"Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom" Albert Einstein

"A dame who knows the ropes isn't likely to get tied up." Mae West

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

5 Things Meme

Tagged by Alice at Wintersong for this meme: Name 5 things in my life that I never dreamed, when I was 25, would be in my life now.

1. Cats - Always a dog lover, I hated cats. They're aloof, independent, won't come when you call, and climb on things. Then Miss Kitty showed up in our yard, emaciated and trying to nurse a litter of three. She won me over and so did the runt of the litter. Now we have cats - in the house.

2. Kids - I never thought I wanted children. I had never been around babies or small children much. Didn't think I'd have enough time and energy to give children the commitment they deserved. At age 33, I changed my mind and got pregnant right away. That was the best change of heart I've ever had.

3. The home town - When I went off to college, I never wanted to return to the home town. I was ready for new adventures and was sick of small town living. But pleas from family members to come back and help with the family business turned from temporary help to long-term commitment. Now I've been back for 31 years.

4. My husband - It never crossed my mind that I would be married to a high school buddy, who was also co-editor of the school newspaper with me and someone with whom I refused to go to prom.

5. Internet - I was always interested in technology, but being so easily connected to all parts of the world was more than I ever imagined. For rural areas especially, it has opened doors to information, education entertainment, socialization, and commerce.

Presidential address

In case you missed the president's address last night, here it is:

1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC

Stare at this for 53 minutes and you'll be as emotionally charged as you would have been last night.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


What do two people get for $20, a 3 minute quickie, and an appearance before a judge?

A marriage ceremony.

What happens after a 3 minute ceremony? Lunch at Silvercreek, then both go back to work.

Happy 16th anniversary, hubby.

Disappearing Act - Part II

Word came to me last night that my best childhood buddy has less than two weeks to live. Her only family, her brother & sister-in-law, were as shocked as I. Purposefully distancing herself from her family and friends (or perhaps forced to by her husband we didn't care for), we would only get snippets of information from her over the years, but this was totally unexpected. She didn't want any of us to know and she still refuses to answer phone calls. Cancer has been eating at her for eight months, most likely due to the packs of cigarettes she has smoked since before she was 16. She is said to weigh 80 pounds. We were as different as night and day, but there was a bond more like sister than friend between us.

In November, I wrote a post about her, and after recently viewing the movie "Juno" my thoughts again turned to her. So in her honor, I am reposting the story that I deleted when I purged posts from last year:

In 1969 my closest friend got pregnant. She was 19 and had a low paying job as a waitress. The father was someone she had only dated a few times. Her mother did not drive and lived miles away; her own father had long abandoned her.

We had been best buddies since grade school. She had even followed me to my college town, and we were still close though our lives were beginning to go in different directions. She needed help and I was glad I was there to do what I could.

Although she wanted the baby, she knew there was no way she could give it a decent life, so early on she made up her mind to give the baby up for adoption. Since she was Catholic, I contacted Catholic social services and drove her to their offices. I sat with her as they explained what they could do. Once she entered her fifth month, they would find a local family who would provide her room and board in exchange for babysitting and light housework. They would find a family for the baby and her medical bills would be paid. All she needed to do was to take care of herself and relinquish the baby.

I went through every step of that pregnancy with her: her morning sickness, her body changing, the baby kicking. I took her to her OB appointments and took her to the hospital when she went into labor. In those times, no one was allowed to be with the mother except for immediate family. She told me to go back to my dorm and she would call me. She did it alone.

It was a girl with beautiful red hair. Perfect in every way. My friend got to hold the baby for about fifteen minutes and then they took her away. Papers were signed. That was that. It was done.

I picked up my friend from the hospital three days later. She was noticeably anguished. Reality had tempered her normal fun, out-going nature. I was grieving, also. I wanted to see that baby girl. I had invested all those months too, and there was nothing to show for it. The atmosphere was not celebratory. A deep loss had occurred.

My friend and I drifted apart geographically and otherwise, but we still talk to each other every few years. She has been married now for about 30 years, and her son just returned from Iraq. I don't know if she has ever searched for her daughter. I've always felt I shouldn't be the one to bring up the subject.

But I think about that baby almost every year in late fall. I'd like to know where she grew up and what her family was like. I wonder if she has that same beautiful singing voice that her mother had. Is she intelligent like her biological father or is she like her mother, more personality than book-smart? I know she must still have naturally red hair; her mother had auburn tones and her father brighter pumpkin color.

