Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snow Dogs

We've had a "bit" of snow here this year. So far we've got well over a foot of snow on the ground. Here are some pictures of the boys playing in the snow. And, yes, it's over Elvis' head! It looks like he was using his nose to tunnel.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Cool Videos

Here's a couple of videos I saw today on Cary's List Of The Day that I just had to share. And, while I'm at it, I'd like to encourage you to subscribe to LOTD. Always entertaining but sometimes not safe for work.

The first video is a tribute to John Williams (Star Wars for those of us who might not be in the know). The actual singers are a group called Moosebutter, but I like what the kid has done with it even if it's just lip synching.

This next clip is obviously from a recital. Where or when, I have no idea. But this chick rawks the electronic organ. The next time your kid complains about taking piano lessons, show them this clip and tell them to quit their whining.

(Don't ask how I managed to do this double video thing because I have NO IDEA! Hey, at least they're working.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Gift From Tanna

Look what came in the mail today.  My Play It Forward gift from Tanna at My Kitchen In Half Cups.  On the left is a Lemon Tea Cake, center is Mom's Filled Cookies and right is Mandel Bread.  I've sampled them all and, boy! are they delicious!  Thank you sooooo much Tanna!  Happy Holidays to you too!IMGP2010

Cute Animal Christmas Song

I saw this on Jon's Sawdust and Cowpies site and thought it was too cute not to share.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Joke

A man walks into an orthopedist's office, walks up to the reception desk and says, "I think I'm a moth." The receptionist says, "Oh gosh, I don't think we can help you with that here, but there's a psychiatrist's office right down the hall." The fellow says, "Yah, I know... I was on my way down there, but your light was on."

Thanks for the laugh Don!

Answering Machine Etiquette



I know, it's tough.  You dial someone's number expecting that they will answer their phone and you can speak directly to that person.  You do it every day.  Sometimes twice a day.  But every once in a while this new-fangled device called an "Answering Machine" will pick up and you are forced to leave a message and hope for a call back from the human you wish to speak to.

So, for those of you who have never used this machine and who wish to speak to the human that owns said machine, I will list an easy-to-follow, fail-safe method to get that person to call you back.

When you hear the beep (which means you should start speaking) do the following in the order given:

1.  State your name fully and clearly - CLEARLY.  Do you know how many Joshs, Travis-es, Jackies and Chads we have as clients?  You are not our son or daughter so we don't know who you are by the sound of your voice.  So, be a gem and give us your FULL NAME.

2.  Leave your phone number.  I don't care if I've talked to you an hour ago.  If I have to go to your file to look up your number, I'm going to call back everyone else BEFORE I call you. 

3.  Give us your FULL telephone number, beginning with the area code.  We deal with two area codes here folks.  If we have to guess which one it is then guess what you're not getting.   A call back.

Speak CLEARLY and slowly and STOP MUMBLING.  "Hi, this is Jim mumble at mumble-mumble-8, mumble-7-mumble-mumble-mumble."  About that call back?  You better try your call again because you've just been deleted because I don't know who the hell you are or what your fricking phone number is. 

5.  SLOW DOWN.  The phone won't self destruct in 10 seconds if you don't end your call by then.  These new machines will let you just talk and talk and talk, so take your time - to a point.  (See below.)

6.  Be BRIEF.  We don't need to hear the whole sordid story of why you just "had" to break that no-contact Order.  A simple "Don - I'm in the Palo Alto County jail.  Call me."  will suffice.  (Oh, and we know that number.  It's on speed dial.)

To recap: we need your FULL NAME, your FULL PHONE NUMBER and a BRIEF MESSAGE.  So, SLOW DOWN AND STOP MUMBLING.  And sit up straight.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dani and Kyle's Party

Remember when these two got married a year ago in September? A hurry-up wedding because they thought Kyle was going to leave for Iraq the next day? They fully intended to re-do their vows this October when Dustin (Dani's brother) got home from Iraq, but becoming parents sort of put those plans on hold.

Even though they couldn't have a "real" wedding with a "real" reception didn't stop them from having a party for family and friends in honor of their wedding, Dustin's return from Iraq and to celebrate the new addition to their family.

Of course, I viewed this as another opportunity to use Smilebox. I'm so predictable.

Click to play Dani & Kyle's Party
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dusty & Elvis - Dog Days Smile Box

I love Smile Box! Here's a cute one with my boys. Enjoy!

Click to play Dusty & Elvis - Dog Days
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The READ GREEN Initiative

I have learned to NOT subscribe to magazines.  It took me many years to learn this valuable lesson.  But after finally getting rid of 5 years(!) worth of Martha Stewart Living magazines this summer, I vowed that I was never going to subscribe to another magazine again.  I just don't have enough closet shelf space to store them.  And why store them to begin with?  I never looked at them again so why was I saving them?

Because they were beautiful and informative and inspiring, that's why.  Except, like I said, I never looked at them again.  That's just me - clinging to an imagined reality that will never be.

Which is why I was totally jazzed when I saw this web site, the READ GREEN Initiative.  They offer online versions of lots of magazines that you can either read online (duh) of download to read later.  It's the real magazine - only not with paper.  It's a "win/win" situation here folks!

Of course, they don't offer Martha Steward Living, but I did subscribe to Saveur.  And there are many, many more to choose from.  So, head on over and take a look.  Save a tree (and your sanity) today!

Monday, October 13, 2008

An Epiphany

About four weeks ago my BFF Bettina decided to go on a diet. We were sitting in the BBY (Big Back Yard) having a drink and letting the dogs play when we (read:I) started talking about being fat and unhappy about it. We both know that stomach fat can lead to diabetes, stroke and heart disease and that's where we both carry our weight. (I don't think thunder thighs can kill you...can it?)

The very next day as she was fixing my drink she announced that she was on a diet and she wasn't going to drink. For that week, as was our habit, we would meet for an hour and let the dogs play and then meet uptown at 5:00 for cocktail hour. Normally we'd have a drink or two in the BBY and another couple-ten uptown. Now it was water and a diet pop for her. I figured when we got uptown she'd eventually break down and have a drink with me. I knew she was a stubborn German woman, but I didn't think she was that committed.

I should have known better though, because when she decided to stop smoking several years ago she just STOPPED. Period. End of discussion. Man - that woman has willpower!

Because she is my best friend, I didn't want her to suffer alone. So, in the spirit of friendship, I decided to quit drinking as well. To lose weight, you know. And it is working. Very well, in fact. But, you know what else I found out? I FEEL better. I feel better waking up, I have more energy during the day, and I just seem...well...happier.

And I'm also trying to quit smoking with Chantix. Wow. Two addictions at once. How much willpower can a person have I wonder. I have gone from 2+ packs a day to less than one, but I can't seem to get that last little craving out of my system. Yet.

My epiphany? Well, last night as I was watching TV, I suddenly realized that I was silently trying to decide which of my THREE cravings to give in to: 1) have a drink; 2) have a cigarette; or 3) have a cookie. Which one would hurt me the least? I suddenly realized that I had THREE addictions and they are all bitches. (For the record - I had a cigarette.)

