Hi there! Welcome to my very miscellaneous blog. Here, I write about everything from mis-used words to gardening, to bad habits in society to going places and seeing things! Enjoy my ramblings.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thoughts on Our Anniversary

Time is a funny thing.  It has a split personality.  On the one hand, it can zoom by so that years seem like minutes, and on the other hand, it can drag on, seemingly turning minutes into hours and days.

How often, as children did we all bemoan the slowness of time?  "I can't wait to be all grown-up!"  or "I don't think my next birthday will ever come around."  Suddenly, all that is behind us, and those slow-dragging days and years have turned into entire decades past.

By this habit, we end up wishing our lives away.  As young parents, "I can't wait until the baby is walking."  then, "I can't wait until the baby is talking."  A few milliseconds later,  we have teenagers whom we wish would just shut up!

"Teens are such a pain with all their drama!  I can't wait till my kids are grown!"  we cry. Two minutes later, we are mopping our eyes at their wedding and wondering where all those years went.

We mourn, yet survive the deaths of our parents, a few friends, and assorted maladies and misfortunes.  It is all part of living. As we grow older, though, our thoughts start to turn toward our own mortality, and perhaps our "bucket list" of things we wish to accomplish before our turn on the planet is up.

It is now that we yearn for the slowly-passing time of childhhod, when every moment, every adventure was relished  to the fullest; when the agonizing anticipation of a vacation or special treat seemed to go on for years.  But alas, time does not march to our drummer..it simply marches on.

And so, on the eve of our 11th anniversary, my thoughts turn to this pensive mood, as I savor the years I've had with my soulmate, and look forward to many more.  At the same time I must realize that we met later in life, and the slow days and years are forever behind us:  all we can do is savor the present, and focus on the happy times.  One day at a time. 

This I know, however:  I will never be one of those old folks who mark their days by first reading the obituary column to discover if the names of anyone they knew appear therein.  That is too depressing:  it runs counter to staying happy.  If you knew the party who passed on, word will get to you, there's no point in wallowing in sad news.  People will pass--that's the one sure thing in life--you don't get out of it alive. 

Carpe diem!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Censorship Must Go!

Censorship of so-called ‘bad’ language is both rampant and pointless. Everyone knows exactly what those so-called ‘bad words’ are, including and especially those who rant against them, and are in favor of censorship in the first place!

When you see a TV show, and the ‘bad words’ are bleeped out, no one is fooled. Anyone watching knows perfectly well, or can make a reasonably good guess as to the exact word(s) that were bleeped!

The same goes for the written word in cyberspace. There are oh, so many internet sites that ‘do not tolerate’ what is termed as ‘foul language.’ No matter. There are a myriad of work-arounds, and again, most everyone knows them, and no one is fooled.

“Oh, hell,” is probably one of the most common and least offensive of the lot. But who among you does not know perfectly well that seeing “h-e- double hockey sticks,” or “h-e- double toothpicks.” is exactly the same thing? Ass is another that is frequently seen disguised as “a**,” or, if the entire and usual phrase is intended, then “A-H” is a common substitute, as is “A-hole.”  In any event, it is the use of the word that is in error, and no fault of the word.  An ass is a donkey,  while the original (from British origins) term for one's derriere is 'arse.' 

I’ve been in chats at sites where they censor the most ridiculous things, and instead of just 'blocking' the so-called 'bad word' and leaving a blank space, or "...." they substitute a 'correction,' as if to say, "we're sure this is the word you really meant!" One such chat room, (if someone should be so "horrible" as to type out the entire a-hole word),  inserts in its place, "...fantastic whole." 

This more often than not alters the entire meaning of the sentence or statement, e.g.,  "That man is an asshole," has a fundamentally different--(polar opposite!)--meaning than, "That man is a fantasic whole."  Not to mention the substitution does not actually make any sense.  This truly is an insult to folks' intelligence! 

(Besides, this is not a site used by kids--we are all adults there!  [No, not "that kind" of adult site], but one where you are responsible for carrying out your end of a contract made with a buyer, so must be over 18 to do so.)

In this same chat room,  I once thought I had made a typo, because “dorkens” came up on the screen. HUH? I tried again, being very careful. Nope. No typo. Same thing! Hmm… so, I was not allowed to make the statement, “I had a dickens of a time….”   it came out, "I had a dorkens of a time."  There is no such word.

Apparently, the internal censor picked up on the first four letters in the word. Well, excuuuuuuse me!  Have the programmers who decided to flag that never heard of the author, Charles Dickens? Are they unaware that ‘dickens’ is an alternate of ‘devil.’ (I could have as easily said that I’d had “the devil of a time…” ) Do they not know that “Dick” is a legitimate man’s nickname? Yes, it is. In fact, I had a geology professor whose name was Dick …. and no, he did not go by “Richard,” or “Rick.” (WHY ‘Dick’ evolved as a nickname for Richard, I’ll never know, and is not the point of this article), but it is in the mix, and the "workaround" is "D*ick."  Pretty lame, eh?

