semi-serious question, OK? Why couldn't it have been? What's going to happen the next time two teams want to enter the league? Will they automatically be one in one league and one in the other? Then we would have 15 in one and 17 in the other. This is small, people, small!

Initially, the divisions were meant to be geographical ... "East" "Central" "West" ... one would have expected that, among each team in the division, there would not be more than a few hundred miles - due to travel constraints - travel time between games. In this day and age, tho, what with personal jet transport and whatnot all else available, no such constrictions exist.

Although the majority of each team's games are played against other teams within their own division (East/Central/West), there are a great number of other games that are against rivals from other divisions within their own league.

What does "playing against teams outside their division right now" mean? I thought teams always played within their divisions. ??? This was one of your recent questions, Tammy. I hope I have answered it to your satisfaction and understanding.

Interleague play ...

Just a few years back, MLB (Major League Baseball) instituted interleague play during the regular season. Now, that was an interesting development - particularly to me, as I'd always wanted to see the Rangers (AL) and Astros (NL) in action during the regular season. In fact, I wrote (somewhat extensively) about that rivalry here, and this past week was just the first salvo of interleague games this year. Many more interleague games are scheduled in June, and I wrote about some of those here.

Now, who is the DH in an interleague game? Or is there one, even? Well, it depends (sometimes) on where the game is being played. MLB's rules are ever-evolving, it would seem. Let's talk briefly about the Astros/Rangers series. They just completed a three-game set here, in which the Rangers took two out of the three. Next month we will be in Arlington, where the DH rule will apply because the games will be held on their (AL) home field.

Another of your questions, Tammy, was, Curious on one other thing that I am betting you know the answer to. Cardinals and Yankees are both 26-19. However, The Cardinals are ranked 3 and the Yankees are ranked 7. Why is that?????? I would have thought 3 and 4.

The only thing I can tell you 'for sure', Tammy, is that these "Power Rankings" (at least, I think that's what you were looking at!) are 'arbitrary' ... in other words, they are one (perhaps more than one?) person's opinion as to how the individual teams should be ranked.

I've spent a long time on this post ... and, while I don't begrudge even a milli-second of that time, I was in the midst of composing a MOST belated "Mother's Day" greeting to everyone when a couple of Tammy's responding comments by way of questions came in and I felt that I had to respond to them, but now am really anxious to get back to (what will be even a more-belated) Mother's Day post.

Tammy, I sincerely hope that I have answered some of your really good questions about major league baseball, and may I be among the first to wish you a most titillating baseball season!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

You thought I was going to talk about baseball, didn't you? Well, you were right!

Haven't heard from Chuck lately, but right about now he's probably coming close to tearing out what little hair he has left on the top of his head. His team, the Cubbies, is faring the worst of our 'club' as far as this past week's results go. You thought you had it bad, Steven, with your Jays losing six in a row? Chuck's team has lost seven in a row, so stop bemoaning your team's 'annual fate' and saying, "I told you so!"

The only thing worse than a sore loser is a strutting winner, and we've got almost a prime example of a preening peahen in Tammy. Altho both of her teams lost yesterday, at one point very recently her Yankees had won 9 in a row, I think. Right now, they are half a game behind the Blue Jays in the American League East, who are a half game behind the Red Sox. Now that's a tight division!

The Red Sox are my son-in-law's team. Yeah, this is the same person who says he's a big fan but didn't even know when 'Opening Day' was this year and pays very little attention (other than in passing) to baseball until the World Series. To me, that's not a fan at all, but I have to include him in our club anyway because he's 'family'. Family has to be included, right?

Speaking of family, a few years ago when it appeared as tho there was a chance that the Red Sox and Astros would meet in the World Series, my daughter quietly made plans to buy us side-by-side tickets to one of the home games. That would have been fun, wouldn't it? I've never seen him at a baseball game. I wonder how he is? I'm fairly quiet during the games, usually, altho I don't know how ladylike I would have been had that actually occurred. I would probably have been obnoxious as all get out.

Meanwhile, Patrick's team (Braves) has been steadily hanging in there, winning every game they could since the Marlins' sizzling start of over .900 ball and hoping that their efforts would pay off. Sure enough, they're currently tied with the Mets and only one and a half games back of the Phillies for first place in the National League East. Another tight division.

The division I pay most attention to, of course, is the National League Central. That's where my 'suckin'' Astros play. Ho, boy! We're starting a three-game set with the Reds today in Cincinnati. Both teams are 4-6 in their last ten games, but that's where any resemblance ends. The Reds are three games over .500 and the Astros six games under. Unbelievable, eh what?

Do you know who the hottest team in baseball is right now? The San Diego Padres, that's who (National League West)! They're 9-1 in their last ten games, but still seven and a half games out of first place. That honor belongs to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had their own torrid streak earlier this month.

---------later----------had almost a 3-hour delay there while my son-in-law came over to try and see what he could do about my printer problems (am not at all sure those are solved - we'll see - was working on-off-on-off-on for him), install my scanner and show me how to work it, plus "we" (mostly "he") did some yard work ... ... sawing off dead branches, weeds and 'suckers' and shaving off some of the old rotted wood from my gate so that the electric company has a little easier access to my back yard ... also, he showed me how to remove that part of the faucet that is either dripping or surreptitiously spraying water everywhere but straight down - was having problems both in the master bath and in the kitchen ---------

ANYhoo, have (since he left) tried to scan a neat photo and had to call him (twice!) because I had not taken good enuf notes when he was here. Have I got the world's best son-in-law, or what? Man, oh man!

Btw, I had him read the first part of this post, and he seemed to think that I had cut his Red Sox short on mention. (So much for being not more than passingly interested, huh?)

Okay, so what's going on today? Well, all of the National League Central teams are playing each other. We are currently getting beaten up on by the Reds (So what else is new?) - a rain delay there in Cincinnati, however, in the 6th inning. St. Louis and Milwaukee are duking it out 0-0 in the 7th, and the Cubs and Pirates are scheduled to play later this evening.

Except for the Blue Jays, who are at present on the low end of a 2-1 score in the 7th at Baltimore, the other teams of interest to our club are all playing outside their division ... same league, but different divisions.

Have a wonderful and relaxing Memorial Day, everyone, and I'll talk atcha later!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Weird, weird ...

... weather patterns, interleague baseball action and dreams. Which one would you like me to tackle first?

Well, let's go with the weather. My son-in-law was due to come over here this morning to see if he could fix my printer (it's been 'down' for over a week now), install my scanner and try to show this old fuddy duddy how to work it. We spoke on the phone a few minutes ago, and decided to reschedule it for tomorrow morning. My electricity has been going on and off - most unexpectedly, and now there are some pretty good-sized storms in the area. I don't think he should be driving or trying to work with computer installations in storms, do you?

As far as interleague baseball action is concerned, I can't even begin to tell you how ready I am for the 'regular' season to resume! Not that my Astros were doing all that well against other National Leaguers, I hope you understand, but still! I'm absolutely positive that Steven (Blue Jays) and my son-in-law (Red Sox) would concur, although Tammy (with her hedged bets of both the Yankees & Cardinals would disagree, as would Patrick (Braves).