I started this whole "no drinking" crap to lose weight. What I'm finding is that one of my addictions (either alcohol or tobacco) is ratcheting up my sweet tooth like mad. Luckily said sweet tooth is a midget compared to carbohydrate tooth, but it can really pitch a fit when told "no".

Will I drink again? Probably...maybe. I miss having a glass of wine with supper or a drink with friends. It's all the drinks that follow that I don't miss. Will I eventually quit smoking? God, I hope so! It's a disgusting, filthy habit that makes no one happy. Least of all me. Can I eventually take off this weight and (more importantly) keep it off? Yes - I think I can. I've never been a heavy woman, just average height and weight. I know that I need to start exercising if I'm going to maintain any weight loss and as soon as I can, I plan on starting a walking program.

Too little too late? Nah. We do what we can, when we can. Who knows how many days, hours or minutes we have left to live. How we live those precious minutes is what is most important. Taking charge of our own lives is the first step. Follow-through is the next. Commitment is the result.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Come On Down!

Several years ago my step-daughter and her friend made a movie!  A real movie.  Like the kind you would go to a theater and watch.  It's a documentary about contestants on the fan-tabulous Price Is Right TV show and it's a blast to watch.  Right now the girls are trying to get it picked up by a distributor so that you can actually GO to a theater and watch it.

I don't really understand the whole process involved with distributing/selling the movie.  But I do know that it is going to be shown at the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival on October 18th and 20th.  So if you are a fan of the Price Is Right or indie film makers, here's your chance to see Caryn and  Jeruschka's film.  I wish we were closer so we could attend, but it's not to be.

Here are the details in Caryn's own words:

COME ON DOWN!! THE ROAD TO ‘THE PRICE IS RIGHT’ Premiere screening at the SF Documentary Film Festival Saturday, October 18, 2008 7:15 pm Monday, October 20, 2008, 7:15 pm San Francisco –Come On Down! The Road to ‘The Price Is Right’ will debut in San Francisco on Saturday, October 18th as part of the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival. The world premiere screening will take place on Saturday, October 18th , at 7:15 pm at the Roxie Cinema (3117 16th Street in San Francisco ) and will be followed by a Q & A with the filmmakers. A second screening will take place on Monday, October 20th, at 7:15 pm at the Roxie. Come On Down! The Road to ‘The Price Is Right’ is a film about game show culture, the American dream, and the once-in-a-lifetime experience of hearing the words… “Lucky Lucy, come on down!!” The diverse cast of characters includes rock bands, college students, scholars, grandmas, fanatics, and "regular Joe's." The TPIR stories collected offer a hilarious and lighthearted glimpse at a truly unique staple of American popular culture as devotees live their "American dream." As one fan proclaimed, "I compare it to Canterbury Tales…I think it truly is an American pilgrimage." This documentary is a debut feature for filmmakers Caryn Capotosto and Jeruschka White. Tickets are available online at Press inquiries please contact Photobucket

Sunday, October 05, 2008

One More....

I came across this one and couldn't resist. It is so cute and these guys are so cool. Enjoy!

A Numa Numa Kinda Sunday

Sometimes I just like to watch Gary Broslma do his numa numa bit. It cheers me up, you know? In case you don't know, Gary was caught on web cam several years ago lip-synching to a pop song from Rumania (I believe). He became famous from that short clip and now has his own web site. Numa numa is all over the web. Just google it and you'll see.

Anyway, I was trolling through YouTube and came across this montage. Funny stuff so I thought I'd share. Gary is the guy in the end. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Meme

I like memes.  They offer a glimpse into the writer's life.  Plus it's a good way to share just a bit about yourself to perfect strangers.  Reenie had this one on her blog and I thought I'd play along.  Here goes:

1.What time did you get up this morning?
4:00 a.m.  What?  I get up when I wake up.

2.Diamonds or pearls?

3.What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Indiana Jones - what is it?  4? 5?  Which ever the last one was.  I saw it with Bettina and Q.

4.What is your favorite TV show? 
I don't really have a "favorite" - something that I watch all the time.  I like "House" and "Law and Order".  The channel I watch mostly is Tru TV for all the wacky real life criminals and stuff.

5.What do you usually have for breakfast?

6.What is your middle name?

7.What food do you dislike?
Sushi (I don't really know if I dislike it or not as I've never tasted it.  The thought of raw fish just makes me gag.)  OK - hominy.  Yuck!

8.What is your favorite CD at the moment?
I don't have a favorite.  I like various artists (see my Play List) but no whole CD.  One of my favorite whole albums is Santana's "Abraxas".  Sexy!

9.What kind of car do you drive?
I drive the Ford F-150 and DH drives the Ford 500.

10.Favorite sandwich?
Hmm...toughie.  I love well-made reubens.  OK - I've got it!  McDonald's Big Mac!!  My "guilty pleasure" only indulged in once or twice a month.

11.What characteristic do you despise?
Liars - hate people lying to me.

12.Favorite item of clothing?
My jeans.

13.If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?
The Caribbean.  I joke that the reason DH won't take me on a cruise is because I'd jump ship and never come home once we got there.  (I'd be sorely tested not to.)

14.Favorite brand of clothing?
There's brands?  OK, I know there is - I just don't have a favorite.

15.Where would you retire to? 
The Loess Hills in western Iowa where I grew up.

16.What was your most recent memorable birthday? 
My 50th was fun.

17.Favorite sport to watch?

18.Furthest place you are sending this?
The World Wide Web.

19.Person you expect to send it back first?
Don't know.

20.When is your birthday?
November 21st.

21.Are you a morning person or a night person?

22.What is your shoe size?
8 1/2 or 9.

Elvis and Dusty are our dogs.  Goldie and Rosie Barb are the fish.

24.Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us?
I wish.

25.What did you want to be when you were little?
A cowgirl!

26.How are you today?
Fine, thanks.  How are you?

27.What is your favorite candy?
Truthfully - I'm not much of a candy person.  Now when we're talking salty - popcorn!

28.What is your favorite flower?
Boy, that's a tough one.  I love roses (of course) and day lillies and zinnias ('cause there's just so many!) and peonies and iris and daisy and flowering trees and shrubs and cacti and...well, you get the drift.  I wouldn't say that I love "every" flower.  Some I can take or leave and some are just fugly.  I love the "old" ones.  Things that haven't been hybridized until the original is barely distinguishable.  Except the hybrid petunias, of course. 

29.What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to?
Today, well, and Oct. 30th cause that's Q's birthday.

30.What is your favorite pastime? 
Surfing the internet; playing games on

31.What are you listening to right now?
Don has CNN on right now, but I'm not listening to it.  It's just background noise.  When I'm alone I don't have TV or radio going.  I LOVE the sound of silence.

32.What was the last thing you ate?
A white chocolate-pistachio cookie with my coffee.  (I made them this weekend.  Yum!)

33.Do you wish on stars?

