Jun 30, 2009

Can you repeat that please?

I always hated people who said "I don't watch much TV. Usually just PBS." Yeah, whatever. You're too refined and cultured to waste your time on the idiot box. Recently though, I find myself in the same boat. I really don't watch much TV anymore. At least not broadcast TV.

In the old days I could tell you what was on every night on every one of the major networks. As TV switched to reality based shows I tried to go along for the ride. I watched Survivor for several seasons and really enjoyed The Amazing Race. But it became too difficult to distinguish one season from the next. I do have a few favorites I still watch. Lost, The Office. But I DVR them and watch them when I have the time.

What we've been doing lately is watching TV series on DVD. It started with Battlestar Galactica. We are currently watching Season 4, so ssshhhhhh, don't tell me how it ends. I don't want to know who the final Cylon is yet. Another show we are currently watching is The Tudors. We rented and watched Rome and Deadwood. I've got my eye out for the next show to watch. Any suggestions?

Our top channels for surfing are Discovery, History, Animal Planet and National Geographic channel. I was watching "Clash of the Cavemen" last night. It was very good but it had a narrative style that drives me crazy. Many of the shows on these channels have adopted this style. Right before a commercial they will throw out some cliff hanger question. Did Neanderthals succumb to disease or were we responsible for their extinction? Dunh dunh dun....... Then five minutes of commercial followed by a two minute recap of what they just talked about before the commercial. Every single time. I'm frankly insulted because I can only assume they think we have short attention spans and that we are too stupid to remember what they showed us five minutes ago.

Wait, what was I just saying? I got distracted by a pop-up weather alert......

Jun 28, 2009

Beer Hall Brawl

For some reason I am unable to go to a German beer hall without finding myself in the middle of a brawl. First there was that little altercation with the skinhead in Munich in 2000 and then last night. Well, brawl might be a little bit too strong of a word for it but it sounds good with beer hall. It was more like "words". And when you get me started, words can be a pretty effective weapon. The husband and I went to the AA German Park picnic last night. OMG so much fun. A mix of young and old people as far as the eye could see. Thouroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Here he is bringing the bucket of beer over while I stand in the food line.
And here he is slurping some off the top to make it more pourable.

Drank most of the bucket while we were waiting in the food line. But the time went by quickly. It's a real party atmosphere and a great place to people watch. So we find a prime spot right in front of the stage, eat our food, laugh at the little kids bouncing around to the German music. Then the dancers came out. Full lederhosen and dirndls. Here's the youth group. Aren't they cute?

Standing in front of us was an elderly woman and her grandaughter. Oma started to drift a little and ended up smack dab in front of us. I politely tapped her on the shoulder and asked her if she could scooch back. Well, granddaughter didn't like this. She gave me a look, huffed off and the next thing you know the whole family trotted up, en masse and parked their asses right in front of us. It was obviously intentional. It was also totally uncalled for and downright rude.

So, the husband, having a wicked sense of humor starts to take pictures of their backsides.

This got their attention and some words were exchanged. Little did they realize I understand German pretty well. Good news was there was no bloodshed. I would have hated to put Oma in her place. (wicked smile). The bad news was we totally missed the adult group German dancers. It was a wonderful evening and we are definitely going back next month. I just hope we can stay out of trouble.

Jun 26, 2009

Double Punch

Farewell Farrah. Sorry to see you go. I hope your passing was peaceful and that you were surrounded by those you love.

Michael Jackson? I am shocked and so very sad about this unexpected news. How many blog posts about Michael Jackson will there be over the next week? Countless, I’m sure. It’s strong testimony to the effect that Michael had on people the world over. I feel compelled to write down my thoughts and memories of Michael.

Much like his ever changing face there were many Michaels over the years. In a sad way it seemed as if he was looking for himself with each drastic change in his appearance. Hoping to recognize himself in the mirror. Never happy with what he saw.

Michael and his brothers were responsible for teaching me all about the pure, unadulterated joy a person could feel just from listening to music. Before them I had listened to my parents music, Roy Orbison, Ricky Nelson and Marlene Dietrich (a head scratcher, I know.) All good, but even at my young age I knew that I needed more. I needed something I could dance to. Cue music…………


Jun 25, 2009

A Place to Call Their Own

My daughter and her fiance are buying a home. The current economic downturn has afforded them an opportunity they probably would not have had otherwise. Home prices in the Detroit area have been steadily falling over the last two years and sellers are desperate. As an added bonus they also get the benefit of an $8,000 tax credit as first time home buyers thanks to President Obama's stimulus package.

It's a small ranch in a nice neighborhood with beautiful big trees. We went to look at their future home last weekend while the Inspector was giving it the once over. Many of the neighbors wanted to sneak a peak at the new folks and conveniently found some outdoor things to do while we were walking the perimeter. They all seem very nice.