It is no one’s fault today that someone long ago decided to use the personal name as a euphemism for a part of the male anatomy, and thence to an insult applied to calling someone out by that term. The name was there first. Ergo, it should not be subjected to such silly censoring! 

Among the newest work-arounds that easily sneak by is “WTF,” found in wide circulation on the internet and in text and instant messages. Virtually everyone knows what it stands for, yet the ‘propriety programs’ don’t catch it. See what I mean? You cannot see that set of letters without your brain filling in exactly what each individual letter stands for. So much for censorship: might as well have spelled it all out.

We also hear about "f-bombs" as the latest euphemism for that well-known word.  Again, everyone knows exactly what word is meant, so what's the point of using the euphemism?  Now, before I get accused of being someone "...who wants to hear or see that kind of language," no, I'm not in search of it.  I simply don't care.  I don't let it bother me. I say it myself if the occasion demands (such as when striking the thumb with a hammer). There are more important things about which to get incensed.  I do not, in fact, enjoy a steady stream of so-called "f-bombs." 

Years back, I went to see a movie that was supposed to be a comedy, titled, White Men Can't Jump.  There was not much of a plot.  Instead, it seemed to be an exercise in how many times the writers could cram "the f-word" into a single sentence, almost every sentence, throughout the movie.  Was I offended?  No.  What I was, was bored.  It was stupid, and made the writers and characters appear stupid for having no more extensive vocabulary than that.

If the whole point of censoring content is to ‘protect’ overly-sensitive people from seeing/hearing ‘objectionable’ words, that goal is in vain, precisely because of all these well-known substitutes.

As far as ‘protecting’ children? Oh, please! Most kids hear and see far worse at school (yes, even at private schools), and could actually educate their parents as to new vulgarities!  My 13-year-old grandson let slip with one just recently. He referred to a world-traveling slut well known to all males by the name of “Palmula Handerson.” I’m sure you can figure it out!  And that was actually mild. Many people would be shocked to learn of what their kids actually know, and at what young ages they know! Those pro-censorship folks live in denial, (and I don't mean a river in Africa).

We need to wake people up, and learn to live and let live. Some people are going to say words others don’t like. Too bad! Get over it! They are just words, and can do no harm. Remember the antique saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me?” It’s the same exact principle. If the dialogue in a TV show offends, we can change the channel ourselves. It’s easy--we have remote controls these days--we no longer have to get up and walk across the room to do so. If the website or chat room contains language we don’t like—it’s as easy as a mouse click to escape;  no need to hang around posting rants and raves about it--just leave!

Having rules and regulations and laws to “protect” people from things they can very well do for themselves is both cumbersome and counter-productive. It is a waste of energy, resources and money that could be far better put to use elsewhere.  This so-called "protection" is actually an erosion of our first amendment right to freedom of speech.

To expect the government, or any of its agencies (in the case of TV shows, the FCC is the guilty party), to prevent anyone from hearing already well-known words and phrases is not only dangerous, but the height of laziness. Remember what has been said: “A government big enough to give you everything is big enough to take it away.” Let’s not give up our freedom of speech to those who like to live in a bubble.

To sum up, in the end, any attempt at censorship of ‘bad language,’ ‘bad words,’ vulgarities, or what have you, is a ludicrous exercise in futility.

I go into a bit more detail on the FCC role in my article on Hub Pages: (click here)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Parking Lots...Lots of Stupidity


As we all know, in this day and age of the near impossibility of getting anywhere without a car, especially in 'the burbs,' parking lots are a fact of life and an expected facility at all shopping centers.  Many, if not most of these lots are "beautified" with trees and plants, making a pseudo-oasis in the middle of the asphalt desert.

The shopping centers that have multi-level parking structures are, in a sense, better, even though they may be more massive and it is easier to fall victim to the, "'Now, where did I park my car???" syndrome.  The single-level outdoor ones have a serious design flaw.  Think about your last visit to an outdoor shopping center with an outdoor lot.  Think hard.  Where did you park?  Was there any 'beautifucation' nearby?


Take a hard mental look at the design of these lots.  Almost down to the last one, the designers have failed to figure out that a nice strip of trees and plants down between the rows of parked cars would be just lovely.  They have missed the concept that cars Do not arrive on their own and do the shopping remotely.  No, real people must navigate their cars to these lots, and once there, must exit the vehicle, if they are to actually do any shopping.

Now, think again back to the design of the last lot you were in.  Where was the landscaping?  Yep.  At intervals throughout the lot, protruding into spaces between parking stalls.  What's up with that?  Sure, it looks pretty, but what of the poor drivers or passengers who find themselves in the spot right next door to one of these planting protrusions?  You open the door, and step--perhaps fall--right into the plants or bushes.  There has been not one inch of extra space alloted to those stalls!!


Not only is this annoying, it is dangerous!  Especially stupid is that these planting strips are also frequently found right next to handicapped-access parking spots.  Doubly idiotic and doubly dangerous!