34.If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

35.How is the weather right now?
41 degrees.  It's supposed to get to a whole 61 today!  Woo hoo!!

36.The first person you spoke to on the phone today?
No one - yet.  And I'm not going into work today, so if I'm lucky I won't talk to anyone on the phone today.

37.Favorite soft drink?

38.Favorite restaurant?
Cancun in Mason City.  They have the BEST chile rellanos.

39.Real hair color?

40.What was your favorite toy as a child?
I had a collection of horse statues, but I never "played" with them.  These are what I remember, though.  Mostly, living in Turin, Iowa, all play was done outside.  Cowboys and Indians, Cops and Robbers - that kind of stuff.  So, I guess my favorite "toy" was my imagination!

41.Summer or winter?

42.Hugs or kisses?

43.Chocolate or Vanilla?
Vanilla - no, wait.  Chocolate.  Or...well...OK - both.

44.Coffee or tea?

45.Do you want your friends to email you back?
I always want my friends to email me!

46.When was the last time you cried? 
Day before yesterday, when I read about Paul Newman dying.  Everything makes me cry - parades, balloons, songs, seeing other people's tears, thinking about my mom.  I cry way too easily.  It's frustrating.  Which makes me cry.

47.What is under your bed? 
A storage box containing extra sheets and another containing my collection of placemats.  And dust bunnies.

48.What did you do last night?
Watched an episode of "House" then went to bed and read.  I'm re-reading "The Chronicles of Narnia" and I love it!  I'd forgotten how good it was.  I finally went to sleep about midnight.

49.What are you afraid of

50.Salty or sweet?

51.How many keys on your key ring?
Which key ring?  I carry four.  The office one has 7, and the car ones have 2 and the fourth one has 1.

52.How many years at your current job?
I work for hubby and have for the past 11-12 yrs.

53.Favorite day of the week?
Wednesdays - that's when the pogo challenges come out.  (I am soooo frickin' easy!)

54.How many towns have you lived in?
Eight (I think).

55.Do you make friends easily?

56.How many people will you send this to?
How many people are in the world?  And how many have computers?  And how many read me?  Let's see.... that will be.... 5!  LOL

57.How many will respond?
Don’t know. :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Project Playlist

Wooohooooo!! I didn't know you could add music to a blog! I've had this Project Playlist on my MySpace for a while now, and just found out that I could post it to my blog. I've got it on top of my profile info so you can turn it off if you really hate my music. It's on auto-start right now. And, it will interfer with music that plays on my Smilebox slideshows so be sure to stop it before clicking on the "play" button in Smilebox.

Ain't technology grand?

If you want to keep listening and surfing, just click on the Pop Out Player part and it goes onto your task bar. Cool beans! The player here on my site only plays six out of the 70-some songs I have loaded.

And, yes - I know that I have weird taste in music. Some of the songs on the pop-out player might not really be safe for work. I'm just saying.


Update 10-3-08: Oh, oh, oh!! I just discovered that all my songs are there, you just can't scroll down to them and (apparently) it doesn't play in random order on here either. So, if you want to see the rest, click on the last song and browse until you find something interesting. I REPEAT: some songs are NSW ("Dear Penis" by Rodney Carrington comes to mind).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ripping Up The Carpet

All's time I got to this post.

Remember back in April (!!?!!) when I said we were going to rip out the carpet? (BUHAHAHAHAHA... *choke* *sputter*.) Yea, well, we finally got around to doing it in June. It was a nasty, smelly, stinky, yucky job. Luckily we have really, really good friends that were kind enough to (get talked into) help us. We couldn't have done it without Della and Jay and Bettina and Gary. And, of course, since I've discovered SmileBox, I just had to make another slide show. Wanna see? Ok.

Click to play Ripping up the carpet
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I told you it was pretty nasty. Then, of course we had to decide what to put down for flooring. After seeing how horrible the carpet was, I was really really hesitant about laying down more. My heart was set on hard wood, but my pocketbook couldn't stand the pressure. So we compromised and got laminate.

Here's Mark laying our new laminate floor. I like how it is going to just open up both rooms. And here's Dean and a friend installing the quarter-round along the baseboards. Right now. I mean, they're still here.

Pretty cool, huh? Now I just have to touch up the paint and I'll be done. Whew! But, it was worth it. Every minute and every penny. I haven't had to use my rescue inhaler once since we got that carpet out of the house. Don and I just feel better!

And this had been this summer's remodeling project. Thank God it's over!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sts. Peter & Paul Fall Carnival

This annual fundraiser used to be held to raise money for the Catholic school. Since the school was closed a few years ago, it's now held for their religious education classes. There's a small carnival for the kids, an auction for the adults, and the real pull - Jay's Chicken!

I got some good photos while the guys were cooking yesterday and I thought you might like to see them. Plus - I learned how to use Smile Box (I think)! So, without further ado, and for your entertainment only, heeeeeere's JAY!

Click to play Sts. P&P Fall Carnival
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Sunday, September 07, 2008

40 Tips

A really great list that I got from Reenie.  I don't do everything on this list.  But I do quite a lot of it.  Enjoy!

40 Tips for a Better Life
1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
3. Buy a DVR, tape your late night shows and get more sleep.
4. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, 'My purpose is to __________ today.'
5. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
6. Play more games and read more books.
7. Make time to relax every day. That provides us with daily fuel for our busy lives.
8. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.
9. Dream more while you are awake.
10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
11. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.
12. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
13. Clear clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and flowing energy into your life.
14. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead, invest your energy in the positive present moment.
15. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class, but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
16. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.
17. Smile and laugh more. It will keep the negative blues away.
18. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
20. Don't take yourself so seriously.
21. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
22. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
23. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
24. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”
26. Forgive everyone for everything.
27. What other people think of you is none of your business.
28. Enjoy the ride. Remember this is not Disney World and you certainly don't want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it.
29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
30. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
31. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
32. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
33. The best is yet to come.
34. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up. You are too blessed to be stressed!
35. Do the right thing!
36. Call your family often. (Or email them)
37. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I am thankful for __________. Today I accomplished _________.
38. Take time each morning to talk with the Higher Power of your understanding.
39. Remember, the Universe has a Plan for Your Life.
40. Forward this to everyone you care about. I just did by posting it here!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wal-Mart (Thanks Netta!)

My good friend Reenie recently posted the below story written by another wonderful woman Annetta Ribken.  This story really hit home with me.  Netta nailed it with this observation of life. 

A Trip to Wal-Mart
By Annetta Ribken
Contact at:

"Turning into the parking lot of Wal-Mart, you cruise for a decent spot. You see a car inching out of a prime space; you sit and wait for the woman behind the wheel to pull out. She is taking her time; your fingers drum on the steering wheel as you fight the urge to lay on the horn. What you don't see is that she's trying to get her three-year old to shut up and stop squirming long enough to look behind her; her husband will kill her if she puts another ding in this car.

