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)

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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.

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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.

Like, Um…


Four times a year, the wise editors at the Oxford English Dictionary do their revisions, adding  words to remain current with today’s lingo. Among the new entries this year were:

‘Clicktivism’, a word to describe a person who, ‘signals support for a political or social cause by means of the Internet, through social media, online petitions, etc., rather than by more substantive involvement’; a shout-out to Star Wars lovers, with ‘Yoda‘ added as a noun, meaning: ‘a person who embodies the characteristics of Yoda, esp. in being wise; an elder, sage or guru.’; ‘Non-apology’, a statement that takes the form of an apology but does not acknowledge responsibility or express regret for what has caused offence or upset; an insincere or unconvincing apology; and Squee’, representing a high-pitched squealing or squeaking sound produced by an animal, musical instrument, etc.

I have noticed, however, the overuse of a certain word (and I’m guilty of it myself, although I’m trying very hard to be cognizant of it and avoid it well, similar to the proverbial plague), that seems to be pervasive in our society, and perhaps in our younger adults more than the older ones, although it’s not limited to them. That word is “like“.  Now I have to admit with some shame (but only for research purposes for this blog article, mind you!), I watched a clip of “Rob and Chyna” online. images
The whole Kardashian thing is a train wreck in slow motion, and I feel like it just sucks my brain cells out of my head, and this short clip reinforced that for me, ugh. But what was notable for me about it was in 52 seconds, “like” was used 8 times. Rob only did it twice, but Chyna said “like” 6 times in 16 seconds!

Are a few of you squirming in your seats right now, feeling a bit uncomfortable? Thinking “I wonder, do I do that?” If so, and the answer is maybe, then start listening to yourself when you talk, or ask your friends to do it. Or, consider falling back to an old trick I picked up in a class on how to teach adult learners. Videotape yourself and then watch it so you can see what needs to change. So if you think you might be using the word “like” too often when speaking, set up your smartphone to record yourself during conversations. Just make sure to get permission from the other people participating in the conversation to record them too, otherwise you get to stand in front of some nice judge having this conversation instead:

“Will the defendant please rise and explain herself?”

“Um yes, Your Honor. I was like trying to  like record myself to see if like I say like too much when I like talk to my friends and like explain things. I just don’t understand like why I don’t do like well in interviews. I mean, like I’m a nice person, people like me, and like……”

By now the judge has driven bamboo under her fingernails and ground her molars into nubs, and is hissing between her clenched teeth at the bailiff “DO NOT MOVE ” as he waits to launch over the tables to clamp his hand over your mouth, just to make you stop using the word “like”!

Maybe those nice folks at the Oxford English Dictionary can announce days during the year where we just don’t use those overused words. Would’t it’s be interesting to find some other way to talk? When I started writing this today, I had to stop and think about it myself, as I didn’t want to use the word and say “like the proverbial plague”. Sometimes being aware and calling attention to things is enough, and we stop doing the behavior. Unfortunately, however, it seems it worked in reverse with those dratted Kardashians. Calling attention to them has just made them worse and the general public salivate like a pack of wild dogs.

Well, when the Kardashians go away, you’ll hear a loud squee from me, that’s for sure!

 

Betwixt and Between

I recently had a birthday. Note I didn’t say “celebrated”, so please don’t feel compelled to offer felicitations, congratulations, or other similar happy sentiments. I had it, I’m over it. I’m becoming ‘a woman of a certain age’, and each year I’m less happy about it, and I can admit it freely. It’s a confounding state to find oneself in…chronologically the calendar insists that I am eligble for senior discounts at restaurants, auto service centers, and other businesses, every morning before I get out of bed my joints tell me I’m older than dirt and I ought to be grateful I’m waking up on this side of it, but my spirit? I feel like I’m about 35 – there is still so much world out there! I want to explore new places I’ve never been in the world, flirt with 35 year-old waiters, and keep feeling like I have all the time in the world. I don’t want to be this age. I don’t like it one bit! I don’t, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t! (picture me stomping my foot in protest, a la Herman Munster.)

“40 is the new 30”, we heard that one a few years ago, then along came “50 is the new 40”. In some ways it’s true, living in a world that is as connected as we are, with easy transportation and technology we can get places better and faster than generations before us could. There is work on new supersonic transport starting, and seeing watching “Planet Earth” a few years ago in high definition was pretty darned amazing. We can Skype with people halfway around the world from us to stay in immediate contact, instead of waiting weeks for letters.

