Dec 30, 2010

Precious indeed.

Yesterday my sister and I had a plan.  We were going to spend a half day at each other's house helping with a task the other was dreading.  For her it was cleaning her basement out.  She is a self-proclaimed hoarder in training.  Early intervention was in order.  My task was cleaning out and organizing all my kitchen cupboards.  We promised to get an early start.  I started for her house at about 8:30 in the morning.  Adding a quick stop at Starbucks would put me at her house around 9am.

As I was driving my mind began to wander, as it often does.  I started out thinking about a very good internet friend of mine and how her husband had a very scary health situation this Christmas. He is on the mend and she was so thankful to be having him home from the hospital soon. This lead me to thinking about my Mom and how she has come so close to dying a few times.  Then I began to wonder if coming close to death fosters a new appreciation for life and if it so, how long does it last?

Life is short and at any moment someone we love can be taken from us.  As I passed under the train viaduct I thought, why this bridge could collapse right now and I'd be dead.  As the oncoming traffic hurled towards me I thought 'all it would take is one slip of the steering wheel and poof, you're gone.  Would my loved ones know how much they mean to me?  I resolved to appreciate the day, my life and my loved ones.

Coffee in hand, I drove down Wayne Rd., one block past Frank's Furniture Store and a right on Ash St., parked my car and headed into my sister's house.  She greeted me at the door.  Then all of a sudden the house shook, the lights went out and we heard  a tremendous boom.  We looked at each other in panic and asked each other back and forth a few times... "What the hell was that?"  Logic dictated it wasn't something in her house that had blown up.  After all, we were standing there unharmed.  She checked the basement anyway.

At a loss as to what had just happened we went to the front door to look outside and saw all the neighbors doing the same.  One of them said that a building had exploded on Wayne Road.  In a daze, we walked to Wayne Road, along with everybody else in the neighborhood.  What we saw was unbelievable.  The entire store was flattened by a natural gas explosion.  Glass and debris strewn all over the road and sidewalks as the force of the blast had blown out the windows of all the businesses up and down the street.

I kept saying to people, strangers..... Oh my God, I JUST drove by that store not three minutes before it happened. Though once I learned that three people had been in the building when it exploded I tried to stop saying it.  It seemed trivial in comparison.  The owner of the store was rescued shortly after the explosion but was badly burned.   We learned later that night that the other two employees had died in the explosion.

Those poor people got up yesterday morning and drove to work just like every other workday.  I feel so badly for their families and friends.  I hope that they find comfort from each other.  Life is so very precious.

Dec 15, 2010

Unacceptable



For the last four days we have been dealing with the aftermath of a winter storm. Not a blizzard. Just your regular, run of the mill, snow storm. Unfortunately this storm was followed up by freezing temperatures. This caused the roads to freeze over which makes for slow and dangerous commutes.

When 20 miles separate you from your place of employment there are an infinite number of routes you can take. Each of the last three days I have tried a different way to work. I have not found "the" best way to avoid treacherous roads and the idiots that populate them. Each route has sweet spots but none of these are connected. Just when I think I'm getting somewhere I run into someone creeping at tortoise speed. They act as if their tires are also made of ice. The only thing worse is the idiot who passes you on a two lane road with oncoming traffic.

Strangely though, four days after the storm hit and the freeway ramps and side streets are still snow and ice covered. I was patient about all the snow and ice the first and second days. Curious the third day but willing to accept the explanation of "Salt doesn't work in freezing temperatures". Today, I'm just mad. I'm also entertaining conspiracy theories in which evil government bureacrats horde and sell our road salt to Minnesota for profit, leaving us Michiganders to fend for ourselves on our deathtrap subarban side streets.

Let's examine the facts. I have not seen any salt trucks on the side streets I've been driving every day. I mean, none. I thought they were working on the freeways so I decided to try M14 on the way home today. The freeways are dry and clear, which begs two questions. Why is salt working on the freeways in this freezing weather? Why aren't they moving on to the side streets if the freeways are clear?

If they don't get this cleared up by end of day tomorrow I may have to complain to somebody.   Probably the same people I complain to every year about the potholes that never get fixed. 

Nov 12, 2010

Is this run noticeable?