She safely pulls out, breathing a sign of relief and ready to smack the three-year-old; you pull smoothly into the space she has vacated. What you don't see is the man in the compact car cussing you out for taking his spot. He's had a bad morning; he overslept and missed church. When his wife got home he had to put up with her sighs, knowing looks, and comments about hellfire waiting for unbelievers. He figured he would make the trip to Wal-Mart to pick up some paint for the outside door; maybe that would shut her up. Now he has to ride around the parking lot one more time to find a spot. Day is shaping up great, he thinks.

Getting out of your car, you look up and see two boys walking by. One of them is laughing and the other is clowning, singing some rap song. You hit the lock button, shut the door and double check it without even thinking, wondering how the one kid keeps his pants up because they're riding so low. What you don't see is these two boys are honor roll students, and one of them will be shot early next month in a drive-by. The other kid will go on to complete high school and go to college. This day he spends with his friend will become one of his most cherished memories.

You walk behind the two boys into Wal-Mart; the lady greeter is there as usual. She smiles and pushes a cart in your direction. You don't notice the shadows beneath her eyes and you don't know that she is worried about her daughter and new grandbaby. The baby, her first grandchild, is still in the neo-natal unit and she knows her daughter is pushing herself too hard. She hates her son-in-law but her daughter loves him, so what can she do? She just wishes he would help more around the house, especially with the baby so sick and his wife spending so much time at the hospital. She's counting the minutes until work is over, so she can go help.

You roll your cart over to the pharmacy to drop off a prescription; the pharmacy assistant is tall and cute and you spend a few minutes chatting with him. He tells you how he's working his way through college and you think he seems like a nice fellow. You don't see the slight tremor of his hands and you don't know he's working his way into a huge addiction to codeine. Every minute of every day is consumed by getting high, the need to get high, or scoring to get high. He's filled with self-loathing and guilt, but that doesn't stop him. He won't stop until he loses his job and his scholarship. He will finally flunk out of college and will spend the rest of his life in atonement for the sins he is about to commit.

You wander into the electronics department, and casually look over the new music. Next to you is a young girl; she's pierced, tattooed, dyed, and made up until she looks like a freak from the circus. You sneak looks out of the corner of your eye at this child, and think, "If my daughter ever came home like this I would kill her." What you don't see is this girl is homeless; she's staying at a shelter because her mother took off for parts unknown, leaving her only daughter to the not-so-tender mercies of a perverted stepfather. Suicide is heavy on her mind right now; you catch her eye and she looks truculent. You smile a little, sensing she may need it. She does, and she takes it, giving a small smile in return. The clouds recede for her just a little; you walk on, not knowing what the little smile you gave just did for this girl.

You move on and stop to look through the magazine rack. A gentleman is there in a fatigue jacket perusing the latest hot rod magazine; he looks totally absorbed. What you don't see is this man has not slept in three nights and is looking for some relief. The nightmares won't let him go and the ebony cloak of depression is hovering, hovering. He has to sleep, but the screams of his men and the sound of the helicopters won't leave him. He's been here at Wal-Mart for six hours, and has almost finished reading every magazine on this rack. The winds of madness are blowing hard and he is holding on for dear life.

Stopping in the automotive department, you pick up some windshield washer fluid and notice a young man doing the same. You smile at him and he smiles back, but looks a little distracted. You have no way of knowing how sick he feels inside, because he's been cheating on his wife for the past six months and doesn't know what to do. He doesn't realize his wife has known for the last four months, and is at this very moment calling a lawyer. He only knows he loves his wife, but the other woman does things with her mouth and tongue his wife won't. The other woman understands him and puts no pressure on him. The other woman is his wife's best friend.

You get to the checkout lane with your purchases, and wait in line while the elderly woman in front of you unloads cat food, sheets, some Tylenol, and an African violet on the conveyor belt. She is humming to herself and looks happy; you smile, not knowing she's thinking of her husband who passed away close to twenty years ago, not knowing she misses him with every breath she takes. She's just marking time until she can join him. She feels lucky she had the time she did with him, but she's angry with God for taking him too soon. The anger is with her always, cheek by jowl with love.

The check out guy is mechanically doing his job; his mind is on the cute girl he met two months ago. She doesn't know (and neither do you) how his insides flutter every time he thinks of her, and now he's determined to get up the guts to ask her out. He daydreams about the sheen of her hair, the curve of her waist, and then stops because to go any further would embarrass him.

Sliding your credit card, punching in the PIN number is automatic with a ritualistic feel. You say thank you to the love struck boy, and head outside. Putting your purchases in the trunk, you get into the car, start it up and pull out. Someone is patiently waiting for your slot; they don't see worry on your face about a small lump that may or may not be there. They don't see your panic at the thought of your son entering the military or the concern about your daughter, who's been spending a lot of time with her friends and not enough at home. They don't see the strains of a marriage on the brink, the stress digging deeper and deeper into the flesh of your face.

You back out of the parking space, and head home. A waiting car pulls smoothly into the vacated spot.
~end~ "

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


“People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing--that's why we recommend it daily.”
-Hilary Hinton "Zig" Ziglar (1926-  , motivational speaker, author, salesman)

“No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American Author)
NOTE:  For the next time you start to say, “Well, I’d be happy if only…”

Maybe Reenie's excellent post on The Four Statements has made me reflect on my life.  I just thought these quotes were perfect for my life today.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Just When You Thought

it was safe to go into your kitchen...

You might want to re-think that whole "new, cool counter tops" idea.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Power of the People

Our little town performed a miracle.  I'll let John Carlson from the Des Moines Register tell you our story:

Carlson: Towns show meaning of school spirit


The bank lobby was jammed with farmers, business owners and other West Bend-area residents, all with their pens and checkbooks ready.

Everybody in the West Iowa Bank that afternoon last month already had given cash to the most important cause a community could have. They were ready to do it again.

"We had 20 minutes to go before the bank closed, and we were still $76,000 short," said Dawn Schmidt of West Bend, an organizer of what might be the largest, fastest money-raising effort rural Iowa has ever seen.

"The clock was ticking, and people were making calls, finding more money. People were cashing in their CDs and transferring money from savings accounts. And we made it. We got the money we needed."

The people of West Bend and Mallard saved their school system. In the long run, they likely preserved the vitality and very heart of their communities, too.

In 18 days, residents and former residents of the northern Iowa towns came up with $852,953.63. We're not talking pledges; we're talking cash in the bank.

It took that kind of money, that fast, to keep the Iowa Department of Education from shutting down a school district that less than a year ago was honored by U.S. News and World Report magazine as having one of the finest high schools in the nation.

The magazine gives no awards for financial crises. That's good, because the West Bend-Mallard School District was, and still is, in a doozy.

The details of how it happened are complicated, involving "unspent authorized balances" and "allowable growth" formulas and "modified allowable growth" dispensations by state review committees.

Put simply, the administration and school board overspent and underplanned, and the West Bend-Mallard district was looking at operating at a deficit for a fourth consecutive year.

Most people in the district had not realized what was happening with the finances and were shocked that a state-imposed death penalty was looming.