And yet….

At 55, I have more gray hair than not (trust me when I tell you this, although I’m not ready to let you see it yet), the word “retirement” creeps into more conversations every year, friends have begun moving to southern climes to escape Minnesota winters, and when I recently sorted through things for a garage sale, I found myself becoming rather maudlin. While not a hoarder or pack rat, I have some things I’ve saved over the years that were special for one reason or another. A hand puppet my parents gave me, an old kerosene lantern that matches one my mother has and keeps at her cabin, some treasures from travels as a child, and other mementos. They’re stored in plastic bins and I look at them perhaps once every few years and have a moment or two of nostalgia, then don’t think about them again until the next time. I have no other reason to save them, no children to pass them along to. So what’s the point? Saving them for someone to have to throw away when I die? (Which of course makes me think about “if I died today, what would they find?” and my reaction is a cross between ‘ugh’ and ‘oh dear God’!)

It’s difficult being at an age of having to think about your own mortality when you don’t feel old inside and at least for me, it’s like having two personalities. One on each shoulder as it were, like the angel and the devil. “Go out, live life! Have some fun! Go sky dive, zip line!” says one. The other? “Stay home, organize, dust, save your money, put more into that Roth”. I also REALLY hate it when I run across a story about someone that decided to give it all up to live the dream. Why? Because I wish I had that kind of courage, and willingness to give up my creature comforts. So many days I could do it but then there are just so many more of the days that I’m not quit there. I’m not talking about Starbucks, or Macy’s. I couldn’t care less about that. But I have a lovely home and we’re having fun (most of the time) fixing it up and putting our signature on it, filled with tchotchkes and treasures we’ve collected. Well, ok, mostly what hubby has collected, that’s his deal. I’d put myself more in the bucket of ‘get a couple of things here and there that coordinate, but not a whole series’. While living the easy life on an island someplace sounds lovely, paring back to only  critical clothing, a few electronics, 3 houseplants and the 2 cats just isn’t me quite yet. I have to at least wait until my niece and nephew have homes of their own so I can pass along some of those “treasured heirlooms” to them, lucky ducks.

And I don’t want to think about any of that anyway…I’m only 35 for heaven’s sake. I have light-years of time ahead of me, don’t I? I can’t possibly be old enough to have a niece that just got married, it feels like I just held her in my arms as an infant for the first time last week. And only a moment has passed since I held my nephew for his baptism…that same nephew who is now getting ready to be a senior in college and just passed his second actuarial exam (smartie!) Yet I look at them, and am amazed at how many years have flown by. How did this happen? Dear God, how did I become one of those people who needs someone to do their pedicures because they can’t reach their own toes, or their arthritis is so bad they can’t do it themselves? I guess I should be grateful we don’t need to buy Efferdent and Polygrip, but still…

On a happier note, I AM celebrating something else.

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cakecentral.com

 

It was my one year blog birthday on August 14. Here I am with 43 posts, and views in 26 countries later and still blabbing on. If I were going to have a cake, I imagine it would look like this one. Thank you to everyone for the encouragement, and stay tuned, there’s more to come. Remember, my brain says I’m only 35.

One final note, for all my blog buddies from Diane Henders’ blog “Probably Inappropriate” , as promised

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Now where did I put that article on parasailing in the Sea of Cortez?

 

 

 

 

Projects One-O-WTH

We’ve all done it. Started projects with the very best of intentions and plans, right? Scripted them to within an inch of their lives, laid out everything to the nanometer, knew exactly what we wanted, where we wanted it and when we wanted it, so that when we did it, it went as planned, and then we all lived happily ever after…I’m sorry, did you just  hear my snort of derision through the computer? Because if you’re anything like me, the end of one project brings about a strange euphoria that somehow erased much of the pain associated with it, so that you’re foolishly willing to take on the next one. When my husband let me know he was planning to go out of town for several days last month, I thought, “aha! here’s my chance to take a couple of days off work and paint our master bathroom! I hate the mustard color it is now, why not get it done?” And into full scale planning mode I went.