I want to tell her how her mother could sell several cases of Girl Scout cookies in the same time I could only sell five boxes; how her mother could get me laughing so hard I would spit food out of my mouth; how her mother had screamed when her own mother was being beaten by her dad.

Adoption records are difficult enough for birth families and adoptees to obtain, let alone an unrelated friend. Yet persons outside the birth and adopted families can be just as affected. Unfortunately, I’ll probably never know what happened to her. And so, every time I pass a woman in her late 30's with red hair, I look just a little longer to see if I find any resemblance to my old friend.
Jen had a great deal of devilishness in her, but she had the voice of an angel. As my mother said, "She could sing like a bird." I am saddened that the woman with the red hair won't ever get to hear it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

It all comes out in the wash.

Laundry rooms seem to be the happenin' places this week. Here's another laundry room story to match yesterday's.

Seeing Stars

Something strange is happening around my little town. These things have been popping up all over the community in recent months. In varying sizes and colors, they are affixed to houses, generally in an upper gable and sometimes near a door. They are multiplying; when one appears on a block, two or three others follow close by.

They remind me of hex signs seen on barns in Pennsylvania Dutch country, but these are simpler, have only five-point tips, and aren't nearly as artistically interesting. If they are hex signs, I want to know the reason the first homeowner installed it, and if the subsequent ones were put up as a defense against the first.

Some companies selling them call these "Amish Barn Stars", but I wonder how accurate that description really is. Are they "Amish" because they are made by Amish, do the Amish actually have these simple stars on their barns, or is the name a marketing ploy to add a bit of perceived value and sentiment to a piece of tin or wood?

I think they're most likely just the latest primitive decor craze - probably featured on Oprah or HGTV, and now everyone who wants to be part of the in-crowd has to have one. After all, I did notice that The Biggest Loser house has 6-8 of them affixed to an exterior wall.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Panty Raid

"Gee officer, they must have accidentally gotten mixed up with mine".

Something's Stalking Me

Driving back from the bigger town Sunday morning, I glanced in my rear view mirror at a car behind me and caught a glimpse of it. I wasn't sure if it was real, so I looked in the mirror again. Because the sun was brightly shining, there was no mistake about it. That line just below my right lower lip wasn't a wrinkle as I had hoped. No, it was dark, and about an inch long, and it was back.

It all started with the sustenance of a mole that developed on my lower lip in high school. The mole appeared during puberty, and in adolescence it was easy to dismiss it as a "beauty mark." But in my twenties, the mole started producing hair, especially a certain dark long one that seemed to stand out among the tiny blond fuzz around it. It was just screaming to be plucked and so began the battle.

A decade of plucking my uni-brow had yielded two separate eyebrows with no further yanking necessary. So, I thought, would be the demise of this renegade mole hair. Every six weeks I would pluck it out of the mole mound and six weeks later the strand would reappear, as long and dark as ever. It never seemed to have any sort of growing cycle. It simply reappeared fully grown at that entire inch size.

After fifteen years of unrelenting plucking and regeneration, the "aha" moment occurred. If the mole is providing fodder for the follicle, get rid of the mole. A 45 minute out-patient procedure with a plastic surgeon, five stitches, $2500 out of my pocket, and I was rid of the mole and the hair forever - or so I thought. Two weeks after the six week healing process, it returned.

For almost 40 years now, the war between stubborn hair and stubborn host continues. Neither will acquiesce. We both intend to win the war, despite each losing battles along the way.

Both a little more gray and withered than our youth, our uncompromising determination is never shaken, although the battles have become fewer. The hair has now changed tactics: it doesn't reappear quite so regularly and often at unsuspecting times, especially in the car or at a movie theater. Perhaps my eyesight just doesn't catch it nearly so soon, but when it is discovered, I've gotten considerably better at jerking the thing out with just my fingernails.

We've gotten a bit more comfortable with each other, but we're still not quite friends. It is truly a love-hate relationship. If I do win the war, and I fully plan to, I admit I'll miss tugging on that hair in moments of quiet desperation far away from tweezers. But not that much.