It wasn't just idle talk. The same thing happened in tiny Russell just a few months ago. The district ran at an unacceptable deficit and the state shut it down.

"The Department of Education people explained it reasonably and offered as much help as possible, but the fact is, the high school almost certainly would be closed and we were looking at losing the whole school district," Schmidt said. "We weren't going to let it happen."
The thing is, there wasn't much time to make up the district's $700,000 deficit, plus get a $150,000 cushion to start the 2008-09 school year. The money was needed by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Letters explaining the problem were written on June 11. Mailing labels came from a database compiled from West Bend's recent sesquicentennial and all-school reunion. The letters and envelopes, folded and stuffed by volunteers, were printed by the West Bend Journal newspaper.

A total of 1,402 letters went in the mail on June 12. Another 155 went out the next day. The cost of postage came straight out of people's pockets.

"The letter made it clear this was an all-or-nothing thing," Schmidt said. "We had to make the goal of $850,000 by the close of business on June 30. All checks mailed in would be null and void if we didn't make it. This wasn't going to be a 'do the best we can if we only got $300,000' kind of thing. We were going to get the money we needed to save the school or we weren't."

One check for $100,000 arrived. There was one for $70,000 and one for $50,000. But organizers knew this wouldn't make it on the backs of a few large donors.
It didn't.

Two children came to the school district office, each with $1 to contribute to their school. Some kids in Minneapolis, cousins of students at West Bend-Mallard, opened a lemonade stand and sent $10.

A lighted digital sign on West Bend's Main Street kept people up to date with the amount raised. It flashed a running tally as the checks came in. People stood and watched as the number changed.

It was exciting. And for a while, a bit discouraging.
By June 25 - five days before the deadline - just $334,000 in checks was at the bank. That was less than half the goal.

People talked to those who hadn't contributed about what was at stake. It was more than just school buildings in West Bend, population 834, and Mallard, population 298. Schools close, and communities begin to lose their identities. Main Street suffers.

They'd seen it before all around the state.

"It's a drip, drip, drip, and we sure didn't want it to happen here," said Bob Runchey, owner of the International-Case farm equipment dealership in West Bend.

West Bend, a town without a stoplight, had raised big money before. People pooled their cash and built the country club. They did the same with the lumberyard. Even the Ford dealership. They came up with $621,000 to build the Park View motel. So raising $850,000 to save the school surely was doable.

Some towns would turn the key on the buildings and walk away. Not here, a place former county supervisor and school board member Lannie Miller calls "too tough to die."

"It's a lot of money, but I thought it was possible," said Runchey, the implement dealer.

"We're in the middle of four county seat towns, all of them about 20 miles away. People want the community to thrive," he said. "We've got a grocery store and a couple of restaurants and other businesses. This is important for them. People always tell us we're a wealthy area with some very successful farmers. Pretty much everybody stepped up. Some did in a big way."

The money kept coming, but not a single check was cashed before the deadline. Which brought them to 2:40 p.m. on June 30, and the crowd at the bank and $76,000 to go.

The truth is, they stretched that 3 p.m. deadline. But not by much. The last-minute calls, checks and money transfers worked. There were cheers and high-fives.
It was like Christmas Eve at the Bailey house in Bedford Falls. OK, Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed weren't in the bank lobby, but the celebration made it a very wonderful day in West Bend and Mallard.

The sign on Main Street flashed the good news.
Schmidt said they might end up with as much as $900,000 when the last of the 326 contributions come in.
Not that it's over. An interim school superintendent has been hired - the previous superintendent resigned in May - and some very hard decisions will have to be made.
Such as the future of the West Bend building, which houses the high school and prekindergarten through second grade, and the Mallard building, where third- through eighth-graders attend. The staff size may be reduced. Nothing is off the table.

People in the district know they saved their school, and they are darned proud of it.

They are talking about saving some of the school's money a month from now by grabbing mops and buckets and deep-cleaning the buildings themselves before school starts.

Not that it should be a surprise. These people have already shown they'll do whatever it takes.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Flood Water Gardening

The Johnson County Extension Service has given some good advice about eating fruits and vegetables that have been exposed to the recent flood waters.

It only makes sense not to eat something that has been covered with sewage-contaminated water.  But even out here - in the middle of nowhere - we need to be aware of this danger.  The manure and chemical fertilizers and herbicides that were applied to the newly-planted fields right before the rains were washed into the creeks and rivers and thence over our yards and gardens. 

Common sense here, folks.  If you have any doubt about the safety of eating your food, then discard it.  "When in doubt - throw it out!"  That's been the canning mantra for years and it applies to your growing fruits and vegetables this season.  It sucks, I know.

Thanks to Genie of The Inadvertent Gardener for bringing this to my attention.  You can take the girl out of Iowa, but you can't take Iowa out of the girl.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Floods of '08

If you didn't know about Iowa before, you certainly do now. That is, if you watch TV or listen to a radio. In 1993 we had the Hundred Years Flood. Aught eight is now being called the Five Hundred Years Flood. We did learn from our mistakes in '93 so some of the damage has been mitigated. But we had (are having) more rain in larger amounts which are causing problems now. Levees are breaking, towns and cities are being evacuated, basements and fields are being flooded. Farmers are crying in their beer. (That's a lie. They're not crying. You can't be a farmer and be a wimp. You wouldn't survive. They are some of the most optimistic people I know.) It's a mess.

Thursday Bettina and Gary drove around the quarter and took some pictures. She said I could use them for this post, so here they are:


This is the golf course. Taken from the road, looking out over No. 2 fairway, No. 7 tee box and No. 3 fairway. That little building is used to sell beer and drinks during a tournament.


This is No. 2 green. It's usually much bigger than this.


This is the road you're sitting on after having driven through water washing across the road. You know you're not supposed to do that. It's very dangerous, but I'm glad you made it safely.


This crap is cornstalks that have washed downstream from a field and are now sitting on No. 2 fairway.


This is Ron Brown's sheep pasture. Don't worry - he'd moved the sheep up to the barn weeks ago to lamb. Kinda pretty, isn't it?


The field on the left is Ron Girres (I believe) and the one on the right is Little Jerry's. Somewhere in there is the lane going up to Jay's farm. Bettina would not allow Gary to try to drive through this. (Wise choice Bettina.)


Remember all those cornstalks above? This picture shows the greenskeeper, Blake Banwart, his two sons and another helper using a hose to push them off the fairway and into the fast flowing creek.


And, yes, they are standing on the fairway and the water is almost up to their waists. Blake said that when it went over their heads, they'll know they found the creek. Not funny Blake. Not funny AT ALL!

This has been a tiny picture of what's been going on around here. Many, many people, in Iowa and elsewhere in the Midwest, have it much worse.

Bettina has more pictures on her MySpace and I thank her for risking her life (and her truck) for going out and taking these remarkable pictures. You rock!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

New Masthead

Do you like my new masthead? Those cookies came from Mari and I was just thrilled to get them! Thank you sooooo much, Mari!

