The Road Trip, Part II

The saga continues…

We drove to Paducah by way of St Louis. What a mess St. Louis was, part of the freeway thru downtown was shut down, which we didn’t know, so we ended up rerouting a few times before we finally figured out how to get out of town to get where we wanted to go. Now THERE was an adventure. South on the freeway, exit, north on the freeway, exit, drive a few city streets, back on the freeway, oops not THAT way, don’t miss the NEXT EXIT, ARGH, missed it, get the next one, and then finally we were headed toward Paducah. 

As we continued on, the countryside and river were just so peaceful and beautiful. That’ was a lot of the fun of the trip, just being relaxed and seeing the scenery, not knowing what was ahead, and on the way, we found Clarksville. No, not THAT Clarksville, although I’m going to pretend it is. IMG_3451This one is a really tiny town, with the railroad running through it, between town and the river. As we got to the river, we could see there had been major flooding this year. A rock monument by the river marked a high-water spot from 1973 and some folks we spoke with said this year eclipsed that easily. Many of the businesses have not yet recovered and reopened. It’s a cute town, with a lovely area along the river where it looks like they might have a farmer’s market, and a great spot for tourists to stop and hopefully they’ll be able to get back on their feet. After I got home, I posted a photo Gina took of me under the brick arch by the railroad track in Clarksville, where the RR crossing was visible, and put it on Twitter, tagging Micky Dolenz (yes, THAT Mickey Dolenz) saying “look what I found on the Great River Road”. The next day he had clicked “like”. Am I absurd because I’m completely geeking out over that?

We made it to Paducah that afternoon, and found it to be delightful!  On the way down we tried to get an air B&B, but all were filled. Gina called the Hotel 1857, and they had one room left. Just as she was about to tell them we’d take it, they told us the owner had just opened up his condo across the street for rent, for $10 more. So instead of $165 a night for a nice hotel room, did we want to pay $175 for a newly renovated half million-dollar warehouse condo that was 2800 square feet, 2 levels with a private entrance and 2 decks? Um, heck yes! Within walking distance to everything, it was a fabulous place, and normally rents for $275 a night so if you ever are in Paducah, check out the condo with the hotel. It had hardwood floors throughout, an up-to-date kitchen that was stocked with basic necessities if you want to cook, and well-appointed guest rooms. The master suite had a beautiful glass walled walk-in shower that was about 6 x 10 feet, with a rain-style shower head, and towel warmer.

The town had a catastrophic flood in 1937, and built a concrete flood-wall for protection, The panels that face away from the river are painted with murals that tell the history of the town, and on the river side are two areas with multiple steps, like an amphitheater. There is a place for a stage, and musicians play in the summer. Behind the stage is a sloped concrete boat ramp about a block long, and wide enough for several lanes of cars. While it functions as a boat ramp, on that warm summer night with a full moon it looked more like a summer cruise lane with cars driving continuously across, coming in one side of the open flood wall and going out the other.


Paducah is also the home of all things quilting, the national quilt museum and Hancock’s of Paducah, one of the largest quilt fabric stores I’ve ever seen (i.e. mecca for quilters.) Imagine fabric, tools and patterns spread over an area the size of 2 basketball courts, and you’d about have it.  I spent over 2 hours shopping for fabric and could easily have spent 2 or 3 more. While I’ll be going back, I hope that the next time I’ll pick a weekend that isn’t the National Quilt Show, which was the reason why all of the hotel rooms were sold out! You couldn’t throw a rock that weekend in Paducah without hitting a quilter, and while I wish I’d had time to get to the museum, unfortunately we just couldn’t make that work. 

After Paducah, we took a little trip to Metropolis, home of Superman. Yep, there really is a town called Metropolis, IL, just over the Ohio River from Paducah. IMG_3433They have a huge Superman statue in the town square, a museum, and some other artifacts. All a bit silly and lot of fun! Of course, we HAD to take our picture with Superman.

From there we drove across MO to Jefferson City to spend a night with my husband’s nieces, his most fun and delightful relatives. While not as picturesque as the river drive, it was nearly as interesting. There was a time or two I told Gina I was really happy I knew I’d just had my car serviced and gotten new tires, because I wouldn’t have wanted to break down where we were. We saw a Confederate flag or two flying, and there were places were the general state of run-down made us feel like we were definitely not somewhere we were comfortable. I even remember one spot on highway 72, where we saw a multi-unit housing complex, like a 4-plex, right on the side of the road that had been abandoned, maybe 20 or 30 years ago. It’s slowly being swallowed by nature, vines are growing over it, trees up and around it. It won’t be long before you can’t see it, and it’s either swallowed up completely or falls down. It’s sad, so desolate and deserted. How does that happen? People just walk away, stop fixing things up? There were lots of little towns too, although calling them towns was generous, as they weren’t more than a handful of houses clustered together.

fullsizeoutput_9f9fWe got to Jefferson City around 6, unpacked the car and headed downtown with my husband’s nieces and had a wonderful dinner. They both are the most gracious hostesses, and I love spending time with them.  After dinner we sat on their deck and had a margarita, enjoyed the warm evening, watched and photographed the antics of a couple of praying mantises as we made friends with their beloved 19-year old Missy Kitty. I’m so glad I got to meet that lovely beauty as I learned she passed away a few weeks ago. She was lucky to have moms that loved her as much as those two did. 