First, selecting paint, which as anyone with a half of a brain knows, is painful. I mean, we’re long past the days of merely light blue, or light green. Nope, there are now thousands of colors and shades to choose from. It’s positively mind numbing, and while the ability to get the little sample jars is certainly a help, it’s not without it’s own drawbacks, but more on that later. For now, I get the little cards in the colors I think I want which is a pale turquoise. My husband and I talk over which we like, I went back and get the sample jars in a couple of colors, and get them on the walls in the bathroom in a couple of spots so he can see it before he leaves town, and in different light during the day and at night. We agree on one of the samples, and I’m thinking nice, we found our color! (I should have known it was too easy, I got a little cocky there.)

Next, a light fixture. Currently we have light bars over the top of our mirror and detest them. You know the ones…4 light bulbs on a metal holder, which resemble the ones that are found on the sides of theatrical mirrors. I really liked one a friend had, found it came from Menards, internet check says one left on clearance. I’ve got a good feeling…and the next morning I run up there to get it. The one left is the display model, so they have to remove it from the wall for me, but it’s worth it to get it more than 50% off, right?  While they were taking it off the wall it was raining so hard we couldn’t see across the parking lot, and a neighbor told me later that his wife reported their widows actually sucked inward during the storm! I didn’t recognize the storm going on outside as on omen of destruction or the voice of doom, as it were.

Husband leaves town, time for me to get to work. Out comes the spackle, I start fixing dings and divots, scraping old, old, old paint off the woodwork. (Lesson #1 for everyone…do the free world a favor. USE FRICKING PAINTERS TAPE AROUND WOODWORK FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PEOPLE. I don’t care if you like the blue or green. Really I don’t. I DO care that as the new owner of your former home, because you were a lazy ba***rd I have to scrape 3 layers off my lovely oak woodwork.) (Lesson #2, if you spray it first with Pledge Multi-Surface Cleaner, and let it soak for 3-5 seconds, then scrape with your razor blade, it helps to soften the paint. Don’t ask me why I tried this out, I haven’t a clue, but it works.) Finally it’s time to paint. Get the light down, paint the walls around our sink and the ceiling over it. I wanted to do that first so I could get the new light up right away, then I wouldn’t be without a light in the bathroom for more than a few hours. As I bring the new light fixture into the bathroom, I realize my next problem.

Remember I mentioned that the old light was a light bar, therefore it’s very lightweight, and mounted on the wall with two screws. The wiring merely came out of the hole in the wall. No mounting box. Lovely new fixture needs a mounting box. Sounds simple enough, right? Just call the handy dandy electrician down the street to put one in? Which I did…only to find that the lovely little pipe I could see next to the hole in the wall where the wires came out would mean that the mounting box would be mounted to the right of center…and subsequently all light fixtures thereafter would be too. So now we get to have him split the wiring and put up sconces. Sigh. So back up went the old fixture until husband can get home and I can break the bad news that a) we ‘get’ to spend more money on rewiring and b) we ‘get’ to buy more lights.

Continue painting….and why am I not getting the same lovely warm fuzzy about the color that I did about the sample? As I studied it, it didn’t look at all the same to me. It didn’t look anything like calm and restful. Not even close…it looked more like 1968 turquoise! Now I’m starting to feel my WTH moment begin…what happened? Remember earlier  when I said I’d come back to the samples? Well, the paint samples were in eggshell…and the paint I bought was semi-gloss. It went on a completely different color in semi-gloss, and suddenly was intense! I thought maybe it was me, but figured I’d better wait for my husband to validate, so I held off any more painting until he got home from his trip, which I felt awful about since my goal was to present him with a finished bathroom, not one still covered in paint swatches. He agreed, however, it was too intense and we went back to the drawing board on paint. Hopefully I’ll finish before his next vacation.

Oh yeah, and the caulk has to be chiseled out too.

 

Joy of Summer

It hadn’t been easy, growing up without a mother, but somehow Joy had managed. Her father did the best he could, but as the only veterinarian for their village, he’d been gone more than he was home. But after his death she has hard choices to make. Can she find a way to stay in Summer, the little village she’s grown to love? 