Barf and arrgh would be my most appropriate comments here, I think.

Now then (oxymoron #21 being put to good use here), for my weird dream ... and, of course, I don't remember MOST of it! ... I was driving (I have a lot of 'driving' dreams!), ex-husband #1 was in the car, as was our daughter (both as a baby and as a young adult ... if that isn't weird to the extreme, I don't know what is!) ... ... At one point in my dream, I was driving a very small vehicle whereupon, if we all leaned back at one time, we could balance enuf so that we could very carefully negotiate our way down some steep stairs (I, as the 'driver extraordinaire', would be in charge of the steering wheel and brakes, of course!) ... ... I woke myself up laughing out loud at the preponderousness of it all.

Where do dreams like this come from, for crying out loud? Too much for me, folks. Just too much!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Game by game action

(Saturday, early am)

When the first set of final scores started coming in early last night I thought to myself, "My goodness! What's happened to the American League this year?" But then, just a few minutes ago, when I refreshed the screen, I noted that the American League had won the majority of this first salvo of interleague games, 8-6. I guess I was just paying attention to the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Yankees - all from the American League East and in our 'club', and all of whom lost last night to their National League foes.

Reeling from their sweep by the Sox the three games prior, the Blue Jays are barely hanging onto 1st place in their division by half a game over the 2nd place Red Sox. The Yankees are one and a half games back. It's a tight division at this point.

Interleague play will continue in earnest in mid and late June, when many games are scheduled between the two leagues. The Astros will again play the Rangers, this time at their stadium in Arlington. (They're here this weekend.) This series is of long-standing, not one created by MLB's initial setup of interleague games in 1997, although - prior to that time, we only met in preseason games.

This year we'll be playing against three teams from the American League Central ... the Kansas City Royals, the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers. And the Rangers again, of course. That's a fun rivalry. We play for the Silver Boot, which is kind of neat. (Apologize for the quality of the photo. Even if I crop it, those hoses will show [What are those all about, anyway?!?], so I decided not to. ... ... You know what? I think this photo must have been taken during pre-game activities, and the hoses were there for selective wetting-down of the base lines. If I find a better picture, I'll replace this one and delete these parenthetical comments.)

In the eight years since this trophy made its first appearance, the Astros have won it only three times in the six-game (3 at home and 3 away) annual series. Never has one team completely dominated the other. There were three years - 2001, 2004 and 2008 - when the series was tied at three games apiece. According to the rules established at the beginning, in the event of a tie the team scoring the most points overall in that series is declared the winner of the Silver Boot. Historically, even tho the Astros are leading with a 'games won' total of 25-24, they are behind in the number of times they've been able to take home the Silver Boot and show it off. We haven't had it in our possession since 2006. We lost a nail-biter in the 10th (6-5) last night. We'll see what happens this afternoon. I'll be watching.

There are only two National League teams who will not be involved in interleague play this weekend ... the Chicago Cubs and the San Diego Padres, who are competing against each other out west. The Cubs are continuing their downward spiral, unfortunately. However, when interleague play resumes in earnest in June, the Cubs will play against the Chicago White Sox (who, I would assume, are their natural rivals in the American League) in a six-game series, home and away. That'll be fun to watch! I wonder what kind of trophy they have? There's probably an interesting story there.

Now, the Atlanta Braves squeaked out a victory over the Toronto Blue Jays last night by a score of 1-0 (no doubt a very well-pitched game). It was played in Atlanta, where - according to MLB's current rules in these interleague games - a designated hitter (DH) was not allowed because the game was being played in a National League park. I wouldn't think that the Blue Jays have a 'natural rival' in the National League, per se, now that the Montreal Expos have become the Washington Nationals. I've looked at the Jays' June schedule, and don't see a return match there against the Braves. And, I see only one series scheduled against the Nationals in June, so I guess they are no longer considered natural rivals. Instead, I see two series (home and away) against the Philadelphia Phillies. (A case of MLB trying to create a 'traditional' rivalry here, or is this just my ignorance of a long-established history between these two teams?)

The Braves do not play against the Blue Jays again in June. They will have a six-game set (home and away) against the Boston Red Sox, instead. Is that a natural rivalry? Again, I don't know their history well enough to comment one way or the other. Patrick's division (National League East), on the other hand, has been interesting to watch - particularly since the Marlins started their free-fall.

I would have thought that the Yankees and Mets were natural rivals (that is, after the Dodgers moved a few thousand miles west eons ago), and - sure enough - was pleased to note that they will be meeting (home and away) in June.

Let's see. Who have I left out? The Cardinals, of course! They hosted the Kansas City Royals last night (extending their current winning streak to four games) - I would guess that's a fairly long-standing rivalry - and will be meeting them again in June. Some kind of trophy there? Probably.

I didn't check the whole major league's schedule for June to see which two National League teams would be playing each other, but there will be two ... the National League has 16 teams and the American League has 14 ... the only thing I know for sure (unless I've made a gross error, which is certainly possible) is that it won't be the same two!

Well, that's it for today. Started this hours ago when I first woke up, then went back to bed and have just now finished proofing it. Found a bunch of errors. There are probably more, but I'm going to hit the "Publish Post" button anyway. Have other fish to fry. Later!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Diet and exercise

Someone sent this to Craig, our blogger friend in Australia, who recently celebrated his birthday. Thought I'd share it with you. Enjoy!

Oh! I should add that Cardinals, Red Sox and Yankees fans need not read this. They're already getting enough jollies, thank you very much. The rest of us need this little diversion.

Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?
A: Your heart is only good for so many beats and then that's it ... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer. That's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient way of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: Not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine. That means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness. Beer is also made from grain. Bottoms up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, and so forth.

Q: What are some of the advantages in participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is "No pain = good!"

Q: Fried foods are bad for you, right?
A: You're not listening!! Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated with it. How can getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent my getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: Are you crazy? Hello! Cocoa beans, another vegetable. It's the best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

Q: Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! "Round" is a shape!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

No summit for Wendy

Trish, Wendy's publicist, reported about mid-afternoon today that Wendy and her team had decided to 'call it a day'. Here's part of what Trish said ... ...

After a long and thoughtful decision-making process with Wendy and her guide team, it’s been decided that she cannot attempt the Everest summit again. There are really two core factors at play: weather and health.

Rather than the usual 2 weeks of clear weather that allows teams a reasonable time frame to ascend to the summit, this year’s window was divided by a nasty storm. Only very strong climbers can make it from base camp to the summit in a very short window. Unfortunately between Wendy’s MS symptoms, a bout of the flu, long waits for acclimatization and weather, and fatigue… it was decided that Wendy’s expedition cannot safely continue the climb. She is completely out of gas! At the pace the team was moving up the mountain, they simply would not have been able to reach the summit before the next wave of storms closes Everest for the year. In addition, a physician who examined Wendy on the mountain recommended that she not try again for the summit. It’s a short window to find success on Everest, and the team just did not have the lucky breaks to get to the top this time.