The drive home on Sunday was LONG…almost 7 hours from Jefferson City to home, but the trip was fantastic. The difficult part was that the shortest route from there is very zig-zaggy – as in, go north 3 miles, then west 2.5, then north 5, then west 1 etc. and we kept doing that for what felt like forever, until we finally connected with the freeway somewhere south of Des Moines, IA. The alternative would have been to either head straight west to catch I-35, or go to Columbia and then get on some more main highways to Minneapolis but those would all have been longer routes.  The trade-off was shorter but lots of turns, or longer and a few turns and then just drive. No great choices either way, so we went with shorter. We (meaning me) rewarded myself with a stop in Des Moines at Krispy Kreme, because of course, why not?

So, the adventure is done, and it certainly was one. Would I do it again? Absolutely!! It was fun, I learned a lot about my cousin and myself, and had a great time. 

The Road Trip, Part 1

When my husband told me he was going to go on a camping trip with a couple of guys again this year, I decided I was NOT going to be left out. No siree, I was going to have a little fun of my own, and got ahold of my cousin who is also one of my dearest friends and asked if she would like to go on a vacation with me. Her response was an instant “of course!” and after a lot of back and forth as to where we’d go, we settled on a road trip down the Great River Road, driving down along the Mississippi River for 5 days. One of our aunts asked if we were going to be like Thelma and Louise, and if we were smart, we’d have gotten t-shirts about the movie (or at least a couple of them with Brad Pitt’s face on ’em, goodness!) But it certainly was an adventure, and I thought I’d share a bit of it with you.

Day 1

Got only a little lost, twice, because really it wouldn’t be a road trip without getting lost, right? To our credit we were following the map we got from the Great River Road website, but it was a really crappy map. But that’s ok because getting lost was part of the adventure, and who cares, it’s vacation. We spent the first night in a lovely hotel in Muscatine, Iowa, called The Merrill, right on the river. If you’re ever in Muscatine, I highly recommend staying there. It’s a new hotel, the staff couldn’t have been nicer or more welcoming and helpful, the rooms were comfortable and clean, with nice amenities and the price was good. Breakfast the next morning was excellent (steel cut oats with dried fruit compote and creme brulee-like crust of brown sugar on top. It was absolutely heaven, and then once again we were on our way. 

Day 2

As we continued down the road, we stumbled on Fulton, where we noticed a huge windmill in the center of town. Being we are both of Dutch descent we had to check that out, so we drove to it and found out it was one of two working windmills in the US. IMG_3393Fulton was settled by the Dutch, and as they say “if you’re not Dutch, you’re not much” so I guess it’s a swell little town. We took selfies by the windmill (it’s REALLY hard to take a selfie while facing the sun and trying to make sure you get the windmill included in the background, just sayin’), then texted our moms and told them we lied about the road trip and flew to Holland instead. I’m pretty sure neither of them bought it, but it was still fun anyhow, and just the kind of mischief our grandpa Cornie would have loved. 

Continuing the drive south from there, we wound alongside the river, through farmlands, and just enjoyed the scenery of the midwest. We had hoped to make it through St. Louis when there wasn’t rush hour, but I guess there is no such time. We also didn’t know that the route we planned to take had an unexpected closure due to a chemical spill, so that caused us to get slightly lost the second time as we couldn’t take the exit we planned to, shot farther south than expected, went off the freeway and turned back north, got on the freeway, then went past where we wanted to be, had to exit the freeway again and ended up in a residential area that quite frankly had seen slightly better days before we were able to find the reroute we needed. 

We finally got to Hannibal, MO that second night, home of Mark Twain. We thought about touring his boyhood home but decided against it as we thought $12 seemed a bit much. I didn’t know his home was only a block from the Mississippi River, which helps to explain its influence on his life. Dinner was a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi, and I’m fairly certain that other than the crew we were the youngest ones there. We did meet a lovely couple in their 60’s who made it a goal to visit all 50 states, and this year they were on #’s 44-47. Next year they will finish the last 3. They fly from home and fly state to state, taking in something of each state over a period of a few days. When they finish next year they’ll wrap up their trip in Fargo, ND, because apparently at the visitors board in Fargo you can have your photo taken next to a statue of the woodchipper from the movie “Fargo”, complete with a fake leg coming out of it, if you’ve visited all 50 states, and you get a certificate indicating you’ve completed all 50. Since their last name is Fargo, she said it just seemed apropos.

The dinner on the boat was nice, the ride on the river was fun, but the downside was returning to the dock.  The gnats/bugs were swarming the dock lights, which were right outside the exit door. And when I say swarming, I mean when I first saw them, they were so thick I thought it was fog! Leaving the gift shop, you literally had to hold your breath, duck your head and run. My cousin and I could do it, but the older folks on board had a hard time of it, and even running we still had to swipe bugs off our clothes when we got to the car. A nice heavy-duty fan to blow them away wouldn’t have gone amiss there!

