Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2009

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were both good times for us this year. For me and my immediate family, the holiday season is a time for tradition and family. A time for gathering together with friends and loved ones to laugh and have good food together.

The holidays were even more special this year because our daughter Mary came home for a visit for the first time in several years. I really appreciated her taking time out of her busy life to spend a week with us. That week went by all too quickly, too.

Christmas eve in the afternoon we all opened our gifts to each other. We usually wait till Christmas morning out of tradition, but since Mary had a morning trumpet gig the next day, we decided to do it in the afternoon on Christmas Eve. I received some really nice gifts from Jon and my kids this year. Jon and I bought a new receiver as our gift to each other, and we went to see Star Wars in Concert earlier this month. Then he bought me some sweaters, two pair of boot shoes, pajamas and a NuWave cooker. (The thing really works like the informercials show, but that is for another story.) Jason gave me a book that lists 1001 books to read before you die. And Jeff and Whitney gave me diamond stud earrings and a special computer mouse pad with Jon's, Jason, Jeff, Whitney and Mary's pictures on it. It's so neat! Mary gave me a pretty pair of earrings that I can wear with lots of things and oh so nice-smelling body cream and a hand lotion. Very nice gifts. :-) Jon also put together a computer for the livingroom that is now hooked up to our 106" screen tv! Crazy!

Christmas evening we went to some good friends of ours who are like family to us. We have gone there every year since before we were married. They are Jon's "surrogate" family that took care of him when he was little and his mother worked. And grew especially close to them after Jon's parents passed away when he was a teenager. There was so much good food there, as usual. This year it was lasagna, sausage, meatballs, salad, Italian bread and butter. And lots and lots of desserts.

The next day we went to my parents' house for another good meal. Ham and sweet potatoes, sausage, sauerkraut, veggies, rolls, strawberry jello, and cookies galore. My sister was over with her husband and my brother was there with his wife and one of his sons. The weather started turning nasty and my other brother and his family just went home from his in-laws since the weather was getting worse and worse and temperatures were plunging. Got some nice things from Mom and Dad. I got the blue fleece top I wanted and some real nice Bath and Body Works stuff and a cute story book about a mouse. (I love illustrated children's books.)

The weather on the way home was strange. It looked like the arctic at my parents' place, then as we headed west it cleared up and was fine till we got two blocks from home and looked as though we drove through the wall of snow and into a snowglobe. Lucky we made it home before that other storm moved east.

Mary stayed till today and I took her to the airport earlier to go back home. It's always sad to say goodbye. I am so glad she got to come spend the holidays with us.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Our new village hall

Here is a photo taken by a friend of the new village hall in our town. It's built in a commons area with library, orchestra shell, and other nice things...pond with fountains, walkways, outdoor music speakers, and picnic areas, places for sledding and playgrounds. It's a nice place to live, though our taxes are outrageous!

Today we are having nasty weather. Freezing rain and sometimes snow. Sometimes mixed, sometimes separate. The weather guys say it's supposed to turn to all freezing rain later this evening which should put a nice glassy glaze on everything and hopefully won't seal our vehicles closed.

I still am expecting two presents to be delivered and hope they make it here today. They are already several days overdue. Weird that this time next week will be the last days of 2009.

Waynesville NC in Winter

This photo is reminiscent of the scenes in It's a Wonderful Life. Actually, it is the main street going through Waynesville, North Carolina in the vicinity where my father and his family lived when he was growing up. A local photographer took this among other photos that are just as beautiful as this one after the recent snowstorm that went through the east coast this past week. Our daughter found herself driving through it two days in a row in Virginia and fortunately being from Chicago she knew how to drive in this stuff and didn't end up in a ditch like many folks who are not used to so much white stuff.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snow, wind, ice and sub-freezing temps

This image is pretty much how everyone's yards look around us. The winds were really bad yesterday, howling and making the siding buzz in an annoying kind of way. It gets on my nerves pretty quick. We haven't been able to figure out how to prevent the "buzzing" in high winds except for maybe to replace the siding with brick, and who has money for that?

The new windows we installed over the summer are doing their job. We have no drafts at all and despite the cold temperatures, the furnace has not been running a whole lot and it's staying nice and comfortable inside.

Yesterday and all last night we had snow, but today the skies are bright blue and the sun is making the snow sparkle. It's pretty to look at but nothing I like to go out into. I have a cold today so that is another reason to stay indoors. I feel bad for Jon who has to be on the roof at work today for some insane reason.

Star Wars in Concert

We went to see the Star Wars in Concert at Chicago's United Center this past Sunday and was an excellent performance of music, lights and video. The kids who attended looked so cute all dressed up in their costumes, and the adults...the Star Wars "nerds" wore authentic-looking costumes which made it fun. While I have enjoyed the Star Wars movies, and the music, I would never go so far as to dress up in a costume for this or any event.

The food at the United Center was outrageous! Jon and I got an individual-sized cheese pizza to share and that was $12 and then a large Sprite was $6.50! We went to eat at Portillo's afterwards and got a beef and cheddar croissant, a regular beef sandwich, large order of fries, large drink and a chocolate cake shake for a dollar less than the piddly lunch at the UC.

Here is a video someone made and put on YouTube of part of the performance. Once the Star Wars production company figures out it is on there it will probaby be removed.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Warm Cinnabon Coffee Cake















This stuff is incredible. Delectable! It was our dessert tonight. Warm from the oven.

Snowflakes in the air

It didn't snow as much as in these photos, but it will come. There were pretty tiny snowflakes floating in the crisp, cold air as my husband and I walked hand and hand across the dark parking lot of the Burrito Loco when we went to dinner last night. The snowflakes were in the air again today as I drove to my doctor's appointment. It looks very lovely coming down so subtly, the flakes melting as soon as they hit the still-warm pavement. But all too soon we will be shoveling heaps of the white stuff again and again while wishing for springtime.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Just want to say Happy Thanksgiving to all of my friends here. Tomorrow we won't be doing a whole lot of anything. I am making a turkey with all the stuff that goes with it, only on a smaller scale. The only one who will be here is out oldest son because our married son and our daughter-in-law are going to New York to spend the Thanksgiving weekend with her folks. Our daughter is spending Thanksgiving with her boyfriend's family. Mom and Dad are having their first peaceful Thanksgiving alone in 55 years! That should be really enjoyable for them...(though Mom says she misses having us all over and cooking the big traditional meal.)