Their highest point attained was the base of Lhotse Face and they are now down below base camp trekking out to Lukla. Wendy hopes to be back in Kathmandu by the 25th.

When I spoke with Wendy this morning she was in good spirits. While she would like to have succeeded, of course, not summiting was always a distinct possibility. Only 20% of first-timers summit Everest on their first attempt. This was a particularly difficult year to make it to the top due to the erratic weather patterns and crowding on the South Col (the north face of Everest was closed by China causing most climbers to switch to the South Col).

Wendy is proud of her team, pleased with her performance and is looking forward to coming home and working hard to use the Everest experience to promote her sponsors and advance the MS cause. In spite of not summiting, the climb truly was successful in that Wendy has proved that people with MS can accomplish amazing things!

I’m expecting Wendy to be back in Boston around May 28th if the trek out goes smoothly. Please feel free to forward specific questions via comments or email to

Thanks, everyone, for watching Wendy’s progress and cheering her on. She’ll have a personal blog update complete with stories coming soon.

I know that all of you join me in celebrating her courageous attempt and looking forward to her safe return home.

Strange noises

I went to sleep last night lying on my left side, as per usual. (I'm deaf in the right ear and like to fall asleep as quickly as possible after I first hit the pillow. If there are no immediate extraneous sounds that are unidentifiable, usually it's "Zingo!" and I'm outa there.)

An hour or so later, however, I must have turned over, becuz all of a sudden I could hear a scratching or chewing sound. That woke me up! Ye Gods!! What could it be? My first thought was that it was the wind blowing the branches of my large water oak tree against the window. I looked. Even though it was fully dark, I could distinguish shadows and shapes. I couldn't see any wind effects outside, nor could I discern any signs of movement (other than my own) in my bedroom.

I lay there, not moving a single muscle except to breathe, wondering if I dared try to get back to sleep knowing there was something strange happening. The noise continued. I gave up on thoughts of sleep. "It" was definitely close by. I decided to get up and grab my flashlight. I thought about finding my old heavy baseball bat so I could club whatever it was, assuming I could locate 'it'.

The light from my flash illuminated a big roach. But, by the time I went out to the kitchen and returned with my killer spray, he had disappeared. Too bad! He lived to see another day. However, it was not a cockroach that was making that noise. At least, I didn't think so! If I'd thought it was, you'd probably still be hearing on the news stories about this berserk woman running down the middle of the street screaming, "Roach! Roach!"

Being deaf in one ear has its advantages and disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage is that you cannot pinpoint exactly where a noise is coming from. And so, I began my meticulous search for the source, all the while shining the light suddenly here or there and hoping to find a fleeing culprit.

The noise continued. It seemed to be coming from one of my large dressers. I shined the light behind the dresser. Lots of cobwebs, no critter. I shined the light between the dresser and the back wall. Fewer cobwebs, no critter. I turned all of the overhead lights on. No critter.

I opened no drawers. That, I thought, could wait until daylight. Meanwhile, the noise had stopped. I was tired and went back to bed. Sleep quickly overtook me. Amazing, isn't it?

When I awoke again, my first thought (after a bathroom call and swallowing my weekly calcium pill) was to open the dresser drawers. Which I did. Nothing, except for a couple of little mouse turds in one of them. I guess I was kind of expecting to see a 'nest' of little mouslings. Zip. Nada. I inspected the drawers carefully, looking for signs of gnawing. Found none.

I didn't pull the dresser away from the wall. It's a heavy beast, and takes two pretty good-sized men to move it, even with all of the drawers out. This might or might not be put on my list of "Things to have my son-in-law check out the next time he's over".

Several years ago, when I was driving a taxicab 24/7, teaching bridge classes and almost never home, I had a mouse infestation. In fact, I even had a full-grown rat take up residence! Now, that was scary!! (The rat, not the mice.) Through due diligence - I first had to locate the original attraction (turns out it was a sack of flour that I had carelessly left on a shelf and not paid any attention to for quite a long while) - and then, many traps and poisons later, I managed to rid my house of the vermin. (One committed suicide by chewing through a box of and then swallowing some poison pellets that I had purchased but not yet distributed.)

To this day, as a consequence, I'm very careful about what I leave laying around the house. As I'm home most of the time now, I frequently check boxed items to see if they've been tampered with.

You know what I'm going to have to do, don't you? I'm going to have to start setting mousetraps again. I've got them, I just hate setting them! It's not that I have an abhorrence of killing one (or more) of these critters. It's that I have an abhorrence of smashing one of my own fingers in the process of setting one of the traps!

But, I've gotta do what I've gotta do, right? Wish me luck!

A mad dash ...

... is now underway to the summit of Mount Everest while the weather holds. There was about a two-week period when no one was climbing except for a handful of Sherpas. Some members of Wendy's team, including her, even went back down below Base Camp to try and recover some energy and wait out the storms above. A few teams gave up completely on any dreams they might have had of a successful attempt this year and went home.

Just two days ago, tho, the mad scramble began in earnest. It was reported on Wendy's blog that they were once again at Base Camp and pushing towards Camp One. I checked with other sites that were sending back information on their Everest expeditions, and all had one thing in mind ... reaching the summit.

I didn't check yesterday, but I did just a few minutes ago. Nothing new from Wendy, but more than one team has successfully made the ascent. You can read some of the exciting news and see a few early photos here.

And Steven? If you're reading this, do you remember some of your posts where you showed people 'soaring' down, along and through mountain passes? Check this site out. Heavens to Betsy! Can you imagine skiing or boarding down one of these mountains? I can't!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Just too much!

Well, I've done some more yardwork - no more dead critters either yesterday or today, thank goodness!; read all of my "Favorites" and made a comment or two, and was just about to tackle a couple more hours' worth of Zousmer's book when I made the mistake of opening my latest e-mail from Beth. Just too much fun not to immediately share it with you. Enjoy!

New Husband Store

A store that sells new husbands recently opened in New York City. Near the entrance to this store, where a woman may go to shop for a new husband, are these instructions ... ... You may visit this store only once! There are six floors, and the value of the merchandise increases as you ascend the flights. You may select any item from a particular floor or decide to continue on up to the next floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building.

The other day, a woman entered the Husband Store to shop. A sign on the first floor door read, "These men have jobs." She was intrigued, but continued on to the second floor, where the sign read, "These men have jobs and love kids." That's nice, she thought, but I want more, so she continued upward.

"These men have jobs, love kids and are extremely good-looking," read the third floor sign. Wow, she thought, but felt compelled to keep going. At the fourth floor she exclaimed, "Oh, mercy me! I can hardly stand it!!" when she read this sign ... "These men have jobs, love kids, are drop-dead good looking and help with housework."

For some reason, however, she continued on to the fifth floor, where she read, "These men have jobs, love kids, are drop-dead gorgeous, help with housework and have a strong romantic streak." She was SO tempted to stay, but went on to the sixth floor, anyway.

