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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Yesterday my son returned to his home after a vacation here with me. He was here for about nine days and I really put him to work. He's very good to me and willingly did all those little jobs that I can't do, like fixing my computer and little odd jobs around the house. He explained, again, how I can link a story to this blog. Maybe I'll be able to do it soon.


It's been wonderful having him here, I wish it could be more often but he has a job and a life which he likes in another city. Since I have the flexibility, I'll probably move closer to him in a few years. In the meantime, I can always go out to visit him.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Anniversary

Tomorrow will be the first anniversary of this, my newest venture. I started writing this blog on December 30, 2006 and, while it's not as good as I would like, it is a start. This is just the latest in my attempt in fulfilling my dreams.

About eight years ago I decided I wanted to live in the country. I moved to a home in a very rural area of New York State. It was a great adventure and I probably would have stayed there, but I discovered my present home. Back in the country I had a family of five deer who would come into my yard almost every day, and the stars at night were big and bright. I had never seen so many stars, I even saw the big dipper.

Two years ago I decided to drive across the country, again something I always wanted to do and now I have the time. I saw Mt. Rushmore, the St. Louis Arch, Yellowstone National Park and Old Faithful, and the Rockies. It was a wonderful trip, I hope I can do it again, if I don't drive, I'll take the train, again that's a wonderful trip.

My writing is improving and maybe some day I'll feel more confident about it, but until then, I'll keep writing and trying to fulfill my dreams. Everyday is a new adventure. I hope you've enjoyed this as much as I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts. Here's to many more years.

Friday, December 28, 2007

New Years

This is the last weekend before New Years. It's a time when the papers are full of recaps of the past year and predictions for the next. We get lists of who died, who was born, who was married, the best of and the worst of. We are also inundated with predictions from various psychics and astrologers. Just once I would like to see a recap of last year's predictions just to see how good those psychics and astrologers really are. I doubt that will ever happen.

Today I heard Kim Coles on the IVillage tv show say that when she was a child she expected some sort of magic on New Years. She expected big changes and was very disappointed when she realized it was just another day. That's true, why do we expect so much from January 1. We expect great changes both to the world and ourselves. That sets us up for great disappointments. Why don't we see it as just another day and enjoy it. Then we can make our plans for change any other time of the year.

Whatever your thoughts on New Years, have a great one and enjoy 2008.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Back when I was in St. Sylvester School in Brooklyn, we usually started each semester with a motto for the term. I don't remember most of them, but two stand out. One was, "We must abhor every sort of affectation" and the other was, "Pride goes before a fall".

Today I learned about pride. Yesterday, I was bragging that after 43 years, I still had a complete set of china, and that I have rarely broken any dishes and glasses. Today while I was washing some bowls, one larger one slipped and knocked two others onto the stove, breaking them.

I think from now on, I'll keep quiet about my good luck with household furnishings.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Changes

As you can see, this page has had a facelift. There is now a link to my son's blog, Cromely's World and some news items. My son has been here this week and he has been doing some of the chores on my list which included these links. He has also done some routine maintenance on my computer and is also doing some scanning. It's so nice to have someone who knows what he's doing.

Enjoy the new look and have a very Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Letting Go

Lately I've been watching a show on The Learning Channel called "Moving Up". They show people who have sold their home and the people who have bought that home.

The sellers tell about their favorite part of the home and how great they think it is and say what a shame it would be if the new owners changed anything. The buyers are also shown in the house they have just sold to their new buyers. They of course feel that everything in their home is the best. I've often wondered why, if their home is so great, did they sell?

Of course, the new buyers change just about everything, doing the work themselves. At the end of the show, the sellers return to their old homes and critique the changes. Most times they don't think the changes are all that good and they prefer their homes the old way.

Why don't these people realize that when they took the money, the house was no longer theirs. It's time to let go.

Friday, December 21, 2007

How Others See Us

Too often we don't see ourselves as others see us. I've recently had a few examples of that.

About a week ago I was waiting for a bus. There were a few seats for those waiting on line. A man who I thought was older was sitting. He tried to get my eye and when he did, he offered me his seat. Of course, I declined but I didn't think I looked either that old or tired and he seemed to be around my age.

Several times at the supermarket checkout where the clerk was filling my bags, I've been asked if the bags were too heavy. Do I look that weak and frail? I don't think so, but what do I look like to other people.

A friend of mine had asked two college students for directions and when she thanked them, they replied, "You're welcome Grandma".

There was a time when I appreciated it when someone offered me a seat, now all I can think is that they think I'm old. I'm not old, I'm middle aged, well maybe a teeny bit more than middle aged.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Airports

Yesterday I went to the airport to meet my son's plane. Surprise, the flight was early, but there was a problem in the baggage area and it took almost an hour to get his bags.

While I was waiting a man walked by. I thought to myself that he looked an awful lot like John Amos, a character actor currently on Men in Trees. I didn't say anything but then an airline employee started calling for passenger John Amos. I was right! Unfortunately for Mr. Amos, there was a problem with his luggage and it was probably still out west. I hope he eventually got it. When we left, he was still filling out paperwork.

That's the second time I saw any celebrity at the airport. The other time was about six years ago when I saw Yogi Berra.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Survivors

I don't usually watch Larry King, but tonight I caught his show. His guests were "Lucky to be Alive". They were all unlikely survivors of lightning strikes, falls, shootings and sharks.

One woman was skydiving from 10,000 ft. She had a planned freefall for 5,000 ft, then her first parachute failed. If she had been more experienced it would not have been too much of a problem, but she wasn't. She tried the second chute, but it too failed. She landed face first on asphalt, broke many bones in her face and her pelvis. She's doing quite well now, but still needs reconstructive surgery on her face. The biggest miracle is that she was two weeks pregnant at the time, and is now the mother of a very healthy boy.

Another woman was struck by lightning and spent five days in a coma. At the time of the strike, her mother gave her cpr which probably kept her alive. She had to relearn everything and is still in a wheelchair. The doctors can't tell her how much further she will progress since they don't see many survivors of lightning.

Another survivor was a lawyer who was shot five times at point blank. His assailant hit him in the arm and neck. His only protection was a small tree that he tried to hide behind. Fortunately for him, the shooter missed major arteries and his spinal column.

The last survivor was a surfer who was attacked by a great white who kept circling him waiting for him to bleed to death. The shark took such massive bites that he required 700 stitches. He was saved by a pod of dolphins who swam between him and the shark until rescuers could reach him.

Their stories give hope to Alcides Moreno the window washer who fell from the roof of a 47 story high rise. As of Monday, he was still in critical condition. It's believed that he stayed on the scaffold which acted like a surfboard in the sky and slowed his descent.

There are still miracles.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Misplaced Food

Yesterday I had a small party at my home. I thought I had everything organized and under control.


I'm a very independent person and rarely accept help from my guests. I did make an exception yesterday and let someone put food on the table while I grated the cheese. Everything went well and I even accepted help clearing the table after dinner.


This morning while I was cleaning up and putting things away in my utensil drawer, I discovered a block of cheese. Evidently, when I finished grating the cheese, I put it back in the storage bag and put it in the drawer instead of the refrigerator. I guess I cot confused while I was telling people what to do. I've heard of other people putting food in strange places when they were distracted, but this is the first time I've ever done this.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Memory

Lately, I've been forgetting things, nothing important, but it is annoying. Last week I bought a toy for a toy drive and put it in my room so it would be out of the way. When I looked for it to bring to the drive, I couldn't find it. I searched all over the house, in closets, in drawers, all to no avail. Last night when I was putting laundry away, I found it in the laundry basket. I never thought to look there.

I've also hidden cookies so that I wouldn't eat them and then forgot where I hid them, resulting in a wild search when the urge to eat came on.

Today was the worst though. I'm having company tomorrow and baked a cake. I have a lovely Christmas cake plate that obviously I only use once a year and I thought it would be perfect for tomorrow. Again, I looked in all the closets and drawers I could think of. I don't know where it is, and had to settle for a different, although as nice, plate.

I'm not concerned that I'm having "senior moments", I just think that my brain is like a hard drive and I have to delete some memory, or back it up on some paper list. I'll probably find that cake plate in July.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Weather

Yesterday was the last day of my three part lecture series on "The Language of Music". It was very interesting. We learned about the way other cultures have influenced our music. I enjoyed the series and the people I met. They are people I would like as friends and hope I see them at future lectures.

My original plan was to wander down Fifth Avenue and check out all the windows and maybe even go to Rockefeller Center to see the tree. What visit to Fifth Avenue would be complete without a stop at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Unfortunately, it began to sleet. As soon as I left the museum I started sliding on the sidewalk and realized it would not be a good idea to walk around the City.

There's another storm forecast for this weekend. That makes three snow/sleet storms so far and it's not even officially winter. Does this mean we're in for a snowy winter? I hope so, as long as we don't have storms when I have plans. How can I control the weather?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dick Wilson

Dick Wilson died a couple of weeks ago. This past week I've been seeing a commercial paying tribute to this relatively unknown man. Many people knew him, few people really knew him, or even knew that his real name was Dick Wilson.

