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Friday, December 30, 2011

Walking Tall-ish

I am tall and appear relatively fit. Scrupulously staying out of the sun and watching my diet also helps me to appear younger than my (gasp) 60+ years.  But I’ve had numerous surgeries for orthopedic issues--cervical spine, two carpal tunnel releases, a tendon release for tennis elbow, and am planning additional surgery to remove bone spurs in both shoulders dangerously close to my rotator cuffs.  For these reasons, my doctor has advised I limit my exercise to swimming, water aerobics and walking.  Unfortunately I recently acquired a staph infection. Not only has the infection caused me to delay the shoulder surgery but also has kept me from my favorite and safest exercises in water.

So I tried a land-based class, Tuesdays and Thursdays, high noon, at Milestone.  The class is called "Walking Tall" and is designed for people with severe arthritis, recoverers of serious illness, and those who need to ease back into regular exercise.  I thought the latter fit me: the only regular exercise, other than walking the dog, I have been getting is extricating myself from my recliner.

I showed up early for class, expecting some ailing athletes and “young seniors” like myself.  A single very elderly woman had beaten me to the class room.  She showed me the ropes: where to find the mats, the large exercise balls and bands and small hand weights.  She also showed me how to wipe down all my equipment with a disinfecting wipe.  Since I have been exiled from the pool because of the staph infection, likely incurred at the gym according to my doctor, I figured I better pay attention to this disinfection step.

Soon the other class mates were showing up.  We, that is, I and the octo- and older generians, took our places on our mats, following the instructor's directions to stretch, push, lunge and otherwise move our limbs in time to Yanni.  I was happy none of my close friends could see how I was not keeping up with the old-timers.  They stretched their arms and legs, balanced on their large balls, kicked their legs and didn't seem to miss a beat as we switched from one move to the next.  At least I could reach the high shelves to put the mats and balls away.  Many of my classmates were about half my height.

An hour after I got home from my little jaunt to exercise with the elderly I started feeling shooting pain in my right arm.  Apparently I had reactivated the nerve damage thought to be cured by a spinal surgery a few years ago.  

Damn those senior citizens and their flexibility.  And my need to show off that I was able to keep up with them.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thanks to All

Today is my birthday. We've enjoyed a week's visit with our younger son and his girlfriend. They had to leave today but not before wishing me a happy birthday. On facebook I saw friends had sent me "happy birthday" wishes. and I had a couple of text birthday messages this morning.   The many technological ways to send happy greetings to a friend or family member.

Now I am sitting by the fire trying to decide which of the Christmas or birthday present books to read first.  It doesn't get much better than this, except to have the family and friends here with me. Of course, then I'd have to do something with my hair and put on make up. and wear something other than sweats.

So thank you all who are here with me in spirit and didn't make me get dressed up for a party. Love you all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Saturday Revelry and Sunday Prayers

In my earliest memory I am standing in church looking up at the stained glass windows.  I tug my Mother’s sleeve, pointing at the windows, “Is God up there? I asked.  I didn’t get an answer.  Talking is not permitted in Catholic churches.

This last weekend I spent Sunday afternoon in church, the sun again glinting through stained glass windows.  Happy crowds were chattering before and after angelic music.  No, the Church rules about talking have not suspended, at least as far as I know.  And I was not rekindling the long-dead embers of my Catholic faith. But I do think something akin to religious was going on.

We had traveled last weekend to Cincinnati for Over the Rhine’s (“OTR”) Christmas concert at the Taft on Saturday night.  And stayed for the “Sunday Soiree” at St. Elizabeth’s, an old Catholic Church

The Taft is a lovely venue with wonderful acoustics.  But the resonance of OTR’s music in the old St. Elizabeth’s church provides an almost celestial sound.  Karin Bergquist’s voice also is compelling.  She is the female signer, songwriter and musician of the husband-wife team that is the core of OTR.  If Tom Waits’ voice is a glass of whiskey with a chaser of gravel, Karin’s is a full pour of fine Pinot Noir, rich and red with sweet cherry undertones and a smoky after-flavor from barrel aging.  OTR’s music leaves a warm glow.

Both concerts were standouts, if not the classic “Merry Christmas” affairs.  OTR has a melancholy take on Christmas in many of their songs.  Such as “All I Ever Get for Christmas is Blue” and “All My Favorite People" (are broken), which were performed at both concerts.  “Snow Angel,” “Sacred Ground” (a new song), and “The Very First Snowfall of a Very Long Year," all part of the Taft performance, continued the sweet melancholic feeling some of us experience at this season.

Karin was in full-throated voice both Saturday and Sunday, accompanied on piano and guitar by Linford Detweiler, the other half of the songwriting and married partnership that is the core of OTR.  On Sunday, Jason Goforth, on harmonica, lap steel guitar and various instruments, and Nick Radina on percussion also gave stellar performances.  Saturday’s concert was enhanced by Tim Luntzel on bass and Tommy Perkinson on drums.

Lucy Wainwright Roche, daughter of Loudon Wainwright III (“he of “Dead Skunk"-- in the middle of the road--fame) and sister to Rufus, opened for OTR’s concert at the Taft.  To Karin’s full red, Lucy’s voice is a Pinot Grigio, crisp and clear and cool, taking away your breath at moments when she hits impossibly-high notes with apparent ease.  Her lovely singing is interspersed with charming chatter that seems as easy as her high notes. 

Karin and Lucy beautifully harmonized on two songs, Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” and to add a touch of classic Christmas, “Silent Night.”  The two OTR concerts left me convinced that for the rest of this holiday season I am  better off staying home with a glass of red listening to music than going to a shopping mall.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Disaster Part 3: The Movie

You may have read my recent tales of disaster--with an attempted “natural” Christmas and also with the artificial kind.  As the holiday approaches and I need a break from the craziness of the shopping and decorating season, I turn to that all-time best Christmas disaster movie.  No, not the Chevy Chase one, or the one where Jimmy Stewart tries to kill himself.  Though I do love “It’s a Wonderful Life.” 

The all-time best Christmas disaster movie, “Die Hard” is just the ticket to get you in the holiday disaster spirit.  What’s not to like?  Bruce Willis with sort-of-bulging muscles in a dirty “beater” shirt, Bonnie Bedalia with big ‘80’s hair and shoulder pads, and a towering–inferno-in-the-waiting.  Identifiable bad guys with German accents but only greed, not real political or terrorist motivations.  And a good-hearted, hefty, Twinkie-eating cop who is smarter than all his bosses and the FBI combined.

Sorry for the spoiler but if you haven’t seen the movie by now you’ve been living on the moon or in a coma the last twenty years: the good guy wins, the obnoxious media guy gets a well-deserved punch from Bonnie, and Bruce and Bonnie decide they both should compromise and appreciate each other a little more.  And that doesn’t even mention the cute, African American limo driver kid, Argyle, who helps save the day.