The sign on the door read, "You are visitor 31,456,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store."

Please note:

In order to avoid possible gender bias charges, the owner opened a New Wives Store just across the street. The first floor has wives that love sex. The second floor has wives that love sex, have money and like to drink beer. The third, fourth, fifth and sixth floors have never been visited.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ain't we got fun?

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy ... ... our next six games are against the Milwaukee Brewers (a 3-game set beginning tomorrow evening) and the Rangers (Fri., Sat. and Sun.), two of the hottest teams in baseball. Right now, the Brewers are lambasting the Cardinals in St. Louis 7-0, and are well on their way to winning their 6th game in a row. The Rangers are "off" tonite, but of their last 10 games are 8-2 (same with the Brewers) and have won seven in a row. My goodness, my goodness! What chance have we, the lowly Astros? Well, for one thing, we're at home. For another, we seem to have all of a sudden discovered a way to get some of our guys home who are on base and in scoring position. Maybe we'll catch one or both of these teams 'riding high' and not focusing on us the way they should be. Who knows, right?

We gave the Cubbies a good scare on Saturday, and then showed them who was boss in a squeaker yesterday. Friday's game with them was a rainout, and will be made up in July. (There was an open date for both clubs today. I wonder why it wasn't made up today! Any guesses?)

Let's see. What else is going on with our 'club'? Well, Steven's Blue Jays are currently enjoying a four-game winning streak and are sitting atop their division in the American League East. The Red Sox are 'off' and the Yankees are ahead of the Twins 7-6 in the 9th inning.

It's been kind of mind-boggling to watch the Marlins' free-fall. They're in 4th place in the National League East. Guess who's at the very bottom? The Nationals. Patrick's Braves are hanging in there, only three games out of first in that division.

Thought I'd post this tonight, before all **** breaks loose in the next six days. More Sunday evening, probably, but maybe not until Monday. Good luck, everyone - and remember, keep that powder dry and take no prisoners!

What's going on?

Well, this morning I woke up, did my bathroom thing and made some fresh coffee. That was probably around 7:30. Next, I came in here to check my e-mails (mostly junk); read a few of my "Favorites" (I'm way behind) and made a comment or two; checked to see what was going on in baseball's major leagues (kind of interesting, and I'll probably do a post on that by this weekend); and then settled back into reading more and taking comprehensive notes on Steve Zousmer's You Don't Have to be Famous (subtitled Write Your Life Story), a book that was recommended to me by one of the other writers in my group.

This book was due back at the library last Wednesday - I got it on an interstate library loan - so I'll be paying some fines, no doubt. I kept putting off starting to read it because ... ... I don't remember exactly why I kept putting it off, but that's what happened. I put it off. ANYhoo, I'm now spending at least two hours every day on it. It's a really good book. Lots of positive suggestions in there and some cautions about pitfalls ... some stuff that doesn't apply too much to me becuz I'm only writing about my cab-driving years, but then again some that's just "dead on". I'm discovering that the more I read, the faster it goes. And, instead of copying every other sentence (I exaggerate, you know me!), I'm better able to hone in on the important stuff. I've been tempted more than once to go to a bookstore and purchase a copy for myself - it's only been on the market since 2007 - but (again, you know me!) I have this problem buying books when my taxes have already paid for them.

I need to get out in the back yard and trim some of that green stuff (some people call it grass) and begin to rake out and remove all the c r a p that my son-in-law removed from the gutters after Ike last fall and then surreptitiously dumped onto my large (they're not elephant ears, but I forget what they're called exactly) plants next to the house. It's a mess, and I won't be able to get it all in one fell swoop but I intend to at least make a start - toDAY! - while the weather is cool. Boy, it's gorgeous here right now!

Just a couple of days ago, upon returning to the house from the garage, I noticed a very distinctive bad smell in the yard. I thought, "Oh, no! Something died!" and made a mental note to see what the 'something' was. I, however, was in no great hurry to uncover an "ick" and waited another day or two to ascertain the source of the horrendous smell.

So anyway - finally!, armed with my big rake and intending to begin filling a few large trash bags (I had, on one of my grocery-buying trips, purchased some more large trash bags, so that procrastinating excuse was no longer available.) with leaves and other detritus, I ventured out.

Well! The stench was now almost overwhelming. I cautiously pushed aside a big leaf and discovered ... ... a dead opossum. Another one! (Do you remember any of my stories from last year, by any chance? Here was the first one. I wrote a followup later, where I reported finding its dead carcass in my garage - almost looked like a very large cat sunning itself in the doorway, except that it didn't even twitch when I drove my car into the garage and stepped out - and disposing of it. Eeew and ugh!)

This 'possum, however, was much smaller. Not a baby, but smaller than the one I had written about previously. I had never seen it before. It was garbage pickup day and I could hear the garbage truck coming. I quickly grabbed a small box, shoveled that sucker into it, covered it with leaves and put it outside to be picked up with the rest of the trash.

Long story short, it's gone. Who knows whatall else I might discover today? (And I do intend to get out there today!) Nothing of import, I hope.

M*A*S*H has been picked up by another local station, and I can watch the series almost to my heart's content now. The problem is, I think I may have seen enough M*A*S*H episodes to last me for awhile. Never thought I'd say that. Did you?

Still am not the least bit tired of "Fantasy Island", altho I don't watch it every day. Another series that continues to intrigue me - although I can feel my fascination ebbing somewhat - is "Ghost Whisperer", which has just been picked up to run in syndication by a local station.

Tonight (7-8) and tomorrow night (7-9) will see me glued to the finals of "Dancing With the Stars". LOVE that program! (However, if they ever go to a four-judge format, they will 'lose me forever', probably, as "Idol" did.) "Ty" (I think that's how his name is spelled) - everyone's favorite cowboy - finally got kicked off last week. There was no question as to whether or not he was a good dancer. Actually, he wasn't a terrible dancer, but he was such a "good guy" and tried so hard that the fans kept voting his partner and him back each time to continue on in the competition. It was great fun to watch the judge's faces as the final results were announced each week. Great fun! Do you ever vote for these? I don't, but there are millions of others who do, I think.

So, what's been capturing my attention on television these days? Well, I kind of like "2 1/2 Men" ... it's original and doesn't seem to have laugh tracks. Clever writing and good actors, altho I must say - even at this early venture in my telling you how much I enjoy this series - that I can visualize a time (and probably somewhat early on) when I will tire of it.

Have you ever watched "Monk"? I've only seen a few episodes. Like them!

I wonder how much my 'disenchantment' with television has to do with my subconscious telling me to get on with more important things. House-cleaning, for instance (Heaven forbid!). Or how about just doing the dishes? (Not that I have dirty dishes everywhere with plants growing out of them, but still!) And what about posting something meaningful on "Goldenrod's thoughts"? Haven't done that in a while. Haven't wanted to. It isn't that I don't enjoy "Goldenrod". I do! It's just that my mind has been unwilling to expend the time necessary to post a good one - or, if I do have the time, I am under certain constraints not to! That probably makes no sense to you whatsoever. I apologize to all of you for my lack of 'forthcomingness' here.

