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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Clothes, Old and New

I hate to throw anything out. The other day when I was hanging up some jeans and pants I became painfully aware of this. There was no room for the clean clothes.

Right away I decided to try on all my pants and jeans and throw out any that don't fit, are uncomfortable or generally don't look good. I have already filled one garbage bag and I'm not even halfway through.

Once I finish there, I'll tackle my tops. Today, I threw out a sweater that I wore when I was working. It must have been about 8 to 10 years old and quite thin from all those washings. It's not even fit to use as a dust rag. I'm tired of taking clothes out each season, washing them, then putting them away at the end of the season without even wearing them. It will take a lot of effort to get rid of them, but I'll have so much room in my closet.

Just think, then I'll have room for some new clothes. Maybe I'll even incorporate some of the ideas I've gotten from What Not to Wear. I'll make Stacey and Clinton proud.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Burnie

This morning started out like any other. I was reading about the adventures of my blogging friends, Burnie was looking out the window and Crash was guarding the door.

Burnie became very excited and was walking from one window to the other, making all sorts of sounds. I thought there was a bird eating the berries from the holly bush and teasing him. I finally got up and looked out the window and saw the reason for Burnie's excitement.

Somehow, a turtle had made it to my lawn. I don't know how he got there, the nearest pond is quite a distance away, at least to a turtle.

We watched him for a while. It's true, they do move very slowly.


Somehow, he made it across the street, but couldn't quite make it up the curb, so I helped him.

I don't know where he went after that.

It's very unusual for us to see any wildlife in my part of the community. I've seen a rabbit once, but my friend, in one of the newer sections, has deer and wild turkeys wandering through her yard. Lucky her.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cleaning with Cats

Yesterday I decided that this was the weekend I would clean/organize my office. Everything started out well, I organized the mess of papers into neat piles and even threw out a bunch of stuff. My desk was looking pretty good.

Today I tackled the filing. I was almost up to date, there was just a small pile of papers to file. Then it happened. Crash, who has been following me all over the house since I came back from Boston decided to sit, then sleep on the papers to be filed. Since I'm such a softee I didn't want to wake her and, of course, that was the perfect excuse to stop.

Even though I didn't finish cleaning, my desk does look much better, especially when there is no cat sleeping on it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Help!

I need help. Can anyone help me?

I have a cricket somewhere in the kitchen. I know it's supposed to be good luck to have one on the hearth, but he's driving me crazy. All I hear is that darned cricket noise. Crash and Burn aren't much help either. Burnie tried one night. He sat in front of the stove and waited, but that darned cricket is still there.

Last year I had one too. When it finally came out, Crash and Burn were on either side of him and they just watched him. I finally had to kill him.

Why is it that I never have a cat who is a good hunter. I had a better record with killing mice than my old cat Midnight did, and now I have these two. Maybe if I didn't feed them for a day or two they would hunt that old cricket down.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get rid of a very, very noisy cricket?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Toaster Oven

A few weeks ago my toaster oven died. I hadn't had it that long, but since I use it often, sometimes once or twice a day, I understood. But I was lost without it. I can't see heating the big oven for 1/2 a chicken breast, or one small piece of steak.

I was lucky enough to get a replacement on sale. As soon as I got it home, I unpacked everything and plugged it in after I glanced at the instructions. The next morning as I got ready to make my toast, I turned the knob to toast but nothing happened. I tried another dial, still nothing. I was forced to really read the instructions. Finally it worked. Everything went well for a while.

Then I went away for four days. I unplugged the unit. The other day I wanted toast for breakfast. I put the bread in the oven, turned the toast dial. Nothing happened. I played around with the dials for a little while, still nothing happened. Then I realized what was wrong. I forgot to plug it in.

Everything works fine now. It really pays to read instructions and make sure the equipment is plugged in.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Crash and Burn

When I went to Boston this past weekend, I thought I'd leave Crash and Burn on their own. They would have lots of food and water and I thought they'd be OK. Then I changed my mind, and asked a friend to come in Saturday and Sunday to give them fresh food. That's all I asked for. Of course, she did more. She cleaned their box and played with them.