As I started to write the title of the blog, all I could think of was that it sounded like a title for a cheesy bodice ripper novel!  In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. A few weeks ago in a prior post, I bemoaned the loss of something quintessentially summer…watermelon with seeds. I was surprised at how many people I have since spoken to, that agreed with me: Seedless watermelon sucks. Well, I am thrilled beyond words to be able to share with you that my local grocery store had REAL watermelon a few weeks ago. It was lucious, rich, textured…just like I remembered. And yep, …there was some honest to goodness seed spittin’  going on too. That’s what summer should be about. Snow cones, and water balloon fights in the backyard (or ‘thumbs over the ends of hoses’ fights, those work too!),  sparklers and black snakes, mouthfulls of Bubs Daddy bubble gum. And fireflies, or lightning bugs as they are known in some parts of the country. I love being out for a walk at night and seeing their ethereal lights dance in front of me, just out of reach. I know you can catch them and put them in a jar, I just have no desire to. I’d rather watch them appear, then disappear, and magically reappear feet from where they were a moment ago, and pretend to not know how that happened, just enjoying the sense of wonderment again. 

I miss having summers off. As an adult, the only time I really regret my career choice is during summer, when I wish I had become a teacher just so I could have had summers off…either that or found a way to become a professional paid student! But I’m so envious of the sounds of kids playing, having fun in the summer. Our house backs up to a number of others, and I can hear laughter of the kids playing from about six houses down some days. As a telecommuter, trust me, it can be challenging to concentrate. On the other hand, our house is also located rather close to some marsh lands, or as the DNR prefers to refer to them, nature preserves. Because that sounds SO much better than marsh, doesn’t it?  There are benefits of course to living near them, first and foremost being it’s packed full of wildlife. The frog chorus at night is something to behold, and we hear it from the ‘balcony’ seats, on the side of the road opposite the marsh. I’m sure if our house backed up to it, and we couldn’t even open our windows at night because the volume was so deafening, I wouldn’t feel quite so charmed by it. Another periodic gift the marsh gives it’s nearby residents, is the coyote choir. I’m not sure what will set up the howling, but when the pack gets going it’s both thrilling and chilling at the same time. I don’t know what makes people think it’s safe to let their pets run loose around here, I really don’t. Seems to me cats and small dogs might be fair game for coyote food, and I’d be terrified my pet might not come home, but that’s just me.

The worst part however, about living by the marsh, are the mosquitos, and in Minnesota, we know how to breed ’em BIG. Mosquitos lay eggs in standing, stagnant water, and this year it seems we’ve gotten into this never ending cycle of a couple of days of big rain, followed by a day or two of sun, then more rain. So in addition to being full of rich, green grasses and cattails that are taller than I’ve ever seen, our marshes are chock full of standing water and yep, you guessed it, lovely mosquito eggs. And you’ve never even seen a real mosquito until you’ve come here. There’s an old saying, about how a nearsighted one got confused last week and drained a 747…OK, maybe not really, but sometimes it almost feels like they’re that horrible. So the DNR does what they can, and “mosquito bombs” us. What’s that, you ask? Well, in summer, helicopters fly overhead, and drop pellets into the marsh (and onto decks, patios, porches and our public boardwalk) to help control the mosquito population. The first time they came around, the “chopper” as I now fondly refer to it, flew so low over my house  that I felt the cavitation in my chest and through my toenails. I was pretty sure I could put a spitball in a straw and hit a rotor without even trying very hard as they went over the neighbors house, then to the marsh, dropped the pellets and made the turn right past their house and then came back over mine, all within about 20 seconds. I wanted to drop to the floor and scream “incoming”, as I covered my head. I know it helps, it would be so much worse if they didn’t do it, but even so, it’s just a mite freaky. I mean, what happens if an engine fails? Or if the tail rotor goes wonky? I mean, I just know it’s MY house they’re gonna ‘find’ first, and suddenly I’ve got a lovely new piece of art in the shape of a helicopter blade decorating my mantle. Next thing you know, you’re a drive-by side show for half the city.

“Look Howard, there’s that house I heard about. You know the one where the mosquito bomb helicopter was hit with a spitball in the tail rotor, apparently throwing the yaw all wonky, and down she went. You can see one of the main blades sticking out of the side of the house, right above where the mantle sits. Rumor has it the owner was the one who shot the spitball. If that’s just not the perfect example of a karmic kickback, I don’t know what is.”

Maybe I’ll stick to marshmallow guns at family reunions. 