I look forward to watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thanksgiving day while the turkey and stuffing bakes in the oven, filling the house with a wonderful delicious smell of sage, onion and poultry seasoning. Then Jon watches football and chills and we all snack on this and that for the rest of the evening. It will be a quiet one this year.

Mayberry

From November 13th through the 22nd we took a ten-day vacation first to see our daughter in Richmond and to see her concert with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and then she performed a recital at the university she teaches at a couple days later. We had a really good time with her and I will post some pictures as soon as I get the film developed. I do have digital ones, too that I have to download.

After we left our daughter's we went to visit my aunt and uncle in North Carolina. North Carolina is such a beautiful state with rounded mountains covered with trees. Of course, at this time of year there are no leaves on the trees and was kind of gloomy the first couple days we were there, but the sun finally came out while we were walking down the street of Mayberry, or really known as Mt. Airy.

We stopped at Snappy Lunch to get a famous pork chop sandwich. North Carolinan's eat slaw on everything. And on this pork chop sandwich comes slaw, chili, mustard, onions tomato and lettuce. Now that may sound bad but after giving it a chance it is pretty darn tasty. Here is a photo of it. If you are ever out in that area, you must stop by and try one of these. MMMM good.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Zombieland on Halloween

Each year I have written here and on my other blogs about how much I loathe Halloween. I have admitted that I am a Halloween Scrooge. It's my second least favorite holiday after 4th of July. Each year we leave the house during trick-or-treat time so we don't have to answer the door to little candy beggars saying "chick er cheet!" and then complain that you only gave them "one" or complain about the kind of candy you give them. Our neighborhood has always been full of spoiled kids who are used to getting candy at home anytime they want it and the good stuff. Not like in the neighborhood I grew up in back in the 50s and 60s where kids were actually happy getting a Dum-Dum sucker.

Well, we put the tenants in charge of the candy dispensing this year, if they wanted to. They didn't want their cars egged so they helped out. And Jon and I went out to get a hamburger at Wendy's and then went to the show to see Zombieland. I was wondering what it was going to be like. Our oldest son Jason said it was great and usually if he says something is good, it is. And he was right. It was hilarious. Woody Harrelson is so funny! All that happens is they blow away zombies, but they have to have "two taps" to make it stick. You have to see the movie to know what that means. The movie is a combination of fakey horror, comedy, light romance, and action. Something for everyone. It was an entertaining movie. I give it a thumbs up.

Virtual cooking, home decorating and shopping and farming...I am exhausted!

Friends and readers, I apologize for such a long delay in posting but seems I have acquired a weird addiction to virtual cooking and apartment decorating in Cafe World and YoVille which are Zynga games that are played via Facebook. In between my real world stuff, I have been whipping up crabmeat souflees, cherry cheesecakes, Voodoo Chicken Salads, spaghetti and other culinary delights all with the click of my pointy finger. Oh if real-life cooking were so easy. This has been exhausting keeping up with the demand of customers coming into the cafe to eat, and not so easy to do. At first this appears to be a cute little children's game that six-year-olds can play, however they might be able to go through the process of choosing a dish and clicking to make it, however the planning of how much food to make and keeping it going to keep your buzz rating up requires calculators! My husband has been my "assistant chef" and he helps with the planning and managed to help me build up enough to expand three times now. It's getting ridiculous though that now I am starting to plan what I do according to when my crumpets will be done! So today, when we went out, I forgot about the buzz rating and just tossed on a few eight hour dishes and figured if I run out of food, oh well. But it wasn't so easy to get out of my mind. I was thinking about all those little cartoon avatars coming in and leaving because they didn't get served! And that affects my buzz rating. I am WAY to far into this crap!

Then there is YoVille. Virtual village with a condo where all 1, 700, 000 of us players live together, and some even have two, three, four or more houses in addition to their condos. This can get crazy out of control. I like it because I can decorate and costs me nothing except little coins I earn my working in the YoVille Sweets Factory...and by doing ridiculous clicking on "buddy's" profiles to get those hidden pots of gold, turning on lights and picking up left presents. I admit I am really too sucked into these games! But they are fun and once they have you, you must keep playing with it. The funniest way to earn coins is to play games. These games of tic-tac-toe or rock-paper-scissors can be quite time consuming but we all have figured a way around that. We "max" each other out, which means we lose on purpose so the other guy gets all the points they are allowed for the games, then they return the favor. It's sort of like virtual prostitution, however since when we all meet up in front of the condo building we type little messages to each other like "max for max?" or "will one of you max me?" Sounds kinky...virtual kinky.

Then there is FarmVille and Farm Town which I did join so my aunt who is almost 70 can have me as a neighbor to increase her ability to do things and to get more money. I can do without the farms. I am bored sick of them and don't care if I expand them or not. But the thing is now, even though I can block it on my FB profile, I can't quit! I am always there. I don't have to play but the farms will turn to weeds...which I really don't care anymore about either. There are people who are absolutely seriously into this stuff and need therapy. These are the ones who use their credit cards to purchase "YoVille dollars" and Cafe World "money" and FarmVille and Farm Town cash. You give them your credit card number and you can get thousands of coins for like $100. And insane people are doing this. And not just kids. These are grown people. I have asked them how they get the Godfather mansion in YoVille and they say they purchase YoVille dollars to get imaginary stuff. I pointed out to some of these people via our little chatting back and forth that they could go buy a REAL outfit or home furnishings for real cash and actually have something tangible. I just don't get it. I would never buy imaginary money with real money to buy imaginary crap in an online game. I really do need to get a grip though. Even though I don't go so far as to charge on my credit card to play these goofy little games, I am spending way too much time on them.Maybe someone will start virtual therapy sessions?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Cajun bean soup

Autumn has blown in and cold weather is upon us. The winds were howling last night and I thought the roof was going to be lifted up into the air!

Today, the skies are blue, the fall colors are bright and a crispness fills the chilly air. I love this time of year. I also love my slow cooker.

