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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Walking in Seattle

Today my morning walk took me to the Seattle Public Library. It was a pleasant walk, since the weather was a little cooler today and my route was mostly flat, not too many hills. It's a very large library, and the children's section was bigger than the whole Woodhaven library. They have a nicely set up reading area.

On my return walk, it started to rain. The nice thing about the rain in Seattle is that it doesn't last long. If you're walking about a block in the rain, by the time you reach the corner, it has stopped.

I'm surprised at the drivers here. I don't think I could ever drive here. I'm so used to the dog-eat-dog driving style in the New York/New Jersey area. Here when the light turns yellow, it really means stop, not speed up before it turns red. Here when a car is turning into the street you're crossing, they actually stop and let you go ahead. Back home it's a race to cross the street before the car turns. I don't know if I could stand all this courtesy on the road.

Walking

This morning when I woke up at 7:00 am (EDT) my first thought was that I can go for a walk. Seattle is a very interesting city for walking. They actually have sidewalks. Of course, it was too early to go out when I woke up, so I had to wait until 9:00 am (PDT).

I walked down to the Public Market and bought some cherries and grape tomatoes to munch on in my room. Everything was so fresh and the flowers in the market were just beautiful. I was tempted to buy some, but I decided the fruit was enough.

Later when my son picked me up, we went to the Arboretum and the Japanese Garden. It was so peaceful there, I could have stayed all day.

The only problem I have with Seattle is that it is very hilly. Tomorrow, I'm going to try to find a flat place to walk.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Travel

Today I'm in Seattle, my annual trip. I had an early flight, so I had to get up at 3:00 am. That, of course confused the cats no end. As you can see from this picture, they weren't too anxious to let me leave. They blocked my way to the front door.

Then, when it was time for me to leave, they wouldn't let me say good-bye with a little pat. They just ran away from me.

The car service arrived on time, even a few minutes early. They had a little trouble finding my address on Mapquest. It seems that shortly after my community opened, they discovered that there was another street in our town with the same name, so my street's name was changed. But no one told Mapquest. Fortunately, they did find the house, but as we were leaving, the driver couldn't figure out why the interior lights were still on after the doors were closed. Finally, he decided to see what would happen once he started moving. The lights went out.

Then, off in the distance we saw lightening, then rain. I planned an early flight to avoid the chance of thunderstorms. Fortunatly, the sun came out when it was time to take off.

Everything got better after that, particularly as we were approaching Seattle. I saw the top of a mountain, probably Mt. Ranier, rising above the clouds. The clouds looked like a blanket of snow. It was an awsome sight. Unfortunately, I was too busy admiring the mountain to think of taking my camera out of my bag and taking a picture. I lost a great shot.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Estelle Getty

This past week one of the Golden Girls died. Estelle Getty who was Sophie Petrillo was three days shy of her 85th birthday. She was one year younger than Bea Arthur who played her daughter Dorothy, but through the magic of make-up she was convincing as her 80 year old mother.

Their mother-daughter relationship was very real. They made us realize that no matter how old we are, our mothers still think of us as their little girls, that we have grown up but that we still need "dear old mom".

Other than remembering the characters of the "girls", Blanche as the "easy" girl, Rose as the dumb blonde and Dorothy as the serious, teacher type, I can't remember much of what they said. Sophia, on the other hand, had many catch phrases - "Picture this, Sicily...", "but I digress". Sophia was always available to pass out words of wisdom in her own way.

I understand that for the past few years Estelle/Sophia had dementia. Her friends would wait until she had moments of lucidity to speak with her, but they became fewer. It must have been very sad for them to see her like that, but it was even harder for her family.

Her physical death was a blessing to her friends and family since she died mentally several years ago. She will be missed.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Store Closings

I was just reading an opinion piece in today's WALL STREET JOURNAL. The author, Daniel Henninger, was commenting on the proposed closing of several Starbucks stores in an effort to cut expenses. Apparently, many people are begging Starbucks not to close their store. This is the coffee-lovers version of NIMBY. Close one of the others, but not mine.



