May 31, 2009

A Full Agenda

We have decided that Mom has to be OK because we have lots of things to do. First will be a camping trip. My sister and I did NOT get our love of camping from our mother. It's not that she minds the great outdoors. She just likes it in small doses and she likes to make sure that all of life's modern conveniences are at her fingertips.

But I am convinced that she just hasn't done camping right. Heck, I'm not even sure she has ever gone camping. We are going to fix that. She will experience: sitting around the campfire, marshmallow fights, a perpetual layer of sand on her feet, middle of the night treks to the bathroom, hiking in the woods, eating food cooked over a campfire. Heck, maybe she'll hate it. I'll gladly suffer her bitching up a storm just to have her out there with us once.

Second event on the agenda is my daughter's wedding in October. We both have a vital role to play at this wedding. I have to run around frantically the day of the wedding and make sure everything is going OK, (I really have to practice for this one because I am by nature the type of person who takes it as it comes and doesn't panic). Mom's job is to sit back and soak up the adulation for having spawned such a large, vibrant brood of people. She must smile knowingly and near the end of the reception give Miss Erica some little bit of advice garnered from her long and successful marriage.

For these vital roles we need appropriate costumes. As soon as Mom is able there will be a shopping trip to go buy the MOB (mother of the bride) and OOB? (Oma of the bride) dresses. It will be no small feat finding tasteful, appropriate dresses that are, hopefully, not too matronly.

The coup de grĂ¢ce will be a trip next summer to Norway. Mom spent a long period of time in Norway when she was around twelve. She had rheumatic fever and was sent to a convalescent hospital there. She has fond memories of the country and the people she met there. She has never been back but has always wanted to. So, Mom and I will be visiting the land of fjords, Vikings and big, blond, beautiful people. Shhh, my sister doesn't know it but she is going too. (Dad, hubby and brother-in-law are welcome to join if they like).

So this surgery and the recovery are simply minor inconveniences to be endured so we can get onto the more important engagements that await us.

May 28, 2009

A crystal ball would come in really handy right now.

Mom went into the hospital today. I’m not sure why they need her to be there for a full six days before her surgery. Bad enough to have it looming over her head but to be stuck in there while waiting is close to torture.

Her surgery is scheduled for June 3rd. They will replace her artificial mitral valve. The surgeon says the survival rate is 80%. But I’m not sure if that factors in her specific risk factors; her age, the scar tissue from her previous operations and an increased risk of stroke because of the small stroke she had several months ago.

She’s scared but she’s ready. She says she is tired of feeling bad and not being able to do anything. She wants her life back. She has been going in every five to seven days for a three hour blood transfusion because her current valve destroys her red blood cells. She is in a near constant state of anemia.

Her brother came in from Germany this week. It’s so wonderful to see her relax in his presence. She seems to be able to forget about the whole thing when she is with him. I think she spends a lot of her time putting on a brave face for us. With him she can be the little sister.

This is so hard. We have been through it before and she has been fine. But what if she won’t be OK this time? I need to say some things to her just in case. But will that add to her anxiety and nervousness? I will just have to see how things go when I visit with her. Try to pinpoint that balance of optimism and realism that is so hard to find right now.

May 26, 2009

How precious!

My mother asked me the other day whether I appreciated how beautiful my children are. Of course I do, says I. (With her pending surgery she is getting more sentimental and more philosophical.)

Apparently I didn’t say it with enough conviction because next thing I know she was dragging me into the kitchen to look at a magnetic picture of my daughter stuck to her fridge. “Look at that face. She’s gorgeous.” “I know.” I felt the need to prove that I did think my kids were good looking. As proof I called my kids into the room and told them to “Tell Oma how I am always saying how handsome and beautiful the two of you are.” My son says, “Well, that doesn’t count. You’re our Mom. Of course you think we’re good looking.”

This got me thinking. Do all parents think their kids are attractive? Let’s be honest. There are ugly children in the world. You know it and I know it. Ugly people come from somewhere. Now, the question is, do their parents recognize that they are ugly? I guarantee they do. From my own personal experience I can tell you that each of my kids went through a stage where they worried me a little bit. When my daughter was born she looked a little bit like a chimp. It didn’t take her long to outgrow it, but for awhile I thought we were going to have to nickname her “Bobo”. And my son, before we had his severe overbite corrected, looked as if he had no chin.

Then there’s that awkward period that every kid goes through when their face morphs from its child version into its adult version. It usually happens in middle school. Their faces get mushy and undefined all of a sudden. Then six months later they look like grown-up versions of themselves. But during the transition you’re never quite sure what they will transform into.