Cajun bean soup is simmering in my slow cooker as I am writing this. I make it with the 18 bean package, soaked overnight. And then after rinsing this morning, I put in water, diced tomatoes, spices and ham cubes and let it simmer. Then I added the cajun spices after it was cooking for a few hours. And I also added white rice. The air in the house is filled with a yummy spicy aroma. Soups and stews taste even better in cold weather.

Travels to Richmond

Went to visit our daughter in Richmond last week and help her move into her new house where she is living with a couple of new people. A young man owns the house and lives there, along with another young woman. It's a very nice house, though I liked the neighborhood with the park across the street where she moved from. But at least she won't have a jungle and fish ponds to maintain anymore.

We left for our journey right after traffic court in Ottawa. It was the appeal for the traffic ticket Jon got for not moving over for a stopped cop at the side of the road when he did move over. But cops can accuse you and ticket you for whatever they want and it's your word against their's. He lost the appeal, which we expected and that was $250 donation to their corrupt county funds! We shrugged it off though, and didn't let it ruin our trip.

We got to Toledo in time for dinner and checked into the Days Inn there. It was pretty decent. Clean. No pool and hot tub like they advertised, though! We were looking forward to that since we arrived early in the evening. We got up the next morning and drove the rest of the way, and we can always count on it to rain in the mountains of Pennsylvania. It never fails. Fog, pouring rain, wind, stupid drivers who can't drive on wet roads. Wish people if they can't drive in bad weather they would car pool with someone else or stay home!

Got to Mary's in time for dinner there. She had a concert later in the evening, but we had plenty of time to for pizza at a good pizza place in Carytown. It's difficult to find good pizza out east, except for New York city. I love New York style pizza...nice and greasy and thin, thin crust and the pie is divided into triangle slices.

Mary had to go to her concert, her boyfriend Dave was at her house and they were going to go out to a party afterwards so Jon and I checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Courtyard of Marriott for two days and it was very nice. Nice comfy beds with lots of puffy pillows, cable television, workout room, swimming pool, hot tub, and restaurant and snack store. We went to Arby's for a quick dinner and then back to the hotel to chill. I read some of my book, Jon watched cable television and we were quite relaxed. Mary and Dave went to their party at a bar in downtown Richmond and they were witness to a shooting! It happened right there outside of their bar, and they were on the patio of this bar outside. The gunman fired five shots, don't know how many times he hit the guy he was after, but it brought him down and the gunman fled. I'm so glad that Mary and Dave and no one else was hurt. The guy who was shot survived and police did capture the gunman, thank goodness! Mary had invited Jon and I to go along with them and so I was glad we had declined and opted to go to our hotel to rest.

The next day we went over to Mary's house and did some internet and then we went over to the Galaxy Cafe for brunch. I ate my first batter-fried pickle spear and it was so delicious! We also ordered a fried Twinkie with ice cream and four fried Oreo cookies with ice cream and shared it. But we all said once we tasted it we wished we each had one of our own! It was so good. Melted right in your mouth!

Mary's concert at the Carpenter Center was at three so we changed and went there. The performance was Carmina Burana complete with orchestra, adult and children's choruses. It was spectacular. The theater is beautiful. There is a deep blue night sky painted on the ceiling and walls and the sides have arches to see though, as you can see from the photo here to the left. It's my favorite color of blue. The concert was magnificent. My ears after felt as if we had just heard a heavy metal rock concert. Spectacular, just awesome.

That evening we went to Kroger and got fried chicken, salad, rolls, potato skins and brownies and took it back to Mary's to eat. It was a good meal and a fraction of the cost of going to a restaurant. And probably a fraction of the salt. I still have to watch my salt intake and after eating at Galaxy earlier, to eat out again that same day would have made me sick.

We went back to our hotel around nine, and took showers, watched some t.v and fell asleep.The next morning we were up early since we had to check out. We had to switch hotels because Courtyard was doubling their rate on weekdays, which is ridiculous. Isn't a rented room at the half price better than an empty room for no money? Oh well...their loss. We went over to the Best Western and checked in and it was very nice, even nicer than the Marriott. Wish we would have stayed there the entire time. Free hot breakfast, plush comforter and lots of pillows.

That day was moving day for Mary. She borrowed a friend's van and Jon and Dave got most of the bigger stuff over to the new place real quick. We were done moving stuff by noon, but the clean up took awhile. And we took another Galaxy break and got the fried Twinkies and Oreos again. Yum. I got a grilled cheese instead of a big burger the second visit since that would be just too much to eat two days in a row. But had to have those fried pickles, and fried goodies once more. We went back to Mary's house again to clean and wait for the landlord. Then Mary and Dave decided to go back to her new place and Jon and I went back to our hotel and then we get a call from Mary asking if Jon has the key to her friend's van! No...David had it last. Dave said he put it in his pocket and it must have fallen out. They retraced their steps and didn't find it. But luckily, the friend had an extra key after all, after all that time spent looking.

The last day we were there we simply hung out at Mary's new house. She had taken Dave to the airport for him to go back home early in the morning, so we all slept late. Jon and I had breakfast at the hotel. And then when we went to Mary's Jon worked on fixing her bike most of the day. He always finds something to work on everywhere we go. Mr. Fixit.

We went to Carytown Burgers for dinner and while they were ordering I went into CVS to get an itch stick for all the damn mosquito bites I got on moving day in that jungle of a yard over at that place. I looked like I had chicken pox I had so many! Jon ordered burgers for all of us and cheese fries, saying he thought I would like them, when in fact it was he who wanted them, not me. He can never say he wants bad food for himself. He has to say that I want it, makes him feel less like a piggie or something!

After taking Mary home, we sat and talked awhile and then we hit the road. We had hotel reservations in Hagerstown, Maryland and didn't want to be getting there too late. Saying goodbye is always hard and I managed not to cry this time, but still my heart felt heavy having to leave my daughter again.