Some ‘80’s media and “art” have not aged well.  But pull out your copy of “Die Hard”, or download or stream it or whatever you do.  Pour a little rum in your eggnog and have yourself a merry little Christmas disaster, complete with happy ending.  If you are surviving the holiday season you deserve it.  And most likely you did not have as tough a time making it home for the holidays as Bruce and Bonnie did.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Competition

Christmas Disaster Part 2 and ½: The Saga Continues

Its 15 days before Christmas.  The Christmas cards and annual letter are not written, the shopping is not done, and we do not yet have a Christmas tree up. How could we already be into another disaster?

Today we put up the garland over the large wooden entertainment center in the family room.  Most years I have done this with the help of our cleaning person.  This year, my husband is retired.  So he suggests he and I will do the decorating together.  That’s what the joy of the holiday season is all about: spending time with loved ones.

In past years, my cleaning person and I would push back the artificial mums and philodendron (the Non-Christmas Decorations—NCD) that usually sit on top of the entertainment center.  Then we would string the artificial greenery in front to hide the NCD.  With a stepladder, it would take the two of us five to ten minutes.  And little muss or fuss.

This year, my spouse said, “Let’s do the decorating the right way.”  That is, Step 1, take down the mums and other Non-Christmas Decorations.  Of course, this results in Step 2, find a place to put all the NCD.  There is a lot more NCD than Christmas greenery.  So, my gracious husband climbs into the attic and hauls out some empty plastic tubs.  Next comes Step 3, take down the NCD.  Also a big project.  Not only is the NCD voluminous but it’s a hodgepodge.  Mums and greenery in pots, strands, and all sorts of other configurations that had been interwoven for a look of a solid, wall-long floral front. How we will ever get this all back up I'm not sure.  

But taking down all of this decoration once in awhile no doubt is a good idea. Because that takes us to Step 4, dusting.  The only problem is I am terribly allergic to dust mites.  One of the reasons we have a cleaning person.  Thus, soon I look like the proverbial TV allergy sufferer: sneezing, sniffling, and red, itchy eyes.  And that’s after taking a boatload of allergy medicine.

Having completed Steps 1 through 4, we are proud of our accomplishments.  And finally we are ready for Step 5, put up the Christmas garland/greenery or “CG” for short.  The CG comes in large strands with colored lights, activated by a battery pack in each strand.  Oops, Step 5 is check the strands and batteries.  

All finally is a “Go” for Step 6, put up the CG. In previous (misguided) years this had been the only Step.

My husband climbs on the stepladder while I hold the rest of the strands.  This seems to be my place in Christmas decorating.  But the decorations don’t want to stay in place.  There no longer is anything to prop them up with. Nevertheless, my spouse manages to get them situated.  The greenery appears settled, so he puts away the stepladder. 

Not surprisingly, the previously clean carpet now is dusted with artificial needles.  Did I mention our cleaning person had come the day before? I guess Step 7 is clean up the mess.

In addition to allergies, I have bone spurs in my shoulders, an old injury to my cervical spine, and tendonitis in both elbows. Thus, my arms are pretty useless for doing any real work.  That is the other reason we have a cleaning person. Not to worry, my husband says, he will handle Step 7 with our trusty, old vacuum.   

As he vacuums, though, rather than artificial needles disappearing, we see big globs of dust appearing.  The vacuum has been set on “hose” rather than “floor.”  Once corrected, (Step 7 and 1/2?) the dust and needles come up, but not without more sneezing, sniffling, and itching.  Maybe I should make sneezing a separate step? 

A dusty scent lingers in the air.  After all, it is an old vacuum cleaner.

After vacuuming, we find more than dust has been disturbed.  The artificial greenery has all come tumbling down, this time leaving a much wider swath of needles in its wake.

I won’t bore you with the Step by Step's.  Suffice it to say we repeat all the previous Steps with one addition.  This time, my intrepid spouse improvises a base for the greenery with metal book ends.  He really is very good at “Jerry-rigging,” even if by now we must be at Step 8. If we get to 12 Steps I am going to be ready for some alcohol.

I firmly believe we are done with all the Steps in Christmas decorating.  We can gather around our gas fireplace or even the two-foot-tall red-ribboned-bedecked rosemary “tree” in the kitchen.  After all, who really needs a Christmas tree? 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Disaster Part 2: Christmas Lights

If you read my previous post you will know “natural” Christmas decorations don’t always work out to expectations.  So, perhaps a return to the old-faithful of Christmas decorations is in order. 

Christmas lights.  What is prettier than to see a beautiful tree all lit with colored lights.  We have a blue spruce in our front yard and have been stringing lights on it for most of the twenty plus years we have lived in this house.  The tree, about 12 feet when we first moved in, of course, has grown over that time.  Each year, for the last ten years, at least, my husband swears that THIS year, is absolutely the last year he will put lights on the tree.  

The spruce is now at least 30 feet tall.  We have a six-foot, half-broken, step-ladder and a re-purposed expandable golf ball retriever.  With these implements so clearly insufficient to reach the top of the spruce, I took my husband at his word and investigated what it would cost to call in the professionals.  $1,500!  To install and take down lights on a large tree.  And that was when I mistakenly told them the tree was about fifteen feet tall.  Did I mention I'm not so good with spatial dimensions?  Assuming they could work us into their schedule before Christmas?!?  How can there be a recession going on if the professional light-hangers are so busy at those prices?  I laughed out loud.  And figured we would finally have a dark tree this year.  A little sad but not the end of the world. 

So on a recent day I was surprised to see my husband dragging out the old broken step ladder and golf ball retriever.  I knew my place.  Holding the ladder, trying to juggle the wrapped strands, and praying my spouse did not fall down on his head or mine.

The lights went up and we applauded ourselves when we tested them before proceeding to get out the small artificial pre-lit trees for the front porch.  That night when we arrived home in the dark, the top three-fourths of the spruce was totally dark, as was the top of one of the little artificial trees on the porch.  Maybe lighted bottoms and dark tops are “in” this year?

Surely in this age of sleek iPhone’s and iPad’s, amazing electronic devices, and remotes for everything under the sun, there must be a better way to put up Christmas lights than to test your lights, string up the strands, plug them together and then hope for the best.  Only to find half or more don’t work because a bulb is loose, a fuse in a strand has blown (one of the strands on the spruce), or somehow a Grinch has just cast a spell on your Christmas lights (the small artificial tree—those lights somehow just came back on).

The pre-lit trees and decorations are no better; they are as temperamental as the old-fashioned strands.  But you can’t just take them off and put another strand on. 

The spruce finally is prettily lit with colored lights.  At least for the moment. The little artificial trees are firmly planted in the flower pots on the front porch.  And no one has had to be rushed to the emergency room for head injuries…yet.

But where is the clever ingenuity for Christmas decorations with lights that just somehow neatly work without all this struggling?  Wouldn’t we all be more in the Christmas spirit if we didn’t have to run back to Walgreens and get another strand or two of lights every week?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Disaster Part 1: Where Have All the Holly Berries Gone?

It must be the time of year for the Christmas letter: the birds have been busy devouring the holly berries.  Usually they wait until the temperature drops to sub zero and the ground is covered with snow.  Today it is above freezing and the ground is so wet some birds keep getting distracted from their premature plunder of the holly berries by worms wiggling in plain sight.  Go figure.  Maybe the birds know something about climate I don’t.