Planned obsolescence is the practice of designing products to break down at a predictable rate in order to force consumers to replace them. Like pantyhose. Odds are slim that you'll ever wear a pair of pantyhose more than three times without getting a run in them. You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning, hitting the lottery or running across a one-legged accordian player doing a polka. The average pair of pantyhose costs about $6. You can pay more, and I have, but my empirical research shows no correlation between cost and durability. At $6 a pair I am dropping about $240 a year. My annual cost would skyrocket if I were the type of woman that frets over her appearance. I don't mind wearing a pair with a run in them if it's not terribly obvious. A hole in the toe though is unbearable. Nothing makes me madder than getting a hole in the toe on the first day you wear a new pair. Into the trash they go.


I refuse to believe that science is incapable of inventing a fabric that is both sheer and tough. This consistent product failure has to be intentional. The hosiery industry has no motivation to increase the useful life of their product. We just keep buying them. Why can't they follow the lightbulb's lead? Some of the bulbs they make these days last for years and consumers gladly pay more for them to reduce bulb changing. I'd pay a pretty penny for a pair of hose I could wear long enough to have to wash them one or two times.

I once suspected that blow dryers were also designed to fail. It always seemed they lasted at most a year or two before burning out. My opinion changed when I bought my latest blow dryer. It's been going strong for 10 years. Well not exactly strong. Currently the folding handle won't lock in position anymore, making the dryer droop unless you prop it as you are using it. But it's workable. The innovation in hair dryer technology that made this possible was the addition of a hatch over the air intake part of the dryer. I can clean it out regularly which keeps the dryer from overheating. I'm shooting for 20 years of usage of my current dryer. It's a trooper.

The most durable car I've ever seen was a work bucket Dodge my Dad drove back in the 80's. It was an old,  ugly, aqua green monstrosity with fins, chrome and a push button transmission. That thing was solid as a rock. What finally did her in was rusted door hinges. Hell, if my Dad had been willing to ride around Jeep-style I bet that thing would still be driveable. The worst car I've ever had was a Mercury Monarch my Dad bought for my sister and me. It was only 4 or 5 years old I think. But the body was literally rusting off the frame. Sis and I were mortified to have to drive it in front of our friends. But my Dad, bargain hunter that he is, couldn't see spending more to spare us the humility of driving the Rust Bucket. Stupid car only had AM radio too.  I suspect this was also planned obsolescence.  You can only listen to country and news talk radio for so long. 


Nov 2, 2010

Crazy Train


I was in DC this past weekend attending the Rally to Restore Sanity. The media is struggling to explain what happened there. Some of them are dismissing it as "entertainment", just comedy and music with no serious message. Others are calling it a bold move from the liberal left.   This need to sum everything up into an easy to understand, usually sensational, message is just more evidence of the problem.

Some things are beyond categorization and summation. Each rallyer had their own reason for being there, their own interpretation of the "message", their own feelings about the day. In a group of over 200,000 people you're going to find differing opinions. I think that was the point.

The minute the rally was announced I knew I was going. Every day it's becoming increasingly difficult to recognize this country. The hate and fear spewing from our TV's would lead you to believe that sensationalism is the only thing that matters anymore. Attending the rally felt like something positive I could do -add one more person to the throng I hoped would show up. My message was "You people are crazy." Who are "you people"? I'm talking about the loud mouthed, obnoxious media celebs that offer up their hate and bias and call it news. What have they created in the pursuit of ratings (profit)? People who actually think that nut jobs like Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell, Paul Rand, Meg Whitman, and Sharon Angle are viable candidates for anything except a ride on Ozzy's Crazy Train.

So, I went to the rally, along with a lot of other people. In the middle of that massive crowd in our nation's capital, it felt good to be an American with a constitutional right to peaceably assemble, for whatever I wanted to assemble for. My voice counts, my opinion matters and my beliefs don't make me less American. No matter what Fox News says.

I believe that those blessed with more financial resources should pay more taxes. I believe that two people should have the right to be married, regardless of their genders. I believe that hard working illegal aliens should have a path to US citizenship. I believe that the way to stop illegal immigration is to punish those who create the jobs that attract illegals to this country and then pay them sub poverty wages to do back breaking work. I believe that health care reform didn't go far enough. As long as insurance companies run the show profit will continue to be the driving factor in health care. I believe in a single payer system... if it's an option it's not really single is it?  I believe that business, left to its own, unregulated devices will do anything to add to the bottom line, no matter the cost to human suffering. 

