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.

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”:

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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!

 

 

Things Mom Never Told You, Vol IV

…How to Cheaply Make Homemade Magic Erasers!

It seemed like every time I turned around, I was seeing another use for Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser sponge. “Get marks off your walls!” “mystery marks on cabinets? No problem!” and best of all, “scuff marks on patent leather go away so easily with the Magic Eraser” (it’s true, they do. When I was traveling for business I kept a small one in my wheeled computer bag for my work shoes.) But if you use these, you also know they can get expensive, as they also magically disintegrate and disappear with use.  At Target, Walmart, and Amazon, a 4 pack of the “original but 2x stronger” (if it’s 2x stronger, then how is that the original, but i digress) costs .87¢ a sponge. That adds up fast! So when I stumbled on an article about making your own for a whole lot cheaper, I thought I’d give it a try. I ordered melamine sponges from Amazon, and then made up a solution of warm water, Borax and baking soda. (1/2 cup warm water, 1 tsp Borax and 1 Tbsp baking soda.) After those were mostly dissolved in the water I dunked the sponge in the water, let it absorb the liquid then squeezed most of it out and tested it on some marks I found on a lamp. This is a free standing gooseneck floorlamp that I use for crafting, and my husband looked at it yesterday and wanted to know how I’d scratched it so badly.

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After using my homemade magic eraser:

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Estimated cost for my eraser? .59¢ for the sponge, 1.2¢ for the baking soda and <1¢ (.006 actually!) for the Borax for a total of under 61¢. Now I can guess what you’re thinking…20¢ isn’t a huge amount to save, and you could be right, especially if you’re a fanatic about coupons. But here’s the thing about that. I only bought a small bag of them because I didn’t want to be stuck with a huge container if this was a fail. I’ll keep working with them a bit but so far I’m happy with it. Assuming it does work well, you can get a bag of 100 for 7.59, which comes out to 7.5¢ per sponge, bringing your total cost per sponge, soda and Borax to less than 9¢. (And you can get more than one sponge saturated with the amount of liquid, so it’s really even cheaper than that!) As my husband and I like to joke around with each other, “How do ya like me now?”

…How to Clean Grippy Rubber

 Note: Includes an update on the homemade magic eraser. Have you ever had something with black rubber grippy stuff on it that has gotten really nasty? We had a remote control that was just plain gunky, covered with dust, cat hair and lord knows what else. After a fair amound of research, it seemed the best thing to use to clean it was WD40. So I tried putting that on my finger, then rubbing it on the rubber. I tried first wiping it off with a soft cloth, that didn’t work. I reapplied it and let it sit for a while, then wiping it off, that didn’t work either, still gunky. Third time I reapplied and let it sit, then came back and cleaned it off with my magic eraser. It completely removed the gunk. Disclaimer, it also did remove the grippiness of the rubber, which is probably from the abrasive action of the sponge. But you have to ask yourself if the trade-off was worth it, and for me the answer is “yes”. The alternative was not touching the remote, as the “eww” factor was getting up there.  (I also have tried cleaning grippy black rubber on something else with a store bought magic eraser and no WD40, didn’t work well at all.)

Extra notes of caution: Anytime you’re cleaning electronics, whether it’s a floor lamp, a remote control unit or anything else, just remember a couple of things. 1. Never spray anything directly onto your item. For the WD40, I applied it to my finger first, then used my finger to put it on the remote. Even though WD40 displaces water, and some people use it in electronics, my feeling is that it’s better to be safe. 2. Water is also not a friend of electronics. Squeeze out that sponge as if your life depends on it, and have paper towels close by to wipe off drips quickly. You really don’t want water getting inside the cases of things you’re working on. 