That night we stayed at the Comfort Inn and Suites in Hannibal and I’ve never had a bad night at one, until that night. We were awakened sometime after midnight to the sound of what seemed like bowling balls being dropped on the floor. Repeatedly. After several minutes of heavy footfalls, repeated thumps and no speaking, we called management who said they would take care of it. The noises stopped; we went back to sleep only to be reawakened a short time later by the same noises. Another phone call to the management, another request to have it handled. Then at 5, my cousin woke me saying “do you hear that?” it was water (or some clear liquid) dripping onto her bed from the ceiling. It was in a straight line, about 18″ long, steadily dripping. Another call to management, but this time we asked him to come to the room. He did, where the poor 30-year old manager was confronted by 2 tired and crabby middle-aged women. We showed him the issue and handed him the bill that had been slipped under the door and my cousin just said “take care of this. We’ve had a horrible night between the guys above us and now this, and we aren’t paying for this room.” Fortunately, we’d gotten a room with 2 beds, so rather than move to another room we shared my bed for a couple more hours of sleep before getting up and heading on our way. But I swear I couldn’t help but wonder what the heck those guys were doing up there? Meth lab? Dismembering bodies? Good lord I know I have a vivid imagination, but who makes that much noise in the middle of the night without talking? Seriously!

Day 3

Before leaving Hannibal, we thought about touring the Mark Twain caves, but decided not to pay the $20 admission fee and instead drove up a lovely overlook called “Lovers Leap”.

fullsizeoutput_9f52

There’s a legend about an Indian Princess and her lover, who leapt to their deaths rather than be separated.  Here are photos of the monument to them along with one with the story. fullsizeoutput_9f53There was also a monument there to 3 boys who disappeared from near there after going exploring one day, back in the late 1960’s. To this day they’ve never been found and it’s not known if they fell into some caves and couldn’t get out, were abducted or what happened. fullsizeoutput_9f58Look the story up, it’s spooky and very odd.

 

 

 

Still to come, Paducah, KY, the confederate flag, Jefferson City and donuts! Next up, “The Road Trip, Part 2” and the rest of our adventure.

 

A Little Birthday Gift

As we’ve gotten older, my husband and I have found that we don’t need as much as we used to. Food, clothes, pay the bills, and a few toys here and there. What IS different of course, is the size of the toys: no longer are we content with jigsaw puzzles and a “Please Don’t Break the Ice” game. Now the toys we want are more likely to have multiple zeros on the end, which of course makes it challenging to figure out what to get each other for birthdays and Christmas without breaking the bank, or more appropriately, what I need to get my husband for his birthday or for Christmas. By contrast, I’m easy to buy for. I’ll make a list for him…a long list with many options as a matter of fact, which he will then proceed to ignore, try to figure out what to get me on his own and tell me I’m impossible to buy for. He on the other hand, will not put together a list, and there is a reason for that

You see, Mike can’t seem to resist getting little treats for himself right before his birthday or Christmas. No matter how often I have asked, begged, pleaded, cajoled, demanded, and insisted, I just can’t seem to get him to understand that he’s losing husband points when he does this. I keep telling him ‘do NOT buy things for yourself in the month before your birthday and in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s likely you’ll get that thing for said upcoming event”, but it doesn’t matter.

So, when I do come up with an idea for something he doesn’t have, it really feels like a ‘eureka!’ moment for me. I get really excited, I’m happy, feel giddy, and wonder if I can pull it off. Then I get the gift for him and hide it where I pray he won’t find it before I can have a chance to wrap it up. Pulling this off successfully, however, requires cooperation from my husband, which in 19 years together I am sad to say I have only been able to pull off once. Doing the math, that’s 1 out of 38 chances, an only 2.6% success rate. To paraphrase Arlo Guthrie, that’s horrible.

It happened again today. We have a tiki hut outside – a screened porch that we’ve decorated with a fun tiki theme. Of course, if you have a tiki hut you have GOT to have tiki cocktail glasses, right?

Well, about 2 weeks ago, I decided I would buy a set of replacement tiki bar glasses for him, since we’d broken one of our original ones a few months back. We’d talked about getting the backup set but never did it, and I thought “what a perfect birthday gift!” Screen Shot 2019-09-04 at 10.23.02 PMSo I found it on Amazon, ordered it, prayed it would arrive when he was at work (it did), hid it in a closet and waited. Since he’ll be camping when his birthday is this year, I figured I’d give him the glasses this weekend. This morning, while I had a small break from working, he came into my office and said “oh by the way, just thought I’d let you know I just ordered another set of the tiki bar glasses as a backup set for ours.” I just sat there and finally said “you have got to be kidding me” then got up, went to the closet, pulled out the box, handed it to him and said, “well, hell, Happy Birthday honey!” He peeked in the box and just started to laugh.

I guess the good news is we’re set if we break a few more or have lots of folks over for cocktails in the tiki hut.

Happy Anniversary to Me!

