Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On the road and NPR

We went away to Massachusetts for a long weekend. M had a conference, and I went along. As will happen when you're in the car for 11 hours in stopped traffic, you'll listen to the stories on NPR. One such story I heard this weekend was about two former engineers who got into making music videos to post on-line and then began making them for businesses. They're pretty funny. I was especially impressed with the fast food worker who was able to get the entire order correct after the guys sang everything to them. Enjoy! I'll post pix of Massachusetts soon. NPR Story

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Naomi

Today is Naomi's 78th birthday over at Old Lady of the Hills. Go over and wish her a spectacular birthday!

Naomi, I wish for you, more gifts than you ever saw in your life;

flowers for your house, your door, your spirit;

chocolates to get those endorphins going to make you feel great;

a most elegant birthday cake suitable for a lady of your class and style;

a little bubbly shared with friends over many laughs and shared memories;

and to be surrounded by those who love you the most.

Last, but not least, I hope everyone sings Happy Birthday to you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY NAOMI! I hope you have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Age Calculator

My sister sent me a link to one of those age calculators. Since I will be turning 46 next Thursday, I thought it would be a good idea to put in all my diet and lifestyle facts and see how I'm doing age-wise.

Here are my results:

Biological Age 46
Virtual Age 26.2

Average Life Expectancy 75
My Life Expectancy 94.8

Take the test and let me know how long you'll be sticking around.

Age Calculator

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


scha·den·freu·de (shäd'n-froi'də)
n. Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

[German : Schaden, damage (from Middle High German schade, from Old High German scado) + Freude, joy (from Middle High German vreude, from Old High German frewida, from frō, happy).] cite

I've been feeling dirty lately. Maybe it's media overload, maybe it's my conscience waking up, maybe it's just about time. I've been doing the daily (multiple times daily) perusal of the t.v. news and entertainment channels, surfing local and other blogs, and going to my favorite news websites. I keep finding myself left with this bad taste in my mouth, as if I've consumed something that looked good, but didn't taste how it looked and now I feel guilty for consuming it.

My son actually made me notice this last weekend. While surfing channels during the commercials from Ninja Warrior, I happened upon some sort of celebrity biography show, it may have been on Brad Pitt, I don't know, but my son said, "who cares?" At that moment, I wondered, "yes, who does care, and why?"

I don't know Brad Pitt. I've never met the man, yet here I am being told his life story, with pictures, and learning all sorts of intimate details of his life. When did this become news? When did this become acceptable? We've always done this as a species, I believe, watching what our neighbors were doing, gossiping, talking and stirring up drama. This moved to a national and then international stage with the advent of media and celebrities. But it's still being nosy and in other people's business.

Some will say, "well they put themselves out there, what do you expect?" That's akin to saying a rape victim was asking for it because she dressed provocatively. Does anyone really ever ask for this level of invasion of their privacy, this level of disruption of their daily lives? You can say this comes with the territory of fame, but I disagree.

This became a certainty for me this morning while watching the morning news. The "Divorce" of reality t.v. stars Jon and Kate Goselin was the hop topic for all the stations. I sat there watching the interviews with Jon and Kate. (I'd already seen them last night while watching their reality t.v. show.) But today, as I saw the pain in Kate's eyes, in the clear light of day, I remember saying to M, "I can't imagine having to go through something like that and then have to have the world watching and explain it to them."

I don't believe Jon and Kate signed on to have people peaking in their windows, publishing their dirty laundry in tabloid magazines, or having paparazzi stalking their children with telephoto lenses 24/7. I'm sure they understood there would be some intrusion into their private lives, but they could not have anticipated just how much people, strangers, would invade the privacy of their homes and lives. I don't feel good about consuming this tabloid fodder.

I stopped buying tabloids for the most part years and years ago, yet I'm still guilty of looking at the headlines in the checkout line. I still stop on the celebrity news shows while channel surfing, and I don't know how to kick this habit. I can turn off the t.v. or change the channel. I can stop buying the daily rags. I can try to tune out whenever this stuff comes on, but it's on ALL THE TIME! EVERYWHERE! How do you stop a cultural trend? Unplug completely?