To get into the Christmas spirit I read a few articles about current decorating ideas.  Martha Stewarts’s weekend newspaper column suggested decorating with nature this year.  Bring the natural beauty indoors.  Banish the artificial and phony.  Save time and money. What a great idea!   

So when the birds began their attack of the holly trees on Saturday, with work gloves protecting my freshly-manicured hands, I ventured outside with my pruner.  Our Shetland Sheepdog Schatzie stood guard at the front door and barked, scaring off any birds who might be contemplating taking issue with my bringing nature indoors.  

I cut a generous armload of the holly branches, some still with berries.  Makes me think if Tippi Hedren had owned a sheltie dog, Hitchcock’s “The Birds” would never have been made. 

As Martha Stewart directed, I tried to place the branches in a large bucket.  She suggests soaking them for 24 hours so they are completely hydrated.  The branches were too big for any of our buckets.  By now the sharp holly leaves had scratched my hands, ruined my manicure, and the gloves also were wet and useless.  I removed the gloves and tried pushing the branches into a cooler.  At least they now mostly fit.

Ferrying buckets of water to the cooler situated on the back porch, I tripped, spilling water everywhere. My shoes, clothes, and the floor were soaked.  At least I had the foresight to use warm water.  So it was not as bad as it sounds, more like a bath while fully dressed.

I closed the back door, cleaned up the mess and changed clothes.  And promptly forgot about the holly branches in the cooler until today.  At least they should be well hydrated.  So I re-cut the branches and filled several vases.  More scratches.  But, what the hell: you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs. 

By now the birds have completely stripped the bright berries from all of the holly trees.  That’s just as well.  I’m totally done with this “natural” Christmas decorating. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Can't Buy Me Love

Dour.  That’s what my husband said I looked like today.  It was after we started talking about “Rain”, the Beatles-impersonator show traveling the country and also on public TV.  I told him I have no desire to see a group of Beatles-impersonators, especially when they don’t look much like the Beatles.  And there are plenty of performers who do at least as good a job at covering their songs.

Maybe it has to do with my age.  When you talk about seeing the Beatles I’m instantly back in junior high—grade school we called it then.  In 1964 the Beatles exploded on the American music scene.  Their live performances cost something like $40 a ticket. A whole lot of money back in the ‘60’s.  The Beatles were going to perform in Kansas City. A friend of mine was going with her dad.  I was incredibly jealous, as only a young teenage girl can be.  My parents would not have considered taking their almost-fourteen-year-old daughter to a rock concert. And certainly not in another city.  I didn’t even ask.  They also didn’t approve of these young radicals with the long hair.
As a thirteen year old in a working class, Germanic household, I had no rights.  I was not allowed to play the radio without permission.  When my parents were at home they chose the station to which the TV or radio was tuned.  My father made the initial decision.  If he was not home my mother made the choice.  If they both went out my older brother and I were allowed to play music with the proviso it was not so loud as to disturb the neighbors. I counted my self exceedingly lucky to be able to persuade my parents to tune into the Ed Sullivan show the night the Beatles appeared.  Somehow I saved the money to buy the 45 of “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”  For my 14th birthday, my brother gave me my first 33, “A Hard Day’s Night.”

The Beatles back then were viewed as a curiosity by my parents’ generation. My uncle at a family gathering had his four young sons imitate the Beatles.  Apologies to my cousins, who nonetheless have grown up to be fine, no-longer-young men.  But I was horrified.  Their impersonation was blasphemy.

My husband asked me today whether I had gone to the Beatles St. Louis concert in 1966.  After all, this was just a couple of years later and the Beatles had come to my home town.  By then I had started to work a summer job (no pay, but tips as a carhop at Ted Drewes) so I had a little money.  For some reason I cannot remember the Beatles even coming to St. Louis in 1966.  But I’m sure if my husband remembers such a concert it happened.

No, I never did see the Beatles in concert.  By 1966 I was listening to Simon and Garfunkel, the Kinks and other such rock and roll and folk music, whenever I could get command of the radio.  A best friend from high school reminded me recently that in 1966 I had ran up to her at her locker and said “There’s a song you HAVE to hear: ‘The Sounds of Silence.’”  I don’t remember that incident either.  What’s the old saying? “If you remember the ‘60’s you weren’t there.”  I guess this means I was there.

I’m still listening to Simon and Garfunkel, either together or alone. And recently we went to Bloomington, Indiana to see Paul Simon.  I’m still crazy after all these years about him and his music. The Beatles-impersonators, on the other hand, are never going to transport me back to the 13 year old who wanted desperately to see them live.   Rather, they remind me of my cousins, with their longish hair styles and air guitars, mocking the Beatles.

Today I hear Beatles music on the radio, my iPod, and in elevators.  The experience of seeing them at a live concert is gone forever.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Folk Music and Musicians Aging Well: Judy Collins and Arlo Guthrie

We’ve seen a lot of aging rock and folk musicians still touring.  What is it about our generation that won’t quit and just sit in a rocking chair instead of still rocking out, or whatever it is folk musicians do, on stage?

This weekend, we saw Arlo Guthrie and Judy Collins at Centre College’s Norton Center in Danville, Kentucky.

These concerts bring back memories.  Back in the late ‘60’s when I started St. Louis University (SLU) I considered joining the college newspaper.  I had been co-editor of my high school newspaper and I liked to write.  I also enjoyed interviewing people.  But I hated to try to fit copy on a printed page, one of the jobs of the editors at my high school.  Using that type of spatial visualization was torture for me.  Of course, if I had been good at it I would now be lamenting that computers have made it a lost art. 

Anyway, I told the SLU newspaper editor, Mike Forester, (where do these names come back from, let alone the stories) I would join the newspaper staff only if he promised I would never have to do layout.  He said there was only one rule for joining the newspaper: you had to like Judy Collins. 

I guess this shows how little I knew about contemporary music.  It may also show some other traits.  I didn’t know who she was.  But I’d heard facts should never stand in the way of truth or a good story.  I told Mike, “Of course I liked Judy, who didn’t?”  Hardly an auspicious beginning for a reporter.  On the other hand, a great start for a fiction writer.  

And once I heard Judy I did like her, though not as much as some other singers of the time.  At the Centre concert, Judy demonstrated her magnificent voice, singing A cappella or with an accompanying pianist, Russ Walden.  She started with two Christmas carols, “Joy to the World” and “Silver Bells.”  Her voice cracked at times, particularly on “Joy” and also some of the other songs, showing signs of her 70 plus years of age.  But she carried on like a trooper and included a lovely rendition of “Both Sides Now.”

Arlo was in great voice, his sweet, mellow tones having aged like fine wine, as he accompanied himself on guitar, piano and also harmonica.  He has always been the consummate, easy-going storyteller.  At this concert, interweaving his own songs with those of his father, Woody Guthrie’s, as well as others by classic songwriters such as Leadbelly and Steve Goodman. 

Arlo mentioned his father would have been 100 years old next year.  And yet some of Woody's songs are as in the moment as when they were first written.  As Arlo discussed the plight of the working man and woman in Woody’s music, the dustbowl of the 30’s and union busting by the big companies it was hard not to see the parallels to today.