She told me that Crash was very aloof which was unusual. She usually comes to the door whenever anyone comes in. Burnie is usually the one who holds back. Burnie was very friendly and loved having his belly rubbed. He just laid on the mat and luxuriated in the attention.

Everything was different when I came home on Monday. As soon as I opened the storm door, Crash came running and Burnie just took his time. Usually when I come home from a trip, Crash just ignores me until she gets hungry.

Now, neither one will let me out of their sight. I guess, in spite of the attention my friend gave them, they really missed me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm Baaack!

I just spent four days on a trip to Boston.

The time in Boston was great (more about that later), the ride to and from not so much. I would like to know why a tour director feels that is necessary to entertain us all the time. She spent so much time giving us facts about New Jersey when we were on our way to Massachusetts. Then, we had two quizzes and had to listen to a CD by some Irish comic. All of this was before lunch. When we stopped for lunch, at least six of our group asked me to tell her to shut up. I tried to be diplomatic and said that some of us would like to sleep. That worked for about an hour, then she started in again.

She has given our travel club proposals on four trips for next year, which I think I'll veto. I'll never go on another trip run by her travel agency.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Travel Plans

I know it's not a good idea to wish your life away and the time goes by so quickly, but I am so looking forward to next year.

Yesterday we had a meeting of our Travel Group. We are planning four trips and most of them look good. We are planning a short trip to Branson, MO, a cruise of the Italian lakes and Greek Isles, a cruise and land tour of Alaska and a cruise of the Yangtze River.

I'm not too big on a cruise in China, but I certainly would like to do the other trips. I've already done a cruise to Alaska, but I didn't go inland. I definitely want to see Denali. Maybe then I'll see some animals. The community is planning on going in June or July which is OK, but since I'm a cold person, I'd like to go in late August or September. I've just got to see the northern lights.

I definitely want to do the Italian lakes and Greek isles cruise too. Branson would be nice too.

I have a wonderful problem with all these trips. Even if I go on only three of them, when will I have time to any travelling on my own. How will I be able to visit any presidential libraries? I was thinking of a trip to Springfield, IL next year, then check out any other libraries in the area.

It's wonderful to be retired.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Tale of Two (or Three) Singers

Last Sunday night at the MTV Music Video Awards viewers saw class and crass.

I guess by now, everyone has seen the way Kanye West stole Taylor Swift's moment when she won the award for Best Female Video. It's a shame that he chose to do that. His apology or explanation on Leno last night was pathetic. He turned it around on to him. He explained that he acted that way because he didn't take the time to grieve after his mother's death. He didn't seem bothered that his action took away the joy of the evening for this young woman who won.

She, however, showed her class when she was ready for a live performance just five minutes later. She also accepted his "apology".

Then we had another example of class when Byonce, who won for Best Video of the Year, invited Miss Swift back to give her acceptance speech uninterrupted. Byonce had been embarrassed by West's behavior, but it would have been very easy for her to just get up there and give her acceptance speech and ignore what had gone on before. But, she knew the hurt and confusion Miss Swift must have felt so Byonce shared her moment.

As Bill O'Reilly would say, both Byonce and Taylor Swift are patriots and Kanye West is definitely a pinhead.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Risk, Part II

I've been vindicated!

Yesterday when I went to church, I saw that there was a grate placed over the floor level part of the holy water font that was surrounded by a low wall. I guess someone else saw the potential risk. Maybe someone from the church's insurance company finally took a look and suggested the grate.

Now, all they have to do is take care of the standing water problem in the parking lot. It might also be a good idea to check out the slant of the floor leading to the altar.

I guess I really do have an insurance company mentality, and it's a good thing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Double Standard, Part II

I'm becoming more and more convinced that there is a double standard in the media and Washington. Here's another example.

Does anyone remember that back in 2005, President Bush, during his State of the Union Address, was booed by members of congress. I don't remember anyone, Republicans particularly, protesting and demanding that anyone apologize to the president for their behavior.

Fastforward to 2009. Last Wednesday, during President Obama's campaign speech for healthcare reform, Rep. Joe Wilson a Republican, said that the president lied about illegal aliens' being covered under the plan. Rep. Wilson apologized to the president the next day, but that isn't enough. The democrats are demanding a public apology from the floor of the house.