Either all the landscaping should remain between the lengthwise rows of cars, or, if  the designers insist on 'breaking up' the monotony of row upon row of stalls, then the protrusions between should be simply sidewalks, with a decorative pattern, if  'beauty' is truly the aim.  I have seen at least one person stumble, another fall, and I've nearly landed in the bushes myself a couple of times.  (Granted, I do have something of a predisposition to klutziness, but that is not the point.)


Once, the spot was so tight (I drive a truck) that I had to slide across and exit the passenger side.  Really??!!  I could not even open my driver's side door because of the bushes!  I have a bum knee, and if I'm having a bad day and need my cane, I now and then make use of my handicapped parking permit. Truly, it is hard enough to navigate--what would a person confined to a wheelchair do?  Planting strips should certainly not be located next to handicapped parking stalls--this, on top the fact that there are rarely enough 'blue' spaces to serve the need, especially in very busy areas. 

How about a letter-writing campaign?  Phone calls to the shopping center management?  Pickets?  I know!  Let's hire a group of actors to stage trip-and-fall scenes to scare the designers into some sense!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Letter to Myself at Age 22--Would I Have Listened??

Dear Younger Self:

     At this point, I know it is already too late to caution you to postpone your childbearing until you gain further education as to what makes small children tick. Since you saw fit to get married and have your first child just shy of age 21, now, a year later, you are already stuck in the ‘mommy’ role for which you are so woefully unprepared.

     Let me give you some advice. Go back to school. Take some college classes in early childhood education and development. You were raised as such a miniature adult, and had no real friends in your own peer group, that you are sorely lacking in this vital bit of knowledge. You didn’t even do any real babysitting, for pity’s sakes! How do you expect to raise a child without knowing these things?

     Your own upbringing as an only child, the daughter of a much older father, left you unable to relate to children. Bear this in mind, however: your mother allowed friends in to play, both in the house and in the yard. True, things might not always have gone as you would have liked, but at least you were at home, and if things got out of hand, the friends could be sent home.

     Be the mom at whose house the kids want to hang out. It is better this way, trust me. I’ve been there—on the wrong/opposite side of that bit of advice. With the kids at your house, you can hear their conversations, keep an eye on what they are up to, and generally supervise their activities. Get to know the parents of their friends, also: be sure they are on the same parenting-wavelength as you are. If not, then your kids don’t need to be ‘best buds’ with their kids. That’s how you keep them on the straight and narrow track.

     Taking them on trips is good—that is education in itself—don’t stop doing that, as I know you plan to do when they are older. But take a few more trips to kid-fun places. They may bore you to tears, but the kids will enjoy the chance to be kids, and be silly, and run and jump and climb and explore on structures made just for them. Let them see the silly clown shows. Yes, they are stupid, but kids like stupid humor. It is your job to humor them, so as not to stunt their imaginations and creativity. If they learn to be silly, they will be more outgoing, and less self-conscious. Encourage dramatic studies.

     But above all, take on more education for yourself, and learn to teach at home. Home-school your children, so they will always be able to find the fun in learning, and not have it become a drudge as it does in the formal public school system. That system is badly broken, and can’t be easily fixed. By home schooling, you keep your values front and center, and they learn lessons at their own pace, and the lessons can all be integrated with each other, so that less-enjoyable subjects get slid in almost unnoticed while the kids think they are having fun!

     By all means, enroll them in Girl Scouts, or any other extra-curricular clubs and activities for their social development. And learn patience much earlier! Let them do it! Don’t take a task away because it is faster or easier for you to do it yourself. This is counter-productive in the long run: it undermines their self-confidence.

     You are still a very young mother, and I hope you will listen to and heed this older, sadder, wiser, now a grandmother--speaking to you through the tunnels of time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Further news from the garden..

Bell Pepper                                              
            Cherry Tomatoes

Eggplant finally has a flower or few...

Lemon Cukes

And last but not least, the corn is growing ears!!

And  it's even taller than before--taller than eldest granddaughter, and as tall as Grandson seen in post the other day!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The winnah!

Is...the corn!
   My goodness!  I never knew corn grew so fast!  I can almost stand outside and watch it grow inch by inch!  Now, I have a cluster of tassels at the top, and smaller shoots on the sides of the stalk.

   Having grown up in the big city, and never growing any corn before--in fact, never having seen corn growing at all at any closer distance than driving by a field--I don't know which of these protrusions will become the actual ears of corn!  Yikes!

   If the cluster at the top is a flower, do I let it bloom, or chop it off?  If I let it bloom, will that doom the ears of corn?  Or will that cluster bloom and then become the ears?  Oh, dear, oh, dear!!  What a dilemma!

 Here are the latest photos for your enjoyment or amusement.  Note that the young man standing behind in the last shot is my 17-year-old grandson, who happens to be a few inches taller than my own 5'6" !!!  And--he's on the 'uphill' side of the slight slope in the area!

(You can click any photo to view a larger size, then simply hit the 'back' button on your browser to return here.)  ;-)

(I have NO idea what's up with Blogger's latest 'tweak' of the photo inclusions, but they simply will NOT align in any kind of sensible manner.  You can click various alignments all you want, still the pictures end up having a mind of their own!)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Garden Grows Apace

It would seem that my experiment with pre-sprouting some of the seeds has gone well.  I now have some new corn coming up from that second planting,

as well as a couple of the radishes. Yippee!