As we walked through the house I noticed that some of the belongings of the previous owner were still there. She was an elderly lady who passed away three years ago. Her two sons have been trying to sell the house for quite some time. They cleared out many of her items but some things were left to be dealt with later. Some were very mundane and ordinary but a few of them really stood out and made me realize that houses have a life of their own. They see families come and go. Each family's life played out within it's walls. Memories are carried in the hearts and minds of the people who lived them, but somehow it seems there is some whisper of those memories in the walls of their home.

The things that whispered to me were......

The old kodak camera hanging on the wall in the basement.
The hand washed handkerchiefs and doilies hung on a line in the basement.
The empty canning jars waiting in the pantry.
Handwritten notes stuck to the refrgierator door.
An old 1950's dining set relegated to the basement.

Small things, but reminders that life is made up of ordinary moments strung together. My daughter and her future husband are very excited, as they should be. Young, in love and about to set off on building a new life together. As we toured the house we heard about their plans for their new home. These awnings have to come down, this will be the office, etc. etc. So, new memories will be built and children will be born and ordinary things will happen day in and day out. This house will continue to be a home.

Jun 23, 2009

Phil, I hardly knew ye

Phil, Phil, Phil……… you too? It is painfully clear that you did not have the benefit of your wife’s discerning eye for fashion as you dressed yourself for what would be a disappointing final round in this year’s US Open. You know I love you. You know I have never been on the Tiger bandwagon. He’s a big baby in my book. I have stood by you as you grew a healthy set of man b00bs. I support you even though you often choke when victory is at your fingertips. But this is a true test of my devotion to you. White pants with brown stripes? A polyester shirt with darts that accentuate your not so svelte physique? Hair that is as long as a scruffy middle school skateboarder? Phil, you look dumpy.

There’s no need to follow the current trend. If the PGA went the way of the NBA and all the hip young golfers started sporting tattoos all over their arms would you follow suit? You have to draw the line somewhere. You are your own man, act like it.

Leave the clown pants to John Daly. They fit his persona.

And leave the fitted shirts to the buff golfers like Blake.

All this hip hop, retro nonsense must stop immediately. This is golf, not the X Games. Leave the white belts and loud polyester pants back in the 70's where they belong. Golf is a dignified sport..........
Oh never mind.

Jun 18, 2009

Take me back

Having read quite a few historical novels, I have narrowed it down to two historical time periods in which I would like to have lived. Ancient Egypt and Rome during the days of Caesar.

I toyed with the idea of living during the time of cro-magnons, back when we first became humans, but realized that I really just wanted to observe them, not live like one of them. I know I couldn't handle their diet or the never bathing thing. I'm assuming they didn't bathe regularly.

I really just want answers to all sorts of questions. Did we mingle with the Neanderthals? How exactly did we domesticate dogs? Were they monogamous? If not, was it just the men who could have multiple partners or women too? I would love to have seen one of them creating the cave paintings. Was the painter revered among his/her people for being able to create such wondrous images? Did they dance and have music? Were they naturally wary of others outside their group?

Having eliminated becoming a full fledged cave girl from contention, I am left with Rome and Egypt as times that I would transport back to. There are a number of reasons....

Treatment of women - Comparatively speaking, women were allowed more self expression and freedom than in other historical time periods. Egypt was better then Rome but in both cultures women were educated, could be landowners and were able to voice their opinions freely and openly. In Egypt they enjoyed the same rights as men and often held office, example - Queen Nefertiti who became Pharaoh of Egypt (disputed by some..... bah...... probably men).

Political intrigue - Very sophisticated societies with regular upheavals that kept everybody on their toes. I'm sure it was very interesting, so long as you could be on the sidelines and not in the thick of things. Certainly wouldn't want to be an Egyptian heir, very risky.

Cleanliness & hygiene - both cultures valued personal hygiene very highly. Romans had indoor plumbing. Both cultures washed and bathed regularly. Oh and the men shaved in both cultures. Got nothing against a little facial hair but some eras had more than their fair share of scruffiness.

Good food and good parties - Nobody could put on a party like the Romans and Egyptians. Delicious food, good wine and wonderful entertainment. Both were polytheistic. Lots of gods means lots of festivals. I'm sure the festivals for Bacchus and Asar were especially raucous.

Beautiful gowns and jewelry - enough said.

Until someone invents a time travel machine I will have to be content to read about these cultures. Or maybe they will build a resort like in "West World" the 1973 Yul Brynner movie, only without the psycho cowboy killing everybody.