We all knew him as Mr. Whipple and Charmin has been running a commercial as a memorial to him. I think this is a very nice touch. Remember, "Please don't squeeze the Charmin"?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Strange News

Even though we're in the midst of the Christmas season, there is still some strange news out there.

In South Dakota, a woman just wanted to relax in her backyard hot tub. Suddenly she saw a big, tan, hairy body. She didn't realize what it was until it took a leap and jumped up on the side of the hot tub. Fortunately, the cougar didn't like hot water and retreated. The woman said that now she knows what a goldfish feels like when the cat is staring in its bowl.

A Swiss man drove to Indonesia. He started his trip in July and drove through more than 15 countries before arriving in Bali last week. Solar panels on a trailer connected to his car feed electricity to a battery so he was able to travel 62 miles per day and not use any gas.

Police in Greece gave a parrot a $600 parking ticket, but the bird's owner is taking authorities to court. The local council says the perch is obstructing drivers because it partially blocks a metered parking space. The owner argues that the bird will die if it has to move indoors.

Talk about the big bang. In Australia an explosion tore through a fireworks factory. The building was destroyed and the flames were seen for miles, but fortunately no one was hurt.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Flowering Plants

About a year and a half ago when I drove cross country my son gave me several cuttings from one of his plants. I don't know the name of the plant, but it roots very quickly, in fact it had begun forming roots before I got home.

The plant thrived and soon I was taking cuttings and making more plants. I even took one to a friend who had invited me to dinner. That was about six months ago. She has been cutting it down and replanting the cuttings. The other day she called to gloat. Her plant is beginning to flower. Today, she called to say that she has over 25 buds.

My plants are still growing well, but, there are no flowers.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Radio

For the past two and a half years my morning radio was tuned to the Curtis & Kuby show on ABC. Now they have given that spot to Don Imus, even though the Curtis & Kuby show was among the top ranked morning radio programs.

The exchanges between Curtis and Ron Kuby were often entertaining and when Warner Wolfe joined the group, it only got better. Curtis Sliwa is still on ABC, but for only one hour - 5:00 am to 6:00 am, I'm rarely up that early.

On the last day of the regular show, Curtis showed a lot of class. He said that even though his show was highly ranked, that's the nature of the business, sometimes you're cancelled for no other reason than management wants a change of face. He even corrected a caller who said she would no longer listen to ABC. He reminded her of the other talented and intelligent broadcasters. I still haven't tuned into Imus, there's something about him that I don't like and haven't liked for many years.

I do miss Curtis Sliwa and his butchering of the English language, I'm sure a person of his caliber will not be off the air for long.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Museum Wanderings

Today was the second of the lecture series on "The Language of Music". My new best friends were there again. Today there was a discussion of the various codes the composers wrote into their works. Some musicologists have found certain combination of notes to mean certain things. After this series, I realize there is so much I don't know about music. I just want to go out and buy a bunch of cd's and sit and listen for the nuances and moods.

After the lecture, I wandered around the museum. There is an exhibit on Roman and Greco statuary and artifacts. The statues are magnificent and the pottery is just beautiful. I didn't realize that the Romans also used sarcophagi to bury their dead. I just thought it was only the Egyptians, I guess I never thought much about it.

Every time I see the sculpture and building that are over 2000 years old I'm amazed. This work that has survived all those years was done without benefit of power tools. What artists those early sculptors and builders were.

I also saw the Angel Tree. That too is beautiful. I'm definitely going to be spending more time visiting the museums and just wandering around the City. I saw some buildings that piqued my curiosity about their origins.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas Season Part IV

Tonight we had a Holiday Concert given by a local chorus group. This was followed by a sing-along. While we singing "I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus", I remembered the time I actually saw Santa Claus.

I guess I was about five years old and, like all five year olds on Christmas Eve, I had trouble sleeping. At one point I woke up and saw the shadow of a man leaving my parents' bedroom and he was carrying a large bag. I quickly shut my eyes and pretended to be asleep because I was afraid Santa would know I was awake and he'd leave without leaving any presents. From that night on I was convinced that the chimney for our home was in my parents' closet. The next morning, when I realized that Santa didn't know I was awake I was so excited. I told everyone I knew that I actually saw Santa.

A few years later I realized that I really had seen my father setting everything up for us. But for a little while it was magic.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Christmas Season, Part III

Part II was actually yesterday, but I didn't realize it.

In years past there was the usual problem with the lights. I could never understand why a set of perfectly working lights was put neatly away, but the following Christmas it was a tangled mass of sporadically working lights. Fortunately, I haven't had that problem lately, I guess the tangled lights fairy didn't follow me to my new home.

I now have another problem. Last year I had five round tables, each with a tablecloth, some plain, some Christmasy. This year when I took my decorations out I could only find one white tablecloth. I guess the tablecloth fairy took them. I went out and bought some new ones, so if the old ones suddenly appear I'll have a variety.

That seems to be my new philosophy. If it breaks or disappears (even temporarily) replace it.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Christmas Season

Last year at Christmas we had no decorations in our Clubhouse. Because the powers that be didn't want to offend anyone, they decided not to celebrate the holidays and so they offended everyone. There were many complaints and a survey was conducted this Spring to see what, if any, decorations would be welcome.

Tonight we had the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas Tree and Menorah. We also have a beautiful creche and Kwanza decorations. We have a beautiful tree, probably 10 feet tall and it's decorated with white ornaments. We have white poinsettias and some real pine on tables. It's very festive.

I guess what this proves is that it is possible to satisfy everyone by including all holidays - Christmas, Hannukah and Kwanza.

I was quite surprised at the turnout for the lighting. The weather here has been rainy and cold all day, I thought most people would want to stay nice and warm and dry in their own homes, but I was wrong. For once, I'm glad to be wrong.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Christmas Season

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

I'm having the Christmas season I've always wanted. I have something to do every day, there are all kinds of activities going on in my community. Now, I'm starting to feel overwhelmed. There almost seems to be no time to sit back and relax and the cats are following me all around the house because they never see me anymore.

I'm not complaining, but I'm not used to being this social. I know everything will get done and I'll have a wonderful Christmas, but sometimes...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Adventures in the City

Today I went into the City for the first of three lectures on the language of music at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I got there very early so I decided to walk from the Port Authority to the museum at 82nd & 5th. The last five blocks were very rough.

The lecture was very good. I learned a few things. I hadn't known that Mozart had a father - who was a composer also. His name was Leopold.

While I was waiting for the lecture to begin I started talking with two other women who were waiting for their friends. We had a great time and all agreed there's no place like NEW YORK. When her friend got there, one of the women said she would like to introduce her friend to her new best friends, but didn't know our names. I thought that was so cute.

When the lecture was over I wandered around the museum for a little while, but my long walk caught up with me. Hopefully next week I'll be smarter and take the subway to the museum so I can enjoy all the exhibits. The few that I saw were very impressive.

I'm looking forward to next week.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Preventing Identity Theft

I recently changed banks and opened a new checking account. Today I received my checks.

I was very impressed with the way they were mailed. They came in a plain plastic envelope that just stated that this was my order. Inside there were four new checkbooks, a book for listing deposits and withdrawals and a collapsed storage box. There was no indication that my checks were enclosed.

I guess this is one way to prevent identity theft.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Adventures

This morning on Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer interview a couple who were on their honeymoon on the Explorer, the cruise ship that sank near Antarctica. This cruise had been advertised as, "The trip of a lifetime". It certainly was.

But that's not the whole of the story. It seems that just before this couple left on their honeymoon cruise their home was threatened by the fires in California. One of their stops was Costa Rica. There they had to be evacuated because of a hurricane.

Let's hope that since bad things happen in three's, their problems are over and that this is not an omen of things to come.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Old Friends

A while ago I wrote about finding and reuniting with old school friends through Classmates.com. I also got in touch with a friend from my first job ages and ages ago.


She recently wrote me about another friend from that job. It seems that she was playing around with Google and checked on Grace Brophy. I've also reconnected with Grace and found that she had written a book, a mystery called, "The Last Enemy". This book is set in Italy and features Commissario Cenni. It's a good story and the descriptions of Italy make you feel like you're there. I've just gotten word that Grace has written another Commissario Cenni book titled, "A Deadly Paradise". It won't be released until May 2008 and I'm really looking forward to reading it.

It's so good to reconnect with old friends and to find out how well they're doing. That first job was great. It was a small company, Buell Engineering Co., and we were like a family. We all cared about each other and were very disappointed when the company moved to Pennsylvania and we all had to go our separate ways. I'm so glad I've kept in touch with some and reconnected with others.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Decorating

Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming! Those are among my favorite words. Christmas is by far my favorite holiday.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I planned on starting my decorating on Friday morning. Before I could start decorating, I realized that I needed some frames for the pictures from my recent geographical studies trip that I was going to print. I stopped any thought of decorating and went to the store for frames, then I saw some garlands and candle rings. When I got home I was too tired to go through the boxes and put the lights in the windows. I decided to do it on Saturday.