…How to Clean White Crusty Water Stains Off Things

You know the white crust that you get on things, like around your sink, or maybe on the drip tray for your ice maker, or even the floor mats of your car? I’m a great believer in less manual effort and more “find an easier way” if I can, and for that stuff I have. I soak it in some white vinegar. Usually about a 10% solution will do, but if it’s particularly stubborn I’ve gone stronger, even up to full strength. Yesterday I took the winter floor mats out of my car and poured some into them and let them soak for about an hour to get the salt residue loosened up. Worked like a charm! After I rinsed that off, I gave em a quick soap scrub and then they were done.  For sinks, I take an old rag and soak it, wrap it around the base of the faucet and let it soak for thirty minutes or so, then check and see if the crust has softened enough to either wipe off or scrape (gently and carefully) with a razor blade. We have a recirculating water fountain for our cats water dish, made of stainless steel that I’ll take apart and soak in vinegar as well. Again, why spend time scrubbing when I can soak that crap off? Put some in a spray bottle and spray down your shower, especially if you have glass doors. Let it sit for a bit then wipe off and it will help to get the built up soap scum off. If it’s really bad you might have to do it a few times.

My promise: I will never share something with you that I haven’t personally tried. I won’t tell you it works if I can’t prove it. Where possible I will share photos or a video. If something is an epic fail, well I’ll tell you that too as I think that is just as valuable, even if I end up looking ridiculous doing it.

Word of Advice

Note: Since first publishing this blog article back in March of 2016, I’ve found myself back in the job market. Today I was looking at my own advice for job interviewees, and found it needed some updates that I had missed, probably because applying for jobs and interviewing has changed a lot over the years.  I’ve also done more with Craig’s List/Ebay etc, and am updating those sections as well.

Job Interviewee – Take a shower, groom yourself for Pete’s sake. Put on professional clothes and shine your shoes, lose the gum and brush your teeth. It really IS true, you never have a second chance to make a good first impression. This advice applies whether your interview is in person, or is a video interview. What’s that, you say? A video interview? Yes, Virginia, a video interview. Today’s businesses are beginning to use video interviews as initial screening interviews. The HR representative can record themselves asking a series of questions, and then the interviewee has a predetermined amount of time to respond. It saves the HR rep a lot of time, by not having to schedule the calls or bring people into their offices. You do, however, need to treat it as if it’s a true face-to-face interview. Test your system first, make sure your lighting is good, that you don’t have a distracting background behind you. I invested in an inexpensive photography backdrop that I hang up behind me, and put that up. If you set yourself up facing a window you’ll get nice, diffuse light that is flattering, but if that’s not available make sure you at least have enough light that your face can be seen.

For in person interviews, learn how to shake hands. Do you have any idea how many people I’ve shaken hands with that don’t know how? If you aren’t sure how to, then you probably don’t do it well. Go ask someone you know that is a confident business person to evaluate yours and help you improve because a limp handshake is horrible, and look people in the eye when you shake their hand.

Drive the route to the interview BEFORE you need to do it so that you know how long it takes. Don’t be late. If you’re going to be late, call. If possible, send a handwritten, yes, I said handwritten thank you note, and if your handwriting is illegible (you know who you are) then print. If you only had a phone interview or video screening, you may only be able to send a thank you via e-mail, and then you should do it that way, but that’s only if you don’t know an address for your interviewer. If you have an actual address, a handwritten note is always better etiquette.

Craig’s List/Ebay Buyers – Have you ever sold anything on Craig’s List or Ebay? If you have, then you know what an adventure it can be, but it can just as easily be a pointless exercise in futility. We’ve been cleaning out our crawl space, trying to get rid of a few things, make a little money, you know the drill. I’ve learned a few phrases that are rather helpful. “Cash is king” and “cash talks, bullshit walks” are my two favorites that my husband is continually beating into my brain. Now I started out being a Craig’s List softie…”oh, you need a day or two, sure, get back to me, I’ll hold it for you…”, or negotiating simultaneously with one buyer who then couldn’t deliver on time, going with a second who could then feeling bad when the first wanted more time because “I promised him he could buy the item, even though he didn’t have the money right then” or feeling like I needed to answer every email, and telling people that I had other buyers and what the conditions were. However, after being taken advantage of a few times, I’ve changed, become a radical hardliner. Gavel down, BAM! “SOLD to the first one at the neutral (and safe) meeting place with paper money that passes the counterfeit test wins the prize.”  For all you potential buyers on Craig’s List out there, here are some helpful tips.

1.Don’t email me to tell me “I’m interested.” I’m tempted to reply “that’s nice, so what?” Because I don’t care if you’re merely interested, I only really care if you want to BUY IT.  So if you really want to buy my item, tell me you want to buy it and when you want to meet, otherwise stop wasting my time.

