Thursday, April 30, 2009

Growing Up

Do you remember being young enough to sit in the back seat and ask, "Are we there yet?" Can you recall running into the kitchen to find out "What's for dinner?" We were sure in a hurry to grow up. At least, everyone I knew was in a hurry. We wanted it all. The driver's licenses, and freedom from parental rules. 

What were we thinking? Wouldn't I just love to sit in the back seat now, not worrying about what the government was thinking or doing; not stressing about the taxes or how many in my country are having financial problems. I wish I didn't know what our dollar is currently worth, or how much our national debt is. 

Parents today must be very brave. Did my folks think that, too? Does it always feel like that, or does it seem like our world is getting to be a more challenging place to raise children? 

Okay, Mom. Maybe I'll just go live with you for awhile. What's for dinner? (I suppose she'd want me to follow her rules again... And watch NBC news. No, I don't suppose that would work for more than a couple days.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Human Nature and Procrastination

What is it about human nature that allows us to put so much enthusiasm into one thing while making an equally intense project feel like just so much of a chore? 

When I have baby gifts to knit or crochet, it never seems to be too much trouble to pick up the needles or hook and spend hours working and praying over the project. When my mom wanted a new sweater vest, and we settled on a project with cables running up the front and back, I was engrossed in the growing design. It made me so happy just to work on it. I thought nothing of spending eight or more hours a day with the needles in my hands. Not only was I happy to do it, I felt blessed by the process.

I've been working on a short sleeved sweater for myself for over a month now. I'm slowing down. The back is done, along with one front side and a third of the other. It's really great yarn, turquoise and very soft, so it feels good on the fingers. I can't use the scratchy yarn excuse.

It's the first sweater I've made for myself since high school. I graduated over forty years ago. I keep myself pretty busy with gifts, so it's not like it's been intentional. I've just been very surprised that I can't get the excitement and energy and joy out of the making as I get when I'm working on something for somebody else.

Human nature? Just what's natural about that?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Weird April

After a winter where we had almost no snow, suddenly we're enjoying an April of seesaw temperatures and plenty of the white stuff. Two days ago it was in the 80s. When I went to bed last night it was forty-two degrees and raining. 

I woke up around one in the morning, thinking to use the facilities and go back to bed. I noticed a white glow emanating from beyond the windows and stopped to stare out at the frosty elegance of snow encrusted pines towering above the white laced ground. We got somewhere between two and three inches, and it's still coming down this morning, just gently drifting—making me smile. I know, it takes all kinds. 

Somebody once said that if you really wanted to make God laugh, you should tell him your plans. It dawned on me this morning that the last two snowfalls have coincided with days when I had a book or audiobook coming from Amazon. Would you believe? That's right. I'm expecting a delivery today. They won't come into the foothills in the snow. I don't think I'll be enjoying J. D. Robb tonight.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Water Leaks and Pea Soup

When Matt's Heather sent us home from Easter dinner with the leftover ham bone laden with meat, none of us could that predict it would end up feeding a neighbor during a difficult time.

Poor Doug. He's the HAM radio fanatic friend and terrific neighbor we enjoy so much who lives on the top of the hill, just one home above ours. We share meals and laughs, occasionally sitting on our deck in the evening. This hasn't been the best week for him. He had a shock when he opened his water bill. 

We all get the same water bill, paying $90 quarterly for more water than we could ever use. We could turn our acre and a quarter into a veritable landscaped showplace without going over our quota. We, of course, wouldn't consider doing that. I lived in Okinawa during high water rationing periods. What is that? That's when the water is turned on from the main source for two hour intervals every other day. That's rationing. You learn to revere water. You learn not to squander it, turning faucets on and off while brushing your teeth, and things like that. You walk up the stairs to get cold water from the fridge if you need cold water rather than letting it run.

Okay. Put down my soapbox. Doug opened his water bill and it was nearly $300. He called and was told that a worker from the water company would come out. He waited. The man never showed up. Doug wasn't amused. He called again. The guy had been detained at another appointment, but would be there the next day. Doug stayed home. The guy came, but the news was bad. Somewhere beneath the acre and a half of Doug's little portion of foothills, buried beneath the granite and pines, the wildflowers and shrubs, was a leak. It was on Doug's property, not the problem of the water district. 