I feel guilty for participating in all this. I feel sympathy for Kate. Knowing how violated I felt the few times I was dragged onto local blogs for my political activities, I can't begin to imagine the stress she's under or how violated she feels. Because as bad as it is to have the facts of your life out there, there are also the lies. People do lie, they do it to sell their product and get rich. People also pass judgment from the outside looking in and their judgment is often more harsh than anyone deserves. How do you recover from something like that? I feel like an apology is in order to those celebrities whose lives have been turned into living hells and then we should all just turn our backs on this culture, this cult of celebrity, this diet of foulness that we're being fed and demand something else. Just say no.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Day In The Life

I'm feeling introspective and wanting to write creatively right now, but it's been so long since I've primed that well, that I think the waters might not flow as quickly as the mood is striking me.

There have been numerous stresses over the previous months and more stresses to come, such is daily life. I know the urge to write, is really that urge to escape, into pure emotion, fantasy lives and the image of an easier, quieter life that I imagine I must have enjoyed at some point in time, even if it wasn't in this life.

So while contemplating what emotion was moving me and what I wanted to write, I began looking through a folder of my old writings. I just plucked a file from the back and read with amusement, an entirely different set of stresses that used to be my daily life, back when my children were 3 and 5 and I was not only going to college full-time, but also working more than full-time and preparing to go through a divorce. The writing quality isn't that good, but I'm sure I wrote it in a sleep deprived state.


A Day In The Life

Farmers have roosters, superheroes have howlers. 1:47 a.m. the howling alarm goes off as a freight train whistles through town. Our superhero jumps out of the warmth of her bed, heart pounding, hoping to have awoken before the grumpy (I will call you at any hour if your dogs so much as bark once and awaken me) neighbor. This neighbor has also been known to call if the phone rings, in my house, in the early hours of the morning to request the ringers be turned off, as they disturb his sleep. Apparently he can hear through closed windows and house walls, across the stretch of lawn between our houses and through his house walls and closed windows.

As quickly as her rudely awakened body can manage, she runs to the back door and hisses, "shut the hell up," letting one of the two offenders come inside. Divide and conquer usually works for her. The younger dog doesn't seem to like to howl alone. Must be a pack thing. She climbs back into bed knowing the official alarm will go off in 3 1/2 hours. She wraps her pillow around her head to muffle all sound and light, begging sleep to return quickly.

Her dreams return, filled with kaleidoscopic images of color and movement, slowly pulling themselves into various shapes and scenarios. She relaxes into peaceful dreams of romantic heroes. Then - abruptly - the colors fade to sinister shades of grey. In her dream, someone is approaching. The stealthy movements of a certain murderer/rapist captivate all her senses. Her heart begins to pound, the killer comes closer, closer, she can feel his breath on her face. She has to awake, her only escape from this horror. Her eyes flash open only to see another pair of eyes gazing directly into hers.

She screams with all the terror and drama any B-flick actress worth her weight in fake blood could muster. Then her would be assailant falls backward screaming too. Oh my gawd! She yells as she switches on the light to see her youngest child shaking in fear, crocodile tears cascading over his baby cheeks. "What were you doing in mommy's face?" She questions. "I'm firsty," he wails. "Shit," she curses under her breath.

Dramatically throwing the blankets off, head hung low like a slave, she walks the longest mile to the kitchen. She thinks to herself, "I hate cold tile on warm bare feet." After watering the Sahara, she returns to her bed, glancing at the clock, 2:58 a.m. Ooooohhhhh she groans as she burrows down into the blankets, cocooning herself against the trials of the night.

All is peaceful in the sleepy little house. 4:17 a.m., little brother is sprawled across his bed, sleeping in total contentment. Our superhero is buried beneath her blankets, yet still on call. Now it's sister's turn. A blood curling scream, "MOM!!" Our superhero springs from mommy's bed. Leaping in a single bound over the rails at the end of the bed, a tangle of blankets resembling a cape flowing behind her, she clears Tonka trucks strategically abandoned in the hall, and reaches sister's bedside in less than two heartbeats.

Panting and in pain, mommy gasps, "what's wrong Sweetie?" "I had a bad dream, a bad man was chasing me, and someone else was hitting me." "Aww, Honey, don't dream of bad people. Think of nice things like kitties." "But the bad man broke into my dreams." "Then think of a little kitty that loves you, and it grows up into a big, brave lion. When the bad man comes back, let your pet lion chase him for a change." "Okay," she sighs, and is back asleep almost as quickly as she awoke.