It's so laughable when politicians spout off about "What the American people want" is blah blah blah. As if we are one person. I think being an American is a little like being married. You don't agree with everything your fellow Americans (spouse) want to do, and you surely disagree with some of their beliefs, but you work through it - compromise, acceptance, tolerance and respect. There might be some yelling along the way but in the end you have to reach a workable solution that maintains the peace. What good is winning the battle if your marriage is destroyed in the process?


Nov 1, 2010

One little word.


I quickly glanced over my Google iPage and read that it's "Cook Your Pet Day".  Say what?  I opened the article and found that I'd skipped over the word "for".  Today is "Cook FOR Your Pet Day".


Oct 25, 2010

An apple? You gotta be kidding me.


Halloween is my favorite holiday. I think it's because it's the day before my birthday. It used to seem as though all the Halloween festivities were in my honor. Almost like I was sharing my birthday with all the other kids in the world. "Here have some candy, but tomorrow the presents are all mine." My mother would sew me awesome costumes, a pilgrim or a princess, and I'd join the throngs of neighborhood kids as we went "begging" from door to door. When I came home my Dad didn't bother with the pretext of "inspecting" my candy.   He just collected his "Dad Candy Tax", Milk Duds, Butterfinger and Better Made Chips. The next day I'd insist on wearing my costume to my birthday party. All very self centered of me, but in my defense, don't most kids think the world revolves around them?  Then we wake up to the cold, hard truth that not only isn't it always about us, its' rarely about us.

Halloween these days is lame. We rarely get any kids showing up on Halloween anymore. Back when I was trick or treating there were so many kids we had to wait in line sometimes to get to the door. You never see that anymore. Trick or treating has been replaced by lame "parties" at community centers or schools. As a kid I hated those things. You only got about one tenth the amount of candy you could get out there on the streets. At a "Halloween Party" you were lucky to get a handful of tootsie rolls, some smarties, a few suckers and some lame-ass stickers. Which led me to believe that adults were NEVER kids, if they had been they would have known better. Strategic mapping of the neighborhood and you could fill up a pillowcase in no time. Pillowcases were much better than plastic pumpkins that get filled up with the first bag of chips. It was all about maximum candy haul.   Trick or treat until there were no more lights on anywhere.

Is it our increased paranoia about the safety of our kids that has killed trick or treating? Are there fewer kids? We seem to have turned Halloween into a Holiday for adults instead of kids, with elaborate decorations and adult parties. This year I won't be passing out candy. I am headed to DC for Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity. By the time I get back at 8pm on Halloween it will all be over. Normally I would feel guilty about not turning on the light and passing out some Snicker's bars, but I don't think our light will be missed. So sad. I still might wear a costume on my birthday though.



Oct 20, 2010

Not This Again!



Do you know how to tell that you are in the grip of some serious PMS?


Scowl and furrowed brow? - Suspected PMS

Being on the verge of tears with little to no provocation? - Maybe PMS

The urge to rip someone's head off their shoulders because they made some innocent comment or asked a simple question? Ding, ding, ding.

For the last 10 years I have been under the mistaken impression that I was done with PMS. But apparently PMS' severity operates on a reverse bell curve. PMS hit me hard in my late teens and 20's. I learned to recognize it and then to apologize in advance to my husband for anything I did while in its grasp. Gradually it tapered off, tricking me into thinking that I was done being controlled by my hormones. But it's back, with a vengeance.

Pre-menopause PMS is a bitch..... I mean I'm a bitch..... I mean we're both bitches.



Oct 6, 2010

Tell me that you love me!


One of my co-workers asked me if I knew the five languages of love. At first I thought she was asking if I knew the romance languages.... French, Italian, Spanish, etc. No, she explained, the five languages of love are the primary ways in which we express our affection for others and also the ways we feel loved. They are:

  • Acts of Service - expressing love through helping.
  • Physical Touch - expressing love through touch.
  • Gifts - expressing love through thoughtful gifts. 
  • Words of Affirmation - expressing love through verbal approval.
  • Quality Time - expressing love through spending time with someone.
Glancing at the list I immediately ruled out "Physical Touch" as my language of love. I am not really a touchy feely sort of person. Huggers make me nervous. They move in so confidently. They seem to instinctually know the proper firmness and length of the hug to be administered. So sure of where they will be placing their hands as they hug you. Their self assured hugs make me feel inept as I struggle to develop my how-to plan for executing the hug. Can't we just smile and say hi?