On Saturday I got up full of energy and dressed warmly because I had to go into the garage. I started over to the boxes of lights, garlands, flowers. Then I realized that Tuesday is our bulk collection day and I have a few things to put out. So, I gathered the boxes and other items to be thrown out and rearranged a few things in the garage. I even found a few sweaters I had forgotten I had. They had to be put in the closet.

I finally got to the Christmas stuff, pulled out some lights. Of course, as it happens every year, one set doesn't work. Then I decided I couldn't put the lights on dirty windows with dirty curtains, so they had to be washed.

Eventually, the lights were put on two windows and some flowers were taken out of the garage but not arranged.

I still haven't done much decorating, there's always tomorrow. I'm beginning to think I have ADD (attention deficit disorder). At least I hope that's the problem and that I'm not that disorganized or scatterbrained that I can't finish one project before going on to another.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Today I had a Thanksgiving that most people would consider unthinkable. I was on my own, just me and the cats.

I'm not the kind of woman who doesn't like to cook for herself, so I planned a nice chicken dinner. Instead of mashed potatoes I made mashed sweet potatoes which were very good. Since I was the only one eating, I decided to experiment; I made cauliflower with cheese sauce. The sauce was very tasty, but more like soup than sauce. By the time I had everything done, and on my plate I realized I had forgotten the cranberry sauce and stuffing. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

I tried sharing my chicken with the cats, but they wanted no part of it.

There are advantages in being on ones own. I can make anything I want, even experiment with not so traditional dishes. I can make whatever dessert I want and I don't have to share. There are also disadvantages. I can indulge myself and make my favorites, I don't have to share my dessert.

It's not the best way to celebrate a holiday, but it's also not the worst. I started the day with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (it was better on CBS than on NBC), I didn't have to watch any football and I don't have too many dishes to wash.

I'm not going to sit around feeling sorry for myself so I made myself a good dinner and a great apple pie with fresh apples and Pillsbury pie crust (I have trouble making crusts).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Decisions

I was so proud of myself. I started Christmas shopping last week when I ordered several items on line. They were delivered today.

There was one item that I thought was the perfect gift for someone. Then I opened it and started really looking at it. I can't give this away. I like it too much.

Now, I have a decision to make. I'm definitely keeping the gift, but do I order another one, or do I find something else. 'Tis a puzzlement.

Life is full of decisions.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Weird News

It's time for more weird news.

An orange and white cat was reported missing from his New Jersey home at the end of October. He was found more than two weeks later in Georgia. It seems that he may have hitched a ride on a moving van and traveled about 800 miles before he was trapped outdoors, brought to an animal shelter and identified by a microchip scan.

A mass wedding in Malasia was scrapped after an imam and state religious official came to blows. The official said the ceremony wasn't properly sanctioned and tried to stop it. The imam reacted by trying to choke the official. Maybe both men should have forever held their peace.

Some 20 Afghan girls are hoping to make history by putting together their country's first women's boxing team. Many people are trying to stop them from participating in sports by saying it is not good for women. They feel sports, particularly boxing, is a way out of violence for Afghanistan.

Eight cows broke free from a truck when the driver pulled into the parking lot of a McDonald's in Utah. Apparently they saw their future and didn't like it. It took two hours to round up the cows in what police dubbed "Operation Hamburger Helper."

Finally, there is a cat in England who walks away from his home every night and then waits at the exact same spot 1 1/2 miles away to be picked up by his owner the next morning on her way home after dropping her son off at school.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Medical Problems

Today, while I was filling my trash bag for the day I turned on the TV. I didn't want to watch sports or political or news shows, so I tuned in The Learning Channel. They were doing a marathon of Mystery Diagnosis, not to be confused with Diagnosis Murder with Dick VanDyke.

There are so many rare diseases out there. I watched for five hours and they covered three illnesses each hour. I felt badly for the people who suffered for years before they were diagnosed. There were even some doctors who hinted that the problems were psychological. That must be so frustrating.

After watching for so long, I realized that I don't have any hypochondriacal tendencies, if I did I'd be in some emergency room with severe pain, dizziness, eye problems, stomach problems, etc. I'm also very thankful that I don't have any of those symptoms.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Clutter

For the last two days I've been watching Oprah. Her program was a two part series on The Secret Lives of Hoarders. She showed a house, that was later revealed as having 11 rooms, that was filled with stuff. There was no clear spot to sit, or even lay down.

Over the course of the attempt at organization it was revealed that all that clutter resulted in mold, mice and other things. The woman of the house accumulated 75 tons of stuff, craft supplies, gifts, clothes. Eventually the house was cleared out and the woman received some psychological help.

It's frightening how this situation got out of hand. It's not as if it happened overnight, it's a gradual process and once the mess starts building, it becomes overwhelming. Instead of your owning your stuff, your stuff owns you.

I started looking around my own home. I'm not that bad, yet, but I can see how it can happen. We all have that supply of gifts, in case we need one. We load up on sales because it's a bargain. Tomorrow, I'm going to check out my garage, there must be something I can get rid of. The solution seems to be to keep on top of the clutter. Fill a trash bag a day, at the end of the week you have seven bags. And, the hardest part of all - stop shopping. I'm going to try because I don't want to end up like the Collier brothers.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cats

Today I decided to reorganize some of my dresser drawers. Since it was the bottom drawer, I took it out and worked on it elsewhere. I looked around and saw Burnie go into the spot for the drawer, then he disappeared. I opened the door next to that drawer and found him sitting comfortably in another drawer. I decided to take some pictures. The first picture shows the original space. The second picture shows his tail and the third shows him in the other drawer.

I just never know where he'll go next.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Planning

The other day I noticed that the local mall's light poles have been decorated for Christmas, then a friend mentioned that she had started baking cookies. I thought this was all premature. Christmas is a long way off, then I looked at my calendar. There are less than six weeks to Christmas.

Since Thanksgiving is early this year, I thought I'd have a lot of time to make my plans. Now I realize that I don't. There's a lot to do. I have to decide whether or not I'll have my usual family Christmas party, then I have to plan a menu and clean. I also have to decorate and send cards. I usually start planning for Christmas around Halloween, but this year I lost track of time.

I guess that's what happens when you go away on vacation (or as I now call it, "geographical studies") in November. No matter how hectic it seems, I know I'll get everything done on time, and I'll enjoy every minute.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sheep

On my recent trip, we made a stop in Barbados where I took a tour of the island that included a stop at Park's Farm which is a working farm that raises the Barbados black belly sheep. These sheep are thought to have been imported from Africa by early British settlers.

They are different from the sheep we're used to seeing. Besides their color, which includes a black belly, they produce no wool. It took me a while to realize that they could not survive the climate in Barbados if they had wool. Instead, they have hair, coarse hair and are raised as a food source. There were several young sheep, we even got to pet a four week old. They are so cute and could easily be confused with goats. The difference is that goats have horns and beards and the sheep have none.


After seeing them, and touching them, I don't think I'll be ordering lamb chops anytime soon.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Vacations

I'm home from my latest trip, a Caribbean cruise. It was wonderful, but now I'm faced with the most unpleasant task of any trip - unpacking. I've finally figured out why I hate unpacking so much. Once everything is put back in its place and the luggage stored, the realization hits that the vacation is really over.

On my first night home, I woke in the middle of the night and tried to remember where I was. My first thought was that I was still in Seattle which was my August trip, then I thought I was still on the ship. It took me quite a while to realize I was back home in my own bed. My next problem was trying to figure out the day.

It was a wonderful trip, I saw a lot. I even saw some animals, they weren't wild, but they were animals. Now it's time to think about my next trip.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Beautiful Sight

Yesterday, while reading my bookat sea, I happened to look up and out the window and saw this huge and beautiful rainbow. I've never seen one so big.

It ended in the water so I couldn't see if there was a pot of gold at the end. Maybe Poseidon has already claimed it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Slot Machines

I've just come from the casino where I made my nightly contribution. I did come very close to a big win, I think as close as I'll ever come. The woman on the machine next to me won about 4200 quarters, or $1050. Good for her, I was beginning to doubt those machines ever paid off.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Vacation

Here I am on yet another vacation. I'm cruising on the Queen Mary 2 from Barbados to St. Lucia right now. It's been a fun trip so far and even though we passed Noel, we didn't have too rough a trip.

I don't know what I was thinking when I decided to take this trip. I thought it wouldn't be too warm since it's November, I was so wrong. The temperatures have been in the high 80's. Thank God for air conditioning.

Today I saw black bellied sheep and even petted a 4 week old baby. They look very much like goats, except they have no beard and a longer tail. They don't have wool like other sheep. They couldn't survive the heat if they did.