Mari is doing some updating on her website, so the cha-no-mari link isn't working. I'll put the link up as soon as she gets it fixed.

Edit: Link fixed. Go check out Mari's blog.

Big Changes Ahead!

We moved into our house nineteen years ago this week.  (It's hard to believe that we've been here that long! ) The carpet that was here nineteen years ago (green shag - need I say more) is still here.  But not for long!  This Saturday we're ripping up the carpet in the living and dining rooms!  YAY!!!

Don't get me wrong - it's been a good carpet.  Obviously it was a good quality one since it was probably 10 years old when we moved in.  But it's waaaaay past it's prime.  Years of animals and kids have taken its toll and it is literally falling apart.

So when Della and I painted the living room trim over Mother's Day, we "accidentally" pulled up a piece over by the bay window.  Just to, you know, see what was under it.  Imagine our surprise when we saw that the floor was Southern Yellow Pine (according to the local lumber yard guy) cut into wide boards.  And in pretty good condition.  According to Greg (local lumber yard guy), Southern Yellow Pine is harder than oak and more expensive to replace.  Of course, this was just a small part of the floor we were looking at, but if the rest of the room looks this good then we're going to sand and refinish it and I'm going to have a "new" wood floor!  NO MORE CARPET!

Another thing we found (ahem) was mold.  Lots of mold on the back of the carpet from all the years of scrubbing the carpet to try and keep it clean.  It's no wonder DH and I have been sick with respiratory problems all winter long.  Our house is killing us! 

DH is not one to jump into any life-altering (expensive) decisions and he has been dragging his feet about this whole "let's rip up the carpet" thing.  But when I showed him the mold I think he understands how important it is to get this out of here. 

So, Saturday's the day.  Don't worry - there will be plenty of pictures.  Do you want to see what it looks like now?  OK:


That's Elvis sitting in the living room.  And that's our carpet.  Pretty yucky, huh?  Not for long, baby.  Not for long!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Writing Rules

I've recently "met" a wonderful woman online. Her name is Irene Fulton (Reenie) and I do hope you take some time to check out her web site.

We both read List of the Day and she wrote the following in a comment. It tickled me so much that I wrote her and asked if I could use it in a post some time. She responded with:

"I'm glad you enjoyed the grammar list. After I read your profile I now understand your attention to details that might involve future litigation, but if there are copyright issues with the grammar list, I'd better start packing my bags to flee to some obscure third world country. :)"

So, without further ado, here is a list of grammar rules that we should have learned in high school, but it never hurts to refresh our memories.

For writing styles, be sure and follow these rules:

  1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
  4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  5. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
  6. Also, avoid annoying alliteration.
  7. Be more or less specific.
  8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
  9. Also, too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
  10. No sentence fragments.
  11. Contractions aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be used.
  12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
  13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  14. One should NEVER generalize.
  15. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
  16. Don’t use no double negatives.
  17. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
  21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
  22. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
  23. Kill all exclamation points!!!!!
  24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
  25. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.
  26. Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.
  27. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
  28. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
  29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
  30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  31. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
  32. Who needs rhetorical questions?
  33. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Pride of Iowa Cookies

Ever since receiving my Mother's Day gift, it's been sitting on the dishwasher, taunting me to take it for a spin. Want to see?


Ain't it purty?

But life has just not allowed me to even play with it - until yesterday. Seeing as how the cookie jar has been empty for a WEEK, I decided it was time to put this baby into action. And what better recipe to test drive it with than my Pride of Iowa Cookies.

Normally the only way to mix this stiff dough is to use your hands. I've never had a mixer that could even begin to handle the dough once you began adding the flour and oats. But with this puppy, that just wasn't a problem.


These cookies are chock full of everything a growing girl needs. It came out of the recipe box from the nursing home, and it looks like Nyda Gleason's handwriting. (Hi Nyda!) She was the cook who taught me how to cook for 40 people and get it ready to serve at 11:30 sharp.

Anyway... in case you're is the recipe for my


1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 cup shortening

2 eggs, beaten

2 cup flour

3 cups quick oatmeal

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup coconut

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1 cup chocolate chips (optional) (I didn't have any to put into these :( )

1. Blend shortening and sugars

2. Add beaten eggs.

3. Sift dry ingredients and add to first mixture.

4. Stir in vanilla, coconut, oatmeal, nuts and chips (if using).

5. Mix well. Flatten with wet fork or bottom of glass.

6. Bake at 375 F for 8-12 minutes, or until brown.

Makes 5 or 6 dozen, depending on size of cookie.


Look good - don't they? And they are! Oh, and they're in the box because these are coming to YOU Stacey!! Let's see the postal service crush these babies!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day Love

I hope everyone had a really great Mother's Day this past weekend. I know I did! Della offered to come up and paint the woodwork in the living room for me and, believe me, I jumped all over that.

The woodwork throughout the house is Italiante (read: ornate) and painted (read: beautiful). And, yes, it was designed to be painted. Having painted it throughout the rest of the house, I knew how long it takes to get two coats on all the curves and doodads and miles of mopboards with it's curves and quarter-rounds. I painted the dining room, woodwork and all, a few years before and I chose not to paint the living room's trim. My back and knees just couldn't take another room!

So Saturday, bright and early, we start cleaning and caulking the living room woodwork. She wanted to go on into the north room, but luckily we ran out of hours and two tubes of caulk later(!) We barely had enough to finish the living room. Hey - it's an old house.

After a nice supper (uptown) we called it a night, deciding to start painting in the morning. EIGHT AND A HALF HOURS later, we finished the living room! As we lay on the floor, admiring our work, Della turned to me and said "I can't believe I thought we could get TWO rooms done this weekend!" (I knew we couldn't but I wasn't about to discourage her from wanting to help me!)

We were exhausted, sore and numb from being on our knees and up and down ladders for over 8 straight hours. But we were proud. It really does make a difference. Wanna see?


Entrance to the north room


Entrance to the dining room


Detail of a door

Isn't it pretty? I'm glad it's done because it really makes the room look good.

But the BESTEST part of Mother's Day? That my daughter spent it with me. We laughed and talked and shared things that have never been spoken of before. I got to know her just a little bit better and I hope she feels that she knows me a little more now as well. She's turned in to a lovely, wonderful woman and I'm so very proud of her. And she's a damn good mommy too. Quinten's a lucky boy.

Oh....and she brought me this -



Saturday, April 19, 2008

Resuming Womanhood

I have a very dear friend named Stacey who has just started a new blog called Resuming Womanhood. She has been diagnosed with Polycistic ovary syndrome and has just started a new medical regime to counteract the effects of PCOS. Please take a moment to go over and encourage her on her road to recovery.

I'm very proud of you Stacey!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Found Treasure

My girlfriend Kathy is a thrift store and garage sale junkie. Her keen senses and un-erring eyes have led her to many beautiful and valuable items, all of which adorn her home. Like the time she found a KitchenAid mixer, still in it's box, unused, for $50.00. (I offered her $100 for it, but she wouldn't sell.)