Mr. Henninger states that it can't be just about the coffee, especially in the larger cities where there are Starbucks on almost every other corner. There must be more to it. Would people feel this strongly if the local Dunkin' Donuts closed, or even a Whole Foods? For some reason, people don't want to go two or three blocks to another Starbucks. It's a neighborhood thing.



This campaign to save Starbucks has been compared with the campaigns to save military bases or the closings of neighborhood churches.



There's a certain level of comfort in the local Starbucks. Even though there's no sign on the wall asking you to be quiet or polite, the patrons are. And the partrons cover all the demographics. You will find businessmen in suits, casual Friday clothes and even truck drivers. All searching for a good cup of coffee and a little quiet in their hectic world.



Maybe Starbucks has replaced the corner bar. It's certainly healthier given the recent findings that coffee may have some health benefits. More about that another time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

One Life to Live

For the last two days, One Life to Live has had special programming for its 40th anniversary. They revisited three of the past story lines, but updated them.

They had two characters go back in time to 1968. This time they were father and son, not the friends in the 2008 story line. It was great fun watching the younger man look for a remote to turn the TV on, and then waiting for it to warm up. There were some other light moments there too.

In another story, Vicki the main character dies again and goes to heaven again. This time instead of a spaceship, she goes on an elevator and meets some of her family that has died. It was good to see those actors again. Of course, they didn't kill Vicki and she recovers in true soap opera fashion.

The third story had two characters go over some falls. That of course was the cliffhanger for today. I don't know how they'll incorporate it into their regular programming.

It was a wonderful way to celebrate the anniversary. It was a way for newcomers to learn some of the history of the show and for us oldtimers, it brought back some nice memories.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cats

The other day I was watching something on TV that explained how to protect your furniture from your cats. Since my cats still have their claws, I found it interesting. The first thing you should do is spray the area with a cat repellent. They find the odor repulsive.

I don't think Burnie found it that way.
He seemed to think it was an interesting smell.

Then, you should spray the scratching post with catnip, which as I understand it is a drug and which the cats really like. The premise is that they will avoid the furniture and stretch themselves and scratch where the catnip is.
As I mentioned, catnip is a drug. After Burnie got finished sniffing his scratching post, he got the munchies.
It took a while for Crash to notice the scratching post. This is about as close as she has ever been to it.
Let's hope they dislike the odor of the furniture and really, really like the scratching post.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Phil Gramm Was Right

Yes, Phil Gramm was right. We are a nation of whiners. Have you ever been in a supermarket checkout line when the person in front is complaining about the high price of food. They complain, but they don't seem to be doing anything about it. The cart is full of junk food or prepared food and there are no coupons or sale items in sight.

The other day, some of my neighbors were busy complaining about the salaries paid to teachers. Both of them had adult children who were teachers and had masters degrees. All I heard was that their salary was an insult and too low. But, when our real estate tax bills come in and they see the school tax, they complain about its being too high.

How about the weather. I've had people come up to me complaining about the heat. Well, wake up, it's July, it's supposed to be hot. It's summer. I hear the opposite in January. It's too cold. My answer is that it's winter, it's supposed to be cold.

I've spoken with a few people and they agree, we are a nation of whiners. I'm very disappointed with John McCain and his treatment of Phil Gramm. Instead of sticking up for his friend, he took the politically correct way out and threw him under the bus.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hostage Rescue

A few days ago I saw an article on FOXNews.com which was written tongue-in-cheek (or at least I hope it was).

The author, Greg Gutfeld, talks about the hostages who were recently rescued in Colombia. He says that CNN's Web site points out that Columbian intelligence duped these guerrillas by having the rescuers wear Red Cross emblems during their mission. And, CNN reports that doing so is a war crime under the Geneva Convention - a violation that could risk Red Cross workers in the future.

The author agrees, he says, "Sure, kidnapping and then brutally abusing innocent people over the course of many years isn't right. But so is lying."

He says, seriously, how do you think the kidnappers felt when they found out those folks weren't the Red Cross and that they only wanted to steal their hostages. Even worse, some rescuers wore Che Guevara shirts, perhaps to fool these kidnappers into accepting them as compadres or at least record store clerks. The amount of damage inflicted on their self esteem, caused by this trickery, is too hard to imagine.