I'm using the ship's computer and it made me realize how great is the internet. Here I am in the middle of the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean and I can still communicate with my friends.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Weird but True

It's time for some more weird news.

The Malaysian Health Ministry Secretary has advised senior citizens to take up video games as a way to help fend off Alzheimer's disease. He said that senior citizens should engage in mental activities by using the Play Station 3 or some other computer or video games as a way to keep alert. Anyone for Letter Linker or Free Cell or Bounce Out?

Dozens of robots took to an indoor field in Tokyo and played soccer at the "Robot Athletic Meet 2007" recently. It's only a matter of time before they catch up with humans and outrun us. They're going to take us over, hide the batteries.

A team of mountaineers built a Jacuzzi at the summit of Mount Blanc. They rigged a wood-burning fire to melt the ice and heat the makeshift spa. One of the climbers said it was freezing working against the wind, but they got to enjoy it in the end. They had champagne at 15,000 feet.

Here's a great Christmas gift. A jewelry store in China has created the ultimate in lingerie - a two piece set made entirely of gold. It took a team of four goldsmiths four months to make the intricate bra and undies . The owner of the store said it's for demonstration, not sale.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Pleasant Surprise

I'm getting ready for another trip. I can't call it another vacation because I'm retired and every day is a vacation. But I digress.

I was checking out a pocketbook I took on my last trip and looking into all the various pockets. For some reason I don't understand I left quite a bit of money in it. It was quite a surprise. It's better than putting your winter coat away and leaving $5 in one of the pockets, then finding it again the next year. I often try to do that with my pocketbooks, but I didn't think I did it this time.

Now I have a little extra cash for my next trip.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Media Interference

This week most of us have heard the story of Lt. Michael Murphy who was awarded our country's Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously. His story has been told by Marcus Luttrell a Navy SEAL who served with Lt. Murphy in Afganistan.


In the early part of their mission in 2005 they came upon three Afgani goatherders. These goatherders were not at all friendly to the Americans. The members of Lt. Murphy's team took a vote to decide whether or not to release the goatherders or do the militarily wise thing and kill them as possible enemies. Marcus Luttrell was the deciding vote to release the goatherders. Mr. Luttrell said in his book LONG SURVIVOR that he voted for release because he could envision that the headlines in the United States papers would say that we were killing civilians without even knowing the circumstances. And he regrets it to this day. We don't know for sure that the released goatherders let the Taliban know where the Americans were, but it is possible.


We also learned recently that when three U.S. soldiers were kidnapped the efforts to start a rescue mission were stalled for nearly 10 hours while lawyers discussed the legal grounds for wiretapping the suspects. Under recent interpretations, fourth amendment rights against unlawful government searches of American citizens were extended to foreigners, including suspected terrorists, because the copper wires and fiber optics that carry their conversations and e-mail traffic go through major hubs in the United States.


It's a shame that our military cannot do their jobs without worrying about what the press will say.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Mom

There's a very good video on You Tube. Anita Renfroe is a very clever writer and mom. This says it all.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6P2w5GkXmU

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Old Friends

Today I went back to New York for lunch with two friends from school. What started out as lunch ended up as a full day of gabbing and laughing. I'm so glad I've been able to reconnect with my classmates. We all get along so well, it's hard to believe we hadn't been in contact for such a long time. I'm looking forward to the next time we can get together for some more laughs and reminiscences.

Old friends are the best friends.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Success

Well, the luncheon is over and I must modestly say it was a success. Everything came together at the right time and my committee all cooperated. Of course, I was my usual self and doing as much as I could on my own.

On my way to pick up the food, all I could think of was that the food would not be ready, they cancelled my order, etc. Fortunately the caterer was very professional and everything was ready as promised.

In spite of all my worries, it felt great to be in charge of an event again. It brought back all my memories of planning annual meetings, ski meetings, golf outings, etc. I felt like I was back at work again. It felt wonderful, but I wouldn't want to go back to the old 9-5 routine again. Being retired is great, but maybe I could have a second career as a party planner.

Now that this event is behind me I can start finalizing my plans for my vacation next week. Ah! It's good to be retired.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Discovery

Tomorrow night, our Singles Club will have elections for the coming year. I'm so happy. My term as president is over. It's been a wonderful experience, but also, a lot of work. Do you know how hard it is to get 30 women to stop talking?

It's also been a year of self-discovery. I've been president of other organizations and held other positions as well. I now realize that although I like running the show, I'm actually a better worker than a leader. It all goes back to my inability to delegate. Somewhere in my mind I have the opinion that no one can do a job as well as I can, so I wind up taking over. I guess they call that "micro-managing".

I'm still going to be an officer, but now I'll be treasurer. It will be so much easier working with numbers, especially when those numbers mean money.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

AS TIME GOES BY

About two years ago I started watching a British sitcom called AS TIME GOES BY. It's the story of Jean, a nurse played by Judi Dench, and Lionel, a soldier played by Geoffrey Palmer, who were lovers during the Korean War and were separated when letters were lost.

They meet again 50 years later when Lionel hires a temporary secretary from Jean's agency. Since I started watching in the middle of this series, I've always been curious about their meeting and rekindling of their relationship. Now, PBS has started reruns of this series from the beginning.

This week's show has them returning to a town near the army camp where they first met. Of course, after 50 years everything has changed and the people they meet are all much younger than they. They finally find an inn where they had dinner and then spent the night. Lionel suggests that they spend the night and arranges for a room. Jean, however, doesn't think the time is right, so they each go their respective homes.

There are no obvious jokes, but I find myself laughing at the situations and comments. The characters are very interesting and very British. What I found so refreshing about this show is that Jean and Lionel did not immediately jump into bed after their first date, although you can see that the feeling is still there.

I look forward to that show every week.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Joe Torre

The big news around here today was the fact that Joe Torre told the Yankees and George Steinbrenner that he wasn't interested in the contract they offered. I don't really blame him, there were a lot of strings attached to a one year contract. Even with a contract, there's no guarantee that Steinbrenner won't get up one day and decide to fire Joe, and then a few days later decide to rehire him.

For 12 years, Joe Torre was a great manager. The Yankees seemed to always be in the playoffs. What I found surprising was the amount of people, even some players, who seemed to be on his side. I guess for a lot of people, he's the only Yankee manager they've known.

He is a native New Yorker, his family is here. His sister was the principal of a school in the Woodhaven/Ozone Park area.

I wish him lots of luck in whatever he chooses to do.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Planning & Delegating

Our group is planning a luncheon and games afternoon for about 70 people. It was my bright idea to chair the event. It should be an easy thing to do, but I have a problem with delegating. Usually, I feel that I have to do everything.

I'm having a final meeting tomorrow morning and I thought everything was ready. Then I pulled the file that was supposed to have my agenda. I even delegated some jobs for everyone along with the times for them to come. I found the file, but the agenda was gone. I remember typing it, but I must have forgotten to save it. I had to re-type it and plan everyone's jobs and schedule.

I hope this isn't an omen and that everything goes well next week. They say, "Pride goes before a fall", I hope I don't fail with this luncheon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Community Meetings

I just got back from a meeting of our community association where we got a first look at the proposed budget for 2008. Of course, our maintenance will be going up and of course, there were complaints about amounts budgeted.

Some of the people proposed that we had too much in the budget for snow removal and for a lifestyle administrator. If we eliminated these expenses, our maintenance would be reduced by the large sum of $5.00. What they don't consider is that if we have a hard winter, next year we would be hit with a large bill to cover those expenses.

I also think some people just want to hear themselves talk. One question was clearly answered and someone asked it again.

I never stayed to the end, it just got too boring.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Homes

I have got to stop watching House Hunters. That's one of my favorite shows, but it's making me dissatisfied with my present home.

Some of the homes they show are just beautiful, and in some parts of the country, homes twice the size of mine cost the same as mine and the taxes are much lower. Those are the times I look around and see that my kitchen should be twice its size and have at least two times as many cabinets. I would love to have a walk-in pantry instead of my small one.

I also see those homes on large lots, not the small one I have. I'm so close to my neighbors that I have to have curtains or blinds on my windows for some privacy. The best part of my home in upstate NY was the yard and the visiting family of deer. There were five of them at times.

I really have a nice home, and the best part of the community is the clubhouse and activities available to me. I've made a lot of friends and am very involved here, but....

Maybe someday I'll move to a bigger house on one to two acres that are visited by wildlife. Until then, I'll just sit back and enjoy my home and my friends.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Knives

Yesterday I went to the local mall. I drove there more cautiously than I have ever driven. When I got there, I went straight to Sur La Table without stopping at any of the other stores. The reason for my caution? In October, Sur La Table will sharpen two knives for free. I had a 12"kitchen knife in my pocketbook.

On the drive to the mall, I kept wondering what would happen if I were pulled over for a traffic infraction and the knife fell out of my bag. How would I explain it? I got to chatting with the saleswoman at the store and told her how I felt. She said I wasn't alone, most people take great pains to hide the knives. There was one exception though. She said there was a man who held his knife up against his chest in clear view and kept saying, "I'm going to Sur La Table, I'm going to Sur La Table, ..." while walking through the mall. We agreed behavior like that wouldn't be so reassuring and it's better to hide the knife.