I do make some exceptions. My husband. My parents. My kids. Hugging them feels natural. I also hug family members for whom I know it's important, like my Aunt Julie. She's a hugger. I can adapt.  I hug my sister when we are having a sisterly moment but not normally.  She's a lot like me when it comes to hugs.

I make it a point to hug my German relatives in genetic defiance to the standoffish personality I inherited from them.  As if I'm proving that the Irish and Scottish blood mixed into my gene pool makes me less uptight than them.  You should see my Uncle Dieter when I hug him.  For just a split second he loses that cool composure and I can see panic in his eyes.

I answered the questions below to help figure out what my primary language:
  •  How did you know your parents loved you, what did they do that made you know you were loved?
  • When you think about experiences that have really hurt or cut you to the core, what were they?
  • What do you do when you want to show someone you love them?
At first I thought my language of love was Gifts. I love to take the time and effort to find the right gift for someone. It's one of the reasons I love Christmas. Other times of year I'm always picking up little things for somebody just because I think they will like them.  But it was the last two questions above that really got to the heart of the matter of my love language.

My father's approval was so important to me as a kid. Mostly because it was hard to get. Not complaining, just stating facts. When my father praised me it was greatest feeling in the world. Couple that with my deepest hurts in life coming from words of rejection and I have to conclude that Words of Affirmation are important to me. Makes perfect sense. I love words.... reading words, writing words, hearing them spoken by eloquent speakers.   Hearing "I love you" is the sweetest sound in the world.

So, as interesting as this is, how can I make it useful in my life? Run around telling everyone to "Tell me you love me."  Seems sort of egocentric.  Maybe the point is to figure out the love language of the important people in my life so I can express my love for them in the language that's most important to them. 

Meine Lieblings!


Sep 29, 2010

Does this Bunad make me look fat?

Alternate Title:  Which way to the US Consulate?

Our European vacation began with three flights. Detroit --> New York --> Reykjavik --> Berlin. We ended this unbelievably long day by knocking back a few Berliner Pilsners at my Uncle Dieter’s dining room table. He lives in Dabendorf Germany, just south of Berlin.

Before you know it the clock says its 11 pm. Off to bed so we could get up early the next morning to catch yet another flight at 10 am.. This time to Oslo, Norway.

Observation --> German pillows are awesome, especially after 24 hours of flying and a few German beers.



First stop in Norway was the Oslo Hard Rock Café to get a shot glass for my collection.

My Dad looked like he was going to complain about the 20 mile detour but I wasn’t going to be denied. I doubt I will ever go to Norway again so this was my one chance. We pulled up to the HRC and I darted in to get the glass while they waited in the car.

Wish we would have had more time there. It looks like a beautiful city.   This is the National Theatre, right next to HRC.


Observation --> the older my parents get the crankier they get when they travel.


Now for the six hour drive from the east coast of Norway to the west coast. Please don't ask me why we didn't fly into Bergen instead of Oslo. My husband asked me that question so many times. I don't have an answer. And being the "Lemonade out of Lemons" kind of girl that I am I decided to make the best of it by enjoying the scenery.

Observation -->  When your Dad disagrees about getting the minivan instead of the sedan, insist on the minivan.

Norway has three distinct regions, each characterized by unique landscapes, all of them beautiful. The eastern side of the country gently rises in elevation as you drive through beautiful green forests filled with pine trees.




In the middle of the country the road begins to climb more steeply and the terrain begins to look like arctic tundra. Few trees, scrubby brush and flowers and shallow streams and lakes. This area was pretty barren except for some grass covered camping huts and three vacation lodges.   It seems as though this area is a popular spot for camping. 

     


We stopped at one of the lodges to get some coffee and stretch our legs a little bit. Snapped a few pics.  Then back on the road.


The western side of Norway is where all the fjords are.  A fjord is formed when a glacier takes a slow leisurely stroll through rock.  Once the glacier is gone the fjord is filled with a mix of water running down from the mountains and sea water.













The western side of Norway is  also where the roads narrow considerably.  Nothing like barreling down a steep mountain road and then all of a sudden a semi is heading your way.  Close your eyes (not really), grip the wheel (really) and pray (to any and all Gods that may be listening).  They have lots of tunnels too.  Some of them wind around like a corkscrew through the middle of the mountain. 