Driving 101

As many of you know, I’m the lucky recipient of a brand spanking new hip, which, for a number of reasons, has put me in a slightly different frame of mind over the last several weeks. Residual effects of anesthesia (which I’m told can mess with your brain for up to a year), pain dulling to annoying discomfort, a very slow moving body and forced down time I had all made me see things a little differently.

Among those things are the driving habits of about 75% of the general population, most of whom have forgotten what they learned only long enough to pass their driver’s test, apparently. So, how many of the following will each of you get right? Let’s see. (These are for Minnesota Driving Regulations only, I can’t speak to any other states.)

  1. Right turn on red is: a) never allowed. b) allowed unless otherwise posted, with a rolling stop  c) allowed unless otherwise posted, but only after coming to a complete stop d) always allowed
  2. A stop sign a) only requires a complete stop if there are other vehicles in visible line of sight  b) only requires a complete stop if there are police vehicles in visible line of sight  c) requires a complete stop at all times   d) what’s a stop sign?
  3. After stopping at a stop sign, you can proceed a) through the crosswalk as long as there are no pedestrians in it  b) through the crosswalk assuming you can get through ahead of the pedestrians c) the pedestrians have to stop for vehicles of course, drive on through!
  4. The Move Over Law  a) states all vehicles traveling slower than the posted speed limit need to move to the far right lane on a multi-lane road, or pull to the shoulder on a two-lane road if traffic is unable to safely pass on the left side  b)that you move to the lane farthest away from emergency vehicles, if possible to do so safely  c) we have a Move Over Law?
  5. Correctly identify the sign below:   a) Wheelchair parking only  b) Parking for vehicles with the appropriate disability plates or permits only   c) For use by anyone as long as they aren’t caught.

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The answers are (in case you didn’t know) 1c, 2c, 33a, 4b, 5b.  How many did you get wrong? I hope none, but over the past weeks since I resumed driving after surgery, I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen most of these violated, the exception being the last one. Given adequate time, even that too will happen, sadly. Why am I more sensitive about this? Probably because the speed at which I had been moving much more closely resembled that of the proverbial tortoise, rather than the hare. At Wal-Mart a few weeks ago, I had just parked my car in one of the spots denoted with the sign above (and yes, I have my permit), and got out of my car, proceeding toward the store slowly using my cane. As I approached the crosswalk, a woman came from my right side, briefly glanced at the stop sign (see question #2) decided that red octagonal signs with white outlines were optional and proceeded through the crosswalk – which I had already entered – without stopping (see question #3).

Perhaps I had my cloaking device on again. That had to be it, because that’s the only rational explanation I can come up with for the sheer stupidity exhibited by this apparently adult woman who appeared to be in her 40’s. Not a teen, not anyone talking on their cell phone, and apparently in command of all of her faculties although that is up for debate from my perspective.

I do know that most insurance companies offer discounts to drivers over a certain age if they take a defensive driving course, and in Minnesota it’s 55 years of age. Perhaps it wouldn’t be an entirely dumb idea to offer that discount earlier? Start it at age 30, then boost the value at age 55 from 10% to 15%. State Farm, are you listening? Because apparently people are stupid WAY earlier than at age 55. News flash: yellow lights aren’t for fun, they are to alert you that the red is coming so you can try to stop, not speed up, dumbass! And if you’re climbing up my tailpipe when I’m going the speed limit, knock it the hell off, I’m not speeding up just to make you happy. Ain’t happening, and all you’re gonna get by tailgating me is a) more pissed off, b) a possible ticket for tailgating  c) a possible bigger ticket for the accident you caused when you rear ended me, because in Minnesota if you rear end someone, it IS your fault and d) a lawsuit for rear ending me, dumbass.

If you recognized yourself in any of the above scenarios, perhaps a refresher in Driving 101 is right up your alley.

I Am My Age…I Think

And now, back to your regularly scheduled lightheartededness…..

 

Not old enough to know better

Old enough to know better

Not old enough to know

Old enough to know

Not old enough

Old enough

Not old

Old

Not

And so goes the poem, “The Nine Ages of Man” by F.Emerson Andrews. I was delighted to stumble on the Diane Henders’ “I Spy” series of books about a year ago, for several reasons. The first is they’re just darn good, and keep me entertained. But the second, is that her protagonist Aydan, isn’t 20 something, or even 30 something…she’s – gasp – in her 40’s!!  Someone who is at least closer in age to where I am (and w here I mentally think I will be someday, because let’s face it, I’m still only 35 in my brain.)