I was fiddling around this morning, checking stats in my blog, when I found out that yesterday marked 4 years to the day from when I published my first blog post. It was quite short, the bulk of it is below, and I thought I’d share it with you so that I can admit to what I have – and have not – accomplished in that time.

As I now must admit I’ve passed one milestone in my life and have a nodding acquaintance with middle age, and am approaching another as I near completion of my studies in graduate school – finally! – it’s time to start doing some of the things that I’ve either said I would, or have envied others for doing. Improve my photography skills enough to win local awards, and perhaps be published; not miss sending anyone a birthday card all year long (no, really!); start my novel; write a blog (thank you Diane Henders, for a little push, and a lot of inspiration.)

I was pretty ambitious when I started this, and was sure that blog writing would inspire me to get off the dime and get my novel written, but as it does, life got in the way. Since that first post I’ve had hip surgery, changed jobs, lost my job and started a new one, lost a family member, taken up old hobbies and started some new ones. What I haven’t done is written my novel or won any photography awards. But maybe that’s ok, because I’m having fun, and finding inspiration in the world around me.

I’ve started quilting again, and even took on a part-time job in a quilt fabric shop last fall. Right now, I’m scrambling to finish up a quilt for “Quilts of Honor”, which is an organization that collects quilts with patriotic themes, which are then donated to veterans who’ve been wounded while on active duty. Specifically, the group I’m working with has requested ours go to women vets this year, and they will be given on Veteran’s Day this fall. Here is the top of my quilt, and I’m hoping that by the end of this week I’ll have it all stitched with the batting and back so I can get to the binding.

I’ve also been knitting a lot and have found I really enjoy making socks! If you’d have asked me when I first started knitting again (I first learned in high school) I would have told you I probably would like larger needles and thicker yarn better, but I’m finding for some reason that I do enjoy making socks on small, circular needles. Maybe it’s because it’s a small number of stitches, and seems to go fast.

I also took up rock painting over the past few years, which I really enjoy. We found no shortage of rocks in the dirt in our yard as we mucked about with planting new shrubs and plants, and when we found some that were suitable for painting (i.e. smooth surface, interesting shape and a large enough surface), we’d set them aside (and by we I really mean my husband who did most of the digging!) and then washed ’em up. Now I have a lovely free collection, along with no shortage of ideas thanks to Pinterest.

I’m still not so hot on sending out birthday cards, so if you’re waiting for one from me, sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you could be in for a letdown. I do try, really, but apparently my brain is just not wired for it. Consider yourself really lucky if I remember to send you an email. At least I’m not sending you a rock!

 

Things Mom Never Told You, Vol VII.

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a post on putting together a drip irrigation system for your patio or flower garden to help ensure your flowers and/or vegetables stay watered, even if you’re not around to do it. Well one of the lessons I learned last year is that there IS a limit to what you can do with a very basic set-up and 1/4″ tubing, but fortunately, there is a solution.

I ran into a problem last year that didn’t make itself known right away. It wasn’t until we had transplanted several hosta from our backyard where they weren’t doing much of anything, to the front yard landscaped area next to our sidewalk where our 15-year old shrubs had finally given up the ghost. After pulling out a lot of old, tenacious roots, we added in some lovely soil amendments to break up all the clay we have to deal with, and planted the hosta. I then set about putting my drip irrigation together.

I wanted to really make certain they were well watered, so rather than just use a button dripper with about a 0.5-1.0 gallon per hour (GPH) flow rate, I brought my big guns – the adjustable dripper on a spike that has a flow rate of 0-10 GPH. Sounds really great, doesn’t it? The hanging pot next to our front door already had one, as did the elephant ear plant on the other side of the door. After adding in the new hosta on the right side of the sidewalk, and the 5 new hostas on the left side, for the life of me, I could NOT figure out why I wasn’t getting anything more than a trickle for the last 3 or so hostas, despite having the flow rate on the drippers wide open. It wasn’t until I did some basic math that it all made sense. 8 heads at up to 10 GPH – on tubing that has a max flow rate of 35 GPH – I’d have to turn the rate so low on the plants on either side of the door that they would barely even get watered at all. As my husband is fond of saying, it’s an insurmountable problem, and nothing I could ever do on that setup was going to fix it. I had a similar situation on my patio, with too many drippers for the tubing, and barely being able to get all of my plants watered.

This year, however, I decided to upgrade, and for a small investment and a little planning, I’ve got a far superior set up. I switched over to the DIG products and am running 1/2″ tubing rather than 1/4″. The flow rate for that is 220 GPH.

For a quick visual reference, check out the difference between the two lines. In this picture, coming off the left side of the timer first is the pressure reducer and filter, followed by the new 1/2″ black tubing at the bottom. On the right side of the timer right after the pressure reducer is the original 1/4″ tubing. It really makes it easy to see the difference in the amount of the water that can move through the tubing!

I ran that all the way around the periphery of the patio and then plugged the individual lines for the pots into the tubing. It was so simple to do; all you need is a punch to make the hole in the tubing and the connectors. One end of the connector goes into the 1/4″ tubing, the other into the 1/2″ tubing. On the other side of the 1/4″ I put the appropriate watering head. At the end of the 1/2″ tubing run, I just looped the tubing over on itself and put a zip tie on it to securely kink it closed rather than buy the special gadget they sell for this purpose.