But I believe yesterday was the coup de grace as far as bargains go. While shopping at our local Good Will store she came upon what she believed was a diamond ring. The price? Fifty cents. So she bought it and immediately took it to the jewelry store. The real value? Two THOUSAND dollars!!

She said she thought it was worth the $.50 because the band said 14K gold. But when the jeweler appraised it she about lost her cookies. 14K white gold band with a 1/3K beautifully brilliant and clear diamond, size 4-1/2 ring in it's original velvet covered box. Someone screwed up - royally!

So, see people. Treasures are out there - all you have to do is keep your eyes and mind open. Happy hunting!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Why Do I Blog?

(Originally written and published on MySpace, Sunday, March 16, 2008.)

If you’ve read my profile at all, you’ve seen that I have a blog called Tip of the Iceberg and that I mostly just read blogs. Food blogs are some of my favorite reads but I also have gardening blogs, tech blogs, photography blogs and scrapping blogs that I visit every day to discover what new and interesting thing I might learn from these talented and tireless people.

When I started blogging I tended to stay more centered on food, but as summer came on I found myself writing about my garden and yard. Then, when we did some remodeling, I photographed each change and wrote about it. When we went to a party or had a fundraiser in town, I would photograph that as well and write a bit about it.

Then there were the posts about my childhood - growing up in a small town in Iowa. I think, somewhere in the back of my mind, I was writing for my children to understand who I was and where I was coming from. Life experiences shape every one of us and I wanted to tell someone about mine. Or maybe I just want to remind myself who I am.

Now it appears I’m at a crossroads. I’m not certain which direction I want my blog to go. My "voice" has almost been silenced. What do I want to write about? How personal do I want to be? Will I offend anyone if I write something too personal?

Blogging has brought me friends from around the world. People whom I never would have known except through our writing. These people are unique and wonderful in their own way and my life would somehow be less if I couldn’t see and interact with them daily.

I read a site called BlogHer that is a collaboration of many women bloggers writing about women’s issues of today. Jennifer Satterwhite wrote a post called "Blogging Life’s Harsh Family Realities" on Saturday because it was her eighth anniversary of being drug free. She ended her post with the following:

"The bottom line is blogging has power. A mighty strong power. Blogging connects people. We can find others who get where we have been, where we are and where we are going. And that is vital at certain times in our lives. So, bloggers, it is okay to bare your soul. Some of us need it. Most of us admire it. And there are even a few of us who are counting on it."

I hope she’s right.

(Edit: Link to BlogHer fixed. I can't find the Satterwhite post to link to it. Sorry!)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Spite & Malice

No - this is not going to be a rant about shitty neighbors or back-stabbing friends.  Spite & Malice is the name of a 2-4 player cut-throat solitaire game, also called "Cat & Mouse" or "Skip-bo". 

I don't exactly remember how I first became aware (addicted) to the game, but I've been playing it for years now.  But I don't play it with cards - not real ones anyway.  I use a nifty little computer program written by Mari J. (Soderberg) Michaelis.  Here's her site where you can see the program yourself (maybe even buy it).

Another neat thing about the program is that you can actually play on-line against other people from around the world.  Many players (even Mari herself) hold monthly tournaments where players vie for the honor of becoming that month's "World's Best Spite Player".  I don't compete in these any more because...well, because I'm just too competitive.  When I got assigned a person to play against I was all "Come ON, already!  Let's PLAY!"  That doesn't make for lasting friendships.

In 2004 some of the players decided they wanted some face time and put together the first ever Spite & Malice Union.  We met in Delaware and played cards, went sight-seeing, drinking, eating and dancing.  Or just sat around and visited.  It was so wonderful to actually meet and speak with the person who had been soundly beating you in tournaments for years.  And to meet Mari herself. 

I took pictures.  Lots of pictures.  But in an effort to clean out my computer, I uploaded the older pictures onto Google's Web Album.  Sigh!  Now the only way to share them is to give you the link to the album of our First Spite & Malice Union in Delaware.  Feel free to look around at my other albums.  They're public.  Many of them have been published on my blog as well.

Wondering what brought this post on?  I found a couple of the people I met in Delaware on MySpace yesterday.  This is for you Bo and Robyn.  I'm so glad I found you again!

Monday, March 31, 2008

In Like a Lion....

You know that old saying about March?  "In Like a Lion - Out Like a Lamb"?  Bullshit!

There's a winter weather advisory again today.  Another 1 - 2 inches after the sleeting stops later this morning.  This month has SUCKED!  And not just here in northern Iowa.  All over the net I've been reading others bitching and moaning about the cold and snow that's plagued us here in the northern hemisphere all spring.

Someone that I read the other day called this climate change "global weirding".  They got that right!  This spring has been weird any way you look at it.  I, for one, will be very glad when this miserable month is done and over with.

Goodbye March and good riddance.  Don't let April hit you in the ass when you leave!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Breakfast Take Alongs


Ever since Christmas, I've been in a real "baking" mode.  After the fiascos over Christmas, I made up my mind that baking is like riding a bicycle - you never forget how.  You just sometimes need to practice regaining your balance and pretty soon you'll be riding along without using your hands. 

You can make your pastries, doughnuts, pies and desserts.  My sweet tooth calls for cookies.  I was getting kind of tired making all the "standard" cookies and decided to look for something a little different.  That's when I remembered these cookies.

I sent for this little recipe booklet from Quaker Oats way back when I was with Husband #1 in 1979.  I'd give you a link, but I doubt it's published anymore.  It was one of those "Send us $2.00 for shipping and handling and we'll send you this recipe book FOR FREE!" 

I've made many recipes from it, but my favorite was these Breakfast Take Alongs.  They're crispy and chewy; kind of salty, savory and sweet.  The book claims that it provides 11% of the U.S. RDA of protein and I can believe it with bacon and cheese in them.  Although I wish they would have given the number of calories, etc. in them as well.

So if you're looking for something a "little different' to make for the cookie jar, I highly recommend these.


2/3 cup butter

2/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup AP flour

1/2 teaspoon soda (as in baking - not Pepsi)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned)

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup wheat germ or finely chopped nuts (I used nuts)

6 crisply cooked bacon slices, crumbled.

Beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until well blended.  Add combined flour, soda and salt; mix well.  Stir in oats, cheese, wheat germ (or nuts) and bacon.  Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet; bake in preheated moderate oven (350F) 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Cool one minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire cooling rack.  Store in loosely covered container in refrigerator or at room temperature (I put mine in the 'frig - bacon, you know...).  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Elvis Update


It's been about 6 weeks since Elvis' surgery and he's recovering nicely.  He's still not very strong on his back legs and that prevents him from jumping up on the couch.  The vet said that awareness of limb placement would be the last thing to return.  That's probably what makes him walk like he's in a marching band with his hind legs while trying to run with his front ones.  It is rather comical to watch....poor dear.