Some of the tomatoes are starting to turn red already.  I didn't bend over far enough to see if those were the "Early Girl" variety, but I would suspect so.  However, they seem small.  I don't know if those are like cherry tomatoes, or what.  At any rate, I'm getting excited, and my mouth is watering for fresh veggies!

I finally have a blossom (that means fruit veggies on the way) on my lemon cucumber. 

The bell pepper is also endowed with several blossoms,

 and the herbs are thriving.

 The eggplant is finally getting to a good size,

  but the indoor-starting experiement does not seem to be working with either the eggplant or the green onions.  I wonder what's up with that?  A bad bunch of seeds?  Not a single onion ever sprouted, either in the ground, or in the house.

Ah, well, I am still excited--this is the first time I've ever tried to grow vegetables since the first time, when I was about 8 years old, and the second time, back in the 1970's when I lived where neither the soil nor the climate were suitable.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

That Whole Other Article

     The great promise of progress has somehow gone awry.  Many great new inventions have come, and some have as quickly gone.  Others have hung around, though I cannot fathom why.

     Some were crazy crazes, toys and games; some were household gadgets, meant to ease our work.  Progress for its own sake alone, I think is foolish.  Just because we can do something, does not mean we should! 

     I submit for your consideration the old-fashioned ways of saving food.  Surely you recall.  Mothers saved glass jars to keep leftovers fresh.  As a child, you could not trust the labels in the 'fridge.  Just because a jar said "peanut butter," beware--it was as likely to harbor dreaded vegetables!

     Then there were the bowls of mystery food.  Who knew what lurked therein?  Covered up as they were, in plastic hats like shower caps,  (do they even make shower caps anymore?) you could not know what the content was; the bowl was opaque.  Good bet, though, it was something liquid and likely to spill.

     Accidents were common--these containers all were glass--which we know does not bounce well.

     And then the 1950's hit, and Tupperware hit the scene.  Oh, joy!  No more broken glass--drop it and it bounces--just like a rubber ball.  The early stuff, though, still opaque:   mystery foods remained.  My mother, though, remained immune to the lure of bouncing bowls.  Nary a single piece of Tupperware ever graced her shelves.  Steadfastly she clung to her second-hand mayonnaise and peanut butter jars, and a few glass bowls.

     And speaking of cling, we come to the next fad to hit the market.  Plastic cling wrap in various brand names.  The stuff is still around, but for the life of me, I cannot imagine why.  Touted for its strength and mainly for its ability to cling to all those bowls...it supposedly solved the problem of mystery foods, for it was clear see-through!

     All well and good, but I must ask, is it worth the pain?  The stuff is tough--doesn't want to tear.  And as you try to rip a hunk on the handy serrated box edge, it's as likely your knuckle you'll rip, and bleed all over the food.  The plastic wrap, though stretched all out of shape, steadfastly in one piece remains.

     And next, the cling, ah, the cling, that miracle cling.  Yes, it clings.  It clings to the box, it clings to you, and most of all, and best of all, it clings unto itself!  Once folded over, toss it out, for each attempt to pry it apart results in only more corners coming in to the clotted mess.  Ah, rats!  You'll have to try again.  A new sheet tear, with any luck, comes off the roll and lays all flat.  Wonderful!  Now to apply it to the bowl.

     If luck is with you, you get it across the bowl...and pull the sides to stick it down.  It does cling beautifully to glass and china plates and bowls.  (Not to plastic, though, oh no!)  Ah, but woe is you and woe is me, if  one drop of liquid soils the edge..for now it's all about slip and slide and grip-me-not.  Toss it out, dry the bowl, and start again.

     Working with a bandaged knuckle, again you pull a sheet.  Using both hands to foil the stuff from self-clinging, now how do you cut it off?  An assistant is needed at this point.  Oh dear!  It seems the stuff is full of static, and a second person's presence adds to the charge.  Now they are caught up, too.  It wafts toward your faces, threatening suffocation..and still it's attached to the roll..which now, 'helpfully' tumbles out of the box, and unrolls toward the floor.

     Caught up in the static cling, trying to free yourselves, around your ankles now it rolls.  Bending over to free your feet, and up it leaps, lusting after its kin in your hands.  Round and round you wrestle the stuff, until attracted by all the yelling, another party enters the room, and finds you and your helper tied up in some kinky bondage scene. 

     Then how do you explain all this when calling 9-1-1??

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Garden Update

Things are a-growin' in the vegetable garden.  Not as fast as I would have thought, but they are growing, and starting to make obvious progress.

My eggplant is finally of a size to actually be seen in the plant pot, although, it seems something unseen is eating at its leaves.

There is one corn plant that is really taking off skyward!  It is now about as tall as the 12" marker flag next to it:

The tomatoes are a poppin' out:

And last but not least, the bell peppers have now put in an appearance:

And so the garden grows.  I don't know if we got "old" seeds, or a lot of 'duds' in the package, or what, but of 8 eggplant seeds that were sown, I have but one plant; of 24 corn seeds that were sown, I have but 5 plants, only 1 of which (shown in today's post) has reached any size;  and of a small handfull of green onion seeds sown, I have gotten no plants at all. 