The auditorium was filled.  Lots of gray and white-haired folks, besides the two on the stage, probably all of us reliving memories.  Neither Arlo nor Judy, despite their long white locks, showed their age at the finale as they shared the stage for a two-song encore, "City of New Orleans" and “Amazing Grace.”  Their harmonies still took my breath away.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Clutter Be Gone

I have been “on my own” (without a secretary, that is) for several years now.  My life, for the last year, in addition to some writing and other creative and personal pursuits has included handling my Mother’s estate, and the on-going management of real estate rentals.  

Paperwork, books, clothes, accessories and well, just any sort of stuff anywhere near me, appears to have a very active sexual and reproductive life of its own. As a result, I am drowning in stuff.  

But, finally, I have determined: I am going to get my life and my stuff under control.  On impulse I bought a set of CD’s on “Uncluttering and Organizing Your Life.”  Impulse buying is another, and I am sure, unrelated, downfall of mine.

As the authors point out, being disorganized and being cluttered are two different sins. If, in fact, these are sins, l should just pack my bags and plan to go straight to hell.  As I am guilty. And in full measure. 

But I have seen the light and am going to take a new path to fight both clutter and disorganization.  

Here are the five simple rules.

1) Place and purpose.
2) One in, one out.
3) Six month/ six minute rule
4) Enough is enough
5) I forget this rule 

I determined to follow Rules 1 through 4, and 5 when I remember what it is.  Ok, let’s see how well this works in practice on a congenital hoarder and hopelessly disorganized person like myself.

Take a specific example, a water pitcher.  It has a purpose (serving water) and place (the cabinet).   So we should have taken care of Rule 1.  But the pitcher is more than just useful.  It is essential to my daily life.  As a constant water drinker, the pitcher provides a source of water without the need to go to the fridge each time I want a cool, refreshing glass of water.  Plus, the pitcher is exactly the right height and weight: it can be positioned in the fridge door at the water dispenser without any need for me to hold it.  Of course, that has a small potential drawback-- that one (that's me, disguised by the impersonal third person) could forget about the pitcher until the water starts to overflow.  But we won’t go there right now.   We are still on Rule 1.

I had bought this perfect pitcher  at Louisville Stoneware.  It had been expensive, in my estimation.  That is, the pitcher cost a lot more than $20.  Then I chipped the pour spout on the pitcher and it could no longer be used. I was frantic to find a replacement.

That takes us to Rule 2.  One in, one out.  Simple enough.  When you buy one new item you need to get rid of one old item in the same category.  Pick the oldest, most useless, worn out, or whatever adjective best fits, and give away, sell, or toss that item. The theory is you will not increase your stuff if you stick to the one in, one out rule. 

I put the broken pitcher aside while I looked for a replacement.  Even though under Rule 2 I should toss the pitcher, after all it not only had been perfect, but it also had been pricey.  And it was still very attractive.  I could not bring myself to part with it just yet.  Maybe when I found its perfect replacement.

So I held on to the broken pitcher while I shopped for a replacement.  Maybe it could be repaired.  Although I felt I had a good excuse, I mean reason, to not immediately toss the damaged pitcher, that also caused me to think I would get some forgiveness for my “sins” if the replacement pitcher was relatively inexpensive.  And, since I had no immediate intent to go downtown I looked for a replacement close to home.  

Armed with the measurements necessary to fit in the fridge water dispenser, I searched department stores, discount suppliers, and all manner of places.  Finding a pitcher of that exact dimension proved much more difficult than I had thought.  

Finally I found a beautiful Lenox pitcher.  But the Lenox did not fit the definition of inexpensive.  And given the fate of the last pitcher, such a delicate and pricey pitcher was not a good bet for every day use.  I kept looking.  

Eventually, I found two pitchers at TJ Max I thought might work, one a lightweight plastic and one metal.  I bought both.  I figured I could return one or both if they were not right.  As it turned out, the plastic one was the right size but not heavy enough to dispense water without holding the dispenser.  The mental pitcher worked but only if I wedged it under the dispenser.  It soon was slightly dented.  By then, my husband had taken the tag off the plastic pitcher so I no longer could return it.  Plus, as noted, my problem is keeping track of clutter.  So--you guess the odds I could find the receipt. You're right.  I ended up keeping both of those pitchers.

However, while this search and find mission was going on, Macy’s was good enough to send me coupons for household goods.  With the discount, I could buy the Lenox pitcher at less than a replacement pitcher at Louisville Stoneware would cost.  Home the Lenox came.  

But then I happened to be downtown and drove right by Louisville Stoneware.  I figured it could not hurt to see if they repair chipped items.  Also I was curious if they were still making pitchers in the dimensions of my damaged pitcher.   The answer to the first question is no.  The answer to the latter question is yes.  And not only that, they make the same size pitcher but it comes in many lovely patterns, including a horse pattern for Derby.  So I could not waste the fact I had again found the perfect pitcher. I bought it.  And they make wonderful matching coffee mugs in Derby themes.  So I bought a set of those too.  

Instead of one in/ one out, now I had four pitchers for the old pitcher, plus a set of coffee mugs.  In the meantime, while I had searched for a replacement pitcher, I devised a plan to repurpose the chipped pitcher as a vase.  That is, once I found a way to fix it.  

Since it looks like I will never get beyond Rule 2, I have decided to write my own organizational and clutter control book.  There will be only one rule that goes something like this. One broken, no more than five replacements, especially if you can’t find it in your heart to get rid of the broken one.  At least my program is sure to help the down economy.  But clutter control, not so much.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving: From Turkey-Free to Gluten Free

As Thanksgiving approaches I am sharing an excerpt from an essay I wrote on a Thanksgiving of a few years ago. 

The Thanksgiving holiday is all about the turkey.  Perhaps a football game or two and a little holiday shopping.  Well, actually, for some people the shopping is more of a competitive sport than the all-day football games on TV. 

But here it is Thanksgiving and my turkey is in another town.  No, I am not stranded at the airport due to weather or holiday crowds.  Rather, we were going to drive to my Mom’s house for our turkey dinner and instead have found ourselves quarantined at home, 290 miles from our turkey dinner.

To fully understand the situation I must digress a bit. Actually, all the way back to our childhoods. My husband is an only child and I am an only daughter.  Neither of us learned to cook with a lot of other people “helping” in the kitchen, so we seldom cook meals together.  But on Thanksgiving, after 30 plus years of marriage, my spouse and I have finally reached a truce and choreographed the holiday meal to an art form.  Early in the day, I get the turkey ready, stuffed, and in the oven. 

Early afternoon, my husband begins his elaborate preparations of  side dishes that bake for at least an hour, most courtesy of Shaker recipes or Jeff Smith’s Frugal Gourmet: corn pudding, sweet potatoes baked in maple syrup, and baked apples.  After he has lovingly nestled his gourmet creations in the oven, I then prepare broccoli casserole (also courtesy of a “Shaker” recipe, though I am jarred by the image of the Shakers driving in horse-drawn carriages to market for Velveeta cheese food and Ritz crackers), potatoes, and gravy. 