Meanwhile, Dusty's having a grand time at Montana's house.  They have the same spirit and energy (and mentality) and play with each other continuously.  Bettina took a video of them playing out in the yard this winter and I thought I'd share it.  It cracks me up every time I watch those two idiots running and wrestling.  It looks like they're hurting each other - but they're not. 

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

The Easter Bunny's little helper dyed his eggs yesterday. Aren't they beautiful?
I hope everyone's tummy is full of candy and ham and the rest of your day is spent watching scary movies. That's what we're doing anyway.

Happy Easter to all my friends!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Pat's Day


Wishing you a rainbow
For sunlight after showers—
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours—
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter too,
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through

May the frost never afflict your spuds.
May the leaves of your cabbage always be free from worms.
May the crows never pick your haystack.
If you inherit a donkey, may she be in foal.

The Mouse on the Barroom Floor

Some Guinness was spilled on the barroom floor
when the pub was shut for the night.
Out of his hole crept a wee brown mouse
and stood in the pale moonlight.
He lapped up the frothy brew from the floor,
then back on his haunches he sat.
And all night long you could hear him roar,
'Bring on the goddam cat!'

An Irishman's Philosophy

In life, there are only two things to worry about—
Either you are well or you are sick.
If you are well, there is nothing to worry about,
But if you are sick, there are only two things to worry about—
Either you will get well or you will die.
If you get well, there is nothing to worry about,
But if you die, there are only two things to worry about—
Either you will go to heaven or hell.
If you go to heaven, there is nothing to worry about.
And if you go to hell, you’ll be so busy shaking hands with all your friends
You won’t have time to worry!


Sunday, March 09, 2008


I have a question. Since I redid this blog, I can now see (in the links to the left) when others have newly posted because they are in bold. Can you see this as well? Or is it only because I am this blog's administrator? Just curious.


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Sick of My Linens

I washed my bedding today. Biggie-wow, you say? That's really something to write about, huh? Yea, well, while remaking the bed one of my pillow cases ripped in two. First I cried, then I got pissed.

Over Christmas, my daughter had called to tell me that Target was having a linen sale and did I want her to pick up a set of king-sized sheets for $30.00. $30.00 - that's less than the cost of a pair of shoes for cripes sake. Every store has a January White Sale EVERY YEAR, so why in the hell would I NOT get new linens. They might not be 5,000,000 count Egyptian cotton, but who cares.

And that blanket! Are you still using the blanket your mom got you when you went to college? Or that you got as a wedding gift from your FIRST marriage? I don't think so. Ladies, this is just ridiculous. We work, we take care of our families, our pets, our homes. This is not a luxury - this is a necessity.

I have made a promise to myself. I will never keep linens longer than three years from now on. That includes towels. Towels fray from the frequent washing and I deserve to have towels that aren't coming apart at the seams. Besides, I'm sick of the sight of them. Sheets, towels, pillows - they're all gone! I'll line the dog's kennel with them or use them as drop cloths when I paint. But I'm never going to put them on my bed again.

And, while I'm at it - I'm getting kind of tired of my dishes too. Ten years is long enough for a set of dishes, don't you think? It's not like they're heirlooms or expensive or anything. They're just a set I picked up at K-Mart when I was sick of the mis-matched ones I'd been using forever.

I'm fully aware of where this frugal nature comes from. But it's been a while since I was toeing the poverty line. Sometimes it's just the rut that we've dug that keeps us complacent. And I am heartily sick of this rut.

I remember visiting Aunt Della as a child and going through her numerous chest of drawers and closets. I would find new, never-worn nightgowns, slips, house dresses, aprons, bedding and blankets. When I would ask her about them, she'd tell me that they were all gifts from family and friends. When asked why she didn't use them, she said that she was "saving" them for "good". Good what?! Bless her heart - I can still picture her in that same house dress and apron that she always wore. When she died, her children were left to clean out those drawers and closets and haul it all to the Good Will.

So I got the sheets that Della had bought for me out of the drawer and put them on the bed. Tonight, I'm sleeping in a new bed. Yee haa!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Elvis is Home

He's not moving too good just yet, but he is recovering. The doctor says it will be a few months before he's walking normally. Right now he's resting most of the time. He loves being on his pillow by me in the computer room. With his squeaky toy, of course.

While Elvis is recovering, Bettina has been dog-sitting for Dusty. Her standard poodle, Montana, LOVES having Dusty there. They have the same temperament and play continuously. Bettina took some pictures of them out in the snow wrestling one day. It looks like they're killing each other - but they're not. That's just how they play.

I'll be glad when Elvis can get out there and play with them too. Time will tell.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Daytona 500, 2008

It's that time of year again racing fans - NASCAR!! Now I know summer is truly around the corner. It was also time for Jay's annual Datona 500 party. So on a cold (-17 wind chill), windy (25 - 35 mph winds), snowy (ANOTHER 1-2") day, we trouped two doors down to Jay's house to eat, drink and scream at the TV yet again. Ah, life is good!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Surgery for Elvis

Yesterday our little dog Elvis suddenly started dragging his hind legs. He was paralyzed from his waist down. The day before I'd noticed that he was walking very stiffly and figured he'd hurt himself somehow. I rushed him to our vet who advised me to take him to Ames immediately. Iowa State University's School of Veterinary Medicine is one of the best in the country and I knew that many people take their pets there for specialized care.

So when DH got back from court, we packed him up and drove the two hours to Ames. Everyone there was so helpful and friendly. The two women who examined Elvis we later learned were just weeks away from graduating and becoming interns. Dr. Parkes, the neurosurgeon, was very kind and thoroughly explained what was happening to Elvis.

Apparently certain breeds of dogs, like shitz tsuz and dacshunds, have a predisposition to having ruptured discs in their spines. She said the discs harden or calcify and then any movement can cause them to rupture. Even going to the bathroom! The shreds of the disc were pushing against Elvis' spine, causing the paralysis. The only solution was spinal surgery to remove the fragments. Or put him down.

I'm not going to lie to you, we really thought hard about putting him down. The surgery will cost us $2,500.00. But we couldn't look into those beautiful eyes and trusting face and actually say "go ahead - we don't want him anymore."

So Elvis had spinal surgery yesterday. The doctor called last night when she was finished and told us everything had gone well and he was in doggie intensive care. He'll be in the hospital for a week then home for recovery for the next several months. He has an 80% chance of a full recovery. And, yes, it's possible that this could happen again. If it does, then, well, we'll face that problem if and when it happens.

If you'd ever told me that I would spend that kind of money on a dog before yesterday, I'd have told you that you're nuts. But how can you look at this face and not want to keep him close to you for just a little longer.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Hoar Frost

Sometimes Mother Nature awards you with beauty when you least expect it. I awoke to frost covered trees this morning and tried to get a picture or two of them.

So pretty!
So, what are YOU doing for Super Bowl Sunday? We'll be watching the game/ads at the Pony this afternoon. I'm bringing 7 Layer Taco Dip and chips. What did you eat today? Whatever it is, I hope you all have a great time at your Super Bowl parties.