I've been distracted, needless to say, by some things of which I can talk about freely and some of which I am not able - at present - to relate publicly.

Let me close simply by saying how much I enjoy and appreciate each and every one of you, and I'll talk atcha later!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

On becoming an orphan

A very old man died this past week. I barely knew him, but his death has caused me to reflect on family, on life and those losses that I have personally experienced.

My brother died in a motorcycle accident when he was only 23 years old. He was the first in my immediate family to go. His death affected all of us greatly. He was the baby in our family. He was well-liked and had a brilliant mind. No one in our family was at all prepared to have Johnny leave us at such an early age, in the prime of his life and with such a bright-looking future. It was a shocking and tragic loss.

My mother succumbed to the ravages of lung cancer ten years later. Although she was not a "young" woman (she was in her 60's), she had reached a point in her life where - for the first time - she had achieved enough financial stability that she was able to do some traveling and was looking forward to seeing many more of the places she'd only read about. My father didn't much care about traveling, so Mom and Gladys (one of her long-time friends) often traveled together.

It was on one of those trips, when Mom was forced to sit down and rest while climbing some steps, that she first realized something was wrong. When the diagnosis of a terminal illness was made, she exclaimed, "Isn't this just the shit's titties?" Worst thing I ever heard her say. She had spent almost her entire life taking care of others with little or no thought given to herself. First having to drop out of high school to help support her family when her father left her mother and youngest brother and her alone, taking the two middle children with him; then getting married and spending the next almost 40 years carefully watching the family's pennies and stretching every dollar. In those years she did not work outside the home. Instead, she spent almost every waking moment trying to figure out ways to make our lives better, to cook wholesome meals, to plan fun outings (picnics, gathering berries, sing-alongs, games), to not cry (altho I often heard her crying down in the basement). She never let on that she was hurting, and so I never told her that I could hear her crying. She was a very proud person and family was everything to her.

But, as usual, I'm digressing and I'll stop. My family is really not the main point of this post.

I can remember her often saying to us as we were growing up, "I don't want to ever be a burden. If it comes to the point where I can't take care of myself, put me in a 'home'." She was adamant on that. The idea of putting a beloved family member in a home or long-term care facility has always been abhorrent to me, but once again I can feel myself digressing.

I began this post by writing, "A very old man died this past week." How old was he? He was 97. This is not a typo. He was 97. Was he in a 'home' or long-term care facility? No. He was in a home, but it was one that had originally been purchased by his daughter (since deceased), and for the past 10+ years had been supported financially (in part) by his son and looked after by a 'caretaker' who lived upstairs. This caretaker had a full-time job outside the home, but was personally available every noon hour to make sure the 'old man' was OK. It was only in the last very few years that the old man began to show signs of his true age. He starting having trouble remembering who his son was. He developed incontinence. Overall, however, his health was remarkable, and many people thought he would live to see his 100th birthday.

His death, following very soon after a pretty good-sized heart attack, seemed to take his son by complete surprise. I would have thought - I know the son - that plans would have long ago been put in place for final arrangements (especially considering his father's advanced age) and all that would have needed to be done in such an event was simply plug the plans in and get them going. (The son is an 'organizer extraordinaire'.)

This was not the case, which brings up several questions, none of which (imo) can be adequately answered or even debated ... at least, not in specifics, only in generalities (and I'm not sure how effectively these questions can be even generally addressed).

1. What price family? 2. What price memories? 3. When do we start giving up? 4. When do we lose hope? My answers are "Priceless" to #s 1 and 2 and "Never!" to #s 3 and 4.

My most heartfelt thoughts go out to this young man who is now, in his 50's, an orphan. I empathize.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


When I was young, I thought the term "oxymoron" referred to someone stupid. I only saw the last part of the word, obviously, and didn't bother to investigate further.

I love oxymorons, don't you? Those figures of speech in which incongruous or seemingly contradictory terms appear side by side? A 'compressed paradox', as it were. I'm sure many of you have your own favorites, but here is a "Top 45 Oxymorons" list that I saw recently. Maybe you'll see one or two new ones on here that you'd like to add to your own list!

45. Act naturally ... think this one should be much higher up on the list!
44. Found missing
43. Resident alien
42. Advanced BASIC
41. Genuine imitation
40. Airline food
39. Good grief
38. Same difference
37. Almost exactly ... I've been guilty of using this one many a time!
36. Government organization
35. Sanitary landfill
34. Alone together
33. Legally drunk
32. Silent scream
31. Living dead
30. Small crowd
29. Business ethics
28. Soft rock
27. Butthead
26. Military intelligence
25. Software documentation
24. New classic
23. Sweet sorrow
22. Childproof
21. "Now, then ..."
20. Synthetic natural gas
19. Passive aggression ... this one reminds me very much of a term I often used to try and describe my sister - an "active pacifist"
18. Taped live
17. Clearly misunderstood
16. Peace force
15. Extinct life
14. Temporary tax increase
13. Computer jock
12. Plastic glasses
11. Terribly pleased
10. Computer security
9. Political science
8. Tight slacks
7. Definite maybe
6. Pretty ugly
5. Twelve-ounce pound cake
4. Diet ice cream
3. Working vacation ... LOVE this one!
2. Exact estimate
1. Short "Goldenrod's thoughts" post ... obviously, this is a newly-inserted #1.

Now, Beth sent me an e-mail the other day that was titled "Structured Procrastination". Not sure it fits this topic exactly, but I kind of like it. It's best shown to you via a sort of cartoon, I think, and here it is (please click to enlarge the writing) ... ...

What's your favorite oxymoron?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I learned that most people die from natural causes.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.

The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive, anyway.

Why is there a light in the fridge but not in the freezer?

There are two kinds of pedestrians ... the quick and the dead.

Life is sexually-transmitted.

Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.

If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him?

Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.

How is it that one careless match can start a forest fire, yet it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention at all to criticism.

If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How "old" are you?

Tammy's recent post made me laugh out loud. She talks about sitting in the car while waiting for her husband to emerge from the store on a quick errand and hearing herself referred to as an "old lady". It's hilarious, really! Go ahead and follow the link so you can read it for yourself.

Her story reminded me of when I was in college. I was fortunate enough to land a part-time job in the college bookstore. Ella Christian was the manager. Another of her part-time student employees was Ernie Shegina, who had enrolled at Northern after he got out of the Army. He was 25 years old, and I remember thinking how "old" he was. But then, just a couple of years later - when I was a senior, I thought how young the incoming freshmen looked ... way too young to be entering college, it seemed to me!

One's chronological age is a given, but how we think of ourselves in terms of being young or old is sometimes predicated on how others view us and what we hear them say, isn't it? It's difficult to keep one's sense of humor when we're fast-approaching what we consider an almost unmentionable and much to be feared milestone in our life's journey.