This year, though, there is no turkey, not a small roasting chicken, or even a Cornish hen in our house.  Since we were not planning on being home for Thanksgiving.  Instead we had planned on driving on Thanksgiving Day to Mom’s home some four and a half hours away.  As a result of those travel plans and Mom’s ill health, for the first time, instead of our usual holiday cooking routine, somewhat reluctantly I had ordered a turkey dinner already fully prepared.  Since this is likely to be Mom’s last Thanksgiving, I went a bit overboard and ordered an elaborate, take-out feast which Mom’s care-giver had picked up and planned to heat and serve today.

Mom has had little appetite after completing five weeks of radiation for a tumor discovered several months ago.  Even though Mom is not likely to eat much of the turkey dinner, I had hoped that she would at least enjoy the sight of a plump, baked bird on her dining room table, and that feast, shared by family, would lift her spirits.

Unfortunately, my husband and I aren’t able to be at that table today.  He came down with the old-fashioned stomach flu on Thanksgiving Eve.  A result of a virus, no doubt, but one that seems almost unpatriotic in its timing at the start of shopping and gluttony season. I, on the other hand, though not (yet) affected by the stomach bug, instead am suffering from a longer term, gastro-intestinal ailment that appears to be tracking Mom’s decline in health.

Thus, the absence of a turkey at our house this year is not a loss we particularly miss except, perhaps, in the abstract. Furthermore, according to the morning newspaper, most Americans gain five pounds over the holiday season.  The risks of over-eating, even in a single meal were laid out like the proverbial buffet: heart attack, stroke, gall stone attacks, not to mention old-fashioned heartburn and gastric distress.  We will count ourselves lucky to be sidestepping these risks as, we pick sedately at scrambled eggs, no toast for me on the chance my tummy upset is gluten sensitivity activated by stress. 

As it turned out that was my Mom’s last Thanksgiving.  She never rebounded after the radiation, but instead lingered for many months as her life spirit and her strength receded.  My brother and I spent much of that time with her.  Only belatedly did we think to play for her some of the music she had so enjoyed.  Nevertheless, I like to think that even in her coma-like state she heard and enjoyed some of the old Nat King Cole songs she had played on the piano in her younger days. 

This year because of schedules no immediate relatives are coming for the holiday, nor are we making the trip.  Instead, we are spending Thanksgiving with our older son’s in-laws, a very generous and welcoming crowd.  We will bring a gluten-free corn pudding as well as one of the other “Frugal Gourmet” vegetables. 

During my Mother’s final months I developed Celiac, a disease associated with a severe reaction to wheat and gluten. Celiac occurs as a result of a genetic predisposition, and can be activated by physical or mental stress.  Luckily, our son’s in-laws assure me they are happy to serve a gluten-free turkey dinner. 

It has taken me years to fully realize Thanksgiving is not at all about the turkey.  Or even the football and shopping.  Rather, it’s about counting your blessings for family, however you might define them, and good friends.  And for giving thanks for them, however far flung or distant they might now be.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Meaning of Life

I know the meaning of life.  And I will tell you.  But first I need to tell you a little about me.

The most important thing you need to know is I am not a small collie.  I am a big dog.  I was born what you Two Legs refer to as a Shetland Sheepdog.  I will grant that my kind looks a bit like a small collie.  But I always have stood tall and proud. 

I was the biggest of my litter.  In my prime I weighed over forty pounds.  Now I’m down to a sleek 36 pounds.  And I have always known I could take on any dog twice my size.  I also could take on the Two Legs, but I have learned to respect my Two Leg Pack and follow their lead for the most part.  You see, I’m a veteran canine companion to the Two Legs.  

What can I say?  Not much, just “Woof,” and “Grrwl.”  But I’ve had to learn to communicate with “Two Legs”.  Just the same, they know I say plenty when I look at them.  Or nose the back door.  And especially when I pace around or dig in the carpet.  And how about the times I drop a toy at their feet?

I’ve been through a lot.  I have outlived my first Pack of Two Legs.  Now I live with the younger generation.  So it is no wonder I worry when the routine changes at home. 

Just this week, the leader of the Two Legs left early in the morning.  Even though he was out of bed before the sun was up I offered to walk with him in the park.  Instead he left in the car without me or the female Two Legs.   So I went back to sleep.  An older canine needs his rest.

The female Two Legs walked me later, at the usual time.  She also fed me, gave me my pills, and even my breakfast dessert (a spoonful of oatmeal on one of the Two Legs' plates).  But I had no one to beg toast or eggs from.  She eats only oatmeal in the morning. 

What were they thinking: I didn’t want my second breakfast just because one of them left early?  I don’t think so.

It is so quiet around the Pack when just one Two Legs is here.  She goes upstairs to her computer for long stretches.  When I first joined this Pack I would follow her up and down the stairs.  I don’t how many times we went up and down.  But I do know all those trips use to wear me out.  Now I nap downstairs and wait until she comes down again.  If she were dragging four legs up and down the stairs at my age she would know to just stay put until it is time to eat or walk again. 

The Leader of the Two Legs at least plays music for me.   Not always what I want to hear.  Maybe once a year they play something with canines in it.  The rest of the time it is Two Legs’ music, lots of singing and other sounds, not found in the canine universe.  But I like most of it anyway.

So today both of the Two Legs were home.  At the table at breakfast, they were both available for me to possibly participate in a second breakfast.  But then I smelled there were no eggs, bacon, or even toast.  And I heard the dreaded word from one of them: Diet.  Oh no.

To distract myself from the possibly lean times ahead I brought them a squeaky toy.  That way we could practice catching a live breakfast.  If the Pack doesn’t have any meat to eat they could just let me off lead at the park.  I’m sure I could catch us one of those squirrels.  And I bet they make good eating.

I’m getting more philosophical in my older age.  I’ve come not to expect as much from Two Legs as I once did.  The human kind certainly don’t think like canines.  For example, even though I warn them of dangers, such as a dog near the house, they don’t really appreciate my bark. 

So I only bark when absolutely necessary.  There is one rude bulldog who hurls nasty insults.  I have to put him in his place with a few well-thought-out rejoinders.  I ignore those yappy, pillow-sized dogs entirely.  Some Four Legs are just beneath my dignity to respond to. 

In my older age I now need a number of long naps during the day.  So I don’t mind when the Two Legs go out for awhile during the day without me.  But they should know I expect them to be here when it is dark or especially if it is stormy outside. 

And the whole Pack should be home to share meals and walks.  I am a big male Sheltie and don’t especially want to be known as pretty.   But I tolerate my Pack petting me and telling me how pretty I am.  I know it makes them feel happy.  And it makes me happy too.  So here it is, what I have learned in thirteen years in this world: having two good Two Legs to share that happy feeling is the meaning of life.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dogs As Masters

Today I read a story on NPR’s web site titled “How Dogs Evolved into ‘Our Best Friends.’”  The expert interviewed was Mark Derr, who wrote “From Wolves to Our Best Friends.” 

Derr discounts both of the main theories on the domestication of wolves into dogs: 1) humans domesticated wolves that hung out around human groups to scavenge our refuse and 2) humans tamed wolf pups and kept them. Derr instead argues that wolves and humans, as two equal beings who saw the benefit of hunting together selected each other because of the mutual hunting advantages.  As wolves worked and lived with humans, the wolves eventually became wolf-dogs and then the pets, hunters, and the all-around helper-companions we know as dogs today.