At least when I pick it up tomorrow, it will be wrapped in the store's paper and bag. And the knife will be just like new.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A New York Experience

There are some things or people you don't give up just because you move from a neighborhood. One of those is my hairdresser. She does a wonderful job on both the cut and the color.

I always feel like I'm going to confession when I say it's been six weeks or two months since my last cut. Today it was two months so I drove up to Queens. While I was sitting there getting my touch up, the smoke alarm went off. While one of the hairdressers tried to stop the constant ringing of the alarm, the rest of us just kept doing what we were doing. I was concerned that the alarm might be wired into the fire station and I might have to evacuate the place with my hair half done. Fortunately, that didn't happen, and there was no fire.

The alarm finally stopped, but I was remined that that was typical New York. One time I was in a movie theater with a friend when we saw firemen coming down the aisle. No one wanted to leave until the movie was over, only one person left her seat and that was because the sprinkler went off and she got wet. My friend even suggested that we leave by the door that was nearest the firemen because she likes men in uniform.

We don't get upset by these alarms. We're so used to them from cars, fire engines, police cars, ambulances, we don't even notice, except to get annoyed by the noise. I'm sure, if there had been smoke or flames, we would have left (I think).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

CRICKETS, PART II

Yesterday I heard another cricket, this time in the garage. It's beginning to look like an invasion.


Tonight, I noticed that Crash and Burn weren't hovering around me like they usually do. I went looking for them and found them in the kitchen around the stove. It seems the kitchen cricket ventured out of his hiding place, probably to look for food. Both cats were fascinated, they were just watching the cricket. It was left to me to get several paper towels, pick up the cricket, run it under water and throw it out.


I always thought that cats were natural hunters, I think these two are the exceptions. They even seem annoyed that I took their "friend" away from them.


In case you're keeping score on the cricket hunt, it's Cats 0, Mom 2.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Shrinking Deficit

According to today's WALL STREET JOURNAL, our economy is doing very well. Since 2004, deficit spending has fallen by $251 billion, one of the most rapid three year declines in our history. The deficit as a share of the economy is down to 1.2%, about half the average of the last 50 years.

The IRS received a record $2.568 trillion in taxes in 2007, or 6.7% more than in 2006. Federal receipts have climbed by $785 billion since the 2003 investment tax cuts. Also, in fiscal 2007 the growth in federal spending was slower.

Unfortunately, this may not last. Congress is already planning to spend $35 billion in expanding the children's health program, $286 billion on a five-year farm bill, $23 billion in water projects and $22 billion in non-defense discretionary spending.

The best lesson here is that the best antidote for deficits is faster growth, not tax increases. The budget deficit has declined quicker in this decade after the Bush tax cuts than it did in the 1990's under the Clinton tax increases.

To quote Larry Kudlow, our economy is "The Greatest Story Never Told", and I thank him for trying to get the word out.

Monday, October 8, 2007

An Obituary

Today, while paging through our local paper, I did something I rarely do. I saw an obituary that was two columns long. I just had to read it.

Mary Alene Tilley Haithcock was 101 when she died at her own home. She was born and raised on a farm in North Carolina where she had no running water. She had to walk down to the nearest creek to draw water, she had no indoor plumbing, all cooking was done from scratch. Walking for miles was the norm and sunlight, candlelight and kerosene were the only source of light that she worked and read by. Her only food was what was raised or grown on the farm. Clothes were handmade. She witnessed the first radios, automobiles, airplanes and all the other firsts that we now take for granted.

At the age of 100, she converted to the Roman Catholic Faith. She raised three children, one of whom became a professor of English and another founded Madonna House which helps poor and needy children. She was know for her poetry, music, flower gardens and artistic abilities.

She had a long and wonderful life. I don't know this woman or her family, but I wish I had, She seemed like a warm, loving and optimistic person.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Crickets

Earlier this summer I had a cricket in the house. He was somewhere in my kitchen, around the stove. After about two days, he ventured out of hiding and Crash, the great hunter that she is, meowed gently and stared at it until I picked it up and disposed of it.

Now, there's another one. About three weeks ago I heard his clicking, it's very annoying and very loud. Again he was hiding around the stove. His clicking stopped after a few days and I was relieved and felt that he probably died. Then it started up again, stronger than ever. Every few days it gets strong, then a couple of days later, it gets weak. Now, it's getting very weak, hopefully it will find its way out, or die. I just hope it's only one cricket and not a family.

I've heard that in some cultures, having a cricket in the house is good luck. This is the kind of luck I can do without.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Insecurities

The past two night I've had dinner with friends. They are all very friendly, nice, sociable and accomplished people.

Some of us though share a problem. We're reluctant to make the first move to invite someone for dinner or lunch, or even a shopping trip. We've all kept this pretty much to ourselves, but for some reason, this week we've decided to share.

I have this problem too. I just assume that when I extend an invitation, the answer will be, "No". The other day I invited someone to dinner. When she said she couldn't make it on the day I suggested, I changed the day to suit her schedule.

What is wrong with us, why are we so insecure. You'd think that once you've been in this world for 50+ years, you would have enough self-confidence to go ahead and invite people and expect that they will say, "Yes, I'd be delighted to join you".

It's hard to make that phone call, but the reward is great.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Lately I've been watching reruns of WHO'S THE BOSS. I always thought it was a good fun show. I used to watch it often when it was originally on.

Tonight's show was one of the few I've missed. In it, Tony reminisces about his grandfather and the grandfather's dream to become an American citizen. Even though he had passed the written test, his swearing in had to be postponed because Tony had gotten into a little trouble. To make the story more interesting, the writers had the grandfather die before he could reschedule another time for swearing in. Of course, it all worked out in the end, Tony and Angela begged a judge to grant citizenship posthumously, which he did.

I started thinking about this. If this show were written today, would the grandfather have had such a dream to become an American, or would he have kept his native language and not encouraged his grandson to work hard and follow his dream and become somebody. It's so sad that so many immigrants want all that this country offers, but they don't want to become a part of it by learning our language, celebrating our holidays, and becoming citizens. I can't wait for the pendulum to swing back.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Fall Cleaning

It's that time of year again. Time to put the light clothes away and take out the heavier ones. While I was doing that this year, I finally accepted the fact that I won't be going back to work and therefore won't be needing my suits. I've been holding on to them for some reason, maybe because they reminded me that I really enjoyed working, I really don't know. They don't even fit anymore.

I managed to fill two garbage bags with some of my old work clothes. I also filled three shopping bags with clothes that are good enough to donate. And I still have a full closet.

I took all the boxes out of the closet, emptied the hangers and made a complete mess of my bedroom. That made me wonder why does an attempt to clean up always create a bigger mess. Now I have to reorganize all those boxes and put them back in the closet.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Cards

We've all heard the expression, "Not playing with a full deck". Well, tonight at my weekly canasta game, we did the opposite.

We use two decks of regular playing cards for canasta. Tonight, one of the players had four Jacks, then I put four Jacks down. A comment was made that now all the Jacks were out and it would be hard to get a canasta. Then the third player chimed in saying that all the Jacks were not out since she had two. After that hand was over, we had to check all the cards. Fortunately, the Jacks were the only cards that were extra. After that everything went well and we all had a good laugh.

In spite of our playing with a full+ deck, I won, actually I slaughtered them (she said modestly).

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Reconnections

A couple of months ago I received an e-mail from an old friend. We had reconnected through the internet.

We had met on our first job when we were very young. That company was small and we girls all knew each other and even went to dances and dinners together, all the while hoping to meet our future husbands. Barbara had been googling various names and found Grace who had a website. Barbara gave me the information and I followed up from my end.

Evidently, after our company moved out of state, Grace went back to school, got a degree and had a very busy and full life. She has even written a book, a mystery called, THE LAST ENEMY.

I just finished reading it and I enjoyed it very much. It is set in Italy and I imagine that anyone who has been to Italy would really enjoy it more. The descriptions of the town and homes make them real to the reader. It's a nice, easy read and the mystery is not solved until near the end.

I've been very lucky to be able to reconnect with old friends through the internet. It's been great finding out how we've all grown over the years along with all our accomplishments whether it's a loving family, a career or both.

Love, love, love that internet!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Missing Woman Found

The news about Tanya Rider was all over the radio and tv today.

She's the Washington State woman who left work eight days ago and never arrived home. Her husband reported her missing when she didn't arrive. The police in Bellevue WA checked her office and learned that she had gotten into her car and headed home which was out of their jurisdiction.

Her husband then went to the King County sheriff's office and asked them to search for her. Because she's an adult and free to come and go as she pleased, they were slow to start a search. In an interview today, her husband said that he asked the police to check her cell phone signal, he even offered the phone records without a warrant. It took a week before they decided to check for her cell phone signal.