So how small of an investment you wonder? Well I had a lot of the smaller tubing and connections, but the larger tubing and head unit, plus a few connection pieces that I needed cost me around $30. I set it up in an evening, everything went together really quickly. The only problem I had with it, was I got a little carried away on one punch and went out the other side. Fortunately DIG has a solution for that with something called a “goof plug”. It looks like a standard connection plug but it’s solid. You just push it into the spot where you made the mistake and it’s plugged up.

Another addition this year are some micro-spray mister heads from Rain Bird for some of my hanging pots. If I used the adjustable sprayers, it seemed like they got watered, but a lot of the water was also just running through the pot and out the bottom. With the sprayer head it seems now like it’s more evenly dispersed over the whole plant and takes longer before I have run-off of the extra.

The plants are happy, getting watered consistently every day, and I don’t have to run around filling up my watering can. We even buried some PVC pipe under the grass about 4 inches down, with an elbow on each end to bring the pipe up above ground so that I can run 1/4″ tubing from the patio area through that, under the grass and into a different area that we have landscaped. In there I have a couple of other pots to water as well, and they’re now connected to the irrigation system too. So even on really hot days, if I get busy or just don’t want to be outside like last week when the heat index hit 114 degrees, it won’t matter: my system is on a timer and my plants stay happy. Can’t beat that!

It’s the Clock’s Fault!

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed as I’ve been out driving that I seem to be having more near misses when it comes to car accidents. I really don’t think my driving habits have changed significantly, or if they have, I would say I might be driving slightly more “old lady-ish” but that would be about all, and by that I only mean I’m more prone to following the speed limit, not running yellow lights, that sort of thing. But over the last several months I’ve had several close calls where I’ve almost been side swiped (twice), rear-ended at high speeds (twice), lane drifters, and all kinds of other stuff. It’s taken me a while, but I think I am finally figuring out the problem.

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is that “oh we’re all so busy and in a hurry”, and that might be partly true, but I don’t think that’s the whole story. Nor do I think that distracted driving is completely to blame either, although it certainly can take the lion’s share of it. So, my analytical little brain has sat and thought, and thought, and thought about this one.

Having a background in Quality Improvement is interesting. You start to look at things in a different way. For example, in the past you might have thought to yourself “I wonder how my favorite bakery decides on a new cookie to bake?” but now it’s all part of a process. You start with this step, move to the next, then next and voila, new cookie in the market! Or you overanalyze things to find root cause, because you can’t just let ordinary things go – you are compelled to keep asking why.

You know, there’s a new trend in interviewing in business, called Behavioral Based Interviewing and the rationale behind it is that past actions are the best predictor of future behavior. Well, apparently, it’s true, just ask my mom, because I’m fairly certain she’ll tell you I was one of those annoying two-year olds that ran around behind her always asking “why, why, why, why, why?” Of course, in hindsight, perhaps she should have known I’d go into Quality, since the key to doing root cause analysis on a problem is asking “why” 5 times! (Parents, take heart – if you have a toddler like this, quality analysis is a great career field!)

So, as I’ve pondered why I seem to be seeing more near misses, I think I have found the answer. The reason why we’re do busy, why we’re so distracted, is the digital clock. Think about it for a moment. Back when all we used were analog clocks, we were much more likely to live on -ish time. You know what I mean…”what time is it honey?” “It’s 3:30-ish”. Or “when do you think you’ll be leaving work?” “5-ish”. We’d glance at the clock to find out what time it was, respond in relative time frames. You’d see it was getting close to a time you’d need to do something, so you’d act accordingly. If you needed to leave by 4 to get somewhere and you saw this:

You’d think “I’d better get going” and off you’d go. But now, we think in terms of this:

and immediately think “Oh, it’s only 3:54, it takes me maybe 30 minutes to get there and if I push it, I can do it in 28. I’m good, ” and then we dawdle until suddenly it’s this:

…and the next thing you know you’re flying down the road, not paying attention, running nearly red lights and almost sideswiping unsuspecting motorists who are doing the right thing at stoplights by waiting until after the light turns green before preceding into the intersection, when you come along and make a right turn on red without stopping because you dawdled. Again.

When I got an Apple watch, one of the first things I did was to set up a watch face that was analog. I like it so much better than digital, as I really do prefer that sense of “-ish time.” You know what I’m talking about when I use that term, we still have it in our lives, just not as much as we used to. “What time will your party start?” “Oh, 6-ish or so.” Or, “What time is dinner?” “Probably 7-ish”. Better yet, I like the even more vague dark-thirty, as in “the party really got going around dark-thirty”. (Don’t overthink it. If I have to explain it to you, we probably wouldn’t have much fun together at a party anyway.)

I know I won’t change the world and get everyone back to an analog life, but it sure would be lovely if we could figure out how to slow down just a little, and not be so urgent all of the time. Maybe get a little more “ish” back into our lives – in the good way.