I rather like Derr’s argument about how dogs and our relationships to them have evolved.  But I am not sure I buy the argument that today they are our companions or merely our best friends.  In fact, I’d say dogs are now our masters, not the other way around.  Sure, I know people often spend a lot of money for their dogs.  And for veterinary care. And for food and grooming and toys.  Dogs even allow us the illusion we are in charge.

For example, give a dog a walk, make a friend.  Give a dog two walks and he is your BFF.  Take the walk three times together and you have created a canine entitlement.  No longer are you giving your dog a treat.  Rather you are fulfilling your purpose in his life.

Think about it: who is feeding whom?  Who is taking whom to medical care?  And back to the walking thing.  For every dog I have “owned,” once I walked that dog three days in a row at about the same time of day, I no longer had an option to sit on the couch and let the dog out in the yard.  You would think after this same experience with multiple dogs I would have learned something.  But no.  New puppy or adopted older dog, I take him or her for a walk.  I forget the “three-day-in-a-row” rule.  And it happens again.  I am the slave, he is the master.

Suddenly, the walk becomes a canine right.  A right that inclement weather, inconvenience, or a broken foot doesn’t change. 

On the other hand, would I get out every day and exercise in the park if my dog didn’t insist?  At least my dog, I mean master, is taking as good care of my health as I am of his.  I just hope we are close to the summit of our mutually-evolving relationship.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Revelations at the Nail Salon

On the neighborhood nail salon TV, CNN is covering the Penn State-Joe Paterno-failure to stop-child-sex-abuse story. Yes, even writers get their nails done on occasion.  What can I say?  It’s not the best use of my time or resources.  But a bold color brightens my mood.  And it is a relaxing indulgence.  I like to think I’m even helping the economy and the nice Cambodian couple who run the salon.  Maybe I am rationalizing.

The middle-aged lady sitting next to me, also indulging in the nail-pampering, comments on the CNN story and what a sorry state of affairs, how disgraceful the whole thing is.  I agree with her.  She then proceeds to express outrage over the matter.  Again I agree with her.

Then she says Joe Paterno should not have been fired over some children lying about sex abuse.   So much for the relaxing time at the nail salon.  No, we did not come to blows with our freshly painted, not-yet-dry nails.  But we did have a discussion.  A surprisingly open and non-shouting discussion for two adults who don’t just disagree but who inhabit two different universes.

Today I am left to wonder what does it take for people to recognize a child is more important than any ‘institution”, even if the institution is college football?  Actually, we seem to be pretty good at recognizing the importance of one child, as long as that one child is a pretty blond girl. Make it forty young boys or thousands of Indian or African girls and boys and we don’t get as excited. 

And for the record, at Penn State it was not even a question of whether a child was lying.  Not that I believe that happens very often.  It was multiple cases where adults saw the abuse.  How does that adult not have a moral obligation to stop it and call the police?

Oh, but my fellow-nail-treatment friend said, the university had a chain of command.  A lot like the chain of command in most institutions, whether they are corporations, churches, or even families.   As long as the person who witnessed the abuse reported it up the chain of command, she argued, they were “covered.” 

Well, how you would feel about that “coverage” if you had been the child.  Or had that been your child?  

Could we pretend all children are as important as a pretty little blond American girl. Maybe then the adult who had seen or heard about a little blond girl being abused would have done something.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Let's Talk About Sex

Got you reading, didn't it?  That's what's happening with the Herman Cain stories.  Sex sells: cars and appliances and products of all kinds. It sells eyeballs on the Internet. And ratings on TV.  It also seems to sell attention for political candidates.

Is Herman Cain a serial harasser or himself the victim of political harassment?  Ask most working women and I’d be surprised if they didn’t agree: when a man is accused by four women of blatant sexual harassment there really is only one word to describe him: sleaze. 

Sure, it is not just men who harass.  And there are occasional misunderstandings in the workplace.  But that’s not what is happening when a guy grabs, offers to help a woman find a job if she “helps him” or any of the other blatant acts alleged against Cain. 

Most women have been there and had that done to them.  One of the few benefits of getting older is that kind of sleazy “misunderstanding” doesn’t happen as often as it once did.  And if it does, even if imperfect, there now are laws and remedies to help the victims.

More remarkable than the serial harassment history of the Herminator is that the media or the public ever considered this man a serious contender for President.  If Cain were not a conservative Republican who also happens to be African-American would he ever have made it to this level of a major political primary?  The tea party types need someone like Cain to support the claim they are not racist.  His goofy antics, until now, have just been added entertainment.  Sort of like Sarah Palin with her hunting.  Makes for higher ratings and gives the Blovinators more to talk about.

But let’s talk about sex—seriously--for a minute. 

An eleven year old girl is forced into a life as the second wife or mistress of a much older man.  She frequently is subjected to forcible sex.  She is not allowed to leave her one room.  At the same time, she is indoctrinated into viewing the world as a dangerous place.  She is totally dependent on the older man, her sexual tormentor, as her only source of food and companionship.  Quickly she comes to accept her limited world as a “safe” but very limited home.  At fourteen she bears her first child. 

Of course, the child-mother is not allowed to go to school.  But she has hopes of a better life: the occasional visit from the first wife; some day leaving her one room and feeling the sun on her face, even if only for a brief moment; her child having a better life.  Three years later she gives birth to her second child.  

The specific girl I describe above has a happy ending for two reasons: she was found alive and she is an American living in the United States.  Jaycee Dugard, a little blond, eleven-year-old, was living in Lake Tahoe, California with her mother and step-father when she was kidnapped.  It took far too long for Dugard to be found:  incredibly, 18 years.  But today her kidnapper, Philip Garrido, is serving 431 years to life in prison.  His “first” wife and co-kidnapper, Nancy Garrido, is serving 36 years to life.

When Dugard was finally released from captivity the media went wild.  Eventually she gave an interview to Diane Sawyer and was brave enough to share her horrendous experiences in a memoir, “A Stolen Life.”  

But if we could all look away from the train wreck that passes for our national debate on important topics we might realize that Dugard’s story is not all that different from that of many girls, too young to be called women, around the world.  While they daily are living the nightmare Jaycee Dugard lived, they have no hope of a happy ending.

If we devoted just some of the excess media attention and energy we spend on sexual harassment by politicians and instead directed it at the plight of sexual mistreatment of children, whether or not they are little blond Americans, we might be able to get them out of the forced marriages or daily rapes in a brothel and back to the schools and playgrounds where they belong.

We could start to turn some of the eyeballs and ratings, now wasted on stories about people like Herman Cain, and pay more attention to journalists such as Nicholas Kristof who has investigated the plight of women and girls subjected to sexual slavery throughout the world.  See his book “Half the Sky” or his many writings, for example:

Let’s leave the Herminator and his ilk to the EEOC and the courts rather than the media. The national debate, and our eyeballs, should be focused on something worthy of our attention.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Silly Photo

Keeping up with the Grandkids

We recently enjoyed a few days with our grandkids.  Let's see, bowling, video games, wiffle ball and laser sword fights in the yard, interspersed with frequent refueling stops. When they use that much energy its not much of a surprise they need to eat frequently.