2. Read the dang ad AND look at the pictures. I took the time to take photos, at different angles, to show you lots of information. I also said in the ad that the item a) works, b) does or does not have scratches c) is new or is used, etc. Now if you want more information about it that I didn’t put in the ad, that’s a different story, please go ahead and ask for it.  But don’t waste my time asking about what’s already there.

3. Don’t contact me unless you’re interested and plan to follow through. This week I had someone tell me she wanted something, we exchanged messages about connecting, then she dropped off the face of the earth. Meanwhile I had another person waiting to see if the item was still available.  I mean really, did you want it or not? If you changed your mind, I don’t care, you’re not hurting my feelings, just say so. Stop wasting my time for the love of…(are you seeing the theme?)

4. If you ask me to ship you the item because you’ve decided you don’t want to drive to me, realize it’s an inconvenience for me, act accordingly. Don’t dictate terms of this to me, I’ll choose my shipping agent, thanks.

5. And here is the kicker. If you ask me to accept money through PayPal, then you pay the fees to transfer! You came to me knobhead. I’m not taking a loss in my profit as a convenience to you.

Ebay Buyers – There isn’t as much to say here, probably because it’s an online bidding process and Ebay has already taken a lot of the guesswork out of it for you. The best advice I can give is to just pay promptly, because I won’t ship anything until your payment has come through. So any delays on your part will result in a delay in receiving your item.

Grocery shoppers – it’s just like driving (assuming you’re in a country that drives on the right side of the road). Carts on the right please, although I’d love to know if it’s opposite across the pond, where they drive on the wrong side of the road.  Do they move grocery carts on the left side of the aisles as well? : ) But how hard is it really, to get your cart out of the middle of the aisle. When you stop to get something off the shelf, just move to the side. Don’t stop in the middle. Look around. The aisles aren’t 3 carts wide. If you’re in the middle, ain’t nobody getting around. My parents brought me up to be polite, Minnesota nice, to say a gentle “please”, and “thank you”, and “excuse me”, and to cover my mouth when I burped in public. I am SO over that in the grocery store now (The Minnesota nice part. I’ll still cover my mouth when I burp in public, I promise Mom), it’s a firm and vocal “Excuse Me” that’s a whole lot closer to East Coast than the Midwest.

Anyone under the age of 35 – chronologically or mentally. Remove the phrase “I deserve” and “entitled” from your vocabulary and attitude. You don’t, you aren’t. Period. The world owes you NOTHING, you have to earn it. When you act like they do, you not only show your immaturity, but I really want to swat you off my shoulder like a gnat. Scat, go away!

Just sayin’.

 

M is for…Martyr?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

“Oh no really, you shouldn’t have”, or “It’s no trouble” or “No, that’s ok, we’ll take care of the food, you just show up”. Do any of these sound familiar? If you live in Minnesota, chances are you’ve most likely said at least one of them, because, well, we’re just so gosh darn nice. We don’t like to put anyone out, other than ourselves, and what are friends for, anyhow? Here in Minnesota, we put the M into lots of things…mosquitos, Joe Mauer, Mall of America, but the best is martyr – just ask Garrison Keillor, I’m pretty sure he’s told many a story of the long-suffering Lutherans who would rather cut off an arm than admit someone is putting them out. I should know, it’s how I was raised, and I felt the spectre of those roots rise up recently when we invited some friends over for dinner, so they could enjoy the new screen porch my husband had recently finished building for us, better known as the “Tiki Hut”.

When we extended the invitation to them they immediately offered to bring the main course, and being the good Minnesotan that I am, my first instinct was to respond “oh you don’t need to do that, we’ll take care of everything”, but for some reason this time I didn’t. We’re trying to pinch expenses right now, and their offer was timely, however I immediately felt the pull of the automatic response wanting to come out. It was like there was a little “martyr Beth” on one shoulder, and a little “feisty Beth” on the other, and they’re both talking into an ear. “Just go with it, they want to do this” says one, and “tell them they don’t have to do that” says the other. You see, we’re just so conditioned to not stand up for ourselves or push back on anything, it’s absurd. Ask my mom or husband what my favorite phrase is, and they’ll probably tell you it’s “You can’t be a doormat unless you lay down”!