Several days have passed. Dozers and diggers have been moving earth at Doug's place. He's got one of the oldest homes up here, built probably twenty or more years before ours. His water's been turned off during the day while they dig up his water lines, trying to find the leak. He's having them put new lines in next week, but since they didn't find the leak yet, they're not ready to do that. He just doesn't want to go through this again in a few years.

We convinced him to eat at our place, just to relax and get away from the strain and worry. He loved the pea soup from the Easter Ham. I'm just so grateful that Heather sent it home with us. I'm even more thankful that I didn't make it sooner and scarf it down without Doug. Last night we had our chicken tacos, and while we sat around the table eating, I asked if there was going to be any way to get some of this back from the water district? No, he admitted, he was going to be out at least $6,500, and that's if they find it Monday. If it drags on much longer, of course, it'll be even more.

"$6,500... Wow," I said. "That's a lot of books." I guess I was trying to lighten the mood. Maybe I was just putting things in perspective of how I relate to money. 

"Books!" he said. "That's two HAM radios and a new antenna!"  I wouldn't have thought I had cheered him up at all, except that he and John started laughing so hard. Sometimes I just don't understand men at all.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Few Meteors, But Not a Waste of Time

I rested my neck on the back of the deck chair, the hand made quilt stuffed around me in the pre-dawn chill while I stared at the canopy of stars. Occasionally a meteor shower will reward me with dozens of shooting stars in any half hour of watching. Last night I saw about five per hour. They were nice, but they weren't the best part of the experience.

Sitting there, absorbing the quiet of the foothills, one of the things that came to mind was the times I tried for same experience from our yard in the California suburbs. The return into the house was a mixed bag. There was frustration at all the lights everywhere. It's hard to see the night sky when the neighborhood never gets truly dark. Dogs were constantly barking, and cars came by, no matter what time of night it was. Southern California doesn't really know how to sleep very well. What you could see of the sky was beautiful, but it was limited. How I felt was good, but reflected those limits.

It's not in me to think that I can say something best. As I sat for so long alone during the wee hours, it wasn't my own words that came to me, but snippets of quotes, phrases from literature, and then just a profound sense of well being. "Music of the spheres." Ah, yes. You can hear it in your spirit. It's swells from above the sound of the wind whispering in the pines, the crickets that go silent just before the sun starts to rise. "You'd soar a sprite above your heavenly throne/Had you no shame to leave your starry home." Oh, boy. Haven't thought of the Rubaiyat in awhile. 

"Be still and know..." I got some good direction to questions I've been asking last night, and conviction that I can do what needs to be done in my life.

Pondering the night sky, for some reason, always leaves me remembering one of my very favorite quotes. Robert Browning, back in the early 1800s, said, "A man's reach should exceed his grasp - or what's a heaven for?" Thank you, Mr. Browning. You said it so much better than I could.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Here Come the Meteors

A few times a year I manage to go to bed early enough that I can get up in the middle of the night and sit on my deck to watch meteors streak the sky. I normally wake up between five and six, so you wouldn't think it was that much of a stretch, but for some reason my body thinks three o'clock is much more unreasonable than five. 

This night's show is going to be more complex. Yes, there will be meteors. No one knows how many to expect. The Lyrid Meteor shower is an annual event caused when the Earth passes through a stream of dust in the tail of Comet Thatcher. (I wonder if it's Margaret.) I don't know much about comets and meteors. I just love how they look slashing through the night sky. I feel small and big at the same time, peaceful and whole, part of everything.

Venus and the crescent moon are mated in the sky right now, seeming to fly together. They're going to join in the show. Depending on your location, the moon is going to obscure Venus. It's an eclipse, except that it's the moon eclipsing a star other than our sun. Western North America will be able to enjoy the view. Pacific times zones should be watching by 5 a.m. to see Venus disappear. If I read the star charts right, which is not at all certain, it will be about 7:20 when it reaches my side of the Rockies. 

I'm going to go set up my blanket by the door to the deck and get my thermos lined up so I don't have to turn on too many lights when I wake up. I'm excited. I know, it doesn't take much.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dan Brown to Release The Lost Symbol

Whether you're struggling to perfect your first novel like I am, a seasoned author, a dedicated reader, or just a regular movie buff, most likely you're aware of Dan Brown. I happen to be a fan. I have his books and audio books, but none of the movies.