I make no claims or pretenses of being any kind of expert gardener.  The class I took years back was about landscaping and ornamental plants, not vegetables.  This veggie garden was planted more or less as an experiment.  So, I'll sow another round, in an attempt to have a continuous harvest, but judging from current results, I don't know if that will work.  C'est la vie!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Men in the Kitchen

Let me begin by saying that my hubby is a gem.  Unlike many men, he actually enjoys cooking, and is more than willing to help in the kitchen, including with clean up.  He even takes it upon himself to bake cakes now and again, all by himself.

That said, he is oh, so like so many men in one particular way when it comes to operating in the kitchen.  He is Tupperware-challenged.  I don't know what it is about men that makes them almost universally 'hate Tupperware,'  and declare their hatred in those exact words.  Most of us women know and love the stuff for its ability to both preserve food longer than the original cardboard box or plastic bag, and the way it stacks and nests to allow more food in the same space.

It mystifies me why men do not understand that there are some containers you 'burp,' and others you do not.  It's really very simple:  round burps, square or rectangular does not.  Center-seal 'push button' ones are 'self-burping.'  (Although I'll admit to an exception--those new ones with the expandable lids, in case you mis-judge the size bowl you needed, do not require 'burping' even though they are round.)

And get the containers sealed properly?  OY!  You might as well try to teach a Chimpanzee how to play football.  Come to think of it, that might be a simpler task.

I have lost track of how many times I've gone into the 'fridge to find food somewhat dried out due to an improperly closed lid.  It is most often the square or rectangular ones--the men just can't seem to get that last corner down!  It certainly is not a matter of muscles--we women do it quite effortlessly all the time.  Even the 'how to' analogy presented at the in-home demos should appeal to men, as it's baseball-themed:  "Start at home plate with both thumbs, work the seal down in opposite directions toward 3rd base and 1st base, meet at 2nd base and snap shut."  Simple, eh?  Apparently not for the male of the species.  Funny, as all it requires is opposable thumbs.

Men also seem to have problems with the center-push-to-snap-shut seals.  They just don't push quite hard enough, and the seal does not go all the way down.  This has led to more than one surprise spill on reaching for a bowl and finding out the hard way that the lid was not all the way closed.  Maybe I should have made hubby clean the resulting mess.  "If you don't hear the 'snap,' it's going to be in your lap!"

Many moons ago, I used to be a Tupperware dealer.  As a result, I own more of the stuff than should be legal.  Even I will admit to an excess.  I don't have room for all of it in my kitchen, and frankly, there are pieces that were not my favorite.  These items have found their way into the attic or are boxed in a closet. It was quite the joke for hubby when we moved in, and were opening boxes labeled 'kitchen.'  After most of the boxes were open and the items stowed in cupboards, yet more boxes appeared.  I'd hear him bellow from the other end of the house:  "Moooorrrrrrree Tupppeerrrrwaaaaaarrrrre!"

Now, do men simply feel that learning to use Tupperware containers is beneath them?  Undignified?  Un-manly???  I can't figure out the problem.  It is really very easy to use, and saves a lot of other kinds of bother.  It certainly beats trying to go 3 rounds with a roll of plastic-cling wrap.  But that's a whole other article.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Retrospective on Family...

   Once again, my friend Molly Campbell's blog has provided the spark for an article of my own.  It is funny, how things in your past sit dormant in the file cabinet of your mind until you read something that makes you go, "Oh, yeaaahhh...I remember when...." 
 Some of you will go read her blog via the link; some will not.  For those who do click the link, you might want to skip the following paragraph, as it is a 'spoiler.'

   For those opt not to go read her post: briefly, she was discussing the difference between raising sons and daughters.  There is more to it than that, but I'm not going to re-post her content.  Suffice it to say, she raised girls, and did not envy her friends who had boys; her friends seem to think her daughters will end up with boys as a final irony.

Here, then, is my story.

   I raised 2 girls.

 My elder daughter has 2 sons--and I see the other side of the equation second-hand;  my younger daughter has 2 girls. She lucked out--or did she? At age 7, the eldest is already a drama queen, knows it, and can give you a spot-on definition of the meaning of that term!

   I, on the other hand, struggled, even with girls, because they were siblings. I had none. I had no idea how sisters interacted with each other--only a naive concept of how I thought they should act. I was woefully unprepared for the reality.  The endless squabbles over petty nonsense--I didn't think there was any angst left over for the rest of the girls in the world.  I'm sure that looking back, neither of them could tell you now what they were squawking about back in the 'bad ol' days.'

   I grew up in a quiet household. I value "peace and quiet."  We were readers.  We had no TV, for my father would not buy one.  Apparently, he'd been exposed to TV shows somewhere away from home, but he had formed his opinion, and refused to allow a TV on the grounds that, "The commercials insult your intelligence."  (Turns out, he was right!)