Monday, January 21, 2008


For those who have the day off today in honor of Martin Luther King's birthday, I wonder how much time they will spend actually contemplating the great man? 1 hour, 30 minutes, 1 minute? Or are the shopping malls today so crowded they honestly don't have time to even think about it? Or perhaps they are just too hungover from the Packers game last night?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Notable Birthday Quotes

For my three good friends who have birthdays this month, for my blogger friends who also have January birthdays and for my own birthday this month (although not this day in January), here's some favorite wisdom:

1. No wise man ever wished to be younger. (Jonathan Swift)
2. Inside every older person is a younger person - wondering what the hell happened. (Cora Harvey Armstrong)
3. You are only young once, but you can be immature for a lifetime. (John P. Grier)
4. To me, old age is 15 years older than I am. (Bernard M Baruch)
5. The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life. (Muhammad Ali)
6. A birthday is just the first day of another 365 day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip. (Anonymous)
7. The years between 50 and 70 are the hardest. You are always being asked to do things, and yet you are not decrepit enough to turn them down. (T.S. Eliot)
8. Age is something that doesn't matter unless you're a cheese. (Billy Burke)
9. When I passed forty I dropped pretense, 'cause men like women who got some sense. (Maya Angelou)
10. With my wife I don't get no respect. I made a toast on her birthday to 'the best woman a man ever had.' The waiter joined me. (Rodney Dangerfield)

And my favorite: It is sad to grow old, but nice to ripen. (Bridgitte Bardot)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wiggling weinie fools cops

A big scare in my ancestors' homeland. Fortunately the impending explosion was not meant for the public.

When I say "No" I mean "No"

Here's another incident of an arrogant doctor not listening to his patient. The patient didn't want a rectal exam, so they sedated him and did it anyway.

Even worse, I'll bet they billed him for it. Hopefully the lawsuit will reimburse the patient.

No free market here

The Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board approved a new weight-loss surgical center for a nearby town. Why in the world should any entity that wants to spend thousands-millions of dollars on a health care facility have to get State approval just to build it? They have turned down several other proposals for the community.

No developer will spend that kind of money on a facility without doing his own feasibility study to see if the investment will bring a proper rate of return. That means they will study the market to see if they will be able to get enough patients for the facility and look at the competition within the marketing area. They still have to meet public health standards in the construction and operation phase. So why shouldn't they simply have the right to build a facility meeting those standards if they want to? They shouldn't have to prove anything to the State regarding "need."

The purpose of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act says its purpose "is to establish a procedure designed to reverse the trends of increasing costs of health care resulting from unnecessary construction or modification of health care facilities. Such procedure shall represent an attempt by the State of Illinois to improve the financial ability of the public to obtain necessary health services, and to establish an orderly and comprehensive health care delivery system which will guarantee the availability of quality health care to the general public. "

If keeping costs down for consumers is their purpose, then the Health Facilities Board should be approving every application for new health care facilities. Competition is good. Competition drives prices down in the marketplace. Competition provides choices for the consumer. Health care facilities providing poor services will not get patients and will shut down. Facilites providing good patient care will thrive.

We don't need any State board to tell consumers what we need or don't need. Let the developers build all the health care facilities they want. We as consumers will decide who stays or goes.

The Real Thing

My husband gave me this book for Christmas. He is an enabler. This is like giving a drug addict a pharmacy reference manual.

I am a Coke addict. If there were a CCA (Coca Cola Anonymous) group, I'd be a lifetime member.

I've tried to quit numerous times, several times for as long as a year, and did it cold turkey during both my pregnancies. But then I'll get an urge for just one sip... and oh, how I love that first burn in the throat!

The one sip satisfies me for that day, but by the next day I'm thinking that one of those mini 8 oz cans wouldn't hurt. It's only 150 calories and it's not nearly as good as a bubbly Coke directly from the soda fountain from the convenience store, so I won't have a craving after I drink the 8 ounces, and I'll just cut back on bread today to balance the additional calories, and my how good that tastes even if it does come from a can.

By the end of two weeks, I am now drinking an 8 oz can with breakfast and a 20 oz cupful from the convenience store for an afternoon jolt. By the end of the month, the daily fix is two 20 oz drinks from the convenience store. Couple of months go by and now its a twice daily fix of 32 oz drinks. But I am proud of myself that I have never stooped to buying one of those 48 oz big guzzlers. OK, the real reason is that I sip my Coke and it would taste flat by the time I finished one of those monstrosities. It's all about the carbonic acid, you know.

After approximately 9-12 months and fifteen additional pounds, the entire cycle starts reversing itself. It comes from me being too cheap to buy a whole new wardrobe. So you see, you can gauge where I am on the Coke cycle by the size of my butt.