Driving through D.C. at that time wasn't too bad. Driving through D.C. at rush hour is hell, and why we wanted to get on the other side of D.C. to avoid the morning rush. We got stuck in construction traffic about 20 miles outside of Hagerstown. So, Jon tells me to call the motel, an Econolodge, and tell them that we are on our way but stuck in traffic. It was about 9:30 p.m. An Indian guy answered and I usually don't have a hard time understanding people, but I did with him. I was getting frustrated because he kept saying the word "cancel" and I kept saying "no cancel!" and so handed the phone to Jon who managed to communicate with him that we were indeed coming and to keep our room for us. When we got there the we found ourselves feeling like we walked into a hotel in India. The furnishings, draperies, wall hangings, pictures were all Indian. It was very interesting, but also quite odd for an Econolodge to be decorated this way. The whole place smelled of curry, which many people would like. It wasn't repulsive, but Jon isn't keen on curry and it bothered him. We went up to our room in elevators that seemed like they hadn't been updated since the 60s. It shook and rumbled up to the fourth floor. When we opened the door to our room, we could see the cold wind and drizzle blowing in the opened window, no screen. The room was clean, but the carpet was now wet in that area. We closed the window, and drapes, and took showers and went to sleep on the too-short beds. It was a place to sleep and was clean, and quiet so that was good.

We drove all the next day, stopping at Tim Horton's in Toledo for dinner of soup and chili (Jon had the chili) and then made good time on the rest of the way home. It was good to sleep in my own comfortable bed. There is no place like home.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fickle washing machine

Yesterday afternoon I carried a load of towels downstairs and put them into the washer and closed the door. I then poured in the liquid detergent into the proper place, and then the fabric softener and pushed the power button and the power came on. Then I pushed "start" and the digital read-out blinked F 01 over and over. Uh, oh...I groaned. What now! So I switched it off, opened the door, closed the door and tried it again....and F 01, F 01, F 01....

Went upstairs and found the manual. It says if it shows F 01 to first try unplugging the unit for two minutes and plug back in and try to set it. Did that and still F 01, F 01, F 01.

I left it for hubby. He was not happy having to deal with this problem with a washer that is only a year old. So, he tried all the stuff I did. Then he found the electrical prints online and saw that he had to take the whole thing apart to get to the circuit board so left it for today. He got up this morning and went downstairs to work on it and decided to try to see if it worked and guess what? It works...for now. But who knows what mood it will be in tomorrow.

It seems that they make these product to fall apart or stop working after the warranty date so you have to go buy a new one. But why would they think we would want to go back and buy one of their products then? Probably no one cares anymore. They just want to make the product as cheaply as they can, charge us high prices and make huge profits and don't care if some of them stop working. They have our money already so who cares. And they think we are going to pay them for service calls on top of it, which many people do. But not these people. Jon can usually repair anything electrical, and if we can't we won't be buying another Kenmore!

Muse - Bliss

A band Helga got me to listen to...awesome video. Reminds me of my blogname. Thanks Helga!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Happy Birthday to me....

I am now the age of the average speed limit. 55 How did I get this old? Where did all the time go?

I like the way Blogger puts a birthday cake at the B logo for your birthday...cute.

A couple of my friends also have birthdays all within a couple of days of each other. My friend Dodie turned 55 yesterday, but Robbin turned 55 on Sept 1st. And all my other friends are either 55 already or are turning 55 before the end of the year. My best friend Pam turned 63 -- though you don't seem that old, Pam ;-)

Hubby got me a yellow cake with light chocolate buttercream frosting, pink flowers and pink writing that says Happy Birthday... which I am going to go cut and serve here in a few minutes. Yum.

It's always something

We have had cable internet and television for some time now and we went with the cable because we didn't want bulky boxes and stuff sitting around. The cable is nice and neat, no bunches of cables, etc. to deal with.

Well, now the cable company informed us that as of September 29th we need to have digital boxes and adapters installed on all of our televisions or else we are going to lose more than 20 stations that are going to digital.

The woman on the phone at the cable company told me that I could go over to this office at a nearby town and pick up the equipment, so that is what I did. I got there and the guy says they don't have them there and told me to go to this other town 30 miles away! I told him that I wasn't going to be driving around the planet trying to track down boxes I shouldn't need. Everything was supposed to come via the cable.

While I was talking to the guy at the counter, this man behind me said he was there for the same thing. Someone on the phone from the cable company told him to come over there and get this digital boxes!

Then the guy behind the counter says that we can have them shipped to our houses. I said why didn't the woman on the phone tell us that? Why did she send us over to pick them up at a place that doesn't have them? So, I phoned the cable company again from right there and set it up to have our digital boxes delivered. When at the end of the call she asked "anything else I can do for you?" I said, "Why don't you inform your customer service reps not to be sending people over to a place to pick up digital equipment when they don't have it there." and she just thanked me and told me to have a nice day. I have a feeling that my message will never be passed on.

So, hubby opens the box when it arrives. It has very, very short cables to connect the box to the tv, and also the power cables are quite short. SO, this is going to cost more money out of our pockets to buy cables that are long enough and some sort of jacks to make sure we get the right reception. What a bunch of crap!

Satellite dish is sounding better and better.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Labor Day weekend

I hope everyone is having a fun and relaxing weekend and hope those of you who have to work will find time to fit in some enjoyment, too. What are Jon and I doing? Not much, just relaxing since we have the house to ourselves. We did do some work around here yesterday, finishing some more projects, installing new screens for the new windows. We did some shopping, including grocery shopping after we went out for breakfast yesterday. We just went to Denny's and I behaved myself and got the scrambled egg whites, plain English muffin, crispy bacon, and ate part of my hash browns and a small OJ and a cup of decaf. Jon got the whole shebang with the pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns and a large orange juice. If I get breakfast out I have to get either pancakes or eggs but never both together. That's just way too much food.

Today didn't do a whole lot. Jon had to go out to the store again. We did go out for lunch to our favorite pizza buffet at Chicago Dough Company where they have the worlds best buttery cinnamon sticks that are drizzled with white icing and hot out of the oven. Forget the rest of the food, I just want a plate of these things!

Besides the noise of the cicadas and crickets, we also have to endure our neighbors inflatable jumping thing they put up in their back yard for all the kids and grandkids that will be at their backyard hoopla for the weekend. Not only do you have screaming kids, but there is also the constant running of the motor that keeps the jumping house inflated. Makes me tempted to go see if we still have that old game of jarts...that put a nice hole in our swimming pool one time, and I am sure it could bring down one of these vinyl rugrat traps in no time. (I'm so evil.)