Somehow, I did it. I relinquished control of dinner to someone else, and guess what? The world didn’t end, dinner was wonderful and the evening was a success with less work for me. The very best part was that we got to enjoy all of it in the aforementioned Tiki Hut, which meant a night free from another M, the Minnesota mosquito, which are serious business around here. We live very close to two swamps, and right after we moved in here I was sitting in my living room one sunny day, and suddenly I heard the sound of a helicopter very close over my house. As in so close I felt the cavitation in my chest! Running outside, you can imagine my shock as I saw them basically doing a turn over our house before nearly doing a touch and go on the neighbor’s garage across the street and then plunging lower toward the swamp. After I pulled my heart out of my toes, where it had plunged, I realized they were dropping mosquito control pellets in the swamp, but for a moment, I seriously thought Radar O’Reilly was going to pop up yelling “incoming!”.  Our mosquitos are evil, vicious creatures. They’ll wait until you’re nearly asleep before buzzing your ears, bite you in a spot that you can’t possibly reach to scratch, or bite you when scratching would be really inconvenient (first dates, job interviews, you get the idea.) Of course, we also have our favorite mosquito jokes too. Have you heard about the nearsighted ones that drained a blood bank last week? I want to offer a big thanks to Gary Clark, for the use of his wonderful cartoon.

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Copyright Gary Clark. Cartoon used with permission. See more by subscribing to the free daily cartoon at: http://www.swamp.com.au/subscribe.php

What are you a martyr about? Come on, fess up! I’d love to hear what gets some of you out there.

Dream a Little Dream

Slowly they enter, in pairs, by fours, sometimes one, then a group to big to count, young and old. They find their seats; the anticipation palpable, if the low hum of constant voices is anything to go by. Scattered around the theater, I can spot some children in costume – a Belle here, a Gaston there. The scent of popcorn fills the air and soon all the seats are filled. The pre-movie scenes are showing on the screen and the lights dim slightly accompanied by a noticeable decrease in the sounds of talking. Then suddenly, the screen goes dark for a moment, and a voice comes over the loudspeaker.32164704480_194c0e2348_b

“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to our theater. We hope you will enjoy tonight’s showing of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in 3D. As you exit the theater, please drop your glasses in the boxes at the doors. Now before we begin our showing, we have a special surprise. As some of you may have heard, cast members have been traveling around the country making surprise drop in appearances at different theaters, and we are thrilled that Josh Gad and Dan Stevens are here tonight with us! Please give them a warm welcome!”

And the place goes nuts. (Who am I kidding, me too. Just a little.)  They come in and walk right toward us, and stop to shake our hands and say hello  (because we chose to sit in the row where everyone walks past between tiers) and my husband takes a picture of me standing between them before they continue on toward the front of the theater and…Hey, it’s my fantasy, I get to direct it any way I damn well please.

Seriously though, we really are going to see ‘Beauty and the Beast’ tomorrow night, and is it just a little silly I’m this excited? I mean, I never even saw the Disney original until last week for Pete’s sake. Yeah, I know, that’s pitiful, right? But since I don’t have kids, it sort of slipped off my radar and I just never watched it. Oh I knew the basic story and all, and most of the songs, but just never saw the whole movie. Now, however, with the new movie coming up, I decided I really needed to see it so I knew what the original was. Gawd, I’m such a softie too, sniffle, sniffle, I admit I shed a tear. I’ll probably bawl watching live action. And let’s face it, I’ll watch almost anything with Dan Stevens. (By the way, if you haven’t watched Legion on FX, you’re missing an insane, unreal, amazing, fantastic, incredible show.)  And what percent of us watched Emma Watson grow up as Hermione Granger? Come on, admit it, you’re dying to see her in a more grown up role, aren’t you. No Harry, Ron or Snape, just her.

So some of the cast members really have been doing drop in surprise visits this week at theaters around the country. Of course, with the thousands of theaters that the movie opened at this week, statistically speaking I’m smart enough and realistic enough to know it’s highly unlikely they’ll be coming to our theater. But you know, can you imagine if they did? Holy smokes, wouldn’t that be crazy! I’d say my life was pretty well complete, having seen Cary Elwes live before a showing of ‘The Princess Bride’ on the big screen, and then some of the cast members before seeing ‘Beauty and the Beast’. (Just remember, it’s easier to be happy when you set the bar lower.)