Jun 15, 2009

I got nothin

Nothing has happened over the last four days to make me say..... ooo, ooo, ooo, I've got to blog about that. Everything has sort of been in a holding pattern with Mom still in the hospital. She had a little bit of a set-back but is recovering again. She had some random internal bleeding that left her blood pressure incredibly low. They moved her to ICU, pumped four units of blood (doesn't that sound so very ER?) into her, along with some medicine that I guess acts a little bit like the stuff you pump into a slow leaking tire. They never found out where the bleeding was coming from but it has apparently stopped. Got our fingers crossed for her to come home late this week.

The Red Wings lost the Stanley Cup to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the finals. Outside of Canada and a few select cities in the US, I'm sure this means absolutely didley squat to the rest of you. Here in Detroit it doesn't get much better than a Game 7 for some excitement. Watched the game at the sports bar with some friends. Moron bartender immediately changed the channel after we lost. She was promptly informed to change it back. What kind of poor sports do you think we are. It's still the Stanley Cup. Plus there's nothing better than the handshake at the end of a hard fought series. Especially when the goalies affectionately bump gloves and pat each other on the helmet.

I have used up all but five of my PTO days for the year so I will have to remain very healthy. Need two days for my daughter's wedding and one day for my guild's annual weekend (Toronto this year). Good thing I have such a strong constitution.

Looking forward to the German Park monthly public picnics that start 6/27. Buckets of beer, brats and spaetzle..... (see photos above) ........mmmmmm. Got some chores to do around the house. Clean out the basement clutter, move my new desk into my office, some landscaping. Oh, and again, I have put off my color and cut just a little too long. But my hairdresser gave me some highlights that make the gray roots not so noticeable. She knows me really well.

So there you have it. A hodge podge of semi-interesting things for my blog post today. Sort of like how my life has been.

Jun 11, 2009

Thankless job indeed

I have a basic mistrust and dislike of police officers. Oh, I know that their service to the community is invaluable. I know that they often risk their lives. I know that they are “hometown heroes”. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I still don’t like them.

It all goes back to my high school years. My time back then was spent skipping school and abusing a certain organic substance that is currently being bandied about as a potential solution to our economic woes. You know what I’m talking about {wink, wink}. That’s when I picked up the habit of keeping an eye out for the boys in blue and if one was spotted it was time to amscray. Nonchalantly, if possible, full out run if you were obviously targeted.

My dislike only deepened as my interactions transitioned from avoiding capture to your everyday run of the mill adult interactions with cops. I met quite a few of them when I worked at the dry cleaners. They regularly brought their uniforms in to be dry cleaned. I found that the arrogance level of the cop was conversely related to the size of the community he policed. City cops were cocky b@st@rds, state cops were usually nice and county sheriffs were hit or miss.

When I get pulled over by a cop they are usually jerks about it. “Do you know why I pulled you over?” What a stupid question. I take pride in being as surly as possible with them, consequences be damned. “No, why don’t you tell me why you pulled me over.” Just write me the damn ticket and let us both be on our way.

So here I am today, a full fledged, law abiding, productive member of society and I still snarl whenever a cop comes near me. I’ve been developing my argument for when one of them pulls me over for wearing my IPOD earbuds while driving. Deaf people are allowed to drive aren’t they? How is this any different?

Do you think it’ll work? Probably not.

Jun 8, 2009

Its Been Gr8

When my daughter wanted to break up with one of her high school boyfriends she asked me what I thought about doing it over the phone. My response was “NO WAY”. When you break up with somebody, you do it in person. You show them the respect of telling them face-to-face. Breaking up over the phone is the coward’s way out. I think she realized the wisdom of this advice a few years later when she was on the receiving end of a breakup. The self centered jerk did it by phone.

My niece is going through her first breakup right now. Her mother and sister are doing their best to console her, helping her to transition from sorrow to anger to acceptance and finally relief. She should be relieved. You want to know how her boyfriend broke up with her? By AOL instant message. That’s right. He sent her an IM that said… blah, blah, blah…..…. We’ve grown apart…… blah, blah, blah. Do these boys have no honor?

The growing trend of breaking up via IM or text is a symptom of a couple of troubling trends in our society.

#1 We avoid uncomfortable situations at all costs. Who cares how it makes the other person feel? I get to do it in the least painful way for me. And aren’t I really most important in this whole thing?

#2 We are losing our social skills. - Sort of ironic isn’t it that “social networking” is making it easier and more acceptable to act in unsociable ways. It is so much easier to be rude and outrageous when you are behind a keyboard.

I guess you could make the argument that breaking up by IM or text is no different than breaking up by phone. I disagree. At least with a phone call you have to speak the words and you have to hear the response from the other person. There’s a human connection there. That’s what makes us social beings......our ability to connect with people. God help us if we lose that.

Jun 6, 2009

Hurry up. It's about to start.