These people who live behind us have too many kids. I don't know whose are whose over there anymore. The couple who owns the house are my and Jon's ages and they have grown kids, school age kids and now it looks like toddlers...also some of their grown kids have kids now so it's a regular free for all over there all the time. The father is often drunk and yells and screams at all the kids, sometimes smacking one of them if he loses his temper. I don't know if he is screaming at a kid or a grandkid. Doesn't matt
er, his behavior is obviously because he is drunk and probably all those kids really get on his nerves...but hey, that's what happens when you worship the Pope and as Monty Python sings "every sperm is sacred".


Soon it will be winter and everyone will be hibernating in their homes and it will be so quiet there won't even be any birds around except for the little winter birds that do not migrate. Then all will be peaceful, and calm...but I will miss those summer sounds I complain about now. I will NOT miss the sound of the family with the herd of kids, however. They are too obnoxious for words.

Loudest insects on planet?

This is a cicada. It's amazing how much noise only one of these critters can make. The decibel is unbelievable. And where there is a chorus of them, like there always is in late summer it can be quiet deafening. It's nearly impossible to try to sit outside and have any type of conversation while these things are going at it. The cicada along with the cricket choruses are also annoying when trying to fall asleep...unless the windows are shut tightly and the a/c on, which has been out house most of summer. Now I want to enjoy the cool evening breezes and while that is wonderful, we have to put up with the bug noise.

Does anyone know of any insects that are louder than a cicada?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Julie and Julia

Went to see Julie and Julia with my good friend Pam today and this film was really good. Meryl Streep, who I normally do not care for in a movie, did a fantastic job portraying chef Julia Child. She had the voice and actions down pat. I used to watch Julia Child's cooking show on television when I was a kid and through the years and found her to be quite humorous the way she would make a mess while she was cooking and if she messed up, no biggie. Then the way she would cook with wine and then chug it while she was cooking it was also amusing. Of course today, drinking on television, for real, is totally unacceptable.

The movie conveys how very much in love Julia Child and her husband were. He was a gem, and she was very good to him, also. It seemed like they never fought, and though may have disagreed they didn't let it get out of control. A team.

The Julie of the movie is quite the opposite, though she idolizes Julia Child. She is moody, spazzes out and alienates her husband at one point. However, Julie, while writing a blog about Julia Child's recipes and life, manages to find herself.

Good movie, two thumbs up.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday Mom!

Mom turned 72-years-young today. She doesn't seem that old at all. She still works, still does everything on her own and can get down to the floor and sit and get back up again unassisted, which is something I can't do anymore!

Hope you have a great birthday Mom, and many more to come yet!

Love you very much!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rain Choir

Beautiful... my mom showed me this while I was over at my parents' house visiting yesterday. It's really cool how they made it sound like a real thundershower.

Subbing for Bunco

How many of my lady friends who read here have played Bunco and do you enjoy it? I subbed this past Monday at my friend Pam's Bunco game and it was fun to get out and have snacks and socialize with some very nice women, and I did have a good time. However, I don't think I could make a regular thing of this Bunco stuff. Sitting and rolling the dice for ones, twos, threes, fours, fives, and then sixes...then start all over again. It's just throwing dice and seeing what team gets 21 first, then stop...then rotate and do it again. And they give prizes for being lucky. I would rather just get together and talk for the evening and have dessert and coffee and forget the dice-throwing. They also pay money to do this. If asked, I might do it again as a favor because the women are such nice and interesting people. But to join the Bunco "club", no thank you.

I stayed overnight at my friend's house and the next morning she made breakfast and we went shopping at the antique stores near where she lives. I found myself a gorgeous aquamarine Trifari necklace for only $20. That was a good find! It's worth a lot more than I paid for it. I will be keeping my eyes open when I go to second hand shops and antique stores from now on. People don't know what they are giving away!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Back to reality

Now that Heidi is in New York City continuing her vacation, it's back to reality for me and Jon...windows, windows, windows, will it never end?! And then he goes outside today and sees that a piece of our siding has popped off the house! What the heck??? He wants me to get off this computer now and get my staining clothes on. Staining, staining, staining. I would rather do some more vacation type stuff!

Mom and Dad, if you read this, I will come over for a visit soon! I promise!

Heidi from Aussie visits

I haven't been blogging or doing much online for the past week because my pen pal Heidi from Australia was here for a visit since last Monday. It was a busy week and we did a lot of things we haven't done in a couple of decades. Heidi and I have been pen pals for twelve years!

Monday we drove to Ohare to pick Heidi up when she arrived and I recognized her from her photos right away. We drove her to her motel and then we took her back to our town for dinner at Chicago Dough Company which she thought was delicious (it is). We sat on the deck and chatted till the mosquitoes got too bad then I drove her to her motel for the night.

Tuesday, I picked Heidi up from her motel and we went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. We then drove to Frankfort to look in the shops there but we were disappointed to find that most of the antique shops that had been there for years had closed up. A sign of the bad economic times when shops are closing in a prosperous town like Frankfort! We drove to Orland Park after that and went to Borders where Heidi found some books to buy, and then we drove back to town and bought Un wiches from Jimmy Johns...they are the best! Lettuce wrapped around whatever filling you want. Better than all that bread. We then went to Jewel and got some things to make a stir fry for dinner, and after dinner we sat on the deck and talked again. I think she was cold inside the air conditioning and why she wanted to sit outside. It's winter in Aussie so she wants warmth. I like it cool year-round. I would be better off living somewhere like Maine!