The later it got the more worried we were about getting to the hotel in time for dinner.  There are no fast food places here and things clearly were going to close early.  Our best shot at a meal was getting to the hotel.  Didnt' make it in time though.  We ran into some of the people my mother knew back in 1955.  They insisted we come in for coffee and traditional Norwegian waffles.  By the time we got to the hotel it was 11:00.    We had peanuts and crackers for dinner.  
 
As we were unloading the luggage from the car I couldn't find my purse.  I searched under the seats, inside luggage and backpacks.  It was nowhere to be found.  That's when it dawned on me...... I had left it at the lodge back in the Norwegian tundra.  I panicked.  My money, my credit cards..... OMG my passport.  The second day of my vacation and I was destined to spend the rest of it at the US consulate in Oslo trying to get a new passport to get home.

I never leave my purse anywhere.   The only explanation I have is that during the plane trip(s) from  hell I had been carrying it in my backpack so had gotten out of the habit of insinctively reaching for it.

I rushed into the hotel and frantically told the hotel clerk (Thor, seriously, his name was Thor) my story.  He asked if I remembered the name of the place.  "No.... it had some weird looking vowel in the name and I remember it was 1000 meters above sea level."  That's when I remembered the pictures.  I had a picture of the place.  I showed him my camera.  "I know the place. Let me call them."

Sure enough, they had my purse.   Mentally, I resolved to be thankful and not to be bitter about the six hour round trip we had to make in order to retrieve it.  Then Thor says,  "They'll send it on the local bus tomorrow morning.  You can pick it up from the bus driver right out front there."  Promptly at 2:00 pm the next day I got my purse with "all" of my belongings.

Next post I'll tell you about my Mother's reunion with all her old friends.

Observation --> Norwegians are very honest and hospitable.

Oh.... what's a bunad you ask?  It's the traditional clothing of Norway.   I was pretty sure I'd be sporting one after being forced to become a Norwegian because I wasn't allowed to enter the US without my passport.


Sep 23, 2010

I take all the credit. Good genes.


That's my daughter.  At the risk of sounding like a bragging mother I just have to say, you couldn't get much more proud of a daughter than I am of her.   This is her new blog ------>  Read it.  It's good.

Sep 20, 2010

It's Not a Contest People!


On any given Sunday you are likely to find me sitting in my pajamas playing computer games all day. It's not very constructive. Unless you count the following: 1) leveling yet another WOW character to 80 or 2) beating some on-line poker punk's straight with my flush. My daughter is grown and out of the house. My son is still at home but, like a houseplant, requires very little of our attention. So, I find myself with too much free time on the weekends.

Sitting around on my ass all day wasn't good for my health or my mind. I needed to break myself of this habit. I decided to sign up as a volunteer at our local animal shelter. Last weekend was my second Sunday of volunteering. It's been very satisfying so far. But I'm increasingly bugged by what I can only describe as a caste system.

I should have known this was a whole different world at my orientation. The volunteer coordinator is a very nice lady and she did a great job explaining the program. She brought a stray puppy with her. A cute little pit bull pup that was allowed to run around the room and interact with the 40 or so would-be volunteers. It's hard to resist a puppy, I know. But some of these people were hell bent on getting the puppy to pay attention to them, to the point of interrupting the presentation. It was as if they were trying to prove how good they were with animals. Calm down there Puppy Whisperer - you don't have anything to prove - it's sort of a given that everybody in the room loves animals.

The volunteer jobs are classified into four categories moving up from Level One through Level Four jobs. The Level One jobs are labor intensive with no animal contact. You earn the right to move up a Level by putting in your time at the lower Levels. I understand why they do this. Makes perfect sense to gauge someone's level of commitment before you give them more responsibility. Especially when they will be coming in contact with animals who potentially have trust issues. It's a necessary weeding out process. Who's here to help and who's here because they want to pet puppies and kittens all day? What I wasn't expecting was this sense of superiority that some of the higher level volunteers exhibit towards the lower level volunteers.

As a Level One volunteer all I am currently allowed to do is housekeeping or load trucks or the warehouse with pet food for delivery. (For an awesome program which gives pet food to low income families so they can keep their pets.) I have done only housekeeping so far. I learned quickly there are a few issues you have to deal with on housekeeping duty. First, no clear idea of what you should be doing. Except for laundry... I'll get back to this later. They have a list on the wall of duties to be performed each day and the duties get marked off as they are completed. The problem is the list has not been updated with current sheets. It only serves as a guide to what might need to be done. You have to go check it out and see if someone has completed it yet. If not, you do it. This then leads to problem two.