A Canadian study in 2005 found that attractive children are cared for more than unattractive children. They measured this by observing whether parents allowed their young children to engage in risky behavior at the grocery store. The results showed that ugly children were not strapped into the grocery cart as often. They were also allowed to stand in the cart and to wander away from their parents more often than attractive children. Is this coincidence or evolution at play, compelling us to take care of those favored with the preferable genes of our species?

I'm sure that the parents of truly ugly children search for what makes their child unique and emphasize that. In the long run maybe they turn out to be more balanced, realizing early on that looks aren't everything. I know a few people who could use that lesson. By the way the title to this post is my code phrase for "Oh my God what an ugly baby."

May 24, 2009

Hop in, we gotta go.

Sling got me thinking about road trips. My cousin Andy from Germany once told me that he admired how Americans are so adventurous. He says Germans turn everything into a production. They have to plan out every detail and only drive somewhere if they have loads of vacation time. "You Americans, you just get in your cars and go. Even if you only have one or two days. Germans would say it's too much trouble." Isn't that part of the beauty of an automobile? Given enough time between now and the start of my next work day, I can go anywhere I damn well please.

Andy's comments were prompted by a one day road trip to Niagara Falls about ten of us took. The falls are only about 260 miles from us. Head out early enough in the morning and you can get there and back in one day with five hours for sightseeing. It is definitely worth it. Niagara Falls is not technically one of the seven natural wonders of the world but since I can't take a road trip to Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls, it will have to do.

Living in Detroit we have limited sight seeing options when visitors come to town. Niagara Falls is one of our go-to destinations. The falls are pretty impressive. There's a spot you can stand in at the observatory where you are only about ten feet from the falls. The water sprays you in the face as it tumbles over the edge. The power of that water is too hard to describe, it's mesmerizing. If you ever get the chance to go, do it!

In another blog post I wrote about a day trip from Vegas to the Grand Canyon, which IS one of the seven natural wonders of the world. How can you pass up the chance to go see that when you are so close? Seeing awesome, interesting things is definitely one big draw of a road trip. But the thing I remember most about road trips is the getting there. Road trips are always with friends and family. Everybody hops in the car and anticipation is high. Who doesn't love an adventure? Let the good times begin.

May 22, 2009


"The Red Planet is about to be spectacular."

"Earth is catching up with Mars [for] the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history."

"On August 27th … Mars will look as large as the full moon."


My sister got duped. Her former boss, who happens to be an elementary school principal, forwarded this to her. Before checking the facts she forwarded it on to our mutual friends that just happen to be astronomy geeks. After doing a little research she found out that it's an internet hoax. Mars will most definitely not be as big as the full moon. (What I wouldn't give to see that though.) The closest Mars will be to Earth is on October 30th of this year. It will look like a bright red star.

Tonight is bar night and I certainly hope that Mr. & Mrs. Copernicus give her a ration of shit. Hahahaha. Aren't older sisters mean?

May 20, 2009

It's Wabbit Season

Shhh. Be very, very quiet. The Republicans are thinking. Michael Steele, leader of the RNC announced in a speech yesterday that "the Republican Party is again going to emerge as the party of new ideas". Oh, I can’t wait. What’s on the agenda? The economy? Global warming? The continuing war in Iraq and Afghanistan? Social Security? Health care crisis? Certainly seem to be a lot of things to choose from. Sadly, the closest thing to an agenda in Michael’s speech seemed to be the following:

Speaking about President Obama he said, "He's young. He's cool. He's hip," But "this is not 'American Idol.' This is serious. We are going to take on the president head-on. The honeymoon is over."

"It is up to us to expose the great Democrat fraud that is now being thrust upon this nation,"

Poor Republicans. There are a few hurdles in their path. Hurdle one is the pavlovian response to any initiative put forth by the Democrats as “socialist”. Republicans are contrarian by nature. They are like the lone horse and buggy on the street cursing us all as we race by in our automobiles. Being a stick in the mud is the only thing they have left. And don’t think that Barack hasn’t had to drag quite a few Democrats into the cars. They are politicians too, after all.

Hurdle Two is that damned Barack Obama. He has proven to be a formidable foe. He has principles and he’s not afraid to use them. His weapons of choice are honesty, fair dealing and compromise. How can they battle him when he so often starts from a position of finding the middle ground?

Hurdle three is that Barack has the people on his side. Granted, he had the advantage of Bush’s failed presidency on his side. Anything looks good in comparison. But to be fair, Obama didn’t create our bad economy and failed policy so he could get elected. We are fed up with being lied to and pacified. The problems are serious and we don’t want to hear anymore partisan nonsense. Get to work. Isn’t that why we sent you to Washington?