The weary superhero has rescued yet another child. Now she drags back to her bed. Bending over to retrieve her blankets in the hall, she notices when she tugs on her blankets, they are immovable, even for her super-human strength. A whisper of, "what the hell," echoes in the hall as a light is switched on. A 65 pound wild dog wannabe lies sprawled in the middle of the blankets, eyes squinting in the bright light as if to say, "turn the damn light out woman, I'm trying to sleep." "Oh never mind," she says in disgust as she switches off the light. "You can keep the blankets." 4:45 a.m. with fresh blankets from the closet shelf our superhero returns to bed, begging the gods for 30 minutes of uninterrupted sleep.

5:30 a.m. shrills our superhero into consciousness. Springing off her bed and into the shower in one fluid movement, she turns on the taps, shivering and waiting desperately at the side of the shower stall for the water to gather warmth.

6:00 a.m. our superhero prepares not only herself, but two small, usually uncooperative children for their day ahead. Three sets of clothes, a quick shower for the one still not quite potty trained, three different breakfasts to suit everyone's tastes, three backpacks, with homework done, notes signed, library books awaiting return, cookies baked for snack time, money for a field trip, lunches for the finicky, and other assorted accouterments.

7:30 a.m. our superhero fights the raging traffic of mad mothers in their daily rush between daycares, schools, and work, and the occasional father or friend who's not quite used to the way the traffic flows through the parking lot every morning, causing a blockage and a delay of three precious minutes, as they pull into the lot from the wrong end.

8:00 a.m. our superhero goes to her classes trying at intervals to be attentive without dosing, answering without ignorance, and sitting mutely with head down, hoping she won't be called on.

1:00 p.m. our superhero has survived another day of back to back classes without lunch. She sprints home to swallow a meal of fruit, bread and cheese, before dashing out to retrieve the first child from daycare, before going on to get the second child from school, then pouring into the afternoon and evening with snacks, homework, dinner, bathes, bedtime stories, brief silences interspersed with requests for water, another bedtime story, etc. before mom begins her own homework, then falling off to bed for another evening in the life of a superhero to begin.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Her Name Was Neda

I know you're probably not that into politics, and certainly not the politics of a foreign country so far away, but just for 3 minutes, find out about Neda. Then think how much courage it took to protest against a dictatorship. Then think of what it must be like to be a woman in this type of theocracy. Then know, that many women are in the front lines of these protests. What does that say to you about courage? What does that say to you about whether they've had enough of other people telling them what to do, think, wear, believe? Would you have had the courage to protest if you had been Neda?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Parental Unit Day

Thought I'd post this early since I expect to be too busy to get to blogging this weekend. Oh, my son's surgery went fine and so far he's doing remarkably well.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


If you ever wanted to see what courage looks like or what a revolution looks like as it gets started, watch this. Tehran is a major city, look at the thousands upon thousands of people lining the streets, block after block.

Where did these people get the notion that they could change from a theocracy to a democracy? More power to them, I say. Notable in this protest? There are women protesting right along with the men. The times they are a changin' even if the powers that be don't want change.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Iranian Election

Have you been watching the coverage of the Iranian election? There was purportedly a landslide win for a unpopular ruler and the most popular candidate didn't even win in his hometown. This all happened with an incredibly high voter turnout. I found this guy on YouTube who points out all the curious points of this election.

Monday, June 15, 2009


I saw this on another blog and was ticked. In who's warped universe can this even be considered remotely funny? How many generations do we need to go before racist remarks like this are no longer uttered? This also makes me think of the shooter at the Holocaust museum and the doctor in Kansas who was recently shot. There's so much hate and ignorance out there.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

C'est la finis!

Here's the close up photo for those of you wanting to participate in the contest mentioned near the end of this post. Make sure you leave your name. The first one to identify them all just might get a little kitsch from me after all. (Click on the picture to make it larger.)