I’ll keep you posted on the outcome, and let you know if it really happens. After all, a girl can dream.

Saturday night, the update, as promised. It breaks my heart to tell you this ;), alas, no real life sightings of Gaston, Le Fou or the Beast, but the movie was wonderful. I thought it was a great experience to see it in 3D, and everything about it was well done. There are a number of laugh out loud events, the songs are well performed by the actors, and it’s visually rich. I can’t wait until it’s out on Blu-ray so we can have a copy at home.

Spring’s a Coming

Wind chills of 30 below zero, snow drifts higher than the top of the car in the winter, followed by springs so short they barely exist and then summer with it’s heat, humidity and blood sucking mosquitos – yep, you need to be especially brave and hardy to live in Minnesota all your life. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. The reality is much less flattering, but there’s no need to go there just yet. Instead, today I’m feeling a little like a certain well-known storyteller that you may have listened to on public radio, who tells tales of his fictional hometown.

We’re starting to awaken from what feels like a strange winter in my hometown of Minneapolis. This year we’ve seen elements of the worst of what winter has to offer us, none of which lasted for more than a day or two, and all of which were spread out just enough to ensure very limited time outside because it was either too cold, too windy, too wet, too icy, too something to enjoy being outside in winter. Please don’t misunderstand, I much prefer sun, sand and 80 degrees, but realistically if we live here, we do have to peacefully co-exist with winter and spend some time outdoors in it, so we learn how to dress for the weather. Boots to -20 or so, heavily insulated parkas, down mittens, fleece hats and scarves, and we follow it up with a hot beverage or two. (Some of us might even have a hot adult beverage or two, but that’s a story for a different day.) That all assumes, however, that whatever layer you’ve donned is enough to protect you from the onslaught of the elements of the moment. Reallistically, there is nothing that protects you well when wind chills are in the dangerous range and then just when that stops, it starts to rain. As the day ends the temperature drops and the rain turns to ice and now everything has a lovely coating of thin ice for a few days. After that melts, the temperature drops again to well below zero. And around and around we went. All flippin winter.

But the other day it was different as Mother Nature messed with us in her own slightly twisted way. Winds shifted from North to South and became almost gently and balmy. The sun made an appearance and was high enough in the sky that it could produce warmth when it touched your skin, which we Minnesotans were brave enough to show since the ambient air temperature was in the 50s. The 50s!  Folks in California pull out parkas and Ugg boots at 61 degrees, or so I’m told, but here we put on T-shirts and shorts and even a few sandals, although since many of us don’t do maintenance pedicures over the winter, our toes don’t have cute polish on and heaven forbid we show our bare toes without adornment. But I digress.

My mornings are special for me, my husband is still asleep, my furry four-legged children haven’t started chattering for the day and the world hasn’t woken up and begun to annoy me. I drink coffee, read the news and try to not get depressed at the general state of things out there. But this one day, as I sat here I suddenly became aware of something different around me. A sound I hadn’t heard for so long that I nearly didn’t recorgnize it, and I had to consciously pause for a moment and think about it. It was the birds chirping outside! For the first time in months, the birds were back and doing their spring thing. Suddenly, all the crap in politics, health care reform, wiretapping, none of it mattered. Spring was on it’s way to Minnesota.

When that happens, there is a noticeable difference in attitudes among residents here. A new spring in our steps is felt, smiles appear on our faces, we start looking strangers in the eyes again and saying hello after a long winter of being bundled up and looking down at the ground. That’s not rudeness by the way, it’s just our way of reducing the number of passages for cold air to enter under our coats – chin down to block the neck opening in case you either didn’t wear a scarf, or in case your scarf doesn’t quite cut the mustard. But hearing the birds as they are singing their little hearts out? Ah, who cares about a little cool air, we can deal with that, spring is on the way! IMG_1404 - Version 3There are chickadees, goldfinches,  and robins, oh my! (OK, we have the chickadees and goldfinches all year long, but they don’t sing a whole lot in winter, and the goldfinches turn a kind of weird shade of chartreuse. When they start looking bright yellow again, that’s another harbinger of spring.)