His novels The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, are about to get a sequel. The Lost Symbol, again starring Brown's complex and intelligent character Robert Langdon, is slated for a six million plus print release on September 15, 2009. Since this isn't the sort of thing I usually blog about, I'd like to explain why I'd tout this book that I haven't even read.

Brown does many things right. He's just a great story teller. He weaves a tale that binds the interest from beginning to end. He not only charms and enchants, but intrigues. He sets puzzles for the reader to solve. His research is a critical element that ensures the pieces all fit without discordant notes. The twists and turns of his plots will often startle and surprise, but never ring false. 

His action is beautifully paced. You'll be able to catch your breath—just often enough. You'll even be able to figure out who to trust—almost. Sometimes. Brown will put you sensually in the scenes, almost smelling the grease on your fingers, or feeling the rain in your hair. No matter how long the novel, you won't get bored.

I suppose it's too early to pre-order. 

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Let's All Go To Holland

Ever since our youngest son and his family accepted a promotion that had them relocating to The Netherlands, we've been planning our trip to Holland. Part of the negotiations on his new contract netted round trip air fare once a year for both sets of his children's grandparents. 

Although I lived in Asia, I've never been to Europe. I'm excited. John and I figured our first visit out there would make a wonderful anniversary trip, and by the end of August, when our anniversary rolls around, they'd be more comfortable in their new location, settled and better able to handle company. Our daughter-in-law's parents, however, decided to go while the Spring flowers are in bloom. They leave in four days. I really wish I could do both.

I'm excited for them, of course. I'd like to say I'm not jealous. I don't think that's what I'm feeling—exactly. Knowing I can only go once, I'd still choose the later trip, since the 2nd weekend of September is when they open up all the old historic buildings in Amsterdam to the public for free tours. I have a serious interest in historic architecture, so I don't want to miss that. I know you can't do everything. Still, when Ben and Ruth put up a slideshow this weekend that showed them and the girls, our precious granddaughters, at one of the fabulously colorful gardens, I realized that not everything is going to be available in September. 

I've got it all figured out. We'll get free tickets once a year, as long as they stay there. This year we'll tick off September. Next year, we'll pick a Spring month. I don't suppose they'll want to stay for twelve years?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

After the Tea Party's Over

"The White House says the president is unaware of the tea parties and will hold his own event today," ABC's Dan Harris said on "Good Morning America" on April 15.

Janeane Garofalo rants on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC "news" show, calling those participating in tea parties "white tea-bagging rednecks" who were only there because they hate having a black man in the white house. Olbermann sat there and listened politely.

I could go on... and on, and on. Instead, I'd like to give a few words on normal life after the party's over: the tea party, that is.

Count your blessings. This is still America, where we are allowed to peacefully assemble. Did anyone hear of a single example of one of these rallies not being peaceful? Trust me, it would have been national news if there had been one. The main stream media would have covered that. They were all peaceful.

Have a good home-cooked dinner. Indulge in some ice cream for dessert. Enjoy a call from your friends or family who live far away—or even close. Keep in touch with those who matter. Make something with your own hands. Give it away as a gift. Don't wait for an event, like a birthday. Just surprise someone. Make sure the people in your life know they're important to you. Don't assume they know. Tell them.

Look out your windows. Stand on your porch, or your deck, or in your yard. Listen to the wind or feel the rain on your face. Enjoy the variety and bounty of nature, the beauty of this land.

And if you're a praying sort, don't forget to pray for the future of your country. We need guidance now, not just from those of us who made signs and stood in parks and on street corners, waving to cars and refusing to be the silent majority any longer.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tea Party Photos: Benefit of the Doubt

Wednesday's promised Loveland Tea Party photos have still not been sent to my email address, despite three phone calls. I'm left to wonder several things.

Why do people make promises they don't keep? If a promise is not going to be kept, wouldn't it seem politic (no pun intended) to return phone calls with an explanation? And perhaps most critical of all, if a person plans to run for US Senator, wouldn't their wisdom in selecting staff to promote their bid for election reflect the type of job they might be expected to do once in office?

Unfortunately, I'm still waiting for the photos that James, who introduced himself as Cleve Tidwell's head of public relations, promised to send me in time for Wednesday night's blog. This being Friday, I'm wondering if it wasn't just more political rhetoric. I should be used to that. We get enough of it daily from Washington—from both parties. I just feel like I was blindsided, though, because after talking with him at the rally, I really wasn't expecting it. There seemed to be a genuine depth of character, and straight answers to my questions.