You don't know where anything is and have to ask for help from the staff or higher level volunteers. It's hard to be a bother to people who are obviously busy with their own duties. I tried to be as self sufficient as possible but a few times I just had to ask...... where does the garbage go?....... where can I get Windex refill solution?....... where is the vacuum? Ask the wrong person and you get an answer like "I'm a DOGWALKER!" (cue angels singing in background) "Ask one of the cleaning people." Well, excuuuuusseeee me. I can only hope to reach the levels of animal philanthropy that you have achieved. Let me shuffle off to the belltower and polish the bell while you resume your important duties.

I am not exaggerating. Most of the upper levels avoid eye contact with you and the cat ladies actually gossip and talk insider talk as if you aren't in the room. Maybe most people don't make it past Level One so this could be some sort of defense mechanism on their part. Don't get too attached to the dishwasher they'll be gone in a month. Like the red shirts on Start Trek.

Laundry is the best housekeeping job. Piles and piles of filthy pet bedding that needs washing, drying, folding and putting away. They go through an amazing amount of towels, blankets and rugs in caring for homeless pets. You really feel a sense of accomplishment shuffling baskets of clean laundry down to the cat supply and dog supply rooms. They use them faster than you can keep them supplied. Plus you can sneak a quick peak at the dogs as you stock the supply room..... but don't act too interested or you could be pegged as an animal groupie instead of a hard working volunteer.

This past Sunday I was on the early shift and staked my claim to the laundry room. Busy, busy. Awesome. While off on a clean laundry run my laundry room spot was commandeered by a grey haired lady who was making no bones about being in charge from that point forward. I wasn't happy but moved on to other things that needed doing and occupied the rest of my day.    

At one point during the day the Grandma who stole my laundry duty passed by me and announced that she was going off to clean up dog doo from the doggie play yard because "I don't mind dirty jobs like that."  I was the only person in the room.  Why did she think I cared?  I'm even being one-upped by my fellow Level Ones.   I felt like saying... "Oh yeah, well this window cleaning is really rough with my ammonia allergy and my arthritis." 

My strategy will continue to be "Keep your eyes down and keep working". I do hope to graduate to a Level where I can interact with the animals.... maybe even a dog walker, dream of dreams. If anything it won't be the hard work that keeps me from it or the heartbreaking stories of these poor animals in need of a good home.  It'll be the people.


Sep 14, 2010

One of a Kind


Our Chance is getting older.  Not being the type to celebrate dog birthdays, I'd have to look up his birth certificate to tell you exactly how old.  Around 12 I think.  Like people years, dog years are on fast forward (times 7).  Seems like just yesterday that we picked out the "crazy" red puppy that scrambled just out of reach when we released him from his pen.  Not sure why that didn't deter us from choosing him but it didn't.  Fate?  Destiny?  Luck? ........ Chance? 

Chance has been a handful. 

He eats EVERYTHING he can get his chompers on.  It's the Labrador Retriever in him.  He has eaten whole loaves of bread, garbage, chocolate (scary & messy) and something my husband calls "cat treats".  I won't explain that one.  He ate a whole box of paint gun pellets.  He once got a hold of a battery and chewed on it.  Probably from one of the kids' toys.  Thank God he didn't swallow anything but he had a bad case of the drools for a few weeks until his tongue and lips healed.

He's a barker.  Not a neurotic barker and not a yippy barker.  It's a deep bark he lets loose to let you know he's there, or that he wants something.  He's also a snarfer.  At least that's what we call it.  If he's gotten into something and you start pointing at him accusingly ----- he curls his upper lip up and does this sort of huffing thing with a little growl.  Never seen any other dog do it. 

My son-in-law says he's a tool but I can tell he secretly likes him.  My husband calls him Butthead but also calls him the best dog we've ever owned.  My sister went from hating him as a puppy to being openly in love with him today.  My Mother feeds him treats on the sly when she visits (like he needs anything else).  For me Chance is top dog.  Never been and never will be another dog like him.  He has all the usual dog qualities.  Loyalty, devotion, a desire to please...... it's why we love dogs isn't it?  But somehow, in Chance, they're all wrapped up in this unique bundle that would be impossible to replace. 

Having owned Chance I totally understand how somebody would pay a small fortune to clone a dog.  Though I'd be afraid that the "nurture" side of the nature/nurture equation wouldn't be adminstered in the same dose in a Second Chance.  We wouldn't end up with the same dog.   