This is what the grandparents looked like at one of those "refueling stops." The grandkids may have needed refueling; the grandparents needed the rest stop.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Traveling in Dreaded Real Time

Traveling can be fun and enriching.  Exploring new venues.  Seeing new sights.  Sampling new foods, meeting new people, daring new adventures.

But traveling, whether for work or fun, can be tiring. There always is something from home you wish you had with you that provides comfort, whether it is your own bed, comfy pillow, or ratty sweatshirt.  Maybe the dog who greets you at the end of the day with a happy wag. Or having a washer/dryer close at hand in the event of a mishap. Even the choice of clothes one's own closet offers which is not available in the space of a suitcase.

I love to travel but there is one thing I miss from home more than all the other comforts combined: TIVO. or more accurately, my digital TV recorder.  I don't watch all that much TV, whether at home or on the road.  But at home TV viewing is never in DRT (Dreaded Real Time).  I don't even know when the shows I watch actually are aired.  My digital recorder records them and I watch them, "buzzing" through commercial interruptions whenever I need a fix of some TV show.

The problem is not that I am missing some particular show.  TIVO, or generic TIVO, is on the job recording any show I may want to later view.  While traveling, at the end of a long day of sight-seeing, for example, if I should need an NCIS "fix", chances are at any given time a re-run of that show is on some channel.  The problem is, that and most other shows are subject to long commercial interruptions. By the time I sit through several minutes of commercials I either have lost interest in the program,  fallen asleep or both.

Even on commercial-free cable channels, such as HBO, if you do not have a digital recorder you have to actually know when the program is on and be there at the TV to watch at the appointed hour.  Either way, you are living in DRT and subject to the schedule of the television broadcast rather than it being subject to your schedule.

Without a traveling-TIVO TV is just too demanding.

DOROTHY'S IDEA OF THE DAY: Why not have a portable device that allows a person to access the shows he or she has recorded on a home TV recorder and watch them while traveling. Or put a DVR in hotel rooms so travelers can record something worth watching when they return to their room after a long day. The hotel even could let you set up your list over the Internet before you got to the hotel.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


If these are hard times, and I know they are, I have just one question:

Why is the Apple store always jam-packed with customers?

I went for my “One-on-One” class.  And had to almost wade through the customer lines to sign in.  Afterwards, while I waited to pay for my two purchases (a new iPhone screen cover (two for $15) and a new iPhone case (ugly orange, $30)  I got to talking to another woman, middle-aged, somewhat frazzled (basically a lot like me) who also was waiting to spend her money.  She had been playing with a display iPad while planning to make several purchases from her Christmas shopping list at the Apple store.  She was afraid to wait to purchase the items until November for fear they would be on back-order by then.  So much for a recession going on.

I have an old version of the iPhone.  And have been trying to resist the new iPhone 4S, the latest Apple toy.  I also own a relatively new Mac Air laptop.  When I bought my laptop, for an extra $100, I signed up for a year’s worth of One-on-One class.  I am still learning boatloads of new information about both "toys" at what are essentially individual tutoring sessions.  In theory during the one year I can take an unlimited number of classes.  But I can only schedule one class at a time.  For example, after I finished my class I registered for the next available class, a little over a week away.  On average I attend at least two classes a month, sometimes as many as four.  At that rate I am paying no more than the cost of a cup of coffee for a fifty minute session with a private tutor. 

At the session I had a list of questions and issues.  One was the extreme slowness and sometimes unresponsiveness of my old iPhone.  Some Apps don’t want to open.  Sometimes the camera is sluggish. And so on.  I told the instructor I recently had replaced my iPhone’s screen protector, the cling-on film to keep it from getting scratched when I stash it in my purse or a pocket.  The protector I used was one of several in a package I had purchased at the same time I bought the iPhone. So the screen protector, in terms of technological stuff, was really old. I also had two iPhone cases, one basic black and one white in a 2-pack box bought at the time of my original iPhone purchase.  After several years I had tired of the dingy white case so I replaced it with the other case, a similar, rubberized "sock", using the original hard shell that snaps over the rubbery sock, forming a two-piece case.

Rather than agree with me that my old iPhone was past its prime, and that I "needed" to buy a new iPhone, the One-on-One instructor (this one, a woman about my age who somehow had mastered the finer points of Apple stuff) suggested a couple of simple solutions.  

The first tip was one I had learned a long time ago with my PC: shut it off and turn it back on. 

I’ve gotten so used to leaving my iPhone all the time I had forgotten this basic sure-fire, all-purpose, well basically only high-tech solution I know when a technological thing won’t work right.   Turn it off.  Then turn it on again.  Apparently rebooting is a thing of beauty for all things high-techy, even an iPhone.

The other two tips: buy one of the newer model screen protectors that don’t interfere with the touch technology. And buy a new case for my old phone.  The old case, even though I had used it for only a few months had sat around in my desk since the time I had first bought my iPhone.  And the rubbery stuff no longer held its shape.

I did not have to pay another $200 for the latest model iPhone, I did not have to pass Go and try to transfer everything and re-learn the few tricks I finally now knew about my iPhone.  I was paying $45 for a few small pieces of plastic, one of which is an ugly orange case. (They only had three styles for an iPhone as old as mine.)  Nevertheless, they made me feel like a winner.

Sometimes I do feel I am playing the game “Monopoly” when I go to the Apple store.  But when a company is this good at what they do, I suppose they get to take my money to the bank.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Schatzie resting after a night of baseball and blogging.Why doesn't this collar come in red? Do they think dogs are color blind?,

Pillow of Pleasure Beats Cone of Shame, Paws Down

Dorothy’s Idea of the Day:
After a late night of staying up to watch the Cardinals win the World Series I decided to let my dog write my Blog today.  Here's what Schatzie wrote.

Ordinarily I give the “Two-Legs” in the family, as I like to call them, credit for some sense.  They keep my water bowl filled, my food bowl refilled twice a day, and also take me to the park regularly.  But after a recent visit to my doctor, where he completed the removal of some pesky thing that had been growing on my leg (I had gotten a good portion of the removal process started for him) he sent me home with what I refer to as the “Cone of Shame.”

Dignity and mobility are two very important traits to keep, especially as you age.  My owners did not seem to realize this when they left this cone-shaped plastic device around my neck.

First, it is hard plastic, uncomfortable to lie in, impossible to see around and don’t get me started about what it is like trying to navigate stairs or your water bowl.  I was careening into unseen objects everywhere because the stupid cone blocked all of my side vision.  Two nights in a row I had to get the Two Legs out of bed to help me go up and down the stairs or around the furniture.  And then they had to sit with me for hours while I calmed down.  Frankly I don’t think my heart can take this much excitement at my age.  And I have to say the Two Legs were pretty sluggish in their walks in the park the next days.

Finally my owners came to their senses and removed the Cone.  But they apparently were still convinced I was going to try to save them a trip back to the doctor to remove the stitches.  And yes, I had been thinking about that.  Because they then placed the pillow of pleasure around my neck.  Its official name is the “Kong Cloud”: an inflatable pillow that looks a lot like the neck pillows Two Legs use to rest their heads. 