Fortunately, the phone battery was still good and they were able to find and rescue her. She is in critical condition because of dehydration and the doctors are cautiously optimistic. Obviously, she is a very strong woman, both physically and mentally, and must have a very strong will to live. It's possible to survive for weeks without food, but eight days is a very long time to be without water.

I guess there are some lessons to be learned here. Make sure your cell phone is always fully charged, keep some water and snacks in the car and if someone you love is missing, keep pushing for a search.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The City

Today I went into the City. I was early for my appointment so I walked instead of taking the train from the Port Authority. It was wonderful. I haven't lost my knack for fast walking and dodging oncoming people. I also got a chance to cross against the light. It felt so good.

There's a certain excitement about the city. I passed all the theaters and all the street vendors. There were even some giving things away. In addition to the usual flyers, they were giving complimentary copies of the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS and the NEW YORK POST.

I was really surprised there weren't as many hot dog vendors and coffee carts as I was used to. Could the natives actually be sitting down to eat, and going into Starbucks for their coffee?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

To Exercise or not To Exercise

I just read the most wonderful article in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL today.

Gary Taubes has written an article in New York Magazine that says most studies on the link between swimming laps and losing weight demonstrate little except that exercising makes us hungry and may even lead to weight gain even though it does have many health benefits.

He said that until the 1960's most people dismissed the idea that exercise could help shed pounds because light exercise burns so few calories and vigorous workouts stoke hearty appetites. Jean Mayer claimed there was a link between sedentary lifestyles and being overweight. He promoted his message like a moral crusade the the media jumped on the bandwagon.

Mr. Taubes who was criticized in 2002 for an article on low-carbohydrate diets suggests that what determines how fat or lean a person is has more to do with the body's internal programming. He sees lean people as those whose bodies are programmed to send the calories they consume to the muscles to be burned rather than to the fat tissue to be stored.

I don't know how sound his theory is, but I like it. Now maybe I can guiltlessly sleep a little later in the morning instead of running to the gym or pool.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Columbia University

Now that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is here in the states, we have his address at Columbia University to look forward to. The dean of Columbia seems to think there will be a dialogue. That's not likely, it will probably be more of a monologue.

You have to wonder why a school that will not allow an ROTC program because of the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy toward gays would allow a representative of a country that persecutes gays to speak on campus.

Columbia University welcomes the leader of a nation that that has threatend to use nuclear weapons against us, but does not welcome the founder of the Minutemen to speak. Last year, Jim Gilchrist had been invited to speak to the students, but a group did not want to hear him and stormed the stage as he was about to speak. President Bollinger's reaction to this violation of Mr. Gilchrist's right to free speech was deafening silence.

As a peace offering the Columbia Political Union voted to ask Mr. Gilchrist back this year, but they then rescinded the invitation.

Columbia claims anyone would be welcome to speak. I agree that the president of Iran does have a right to speak, I just wish that Columbia would also give that right to pro Americans too.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

WHAT WAS HE THINKING

Several times over the past few days I've heard a tape of a broadcast on a New Haven, CT radio station on 9/11.


James Brolin, husband of Barbara Streisand, was on the phone for the purpose of plugging his new movie (I didn't know he was still working) when he was reminded of the date - 9/11. His reply was, "Happy 9/11". Needless to say the broadcaster was speechless, then Brolin added to his insensitivity by adding something about celebrating the day. The broadcaster reminded him there was no reason to celebrate, the day was commemorated, not celebrated, and tried to steer Brolin to a discussion of his new movie.


Is this man a moron, or was he making some kind of statement?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sitka

On my trip to Alaska I stopped in Sitka and saw the New Archangel Dancers. They are a group of women who wanted to preserve Sitka's Russian history by performing folk dances using authentic music, choreography and costumes.

When the group was originally formed, the women asked their husbands and other men of the town to join them. The men all refused to join, so the women went ahead with their plans and some of the women took the roles of the men.

The group was very successful, travelling throughout Alaska, the lower 48, Japan, Mexico, Canada and even Russia. The performance was very good and the ladies seemed to be enjoying themselves.

After a few years, when the men saw what a good time the women were having and how successful they were, they asked to join the group. This time it was the women's turn to say no. There are no men in the group.

New Archangel was the original name of the town known as Sitka.





On my trip to Alaska I stopped in Sitka and saw the New Archangel Dancers. They are a group of women who wanted to preserve Sitka's Russian history by performing folk dances using authentic music, choreography and costumes.


When the group was originally formed, the women asked their husbands and other men of the town to join them. The men all refused to join, so the women went ahead with their plans and some of the women took the role of the men.


The group was very successful, travelling throughout Alaska, the lower 48, Japan, Mexico, Canada and even Russia. The performance was very good, and the ladies seemed to be enjoying themselves.


After a few years when the men saw what a good time the women were having, they asked to join the group. This time, it was the women's turn to say no. There are no men in the group.


New Archangel was the original name of the town known as Sitka.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I was looking at some of my pictures from my recent vacation. I realized what a really great camera I have. I don't know any of the technical details, but I do know that I have a really fantastic zoom. The Hubbard Glacier looks so close, you'd think the ship was right next to it. It wasn't, we were quite far from the wall of the glacier and I was on the other side of the ship when I took these pictures. It also picked up the different colors of the water.








Tuesday, September 18, 2007

PRIVACY

I've been going through some old family papers and found a listing of my father's retirement benefits. He retired in 1968. This paper listed not only his benefits, but the benefits of four other retirees. It also listed in full their social security numbers.

How times have changed. Back in 1968 there were no worries about identify theft. Were we more honest then, or has technology made such things easier? There was no blacking out of the amounts due these people and their addresses along with their date of retirement and pension number. It was all there for anyone of these five people to see each of the other's personal data.

We didn't worry about privacy then, or that someone would use our social security number for their own unethical purposes. This is one time that they truly were "the good old days".

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fall

According to the calendar, summer ends this week. According to the outside temperature tonight, summer is over now. I'm not sorry to see it end.

I really enjoy the cool crisp air of autumn. It's even better now that I'm living in this community. I don't have to sweep the leaves anymore. I have more energy now, during the summer, it's usually too hot to do anything.

Now it's time to clean out the closet and get rid of all those clothes I'll never wear again. I just got rid of two suits I haven't worn since I retired three years ago. I can't believe how long I keep my clothes. I've promised myself that I'll weed out the old worn out clothes and not keep anything just because it was a great buy 15 years ago.

Until then, my closet will be crowded (the worst thing about the change of seasons) with clothes that are ready for fall and winter and lighter clothes that I might need in the next few weeks when I know it will get warm again.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

MALLOMARS

It's Mallomar season! I thought I'd bag a couple of boxes for myself yesterday. I just love those chocolate covered marshmallow cookies.

However, since I'm on another of my "diets", I decided to hide them to prevent temptation. My will power lasted all of 24 hours and today I decided to have one or two or more. My hiding place was excellent. I looked all over the kitchen but couldn't find them. Later in the day when I was getting something out of the freezer for dinner I found them. I had put them in the freezer so they would be safe from me. They weren't. They're very good frozen with a nice hot cup of coffee.

I wonder why they are not sold in the summer. Maybe they were first made before air conditioning and didn't travel well in the heat. Whatever the reason, keeping them for the first cool days makes them more of a treat.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Leonard the Goldfish

When I was in Seattle recently I saw a small group of people with placards. It looked like they were going to a demonstration. So of course I followed them.


Their cause is a campaign to put a goldfish in the Seattle Aquarium. According to the protestors, the aquarium doesn't think a goldfish would be a meaningful addition to their collection.


You can read about and see Leonard on his website http://www.letleonardin.com. It's very cute, he's just swimming around his little tank, you can even click on some papers that tell his story. He even has his own page on myspace.com. There are other websites devoted to Leonard and his plight. To find them, just Google leonard the goldfish.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Vacations & Cats

Here it is September and our Travel Committee has already planned our trips for 2008. There are so many good ones planned, I don't know which to do.


They're going to Ireland, the Mediterrean, Canada's Atlantic Coast and Washington DC. It's a full schedule. And, I want to do some travelling on my own. It's a tough decision to make.


The biggest problem I have with travelling with the community is that many of my friends also take these trips. Then I have to search for a cat sitter. While cats are fairly self-sufficient (they don't have to be walked), there aren't many people who are willing to do the job. I don't know if my regular cat sitter will be willing to take care of them again.

On my last vacation, Burnie hid on her for a couple of days. Her first thought was that although she was very careful, Burnie might have gotten out. Then, her next thought was that he had died somewhere in the house. Eventually, he came out of hiding as if nothing had happened. He's done that to me several times. He doesn't even come when he's called. I wonder if his hearing is OK.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

TV Remote

We're having a small problem in our community. The tv remotes are disappearing from our Fitness Center.