Chance has started to slow down.  These days he walks instead of runs up the stairs.   He's getting really gray in the muzzle.  He has arthritis that needs to be treated with steroids and pain pills every day.  There's no getting around the fact that he's a senior dog now.  No way to escape the heartache that is headed our way.  I suppose the heartache is the price we pay for having the privilege of the perfect companionship we receive from our dogs, whether we deserve it or not. 

These days I hug him a little longer and harder.  Pet him a little more vigorously.  Tell him he's a good dog more often and slip him an extra biscuit here and there.  If somebody asked me to design the perfect world there would be lots of things I would change but near the top of my list would be that dogs live longer. 

Sep 9, 2010

I quit! And I'm taking my ball with me.

I'm a Wade. Wades are competitive.  We can also, sometimes, be sore losers.   When we lose we can get angry, very angry.  It's not pretty. I've seen my father and his twin brother swing golf clubs at each other.  The day I threw a chessboard across the room because I was losing was the day I realized I had the "winning is everything" gene.  It was also the day I gave up chess.

I've learned to control this ugly side of my competitive nature.  I can smile and congratulate the winner very convincingly.  But every so often, if I lose to the wrong person (someone who is gloating - someone I think I should have beaten - someone who keeps handing me my ass over and over), I feel this rage boiling up inside me.   Mostly this just causes me to talk through clenched teeth or in extreme cases to leave the room.  Once in awhile though I lash out.  I'm not proud of it.  It's just how I'm wired. 

Last night we played Live Trivia at a local bar.  We had a powerhouse team.  Daughter, son-in-law and son.  They bring me and dear Hubby along for anything that happened prior to 1990 they didn't learn in history.   Stuff like Chaos being the evil organization in Get Smart or the fact that we know who George Burn's wife is.  At stake was a $30 gift certificate but more importantly, bragging rights. 

Our toughest competition was a table of young, suburban punks.  I call them them punks because they were obviously cheating.  The rules clearly state "No cell phones allowed."  After all, with google's help what fun is a trivia contest.   The Suburban Punks were clearly googling under the table.   WE CALL FOUL! 

At half time we were behind them by only one point after we scored an amazing 10 points on the bonus question.

Name the meat contained in each of these dishes:
Sashimi                               (fish)
Bushy Tail w/ apples           (squirrel)
Marsh Rat                          (muskrat)
Squab                                (pigeon)  - a last minute change in answer no less

Second half starts.  The opposition was hobbled by a quick reminder from the Trivia MC about no cell phones and her watchful eye for the rest of the game to make sure they didn't cheat anymore.  Score at the end of the 2nd half was in our favor 63 to their 57. 

Time for the bonus question, sort of like Jeapordy.  You can risk all or nothing on one question.   Sucks if you're in the lead, awesome turnaround possibility if your'e not.

Besides Jimmy Carter, name one of the other two 20th Century Presidents who lived 30 years past his election.  

You have the time it takes for them to play two songs to answer.   At this point one of the suburban punks gets up to go the bathroom.  When he returned he looked around all nervous like, sat down, wrote the answer down and turned it in.  OK, they cheated, obviously.  We could only assume they had bet everything.  This left us no choice but to do likewise.  We bet all 63 points.  We were confident in our answer - Gerald Ford.

Correct!  We beat them 114 to 126.  They were not happy.  But little did they know they narrowly escaped my competitive fury.  If they had beaten us by cheating I would have gone all "Wade" on their asses.

Sep 2, 2010

A Cold, Wet Beginning

Iceland looks like the moon.

My opinion of Iceland, based on my very brief visit, can be summed up with...... a tough bunch of people live here.   It's cold and wet with an inhospitable landscape.  We had a layover on the way to Europe from 6am until 4pm. I bought bus tickets for the 45 minute ride into Reykjavik and researched a few things for us to do in our short time there. Breakfast, shopping, big old famous church.  I even mapped it all out ahead of time. I was prepared. 

We started with breakfast at “The Grey Cat”. This restaurant was billed as the local favorite place to be “seen” eating breakfast. It was a cramped, musty basement with pretentious, bohemian art on the walls. I think it should be required to cook your eggs special order if you bill them as part of an “American Breakfast”. The Grey Cat served them one way, sunny side up with snotty, runny whites.  Blech.