I blame the addiction on my childhood when super cold 8 oz green bottles of Coke were dispensed in red freezer chest-like coolers. You inserted your money, then dragged the bottle through a metal maze to a large opening where you pulled out the bottle, dripping with condensation, popped the cap on the built-in opener, and took a swig on a hot summer day. There was nothing better than the burn of that first sip.

Change to Diet Coke, you say. My body doesn't tolerate aspartame or any other fake sugar. Besides, Coke prides itself on being The Real Thing. Diet Coke isn't real and I'm a realist by nature.

I have decided that I am allowed at least one vice in my otherwise perfect life and drinking Coke is it. Since I am not a coffee drinker, I reason it is no worse than someone having a latte and doughnut. So as long as my body isn't suffering any ill effects and it hasn't so far, I'm sticking to the bubbly brown burn over ice.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Life Imitating Art

Family drives RV to Oregon with dead grandmother in back.

This so reminded me of one of my favorite, no-brainer movies "Vacation."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Life reflected

I have a birthday later this month and I make it a time to do an annual life performance review. Most people do this New Year's Eve, but I am a bit of a contrarian, you know.

Last year, when I turned 57, I was prepared to die, but I wasn't suicidal. The last kid was out of college, employed and loving her new business enterprise. Older child was married to a great guy, both employed and very happy. Parents were in good health for their age and self-sufficient. Hubby content as always. I was semi-retired and enjoying a less complicated life.

I had traveled to most every place I truly wanted to see (except #1 daughter's new digs). I knew I'd never have time to read all the books I wanted to read - I am a realist. I had had a successful business life, a good marriage and good health, and comfortable home. I volunteered in community organizations and enjoyed a wide range of friends. I was pleased with where I was at that moment and what I had accomplished. I had few regrets.

Life was certainly good, and for a fleeting moment it crossed my mind that if I died that day, it would be OK because I was so totally satisfied with my life. I had accomplished what I wanted, I was no longer responsible for anyone, no one absolutely needed me, and everyone around me would be just fine whether I was here or not. Although I did hope they would miss me.

It was very liberating to feel that way - to truly be at peace and fully satisfied with one's life, at least for one brief moment. I imagine that those moments when everything seems to be in perfect sync are rare, but I hope that someday I will experience that feeling again. I am betting that that they occur more often as one progresses into the last third of life.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Juno Gem

I know now why everyone is raving about the movie "Juno." What a little jewel among all the big budget movies out there!

It is a story about an unconventional 16 year old who gets pregnant and how she handles the situation. She has caring parents including a step-mother who isn't wicked and a father with some relationship wisdom. She has a sweet nerdy boyfriend whom she hasn't learned to appreciate. Ellen Page is magnificent as the quirky teen who vacillates from an I-have-all-this-under-control grown-up attitude to the animated, immature adolescent she really is.

The PG-13 movie was half-filled with young teenage girls, giggly and giddy before the movie, subdued after. I hope it was a sign that this movie, in its serious comedy way, drove home the point that pregnancy requires some big-time decisions that adolescents shouldn't have to face. The scene at the hospital near the end tells the real story without saying any words.

The writing and acting are superb. The music is perfect. Go see this movie.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tattle Tale

I tattled today and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Several months ago, I entered a room shortly before a meeting and made myself comfortable in the nearest available chair. After introducing myself, the man conducting the meeting looked directly at me and made a blatant comment about a couple of my body parts - no not those - my eyes.

If this had occurred at a bar, I would have dismissed the comment with a thank you. This, however, came at a business meeting from a State employee who was there to provide information to us. We were speechless. The comment was ignored, but several of us did have a difficult time with his credibility after that. The others told me later they wished they had a photograph of the look on my face when he made the comment.

I am not a feminist, nor am I a prude. I have spent a great portion of my adult life working in male-dominated areas and have often been the sole woman in many business meetings. Never had I experienced a blatant pick-up line on any of those occasions. What happened to all the sexual harassment training from the 20Th century? This guy was a chip off Michael Scott from The Office. Michael Scott is very funny on TV, but not at a real live meeting with my tax dollars paying his salary.

Today his boss (a woman) met with our group on other matters. We had discussed whether or not we should bring up the incident. The consensus was yes, inappropriate behavior should be stopped or it will continue here and elsewhere.

So with reluctance and support of the group who were witnesses to the event, I tattled on the guy. Perhaps his wife will hear about his behavior and solve the problem for us.