Now I can walk around without bumping into things.  I can drink or eat in comfort.  And I don’t even mind being seen wearing the fashionable blue collar.  My owners bought it at Feeder’s Supply for about $25 and it was worth every dollar they spent.  As it says on the package, “Your dog will love you for it.” I guess the collar does not come in Cardinal red.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cardinals' Rally Squirrel Plays Great Baseball

Who would have thought in August that the Cardinals would be in the World Series, let alone the World Champions. What happened?  Commentators talk about probability vs. destiny. Well, they pulled off the win in seven thrill-packed games, up and down, back and forth.

Tonight's game was the not the nerve-racking nail-biter last night's was. But it was a great game. And maybe there is something about momentum.

For now, I an sort of glad baseball season is over for this year.  I need some sleep.

Ok, for the record I take back “Coneheads in Mudville”

What a game last night!  The Cardinals are the original come-back kids.  I don’t know if they are going to win the World Series tonight.  Or if it will be as exciting a game.  It hardly can be.  But I have to say the Redbirds and the Rally Squirrel delivered an evening of world class entertainment. 

By the way, our dog is no longer wearing a conehead, my infection is small enough to cover with an ordinary band-aid, and the autumn colors suddenly are in their orange-gold glory.  Why did I ever doubt this would be a great October?  If the Cardinals can win the World Series AND keep Albert Pujols on their roster for next year, it won’t get any better than this.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Coneheads in Mudville: Let's Hope Not

The autumn colors are subdued this year.  The reds are dull.  The yellows are yellowish-green and yellowish-brown.  And more browns and dull greens and bare limbs than colorful leaves.  None of the trees so golden they appear to sparkle.  None of the orange-gold and flame-red.   

And subdued is a good description of my mood now too.  Sure the Cardinals are now in the World Series and they are going back to St. Louis for the final part of the Series.  But they are down, two games to three.  The threat of the Series being suddenly over hangs over the remaining game(s).

My thirteen year old dog is bumping around the house with a cone over his head.  He had what looked like a “hot spot” on his leg when we left him at the kennel to go to a couple of the championship series games.  When we picked him up he had a nasty-looking wound we knew required a trip to the vet.  The tumor/ cyst (whatever it was we do not yet know; still waiting on the biopsy). But he bumps around the house, giving us sad looks—like “How can you make me look so ridiculous?  And at my advanced age?”)  His owners are feeling a little subdued after paying for his surgery and all the tests.  Do they have a health savings account system for pets?

About the time our dog had surgery, while I was exercising at the gym, I discovered a nasty bump on my leg that hurt and was inflamed.  Looked like a spider bite to the two experts I consulted, a friend at the gym and my husband.  I applied cortisone cream.  Then the bump started bleeding and I applied an antibiotic cream.  Today I went to an actual expert, a dermatologist.  Turns out I have a staph infection: a nasty germ, typically acquired at gyms.  The doctor gave me a prescription for some high-powered antibiotic since I am allergic to the usual medication used for staph germs.  Maybe I also need to wear a cone (on my hands? or leg?) to keep from scratching the infection.

The leaves on the trees will continue to drop from the trees as we move into late fall.  No matter who wins the World Series, there was joy in seeing Albert Pujols, a phenomenal baseball player and an apparently all-around nice guy, tie Babe Ruth’s and Reggie Jackson’s records for three home runs in a World Series games. 

Soon either the Cardinals’ or Texas Rangers’ fans will be celebrating their win at the final game of the World Series.  Soon our dog will get his sutures and his cone-head removed.  And soon I should be healed and able to go back to the gym for my hour of escape from any serious considerations.  But if Albert leaves the Cardinals for a better-paying ball club there will be a lot of “subdued” among Cardinal fans.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Apple Picking Or Tree Chopping

Steve Jobs was especially good at getting us to always want the next thing.  Sort of like  the gangster Johnny Rocco, played by Edward G. Robinson, in the classic Humphrey Bogart movie "Key Largo".  When Rocco was asked what he wanted, Bogey suggested to Rocco that Rocco always wanted "more".  Rocco agreed.  And Rocco also agreed he never got enough.

That is me and maybe you, when it comes to the latest Apple product or the latest electronic device.  I have a vague feeling all the "more" I crave has a downside: from mining rare earth elements, all the way to the third world land fill where the dead devices ultimately land.

Now a theatrical performance, "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" hits this troubling nail on the head according to a review in today's NY Times.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Second Coming or the World Series--Neither Yet

The crowd goes wild—all 46,000 plus.  Many have paid at least a day’s wage for their seat.  But few are sitting.  Most are standing, clapping and shouting.  Waving flags.  All are wearing and/ or carrying signs.

Have we found the ultimate Statesman who can thrill a crowd to this kind of frenzy?  Is it a mesmerizing religious leader who has drawn followers to leave their comfortable homes and gather together for a sacred event?  Is it the Second Coming?

Well, yes and no.  The venue: Busch Stadium.  The crowd: St. Louis Cardinal fans.  The event: the fifth game of the National League Championship Series. 

At the last Out of the game (the Series now will go on to Milwaukee for the best four out of seven) the noise becomes deafening.  I am afraid I have suffered permanent hearing loss.  And my vocal chords have sustained at least a temporary strain.  Because yes, I too have been screaming.

A crowd this size, no doubt, more politically and religiously diverse than any group gathered in our theaters, conventions centers or churches.  The stadium is filled with young and old, black and white, Hispanic and Asian.  Old and young.  Families with babies and small children in tow.  Singles in groups or alone.  Older couples, some with walkers and canes.  I sit next to a blind woman with a cane, on the Metro link light rail train after the game.  A particularly speedy way to and from the game.  The woman is bedecked in Cardinal finery

Granted St. Louis is a baseball town.  But if the Cardinals get into and win the World Series, I can’t imagine how the crowd will get any louder than tonight.

If we could harness this type of energy for the greater good of the nation, the human race, the planet there is nothing we couldn’t do.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Perfect Pair

Dorothy’s Idea of the Day:
I have a tip on what is sure to be the latest fashion trend: mismatched earrings.  They will be selling mismatched “pairs” in all the stores just as soon as the Christmas shopping season is into full swing. 

But, you can beat the rush by “pairing up” your own earrings. A long dangly one with a faux diamond stud; a bright and brassy earring with a genuine stone in a contrasting setting. The combinations are endless. 

And you don’t really have to buy new pairs. In fact, you can make your own pairs by breaking up the pairs you already own, or you can “match” the odd onesies you, like everyone else, have stashed here and there. You could start your holiday shopping early by “pairing" up some of those odd ones into clever combinations and assemble your own holiday presents.  

Another perfect opportunity this fashion trend delivers is for the ambivalent but fashion-conscious sports fan. You are rooting for one team, your spouse, best friend, or significant other is rooting for the opposition. Don a blue UK earring in the right ear, a red U of L earring in the left. You are set to go to any and all booster or tailgating events.  Just remember which side to turn to whom. Turn the other cheek and you will always be a winner.