In my case, it was 30. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but it was! My best friend, Jacky, forgot my actual birth date and sent me a lovely bouquet two months early. Danged near destroyed our friendship! It's funny, looking back on it now, but it wasn't even the slightest bit amusing then!

"Life" magazine, I think it was, featured an article on Jack Benny 'back in the day'. It was titled (something like), "How to Avoid Turning 40". This birthday has always seemed to be a big bugaboo for a lot of people, and Jack had a lot of good tips (most of them quite funny!). One of his tips was, "If you're talking about Lincoln, make sure you're referring to the car and not the President." My favorite of his? "Months before you turn 40, keep circulating the fact that you're 39. If people hear that figure often enough, they'll remember it for years!"

I don't remember my 40th birthday per se, but that was the year I came back to Houston as a single gal for the first time in almost twenty years and I was feeling on top of the world! My 50th? Not much attention was being paid to birthdays that year. I had recently lost my last parent and gone through my third divorce. It was a bad year and I was floundering, emotionally. 60th? Too busy working 24/7 to give it more than a passing thought.

My 70th? Beth had a nice party for me, as did my daughter, but I wasn't feeling "old". However, I'll soon be 72 and have taken some good looks at recent photographs of me. You know what? I'm old! I 'look' old! You know what else? I don't care!

I wouldn't have liked being called - or even thought of as - an "old lady" when I was still in my 30's. I wouldn't have liked it when I was in my 40's or even 50's. In my 60's, I would still have resented it, I'm pretty sure. Now that I'm in my 70's, I don't care. I've earned it!

Many years ago, when I began teaching first grade, I got a huge kick out of asking my students how old they thought I was. Some of their answers were just hilarious! Btw, I stopped asking some years later when they started guessing much more accurately. :)

The older I get, the younger others look to me. Have you discovered that yet? Also, the older I get, the less importance age differences become. I can remember thinking when I was very young how sad it must be to 'get old'. I mean, there's no fun, no laughter, no dancing, no dreams - or so I thought. How utterly ridiculous to think that, but so typical of the very young.

Just a very few years back, my son-in-law was bemoaning his fast-approaching 50th. My daughter threw him a party that featured - among other things - black balloons. Just the thought is hilarious! He has since recovered some equanimity, and is busily getting his darkest thoughts together and preparing for his wife's 50th - altho that won't occur for another couple of years. Hope I'm around to see it!

Steve, my blogger friend in Canada, recently celebrated his 60th. I could tell, in reading some of his posts in recent weeks, that he was coming up on some sort of milestone in his life. His focus was often in retrospect, a sort of 'looking back on one's life' type of thing ... and, to tell you the truth, I was just a tad worried about him. As I've been composing this post, however, I received an e-mail from him in response to a comment I made on one of his most recent posts, where he said (in part), "Now that it's over, no big deal."

That made me laugh, too! We could all save ourselves a whole lot of stress and sleepless nights by not sweating the small stuff, couldn't we? Erma Bombeck wrote about it, Pat Sajak talked about it ... ... 'tons' of people have said, "Why worry yourself to death about something that is inevitable? Enjoy life!"

I might have added "Live life to the fullest", but that was before I viewed Craig's recent post which included YouTube clips on Angry Anderson's life story. (Angry Anderson is part of Australia's "Rose Tattoo" rock group.) Something Angry said in one of those clips will probably stay with me for a long time, and it was (paraphrasing here), "You can't live life to the fullest. If you could, then you would be living a perfect life."

So when will my next 'dreaded milestone' be? As far as birthdays are concerned, I don't think there will be a 'dreaded' one! What I'd kind of like to have is a big blowout for my 75th. Three quarters of a century. That should be a big deal, shouldn't it? Think I'd like a humongous celebration for that one!

"Happy birthday!" to any and all of you who are celebrating your birth dates today.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My trip

I almost didn't go. I was still sitting here in the house at 1am Saturday morning, frozen almost solid with fear. What was I afraid of? Driving? No, I've been driving for a long long time and am a really good driver. Being alone? No, I've been alone many times before. Besides, I'd have my cell phone and the CB radio with me "just in case". The cell phone was fully-charged and I'd checked out the radideo just a day or so before to make sure it was working. The car holding up? No. I'd had everything checked out - and I mean everything, including the tires and even that 'doughnut' in the trunk! - and was assured that it would make the trip there and back just fine.

So what was I afraid of? I was afraid of falling asleep at the wheel, that's what! It's a fear you wouldn't fully understand unless it had already happened to you, OK? I'm not going to go into any details here, but - suffice it to say - I fully understand this fear.

So anyway, there I was, semi-frozen. I made the executive decision to get my rear end off of the chair, take a shower, make some fresh coffee, wash my hair, put my pillow in the car and fill the little cooler (which had grapes and cheese in it) with ice. I'm pretty sure, if it had not been such an obscene hour, I would have called Marilyn (see this post to find out who Marilyn is and the background for my trip) and cancelled the trip.

But it was, and I didn't. I was in the car and driving by 1:30am, on my way - some 350+ miles - to New Orleans.

CB-land is so much different now from when I was doing a lot of out-of-town driving many years ago. In April of last year I published a four-part series on "CB memories" ... just do a search on my blog for them if you're interested. Some really good stories there.

Nowadays, tho, there's not a whole lot of "chatter" on the radideo. At least, I didn't run into much. In fact, at one point on my trip over I took an off ramp into a well-lighted area just to make sure everything was all plugged in and working. I was all prepared to buy another CB radio when - all of a sudden - someone "came back" to my call for a radio check. My radio was working just fine, as it turns out!

I pulled into the Louisiana Bridge Association building's parking lot around 7:30am. (I had followed John Onstott's directions exactly!) Now what? It was only 7:30. I wasn't due to meet Marilyn for another five hours. I decided to park in the shade of a couple of trees and take a nap.

When I awoke a couple of hours later, I discovered that I was hungry and decided to try and find a McDonald's - their breakfasts are edible - and would figure out what I wanted to do from there. It was only while I was eating breakfast that I realized how many years it had been since I had last seen New Orleans. I thought, "Why not take advantage of the fact that you're here and see what you can see?" And so, I began driving.

I drove past (what seemed like) mile after mile of above-ground cemeteries. Are you familiar with those? Galveston has some, but I had forgotten how much acreage they take up in New Orleans. I wonder if our ancestors would have given much thought to how much space their concreted-in tombs occupy? None whatsoever, I would imagine. But it's a thought, isn't it? With our ever-increasing population and subsequent demands for even more of earth's finite space, how can we continue to 'honor our decedents' in the same way?

What's the answer? Well, I am most definitely not in favor of simply bulldozing in/over hundreds of bodies. What an abhorrent idea! The thought of cremation is appealing. I guess what I would propose is some sort of "living testimony" ... a combination of photos/memories/thoughts of those that have come before compiled (and most sacredly-kept) into a 'book' of some sort that would be passed on from generation to generation.

Do you think I'm living in a dream world here? Geez, I sincerely hope not!

Moving on. ... ... I drove through many of New Orleans' older neighborhoods, and managed to go past a building where my daughter had gone to school when we lived there over 30 years ago.