I'll give the man the benefit of the doubt right now. I found Mr. Tidwell's email address on FaceBook about four hours ago and wrote to let him know what was happening. He was there when the promise to send the photos was made, so I have hopes that eventually the photos will appear. I'm an optimist. What can I say? I'll admit I've given up on James, unless there's been a death in his family or something... I'll certainly apologize if he's got an actual excuse. It could happen.


Addendum: Same night, One hour later:
About a half hour after I posted the blog above, links to five of the promised photographs hit my email. The source was sendspace, and they were sent to my secondary email address, the one connected with the blog, not the one given to my contact in Mr. Tidwell's group, so I realize I must have him to thank for coming through for us. Conclusion? Not all people in politics let us down. Conversely, some of us let them down on occasion. Keep that in mind. I plan to. Thanks, Cleve. You're a gentleman indeed. See the photos here with the original blog.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Since I'm still waiting for photos to add to yesterday's blog, I thought I'd dedicate this to my granddaughters. My friend Kathy in Texas sent me some photos, and this one just stood out from all the rest. It reminded me so much of Ashley when she was small and wanted nothing to do with anyone besides her mother. 

Ashley barely knew how to crawl, and I was on the floor trying to entertain her. Her mother Ruth was two rooms away in their kitchen, trying to ignore the growing howls as she prepared dinner. Rolling and dragging herself on her elbows, Ashley managed to make it all the way to the kitchen where she threw herself on her mother's feet with a sound of grievous, whimpering relief. Then she glanced over at me with the most smug expression on her face. As frustrated as I was, I couldn't help but grin at her. She just grinned back, tears still streaking her face. She had what she wanted.

So this picture is for you, Ashley, and for your little sister Kate and all the other little girls and boys who take turns ruling their own little corner of the world. It's great to be a toddler in a home where you are truly loved.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Today's Tax Day Tea Party in Loveland

Friday, April 17, 9:30 Addendum
The photos have finally arrived in my email. For the saga of how I managed to get them, see the Friday blog. I'm very pleased now to include them here:

This would be me with Cleve Tidwell. 
My sign says "Don't Steal My Rights. I'm Still Using Them."
If you get a chance to talk with him, don't be afraid to ask difficult questions. He won't have a problem answering them—straight answers, too.

According to the radio, they expected about 150 people to show up at the designated corner for the Patriotic Tea Party in Loveland, Colorado today. The police estimated well over one thousand were actually there. I was proud to be part of it. It was hopeful, energizing, and peaceful. 

I met an impressive gentleman during the tea party. He's an ex-Marine businessman, Cleve Tidwell, who plans to run for the US Senate from Colorado. He's an enthusiastic Constitutional conservative, who happens to be be a Republican. Like me, he's not very proud of the voting record of most current incumbent legislators in Washington. James, his head of public relations, took some photos of us, and said he'd forward a selection of photos of today's event to me for my blog. If you're an early reader and didn't see any photos, check back later. When they arrive, I'll edit the post to include James' photos.

I want to mention a group of musicians who really made a difference. Arriving in period costume with fifes and drums, carrying a beautiful colonial flag, the Northern Colorado Drum and Fife Corp added a sense of spirit and joy to the rally. They marched through the crowds on the sidewalks, covering all four approaches to the intersection before the afternoon ended. It's amazing how much a small marching band like that can raise the hopes of people. 

After a couple of hours, I had started to lag. My back was starting to hurt. The wind was tearing at my sign, and my arms were getting tired. The weather was turning cold. Still, people were driving by, honking and cheering, and I knew it was important to stay. The traffic light changed, and the band started across toward us. The fifes trilled. The drums ruffled and carried the rhythm as they followed the flag across the street to our side. Suddenly, I was standing straight again, my sign held higher. My heart swelled, and I looked at that beautiful flag with hope. This is my country, I thought. Suddenly I just wasn't that tired anymore.

Now for the fun. I stood with a couple of really nice ladies who were great about holding my sign periodically while I jotted down what other signs said so I could list my favorites on my blog. So thank you, Dawn and (I hope I got her name right) Esse. I wasn't sure I heard her name right, but she was really nice. Both of them were. Thanks to them, I was able to write down these other fun signs without clobbering anyone over the head with my own poster board.