Of course, just as we allowed our collective emotions to get excited and think winter might be over with, just that fast she turned on us and walloped us with a reminder that it ain’t over til it’s over and “here’s 4 more inches of snow and minus 3 degrees (Farenheit, for those of you in Celcius world) for a temperature” as a reminder to not got too big for our collective britches. Oh well, I hadn’t worn my new boots yet anyway.

The Death of the Editor

It’s probably fortunate that Jackie O isn’t still around to edit, I expect she would be horrified at some of the things found online today. Please don’t feel compelled to point out anything you find wrong on this blog, as I am neither a paid editor nor an English/Journalism major, I’m sure there will be MANY things. Don’t get me wrong…I love the fact that we have the information we do at our fingertips, and at a moments notice no matter where you are (assuming you have a smart phone with a data plan). But with the all of this rapidly available information, it appears we have killed off nearly all of the online editors. Cases in point:

From Kare11.com, a local TV station located in Golden Valley, MN:

Fire at Ripley’s Aquarium note the last line…and just in case it’s corrected, a screen shot for you

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I was unaware we now here with our eres.

A comma makes all the difference. In a headline from The Huffington Post 11/29/16

Mike Pence Supporter Angry Over ‘Hamilton’ Protest Charged In Racist Attack On Asian Diner Patrons. Um, So the protest was charged in the attack? How exactly does THAT work?

Spell check, spell check anyone? From Foxnews.com 12/31/16

Obama response to Russian hacking does not go far enough, say experts

In just 4 paragraphs, I found3 mistakes. There may have been more, I quit at those. If anyone had bothered to run their spell and grammar checker, two of the three that I found would have been picked up, and a fourth that I initially didn’t would have as well. How do I know? I copied and pasted the text into a Word document for giggles and ran spell and grammar check, just to see what would happen. Can you find the errors? (Answers are at the end of this post)

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-6-53-29-am

And Now More From the Files of …Part 3

What will this girl be like when she doesn’t get a promotion? Or is fired? In Tallahassee, a girl was threatening to sue because she didn’t make the cheerleading squad. Say what? Some pampered princess is going to  tie up court time and money, because mommy and daddy never told her no, never tapped her dimpled butt as a two year old and let her throw tantrums all over the house. (Don’t jump on my case about abuse and beating kids, sheesh.We’re talking about someone who needs to learn she can’t get everything she wants, when she wants it, because she wants it.) I found a great photo that depicts how I expects she parks her car too.

R0d1A92

Photo Credit ROd1A92

Answers to the errors above:

  1. McCain, who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has schedule a hearing – this should be “scheduled“. Past tense
  2. but added that “Congressional sanctions still needed.” – this should be ‘sanctions “are” still needed’. Missing a verb
  3. would nt stoop to the level. TYPO! Seriously? 
  4. but added that “Congressional sanctions still needed.” MS Word suggested removal of the word “that”, changing this to ‘but added “Congressional sanctions still needed.”’ See #2 above, however. 

I hope that you all have a safe and happy New Year’s celebration today, tonight, or if I’m lucky enough to have a reader somewhere that is over the International Date Line and it’s already 2017, I hope you wake up feeling hopeful and refreshed.

It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

And so the saga of the bathroom remodel continues…

So after 6 weeks,  you’d think it would be finished, right? Oh no…it’s never quite that easy. 3 of the 4 walls had gotten done, except I still had to touch them up because I reused an old roller, which I am vowing to never do again. It’s not worth it, unless someone can tell me they’ve found a roller that really truly doesn’t shed after it’s been washed. But one thing I can’t abide is the residual gunk that sticks to the walls from the rollers, and now you’re left with the ‘gift’ of texture you didn’t plan on. So going back to get rid of it, means that when you lightly (and I truly do mean lightly) sand it off, you mar your semi-gloss finish. Yep, a spot for a little touch up. Many of them.

Or perhaps there was that spot on the side of the shower where I peeled off the painters tape and waited a smidge too long…and some paint came up with it. Got to sand and spackle THAT spot over, then touch that up too.  (At least I used painter’s tape!)