I was speaking with someone about this problem and I mentioned that I couldn't figure out how someone could innocently leave with a remote. She agreed, but then mentioned that some of the men are probably so used to having a remote in their hands that they don't realize it's there when they leave.


That's the only logical reason for the disappearance. Surely, no one would consciously steal a $10 remote, especially when the cost of replacing it will eventually be added to our monthly maintenance fees.

9/11

This morning while I was watching the commemoration ceremonies from the park near Ground Zero I was reminded of the horror of that day.

All the names of the dead were called and a few more were added. They were the people who died as a result of illness after their recovery and clean-up efforts. How many more will there be next year? I've also read that some contaminents escaped from the Deutsche Bank Building after the recent fire there.

The attacks lasted a few hours, but the fallout will probably last for years.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Cuisine

Last week when I was in Seattle I kept passing this restaurant that serves "aSian" food. I kept trying to figure out what kind of food that was. I thought I knew about the different types of cuisine out there. There's French, Spanish, Mexican, Thai, etc.

I kept repeating the name of the restaurant, Dragonfish, and then it finally dawned on me. They serve Asian food, but tried to be fancy with their sign.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Caller ID

Caller ID, while a convenience for some, has caused a lapse in phone manners. I don't have caller ID on the phone I usually answer. I've recently had a few calls where the caller just starts talking without any identification. I'm then left with trying to recognize the voice without letting the caller know I have no idea who they are.


I can understand close family members not identifying themselves, but I think other people should just say, "Hi, it's so and so", then get into the conversation. It's embarrassing to try to stall until I can identify the voice.

Or, maybe I should start using the other phone.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Cats

My vacation lasted two weeks and while I was away my neighbor took care of my cats. Even though I warned her that Burn likes to hide, she did get concerned when he was missing for two days. She even called another friend to help her look for him. As usual, he just walked into the room when he felt like it. I did discover his possible hiding place. I had left a small travel bag unzipped on the floor and the other day I saw him climb into it. He just loves boxes and hiding places.

Crash is now driving me crazy. She won't let me out of her sight. She follows me around the house. Maybe I should just walk around the house, she needs the exercise. I guess she's glad I'm home, or maybe she's just hungry.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Change of Season

Labor Day has just passed along with the unofficial end of summer. That means that we will soon be inundated with catalogs offering ghosts & goblins, autumn leaves, turkeys and, of course, Christmas trees and other decorations.

Because I get so many catalogs and hate to throw any out, I put off ordering, so my favorites are usually buried, not to be found until the end of January.

Winter and Christmas are my favorite seasons and I look forward to receiving all these catalogs for the various decorating ideas. But I'm still using my air conditioner. Even the stores are starting to show the winter items.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

TRAVEL

I love to travel. There are so many places to see, things to do and people to meet.

On my most recent trip, I saw glaciers, mountains, a rain forest, dog sled teams and Russian dancers. I met two very nice ladies from Washington and entered a trivia contest with a family from Ohio. It was wonderful and I wouldn't trade this vacation for anything.

One of my favorite parts of this vacation however occurred yesterday. I came home! It's wonderful to travel, but there's nothing like walking into your home and sleeping in your own bed. Unfortunately, there's a downside to coming home - unpacking. I usually put it off as long as possible, because that means the vacation is really over.

Time to start planning the next trip.

Monday, September 3, 2007

WILDLIFE

I've just returned from a seven day cruise vacation to Alaska. It was a wonderful trip, but my only disappointment was the lack of wildlife.


I saw several signs saying that it was bear country, but I saw no bears. I took a whale watching sail and saw a few whale sprays and whale tales, but no full sized whales. I saw a lot of eagles, probably because they were injured and could not fly away. The salmon were spawning so I saw a lot of dead salmon


I would really like to see some animals in the wild. Last year, I went to Yellowstone but saw only elk and deer, in the Canadian Rockies I saw elk and deer. Where do I have to go to see bear and wolves.

I suppose I could always take a trip to the Bronx Zoo.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

I'm back from Alaska, but still in Seattle. After speaking with several people on this trip and now knowing how to answer the first question everyone asks, "Where are you from?", I've decided that I am now and always be a New Yorker.

Several times I've answered, "New Jersey" (it just doesn't feel right), or "The New York Area" (too cumbersome) and once or twice "New York". The other night a couple answered that they were from New York, then they admitted that they have been living in Tennessee for the last five years.

Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker. It's who I am.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

ALASKA

Monday I had an Alaskan adventure. I visited a dog sled camp and had a ride in a vehicle pulled by a team of dogs. It was a short ride, but very exciting. We were in the woods on a narrow road. The musher was in back and gave commands to the lead dog.

The dogs work very hard. We also saw some puppies. Everyone else held a puppy, but I declined because dogs aren’t like cats, they don’t jump and land on their feet and I was afraid I would just drop him.

We also had a short presentation by Hugh Neff who finished 18th in the last Iditarod. When they are racing, the dogs consume 10,000 calories a day and wear booties to protect their feet from the ice and snow.

There have other adventures, a whale watch, Hubbard Glacier, Russian Dancers. There is not enough time to do everything and still write about it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

TRAFFIC LIGHTS & PIGEONS

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood! I took a walk this morning and noticed a huge difference between New Yorkers and Seattleites.



I'm from New York where crossing the street and dodging pigeons are olympic type events. In New York, the "Don't Walk" sign is merely a suggestion. Here it is a command. New Yorkers traditionally cross the street if there is at least 6" between them and the oncoming traffic. Here, the pedestrians dutifully wait until the light changes and we are allowed to walk. On earlier trips, I would ignore the signs and cross if nothing was coming until my son told me that the police issue tickets for jaywalking. Not wanting to get a ticket, I've changed my ways even if I do get antsy waiting for the light to change.



Now about the pigeons. I was enjoying myself watching the sand sculptors do their magic when I noticed that the pigeons were getting agitated because their space was being invaded by all those tourists. Knowing the habits of pigeons, I decided to leave the area very quickly so as to give them one less target.

Seattle

Today in Seattle, the sun was shining and according to the weather reports, it was raining back home.

I took a walk early in the day and saw that there are having a Sand Fest this weekend sponsored by Starbucks. There were a few artists making their sculptures. They were quite good. Here are a few samples.

It's hard to believe these were made of sand. The only problem now is hoping it doesn't rain before Saturday.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

VACATION

Here I am in Seattle, on my way to Alaska. I tried something different on this trip.

I flew First Class. It's another world. I had a delicious chicken dinner, salad and chocolate cake for dessert. I could also have anything I wanted to drink.

All this for $10.00 round trip.l All I had to do was cash in some miles. If only every trip was like this.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rule Breeaking

After 12 years of Catholic school teaching by those good Nuns and a lifetime obeying the rules which are for my own good of course, I have become a Senior Sneak.


After all, it really isn't my fault. The lifeguards at our pool are often late. They should be at the pool by 7:45 am the latest since the pool opens at 8:00 am. Lately, they have not been arriving until 8:20 or 8:30 am, so, the other Senior Sneaks and I have been using the old credit card in the lock trick to "break into" our pool and swim without a lifeguard and "at our own risk".


It's not as if the lifeguards do anything. Often, they step away from the pool for a cigarette or they spend the time reading or on their phones. Some of them even wear their sunglasses and I think they may be sleeping behind those lenses.

The first time I went to the pool without a lifeguard I felt so guilty I could only stay for a little while. I kept expecting someone (I don't know who) would come and chastise us, or even worse we would get detention. Who knew that breaking the laws would get easier as time went on. I'm on my way to a life of sneaking around, next, I'll probably eat in one of the off-limits rooms, or even not clean up after myself.

Monday, August 20, 2007

TV's Funniest

I was just watching a program showing the 30 funniest moments from the last 60 years on TV. It was good to see some of the clips again - Tim Conway as the clumsy dentist and Harvey Korman as his patient. I remember watching the Carol Burnett Show and hoping to see Tim and Harvey together in a skit. Tim always managed to break up Harvey. Another great scene was their spoof of GONE WITH THE WIND, which they called WENT WITH THE WIND. Carol as Scarlett O'Hara makes a dress from the draperies. The line was priceless, "Thank you, I saw it in a window and just had to have it."

There were other good clips, some which I saw when they originally aired. Bob Newhart made a great happy drunk ordering food. Who can forget when Sammy Davis, Jr. appeared on All in the Family and kissed Archie? Or when Raymond's parents backed their car into the house.

Some of my favorites were missing though. There was one time on the Carol Burnett Show when Tim Conway played a young man who was allergic to cats and went to the doctor for treatment. After receiving a shot to build resistance to the allergans, Tim took on the mannerisms of a cat - washing his face with his hand, jumping on furniture, etc.

Tonight's show said that a Chris Rock routine was the funniest. My vote would go to the Bob Newhart Show's final episode. This is the series where Bob is the owner of an inn in Vermont. In the final episode, he wakes up from a dream and tells his wife Emily (from the first series in Chicago) about the weird dream he just had about the characters from Vermont.