The auther believed that the U.S. has only one response: Return the hostages to their rightful owner. He's asking President Bush to gather them up, get them on a plane and send them back to the jungle.

I can't believe that CNN thinks a rescue is a war crime just because of a little trickery.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Chess

I've always thought of chess as an intellectual pursuit and a sign of intelligence. So when my husband and I were dating, I thought I'd impress him with my interest in chess. I asked him to teach me, which he did. When my boys were young, we taught them.

As a result, I've never played chess with anyone else. When our activities director in the community looked for interest in new clubs and someone came forth to start a chess club, I immediately joined. Our meetings are going to be divided between chess and magic. That should be interesting.

What surprised me is that when I told a few friends that I was joining, they all answered that their husbands played and then taught their sons. None of them mentioned playing, nor did their daughters play.

I was sort of surprised when I walked into the room tonight and I was the only woman among six men. I never knew chess was a man's game.

Even though I'm the only woman, I will stay in the club. After all, if I'm going to criticize the single men who get intimated when they find they are the only men at a meeting of our singles club, I've got to stay in the club with all the men. That might not be a bad thing after all.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Stupid Laws

Yesterday John Gambling mentioned that a legislator in New Jersey has proposed a law banning baggy pants. Today John mentioned that a state representative in Mississippi has proposed a law forbidding a restaurant from serving an obese patron.

Various legislatures have tried banning baggy pants and at first I thought it was a good idea. Then I started thinking, what's next. Will there be a ban on sleeveless blouses or shirts? How about long skirts? I think the current trend of wearing pants loose and below the hips is ugly and makes the wearer look ignorant and not very attractive, but it is a trend and it too shall pass. Of course, when the ban was suggested in Florida, the NAACP was quick to claim that it was discriminatory against black males. Of course it isn't, all stupid boys wear baggy pants and everyone has a right to be stupid.

The suggestion about restaurants not serving obese people got a lot of reaction. The first question was, what is obese. To an anorexic, anyone over size 6 is probably obese. Some people even suggested that some chefs would not be able to eat in their own restaurants. The food police are coming to get you.

These two laws got me thinking about other laws. I'm sure there are many ridiculous laws in all states. So, I went to www.bitoffun.com and checked out some of the stupid laws in all the states.

Arizona prohibits the hunting of camels. California made it illegal for anyone to try and stop a child from playfully jumping over puddles of water. In Connecticut you are not allowed to walk across a street on your hands. Bathing is prohibited during the winter in Indiana (I'd hate to be in a crowded elevator in January in Indiana). Maine is really protective of its citizens. You may not step out of a plane in flight. In North Carolina elephants may not be used to plough cotton fields. In Ohio women are prohibited from wearing patent leather shoes in public. The nuns in school warned us about patent leather shoes too.

New Jersey has more than its fair share of stupid laws. I learned this just recently - car dealerships are forbidden from opening on Sunday. It's also illegal to offer whiskey or cigarettes to animals at the local zoo. There is one law that I approve - You cannot pump your own gas. All gas stations are full service and full service only. That should be nationwide, particularly at this time of high prices. If I'm going to pay $4.00 for a gallon of gas, I want service.

New York is not immune from this stupidity. You need a license to hang clothes on a clothesline. How many times did I violate that one. Here's a good one - the penalty for jumping off a building is death. I never knew this was a law, but all the people in New York obey this one - while riding in an elevator, one must talk to no one and fold his hands while looking toward the door. Slippers are not to be worn after 10:00 PM. I guess you have to either go to be before 10:00, or walk around your home barefoot.

There are many, many more. I just don't want to bore you with too many.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Family History

Earlier this year I was speaking with a friend who is black and from Selma Alabama. Since she has some elderly aunts, I suggested that she get them to record their memories both during and after segregation.

Yesterday, I asked her if she had done that, she said not yet, but a cousin had done some genealogical research and traced her family back to the days of slavery.

This surprised me and I told her that I can only trace my family back to my grandparents. I had tried looking at the logs of Ellis Island, but apparently the current records don't go back that far. All I know about my Grandma Wagner is that she emigrated from Germany when she was about 15 and worked as a domestic. I commented that she must have had a lot of courage to leave everything and come to a strange country.