I arrived downtown. Decided to bypass the French Quarter, and opted to take the ferry over to Algiers on the west bank (altho it's east, I know it's confusing!). When we lived there, I had never taken the ferry across the Mississippi River, so this was a new venture for me.

My eyes were all over the place during our short trip across the river. I noted the spot where I had accidentally run into Ellis Marsalis. I spoke to the ferry attendants (briefly) about how long it had been since I had lived there and how this was my first time ever taking a ferry.

I wanted to see the house in Algiers where I had lived. More than one or two phone calls later to my daughter - thank the good Lord for cell phones! - I found it. And ye gods! Can you believe it? The subsequent tenants/owners had painted the bricks! !! !!! Blue. Not a terrible blue, but blue, nonetheless! Not only that, but they had gotten rid of something-or-another (I think my daughter described it as a hurricane wall), the 'white' under the eaves of the roof was dirty and sagging and the whole thing appeared as tho it was a junk heap in the middle of nowhere. I couldn't believe it! I mean, I kid you not here!!

Lawdy lawdy! As I was now running out of time, I opted to pay for a toll over the bridge instead of waiting for the ferry back and was subsequently met with construction on I-10 West heading back out to Metairie (where the bridge studio is). When it was five minutes or so before I was due to meet up with Marilyn, I called to tell them that I was "just around the corner".

Got there. It seemed like only yesterday since I had last seen Marilyn. But, it wasn't, of course. Thirty-two years! But you know what? I'd have recognized her anywhere!

"We" (I/moi) had an absolutely fantabulous time. The hands were memorable. Some pretty good-sized teaching hands there, as well! I am SO glad I went, I can't even begin to tell you!

The party was for John, and he (along with his wife, Eleanor) was more than eloquent in his acknowledgements of everyone present -- and there were a ton of people there! -- and in his congratulatory phrases of thanks for any and all contributors along the way to his quest in achieving such a magnificent stature as a "Grand Life Master".

I am SOOO glad I went! Had to leave New Orleans a little after 6pm, as I could feel the sandman calling, but managed to make it back into my beloved Texas before I had to pull over and take a nap. Anyhoo, guys, I'm back. I'm OK. Hope that all of you are the same, and I'll talk atcha later, OK?

Miracle Toddler Diet! Guaranteed Results!!

I had a pleasant surprise this morning. I came in here and discovered that someone had left a comment on my "Presbytery Point" post of over a year ago. Turns out this fellow spent many a summer there, as well, and thanked me for bringing back some great memories. And then, of course, I had to go back and re-read my own post to see what memories he was referring to and - while reading - thought of even more that I could have shared. That's the way it goes, isn't it?

I followed the link to his profile and discovered that he is a Presbyterian minister and has been blogging since 2004. Looks like he has four different blogs going. I began reading one of them, and had to stop when I reached his "Miracle Toddler Diet!" post, which brought a huge smile to my face.

This post is 'lifted' directly from his site. It's deliciously funny, and I thought you might enjoy it, too. He doesn't attribute the origins for this diet to anyone else, so I'm assuming that he made it up himself. Good for him!

People are always on the lookout for a new diet. The trouble with most diets is that you don't get enough to eat (the starvation diet), you don't get enough variation (the liquid diet) or you go broke (the all-meat diet). Consequently, people tend to cheat on their diets, or quit after 3 days.

Well, now there's the new Toddler Miracle Diet. Over the years you may have noticed that most two-year-olds are trim. Now the formula to their success is available to all in this new diet. You may want to consult your doctor before embarking on this diet, otherwise, you may be seeing him afterwards. Good Luck !!!

Breakfast: One scrambled egg, one piece of toast with grape jelly.
Eat 2 bites of egg, using your fingers; dump the rest on the floor.
Take 1 bite of toast, then smear the jelly over your face and clothes.
Lunch: Four crayons (any color), a handful of potato chips, and a glass of milk (3 sips only, then spill the rest).
Dinner: A dry stick, two pennies and a nickel, 4 sips of flat Sprite.
Bedtime snack: Throw a piece of toast on the kitchen floor.

Breakfast: Pick up stale toast from kitchen floor and eat it. Drink half bottle of vanilla extract or one vial of vegetable dye.
Lunch: Half tube of "Pulsating Pink" lipstick and a handful of Purina Dog Chow (any flavor). One ice cube, if desired.
Afternoon snack: Lick an all-day sucker until sticky, take outside, drop in dirt. Retrieve and continue slurping until it is clean again. Then bring inside and drop on rug.
Dinner: A rock or an uncooked bean, which should be thrust up your left nostril. Pour Grape Kool-Aid over mashed potatoes; eat with spoon.

Breakfast: Two pancakes with plenty of syrup, eat one with fingers, rub in hair. Glass of milk; drink half, stuff other pancake in glass.
After breakfast, pick up yesterdays sucker from rug, lick off fuzz, put it on the cushion of best chair.
Lunch: Three matches, peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Spit several bites onto the floor.
Pour glass of milk on table and slurp up.
Dinner: Dish of ice cream, handful of potato chips, some red punch. Try to laugh some punch through your nose, if possible.

Breakfast: A quarter tube of toothpaste (any flavor), bit of soap, an olive. Pour a glass of milk over bowl of cornflakes, add half a cup of sugar. Once cereal is soggy, drink milk and feed cereal to dog.
Lunch: Eat bread crumbs off kitchen floor and dining room carpet. Find that sucker and finish eating it.
Dinner: A glass of spaghetti and chocolate milk. Leave meatball on plate. Stick of mascara for dessert.

Repeat Every Four Days!
However, Sorry-to-say, in order to lose the entire 75# in 2 weeks, you’ll need a support system and only BEING a “toddler” will guarantee these results!

Thank you, Steve!

Friday, May 8, 2009

On aging

I love this one! Just do a click if you're having any trouble reading the words.

Thanks, Beth!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

There are so many things to tell ...

... all of you that I scarcely know where to begin. Well, let's start with ... ...

The flu has flown

Well, of course it hasn't "flown", per se, but it dropped out of the top of the nightly/hourly/minute-by-minute/second-by-second news even quicker than it first came into prominence.

You might remember my writing that our illustrious governor, in his utter panic - and perhaps in an effort to try and reclaim some sense of dignity, self-worth and importance - had declared the entire state of Texas an emergency. Remember that one? Here it is, just as a refresher.

Hundreds (thousands?) of schools throughout our state, in the subsequent 'swine flu epidemic' stampede, announced closings of upwards of two weeks where even "suspected" cases of swine flu were present.

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Woe be unto us, the sky is falling! This sort of c r a p - sorry, guys, there's really no other word for it! - predominated the airwaves for days.

Then, yesterday - or was it the day before? - it was announced that the CDC (Center for Disease Control) said schools that had closed due to confirmed or even suspected cases of the swine flu should reopen immediately, that the threat in the US was much less than had originally been feared.