I Can't Afford Any More Change

Stimulus is the Audacity of Dopes

Congress:  I Am Not Your ATM!

Stimulus Package:  Trickle Up Poverty

Elephants And Asses Screwing Up the Masses

I Spent My Middle Class Tax Refund on This Sign

Commander And Thief

King George Didn't Listen To Us Either

Government Is The Biggest Pirate Of All

I'm Only 9, And Already $36,000 In Debt

Free Markets, Not Free Loaders

Cut Taxes, Not Deals

Change? That's All We Have Left

Audit The Federal Reserve

Vote Out All Incumbents

Silence Is Consent

Liberty Is All The Stimulus We Need

Bigger Government Is Not The Solution. It Is The Problem.

Don't Steal My Rights. I'm Still Using Them.

Those Who Give Up Liberty For Safety Deserve Neither.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

No, He Doesn't Need His Hearing Aids

"Are you going to bed, honey?"
"No, dear, I'm going to bed."
Did that make sense, I wondered? 

"Do you want some ice cream first?"
"That's probably a good idea," he called in to me. "Just don't make it too hot."

I looked toward the door, where I could see him pulling off his shirt. I wondered if I'd ever made his ice cream too hot. Then I wondered what he thought I had said. I went in to find out. I went to the door and watched him for a minute.

"Was it too hot last time?"
"Yeah. Just put some extra water in it this time. And give me the nighttime kind. Do we have the berry flavor?"

Now I figured it out. He's been coughing.
"Theraflu nighttime?"
"Yeah. That's it."
"Okay. Coming right up."

So it's not ice cream. It doesn't sound much like ice cream. He doesn't want to admit that he can't hear without his hearing aids. I don't hear as clearly as I used to anymore either, but I don't own hearing aids. I just say "huh?" a lot. Maybe I'll steal his and have them re-calibrated for myself. Then I suppose he'll want them back. After all, they're his. Meanwhile, he'll get what he thinks I said instead of dessert. 

Excuse me. I'm going to have some ice cream.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Spam File

Every once in awhile, just for a laugh, I glance through my spam file. That's the place my mail program automatically separates out the junk mail it deems as being unworthy of my attention—and it is. However much it would annoy me to find it in my inbox, about once every few months I find myself opening up the file and just glancing through the message titles. Tonight was one of those nights.

Do people actually respond to this garbage? I had a number of offers from people who promised that I could delight my partner with a larger "appendage," although that wasn't the exact word they used. And since I don't have one of those body parts to begin with, I certainly don't want a bigger one. And my husband wouldn't be delighted if one appeared.

There were notices of congratulations from two airlines that I had won free tickets. Sure, I'm going to believe there are no strings attached. I also seem to have won a cruise. All I have to do is fill out this little form, which includes my credit card number... 

There were dozens of offers for drugs, and I wouldn't even have to see a doctor. I saw offers to buy my old gold, loan me money, and sell me insurance without a physical examination. I can reverse mortgage my home for twice its worth, live in it for the rest of my life and never pay back a dime. It's part of the new limits set up by the TARP legislation. Great. I can live off my great grandchildren. By the time they hate me for it, I'll be dead. 

I'm so glad my Macintosh and gmail work together to keep these spam files out of my daily life. I'm also grateful for a sense of humor that keeps these things in perspective. People will always have something to sell. Some of them might be worthwhile. I'm sure if they're something I need, I end up finding them. They won't be in my spam file.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday

I've changed a bit from the Easter Sunday when I posed with my sister and two brothers for this photo. Today we didn't pose for any photos. I didn't even have an Easter basket. It was a wonderful Easter, though.

When you don't have family in your area, it's always amazing to have people treat you as if you were family. That's what we have. Our youngest son's brother-in-laws and their families always treat us as if we belong, and we have a great time together, no matter whose house we congregate at. 

Great food, great fun, and a special holiday. It was an exceptional day. I look at the old photo, and know I couldn't possibly have been as happy back then. Thanks, Matt and Heather, for inviting us, and David and Heather for joining in the fun. 

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Loose Ends

Sometimes problems gets solved before they really are problems. They're just little nagging worries about things that might become complications, or decisions that must be made. This week seemed to have a few of those, and since they've been resolved so neatly, I thought I'd include those together here.