   So, our household was quiet, calm and peaceful.  We read, we listened to records (yeah, those old-fashioned plastic discs with grooves carved into them:  they came in "45's" and "LP's."), and my mother and I played the piano. (Well, truthfully, Mother played the piano--I played with it--you'd never know I had 4 years of lessons!)

   When there would be a family gathering, with aunts and uncles, was the only time we got really rowdy, and put on the "Sing Along with Mitch" records.  Mitch Miller and the Gang was a popular band of the mid-to-late 1950's; they had released a series of LP's complete with lyric sheets to be passed around the room.  That was as noisy as it ever got.  If we were reading, we were reading.  There was no radio on; no records playing.  It was quiet.  If we'd had a grandfather clock, you could have heard it ticking quite plainly.

   Ergo, I find it very diffucult to concentrate with a lot of noise in the background.  Even if  I'm not particularly concentrating, a constant stream of noise/music/chatter makes me edgy.  This became a huge problem about the time my daughters reached junior high age.  They hung out with their friends; they were exposed to the "in" music of the day, and wanted to listen constantly.

   My elder daughter is more like me, and values peace and quiet; does not like a lot of noise and ruckus; does not need that constant 'background noise' effect.  She does and did listen to music, but not while she was doing homework...to this day, she has my preference for peace and quiet.

   Unlike her sister and me, my younger daughter claims she "can't think" if it's too quiet, and will always have music playing or the TV on "for background noise." UGH. This drove me crazy when they were living at home! How I valued my daytimes alone in peace and quiet while they were at school.  How I dreaded their return, when my peaceful, quiet house would be set  pulsing to the music of "Chicago," "Air Supply," "Foreigner,"  Phil Collins, Cyndi Lauper, or I forget what others were then popular.  "Turn it dowwwwwnnnnnn!!! " became my constant battle cry. 

   Worse, each girl,  in her own room, would be listening to her choice of music.  For them, sequestered in their rooms, they were each close enough to the music source to hear only their own.  For me, downstairs, I got "treated" to a blend that was not pleasant.  It might be "Chicago" mixed with Kenny Rogers, or "Air Supply" mixed with Cyndi Lauper.  OMG!   How I wished we lived in a climate where I could have escaped to the backyard--but alas, we lived in a cold and foggy clime.

   Even my then-husband contributed to the mayhem.  He grew up in a large family with constant noise, and had that 'need for background noise' built in.  The first thing he would do when he got up was turn on the TV.  Then, he would leave for work, and leave the TV on!!!!!!  That was crazy-making for me.  He knew I did not want to watch or listen to TV--particularly daytime TV!  90% of the time, he could not tell you what he was watching, because he wasn't really watching--the TV was simply on

    I often wonder if his upbringing resulted in a genetic coding for the 'need for noise' that got passed on to my youngest.....

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring Progresses--and So Does the Garden!

Well, after much impatient foot-tapping, and wondering if I was going to have to start all over with the eggplants, they have finally decided to sprout!  It only took about three times longer than it said on the package--what's up with that?!?

Next, the radishes do us proud!  They are doing the best of anything we've planted from seed:

The corn is doing nicely, though still slow, and not all of the seeds have sprouted:

The tomatoes and bell pepper are doing really well; however they were not from seeds, but starter-size plants from the nursery:

The tomatoes, above left, have about tripled their size, and the bell pepper, above right, is nearly doubled.

The green onions, on the other hand, have still not shown themselves.  They are way past the germination "deadline" given on the seed packet.  I am very disappointed in them.

I've not taken new photos of the parsely and basil in their pots, as they have not grown a lot from their nursery-pack size.  I may have put them into too large of a pot.  Did you know that when you transplant something, it really should only go into the next pot size up?  If you put it into something huge, the plant will send all its energy to root production, working to fill that space before increasing the size of the actual plant.

Here is our lemon tree, in its pot:

There must be at least 20 blossoms/miniature lemon buds on each branch!  We will have to prop up the branches so they don't break!  In point of fact, what will probably have to happen is to cull several of these budding lemons, in order to send the plant's energy to the largest, and not over-tax the plant trying to produce so much fruit.  Besides, if we let them all be, some probably would not make it, and the rest would likely end up as miniatures.

And now, for the newest addition.  I call it our "surprise garden."  Hubby was out pulling weeds at the other end of the yard today, and one that was hidden amongst others, turned out to be a walnut seedling.  We have no walnut trees, have planted no walnuts, nor have we eaten any outdoors, so none could have been dropped that way.  It was most likely dropped by a crow--and those we do have in fair numbers.

We've put it in this pot for now, so we can keep an eye on it, and be sure it stays watered, until we decide where to plant it.  We already have some ancient almond trees that came with the property, but we don't bother to harvest them, as we don't really know how to 'process' the almonds.  Those, we leave to the squirrels and birds.

The final entries in the "surprise garden" category are not edibles, but volunteers, found in the same way as the walnut:  a pair of oak trees.  So, we planted those out in the "back 40," one near the fence, and the other about 10 feet away behind the shed where we store our molds.