Then it hit me. That's where I get my sense of adventure, and my willingness to pull up roots and move to a different town among strangers on my own. Now I know why I want to do things and go places.

I guess there is something to genetics.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The One That Got Away

Today I read an essay in the WALL STREET JOURNAL, entitled, "Buy Now, Don't Regret Later". The author, George Anders, mentions that, while on his honeymoon, he and his wife saw an ad for an Albert King concert. They weighed all the pros and cons and decided that since they were expected at a friend's house the next day they would pass on the concert. After all, there would be other concerts. Unfortunately, Albert King died a short time later.

That started me thinking about the one that got away. I'm sure we all have something in our past that we wanted to buy, but decided against it because it was too expensive, the wrong time, etc. My mother always regretted that, when my brother was in Germany with the Army, she never sent him some extra money to buy some Hummels. She did receive several as gifts, but they were never the same as those bought in Germany.

My "One that got away" and one that my family and friends are tired of hearing about concerns a house. When I was about 19 (many, many years ago) I saw an article that said houses in Park Slope were being sold for about $15,000. I had been a saver and probably could have bought one, but at that time girls, particularly single girls, just didn't buy houses so I let it go. Now, I could probably buy one of those houses if I had about $3,000,000.

Mr. Anders wasn't telling us to shop indiscriminately, but if there is something that you truly want and seems impractical at the time, maybe you should buy it. After all, if it turns out to be a wrong decision, I think you could probably sell it on e-bay and you won't have any regrets.

What's your "One that got away".

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Burnie

Earlier this week I had what I call "an attack of neat" and decided it was time to wash some windows and curtains. I started with my bedroom curtains, I took them down and washed them.

Everything was going along just great until I decided to rehang them. I had forgotten to close the bedroom door and Burnie came in "to help". Here he is on the stepstool.

No matter how I tried, he wouldn't leave.



Eventually, he got bored, or maybe he was late for his nap, and he left and I was able to continue putting my room back together.

Next time, I'll remember to check on his whereabouts and close the door.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bad News/Good News

Today was a day chock full of bad news. The first thing I heard today was that Tony Snow had died of cancer early this morning. Fox News spent the day airing tributes to him. From everything I heard, he was well respected and accomplished. I felt that since he was a conservative and a fixture at Fox News, that all the tributes were pretty much one-sided so I decided to go online at MSNBC. They did the obligatory obituary, but then I read some of the comments. They were awful. I just hope none of the Snow family read them.

Then I saw that Dr. DeBakey also died this morning. He was 99. Too bad he couldn't make it to 100. His inventions and surgical skills are the reason so many people are alive today. His advancements in cardiac surgery have enabled many people to survive their heart disease.

Then, this afternoon I heard that Bobby Murcer of my Yankees also died today of cancer. He had a long career with the Yankee organization first as a player and then as a broadcaster. I'm sure there will be many tributes to him on Tuesday at the All Star Game at Yankee Stadium and then later at the Oldtimers Game which will be the last at Yankee Stadium.

Although things usually happen in threes, there is a difference today. Rocky Aoki also died today. He started the Benihana restaurant chain.

After such a day of depressing news, I needed a lift. Fortunately AS TIME GOES BY was on. Today Lionel and Jean got married. It was a fun show, starting with Lionel's being very nervous about the wedding and Jean being calm. Then the trouble happened. Jean's sister-in-law came in and insisted that Jean was a wreck, and with the power of suggestion Jean suddenly became very nervous and got the hiccups while Lionel realized that this was the day he had dreamed of for 38 years. Of course Lionel's father Rocky and his wife Madge got lost while they were riding their bicycles to the wedding. Eventually, everything worked out in true TV land fashion.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Skyfari

When I was a child, every year on my father's vacation we would make the two bus trek to the Bronx Zoo. It was always a fun outing. I enjoyed visiting the African Plains even though the lions were not in a cage. They were, however, separateed by a field and two brick walls. It seemed safe enough. There were other animals that I enjoyed too, lions, tigers and bears, oh my.