I'm not condoning Rep. Wilson's behavior, but it seems to me that the booing of the president was OK when it was Bush who was being booed and called names, but now that the shoe is on the other foot, it is not OK.

It was childish behavior in both cases.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 Remembered

I've just finished watching tapes of the attacks of 9/11. It's just as frightening now and as it was then. As the towers fell, a reporter said the exact words I heard on the walk uptown, "They're gone". That's all anyone could say, that was enough.

In the days that followed we were all in shock as we were glued to our TV's watching over and over the planes and the dust covered people running for their lives. Some memories of that day come back occasionally. Today, I remembered that my son was on a construction site in Brooklyn watching through binoculars as "debris" fell from the buildings when he realized in horror that he was actually watching people choosing to die from the jump rather than being burned to death.

Watching the moment of silence at the White House I remembered that on October 11 at 8:46 am in New York, we had a moment of silence. All traffic stopped. I was riding a bus to get to work when we stopped for that moment.

We all dealt with our shock and grief, whether from personal loss or the realization that it could happen to us, in different ways. I called everyone I knew just to know that at least my family and friends were all still here.

A friend of mine using her talent painted this triptych, I wish my photo was as good as the original.


The remaining walls of the buildings were a reminder of the horrors of that day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Double Standard?

There appears to be a double standard among federal law enforcers. Isn't that a surprise!

In August, Exxon Mobil pleaded guilty in federal count to killing 85 birds that had come into contact with crude oil or other pollutants in uncovered tanks or waste-water facilities on its properties. The birds were protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act which dates back to 1918.

Over the past two decades federal officials have brought hundreds of similar cases against energy companies. Recently PacifiCorp paid $1.4 million in fines and restitutions for killing 232 eagles in Wyoming over the past two years. The birds were electrocuted by poorly designed power lines.

I find it odd that there is one group of energy producers that is not being prosecuted (or persecuted) for killing birds. Wind-power companies are killing numbers of birds every year. A July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamount Pass, CA estimated that its turbines kill an average of 80 golden eagles per year. This study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency also estimated that about 10,000 birds, nearly all protected by the migratory bird act, are being killed every year at Altamont.

These turbines in California kill more than 100 times as many birds as Exxon's tanks every year, but this wind farm does not face the same threat of prosecution, even though the bird kills have been documented by biologists since the mid 1990's.

On its web site, the Wind Energy Association says that bird kills by wind turbines are a "very small fraction of those caused by other commonly accepted human(?) activities and structures - house cats kill an estimated one billion birds annually." That may be true, but it's hardly a good defense, and cats' doing what comes naturally to some is not a federal crime. Yet.

I leave it up to you. Is there a double standard here? Big oil companies get persecuted for killing birds while "green" energy companies are not.

I got this information from an article in the Tuesday, September 8 issue of The Wall Street Journal.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

An American Hero

Today I read an article in The Wall Street Journal about Bob Dole. You remember him, he ran for president in 1996. He was a senate majority leader and is a World War II veteran. And that's what this story is all about.

There is an organization called the Honor Flight Network. Their sole purpose is to fly WWII veterans, free of charge, to Washington DC to see the WWII Memorial so that they can see the memorial built to mark the war in which they fought.

This article wasn't about the Honor Flight Network, it was about Bob Dole who greets these vets at the memorial. He speaks with each one, joins each in a picture. He even speaks with the families of those vets who come. He jokes with them. He does this week after week. When he was in the hospital a while back, his wife, Elizabeth, stood in for him. He says that he will be there as long as he is in good health.

Mr. Dole is not your typical politician. He seeks no publicity for this, he receives no pay for this. He just wants to recognize the efforts of these veterans so long ago. Without their heroic efforts, where would we be?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pete the Parakeet

I don't know what brought this to mind today. Maybe it was seeing a feather from one of the cats' toys. I suddenly thought about Pete the parakeet. When my son was either 11 or 12 he bought me a parakeet for my birthday. He was a cute bird and I named him Pete.

At the time we had a cat, another one of little brain, called Midnight. Midnight was interested in this little creature that we kept in a cage hanging high on the wall, but she usually left Pete alone. Until one day. When I came home from shopping, I found the cage on the floor and surprisingly, Pete was still in the cage and unhurt.