Why were the schools closed? "Well, because the CDC told us to," was the response by public school officials. Why are all the schools all of a sudden being re-opened? "Well, because the CDC told us we should do so."

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Woe be unto us, the sky is falling! Oh, oh! Now, all of a sudden, the sky is not falling?!? Whaat!!

I found myself laughing out loud yesterday when a national news reporter asked how it could possibly be that the American public is blaming the media for the panic. How, indeed? I think all of you pretty much know my general feelings about the media and their seemingly never-ending search for ever more sensationalism in their quest to be #1.

Please do not mistake my intentions here. We should all be aware at ALL times of the need to wash our hands diligently and not unnecessarily expose ourselves to extraneous germs and viruses. That should go w/o saying. But it doesn't, does it?

My beloved Astros

They "suck", what more can I say? I mean, sucksville!

Do you know that, in the last three games, my 'good guys' have thrown over 530 pitches?!? Come on, now! That's more than just a touch incredible, wouldn't you say? I hereby move that we all listen to what (imo) is the most moving rendition ever of our National Anthem and start the season over. Any seconds to my motion? Now, I grant you that Whitney is singing at the start of a Super Bowl (football, not baseball) game, but still!

Wasn't that just wonderful? My goodness!

My plans for the next few days ...

... include a trip to New Orleans, publishing another article in the "Examiner" (it'll be my fourth), one more post on this blog (it'll be a funny!) and doing a load of laundry. Exciting, huh? (Well, let's except the load of laundry.)

OK, let's do first things first. Why am I going to New Orleans? Good question! This came up totally 'out of the blue'. I read in Houston Unit 174's (duplicate bridge) newsletter that someone, whose name sounded more than just vaguely familiar to me, had died. She was a black lady and my mind - in its wandering state (you know me!) - got to thinking about Leonard Jefferson, with whom I had often played many years ago when I lived in New Orleans. A lovely man, just lovely! We had a nice partnership and won many local events playing together. (And, if we didn't win, we always had a good time.) Was he black? Yes, he was. Was he married? Yes, he was. Was I married? Yes, I was. Did we have an affair? No, we did not. (Hope that answers all of your unasked but yet anticipated-by-me questions.)

During my efforts to try and find out if Leonard was still around, I reached the nicest fellow at one of the bridge studios in New Orleans. I didn't remember him at all, nor did he remember me, but we spent almost a full hour on the phone. (And no, Leonard is not still with us.) However, I found out that John Onstott, who was another one of my partners 'back in the day', is going to be the recipient of a special event being held in his honor Saturday in recognition of his having garnered his 20,000th (!) master point. (I didn't put that figure in bold, but I easily could have. Those are almost inconceivable numbers!)

I am SO looking forward to this trip. Will be playing with Marilyn Methvin, a regular partner of mine from 30+ years ago. I need to have all of you wishing me "staying awake while driving" luck and Marilyn and me good fortune in our game Saturday afternoon. (There'll be a big blowout-type of party Saturday night following the game.) I'll definitely be reporting back on this ... that is, assuming I make it back in one piece and still of a coherent mind. :)

What's the "Examiner"? Well, you'd have to go back to this post. It's where I first began telling you about how I was trying to fill out their fairly extensive application. Since that time - about five weeks ago - I have been accepted and am now known as the "Houston Duplicate Bridge Examiner" ... ... all of their writers are known as 'examiners', OK? Here's the link to my page, just in case you're interested.

And last but not least ...

Wendy's now back 'down in the valley', well below Base Camp. She's OK, and has been posting like crazy on her site (twice in the last couple of days). Here's the link again, just in case you need it. I'll let you read what she says for yourselves. Among other things, she talks about how they have to thaw out their clothes each morning.

Talk atcha next week! (There'll be another post between now and then, but it'll stand on its own with little or no commentary.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

I absolutely HAVE to share this e-mail ...

... from Jennie, my friend in Michigan. Am pretty sure I've heard or read about this event before, but it's simply too delicious not to immediately share it with all of you.

Supposedly, this actually happened in or around Sarasota, Florida. The moral of this story is, "If you're going to have a senior moment, make sure it's memorable!"

OK. Ready? Here it is. It's called "Get out of the Car!"

An elderly Florida lady did her shopping and, upon returning to her car, found four males in the act of leaving with her vehicle. She dropped her shopping bags and drew her handgun, proceeding to scream at the top of her lungs, "I have a gun and I know how to use it. Get out of the car!"

The four men didn't wait for a second threat. They got out and ran like mad.

The lady, somewhat shaken, loaded her shopping bags into the back of the now-vacated car and got into the driver's seat. She was so shaken that she could not get her key into the ignition.

She tried and tried again, but eventually the realization hit her. The reason she couldn't fit her key into the ignition was the same reason she had initially wondered why a football, a frisbee and two 12-packs of beer were in the front seat. It wasn't her car!

A few minutes later, she found her car parked 4-5 spaces further down. She loaded the bags into her own car and drove to the police station to report her mistake.

The sergeant to whom she told her story couldn't stop laughing. He pointed to the other end of the counter where four pale men were reporting a carjacking by a mad, elderly woman described as white, less than five feet tall, glasses, curly white hair and carrying a large handgun.

No charges were filed.

Rrvit! You know what this story reminds me of? It reminds me of my own post, "Little old ladies and my family", which I published a touch over six months ago now. Heavens to Betsy! Sometimes it seems like it was only yesterday, and other times I think it must have been eons ago.

Do you have any good "moments/stories" that you'd like to share with all of us?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

News from Everest

Wendy's at Camp 2 - almost 22,000 feet, having successfully crossed the Khumbu Ice Falls just a few days ago. Trish, her publicist from Colorado, has been talking with Wendy via satellite phone and reports that they are doing very well. Here is an image of the route everyone will be using to climb the Lhotse face ... part of the southeast route up Everest ...

... a wall of blue ice that rises 3,700 feet from its base to the top. The Lhotse face must be ascended to reach Camp 3, which is about halfway up. Ropes have been fixed all along the way, and climbers get into a rhythm of pulling and then stepping up to ascend ... pulling and stepping up, pulling and stepping up. The climb is made without the use of supplemental oxygen, so it'll be slow going. Once they reach Camp 3 and get set up, they will sleep with oxygen.

When Trish last spoke with her, Wendy said that the final route to the summit from Camp 3 was not yet quite ready to receive climbers, but I'll bet that situation is changing even as I write this. The first summit attempts are now projected to be as early as tomorrow (!), so things are moving along quite nicely.

Do you remember my telling you about the Puja ceremony? That's the one which is conducted before every major mountain expedition where prayer flags are hung, there is much chanting with a lama present, climbing gear is rested against the stone altar and traditional food and drink are shared. Wendy described this ceremony in detail here, and I found a really neat video of one of these Puja ceremonies on Mountain Link's site.

Wasn't that interesting? I'll probably watch it again after I publish this. First, tho, I'll check back with Wendy's blog to see if anything new has been posted since yesterday ... ... ... nope, not yet.

Talk atcha later!