And that, friends, is the garden journal for today.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Comment Form De-Mystified

Greetings, one and all!

I have had a fair number of people tell me recently that they have had trouble leaving comments due to difficulty ‘signing in.’ I actually have anonymous comments enabled on this blog, (as well as my other 2), so no sign-in should be required.

Please bear with me--I tried to make this very simple, with illustrations, but for some reason, Blogger is not letting me paste in the screenshots.  So, I'll have to ask you to do a little bit of jumping up and down between the post and the comment form.

Now, if you will click on the comment button (just under this post--the word 'comments' in blue), as if you are going to leave a comment, you will see first any comments that have already been left.  If so, then go to the very top of that box and click on 'jump to comment form.'  (If no comments have been left previously, the comment form is what you will see straightaway.)

You will see the blank square in which you may write your comments.  Below that, the word-verification box shows—I do have this enabled, to thwart spam-bots—we’re all accustomed to using this device.

Now, scroll down a bit, so you can see the rest of the options underneath the 'word verification' box.

Note that under, “Choose Identity,” there are numerous options. Yes, “Google Account”, asking for name and password is the first thing you see. This is probably understandable, as this blog is written on Google’s platform. I’m sure they want to encourage subscribers to their service. 

 Don’t be put off by that. Keep reading down the list. You will also see: "Sign up for a Google Account," "E-mail follow-up coments to...," "Open ID," "Name/URL," and finally "Anonymous."

I’m not going to go into explaining the middle options. If you do not have or don’t want a Google account, then “Anonymous” is the one you want to use.

If you simply do not want to sign up for a Google account, but do want to let me know who you are, then simply sign off your actual comment using your name or online screen-name identity, whichever you prefer, within the comment box itself.

Voila! No sign-in necessary! Thanks for visiting, and thanks for leaving comments!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Poisson d'Avril.....

....as they say in French...literally, "April Fish."   If the Wikipedia article on the history of April Fool's is to be believed, the French tradition is one of attempting to attach a paper fish onto someone's back without their notice. 

   I've not done a lot of research, and the list of historical pranks played was lengthy.  Given what day it is, I also do not grant much credence to the statement at the top of the Wiki article claiming that said article was about to be removed.  Such is the nature of this day.

   Normally, one should probably believe less than a third of what appears on the internet.  Today--I'd slice that allowance in half, at least.  That's not to say I have a problem with April Fool's Day.  Au contraire, it has always ranked among my favorite days of the year!  I've played some fine pranks myself, and had others played on me.

   One of the most classic to which I ever fell victim was shortly after I had graduated from high school, and was beginning the process of job-hunting.  I came home from an errand one day to find a message from my dad, instructing me to call such-and-such a number and ask for a Mr. Lamb, regarding an interview.  Great!  I was all excited, and dialed the number dad had written down.

   At the time, I was not even paying attention to what day it was, so I did not immediately tumble to the nature of the joke when the phone was answered, "American Wool Growers Association."   I dutifully (and innocently) asked to speak to "Mr. Lamb."   At this point, I'm sure the gal on the other end of the phone thought that I was a prank caller.  In a way, I was an unwitting perpetrator: dear ol'  Dad had masterminded this one into a double-edged gag!

   After learning that I must have dialed wrong, and that there was no such person at that number, I rang off, and went in search of my father.  Somehow or another, it still had not dawned on me that it was April 1st.  I proceeded to chastise my father for writing down the number wrong, and costing me a possible job lead.  He began to snicker, then burst out laughing.  I was not so amused.  Finally, he managed to say, "April Fool!"  It was not until that point that I realized I had been the victim of a deliberate prank.  Well done, Daddy-O! 

   Coming from prankster stock, I took on a few of my own, but my childish versions were not always so amusing to my parents.  There was the year I dumped the contents of the sugar bowl back into the canister, and substituted salt.  Mom did not enjoy her first sip of coffee.  I had barely been able to contain myself, waiting for the moment, and when she made that awful face, I screeched "April Fool!" amidst howls of laughter.  Mother granted the joke, but proceeded to point out that jokes of that nature are likely to cause other problems, such as what if she had been going to make cookies?  The whole batch would have gone to waste.  (Both my parents were Yankee born and bred--I was raised with a very high 'waste-consciousness.')  At age 8, though, that had not occurred to me.

   I have to be the practical joker.  I'm no good at spoken jokes/falsifications.  I simply do not have a poker face, and cannot keep from cracking up and giving myself away.  The only way I can pull off a spoken prank is over the phone or by writing it out via E-mail, Instant Message, or Text message.  Mind you, I'm not a 'texter'--I don't even own a cell phone--but I can text my daughters via Yahoo's instant message interface.  Hmmm... what prank can I pull on them today???

  The best prank I've pulled on anyone dates back into my kids' very young years.  I think my eldest was perhaps in 1st or 2nd grade; the younger was still pre-school-age.  I called them out for breakfast one morning, and they sat down to their kiddie-sized table to find 'breakfast' fully laid out for them.  Fried eggs, toast, and a banana.  All made from construction paper.  They said, 'Hey!' then started to giggle.  They were too young to have paid attention to the fact that there had been no cooking sounds or smells wafting through the house at the time I called them to come eat.