John got a call from his contact at the Naval base, telling him that the missile operation in May has been "slipped" into June. That's great, since the HAM fest at Estes Park is the last weekend of May, and we've invited some good friends from Utah to stay with us that week. I really didn't want anything to mess up that weekend, since they haven't had a chance to visit us here before. So everything is a go for that weekend, Stacey and Ryan. Life is good.

The other concern, of course, was what to bring to the Easter feast tomorrow. I owe a debt of gratitude (one of many) to my friend Sherrie. She reminded me that there's no reason I can't just bring everything I want to bring. People are likely to eat it all. So the three things I wanted to bring, none of which seemed quite right on its own, are perfect if I bring them all, and that's what I'm going to do. I'll bring my "Methodist Jello," which is named after a funny event I'm not sure I should recount. I'll bring my "Juicy Lucy Salad,"  fresh greens with strawberries, caramelized pecans, gorgonzola cheese and poppy seed dressing. And we'll finish the list by bringing dessert—Italian Cream Cake with fresh Nectarine Topping for those who want it. 

I realize that Easter isn't about eating. The friendship on special days, though, makes me want to offer something extra nice from our home and hearts to add to their table. This should do it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Guests for Easter Dinner

It's always fun putting together a menu when we have guests coming. It's more difficult to select a single item to bring when you're going to be a guest at someone else's home. This Easter we'll celebrate with good friends in Longmont. They're actually almost family, being two of our daughter-in-law's brothers and their families. We always have fun together, and whatever I bring will be sure to be fine. That's what they always say, and yet... 

Why do I do this to myself, making a big decision out of the choice? I've already thought of three things that would be perfectly acceptable—and then rejected them for one reason or another. Since I need to make sure I've got all the ingredients by tomorrow, I guess I'd better make up my mind pretty soon. 

Suggestions will be cheerfully accepted, but it's as my sons tell me. They're glad to listen, but they're going to end up doing what they want in the end anyway. I guess that's what I'll do as well. As soon as I figure out what that is.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Looking Ahead

I sat on the bed, a little kid who had just started second grade, thinking about what my daddy had said when he came home so early. "Get out the maps, Honey. We've got new orders." 

Standing in the doorway and watching them, I had listened long enough to learn that our next two stops would be Illinois and Idaho. My dad was part of the original teaching cadre for setting up nuclear power plants around the country. By the time he retired, I would have been enrolled in sixteen different schools. I was a sophomore then, and we stayed put until I graduated. It was a novel experience. 

I resented some of the moves, enjoyed others. I loved being on the road, but hated being the new kid on the block. I got along better in some places than others, loved the rural areas better than the towns.

I had a flashback this week to that little kid sitting on the bed. I can remember so clearly sitting there thinking, "We're going to move to Illinois, and then Idaho, and I'm going to remember sitting here on this bed. I'm going to remember sitting here thinking about this for a long time, because I don't want to go." 

This week John came in and said that he's needed for some testing operations at a missile base in California during May and again in July. I suddenly remembered that little kid sitting on the bed.

"Excuse me. We have invited company for the HAM festival at Estes Park the end of May. Remember?"

"Well, I'll try to get them to finish by the middle of May."

Dream on, John. This is the military we're talking about. My dad used to call it the A&W. To him that stood for Ask and Wait. In some ways I'm still the little kid sitting on the bed. I could, of course, voice my opinion, but I'd get the same blank stare my father would have given me.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Customs: More Than I Wanted to Know

After mailing a package to the Netherlands for Ben's birthday, I decided to look into Amazon Global for my daughter-in-law Ruth's birthday gift. I learned more than I wanted to know. If I read the pages of information correctly, apparently the gift I sent, which will go through customs, will generate charges which must be paid by the recipient of the gift before they can claim it.

What? If I send them a present they have to pay customs charges to receive their gift? They sent John a present for his birthday, and we weren't handed a customs bill to pay before he got to open his sausages. (John is addicted to summer sausage, pepperoni, and all things of that nature. The boys all know that anything of that nature is guaranteed to be a hit.)

Amazon can ease the burden on the recipient somewhat by software they use. They will estimate the charges and add them on to your bill. I can buy Ruth, for example, a $15 can opener. The charges to mail that to the Netherlands in only 8-12 business days is $29.99. I haven't figured out what the added customs fees and charges will be. Maybe I should send money. Is that tacky? I really love that young woman. I want her to have something special. I just hate to throw money away.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ringling 5 Revisited

From March 9th through April 7th, I have had 21 requests for the Ringling 5 lyrics, music, or video. People are finding me through Google. I mentioned in a previous blog that I recently got software that told me why people are coming to my blog. This is by far the most surprising thing I've discovered. 