Reading and Chasing Squirrels

I’m a voracious reader, always have been. Just ask my mom, she’ll happily tell you about any number of occasions where she had to call my name multiple times to get my nose out of a book and do my chores when I was a kid, and I can honestly say all these years later, not much has changed. Sometimes I read fast, sometimes I go slowly, savoring every word. Recently, I read something written in a style that I’d not tried before, and wow, what an experience it was.

For Christmas this year, I told my husband I wanted “Pioneer Girl”, which is an autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder edited by Pamela Smith Hill, and more specifically, it’s an annotated autobiography. Having never read something annotated before, I didn’t really understand what precisely, that meant.

Now, I’m rather curious and inquisitive by nature. I love learning things, solving puzzles, and am quite certain that I was a child that said “why” far too many times and probably drove my mother crazy. You’d think that reading something annotated would be right up my alley, right? Well yes – and no, and I’ll tell you why.

If you’ve never cracked open a book that is annotated, I’ll tell you what makes it unique. Rather than having the footnotes at the end of the book, they are included throughout the entire text, so that the reader has the additional information about that particular thing that has a notation attached to it, right when you’re reading it. This is good, in that you have the benefit of more context at that moment in time. It’s also bad, because if you’re like me, it can be a little distracting, like when you’re trying to look for a butterfly, and then suddenly I yell “squirrel!!” and all of a sudden, I’m off down the proverbial rabbit trail. Here’s a great example.

One morning I started reading about the family’s move back to De Smet, SD, in 1879. As I saw some maps and photos, I got to wondering how different it looked today as compared to then, and what might still be around, because of course I wasn’t just content to read the book and annotations. Nope, I had to ALSO open Google maps, pull up De Smet on the map, put it in satellite view and start zooming in, then put the little yellow man on the streets and walk around. I had to zoom out again and find the Big Slough, Silver Lake, find out where the Ingalls homestead was, was anything still there? Where was Almanzo’s homestead, is there a marker there? Zoom in, zoom out, fiddle around. Search Google for historical De Smet photos, find ones from the period, was Pa Ingalls store on there? Is it still around? Good grief!!

I’ve done the same thing with other historical places. I think it’s wonderful to be able to find these old photos on the internet, and see what used to be, and how things have changed. I even caught myself doing it again yesterday when we finished watching a wonderful documentary from Ken Burns on the Great Plains in the time of the dust bowl. In the show was narration from a book written by Caroline Henderson, who had purchased land and homesteaded in the early 1900’s before she married (what a woman!). She then married, and she and her husband lived on that land and farmed in the heart of the dust bowl, and she wrote about life during that time. Of course, at the end of the documentary, there I am on Google maps, searching for the Henderson homestead in Oklahoma. Yes, it’s still there but unfortunately, it’s just far enough off main roads that the Google camera hasn’t photographed it.

Did you also know that you can get a “what was there” view using Google Earth Pro? It won’t work with regular Google Maps, you need to use the Google Earth Pro app. Once you find an address, you can use the imagery date slider bar to go back in time to see earlier satellite images of the area. Or course, the older they are, the poorer the imagery is because they didn’t have high resolution satellite photography years ago. You also can’t drop the little yellow Google guy on the street for a street view of yesteryear – it will change to a street view of the most current year’s image. But it’s still fun. I’ve also gotten lost in our state historical society’s online photographic collection, Facebook’s Old Minneapolis page, and a site called Minnesota Reflections. I find that as I dig around one site, I will stumble on something else, and then another and another and suddenly I’ve killed an entire morning, my eyes are blurry from staring at the computer screen and I can’t feel my rear end because I’ve sat for too long. But dang, I sure had fun!

Say What????

When was the last time you really listened to song lyrics from “oldies” songs? No really…truly listened to them? My sister recently had a post on Facebook, referencing the song “Hot Stuff” from Donna Summer, and commented that if our parents had truly listened to those words, well, the high school pep band would NEVER have been allowed to play it. That got me to thinking, what other songs might have lyrics that we never really thought about (maybe because we misheard them, and didn’t have Google at our fingertips to look them up?) So I went in search of lyrics of some of the songs I’ve listened to. Keep in mind I’m a child of the 70’s, I LOVE that music. Oh boy, did I find some online gold!music-notes-clip-art-musical_note_3_clip_art_12287

Jefferson Starship’s “Miracles” always was so innocuous, until I heard a station play the album cut of the song, which was not the general radio play version. I about drove off the road when I heard “I had a taste of the real world, when I went down on you girl”. No wonder stations didn’t play the album cut! Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” isn’t much better either.

“Moonight Feels Right” by Starbuck always sounded like he was singing about having sex, although apparently he wrote the song about a woman he wanted to date. He fell for her photo and registered at the college she attended to meet her. After asking her out for the third time, she accepted and that’s when “the wind blew some luck in my direction” Bruce Blackman, the songwriter says. The little novelty song took off in 1976. Yet, when I hear the end of the second verse, it sounds anything but innocent. Next time you hear it, see what you think. I guess he was successful as he married her. But “Afternoon Delight”? Yeah, no way was that innocent.