  I've had fun with April Fool's Day all my life--I hope you have as well.  Feel free to add your favorite joke or gag to the comments, whether you were the victim or the perpetrator...it's all good.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Has Sprung--A Leak!

Here we are, a week into Spring, and Old Man Winter is putting in a return engagement!  How rude!  Just when the garden is sprouting and thoughts turn to getting out-of-doors more often, it starts raining again.  March, conventional wisdom says, "Comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb."  Things are topsy-turvy this year:  I think the weather gods got it backwards.  March is leaving in lion mode.

This puts a damper on thoughts of dusting off the old bicycle and rollerblades, and makes me just want to reach for my warm blankie and snuggle time with the cats.  It slows down my notions of getting back to exercise by any definition.  This entire blog post is inspired by a piece written by a fellow blogger-friend of mine, Molly Campbell.  You can hop over to her blog, and read her post that was the inspiration for this piece HERE.

As I've aged, (albeit not gracefully--as one pundit put it--"I'm fighting it every inch of the way"), I've gotten more sedentary.  It all began with a bum knee.  I used to be very active, and hated nothing more than sitting around doing nothing. Activity was my middle name.  Not that I was ever a fan of exercise for its own sake or in its own name, mind you.  No, for me, exercise had to be incidental to having fun.  I like to play, and play at active things that 'oh, by the way, are exercise.'

Hence, at the age of 45, I asked for and got rollerblades for my birthday.  I loved skating!  I was so much fun, and I was in the best shape of my life in those days.  17 years and a gimpy knee later, those days seem a distant memory.  (And no, the injured knee had nothing at all to do with the skating--it was caused by a completely unrelated incident aboard a boat we used to own.)

Something on the order of 9 years after the fact of the injury, I finally managed to qualify for county medical care, and had the thing inspected.  The verdict:  a torn meniscus, coupled with arthritis settling in.  The treatment:  a few weeks of physical therapy exercises to get my range of motion back.  I managed that much, but the prescribed exercises actually ended up causing me to have more chronic pain in spite of the improved range of motion.  So, I stopped doing them.  "No pain, no gain" applies only in the absence of an injury.

I still take karate classes for self-defense twice a week.  That is exercise while having fun...right up my alley.  The karate moves are all adapatble for any ability.  A lot of it is mental preparation, and learning to use the opponent's own momentum against them.   Plus, on the days I have to use my cane due to knee pain, I am very confident, having learned some excellent techniques for turning a cane into a weapon. 

But I digress.  In the midst of the analysis of my knee, I raised the issue to my doctor that I'd been having some chest tightness issues, and she sent me for a whole battery of tests:  treadmill stress test; echocardiogram, ekg, the whole nine yards.  Report?  Clean bill of health.  Heart in good shape.  Physical sensations probably from anxiety and stress. Oh, yeah, there's been plenty of stress in the current economy!

So, I am cleared to exercise.  But I dont' do it.  Why not?  Well, because it makes me feel crappy, not good!  When I workout to the point of getting my heart-rate up to the recommended level, I feel  scary-lightheaded, out of breath to the point of 'it hurts to breathe,'  that chest tightness comes back... and I feel weakend to the extent of 'gotta sit down and rest, before I fall down,'  ...where is the incentive to continue?  If I feel like I'm having a freaking heart attack when I exercise, why is that good for me? Why would I want to continue?  All the exercise gurus tout the idea that exercise engergizes you, make you feel good, like you can take on the world.  Oh yeah?  How can I tell?

I used to feel a bit tired, but good, after skating 9 miles...and we used to do it 2 or 3 times a week! That was then.  Now, after pushing myself through running in place, 40 sit-ups and forcing out 50 push ups (a very recent break-through!) during karate class 'warm ups,' I need a water break, and it is very hard to get myself back into mental readiness for class. 

 But, there it is.  I still like to be active, I just find myself less and less able to be so.   So, If you don't mind, I'll skip the exercise, forego 'spinning' classes, avoid the gym like the plague, and just go play. 

Seen any good climbing trees around, anyone?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Garden Progress Report

WE HAVE CORN!!  Yay!  After much waiting and watering and watching and hoping, the corn has finally sprouted!  We now have shoots about half an inch to an inch tall.  Yippee!   In the first photo, at left, it still looks like barren dirt and sand, but in the medium-close-up, you can see a sprout or two. 

Finally, in the extreme close-up shot below, you can see that it is quite well sprouted, and on its' way! 

What's up with the eggplant, though?  Supposed to germinate in 10-20 days--it's been more than that, and still all I have in the pots is naked potting soil!  Grump, grump!

Radishes are growing nicely..although, once they popped through, and grew to a certain size, the growth rate seems to have slowed considerably..at least in the leaf structure.

I think it is about time to sow the second round,  in order to have continuous crops.  This is going to be a wonderful summer season with all kinds of fresh goodies to eat!  I think I may also add some carrots to the mix!