I take back my “hurdles in their path” analogy and instead offer up that they are like a horse that can’t even get out of the gate. Until they quit believing the objective is to get back in power they will go nowhere.

May 18, 2009

Back Off a Little

Whatever happened to small talk? And why must I keep reminding people about personal boundaries? Seems as if more and more I find myself in uncomfortable conversations with people who tell me way too much about their personal lives. Or they ask personal questions about my life because they happened to have overheard me talking to somebody else. Is this a by-product of the tell-all television that seems to dominate our airwaves? We do still use airwaves, don’t we?

Somebody here at work keeps asking me about my mother’s health. That my mother has some current health issues is common knowledge in my department. (Valve replacement is scheduled for June 3rd.) I missed some work while Mom was in the hospital so I expect the usual “How’s your Mom doing?” But this person is asking probing questions like, “How do you feel about it? Are you coping OK?” or “How is your Dad taking it?” or my personal favorite “Is your Mom scared?”. Gee, do you think she’s scared? It would be different if these questions were sincere. The true intent is to get information they can tell others so it seems like they are in the know. Don’t make my personal life fodder for your gossip. I have friends and family that I talk to about personal things.

Conversely, I have been in conversations where acquaintances have revealed everything from the fact that they are in therapy to the fact that their spouse needs to take Viagra. I didn’t ask for this information and I can’t believe your spouse would be happy about you sharing that last little tidbit with people you barely know. I was at lunch last week with a co-worker who went on and on about how she never got her father’s approval and how it has totally screwed her up. She says she spends her whole life trying to get him to acknowledge her worth.

I just don’t know what to do in situations like that. My first inclination is to say “Whoa, please don’t tell me this stuff.” People who tell you this sort of thing when they barely know you really don’t want your advice. They want attention and sympathy and if there’s one thing I know about myself it’s that I’m not a very sympathetic person. Although packaged a little more nicely, the gist of most of my advice is “Suck it up, quit your crying and do something about it.” In this particular case my advice was “Get over it, you are a grown woman and you can’t continue to blame Daddy for everything that goes wrong in your life. Take responsibility for your own happiness.” It fell on deaf ears.

The irony is not lost on me that my lament about “sharing too much” is being posted on a publicly accessible blog. But somehow blogging is different. I can’t quite put my finger on why it’s different, but it is. I don’t have to be responsible for my readers’ reactions to my words. I don’t adjust my message. It’s pre-packaged and it’s out there. People who are uncomfortable with what I am saying can simply stop reading.

May 15, 2009

Anything for a Laugh

My father was a car hauler before he retired. This profession carries with it some unique dangers. Car haul trucks carry vehicles on several different levels. The goal is to fit as many cars as possible on the truck. As a result they come equipped with lots of ramps that are moved up and down by hydraulics. This creates pinch and crush hazards. Worst case, somebody could die. This actually happened to one poor guy when the upper ramp dropped down on him because both safety stop bolts failed.

The most common injury is when fingers and thumbs get caught as the ramps are lowered. Too often this results in the loss of a digit, usually partial, a tip or half of the finger, but occasionally whole fingers. My father never lost any of his fingers but plenty of his friends did. Every time I see a man in public missing a finger I think he must have been a car hauler.

When my daughter was about four or five we had a bit of fun at her expense thanks to my Dad’s buddy. Back then the table on my parent’s patio had an umbrella stand in the center, but the upper half was missing so it was just a hole leading down to the umbrella base. One day Miss Erica began tossing crumbs and junk down the hole and then she would stick her finger into it to see if she could reach it. I was worried about the food attracting bugs so I told her that a big bug lived down there that would bite her finger off. She just laughed, said “Nuh uh” and continued to stick her finger down the hole.

Dad’s friend was sitting out there with us and heard me give her this warning. He waited for a moment when my daughter was distracted and stuck his finger down the hole. Then he yelled “Ouch” and pulled out his finger. This particular finger had been severed at the second knuckle by a car hauler ramp. Erica screamed, got a horrified look on her face and drew her hands in close to her body. Yeah, I know, cruel. But effective. She never again stuck her finger down that hole.

May 13, 2009

How does she do that?

Farah Fawcett ruined my life, at least the adolescent version of my life. She did it with her perfect hair and her ability to hypnotize any male with a pulse above the age of twelve. It was that damned feathered hair. Not to mention that every teenaged boy on the planet had “the poster” in their bedroom, including my best friend’s two older brothers {sigh}. How could I compete with that?