I was reminded of this last night when I heard about the Skyfari ride getting stuck and trapping dozens of people in the air for about five hours. They didn't have this ride when I was a child, and I doubt if I would have taken it since heights bother me.

This ride goes all over the park and in some places it's over the baboons, tigers, gazelles and other critters. Most of the people who were rescued said they were not frightened and were sure they would be rescued. While they were stranded, just hanging there the police and fire departments were watching the weather for signs of another thunderstorm.

Eventually members of the FDNY Rescue 3 and the NYPD Emergency Services Unit used a special bucket equipped crane brought in from Queens to take the riders off the car which had gone off line. While they were being taken off the car, they were snapping pictures of their rescuers.

Once that car was empty, they worked on realigning it so they could get the ride moving and the rest of the people off. Police said no one was injured, but a pregnant woman who began having cramps and another woman who had trouble breathing were taken to the hospital for checkups.

I guess most of the people on the ride were native New Yorkers because they seemed to take it in stride, some even said it was a little boring. There was no panic.

At a news conference attended by the Police Commissioner and other officials, John Calvelli, senior vice president of public affairs at the zoo, apologized to the tired and hungry visitors saying, "We are heartily sorry for the ordeal". I also heard on the TV news that they all got a free taxi ride home. What sports.

Area residents also rushed to the scene to watch the drama. I also heard that someone was using binoculars from home to catch the goings on.

No I know why I don't like to ride trams.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Navigation System

My new car has all kinds of gadgets that I've never used before. One of them is a built-in navigation system.

The first time I tried it I was going to Parksville, NY and typed the address into the system. I could only get as far as Pa when it automatically showed directions to Passaic, NJ. After several tries I gave up.

A week or so later I tried again. This time I picked a location nearby and just to be safe I had gotten directions from Microsoft Streets. I selected a female voice and started listening to the directions. To begin, she gave me a very roundabout way out of my community and since I didn't pay any attention, she kept telling me to go 500 feet and make a legal U-turn, then turn right. She said this for the entire ride and I kept ignoring her.

Several days later I tried again. This time my starting point was on Long Island and I was going to another town on the island with a friend. The navigation system told me to go a certain way, but my friend said she had a more direct route. Again I ignored my navigation system.

I think she got angry with me because she stopped speaking for he rest of the trip and I haven't heard from her again on any of my other trips. Maybe I'll make peace and try for directions one more time.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Words

The latest edition of the Merriam Webster dictionary is now out. There are about 100 newly added words. They include edamame, an immature green soybean, pescatarian which is a vegetarian who eats fish. The words to be added are monitored over several years to see if the word is used to convey a specific idea.

There's a new category called mondegreen. It describes words mistaken for other words. A mondegreen most often comes from misunderstood phrases or lyrics. It comes from an old Scottish ballad in which the lyric "laid him on the green" has been confused over time with "Lady Mondegreen". Some of the best-known examples are, "There's a bathroom on the right" in place of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "There's a bad moon on the rise" and "Scuse me, while I kiss this guy" in place of "kiss the sky" in the Jimi Hendrix classic "Purple Haze". "Lucy in the sky with diamonds" from the Beatles made sense to some fans as "Lucy in the sky with Linus".

I'm sure we've all heard of "Olive the other reindeer" which is really "All of the other reindeeer". I also wonder if my son's calling pigeons "flocker birds" is an example of a mondegreen. I was really calling a group of pigeons "flock of birds"

I've got to get myself a copy of the new dictionary. It's sure to be a bestselling pageturner.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Weather

I like to keep my computer on all the time. It's more convenient and I can check my e-mail throughout the day. I can also keep up with the market although lately that hasn't been too pleasant.

It seems that this summer a lot of thunderstorms have been predicted for my area. This means that I have to shut down and disconnect my computer. I've been very wary of these storms since my TV and water pump were hit by lightening in my other house. I'd hate to lose my computer and all its memory.

I know people in other parts of the country have it much worse and I guess I'm spoiled, but it's annoying to shut down every night and whenever I'm away from the house. And then we never get the storm.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Marmalade

I've admitted before that I'm not a good shopper. I usually buy on impulse or habit. But that's going to change.