So we've literally had rain every single day for a week. That's played major havoc with my painting schedule. I managed to get the rest of the painting on the inside of the porch done, but all the furniture and accessories that I still needed to paint had to be done in the backyard with no shelter from the rain. So I painted when I could and hoped the paint would dry before the next storm. *sigh*

But my persistence paid off, I finally got everything painted, put back on the porch, hung, planted, etc. I can't tell you how much joy I feel every time I step out onto my newly redone porch. I feel this operatic note come bursting forth from my chest, like "LAAAAAAAA," then the joy rushes forward. I know, I'm weird. So in this picture, the table is obviously missing from between the four chairs. I have a picture of it complete, but the sun was setting by the time the table dried and I could put it back on the porch and I wanted you to get a good idea of the colors on the porch, so I included this shot that was taken earlier in the morning. Note the window hanging on the left. I always meant to do an individual post on that, but it's taken me 3 years to finish that little project so I never got around to doing the post on it. It was my first attempt at a stained glass window effect. It's okay. I'll keep practicing. For those of you who click on the picture to enlarge it to see what those objects are at the top of the porch. Each time we travel somewhere, M and I pick up a kitsch souvenir to decorate our porch. I could tell you what each one is and where it came from, but I have a better idea. Let's make this a contest. Let's see who can name each object and where it came from. I'd offer to send you a prize of some other piece of kitsch I have around the house, but one woman's kitsch is another person's clutter.

So note the mint green ceiling, the gorgeous blue floor, and the pistachio green Adirondack chair and foot rest. I also have various shade plants in pots scattered around the porch. After four years of investing in gorgeous hanging pots of draping flowers to decorate the porch and watching as they died out rather quickly due to lack of sunshine, I finally realized I should put shade loving house plants out there instead. Oh, I'm not giving up on flowers on the front porch. A neighbor told me last night about a particular type of flower that loves shade and the local nursery that carries hanging pots of those flowers. I'll go in search of them tomorrow.

So this chair, it has a story of its own you know. I originally purchased this and a large number of matching chairs in New Hampshire back in 2000. A few got broken when too many teenagers tried piling on top of each other in them, but the four that survived traveled with us to Maryland when we moved. In their original incarnation they were a dark, hunter green - very conservative and functional. For the past few years, each time we drive to the beach, I see Adirondack chairs in all sorts of beachy bright colors and pastels. Of course they want a small fortune for them. I've been lusting after those bright colors for years. Lust no more. I discovered the spray paint isle at my local store and have given my dark green chairs new life. It began with this chair. I was so pleased with the color, so were the neighbors, that I went really crazy with the other chairs on the back deck. Pictures of them are coming up.

I decided "color" was the name of the game for the front porch. So each potted plant that I put out there also got a new coat of paint on the pot. I turned my terra cotta, black, and white pots to bright colors. Two of the big ones are purple and on the front porch.

Here's a shot of both of the big purple pots. There are Day Lillies in the farthest one and I can't remember the name of the plant in the first one. I'm horrible with names of plants.

I didn't paint these little pots yet, but I did do a blast of fire engine red on the plant holder.

Speaking of red, my tarnished, copper/gold sorta mailbox got a fresh coating of red as well. Somebody a few blocks away has a red Swedish mailbox that I'd seen in a mail order catalog. I can't afford to buy one of those, but I can afford a couple bucks for a can of red spray paint. I think it turned out nicely. *giggle*

Here's a shot of the finished table back on the porch, but it was sunset and not conducive to good picture taking, but note the rug under the table.

I got an area sized rug to go under the table and chairs and I got a wide runner to span the distance between the front door and the screen door. I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these rugs. The pattern and the colors are of course very appealing to me, but the cool thing about these rugs are that they are outdoor rugs made from recycled plastic bottles. So I just hose them off and they're clean. The colors are also supposed to be fairly fade proof because they're not stamped a color on top, each fiber strand of plastic is like yarn and that particular color all the way through. Cool huh?

Here's a shelf I already had and above that is a welcome sign that was all faded from it's original sage green, brown, orange and yellow. What do you think of its color make-over?

On each end of the porch I have these candle holders. They're a little Morroccan I suppose, but I like them. They have little tea candles in their glass cups in the center.

Now as promised, here are the other chairs on the back deck that I also re-painted. Here's a lovely little lavender number sitting by the back door.

Here's a seating arrangement with another pistachio green and bright yellow. I also painted a number of pots on the back deck as well. So with all that painting, house cleaning and repairs, plus lots of work, I've been very busy. I'm also beginning to realize I'm either getting too old for all this activity or I'm just out of shape, okay, maybe a little of both.

Note to Marvia: Here's the link to the bathroom post you asked about: New Bathroom

Last full day in Europe

Ahh, all good things must come to an end.  Our European vacation is drawing to a close.  We leave Nice this morning to drive back to Barcelo...