Wednesday, Jon started vacation and he drove us around everywhere. I had purchased tickets ahead of time online for the Spirit of Chicago lunch cruise. We picked Heidi up around ten and we drove downtown, arriving at Navy Pier a little after eleven a.m. We easily found a place to park and we made sure we picked up our tickets and then looked in some of the shops while waiting for it to be time to board. The cruise was great. Beautiful weather. The host of the ship asked if anyone was celebrating anything special and I said that Heidi was visiting from Sydney Australia, and they welcomed her. I didn't know Jon was going to do this, but he told the waiter that it was our 34th anniversary and they announced that too. I was so surprised, and I also felt bad that I hadn't thought to say it before. That was really sweet of him. The weather was so gorgeous. We got some very good photos of the city from the ship, and also of the lake and some sailboats etc that I will post on my Photography blog. The food was excellent. It was a buffet of salads, a couple of casseroles, baked flounder, chicken with marinara sauce, rolls, fresh fruit and desserts. There was dancing on the main floor, but we chose to go out on deck to see the view of the skyline and feel the breeze and sunshine. After the cruise we walked around Navy Pier, visiting the two stained glass museums that are are the far end. Heidi and I took a ride on the Ferris Wheel, and I will also post those photos on my photo blog. We ate at a little place on the Pier and got Chicago Style Hotdogs, nothing Heidi had ever seen or eaten before. She took a photo of it before she ate it! She said in Aussie they only have hot dogs with mustard, nothing else on them.
We drove back home.

Thursday we picked Heidi up a big earlier and we drove to Chicago once again. We started with the Sears Tower, now called the Willis Tower because the main lease-holder said he would only sign a lease if they let him change the name of it...what a doofus! It's my guess they will change it back after his lease has ended. The stuff they sell still says Sears Tower, I saw no souveniers that said Willis Tower on them. Anyway, we went up to the top and was the first time we were up there since 1978! The buildings below are more numerous now. Lots of new buildings, some blocking the view of Buckingham Fountain and Soldier's Field. There is a good view of the new Museum Campus where the aquarium, planetarium and Field Museum are. Sears Tower now has glass balconies, and while I didn't think I would ever step on one, I did...and here is proof!















Click on picture to enlarge


After Sears Tower we went to Adler Planetarium where there is a presentation called Cosmic Collisions. It was a fantastic 20-minute show in one of the sky theaters. We looked around the museum, and then took a walk outside and then sat by the lake on the far side of the planetarium and watched the boats go by. Afterwards we drove back home, stopping to get Chinese food to bring back for dinner. I was so tired and sore from all the walking, but was a nice day. We watched a movie before taking Heidi back to her motel for the night. The movie was Bruce Campbell Lives...corny but she thought it was funny as the guys did so that was good.

Friday was Museum of Science and Industry day and I really felt I would keel over a couple of times. I was really getting to be exhausted from all the running around. I had to keep sitting down. Every exhibit I saw with a seat and a little movie going I would go sit and watch it, even boring ones about energy, and war generals, etc! We went on the submarine tour of the U-505 German submarine that was captured by the Americans. This is the only one in U.S. possession. They built a whole building around it and very nice and interesting exhibits with little film clips, etc. I made sure we saw the Fairy Castle, and also we took a tour of the Zephyr train which I never had a chance to see on past visits because the line was usually too long. This time there were only about eight people on the tour. We left the museum around 3:45 and headed over to Bennigan's on Michigan Avenue for dinner. Jon parked the car while Heidi and I ordered and started eating while waiting for him. He got there finally a half hour later...said he found a place to park for six bucks. He loathes having to pay $16 everywhere for parking downtown now. After dinner we walked over to Millennium Park and we put down a blanket and got situated for the Grant Park Symphony Concert. They performed Beethoven's Ninth...the Grant Park Chorus also performed with the orchestra. It was a magnificent performance. A bit weird though sitting in the grass with yuppies all around with their folding tables and chairs and fruit, wine and crackers and cheese...etc. etc. and what was annoying was that they had to have soft chats while the music was playing! During Beethoven's Ninth...what is wrong with these people! After the concert we walked over to Buckingham Fountain where there was a light show since it was dusk by then. We sat there for quite awhile. Jon finally went to get the car while Heidi and I waited on the corner of Jackson and Columbus chatting while waiting for him to get there. Then since it was very late we drove Heidi directly to her motel. It was a great day for her last day of her visit to Chicago.

We got up early yesterday morning to take Heidi to the airport. Jon drove the van so I could sit in the back next to Heidi to talk. It's a bit hard in the car to twist around and talk between the seat headrests. We said goodbye at the curb at departures, and she hugged me for a long time, and handed me a couple of envelopes. Inside one was a pair of crystal earrings. Then a thank-you card for me and Jon for being such good hosts. She said she would miss us. We are hoping to get over to Sydney in a couple years to let her show us around her city.

Now it is back to email, snail mail and Skype with me and Heidi. :-(

Sunday, August 09, 2009

34 years

The couple in this photo is how Jon and I are getting to look! LOL! With the way the years fly by it won't be long! We both will be 70 in about 15 years only! Eeegghads!

Today is our 34th wedding anniversary, and actually we have been together about 38 years if you count the dating years. Though we have changed in physical appearance, I can see so much about him that is still the same...the way his eyes smile first before he breaks out into a big grin or laugh, the way his hair curls up in ringlets when it is getting too long. The way he sleeps curled on his side in a fetal position at night. His profile as we are moving along down the highway in our van. The way he breaks out into sing-along with the songs he likes...especially Robert Palmer's "Simply Irrestible". Lots of little things like that.

So what are we doing today to celebrate? We are still staining windows and cleaning house in preparation of my Australian friend who is coming for a visit starting tomorrow and will be here all week. He is taking vacation so we can show her the sights of Chicago and the area around where we live. Maybe go to the Indiana Dunes one day if it isn't too hot.

For now, it's back to work and we plan on celebrating after Heidi leaves to continue her U.S. visit on Saturday. Maybe we will go to Alexanders for a nice steak dinner and a movie Saturday night.

Time in a Bottle

Jim Croce
This is mine and Jon's song. . .

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Traffic court in LaSalle County

Some things just don't make sense in life. Hubby who drives very conservatively now that he is older and wiser, and also because he is trying to get best gas mileage possible out of his new Honda Civic Hybrid, was driving back from a safety seminar he was helping to conduct in upstate Rockford last month when a cop pulled him over and gave him a ticket for not moving over as hubby passed him on the highway while the cop was parked alongside the road in the emergency lane behind an abandoned car he says he was "investigating." But the truth is that Jon DID go around him. He moved over as law requires one to do when passing by an emergency vehicle at the side of the road. And he does this if anyone is stopped at the side of the road if no one is next to him in the left lane and he is able to do so....which the law also states. He did nothing wrong.