I decided that the wall arrangement wouldn't do anymore, so I put the cage on top of the china closet in the dining room. Unfortunately that meant that we couldn't see Pete as much, but at least he was safe from Midnight, or so we thought. Midnight actually climbed to the top of the china closet and kept trying to get at Pete. I had heard that if you put pennies in empty soda cans around the cage, the cat would leave him alone.

Somehow, Midnight managed to walk around all those cans without making a sound or even disturbing one can. She did this several times until one day she stuck her nose in the cage and Pete, having tired of her harassment, bit her. She never bothered him again.

Now that Pete was safe from Midnight, we could put him back in the living room on the wall. We had a few good years with Pete, he was a very hardy bird. One night, we all settled in to watch a movie, we were all very comfortable, even Pete. When the movie was over, it was time for bed so I went to cover his cage and found Pete lying on the bottom of the cage. He died quietly during the movie. We buried him in the backyard.

The name of the movie was The Birds. Was his time up, or did the movie scare him to death? I guess we'll never know.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Shopping

Today I decided to go the mall. They've been having so many sales I thought I might get a bargain or two.

My first stop was my favorite (since Lechter's folded) kitchenware store, Sur la table. I even had a $10 coupon, so of course I had to go. I picked up a couple of new tools, and as I was paying I joined the conversation. The ladies were discussing food, ethnic and "different" types. One woman mentioned bloodloaf which I hadn't heard of or seen in too many years than I care to remember. She also mentioned tongue which she would never eat. I added that as a child I ate it. I don't remember the taste, but do remember that it was rough. Then I mentioned tripe. Three out of four of us recoiled at that, but the youngest member of the group said that she liked it. She was sorry that she never got her grandmother's recipe. We continued discussing food, but I decided there was more shopping to be done.

I went through the mall and picked up a few things. It was a good day, I hadn't been there in several months and I enjoyed the walk.

But, my last stop was, while not quite a disaster, quite embarrassing. I walked right up to the Estee Lauder counter and was surprised that their special offer of six trial size cosmetics free with a $29.50 purchase was over. Then I asked for make-up. I knew the color, but there are so many types I couldn't find mine. I even suggested that they changed the bottle and no one disagreed with me.

After a little while, I realized that they didn't have the stylized rose on any of their products. I very sheepishly admitted to the salesgirl that I was at the wrong counter. I really wanted Lancome. I apologized and tried to laugh it off as a senior moment, but I was so embarrassed.

I found the Lancome counter and ordered my make-up. The special promotion doesn't really start until Tuesday, but they're taking orders now. I even ordered my special gift. I hope the ladies had a good laugh about my going to the wrong counter.

I always get the two companies mixed up. The only way I can tell the difference is the rose on each item. Hope I go to the right counter on Tuesday.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Clouds & The Moon

Earlier this year I bought another camera. It's a very simple point and shoot and I wanted something small that I could keep in my pocketbook all the time. When I was going out tonight, I looked up and saw this sky and couldn't resist the chance to take a picture.



Then, when I was leaving the clubhouse I saw the moon. Again, I couldn't resist taking another shot.It's not the best shot, but I didn't use a flash. The moon was so bright. I'm still getting used to night photography with a small camera. I was too impatient to go inside and get my good camera.

Hope you enjoy them anyway.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

At last

Finally, after 38 years my unscientific theory has been proven right.

Yesterday I saw an article in The Wall Street Journal that said, "Mom's Sleep Beliefs Affect Baby's Nights". I really could never understand why so many babies just didn't sleep through the night, even after almost a year.

By three months, both my boys slept through the night. I always thought that was because I never made it fun for them to be awake in the middle of the night. As infants, when they cried in the middle of the night they got a clean diaper and a bottle and a burp. I never played with them or took them into bed with me. Their needs were taken care of and they went back to sleep.

This article said that mothers who believed in comforting crying babies at night also tended to be more active in trying to soothe them, holding or bringing them into their own beds had babies that were poor sleepers. On the other hand, mothers who believed in limiting their involvement, were less activist at night also had babies who awakened less.

I never ignored the boys, if they had a problem other than hunger or a wet diaper, I was there with them and tried to soothe them. But they only awakened once at night until they were about three months old.

I'm so glad to see that my theory worked.