On the other hand, the guys in Supertramp sang about not getting anything in “Breakfast in America”, with “Take a look at my girlfriend, She’s the only one I got, Not much of a girlfriend, Never seem to get a lot”. Poor guys. I really feel for you.

Back in high school, we drove 8 miles to be able to go roller skating in the next town over. (I realize there are probably a few of you reading this thinking “roller skates? What’s that?” Well, think Roller Blades, but in a rectangular shape instead of in-line.) I can still remember one of our favorite skating songs was Foghat’s “Slow Ride”. Um yeah, about that? The chorus goes like this: “Slow down, go down”. Heck, it was so popular that years later it made it into the soundtrack of “Dazed and Confused”, which is a hoot of a movie about the last day of school in 1975. Not only is it’s soundtrack incredible, but it has up and coming young stars Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey, but I digress. If our parents knew we were skating to that song, we’d probably never have been let out of the house.

“NIght Moves” by Bob Seger is exactly what it sounds like, but I didn’t always quite catch all of that first verse so I looked it up. For those of you who weren’t exactly sure what he was singing about, here ya go:

I was a little too tall
Could’ve used a few pounds
Tight pants point hardly renowned
She was a black-haired beauty with big dark eyes
And points all her own sitting way up high
Way up firm and high

Journey and Steve Perry (yep, I’m cheating, they’re the 80’s. ) “Anyway You Want It”. Nuff said. But I still love listening to Perry, no matter what.

I know, if you go looking for trouble you surely will find it, right? Kind of like “Lookin’ for Love in all the Wrong Places”.

How about The Partridge Family? I have to admit I had a crush on David Cassidy as a teen, and maybe even a little still as an adult too in spite of his problems as an adult. But completely clean, innocent lyrics that were family friendly? Here’s “Summer Days”:

David_Cassidy

Photo source  Wikimedia Commons 

I feel the sunlight on my face
When I just close my eyes and I trace
The footpath to your daddy’s summer place
Where we spent our early summer days

The hill we climbed that went on forever
We reached the top of the world together

Yeah, you gave your love to me and I remember perfectly
High above all time and space and I remember summer days

Um, yeah. Innocent. Or maybe it’s me. No matter, I’ll still sing this and other Patridge Family songs, or any of the ones I mentioned above out at the top of my lungs, and have fun doing it.

What are your favorite old guilty pleasure songs? Share some of them with me, I’d love to hear some other examples!

 

 

Saving on Prescriptions

No matter which side of the political aisle you sit on, and regardless of whether or not you support or want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, one thing that I think most everyone seems to be in agreement on is that the cost of many of our prescription drugs has gotten out of hand. If you listen to the drug companies, they’ll give you dozens of reasons why that is, and while one or two may have some (and I use some very loosely) validity, most hold water about as well as your grandmother’s colander.

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 9.01.54 AM

Illustration courtesy of www.wellnesscorporatesolutions.com

What amazes me however, is that for all of our ability to jump on the internet and rant about it, or tell heart wrenching stories about knowing someone who is rationing medication because they can’t afford it or worse, that someone died because they couldn’t afford their medication, there is still a gap in getting information out to the general public on how to find help to pay for medications. This is an issue that affects so many people, regardless of the kind of job you have, or your insurance because today so many employer driven health plans are high deductible plans, meaning deductibles need to be paid before the co-pays kick in and medications are a part of paying deductibles. I don’t know if it’s just that people don’t think there is anything out there for assistance, or it just doesn’t occur to them to look, but there are a number of ways that you may be able to find help with paying for medications, and I’ll share a few of them here that I’ve learned about. Please understand that this list isn’t an exhaustive list, nor am I receiving any kind of remuneration for mentioning any resources. Rather I’m an RN and former case manager, and want to try to share a little of what I’ve learned over the past months and years.

One of my “go-to” resources is GoodRx. This is a free site/app that is available to anyone, and you may have even seen one of their displays in your doctor’s office (their cards have a yellow strip across the top). While GoodRx will tell you it’s not insurance, for most of us out here it sort of acts a lot like it. To get an ID number than can be used by everyone in the family, just grab one of the cards, or go to their website and sign up for free. Once you sign up you can download the app and log into that and you’re all set to go, it will link to the account you signed up to online and provide the ID number back to the app. Show the number on your app to your pharmacy. They will run your prescription through GoodRx and apply any discounts. Some are more substantial than others, and you should only have to do it the first time you fill a prescription with it. I generally ask if the price of the drugs seems higher than I expect, just to be sure as once in a while they forget, but most of the time they do it automatically as it’s in the system.

After downloading the app on your phone, you can enter the name and dose of any drug, add your zip code and it will look up the cost of the drug at pharmacies in your area (you can also do this on the website). Where that can be helpful is if you’re sitting in your doctor’s office, and you know you have something that’s expensive, your doctor can send that prescription to the pharmacy where you’ll get the deepest discount.