Look through any middle or high school year book from 1976 – 1980 and you will see that nearly every girl had her version of Farah hair. For some of them it worked out but, alas, for some of us it did not. Failures came in three varieties. 1) The flip out – these are the girls with bangs that shoot out from their heads in a big curl. 2) The camel hump – recognized by the lump of hair on either side of their head that refuses to be swept back and finally 3) The helmet head – girls who got the look by individually placing and hair spraying each strand of hair on their head. I was a camel hump girl. I have fine, thin, brown (not blonde) hair that refuses to hold a curl.

Watching an episode of Charlie’s Angels today you may wonder how something we refer to now as jiggle TV could have such an impact. Try to ignore the silly acting and the funny clothes. It was the 70’s, everything was cheesy. Charlie’s Angels was a sensation as soon as it aired. Men loved it because, well, men love T&A. Women loved it because here were three women in a male dominated profession kicking ass and taking names.

Farah is not doing so well now. Poor woman is fodder for the tabloids even on her death bed. I forgave Farah long ago for ruining my adolescence and if truth be told, I actually owe her a debt of gratitude. You see, Farah taught me that trying so hard to be somebody you’re not is an exercise in futility. Take care Farah and thank you.

Oh and Sling, thanks for the award. (See right margin for beauteous award). An award from Sling is high praise indeed. I was actually a Bloggertown lurker for about two years before I took the plunge. You read and commented on my very first post. You made my day then and you made my day yesterday.

May 11, 2009

It doesn't get any better than this.

It was a very, very good weekend. It all started with the long anticipated premiere of Star Trek. I was worried about whether Sylar could pull off Spock. He most definitely did. Purist friend of mine thought it was a travesty because they messed with the back stories. I am a Next Generation fan, not original series, so I was fine with them rewriting history. It was a great movie. Lots of action and humor.

Saturday we had a combination Engagement / 25th Wedding Anniversary party. About 25 of our close friends and family at the place where my daughter'r receptoin will be. It was fun. We played the Newlywed Game only it was my daughter and her fiance versus me and the hubby to determine which couple knew each other best. We barely won. My daughter was really impressed that I got the answer to "What do most people notice about your spouse when you're in a crowd of people?" Answer: Mooing. You see, he makes this sound like a herd of cattle are being rounded up whenever we are in a big crowd. And I do mean whenever.

We also got a very nice surprise from our daughter. We never had a wedding album made when we got married. We had a real budget wedding and our photographer was a former co-worker of my Dad's. He gave us the picture proofs but vanished from the planet after that. We were lucky to get the proofs. My daughter had the photos copied and enlarged and made us a beautiful wedding album. She's an alright kid.

Capped off the weekend with a BBQ at my parents. My Mom was feeling good yesterday and was happy to have us all there. She will be having surgery in early June and will have to take some time to recover so we are cherishing this time before the hard work of recovery starts. Hardest for her. We just have to sit back and wish there was some way we could keep her from having to go through it.

May 8, 2009

You're not wearing that, are you?

I should have known I was in trouble when, soon after meeting my husband, he showed up wearing a poncho (Mexican blanket type, not plastic rain type) and a suede cowboy hat. Now don’t get me wrong, I can definitely see the plus side of a man not afraid to wear this particular get-up ……… in Detroit. Though the down side is having to walk around with a man willing to wear this particular get-up ……… in Detroit. He no longer has his beloved poncho and hat. If you ask him what happened to it you will hear an impassioned story about a misunderstood man whose wife threw his beloved poncho and hat away when he wasn’t looking. If you ask me, I’ll just shrug and say “Prove it.”

Through the years he has made mostly utilitarian choices when it comes to clothing. Oh we’ve had the occasional mishap with a really loud sweater, but for the most part he’s presentable and sometimes downright dapper. Recently he has been purchasing clothes from a mail order place called “Territory Ahead”. They are very nice clothes with a southwestern feel to them. Since he has not purchased any ponchos from them you would think I would keep quiet. Can’t do it. I always have something to say. It’s part of my charm.

There are two items he pruchased from them that I hate. The first is a corduroy shirt. Sounds innocuous, but the grain goes horizontal, not vertical and it’s a very large grain. It just looks weird and it plays tricks with your eyes. It makes me feel like I should be looking for hidden pictures in the pattern. One night he insisted on wearing this when we went out for dinner. I railed on him for two or three minutes about how hideous his shirt was. I took a break from busting his chops to sample the bread basket. Our waiter came over, kind of a metro-sexual looking guy, he looks at my husband and says “Nice shirt. Where’d you get it?” Grrrrr.