I think I watch too much television.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Murder Mystery

Today I went to a murder mystery luncheon at the local Charlie Brown's Restaurant. The cast were members of Without A Cue Productions and they were terrific.

The story involved an Egyptologist, his alcholic wife, his arch rival and wife's lover and an Egyptian assistant. It started with the Egyptologist recording his problems in his diary. His biggest problem was the lack of pencils. The jokes and puns went on from there. It's hard to remember them all. They even included a play on the Hope/Crosby Pattiecake routine as a means of escape. At the end, the audience was given a chance to determine who murdered the wife and one lucky person received a prize. Of course, I wasn't that lucky person. I didn't even pick the right murderer. (Jessica Fletcher would be ashamed of me.)

The show was well done, the food was delicious. The restaurant did a wonderful job of serving during intermissions. My only complaint is that they overlooked my table when it came to serving coffee, at least I didn't miss dessert.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Recognition

The other day I was at a meeting in our community when a woman approached me by name. She then introduced herself and said she recognized me from our block party. I didn't remember her.

She also said that she enjoyed my articles in our newspaper on my travels. I felt so good. It's nice to receive some acknowledgment for something I've done. Makes me want to travel some more.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

TOY RECALL, PART II

The other day I saw another news conference on the recent toy recall. It had already started when I tuned in. Evidently there was a discussion about the loose magnets on some of the toys. The woman who was leading the conference was discussing the danger of the loose magnets. She said that when two are swallowed, they attract each other and may form a blockage in the intestines.

Evidently, there is no danger when one is swallowed.

I know this is a very serious matter, but I got a mental picture of a child who has swallowed a magnet being pulled and stuck to the refrigerator.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

#10

Phil Rizzuto died today. Even though I lived in Queens, I was a Yankee fan. My father took me to many games and he would patiently walk around the stadium after the game in case I was lucky enough to see one of the players.

Phil Rizzuto was a great shortstop and according to the reports I heard today, a great man. Listening to the various tributes today, I suddenly felt very old. I remember the player who became an announcer, but most of the people interviewed today remember the announcer who, somewhere in the past was a player.

Most of my old Yankees are gone now - Casey, Mickey, Billy and now Phil. Time marches on.

They say celebrities' deaths come in threes. Sunday - Merv Griffin, Monday - Brooke Astor and today Phil Rizzuto. I guess they're right.

Monday, August 13, 2007

NANNY STATE, PART II

Today I heard that some companies are thinking of fining overweight employees, or worse yet, not hiring overweight candidates in the first place. Their excuse is that obese employees take more time off for weight related illnesses.

This is just wrong. I'm very overweight and when I was working I rarely took time off. In fact, during a company sponsored physical exam, the doctor had to look long and hard to find something wrong with me. Even now, as a senior citizen, I take no medication and the last cold I had was three years ago. I can't take any credit for this, I have good genes, but because of a number I would be passed over for a job.

In another case, I heard that the bakeries in Putnam County routinely give day old pastries and doughnuts to senior citizen centers. The powers that be in these centers have decided not to take these baked goods because, they decided, the pastries and doughnuts are not good for the adults. Senior citizens are adults and as such should be allowed to make the decision whether or not they want these baked goods.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Educating Baby

Just this week I heard the results of yet another study of early childhood development. The new findings show that babies exposed to the series of Baby Einstein tapes and dvd's are slower in their verbal development. I also found out today that this series is visual, there is no talking.

I never really bought into the idea that propping a baby in front of a tv would make them smarter, but I thought it was because sometimes I'm resistant to change. I still prefer Big Bird to Barney.

I also believe there is no substitute for actually playing with and talking to your baby. That's how they learn. When my son was about 2 or 3, I decided he should learn the alphabet. But I didn't want him to parrot the ABC's, or worse, learn from the tv. I thought of a game using his Playskool mailbox. I printed the letters on index cards and would lay them out on the table, tell him the names of the letters and then tell him to mail the m, or e, or w. He may not have know the exact order of the letters, but he could recognize them and he learned to read at a very early age.

My unsolicited advice to parents is to throw out the tapes and dvd's and talk to you child. Make him aware of this wonderful world of colors, shapes, sounds, and read to him, everynight even if you're so used to the story that you don't need the book anymore.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Coffe

Last night I had dinner with a good friend and, over a glass of wine, we discussed our second favorite beverage - coffee.

I mentioned that I take my coffee black because when I add milk I can feel my heart racing. It doesn't make sense that I can drink cups and cups of black coffee, but add milk and I have to stop at one. That made me think.

Maybe it's not the caffeine that affects people, maybe it's the added milk and sugar. Afterall, any teacher will tell you that excess sugar makes children hyper.

I'm beginning to think that my completely unscientific theory ranks up there with my mother's. Her feeling was that it was the ice in a drink that makes you sick, not the amount of liquor. Am I becoming my mother?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Rain vs. Pool

Today I went for my water exercise class. During the class, it started to rain, not like the rain they had in the city, this was a quick shower. When it started to rain, most of the class asked that the windows be closed. Then someone realized the absurdity of worrying about rain when in a pool. Someone asked for an umbrealla because she didn't want to get wet. We all laughed about that.

That got me thinking. Why are we afraid of a little rain and getting wet when we are already wet. I think we've all been so conditioned to use an umbrella or come in out of the rain that we don't think about our surroundings.

I must admit, I fell into that trap also. When I saw the clouds, I went back into the house for an umbrella so I wouldn't get wet in the rain when I was coming home in my wet bathing suit.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Fisher-Price Recall

I was very disappointed when I heard the news last week that Fisher-Price was recalling many toys because of high amounts of lead in the paint.

Fisher-Price was always the epitome of quality in children's toys. If you had a toy from Fisher-Price, you knew it would never break, you might have to get rid of it because of lost parts, or your child outgrew it.

Their customer service was excellent. When my son was about 3, he received the Fisher-Price Circus Train for Christmas. Around that time we also got a puppy who was a chewer. The dog chewed all the animals and I had to write a letter to Santa Claus asking him to replace the animals. Fisher-Price promptly replaced them, at a small price.

I guess the quality of the product started when they moved the manufacturing overseas to save a few dollars. I think the move may prove more costly. As far as I'm concerned, their reputation has been damaged.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Walking more damaging than driving

This morning on the John Gambling Show I heard about an article from THE TIMES in London. Chris Goodall, auther of "How to Live a Low Carbon Life" and Green Party parliamentary candidate, is the latest serious thinker to add his two cents to the global warming controversy.


Mr. Goodall believes that walking does more than driving to cause global warming. Food production is so energy-intensive that more carbon is emitted providing a person with enough calories to walk to the shops than a car would emit over the same distance. The climate could benefit if people avoided exercise, ate less and became couch potatoes, provided they remembered to switch off the TV.


The full article can be reached at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/, then click on UK, then on Science. The title of the article is WALKING TO THE SHOPS 'DAMAGES PLANET MORE THAN GOING BY CAR'. Hope you can access it.

There are some interesting items in this article, such as trees, regarded as shields against global warming because they absorb carbon were found by German scientists to be major producers of methane, a much more harmful greenhouse gas.

The answer seems to be just sit on your couch, eat less but eat locally grown food and carry it home from the supermarket in paper bags in your car.

That article gave me the inspiration to cancel my exercise class today. I've done my part to save the planet.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

New York City History

I'm always clipping or printing articles that I plan on reading some day. Today was some day. I threw most of the articles away, but found one very interesting. On July 4th of this year, the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS ran an article on the top revolutionary war sites in New York City. Here are a few of them.



RICHMOND TOWN in Staten Island. This is a 25 acre historic village and museum complex that includes Treasure House where British officers hid gold coins in the walls and Christopher House where local patriots and spies met to organize against British rule.



CITY HALL in downtown Manhattan. This is at the edge of an area known as The Common where the Declaration of Independence was read for the first time on July 9, 1776. Upon hearing the reading, people toppled a 4,000 pound lead statue of King George and melted it down to make 41,000 musket balls, which were used against the British.



GLOVER'S ROCK in Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. This site marks the Battle of Pell's Point on October 18, 1776. Although outnumbered, Col. John Glover and his brigade of 843 "Marbleheaders" held off 4,000 British soldiers so that George Washington could escape to White Plains.



PRISON SHIP MARTYRS MONUMENT in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn. Americans captured at Fort Washington were marched down to the city and into British prisons. An estimated 11,000 American prisoners died on overcrowded prison ships. Their bodies were buried in shallow graves along the shore and the remains were eventually gathered and placed in the crypt in this monument.



I've listed just four of the ten sites mentioned in this article, but I'm disappointed that there is no mention of any revolutionary event in Queens. I'm sure there must be something. I do know that Rufus King, although originally from Massachusetts and a signer of the Constitution, was one of the first senators from New York and had a home in Jamaica on what is now Jamaica Ave.

Surely, Queens had more involvement in the revolution. I'll have to keep checking.