I managed to find a video someone taped and posted on YouTube, and since people are coming here for the lyrics, I figured I might just as well post the video here for my regular readers, who haven't heard of the Ringling 5 and were wondering what the song sounded like. 

So if you're brave, crazy, or Norwegian, or know someone who is, or if you simply enjoy a good laugh, here's the video.

If you already know the song and were looking for the lyrics, they're on my earlier blog.

For those who were looking for other lyrics, perhaps you could leave me a comment and I'll get to them whenever possible. I'll bet somebody's going to ask for Sheep Dog Rap. We'll see.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Who Was That Masked Man?

Tighe just got here, and all my plans, except for some of the food preparation, have already gone by the wayside. He's had the phone to his ear since he arrived. It seems his boss started to panic almost as soon as he left town, picturing what would happen if he didn't come back. It was, of course, a consideration. 

Now there's an offer on the table that will most probably send Tighe back in the other direction in another day or two. Since there's another storm coming through the Rockies on Thursday, he figures he should leave Wednesday morning if he's going to go. There go our trips to visit the parks. No Cheyenne. No Budweiser tour. No museums, or Denver mint. No Easter Sunday together. (I know, my list grew during the night.)

Oh, well, such is life. And at least he'll be here for John's birthday tomorrow. Maybe we'll celebrate by going with John to buy his first ever "Cheap-o Senior Citizen's Fishing License" that he'll finally be old enough to buy. That would be an exciting way to spend part of the day. It's what John wants, anyway, and it will be his birthday. 

I'm trying to be philosophical about it. Yes, he's leaving and I'll miss him, but at least we'll have the phone back.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

It's Good to be Mama

When I got up this morning, just knowing that our son Tighe was in the house filled me with energy and joy. What a great day this has been. I seem to have morphed into Mama mode. I want to take him everywhere, show him everything. I'm really pleased that he's seen so many deer and elk, and seems so fascinated with the area. 

There's so much to see here. First, I think we need to go to Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park. Naturally, we'll have to spend some time walking through Benson Sculpture Park. He's seen it from the road, but the snow was coming down pretty hard, and it's a lot of walking to do it right. We'll want to do it right. We'll need to show him Pinewood Lake, too. 

Baseball season is almost upon us. He's never been to Coors Stadium, or seen a Rockies Game live. We'll have to do that. Let's see. There's the Lone Tree Museum, Celestial Seasonings Tour. And then, of course, he has to be shown where the buffalo herds are, closer to the Wyoming border. As long as we're heading in that direction, it only makes sense to visit Cheyenne. Their historic tour is great.

I think I'll just keep him for awhile... as long as we don't discuss politics.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Honey, I'm Home!

Actually, we're all home. John is glad not to be driving me back and forth to the conference anymore. It wasn't really a problem, except that the snow got surprisingly deep. It was such a mild Winter. Then suddenly I started praying for snow, and my prayers were answered in triplicate. Hallelujah! My conference is over now, and Tighe arrived safely, too.

I loved the conference until just before the final workshop when I got the panic-laced voicemail on my cell phone from Tighe. He was spinning circles in the snow and ice in his car, fighting to make it to our house. He had no cell phone, so I couldn't call him back. The phone lines were out at our house, so he couldn't talk to John. It was scary, just sitting there in the workshop, waiting to hear if he had managed to arrive safely. Tighe had not only forgotten that I warned him about the storm. He didn't remember my mentioning the conference. Also, When Tighe arrived at the house, John didn't think to call me from the car phone. The two of them thought it would be fun to surprise me.

When John picked me up, Tighe was with him in the car. So when I say, "Honey, I'm home," I mean all of us, and it feels great. This is Tighe's first visit here, and now that we're all home and safe, we can just kick back and enjoy it. As Robert Browning once said, "God's in His heaven, all's right with the world."

Friday, April 3, 2009

Writer's Conference, Day 1

It's always difficult to decide which is more valuable during a conference of this calibre, the actual topics you learn, or the inspiration received from the people you meet. Put those on a scale, and they'll probably balance. 