The second item I hate is a jacket I not-so-affectionately call the “Jungle Jim Jacket”. It is khaki, nearly knee length, and has big huge pockets. To make matters worse it has a drawstring waist. When he wears it he reminds me of Teddy Roosevelt on African safari. Good luck Teddy! Hope you bag an elephant this time. Won’t that look nice mounted in the oval office?

As payback I think he has started to accuse me of dressing like an old lady. I do admit that flashy, patterned shirts hold more appeal for me lately, (think rhinestones and paisley). I attribute these flashy choices to letting my inner Cher out. Hmmmm..... maybe I'll try some feathered items next.

May 6, 2009

Move Over Lady.

Today I drove to work behind a woman putting her makeup on as she drove. For three miles I watched as she missed green lights, slammed on her brakes and weaved back and forth from one side of her lane to the other. I just don’t get it. Do you really save that much time and if so, is that time worth putting all of our lives at risk? Not to mention what you could do to yourself. I had a friend whose wife was a nurse. Her job was to evaluate the medical records associated with insurance claims. She told us a story about a woman using an eyelash curler at a red light who got rear ended and tore her eyelid off. Yowchh!

My father taught me to be a defensive driver. You never know what the asshats and morons on the road are going to do, so you try to anticipate it. This has gotten more difficult in the 30 years since I started driving. What with cell phones, IPods, navigation systems, in-car TVs and the like. In the old days you would see the occasional businessman reading the paper while driving. Nowadays everybody is messing with some electronic gizmo or another. (Side note – those Star Trek looking phones everybody is wearing in their ear makes them look silly. I also don’t appreciate how they constantly trick me into thinking they are talking to me.)

Most of us think that we are good drivers, 78% in one survey I read. It’s probably more like 20% good, 30% occasional asshats and 50% complete morons. I, of course, am solidly in the minority of good drivers. I am able to talk on my cell phone while keeping up with traffic. Being six feet tall allows me to easily drive with my knee. My cousin Diane taught me how to do that. It’s almost like having an extra arm. I can eat, talk on my cell and shift gears quite safely. I sense skepticism on your part. I would say “Believe me” but that smacks of self doubt. Let me prove it to you…… 10 question blog quizzes never lie.

You Passed Your Driver's Test

Congratulations, you got 8/10 correct.

You're a good driver - at least, when you want to be.

May 3, 2009

Can I keep him?

Great day at the petting farm. Goats are pushy, did you know that? And they look a little evil with their cleft hooves and the horizontal slit of a pupil. I made friends with a little baby donkey. She wanted to come home with me but the hubby said no. He's no fun! This is an African Watusi. They were not interested in our carrots and actually did a little bit of a charge at us. But once my husband started to pull up some grass from our side of the fence they were like putty in our hands. Finished the day with dinner at the local brew pub and yummy cupcakes for dessert. Walking the streets of Ann Arbor we found this little whimsy.

May 1, 2009

Donkeys are the cutest things.

Every day on my way home from work I pass by Domino’s Farms. They have a petting farm and some of the coolest animals you will ever see as you speed by at 80 miles per hour. In case you aren’t familiar with it, Domino’s Farms is a mega complex built by Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza.

People in the Detroit area have always known that Tom is a little bit eccentric. The wild success of Domino’s over the years has allowed Tom to pursue any number of passions. He has an interest in architecture and modeled the Domino’s HQ building after a Frank Lloyd Wright design. He bought Drummond Island in Northern Michigan and built a retreat there, also fashioned in the FLW style. He collects rare automobiles, once paying 8.1million for a Bugatti Royales. At one time he owned the Detroit Tigers and led them to a World Series win before selling the franchise to his rival, Mike Ilitch, owner of Little Caesar’s Pizza.

He built a “Leaning Tower of Pizza” which stands, or leans, right out front of the office.

He also purchased a buffalo herd that thrives there to this day.

Tom sold Domino’s in 1998 for $1 Billion dollars. His most recent passion is a little town called Ave Marie, Florida, which he created. Tom is a devout Catholic and avid pro-lifer. He has a dream to start a Catholic town with a University at its center but also with a thriving residential and business district. Tom would of course ban pornography, contraceptives and abortions in his town. See, I told you he was crazy.

But all his eccentricities won’t keep me away this weekend. I have never been to the petting farm Tom built on his property. Every day that I pass by I see the animals waiting patiently for me to come and pet them. I’m hoping that the swine flu scare will keep people away from the farm. Which is good because now I won’t have to worry about how to gracefully push the four and five year olds out of my way so I can pet the animals.