Then in the last month or so, I found author Donna McDonald, who writes romantic fiction with a couple of her series focusing on – but not exclusively – adults in their 40’s and/or 50’s (See “The Art of Love””Next Time Around” and “Never Too Late” Series).  The characters may be widowed, divorced or never married, are flawed and imperfect, just like we are, know what they want and don’t want because they are of an age where they’ve lived and experienced life. They aren’t going to shortchange themselves for anyone. I LOVE that! Her characters are strong, funny, and her various series of books are engaging. I really would encourage you to check them out.

But it really got me to thinking about how much I appreciate these authors. The reason? Well, quite frankly it’s all about the old expression “Just because there’s a little snow on the roof doesn’t mean there isn’t a fire in the fireplace”.  Too much women’s fiction out there today is written about the 20 and 30 something crowd and honestly, at 55, I can’t relate. I’m never again (I hope!) going to fret about my apartment roommate, or go clubbing until the wee hours looking for a man (ugh). At this age, we’re over that nonsense. Let’s just cut to the chase because we know what we want, the type of man we want, what we are (and are not) willing to tolerate and we’ll end a relationship a whole lot sooner if it’s not working out. We have jobs, careers, families, hobbies and many of us are intellectually, socially, emotionally and spiritually satisfied already with our friends. A significant other doesn’t fill a gap, it’s an addition to an already full life.

When I finally understood those last two sentences, and truly believed them, I was 38. I had finally come to terms with not being married, and was pretty sure I was never going to be, nor was I ever having children. My sister had two of them and that was going to be enough for me. (I figured I could “borrow” hers on the weekends if I was feeling very maternal, and give her a parenting break, then give ’em back at the end. It was a win-win for everyone.) 1917020_1178599432945_4986073_n

 

Here are a couple of pictures of my niece Rachel on a weekend with Auntie Beth back in the day, clearly having a blast!

401485_3375010141840_1509729840_nI mean what kid wouldn’t have fun when she can wear her ball cap backward, cool sunglasses, and her aunt’s dive mask and snorkel (which she found all on her own and surprised me with!) Wouldn’t you have waited to go to your Auntie’s house too if you could have had as much fun as we did?  Of course you would have!

 

 

 

I remember when I started feeling really peaceful about all of this too.  I was on a sailing cruise in the Carribbean and stood on the deck of the ship with the wind blowing through my hair, just feeling the boat bob up and down, watching the horizon ahead of me as the sun slowly set on the water. The dolphins were swimming just ahead of the boat, giving us a great show as we sailed along, the wind catching our sails. Take a moment to go to Islandwindjammers.com. 149The line that I sailed with is no longer in business, but the photos here will give you and idea of what the boats were like. It was an incredible experience, and I was lucky enough to sail with Windjammer Barefoot Cruises four times before they went out of business. There are thousands of us still in mourning. Here is a shot from the deck of  the boat my husband and I sailed on for our honeymoon, which was the last time I sailed with them. As Jimmy Buffet says “salt air it ain’t thin, it can stick right to your skin and make you feel fine, it makes you feel fine”. And oh boy, does it ever.
Ah, the stories I could tell…but that’s another day.My life was my own and I had no one to answer to. The sense of accomplishment and freedom was amazing, no kids to worry about, no one that needed my time or anyone to split my income with. It was all about me. Then I came home and started seriously dating the man who became my husband. Yep, he was the addition to my full life. As it should be.

So what age am I now? I don’t know. I look at the poem and I laugh, because it depends on the day. I guess I’m at least at the “Old enough to know” mark, but then feel like I do move back and forth a bit, sort of how one moves through Kübler-Ross’ stages of grieving. I’m “Not Old”, then “Old” then back to “Old Enough” again. I’m certainly “old enough to know better” when it comes to going out clubbing, and “old enough to know” that a man will never make me happy, only I can do that. I’m “not old enough” for retirement and AARP (although AARP thinks I am!) and I’m “old enough” now that parts need fixing and replacing. I can only hope it’s a very long while before I feel and act like I’m truly “old”, and even longer before I’m “not”.