What most likely happened was is that the cop didn't see Jon till he was back in the right lane after going around him because the officer was looking downward towards something and most likly didn't see Jon till he passed by. But he came after him and gave him a ticket anyway, almost immediately going after him as if he was waiting for the next car to come by to give a ticket to. A van had been right ahead of Jon going well over the speed limit, so at first Jon thought that the cop was going to go after that guy, but no...easier to stop Jon and make something up. A ticket is a ticket when trying to meet one's quota for the day.

So, we went out to Ottawa in LaSalle County which is about a 50 mile drive. This is nearly six weeks since the ticket. When we got inside the courtroom there were lawyers up front, calling people by name to come forward to talk to them either to dismiss tickets or to make "deals", and for Jon they said he could pay the $250 fine and get six months supervision or he could come back in September for another hearing. Jon said "why can't we do this today?" There were only about eight or ten people and usually if you wait weeks to go to traffic court, the hearing is held, and a verdict given, fines paid that day and it's over with. Well, the lawyer says "that's not how we operate here in LaSalle Co." SO, he got a second court date now for September 25th and has to go all the say back out there again and miss another day of work. Hopefully he will win his case then. Life is not fair at times. So many people drive like maniacs and get away with it, but here is a man who follows all the rules, never breaks the speed limit, and he gets the ticket when he hasn't done anything wrong.

Watchmen review

We watched the film Watchmen the other night and must say it was pretty good for a "superhero" flick. The difference with this one is that all but one didn't have super powers. Dr Manhattan, the blue guy, is a godlike being who is the only one with actual supernatural powers.

The film is based on the critically acclaimed graphic novel by the same name. This film was even more dark and gloomy than Batman: "The Dark Knight". "Watchmen" follows a group of retired costumed heroes living in an alternate 1985 where Nixon is still president and fear of nuclear doomsday looms over planet Earth.

When one of the heroes named the Comedian is murdered, his former colleague--the unhinged, masked Rorschach begins investigating who is behind his death. The other masked crimefighters--Silk Spectre 2, Ozymandias, Nite Owl 2 , and Dr. Manhattan , soon learn that there may be a plot to rid the world of their kind.

Watchmen is not a comic book movie for kids since there’s sex and violence throughout the entire film, but the story is a complex and interesting one for adults. I won't give away the ending in case some of you haven't seen it yet, but one of the main messages is that human nature cannot be changed. We might be able to be shocked into "uniting" for a little while, like after the 911 tragedy, but "life goes on" and humans go back to being human. But there is always "hope".

Monday, August 03, 2009

Regulating blood pressure

I think after a few weeks of experimenting with blood pressure medicine, I finally am now on the right one and the right dosage. Started out with Inderal because of the bad headaches I was having and also the high blood pressure. Well, while it brought down the blood pressure and controlled the headaches, my heart rate was in the 40s! So, I called the doctor who said via his nurse, that no, 40s was not good and so I needed to be switched to something else. I told her specifically not to give me Zebeta since that also made my heart rate slow when I was on it a couple of years ago. When I went to the ER with my gall bladder attack, they could hardly get a pulse it was going so slow and was so weak. So, what does the nurse call in to the pharmacy? A prescription for Zebeta! And of course that was a Friday before the weekend. But the following Monday I got ahold of the doctor again, I should say got ahold of his nurse who then called in a prescription for Metoprolol and said to take half. Well, the blood pressure went back up again, the headaches started coming back again. So, now I have to take a whole pill each day, and that seems to control everything pretty well. However, I told the doctor to please call in another prescription as I am now only getting 15 pills a month and need 30 now so need a new script. They called the pharmacy on Friday, and then I didn't get around to going over there to pick it up till today and guess what? They didn't know anything about it, so they said. So, I called the cardiologist's office back and asked what's up...and they said that the prescription WAS called in and so they called the pharmacy. I then made a back-up call to the pharmacy and now they say I can't get the rest of the prescription till the 9th and that is when they will put through the change. Lucky I have enough pills to last till that long. Things are a hassle enough, and wonder what the hell they will be like if we get to National Health Care with the government in control of things. Oh boy!

Staining, staining, staining

Our whole house smells like wood stain. All we have been doing in recent days is staining window trim. It smells good while we are doing it. I love the smell of paint and stain, however, after it is on for awhile it gets in the air and sort of hangs there. Made a baked chicken tonight and can barely smell it because of the odor of the stain.

We have all the upstairs windows and trim stained, but now have to do all the downstairs' windows. Can't wait till it's all done and trim is on and we can carry on with all the other unfinished projects that have been left hanging.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Today was a Mr Blue Sky day!

Crazy question Meme

Click on image to enlarge
I found this over at my friend Poodles Place and decided to tag myself...

Here are the rules:
1. Respond and rework; answer the questions on your blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your invention, add one more question of your own. (I didn’t replace any questions, but added one of my own.)

2. Tag other people. Sounds simple enough, right?

What is your current obsession?
Blogging

What are you wearing today?
jeans, blouse and my New Balance gym shoes

What’s for dinner?
left over spaghetti and salad

What would you eat for your last meal?
Portillo's beef and cheddar croissant and a chocolate cake shake

What are you listening to right now?
Jon flipping channels in the livingroom

Which language do you want to learn?
I have been trying to master Spanish for the past several years.

What do you love most about where you currently live?
My house, the walking trails and library

What style is your current home decorated in?
Contemporary, medium wood

If you were a time traveler what era would you live in?
Sometime in the future, to see what advances have been made.

What is your favorite color?
Blue

What is your favorite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe?
jeans

What were you doing ten years ago?
Finishing my Masters degree and working full time.

If you had $300 now, what would you spend it on?
A little trip away for hubby and me.

When was the last time you cried?
At a funeral on Saturday.

What are your favorite films?
Caddyshack, Animal House, Mad House, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Summer Place, Giant, Inherit the Wind, too many to list . . .