1972 was a very good TV year. Many of my childhood memories (I was 10 in 1972) include the whole family sitting around the TV watching "our shows". The TV was one of those big color consoles, more like a piece of furniture than an appliance. It had one of those orange modern sculpture things on top of it. Mom was very hip don'cha know.

Anyway back to "our shows". What brings them to mind today is the death of David Carradine. Kung Fu was one of our "never miss it" shows. I can still picture the opening of the show with David Carradine walking through the desert, bright orange sun behind him.

Half of the show was set in Caine's youth, learning from Master Po and Master Kan. These were always flashbacks that popped up during the show with some pertinent piece of advice for the present day Caine.

Master Po: after easily defeating the boy in combat] Ha, ha, never assume because a man has no eyes he cannot see. Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Master Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Young Caine: No.
Master Po: Do you hear the grasshopper that is at your feet?
Young Caine: [looking down and seeing the insect] Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Master Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?

Master Kan: Quickly as you can, snatch the pebble from my hand.
[Young Caine tries to do so and fails]
Master Kan: When you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave.

The majority of the show involved Caine traveling the American southwest looking for his brother. All the while keeping one step ahead of the Emporer's men who wanted to capture him. Kung Fu taught me that there was discrimination in the world. I was outraged at the treatment that the Chinese immigrants had to endure. Caine also taught that the peaceful solution was always the best. Alas, it never worked out that way. He had to dole out Kung Fu ass kickings every episode. We loved that show. Never missed it. I was very sad to hear about David Carradine.

Our other shows (all of them started in 1971 or 1972) were:

The Waltons


All in the Family

They just don't make TV like that anymore.

Jun 4, 2009

Surgery, Shmurgery

Mom is currently recuperating from her surgery. It went very, very well. Yesterday was a very long and emotional day. They wheeled her down for surgery at 5:30 am. We were able to see her in the pre-op area. She was calm (I'm sure she had a little pharmacological help with that one) and resolute. My sister and I felt bad about crying but we just couldn't help it. Lots of hugs, kisses and "I love you"s.

Fast forward seven hours later and the surgeon tells the fifteen of us crammed into the little meeting room that the surgery was a success with no complications. Big collective sigh of relief, tears of joy and hugs all around.

Two hours later we were able to see her for a few minutes. Still knocked out but she looked good and her vital signs were strong. Fast forward again, four hours later, my sister, husband and I stopped in to see her after going to grab a bite to eat. Breathing tube was gone, she was sitting up a little and exclaimed "I made it. I hurt like hell, but I didn't die." as she saw us walking into the room. I squeezed her arm and said "Now we have to start planning that trip to Norway." Her response.... "Yeah, but NO CAMPING!"

Jun 2, 2009

Feed Me

There are certain things I can't resist. They are like my own personal crack... gotta have 'em. Number one on the list is books. I have to force myself to stop buying them. Everybody who knows me, knows that a Borders gift card is the perfect gift in my opinion. Keep them coming.

I used to have a rule that if I started to read a book I had to finish it. Over time I gave that up because: 1) Life is too short to be reading books that are just OK; and 2) I have to maintain a pretty brisk pace to make sure my mound of unread books doesn't overtake me. A book has about 100 pages to capture my attention or it's history. There are only two books that I have given second chances to, fifth book of the Harry Potter series and The Lord of the Rings. I want to like them but can't seem to get into them.

I tried the library thing but have some serious issues with borrowing books. The covers are hidden on the shelves. How can I tell if I want to read it without seeing the cover? I end up pulling a million books off the shelf before finding one that it interests me.

When new books by my favorite authors come out you have to be on a waiting list to borrow them. Bah, I'll just go buy it. Impulses must be immediately satisfied. And time limits, two weeks to read a book? What if I want to read another book in the middle of this one?

Library books don't have that new book smell and feel. When you crack open a new book for the first time it's like it was waiting just for you. Don't EVEN get me started on the librarian. She acts like she owns the damn books. Giving you the stink eye, trying to size up whether or not you're the type to dog ear your pages. It just doesnt' work for me. I need to possess the books, not just read them.

I also have a thing for pajamas. I love pajamas. I go through phases. For awhile it was nightgowns. For a long time it's been long, baggy cotton pants (my husband hates them). Right now I love the silky pajama sets with matching robe.

One addiction I cured myself of was paper. You know, stationery type paper for writing letters. I also love note pads of colored paper. I eventually had to give this one up because I just don't write letters and it's not too practical to buy paper just so you can run your hands over it and then put it back in the drawer. You know, now that I think about it, I suppose I could buy it and just use it for notes and scribblings. Who's to say it has to be used for letter writing. Oh my gosh, I've got the paper monkey on my back again.