Today I was doing some grocery shopping and decided to buy another jar of orange marmalade because I have a recipe for a salad that includes marmalade. I was about to take the jar made by the Trappist Monks in Massachusetts when I saw that it was a dollar more than the Smucker's which I usually buy.

I had to see what made the Trappist marmalade worth more than the Smucker's. I checked labels and found that the monks use sugar, corn syrup, seville orange peel, orange juice and citric acid while the Smucker's used high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup (although I don't know why they use two different kinds of corn syrum), orange peel, orange juice, fruit pectin,citric acid and natural orange flavor.

So I bought the Trappist and did a taste test at home. The Trappist marmalade had more flavor and a few more calories. I have a muffin recipe that calls for marmalade and I thought it seemed a little bland, so the next time I make it, I'll use the Trappist's marmalade.

Friday, July 4, 2008

TV or not TV

Years ago when I first stopped working to raise my family, I didn't believe in watching too much TV. I felt it was a waste of time. When my son was an infant, I had my hour or so of TV, but then I went back to the radio. I felt that radio gave me more freedom to move about the house. As he got older, I allowed him to watch 1 1/2 hours of Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street.

Somehow, since I retired, I've fallen into the habit of automatically turning on the TV, and complaining that there isn't much to watch and yet I don't turn it off. Of course, there's always cable news, reruns of my old favorites and the shopping channel. I sit so much, I'm in danger of developing what Eda LeShan, a psychologist, once described as "naugahide hair" which is a flattening of the hair on the back of the head as a result of leaning against the back of the chair while watching TV.

Last week I tried an experiment and turned on the radio instead of the TV. It's amazing what can be accomplished when you're not glued to the couch. I actually did some housework. This week, I'm going for silence. It's wonderful, there's nothing like it. I've done a few projects and finished two books.

Maybe next week I'll leave the house.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Crash and Burn

Do animals have personalities? Specifically do cats have personalities? I really don't know, but I do know that my two cats, Crash and Burn, are very different.

Crash is a female calico, and a princess. She hates to be picked up and held, and complains every time I try. She doesn't like to have her paws touched and gets impatient when I try. Perish the thought that Burnie wants to walk close to her. That starts her spitting and growling. Then, two minutes later, she's afraid to pass him in the room. Crash likes to follow me around the house and lately she's been looking for attention whenever I sit down at the computer. Is she jealous?


Burnie, on the other hand is very laid back, in fact, he seems to sleep most of the day. When he's awake, he will play with anything. Unfortunately, lately, he wants to play at bedtime. There I am laying in bed, trying to get to sleep and Burnie is rolling a plastic bell filled ball around the room. In the morning, around 5:00 AM when Burnie gets hungry, he gently taps me on my face. The only problem there is that has not been declawed, so his gentle tap is done with claws. That certainly wakes me up.

Burnie is also very curious. I can't leave closet doors open too long or he walks right in, if I open a drawer, he's ready to hop in. I don't know what kind of cat he is, although I've just heard of tuxedo cats and he seems to look like one. He's black and white.

Do they have different personalities, or am I giving them human qualities? I don't know, but they are fun to have around except late at night when they hear something that I don't hear and just stare at the front door.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

City vs. Suburbs

The other day when my friend and I were driving to our luncheon we got to talking about the pros and cons of suburbia.

Since we grew up on the Brooklyn/Queens border and stayed in the area until recently, we mentioned how much we missed the convenience. Everything was close by, we could walk everywhere. She missed City Line (Liberty Ave.) and I missed Jamaica Ave. There was such an assortment of stores. We had ladies wear shops, hardware stores, fruit and vegetable stores and the occasional diner. She mentioned that she had recently been in Forest Hills, along Metropolitan Ave. and saw that that avenue is now the way City Line and Jamaica Ave. were.

I realized then what is missing from Jackson - a main street or town center. This town is just an assortment of communities, but no town center or hub around which the community develops and thrives.

She then decided that I should move to Forest Hills Gardens which is like a small town right in the middle of the city. It does make me think, but based on the reputation of Forest Hills and the Gardens area, I don't think I could afford it now. But it does give one food for thought.