Your favorite books?
Doris Lessing's Mara and Dann and most of her other books, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, House of Seven Gables by Nathanial Hawthorne, White Noise By Don Delillo, stories by Dorothy Parker...more listed in my profile.

Do you collect anything?
Porcelain mice, books, stamps, postcards, bookmarks, pens

What makes you follow a blog?
Personable, informative, intelligently written.

What was the most enjoyable thing you did today?
Gave my husband a big hug and kiss when he got home after a long day at work.

Ann’s Question: What makes you comment on a blog?
If I feel I have something worthwhile to contribute, funny or serious. I never troll.

Amy’s Question: What is your favorite thing to do when you have some free time?
Read, write letters to my many penfriends, talk on the phone to close friend or my mom.

Tonya’s Question: What is a talent you wished you had?
Ice skate.

Kyooty’s Question: If you could be any other animal other then Human, what would you be?
A dolpin swimming free in the ocean.

Carrin’s Question: Rush just told me that by 2042, white people will be the minority. Do you believe that? Would that be a big deal to you?
I agree that Rush is an idiot. His brain is so fried on drugs what the heck does he know!

Melissa’s Question: Would you want your blog to be as popular as Dooce? What would be some of the pros and cons?
No, I spend way too much time on here as it is. Pros would be if I get some kind of money for it, cons would be all the asshats that would come by to troll and also all the time it would suck up.

Unknown Mami’s Question: What do you admire most about yourself? Don’t be modest.
I have a quick wit and consider myself to be a good writer.

Traci's Question: If you could be anyone else, who would you be?
I would not want to be anyone else.

Poodle's Question: Dogs or cats?
Dogs, cats are evil (sorry my cat-loving friends and family members)

My Question: Where is your favorite vacation place/places?

As far as tagging goes, whoever wants to waste time doing this ! Please let me know if you play along!

Drying clothes outdoors

I love how clothes smell after being allowed to air-dry outdoors in the wind and sunshine. I have a drying rack similar to the one shown here, and I have a lot of clothes that I don't like to dry in the dryer. But our town has a no-clothesline ordinance, which I think is really foo-foo stupid. Yuppies say that clotheslines are an "eyesore". I don't think so. Clotheslines never bother me any. And it's not like people hang their clothes up and leave them there forever. In a couple hours they are dry and we bring them in and put them away.

I get around this clothesline rule with my clothes-drying rack. I set it up on the deck and let nature do the drying for me and then bring them in to fold them and put it all away.

I did this with my bedding yesterday and it all smelled so nice and fresh. It brings back memories of when I was a kid and all of our clothes were dried this way in the summertime. It's a nice, fresh feeling to climb between crisp, freshly-washed, natured dried sheets. Thanks mom for those memories...I love you.

Brain scan results





















The results of my brain scan came back already and nothing serious. . . and yes Jon, they could see that no my head is not empty, Mr Funnyman! It appears that my lingering headache was just one long, very stubborn migraine. Possibly made worse by the Estradiol I was on, as we assumed. So, no more estrogen replacements. I have some pills to help ward off a headache when they first start, and if that doesn't work and it gets bad again, I just go in for a shot of Toradol. Hopefully I won't get any more bad ones that last for days and days. That was awful.
(Sorry Mom that I didn't call to let you know I was having the test done and you had to read about it on here.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Goodbye pool :-(

Sadly, after about twenty six years of having a swimming pool, we are taking it down and giving it away to a friend of our son's. It was getting too much to take care of and no one else had the time or interest to help clean it. It takes a lot of work to manage the chemicals so it doesn't "go green" and look like the swamp monster lives in it. And another thing was that no one used it. We would get it all cleaned out and running and we had to run it daily and put chemicals in daily. Last year I think Jon and I used it twice, at most. No one else had the time or desire to. So, it's coming down, and will be a lot of work to take it down, fill in the huge hole and grow grass there, put additional railing on the lower deck. But once that is done, no more work except cutting some extra grass.

We got the pool in 1983 when the kids were all little and we lived in a different town at the time. They all learned to swim in this pool. I remember when our middle son wanted to just stand on the stairs with a mask on and didn't want to get splashed. He would just block the ladder and scream and yell if he got the slightest bit wet...except for his feet which were in the water. Eventually, he became the crazy one to jump in and do all kinds of stunts.

We literally lived in the pool all summer, all of us getting nice and tanned from the sun's rays. When we moved to this town, we took the pool down, brought it here and dug a hole and went through the ordeal of setting it up. Only at this house, instead of flat across, we dug it out to nearly six feet in the middle and got an expandable liner. The kids loved jumping into it and doing all kinds of tricks. Jon would jump in, too in those days. I think now if he jumped into it all the water would come out or the sides would collapse! Shhhhh...don't tell him I said that!

I will miss the pool, but we are getting older and have to just admit and accept there are things we just can't or don't want to do anymore. We will just buy a membership at the Y or alumni membership at the university I went to. We can still enjoy swimming, but leave the maintenance to someone else.

Brain scan

I've been getting these terrible migraines . . . this last one has been with me for seven days. Though the pain is quite decreased because of Ultram, it's still there, a dull ache. I went to the doctor for an injection of Toradol last night and that helped quite a bit. But by six a.m. it had totally worn off and the head pain started again. I took two Ultram as directed and it eased off again, so have been taking that every six hours to keep it at bay. The doctor sent me for a brain scan. Jon, being the wiseguy that he is, Mr. Funnyman...said "well, did they find one in there?" hahaha
:P

It's probably just a stubborn migraine. I was on Estradiol (estrogen) and know those can cause some nasty headaches, and can also make migraines worse. The doctor wanted me to have the brain scan to make sure it's not something more serious. Lupus can also cause terrible headaches because of the inflammation it may cause. The brain scan would also show if the Lupus is causing fluid build-up in the covering of the brain, or inflammation in the vessels, etc. It's great we have the technology today to be able to catch things early if that's the problem. But right now, doctor thinks it's just a stubborn migraine.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Blast from the Past

Joe Cocker, Leon Russell...Cry Me a River! Jon and I loved Leon Russell and Joe Cocker...listened to all their stuff again and again. This sure brings back memories. Look how young they are, and we were still teenagers when this was made. Crazy.