Two others that you can try are SingleCare.com and Easydrugcard.com. While I haven’t used either of these, I do know they are out there. An internet search on “discount pharmacy cards” or “discount prescription program” will bring up others as well. One caveat to using GoodRx, and I suspect the other programs, is that you can only use them in conjunction with commercial insurance (meaning, you need to be insured with your employer). If you have some sort of state plan like Medical Assistance or Medicare, you generally can’t use the discount cards.

Another way you may be able to save on the cost of medication is directly from the manufacturer. I recently wanted to refill a medication that I knew would cost me over $600 with the discount card! Since that was cost-prohibitive for us right now, I went to the manufacturer’s website, and found a coupon there that would allow me to get the medication for $15!  If I remember correctly, there was a limit on the number of refills per year, but that was fine as I don’t refill it frequently so I would have been able to work with that. (I ended up not using it, as we had an insurance change before I could fill it.)

A final possibility is with your pharmacy directly, and this was a new one to me. You can’t turn on television, radio or hop on the internet these days without hearing about the Opioid crisis, and some of the steps that are being taken to combat it are moving closer to our everyday lives. Some pharmacies are now not honoring the discount cards for any drugs that would fall into what the FDA has classified as a “scheduled” drug, meaning they watch how it’s dispensed more closely as it has some level of potential for abuse. There are five levels of scheduled drugs, with things like Heroin and Ecstasy being Level I and Robitussin with Codeine being Level V, to give you an idea. However, I know of at least one pharmacy that developed their own discount coupon so that their clients would still be able to afford the medication.

I know that this isn’t an exhaustive help list, and folks are still likely to fall through the giant crevices in our healthcare system. But please, share this with everyone you know, so that if it helps just a few people better afford their medication, it’s worth it.

Winter Driving Delights

If you’ve been reading this for any length of time, you know that I live in Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes, 12 million mosquitos and snow. Depending on the year, we might get a little, or maybe like ocean waves, every 7th year or so, a lot. (I don’t know, I made that up. Don’t look it up.) But whether it’s a little or a lot, we always get some, and one thing is always a given: the first few snowfalls will always confound drivers, because of course none of us can remember how to drive in snow from the last time we did 6 or 8 months ago. In a typical year, however, after those first few snowfalls, we usually settle in nicely and have figured it out.

Something is different about this year, and I’m not sure what. I don’t know if it’s because we’re getting higher than usual amounts of late season storms, or if it’s because when it’s not snowing it’s been absurdly cold. You may have even seen stories of folks who ended up in the ER because they tried to turn boiling water into snow. Apparently everyone has seen the beautiful photo or video someone shot of a woman doing this while she was backlit against either a sunrise or sunset, throwing the boiling water over her head in an arc. Now everyone wants to do this and get a photo. The problem with it is, when not done properly it’s a wonderful way to get first, and even second degree burns. Take a note: DON’T DO THIS!! AND DON’T LET YOUR KIDS DO THIS, NOT MATTER HOW MUCH THEY BEG!! Throw the water away from you. It’s still a really cool science experiment.

Screen Shot 2019-03-05 at 8.06.56 AMI also wonder if we suddenly have had a bumper crop of idiots that have moved here, or if I’m just becoming an old fuddy duddy, but it seems to me with each new storm, I see really stupid people out who have no business driving. With all due respect to Bill Engvall, I really want to say to them, “Here’s your sign”.

I started a part time job last fall and work Friday nights until 9. It seems like there have been several storms on those nights, and so I as I’m cautiously driving home, appropriately slowing down on snow-packed roads, there are cars whizzing by me at normal highway speeds. I have all-wheel drive in my car and I’m not comfortable going that fast on a snow-packed road, because I don’t know where there may be a slippery or icy spot, and even though I have anti-lock brakes, who the heck wants to use them? Last Friday, in the midst of yet another storm, I counted at least 6 places where I could see cars had either gone into a ditch or crossed the median. 6! What is wrong with people? This isn’t rocket science, as my husband says, it’s just understanding the co-efficient of friction. When he said that I had about the same reaction you likely just did, so I looked it up. According to Wikipedia, “The coefficient of friction depends on the objects that are causing friction. The value is usually between 0 and 1 but can be greater than 1. A value of 0 means there is no friction at all between the objects.”  In this case the objects are the rubber tires on your car, and the ice on the road. Rubber on dry asphalt has a value of 0.7, and rubber on ice has a value of 0.15, meaning there is a lot less friction, i.e. no flipping ability to stop when it’s icy out! (Here ends your physics lesson for the day.)

I think what seems so odd, is that this is normally what we see in the first weeks of winter, not in the last gasps of it. By this time we’re typically have learned to play nice on the winter roads, and not act like grade school brats. I do get it; we’re all impatient for spring. I’ve ordered my tomato plant seeds and am already planning for getting those started, and am trialing landscaping software so that I can start planning some new areas in our yard as well. But I want to be alive and healthy to enjoy those things. I’m chomping at the bit to get flowers on my patio again this year, and last year for my birthday hubby bought me a hammock. This year I’m getting a stand for it, and I can’t wait to just lay there with a good book, a glass of wine and chill out. If you kill me, and deprive me of those pleasures, I will seriously haunt you and your family for eternity.