On to the shopping.  Store after store offered the same things, souvenirs (viking stuff, lava rocks, volcanic ash in bottles, keychains and flags) and overpriced sweaters.  Oh, and they really have a thing for puffins.  I would love to have seen some puffins but we were in the desolate, lunar region of Iceland, not the cool, puffin region.  I had to take it on faith that somewhere they have puffins.

This has to be fake.


We visited this concrete church called Hallgr√≠mskirkja.  In front was a statue of Leif Eriksson that was a gift from the egocentric US to Iceland.  Sort of a thanks for heading out on the open ocean and discovering America.


 


It was cold and wet and I was miserable because, once again, I had the wrong shoes on.  Will I never learn?

Here are my three favorite things we saw in Iceland:


This backyard fence made of stones.  Truly a work of art.



The roofs covered in grass (common in Norway too.)




These flowers that look like feathers.  (Click to enlarge and see how beautiful and unique these flowers are).



Cool facts about Iceland.  Founded in the 9th century by Vikings.  All native Icelanders can trace their origins back to the original settlers.  They speak Icelandic which is the same language spoken by the Vikings.  Population of about 400,000 and most of them live in or near Reykjavik.

The return layover was also 10 hours but it was from midnight to 10am so all we did was sleep on the cold concrete floor of the ticketing terminal.  Well, loving husband slept on the floor, he gave me the bench, but it was hard and cold too.

  

Aug 8, 2010

My Feet are Killing Me


Back when I visited Japan in '97 I took along four pairs of shoes.   Two of them were new.  One of my new pairs was a cute, little  pair of black leather ankle boots.  (OK they weren't little but they were cute).  They looked good with jeans and with my black dress slacks.  They also wreaked havoc with the little toe on my left foot.

Here we are 13 years later and that toe is still messed up.  I probably should go to the foot doctor but I don't like the idea of people messing around with my feet.  Except of course for my husband.   But, he won't come near them.   A girl should be able to get a foot massage once in awhile don't you think?  I'll admit they're not my most attractive feature but they're better than my sister's feet.  Sorry sis.

I learned a valuable lesson from that trip.  Never take new shoes to a country where it will be impossible to replace them.  I wear a size 11 woman's shoe, I don't think there's a woman on the entire island nation of Japan with a size 11 foot.  Unless of course there's some freakishly big farm girl up in the mountain regions or something.    But I probably wouldn't want her shoes anyway.  

I recently bought some shoes form E-bay.  (Another lesson learned - don't buy shoes off ebay unless you are familiar with the manufacturer's sizing.)  They are very nice shoes and I really wish they fit but they don't.  So here I sit, stuck with a pair of size 11 plum colored ballet flats that nobody wants.  

Enter, Mr. Gomez.  I get an email from the lady I ebayed the shoes from.  She forwards me the email address of Mr. Gomez, who is interested in my shoes even if I've worn them.  I email him and immediately get a response back.  He explains that he lives in Mexico and would like to buy not only these shoes, but any size 11 shoes I have, new or used.    He says he prefers flat shoes and wears a 10.5 shoe.

I am assuming that Mr. Gomez is a transvestite and, like me in Japan in 1997,  is stuck in a country with little to no footwear options.  I feel for the guy.  Today I'll be taking pictures of my used shoes and emailing them to him.  I probably won't even charge him for the cute little black leather ankle boots.

Jul 29, 2010

Better the Second Time Around

I've changed my mind about leftovers.   I used to turn up my nose at leftovers.  My husband always had free reign to snack on them, take them for lunch and eventually feed them to the dog.  Much to his dismay, there was no way I was serving them for dinner.   He comes from a family where food showed up on the table night after night until it was all gone.

I made a few exceptions.  Anything in the soup family was good for a second night.  Thanksgiving turkey was used for sandwiches for at least a week.  Pizza. That was pretty much it though.

Recently, I have done a complete about face and also figured out why it was I didn't like to cook leftovers.  There was never enough for all four of us to get a complete second meal.  That essentially meant having to cook two half meals to feed the whole family.  Working Moms don't have time for nonsense like that. 

Things are different now.  Since it's mostly just my dear husband and me for dinner these days there's usually enough for a second meal when I cook something.  I'll even cook a little extra to make sure there are leftovers.  Cuts cooking time in  half, saves on groceries and makes my husband very happy. 

Sorry dogs, you'll just have to be satisfied with your kibble.