The last wall to be painted was the one behind the sink. It took forever to chisel out the old caulk on that last bit of wall space. The sink is set into an alcove, so it was caulked in on 3 sides, and the back wall was like concrete. I had to rotate between using a razor blade and a paint scraper to get it out. We were also a little challenged in coordinating schedules with the electrician to get the wiring done so that the sconces could be mounted.

Then of course there was the “paint the ceiling” adventure. Did you know that when ceilings have only the popcorn texture, unless they are painted, they can be a mess? Yep, get them wet and the popcorn falls right off. So when you actually paint them for the first time, the first coat of paint becomes like glue but initially ACTS like water. Let me explain.

Most people don’t own paint sprayers, nor do they hire someone to spray paint their ceilings (although if they were smart, they would do one of those two things.) They roller paint them. If your ceiling has never been painted, the first time it’s done you need to be very careful, as the paint will merely moisten the texture, and if you roller back and forth like you do on a wall, popcorn will just fall right off the ceiling…on your face…your shoulders…the floor…you get the idea. It’s a mess. (Handy tip #1: Use Glidden’s pink ceiling paint. It dries white but it makes it SO easy to see where you paint. The stuff is AMAZING.)  I did know that I needed to be careful but I expect because I was doing a bathroom ceiling, perhaps the popcorn was maybe a little extra touchy in a humid room I ended up with several places where it came down in spite of my cautiousness. Off we went to find a tube of popcorn touch up. (Handy tip #2: Get the stuff in the tube for a small area, not the spray can. Way easier to use, according to hubby who has done both.) That added a couple of days to the whole adventure, by the time he patched it up, we let it dry for 24 hours, and I was able to get the spots touched up.

Then got the electrician in to do the wiring and add the mounting boxes. No problems there. We got all the rest of the work done, painting completed, mounted the medicine cabinet so truly all that was left was to put in the lights. It was a Sunday evening, around 7 PM and I’m thinking “why not, let’s do this. We’ve installed light fixtures before. White to white, black to black, ground to ground”. Meanwhile Karma was laughing herself silly at me, it’s just too bad I couldn’t hear her.

We got the first light fixture out, wired it up and prepared to mount it, only to discover that it could’t be mounted to the box because the box was oriented straight up and down, and in the “12” and “6” positions are 2 solid plastic pieces that were exactly where the backs of my mounting screws needed to be. Without getting into detail, I’ll just say I have a clever husband who was able to solve it, but we sacrificed a bit of sheet rock in the process…on BOTH sides of the medicine cabinet. So…3 more days for patching and sanding sheet rock to make it sufficiently smooth, then tape off the cabinet, paint, wait for that to dry and then mount the new lights.

You’re thinking I was done, aren’t you?

Nope. In an effort to be eco-conscious, we ordered LED bulbs. I wanted to make sure they were bright enough as this would be where I put on makeup, and I’ve not used LED bulbs before so we went with fairly high lumens of output. They were bright alright so we said “hey, let’s get a dimmer switch for it!” So we headed off to the store, picked up a dimmer and installed that. Tested the dimmer by starting to dim the lights and they went from on to instant off. Huh? Looked at the lights I’d bought….I bought non-dimmable LED’s. Sigh. Back to the store. Got the dimmable LED’s this time, and they work beautifully. All that remained was adding a small cabinet for towels and a few decorative items on the walls, and some new valances. Doesn’t sound too bad, right?

And…3 months later, I can’t find the cabinet I want for the towels, let alone the towels I wanted in the right color. I’ve searched every combination of key words online for the cabinet, and everything looks too cheap, is too big, or to expensive. You know how it is when you have a particular look that you want? You don’t want to settle for “good enough” or “make do”. So we’re at the point of probably having hubby make me a cabinet in the spring. The towels are an entirely other story. Since I couldn’t find the color I wanted, I decided to dye them the color I wanted. Surprisingly, they are almost exactly the right color, although they didn’t dye as evenly as I would have liked. Fortunately I plan to use them as decorative, folded up accent towels to add color more than anything, and since this is our master bath, hubby and I are probably the only ones that will ever see them. Note to self: Use the washing machine, remember that the thread on the towels doesn’t dye.

Only 2 bathrooms, a bedroom, 2 hallways, and great room with 12 foot ceilings left to go.