Since I usually have to force myself to initiate contacts, being friendly with people I don't know, the first day of any workshop is generally stressful. Today didn't prove to be. The group seemed more intimate for some reason I couldn't determine. Whatever it is, this had to be the best first day of any experience I've had. 

Not knowing anyone is always difficult, and I've been there too often, since we moved so much growing up. I'm pretty sensitive about being the new kid. Today, however, it seemed not to matter, almost as if everyone knew me. Silly? Sure, but that's the way it felt, so I had a great day. 

I never even made it through the seven dwarves. That's something I do at things like this. I mentally tick them off on my fingers: Bashful, Dopey, Grumpy, Doc (when I'm trying to be smart), Sneezy, Sleepy, and Happy. If I can go right from Bashful to Happy, I'm doing great. Today I only went through three of them: Dopey, Sleepy and Happy. That's good in my book.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Humorous Political

My friend Sherman sent this to me last night. Although I have no idea who originated it, my husband and I ended up laughing so hard, I decided to post it on my blog.
  1. Cows
  2. The Constitution
  3. The Ten Commandments
Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that during the mad cow epidemic our government could track a single cow, born in Canada almost three years ago, right to the stall where she slept in the state of Washington? And they tracked her calves to their stalls. But they are unable to locate 11 million illegal aliens wandering around our country. Maybe we should give each of them a cow.

They keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq. Why don't we just give them ours? It was written by a lot of really smart guys, it has worked for over 200 years, and we're not using it anymore.

The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse is this:
You cannot post 'Thou Shalt Not Steal,' 'Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery,' and 'Thou Shall Not Lie' in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians. It creates a hostile work environment.


My own take on this is that sometimes things are just funny, and sometimes things are so true you have to laugh to keep from crying. You decide.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools Jokes

Today is April Fool's Day. I grew up in a family that believed in the spirit of the day. John's family was more serious. They would never have considered playing jokes on each other. Then he married me.

Two of my pranks during our early years together come to mind. John always got up before daylight to go to work. He'd shower and dress, leaving before the sun came up. He was also in the habit of going to bed very early. He'd come home, watch television, eat and go to bed. He was a lot of fun back then.

The night before April Fool's Day one year, I went around the house and changed every single clock to read an hour later. I even knelt by the bed, carefully pulling the pin on his watch and winding it ahead an hour. Yes, those were the days before digital watches. 

When his alarm clock went off, he got up. On his way to the shower, I said, "April Fool! You can go back to bed. I changed the clock. It's really an hour earlier than it looks." He looked at me, then at his watch, and said, "Like I'm going to fall for that!" and got into the shower. He took his normal nice long shower, dressed and grabbed his breakfast while I tried to convince him that he should calm down because I really did change all the clocks. He wasn't going to believe me. Finally, he left the house with his briefcase, and I went back to bed.

About five minutes later I heard his truck squeal back into the driveway and the door slam. Then he slammed the front door for good measure and marched down the hall and glared at me. "You changed the clocks! I heard the time on the radio!" He was yelling at me! Explaining that I tried to tell him that didn't get me anywhere. He just thought it was reverse psychology or something. He didn't appreciate April Fool's Day.

The other really good joke I pulled came one year when April Fool's Day fell on a Saturday. I stayed up the night before, cutting out little circles from some flannel material I had left over from pajamas I had made for the boys. In the morning I made some pancake batter, and as they got up and came in for breakfast, one by one I served them a pancake that was flannel dipped in batter. They'd cut, and cut, and as the next kid came in, I'd switch plates and give the first one a plate of real pancakes so they could enjoy watching their brother try to cut a flannel pancake. The real fun came when Daddy finally joined us. He was not amused. Even after he got his real pancakes, he couldn't see the humor in the joke. He just didn't understand it then. 

He's come a long way. I didn't pull any jokes on him this year, and he complained. I said I was going down to do the laundry, and while I was sorting it, he came up behind me. 

"You're really doing laundry." 
"Why does that surprise you? I do it a lot."
"I thought it was a joke."
"Laundry is never a joke."
"But it's April Fool's Day."
"Oh. Okay. Happy April Fool's Day."
He looked so disappointed. 

Tonight I made him a fabulous dinner. I caught him peering suspiciously under his panko crusted chicken breast. I'm going in to put the clean sheets on the bed. I guess I'll have to short sheet it, just so he won't feel left out today.